The Off Broadway Alliance has announced that its hugely popular semi-annual ticket promotion 20at20, will return from September 5th to September 25, 2016. 20at20 makes $20 tickets available to participating Off Broadway shows 20 minutes before curtain time.
Now in its 10th year, 20at20 has become one of New York’s most eagerly anticipated promotions for people who want to see exciting shows at steeply discounted prices, making live, up-close-and-personal, up-to-the-minute, and classical theater accessible to everyone for about the price of a pizza.
Peter Breger, President of the Off Broadway Alliance, said, “The great thing about being in New York is that the magical experience of great live theatre is always available—and the great thing about 20at20 is that it makes that experience available to everyone. Why not go see a show—or two or three or four—when you can pick up a ticket for just 20 bucks?” Check out the exciting new Off Broadway shows at www.20at20.com
During 20at20, you can see six or seven of these shows for less than the price of one Broadway ticket. Just show up twenty minutes before curtain to purchase $20 tickets at the box office for participating productions. Here’s your chance to catch up with shows you may have missed, get a sneak peek at the newest hits, or revisit a favorite show—all for just 20 bucks.
Whether you’re a parent looking to introduce your kids to the magic of theatre, or someone who wants to be the first to see what’s new—20at20 makes it easy. And for that show you’ve been meaning to see—20at20 is your chance without breaking the bank. For $20 you can take a chance on a new title and be the first of your friends to see the next “Hand to God” or “Hamilton” (which both began Off Broadway) in great seats and intimate settings. Parents who want to watch their little ones’ faces light up can chose between a number of charming and age-appropriate shows – The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, STOMP, and Gazillion Bubble Show. For $20 at ticket, you can even invite their friends.
20at20 gives you a chance to see a show, have a few drinks, and go home with change from a $50 bill at shows like That Golden Girls Show! A Puppet Parody, Drunk Shakespeare, Shear Madness, Sex Tips for a Straight Woman from a Gay Man, One Funny Mother, and more!
You can also check out some of the exciting new dramas like: Small Mouth Sounds, A Day By The Sea, and The Trial of an American President, or, if you’ve missed them, some long-running favorites like The Perfect Crime, Sistas, and Black Angels Over Tuskegee.
There are exciting new musicals like How To Be An American and Missed Connections: A Craigslist Musical, plus the popular perennials, The Fantasticks, NEWSical The Musical, and Avenue Q.
And you won’t want to miss one of the premier close-up magicians of the world, Helder Guimarães, in Verso! And the global sensation that no-one is allowed to talk about, White Rabbit Red Rabbit, starring a different celebrity each performance.
“Try to remember the kind of September
when life was slow and oh, so mellow.”
Anyone who’s familiar with the iconic musical, The Fantasticks, will recognize this indelible lyric, originally sung by the late, great Jerry Orbach, and recorded by everyone from Liza Minnelli to Gladys Knight & the Pips. Now it’s Peter Reckell’s turn.
The Emmy Award-nominated actor returns to his theater roots for a limited engagement and will appearing in the long running Off-Broadway hit from September 5-25. Most recognize Reckell as the hunky Bo Brady—a role he originated in 1983 and played on and off through 2012.
But what most people don’t know is that Reckell is a theater kid at heart, and his return to The Fantasticks marks the 35th anniversary of when he appeared in the original Sullivan Street production.
The Broadway Blog caught up with Reckell while he was enjoying a bit of summer vacation with his family on Lake Michigan before returning to the Big Apple to once again take to the stage.
The Broadway Blog: You’ve melted the hearts of many a TV viewer for nearly 30 years, but did you formally study acting?
Peter Reckell: I studied at the Boston Conservatory. They offered training in music, drama and dance, and I opted for the music theatre program, which combined all three. I was dancing, doing Shakespeare, studying music theory. It was a pretty cool start for a Midwestern boy.
But my real learning started when I moved to The Big Apple. I worked at night at a deli and auditioned during the day. Actors are never in as good of shape as when they’re out of work!
BB: Tell us about your move to Los Angeles and entry into the world of daytime television.
PR: I had jumped into New York wanting to be a song and dance man and was auditioning for musicals. I got a manager through my voice teacher, who said there were more opportunities in television.
I did a two-year gig on As The World Turns, which filmed in New York, and I think that’s—in part—why I got the Sullivan Street gig. I moved to Los Angeles and signed with an agency, telling them I didn’t want to do daytime. I was interested in feature film. It’s funny in a way. Youth. Bravado. Enthusiam. It saves us but it also gets us into trouble. My agent convinced me to audition [for Days of Our Lives] and after three or four callbacks I got the role.
BB: Why do you think Days of Our Lives has had such staying power? 51 years!
PR: In the beginning it was more available to people, our characters weren’t rich. Quite often I’d go out for personal experiences and people would come up to me and say I reminded them of their brother or neighbor.
BB: And then things got wacky. What would you consider the craziest plot line in all of your years on the show? One where you read the script and thought, “Wow… we’re going there.”
PR: I was on the show when was Marlena (Deidra Hall) was possessed. I [also] had a brain chip put in me and turned into a mime once. The brain chip thing was kind of wacky, but it was a period when that’s what entertainment was about. But the base of our viewers has been around a long time and hung around through the craziness.
BB: The Fantasticks is similar in its longevity. Why do you think it’s been able to transcend the test of time?
PR: I’ve thought about this a lot—making it mine again. The story and the message are universal. When I was young I related to the roles of the Mute and Matt. Now I’m playing El Gallo. A few decades have gone by I’ve been through the bumps, bruises, and aches. It makes me a better person and appreciate my life more.
It’s the ultimate character because as the narrator I get to talk to the audience and explain a few things. It’s not the extravaganza of some of the Broadway shows. We ask the audience to use its imagination. Then I get to the fun part of being El Gallo, the charismatic character. The back and forth is such a fun, interesting journey for me as an actor.
I’m looking forward to doing this night after night for different audiences. Every night a show will have its own personality.
BB: Do you have any must-see, eats, or do’s while you’re in town?
PR: I’m just excited to bring my wife and daughter here to see all the things that haven’t changed much: the museums and Central Park. There’s nothing like New York.
The Theater Center, 3rd Floor
1627 Broadway/210 West 50th Street
Peter Reckell performs September 5 – 25, 2016
Matthew Wexler is The Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on social media at @roodeloo.
The new Cirque du Soleil touring show inspired by James Cameron’s record-breaking movie Avatar, TORUK – The First Flight, will be presented at Barclays Center on September 7-11, as part of a global tour that launched in November of last year.
TORUK – The First Flight is a live immersive multimedia spectacle that brings to the stage the breathtaking world of James Cameron’s Avatar through a riveting fusion of cutting-edge visuals, puppetry and stagecraft. Buoyed by a soaring cinematic score, Cirque du Soleil applies its unique signature style to James Cameron’s imaginary world and “makes the bond” between two kindred artistic visions that capture the imagination.
This live immersive experience also bears the distinct signature of directors and multimedia innovators Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon. It is a living ode to the Na’vi’s symbiotic coexistence with nature and their belief in the basic interconnectedness of all living things.
Narrated by a “Na’vi Storyteller” and populated by unforgettable characters, TORUK – The First Flight is a mythical tale set thousands of years before the events depicted in the film AVATAR, and before any humans ever set foot on Pandora.
When a natural catastrophe threatens to destroy the sacred Tree of Souls, Ralu and Entu, two Omaticaya boys on the brink of adulthood, fearlessly decide to take matters into their own hands. Upon learning that Toruk can help them save the Tree of Souls, they set out, together with their newfound friend Tsyal, on a quest high up in the Floating Mountains to find the mighty red and orange predator that rules the Pandoran sky. Prophecy is fulfilled when a pure soul rises among the clans to ride Toruk for the first time and save the Na’vi from a terrible fate.
TORUK – The First Flight
620 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn
September 7 – 11
Tony Award-winning Broadway legend Betty Buckley will return to Joe’s Pub at The Public with her new show, Story Songs, for an exclusive seven-show engagement from September 22 to September 25. A renowned interpreter with an eclectic taste for music from all genres, Buckley will share a collection of songs that range from Radiohead to theater greats Stephen Schwartz and Jason Robert Brown. The evening will also include works by the next generation of exciting young theater composers Joe Iconis and Ben Toth. Buckley will be joined by renowned jazz pianist Christian Jacob, her longtime Musical Director and arranger; as well as Tony Marino on bass; Oz Noy on guitar; and Ben Perowsky on drums & percussion.
Buckley recently starred as “Big Edie” Beale in the celebrated Los Angeles production of the musical Grey Gardens, which she first performed at Sag Harbor, NY’s Bay Street Theater last summer. She co-stars in the upcoming M. Night Shayamalan film Split opposite James McAvoy, which will premiere in January 2017.
Buckley will also present Story Songs in Philadelphia, PA (September 18), Port Washington, NY (September 30), San Francisco, CA (October 21-22) and Costa Mesa, CA (October 27–29). She will perform Ghostlight, based on her recent album with T Bone Burnett in Newark, NJ (September 17).
In addition, Buckley will offer Five Day Intensive Song Interpretation Workshop at New York’s T. Schreiber Studio from September 19-29. Auditors are welcome.
Betty Buckley, in an award-winning career that has encompassed TV, film, stage and concert work around the globe, is probably best known as one of theater’s most respected and legendary leading ladies. She won a Tony Award for her performance as Grizabella, the Glamour Cat, in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s CATS. Buckley received her second Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a musical for her performance as Hesione in Triumph of Love, and an Olivier Award nomination for her critically-acclaimed interpretation of Norma Desmond in the London production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard, which she repeated to more rave reviews on Broadway. She is a 2012 Theatre Hall of Fame inductee.
Buckley tours in concert worldwide with her ensemble of musicians and recently was featured in the Royal Albert Hall concert of Follies in celebration of Stephen Sondheim’s 85th birthday. She has recorded 16 CDs, most recently Ghostlight produced by T Bone Burnett released in 2014.
Story Songs Starring Betty Buckley
Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater
425 Lafayette Street, NYC
September 22-25, 2016
Classic Stage Company has announced that Jason Sudeikis will star as John Keating in the world premiere of Dead Poets Society, a new play based on the beloved 1989 film. Written by Academy Award-winner Tom Schulman, adapted from his screenplay, and directed by John Doyle, Dead Poets Society is set at a rigorous all-boys preparatory school renowned for its ancient traditions, where the unconventional Professor Keating inspires his students to defy conformity, and to live passionately.
Performances for Dead Poets Society will begin Thursday, October 27 at CSC (136 East 13th Street) with an official press opening Thursday, November 17. Additional casting will be announced in the coming weeks.
John Doyle said, “I’m thrilled that Jason Sudeikis is taking on this iconic role in Dead Poets Society. I felt it important that we find an actor like Jason who brings a fresh perspective, and all at CSC are delighted that he will be joining us for this unique venture.”
Following two years as a writer on “Saturday Night Live,” Jason Sudeikis became a regular cast member on the show in 2005 where he starred in hundreds of sketches during his eight years, including his spot-on impersonations of Joe Biden and Mitt Romney. His film work includes Race and Tumbledown, as well as Mother’s Day, Sleeping with Other People, Masterminds, Horrible Bosses and Horrible Bosses 2, We’re the Millers, Epic, The Campaign, Hall Pass, The Bounty Hunter, Going the Distance and What Happens in Vegas.
Upcoming films include the sci-fi thriller Colossal starring opposite Anne Hathaway and Kodachrome with Ed Harris. Jason’s television work includes a multi-episode arc on Fox’s hit comedy “The Last Man on Earth” with his fellow SNL alum Will Forte; multiple episodes of the HBO series “Eastbound & Down” and multiple appearances on “30 Rock.” Jason also portrayed the voices of two principal characters on Fox’s hit animated comedy series “The Cleveland Show.”
by Ryan Leeds
After a brief re-location to Union Square, The Irish Repertory Theatre has returned to a newly refurbished home in Chelsea that is every bit as intimate, but much more modern than its original dwelling. It seems perfectly fitting then to christen the space with a small but truly mighty work, Quietly, by playwright Owen McCafferty.
Quietly has been making loud ripples throughout the theatrical world since it premiered at Ireland’s National Theater, The Abbey. They have now joined forces with the Public Theater to bring this important show across the pond, where it is making its New York City debut.
McCafferty’s play takes place in a cozy, local Northern Ireland bar, managed by Robert (Robert Zawadki), a Polish immigrant who is glued to the television for a European football game. His regular customer, Jimmy (Patrick O’Kane) arrives to half-heartedly watch the game.
Jimmy’s not particularly a sports fanatic, but he lives around the corner and wants to pass the time. It’s an understandable hobby given his inclination to irritability and anger. Jimmy claims that “we don’t know what kind of life he has led”, but it is clear from his bitter demeanor that it has not been an easy one. As the 75-minute pieces progresses, it becomes painfully clear that his life has been wracked with resentment and emotions that this “tough as nails” man cannot even process.
On this particular evening, another man, Ian (Declan Conlon) visits the pub. Thus begins a dialogue that has profound implications and consequences. Years before, in 1974, the pair were involved in a nearly unspeakable incident that shattered both of their lives. Now 52, the two men recall what happened they were both 16 and Ian was a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force, an extremist group that tried to defeat Irish Republicanism. Jimmy was not a member and did not see eye to eye with their politics.
It’s useful to know a bit about the political conflicts in Ireland in the 70s, but not essential. The same scenario could easily take place between an Israeli and a Palestinian, an Iraqi or Syrian, or even—in this midst of our presidential race—a Republican and Democrat.
McCafferty’s writing is completely natural, but even with a brief 75-minute running time, it takes a while to pick up steam. From the onset, it is easy to tell that a storm is brewing, but some of the exchanges could either be tightened or omitted. I also found myself occasionally straining to decipher what was being said, perhaps due to a lack of projection. However it was not often enough to miss any crucial plot points.
Quietly takes us to a place where (I audaciously suggest) every politician needs to go. McCafferty’s piece is not about proving who is wrong or right. It is entirely about understanding and forgiveness—or at least arriving at a place where resentment is not all consuming. It’s also about the realization that people can, and often do, change from the time they are adolescents. Given the endless stream of noise, violence, finger pointing and self-pitying that our leaders (and even the media) create, it is a much overdue lesson for far too many.
Director Jimmy Fay has assembled a stellar cast. O’Kane is a mighty force who can kill with the slightest icy gaze. Conlon is less austere and more reserved but equally as forceful as a man who is just trying to do the right thing and rid his guilt. Zawadki’s laid back demeanor offers a pleasant contrast to his tense counterparts.
Offering a testament to the power of grace, Quietly is the type of theater that will stick with you long after the curtain falls. It will cause careful reassessment of petty grudges you might continue to hold. In spite of our grave human errors and misjudgments, forgiveness is a potent cure.
Irish Repertory Theater
132 W. 22nd St. (between 6th and 7th)
Through September 25th
Ryan Leeds is a freelance theater journalist who lives in Manhattan. He is the Chief Theater Critic for Manhattan Digest and a frequent contributor to Dramatics Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @Ry_Runner or on Facebook.
For the first time, The Broadway Blog breaks form with our “15 Minutes with…” column, taking this opportunity to introduce you to up and coming musical theater writer/composer Aaron Michael Krueger. His new show, Super!, opens August 12 as part of the New York International Fringe Festival. Krueger’s 2014 musical, New Dawn, took home four awards (including Best Book, Music, and Lyrics, and Best Musical) at the Midtown International Theatre Festival.
The Broadway Blog had a chance to gain some insights about his latest project, how it’s developed, and the challenges of storytelling in the context of a Festival setting.
What inspired you to write Super!?
I’ve always found shows like Smallville interesting because it really focused on what makes a superhero a human, instead of what makes a human a superhero. It made the characters relatable.
Can you tell us a bit more about the show? What can audience members expect? (Without any spoilers!)
Without giving anything away, I’d tell people to expect a show that’s more in line with current comic book and movie trends in terms of tone. It’s not at all like the Adam West Batman series. Audiences can expect some really stellar performances given by this incredible cast and some music that is sure to get stuck in your head.
How has the show evolved since its debut at the Midtown International Theatre Festival?
The show has grown a great deal. The book is about 90 percent new material, and there are a number of new songs and themes. One of the cast members from this production was in the MITF production as well and his first comment after reading it was that the show was much darker, and much more human.
Can you share a bit more specifics about the evolution of this latest draft? Would you say the greatest changes are in plot line, character development or other aspects?
The bulk of the changes are actually in development of the specifics of the show. There is absolutely more character development, which was needed from the last draft, but a couple of new plot points in the show have driven the show into a slightly darker place. It’s one that made a lot of sense for the story we’re trying to tell.
Do you think there are common themes in your major works (New Dawn, Super!) thus far?
Absolutely. Both New Dawn and Super! are coming of age stories, very different ones, but they have that in common. New Dawn has a character who deals with coming out, and we actually had a conversation with our lead in Super! this time around about the similarities between telling someone you’re gay and telling them you have super powers.
What composer/lyricists do you admire and what is it about their work that resonates with you?
I really love Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey. I think their work is brilliant, and I always fall in love with it. I think Joe Iconis writes music that is accessible and moving and always fun. And Larry O’Keefe writes such beautiful songs that integrate into stories so perfectly.
As an author, what are your thoughts about diversity in casting? Do you think it’s important to try to actively exemplify our multiculturalism on stage?
I am always a fan of seeing a diverse cast on a stage. I, myself, am mixed (black and white) and growing up, had a difficult time finding characters and role models that I could relate to, so it’s always exciting to see a show with a diverse cast. I try to write shows that can be open to any interpretation of ethnicity. I’m also adopted, so I don’t have an issue casting people of two different ethnicities as siblings because I’m of the belief that a common ethnicity isn’t what defines your family.
As part of the New York International Fringe Festival, what have been some of the challenges (and solutions) to putting up a show with limited time and resources?
I have been very grateful for the fact that FringeNYC does offer discounts on certain services or rehearsal rates. In terms of the show content, the biggest obstacle has been how to deliver the expectations of the superhero genre in a festival setting. It forced everyone to get very creative and figure out ways to design a superhero costume or make it seem like people are flying through the air without having the large budget of a blockbuster film. But I think the show absolutely delivers the spectacle, but even more so the heart of what has made the genre so popular.
Matthew Wexler is the Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on social media at @roodeloo.
It was announced today Tony Award-Winner Cynthia Erivo and Tony Award nominee Joshua Henry will star in a special one-night-only benefit concert version of Jason Robert Brown’s seminal musical, The Last Five Years, with the composer himself leading the orchestra. Produced by SubCulture and Jason Robert Brown, the evening will take place at Town Hall (123 West 43rd St), and 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit The Brady Center, the national organization determined to create a safer America by cutting gun deaths in half by 2025.
“Sometimes all of the elements come together serendipitously, and that has been the case with every element of this event,”Brown said. “From the moment I heard Cynthia sing ‘I Can Do Better Than That’ at the Royal Festival Hall in London last year, I have been determined to see her interpretation of Cathy, one of the most nuanced and difficult roles I’ve ever written; and who could possibly be a better partner than Joshua, a singular extraordinary performer who was the definitive Jim Conley inParade last year at Geffen Hall. To have such amazing artists bring my work to life is thrilling enough, but to be using this performance to benefit the invaluable and desperately important work of the Brady Center is a particular honor, the fulfillment of a real obligation for me and, I think, for everyone in the theatrical community – to raise awareness and raise funds to stop one of the defining moral failures of our time.”
Tickets for the concert begin at $50, and will go on sale at 10:00AM EST on Wednesday, August 18. To purchase tickets, and for more information on the event, please visit www.TheTownHall.org, or call (212)840-2824.
The trailer for the film version of The Last Five Years, starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan.
“In the fall we will present a revival of Jonathan Larson’s Tick, Tick…BOOM!, the late composer’s only other musical apart from Rent. Larson’s moving and entertaining piece is a natural fit as Keen’s third ‘intimate’ musical, following our successful productions of Marry Me a Little and John & Jen. We’re excited to reunite with David Auburn, who refashioned Larson’s one man show to create this beautiful three-character musical. Dave was an early supporter of Keen and adapted The Journals of Mihail Sebastian in our 2003-‘04 season.
“This spring, for the first time, we will produce a work developed in Keen’s Playwrights Lab dedicated to fostering the work of mid-career playwrights. Courtney Baron has written an incredibly timely tale about gun violence in contemporary America. Ever since I read it, I knew we had to produce it—and sadly the story becomes more and more relevant with every day. Courtney has had a long history with Keen, including writing for our Keen Teens program and we are incredibly proud to be presenting her work as part of our main season.”
Before Rent, there was Tick, Tick… BOOM! This autobiographical musical, by the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning Jonathan Larson, is the story of an aspiring composer questioning his life choices on the eve of his thirtieth birthday. His girlfriend wants to get married and move out of the city, his best friend is making big bucks on Madison Avenue, but Jon is still waiting on tables and trying to write the great American musical. This exhilarating, funny, and moving work by the late Larson will speak to anyone who’s ever gotten lost on their way to finding their dreams.
Nick Blaemire stars in this thrilling work by the late, great Jonathan Larson. Tick, Tick…BOOM! has book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson; David Auburn serves as Script Consultant; Joey Chancey will be Musical Director; Jonathan Silverstein directs, with choreography by Christine O’Grady. Additional casting and design team will be announced shortly.
Performances for this limited Off-Broadway engagement of Tick, Tick… BOOM! at The Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row will begin Tuesday, Oct 4, and continue through November 19only, with opening night set for Thursday, October 20.
Nick Blaemire will star in Tick, Tick… BOOM!
When It’s You, a world premiere by Courtney Baron, is a personal look at the ripple effects that follow gun violence in contemporary America. Ginnifer is single, 37, and has just lost her mother to illness. She moves back to her hometown and learns her first love from high school is now at the center of a violent crime. Ginnifer must confront her relationship to the heinous act as well as her changing place in society, all while living in her dead mother’s home. Timely and moving, When It’s You complexly and honestly explores America today.
“I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the Keen Company’s 2016-‘17 season. The connections run deep: the founding artistic director, Carl Forsman, directed my first production after I finished grad school. It is wonderful to now get to work with the incredibly talented current Artistic Director, Jonathan Silverstein, who will direct, and his excellent team,” said Baron.
“I was also very fortunate to be a part of the amazing Keen Teens program which provides teens with the opportunity to work on commissioned plays by working New York-based playwrights. My new play, When It’s You was written in the Keen Company Playwright’s Lab. When Mark Armstrong approached me about being a part of the Lab, specifically for mid-career writers, I jumped at the chance,” continued Baron. “The lab was one of the most supportive writer’s groups I have been a part of and this play wouldn’t have happened without it. To now be offered this production is a testament to how dedicated Keen is to fostering its artistic partners. I am grateful to be one of them.”
Performances for this limited Off-Broadway engagement of When It’s You by Courtney Baron, directed by Jonathan Silverstein, will begin Tuesday February 21, and continue through Saturday April 8, only, with opening night set for Thursday March 9. Casting and design team will be announced shortly.
All performances will be at The Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues) and will be Tuesday through Thursday evenings at 7pm; Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 2pm & 8pm; and Sunday matinees at 3pm.
Tickets for Tick, Tick…BOOM will be $75; premium tickets will be $90; for When It’s You, tickets will be $65; premium tickets will be $80. (All ticket prices include restoration fees.)
A subscription package for both shows of the season is only $100 which includes unlimited exchange privileges, invitations to Keen Company readings, and more. Keen patrons 30 or under see both shows for just $25 each with a KEENConnect Subscription at only $50.
For more information, visit www.keencompany.org
By Ryan Leeds
Gretchen Cryer (mother of television/80s movie star Jon Cryer) has an interesting tale to tell about her intimate, Off Broadway show, I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking it On the Road. In the liner notes, Cryer (book and lyrics) and composer Nancy Ford described an unfortunate meeting that the pair had with director Joseph Papp, the legendary founder of the Public Theater. After 10 days of rehearsal, Papp decided to cancel the show, citing a lack of humor as the main reason. Long story short: They convinced him to wait for three more days and Papp allowed the show to open. It was killed by the critics but surprisingly ran for seven months at the Public before moving to Circle in the Square where it ran for three years.
It’s not hard to understand why the critics were unkind. Even as the feminist movement was at its apex by the late 70s, I’m Getting My Act… (released this week from the archives by Masterworks Broadway) is mostly rife with clichés and lukewarm inspiration. It does, however, have some poignancy and some will enjoy this nostalgic trip down memory lane.
I’m Getting My Act… opens as Heather Jones (Cryers) rehearses a new act for her 39th birthday. She’s tired of living life to please everyone but herself. She’s got new material—and apparently wrinkles and gray hair—at 39! (Thank God lifespans have increased since 1978.) Nothing gives her more of a thrill than “singing with a rock and roll band” in “Natural High.”
She then remembers her younger days when she would “smile for daddy” in a waltz/vaudeville style number called “Smile.” The objectification of women continues with “Miss America”:
“Your husband’s out on business, his business is his life. He pretends to be your husband, you pretend to be his wife.”
As a recent divorcee, Heather picks herself up by the bootstraps in “Strong Woman Number,” which has the essence of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” or “I Am Woman (Hear Me Roar.)” Heather and her friends will not wait for love! They have their self-esteem. Heather then softens the militance with a song about her ex, “Dear Tom.” It is a touching and painful moment that recalls a love that simply could not be.
Video footage from the Encores! Off-Center production of “I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road,” starring Renée Elise Goldsberry.
While she tries out the new songs, her old friend and manager, Joe (Joel Fabiani) listens and she sings a song dedicated to him, “Old Friend.” It is another sweet moment that highlights the benefits of life-long platonic companionship.
“Put in a Package and Sold” decries the dating scene. “Lonely Lady” is the quintessential “poor me I’m so alone” song that Heather sings before rediscovering her “arms that can see and a voice that can sing a celebration of me” in “Happy Birthday.” Finally, Heather is ready to take on the world again—or at least take her act on the road—in a reprise of “Natural High”
Musically, there are elements of Hair, Pippin, Carole King and The Carpenters here. Cryer has a soothing and welcoming voice and her backup singers; Alice (Margot Rose) and Cheryl (Betty Aberlin) serve the music quite well.
I’m Getting My Act… offers a slice of history that may serve as remembrance for baby boomers who recall the original production. But it is also a reminder of who paved the road in song for the likes of Sex and The City, Girls and Inside Amy Schumer, and for that, Cryer and Ford deserve credit where credit is due.
Ryan Leeds is a freelance theater journalist who lives in Manhattan. He is the Chief Theater Critic for Manhattan Digest and a frequent contributor to Dramatics Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @Ry_Runner or on Facebook