Have You Seen This Dog?
A review of
“The Play That Goes Wrong”
at the Lyceum Theatre
April 6th – 7:00pm
When I saw The Play That Goes Wrong during its first week of previews, I was approached at intermission by one of the members of the ‘Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’, who are attempting to put on a 1920s’ murder mystery, asking me if I had seen a man with a yellow shirt I told him that I was wearing a yellow shirt to which he replied, “You’re no help at all!” and scurried away muttering under his breath.
At my second viewing last night, as a representative of the Press, I was reprimanded by another ‘Drama Society’ member for my scarf/tie was “Inappropriate for Theatre wear” and “Didn’t anyone ever teach you how to dress?” and followed up with other cast members apologizing to me and arguing with him about how he treats the American audiences.
Such are the antics before the show and during intermission contributing to arguably the funniest and most well executed comedies I have ever seen in my life!
The Play That Goes Wrong now playing at the Lyceum Theatre (149 West 45th Street, NYC) is every door slamming, pratfall, missed cue, early entrance farcical comedy you have ever seen rolled into one and on steroids! It is nearly two hours of constant laughter, guffaws and “Oh no!” moments ever put on stage.
As I mentioned above, the members of the ‘Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’, are attempting to put on a 1920s’ murder mystery called, “The Murder at Haversham Manor”, written by Susie H. K. Brideswell, but that play isn’t really important, as a matter of fact, after two viewings, I’m still not sure ‘whodunnit’ or why! It’s the performance, or lack thereof, of the play that is the point here.
You can already sense that things are going to get out of hand from the moment you enter the Theatre and see the crew, led by Annie, the stage manager, played with a subtle brilliance by Bryony Corrigan (during previews I saw Nancy Zamit who was equally great) and Trevor, the company’s lighting and sound operator, played with expert daftness by Rob Falconer, (who spends most of the play in a box above stage right working lights and sound while texting and not paying attention), who are puttering around on the stage fixing last minute set and prop problems. They even enlist the help of an unsuspecting audience member down front. Did I mention the completely inappropriate pre-show house music playing while all this is going on?
When the lights go down we are introduced to Chris, played with appropriate snootiness and skill by Henry Shields, who is the head of the ‘Drama Society’, ‘Director’ of the play, and who plays the character of Inspector Carter. He is obviously stalling for time as the crew is still readying the set, which keeps falling apart as quickly as they can fix it.
From here it gets crazy, so pay careful attention. Each person is three people. The Actor, the ‘Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’ member, and the character they portray in “The Murder at Haversham Manor”. Got it? Ok. Moving on…
The play within a play opens with Jonathan playing Charles Haversham, (played with deafening subtlety by Greg Tannahill, the worst corpse ever) who is dead (?) being discovered in his study at his engagement party by Robert (the purposefully overacted, pompously riotous, and agile Henry Lewis) playing Thomas Colleymoore, Charles’ best friend, and Dennis (daftly played by Jonathan Sayer) playing Perkins, Charles’ manservant, who can’t remember his lines and shouts most of them.
After discovering the body they try to figure out the best way to break the news to Sandra (delightfully hammed up and overplayed by Charlie Russell) playing Florence Colleymoore, Charles’ fiancè and Thomas’ sister who has also been having an affair with Max (who as portrayed with calculated silliness by Dave Hearn) playing Cecil Haversham ( who gets distracted by audience laughter and applause), Charles’ brother (as well as Arthur the Gardener).
Confused? GOOD! That’s how it’s supposed to be. But it’s not about who plays whom – it’s about the timing. TIMING IS EVERYTHING and it has never been better timed than by this group of actors. While what goes wrong, and I refuse to spoil it for you here, seems to be a sequence of random events ‘just happening’ they are, in reality, a series of perfectly staged ‘accidents’. What impressed me most is that there is nothing happening on that stage that isn’t planned down to the precise moment of execution by this amazing cast. In addition, the physical humor and the agility of the actors getting slammed by doors and trays plus the acrobatics perpetrated by all, including some of the, shall we say, heftier actors, is a thing of beauty as well. Combine that with the acting, overacting, missed cues, forgotten lines, and pratfalls and you have the audience laughing non-stop through both acts and remembering The Play That Goes Wrong long after the curtain (and more) comes down.
In The Play That Goes Wrong whatever can go wrong does go wrong and boy, does every second of it feel so right!
I would like to also mention that this all comes together under the expert Direction of Mark Bell, featuring a beautiful and perfect set design by Nigel Hook, with lighting design by Ric Mountjoy, sound design by Andy Johnson (with special thanks to Duran, Duran) original music by Rob Falconer; the real production stage manager, Matt DiCarlo, and exquisite period costume design by Roberto Surace.
Last but not least, a huge shout-out to J.J. Abrams who, on a rare night off from filming Star Wars in London, asked to see some original English theatre and fell so much in love with this play that he decided to bring it here to the Colonies for all of us to enjoy!
Thank you J.J.!
Oh… I almost forgot…
The Play That Goes Wrong (Running Time: 2 hours including one intermission) stars the original Olivier Award winning West End cast featuring Rob Falconer, Dave Hearn, Henry Lewis, Charlie Russell, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields, Greg Tannahill and Nancy Zamit. (Bryony Corrigan was on for Nancy Zamit at this reviewed show).
Produced by Kevin McCollum, J. J. Abrams, Kenny Wax, Stage Presence Ltd. and Catherine Schreiber.
Co-written by Mischief Theatre company members Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, The Play That Goes Wrong is a riotous comedy about the theatre. The play introduces The ‘Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’ who are attempting to put on a 1920s’ murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong…does, as the accident prone thespians battle on against all the odds to get to their final curtain call.www.broadwaykingdom.com For more info on Elli -- The King of Broadway www.thekingofbroadway.com Facebook | Twitter | IMdB | Actors Access For more interviews & reviews go to www.broadwaykingdom.com * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We’ll Take Manhattan
A review of Encores! concert reconstruction of
THE NEW YORKERS
At New York City Center
March 22, 2017
by Moshe Bloxenheim
THE NEW YORKERS originally featured specialty acts, material built around Mr. Jimmy Durante’s unique personality and took a very amused look at the world of Park Avenue Society, Gangsters and Prohibition, making no bones about the fact that this was not a show for “The Little Old Lady from Dubuque” though I daresay she might have had a whale of a time too. Encores! manages in a case of sheer theatrical chutzpah to piece together a fine entertainment that gives an impression of the enjoyment that was to be found in the original 1930 show even if an accurate reconstruction is not in cards.
Mr. Cole Porter’s score alone is well worth the price of admission. Admittedly many numbers are hits imported from other shows, but they seem to make themselves perfectly at home sometimes showing up in surprisingly adroit ways. Mr. Jack Viertel assists in this with a concert adaptation of Mr. Herbert Fields original book that allows the plot to entertain and move the show onward without ever forgetting that the songs come first.
The gangsters, good time girls, vapid socialites, adulterers, hoofers, gigolos, prisoners and so on that inhabit THE NEW YORKERS are all likeable and occasionally endearing and make the most of whatever story had first been furnished by Mr. E. Ray Goetz and the famous New Yorker Magazine cartoonist, Mr. Peter Arno: Alice Wentworth, a pretty socialite, is engaged to marry the stodgy, wealthy and reputable Phillip Booster. She expects her marriage to be like that of her parents, Dr. Windham and Mrs. Gloria Wentworth. The Doctor is the swain of the entertainer Lola McGee and the famous inventor of the pick-me-up drug Alcodol while Gloria has Captain Hillary Trask as her special pick-me-up. When the handsome young Captain goes off with Lola, the Doctor and Gloria are rather nonplussed to have to go home together. All plans for a similar life with fiancé Phillip go out the window the moment Alice meets the dashing speakeasy owner Al Spanish. Al and Alice are quite smitten and, for good measure, Philip falls hard for Al’s girlfriend, the singer Mona Low. Unfortunately, complications arrive in the guise of Feet McGeegan, who wants Al to keep out of the Caviar Racket (as if rum-sunning wasn’t hazardous enough). Merry mayhem ensues with some frequency and lots of great music and dancing. Through it all comedian and drink Inventor supreme Jimmie Deegan struts his stuff, the Three Girl Friends Trio and the Varsity Eight chorus sound and look stunning, and jokes about prohibition, politics, society, prison and Cole Porter references are tossed in with happy abandon. Oh yeah – it all ends right.
Delightful Ms. Scarlett Strallen ensures that Alice Wentworth is no mere pretty face, making the most of the character’s savvy naiveté and getting her some wonderful laughs in Alice’s discovery of Real Life (in the form of Al Spanish). Ms. Strallen can also deliver a song with the best of them making the well-known “Most Gentlemen Don’t Like Love” and “Night and Day” just two of the many high points of a very well scored evening.
Anti-antihero Al Spanish may be a gun-toting gangster but Mr. Tam Mutu makes him the perfect gentleman from the wrong side of the tracks. He exhibits a sort of Gee Whiz quality that makes him the good guy even as he guns down his rivals. Mr. Mutu has an ability to put a number over that looks downright effortless and yet so enjoyable.
Usually a musical has one main lead couple and one subplot. But THE NEW YORKERS delivers far more.
Ms. Mylinda Hull gives a wonderful performance as Mona Low. Mona may be losing her Al to Alice but Ms. Hull can make one quite believe that this torch singer knows how to set the stolid Phillip Booster on fire and Mr. Todd Buonopane’s Phillip is a hoot as he transforms from Alice’s burden to Mona’s pleasure.
Alice’s parents are the second couple as they discover that although infidelity is lots of fun, it is always nice to come home to one another. Dr. Windham Wentworth is one of those urbane if slightly vague men-about-town and Byron Jennings plays him with fine understatement. Ms. Ruth Williamson makes Gloria Wentworth a fine contrast to the good Doctor, giving us a woman-about-town who might like home better. Her delicious delivery of “The Physician” comes across is the complaint of a lady who feels a bit ashamed that she much prefers her husband to her boyfriend – if he would only give her a glance!
Then there is Lola McGee and Captain Hillary Trask. These two may not end up together living happily ever after, but Ms. Robyn Hurder and Mr. Tyler Lansing Weaks ensure that they and the audience have a good time for the present. When Ms. Hurder delivers “Please Don’t Make Me Be Good” it is clear that she already is.
Then there is Mr. Kevin Chamberlain in the role of Jimmy Deegan – the comic mixologist. Just the knowledge that Mr. Jimmy Durante originated the part makes his memory a hard act to follow. Still, Mr. Chamberlain makes Jimmy Deegan truly funny and gets the best out of the silly dialogue, yet he is able to add enough Durante mannerisms to make us see how Mr. Durante might have laid them in the aisles in 1930 just as Mr. Chamberlain proceeds to do in 2017. His Act One closer “Wood” is an example of how great absurd comedy can really last.
Aiding and abetting Mr. Chamberlain are his two comic and dancing sidekicks Monahan and Gregory, played with gleeful skill by Messrs. Clyde Alves and Jeffery Schecter.
While Jimmy Deegan is a unique comedy turn all by himself, there are several other specialty acts that deserve much praise:
The Gangster Feet McGeegan is the villain of the show in the mold of Snidely Whiplash or Witch Hazel. So naturally as one of those characters who deserves killing, THE NEW YORKERS obliges, having Feet coming to an untoward end over and over and over again. Mr. Arnie Burton manages to give him just the right level of cartoonish melodrama proving that death may be easy and comedy is hard but comic death is an art all its own. As an added highlight, Mr. Burton stops the show with the brilliant patter number “Let’s Not Talk About Love”.
Other musical delights include the trio of Mss. Christine DiGiallonardo, Lindsay Roberts and Kathryn McCreary as the Three Girl Friends and the Varsity Eight in the guise of Messrs. Matt Bauman, Sam Bolen, Brian Flores, Matthew Griffin, Curtis Holland, Timothy McDevitt, Brendon Stimson and Cody Williams, who recreate the numbers originated by the megaphone-wielding Waring Pennsylvanians.
Many of these performers double up in several roles but Mr. Eddie Korbich laudably wins the multiple casting honors as he appears and reappears as a doctor, a nightclub major domo, a waiter at a deli, a policeman, a butler…
The rest of the company deserve top marks for their acting and dancing, but even with the wealth of pleasure offered onstage, one performer still stands out indelibly: Ms. Cyrille Aimée delivers “Love for Sale” on an empty stage without any introduction and brings down the house. This lonely, haunting performance on its own would have made THE NEW YORKERS worth seeing.
Director John Rando has no trouble with the fact that THE NEW YORKERS is a series of songs with barely enough plot to keep the show from being designated a revue or vaudeville (not that there would be a problem with either one). But Mr. Rando ensures that even with all the numbers being launched in so many ways by different people and acts that everyone gets to shine and nothing ever clashes so that the show buckets along engagingly to its loopy conclusion (the memorable “I Happen To Like New York” chorale). Mr. Chris Bailey’s choreography has a lot to do with this because so much movement and dancing carry THE NEW YORKERS forward. A gangster battle where the machine gun fire is enacted by tap-dance emphasizes the period, plot and cartoonish nature of the show since the assailants and their would-be targets just keep happily tapping and firing. More than that, the specialties are clearly staged to make the most of the talents involved yet invoke their predecessors in the roles. In fact, where many songs have at least a line to cue them in, Messrs. Rando and Viertel know that sometimes a song should be left to fend for itself and ensure that a moment like Ms. Cyrille Aimée’s singing of “Love for Sale” stands alone as the jewel of the show as the original piece did in 1930.
This care with THE NEW YORKERS songs and music is obviously shared by the Rob Berman and the Encores! Orchestra. Mr. Berman’s arrangements and conducting and Messrs. Josh Clayton’s and Larry Moore’s orchestrations are out to get the best of musicians and actors and all deliver beautifully. Even when a number is an import from another show and of a slightly different style (like “The Physician” from the English show NYMPH ERRANT), it just seems to be a natural fit in THE NEW YORKERS. Certainly it would have been braver and wiser for the show to have selected more obscure pieces from Mr. Porter’s songbook and give them the currency they may deserve but I enjoyed myself too much to quibble with what is on offer.
The look of the show is also quite striking with designs that appear as an idealized 1930. Thanks to Mr. Allen Moyer’s scenery and Mr. Alejo Vietti’s costumes one can see glitz and glamor even in Sing-Sing prison and Mr. Ken Billingtons’s top-notch lighting makes even the shimmering reflections of the ladies’ lamé gowns become part of the visual pleasure.
I was a little surprised at the unevenness of Mr. Dan Moses Scheier’s sound system, but besides a few aural fades in Act One, everything sounded pretty good, upholding the illusion that you could hear the voices from the actors rather than the loudspeakers.
THE NEW YORKERS is a loving and varicolored bouquet to the people, foibles and theater of that 1930’s city but it still has an enchanting effect in today’s Empire City as well. As with all first public Encores! performances there was a slightly tentative feeling as the performers gauged how the material was landing, but all went wonderfully well and I am sure that the future performances will only get better and even funnier.
Encores! final Performance of THE NEW YORKERS was 7 PM Sunday Night, March 26, 2017.
I am a computer programmer, wannabe writer who loves theater and just got into the habit of inflicting my theatrical opinions.
I live in New York. Moshe can be reached at MB1224@aol.com
Read how ENCORES restored the show: http://www.nycitycenter.org/Home/Blog/March-2017/Reclaiming-The-New-Yorkers?fullsite=true
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
STARS IN THE ALLEY
SOCIAL MEDIA HOSTS ANNOUNCED!
ALEX BRIGHTMAN and SIERRA BOGGESS
Currently starring in
SCHOOL OF ROCK – THE MUSICAL
TO BE SOCIAL MEDIA CORRESPONDENTS
AT THIS YEAR’S
PRESENTED BY UNITED AIRLINES
IN LEGENDARY SHUBERT ALLEY
FRIDAY JUNE 3, 2016
RAIN OR SHINE!
Free Outdoor Broadway Concert
Featuring Musical Performances and Appearances
From Over 30 Broadway Shows!
PRODUCED BY THE BROADWAY LEAGUE
SPONSORED BY UNITED AIRLINES
New York, NY – (May 19, 2016) – 2016 Tony Award Nominee Alex Brightman and his School of Rock The Musical co-star, Sierra Boggess, have been named social media correspondents for the 2016 STARS IN THE ALLEY concert, presented by United Airlines. The pair will post on social media throughout the event, keeping fans up-to-date on all of the action behind the scenes and on stage.
Stars in the Alley will be hosted by Sean Hayes and Mo Rocca. Sean Hayes will be starring in Broadway’s An Act of God and was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in Promises, Promises and Mo Rocca is a Correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning and appeared on Broadway in the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
Stars in the Alley will take place on Friday, June 3rd from 12:30pm-2:30pm in Shubert Alley, between Broadway and 8th Avenue and 44th and 45th Streets. To add to the festivities leading up to the Tony Awards, the free outdoor concert in the heart of the Theatre District will celebrate Broadway with star appearances and exciting performances from over 30 new shows and long-running favorites, accompanied by a 12-piece live orchestra.
“Alex Brightman and Sierra Boggess are a dynamic pair on stage and they know how to engage fans in a fun and exciting way. We can’t wait to have them rock out as our social media correspondents!” says Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League. “Stars in the Alley is a celebration of the amazing Broadway season and we invite fans to join us in the festivities, counting down to the eagerly anticipated Tony Awards ceremony on June 12th.”
“I’m so excited to serve as co-social ambassador alongside my School of Rock co-star Sierra Boggess at Broadway’s best block party – Stars in the Alley! The next best thing to rocking out at a free outdoor concert is following along with us online. Looking forward to see you there, one way or another!” says Alex Brightman.
“I’m honored to be the social media correspondent this year at Stars in the Alley alongside my incredible co-star Alex Brightman,” said Sierra Boggess. “This is one of my favorite Broadway events of the year, and I’m thrilled to be a part of this special free concert!”
“United Airlines is proud to be the official airline of the Broadway League and the presenting sponsor of Stars in the Alley. This celebration adds to the festivities leading up to the 2016 Tony Awards by bringing the excitement of the year’s memorable shows and incredibly talented performers to the iconic Shubert Alley in New York City for everyone to enjoy,” says Mark Krolick, Managing Director, United Airlines
“Stars in the Alley showcases the excitement of musical theatre and the vibrancy of Times Square all at once. The opportunity to help bring great live music that is free to the public is the primary goal of the MPTF,” says Dan Beck Trustee, Music Performance Trust Fund.
Alex Brightman received a 2016 Tony nomination for his uproarious role as Dewey in School of Rock-The Musical on Broadway. His other Broadway credits include Big Fish, Matilda, Wicked and Glory Days. As a writer, he has penned Make Me Bad (music & lyrics by Drew Gasparini), Everything In Its Place: The Life and Slimes of Marc Summers, and The Whipping Boy (music & co-lyrics by Drew Gasparini), an upcoming musical adaptation of the award-winning novel.
Sierra Boggess currently stars in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock—The Musical. Sierra made her Broadway debut originating the role of Ariel in The Little Mermaid, for which her performance received both a Drama Desk and Drama League Nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Musical, as well as Broadway.com Audience Award for Favorite Female Breakthrough Performance. Sierra has also starred as Christine Daae in the critically acclaimed sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies, for which she received an Olivier Award Nomination for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance. Sierra later returned to the role of Christine for the The Phantom of the Opera’s 25th anniversary limited six-week engagement in 2013, rejoining the Broadway company a year later again as Christine. Her other credits include It Shoulda Been You, Master Class, and most recently, she starred in Lincoln Center’s two night, 25th anniversary concert event of The Secret Garden; her other West End credits include Les Misérables.
Stars in the Alley information can be found at Broadway.org.
The American Theatre Wing’s 70th Annual Tony Awards® will air on the CBS Television Network on Sunday, June 12, 2016 (8:00-11:00 PM, ET/delayed PT) live from the Beacon Theatre in New York City, hosted by Tony Award-winner James Corden. The Tony Awards, which honors theatre professionals for distinguished achievement on Broadway, has been broadcast on CBS since 1978. The Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.
The event is produced by The Broadway League. United Airlines is the title sponsor of Stars in the Alley® and is the official airline of The Broadway League and the Tony Awards. Live music sponsored by The Recording Industry’s Music Performance Trust Fund and Film Funds. The official hospitality partner is Junior’s Restaurant. The official media partner is The New York Times. Additional support is provided by The Shubert Organization and SL Green Realty Corporation.
# # #
UNITED AIRLINES and United Express operate an average of nearly 5,000 flights a day to 342 airports across six continents. In 2015, United and United Express operated nearly two million flights carrying 140 million customers. United is proud to have the world’s most comprehensive route network, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. United operates more than 700 mainline aircraft, and this year, the airline anticipates taking delivery of 20 new Boeing aircraft, including 737 NGs, 787s and 777s. The airline is a founding member of Star Alliance, which provides service to 192 countries via 28 member airlines. Approximately 84,000 United employees reside in every U.S. state and in countries around the world. For more information, visit united.com, follow @United on Twitter or connect on Facebook. The common stock of United’s parent, United Continental Holdings, Inc., is traded on the NYSE under the symbol UAL.
THE MUSIC PERFORMANCE TRUST FUND (MPTF) was established in 1948 as a nonprofit independent public service organization whose mission includes contributing to the public knowledge and appreciation of music, as well as making music a part of every child’s life experience. Headquartered in New York City, the tax-exempt MPTF, operating under section 501(c) 3 of the Internal Revenue Code, evolved from a landmark collective bargaining agreement between the American Federation of Musicians and the major recording companies of the day. Today the MPTF is a vital organization that brings music to the public and supplements the income of musicians, all at no cost to those receiving this precious gift of music.
THE BROADWAY LEAGUE (Charlotte St. Martin, President), founded in 1930, is the national trade association for the Broadway industry. The League’s 700-plus members include theatre owners and operators, producers, presenters, and general managers who present in nearly 200 markets in North America. Each year, League members bring Broadway to nearly 30 million people in New York and on tour across the U.S. and Canada. The Broadway League annually co-presents the Antoinette Perry “Tony” Awards®, one of the most coveted awards in the entertainment industry. Key League programs and resources include: Kids’ Night on Broadway®, The National High School Musical Theatre Awards (The Jimmys), Stars in the Alley®, Internet Broadway Database® (ibdb.com), Broadway.org, SpotlightonBroadway.com, Commercial Theater Institute (with Theatre Development Fund), as well as numerous conferences and forums for our members. TheatreAccessNYC (co-produced with TDF) is the one-stop website of accessible Broadway performances for theatregoers with disabilities. Broadway.org is the League’s official on-line headquarters for Broadway in NYC, on tour, and internationally. For more information visit BroadwayLeague.com, or follow The Broadway League on Twitter @TheBwayLeague and on Facebook at Facebook.com/BroadwayLeague. Download the free Broadway.org and IBDB mobile apps from the iTunes App Store or Google Play.
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THE PUBLIC THEATER
PUBLIC WORKS MUSICAL ADAPTATION BY KWAME KWEI-ARMAH & SHAINA TAUB
DIRECTED BY KWAME KWEI-ARMAH
MUSIC & LYRICS BY SHAINA TAUB
THE GABRIELS: ELECTION YEAR IN THE LIFE OF ONE FAMILY
WHAT DID YOU EXPECT? & WOMEN OF A CERTAIN AGE
TWO WORLD PREMIERES WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY RICHARD NELSON
FIRST MAJOR NEW YORK REVIVAL BY DAVID HARE
DIRECTED BY DAVID LEVEAUX
FEATURING COREY STOLL & RACHEL WEISZ
NEW YORK PREMIERE BY LYNN NOTTAGE
DIRECTED BY KATE WHORISKEY
NEW YORK PREMIERE BY UNIVERSES
(MILDRED RUIZ-SAPP, STEVEN SAPP, WILLIAM RUIZ AKA NINJA)
CHOREOGRAPHY BY MILLICENT JOHNNIE
DIRECTED & DEVELOPED BY LIESL TOMMY
TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS
BASED ON THE BOOK BY CHERYL STRAYED
ADAPTED FOR THE STAGE BY & FEATURING NIA VARDALOS
CO-CONCEIVED BY MARSHALL HEYMAN, THOMAS KAIL, NIA VARDALOS
DIRECTED BY THOMAS KAIL
WORLD PREMIERE MUSICAL BY DAVID BYRNE
DIRECTED BY ALEX TIMBERS
JOHN LEGUIZAMO: LATIN HISTORY FOR MORONS
NEW YORK PREMIERE BY JOHN LEGUIZAMO
DIRECTED BY TONY TACCONE
THE OUTER SPACE BY ETHAN LIPTON AT JOE’S PUB
MUSIC COMPOSED & PERFORMED BY
ETHAN LIPTON, VITO DIETERLE, EBEN LEVY, & IAN RIGGS
DIRECTED BY LEIGH SILVERMAN
GENTLY DOWN THE STREAM
WORLD PREMIERE BY MARTIN SHERMAN
DIRECTED BY SEAN MATHIAS
FEATURING HARVEY FIERSTEIN
13th ANNUAL UNDER THE RADAR FESTIVAL
TWO FREE MOBILE UNIT TOURS TO FIVE BOROUGHS
May 19, 2016 – Public Theater Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham announced the line-up today for The Public’s 2016-17 season. For over six decades, The Public continues to make art that is of, by and for the people. Fundamentally democratic, artist driven and radically inclusive, The Public stages Shakespeare and the classics, musicals, contemporary and experimental works in equal measure at its six theaters at Astor Place, including Joe’s Pub, at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, home of Free Shakespeare in the Park and in communities across all five boroughs with the Mobile Unit. The Public is also currently represented on Broadway with the acclaimed new play Eclipsed, and the award-winning musicals Fun Home and Hamilton.
The Public’s 61st season will include a free Public Works musical adaptation of Twelfth Night at the Delacorte; two free Mobile Unit tours to the five boroughs; a new musical by David Byrne that reunites him with his Here Lies Love director Alex Timbers; new plays by Lynn Nottage, UNIVERSES, and John Leguizamo; a world premiere by Martin Sherman featuring Harvey Fierstein; the return of Ethan Lipton & His Orchestra to Joe’s Pub at The Public; the continuation of Richard Nelson’s election year cycle plays, The Gabriels; the first major New York revival of David Hare’s Plenty featuring Corey Stoll and Rachel Weisz; a stage adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s beloved book featuring Nia Vardalos and directed by Hamilton’s Thomas Kail; the 13th edition of the acclaimed Under the Radar Festival; a dynamic Public Forum line-up; Public Studio; and the Emerging Writers Group Spotlight Series.
“The Public is firing on all cylinders and this season reflects the tremendous diversity of our work,” said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. “From a major revival of one of our iconic masterpieces of the last century, Plenty; to the latest brilliant workings of David Byrne and Alex Timbers, Saint Joan; from the climax of Richard Nelson’s astounding Gabriel family plays; to the premiere of Lynn Nottage’s Sweat, this season is as exciting as New York itself. It is a season that embraces American history in all its diversity, from the revolutionary experience of Party People to the gorgeous and elegiac Gently Down the Stream, and the amazing John Leguizamo’s Latin History For Morons. Two beautifully intimate pieces round out our season: Ethan Lipton’s sequel to the Obie Award-winning No Place to Go, The Outer Space, and Tiny Beautiful Things. Tiny Beautiful Things is an adaptation by writer Nia Vardalos and director Tommy Kail of Cheryl Strayed’s beloved and powerful book.”
Joe’s Pub at The Public will welcome back several performance residencies, including Employee of the Month with Catie Lazarus, The Meeting * Hosted by Justin Sayre, Women of Letters, and The Losers Lounge. In addition, Joe’s Pub will again present annual favorites like Toshi Reagon’s Birthday Shows, DanceNOW and more. Programming initiatives like New York Voices, Pub Club, and collaborations with arts organizations Kimmel Center (Philadelphia) and Lott Entertainment @ MATCHouston will continue and expand this season. The Library at The Public is open nightly for food and drinks, beginning at 5:00 p.m., with an American menu created by Chefs Andrew Carmellini and Brian Plante, featuring local ingredients and New York influence.
THE PUBLIC THEATER MEMBERSHIP PROGRAM offers patrons the opportunity to purchase significantly discounted tickets to shows and events throughout the year for an annual $65 (tax-deductible) donation. Memberships are available at www.publictheater.org or by calling 212-967-7555. Tickets for the 2016-17 season will go on sale later this year.
THE PUBLIC THEATER’S 2016-17 SEASON:
Public Works at the Delacorte Theater (Free)
Musical Adaptation of Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT
Conceived by Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub
Directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah
Music and Lyrics by Shaina Taub
September 2 – 5, 2016
Public Works, The Public’s local and national initiative that invites diverse communities across New York to join in creating ambitious works of theater, celebrates its fourth year at the Delacorte with an enchanting new musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night with music and lyrics by the critically acclaimed songwriter Shaina Taub. Professional artists and community members from partner organizations in all five boroughs perform together on stage in this love story that follows the young heroine Viola, who disguises herself as a man when she washes up on the shores of Ilyria. When Viola’s new boss, Duke Orsino, sends her to win over his unrequited love, the Countess Olivia, Viola’s disguise proves too effective, and the Countess falls for the young girl dressed as a boy instead. Artistic Director of Baltimore’s Center Stage, Kwame Kwei-Armah, directs this musical fever dream about love in all its many disguises, and transformative power of walking a mile in another’s shoes.
World Premiere Three-Play Cycle
THE GABRIELS: Election Year in the Life of One Family
Play Two: WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?
Written and Directed by Richard Nelson
Featuring Meg Gibson, Lynn Hawley, Roberta Maxwell, Maryann Plunkett, Jay O. Sanders, Amy Warren
September 10 – October 2; Opening Night: Friday, September 16, 2016
Tony-winning writer and director Richard Nelson returns to The Public this fall with the next play in his new three-play cycle, THE GABRIELS: Election Year in the Life of One Family. The second play, WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?, brings us back to the kitchen of the Gabriel family, with the country now in the midst of the general election for president. In the course of one evening in the house they grew up in, history (both theirs and our country’s), money, politics, family, art and culture are chopped up and mixed together, while a meal is made around the kitchen table.
First Major New York Revival
Written by David Hare
Directed by David Leveaux
Featuring Corey Stoll and Rachel Weisz
October 4 – November 6, 2016
One of the most celebrated plays in The Public’s history, David Hare’s PLENTY returns this fall in a riveting new production. This groundbreaking play, which first premiered at The Public in 1982, is the story of Susan Traherne, a fiercely intelligent British secret agent flown into France during the Second World War. Susan’s experiences among her war-time colleagues and over the two decades that follow are distilled in powerful scenes in this endlessly layered work about a woman of remarkable bravery, who cannot find in peacetime the values and relationships she cherished in war.
New York Premiere
Written by Lynn Nottage
Directed by Kate Whoriskey
October 18 – November 20, 2016
The Public presents the New York premiere of SWEAT, the “extraordinarily moving drama” (The New York Times) by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Ruined, Lynn Nottage. With warm humor and tremendous heart, Sweat tells the story of a group of friends who have spent their lives sharing drinks, secrets and laughs while working together on the line of a factory floor. But when layoffs and picket lines begin to chip away at their trust, the friends find themselves pitted against each other in the hard fight to stay afloat. Kate Whoriskey (Ruined) directs this stunning new play about the collision of race, class, family and friendship, and the tragic, unintended costs of community without opportunity.
New York Premiere
By UNIVERSES: Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, Steven Sapp, William Ruiz aka Ninja
Choreography by Millicent Johnnie
Directed and Developed by Liesl Tommy
November 1 – December 4, 2016
UNIVERSES, the award-winning ensemble known for their fusion of theater, poetry, jazz, hip-hop, politics, down home blues and Spanish boleros, makes their Public Theater premiere with an explosive new work about the complicated legacies of the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords Org/Party. Directed and developed by Tony Award nominee Liesl Tommy, UNIVERSES created PARTY PEOPLE based on dozens of interviews with members of these groundbreaking, society-changing groups. PARTY PEOPLE imagines a present-day reunion at an art opening curated by two young counter culturalists; but the curators themselves have complex relationships with the Party members, who fought injustice and provided free food and medical care for their communities—often at the expense of the people who loved them most. Old wounds and generational divides collide in this astonishing, multi-media theatrical event about the price of being a revolutionary, and what it means for those who come after. Breaking the bounds of the expected, the members of UNIVERSES (Steven Sapp, Mildred Ruiz-Sapp and William Ruiz aka Ninja) and Liesl Tommy —invite audiences of every age, color and creed to join them as they continue to revolutionize American theater and explore the fight to bring power to the people, and the people to power.
World Premiere Three-Play Cycle
THE GABRIELS: Election Year in the Life of One Family
Play Three: WOMEN OF A CERTAIN AGE
Written and Directed by Richard Nelson
Featuring Meg Gibson, Lynn Hawley, Roberta Maxwell, Maryann Plunkett, Jay O. Sanders, Amy Warren
November 4 – November 27; Opening Night: Tuesday, November 8, 2016
In the exquisitely moving finale of his three-play cycle, Tony-winning writer and director Richard Nelson brings us back into the Rhinebeck kitchen of the Gabriel family as they await the results of the Presidential Election on November 8, 2016. WOMEN OF A CERTAIN AGE takes place in the course of a single night, eight months after we first meet the Gabriels. Patricia, the family matriarch, joins her children and daughters-in-law as they prepare a meal from the past and consider the future of their country, town and home. Paying tribute to the difficult year behind them, the Gabriels compare notes on the search for empathy and authenticity at a time when the game seems rigged and the rules are forever changing.
TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS
Based on the Book by Cheryl Strayed
Adapted for the Stage by Nia Vardalos
Co-Conceived by Marshall Heyman, Thomas Kail, & Nia Vardalos
Directed by Thomas Kail
Featuring Nia Vardalos as “Sugar”
November 15 – December 18, 2016
Academy Award-nominated writer and actress Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) makes her Public Theater debut with a richly funny, uniquely uplifting new play she has adapted from the bestselling book Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed, the internationally acclaimed author of Wild. Vardalos is Sugar, the online advice columnist who thousands of people have turned to for words of wisdom, honesty and hope. As anonymous readers come to her with their deepest and most personal problems, Sugar—who ultimately revealed herself to be Strayed—finds a way to weave her own life experiences together with theirs, creating a beloved column about the monstrous beauty, endless dark and glimmering light at the heart of being human. Tony Award nominee Thomas Kail (Dry Powder, Hamilton) directs this powerful new play about reaching when you’re stuck, healing when you’re broken, and finding the courage to take on the questions which don’t have an answer.
UNDER THE RADAR FESTIVAL
January 4 –15, 2017
Curated by UTR Director Mark Russell, the 13th edition of this highly-anticipated 12-day downtown winter festival will bring together exciting artists from around the world who are redefining the act of making theater.
Written by David Byrne
Directed by Alex Timbers
February 14 – March 19, 2017
Once upon a time, there was a girl who talked to God. She built a nation, and they burned her for it. Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe winner David Byrne, lead singer of the Talking Heads and creator of The Public’s hit Here Lies Love, explores the electrifying, meteoric rise of Joan of Arc through the lens of a one-of-a-kind rock musical concert. Directed by Golden Globe winner Alex Timbers (Here Lies Love, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), SAINT JOAN is a thrilling and provocative new show about challenging the powerful and believing in the impossible.
New York Premiere at Joe’s Pub at The Public
THE OUTER SPACE
Written by Ethan Lipton
Music composed and performed by Ethan Lipton, Vito Dieterle, Eben Levy, Ian Riggs
Directed by Leigh Silverman
February 24 – April 2, 2017
This season, Ethan Lipton (No Place to Go, Red-Handed Otter) returns to The Public with a new adventure in bittersweet and hilariously off-kilter storytelling. With music by Vito Dieterle, Eben Levy and Ian Riggs and performed by the quartet (Ethan Lipton & His Orchestra), THE OUTER SPACE follows one married couple as they leave the noise, pollution and overpriced rents of Earth for the vast beauty and treacherous terrain of the final frontier. But can they survive the journey? Leigh Silverman (No Place to Go, Well, Violet) directs this out-of-this-world musical about the sacrifices we make for sustainable living and love. The New York Times calls Obie-winning playwright and songwriter Ethan Lipton an “expert at keeping music, jokes and personal narrative tightly knitted together into one consistent human package.”
GENTLY DOWN THE STREAM
Written by Martin Sherman
Directed by Sean Mathias
Featuring Harvey Fierstein
March 14 – April 16, 2017
Tony winner Harvey Fierstein takes the stage this spring in a ravishing world premiere by one of the most influential playwrights of our time, Tony Award nominee Martin Sherman. Directed by Tony Award nominee Sean Mathias, Fierstein plays Beau, a pianist expat living in London, who meets Rufus, an eccentric young lawyer, at the dawn of the internet dating revolution. After a life spent recovering from the disappointment and hurt of loving men in a world that refused to allow it, Beau is determined to keep his expectations low with Rufus. But Rufus comes from a new generation of gay men who believe happiness is as much their right as anyone else’s, and what Beau assumed would be just another fling grows into one of the most surprising and defining relationships of his life. A remarkably moving, brilliantly funny love story that reflects the triumphs and heartbreaks of the entire length of the gay rights movement, celebrating and mourning the ghosts of the men and women who led the way for equality, marriage and the right to dream.
New York Premiere
JOHN LEGUIZAMO: LATIN HISTORY FOR MORONS
Written by and featuring John Leguizamo
Directed by Tony Taccone
In a co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre
March 17 – April 23, 2017
Emmy and Obie Award winner John Leguizamo schools his son—and the rest of us—on the buried and forgotten history of Latinos in the Americas in this outrageously funny one-man show about uncovering the truth, and recovering from the past. Inspired by the near total absence of Latinos in his son’s American history class, Leguizamo embarks on a frenzied search to find a Latin hero for his son’s school project. From a mad recap of the Aztec empire to stories of unknown Latin patriots of the Revolutionary War and beyond, Leguizamo breaks down the 3,000 years between the Mayans and Ricky Ricardo into 90 irreverent and uncensored minutes in his trademark style. Artistic Director of Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Tony Taccone, directs this incendiary new show from one the most provocatively hilarious satirists in American theater.
ONGOING AT THE PUBLIC THEATER:
FREE SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park is one of the cornerstones of The Public Theater’s mission. Since 1962, over five million people have enjoyed more than 150 free productions of Shakespeare and other classical works and musicals. This summer The Public will present THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (May 24-June 26), directed by Phyllida Lloyd; and TROILUS AND CRESSIDA (July 19-August 14), directed by Daniel Sullivan. Bank of America is the lead sponsor of Shakespeare in the Park.
PUBLIC WORKS is a groundbreaking new initiative working with community partner organizations in all five boroughs. It is designed to bring community partners into the full life of The Public through workshops, classes, dialogues, invitations to shows at The Public, visits from the Mobile Unit, and culminating in the creation of ambitious works of participatory theater. The community partner organizations of Public Works are Brownsville Recreation Center (Brooklyn), Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education (Bronx), Center for Family Life in Sunset Park, a program of SCO Family of (Brooklyn), DreamYard Project (Bronx), The Fortune Society (Queens), Military Resilience Project (all boroughs), and alumni partners Children’s Aid Society (Manhattan) and Domestic Workers United (all boroughs). Lead support for Public Works is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Ford Foundation, New York City Theater Subdistrict Council, The Tow Foundation, and The Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Additional support is provided by the New York Community Trust, New York State Council on the Arts, The One World Fund, David Rockefeller Fund, and Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, LLP. The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation provides support for The Public’s access and engagement programming. The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust provides leadership support for The Public Theater’s year-round activities.
MOBILE UNIT is a reinvention of Joseph Papp’s Mobile Shakespeare program, which began in 1957 to bring Shakespeare to the masses, evolving into the New York Shakespeare Festival and ultimately becoming The Public Theater. Now in its seventh year, it presents Shakespeare and other works for free to prisons, homeless shelters, social advocacy organizations, and other community venues throughout the five boroughs. The Mobile Unit has already toured Romeo & Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, Macbeth, Pericles, Measure for Measure, Richard III and Much Ado About Nothing. The Mobile Unit is made possible with the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Ford Foundation, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation, The Tow Foundation, and Bloomberg Philanthropies. Additional generous support provided by Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP. The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation provides support for The Public’s access and engagement programming. The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust provides leadership support for The Public Theater’s year-round activities.
JOE’S PUB AT THE PUBLIC, named for Public Theater founder Joe Papp, opened in 1998 and plays a vital role in The Public’s mission of supporting young artists while providing established artists with an intimate space and superior acoustics to perform and develop new work. Joe’s Pub presents the best in live music and performance nightly, continuing its commitment to diversity, production values, community and artistic freedom. In addition, Joe’s Pub features seasonal dinner and bar menus from acclaimed Chef Andrew Carmellini and Brian Plante. As part of The Public’s programming downtown at its Astor Place home, Joe’s Pub showcases talent from all over the world, hosting approximately 800 shows and serving over 100,000 audience members annually. Joe’s Pub also offers unique opportunities like New York Voices, an artist commissioning program that provides musicians (Allen Toussaint, Ethan Lipton, Toshi Reagon, Bridget Everett and more) resources and collaborators to develop new theatrical works; and Pub Club, the venue’s new artist development program.
PUBLIC FORUM, now in its seventh season, brings together talented members of the theater community and interesting individuals from the arts, media, politics, and society to discuss, debate, and further explore the ideas present on The Public Theater’s stages. Alec Baldwin, Anne Hathaway, Cynthia Nixon, Sam Waterston, Jeremy McCarter, and former NEA Chair Rocco Landesman have hosted its programs, which have featured insights and performances from the likes of Uzo Aduba, Christine Baranski, David Brooks, David Byrne, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon, E.L. Doctorow, James Earl Jones, Tony Kushner, Wynton Marsalis, Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels, Audra McDonald, Stephin Merritt, Suzan-Lori Parks, Salman Rushdie, David Simon, Anna Deavere Smith, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, and many more. Through curated conversations and surprising combinations, Public Forum seeks to engage audiences in discovering answers to the questions that drive us, both onstage and off.
PUBLIC STUDIO is a performance series dedicated exclusively to developing the work of emerging writers. In a laboratory environment, writers rehearse with actors and a director, incorporate bare-bones design elements, and open the process to an audience over a series of performances. More than a reading or workshop, but not a full production, this middle step affords early career writers the important opportunity to deepen their experience of working collaboratively over an extended rehearsal period and to see their work staged in front of an audience. Previous Public Studio plays include Pretty Hunger by Patricia Ione Lloyd, Teenage Dick by Mike Lew, Ping Pong by Rogelio Martinez, Fidelis by Christina Gorman, Manahatta by Mary Kathryn Nagle, and The Urban Retreat by A. Zell Williams. Public Studio was founded with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Time Warner, Inc. Continued support for Public Studio is provided by The Time Warner Foundation. The Harold and Mimi Steinberg New Play Development Fund at The Public Theater supports the creation and development of new plays.
EMERGING WRITERS GROUP is a component of The Public Writers Initiative, a long-term program that provides key support and resources for writers at every stage of their careers. In just seven years, it has nurtured numerous playwrights who have gone on to have their plays staged at The Public and elsewhere around the country. Time Warner is the Founding Sponsor of the Emerging Writers Group, and provides continued program support through the Time Warner Foundation.
UNDER THE RADAR FESTIVAL, over the past 13 years, has presented over 194 companies from 40 countries. It has grown into a landmark of the New York City theater season and is a vital part of The Public’s mission, providing a high-visibility platform to support artists from diverse backgrounds who are redefining the act of making theater. Widely recognized as a premier launching pad for new and cutting-edge performance from the U.S. and abroad, UTR has presented works by such respected artists as Elevator Repair Service, Nature Theater of Oklahoma, Belarus Free Theatre, Guillermo Calderón, and Young Jean Lee. These artists provide a snapshot of contemporary theater: richly distinct in terms of perspectives, aesthetics, and social practice, and pointing to the future of the art form. Under the Radar is made possible with the generous support of the Ford Foundation.
DEVISED THEATER INITIATIVE at The Public is one of the first of its kind in the U.S., providing support and resources to the next generation of independent artists and ensembles. The Public Theater has been a strong supporter of the devised theater movement and has helped promote the work of prominent and emerging devised theater-makers. Through The Public’s annual Under the Radar Festival and year-round downtown season at Astor Place, many examples of this inventive art form have been brought to the attention of audiences in New York and around the world. The Devised Theater Initiative is made possible with the generous support of the Ford Foundation.
THE LIBRARY AT THE PUBLIC is open nightly for food and drink, beginning at 5:00 p.m. Chefs Andrew Carmellini and Brian Plante have created an American menu of bar snacks, shareable appetizers, sandwiches, dinner plates and desserts sourcing local ingredients and New York influence that is available in both The Library and Joe’s Pub.
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ABOUT THE PUBLIC THEATER:
The Public Theater, under the leadership of Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham, is the only theater in New York that produces Shakespeare, the classics, musicals, contemporary and experimental pieces in equal measure. Celebrating his 10th anniversary season at The Public, Eustis has created new community-based initiatives designed to engage audiences like Public Lab, Public Studio, Public Forum, Public Works, and a remount of the Mobile Unit. The Public continues the work of its visionary founder, Joe Papp, by acting as an advocate for the theater as an essential cultural force, and leading and framing dialogue on some of the most important issues of our day. Creating theater for one of the largest and most diverse audience bases in New York City for nearly 60 years, today the Company engages audiences in a variety of venues—including its landmark downtown home at Astor Place, which houses five theaters and Joe’s Pub; the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, home to free Shakespeare in the Park; and the Mobile Unit, which tours Shakespearean productions for underserved audiences throughout New York City’s five boroughs. The Public’s wide range of programming includes free Shakespeare in the Park, the bedrock of the Company’s dedication to making theater accessible to all; Public Works, an expanding initiative that is designed to cultivate new connections and new models of engagement with artists, audiences and the community each year; and audience and artist development initiatives that range from Emerging Writers Group and to the Public Forum series. The Public is located on property owned by the City of New York and receives annual support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; and in October 2012 the landmark building downtown at Astor Place was revitalized to physically manifest the Company’s core mission of sparking new dialogues and increasing accessibility for artists and audiences, by dramatically opening up the building to the street and community, and transforming the lobby into a public piazza for artists, students, and audiences. The Public is currently represented on Broadway by the Tony Award-winning Fun Home and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s acclaimed American musical Hamilton, and Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed featuring Lupita Nyong’o. The Public has received 47 Tony Awards, 167 Obie Awards, 52 Drama Desk Awards, 54 Lortel Awards, 32 Outer Critics Circle Awards, 13 New York Drama Critics Awards, and five Pulitzer Prizes. www.publictheater.org.
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Devil may care.
A review of Encores! concert staging of
at New York City Center
February 11, 2016
CABIN IN THE SKY is one of those battles between the Heavenly and Hellish forces over a soul – that of the hapless Little Joe to be specific – that encourage the spectators to root for the good and grand even if there seems to be much more entertainment in the bad and brassy. To be fair, both sides are blessed with the marvelous music by Mr. Vernon Duke and the fine lyrics of Mr. John Latouche as well as some eye-catching choreography inspired by Mr. George Balanchine’s work for the original production, but even at its most buoyant moments, CABIN IN THE SKY’s Virtue always has a whiff of smug schoolroom morality. I can’t say if this was inherent in Mr. Lynn Root’s original book for the show or the result of Messrs. Ruben Santiago-Hudson and Jack Viertel’s concert adaptation for Encores! but no one is exactly at the edge of their seat rooting for Righteousness. Especially since the Devil has the charm, the campier lines and most of the best dance numbers.
Nevertheless, the cast of CABIN IN THE SKY provides some very winning performances that often transcend the limitations and triteness of the material.
Mr. Chuck Cooper is a petulant delight playing the Head Man: a son of the Devil who is trying to “make good” in his Poppa’s business by getting Little Joe’s soul. While his satanic efforts may not exactly breed success, they are always diverting and earn well deserved applause. Musically as well, Mr. Cooper never flags, and his rendition of “Do What You Wanna Do” backed up by his superb assistants in evil – Ms. Tiffany Mann and Messrs. Dennis Stowe and André Garner – is a veritable crowd pleaser.
On the other side of the scale, Mr. Norm Lewis makes a gratifyingly caring Lord’s General, earnestly fighting for good but with a level of amusement that keeps him from being a cardboard seraph. The problem is, that even while the Lord’s General is trying to help Petunia and Little Joe, the best argument he can offer up is the very engaging but still tame “It’s Not So Bad to Be Good.” Not exactly heady stuff for Little Joe after the production numbers that the Head Man brings onstage. Basically Mr. Lewis’ Lord’s General and his angels – played by the worthy Ms. Kristolyn Lloyd and Messrs. Jared Joseph and Nicholas Ward – are the sort of beings you would bring home to impress your folks, whereas Saturday night is more entertaining in Mr. Cooper’s diabolically fun company.
As for the object of Good and Bad’s dispute. Little Joe is a schmo, yet, we don’t wonder why Petunia bothers with him, because Mr. Michael Potts makes Little Joe Jackson a likeable and sympathetic hero. Indeed, Mr. Potts makes even Little Joe’s enjoyment of his newly virtuous life believable. His playfulness when singing “In My Old Virginia Home (On the River Nile)” with Petunia makes us fully appreciate why his wife has been fighting for him when she obviously can do better.
Of course, there is nothing like another woman to mess things up for a man and Georgia Brown – as played by the talented Ms. Carly Hughes – is perfect for the job. Georgia Brown is one of those terribly attractive and self-assured ladies who is perplexed when she cannot get what she wants – such as Little Joe. Ms. Hughes gives her pursuit of Little Joe a good dash of humor as well as spice, and plays off Mr. Michael Potts most effectively.
Fighting to save her man from Hell is Little Joe’s devoted wife Petunia. By rights, this lady should be a romantic doormat, but the admirable actress billed as “LaChanze” creates a plausible woman with backbone who can see the good in her husband and lovingly draw it out. This heroine is both a worthy wife and darned good company who easily captivates the audience with numbers like “Taking a Chance on Love.” When it appears that she has reached the last straw, Ms. LaChanze’s Petunia changes dramatically into a woman who can best even the worldly Georgia Brown and bring down the house with the impressively sung number “Savannah”
The rest of the company is truly first-rate and deliver many high points in the show, most memorably the wonderful and boisterous “Dry Bones” which in itself is worth the price of admission.
Director Ruben Santiago-Hudson creates many memorable moments in the action of CABIN IN THE SKY but while I was entertained and interested, I was never really gripped by the sometime sitcom setup of the story (which Mr. Santiago Hudson also had a hand in). There is unevenness in the narrative that saps some of the drama out of the twists in the plot.
On the other hand, Ms. Camile A. Brown’s choreography provides impressive pieces of dance and movement. But at times certain numbers seem to get lost in a sort of Balanchine recital mode that merely extends the performances instead of enhancing the songs or adding to the story.
Musically the Encores! Orchestra conducted by Mr. Rob Berman is superb and Mr. Jonathan Tunick’s orchestrations of Mr. Vernon Duke’s music is a joy to listen to, taking full advantage of the chorus’ Gospel voices along with a big band sound reminiscent of the early 1940’s. Everything is properly amplified by Mr. Scott Lehrer’s audio designs, though the body microphones seem to be a little more obvious than intended.
Keeping with the concert staging, Ms. Anna Louizos’ sets are basic yet very effective – especially the opposing twin thrones in which are seated the Head Man and Lord’s General. Ms. Karen Perry is just as skilled in providing attractive costumes that go far in illustrating the personalities of the characters from the cheerful red garments of the Head Man and his henchmen to the white suit and amusing silver lamé cape worn by the Lord’s General. Everything is lit to good advantage by Mr. Ken Billington.
With its unequal book and overabundance of “Balanchine,” this CABIN IN THE SKY could have used more work on its dramatic foundation. But if it does not approach perfection, CABIN IN THE SKY is often very entertaining, with splendid songs and a praiseworthy cast who work hard to give the show a substance that it might not otherwise have.
I am a computer programmer, wannabe writer who loves theater and just got into the habit of inflicting my theatrical opinions.
I live in New York. Moshe can be reached at MB1224@aol.com
Originally produced in 1940, Cabin in the Sky followed Porgy and Bess in celebrating African-American music and dance traditions. The musical tells the story of “Little Joe” Jackson (Michael Potts), a charming ne’er-do-well who dies in a saloon brawl and is given six months on earth to prove his worth to the Lord’s General (Tony Award nominee Norm Lewis) and the Devil’s Head Man (Tony Award winner Chuck Cooper)—all while struggling to remain true to his loving wife Petunia (Tony Award winner LaChanze) and resist the wiles of temptress Georgia Brown (Carly Hughes). Long considered a lost treasure, the score of Cabin in the Sky—which includes jazz hits like “Taking a Chance on Love” and “Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe”—will be restored to its original glory for Encores!* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Brought to you by the NEW www.broadwaykingdom.com For more info on Elli -- The King of Broadway www.thekingofbroadway.com Facebook | Twitter | IMdB | Actors Access For more interviews & reviews go to www.broadwaykingdom.com * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
An Interview with Ed Asner
at The Metropolitan Room
January 16, 2016
before his performance of
A Man and his Prostate
written by Ed. Weinberger
SPECIAL THANKS TO
Bernie Furshpan & staff of the Metropolitan Room
For his generosity in taping and editing this interview
The Image Factory
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Brought to you by the NEW www.broadwaykingdom.com
For more info on Elli -- The King of Broadway www.thekingofbroadway.com
Facebook | Twitter | IMdB | Actors Access
For more interviews & reviews go to www.broadwaykingdom.com
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Elli was asked to sing at
The Metropolitan Room
Tuesday, January 12th 2016
“HONOR THY FATHER”
A celebration of all fathers
and the story of the life of one sole survivor in particular, Bernie’s Father, Murray Furshpan
with the always amazing, Barry Levitt on the piano
The evening featured Julie Budd, Anita Gillette, Mark Nadler, Sara Zahn, Jim Brochu, Tom Gamblin, Elli thekingofbroadway, Lina Orfanos, Liz Mckendry, and Gary Crawford, Denise Spann-Morgan and Steve Schalchlin with Barry Levitt on the Piano
“The evening featured many singers who had relatives that experienced the horrors of the Holocaust, some relating their own family histories.
Steve Schalchlin, at the piano, opened with self-penned “Somebody Save Me a Seat,” the evening progressing as musical director Barry Levitt took over; singers offering up songs centered around love of family with great heart, emotion and memories such as Gary Crawford’s rendition of Steven Lutvak’s “Museums;” Lina Orfanos sung in Hebrew; Mark Nadler offered a one-of-a-kind “Ragtime;” Elli the King of Broadway sang Jerry Herman’s “Shalom” and “Milk and Honey” and Denise Spann-Morgan soared on the Exodus song, “This Land is Mine.”
Throughout, Bernie continued speaking about the man with endless soul and talent as a plasterer and craftsman – who plied his skills to such a degree that he was sought after to renovate John Lennon’s kitchen and bath. But most importantly, Murray was a Mensch (a person of integrity and honor).” from http://www.theaterpizzazz.com/honor-thy-father/
Original Video taken by Brad Naprixas
B”H – Thursday Sept. 24th 2015 – The day after Yom Kippur 5776
You just never know..
Today, on my way home from shopping for a Lulav & Esrog and some food supplies for Sukkos I had an interesting ride in a LYFT car. (Use Code Elli49 to sign up and get $20 toward a ride!)
While chatting with the driver, he said he is only in NYC 5 years and is originally from Tajikistan (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tajikistan) where they speak Tajik a dialect of Farsi (Persian) and Russian!
We had a wonderful discussion about the Jewish things he knows of, he asked me to tell him about “the coming holiday called Sukkot”. He said that he lives in Midwood near an Iranian Synagogue and can understand everything that everyone is saying on their way to/from Shul! (Note to self….)
While in the car, a friend called me sounding a little depressed, so I did my best to try and cheer him up and at one point in the conversation he asked me for my opinion on, “what’s the meaning of life? Is there a purpose?”
I explained to him that every person he asks will have a different outlook but my outlook is I was born a Jew and the purpose of my life is to follow HaShem’s Torah and do as many of the 613 mitzvahs as I can in my lifetime.
I was surprised that he understood what I was talking about and asked me if I could count how many mitzvahs I had done in the past week. I explained that it doesn’t actually work like that – we don’t keep a running count – but that I did attend services on Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish new year, I kept the Sabbath in between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, I fasted on Yom Kippur, spent the entire day in the synagogue and didn’t return home until almost an hour after the fast ended. I only eat kosher food, tried to be kind to my fellow man and generally spread as much joy as possible.
He then asked me how I know if I’m actually doing anything good and being effective?
I told him that not always is the purpose for everything you do open & revealed. Most of the time you just do what needs to be done and hope that along the way you affect somebody positively.
I related a story from just this past week. I met Brad in the city and we only had a few minutes from the time he got there until we had to be at our event. We decided to eat dinner after the event and to just go into Walgreens and get a quick nosh to hold us over.
We looked for a place to sit down and eat and finally found a ledge on the corner of the store that we could kind of squeeze onto.
While we were sitting there a couple from Israel noticing my beard and Yarmulkah came over to us looking very confused and asked if I could help them get to 770 Eastern Pkwy. the Lubavitcher headquarters in Brooklyn? I was only too happy to help and proceeded to give them the fastest route. The conversation was in Hebrew, and the lady had scribbled some numbers on a piece of paper from someone else that had given her instructions that confused her. She couldn’t seem to understand why my instructions differed from the ones she’d been given. I explained again and thankfully we were close enough to Times Square that I could point and show her where the 3 train would take her quickly to her destination. With a smile they thanked me and went on their way.
Without missing a beat, Brad turned to me and said, “See! That’s why we sat here!”
We can’t always wait for those moments to come. We always have to live **as if** that moment will always come.
“…and that’s what life is all about for me”, I said.
The Baal Shem Tov said “For 70, 80 years a Neshama (Soul) wears and tears just to do a favor for another.”
Our conversation came to an end as I arrived at my home, and I believe that it had a positive effect on my friend. I also believe it had a positive effect on my driver as well, as he insisted on carrying all my packages into the house for me!!!
You just never know what one kind word can do…
The Lubavitcher Rebbe quoted many times that it takes “JUST ONE MITZVAH to tip the scales and bring…
-elli-* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Brought to you by the NEW www.broadwaykingdom.com For more info on Elli -- The King of Broadway www.thekingofbroadway.com Facebook | Twitter | IMdB | Actors Access For more interviews & reviews go to www.broadwaykingdom.com * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Rosh HaShanah 5776
Elli – The King of Broadway
Wish You and Your Loved ones a
Healthy, Happy, Sweet, Prosperous New Year 5776
In the year to come may the Al-mighty
grant you everything you need
(and a little of what you want as well!)
Kesivah v’Chasimah Tovah
Shana Tovah U’mesuka
May you be inscribed and sealed in
the Book of Life for a
Good, Sweet, Healthy New Year
I hope to see each and every one of you very soon.
IMPORTANT HOLIDAY LINKS/INFO:
On Rosh Hashanah it is customary not to eat foods which are sour or tart (the gefilte fish will have to do without the horseradish…). Instead, we focus on sweet foods, symbolizing our desire to have a sweet year full of blessings and abundance. It is also customary not to eat nuts on Rosh Hashanah, as the numerical value of the Hebrew word for nuts (“egoz”) is the same as the Hebrew word for sin (“chet”).www.broadwaykingdom.com For more info on Elli -- The King of Broadway www.thekingofbroadway.com Facebook | Twitter | IMdB | Actors Access For more interviews & reviews go to www.broadwaykingdom.com * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *