Laurie Anderson & Julian Schnabel

John Drew Backyard Theater moved indoors for conversation with renowned artists, Laurie Anderson and Julian Schnabel.

July 18, 2021:  The forecast was not looking great, so Guild Hall moved the John Drew Backyard Theater conversation with renowned artists, Laurie Anderson and Julian Schnabel, indoors.  Attendees were thrilled to witness these multi-talented artists, both Guild Hall Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts honorees, share their post pandemic thoughts on life, art, friends, and projects. The discussion was moderated by Christina Mossaides Strassfield, Guild Hall’s Museum Director/Chief Curator.
Photography: Barry Gordin

John Drew Backyard Theater moved indoors for conversation with renowned artists, Laurie Anderson and Julian Schnabel.

July 18, 2021:  The forecast was not looking great, so Guild Hall moved the John Drew Backyard Theater conversation with renowned artists, Laurie Anderson and Julian Schnabel, indoors.  Attendees were thrilled to witness these multi-talented artists, both Guild Hall Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts honorees, share their post pandemic thoughts on life, art, friends, and projects. The discussion was moderated by Christina Mossaides Strassfield, Guild Hall’s Museum Director/Chief Curator.
Photography: Barry Gordin

Laurie Anderson
Julian Schnabel
Laurie Anderson, Christina Moissaides Strassfield, Julian Schnabel

Paul Huntley

A Notable Death: Broadway’s Veteran Hair Magician Paul Huntley, 88 

By: Ellis Nassour

July 15, 2021 — Paul Huntley, 88, Broadway’s trendsetting go-to wig designer, passed on Friday. Liz Carboni, his longtime friend, confirmed his death in London from complications from a lung infection. He was honored in 2003 with a Tony Honor for Excellence in Theater. He also was the recipient of several lifetime achievement awards. 

A Notable Death: Broadway’s Veteran Hair Magician Paul Huntley, 88 

By: Ellis Nassour

July 15, 2021 — Paul Huntley, 88, Broadway’s trendsetting go-to wig designer, passed on Friday. Liz Carboni, his longtime friend, confirmed his death in London from complications from a lung infection. He was honored in 2003 with a Tony Honor for Excellence in Theater. He also was the recipient of several lifetime achievement awards. 

In over 50 years, he created his magic for the actors in over 260 Broadway productions. There were also designs for over 60 movies; regional theater; and TV. Because of the 2020 pandemic and beyond, there were no shows. After a bad fall and hip fracture, he decided to sell his Upper West Side townhouse and studio and returned to London, his home town.

For over 20 of those years, Huntley shared his home with his partner and business associate Paul Plassan, who died in 1991.

Huntley was born into a working class family. As a youngster he delighted in checking out the photos and styles of the top screen actresses in his mother’s magazines. Huntley, whom I interviewed in 1970 and often visited, he stated, “I had this burning desire to become an actor. After army service, I went to drama school; then, worked in rep. Starting out, I worked behind-the-scenes, often in wig departments. I felt much more creative, and it was lots of fun.” 

Huntley came to Broadway in the 70s with a reputation from the West End and in film. “I was in my forties,” he said, “and had worked with the giants of British theatre — Gielgud, Olivier, Leigh, Richardson, Guinness, Redgrave. That was an era we’ll never see the likes of again.”

One of his first Broadway designs was for Marlene Dietrich for her one-woman show at the Lunt-Fontanne. “By then, she was a product of her films,” he says. “Onstage, she created magic in this incredible and gorgeous mold of a gown. It was all illusion, but it worked beautifully. She was so professional, never difficult. Marlene knew exactly what she wanted.

“That’s been my experience working with most stars,” he added. “They’ve seen their face photographed and lit from every conceivable angle. They know. It’s an instinct. It’s like when they’re onstage. They know their mark when they feel the warmth of the key light.”

Huntley’s first Broadway show as a solo designer was the 1973’s revival of Uncle Vanya, co-starring Lillian Gish as nanny Maryina. Miss Gish told him, “‘Darling, I’m much too young for the part. You’ll have to age me.'” She was 80 but, notes Huntley, “looked much younger and had hair like silk. She was elfin like, so I worked up something old and crotchety.”

A fan Huntley created a wig for said she was astonished at his artistry when she couldn’t tell the difference. “It really was me, or rather my character. I was in tune and only my wig designer knew – and the producer who paid the bill.” 

Just talking ladies, Huntley’s worked with Carol Channing, Betty Grable, Angela Lansbury, Patti LuPone, Ethyl Merman, Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Alexander, Elizabeth Ashley, Ellen Burstyn, Betty Buckley, Glenn Close, Claudette Colbert, Sutton Foster, Julie Harris, Celeste Holm, Glynis Johns, Deborah Kerr, Jessica Lange, Donna Murphy, Kelly O’Hara, Ginger Rogers, Elaine Strich, and hundreds more Oh, and Mike Nichols, Harvey Fierstein, as Edna Turnblad in Broadway’s Hairspray; and Santino Fontano for Tootsie

For the screen, he designed hair for Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Vivien Leigh, Taylor, Close,  Fonda, Al Pacino (for 2013’s Phil Spector) and Dustin Hoffman (1982’s Tootsie). He even crawled in bed to reset Mae West’s wig for Sextette.

Many stars, for instance Elizabeth Taylor and Patti LuPone, had it in their contract that they couldn’t do the work unless they had Paul Huntley do the fittings and design. He was quite honored. 

Huntley spoke of few bad experiences, and had no desire to write a tell-all. “I’d never divulge names or secrets, even though some of the guilty are gone. I seeing my clients early in the day before they have their faces on. They trust me. You feel a bit like a psychiatrist or doctor.” Off the record, of course, one trouble-maker was Faye Dunaway when she starred in the 1997 national tour of Master Class, though when he worked with her on a film in 1983 they got on quite well. 

Most are patience and real troupers, he pointed out. “They know really good work takes times.” 

He’s done up to 20 shows in a year. “I’m disciplined to do that. I never think of doing anything else. This is what’s meant to be. This is who I am.” For years he worked closely with “my indispensable stylist” Eddie Windsor

Each wig creation took at least three to five days to create and costs were upwards of two thousand dollars. After the design is approved, the wig is actually baked to seal the set. For principals, Huntley used human hair imported from the U.K.; but he stated that that synthetics work best for performers, such as dancers. Then comes the daily maintenance. 

Huntley spoke about the changes he’d seen. “When I came to Broadway, with the exception of Bob Kelly, who’d been working since the 60s, there weren’t a lot of hair designers. They were doing movies. The custom was for leading ladies to go to their hair dresser before performances. There were no mikes, so when they went into use, it was a new ballgame. Sound design changed everything. Wigs had to be worn by everyone, and they had to be bigger. I’d weave the mike through and most often secure the battery pack inside. I found ways so they wouldn’t look bulky and out of proportion.”

In one season, he might have up to six shows. “It’s a big and very creative job,” he informed, “especially since it’s your job to work with the designers and directors. You work with the costumer to make sure the hair texture doesn’t clash; and with lighting to find out if it’s going to be somber or very dramatic. You want to be correct as to period.

“A big change is the number of producers it takes to put on even a small Broadway show,” he added. “And every one of them has an opinion. I hear what they have to say, but don’t always listen!”

In addition to working with up-and-coming designers, Huntley was most proud of his work with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where he provided free wigs for cancer patients.

“I feel I’m helping with the cure,” he explained. “If they go to wig boutiques, it’s not the same. When a professional does the wig, they can look in the mirror and see themselves. Everyone has the right to look gorgeous. It lifts their spirits.”

Broadway Update

B’way Update: Room and Dana To Play in Rep, Etc.

By: David Sheward

July 15, 2021: The new post-shutdown Broadway season just got really interesting. In an unexpected and startlingly different move, two highly-praised, but bizarre Off-Broadway plays will transfer to Broadway to be performed in repertory. Tina Satter’s Is This A Room and Lucas Hnath’s Dana H will alternate performances at the Lyceum Theater with the former beginning previews on Sept. 24 and opening Oct. 11 and the latter commencing previews on Oct. 1 and opening Oct. 17. The dual-show engagement will play until Jan. 16, 2022. Both plays were presented at Vineyard Theater as part of the foreshortened 2019-20 season.  

B’way Update: Room and Dana To Play in Rep, Etc.

By: David Sheward

July 15, 2021: The new post-shutdown Broadway season just got really interesting. In an unexpected and startlingly different move, two highly-praised, but bizarre Off-Broadway plays will transfer to Broadway to be performed in repertory. Tina Satter’s Is This A Room and Lucas Hnath’s Dana H will alternate performances at the Lyceum Theater with the former beginning previews on Sept. 24 and opening Oct. 11 and the latter commencing previews on Oct. 1 and opening Oct. 17. The dual-show engagement will play until Jan. 16, 2022. Both plays were presented at Vineyard Theater as part of the foreshortened 2019-20 season.  

Is This A Room (top) and Dana H (bottom) will alternate performances at  Broadway’s Lyceum Theatre (Credits: Carol Rosegg; Craig Schwartz)

Each presentation is unique and not your typical Broadway fare. Is This A Room, directed and conceived by Satter, concerns the real-life Reality Winner (her actual name), an Air Force linguist who was imprisoned for leaking information that the Russians interfered in our 2016 Presidential election. The entire 70-minute play is composed of transcripts from her FBI interrogation and the search of her home. Emily Davis repeats her stunning performance as Reality. She won an Obie and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award and the production won a Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience.

Dana H is also based on actual events and transcripts. The playwright’s mother Dana was abducted and held captive in a series of Florida motels for five months. Deirdre O’Connell lip-synchs to recordings of an interview conducted with the real-life Dana and directed by Obie winner Les Waters. The production was interrupted by the COVID shut-down and O’Connell won the Obie, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and New York Drama Critics Circle awards. 

Vineyard Theater also announced its 2021-22 Off-Broadway season. Charley Evon Simpson’s sandblasted (Feb. 3–March 13, 2022) follows Angela and Odessa as they encounter wellness guru Adah on a journey of self-discovery. David Cale’s Sandra (Spring 2022) is a solo play about a woman investigating the disappearance of her friend in Mexico. Lessons in Survival, Part 2 (Spring 2022) is described as an exploration of a famous 1971 conversation between authors James Baldwin and Nikki Giovanni.

In other news, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has pushed up its opening at date to Nov. 12 from Nov. 16 at the Lyric.

Mo Rocca

Moving Off-Broadway, Tony nominee Douglas Carter Beane (Xanadu, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella) will direct his new comedy Fairycakes, running Oct. 14 through Jan. 2, 2022 at the Greenwich House Theater. The piece is described as a combination of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and old-world fairy tales. The eclectic cast includes Mo Rocca (CBS Sunday Morning, NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me), Emmy nominee Jackie Hoffman (currently starring in Fruma-Sarah), Alfie Fuller (BLKS), Ann Harada (Avenue Q), Lortel Award winner Kuhoo Vermer (Octet), Julie Halston (Tootsie, You Can’t Take It With You), Jason Nanthkumar (The One Kill Race), Brooks Ashmanskas (The Prom), and Jason Tam (Be More Chill).

Updated 2021-22 Broadway and Off-Broadway Schedule (opening dates listed for new shows):

June 26–Springsteen on Broadway (St. James)

July 27–Merry Wives (Shakespeare in the Park/Delacorte)

Sept. 2–Hadestown (Walter Kerr); Waitress (Barrymore)

Sept. 3–Blue Man Group (Astor Place)

Sept. 12–Pass Over (August Wilson)

Sept. 14–Chicago (Ambassador); Hamilton (Richard Rodgers); The Lion King (Minskoff); Wicked (Gershwin)

Sept. 17–David Byrne’s American Utopia (St. James)

Sept. 21–Little Shop of Horrors (Westside)

Sept. 22–Come from Away (Gerald Schoenfeld)

Sept. 24–Moulin Rouge (Al Hirschfeld)

Sept. 26–Tony Awards (CBS/Paramount +)

Sept. 28–Lackawanna Blues (MTC/Samuel Friedman); Aladdin (New Amsterdam)

Oct. 1–Diana premieres on Netflix

Oct. 3–Six (Brooks Atkinson)

Oct. 4–Letters of Suresh (Second Stage/Kiser); Sleep No More (McKittrick Hotel)

Oct. 5–To Kill a Mockingbird (Shubert)

Oct. 7–Freestyle Love Supreme (Booth)

Oct. 8–Tina: The Tina Turner Musical (Lunt-Fontanne)

Oct. 9–Gazillion Bubbles Show (New World Stages)

Oct. 10–Chicken and Biscuits (Circle In the Square)

Oct. 11–Is This A Room (Lyceum)

Oct. 13–Girl from the North Country (Belasco)

Oct. 14–The Lehman Trilogy (Nederlaner)

Oct. 14–Fairycakes (previews begin; Greenwich House Theater)

Oct. 16–Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations (Imperial)

Oct. 17–Dana H (Lyceum)

Oct. 21–Jagged Little Pill (Broadhurst)

Oct. 22–Phantom of the Opera (Majestic)

Oct. 27–Caroline or Change (Roundabout/Studio 54)

Oct. 31–Thoughts of a Colored Man (Golden)

Nov. 3–Morning Sun (MTC/City Center)

Nov. 5–The Book of Mormon (Eugene O’Neill)

Nov. 12–Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Lyric)

Nov. 15–Jersey Boys (New World Stages)

Nov. 17–Diana (Longacre)

Nov. 18–Trouble in Mind (Roundabout/AA)

Nov. 22–Clyde’s (Second Stage/Hayes)

Dec. 5–Mrs. Doubtfire (Stephen Sondheim)

Dec. 6–Flying Over Sunset (LCT/Vivian Beaumont)

Dec. 9–Company (Bernard B. Jacobs)

Dec. 11–Dear Evan Hansen (Music Box)

Jan. 12, 2022–Skeleton Crew (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)

Jan. 27–Intimate Apparel (LCT/Mitzi Newhouse)

Feb. 1–MJ: The Michael Jackson Musical (Neil Simon)

Feb. 10–The Music Man (Winter Garden)

March 20–Paradise Square (Barrymore)

March 28–Plaza Suite (Hudson)

April 4–Take Me Out (Second Stage/Hayes)

April 7–The Minutes (Studio 54)

April 10–Birthday Candles (Roundabout/AA)

April 14–To My Girls (Second Stage/Kiser)

April 19–How I Learned to Drive (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)

May 17–Golden Shield (MTC/City Center)

Spring 2022 (dates TBA)

Romeo and Bernadette: A Musical Tale of Verona and Brooklyn (possibly)

No Dates Yet

(New Shows)

American Buffalo (Circle in the Square)

Sing Street

(Old Shows)

West Side Story

Fall 2022

1776 (Roundabout/AA)

Between Riverside and Crazy (Second Stage/Hayes)

2022

Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death, The Piano Lesson

2022-23

Dancin’

2023 and Beyond

Game of Thrones, The Great Gatsby

Future–Our Town; Death of a Salesman; Funny Girl; K-pop the Broadway Musical; The Nanny; The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me; Smash; Some Like It Hot; Soul Train; The Who’s Tommy

2021-22 Broadway Season Breakdown:

New Plays

Birthday Candles

Chicken and Biscuits

Clyde’s

Dana H (transfer from Off-Broadway)

Is This a Room? (transfer from Off-Broadway)

The Lehman Trilogy (transfer from Off-Broadway)

The Minutes

Pass Over

Skeleton Crew (previously presented Off-Broadway in a different production)

Thoughts of a Colored Man

Play Revivals

American Buffalo

How I Learned to Drive

Lackawanna Blues (previously produced Off-Broadway)

Plaza Suite

Take Me Out

Trouble in Mind

New Musicals

Diana

Flying Over Sunset

Mrs. Doubtfire

Paradise Square

Romeo and Bernadette: A Musical Tale of Verona and Brooklyn (possibly)

Sing Street (transfer from Off-Broadway, possibly)

Six

Musical Revivals

Caroline or Change

Company

Waitress (return engagement)

Specialties

Bruce Springsteen on Broadway (return engagement)

David Bryne’s American Utopia (return engagement)

Freestyle Love Supreme (return engagement)

A Yiddish Renaissance: A Virtual Concert Celebration

By: Paulanne Simmons

July 15, 2021: Confined to their homes during the pandemic, many people decided to master a new skill. For some, that skill was speaking Yiddish. In fact, according to Motl Didner, associate artistic director of National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, thousands of people have watched Folksbiene’s “15-Minute Yiddish” over the past year. This, says Didner, is just part of the “Yiddish Renaissance,” which began in the 1970s and received a huge online boost during the pandemic.

By: Paulanne Simmons

July 15, 2021: Confined to their homes during the pandemic, many people decided to master a new skill. For some, that skill was speaking Yiddish. In fact, according to Motl Didner, associate artistic director of National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, thousands of people have watched Folksbiene’s “15-Minute Yiddish” over the past year. This, says Didner, is just part of the “Yiddish Renaissance,” which began in the 1970s and received a huge online boost during the pandemic.

“In past years, if 50,000 people attended Folksbiene events, it would be a great year; now we’re seeing 250,000 views of our online programs,” says Didner. These events include a Chanukah celebration, a Yiddish Women’s Playwrights Festival and several concerts. Didner attributes NYTF’s successes to the wider audiences of online programs. “We’re reaching people outside typical areas, New York, California, Florida. People are watching from Europe, Australia, Argentina, Brazil… pockets of Yiddish speaking communities or Yiddish speaking individuals without a community.” 

Lexi Rabadi in Hannah Senesh – Photo credit: Victor Nechay / ProperPix

For Folksbiene, this is cause for celebration. And so, this July the company is presenting A Yiddish Renaissance: A Virtual Concert Celebration, bringing together more than 140 actors, singers and musicians from across the globe, and featuring special greetings from Emanuel (Manny) Azenberg, Judy Blazer, Joel Grey, Barry Manilow, Mandy Patinkin, Itzhak Perlman, and Dr. Ruth Westheimer. 

The heart of the celebration, which Didner is producing, will be excerpts from some of the most memorable moments from NYTF’s critically acclaimed and award-winning productions: The Golden BrideAmerike the Golden LandOn Second AvenueThe Pirates of Penzance (Di Yam Gazlonim) and, of course, NYTF’s big hit, the Yiddish version of Fiddler on the Roof, directed by Joel Grey.

Another highlight will be Alumni of HaZamir: The International Jewish Teen Choir performing Khalutsim Lieder, a medley of songs written in Yiddish and Hebrew telling the story of Zionist pioneers of the early 1900s.

The 2-hour event will also pay tribute to NYTF’s longtime artistic director, Zalmen Mlotek, in celebration of his 70th birthday.

Josh Kohane and Mihl Yashinsky in The Sorceress – Photo credit: Victor Nechay / ProperPix

“Zalmen grew up in the Movement,” says Didner. Mlotek attended Jewish summer camp and afterschool programs. Later, he became a teacher and a musical director at these same venues. Much of his 50-year career dedicated to Yiddish music and theatre has been at Folksbiene, where he has developed new productions and introduced young actors and singers to Yiddish theatre. One of his signature accomplishments was the Joel Grey-directed Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish, which ran for six months at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust before moving uptown to Stage 42, where it ran for a year.

Folksbiene is planning to return to live productions in January 2022 with The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, a new opera based on Giorgio Bassani’s 1962 novel, which was adapted into Vittorio De Sica’s 1970 award-winning film. Composed by Ricky Ian Gordon, with a libretto by Michael Korie, the opera is co-produced by New York City Opera and will make its premiere at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

That’s certainly something to look forward to. But in the meantime, don’t miss this virtual celebration of the Yiddish Renaissance.

The Sorceress, featuring Hannah Scott, Riley McFarland, Dani Apple, Dylan Seder Hoffman, Peter Gosik, Josh Kohane, Samuel Druhora, Rebecca Brudner, Sam Kronenfeld, Lexi Rabadi, Mark Alpert, Lorin Zackular. Photo credit: Victor Nechay, properpix.jpg

A Yiddish Renaissance: A Virtual Concert Celebration debuts on Monday, July 26th at 2:00 PM (ET) and is available to view through Friday, July 30th at 2:00 PM (ET). Registration is required at www.nytf.org/renaissance. Donations are not required but suggested to help support National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene’s programming.

Mike Birbiglia at Guild Hall

Final shows Wednesday, July 14th at 7pm & 9pm:  The Award-winning comedian, author, and actor, Mike Birbiglia, brings an hour of All new material to Guild Hall. 

July 11, 2021: The gifted comedian, Mike Birbiglia, who happens to be a best-selling author and an actor, also won the 2019 Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Lucille Lortel Awards for his solo show, The New One. He was performing that show on Broadway when the pandemic hit, so Birbiglia went from Broadway to Zoom. And now he is back gracing stages and Guild Hall is lucky to have him for several performances. 

Final shows Wednesday, July 14th at 7pm & 9pm:  The Award-winning comedian, author, and actor, Mike Birbiglia, brings an hour of All new material to Guild Hall. 

July 11, 2021: The gifted comedian, Mike Birbiglia, who happens to be a best-selling author and an actor, also won the 2019 Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Lucille Lortel Awards for his solo show, The New One. He was performing that show on Broadway when the pandemic hit, so Birbiglia went from Broadway to Zoom. And now he is back gracing stages and Guild Hall is lucky to have him for several performances. 

The host of the hit podcast Working it Out is in excellent form performing over an hour of all new comedy at Guild Hall in ‘East Hampton. I have been impressed by his comic style sine his hit Off-Broadway show, Sleepwalk With Me, debuted at The Bleecker Street Theater in 2008. Winning awards and charming the critics, Birbiglia turned the show into a popular book, Sleepwalk with Me, and Other Painfully True Stories, as well as a 2011 chart- topping comic album, Sleepwalk With Me Live.  Ever since, he has become a comic force, turning his seemingly dreadful experiences into funny, soul searching, life affirming adventures. 

Mike Birbiglia @ Guild Hall … Photo: Barry Gordin

Only two performances remain at Guild Hall on Wednesday, July 14th at 7pm and 9pm. The program will take place indoors in The John Drew Theater. Don’t miss Mike Birbiglia. He is more than just an amusing treat. He is a laugh out loud riot of ever-changing authenticity. 

Recommended for ages 16 and up.

Guests attending any INDOOR John Drew Theater programs must show proof of FULL vaccination. At this time, only fully vaccinated guests are permitted to attend programs in the indoor theater.  Face coverings are optional for fully vaccinated guests.

FOR TICKETS CLICK HERE

ACA Galleries

A Black Perspective, Jan 8 – Jul 30, 2021

July 12, 2021: ACA Galleries is pleased to announce its current exhibition A Black Perspective will be extended to July 30, 2021.  Since its inception, ACA has been committed to showing work by black artists; giving Aaron Douglas, Ernie Crichlow, Barkley Hendricks and Charles White their first shows and later representing Benny Andrews, Romare Bearden estate, Richard Mayhew, Faith Ringgold and Aminah Robinson among others.

A Black Perspective, Jan 8 – Jul 30, 2021

July 12, 2021: ACA Galleries is pleased to announce its current exhibition A Black Perspective will be extended to July 30, 2021.  Since its inception, ACA has been committed to showing work by black artists; giving Aaron Douglas, Ernie Crichlow, Barkley Hendricks and Charles White their first shows and later representing Benny Andrews, Romare Bearden estate, Richard Mayhew, Faith Ringgold and Aminah Robinson among others.

This exhibition features work from 1945 to 2015 by prominent African American artists including Benny Andrews, Romare Bearden, Ernie Crichlow, Joseph Delaney, Frederick Jones, Columbus Knox, Jacob Lawrence, Richard Mayhew, Aminah Robinson, Faith Ringgold and Charles White.

An exhibition co-curated with ACA Galleries is currently on view at the Houston African American Museum of Art and Culture June 4 through September 4, 2021.

Highlights:

Jacob Lawrence, Gypsies, 1948: This rare egg tempera painting has been in the same collection since it was purchased from the legendary Downtown Gallery over 70 years ago.

Faith RinggoldSouth African Love Story: Part 1 and Part II, a story quilt created in 1983 tells the story of two lovers living during Apartheid in South Africa from 1948 to 1991. It has not been on public view since the 1980s.   

Faith Ringgold

The traveling exhibition organized by the Serpentine in London is currently on view at the Glenstone Museum through October 25, 2021. 

The New Museum of Contemporary Art will present a retrospective of her work February 15 through May 30, 2022.

Aminah Robinson: A retrospective of her work is currently on view at The Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio through October 3, 2021.  A catalogue is available.

Aminah Robinson

The New York Times published Overlooked No More, Monday, March 1, 2021.

Richard Mayhew: SFMoMA recently established a permanent room for Richard Mayhew where 8 paintings are currently on display. 

Richard Mayhew

For More Information Click Here

Jamie deRoy & friends

The weekly variety show has been airing archival footage from past shows. Next up, Tony Award Winners Part I airs Monday July 12 @ 8pm

July 10, 2001: Show business tour de force and seven-time TONY® Award-winning producer Jamie deRoy’s long standing weekly program, aptly titled, Jamie deRoy & friends, announces the theme for this week’s program, TONY® Award Winners (Part 1). “Throughout the pandemic, in an effort to keep fans and audiences engaged, we’ve been airing archival videos from past shows. It’s been such fun going through the archives and revisiting all these fantastic shows”, said deRoy.

The weekly variety show has been airing archival footage from past shows. Next up, Tony Award Winners Part I airs Monday July 12 @ 8pm

July 10, 2001: Show business tour de force and seven-time TONY® Award-winning producer Jamie deRoy’s long standing weekly program, aptly titled, Jamie deRoy & friends, announces the theme for this week’s program, TONY® Award Winners (Part 1). “Throughout the pandemic, in an effort to keep fans and audiences engaged, we’ve been airing archival videos from past shows. It’s been such fun going through the archives and revisiting all these fantastic shows”, said deRoy.

The show airs Monday nights at 8 p.m. ET on Spectrum HD Channel 1993 and Verizon FIOS Channel 37 as well as multiple times on East Hampton’s LTV.  

Monday, July 12th’s episode, features a plethora of archival performances from such TONY® Award-winners as:

Karen Ziemba (2000 Best Featured Actress in a Musical TONY® Winner, “Contact”)

“I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise”

Recorded June 2, 2014 at the Metropolitan Room 

Piano: Ron Abel

Adriane Lenox (2005 Best Featured Actress in a Play TONY® Winner, “Doubt”)

“You Can Be Replaced”

Recorded June 2, 2014 at the Metropolitan Room

Piano: Ron Abel

Bass: Tom Hubbard

Len Cariou (1979 Best Actor in a Musical TONY® Winner, “Sweeney Todd”) 

“Pretty Women” 

Recorded June 11, 2008 at the Metropolitan Room

Piano: Lanny Meyers

Daisy Eagan (1991 Best Featured Actress in a Musical TONY® Winner, “The Secret Garden”) 

“The Babysitter’s Here”

Recorded December 2, 2002 at the Laurie Beechman Theater 

Piano: Rod Hausen

Stephanie J. Block (2019 Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical TONY® Winner, “The Cher Show”)

“He Touched Me”

Recorded September 22, 2014 at Birdland

Piano: Ron Abel

Bass: Tom Hubbard

Chuck Cooper (1997 Best Featured Actor in a Musical TONY® Winner, “The Life”)

“Don’t Take Much” 

Recorded on May 7, 2017 at Birdland 

Piano: Ron Abel

Bass: Tom Hubbard

Lena Hall (2014 Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical TONY® Winner, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”)

“Maybe I’m Amazed”

Recorded May 17, 2015 at Birdland 

Piano: Ron Abel

Bass: Tom Hubbard

Beth Leavel (2006 Best Featured Actress in a Musical TONY® Winner, “The Drowsy Chaperone”) 

“As I Stumble Along”

Recorded January 27, 2014 at Birdland  

Piano: Ron Abel

Bass: Jered Egan

Drums: Ray Marchica

Proceeds from the events have benefited The Actors Fund: Jamie deRoy & friends Cabaret Initiative which assists those in the cabaret industry who have medical needs and concerns. The Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs honored her with a MAC Award for her many shows that have benefited her signature initiative. The Jamie deRoy & friends cabaret series has been attracting New York audiences for almost 30 years.

Jamie deRoy & friends airs Monday night’s weekly at 8 p.m. ET on Spectrum HD Channel #1993 and Verizon FIOS Channel #37 as well as multiple times on East Hampton’s LTV.  

Broadway Update

Broadway Update: Company Opens Early, Waitress Returns, Etc.

By: David Sheward

July 10,2021: The Broadway calendar keeps shifting in anticipation of the first full season since the COVID shutdown in March of 2020. The gender-reversed revival of Company, which was in previews when all the theaters closed, has pushed up its opening by one month. The show, directed by Tony winner Marianne Elliott, had previously announced a preview start date of Nov. 15 and an opening of Jan. 9, 2022. The show will now begin previews Nov. 15 and open on Dec. 9 at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater. The cast will include the legendary Patti LuPone, Tony winner Katrina Lenk (The Band’s Visit), Matt Doyle (War Horse), Tony nominee Christopher Fitzgerald (Finian’s Rainbow, Waitress), Christopher Sieber (Shrek), Jennifer Simard (Disaster, Hello, Dolly!), Terence Archie (Kiss Me, Kate), Greg Hildreth (Frozen, Cinderella), Claybourne Elder (One Arm, Bonnie and Clyde) and Nikki Renee Daniels (Porgy and Bess).

Broadway Update: Company Opens Early, Waitress Returns, Etc.

By: David Sheward

July 10,2021: The Broadway calendar keeps shifting in anticipation of the first full season since the COVID shutdown in March of 2020. The gender-reversed revival of Company, which was in previews when all the theaters closed, has pushed up its opening by one month. The show, directed by Tony winner Marianne Elliott, had previously announced a preview start date of Nov. 15 and an opening of Jan. 9, 2022. The show will now begin previews Nov. 15 and open on Dec. 9 at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater. The cast will include the legendary Patti LuPone, Tony winner Katrina Lenk (The Band’s Visit), Matt Doyle (War Horse), Tony nominee Christopher Fitzgerald (Finian’s Rainbow, Waitress), Christopher Sieber (Shrek), Jennifer Simard (Disaster, Hello, Dolly!), Terence Archie (Kiss Me, Kate), Greg Hildreth (Frozen, Cinderella), Claybourne Elder (One Arm, Bonnie and Clyde) and Nikki Renee Daniels (Porgy and Bess).

Sara Bareilles will star in a return engagement of Waitress for which she also wrote the score.

Speaking of Waitress, the feel-good tuner from Sara Bareilles will return to Broadway, starting a limited run at the Ethel Barrymore Theater on Sept. 2 through Jan. 9, 2022. Bareilles will play the lead through Oct. 17. The original production opened at the Brooks Atkinson Theater in 2016 and played 1,544 performances, closing in Jan. 2020 just before the pandemic hit.

Tony and Emmy winner LaChanze has been announced as the lead of Roundabout’s revival of Alice Childress’ Trouble in Mind. She’ll play an experienced African-American actress dealing with subtle and overt racism on 1950s Broadway. Previews begin Oct. 29 in advance of a Nov. 18 opening.

With Company pushed up to a December opening, the Manhattan Theater Club production of Dominique Morriseau’s Skeleton Crew will now be the first Broadway production of 2022. There has been much internet chatter about the play’s headliner Phylicia Rashad since she tweeted in support of her former TV co-star Bill Cosby’s release from prison on a sexual assault charge. Cosby was released on a legal technicality after serving two and a half years and Rashad tweeted “FINALLY!! A terrible wrong is being righted–a miscarriage of justice is corrected!” After a backlash from advocates of the MeToo movement and others online, Rashad deleted the tweet and wrote a letter of apology to students of Howard University where she has been appointed as Dean of the College of Fine Arts. There were calls for her to resign from that position and on some theater chat boards, questions were raised if she will be kept on in Skeleton Crew. Cosby has since blasted Howard for criticizing Rashad and there has been no indication that Rashad will resign or be let go from either her academic position or her upcoming Broadway role. 

Alexander Mitchell, Audra McDonald and Phylicia Rashad in the 2004 revival of A Raisin in the Sun.

Rashad is a brilliant actress who has won a Tony Award for the 2004 revival of A Raisin in the Sun (she is the first African-American actress to win in the category of Leading Actress in a Play) and has delivered numerous heartfelt and stunning performances on and Off-Broadway. The public and Howard University have a right to express outrage over her tweet in support of Cosby–people can even protest outside the theater if they want–but she does not deserved to be “cancelled.”  

2021-22 Broadway and Off-Broadway Schedule (opening dates listed for new shows):

June 26–Springsteen on Broadway (St. James)

July 27–Merry Wives (Shakespeare in the Park/Delacorte)

Sept. 2–Hadestown (Walter Kerr); Waitress (Barrymore)

Sept. 3–Blue Man Group (Astor Place)

Sept. 12–Pass Over (August Wilson)

Sept. 14–Chicago (Ambassador); Hamilton (Richard Rodgers); The Lion King (Minskoff); Wicked (Gershwin)

Sept. 17–David Byrne’s American Utopia (St. James)

Sept. 21–Little Shop of Horrors (Westside)

Sept. 22–Come from Away (Gerald Schoenfeld)

Sept. 24–Moulin Rouge (Al Hirschfeld)

Sept. 26–Tony Awards (CBS/Paramount +)

Sept. 28–Lackawanna Blues (MTC/Samuel Friedman); Aladdin (New Amsterdam)

Oct. 1–Diana premieres on Netflix

Oct. 3–Six (Brooks Atkinson)

Oct. 4–Letters of Suresh (Second Stage/Kiser)

Oct. 5–To Kill a Mockingbird (Shubert)

Oct. 7–Freestyle Love Supreme (Booth)

Oct. 8–Tina: The Tina Turner Musical (Lunt-Fontanne)

Oct. 9–Gazillion Bubbles Show (New World Stages)

Oct. 10–Chicken and Biscuits (Circle In the Square)

Oct. 13–Girl from the North Country (Belasco)

Oct. 14–The Lehman Trilogy (Nederlaner)

Oct. 16–Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations (Imperial)

Oct. 21–Jagged Little Pill (Broadhurst)

Oct. 22–Phantom of the Opera (Majestic)

Oct. 27–Caroline or Change (Roundabout/Studio 54)

Oct. 31–Thoughts of a Colored Man (Golden)

Nov. 3–Morning Sun (MTC/City Center)

Nov. 5–The Book of Mormon (Eugene O’Neill)

Nov. 15–Jersey Boys (New World Stages)

Nov. 16–Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Lyric)

Nov. 17–Diana  (Longacre)

Nov. 22–Clyde’s (Second Stage/Hayes)

Nov. 18–Trouble in Mind (Roundabout/AA)

Dec. 5–Mrs. Doubtfire (Stephen Sondheim)

Dec. 6–Flying Over Sunset (LCT/Vivian Beaumont)

Dec. 9–Company (Bernard B. Jacobs)

Dec. 11–Dear Evan Hansen (Music Box)

Jan. 12, 2022–Skeleton Crew (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)

Jan. 27–Intimate Apparel (LCT/Mitzi Newhouse)

Feb. 1–MJ: The Michael Jackson Musical (Neil Simon)

Feb. 10–The Music Man (Winter Garden)

March 20–Paradise Square (Barrymore)

March 28–Plaza Suite (Hudson)

April 4–Take Me Out (Second Stage/Hayes)

April 7–The Minutes (Studio 54)

April 10–Birthday Candles (Roundabout/AA)

April 14–To My Girls (Second Stage/Kiser)

April 19–How I Learned to Drive (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)

May 17–Golden Shield (MTC/City Center)

Spring 2022 (dates TBA)

Romeo and Bernadette: A Musical Tale of Verona and Brooklyn (possibly)

No Dates Yet

(New Shows)

American Buffalo (Circle in the Square)

Sing Street

(Old Shows)

West Side Story

Fall 2022

1776 (Roundabout/AA)

Between Riverside and Crazy (Second Stage/Hayes)

2022

Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death, The Piano Lesson

2022-23

Dancin’

2023 and Beyond

Game of Thrones, The Great Gatsby

Future–Our Town; Death of a Salesman; Funny Girl; K-pop the Broadway Musical; The Nanny; The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me; Smash; Some Like It Hot; Soul Train; The Who’s Tommy

2021-22 Broadway Season Breakdown:

New Plays

Birthday Candles

Chicken and Biscuits

Clyde’s

The Lehman Trilogy (transfer from Off-Broadway)

The Minutes

Pass Over

Skeleton Crew (previously produced Off-Broadway)

Thoughts of a Colored Man

Play Revivals

American Buffalo

How I Learned to Drive

Lackawanna Blues (previously produced Off-Broadway)

Plaza Suite

Take Me Out

Trouble in Mind

New Musicals

Diana

Flying Over Sunset

Mrs. Doubtfire

Paradise Square

Romeo and Bernadette: A Musical Tale of Verona and Brooklyn (possibly)

Sing Street (transfer from Off-Broadway, possibly)

Six

Musical Revivals

Caroline or Change

Company

Waitress (return engagement)

Specialties

Bruce Springsteen on Broadway (return engagement)

David Bryne’s American Utopia (return engagement)

Freestyle Love Supreme (return engagement)

Terence Archie, Patti LuPone and Katrina Link in Company Credit: Brinkoff Moegenburg
Sara Bareilles will star in a return engagement of Waitress for which she also wrote the score. Credit: Jeremy Daniel
Alexandra Mitchell, Audra McDonald and Phylicia Rashad in the 2004 revival of A Raisin in the Sun. Credit: Joan Marcus

Originally Posted on The David Desk 2 on July 9, 2021.


Fruma-Sarah (Waiting in the Wings) **1/2

By: David Sheward

July 8, 2021: It’s appropriate that the first indoor production with live actors I’m reviewing since the COVID pandemic shut down all NYC stages over a year ago is a celebration of theater and how it can heal communities and create families. E. Dale Smith’s Fruma-Sarah (Waiting in the Wings) is such a celebration but this backstage comedy is flawed, and somewhat forced. Fortunately, that prickly comedienne Jackie Hoffman makes it fly. 

By: David Sheward

July 8, 2021: It’s appropriate that the first indoor production with live actors I’m reviewing since the COVID pandemic shut down all NYC stages over a year ago is a celebration of theater and how it can heal communities and create families. E. Dale Smith’s Fruma-Sarah (Waiting in the Wings) is such a celebration but this backstage comedy is flawed, and somewhat forced. Fortunately, that prickly comedienne Jackie Hoffman makes it fly. 

As indicated by the title, this tidy little sketch focuses on the flying ghost conjured up by Tevye the hero of the beloved musical Fiddler on the Roof, or rather, the actress playing her in a community theater production in suburban New Jersey. Ariana Russo is depressed, alcoholic, and isolated with a gay ex-husband, an alienated daughter, and a nowhere real estate job. But she’s also got a quick tongue and a razor-sharp wit. While waiting for her entrance for her brief role in the dream sequence, she pours her heart out to Margo, the replacement fly-rigging operator, in between sips from a flask. Margo has issues of her own including a rebellious teenage son and an attractive offer for a touring stage manager job, at the risk of losing her secure office gig. 

Jackie Hoffman, Kelly Kinsella

This intimate two-hander’s 75 minutes is mostly taken up with Ariana grousing about her poor life choices and the dwindling size of her parts in the community theater, the only source of joy in an otherwise dreary existence. There are also several funny cracks which will be hilarious to theater people but will probably produce head scratching among civilians. For instance, the avant-garde director of this Fiddler has cast the Jewish peasants as contemporary urban hipsters and the oppressive Russian cossacks as Trump supporters. The company’s next show is the teen musical Assassins Junior, followed by the children’s musical Goldilocks Behind Bars (“It is cute! It’s like Mother Goose Meets Orange Is the New Black without all the lesbian stuff,” announces the group’s artistic director at the top of the show.) Smith’s script is peppered with such inside-baseball jibes, but too much of the remainder of the show is taken up with overly familiar soap operatics. Ariana even goes so far as to attempt to strangle herself with the flying rope. We’re also led to believe Ariana and Margo would be having a full-volume heart-to-heart only inches for a performance. 

Luckily, grudge collector Ariana is played by the mistress of misery, Jackie Hoffman, whose perfect timing and expert sneer have enlivened the FX mini-series Feud, Broadway musicals like Hairspray, On the Town, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and even an under-five walk-on in the movie Birdman. With her constant kvetching, Ariana could have easier turned into a bore, but Hoffman emphasizes Ariana’s slashing wit and her fun side, playing down the melodramatics. Her performance is a tour de force of bitchery, yet she also conveys Ariana’s desperate loneliness without indulging in self-pity. As Margo, Kelly Kinsella has the difficult task of playing straight woman and feeding cues to Hoffman. But she manages to maintain an even-handed authority and create a credible through-line for her character—Get Ariana under control and get this show on the road with a minimum of damage. Braden M. Burns is credited with “original concept and direction” and instills the right balance and pace to keep the action variable in Rodrigo Escalante’s tiny backstage set tucked into the postage-stamp-sized cell theater. Bobby Goodrich created the garish, ghostly costume for Fruma-Sarah.

Jackie Hoffman, Kelly Kinsella in “Fruma-Sarah (Waiting in the Wings)

This may not be the wham-bang extravaganza to mark the return to live theater, but it’s light summer fun and good for a pleasant giggle.

July 8—25. the cell theater, 338 W. 23rd St., NYC. Tue—Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm & 8pm; Sun, 4pm. Running time: 75 mins. with no intermission. $35—$57. www.SpinCycleNYC.com. Patrons are required to show proof of vaccination upon arrival.

Photography: Hunter Canning

Tiny House ***

By: David Sheward

July 2, 2021: As theaters across the country announce the return of live, post-pandemic performances, the number of Zoom and virtual shows has waned. But there are still companies presenting intriguing and innovative offerings via the Internet. Perhaps this hybrid of theater and technology will become a permanent new media, expanding the possibilities and accessibility of intimate performances. One such computer-broadcast play is Michael Gotch’s pleasant and proficient family comedy Tiny House, presented by the Westport Country Playhouse through July 18. Gotch displays an admirable facility for sharp dialogue, free of gotchas (pardon the pun), and the proceedings are smoothly directed for the small screen by Mark Lamos. 

By: David Sheward

July 2, 2021: As theaters across the country announce the return of live, post-pandemic performances, the number of Zoom and virtual shows has waned. But there are still companies presenting intriguing and innovative offerings via the Internet. Perhaps this hybrid of theater and technology will become a permanent new media, expanding the possibilities and accessibility of intimate performances. One such computer-broadcast play is Michael Gotch’s pleasant and proficient family comedy Tiny House, presented by the Westport Country Playhouse through July 18. Gotch displays an admirable facility for sharp dialogue, free of gotchas (pardon the pun), and the proceedings are smoothly directed for the small screen by Mark Lamos. 

Stephen Pelinski, Kathleen Pirkl-Tague

The basic set-up has been done before—the family gathering under tense circumstances. Young marrieds Sam and Nick have chucked their establishment jobs, gone green and off the grid, joining the “tiny house” movement to lessen their carbon footprint and reconnect with each other. They are holding a Fourth-of-July housewarming party for their new diminutive domicile on the side of a remote mountain. (The fascinating setting is realized by set designer Hugh Landwehr and digital designer Charlie Corcoron.) Joining them are Sam’s mother Billie and uncle Larry. Sam’s father is absent because he is in prison for perpetrating a Bernie Madoff-type Ponzi scheme, which has shattered the family financially and emotionally. Billie, now destitute after her husband’s fiduciary crimes, has taken up with her brother-in-law Larry, a good-hearted, befuddled high-school science teacher. Along for comic relief are eccentric neighbors Win and Carol, former hippies with a penchant for cosplay, and Bernard, a scary paramilitary type who may or may not been involved with the CIA.

Current issues such as invasive social media, income inequality, and climate change are batted about with verve but the main conflict is between Sam and Billie as each strives to come to terms with the damage done by the absent father. Their confrontation is the core of the play and Sara Bues as Sam and Elizabeth Heflin as Billie dig into it with relish. Both actresses endow these combatants with a yearning to bond, and a ferocious anger at the hand dealt them by a greedy patriarch.

Lee E. Ernst

The early dialogue between Sam and Nick also crackles with unspoken resentment and unresolved tension. Plus Gotch wisely avoids obvious exposition. But there are flaws. No sooner have Sam and Nick been established as credible figures than the kooky Bernard drops by, brandishing a freshly killed marmot and conspiracy theories, taking us into sitcom territory. In addition, Nick is an underdeveloped character—we never find out his motive for dropping out or even his occupation—and despite Denver Milord’s fiery performance, he comes across as self-righteously smug in touting of his environmental bona fides. Win and Carol are cringeworthy caricatures of off-beat non-conformists, though Stephen Pelinski and Kathleen Pirkl-Tague lend them heart and compassion. They manage to bring off the pair’s bizarre fondness for playing dress-up (in Act One, they are adorned as Henry VIII and Anne Boelyn, and in Act Two they reappear as elves from Lord of the Rings. Kudos to Tricia Barsamain’s costume design.)  Likewise, Hassan El-Amin’s quiet dignity keeps the weird Bernard from turning into a cliche and Lee E. Ernst maintains the somewhat goofy Larry’s humanity. 

Despite the comic excesses and familiar plot tropes (Amanda Peet also profiled a Madoff-like family in her Commons of Pensacola, presented Off-Broadway by Manhattan Theatre Club in 2013), Tiny House is a heartfelt and incisive study of our chaotic, hyper-connected, yet disconnected world.

Hassan El-Amin

Broadway Update: Second Stage Announces Dates

By: David Sheward

July 2, 2021: Second Stage has announced dates for its 2021-22 on and Off-Broadway season, bringing the NYC post-COVID theater schedule into sharper focus. The company will open with two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage’s Clyde’s premiering at the Hayes Theater with previews beginning Nov. 3 and an opening set for Nov. 22.

By: David Sheward

July 2, 2021: Second Stage has announced dates for its 2021-22 on and Off-Broadway season, bringing the NYC post-COVID theater schedule into sharper focus. The company will open with two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage’s Clyde’s premiering at the Hayes Theater with previews beginning Nov. 3 and an opening set for Nov. 22. The play, previously titled Floyd’s appeared at the Guthrie Theater in 2019 and is set in a truck stop diner where the tough-talking female owner hires ex-convicts. The title was changed, presumably to avoid confusion with George Floyd, the African-American man who was killed by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Nottage will also be represented this season by MJ, the Michael Jackson bio musical for which she wrote the book, and an operatic adaptation of her New York Drama Critics Circle Award winning play Intimate Apparel. In related news, Tony nominee Ephraim Skyes will be replaced in the title role of MJ by newcomer Myles Frost. Skyes cited scheduling conflicts as the reason for departing the show which has been delayed many times, not just by the COVID pandemic. 

Patrick J. Adams, Jesse Williams, and  Jesse Tyler Ferguson will star in Take Me Out

Second Stage’s Broadway season continues with a revival of Richard Greenberg’s Tony-winning Take Me Out, the 2002 drama about the first out gay major league baseball player. The play will be all the more relevant since the NFL has had its first out active player. Previews begin March 9, 2022 and the show opens April 4. Dates are yet to be announced for Stephen Aldy Gurgis’ Between Riverside and Crazy, set to play the Hayes in the fall of 2022.

Off-Broadway at the Kiser Theater, there will be two new Second Stage productions. Rajiv Joseph’s Letters of Suresh previews Sept. 14 and opens Oct. 4. The play, a companion piece to the author’s Animals Out of Paper, follows the interconnections of a group of strangers through a series of letters. J.C. Lee’s To My Girls will then start previews March 22 and open April 14. This comedy-drama is centered on a group of gay friends gathering in Palm Springs after the pandemic. Sounds a bit like an updated version of Terrence McNally’s Love! Valour! Compassion! which featured a gay group recovering from the AIDS crisis in an upstate New York weekend house. 

This Second Stage season is much smaller in scale then previous ones with only four productions total planned (two on Broadway and two Off.) This is indicative of the NYC theater in general in a post-COVID world. The pandemic has crippled the industry with tourism way down and box office response potentially soft. There are only 22 productions slated for the 2021-22 Broadway season. It may be years before we return to pre-pandemic levels of activity.

2021-22 Broadway/Off-Broadway Season Calendar:

June 26–Springsteen on Broadway (St. James)

July 27–Merry Wives (Shakespeare in the Park/Delacorte)

Sept. 2–Hadestown (Walter Kerr)

Sept. 3–Blue Man Group (Astor Place)

Sept. 12–Pass Over (August Wilson)

Sept. 14–Chicago (Ambassador); Hamilton (Richard Rodgers); The Lion King (Minskoff); Wicked (Gershwin)

Sept. 17–David Byrne’s American Utopia (St. James)

Sept. 21–Little Shop of Horrors (Westside)

Sept. 22–Come from Away (Gerald Schoenfeld)

Sept. 24–Moulin Rouge (Al Hirschfeld)

Sept. 26–Tony Awards (CBS/Paramount +)

Sept. 28–Lackawanna Blues (MTC/Samuel Friedman); Aladdin (New Amsterdam)

Oct. 1–Diana premieres on Netflix

Oct. 3–Six (Brooks Atkinson)

Oct. 4–Letters of Suresh (Second Stage/Kiser)

Oct. 5–To Kill a Mockingbird (Shubert)

Oct. 7–Freestyle Love Supreme (Booth)

Oct. 8–Tina: The Tina Turner Musical (Lunt-Fontanne)

Oct. 9–Gazillion Bubbles Show (New World Stages)

Oct. 10–Chicken and Biscuits (Circle In the Square)

Oct. 13–Girl from the North Country (Belasco)

Oct. 14–The Lehman Trilogy (Nederlaner)

Oct. 16–Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations (Imperial)

Oct. 21–Jagged Little Pill (Broadhurst)

Oct. 22–Phantom of the Opera (Majestic)

Oct. 27–Caroline or Change (Roundabout/Studio 54)

Oct. 31–Thoughts of a Colored Man (Golden)

Nov. 3–Morning Sun (MTC/City Center)

Nov. 5–The Book of Mormon (Eugene O’Neill)

Nov. 15–Jersey Boys (New World Stages)

Nov. 16–Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Lyric)

Nov. 17–Diana  (Longacre)

Nov. 22–Clyde’s (Second Stage/Hayes)

Nov. 18–Trouble in Mind (Roundabout/AA)

Dec. 5–Mrs. Doubtfire (Stephen Sondheim)

Dec. 6–Flying Over Sunset (LCT/Vivian Beaumont)

Dec. 11–Dear Evan Hansen (Music Box)

Jan. 9, 2022–Company (Bernard B. Jacobs)

Jan. 12–Skeleton Crew (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)

Jan. 27–Intimate Apparel (LCT/Mitzi Newhouse)

Feb. 1–MJ: The Michael Jackson Musical (Neil Simon)

Feb. 10–The Music Man (Winter Garden)

March 20–Paradise Square (Barrymore)

March 28–Plaza Suite (Hudson)

April 4–Take Me Out (Second Stage/Hayes)

April 7–The Minutes (Studio 54)

April 10–Birthday Candles (Roundabout/AA)

April 14–To My Girls (Second Stage/Kiser)

April 19–How I Learned to Drive (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)

May 17–Golden Shield (MTC/City Center)

Spring 2022 (dates TBA)

Romeo and Bernadette: A Musical Tale of Verona and Brooklyn (possibly)

No Dates Yet

(New Shows)

American Buffalo (Circle in the Square)

Sing Street

(Old Shows)

West Side Story

Fall 2022

1776 (Roundabout/AA)

Between Riverside and Crazy (Second Stage/Hayes)

2022

Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death, The Piano Lesson

2022-23

Dancin’

2023 and Beyond

Game of Thrones, The Great Gatsby

Future–Our Town; Death of a Salesman; Funny Girl; K-pop the Broadway Musical; The Nanny; The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me; Smash; Some Like It Hot; Soul Train; The Who’s Tommy

2021-22 Broadway Season Breakdown:

New Plays

Birthday Candles

Chicken and Biscuits

Clyde’s

The Lehman Trilogy (transfer from Off-Broadway)

The Minutes

Pass Over

Skeleton Crew (previously produced Off-Broadway)

Thoughts of a Colored Man

Play Revivals

American Buffalo

How I Learned to Drive

Lackawanna Blues (previously produced Off-Broadway)

Plaza Suite

Take Me Out

Trouble in Mind

New Musicals

Diana

Flying Over Sunset

Mrs. Doubtfire

Paradise Square

Sing Street (transfer from Off-Broadway, possibly)

Six

Musical Revivals

Caroline or Change

Company

Specialties

Bruce Springsteen on Broadway (return engagement)

David Bryne’s American Utopia (return engagement)

Freestyle Love Supreme (return engagement)

Floyd’s” which will open as “Clyde’s” on Broadway
Photo: T. Charles Erickson
Take Me Out Photo: Catherine Wessel

Originally Posted on The David Desk 2 on July 1, 2021

Four Chords and a Gun ***

By: Paulanne Simmons

June 30, 2021: Forty years ago, the legendary punk rock group, the Ramones, recorded the album “End of the Century” with the legendary producer Phil Spector. In 2016, John Ross Bowie’s Four Chords and a Gun, a play about the drama and sometimes violent conflicts surrounding this endeavor, premiered at L.A.’s Bootleg Theater. In April 2019 it landed at Toronto’s Fleck Dance Theatre, and in May of that year, the play ran at the Broadway Playhouse, in Chicago. Now it is being streamed at Play-PerView, available on demand through June 30.

By: Paulanne Simmons

June 30, 2021: Forty years ago, the legendary punk rock group, the Ramones, recorded the album “End of the Century” with the legendary producer Phil Spector. In 2016, John Ross Bowie’s Four Chords and a Gun, a play about the drama and sometimes violent conflicts surrounding this endeavor, premiered at L.A.’s Bootleg Theater. In April 2019 it landed at Toronto’s Fleck Dance Theatre, and in May of that year, the play ran at the Broadway Playhouse, in Chicago. Now it is being streamed at Play-PerView, available on demand through June 30.

Bobby Conte Thornton
Brendon Hunt

The show, directed by Jessica Hanna, features Brendon Hunt as Marky Ramone, who functions as narrator when he’s not sleeping; Justin Kirk as the nasty Johnny Ramone; Michael Cassady as Dee Dee Ramone, who is frequently strung out on drugs; and Bobby Conte Thornton as the neurotic lead singer, Joey Ramone. The Ramones, by the way, were not brothers or named Ramone. They were four friends from Forest Hills, Queens, who called themselves Ramone because that was the name Paul McCartney used when he wanted to check into hotels anonymously.

Justin Kirk
Michael Cassady
Lena Hall

Lena Hall is Linda, who starts off as Joey’s girlfriend, but ends up married to Johnny, although it’s not clear how she’s improved her lot. There are some interesting interactions between the band members and Joey and Linda, but the play doesn’t really get its legs until Ben Feldman appears as Phil Spector.

In the first place, Feldman is the only actor whose New York accent is genuine and believable. All the others would not be familiar to anyone who actually grew up in Queens. In fact, one of the actors sounds like he’d be more at home in one of the poorer neighborhoods of London. Take it from a reviewer who grew up in East New York.

Ben Feldman

But Feldman adds more to the play than a good imitation of a successful New York Jew. He’s brutal, sarcastic, ambitious and at times philosophical. He has the best lines, and he knows how to deliver them: “The songs are there. The sound is not.” He also knows how to brandish a gun, although, unfortunately, Bowie does not have him actually shoot anyone (which might have improved the play considerably).

Spector needs a hit to pay off his ex-wife and maintain his lifestyle and his ego. The Ramones want to become big stars like the Beatles or Kiss (a group Spector scorns). But the Ramones want success to come easy and Spector wants them to work… and work, and work. 

Curiously, although the play never received particularly good reviews, it may benefit from streaming.

Four Chords and a Gun does not have much of a plot and very little actually happens as that skimpy plot unfolds. At one point Feldman describes Spector’s silent role in the film Easy Rider. There is more action in that one scene than in Bowie’s entire play.

It seems Bowie (of The Big Bang Theory) was much more interested in the interplay of the various personalities he is writing about than the music they produced (of which we hear very little). Streaming, which allows us to focus on each character, serves the author’s intent very well. Who asserts power? Who relinquishes power? Where does talent end and ambition begin? How do people slowly destroy themselves? How do they support one another? 

These are all interesting questions. And they are especially intense in a play about such eccentric characters. If the play had been a bit shorter it might have held our interest until the end.