Broadway Update: Billy Crystal and Audra McDonald Return to the Stage

By: David Sheward

November 11, 2021: Billy Crystal and Audra McDonald will return to Broadway after long absences. Crystal will star in and co-author Mr. Saturday Night, a new musical based on the 1992 film comedy in which he played Buddy Young, a once famous TV comedian looking for a comeback in his old age. The musical, featuring music by Jason Robert Brown, lyrics by Amanda Greene and a book by Crystal, Lowell Ganz, and Babaloo Mandel (who also collaborated on the screenplay) will begin previews at the Nederlander Theater on March 1 with an opening on March 31. David Paymer will recreate his Oscar-nominated role as Buddy’s brother and manager. Also starring will be Tony winner Randy Graff (City of Angels, Fiddler on the Roof) and Chasten Harmon (The Good Fight, Elementary). Tony winner John Rando (Urinetown) directs. The show recently had a presentation at the Barrington Stage Company in Massachusetts.

By: David Sheward

November 11, 2021: Billy Crystal and Audra McDonald will return to Broadway after long absences. Crystal will star in and co-author Mr. Saturday Night, a new musical based on the 1992 film comedy in which he played Buddy Young, a once famous TV comedian looking for a comeback in his old age. The musical, featuring music by Jason Robert Brown, lyrics by Amanda Greene and a book by Crystal, Lowell Ganz, and Babaloo Mandel (who also collaborated on the screenplay) will begin previews at the Nederlander Theater on March 1 with an opening on March 31. David Paymer will recreate his Oscar-nominated role as Buddy’s brother and manager. Also starring will be Tony winner Randy Graff (City of Angels, Fiddler on the Roof) and Chasten Harmon (The Good Fight, Elementary). Tony winner John Rando (Urinetown) directs. The show recently had a presentation at the Barrington Stage Company in Massachusetts.

Crystal last appeared on Broadway in his self-written Tony-winning solo show 700 Sundays which he premiered in 2004 and had a return engagement in 2013.

“Creating and portraying the 75-year-old comedian Buddy Young Jr. in the film of Mr. Saturday Night was one of the highlights of my career – 30 years ago I needed 5 hours of make-up to play him, now I just show up,” Crystal said in a statement.  

Audra McDonald

McDonald will be headlining a Broadway production of Adrienne Kennedy’s The Ohio State Murders, first presented in 1992 at the Great Lakes Theatre Festival. The 75-minute play is about an African-American writer who returns to her alma mater, Ohio State University, to give a talk on violence in her work. This will mark the Broadway debut of Kennedy, 90, who has had several works presented Off-Broadway and is considered one of the leading playwrights of the avant-garde. Her plays such as Funnyhouse of a Negro, A Rat’s Mass, Sleep Deprivation Chamber, A Movie Star Has to Star in Black and White, and June and Jean in Concert have won international acclaim and Obie Awards. Her plays are non-linear, dream-like and unconventional. The production will be staged by Kenny Leon who directed a streamed version of the play with McDonald and directed her to one of her six Tonys in A Raisin in the Sun in 2004. She last appeared on Broadway in 2019 in Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune. No dates or further casting have been announced yet.

In other news: Chicken and Biscuits had to cancel three performances (Nov. 9-11) due to COVID-19 breakthrough cases in the company. Is This A Room and Dana H. had announced they were closing earlier than expected at the Lyceum, but there was a sudden surge at the box office and the two one-acts running in repertory will now play through Nov. 28 and 29 respectively.

2021-22 Broadway/Off-Broadway Schedule

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

Nov. 14–Assassins (CSC)

Nov. 15–Jersey Boys (New World Stages); Morning’s at Seven (St. Clements)

Nov. 17–Diana (Longacre); Cullud Wattah (Public)

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

Nov. 22–Clyde’s (Second Stage/Hayes); A Sherlock Carol (New World Stages)

Dec. 2–Slave Play (August Wilson)

Dec. 5–Mrs. Doubtfire (Stephen Sondheim)

Dec. 8–Kimberly Akimbo (Atlantic Theater Company); Selling Kabul (Playwrights Horizons)

Dec. 9–Company (Bernard B. Jacobs)

Dec. 11–Dear Evan Hansen (Music Box)

Dec. 13–Flying Over Sunset (LCT/Vivian Beaumont)

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); Prayer for the French Republic (MTC/City Center)

Feb. 3–English (Atlantic Theater Company); Sandblasted (Vineyard)

Feb. 5–The Merchant of Venice (TFANA/Polonksy Shakespeare Center)

Feb. 10–The Music Man (Winter Garden)

Feb. 14–Sleep No More (McKittrick Hotel)

Feb. 22–Black No More (The New Group)

March 20–Paradise Square (Barrymore)

March 28–Plaza Suite (Hudson)

March 31–Mr. Saturday Night (Nederlander)

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

April 7–The Minutes (Studio 54)

April 8–Beetlejuice (Marriott Marquis)

April 10–Birthday Candles (Roundabout/AA)

April 13–Harmony (Museum of Jewish Heritage)

April 14–American Buffalo (Circle In the Square); To My Girls (Second Stage/Kiser)

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

April 23–Wedding Band (TFANA/Polonsky Shakespeare Center)

April 24–Funny Girl (August Wilson)

April 25–The Skin of Our Teeth (LTC/Vivian Beaumont)

April 28–Macbeth (Lyceum)

April 30–The Bedwetter (Atlantic Theater Company)

May 17–Golden Shield (MTC/City Center)

Fall 2022

1776 (Roundabout/AA)

Between Riverside and Crazy (Second Stage/Hayes)

2022

Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death, The Ohio State Murders, The Piano Lesson, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

2022-23

Dancin’, Pal Joey, Square One

2023 and Beyond

Game of Thrones, The Great Gatsby

Future–Our Town; Death of a Salesman; K-pop the Broadway Musical; The Nanny; The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me; Smash; Some Like It Hot; Soul Train; A Strange Loop; 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 (previously presented Off-Broadway)

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)

Macbeth

Plaza Suite

The Skin of Our Teeth

Slave Play (return engagement)

Take Me Out

Trouble in Mind

New Musicals

Diana

Flying Over Sunset

Mr. Saturday Night

Mrs. Doubtfire

Paradise Square

Six

Musical Revivals

Beetlejuice (return engagement)

Caroline or Change

Company

Funny Girl 

Waitress (return engagement)

Specialties

Bruce Springsteen on Broadway (return engagement)

David Bryne’s American Utopia (return engagement)

Freestyle Love Supreme (return engagement)

Originally Posted on The David Desk 2 on November 11, 2021

Sidney Myer Back at Pangea

By: Alix Cohen

November 11, 2021: Arguably one of New York cabaret’s treasures on and off the stage, Sidney Myer once again elicits both buoyant laughter and empathetic pathos from a not-to-be-missed show. AS vulnerable as Charlie Chaplin but with a proclivity to tease, the artist has only to raise a well timed eyebrow, glare, grow still, or grind his hip to affect an audience. He uniquely manifests wry, sexual innuendo with a sense of play, yet plumbs romance and innocence. .

By: Alix Cohen

November 11, 2021: Arguably one of New York cabaret’s treasures on and off the stage, Sidney Myer once again elicits both buoyant laughter and empathetic pathos from a not-to-be-missed show. AS vulnerable as Charlie Chaplin but with a proclivity to tease, the artist has only to raise a well timed eyebrow, glare, grow still, or grind his hip to affect an audience. He uniquely manifests wry, sexual innuendo with a sense of play, yet plumbs romance and innocence. .

“I Am Your Man” (Bonnie Lee Sanders/Susan Green) arrives with a little body pump, eyebrows forming a point; one eye closes, fingers splay. When you’re sorta, kinda feelin’ blue… he sings with a sigh…“Boo hoo,” he says, fingers tracking imaginary tears… “Lift off!” he calls (prefacing musical swell). It’s touching rather than over the top – and hysterically funny.

Natural sweetness blooms with Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick’s “Here in Eden” from The Apple Tree. Myer scans the room suddenly wide-eyed: How’d I come?/Where’m I from?/What’s my ultimate aim?/I don’t even know/Even so/I’m glad I came. He looks about ten years old. “Sing a Rainbow” (Arthur Hamilton) emerges at the same naïve emotional age. This song is oddly paired with a deeply romantic “Bella Notte” (Peggy Lee/Sonny Burke). I fail to understand the connection.

“When I Just Wear My Smile” (Tom Lane/Sharon Pulley) and “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” (Martin Charnin/Charles Strouse) follow suit at soft shoe tempo. Myer evokes ‘the little tramp’. Johnny Mercer/Jean DePaul’s “Namely You (Namely Me)” is immensely moving. His eyes glisten, his voice breaks. The club holds its breath. With Cy Coleman/Ira Gasman’s “Easy Money” we see the actor – nostrils flaring, grabbing at unexpected pay and popularity. “I really could get used to it,” he growls stuffing invisible bills in his mouth.

Three signature songs are performed with balletic arms: “Mary Cohen” (Chuck Prentiss) during which the club spontaneously bursts forth with “her name and” the provocative “Pheromones” (Joan Cushing) for which Myer resembles a heat-seeking missile: I don’t give a damn if you can read, As long as you’ve got what I need- “Read my hips!” (grind left, grind right, pelvis thrust) precede “the song you’ve all been waiting for,” a purring,””It’s So Nice to Have a Man Around the House”: Nice! Man! HOOOUUUSE. These are no less engaging for familiarity. My cheeks hurt from smiling.

A parentheses about those Myer has booked over decades (or facsimiles thereof) takes us to “Dance With Me” (Mark Sonnenblick from Midnight at The Never Get, a musical the artist was instrumental in giving a leg up). It’s a killer song to which the artist does full, heart breaking justice.

His encore of Allen Sherman/Lou Busch’s “Good advice,” bounces us out Tigger-like, employing all the thespian’s talents. It’s another to which, unasked, we collectively sing the chorus. People line up to literally thank Sidney Myer who always looks surprised. Treat yourself. Go.

Tonight’s opening is packed with too many cabaret peers to single out, but Myer is surprised and delighted to acknowledge Marilyn Maye of whom he’s been an ardent fan since childhood.

Photos by Magda Katz

Sidney Meyer Back at Pangea
MD/Piano- Tracy Stark Director- Peter Schlosser
Drums- Dave Silliman, Bass- Skip Ward

ADDITIONAL DATES: November 15, 22, and 29th at 7 p.m. and with any luck, another Gala New Year’s Eve

Pangea

Originally Posed on November 11, 2021 on Woman Around Town

The Pass Musical

Denise Marsa’s heartfelt musical, The Pass, selected for United Solo Festival, NY 2021 on November 18 @ 9pm at Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street.

November 7, 2021: The Pass, initially developed in 2017 with theater legend Gretchen Cryer, is a compelling series of autobiographical vignettes, incorporating songs and stories, written and performed by award-winning singer-songwriter Denise Marsa. Her raw and intimate tale is a testament to the human spirit, filled with moments of heartbreak, humor, and self-discovery. She   recounts her decades spanning career beginning at the end of the 70s to the present day through her beautiful songs and music. Denise’s journey is a nuanced and fascinating story about doing what you love in an ever-challenging world. The evening features renowned New York musician Tracy Stark on keys and additional vocals. Tickets are on sale now: https://unitedsolo.org/shows/the-pass-musical/ 

Denise Marsa’s heartfelt musical, The Pass, selected for United Solo Festival, NY 2021 on November 18 @ 9pm at Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street.

November 7, 2021: The Pass, initially developed in 2017 with theater legend Gretchen Cryer, is a compelling series of autobiographical vignettes, incorporating songs and stories, written and performed by award-winning singer-songwriter Denise Marsa. Her raw and intimate tale is a testament to the human spirit, filled with moments of heartbreak, humor, and self-discovery. She   recounts her decades spanning career beginning at the end of the 70s to the present day through her beautiful songs and music. Denise’s journey is a nuanced and fascinating story about doing what you love in an ever-challenging world. The evening features renowned New York musician Tracy Stark on keys and additional vocals. Tickets are on sale now: https://unitedsolo.org/shows/the-pass-musical/ 

Denise is best known internationally for the UK #3 hit, “Lucky Stars,” a duet she performed with Dean Friedman. She went on to become the lead voice on The Flirts international Billboard charting dance record, “Helpless” (You Took My Love). Her Marsa Music catalog is currently being administered by BMGRights Management. They are co-producing her new solo show The Pass Musical. 

The United Solo Theatre Festival is the world’s largest solo theatre festival held at Theatre Row on 42nd Street in New York City. Omar Sangare is both the founder and artistic director. The festival features many categories of solo shows, including storytelling, puppetry, dance, multimedia, improvisations, stand-up, magic, drama, and comedy. Since its inaugural edition, the festival proceeds have been used to raise money for The Actors Fund.

Morning Sun ***, Fairycakes *1/2

By: David Sheward

November 6, 2021: The content of Simon Stephens’ Morning Sun is not extraordinary, earth-shaking, or even that unusual. He seems to be aiming for a portrait of universal humanity through one ordinary life, much like Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. The goal is ambitious and Lila Neugebauer’s spare, delicate production, performed by three of our top actresses (Edie Falco, Blair Brown and Marin Ireland) is beautiful and touching, but the play itself still feels slender, much like Stephens’ previous work Heisenberg about a quirky May-December romance which ran slightly over an hour and felt like a skinny short story.

By: David Sheward

November 6, 2021: The content of Simon Stephens’ Morning Sun is not extraordinary, earth-shaking, or even that unusual. He seems to be aiming for a portrait of universal humanity through one ordinary life, much like Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. The goal is ambitious and Lila Neugebauer’s spare, delicate production, performed by three of our top actresses (Edie Falco, Blair Brown and Marin Ireland) is beautiful and touching, but the play itself still feels slender, much like Stephens’ previous work Heisenberg about a quirky May-December romance which ran slightly over an hour and felt like a skinny short story.

Sun is a 100-minute play presented by Manhattan Theater Club at City Center and focuses on three generations of women in Greenwich Village. The Playbill lists them as 1, 2, and 3, like the women identified as only letters in Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women. But Stephens’ play is much more direct and simple than Albee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning meditation on mortality. We are in what appears to be a basement meeting room with a kitchenette, plants, folding chairs and a closet with a vacuum cleaner (the generic-looking set was designed by the firm dots). The three seem to be gathered to sum up their life stories in a kind of community-meeting-hall afterlife.

Blair Brown, Marin Ireland in “Morning Sun”.

At first, it appears the focus is on the character designated as 2 (Brown), but gradually we learn the story is about her daughter 1 (which should be evident from the numbers.) “This is my story, Mom, not yours,” 1 says to 2. Though they are listed as numbers, they are also given names. Falco is Charley, a hospital receptionist; Brown is Claudette, her demanding mother; and Ireland is 3/Tessa, Charley’s independent daughter. The play follows Charley as she grows up, loses her beloved father, becomes a single mother, serves on the front lines of the AIDS crisis at her hospital job, meets her true love after an abusive relationship, and finally succumbs to cancer. All the other roles in her life, both male and female, are played by the other two.

The play is also a love letter to New York City with numerous Gotham landmarks such as Central Park and The New School and historical events like World War II, the disco era, 9-11, checked off like items on a list. Charley visits museums and has an affinity for Edward Hopper—the title is derived from one of his paintings she favors.     

Edie Falco in “Morning Sun”.

The main theme seems to that routine, ordinary lives are just as worthy of celebration as those of high-earning doctors and lawyers. Claudette and Charley express disappointment with their respective daughters for not living up to their potential or responsibilities. They counter that being a good friend, mother, or partner is just as important as earning a huge salary or having an impressive degree. But these big confrontation scenes feel forced as if Stephens needed some conflict to illuminate any otherwise uninvolving script.

Fortunately, the acting is indeed luminous as the three stars delve deeply into the psyches of the many characters they portray. Falco is particularly intense as Charley when she defends her life choices to her mother and a disapproving friend and, in the final scene, when she desperately enumerates all the pleasures and pain she wishes to love over. Brown and Ireland are impressive as they seamlessly shift between roles and genders. Lap Chi Chu’s versatile lighting effectively sets the transitions and multiple settings and moods. See Sun for the acting, but don’t expect any great revelations and you won’t be disappointed.

Kristolyn Lloyd, Z Infante, Julie Halston, Ann Harada and Jackie Hoffman in “Fairycakes”.

Speaking of disappointments, Douglas Carter Beane’s Fairycakes was a major one. It all sounded fantastic in the press release, a mashing up of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with several traditional fairy tales by one of the sharpest wits of today, the author of such piercing satires as As Bees in Honey Drown, And the Little Dog Laughed, and The Nance as well as the books for Xanadu and Lysistrata Jones. With a cast of Broadway vets like Julie Halston, Jackie Hoffman, Ann Harada, Arnie Burton and journalist-humorist Mo Rocca, this comedy was sure to be a laugh riot, right? Wrong.

The central premise is kinda cute. The fairies from such beloved tales as Pinocchio, Cinderella and Peter Pan are really the such ephemeral folks in Midsummer. When their magical parents Oberon and Titania are on the verge of splitting up, a scheme is launched to reunite them but it results in mismatched liaisons among the fairy-tale denizens. The problem is Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine have already mined this basic concept with success in Into the Woods. Beane sets up the gag of ill-suited lovers chasing each other and then it gets repeated several times. The material may have worked for a 20-minute sketch, but at nearly two and half hours, Fairycakes is way too long and repetitive. In addition, Beane should not have directed his own material. An objective stager might have advised cuts and tightened up the pacing. Beane lingers on unfunny bits and allows the scenes to drag. There are some chuckles, mostly provided by Hoffman’s deadpan delivery, but these cakes can be passed by without regret.  

Morning Sun: Nov. 3—Dec. 19. Manhattan Theater Club at City Center Stage I, 131 W. 55 St., NYC. Tue—Thu 7pm; Fri 8pm, Sat 2PM & 8PM; Sun 2pm & 7pm. Running time: one hour and 40 mins. with no intermission. $99—$109. (212) 581-1212. www.NYCityCenter.org. Photography: Mathew Murphy

Edie Falco, Marin Ireland in “Morning Sun”.

Fairycakes: Oct. 27—Nov. 21. Greenwich House Theater, 27 Barrow St., NYC. Tue—Thu 7:30pm, Fri 8pm, Sat—Sun 2pm & 8pm. Running time: two hours and 15 mins. with one intermission. $35—$95. (212) 757-9117. www.ovationtix.com.
Photography: Mathew Murphy

Jackie Hoffman in “Fairycakes”


BroadwayHD

Barbra Streisand’s A Star is Born and Matthew Bourne’s Red Shoes head November’s line up of spectacular new titles on BroadwayHD.

November 1, 2021- BroadwayHD, the premiere streaming service for theater fans, unveils a lineup of star-studded titles with classic movie musicals, concerts and spectacular theater performances. Kicking off the month on November 1st is the 1976 musical romantic drama film, A Star is Born, featuring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. The film’s narrative follows a young singer who meets and falls in love with an established rock and roll star, only to find her career ascending while his goes into decline. Also debuting on November 1st is the Oscar-winning film of the Broadway musical, Fiddler On The Roof, which centers around life among the Jewish community of a pre-revolutionary Russian village. On November 2nd, a brand new episode of the hit BBC Comedy series, Goes Wrong Show Episode 206: The Cornley Drama Part 2,  is set to debut, followed by Chitty Chitty Bang Bang starring Dick Van Dyke on the 4th. 

Barbra Streisand’s A Star is Born and Matthew Bourne’s Red Shoes head November’s line up of spectacular new titles on BroadwayHD.

November 1, 2021- BroadwayHD, the premiere streaming service for theater fans, unveils a lineup of star-studded titles with classic movie musicals, concerts and spectacular theater performances. Kicking off the month on November 1st is the 1976 musical romantic drama film, A Star is Born, featuring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. The film’s narrative follows a young singer who meets and falls in love with an established rock and roll star, only to find her career ascending while his goes into decline. Also debuting on November 1st is the Oscar-winning film of the Broadway musical, Fiddler On The Roof, which centers around life among the Jewish community of a pre-revolutionary Russian village. On November 2nd, a brand new episode of the hit BBC Comedy series, Goes Wrong Show Episode 206: The Cornley Drama Part 2,  is set to debut, followed by Chitty Chitty Bang Bang starring Dick Van Dyke on the 4th. 

 Also debuting on BroadwayHD this month is the Richard Maltby Jr. directed off-broadway production of “Love, Linda: The Life of Mrs. Cole Porter” the story of Linda Lee Thomas, the Southern beauty who was the driving force behind legendary songwriter Cole Porter, on November 18th, followed by the Michael Ball and Alfie Boe Back Together, which is the recording of the final show of their UK tour at the O2 Arena.Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes, a triumphant adaptation of the legendary 1948 feature film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, will be rounding out the month on November 25th. 

 BroadwayHD is also getting ready for the holiday season this month with a playlist of festive titles, including Holiday InnA Christmas Carol Goes WrongThe Goes Wrong ShowShe Loves MeMeshugaNutcrackerRoyal Ballet’s The NutcrackerA Christmas Carol and Slava’s Snowshow.

Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley

 “Theater fans are in for a treat this month with the debut of classic film adaptations A Star is Born, Fiddler on the Roof and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,”said Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley, co-founders of BroadwayHD. “We look forward to continue bringing the theater experience right into their homes with exciting new titles each month.”

 The new productions coming to BroadwayHD in November include:

A Star is Born– November 1-   A Star Is Born is a 1976 American musical romantic drama film directed by Frank Pierson, written by Pierson, John Gregory Dunne, Joan Didion, and starring Barbra Streisand, Kris Kristofferson, Gary Busey, Paul Mazursky, and Joanne Linville. The film’s narrative follows a young singer who meets and falls in love with an established rock and roll star, only to find her career ascending while his goes into decline.

Fiddler On The Roof- November 1– The Oscar-winning film  of the Broadway musical, starring Chaim Topel, centers around life among the Jewish community of a pre-revolutionary Russian village. A poor milkman, determined to find good husbands for his five daughters, consults the traditional matchmaker – and also has a word with God. 

Goes Wrong Show EP 206: The Cornley Drama Part 2- November 2- The Goes Wrong Show is written by and stars the original founders of the Mischief Theatre Company: Henry Lewis, Henry Shields,  and Jonathan Sayer, along with Bryony Corrigan, Nancy Zamit, Charlie Russell, Greg Tannahill, Dave Hearn and Chris Leask.  The series is based on the BBC The Play That Goes Wrong Christmas Specials and the popular Broadway and West End production that started it all.  Season two of The Goes Wrong Show will immerse the members of the Cornley Drama Society in another ambitious project.  We’ll see sets collapse, special effects fail, and the studio audience will be threatened.  But the show must go on…The Goes Wrong Show Season 2 will be Mischief Theatre’s biggest disaster yet.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang- November 4–  While truant from school, young siblings Jeremy and Jemima meet the beautiful Truly Scrumptious (Sally Ann Howes), who falls for their widowed father, Caractacus Potts (Dick Van Dyke), and his various oddball inventions, including the family’s noisy rebuilt car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. One day at the beach, Caractacus tells Truly and the children a fanciful fable about the villainous Baron Bomburst (Gert Frobe) and his evil designs on the Potts family car. 

Love, Linda: The Life of Mrs. Cole Porter- – November 18– Love, Linda tells the story of Linda Lee Thomas, the Southern beauty who was the driving force behind legendary songwriter Cole Porter. Though Porter was gay, their companionship and love lasted through 35 years of marriage and together they lived a spectacular, glamour-filled life. With innovative arrangements, Cole Porter’s timeless songs weave through the compelling narrative, celebrating the deep love that Linda and Cole shared, while examining the darker sides of their glamorous lives.

Michael Ball and Alfie Boe Back TogetherNovember 23-  The ultimate musical duo, Michael Ball and Alfie Boe are ‘Back Together’ with this recording of the final show of their UK tour at the O2 Arena. Hot on the heels of their star turns in the West End’s phenomenally successful staged concert of Les Misérables, the pair take on their favourite musical theatre, pop and rock tracks, including songs from The Lion King, The Greatest Showman and The Phantom of the Opera as well as a brilliantly arranged ‘Queen Medley’.

Matthew Bourne’s Red ShoesNovember 25- Filmed at Sadler’s Wells in 2019, Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes is a triumphant adaptation of the legendary 1948 feature film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. The double Olivier Award-winning show is Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of obsession, possession, and one girl’s dream to be the greatest dancer in the world. Victoria Page, played by Ashley Shaw who won a National Dance Award for her performance, lives to dance, but her ambitions become a battleground between the two men who inspire her passion: the composer Julian Craster played by original cast member Dominic North, and legendary impresario Boris Lermontov, with the great Adam Cooper in the role. Set to the achingly romantic music of golden-age Hollywood composer Bernard Herrmann, The Red Shoes is orchestrated by Terry Davies and performed live by the New Adventures Orchestra, with cinematic designs by Lez Brotherston, lighting by Paule Constable, sound by Paul Groothuis, and projection by Duncan McLean.

BroadwayHD introduces award-winning theater from all across the globe with both classic and modern productions.  Fans can expect to see the full works of Shakespeare from the Royal Shakespeare Company, awe-inspiring performances from Cirque du Soleil and a selection of the world’s greatest musicals including Kinky Boots, Cats, 42nd Street, She Loves Me, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I, The Sound of Music, andAn American in Paris. All performances are adapted specifically for streaming audiences to maximize the entertainment experience.  To learn more about BroadwayHD, visit www.broadwayhd.com.

Thoughts of a Colored Man ***1/2

By: Samuel L. Leiter

November 1, 2021: If one of the purposes of theatre can be said to be communion, the sense of shared emotional and intellectual response to an event, then the experience of watching Thoughts of a Colored Man certainly fits the description. Keenan Scott II’s new play, originally done by Syracuse Stage in 2019, had its Broadway opening delayed when the pandemic broke out. It may not achieve all the checkoffs one associates with first-class traditional playwriting, but as a dramatic—or even semi-dramatic—exercise, it creates a sense of warm engagement that keeps on giving through most of its ninety uninterrupted minutes at the John Golden Theatre.

By: Samuel L. Leiter

November 1, 2021: If one of the purposes of theatre can be said to be communion, the sense of shared emotional and intellectual response to an event, then the experience of watching Thoughts of a Colored Man certainly fits the description. Keenan Scott II’s new play, originally done by Syracuse Stage in 2019, had its Broadway opening delayed when the pandemic broke out. It may not achieve all the checkoffs one associates with first-class traditional playwriting, but as a dramatic—or even semi-dramatic—exercise, it creates a sense of warm engagement that keeps on giving through most of its ninety uninterrupted minutes at the John Golden Theatre.

Tristan Mack Wilds, Dyllón Burnside, Forrest McClendon, Da’Vinchi.

Thoughts of a Colored Man combines poetry, drama, music (limited but effective), and comedy in a series of scenes, songs, and monologues that purport to share things that African-American men have on their minds. As others have noted, it’s broadly reminiscent of Ntzoke Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf. Not until the end do we learn the names of its thus far anonymous men, and they’re all allegorical: Love (Dyllón Burnside), Happiness (Bryan Tererell Clark), Lust (Da’Vinchi), Passion (Luke James), Depression (Forrest McClendon), Wisdom (Esau Pritchett), and Anger (Tristan Mack Wilds).

Da’Vinchi, Dyllón Burnsid

Those names are absolutes that make the men seem less dimensional than what we actually see. While Wisdom, for example, definitely could be ascribed to the patriarchal Nigerian-American who runs Joe’s Barber Shop (and, therefore, could simply be called Joe), he also displays aspects of the other concepts, as do his fellow characters. Most share traits of love, anger, passion, depression, and happiness, although lust is perhaps not so much in evidence, even in the character who gets the name.

Luke James, Esau Pritchett, Da’Vinchi, Dyllón Burnside, Tristan Mack Wilds, Forrest McClendon.

Regardless, the play serves as a smorgasbord of writing styles, from hip-hop rhymes to barbershop sitcom to poetic lyricism, showing Scott’s verbal skills and humanistic nature, allowing his characters to express a range of mostly familiar tropes about being Black. Or, more specifically, being a Black man living in a largely Black neighborhood, like Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant. 

Luke James

Familiar as the issues are, it’s the often humorous and/or insightful way they’re dramatized, discussed, or described that keeps us engaged, creating that shared feeling of communion. At the Saturday matinee I attended, the audience consisted largely of people of color. There was an electric connection between what was happening on stage and how it was being received in the house, with murmurs of “uh-huh,” “mmm,” “that’s right,” and other signs of

approbation.

Da’Vinchi, Dyllón Burnside.

Vividly staged by Steve H. Broadnax III, the scenes roll forth on Robert Brill’s spare set dominated by a slightly elevated, bench-like metal platform running from one side to the other. It’s brilliantly lit by Ryan O’Gara, and backed by Sven Ortel’s projections of local cityscapes lightly overlaid by the word “COLORED.” Toni-Leslie James and Devario D. Simmons provide excellent urban costumes using red, gray, black, and white; Mikaal Sulaiman’s complex sound design is an exceptional adjunct to the atmosphere; and the music and lyrics of Te’la and Kamauu, as well as playwright Scott, are welcome ingredients.

A central dramatic context tying everyone together is a barbershop, apparently as much an iconic locale in the Black community as the church; in fact, its pastor-like proprietor is as much a curator of his customers’ hearts and souls (he even keeps a “swear jar” to prevent cussing) as he is of their head and facial hair. This is especially palpable in Mr. Pritchett’s performance, his presence and voice being as richly charismatic as any megachurch preacher’s. The characters are sufficiently distinct from one another, and each actor gets multiple chances to glow. Some characters may be irritated enough by life’s shittiness to instigate quarrels but they come down more on the side of saintliness than its opposite. Only when a brief collage about Black on Black violence is presented late in the play does that particular issue make its presence known.

Among the prominent themes are Black consumerism as represented by the desire for Air Jordan sneakers; the exploitative way that colleges overlook the “student” part of their “student-athletes”; the problems represented by Black fatherhood; the sacrifice young men make for the sake of needy family members; the gentrification of Black neighborhoods; the dimensions of Black masculinity, not to mention homophobia; identity issues faced by the Black middle class; poverty (three guys even do a comic riff on whose childhood was poorer), and so on. 

There’s little new here, or particularly provocative, and much of it has an undeniable air of preachiness bordering on overstatement. While there’s no plot to speak of, a few things happen, friendships emerge, and minor conflicts are resolved. Nonetheless, apart from there being too many set pieces delivered via direct address rather than in dramatic conversation, the play manages to hold your interest.

Luke James, Esau Pritchett, Da’Vinchi, Forrest McClendon, Dyllón Burnside, Tristan Mack Wilds, Bryan Terrell Clark.

Thoughts of a Colored Man receives outstanding support from a dynamic cast that deserves to be a contender for any awards given for the season’s best ensemble. The actors achieve a true communion among themselves on the John Golden’s stage, but it’s the one they create for the audience that makes their work memorable.

Thoughts of a Colored Man
John Golden Theatre
252 W. 45th Street, NYC
Open run

Caroline, or Change *****, Fire Shut Up in My Bones *****

By: David Sheward

October 30, 2021: When it opened on Broadway at the tail end of the 2003-4 season after an Off-Broadway run at the Public Theater, Caroline, or Change was overshadowed by the rivalry between Wicked and Avenue Q. This difficult, strange and complex musical by Tony Kushner (Angels in America) and Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home, Violet) about the relationship between an African-American maid and the little Jewish boy of the family for whom she works, was too rare a dish for audiences accustomed to a diet of witches and puppets. Tony Pinkins, who delivered a powerful performance in the title role, lost the Tony to Idina Menzel’s Elphaba in Wicked. Caroline’s only win was for Anika Noni Rose’s supporting performance as Emmie, Caroline’s rebellious daughter.

By: David Sheward

October 30, 2021: When it opened on Broadway at the tail end of the 2003-4 season after an Off-Broadway run at the Public Theater, Caroline, or Change was overshadowed by the rivalry between Wicked and Avenue Q. This difficult, strange and complex musical by Tony Kushner (Angels in America) and Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home, Violet) about the relationship between an African-American maid and the little Jewish boy of the family for whom she works, was too rare a dish for audiences accustomed to a diet of witches and puppets. Tony Pinkins, who delivered a powerful performance in the title role, lost the Tony to Idina Menzel’s Elphaba in Wicked. Caroline’s only win was for Anika Noni Rose’s supporting performance as Emmie, Caroline’s rebellious daughter.

Adam Makké, Sharon D Clarke in Caroline or Change.

Kushner’s flinty, semi-autobiographical book covered economics, race relations, civil rights and the intersection of the black and Jewish communities, plus it featured personified household appliances, while Tesori’s multi-dimensional score ran the gambit from blues to rock to soul to pop. Not your typical Broadway fare. The show closed after only 136 performances. 

Nya, Harper Miles, Nasia Thomas in Caroline, or Change.

Now, Caroline has returned in a triumphant revival from the Chichester Festival and a London West End run. This version, directed with verve and insight by Michael Longhurst and featuring a life-force performance by Sharon D Clarke, was originally scheduled to play New York in 2020 just before COVID hit. It has become even more relevant and vital in the interim since the death of George Floyd and a racial reckoning in the theater and society at large. 

Set in 1963 Louisiana, the politically-charged near-opera focuses on Caroline Thibodeaux, a tough, unsentimental African-American woman barely scraping by on a $30-a-week salary earned by cooking and cleaning for the Gellmans, a transplanted New York Jewish couple. She and 10-year-old Noah Gellman (Kushner as a little boy) have an unusual friendship, sharing forbidden cigarettes and life advice in the basement, along with the living washing machine, dryer and radio (manifestations of Caroline’s psyche and her unhappy past). 

Nasia Thomas, Kevin S. McAllister, Harper Miles, Sharon D Clarke in Caroline or Change.

The plot pivots when Rose, Noah’s stepmother, pushes Caroline to confiscate any spare change Noah leaves in his pockets when she does the family laundry. These coins change the dynamic as Caroline realizes just how desperate and inequitable her situation is. Noah also shifts his perspective as he leaves money for his friend, thinking he’s helping her, but he’s actually patronizing her. The hardened Caroline must reassess her standing with her white employers and with the changing world as Kennedy is assassinated and Martin Luther King leads the civil right movement. Almost two decades after its premiere, American audiences are ready for such a challenging work. 

Longhurst’s sleek and thoughtful production is not that different from George C. Wolfe’s intense original. It’s just as powerful and moving, but it is more fluid thanks to Fly Davis’s revolving set which allows cinematic scene changes and overlapping settings as well as emphasizing the stark divisions between Caroline’s dank basement and the Gellmans’ suburban upstairs world.  

Tamika Lawrence, Sharon D Clarke in Caroline or Change.

Sharon D Clarke makes a triumphant Broadway debut after a major career on the English stage. The role shatters the stereotype of the smiling African-American domestic always ready with comfort food and comforting words. Clarke’s Caroline has been bruised by the travails of racism and she hides her scars with a shield of strength. She never allows the shield to drop or indulge in any treacly sentiment. Clarke’s vocal performance equals her limning skills, endowing Caroline’s soulful arias with the passion of Aretha Franklin or Sarah Vaughan. 

The role of Noah is shared by three young actors. At the performance attended, Jaden Myles Waldman captured the conflicting emotions of the stand-in for the author, caught between anger over the death of his mother (Rose is his step-mom), attraction to Caroline’s strength and resolve, and his own burgeoning maturity. 

Sharon D Clarke, Samantha Williams in Caroline or Change.

Samantha Williams delivers a magnificent Emmie, particularly in her solo on yearning for her own house and independence. Caissie Levy provides comic balance and pathos as Rose, especially in her asides to the audience when this nice lady erupts with concealed frustration. Kevin S. McAllister (The Dryer and The Bus), Arica Jackson (The Washing Machine), N’Kenge (The Moon), and Nasia Thomas, Nya, and Harper Miles (The Radio) lend their beautiful voices to a chorus of Caroline’s inner thoughts. There is also strong support from Tamika Lawrence as Dotty, Caroline’s fellow domestic who is taking college classes; John Cariani as Noah’s numb father; Joy Hermalyn, Stuart Zagnit, and Chip Zien as his doting grandparents; and Alexander Bello and Jayden Theophile who played Emma’s younger brothers at the performance attended.

My only complaint is Paul Arditti’s sound design sometimes muddled Kushner’s lyrics, but Tesori’s brilliantly eclectic score comes across smoothly, delineating character and driving the churning cross currents of politics, class, and history in this landmark work, hopefully now recognized as such.

Speaking of landmarks, the same week I took in Caroline, I attended a cinema simulcast of the last performance of the historical production of Fire Shut Up in My Bones, the Metropolitan Opera’s first presentation by a black composer. Like Caroline, Fire addresses hot-button issues of race and community and features a fascinating score (by Terrence Blanchard) brimming with multiple influences. Based on New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow’s memoir, Kasi Lemmons’ libretto follows the tortured inner journey of Charles from sensitive child to conflicted college student as he deals with his gay attractions and sexual abuse. Toxic masculinity in his small Louisiana town comes under fire as Charles matures. Co-directors James Robinson and Camille A. Brown create a sweeping epic production, highlighted by an explosive step-dancing routine, which would stop any Broadway show, choreographed with dazzle by Brown. Will Liverman’s adult Charles is passionate and tender while Walter Russell III’s child Charles is remarkably touching. Angel Blue as figures of Charles’ psyche and Latonia Moore as his long-suffering but determined mother, add their soaring, supple voices to the mix. Just as Caroline offers unconventional subject matter and form for Broadway audiences, Fire hopefully will kindle interest for opera goers outside the usual territory of the distant or mythological past as well as affording opportunities for minority artists.   

Caroline, or Change: Oct. 27—Jan. 9, 2022. Roundabout Theatre Company at Studio 54, 254 W. 54th St., NYC. Tue 7pm, Wed 2pm & 8pm, Thu 7pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 3pm. Running time: two hours and 30 mins. with one intermission. $49—$250. www.roundabouttheatre.org. Photography: Joan Marcus

Fire Shut Up in My Bones: Oct. 23-26. Metropolitan Opera and simulcast in cinemas on Oct. 26. Photography: Ken Howard

Will Liverman (center) in Fire Shut Up in My Bones.
A scene from Act I of Terence Blanchard’s “Fire Shut Up in My Bones”.

Will Liverman as Charles and Angel Blue as Greta in Terence Blanchard’s “Fire Shut Up in My Bones.”

The Flogsta Scream

By Sam Affoumado

December 6th 2021 … International university students, Angelo and Valentina meet in Flogsta, Sweden where a strange, weekly screaming ritual takes place. The New York war game designer and the Spanish pacifist are attracted to one another but will their ideological differences keep them apart or will screaming take them to the next level?

By Sam Affoumado

December 6th 2021 … International university students, Angelo and Valentina meet in Flogsta, Sweden where a strange, weekly screaming ritual takes place. The New York war game designer and the Spanish pacifist are attracted to one another but will their ideological differences keep them apart or will screaming take them to the next level?

Tickets can be purchased at ovation tix: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe.c/10884536

CAST:  Patrick Dunning . . . . . . . . . .  (Angelo)

            Lucía Alvargonzález . . . . . . .   (Valentina)

            Sam Affoumado . . . . . . . . . .  Writer/director

            Rebecca Wilson . . . . . . . . . . . Production Stage Manager

BIO:

Sam Affoumado (Writer/director)has written seven full-length plays and over a dozen short plays and monologues. An excerpt from his docudrama, The Panic Defense, was presentedby Pride Plays (2020). His short play, Peanut Butter Patty, was a semi-finalist in the 37th Annual Samuel French OOB Short Play Festival. Published: The Bully’s Eye, (2015), More 10-Minute Plays for Teens, (Applause Theatre & Cinema Books.) Recent virtual/simulcast production of Sunset Living presented by The PlayGround-NY directed by Jim Kleinmann.

Memberships: Dramatists Guild, AEA, SAG-AFTRA, NPX, and TRU. He is honored to be a participant in the International Human Rights Arts Festival with his play, The Flogsta Scream.  www.samaffoumado.com

25th Annual Hulaween Bash

October 31, 2021:  Disco legend and two-time GRAMMY Award winner Gloria Gaynor will headline Boogie Frights Hulaween, the 25th Annual Hulaween Bash to benefit the New York Restoration Project, October 29 at Cipriani South Street.  Bette Midler, currently in pre-production for Hocus Pocus 2, is unable to attend this year’s event. As Founder of NYRP, she continues to enthusiastically support the organization and this event and will be virtually co-presenting the awards to the two honorees via video during the evening.  Lance Le Pere will receive the Wind Beneath My Wings Award for his longstanding support of NYRP and Miriam Wheeler, Co- head of the Americas Real Estate Financing Group at Goldman Sachs, will receive the Green Goddess Award for her commitment to serving underserved communities in New York City.

Gloria Gaynor headlines Boogie Frights Hulaween Friday, October 29th at Cipriani South Street to benefit The New York Restoration Project (NYRP).

October 31, 2021:  Disco legend and two-time GRAMMY Award winner Gloria Gaynor will headline Boogie Frights Hulaween, the 25th Annual Hulaween Bash to benefit the New York Restoration Project, October 29 at Cipriani South Street.  Bette Midler, currently in pre-production for Hocus Pocus 2, is unable to attend this year’s event. As Founder of NYRP, she continues to enthusiastically support the organization and this event and will be virtually co-presenting the awards to the two honorees via video during the evening.  Lance Le Pere will receive the Wind Beneath My Wings Award for his longstanding support of NYRP and Miriam Wheeler, Co- head of the Americas Real Estate Financing Group at Goldman Sachs, will receive the Green Goddess Award for her commitment to serving underserved communities in New York City.

Mario Cantone

Hulaween is one of New York City’s most anticipated Halloween parties every yearDescribed as one of the “most fashionable, talked-about and dress-to-impress”parties in NYC by The New York Timesthe star-studded costume gala raises crucial funds for NYRP’s work cleaning and greening the city. Michael Kors, fashion designer and NYRP Trustee, will judge the annual Costume Competition and Mario Cantone will serve as the evening’s emcee. Thorgy Thor of Rupaul’s Drag Race will serve as this year’s fabulous Red Carpet Correspondent.

Michael Kors, Lance LePere


New York Restoration Project (NYRP) is a non-profit organization driven by the conviction that all New Yorkers deserve beautiful, high-quality public space within ready walking distance of their homes. Since its founding in 1995 by Bette Midler, NYRP has planted trees, renovated gardens, restored parks, and transformed open space for communities throughout New York City’s five boroughs. As New York’s only citywide nature conservancy, NYRP brings private resources to spaces that lack adequate municipal support, fortifying the City’s aging infrastructure and creating a healthier environment for those who live in the most densely populated and least green neighborhoods. To learn more, please visit http://www.nyrp.org. Photography: Sansho Scott & Yvonne TNT/BFA.com

Sam Carrell, Tinkerbelle The Dog, Belle The Dog
Donna Soloway, Richard Soloway
Sophie Von Haselberg
Mario Cantone
Lynn Kelly
Gloria Gaynor
Madelyn Wils, Steven Wils
Kim Petras
Jon Recor

The Melody Lingers On: A Gala Tribute to Irving Berlin

By: Alix Cohen

October 31, 2021: Produced by The Mabel Mercer Foundation, The 32nd Annual New York Cabaret Convention packed Rose Hall Wednesday night with savvy fans starved for live music and the sight of those artists they admire. With Artistic Director KT Sullivan regrettably absent due to her husband’s illness, the evening was hosted by vocalist Jeff Harnar with vivacity, sincerity and style. All three hours ran smoothly. The show’s expert ‘house’ band consisted of Jon Weber, Steve Doyle, and Ray Marchica. Managing Director Rick Meadows welcomed us with thanks for supporting the Foundation even when so many of its kind and small businesses are suffering. Several members of Irving Berlin’s family were in the audience.

By: Alix Cohen

October 31, 2021: Produced by The Mabel Mercer Foundation, The 32nd Annual New York Cabaret Convention packed Rose Hall Wednesday night with savvy fans starved for live music and the sight of those artists they admire. With Artistic Director KT Sullivan regrettably absent due to her husband’s illness, the evening was hosted by vocalist Jeff Harnar with vivacity, sincerity and style. All three hours ran smoothly. The show’s expert ‘house’ band consisted of Jon Weber, Steve Doyle, and Ray Marchica. Managing Director Rick Meadows welcomed us with thanks for supporting the Foundation even when so many of its kind and small businesses are suffering. Several members of Irving Berlin’s family were in the audience.

Highlights

Jeff Harnar, Natalie Douglas

Jeff Harnar’s “Steppin’ Out,” “Puttin’ On The Ritz,” and “Let Yourself Go” were as bright and jaunty as his jacket, energizing the hall, creating a one-man production number replete with unexpected scat. Even in a venue this size, the artist connected with his audience. As rendered by Natalie Douglas, “You Can Have Him,” was quite beautiful but for an unnecessarily swollen denouement. “When it comes to an Irving Berlin torch song, you’re not completely sure how she feels about the guy that left,” she astutely commented.

Stacy Sullivan and Todd Murray, a match made in cabaret heaven, performed “They Say It’s Wonderful.” Both elegant, the artists have appealing personal and vocal chemistry as well as a sense of theater aesthetics. Their current show, “I’m Glad There Is You…the musical romance of Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee,” will hopefully make it to New York sooner than later.

Todd Murray and Stacy Sullivan

“Let Me Sing and I’m Happy” and “All By Myself” were played and sung by the inimitable Steve Ross who’s sounding better than ever. Sophisticated with just the right tone, he delivers as Berlin might’ve heartily approved. Another vocalist who inhabits the period in which she delves, Aisha de Haas sang “Harlem On My Mind” first introduced by Ethel Waters in 1933. Languid ragtime tempo with a dash of Mae West brought the song home as authentic and engaging. Swell solo work by Steve Doyle.

Steve Ross and Aisha de Haas

Having just completed a one woman Edith Piaf film, Christine Andreas offered a swoony “I Got Lost in His Arms” with that impressively controlled, signature trill. The beloved Sidney Myer (always accurately introduced that way), who’s about to appear at Pangea, performed one of his stand-bys “I’m a Bad, Bad Man.” Myer’s homage to “the great Roy Rogers” had the audience actually giggling. (Piano-Tracy Stark)

Christine Andreas and Sidney Myer

Two duets buoyed the stage as Karen Mason and Nicolas King sang “You’re Just in Love” and Klea Blackhurst and Jeff Harnar performed “Old Fashioned Wedding.” Whether the genial argument about keys, solos and timing was staged or not, it epitomized a family feeling pervading this evening’s festivities.

The Julie Wilson Award made possible by Linda and Peter Hanson went to David LaMarr whose “Blue Skies” and “Sittin’ in the Sun” were as brimming with flamboyant personality as his red high-heeled boots. (Piano-Darnell White)

The Mabel Mercer Award was presented to Karen Akers with a list of effusive John Fricke-authored adjectives. Akers chose to meld a favorite Russian Lullaby of her recently deceased mother with Berlin’s own “Russian Lullaby.” The fine arrangement was created by accompanying pianist Alex Rybeck. It was immensely touching.

David LaMarr and Karen Akers

The Donald F. Smith Award made possible by Adela and Larry Elow was presented to Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano during Monday’s virtual show.

Tonight’s gala closed with Jeff Harnar and previous hosts, Natalie Douglas, Klea Blackhurst, Karen Mason, and Andrea Marcovicci leading the audience in a rousing “God Bless America.” Harnar filmed the sing-along on his cell phone to send to KT Sullivan.

“God Bless America

Also featuring: the venerable Sandy Stewart and Bill Charlap; Andrea Marcovicci, with a wonderful anecdote about Berlin’s giving Rudy Vallee the song “What’ll I Do?” to try to rescue the latter’s marriage (it didn’t work); Eric Yves Garcia (regularly at West Bank Cafe) who points out “Irving Berlin is never simplistic, but always simple”; Karen Oberlin’s sassy, swinging “Pack Up Your Sins”; a stirring, low key “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” as interpreted by Amra-Faye Wright with love; a period-perfect “Alexander’s Ragtime band” including trumpet scat by Klea Blackhurst; and, Billy Stritch in hushed Bossa Nova mode.

Backstage with Karen Akers, Karen Oberlin, Karen Mason (Photo by Alex Rybeck)

Also, Karen Mason’s gorgeous “How Deep is The Ocean?” (Look for her new CD soon) Alex Ryback-piano, Nicolas King in tribute to the recent passing of top flight musician Mike Renzi (why not mention him by name?), the outrageous Mark Nadler, and introducing complex harmonies by way of The Moipei Triplets.

Two preceding nights of this year’s Convention, Love is Sweeping the Country and The Future of Cabaret, can be streamed without charge at Mabel Mercer Foundation.

Photos by Richard Termine with thanks

The Mabel Mercer Foundation presents
The Melody Lingers On: A Gala Tribute to Irving Berlin
Hosted by Jeff Harnar
Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater, Frederick P. Rose Hall
October 27, 2021

Originally Posted on October 29th on Woman Around Town

FairyCakes **

By: Samuel L. Leiter

That whimsical playwright Douglas C. Beane 
Whose comical work you perhaps may have seen
Has written a new one he calls Fairycakes
But, take it from me, it ain’t no great shakes.
Though based on the Dream by old Will Shakespeare
It’ll rattle your head and zing your ear
Since much of it’s written in doggerel verse
Than list’ning to which not much could be worse. 
Not to be blamed for a similar crime
Here’s where I show I can stop on a dime.

October 28, 2021: To be fair, Douglas Carter Beane (As Bees in Honey Drown, The Nance) also brings his versifying to a stop, but not until he’s well into act two of this two-and-a-quarter-hour parody of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The play, which recently opened at Off Broadway’s Greenwich House Theatre, is a silly, sweet-natured, but DOA takeoff in the Ridiculous Theatre vein, albeit with a minimum of gay-oriented campiness. 

By: Samuel L. Leiter

That whimsical playwright Douglas C. Beane 
Whose comical work you perhaps may have seen
Has written a new one he calls Fairycakes
But, take it from me, it ain’t no great shakes.
Though based on the Dream by old Will Shakespeare
It’ll rattle your head and zing your ear
Since much of it’s written in doggerel verse
Than list’ning to which not much could be worse. 
Not to be blamed for a similar crime
Here’s where I show I can stop on a dime.

October 28, 2021: To be fair, Douglas Carter Beane (As Bees in Honey Drown, The Nance) also brings his versifying to a stop, but not until he’s well into act two of this two-and-a-quarter-hour parody of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The play, which recently opened at Off Broadway’s Greenwich House Theatre, is a silly, sweet-natured, but DOA takeoff in the Ridiculous Theatre vein, albeit with a minimum of gay-oriented campiness. 

Jackie Hoffman as Moth

Fortunately, while it falls short of being a full-out musical, Fairycakes includes several songs set to charming music by Lewis Flinn, Mr. Beane’s husband, and has a first-rate cast with Broadway-quality singing voices. It often seems like a children’s theatre show blown up to adult proportions, especially as directed by Mr. Beane and choreographed by associate director Ellenore Scott, who present it as if the audience was, emotionally, no older than ten. 

Mr. Beane has extracted certain fairy characters from MSND: Peaseblossum (Kristolyn Lloyd), Moth (Jackie Hoffman), Mustardseed (Ann Harada), and Cobweb (Z Infante), as well as Puck (Chris Myers), a.k.a. Robin Goodfellow, and, of course, their king and queen, Oberon (Arnie Burton) and Titania (Julie Halston). All but Myers play other roles as well.

Mo Rocca as Geppetto

Then, as if he was stirring the cauldron in Macbeth, he’s tossed in a bunch of fairytale characters from Disney films: Geppetto (Mo Rocca), Pinocchio (Sabatino Cruz), Mermaid (Harada), Cinderella (Kuhoo Verma), her Stepmother (Jamen Nanthakumar) and Stepsisters (Cruz and Rocca), Prince (Jason Tam), Aurora—Sleeping Beauty to you—(Verma), Cricket (Nanthakumar), Cupid (Tam), and Dirk Dead-Eye (Burton), a pirate from the world of Peter Pan. There’s also Queen Elizabeth I (Halston). I can’t recall when Disney deigned to animate her, but she does take time to justify her presence by citing lines in Shakespeare’s play that she insists are personal references.

Discord over the presence of the Changeling (Jamen Nanthakumar) has roiled the bliss of Titania and Oberon’s nuptial bower. (The Changeling has been transformed from Shakespeare’s boy to a handsome young stud.) The regal pair, therefore, has decided to split. In Mr. Beane’s fairyland that means all their fairy offspring will die by a certain magical deadline, so Puck and Peaseblossum (whom the loving Puck calls “Fairycakes”) set out to reunite the couple. Meanwhile, Puck, using a flower on which Cupid’s arrow has landed, creates a mélange of romantic mix-ups like those in Shakespeare’s play, albeit with different characters. Here’s where the gay shtick comes in.

Kristolyn Lloyd, Z Infante, Julie Halston, Ann Harada and Jackie Hoffman

All of this is played amid the lush greenery of Shoko Kambara and Adam Crinson’s bewitching forest setting, romantically lit by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew. Most appealing are Gregory Gale’s colorfully elaborate costumes, including having the fairies fitted with wings requiring careful staging to prevent physical mishaps on the crowded stage. 

When I attended, Peaseblossum’s wings got screwed up when she tried passing through a door, so the actress, Ms. Lloyd, backed off into the wings for a reset. Meanwhile, those already onstage, Mr. Burton and Ms. Halston, shared knowing glances with the audience and repeated their previous lines until Ms. Lloyd was able to navigate her entrance properly. For all I know, this is a nightly bit, since it got the biggest laugh, apart from a fleeting reference to a certain disgraced producer I can’t find in the script.

Kristolyn Lloyd and Chris Myers

But I found little laughter in the actors’ high-energy, vocally high-pitched hijinks, requiring them—at least for a long while—to speak in verse sometimes so badly rhymed that they sometimes slyly let us know they agree, as if it’s all part of the fun. When “oughta” is forced to rhyme with “shmata,” you know the rag has worn thin. 

Wink-wink performances that take the audience into the spirit of the show can only go so far, and you don’t have to wait long before you start looking at your watch, wondering how you’re going to sit through the rest of it. You may even begin pondering the nature of comedy, as in why is the guy next to you barking like a seal at even the most obvious gags while you’re doing all you can simply not to gag? And by the way, where was he when act two began?

Ann Harada as Mustardseed

It’s uncommon to see a dozen actors on a small Off-Broadway stage, and even rarer when so many are as well-known as, for example, Ms. Halston, Ms. Hoffman, Ms. Harada, and Mr. Burton. Each of these commits him or herself to the project with professional pizzazz; it’s impossible to ignore their skill at making lead look like gold, but their alchemy can only go so far. 

The second act calms down a bit when the play takes a new turn as it shifts from enchantment to disenchantment, verse turns to prose (to the characters’ mildly amusing discomfort), and love’s vagaries are allowed to play out naturally sans the wizardry of charmed flowers and the like. 

Beane’s homilies about true love are well-intended, but if the playwright really loved us he’d have lopped at least an hour off this mid-autumn night’s scream.

Fairycakes
Greenwich House Theatre
27 Barrow St., NYC
Through January 2, 2022
Photography: Mathew Murphy

Jason Tam as Prince Viktor

Six: The Musical ****

By: Lauren Yarger

By Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, Directed by Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage, Choreography by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille

October 28, 2021: Laugh-out-loud jokes and loud, pounding music are not exactly what come to mind when pondering the plight of Henry VIII’s six unfortunate wives, but you will find yourself laughing and bopping to the beat while enjoying SIX: The Musical,  Broadway’s exciting version of the West End hit by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss.

By: Lauren Yarger

By Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, Directed by Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage, Choreography by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille

October 28, 2021: Laugh-out-loud jokes and loud, pounding music are not exactly what come to mind when pondering the plight of Henry VIII’s six unfortunate wives, but you will find yourself laughing and bopping to the beat while enjoying SIX: The Musical,  Broadway’s exciting version of the West End hit by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss.

Directed by Moss and Jamie Armitage, these six women finally get their moment in the spotlight, both in the story and on stage. SIX was one of the tragedies of the pandemic, set to open on the night Broadway went dark back in March 2020. Now, back to tell their stories, the wives compete in a reality-TV mode to see who has the most tragic story from her time as one of the wives of Henry. They each have a song (all done beltingly or balladly beautifully) which explain the theme of their experiences: divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived.

Here’s a short history lesson for those of you who aren’t up on the six wives of Henry VIII:

Catherine of Aragon (Adrianna Hicks) was Henry’s first wife, but when she couldn’t produce a male heir, Henry turned his eye to the bewitching Anne Boleyn (a very funny Andrea Macasaet). When the pope wouldn’t grant him an annulment, he declared himself the head of the new Church of England, got rid of Catherine (divorced) and married Anne any way.  Unfortunately for Anne, she too only produced a girl (the future Queen Elizabeth I), so Henry got rid of her (beheaded) and married Jane Seymour (Abby Mueller — I saw understudy Mallory Maedke). Henry got his desired son and male heir but lost Jane who suffered complications in childbirth (died). 

Next, Henry saw a portrait of Anne of Cleves (Brittney Mack) and summoned her to England to become wife number four. She didn’t look all that fetching in person, however, so Henry decided he wanted out of the marriage (divorce), set her up in a nice palace and called her “sister” instead of wife. The king, who was SO good at making spousal-type decisions, decided a child bride would be a good idea and married Anne Boleyn’s cousin, Katherine Howard (Samantha Pauly — I saw understudy Courtney Mack). Plagued by gout, obesity and probably a host of other illnesses, Henry wasn’t exactly in prime baby-making condition, but he still expected a spare male heir from young Katherine. She turned to some younger male friends to help seal the deal, but the plan backfired when she was caught cheating.  So long, Katherine (beheaded). Finally, Henry chose mature, pious Catherine Parr (Anna Uzele) for his sixth queen. About five years later, he died. She was the only one who survived. The cast also includes Keirsten Nicole Hodgens and Nicole Kyoung-Mi Lambert.

In such a tragic story, Marlow and Moss find lots of humor. And they manage to modernize women from the 16th century to create an exciting energizing show that appeals to young audience members (there were lots at the Brooks Atkinson the night I attended) with color-blind casting  for those wanting to see persons of color, rather than historically accurate portrayals on stage. Carrie-Anne Ingrouille’s choreography is energetic and hasn’t lost any of its oomph with alterations made with Covid safety in mind. Costumes by Gabreiella Slade are bright and brilliant; the set (Emma Bailey, design) is simple and houses the all-female band, the “Ladies in Waiting.” Tim Deiling’s lighting design competes the set for the reality-show concert theme, which thankfully isn’t overdone. 

The pop music is loud, percussion-driven and fun. I bought the soundtrack after seeing and loving the show in March of 2020 and it’s a favorite (Catherine Parr’s solo “I Don’t Need Your Love” is the weakest, as though after pounding out so many great tunes, the songwriters just didn’t have enough energy to come up with one more.) Most of the others are catchy and will have you humming them long after you leave the theater.

Getting the soundtrack in advance isn’t a bad idea. The lyrics are quite clever and vital to the storytelling, but the sound on stage (Paul Gatehouse) doesn’t always pick them up and if you don’t know Henry’s story or all the words to the songs, you could feel like you are missing something in this fast-paced 80 minutes with no intermission.  The score features orchestrations by Tom Curran with music supervision and vocal arrangements by Joe Beighton and US Music Supervision by Roberta Duchak.

SIX is currently on-stage at the Lyric Theatre in London’s West End and on a UK tour. The show will also launch the US National Tour with a return engagement in Chicago where the show will run at the CIBC Theatre in 2022.  

SIX plays at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 W 47th St, NYC. sixonbroadway.com Photography: Joan Marcus

Tin Pan Alley Day

By: Maryann Lopinto

On Saturday, October 23rd, 2021 was proclaimed Tin Pan Alley Day with a free outdoor four hour concert, on the Flatiron North Public Plaza, which is right in front of the famous Flat Iron Building on 23rd between Fifth Avenue and Broadway. It was presented by the Tin Pan Alley American Popular Music Project and Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership..  It featured more than two dozen leading performers such as Klea Blackhurst, Anita Gillette, Eric Yves Garcia, Vince Giordano, Danny Bacher, Steve Ross and special guest Marilyn Maye all who perform the Great American Songbook.

By: Maryann Lopinto

On Saturday, October 23rd, 2021 was proclaimed Tin Pan Alley Day with a free outdoor four hour concert, on the Flatiron North Public Plaza, which is right in front of the famous Flat Iron Building on 23rd between Fifth Avenue and Broadway. It was presented by the Tin Pan Alley American Popular Music Project and Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership..  It featured more than two dozen leading performers such as Klea Blackhurst, Anita Gillette, Eric Yves Garcia, Vince Giordano, Danny Bacher, Steve Ross and special guest Marilyn Maye all who perform the Great American Songbook.

Marilyn Maye

The event celebrated the official New York City landmark designation of Tin Pan Alley buildings at 47-55 West 28th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenue. This was the birthplace of the Great American Popular Music in the late 19th and early 20th Century.  

I was not aware of this area being so historic.  I live on 28th and 8th, just two blocks away from this.  Wow.  I love my neighborhood more than ever.

Photography: Maryann Lopinto

Marilyn Maye and Klea Blackhurst
Sanborn McGraw
Eric Comstock, Anita Gillette, Paul Greenwood
Erik Bottcher NYC Council and George Calderaro Dir. Tin Pan Alley Proect
Gabrielle Lee
Anita Gillette
Billy Stritch
Jeannine Otis
Jennifer Poroye and Marilyn Maye
Jennifer Proyro Natalie Douglas, Klea BLackhurst
Ken Bloom
Larry Marshall
Natalie Douglas
Robert Lamont

Lackawanna Blues ***1/2

By: Paulanne Simmons

October 24, 2021: Ruben Santiago-Hudson is certainly a talented man. He’s a great writer, a great actor and a great director. His solo show at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre demonstrates all those talents. But it is not a great show.

By: Paulanne Simmons

October 24, 2021: Ruben Santiago-Hudson is certainly a talented man. He’s a great writer, a great actor and a great director. His solo show at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre demonstrates all those talents. But it is not a great show.

Lackawanna Blues premiered off-Broadway at the Public Theater in 2001. Four years later, the solo show became an HBO film, with a full cast. Now it’s again a solo show. However, Junior Mack plays the score written by the late Bill Sims Jr. It’s the largely autobiographical story of Santiago-Hudson’s boyhood in upstate New York under the loving care of Rachel Crosby, a woman he calls “Nanny.” But the show does not really center on either Santiago-Hudson or Nanny. It’s rather a panoramic view of the many people Nanny took under her wing at her boarding house.

Ruben Santiago-Hudson

There are abused women, a former prisoner, alcoholics, a psychiatric patient and a bunch of people who collectively are missing so many parts of their body one almost thinks those parts could form a whole new person. There’s even a pet raccoon who stands with paws extended in supplication when Nanny returns him to the wild. Those who benefit from her charity and goodwill are mostly black and victims of racism, a few are white and victims of bad luck.

Aside from her philanthropic tendencies, we don’t learn much about Nanny. She came North after her white employer reversed course and refused to let her take a cake home. She has an abusive relationship with Bill, a man whom Ruben calls “Uncle,” even though he seems to be the only father figure Ruben has ever known. But what we learn about that relationship is limited to Nanny’s care for the various children Bill has fathered and her determination to protect Ruben from Bill’s more vicious tendencies.

Ruben Santiago-Hudson

Most of the monologue is accompanied by Bill Sims Jr.’s soulful guitar. Occasionally Santiago-Hudson joins in on a powerful and bluesy harmonica. The music and the set, the not quite complete brick wall of an apartment building, with one door and one window, combine to create a feeling of temporary stability and permanent sorrow.

Santiago-Hudson brings all these people to life with remarkable physicality and magical changes of voice. Despite their obvious pain, many of the characters are enormously funny. Often they are wise and philosophical. But in the end, there are so many of them and their stories of mistakes and misfortune are so similar it’s sometimes hard to tell them apart. 

As talented as Santiago-Hudson is, Lackawanna Blues might have benefitted from the input of someone not so closely involved with the story. As he might have learned from his Nanny, sometimes we all need a little help from others.

Lackawanna Blues
Manhattan Theater Club at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater
261 W. 47th St., NYC.
Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission.
(212) 239-6200. www.telecharge.com.
Oct. 7—Nov. 12, 2021. Photography: Marc J Franklin

Is This A Room ****, Dana H *****, Lackawanna Blues ****, The Lehman Trilogy *****, Letters of Suresh **

By: David Sheward

October 22, 2021: After a long absence due to COVID, Broadway is slowly starting to come back. But the majority of new productions are not the typical Main Stem fare of jukebox musicals, revivals, or tuners based on popular movies. Most of the recent openings have been transfers or returns of unconventional Off-Broadway offerings. Two of them, Is This A Room and Dana H., are derived from transcripts of recordings of real people living frightening events and are running in repertory after award-winning runs at the Vineyard Theater. This pair of unusual evenings are both short (only 70 minutes each) and small-scale with simple sets, but pack an enormous wallop. 

By: David Sheward

October 22, 2021: After a long absence due to COVID, Broadway is slowly starting to come back. But the majority of new productions are not the typical Main Stem fare of jukebox musicals, revivals, or tuners based on popular movies. Most of the recent openings have been transfers or returns of unconventional Off-Broadway offerings. Two of them, Is This A Room and Dana H., are derived from transcripts of recordings of real people living frightening events and are running in repertory after award-winning runs at the Vineyard Theater. This pair of unusual evenings are both short (only 70 minutes each) and small-scale with simple sets, but pack an enormous wallop. 

Room is Tina Satter’s nightmarishly tense recreation of the FBI interrogation of Reality Winner (yes, that is her real name), an Air Force intelligence specialist. She was accused of leaking classified information which provided evidence that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. The script is taken from the agents’ recordings on the day they showed up at Reality’s Augusta, Georgia home and slowly transformed it into a space of intimidation. Though the specifics of the leaked documents are not mentioned, nor does the name Trump ever come up, Satter, listed as conceiver and director, creates a chilling contemporary political drama with suggestion and nuance. Small talk over gym memberships, pets, and careers is interspersed with needling, leading questions as Reality’s veneer of normality slowly crumbles. The play becomes not about specifics but about the power of authority to crush the individual.

Satter and her expert cast of four subtly balance the shifts from mundane chatter to ominous power plays. Emily Davis captures Reality’s jittery facade, inner resolve, and desperation to put her life back in order. Whether she is pleading for her pets to housed if she is arrested or struggling to stand up for her rights and beliefs, Davis holds our attention and sympathy. As the lead FBI agent, Pete Simpson is a master at understatement, slipping pleasantries in between threats while Will Cobbs as his partner is a scary “bad cop.” Becca Blackwell provides sturdy support as their backup. Sound designers Lee Kinney and Sanae Yamada create a nightmarish aural landscape, complete with threatening “Booms” every time material from the transcript is redacted.

The transfer to Broadway lacks the intimacy of the Vineyard run—I remember feeling as if I were being interrogated along with Reality when I saw it. But Room remains a searing snapshot of a surveillance state.

Deirdre O’Connell in “Dana H”

Even more harrowing is Dana H., Lucas Hnath’s gripping work based on interviews with his mother who was kidnapped for five months by a dangerous criminal when she was working as a counselor at a psychiatric hospital. Deirdre O’Connell performs the extraordinary feat of lip-synching Dana’s dialogue with the unseen interviewer Steve Cosson. This remarkable acting accomplishment is much more than a gimmick. You gradually forget that O’Connell is speaking to a pre-recorded track as her body language and eloquent features convey the tumult of Dana’s ordeal. She becomes Dana and Andrew Boyce’s generic motel room set turns into her hell of captivity through O’Connell’s three-dimensional limning. Hnath has stitched together pieces of the interview (along with audio editor and sound designer Mikhail Fiksel) to create a tapestry of terror that enmeshes you and doesn’t let go, not even after the lights come up. Les Waters’ straightforward staging adds to the almost unbearable tension. There is a sequence in the latter part of the play that is shattering in its ordinariness, given the circumstances that precede it. No spoilers, but be ready for its impact.

Ruben Santiago-Hudson in “Lackawanna Blues”

Another Off-Broadway solo show, Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s Lackawanna Blues, has also found its way to Broadway without losing its snap. Originally presented at the Public Theater in 2001, Blues is the author-star-director’s autobiographical tribute to his beloved foster mother Nanny Crosby, who maintained a boarding house of eccentric characters in the titular upstate New York town while raising him. As he did 20 years ago, Santiago-Hudson plays all the inhabitants of Nanny’s home in a series of hilarious and touching vignettes, accompanied by Junior Mack’s tangy guitar. Gamblers, convicts, war veterans, and the irrepressible big-hearted Nanny come to vivid life. When the show originally played, it was hailed as a salve to wounds suffered on 9/11, now the affectionate tribute heals injuries suffered during another national crisis, that of COVID.

While these smaller-scale shows have lost a degree of intimacy in their transfers from Off-Broadway to on, The Lehman Trilogy undergoes a metamorphosis in the opposite direction. This Italian play about the American financial empire played a limited run in the cavernous Park Avenue Armory after a smash London engagement at the National Theater. Now, set designer Es Devlin’s huge cube of a revolving set fits neatly into the Nederlander Theater and provides a memorable experience which is both vast and up-close. 

Simon Russell Beale in “The Lehman Trilogy”.

Stefano Massini’s three-and-a-half-hour epic, adapted by Ben Power, traces the trajectory of the Lehmans from immigrant merchants in 1840s Alabama to pioneers in the field of investments in the 20th century to the firm’s 2008 bankruptcy. Massini doesn’t take a pro- or anti-capitalism stance, but this sweeping history of one family and the parallel growth and convulsion of the American economic system is fascinating theater. Particularly as directed with startling imagination by Sam Mendes and with an army of characters, male and female, played with consummate skill by Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Adrian Lester (taking over the roles plays by Ben Miles in London and Off-Broadway). Lester fits snugly into the three-man ensemble, playing the more aggressive Lehmans with force and virility. Godley remains a delight, particularly as the innovative Bobby Lehman who dances into his grave and as a series of prospective wives for the exacting Philip Lehman. Beale remains the outstanding member of this small, amazing cast, creating an array of sharp, believable portraits from the solemn Henry to the computer-like Philip to the flirtatious Ruth (Bobby’s unhappy wife) to plantation owners to cotton dealers to Greek restauranteurs.   

Finally, rounding out of this re-opening wrap-up, Second Stage has started its Off-Broadway season with Letter of Suresh, Rajiv Joseph’s companion play to his Animals Out of Paper. This is one of those plays where the characters speak directly to the audience throughout without any direct interaction and the plot revolves around the convention of a series of total strangers pouring their hearts out to each other in letters. After a chance encounter in Nagasaki at the memorial site to victims of the atomic bomb, a Japanese priest and a genius level polymath American of East Indian heritage (Suresh of the title), begin writing to each other. The chain of correspondence also eventually includes Suresh’s ex-girlfriend Amelia and Melody, the grand-niece of a Korean monk who has come into possession of the letters. There’s a lot of interesting talk about faith, love, and science but it’s very hard to care about these characters because they all seemed so removed from us and each other. At one point, almost out of nowhere, Suresh suddenly announces he has been using his vast intelligence to create nuclear weapons and he feels just awful about it. Huh?

Ramiz- Monsef in “Letters of Suresh”.

Kamiz Monsef (Suresh), Ali Ahn (Melody), Kellie Overbey (Amelia), and especially Thom Sesma (Father Hasimoto) all deliver moving performances in director May Adrales’ pleasing-enough production, but these Letters are not particularly worth a visit.

Is This A Room: Oct. 11—Jan. 15, 2022. Lyceum Theatre, 149 W. 45th St., NYC. Playing in repertory with Dana H., schedule varies. Running time: 70 minutes with no intermission. $39-$199. (212) 239-6200. www.telecharge.com. Photography: Chad Batka

Will Cobbs, Pete Simpson and Emily Davis in “Is This A Room”

Dana H.: Oct. 17—Jan. 16, 2022. Lyceum Theater, 149 W. 45th St., NYC. Playing in repertory with Dana H., schedule varies. Running time: 70 minutes with no intermission. $39-$199. (212) 239-6200. www.telecharge.com.
Photography: Chad Batka

Deirdre-OConnell in “Dana H.”

Lackawanna Blues: Oct. 7—Nov. 12. Manhattan Theater Club at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater, 261 W. 47th St., NYC. Schedule varies.Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission. $59—$249. (212) 239-6200. www.telecharge.com. Photography: Marc J Franklin

Ruben Santiago-Hudson in “Lackawanna Blues”

The Lehman Trilogy: Oct. 14—Jan. 2, 2022. Nederlander Theatre, 208 W. 41st St., NYC. Tue—Fri, 7pm; Sat 1pm & 7:30pm; Sun 2pm. Running time: three and a half hours with two intermission. $59—$299. (800) 653-8000. www.ticketmaster.com. Photography: Julieta Cervantes

Adam Godley, Simon Russell Beale and Adrian Lester in “The Lehman Trilogy”.

Letters of Suresh: Oct. 12–24. 2nd Stage at the Terry Kiser Theater, 305 W. 43rd St., NYC. Running time: 90 mins. with no intermission. $50—$125. www.2st.com. Photography: Joan Marcus

Ali Ahn in “Letters of Suresh”.