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One Night Only: ‘Tales of the City’ on Broadway

February 21st, 2017 Comments off

Tales of the City

The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center has announced the New York City Broadway premiere of the musical, Tales of the City on March 27, 2017 at the Music Box Theatre. The iconic ensemble story of love, identity, and San Francisco will be presented in a one-night-only benefit concert. With a rocking score by the Grammy-nominated Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears and John Garden, and a book by Tony Award-winner Jeff Whitty, this is first time the vibrant new musical will be seen in New York. All proceeds from the concert will benefit the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center and The Trevor Project.

Betsy Wolfe (Photo courtesy of The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.)

Betsy Wolfe (Photo courtesy of The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.)

The concert will feature Betsy Wolfe, Justin Vivian Bond, Armistead Maupin, Jose Llana, Wesley Taylor, Mary Birdsong, Josh Breckenridge, Jeffrey Carlson, Kathleen Monteleone, and Dianne J. Findlay, with additional casting to be announced.

Based on the beloved series of novels by Armistead Maupin, Tales of the City follows a community of friends, lovers, and others who reside at the mythical address of 28 Barbary Lane in 1976 San Francisco. Mary Ann Singleton (Besty Wolfe), a fresh arrival from Ohio, falls into a diverse band of Bohemians and bluebloods, as families are created and rediscovered under the watchful eye of mystical landlady Anna Madrigal (Justin Vivian Bond).

Justin Vivian Bond (Photo courtesy of The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.)

Justin Vivian Bond (Photo courtesy of The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.)

Tales of the City was first developed at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Music Theater Conference in 2009, and had a subsequent run at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco in 2011. The concert will feature many returning cast members from both productions as well as support from the original creative team, including original director Jason Moore and music director/vocal arranger Stephen Oremus. The concert is directed by Travis Greislerand music directed by Cian McCarthy.

“I’m excited to rock the Music Box with this very special show. In 2009, the energy in the O’Neill’s Barn Theater was electric as Tales of the City took its first steps, and we’ll light up New York next month when the musical takes its next step,” stated O’Neill Executive Director Preston Whiteway. “It will be a magical evening, with the words and music of Jeff, Jake, and John, under the watchful guidance of Armistead. I’m grateful to our incredible cast, many of whom are returning to the roles, everyone at Dear Evan Hansen and the Shubert Organization for lending us the theatre, and to the authors and creative team for bringing this piece alive again in support of the O’Neill and The Trevor Project.”

Tickets on sale via Telecharge.com.
Pre-show reception with writers available for premier ticket buyers.  

 

‘The Great Comet’ Invites Fans to Sing on Cast Recording

February 8th, 2017 Comments off

The Great Comet Broadway

The new Broadway musical Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, invites fans to be a part of the upcoming original Broadway cast recording.

The Great Comet is looking for fans to join creator Dave Malloy and members of the cast to sing group chorus sections and to play the show’s famous egg shakers for the original Broadway cast recording.  This special fan recording session will take place in midtown Manhattan on Monday, February 13 from 6:00pm – 7:30pm EST.  No purchase is necessary – to sign up, and receive the exact location, visit www.greatcometbroadway.com/castrecording

 

Don’t Miss: MCC’s ‘Miscast’ Benefit

February 7th, 2017 Comments off

MCC TheaterMCC Theater has announced the all-star lineup of performers set for their annual Miscast gala (Monday, April 3), celebrating the 30th Anniversary of MCC Theater.

MCC Theater’s annual Miscast gala is one of the most exciting and unique theater events in town. Broadway’s hottest stars perform songs from roles in which they would never be cast.

Performers include: Tony winners Annaleigh Ashford, Norbert Leo Butz, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Jennifer Holliday and Kelli O’Hara; Tony nominees Stephanie J. Block, Brian d’Arcy James and Brandon Victor Dixon; plus Dear Evan Hansen breakout Ben Platt and Hamilton star Mandy Gonzalez. Additional names will be announced shortly.

Proceeds from Miscast support MCC Theater’s mission to develop and produce exciting work Off-Broadway, as well as its Youth Company and partnerships with New York City public high schools, and MCC’s literary development work with emerging playwrights.

For more than 15 years, MCC Theater’s education and outreach programs have embodied the company’s mission to provoke conversations that have never happened and otherwise never would. Programs have grown from an eight-member Youth Company ensemble in 1999 to serving over 100 public high school students each year in several branches, including an Acting Lab, a Playwriting Lab, an Ambassadors program, two school campus-based satellite programs, and classroom partnerships. These programs empower students to achieve higher academic success and become more civically engaged. Each year 90 to 100 percent of Youth Company seniors graduate from high school in four years and enroll in college.

Ride the Cyclone (Photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Ride the Cyclone (Photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

MCC Theater broke ground on its first permanent home— a two-theater complex on West 52nd Street and 10th Avenue—on March 22, 2016. Set to open in 2018, the space will unite MCC’s diverse roster of programs under one roof for the first time in the company’s three-decade history. The new facility will also allow MCC to expand its programming and establish it as a cultural anchor within the Clinton neighborhood. The $35 million project is funded by a public-private partnership between the Theater and the City of New York, with $30 million raised to-date.

Miscast
The Hammerstein Ballroom
311 West 34th Street
April 3

 

 

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Don’t Miss: ‘Page to Stage’ Seminar with Off Broadway Alliance

February 2nd, 2017 Comments off

Off Broadway AllianceDo you think you may be the next David Merrick? The Off Broadway Alliance, the organization of Off Broadway producers, theaters, general managers, press agents, and marketing firms, will hold the next event in its Seminars series, focused on the Off Broadway Producing Process on Saturday, February 4, 2017. The seminar will discuss various pathways of developing shows from conception towards a production in the Off Broadway arena.

The seminar, “Page to Stage, or How to Get Your Show to Off Broadway,” will feature producer Charlotte Cohn (Church and State, Handle with Care), playwright Matt Cox (Puffs, or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic), co-author, co-producer and star of Cagney Robert Creightonand literary agent Mark Subias who represents clients that span across film, television and theater. Hugh Hysell (producer of Six Degrees of SeparationVanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) will moderate the discussion curated from questions submitted by attendees.

The cast of 'Cagney.' (Photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)

The cast of ‘Cagney.’ (Photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)

“Page to Stage, or How to Get Your Show to Off Broadway” will be held on the 3rd floor of The Theater Center (210 West 50th Street). Doors will open at 10:30 a.m. for complimentary coffee and bagels. The panel discussion will take place from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with additional time allotted afterward for conversation with fellow attendees.

Admission for the seminar is $5 and pre-registration is required. Attendees are encouraged to pre-submit questions for the panelists when they submit their reservations. Questions will be asked live at the seminar.

Register at www.PageToStageSeminar.eventbrite.com

 

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Don’t Miss: ‘Falsettos’ Cast Album Release Event on 1/27

January 23rd, 2017 Comments off

falsettosGhostlight Records will celebrate the cast album of the critically acclaimed Broadway revival of William Finn and James Lapine’s Tony Award-winning musical Falsettos with a special in-store performance and CD signing at Barnes & Noble on Friday, January 27 at 7:00 p.m.

The date also marks the album’s worldwide digital release, with physical copies also available and two-disc set available online and in stores. Barnes & Noble will welcome cast members Stephanie J. Block, Anthony Rosenthal, Tracie Thoms, Brandon Uranowitz and Betsy Wolfe, in addition to the show’s composer/lyricist William Finn as special guest. The store is located at 150 East 86th Street, between Lexington and Third Avenues on the Upper East Side. Fans who purchase the CD at the store will be offered priority seating. Call (212) 369-2180 for details.

'Falsettos' (Photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

‘Falsettos’ (Photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

The first-ever full cast album of the musical includes a 60-page full-color booklet with complete lyrics, production photos, and an essay from Lincoln Center Theater’s Producing Artistic Director, André Bishop and Musical Theater Associate Producer Ira Weitzman. The cast album was produced by Kurt Deutsch with Lawrence Manchester serving as co-producer.

William Finn and James Lapine’s groundbreaking, Tony Award-winning musical Falsettos (Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Scorerecently returned to Broadway in an all-new production from Lincoln Center Theater. Lapine returned to direct an extraordinary cast featuring Stephanie J. Block (The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Tony nom.), Christian Borle (Something Rotten!, Tony Award), Andrew Rannells (The Book of Mormon, Tony nom.), Anthony Rosenthal, Tracie Thoms, Brandon Uranowitz(An American in Paris, Tony nom.) and Betsy Wolfe.

Christian Borle and Andrew Rannells in 'Falsettos.' (Photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Christian Borle and Andrew Rannells in ‘Falsettos.’ (Photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

“Growing up with Falsettos was a game changer musical for me. With its gorgeous score and trailblazing takes on love, life and crisis, Falsettos is one of our great musicals and we’re honored to preserve the new Broadway cast album on Ghostlight Records,” says the label’s founder Kurt Deutsch. “Having released Finn’s wonderful 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, we’re thrilled to add this recording to our catalog, especially featuring such an unbelievable cast breathing such magnificent life into this ‘tight-knit family.’”

According to The New York Times, “There’s hardly a moment in the exhilarating, devastating revival of the musical Falsettos that doesn’t approach, or even achieve, perfection. It feels as fresh and startling as it did back in 1992.”

Time Out New York raved, “few musicals have the range, idiosyncrasy and emotional punch of this profoundly unconventional and personal work.” Newsday called the show “brave and hilarious, a charming and deeply moving treasure” and added “Finn matches his jaunty and vaudevillian, then haunting, music to enormously quotable, conversational lyrics that catch in the throat as often as they stick in the mind.”

The Chicago Tribune heralded the show as “a musical that throbs with passion and compassion, a masterwork.  It is a unequivocal pleasure to let Finn’s music and lyrics return to your consciousness.”

Falsettos was directed by James Lapine, with choreography by Spencer Liff, sets by David Rockwell, costumes by Jennifer Caprio, lighting by Jeff Croiter, sound by Dan Moses Schreier, and musical direction by Vadim Feichtner, conducting Michael Starobin’s original orchestrations.

 

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‘Allegiance’ Announces Canadian Film Screening, 2/19

January 19th, 2017 Comments off
Lea Salonga and George Takei in 'Allegiance' (photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Lea Salonga and George Takei in ‘Allegiance’ (photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

After a successful North-American premiere, Cineplex Events brings George Takei’s (Star Trek, Heroes) Broadway musical Allegiance back to Canadian theatres for an encore on Sunday, February 19 at 6:30 p.m. local time. This date is the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, known as the Day of Remembrance, which marked the beginning of the forced relocation and internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans during WWII.

“George Takei’s Allegiance: The Broadway Musical On The Big Screen” will begin with an exclusive introduction from Takei and immediately move into the musical’s presentation. After the feature, audiences will also be treated to behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with George Takei and the rest of the cast and creative team.

Participating Theatres:

  • Toronto – Cineplex Cinemas Yonge-Dundas and VIP
  • Vancouver – The Park Theatre
  • Halifax – Cineplex Cinemas Park Lane
  • Ottawa – Cineplex Odeon South Keys Cinemas
  • Calgary – Cineplex Odeon Eau Claire Market Cinemas
Telly Leung (center) and the cast of 'Allegiance' (photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Telly Leung (center) and the cast of ‘Allegiance’ (photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

“At a time when echoes of the interment ring once again far too loud in our political discourse, there’s never been a better moment for the story of Allegiance to find new audiences,” said star Takei. “It is a true testament to the power and the relevance of this story that so many people attended its premiere in December, and it is only appropriate that even more people will be able to witness it on such an important day as February 19, 2017. The Day of Remembrance is a day of commemoration, of reflection, and of learning, and I hope Allegiance can play an important role in its celebration, this year, and for many years to come.”

Allegiance illuminates one of American history’s lesser known chapters as it tells the story of Sam Kimura (Takei), transported back nearly six decades to when his younger self (Telly Leung, Godspell, Glee) and his sister Kei (Tony Award-winner Lea Salonga, Miss SaigonMulan) fought to stay connected to their heritage, their family and themselves after Japanese Americans were wrongfully imprisoned during World War II.

“The response from the audience who attended the premiere has been overwhelming. While its Broadway run may have been cut short, the story of Allegiance truly speaks to audiences everywhere and we are honored that its legacy continues, through this encore with Fathom Events and beyond,” said Allegiance producer Lorenzo Thione. “Moreover, we are excited that the story, music and message of Allegiance will expand its reach to more people, cities, and even countries, continuing to move, educate and inspire, truly fulfilling George’s legacy.”

Tickets are now on sale for “George Takei’s Allegiance: The Broadway Musical On The Big Screen” and can be purchased online by visiting Cineplex.com/Events or at participating theatre box offices.

For more information visit www.AllegianceMusical.com/movie.

 

 

 

New Year’s Eve at Feinstein’s/54 Below

December 28th, 2016 Comments off

54 Below

Are you looking for last-minute New Year’s Eve entertainment? Celebrate the arrival of 2017 at Feinstein’s/54 Below as two stars return to usher in the new year! Two-time MAC Award winner, Tony nominee, and drag legend Charles Busch will bring laughs and glamour to the 7 p.m. show. After a sold out New Year’s Eve show last year, Tony Award winner Annaleigh Ashford, once again accompanied by Will Van Dyke and the Whiskey 5,will conjure New Year’s Magic! at11p.m. A dance party to celebrate the New Year will follow the performance.

Charles Busch brings to Feinstein’s/54 Below an eclectic program of songs both contemporary and from the past. New York Times critic Stephen Holden wrote, “He has the gift of comic gab like few other entertainers. Innately funny, endearing and acutely intelligent, he also has claws. For an audience, the possibility of being scratched, although remote, lends his humor a bracing edge.” Accompanied by his dashing longtime musical director Tom Judson, Busch combines hilarious personal reminiscence, character sketches and superb storytelling through song into one glittering and glamorous evening in cabaret.

Come ring in 2017 with an eclectic mix of songs, stories, some sort-of impressive magic tricks, and an appearance made by a rainbow. Tony Award winner Annaleigh Ashford (Sylvia, You Can’t Take It With You, Kinky Boots, Showtime’s Masters of Sex) and music director Will Van Dyke reprise some of their Lost In The Stars favorites as well as debut some new tunes to celebrate this past year. Get your midnight kiss in one of the swankiest rooms in New York during a night that’s sure to be one of laughter, love, looking back, and looking forward.

Cover charges for the 7pm show range from $75-$140 with a $45 food and beverage minimum. Cover charges for the 11pm show range from $325-$495 which includes a two-course prix fixe dinner, dessert buffet, open bar, tax, and gratuity. Premium and Ringside seats include a half bottle of Laurent Perrier Brut Champagne for each party of two and an individual dessert platter during the dance party.

www.54below.com

 

Don’t Miss: ‘Piaf! The Show’ at Carnegie Hall

December 27th, 2016 Comments off
Anne Carrere in 'Piaf! The Show.' (Photo: G. Marsalla via The Broadway Blog.)

Anne Carrere in ‘Piaf! The Show.’ (Photo: G. Marsalla via The Broadway Blog.)

Her voice was legendary. Now, the music comes to life once again for one night only at Carnegie Hall.

With over half a million tickets sold in more than 30 countries and worldwide critical acclaim, Piaf! The Showa musical celebration of the life and music of the legendary French chanteuse—returns to the U.S. as part of the extended world tour. The highlight of the American leg of a 400-performance global tour is the special presentation at Carnegie Hall on January 6, 2017, celebrating the 60th anniversary of Edith Piaf’s final performance at the famous venue.

Inspired by the award-winning movie La Vie en Rose, Piaf! The Show is a tribute to  Edith Piaf. Conceived and directed by the Nice-based theatrical maverick Gil Marsalla and starring Anne Carrere, a young French performer hailed as “Edith Piaf’s legitimate musical heiress,” Piaf! The Show premiered in 2015 as a tribute to “The Little Sparrow” on the centennial of her birthday. In two 45-minute acts, the show narrates the rags-to-riches story of the Parisian singer’s career through her unforgettable songs, complemented by a visual tapestry of previously unreleased photographs and images of famous locations from Piaf’s era.

Gil Marsalla, producer and director of Piaf! The Show, first met star Anne Carrere in 2014, when she auditioned for another of his productions, Paris! Le Spectacle. Captivated by her skills and natural charisma, Marsalla offered her the role of Edith Piaf in his new production.

“I have worked in show business – on and off stage – for 25 years and mounted shows around the world. But to this day, Anne Carrere is my greatest artistic discovery yet. Don’t you dare touch or polish her, she is a ‘diamond in the rough’, such is the nature of her pure and natural talent,” says Marsalla of his leading lady.

Tickets for this concert are $20-$125 and can be purchased through Carnegie Hall’s website or by calling CarnegieCharge at 212.247.7800.

Interview: ‘The Untold Stories of Broadway”s Jennifer Ashley Tepper

December 15th, 2016 Comments off

by Ryan Leeds

The Untold Stories of BroadwayFor a true theater lover, there is simply no one else who has captured the rich history that lies between the walls of Broadway’s cherished structures better than Jennifer Ashley Tepper, author of The Untold Stories of Broadway. Tepper’s third volume has just been released, and for any theater geek, it’s a must read.

Tepper spent an extensive amount of time interviewing an array of individuals who had not only stepped into the spotlight, but she thoughtfully sought out the “unsung heroes” that make Broadway hum: stage hands, music arrangers, directors, company managers, and box office personnel.

In this volume, she highlights the Broadhurst, the Belasco, the Edison, the Lyric, the Majestic, the Schoenfeld, the St. James and the Walter Kerr. In between interviews, she sprinkles some interesting tidbits about the theaters and infuses her own experiences and memories.

In addition to writing, Tepper has also worn many hats including directing, producing, and marketing of many Broadway shows and is the director of Programming at Feinstein’s/54 Below. As an industry insider, Tepper knows how to gather the “dish,” but she serves it back to theater lovers in a compelling, gracious, and reverent manner. Think of her as Michael Riedel minus the snark and with better lipstick.

From ghost stories to opening night tales, backstage rituals, secret rooms, PR pranks, and auditions, Tepper’s book is as thoroughly entertaining as a Broadway show itself and can either be enjoyed from beginning to end, or by casually leafing through. With the holidays approaching, it’s the perfect gift for the person who already owns original cast recordings or previously published coffee table books.

Jennifer Ashley Tepper (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Jennifer Ashley Tepper (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

The Broadway Blog: So many people love the “razzle dazzle” of Broadway, but your interest goes much deeper than that. What is it about these physical spaces that fascinates you?

Jennifer Ashley Tepper: I’ve always loved the idea that when you’re sitting in a theatre, you are where so many other people have been: people who have created hit shows, people you admire, and all of those things that are so unique to Broadway.

You might love a particular movie, but there’s not really a chance to visit the soundstage and pinpoint exactly where the actors stood. These theaters are so specific in the sense of their history. Many of them have been here for at least 100 years. It connects us to the past. Plus, every theatre has secret passageways and weird nondescript rooms. They help chart what Broadway used to be and what it is now.

BB: You reference a secret tunnel between the Broadhurst and Schoenfeld. Tell us about that.

JAT: People don’t really know about it if they aren’t working in either of those theaters, which are on two different blocks. Two of these secret passageways lie in the inner alley that connects the two theaters. Street passerby on 45th Street can look to the left of the Schoenfeld to find a locked alleyway. The stage door is to the right of the Schoenfeld, but the alley on the left also provides an exit, used by audiences and show folk alike. At the very back of the alley, one door leads directly to the Broadhurst stage and another door leads to house left in the Broadhurst auditorium.

(Photo: Daniel Douglas / Shutterstock.com via The Broadway Blog.)

(Photo: Daniel Douglas / Shutterstock.com via The Broadway Blog.)

BB: Most of your stories are warm and nostalgic or bittersweet. You also tell stories of people who have had ghost experiences. I’m wondering if there were any that were too bleak, gossipy, or just downright depressing to share?

JAT: There totally were and I have a file marked as “Off the record.” People have instructions to destroy it (laughs). But actually, Fritz Weaver was a Broadway actor who just passed away. He was an amazing man. I had the pleasure of interviewing him and he told me a very sad dark story. He played a Tony Award winning role in a show called Child’s Play and it was about an incredibly dark, violent, suicidal teacher.

Fritz was a method actor and he told me that the biggest regret of his career was the year he did that play because he took the show home to his young kids. He admitted that although it was critically acclaimed, he spent so much time trying to make it up to his children who were terrified by his presence while doing the show. I thought that it was so moving that he focused not on winning the Tony, but what toll it took on his family. That really stuck with me.

BB: Any stories of all out brawls between creative teams or All About Eve type stories?

JAT: There is a lot of that and sometimes you get the true stories of what you’ve heard through gossip, but you get to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. One the best examples in this book is the real story behind Taboo, the Boy George musical. Raul Esparza talked about quitting, working with Rosie O’Donnell, and why the show failed. People tend to be honest as long as—say—ten years have passed.

Rosie O'Donnell and Boy George at the opening on 'Taboo' on Broadway, November 13, 2003. (Photo: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com via The Broadway Blog.)

Rosie O’Donnell and Boy George at the opening on ‘Taboo’ on Broadway, November 13, 2003. (Photo: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com via The Broadway Blog.)

BB: You mention in the preface that you wanted to focus on people of color and women whose theatrical contributions were either not applauded or remembered. Who were some of those people?

JAT: One of the things that I ran into is that I tried to find female playwrights who had worked at a particular theatre and there either weren’t any or they were deceased. Some other influential artists of color were hard to pin down for an interview. It’s hard to get people you’ve never met before to answer a phone call or email regarding an unfamiliar project. I tried to get as many as I could, but I filled in the blanks quite a bit in this volume.

The Schoenfeld has a cool history of women writers so I charted that in the book and I also found women who worked behind the scenes at that theatre.

George C. Wolfe, who is one of my heroes, has a lot of incredible material in the book. Baayork Lee talked about being in The King and I with white actors who were made-up to appear Asian. People either didn’t care or didn’t protest. So there were some markers that I found with regards to race and gender.

BB: What are your most vivid memories of theaters that you reference in this third volume?

JAT: A Chorus Line revival at the Schoenfeld really sticks out. I saw it 11 times and can recall skipping class on my birthday to go to a matinee. I was working on title of show at the time, directed by Michael Berresse. Michael was also playing Zach in A Chorus Line and took me backstage following the show.

I had the launch of my book at the Lyric Theatre and have such a vivid memory of my first time being there. I came to the city as a teenager with my parents and we were planning to see Aida, but learned that Adam Pascal was out of the show that day. I cried so much that the box office exchanged our tickets for later in the week and instead, we rushed down to Broadway and ran to our seats for 42nd Street. Whenever I walk into a Broadway theatre, I immediately think of the last few times I’ve been there. Those memories are powerful.

(Photo: Shubert Organization)

(Photo: Shubert Organization)

BB: Did you happen to find any research on the size of seats and the limited leg room?

JAT: I found a lot of fascinating information. I interviewed Bob Wankel, President of the Shubert Organization, who talked about how, when all of the theaters were first built that women didn’t go to the bathroom that often in public. They didn’t want to remove their corsets or petticoats.

So now, if you’ve ever heard complaints about the lines at ladies’ room it’s because the bathroom was probably built into what was once an office. Things like that definitely affect the physical space. Plus, people used to be smaller so there is less leg room. It’s interesting to learn that the actual life of people go into how these buildings were built.

BB: Coming from someone who is 6’1 and fuller framed, if you have any clout on the design and leg room in newer theaters, I’d appreciate that!

You have a few other volumes coming out after this, right?

JAT: I do. There are 40 Broadway theaters—soon to be 41 with the Hudson—so I’m looking at about six volumes in total. I don’t know how long that will take but I plan to get to all of them.

All three volumes of The Untold Stories of Broadway can be purchased on Amazon.com.

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.

 

 

 

Theater Buff: Pilobolus Dance Theater’s Antoine Banks Sullivan

November 16th, 2016 Comments off

Every month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer fills out editor Matthew Wexler’s questionnaire and offers a glimpse of what he looks like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. This month, Theater Buff chassés off The Great White Way and chats with Pilobolus Dance Theater’s Antoine Banks Sullivan.

Renowned for its unique, diverse collaborations that ignore preconceived barriers between creative disciplines, Pilobolus reaches more than 300,000 audiences members each year. Pilobolus Dance Theater plays two programs in repertory at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts from November 16 through December 4.

(Photo provided by Antoine Banks Sullivan.)

(Photo provided by Antoine Banks Sullivan.)

Name:
Antoine Banks Sullivan

Hometown:
Chicago, IL – born and raised!

"Shadowland 2" in rehearsal. (Photo provided by Pilobolus via The Broadway Blog.)

“Shadowland 2” in rehearsal. (Photo provided by Pilobolus via The Broadway Blog.)

How would you personally describe Pilobolus Dance Theater?
Four guys at Dartmouth College founded Pilobolus in 1971. They were non-dancers enrolled in a dance composition class taught by Alison Becker Chase. Over the years it’s grown into the company we are today. Pilobolus doesn’t look for one specific type of mover. My background is in contemporary and ballet, but others come from martial arts, gymnastics, and hip-hop. You end up with different opinions in the room. All the dancers get choreographic credit for the pieces we work on.

Of the pieces that you’ll performing this month at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, which ones resonates with you most and why?
“Rushes” is the closing piece for Program A. It was created in 2007, and when I saw the company perform it some years ago I was blown away. It’s theatrically beautiful—nothing like you’ve ever seen before, balances theater with dance and movement. It’s a peculiar story that I won’t reveal because I want the audience to have an open mind. But I will say that the story was relevant 10 years ago and still relevant today.

“On the Nature of Things” is also a treat to dance. It features three dancers dancing on a two-foot-wide platform above the stage. It’s statuesque, bold and beautiful with heartfelt emotions. It transcends every walk of life. For me as a dancer, it’s also an exercise in living in the moment and staying tuned in—if nothing else than to stay on that platform!

"Day Two," Pilobolus Dance Theater. (Photo: Grant Halverson via The Broadway Blog.)

“Day Two,” Pilobolus Dance Theater. (Photo: Grant Halverson via The Broadway Blog.)

What is the company’s reference point as “theater”?
We want audiences to feel something. A reach in dance—what does it mean? Is it for something or someone? We have to tell stories with our bodies through movement. It’s personal and very special to me. Yet we don’t provide program notes because we want audiences to discover the personal meaning in a piece of work.

(Photo provided by Antoine Banks Sullivan.)

(Photo provided by Antoine Banks Sullivan.)

In addition to being a dancer, you’ve been described as an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights. In what ways have you brought attention to LGBT issues and causes?
So much has happened in the past week and so much has been on my mind. When I came out I was fortunate to have a strong support system. Not every LGBTQ youth has that. I worked with the LGBTQ Task Force in Chicago to get youth off the street, along with HIV awareness and testing, and I had a great mentor there.

As I’ve gotten older, I see how we can reach the masses through social media. This was particularly important to me after the tragedy in Orlando. My first job was at Disney World and we would often go to Pulse Nightclub. I have so many memories and felt the loss quite personally from this senseless act of violence. Through social media, I dedicated each performance to every one of 49 victims of the massacre. Every performance needed to be my best for those who are no longer with us.

I have volunteered with the Human Rights Campaign in my hometown of Las Vegas. It’s important to push through and keep these issues at the forefront. We become so desensitized… one thing happens and it’s in the media for a week then it’s gone. Even the election will be old news in a few months, but its affects on minorities, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community will be felt long after. This is a country for everyone and something that we need to continue to fight for.

Antoine Banks Sullivan (Photo: Pilobolus via the Broadway Blog.)

Antoine Banks Sullivan (Photo: Pilobolus via the Broadway Blog.)

If I wasn’t a performer, I would be:
I’d love to be a travel blogger. Or a stay-at-home dad!

One of my favorite spots in the U.S. is Savannah, Georgia, which is so quaint and full of old-school American culture. Internationally, my husband and I love Thailand—just chilling by the beach and drinking fun cocktails. I also love Hamburg, Germany. I was there on tour this summer and one of those cities that I just immediately fell in love with.

Places, Intermission or Curtain Call? 
Places! I live to be onstage. I live to go in front of the audience. That’s my calling.

Where’s the best place for a cocktail in Vegas?
Being a local, I avoid the Strip. I’d head to Fremont Street, which is going through a great resurgence.

My workout “secret” is:
I lift men for a living! Our work makes us strong, but I also practice Bikram yoga or Pilates.

Ten years from now I’d like to be:
I’d love to have a B&B somewhere near Mt. Charleston, enjoying my family and traveling the world with my children… living the dream!

Pilobolus Dance Theater
NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
566 LaGuardia Place, NYC
November 16 – December 4