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Three to See: September

September 1st, 2016 Comments off

Broadway is slowing coming out of its summer hibernation, but our eyes are wandering toward Off Broadway and beyond for our top picks of the month.

MCC All the Ways to Say I Love YouAll the Ways to Say I Love You
An unconventional triple threat conspires for one of the most anticipated plays of the fall: Neil LaBute’s All the Ways to Say I Love You.

Starring the formidable Judith Light under the direction of Leigh Silverman, the play follows high school English teacher and guidance counselor Mrs. Johnson. As she recounts her experiences with a favored student from her past, Mrs. Johnson slowly reveals the truth that is hidden just beneath the surface details of her life. The solo play about “love, hard choices, and the cost of fulfilling an all-consuming desire.”

All the Ways to Say I Love You
MCC Theater at the Lucille Lortel
121 Christopher Street
Previews begin September 6

Marie and Rosetta Atlantic TheaterMarie and Rosetta
Before there was Aretha Franklin or Tina Turner, there was Sister Rosetta Tharpe. A legend in her time, she brought fierce guitar playing and swing to gospel music. Tharpe was the queen of ‘race records’ in the 30’s and 40’s, performed mornings at churches and evenings at the Cotton Club. She filled a baseball stadium for her (third) wedding yet ended up in an unmarked grave in Philadelphia.

The play chronicles her first rehearsal with a young protégée, Marie Knight, as they prepare to embark on a tour that would establish them as one of the great duet teams in musical history.

Marie and Rosetta
Atlantic Theater
Linda Gross Theater
336 West 20th Stret
Opening night: September 12

verso off broadwayVerso
“We’ve got magic to do just for you…” No, it’s not Pippin. Instead, Neil Patrick Harris directs Helder Guimarães in a contemporary magic show likely to bewilder and amaze audiences. Bear witness as he pushes the very limits of magic, and challenges just how much you’re willing to accept what your eyes assume to be true.

Verso
New World Stages
340 West 50th Street
Opening night: September 28

 

Backstage at “Broadway Bares”: The Afterglow

June 19th, 2012 Comments off

We tapped actor Andrew Glaszek to give us a personal report (talk about going undercover or, in this case, under covered as a performer in the show) from Sunday night’s Broadway Bares extravaganza. Check out his blow by blow coverage, backstage pics and some cheeky links (just click on the highlighted words for some surprising finds)…

Andrew Glaszek & Dave August. Image via Andrew Glaszek.

Do you believe in fairies, Mary? Well, with the amount of clapping (+ hootin’ & hollerin’) at Roseland Sunday night, Tink & the whole fairy kingdom must be flyin’ high. Hopefully, the cast & crew, designers, volunteers, and the team at BC/EFA can rest well and enjoy the afterglow of HAPPY ENDINGS – Broadway Bares XXII. The show produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has been the buzz for months as those involved took part in a Strip-a-thon to add $300,000+ to the total raised in ticket sales, corporate sponsorship ($250,000 from M•A•C VIVA GLAM!), and cash tips at the event for a grand total of $1,254,000 – a new record.

On the stage and runways, over 200 dancers & actors titillated the full house with revealing new takes on classic Fairy Tales that would’ve made Mother Goose wet her feathers and The Brothers Grimm… very, very… happy. When you are out exploring FB and YouTube for pics and show clips, say “bottoms up” with a shot of tequila in honor of Jerry Mitchell, the creator and Executive Producer, Michael Graziano, Producing Director and Lee Wilkins who conceived and directed this year’s show with associate director Michael Lee Scott.

The skinny on the show sounds like a segment on SNL – so cue Wayne Wilcox’s “Stefon” impression & trust that every year the hottest show in town is Broadway Bares.  Here’s a taste of a few of my favorite tips and assets from Happy Endings:

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Stars, Snubs and Surprises at the 2012 Tony Awards

June 11th, 2012 Comments off

James Corden, Audra McDonald, Nina Arianda & Steve Kazee. Photo by Walter McBride/Retna.

All that’s left of this year’s Tonys is a trail of body glitter left on the 1 train by some hungover chorus boy, but that doesn’t mean we can’t relive them with a look back at the night’s big winners and losers. (Get the full list of Tony winners here.)

Biggest Winner: With a pack leading eight wins, Once, the little show that could proved to be a freight train mowing down the competition. Given that it was based on a small independent film, expect Sundance to be swarmed by music theater writers next year. Pack extra leg warmers.

Best Reason to Watch the Tonys vs. the Oscarsother than dancer butt: The Tonys aren’t afraid of comedy. James Corden’s triumphant, masterclass in low comedy wouldn’t even have been nominated for an Oscar let alone won one. Somewhere, Steve Martin is shaking his fist and thinking, “Why didn’t I do All of Me on Broadway?!”

Best Audition for the Next Spider-Man Villain: When the every-peppy cast of Godspell jumped into the audience, Andrew Garfield was seen recoiling in fear from a swirling apostle attempting to pull him into the aisle. It would seem that all you need to stop Spidey is a tube of greasepaint and a follow spot.

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A Plea to the Tony Nominators

April 27th, 2012 Comments off

With the Tony nominators meeting this weekend, I’d like to make a final plea for a few performances that I fear might be overlooked come Tuesday morning’s announcement (which I’ll be posting with my comments as they happen). We all know Newsies and Once and Death of a Salesman and Follies are likely to wrack up big nods, but please, Mr. Tony, don’t forget about:

Off-Broadway Production of "Lysistrata Jones". Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Now it’s your turn. Which long-shot Tony nomination are you pulling for?  Lobby the committee with a shout out in our comments section!

Revisiting “Desert Cities” & the Greatest Soap Clip Ever

March 7th, 2012 Comments off

Judith Light in "Other Desert Cities". Photo by Joan Marcus.

Family. No matter how distanced or strained, the bond between family is a thin but neon-glowing thread, unmistakeable to anyone watching two family members interact. The bond between siblings or parents and children is so unspoken yet obvious that it is a particular challenge to recreate on stage with people who may have only known each other since rehearsals began.

So when I returned to see the Broadway production of Other Desert Cities, the tightly constructed and eminently satisfying play by Jon Robin Baitz I saw and enjoyed in its Off-Broadway incarnation last year, I was pleased to find that it had grown and deepened, mainly because the family dynamics felt more “right” with a new cast. Returning vets Stockard Channing and Stacy Keach have enriched their performances with an ease and specificity that is moving. Newest cast member Justin Kirk (Weeds) has slipped into his role as the truth-telling son with a world weariness that makes the character more likable and coherent than before. (I saw one of Rachel Griffiths‘ last performances as the daughter whose memoir unravels her family. The role is now being played by the Off-Broadway originator Elizabeth Marvel so it should be in equally compelling hands.)

But the real surprise (and the strongest source of that familial connection) turned out to be Judith Light, taking over the role of the alcoholic Aunt Silda. Linda Lavin, who originated the role at Lincoln Center, was hugely enjoyable in the role and, at first, Light doesn’t hit the laughs like Lavin (causing some concern)–but then you see that she’s up to something different. This Silda is more fragile, more wasted away and, tellingly, more clearly the sister of the tough as nails Polly, played by Channing. They feel like sisters. They feel like Texans (I hadn’t even noticed that they were from Texas the first time I saw the play.) They have history. Light finds a neediness and a despair under the laughs that enriches (and truly supports) Channing’s towering performance, while she also amplifies the core surprises of the play. It’s great work.

Light has always had the goods. She’s had a varied and impressive career in TV and theater beyond Who’s the Boss but, even better, I have to say that she appears in one of the greatest–if not the greatest–soap opera scenes of all time. Call it silliness, but I defy you to watch the following clip from One Life to Live without welling up with tears at the fierceness of Light’s performance. Sure, it’s beyond melodramatic and rife with barely rehearsed awkwardness, but darned if it isn’t spectacularly riveting. Watch as married good-girl Karen Wolek (played by Light in an Emmy-winning role) finally unravels on the stand at a murder trial, revealing what she’s really been doing on the street corners of Lanview. (If you can’t take the build up, start at 2:30 to get right to the suds.) Read more…