Welcome to GRACE NOTES – the industry standard for daily theatre news since 1999.

Published every Monday-Friday morning, GRACE NOTES is the only global theatre newsletter targeted specifically to successful, savvy theatre professionals, providing the most comprehensive, concise and up-to-date theatre information around. It’s the one-stop resource for all your theatre news. 

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SAMPLE ISSUE:  Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Today’s Highlights:

* She Loves Me, directed by Matthew White, featuring Scarlett Strallen (Amalia Balash), Alastair Brookshaw (Ladislav Sipos), Les Dennis (Mr. Maraczek), Callum Howells (Arpad Laszlo), Katherine Kingsley (Ilona Ritter), Dominic Tighe (Steven Kodaly) and Mark Umbers (Georg Nowack), with Rachel Bingham, Peter Dukes, Luke Fetherston, Olivia Fines, Aimee Hodnett, Sarah-Marie Maxwell, and Vincent Pirillo, opens at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory.

* Tiny Beautiful Things, adapted by Nia Vardalos, directed by Thomas Kail, featuring Vardalos, Phillip James Brannon, Alfredo Narciso, Natalie Woolams-Torres and Miriam Silverman, opens at Off-Broadway’s Public Theater.

* Scrooge in Love!, by Larry Grossman, Kellen Blair & Duane Poole, directed by Dyan McBride, featuring Jason Graae (Ebenezer Scrooge), Ryan Drummond (Jacob Marley), Elise Youssef (Christmas Past), Will Springhorn (Christmas Present), Lucas Coleman (Dick/Christmas Future), Michael Grasso (Tiny Tim), Heather Orth (Juliana/Mrs. Fezziwig), Melissa Reinertson (Belle), Kalon Thibodeaux (Young Scrooge) and Ted Zoldan (Fred/Mr. Fezziwig), begins previews at San Francisco’s 42nd Street Moon.

* Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, adapted by Karyl Lynn Burns and directed by Brian McDonald, featuring Peter Van Norden (Scrooge), Joe Spano (Jacob Marley), Gary Clemmer (Mr. Cratchit), Zachary Andrews (Fred), Sophie Massey (Ghost of Christmas Past), Basil Augustine (Ghost of Christmas Present), Robert Beuth (Topper), Dan Call (Mr. Fezziwig), Matt Bourne (William), Troy Braun (Turkey Boy), Maya Mouderres (Fan), Mason Rothermel (Tiny Tim), Katy Jarvis (Fred’s Wife/Belle), Toby Tropper (Ghost of Christmas Future), Griffin Sanford & Neirin Winter (alternating as Boy Scrooge), Laurie Walter (Charwoman), Andrew Frank (Peter/Dick Wilkins), Melora Hutton (Fred’s Wife’s Sister), Lilli Babb (Caroline) and Samantha Winters (Fezziwig’s Daughter), begins previews at Ventura’s Rubicon Theatre.

* The Skivvies Holiday Concert, starring Nick Cearley & Lauren Molina, featuring Steve Rosen, BD Wong, Lindsay Nicole Chambers, Randy Harrison, Dani Spieler, Nick Adams, Leslie McDonel, and Robb Sapp, at 9:30 PM at Joe’s Pub.

* “Hairspray Live!,” directed by Kenny Leon, featuring Harvey Fierstein (Edna Turnblad), Maddie Baillio (Tracy Turnblad), Kristin Chenoweth (Velma Von Tussle), Andrea Martin (Prudy Pingleton), Ariana Grande (Penny Pingleton), Ephraim Sykes (Seaweed J. Stubbs), Shahadi Wright Joseph (Little Inez), Sean Hayes (Mr. Pinky), Rosie O’Donnell (gym teacher), Paul Vogt (Mr. Spritzer), Derek Hough (Corny Collins), Garrett Clayton (Link Larkin), Martin Short (Wilbur Turnblad), Jennifer Hudson (Motormouth Maybelle) and Billy Eichner (Rob Barker), airs at 8 PM on NBC.

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Reviews 1  Reviews for Rancho Viejo at Off-Broadway’s Playwrights Horizons:

NY Times (Ben Brantley): …waiting and waiting in the ocean with your board for a big wave to come. That more or less describes the surprisingly pleasurable experience of the comedy in which Gary appears, Dan LeFranc’s sweet and scary, lackadaisical and hypnotic Rancho Viejo… directed with a poet’s appreciation for rhythm and emphasis by Daniel Aukin, silence deafens whenever the conversation stops… Only in the last section does Rancho Viejo start to feel a little too tidy… But the show’s final scene is a haunting beauty, a perfect balance of the everyday and the eternal…

Theatermania (Zachary Stewart): This simultaneously stylish and frustrating show is now making its world premiere at Playwrights Horizons. While some viewers will undoubtedly hail the play as a brilliant encapsulation of the human condition, even more are likely walk away feeling like their time has been wasted… Unfortunately, director Daniel Aukin is never able to fully resolve the problem of a script that is sarcastically self-aware while also calling for realistic performances.

The Wrap (Robert Hofler): There are danger signs in those Playbill descriptions of place and time for LeFranc’s new play, Rancho Viejo… In time, we learn that the… set… functions as several characters’ living rooms and we are meant to see Mary and Pete as hopping from party to home then back to another party throughout the entire first act. This realization, when it comes, is a true disappointment.

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Quotation Mark 15  GRACE NOTES Quote of the Week:  “Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought.” ~ E.Y. Harburg

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London 3  Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer, Alan Stevens Hewitt & Tim Maner’s Lizzie will run Feb. 22 – Mar. 12 (opening Feb. 24) at the Greenwich Theatre, directed by Victoria Bussert.

Cast 13: Eden Espinosa, Bjorg Gamst, Jodie Jacobs and Bleu Woodward, with more TBA.

On a sweltering summer morning in 1892, in a small New England city, a prominent businessman and his wife were axed to death in their home. Their daughter Lizzie Borden was the prime suspect. Lizzie’s trial was a coast-to-coast media sensation, and her story has become an American legend. In the show, four women front a six-piece rock band.

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Thumbs Up  At Ars Nova’s Dec. 5 annual gala, it was announced that the Ars Nova Fair Pay Initiative would launch next month.

Playwright Rachel Bond explained, “Since 2014 Ars Nova has been slowly and steadily raising base pay for artists. They’ve increased their operating budget by over $300,000, dedicating over a third of that increase each year towards raising fees, salaries, and benefits for all of the artists who work on their readings, workshops, and productions.

“Next month, Ars Nova will launch its Fair Pay Initiative, which will raise compensation for artists and the staff who support them from between 30-50% over the course of the next three years, with base pay jumping immediately from a minimum to a living wage. Under the Fair Pay Initiative, the starting salary for all full-time staff will be no less than $47,000 annually. Starting immediately, Ars Nova will be raising its artist minimum pay by at least 40%. Additionally, it will commit to pay above the current minimum set by the actors’ union.”

An anonymous donor helped make this possible through a challenge grant of $100,000 over the next two years in the name of alumni advisory board member Phillipa Soo.  To fully fund the Fair Pay Initiative, gala attendees in the room needed to match the first $50,000 of this challenge; they did—and exceeded the goal by $35,000, as reported at the end of the evening’s event.

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Awards 1 59th Annual Grammy Award Best Musical Theatre Album nominations:

* Bright Star
* The Color Purple
* Fiddler on the Roof
* Kinky Boots
* Waitress

The awards will be presented Feb. 12.

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News 2  Dave Malloy, who wrote the music, lyrics, book, and orchestrations for Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, will make his Broadway performing debut in the show this spring, stepping into the role of Pierre— the part usually played by Josh Groban — for 10 performances during May and June.

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Video 1  Video: School of Rock documentary on how the show came to be. (25:43)

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benefit-concert-4  The 8th Annual New York City Christmas: A Concert to Benefit ASTEP will take place Mon. Dec. 12 at 7 PM at Joe’s Pub, conceived by Lynne Shankel and directed by Stafford Arima.

Performers 8: Raul Esparza, Kate Baldwin, Sierra Boggess, Constantine Maroulis, Chester Gregory, Sean Zuni Green, David Josefsberg, Lindsay Mendez, Derek Klena, Kenita Miller, Lauren Pritchard, Kay Trinidad, Elizabeth Stanley, Anya Singleton, Helen White, and more.

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Festival 6  San Diego’s Old Globe (link TBA) has announced its Powers New Voices Festival, a series of new American play readings, to run Jan. 13-15:

Jan. 13 (7:30 PM): Arranged, by Anna Ziegler, directed by Matt M. Morrow. Abe and Julia are high-profile celebrities embarking on a dangerously flirtatious correspondence. Esther and Yoni are shy young Orthodox Jews embarking on an arranged marriage. On the surface, the lives of these two couples couldn’t be more different.

Jan. 14 (4 PM): Fade, by Tanya Saracho, directed by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg. Lucia has always dreamed of being a writer on a top network television show. But a major case of writer’s block and an ongoing battle with her domineering male co-workers have left her questioning her career path. Enter Abel, one of the office cleaners on the studio’s night shift and the only other Latino working in the building. The two strike up a close friendship, and soon the lines between fiction and reality start to blur. 

Jan. 14 (7:30 PM): Native Gardens, by Karen Zacarias, directed by James Vasquez. Pablo, a high-powered lawyer, and doctoral candidate Tania, his very pregnant wife, get their piece of the American dream when they purchase their upscale townhouse. But a disagreement with their next door neighbors Virginia and Frank over a longstanding property line soon spirals into an all-out war of taste, class, and privilege.

Jan. 15 (4 PM): What You Are, by JC Lee, directed by Edward Torres. The time: Today. The place: A small Nevada town. Don, a middle-aged white American, does his best to make ends meet even as he struggles to connect with his politically active daughter. When he finds himself embroiled in a racially charged incident at work, his life and his living turn upside down.

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Livestream 2 In celebration of its Grammy nomination, the Bright Star reunion concert, which will take place Mon. Dec. 12 at 7:30 PM at NYC’s Town Hall, will also be livestreamed on Theatermania (link TBA).

Performers 8: Steve Martin & Edie Brickell, along with the entire Broadway cast —Carmen Cusack, Paul Alexander Nolan, Michael Mulheren, A.J. Shively, Hannah Elless, Stephen Bogardus, Dee Hoty, Stephen Lee Anderson, Emily Padgett, Jeff Blumenkrantz, Maddie Shea Baldwin, Allison Briner-Dardenne, Max Chernin, Patrick Cummings, Sandra DeNise, Richard Gatta, Lizzie Klemperer, Michael X. Martin, William Michals, Tony Roach, Sarah Jane Shanks and William Youmans.

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Cast album 2 Stephen Schwartz & Christian Struppeck’s Schikaneder cast album:

* MP3 has been released.  download-1 Download here.

* CD will be released Dec. 16.  Order Pre-order here.

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Video 1  The Dramatist Guild Fund’s Legacy Project: Volume III:

Video:  Gretchen Cryer & Nancy Ford interviewed by Georgia Stitt
Video:  Christopher Durang interviewed by David Lindsay-Abaire
Video:  Micki Grant interviewed by Charlayne Woodard
Video:  Larry Kramer interviewed by George C. Wolfe
Video:  Tony Kushner interviewed by Michael Friedman
Video:  James Lapine interviewed by Lisa Kron
Video:  Alan Menken interviewed by Kristen Anderson-Lopez
Video:  John Patrick Shanley interviewed by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Video:  John Weidman interviewed by J. T. Rogers
Arrow - green 2  Stephen Schwartz interviewed by Jeanine Tesori — released later this month

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Congrats 6 The 2016 Gypsy of the Year competition raised $4, 492,636  for BC/EFA.

* Jersey Boys won Top Fundraiser ($322,211)
* Hamilton won Best Stage Presentation with a dance to a poem by creator Lin-Manuel Miranda
* Oh, Hello on Broadway won Top Broadway Play Fundraiser with $127,633
* Cagney won Top Off-Broadway Fundraiser with $28,125

Highlights:
* 
The opening number paid homage to the 1968 musical Promises, Promises. Original company members, Baayork Lee, Donna McKechnie & Margo Sappington, recreated part of  “Turkey Lurkey Time,” joined by a corps of young dancers. The dance turned into a skit involving a bullying orange Oompa-Loompa from the forthcoming musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, who bore a strange resemblance to a certain recent presidential candidate. It was the first of the Donald J. Trump references that cropped up in many of the presentations.

* Sheryl Lee Ralph of Dreamgirls, led the Wicked company in a performance of the song “Family.” She gave a heartfelt speech recalling the ecstasy of appearing in the hit Dreamgirls, while enduring the agony of the early years of the AIDS epidemic and watching helplessly as friends and acquaintances died around her from what was then referred to as “the gay disease.”

* The cast of On Your Feet! interrupted a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance with a dance in which they sang “Seasons of Love” in Spanish while wearing shirts emblazoned with phrases used by Trump and his supporters during the campaign, including “bad hombre,” “illegal,” “terrorist” and “nasty woman.”

* The talented kids of School of Rock did a parody of the Hamilton opening number, complaining about their rival show vacuuming up all the year’s awards, e.g. “there’s a million things we haven’t won.”

* Led by their star, Jessie Mueller, members of the Waitress cast sang an original Christmas carol, “Love Is Christmas” written by the show’s composer Sara Bareilles and filled with lush, close harmony.

* Gil Faizon and Nick Kroll, the two comedians from Oh, Hello on Broadway, turned the usually-dry introduction of the judges into a 15-minute comedy riff on the scandals of “Bridway,” as they call it in their idiosyncratic pronunciation. Mueller picked up on it and called it “Bridway” when giving out the awards.

* The cast of Fiddler on the Roof performed a where-are-they-now riff for the characters in their show, in which Motel “rises to the top of the fashion industry” and Hodel sings “Don’t Cry for Me, Anatevka.” The skit ended with Yente trying to imagine a future for Tevye’s two youngest daughters, Bielke and Shprintze, to the tune of Hello, Dolly!

* Powerful singers from The Color Purple offered a soulful sextet on the song “I Won’t Complain.”

* Appearing on behalf of Dancers Responding to AIDS, Joshua Thake of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo brought some humor into the proceedings with a parody of Fokine’s The Dying Swan, struggling through his splits clad in a tutu that kept shedding feathers.

* Hosting for the ninth time, Seth Rudetsky paid homage to the late Broadway leading lady Florence Henderson, deconstructing her performance in “The Sound of Music” on the 1971 Tony Awards broadcast.

* The finale spot went to Jersey Boys, making its final Gypsy of the Year appearance, and saying farewell by filling the stage with several dozen actors who have appeared in the show throughout its run. Their mass performance of “Who Loves You” was upstaged by a tiny girl, one of the many “Jersey Babies” born to cast members over the years, who got into the spirit of the event by performing her own ad-libbed choreography.

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Workshop 5 The world premiere of Ned Massey’s The Battles will run Jan. 27 – Feb. 4 (opening Jan. 29) as a workshop production at Off-Broadway’s Gym at Judson, directed by Emily Hartford, with music direction by Joshua Stephen Kartes.

Cast 13: Joel Perez, Dyllon Burnside, Cheo Bource, Shavey Brown, Missy Dowse, Ned Massey, Nicholas Park, Ereni Sevasti and Brian Silliman.

In Florence, Italy, circa 1500 A.D., Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo, the two greatest artists of their day and the two greatest rivals in the history of art, engage in a head-to-head painting competition, battling not only each other, but their own doubts and demons. Based on actual events, The Battles is the story of the struggle between the courage to love and the retreat into fear. It’s a story of fighting against both the walls we erect as a society and the walls we build around our own hearts– walls that keep us from all we can be. It’s a battle that continues to this day.

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Lottery 3 Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen has announced its new digital lottery.

Here’s how it works:
* Click here for the lottery.
* Limit 2 tickets per customer, for $40 each.
* Enter once a day for the desired performance, up to twice on 2-show days, for which entries will be accepted for both matinee & evening performances.
* The digital lottery is unavailable for Saturday matinee or evening performances.
* Excludes all performances Dec. 23-30.
* Standing room only tickets are now available for $40 in person at the box office, for sold out performances only.

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Regional 2  Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf will run Jan. 13 – Feb. 12 (opening Jan. 15) at Boston’s Lyric Stage Company, directed by Scott Edmiston.

Cast 13: Steven Barkhimer (George), Paula Plum (Martha), Erica Spyres (Honey) and Dan Whelton (Nick).

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Events 3  Highlights from NYC’s Guggenheim’s Works & Process, the Performing Arts Series Spring 2017 season:

* War Paint on Broadway (Jan. 22 at 7:30 PM). A behind-the-scenes look into the musical Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole join the creative team (Scott Frankel, Michael Korie and Michael Greif) for a moderated discussion and performance excerpts. Details

* Playwrights Horizons: The Profane by Zayd Dohrn (Feb. 27 at 7:30 PM). Dohrn and directed Kip Fagan discuss the play’s creation, along with excerpts performed by the cast. Details

* Come From Away on Broadway (Mar. 5 at 7:30 PM). Writers Irene Sankoff & David Hein, choreographer Kelly Devine, and director Christopher Ashley discuss their creative process, along with performance highlights by the cast. Details

* Lincoln Center Theater: Oslo (Mar. 6 at 7:30 PM). Director Bartlett Sher and playwright J.T. Rogers discuss the play, and excerpts are performed prior to the Broadway premiere. Details

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Film 2  The film adaptation of Marjorie Primwill make its world premiere at the 2017 Sundance Festival, written & directed by Michael Almereyda.

Cast 13: Jon Hamm, Geena Davis, Lois Smith and Tim Robbins.

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Off Broadway 4  Will Eno’s Wakey, Wakey will run Feb. 7 – Mar. 19 (opening Feb. 27) at the Signature Theatre, directed by Eno.

Casting TBA.

What are we here for? Is time a friend or an enemy? Do we all eventually end up in the same place, but take different routes to get there? This funny, moving, and thought-provoking new play challenges the notion of what really matters and recognizes the importance of life’s simple pleasures. (All of which might sound dreary, but there’s a chance this will be a really good experience).

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London 3  Cinderella will run Dec. 10 – Jan. 15 (opening Dec. 14) at the London Palladium, directed by Michael Harrison & Andrew Wright, with choreography by Andrew Wright and music direction by Greg Arrowsmith.

Cast 13: Paul O’Grady (Baroness Hardup), Julian Clary (Dandini), Amanda Holden (Fairy Godmother), Lee Mead (Prince Charming), Paul Zerdin (Buttons), Nigel Havers (Lord Chamberlain), Count Arthur Strong (Baron Hardup), Natasha J Barnes (Cinderella), and Suzie Chard & Wendy Somerville (The Wicked Stepsisters), along with Liz Ewing, Christopher Howell, James Paterson, Carrie Sutton, Vicki Lee Taylor, Ed Wade, Rhianne Alleyne, Charlotte Alloway, Gianni Arando, William Atkinson, Pamela Blaire, MyLes Brown, Lucy Carter, Jacob Fearey, Diana Girban, Chloe Hudson, Emma Johnson, Ricky Lee Loftus, Holly Prentice, Niall Swords, Luke Woollaston and Tom Woollaston.

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