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Don’t Miss: National Theatre Live – ‘Angels in America’

May 17th, 2017 Comments off
Andrew Garfield in The National Theatre's 'Angels in America.' (Photo: Helen Maybanks via The Broadway Blog.)

Andrew Garfield in The National Theatre’s ‘Angels in America.’ (Photo: Helen Maybanks via The Broadway Blog.)

The National Theatre’s 2017 revival of Tony Kushner’s two-part landmark work Angels in America starring Academy Award nominee Andrew Garfield and Tony Award winner Nathan Lane opened last week to widespread critical acclaim. National Theatre Live will broadcast the sold-out production, directed by Tony and Olivier Award-winner Marianne Elliott, this July to cinemas in the U.S. and internationally from the National’s Lyttelton Theatre. The first part, Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, will be broadcast on Thursday, July 20 with the second part, Angels in America: Perestroika, broadcast the following Thursday, July 27.

In addition to Garfield and Lane, Angels in America stars Stuart Angell, Mark Arnold, Arun Blair-Mangat, Susan Brown, Laura Caldow, Andrew Garfield, Denise Gough, Kate Harper, John Hastings, Claire Lambert, Amanda Lawrence, James McArdle, Becky Namgauds, Mateo Oxley, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Russell Tovey, Paksie Vernon, Stan West and Lewis Wilkins.

Angels in America is designed by Ian MacNeil, with costume by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting by Paule Constable, choreography and movement by Robby Graham, music by Adrian Sutton, sound by Ian Dickinson, puppetry designers Nick Barnes and Finn Caldwell, puppetry director and movement Finn Caldwell, illusions by Chris Fisher, aerial direction by Gwen Hales and fight director Kate Waters.

Click here to find out where Angels in America will be playing in your area.

Denise Gough and Russell Tovey in 'Angels in America.' (Photo: Helen Maybanks via The Broadway Blog.)

Denise Gough and Russell Tovey in ‘Angels in America.’ (Photo: Helen Maybanks via The Broadway Blog.)

Review: “The Iceman Cometh” at BAM

February 14th, 2015 Comments off

by Samuel L. Leiter

The cast of "The Iceman Cometh" at BAM. (photo: Richard Termine)

The cast of “The Iceman Cometh” at BAM. (photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

There’s no question that Eugene O’Neill’s barroom drama about the hopelessness of hope, The Iceman Cometh, is a superlative contribution from one of America’s three top serious dramatists, worthy of respect as a modern classic. For me, it falls just shy of true greatness because of its inordinate length, something critics have carped about since its original Broadway production in 1946. Director Robert Falls’s widely lauded revival, brought intact from Chicago’s Goodman Theatre to BAM’s Harvey Theatre, runs four hours and forty-five minutes, nearly as long as it takes to fly from Los Angeles to New York. For all its superb dramatic qualities, its duration makes one conscious of its overly repetitive thematic points, its wordiness, and its excess of self-pitying characters.

Still, the full house when I attended remained riveted throughout, and, after four acts with three 15-minute intermissions, rose like Hokusai’s wave to splash the 18-member ensemble with loving applause and shouted admiration. Foremost of the recipients was Nathan Lane, normally so brilliant in comedic roles, demonstrating the remarkable acuity of his tragic chops in the role of Theodore “Hickey” Hickman, the traveling salesman who, after a life-changing experience, abandons his optimistic pipe dreaming and seeks to smash those that sustain a barroom packed with self-deluded drunks. Brian Dennehy, who played Hickey in Fall’s 1990 Goodman Theatre production, now portrays, with glowering power, the play’s second lead, Larry Slade, once a fiery syndicalist-anarchist but now a wreck depending on pipe dreams to get him through the night.

(l to r) Nathan Lane, Brian Dennehy and Salvatore Inzerillo in "The Iceman Cometh." (photo: Richard Termine)

(l to r) Nathan Lane, Brian Dennehy and Salvatore Inzerillo in “The Iceman Cometh.” (photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

The Iceman Cometh, loosely based on O’Neill’s own experiences, has been called an American The Lower Depths because of its incisive picture of the boozers, pimps, tarts (a term they prefer to “whores”), anarchists, gamblers, con men, war vets, and dreamers frequenting Harry Hope’s Bowery bar and flophouse. These bums do little more than drink and sleep at Harry’s, surviving on glorified memories and romantic illusions of one day being able to restore their broken lives.

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Review: It’s Only a Play

October 18th, 2014 Comments off
The cast of 'It's Only a Play' (photo: F. Scott Schafer via The Broadway Blog.)

The cast of ‘It’s Only a Play’ (photo: F. Scott Schafer via The Broadway Blog.)

Broadway is going meta and I wonder if producers are interested in plot lines that don’t involve a life in the theater. Earlier this month we saw the opening of The Country House by Donald Margulies, a new play about a family of actors ensconced in the Berkshires. This week Michael C. Hall stepped into the role of Hedwig, a star-turn performance about a gender-bending performance artist. And of course, we’ve still got Alan Cumming and Michelle Williams traipsing along in the revival of the revival of Cabaret. But none of them tackle the theme of a life on the boards with such biting humor as Terrence McNally’s It’s Only a Play. Dating back to 1978 and originally titled Broadway Broadway, the script has gotten a 21 century makeover with no additional writing credits, but I would guess that the playwright had some keen millennial eyes on the prize, as this latest version is peppered with references to Lady Gaga, One Direction and other chart-toppers.

Megan Mullally and Nathan Lane in 'It's Only a Play' (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog).

Megan Mullally and Nathan Lane in ‘It’s Only a Play’ (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog).

The play centers on the opening night of Peter Austin’s (Matthew Broderick) new play as he and others gather at the home of lead producer Julia Budder (Megan Mullally) to await the reviews. Along for the ride are his longtime friend, James Wiker (Nathan Lane), who has returned from L.A. and a long TV stint to see his best friend’s work; leading lady Virginia Noyes (Stockard Channing); critic Ira Drew (F. Murray Abraham), who has another agenda on his mind; British Wunderkind director Frank Finger (Rupert Grint) and a fresh-of-the-bus coat attendee, Micah Stock.

Together, the cast rattles through McNally’s script, which is packed with one-liners and smart commentary about the business. The audience seemed revved up for a Lane-Broderick reunion, as the team appeared so famously together in The Producers. Mr. Broderick also appeared opposite Ms. Mullally in the 1995 revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. There’s a lot of history on that stage and when Mr. Lane entered for the first time, the audience burst into applause as if he was theater royalty. By the final curtain call (yes, there’s an actual curtain, along with a lux set by Scott Pask), he’s earned every last clap.

The supporting cast for the most part keeps up. Mr. Stock makes a charming Broadway debut as a naïve actor who has stepped into the world he’s dreamt about. Ms. Channing captures both the humor and gravitas of an actress of a certain age who can no longer rely on “pretty.” But Mr. Grint’s stomping and hair-pulling turn as the director desperate for a bad review is somewhat of a self-prophecy. It is an unwieldy performance untamed by director Jack O’Brien’s otherwise deft hand.

If you’re looking for a light-hearted night at the theater—about the theater—then head to the Gerald Schoenfeld where this cast of Broadway vets and their up-and-coming counterparts offer laughs, perhaps a swelling tear or two, and a gentle reminder that a play (even though it’s only a play) is a beautiful thing.

It’s Only a Play
Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
236 West 45th Street
Through January 4

Rupert Grint, Megan Mullally, Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, and Stockard Channing in a scene from 'It's Only a Play' (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog).

Rupert Grint, Megan Mullally, Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, and Stockard Channing in a scene from ‘It’s Only a Play’ (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog).

April Showers: Broadway’s Spring Openings, Part 1

April 10th, 2013 Comments off

It’s Tony time and many of this season’s major productions are raising the curtain (although most shows don’t even utilize a curtain anymore) on what producers hope will be the big hit of the season. We’ve already seen some critically acclaimed shows head to the junkyard. (Hold on to that Playbill from Hands on a Hardbody — it might be worth something someday.) What will be the breakout hit this spring? Here are the contenders and their official openings…

Matilda — opening April 11
Broadway is relying on girl power for ticket sales this season. The Annie revival currently playing at The Palace has been solid but by no means a breakaway hit. This British import is based on Ronald Dahl’s novel about a girl with special powers. Here’s a sneak peek at the production’s journey to Broadway.

Motown — opening April 14
Charting the journey of Motown founder Barry Gordy beginning in 1959, this musical celebration features familiar classics from Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and many more.

There’s plenty more… take the jump!
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