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Sample Issue: Monday, March 16, 2015

Today’s Highlights: 

* Placebo, by Melissa James Gibson, directed by Daniel Aukin, featuring Kristen Connolly, William Jackson Harper, Alex Hurt and Florencia Lozano, opens at Off-Broadway’s Playwrights Horizons.

* Two Trains Running, by August Wilson, directed by Chuck Smith, featuring Alfred Wilson (Holloway), A.C. Smith (West), Nambi E. Kelley (Risa), Ernest Perry Jr. (Hambone), Anthony Irons (Wolf), Chester Gregory (Sterling) and Terry Bellamy (Memphis), opens at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre.

* Disenchanted!, by Dennis T. Giacino, directed by Fiely A. Matias, featuring Jen Bechter, Alison Burns, Karen Burthwright, Becky Gulsvig, Michelle Knight, Anthea Neri, Erin Leigh Peck, Lulu Picart and Soara-Joye Ross, begins its open-ended run at Off-Broadway’s Westside Theatre Upstairs.

Gingold Theatrical Group‘s Golden Shamrock Gala, honoring Kate Mulgrew and Kenneth Lonergan, with a special performance by Patrick Page, at 6 PM at NYC’s 3 West Club.

* What Would Crazy Horse Do? reading, by Larissa FastHorse, directed by Liesl Tommy, featuring Emily Bergl, Jesse Perez and Madeline Sayet, at 7 PM at Off-Broadway’s Duke on 42nd Street.

* Andy Karl Up-Close in conversation with Frank DiLella, at 8 PM at NYC’s Drama League Theatre Center.

* Best of Broadway concert, featuring Ben Fankhauser, Russell Fischer, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Aaron LaVigne, Tracy McDowell, Corey Mach, Lesli MargheritaChelsea Packard, Kyle Post, Saycon Sengbloh, Libby Servais, Keala Settle, Alysha Umphress, Natalie Weiss, Raena White, Gabrielle Reid, Anita Welch and Devon Yates, at 9:30 PM at 54 Below.

* Tony Yazbek: The Floor Above Me concert, at 7 PM at 54 Below (also Mar. 23).

* Amy Spanger – Live at Birdland! concert, with special guest Elizabeth Stanley, at 7 PM at NYC’s Birdland.

* The Skivvies: Splashdance concert, starring Lauren Molina & Nick Cearley, with guests Adam Kantor, Phillipa Soo, Jessica Vosk, James Carpinello, Zak Resnick, Nikka Lanzarone, Robyn Adele Anderson, Ephraim Sykes and Natalie Tenenbaum, at 9 PM at NYC’s 42West.

* An Evening of Classic Broadway concert, featuring Eileen Barnett, Zachary Ford, Jennifer Foster, Julie Garnyé, Todd Murray, Kyra Selman, Robyn Spangler, and surprise special guest stars, at 8 PM at LA’s Rockwell Table & Stage.


Reviews Reviews for Roundabout’s On the Twentieth Century at Broadway’s American Airlines Theatre:

NY Times (Ben Brantley): “In the theater, there is overacting, which is common and painful to watch. Then there’s over-the-moon acting, which is rare and occupies its own special cloud land in heaven. I am delighted to report that this latter art is being practiced in altitudinous-high style at the American Airlines Theater, where Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher are surfing the stratosphere in On the Twentieth Century.  Scott Ellis’s ripping, lavishly appointed revival of this 1978 musical about dueling giant egos on a train between Chicago and New York…knows that when it comes to being hyperbolic, there’s no people like show people. No, not even excitable reviewers like me on the morning after a show like this one.”

NY Post (Frank Scheck): “‘They don’t write dialogue like this anymore,’ a producer says, leafing through the Bible in On the Twentieth Century. And they don’t write musical comedies like this anymore, either. Gloriously revived by the Roundabout Theatre Company, this 1978 musical — now with sparkling turns by Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher — is a fast-paced romp. Set entirely on the 20th Century Limited train from Chicago to New York, the show — music by Cy Coleman, book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green — barrels down the tracks to theatrical bliss… All told, On the Twentieth Century is on track to score big at Tony Awards time — Chenoweth might as well start practicing her acceptance speech. Buy your tickets before the train leaves the station.

USA Today (Elysa Gardner): “… in Roundabout Theatre Company’s fizzy, fabulous new revival (four out of four stars), the show could easily be mistaken as a custom Chenoweth vehicle, tailor-made to accommodate her unique combination of talents… Yet while Lily may well be the role of Chenoweth’s career, this Century, which opened Sunday at the American Airlines Theatre, is by no means her triumph alone. In this production, directed with giddy virtuosity by Scott Ellis, every player seems perfectly cast — starting with the leading man, Peter Gallagher…  His voice and presence robust, his comic timing flawless, the actor made all the arrogance and desperation of his character — Lily’s flamboyant mentor and former lover, the now-bankrupt theater producer Oscar Jaffe — delightfully entertaining.”

NY Daily News (Joe Dziemianowicz): “Next stop, Broadway musical bliss. That’s where the Roundabout revival of On the Twentieth Century, directed with verve by Scott Ellis, takes you…. The stylish state-of-the-art locomotive by David Rockwell gleams in brilliant Art Deco glory. But that’s nothing compared to the practically nuclear glow that comes off Kristin Chenoweth, whose singular talent and skills are tailor-made for a role originated on Broadway in 1978 by Madeline Kahn… In the show’s title song, it comes out that the Twentieth Century famously gives passengers ‘nothing but the best.’ This production, fizzy and dizzy entertainment, does likewise.”

Video Video: Production highlights.


Reviews Reviews for Posterity at Off-Broadway’s Atlantic Theater:

NY Times (Charles Isherwood): “An impeccable performance by the Australian actor John Noble lends gravity and a measure of emotional depth to Posterity, the new play written and directed by Doug Wright about Henrik Ibsen in his later days… Mr. Noble does a formidable job of making a flesh-and-blood figure of Ibsen, renowned for his standoffishness and chilliness in public, if not in private. Mr. Noble’s achievement is the more remarkable given the speechy and artificial nature of Mr. Wright’s drama… Posterity feels like a minimally animated study in theatrical history. It fails to achieve the lifelikeness, not to mention the dramatic intensity, that Ibsen bequeathed as a legacy, or rather one of his legacies, to modern playwriting.”

Hollywood Reporter (Frank Scheck): “Unfortunately, while the concept is certainly intriguing, the play is unlikely to achieve what its title suggests. The writing is undeniably smart in a historically educational sort of way, and the insightful dialogue illuminates both main characters. Vigeland (Linklater), financially struggling at the time, was loath to create yet another portrait, especially one of the famously irascible Ibsen… Posterity can certainly be commended for its ambition. But much like the playwright it depicts, you’ll find yourself impatiently waiting for it to be over.”

The Wrap (Robert Hofler): “Posterity, an earnest drama about Henrik Ibsen and his fellow countryman, a struggling Norwegian sculptor named Gustav Vigeland, is the kind of play that Louis B. Mayer and Jack Warner acquired during the golden age of Hollywood… This is art with a capital A. Make that several capital A’s. His characters Ibsen (John Noble) and Vigeland (Hamish Linklater) can’t stop talking about art, and during the course of this two-hour drama they just about exhaust the subject.”


Funday Monday!

Quiz GRACE NOTES Quiz – Great Day for the Irish!, by Jim Bernhard:

Name these Irish playwrights:

1. Born in Dublin in 1751, he was the author of A Trip to Scarborough, the longtime owner of London’s Drury Lane Theatre, and a Member of the House of Commons.

2. Born in Dublin in 1854, he wrote A Woman of No Importance and once toured the United States to help Richard D’Oyly Carte promote Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta Patience.

3. Born in Ballymahon, County Longford, in 1730, he wrote The Good-Natur’d Man and is thought to have coined the phrase “goody two-shoes” in a children’s book.

4. Born in Sandymount, County Dublin, in 1865, he was the author of The Herne’s Egg, a founder of the Abbey Theatre, and the first Irishman to win a Nobel Prize for literature.

5. Born in Dublin in 1856, he was the author of The Apple Cart, a leading Socialist, and winner of both the Nobel Prize and an Oscar.

6. Born in Rathfarnham, County Dublin, in 1871, he died of Hodgkin’s disease at the age of 38, while working on Deirdre of the Sorrows.

7.  Born in Dublin in 1880, he had his play The Silver Tassie produced in London, directed by Raymond Massey and starring Charles Laughton, after it was rejected by Dublin’s Abbey Theatre.

8. Born in Omagh, County Tyrone, in 1929, he is the author Faith Healer and of another play that was adapted into a movie starring Meryl Streep.

9. Born in Dublin in 1923, he was a member of the IRA at the age of 16 and served time in a British “borstal” youth prison, about which he wrote the play Borstal Boy.

10. Born in Dublin in 1906, he wrote plays in both French and English, including That Time.

Scroll down for the answers…


Replacement T.R. Knight will replace Maulik Pancholy on Mar. 31 in the role of Frank Finger in It’s Only a Play at Broadway’s Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.

Pancholy departs the production Mar. 29.


Great Deal 1 Hand to God, which opens Apr. 7 at Broadway’s Booth Theatre, will again offer early theatergoers the chance to catch this new American play at a special price of  $33 per ticket, in recognition of the 33 countries around the world that ban the political use of hand puppets.

limited quantity of select mezzanine seats at this special price will be available for performances from Mar. 16 – Apr. 6 and must be purchased during a limited one week on-sale window (through 11 PM on Sun. Mar. 22).  There is also a limit of 4 tickets per purchase, and tickets will be available online, via phone or at the box office.

In addition, the Rush Ticket Policies are as follow:

General Rush: $27 – a limited number of these tickets will be available when the box office opens on the day of the performance.  Seats may be partial view and are subject to availability.  Limit 2 per person.   Cash or credit card accepted.

Standing Room (only when the performance is sold out): $27 – available on the day of the performance when the box office opens.  There is a limit of 2 per tickets per person. Cash or credit card accepted.


Concert 1 A concert presentation of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying will take place May 18 at London’s Royal Festival Hall, directed by Jonathan Butterell, with musical direction by Mike Dixon.

Cast 1: Jonathan Groff (J. Pierpont Finch), Hannah Waddinghm (Hedy La Rue) and Clive Rowe (Twimble), with more TBA.


Regional La Jolla Playhouse has announced its 2015-16 season:

* Come From Away (May 29 – July 5), world premiere by Irene Sankoff & David Hein, directed by Christopher Ashley. “What started as an average day in a small town turned in to an international sleep-over when 38 planes, carrying thousands of people from across the globe, were diverted to Gander on September 11, 2001. Undaunted by culture clashes and language barriers, the people of Gander cheered the stranded travelers with music, an open bar and the recognition that we’re all part of a global family.”

* Up Here (July 28–Sept. 6), world premiere by Robert Lopez & Kristen Anderson-Lopez, directed by Alex Timbers. “In Up Here, when introverted 30-something computer repairman Dan finds a potential spark with outgoing t-shirt designer Lindsay, his attempts at a relationship are thwarted by the Technicolor world in his head. This world-premiere musical goes where no musical has gone before, bringing to life the circus of judgmental, neurotic, ever-changing characters that rule an ordinary man’s mind. Up Here is an ambitious, razor-sharp musical comedy about recognizing your place in the universe — and maybe even finding happiness.”

* Blueprints to Freedom: An Ode to Bayard Rustin (Sept. 8 – Oct. 4), by Michael Benjamin Washington, directed by Phylicia Rashad. “In the sweltering political and racial heat of 1963, Bayard Rustin, a brilliant architect of the Civil Rights Movement and an openly gay man, is enlistedto orchestrate an unprecedented March on Washington by colleagues that recently exiled him. With the stakes growing ever higher, Rustin finds himself at a personal crossroads, just as the nation is at cultural and political one.”

* Healing Wars (Sept. 29 – Oct. 25), conceived, directed & choreographed by Liz Lerman. “A multisensory experience that blends dance, storytelling and multimedia in an exploration of how soldiers and healers cope with the physical and psychological wounds of war. Incorporating narratives from the American Civil War as well a remarkable performance from a young Navy veteran, this powerful piece asks how we as a nation recover from what seems like endless battles.”

* Indecent (Nov. 13 – Dec. 10) world premiere by Paula Vogel, a co-production with Yale Rep, directed by Rebecca Taichman. The play with music is “inspired by the true events surrounding the controversial 1922 Broadway debut of Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance, a work considered by many to be a seminal work of Jewish culture – and by others, a work of traitorous libel. Alive with popular songs of the era, this deeply-moving piece charts the history of an incendiary work, the artists who risked their careers and lives to perform it, and the evolving identity of the culturally-rich community that inspired its creation.”

* Guards at the Taj (Feb. 2-28), by Rajiv Joseph, directed by Jaime Castañeda.  “At morning’s first light, a new edifice representing the soaring power of the empire will be unveiled, the glorious Taj Mahal. But for the two hapless guards assigned to protect the palace, morning will set the wheels in motion for a ghoulishly funny existential crisis that will shake their faith in God, the empire and each other. Guards at the Taj is a black comedy about two average men swept up by the beauty, carnage and injustice surrounding of one of the most famous wonders of the world.”


Video Highlights from the recent Broadway Backwards concert:

Video: “Cell Block Tango”
Video: Florence Henderson, “There Is Nothing Like  Dame”
Video: Lillias White, “Some Enchanted Evening”
Video: Jenn Colella in rehearsal
Video: Micah Stock in rehearsal
Video: Telly Leung in rehearsal
Video: Brian Stokes Mitchell, Norm Lewis, Maureen McGovern
Video: Tony Yazbeck, “Bianca,” Kiss Me Kate


Cast album The cast album for the new Broadway revival of The King and I, starring Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe, will be released in June on Decca Broadway/Universal Music Classics.  Link TBA.


Regional Complete casting has been announced for Albert M. Tapper & Tony Sportiello’s National Pastime, to run Apr. 2-19 at PA’s Bucks County Playhouse, directed by Hunter Foster, with choreography by Lorin Lotarro.

Cast 1: Matthew Bauman, Meredith Beck, Will Blum, Daniella Mia Diniz, Janine DiVita, Stephanie Gibson, Abe Goldfarb, Andrew Kober, Kelli McGuire, Michael Dean Morgan, Spencer Plachy and Alexandria Van Paris.

“It’s 1933 in Baker City, Iowa… WZBQ Radio is going under and Barry, the station’s owner, is trying to save it. Karen, Barry’s co-owner, wants to sell the station. Will a crazy scheme involving baseball change Karen’s mind and cause her to fall in love in the process?”


Article ArticleStephen Sondheim on theater and life.


Benefit Cabaret for a Cause will offer benefit concerts in NY & LA:

New York City (Mon. Apr. 27 at 7:30 PM) at the Cutting Room, benefitting ALS Guardian Angels, featuring Rozi Baker, Alessandra Baldacchino, Gabriella Baldacchino, Erica Simone Barnett, Amaya Braganza, Ava DeMary, Hayley Feinstein, Tori Feinstein, Sophia Gennusa, Abbey Rose Gould, Hayleigh Cathy Jusas, Annabelle Kempf, Eliza Holland Madore, Sabrina Matarazzo, Gaten Matarazzo, Graham Montgomery, Sawyer Nunes, Tyrah Skye Odoms, Taylor Richardson, Julianna Rigoglioso, Presley Ryan, Analise Scarpaci, Mavis Simpson-Ernst, McKayla Twiggs, Ava Ulloa and Oscar Williams.

Los Angeles (Mon. June 1 at 8 PM) at Rockwell Table & Stage, benefitting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, featuring Tea’Lynn Adamson (Dance Moms), Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, Ava Cota, Mari Dudash, Chloe East, Hayden Hopkins, Emma Howard, Jordyn Jones, Sophia Lucia, Tate McRae, Taegan Mehrens, Autumn Miller, Gavin Morales, McKenzie Morales, Hannah Nordberg, Sarah Reasons, Jillia Romano, Larsen Thompson, Jessi Smiles, Jessalyn Ward and Jaidyn Young.


Video Video: Opening number from Bend It Like Beckham at London’s Phoenix Theatre.


London 1 Ian Kelly’s Mr. Foote’s Other Leg will run this fall (dates TBA) at Hampstead Theatre (link TBA), directed by Richard Eyre.

Cast 1: Simon Russell Beale, with more TBA.

“An 18th century courtroom drama and exploration of the origins of the British sense of humour, centred on a biography of the greatest lost figure of Georgian London: one-legged comedy superstar Samuel Foote, who wrote a series of hit comedies for one-legged actors (rarely performed since for obvious reasons) single-handedly kept political comedy alive in London and Dublin in the glory years of Georgian print satire, was arraigned for buggery in 1776, to the wonder of the London (and American) press, and has some claim to be both the 18th century’s Oscar Wilde and the founding father of the much vaunted ‘British sense of humour.’”


Extended: Stephen Karam’s Sons of the Prophet, directed by Michael Matthews, featuring Ellen Karsten, Jack Laufer, Braxton Molinaro, Erik Odom, Irene Roseen, Adam Silver, Mychal Thompson and Tamara Zook, has extended its run through Apr. 26 at Hollywood’s Blank Theatre.


Concert 1 Kevin Earley: On the Record will take place Mon. Mar. 30 at 8 PM at North Hollywood’s Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal.

“Singing the vinyl he was raised on when Broadway was standard.”


Regional Boston’s SpeakEasy Stage has announced its 2015-16 season:

* Appropriate (Sept. 12 – Oct. 10), by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, director TBA

* Casa Valentina (Oct. 24 – Nov. 1), by Harvey Fierstein, directed by Scott Edminston

* Violet (Jan. 9 – Feb. 6), by Brian Crawley & Jeanine Tesori, directed by Paul Daigneault

* BootyCandy (Mar. 12 – Apr. 9), by Robert O’Hara, directed by Summer L. Williams

* Dogfight (May 7 – June 4), by Benj Pasek, Justin Paul & Peter Duchan, directed by Paul Daigneault


Off Broadway The Tallest Tree in the Forest, written by & starring Daniel Beaty, will run Mar. 22-29 at BAM, directed by Moisés Kaufman.

The solo show “tells the life story of Paul Robeson, a towering figure among our nation’s prominent African-Americans.”


Quiz GRACE NOTES Quiz answers: Great Day for the Irish!

1. Richard Brinsley Sheridan, author of A Trip to Scarborough,The School for Scandal, and The Rivals, owned the Drury Lane Theatre, and was a Member of Parliament.

2. Oscar Wilde, author of A Woman of No Importance, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Ideal Husband, Lady Windermere’s Fan, and Salome, toured the U. S. to promote Patience.

3. Oliver Goldsmith, author of The Good-Natur’d Man and She Stoops to Conquer, is believed to have coined the phrase “goody two-shoes.”

4. William Butler Yeats, author of The Herne’s Egg, Cathleen ni Houlihan, Purgatory, and Deirdre, founded the Abbey Theatre and won the Nobel Prize.

5.  George Bernard Shaw, author of The Apple Cart, Pygmalion, Major Barbara, Saint Joan, Man and Superman, and dozens of others, was a leading Socialist and winner of both the Nobel Prize and an Oscar (for Pygmalion).

6. John Millington Synge, author of Playboy of the Western World, Riders to the Sea, In the Shadow of the Glen, and Deirdre of the Sorrows, died of Hodgkins disease at the age of 38.

7.  Sean O’Casey, author of Juno and the Paycock, The Shadow of a Gunman, and The Plough and the Stars, had The Silver Tassie produced in London after being rejected by the Abbey.

8. Brian Friel is the author of Faith Healer, Philadelphia, Here I Come!, Translations, and Dancing at Lughnasa, which was later a movie with Meryl Streep.

9. Brendan Behan, author of The Hostage, The Quare Fellow, and Borstal Boy, was an IRA member and served time in a borstal.

10. Samuel Beckett’s plays include Waiting for Godot and Endgame (originally in French), and That Time, Happy Days, and Krapp’s Last Tape (in English).

Got a quiz you’d like to submit?  Send it on over.  Text only, 10 questions or less, please.