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Going to see the New York City Center Encores! production of A Chorus Line is a most wondrous trip down memory lane to a time when I was all young and innocent, just like many of those magnificent creations on stage last night. Don’t tell Mama, but I used to sneak a way to New York City from my little Canadian city of London, via Buffalo and People’s Express Airlines when I was a teenager, far too young to be doing that, but I just needed to spend a weekend of seeing Broadway musicals (and a few plays).  I’ve written about these moments before on this blog, but this time, it’s about the quintessential musical of all those trips is A Chorus Line.  I don’t recall if it was my first true Broadway musical or my second (Dreamgirls might be my first), but the lives and loves of these dancers were already firmly cemented in my head from the audio tape I had at home. These dancers meant something profound to me and my passion, just as much as musical theatre meant to these characters, and the people who helped create them. I remember it clearly, seeing it the Shubert Theatre sometime around 1980 (it actually opened in 1975), and the 2006 revival with a cast that included Charlotte d’Amboise and Tony Yazbeck, (the 1985 movie version isn’t worth mentioning), and just like this current NYCC production, A Chorus Line is directed by Bob Avian, who won his first Tony Award as co-choreographer for the original production of A Chorus Line, with Michael Bennett’s original and monumental choreography being reconstructed by Baayork Lee, Broadway’s original Connie Wong.

Encores!A Chorus Line
Tony Yazbeck (center) and cast of A Chorus Line. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Those two are back, with revival Al DeLuca, Tony Yazbeck (Broadway’s Prince of Broadway) transferring to the power role of director Zach, with the musical director/coordinator Patrick Vaccariello (Broadway’s West Side Story) and orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, Bill Byers, and Hershy Kay giving glorious musical splendor to Edward Kleban’s lyrics and Marvin Hamlisch’s music, for which they received the 1975 Tony, Drama Desk, Olivier Awards, as well as the Pulitzer Prize. Michael Bennett’s conceptual piece, drafted together by a group of frustrated dancers, led by Tony Stevens and Michon Peacock, is beautifully realized once again on the NYC stage, and it hasn’t lost any of its power or appeal.  With a cast of spectacularly talented dancers and singers, A Chorus Line resonates just as it did for me 28 years ago. The songs are firmly planted in my head with every word and accent still present and persistent. With other shows, that fact sometimes makes it hard to enjoy a fresh new version, but with the likes of Diana, played magnificently by Tara Kostmayer (La Jolla’s Ojo) singing the glorious “Nothing” and the epic “What I Did For Love“; Mike, powerfully played by Tommy Bracco (Broadway’s Pretty Woman) decimating the dance floor with an athletic and divine rendition of “I Can Do That“; or Sheila (Leigh Zimmerman – Olivier Award winner for West End’s A Chorus Line), Bebe (Naomi C. Walley – Broadway’s Chicago), and Maggie (Sara Esty – Encores’ Grand Hotel) breaking our heart with “At the Ballet” (one of my all time favorites), the glorious wonder of the piece remains solid and everlasting. J. Elaine Marcos (Broadway’s Annie) also takes on one of the most memorable songs, “Dance: Ten, Looks: Three” with renewed clarity and vigor disarming all.

Encores!A Chorus Line
J. Elaine Marcos (center) and cast of A Chorus Line. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Encores!A Chorus Line
Jay Armstrong Johnson (center) and cast of A Chorus Line. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Everyone shines in this piece, just as they should, with nary a step out-of-place.  Jay Armstrong Johnson (Broadway’s The Phantom of the Opera, off-Broadway’s The Man Ones) is gorgeous and dynamic as Buffalo Bobby spinning a tale that is as delicious as he is; Kate Bailey (Paper Mill’s Grease) kills triumphantly as the off-key Kristine with help from the cute and talented Joseph J. Simeone (Broadway’s A Bronx Tale) as the adorable husband Al; the heavenly and handsome Max Clayton (Broadway’s Hello, Dolly!) as strip club stud, Don, delivers; David Grindrod (Beauty and the Beast – national tour) gives Mark the holy power of divine confession; Jolina Javier (Avery Fisher Hall’s Cinderella) is a huge presence as a petite firecracker exploding forth as Connie; Denis Lambert (Encores’ Finian’s Rainbow) is perfection in droll and fabulous black as Greg; Melanie Moore (Broadway’s Fiddler on the Roof) is quirky and pixie adorable as Judy, and Anthony Wayne (Broadway’s Once on this Island) is simply being fantastic as the high kicking coulda-been kindergarten teacher, Richie. A magnificent symbiotic sensation.

Encores!A Chorus Line
Anthony Wayne (center) and cast of A Chorus Line. Photo by Joan Marcus.

In addition, acting chops go to the dancer Eddie Gutierrez (Ars Nova’s Loveology), as the quieter and possibly more damaged Paul. He tears us apart, perfectly balancing pain and persistence, fear and discomfort for us all to connect with. It’s one of many moments with this superb recreation when we get to see the struggling souls behind the bodies, the pain behind the pirouette, and the passion that lives inside the strong and defiant dancer looking for that beginning, that middle, or that final bow. Robyn Hurder (pre-Broadway’s Moulin Rouge) defines this determination and heart-break with every sound that comes out of her mouth, taking on the complicated and powerful Cassie, singing and dancing her heart out magnificently with the classic “The Music and the Mirror“. She’s an absolute glorious dancer, but it is when she belts out those lyrics that we truly feel we are seeing inside and joining with her passion. The somewhat forgotten are the first to be cut, but they also deserve our praise. It’s not easy finding unique characters in the eliminated ones, bringing carefully discovered personality to the forefront within those first few moments of that incredible conceived audition medley: Callan Bergmann (Broadway’s Kinky Boots) as foot-gazing headband-wearing Frank, Natalie Bourgeois (MUNY’s Hairspray) as ballerina Lois, Wesley Ian Cappiello (Gypsy – national tour) as wrong-armed Roy, Aaron Patrick Craven (Dirty Dancing – national tour) as the attitude filled Butch, Emily Franch (White Christmas– regional) as the non-ballet trained Vicki, Jenna Nicole Schoen (NY’s Jersey Boys) as solo Tricia, and Ahmad Simmons (Broadway’s Carousel) as standout jock-man, Tom.

Encores!A Chorus Line
Robyn Hurder of A Chorus Line. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Ryan Steele (Broadway’s Newsies) delicately leads the dancers through their routines as assistant Larry, and in his presence and the demanding way he leads these dancers through the paces, it reminds us that Encores! does the seemingly impossible.  This crew of super talented professionals is given the shortest of rehearsal periods to pull this synchronicity together in record time.  Each one needs to perform with precision, and the shocking thing is that they do. A Chorus Line dazzles and intoxicates, even if you forget about the preparation time frame.  I have a feeling that within the opening dance audition segment, for a dancer to purposefully make choreographed mistakes might be far more complicated and unnatural than getting it right. It’s equal to the moments when Kristine has to astoundingly sing off-key, but that is just my guess and you can correct me if I’m wrong. But this crew doesn’t miss a step. To dance and sing this show as clearly a unit as they do, is utterly amazing, and a testament to everything this show is about. These gypsies deserve the stars, and our praise. So stand up and cheer for A Chorus Line. They are, obviously, one singular spectacular sensation, historically and into the future.

Encores!A Chorus Line
The cast of A Chorus Line. Photo by Joan Marcus.

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For more, go to frontmezzjunkies.com

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my last...so far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

Events

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents Kelley Curran and Frank Wood

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We are so pleased to announce our guest this week are Kelley Curran and Frank Wood

Kelley Curran

Kelley can be seen, as Turner, in Julian Fellowes The Gilded Age for HBO. Prior to the intricate characters she will now tackle in The Meeting: The Interpreter, she appeared off-Broadway in Half-God of Rainfall at NYTW; at The Public Theater opposite Glenn Close in Mother of the Maid, and as Clytemnestra in Ellen McLaughlin’s world premiere of The Oresteia at The Shakespeare Theatre Company. Kelley has also appeared on Broadway in Present Laughter with Kevin Kline, and at The Signature Theatre, Classic Stage Company, Theatre For a New Audience, and LAByrinth Theatre Company, among others. She made her network television debut on NBC’s The Blacklist, and recently appeared on the CBS drama God Friended Me. In 2019 she made her feature film debut in The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot.  Kelley was nominated for a SAG Award, won The Callaway Award, Emery Battis Award, NTC Emerging Professional Award, and in 2016 was nominated for a Drama League Award alongside Lupita Nyong’o, Michelle Williams and Lin Manuel-Miranda. She has also been nominated for both a Princess Grace and Helen Hayes Award.

Frank Wood

Frank Wood was first celebrated for his work on the Broadway production of Side Man, a performance that earned him both a Tony Award and a Drama League Award. His portrayal of Gene, a jazz musician grappling with personal and professional turmoil, highlighted his profound emotional depth and versatility. It’s a role that parallels the soul searching experience of The Interpreter in many profound ways. Wood has an impressive array of Broadway credits, including notable performances in The Great Society, Network, The Iceman Cometh, Clybourne Park, August: Osage County, Born Yesterday, and Hollywood Arms. Off-Broadway, he earned a Lucille Lortel nomination for Toros at Second Stage and has graced stages at Signature Theatre, Vineyard Theatre, Lincoln Center, Atlantic Theater Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, and Playwrights Horizons. His filmography includes roles in acclaimed films such as She Said, Joker, St. Vincent, Changeling, Dan in Real Life, Thirteen Days, In America, Down to You, and The Royal Tenenbaums. On TV, he appeared in series like Billions, The Blacklist, The Night Of, Mozart in the Jungle, The Newsroom, Girls, Flight of the Conchords, The Sopranos, and had a recurring role on

Law & Order: SVU.
These Two brilliant actors are starring in The Meeting: The Interpreter, a new play written by Catherine Gropper and directed by Brian Mertes, Previews begin Monday, July 29 with an opening night set for Sunday, August 4 at the Theatre at St. Clements 423 W 46th Street .

Set against the backdrop of the infamous Trump Tower Meeting of 2016, the play tells the story of an international interpreter thrown up against government systems of congressional and senate interrogations, catapulting him into circumstances beyond his control. “This man could be everyman … one of us,” says playwright Catherine Gropper.

This play is about the loss of individuality and privacy is based on actual events (a chance meeting between the playwright and an actual government interpreter). This two-person play supports a cast of thousands thanks to Mertes’ production scheme including puppetry, film sequences, projections, and intricate lighting and sound.

We are so proud and thrilled that Variety Entertainment News named us one of Summer’s Best Picks in the category of Best Television, Radio, Podcasts.

Host Suzanna Bowling was also just named Most Engaging Hosts on TV, Radio and Podcasts on “The Daily Geek Report.” We are so grateful.

“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents ”, is a show filmed at the iconic Hotel Edison, before a live audience. To see our past episodes; First episode click here second episode click here,  third episode click here, fourth episode click here, fifth episode click here, sixth episode here, seventh episode here, eighth episode here, ninth episode here, tenth episode here, eleventh episode here, our twelfth episode here, thirteenth episode here, fourteenth here, fifteenth here , 16th here, 17th here, 18th here, 19th here, 20th here, 21st here and 22nd here.

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Off Broadway

Oscar, Tony, And Pulitzer Prize WinnercJohn Patrick Shanley New York Debut Of Banshee At The Chain Summer One-Act Festival

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Chain Theatre, Kirk Gostkowski, Artistic Director, Rick Hamilton, Managing Director, Christina Elise Perry, Director of Development, is pleased to announce the 2024 edition of the Chain Summer One-Act Festival, featuring the New York premiere of Banshee by award-winning writer John Patrick Shanley,  the world debut of the Jesse Eisenberg-produced Catch by Jeryl Brunner, and two new plays by 2024 ScreenCraft Stage Play Competition grand prize winner Matthew McLachlan. The festival will feature over 50 new plays at the Chain Theatre (312 W 36th St, 3rd Floor, New York, NY, 10018). The festival begins Thursday, August 8 and continues through Sunday, September 1.  Tickets will be $23 in advance and $26 at the door. More information available at www.chaintheatre.org

Now one of the largest theatre festivals in New York City, The Chain Summer One-Act Festival will celebrate over 50 plays this summer. The festival is a hub for new work by established and emerging artists. Chain Theatre is once again opening its doors to New York City’s playwrights, actors, and directors for a festival of original works. All productions are carefully curated and designed to create a ‘mix-tape’ of Live Theatre. Past festivals have included original works by Broadway’s Lyle Kessler (Orphans) and award-winning actor, and writer Eric Bogosian (AMC’s Interview With The Vampire).  Show your support for the arts and join us for an exciting festival of live performances created by the best artists at one of the top independent theatre venues in New York City.

Three highlights of the festival include:

  1. The New York premiere of Banshee by John Patrick Shanley. Starring Elizabeth Bays (Off-Broadway Simpatico) and Erik Betancourt (Broadway’s Cost Of Living, Between Riverside And Crazy) directed by Chain Summer One-Act Festival. (Off-Broadway Simpatico), Banshee is a mystical comedy about a banshee, a fantastical Irish spirit, who pays an ailing teacher a visit and makes him an otherworldly proposal.
  2. Academy Award-nominee Jesse Eisenberg returns to the Chain as the co-producer of Catch by Jeryl Brunner. Eisenberg and Brunner originally collaborated on the critically acclaimed Dill during the Chain Winter One-Act Festival, which marked Eisenberg’s stage directorial debut. Eisenberg co-produces Catch with Anna Strout and Barbara Toy.
  3. Lastly, Matthew McLachlan returns to the Chain with two new plays: Online Dates Are Hard To Handle, directed by David Zayas Jr., and Who You Are To Me, directed by Lee Zayas. McLachlan is the 2024 ScreenCraft Stage Play Competition Grand Prize Winner for This G*D Damn House, which was a world premiere at the Chain Theatre in 2023.

Chain Summer One-Act Festival boasts a production team featuring Spencer Giles (Hofstra University Graduate), Uma Rao-Labrecque  (Simpatico), Evie Brandford, Stewart Harrison, and Megan Sophie Gore. Publicity by Katie Rosin, Kampfire PR.

Running Time: 60-90 minutes depending on the program block

Website: www.chaintheatre.org

IG: @chaintheatrenyc FB: ChainTheatre

Chain Theatre always seeks to reflect and react to the world around us. Culturally. Politically. Socially. Audiences can find investment in the work at the Chain, because the work is about them, no matter what it might be. It’s a place where artists and audiences can expand their perspectives.

The critically-acclaimed Chain Theatre (NYT Critic’s pick macbitches) is a premiere Off-Broadway producing organization in midtown Manhattan. Chain Theatre produced the World Premiere of ​Garbageman​ by Emmy-nominated Keith Huff (A Steady Rain, Mad Men, House of Cards) and has also collaborated with Tony Award winner David Rabe (Streamers) Past award-winning productions include ​Hurlyburly​ by David Rabe, ​One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest​ by Dale Wasserman, and ​Talk Radio​ by Eric Bogosian. Most recent hit productions include A Will to Live, This G*d Damn House, and What Passes for Comedy. Chain Theatre is located at 312 W. 36th Street, 3rd and 4th Floor, New York, NY 10018 For more about the Chain Theatre visit ​www.chaintheatre.org @chaintheatrenyc

Chain Theatre is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization. All donations are tax-deductible.

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Broadway

Theatre News: Teeth, Soft Power, Redwood, BOOP! The Betty Boop Musical and Pre-Existing Condition

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Jenna Rose Husli, Wren Rivera, Alyse Alan Louis, Phoenix Best and Helen J Shen in Teeth (Photo: Chelcie Parry)

Teeth is coming back to New World Stages in the fall for an open-ended run. The transfer begins on October 31, Halloween night, as its official opening. While casting for the commercial remount is yet to be announced, the Playwrights Horizons cast featured Alyse Alan Louis, Steven Pasquale, Will Connolly, Jason Gotay, Jared Loftin, Courtney Bassett, Phoenix Best, Jenna Rose Husli, Lexi Rhoades, Wren Riveras and Helen J. Shen.

The off-Broadway cast album for Teeth, written by written by Pop! creator Anna K. Jacobs (book and music) and Pulitzer Prize-winning A Strange Loop creator Michael R. Jackson (book and lyrics), is now available to stream on all major music platforms. The physical CD will be released August 30. Teeth opened its off-Broadway world premiere at Playwrights Horizons in March with direction by Sarah Benson and choreography by Raja Feather Kelly.

Based on Mitchell Lichtenstein’s screenplay for the cult-classic 2007 horror comedy, Teeth is a tale of revenge and transformation that tears through a culture of shame and repressed desire one delightfully unhinged song at a time. The musical follows Dawn O’Keefe, an evangelical Christian teen struggling to be an exemplar of purity amongst her community of fellow Promise Keeper Girls. As Dawn’s desires become tested and twisted by the men in her life, she discovers a deadly secret not even she understands: when men violate her, her body bites back—literally.

I loved Jeanine Tesori and David Henry Hwang’s SoftPower when it appeared at The Public, now it’s coming to the Signature Theatre in Washington  D.C., newly revised production and directed by Signature Associate Artistic Director Ethan Heard. The show opens August 6 and runs until September 15. Could NYC be next? The cast will feature Steven Eng as DHH, Daniel May (Flower Drum Song) as Xue Xing, and Grace Yoo (Hadestown) as Hillary Clinton with Eymard Cabling (Miss Saigon national tour) as Randy Ray and others, Andrew Cristi (A Christmas Story) as Chief Justice and others, Jonny Lee Jr. as Bobby Bob and others, Quynh-My Luu as Waiter and others, Christopher Mueller as VEEP and others, Ashley D. Nguyen as Jīng and others, Chani Wereley as Betsy Ross and others, Nicholas Yenson as Holden Caulfield and others, and Sumié Yotsukura as Flight Attendant and others. Olivia Clavel-Davis, Brian Dauglash, Emily Song Tyler, and Joey Urgino are swings.

After the 2016 election, when a Chinese American playwright is attacked by an unknown assailant, he hallucinates a Golden Age musical comedy about a Chinese theater producer and Hillary Clinton falling in love. Hilarious and biting, this political satire dares to ask: Does American Democracy still work? And is it worth believing in?

An exhilarating ride through political absurdity with a faceoff between Chinese and American exceptionalism, Soft Power makes an electric debut in the nation’s capital.

Idina Menzel, will open at the Nederlander Theatre in Redwood. This new Broadway musical starts previews January 24,  with a February 13 opening. Written and directed by Tony Award nominee Tina Landau, Redwood features music by Kate Diaz and lyrics by Diaz and Landau. The show is conceived by Landau and Menzel, with additional contributions by Menzel. The musical premiered earlier this year at La Jolla Playhouse. “I made my Broadway debut at the Nederlander Theatre in Rent almost 30 years ago, so to be returning there with Redwood is very emotional for me as it feels like a real homecoming. It has been such a gift to collaborate with Tina and Kate on this show, and I’m so proud to bring it to Broadway” stated Menzel. Redwood follows Jesse (Menzel), a successful businesswoman, mother and wife who seems to have it all, but inside, her heart is broken. Finding herself at a turning point, Jesse leaves everyone and everything behind, gets in her car and drives. Thousands of miles later, she hits the majestic forests of Northern California, where a chance meeting and a leap of faith change her life forever.

BOOP! The Betty Boop Musical has found is set to open at Broadway’s Broadhurst Theatre on April 5, 2025. Tony Award®-winning director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell brings the Queen of the Animated Screen to the theater  with celebrated multiple Grammy® Award-winning composer David Foster, Tony Award®-nominated lyricist Susan Birkenhead and Tony Award®-winning book writer Bob Martin. This score is fabulous and we can’t wait to hear the rest of it.

Edie Falco Photo by Emilio Madrid

Today, producers O’Henry Productions, The Cohn Sisters, Jessica Chase, Taylor Williams, David Blum, Jesse Eisenberg and Charlie Kaufman announced that Pre-Existing Condition by Tony Award® nominee Marin Ireland will extend for two weeks through August 17 and will star Emmy Award® winner Edie Falco in the rotating role of “A” beginning on August 6

Pre-Existing Condition, directed by Maria Dizzia, is currently playing at the Connelly Theater (220 East 4th St.) in the intimate 60-seat Upstairs space. The play was originally set to close on August 3.

Pre-Existing Condition is a play exploring the challenges, shared community, and everyday indignities of learning to move forward after a life-altering, harmful relationship.

About the play, Ms. Falco said, “I am thrilled at the opportunity to be a part of something that moved me so much as a spectator. It involves an intimacy and vulnerability that I’ve sorely missed in the theater. I can’t wait to work with these people who I deeply respect so that hopefully more people can see and feel what I did when I saw the play.”

The role of “A” has rotated throughout the production and is currently played by Tony Award® winner Deirdre O’Connell (Dana H.). Tavi Gevinson (“American Horror Story”) will play the role from July 24-August 3 with Ms. Falco starting August 6-August 17. Previously, the role was played by Emmy Award® winner Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”), Julia Chan (Uncle Vanya) and Tony Award® nominee Maria Dizzia (In the Next Room).

The cast also includes Sarah Steele (“The Good Fight”), Dael Orlandersmith (Pulitzer Prize Finalist, Yellowman), Greg Keller (Alliance); with Raquel Chavez (Uncle Vanya) and Gregory Connors (The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window), understudies.

Tony Award® nominee Anne Kauffman (Mary Jane) serves as Creative Consultant on the production. In addition to Ms. Kauffman, the creative team includes Louisa Thompson (A Simulacrum), Set Designer; Tony Award® nominee Enver Chakartash (Stereophonic), Costume Designer; Tony Award® nominee Isabella Byrd (Enemy of the People, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club), Lighting Designer; Tony Award® nominee Palmer Hefferan (The Skin of Our Teeth), Sound Designer. Taylor Williams is Casting Director, Ashley-Rose Galligan is Production Stage Manager, Eric Nolan Mattingly is Assistant Stage Manager with Wagner Johnson Productions serving as General Management.  Associate Producer is Joe Meyer. David Manella at Loeb & Loeb LLP serves as Production Counsel.

For information on performance dates, ticketing lottery information please visit preexistingconditionplay.com. Tickets start at $49.

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Off Broadway

Coney Island Nursery Rhyme Is a New Play Still In Its Embryonic State

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In the press release and on their own site Coney Island Nursery Rhyme sounds so intriguing. This historical fiction set in Connecticut and New York in the 1930’s is based on a true story. They state; Follows the esteemed incubator-doctor, showman, and unofficial father of Neonatology, Martin A. Couney. In a time where eugenics-focused medical culture refused to employ incubator technology. Martin A. Couney took it upon himself to save premature babies in his own incubators at a sideshow at Coney Island where funds were used to hire nurses and essentially create an unofficial hospital. We focus on Beatrice Winthrop, a woman from the American gentry who seeks Couney’s assistance after giving birth prematurely.

This is what we are told, but what the play is about, is less about the doctor and more about Raymond Abbot (Zachary Speigel) a fool who has a secret to confess. His friend Beatrice Winthrop (Jessica Noboa) has had a premie and her mother Candace Lahey (Phyllis Lindy) thinks the child would be better off dead. The doctor in charge (Judge Boothby) doesn’t hold out much hope and wants to send the child to Chicago. In the meantime Lt. Peter Petrovick (Pete Marzilli), wants to capture the killer of Mrs. Winthrop husband who was shot dead by his friend.

Jessica Noboa

The play by Lubomir Rzepka spends the first hour teaching us nothing about eugenics, making us wonder why we are here. We are introduced to Martin A. Couney (Mike Timoney), but Mrs. Winthrop dismisses him, until Raymond Abbot steals the child, saving the child’s life.

Mike Timoney, Jessica Noboa, Phyllis Lindy

Rzepka also directed the piece, but this was a mistake, as the actors for the most part scream for two hours.

Mike Timoney, Zachary Speigel

So little is spent on “The Infantorium”, in which visitors paid 25 cents to view prematurely born babies displayed in incubators. Thanks to Couney, who was one of the first advocates for premature babies, and his Infantoriums have become widely accredited with saving the lives of over 6,500 premature babies in the 30’s. Couney is additionally recognised as one of the first pioneers of neonatological technology. Now that is interesting.

Coney Island Nursery Rhyme: 754 9th Ave 4th floor (word of warning NO elevator). Premiering for 8 select shows July 12 through July 20th as an Equity Approved Showcase at the NuBox Theatre.

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Ken Fallin's Broadway

Ken Fallin’s Broadway:​ Inspired By True Events A New Play by Ryan Spahn

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Off-Broadway’s Out of the Box Theatrics is presenting Inspired By True Events, a new play by Ryan Spahn.

In the green room of a community theater in Rochester, the Uptown Players are getting ready to play to a full house after opening to rave reviews the night before. When their star actor arrives in a dangerously unhinged state, they must improvise on and off stage in ways they could not have imagined. By turns hilarious, harrowing, and horrifying, Inspired By True Events follows a tenacious group of show people who must determine at what cost the show must go on.

Inspired By True Events received development workshops with New York Stage & Film, Vineyard Theatre and EST.

Knud Adams is directing, and the cast will feature Lou Liberatore, Jack DiFalco, Mallory Portnoy, and Dana Scurlock. The play opens July 17 at 154 Christopher Street (formerly the New Ohio Theatre). The play was developed by Michael Urie.

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