I’m all for sequins, sass and theater buffs (you like him, you really like him), but Broadway’s beauty is more than skin deep. This week’s news proves that, in addition to entertaining the hell out of audience members, the stage community is dedicated to moving, inspiring and engaging with important issues.
- Heroes aren’t just on stage at Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Producers announced a monthly initiative to select “Everyday Heroes” and honor them with a VIP trip to see the show, a public acknowledgment and a donation to their favorite charity. First up, Diane Pagan, a nurse practitioner in the Bronx who rises above in her care of homebound patients. You can nominate your own hero at the show’s Facebook page.
- I’m sure everyone involved with the well-observed new play Lake Water wishes that the subject matter of the piece was not so timely (it follows two teenagers as they deal with the aftermath of a friend’s suicide), but national news about another death this week following intense bullying proves how real the problem is. Delving into the issues with clear personal investment, actor and playwright Troy Deutsch has a great ear for Midwestern teen speech and the volatility of high school friendships, particularly when his dialogue doesn’t strain for poetry but simply finds it in the real loops and imaginative play of “idle” conversation. Samantha Soule shines as the overachieving Iris, handling hairpin turns and confused layers of emotion with clarity and honesty. The play may take on a few too many strands in its short, 75 minute running time, but I look forward to hearing more from these brave, young artists.
Celebrate Mamma Mia’s tenth anniversary on Broadway and support The Breast Cancer Research Foundation by purchasing one of these “Rock Chic Supremo” T-Shirts. Producer Judy Craymer and acclaimed cartoonist Marisa Acocella Marchetto (The Cancer Vixen) collaborated on the design, inspired by the kick-ass women at the center of the musical.
- The week kicked off with a star-studded (on stage and off) premiere reading of Oscar-winner Dustin Lance Black’s play about the Prop 8 Trial in California. The New York Times has a great pictorial featuring all the high-wattage attendees.
- Signature Theatre Company announced an unprecedented program to support the creation of new works. Over five years, the “Residency Five” playwrights (Annie Baker, Will Eno, Katori Hall, Kenneth Lonergan, and Regina Taylor) will receive three full productions, a cash award, a stipend to attend theater and, this is incredible folks, health benefits. As so many great playwrights find themselves drifting necessarily to Hollywood for economic reasons, this program is a major effort and one that should be supported by anyone who cares about American theater.
- And don’t forget to check out the 25th annual Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction this Sunday from 10am – 7pm at 44th & Times Square. There will be big prizes, great memorabilia, huge performances — and it’s all to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.