FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Vivacity Media Group
INTERNATIONAL MUSIC SENSATION
TO PLAY BROADWAY
6 EPIC WEEKS ONLY
AT THE BROADWAY THEATRE
MARCH 20 – APRIL 29, 2018
AMERICAN EXPRESS® CARD MEMBERS CAN PURCHASE TICKETS BEFORE THE GENERAL PUBLIC BEGINNING MONDAY, OCTOBER 30 AT 10AM THROUGH MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6 AT 9:59AM
TICKETS ON SALE TO AUDIENCE REWARDS MEMBERS
BEGINNING MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2017 AT 10AM
GENERAL ON-SALE BEGINS
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2017 AT 10AM
“Rocktopia creates a world where Mozart and Led Zeppelin coexist”
– Chicago Tribune
(NEW YORK – October 11, 2017)This spring, the international music sensation ROCKTOPIA will rock Broadway for six epic weeks, March 20 – April 29, 2018 at The Broadway Theatre (1681 Broadway). ROCKTOPIA is a musical revolution that celebrates the fusion of the best rock songs of the past century with some of the greatest classical music ever written. ROCKTOPIA showcases the works of musical innovators including Mozart, Queen, Beethoven, Journey, Handel, U2, Tchaikovsky, Pink Floyd, Heart, Rachmaninoff, Foreigner, Copland, The Who and more.
Created through the unique vision of vocalist and recording artist Rob Evan and Maestro Randall Craig Fleischer, a pioneer in the fusion of symphonic rock and world music, ROCKTOPIA delivers one-of-a-kind, spine-tingling musical arrangements with insanely talented lead vocalists, a 5-piece rock band, a choir of 40, and an orchestra of 20.
Developed over eight years, ROCKTOPIA is inspired by the idea that if Beethoven or Mozart were alive today, they would be modern-day rock stars. With extensive knowledge of both genres, Evan and Fleisher looked for common themes, potency, and emotional resonance in the songs before fusing them together to create explosive and moving new musical arrangements.
“We love both classical music and classic rock. There are so many parallels between the genres and between the “rock stars” who composed and performed them,” says Evan. “With Rocktopia, we want to break down barriers and any preconceived notion of what either genre is about – and electrify and inspire lovers of either musical styles with these completely original new pieces.”
The groundbreaking live concert will be performed by a celebrated, diverse array of rock, Broadway, and opera vocalists: Rob Evan (Broadway: Les Miserables, Jekyll & Hyde and more, multi-platinum recording artist); Chloe Lowery (Chris Botti, Yanni’sVoices); Tony Vincent (Broadway: American Idiot, RENT, NBC’s “The Voice”); Kimberly Nichole (NBC’s “The Voice,” performs with Janelle Monae, Slash, Joe Walsh, The Heavy); and featuring Alyson Cambridge (The Merry Widow atThe Met, Madame Butterfly, La Boheme, Show Boat). The world-class musicians featured in the ROCKTOPIA band include Grammy and Emmy Award nominated violinist Máiréad Nesbitt (Celtic Woman, Lord of the Dance); acclaimed guitarist Tony Bruno (MD & guitar for Enrique Iglesias & Rihanna, “America’s Got Talent”); pianist Henry Aronson (MD/Conductor/keys for entire Broadway run of Rock of Ages, The Who’s Tommy); bass player Mat Fieldes (Joe Jackson’s Grammy winning album Symphony No. 1, the Gorillaz, Book of Mormon); and drummer Alex Alexander (David Bowie, Jimmy Cliff, Ritchie Blackmore). An additional 40-person choir and a 20-person orchestra enhance every performance of ROCKTOPIA.
An inaugural performance of the show, “Rocktopia: Live from Budapest” produced by Two Hands Entertainment/Jeff Rowland, was recorded in front of a live audience in June 2016 at the 19th century Hungarian State Opera House for PBS. It was performed with the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra with six vocalists, a five-piece rock band, the Hungarian State Opera Chorus, and the Jazz and More Choir. ROCKTOPIA has since toured over twenty cities in the United States, featuring local symphonies and choirs across the country.
ROCKTOPIA is produced by ROCKTOPIA Broadway LLC (William Franzblau, Executive Producer and Maggie Seidel-Laws, Associate Producer) in association with HUGHES WALL LLC. Additional cast, creative team, and the New York orchestra and choirs that will join each performance, will be announced at a later date.
American Express® Card Members can purchase tickets before the general public beginning Monday, October 30 at 10am (EST) through Monday, November 6 at 9:59am. Beginning on Monday, November 6 at 10AM, tickets will be available exclusively to Audience Rewards Members via AudienceRewards.com. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Monday, November 13 at 10AM via Telecharge.com. Special student pricing, beginning at $39, will be available for the duration of the run.
Performance schedule, complete creative team, and opening night will be announced shortly.
For Performance Photos, visit: http://bit.ly/2yeP6PJ
For Video, visit:http://bit.ly/2g8tFpI
ROB EVAN (Co-Creator, Vocalist) is a highly accomplished actor, singer, and producer with more than 20 years of professional experience in the entertainment industry. He has performed in seven leading roles on New York stages including the original Broadway cast of Jekyll & Hyde, playing the title roles more than 1,000 times over three years. His rendition of “This Is the Moment” was performed at numerous prestigious events, including the 2001 Inaugural Gala for President George W. Bush, the Millennium Independence Day US Naval Revue aboard the USS JFK for President Clinton, the Millennium World Forum Conference with speaker Mikhail Gorbachev, and the New York City Mayor’s Inaugural Gala. Rob also appeared on Broadway as Jean Valjean in Les Miserable, Kerchak in Disney’s Tarzan, The Dentist in Little Shop of Horrors, and Count von Krolock in Jim Steinman’s Dance of the Vampires. Off-Broadway, Rob created the roles of The Dancin’ Kid in Johnny Guitar and the hero Miles Hendon in The Prince and the Pauper. Rob is a member of the multi-platinum-selling band, Trans-Siberian Orchestra. He can be heard on TSO’s The Lost Christmas Eve and Night Castle, which debuted at #5 on Billboard’s Top 100. He was also the lead vocalist for Jim Steinman’s The Dream Engine, and recently released the debut album from his progressive rock band, Menrva Realm. Rob has also been a regularly featured soloist for over 40 symphonies around the world, including appearances in San Francisco, San Diego, Atlanta, Chicago, Hong Kong, and the Czech Republic.
RANDALL CRAIG FLEISCHER (Co-Creator) Active as a composer and arranger, Mr. Fleischer is a national leader in the fields of symphonic rock and world music fusion. His works and arrangements have been played by many world-renowned orchestras including the Boston Pops, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, China Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony, the National Symphony, and many others. Fleischer has also worked with artists such as John Densmore (The Doors), Natalie Merchant, Blondie, Ani DiFranco, John Cale (Velvet Underground) Garth Hudson (The Band), Kenny Rogers, Chris Baron (Spin Doctors), and Native American artists R. Carlos Nakai, Burning Sky, The Hawk Project, The Benaly Family, and others. Mr. Fleischer’s operatic repertoire includes productions of La Boheme, Turandot, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Don Giovanni, La Traviata, and others. Fleischer received his Bachelor of Music Education from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and has studied conducting with Leonard Bernstein, Otto Werner Mueller, Seiji Ozawa, Riccardo Muti, Gustav Meier, and others. He first came to international attention when, at the National Symphony Orchestra, he conducted Dvorak’s “Cello Concerto” with Mstislav Rostropovich as soloist. In December of 1992, Mr. Fleischer conducted an ensemble of more than 70 cellos, including YoYo Ma, and a 190 voice chorus in a tribute to Rostropovich, broadcast on CBS with then-President and Mrs. Bush in attendance. In 1993, Mr. Fleischer conducted a private concert for Pope John-Paul at the Vatican. The Pontiff awarded Mr. Fleischer a medal for his achievements in music. A passionate educator, Fleischer has co-authored several instructional pieces for children in collaboration with his wife, comedian Heidi Joyce, which were premiered by the National Symphony Orchestra, including three rap pieces for orchestra. Mr. Fleischer lives in Los Angeles with his wife Heidi and daughter Michaela.
CHLOE LOWERY (Vocalist) is an American singer, dancer, actress, and songwriter born in Largo, Florida. At age12 she was signed to RCA Records, and soon after being signed was featured on two movie soundtracks, Boys and Girl and Joe Somebody. She went on to tour with Big Brother and the Holding Company and work with world-renowned producer Ric Wake, which then led to a collaboration with Yanni on the 2009 Yanni Voices Project. After tours of the U.S. and Mexico with Yanni, she signed to Disney/Hollywood Records as a solo artist. Chloe has since been featured on three Yanni records: 2013’s Truth of Touch, 2014’s Inspirato, and 2016’s Sensuous Chill. Chloe joined multi-platinum selling rock band Trans-Siberian Orchestra performing as Theresa on their Beethoven’s Last Night Tours and continues to work with the band both in the studio and live on stage. Lowery has also toured with Chris Botti, performed with the New York City Ballet as a featured vocalist, and contributed her talents to collaborations with artists like Everclear. Chloe will independently release a solo project in early 2018.
ALYSON CAMBRIDGE (Vocalist) is one of the most diverse and compelling vocal artists on the scene today. Her rich, warm soprano, combined with her strikingly beautiful stage presence and affecting musical and dramatic interpretation, have brought her over a decade of successes on the world’s leading opera and concert stages, including The Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Carnegie Hall, London’s Royal Albert Hall, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Vienna Konzerthaus, among others, as well as recent debuts Paris , Warsaw, Beijing, and other musical capitals throughout Europe and Asia. Her repertoire includes the beloved heroines of Puccini, Verdi, and Mozart (Mimi, Madama Butterfly, Donna Elvira, Violetta, and Micaëla among them) as well as successful forays into the crossover, Broadway and jazz repertoire, most notably with award-winning and critically-acclaimed performances of Julie in Show Boat and Vi in Gershwin’s rarely performed jazz-opera Blue Monday. Alyson’s debut album, “From the Diary of Sally Hemings,” a song-cycle by acclaimed American composer William Bolcom, premiered at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall to rave reviews, and her newest album, Until Now, a mix of jazz, pop, and musical theater standards was released in January 2016 on the Naxos imprint Suite 28 Records, and is available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.
TONY VINCENT (Vocalist) Best known for his appearance on NBC’s “The Voice”, Tony Vincent is a recording artist, actor and producer. In 1993 Vincent started his own record company, Adobe Flats, writing and producing the EP Love Falling Down that led to a recording contract with EMI records. The two solo albums that followed, Tony Vincent & One Deed, produced six #1 Billboard radio singles. Soon after, Vincent took a detour into rock-based theater, starring on Broadway in RENT (Mark, Roger), Jesus Christ Superstar (Judas Iscariot) and Green Day’s American Idiot (St. Jimmy). He played Simon Zealotes in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s film remake of Jesus Christ Superstar, and is also featured in the film Andrew Lloyd Webber: Masterpiece. Vincent originated the role of Galileo Figaro in the rock band Queen’s We Will Rock You in London’s West End, and opened the U.S. production. He also fronted the band itself, performing “Bohemian Rhapsody” for Queen Elizabeth II, with a live audience of over 1 million people at Buckingham Palace. Vincent independently released two more albums, A Better Way, produced by Adam Anders (“Glee”), and the self-produced In My Head, following his appearance on NBC’s “The Voice”. He is currently headlining the North American symphony tour of The Music of David Bowie, and working as a record producer at his New York recording studio, Soundshop 370.
KIMBERLY NICHOLE (Vocalist) exploded onto the national scene on season 8 of “The Voice”, earning praise from Pharrell Williams, Christina Aguilera, Lionel Richie, Mark Ronson and Reba McEntire, with her show-stopping performances, stylish presence and vocal power. Her covers ranked on iTunes’ Top 20 three weeks in a row and made the Billboard 100 Charts. Over the course of her career, Nichole has share the stage with Slash (Guns N Roses), Living Colour, Alice Smith, Janelle Monae, Nona Hendryx (Labelle), Aloe Blacc, Bilal, Joe Walsh (The Eagles) and Jon Bon Jovi. Her mesmerizing performance style has captured the attention and support of Quincy Jones, songwriting duo Ashford & Simpson and fashion savant Andre Leon Talley, who featured her in an issue of Vogue. Her original music has been featured on MTV, VH1, BET, LOGO, Lifetime and Showtime, and Tony award winning director George C. Wolfe personally selected her to be the featured rock performer in his film You Are Not You, which stars Oscar-winner Hilary Swank. She’s been crowned ‘Mistress of Ceremonies’ at New York City’s wildly popular private night club ‘The Box’, and has received ASCAP Foundation’s “Reach Out and Touch” Award, given to promising songwriters. She most recently was featured in the NETFLIX, Ezra Koeing-created (Vampire Weekend) anime series “Neo Yokio” (starring Jaden Smith, Jude Law, Susan Sarandon and more).
TONY BRUNO (Guitar) became the music director and guitarist for Enrique Iglesias in 1999. Since then, he has put together six of Iglesias’s tours and done countless TV performances. In 2005, he partnered with choreographer Tina Landon to create the show for artist Anastacia’s Live at Last tour. He has also worked with artists such as Rihanna, Enrique Iglesias, K’naan, Karmin, Delta Goodrem, and many others. TV production credits include “America’s Got Talent”, “X-Factor”, “American Music Awards,” “Top Of The Pops”, “MTV Music Awards”, TRL, “Wetten Das”, and others. His song “Daylight in Your Eyes” for German artists No Angels was the second best-selling German single of all time. Tony has worked on writing songs with the world’s top songwriters including Shelly Peiken, Lindy Robbins, Kara DioGuardi, and Ty Lacy. In the studio, Tony has lent his extraordinary guitar skills to numerous hit records with top producers like Ted Templeman, Bob Rock, and Desmond Child.
MÁIRÉAD NESBITT (Violin) For more than a decade, Máiréad Nesbitt has enchanted millions of fans around the world as the Celtic violinist and founding member of the globetrotting music phenomenon Celtic Woman. Loyal fans of all ages, across geographical and cultural boundaries far beyond the musical heritage of Ireland, have adored her beguiling stage presence and versatile instrumental talents. As the featured violin soloist on all 11 Celtic Woman albums, each title achieved the coveted #1 slot on the Billboard World Music Chart, an Emmy-nomination for one of her companion television specials and her most recent album with the group, “Destiny”, received a 2017 Grammy Nomination for Best World Music Album. Máiréad is also an accomplished solo artist who released her newest album Hibernia at the end of 2016. Upon its release, Hibernia charted on four different Billboard charts, including the World Music, Classical Crossover, Heatseekers, and Classical charts. Máiréad also released a special album, reaching back to her family roots called “ The Nesbitt Family – Devils Bit Sessions”. In 2017 the “Máiréad Nesbitt Celtic Violin Collection” was launched and is available exclusively online and in specialty shops in North America and Ireland. Máiréad has appeared with the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong, Berne Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and more.
HENRY ARONSON (Piano) is among the most in-demand music directors in the Broadway theatre. He was the music director/conductor/keyboardist for the Broadway run of Rock of Ages. Also on Broadway, he was music director for Grease, The Times They Are A-Changin’, In My Life, Little Shop of Horrors, Rent, Rocky Horror Show and Starmites; associate conductor of Cry Baby, Good Vibrations, Parade, Saturday Night Fever, Mail and Prince of Central Park; and conducted The Who’s Tommy and On Your Feet; he also conducted and played many seasons of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Off-Broadway, he conducted at Cagney, was music director of Once Around the Sun (Zipper), King Lear (Public Theater, starring Kevin Kline), The Wind in the Willows (New Victory), 3 Guys Naked From the Waist Down (Minetta Lane), and numerous productions at Playwrights Horizons and Naked Angels. He studied piano at Mannes College of Music, and received his Music degree from Columbia University. His musical Loveless Texas, which he wrote with his wife Cailín Heffernan, was produced this year by Boomerang Theatre Company at the Sheen Center in New York City.
MAT FIELDES (Bass) is a very active bass player on the New York freelance scene. He has collaborated with artists such as Jay-Z, Gorillaz, Joe Jackson, Ornette Coleman, John Cale, Peter Erskine, Jim Steinman, Sufjan Stevens, Steve Vai, PaquitoD’Rivera, Kristjan Jarvi, Joe Williams, Arturo Sandaval, Toni Tennille, Kelli O’Hara, and many others. Mr. Fieldes tours extensively as the solo bassist for Absolute Ensemble, an electro-acoustic crossover chamber orchestra, which performs at major venues worldwide. Broadway credits include: Mamma Mia, The Book of Mormon, Next to Normal, Billy Elliot, South Pacific, Mary Poppins, Kiss Me Kate, The Full Monty, Legally Blonde, and Saturday Night Fever,and Matilda. He has played with the New Zealand Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Auckland Philharmonia, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Key West Symphony (Principal), Long Island Philharmonic, Westchester Symphony, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, New Zealand String Quartet, New Zealand Trio, Continuum, Bronx Arts Ensemble, and has recently appeared in major festivals in Mexico City, Bremen, El Paso, Adelaide, and Montpellier.
ALEX ALEXANDER (Drums, Percussion) is a “first call” session drummer/percussionist residing in New York. He has performed and recorded with artists such as David Bowie, Dido, Eminem, Ritchie Blackmore, Rickie Lee Jones, Jimmy Cliff, YoussouN’Dour, Joy Askew, Bernie Worrell from P-Funk, Bruce Springsteen, The Association, Toots and the Maytalls, Sophie B. Hawkins, J.C. Chasez from NSYNC, Montell Jordan, Willie Nile, Dougie Fresh, Bebel Gilberto, Julia Fordham, The Barrio Boyzz, Eljuri, Chaka Kahn, Buddy Miles, and more. Alex has also performed on many soundtracks for films, including the cult classic, The Search For One-Eye Jimmy, the multi-award winning HBO film, Liberty Kid, the HBO film, Forged, as well as the soundtrack to the Academy Award winning documentary, Born Into Brothels. Alex has invented an instrument called the Electric Djembe. Using African djembes, ethnic percussion, Shure wireless microphones, and custom Guitar F-X pedals and loop boxes, Alex creates sounds that range from drum machine emulation to ambient keyboard pads and washes. His unique blend of hand percussion and guitar effects pedals can be heard on television and film soundtracks, which he composes through his production company, Perpetual Motion Productions.
Whitney Holden Gore
Vivacity Media Group
1650 Broadway, Suite 609, New York, NY 10019
Oh BroadwayKingdom, what a thrill to be able to present to you
An Interview with the amazing
star of the original Australian & Broadway productions of
“Priscilla Queen of the Desert”
and recently starred in Broadway’s “Amélie”
In this very fun interview Tony shares the story of his life and career, so far, and breaks some exciting news about the upcoming 10th Anniversary Australian National Tour of “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”!
So get a beverage, make yourself comfortable and watch and enjoy…
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
Small WORLD, isn’t it?
A Review of Musicals in Mufti’s concert production of
At the York Theatre
by Moshe Bloxenheim
Musicals in Mufti’s concert production of DEAR WORLD is one of those lovingly staged productions that can beguile an audience into wondering why this show didn’t work the first time? With a book based on Monsieur Jean Geraudoux’s play THE MADWOMAN OF CHAILLOT and an often delightful score by Jerry Herman, DEAR WORLD relates how Countess Aurelia, Madwoman of Chaillot saves humanity from being overrun by the soulless seekers of money and power. In the Countess’ adventure the audience is introduced to the characters who make up her world and those who threaten it.
The Prospector and the three corporate Presidents seek to destroy the Countess’ beloved Paris for the lake of oil that they know is below the city. Mr. Gordon Stanley is a perfectly peevish Prospector who is driven by oil and cannot see any romance beside it. He fits perfectly in with the Presidents who are played with relish by Messrs. Stephen Mo Hanan, Peter Land and J. Bernard Calloway. All the gentlemen gleefully twirl a metaphysical villainous mustache with panache, bringing their best to their anthem of greed “Just A Little Bit More” and being merrily hissable in “The Spring of Next year” where they exult in the destruction of Paris.
The young executive Julian had been one of their crew until he realized that people would be hurt and Mr. Hunter Ryan Herdlicka manages to show this change of heart quite briefly and yet credibly. Indeed, under the Countess’ idealistic spell Julian goes from accomplice to uncertain to penitent to hero and lover and the handsome Mr. Herdlicka accomplishes the changes with charm and ease, most memorably in a tender scene where Julian pretends to be Adolphe Bertaut – the man who had broken the Countess’ heart many years in the past.
Nina is a waitress and general factotum at the Café Francis – the bistro where the Countess holds court and the place that the Prospector wants to destroy to start the oil drilling. Ms. Erika Henningsen makes a sweet and pretty Nina who clearly enjoys being a part of the Countess’ world. We root for her Nina and Julian to fall in love with each other and cheer when Ms. Henningsen sings “I Never Said I Love You” (even with its inept positioning in the show).
One of the Countess’ aides and links from the harsh real world to her romantic existence is Mr. Lenny Wolpe’s jovial Sewerman. From his number “Pretty Garbage” and onwards Mr. Wolpe creates a man who has his mind in the most delightful of gutters, giving cheerful denials about the outrageous world below that make it seem even more wonderful and fantastic. When the Sewerman gives a “sympathetic” defense of the rich in Act Two, Mr. Wolpe extracts some wonderfully timely comedy out of the moment.
It is a talent indeed to play a role without practically a word and Mr. Kristopher Thompson-Bolden makes a beautiful Mute – the observer of all and assistant to the Countess. For a man who will not speak, Mr. Kristopher Thompson-Bolden’s Mute is a real chatty soul and can even deliver a song with flair – allowing gesture and dance to supply the lyrics that are then picked up and sung by the other performers.
Other helpful men who brighten the stage are Mr. Dewey Caddell as the Police Sergeant and Ben Cherry who is the Waiter at the Café Francis.
Two other Madwomen assist the Countess: Ms. Alison Fraser gives us a striking and memorable Madame Constance, Madwoman of the Market. She could have jauntily stepped out of an Edward Gorey drawing but her fancies are less gothic and more aurally and erotically absurd.
Adding to the fun, Ms. Ann Harada’s superb Madmoiselle Gabrielle, Madwoman of Montmarte is relentlessly virginal and unsullied. Ms. Harada’s character could simply be childish and a bore about her imaginary lap dog, Dickie, but Ms. Harada makes us see why the others would care for her and even makes us wonder if we aren’t seeing the dog too, even though Mlle. Gabrielle then claims she hadn’t brought Dickie after all.
Finally, the Doyenne of Madwomen: Countess Aurelia, Madwoman of Chaillot.
Ms. Tyne Daly gives a definitive performance as the sanest Madwoman there ever was, living in a romantic dream that must be cruelly interrupted to save the beauty of the real world. As a Madwoman, Ms. Daly sensibly gives her Countess the only French Accent in this stage Paris and often seems to have to refocus her fantasy driven mind. Musically, Ms. Daly does not sing her songs prettily but delivers them to brilliant effect, making them truly enchanting. The Countess’ plea against reality “I Don’t Want to Know” is downright heart-stirring as Ms. Daly performs it. Then again, the Madwoman’s tea party in Act Two could easily become a scene stealing battle, but Ms. Daly is clearly at stage center joining in with Ms. Harada and Ms. Fraser in creating a wonderful piece of musical theater studded with comic gems. You want to hug and take care of Ms. Daly’s Countess even while knowing full well that she is more than capable of taking care of you.
Mr. Michael Montel directs DEAR WORLD with the clear understanding that the more intimate this show is, the better it will work and makes the most of the small York Theatre Stage with its basic setting by Mr. James Morgan and lighting by Brian Nason. He does his best to make us forget some of the bumpier moments of the book and well evokes the fairy tale atmosphere of this whimsical story.
There have been times when I have been to a musical that sadly manages to evoke earlier recording of the show by its current shortcomings. Happily, this cannot be said of DEAR WORLD where Mr. Christopher McGovern’s first-rate musical direction and piano playing – along with the fine bass and accordion skills of Mr. Louis Tucci – sound anything but spare.
Messrs. Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s original book for DEAR WORLD has been revised by Mr. David Thompson and he has made a noble effort of reworking and tightening the show, changing the song order, working with added material and introducing some numbers to better effect. While “Just a Little Bit More” is not my favorite number, it now gives a suitable way for our Villains to better define who they are and relocating “The Spring of Next Year” to Act Two gives these characters a number that lets them reestablish themselves to the audience as evil beings when they musically celebrate Paris’ impending ruin. The Countess’ “Kiss Her Now” has become a very satisfying moment, framing Julian and Nina’s love towards the end of Act Two. Still, even the concert premise cannot really overcome the clumsy placement of Nina’s lovely “I’ve Never Said I Love You” which suddenly erupts without rhyme or reason.
And then there is the Title Song.
Mr. Jerry Herman creates some unforgettable pieces: “I Don’t Want To Know”, “Each Tomorrow Morning”, “Kiss Her Now”, etc. – but the title song “Dear World” is one of those things that must be gotten through because it is a TITLE SONG. Messrs. Thompson and McGovern clearly have done their level best to make “Dear World” work as an anthem that will bring heart back to the protagonists but in spite of their efforts, it still feels like being beaten repeatedly between the eyes with a Hallmark Get Well card. One annoying aspect of the song is the fact that the people singing “Dear World” are the ones being forced save the world – it will not save itself like the song repeatedly insists. The song that immediately follows it, “One Person”, is actually more to the point and moves things forward. Perhaps it is heretical, but I think the show would be much better if “Dear World” was totally rewritten with more suitable lyrics or even dropped altogether.
Still, even in its current condition, DEAR WORLD is well worth it – as a marvelous entertainment with a great cast and as an appropriate fable for these times. Even the flaws are intriguing and some of the more creative spectators may leave the theater both thrilled with what they have seen and contemplating what might be done do to overcome the imperfections.
Alas, DEAR WORLD closed March 5.
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
Book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
New Version by David Thompson
Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman
Based on The Madwoman of Chaillot by Jean Giraudoux as adapted by Maurice Valency
Directed by Michael Montel
Music Directed by Christopher McGovern
Featuring Tyne Daly
With Dewey Cadell, J. Bernard Calloway, Ben Cherry, Alison Fraser, Stephen Mo Hanan, Ann Harada, Erika Henningsen, Hunter Ryan Herdlicka, Peter Land, Gordon Stanley, Kristopher Thompson-Bolden, Lenny Wolpe
A review of the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players’ new production of
THE MIKADO: or, the Town of Titipu
at the Kaye Playhouse
by Moshe Bloxenheim
December 31, 2016
The new NYGASP production of THE MIKADO has closed after an all too limited run, but even though I had already reviewed one cast during the run, attendance of later performances convinced me that the alternate principal actors deserved mention as well (and I could clean up some of my worst typos). So here is the expanded “get the whole set’ review, in the usual text below and DOC attachment formats.
A review of the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players’ new production of
THE MIKADO: or, the Town of Titipu
At the Kaye Playhouse
Covering the performances of December 31, 2016, January 5 & January 8, 2017
As this MIKADO is a significant production for NYGASP, it seemed only fair to cover ALL the performers who alternated in the lead roles.
According to theatrical legend, a falling Japanese battle sword inspired Sir William S. Gilbert to create a new operatic satire of English foibles set in the contrasting framework of the Japonaiserie craze that was then sweeping London. Whatever the cause, Sir William, aided by his producer Richard D’Oyly Carte then embarked placing THE MIKADO in as authentically Japanese a setting as could be possible for an 1885 English Comic Opera Company. The New York Gilbert & Sullivan Player’s (NYGASP) brand new production of THE MIKADO sets the work as it might have appeared newly born in Sir William’s mind – a very English world in “Japanese” fancy dress that has yet to be touched by the research in costume and sets that was to come.
To prepare the audience for this cerebral concept, NYGASP’s Mr. David Auxier has written very brief and effective tongue-in-cheek prologue that confronts Sir W.S. Gilbert with the challenges faced by an author in a successful theatrical partnership: To create a new work that is acceptable to his composer partner Sir Arthur Sullivan, their producer Richard D’Oyly Carte and some very distinctive and demanding members of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company. Suffice it to say a Japanese sword figures most effectively, literally knocking the author into a world based on the characters, expressions and Japanese goods he had just experienced.
Sir William’s hero, Nanki-Poo arrives in the town of Titipu. He is, in fact, the heir to the throne of Japan, but has disguised himself as a minstrel to escape the matrimonial claims of the formidable lady Katisha. In his musical wanderings, Nanki-Poo has fallen in love with Yum-Yum who is a ward of Ko-Ko, a cheap tailor. When Ko-Ko is condemned to death under the Mikado’s ban for flirting, the town of Titipu promote him to Lord High Executioner under the reasoning that Ko-Ko can execute other miscreants after he carried out the job on himself. Circumstances soon require that Ko-Ko execute SOMEBODY and as he would rather not be the victim, he strikes a bargain with the love-blighted Nanki-Poo. Betrothals are made, revelations are prevented, complications run cheerfully rampant, logic is taken to lunatic extremes and eventually all ends happily with more than a few sacred cows being taken on.
Musically, THE MIKADO shows its composer Sir Arthur Sullivan as a worthy match to Sir William’s language. Sir Arthur clearly enjoys the characters of THE MIKADO and carefully fits the music to the characters and actions, whether for Ko-Ko’s busy sounding list, Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum’s youthful, romantically teasing “Were You Not To Ko-Ko Plighted,” Katisha’s threatening yet sympathetic melodies or the brashly imposing “A More Humane Mikado” sung by the title character. This score is not simple accompaniment, but is a vital contribution to the setting and action of the play and THE MIKADO shows both men at a creative high point.
In revising and refreshing THE MIKADO, NYGASP has cast the roles very carefully and quite successfully.
Mr. Jesse Pimpinella’s Nanki-Poo may appear at first glance to be a wide-eyed youth, but he certainly knows when he has the advantage and takes it, to the glee of the audience. This Prince disguised as a Wandering Minstrel is uniquely artless and direct and I am sure time and experience will make Mr. Pimpinella’s performance even more enjoyable.
It is easy to see why Nanki-Poo falls in love with Yum-Yum because the charming Ms. Quynh-My Luu is everything one could hope for in the role. Her Yum-Yum is a pretty and sweet girl but Ms. Luu also adds a bit of assurance and a hint of steel that brings certain scenes to new life as well as making the most of some classic bits of humor. Vocally, Ms. Luu’s redition of “The Sun Whose Rays are all Ablaze” is a highlight of the evening and reveals the smooth transition from the girl first seen in “Three Little Maids From School” to a woman who is aware of her powers.
Yum-Yum’s sister Pitti Sing is given a wonderful zest by Ms. Jessica Rose Futran. Her character is always a bit more aware of the situation to excellent effect, delightfully culminating in her desperate, yet eager taking of the spotlight in the Trio “The Criminal Cried’
Ms. Lauren Frankovich is quite winning as Yum-Yum’s other sister, Peep-Bo, with her drolly unfortunate tendency to state the obvious when everybody else would rather not hear it.
One wonders HOW these three girls became the wards of the cheap Tailor Ko-Ko, but the audience should consider itself very fortunate that Mr. Adam B. Shapiro is performing as the guardian who became Lord High Executioner. Already amusing in the prologue as the unsatisfied Arthur Sullivan, Mr. Adam B. Shapiro takes elements from that introduction and creates what is for me one of great Ko-Kos. This is a man who cannot believe where he has ended up and is waiting for the other anvil to drop. Nevertheless, this Ko-Ko is more than a cartoon and even when he is forced to woo the aggressive Katisha, there is byplay between the two that is very human. Mr. Shapiro’s mastery of musical numbers is a pleasure to witness ranging in moods and delivery from the updated list of social quirks in “A Some Day it May Happen” through the comic yet touching ballad “Tit-Willow.”
Ms. Cáitlín Burke’s Katisha is fantastic. In the prologue as the lead Contralto and in Katisha’s later Act One entrance, the fire and storminess of the part blast onto the stage, but Ms. Burke then reveals shading in the character that makes her so much more than a villainess. Katisha may be a pain in the neck, but she earns our sympathy and beneath the bossiness it is clear that she has something to offer. Ms. Burke’s ability to capture all this makes for musical, dramatic and comic gold, especially in Act Two when Katisha mourns her single state in “Alone, and yet Alive,” and is then won over by the fearful Ko-Ko, culminating in the buoyant duet “There is Beauty in The Bellow of The Blast.”
Considering Katisha’s demanding presence in his court, the Mikado clearly has a lot to put up with and Mr. Cole Grissom plays the Emperor of Japan with the smooth, disdainful air of one who might easily have entire the cast executed; would it not make such a mess and bother. In the Mikado’s song, “A More Humane Mikado,” Mr. Grissom’s character knows how uncomfortable the townsfolk are in his royal presence and uses that to great advantage. HE is the Mikado and do not forget it!
Another man with aspirations to power is Pooh-Bah, the Lord High Everything Else. Mr. Andy Herr builds an admirable Pooh-Bah of flash and cash who is obviously rooted in the prologue part of the urbane producer, Richard D’Oyly Carte. Both men will do it all – so long as there is money in it. Pooh-Bah uses his alleged dignity to his advantage as Mr. Herr shows quite entertainingly but I truly enjoyed his eagerness to gild the lily in “The Criminal Cried as he Dropped Him Down.”
In the Gilbert and Sullivan canon there are Ko-Ko roles, Pooh-Bah parts and Katisha contraltos, etc., but not as much thought about Pish-Tush, “A Noble Lord.” But it is here where the genius of NYGASP’s new version lies, because this Pish-Tush is the William S. Gilbert of the prologue who is dreaming up this new operetta. The estimable Mr. Chris Vaughn embodies the author discovering, enjoying and even critiquing his own idea; Tentative at first, as a dreamer realizing who he is supposed to be, Gilbert/Pish-Tush becomes a keen witness and eager contributor to the proceedings.
In the course of the current production, other NYGASP members have taken on these roles and deserve their own mention too.
Mr. Daniel Greenwood’s Nanki-Poo gives the air of innocence that such a young hero must have, but adds a delightful touch of awareness that allows him to deliver a line or even a pause that homes right into the humor of the moment. Vocally as well, this Nanki-Poo ranges from heroic to tender to whimsical with ease.
If Mr. Greenwood knows how to provide just the right amount of cleverness, Ms. Sarah Caldwell Smith understands how to take part in the most nonsensical situations with skillful sincerity, giving THE MIKADO another truly fine Yum-Yum. Musically as well Ms. Smith is superb and her scene and duet with Mr. Greenwood in “Were You Not To Ko-Ko Plighted” is an “anti-flirtatious” highlight.
If Yum-Yum lacks irony, Ms. Amy Maude Helfer makes a very effective Pitti-Sing with her air of one who has a good idea of how silly things are becoming and has to pitch in against her better judgment. She is neatly contrasted by Ms. Alexandra Haines as the third little maid, Peep-Bo: a most amiable girl who drops social bricks with amusing nonchalance.
As their guardian, Mr. David Macaluso’s truly funny Ko-Ko is indeed a tailor out of his element. Even when he wants to take advantage of his new rank of Lord High Executioner, this Ko-Ko knows something is bound to go wrong. It is just a question of What Now? Yet for all Ko-Ko’s foolery, Mr. Macaluso also develops a subtly sympathetic side that really works well in his wooing of the daunting Katisha.
Ms. Angela Christine Smith creates a marvelous Katisha who may enter in a fury, but we can see her humanity from the very first. If we feel the force of this lady’s anger and desire for vengeance, Ms. Smith also makes us see the despair and loss of hoped for love. This Katisha has been hurt and she is downright heartbreaking in her aria “The Hour of Gladness is Dead and Gone.” Though the “Daughter-In-Law-Elect” is a bossy-boots there is a feeling that she may be doing it to ensure that she is not left out in the cold. While Ko-Ko’s winning of Katisha is still wonderfully comedic, Ms. Angela Christine Smith made me root for Katisha too.
Katisha’s intrusive presence seems to be the one thing that visibly annoys the Mikado because Mr. Chris White splendidly portrays him as a dangerously jovial fellow – this Emperor clearly takes pleasure in his absolute power and how is it his fault if his witty inclination for boiling oil may unnerve some people?
One citizen of Titipu who does not care extreme punishment is the “Lord High Everything Else” Pooh-Bah. Mr. Matthew Wages quite lives up to Sir W.S. Gilbert’s best satire of mendacious bureaucracy and class consciousness. This Pooh-Bah will certainly “…put in his oar” to great amusement, and does very nicely too in the prologue as the eager Richard D’Oyly Carte.
As I mentioned before, the role of Pish-Tush is now far more significant because he is now the unconscious W.S. Gilbert who is literally dreaming up the show in front of us. As played by Mr. Joshua Miller, Pish-Tush/Gilbert is ever the creative playwright who is happy to see how the plot unwinds to his prodding, even if he might give a grimace or two at a rhyme or joke that his characters deliver.
The Chorus of Noblemen, Schoolgirls and Townspeople are all to be praised, populating Titipu with as Victorian a suburban London crowd as could ever be found in Japan.
In addition to the admirable cast, Mr. David Auxier’s brilliant reconsideration and careful direction of THE MIKADO goes very far to ensure the success of this production. With the directorial assistance of Mr. Kelvin Moon Loh, Mr. Auxier has not missed a trick in highlighting and reviving the humor of the story and its characters while keeping everything united and moving merrily along. These gentlemen understand that this is an English comedy set in a “Japanese” framework of the imagination –The non-English setting pointing out the absurdity and parody without being a caricature on its own. Even the most radical of changes are carried out with respect to context: While I am quite partial to the original “Mi-ya Sa-ma” chorus that greets the Mikado of Japan and his entourage, I believe Mr. Auxier’s new lyrics “Oh Mikado, Great Mikado” are not merely an effective substitution, but cleverly add to the Gilbertian whimsy of the moment by allowing the citizens of Titipu to express their true feelings while ostensibly chanting praise of their monarch.
In addition, Mr. Auxier’s choreography is very well done, ideally setting off the music and singing or to create tableaux that highlight the story itself.
The unreal, dreamlike atmosphere is further enhanced by the beautiful setting by Mr. Anshuman Bhatia – based on Japanese Block prints and Mr. Quinto Ott’s highly stylized costumes that feature exotic yet recognizable touches such as straw derbies and ornate open framework bustles and even snippets of other Gilbert and Sullivan operas. Mr. Ott truly excels with his fanciful Mikado regalia and Katisha’s striking outfit. Mr. James Mills also rises to the occasion in his make-up work especially in his expressive design for Katisha. Sets, costumes and visages all look extremely well under Mr. Benjamin Weill’s deftly handled lighting and all unite to give a sort of picture-book aspect that is most appealing.
In the first version of this review I had mentioned that the first performance I saw under the baton of Conductor and Music Director Aaron Gandy seemed a bit out of sorts. Knowing how good the NYGASP musical direction usually is, I assumed this was a unique occurrence. I am pleased to say that later shows found Mr. Gandy and the NYGASP orchestra back in top form. Mr. Gandy and the musicians clearly enjoy the vitality and range of Sullivan’s music and share the same energy and sense of fun as the performers onstage.
Production Stage Manager David A. Vandervliet and Assistant Stage Manager Annette Dieli do amazing work ensuring the smooth flow of THE MIKADO, ensuring that it entertains without a hitch.
There is always much risk and a great deal of work inherent in any new production. So Producer David Wannen and Mr. Albert Bergeret, the founder of NYGASP and Production Manager deserve special congratulations for their willingness to bring this new version of the classic work to fruition. As it is now, NYGASP’s new staging of THE MIKADO has shed a lot of distracting addenda, firmly and happily returning the focus back to where it belongs: on Sir William Gilbert’s witty libretto and Sir Arthur Sullivan’s timeless score.
Click on any of the links for tickets or go to:
- Wednesday, December 28, 2016 at 7:30 PM
- Thursday, December 29, 2016 at 3:00 PM– Bring Your Grandparents Day – Respect your Favorite elders with a pre-show family overture (1:45 in the theater) and a backstage tour featuring the character of your choice following the performance!
- Friday, December 30, 2016 at 7:30 PM
- Saturday, December 31, 2016 at 2:00 PM* & 7:30 PM – New Year’s Eve – A New York tradition since 1978! Join the NYGASP Company for a rousing toast to the New Year – including Auld Lang Syne with the audience, cast, and orchestra – following a performance of The Mikado.
- Thursday, January 5, 2017 at 7:30 PM
- Friday, January 6, 2017 at 7:30 PM
- Saturday, January 7, 2017 at 2:00 PM* & 7:30 PM
- Sunday, January 8, 2017 at 3:00 PM
*Family Overture – Musical introduction and plot summary made entertaining for the entire family (1 hour and 15 minutes before curtain in theatre)
The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College
68th Street Between Park and Lexington Avenues
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
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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.
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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 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *