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A Majestic Glenda Jackson Takes On King Lear

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Ruth Wilson, Glenda Jackson, John Douglas Thompson. Photo by Brigitte Lacombe

It was 413 years ago when King Lear first brought it’s tragic tale to the stage and it still resonates today. There is nothing so tragic as children betraying their parent. In the case of Lear (Glenda Jackson), you have Goneril (Elizabeth Marvel) and Regan (Aisling O’Sullivan), both power hungry and deceitful. After declaring their love for him they are given half their father’s lands. There is a codicil of having their father divide his time with them, but Goneril and Regan reveal that their declarations of love were fake and that they view Lear as a foolish old man.

Elizabeth Marvel Photo by Brigitte Lacombe

His youngest daughter Cordelia (the wonderful Ruth Wilson), keeping it real, refuses to declare her love and is cut off. She marries the King of France (Ian Lassiter), who declares his love for her.

Glenda Jackson Photo by Brigitte Lacombe

In the meantime Lear’s best friend the Earl of Gloucester (Jayne Houdyshell) has the same kind of problem with his two sons. First thier’s the bastard Edmund (a fabulously subtle performance by Pedro Pascal) who is sleeping with both Lear’s daughters and Edgar (Sean Carvajal), the legitimate son who is betrayed by his brother more than once. Again a power struggle and another father who believes in the power of words instead of the truth.

Jayne Houdyshell, Glenda Jackson. Photo by Brigitte Lacombe

In the end both men lose. Lear his mind, as he sinks into dementia and Gloucester, his eyes. Refusal to see what has been right in front of you, leads to loss of sight, betrayal, rage and madness. In both Jackson’s and Houdyshell’s performances we see it with fresh site, as these are both mother’s and father’s with the gender bending casting.

Pedro Pascal, Jane Houdyshell. Photo by Brigitte Lacombe

The show is often hard to follow for numerous reasons. Sam Gold’s direction seems to have 21 different actors in different plays. They have different accents, different modalities of clothing thanks to Ann Roth’s costume design, different styles of acting and at times different languages. It’s almost as if Gold is trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Then there is Miriam Buether’s gaudy gold set and I seriously did not know what time frame this was taking place in. Neither the costumes, the language, the direction or the playbill told me. Then there is the Philip Glass music played with expertise, underscoring the whole show like a film gone off kilter.

Who walks away with this production is Ruth Wilson who goes, from Cordelia, to the fool, to Cordelia. She captures both roles with aplomb. As the fool she takes on a Cockney accent and a Chaplinesq style. When she states: “I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are. They’ll have me 
whipp’d for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipp’d for lying”, you realize just how progressive Lear was. He gave his money and his lands to his daughter’s, not their husbands. The death scene between the King and his daughter is both touching and moving, as the whole show becomes a play instead of a play with music.

Watching a master like Jackson at 82, is a delight, but with so much noise and unnecessary distraction, one wishes they had just done the play as is and left out all the progressive updates. Sometimes simplicity is best.

King Lear: Cort Theatre,138 W 48th St

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Broadway

The Heart of Rock and Roll Meets The Press And Huey Lewis Sings For Me

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Yesterday morning The Heart of Rock and Roll, the new musical based on the soundtrack of Heuy Lewis’s mega hits, met the press corp. In the opening address’s I learned that Heuy Lewis, is now deaf.  In learning that, I wanted to know what soundtrack was now playing in his head. In getting to interview Mr. Lewis I was allowed one question and when I asked, not only did I learned the answer, I was sung to. 

For this video, we started off with that interaction and segue into what happened earlier. With director Gordon Greenberg, introducing John Dossett, McKenzie Kurtz and the cast Josh Breckenridge, F. Michael Haynie, Zoe Jensen, Tamika Lawrence, Raymond J. Lee, John-Michael Lyles, Orville Mendoza, Billy Harrigan Tighe, Mike Baerga, Tommy Bracco, TyNia René Brandon, Olivia Cece, Taylor Marie Daniel, Lindsay Joan, Ross Lekites, Robin Masella, Kara Menendez, Joe Moeller, Jennifer Noble, Fredric Rodriguez Odgaard, Michael Olaribigbe, Kevin Pariseau, Robert Pendilla and Leah Read singing the title song The Heart of Rock and Roll. 

The music supervision, arrangements, and orchestrations by Brian Usifer, musical direction by Will Van Dyke, and the innovative choreography by Lorin Latarro really stood out.

We then in this video interview director Gordon Greenberg, to learn more about what looks to be one fabulous show.

More tomorrow with Corey Cott and the cast and creatives.

The Heart of Rock and Roll, the new musical inspired by the iconic songs of Huey Lewis and The News, will open on Broadway at The James Earl Jones Theatre (138 W 48th St, New York, NY 10036) on Monday, April 22, 2024.

Video and picture by Magda Katz

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Maria Friedman Wow’d in Legacy For Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS

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Last night was a night to remember, when three-time Olivier-winning actor Maria Friedman, gave a one-night-only benefit concert at the Hudson Theatre. The concert served as a benefit for Broadway Cares, The Stephen Sondheim Foundation, and The Marvin Hamlisch International Music Awards. Friedman is currently represented at that theatre as the director of the current revival of Merrily We Roll Along.

This was the kind of night you pray about. It was an exquisite pleasure watching someone who understands lyric, musicality and how to keep an audience in the palm of their hand. The performance, titled Legacy: An Evening With Maria Friedman and Friends, focused on the works of Stephen Sondheim, Marvin Hamlisch, and Michel Legrand, as Ms Friedman personally and professional had close relationships with all three artists. Craig Horsley will be writing a review of this outstanding musical night of nirvana.

As I watch enrapt in this performance I remembered six years ago I interviewed Ms. Friedman and saw her sing the definitive “Losing My Mind” from Follies, prior to last night, so I went in search of this. We discussed her show which was about to play at 54 Below, which had played a sold-out London run earlier that year. The show explored the work of composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim and composer Leonard Bernstein. We also talked about her staging of the U.S. premiere of her acclaimed 2012 London revival of Merrily We Roll Along which was currently at the Huntington in Boston, MA starring Eden Espinoza, Damian Humbley and Mark Umbers and a production of Bernstein’s Mass which she had hoped was coming soon.

Friedman made her Broadway debut in 2005 starring in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White, but she’s spent the majority of her stage career in London’s West End. Among her major roles there was Dot in the first London Sunday in the Park With George, Mary in Merrily We Roll Along, Fosca in Passion (Olivier Award), Sukie in The Witches of Eastwick, Roxie in Chicago, Mother in Ragtime (Olivier Award), Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, and Golde in Fiddler on the Roof. She also played the Narrator in the screen version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Mother Abbess in the U.K.’s The Sound of Music Live!

Thank-you Ms Friedman for a night that will long stand in my memory.

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Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Sarah Paulson in Appropriate

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Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Appropriate not only got a second extension, but transferred  theatre. Slated to close March 3 at the Hayes Theater, Appropriate will now play a 13-week engagement at the Belasco Theatre, with performances beginning March 25. The strictly limited run will continue through June 23. The reason for the transfer was Paula Vogel’s Mother Play, was already slated to perform.

To read T2C’s review of Appropriate  click here and here.

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Broadway To Honor Hinton Battle

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Broadway will honor the memory of Hinton Battle, the three-time Tony Award-winning singer/ actor/ phenomenal dancer who was trailblazing. Mr. Battle passed away on January 30, 2024, at the age of 67. On March 12, 2024, the Committee of Theatre Owners will dim all the lights of all the Broadway theatres in New York for one minute at exactly 6:45pm, in his honor.Hinton Battle won three Tony’s and made his Broadway debut at 18,  playing the original Scarecrow in The Wiz.

You can see our tribute here. He was one of the great ones.

 

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Theatre News: Here We Are, Water For Elephants, Tuesdays with Morrie, The Tempest: A Surround Sound Odyssey, FIVE: The Parody Musical, Forbidden Broadway

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Producers Tom Kirdahy, Sue Wagner, John Johnson, and The Stephen Sondheim Trust announced today that the critically acclaimed world premiere production of Here We Are, the new musical from David Ives and Stephen Sondheim that debuted at The Shed’s Griffin Theater in 2023, was filmed by the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive (TOFT) at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and added to its collection. The complete show was filmed by TOFT in December of 2023 and is now available and free to view by anyone with a library card.

 Here We Are is directed by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello, and features Francois Battiste, Tracie Bennett, Bobby Cannavale, Micaela Diamond, Amber Gray, Jin Ha, Rachel Bay Jones, Denis O’Hare, Steven Pasquale, David Hyde Pierce, and Jeremy Shamos.

The musical features a book by Tony Award nominee David Ives, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and is inspired by two films, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and The Exterminating Angel, by Luis Buñuel.

Here We Are opened on October 22, 2023 at The Shed and performed its final show on January 21, 2024.

Water For Elephants is announcing their Tent Talkback Series with members of the creative team following selected Saturday matinees between March 2 through April 6, at the Imperial Theatre (249 West 45th Street).  Creative team members will include book writer Rick Elice and composers and lyricists PigPen Theatre Co.  The Water For Elephants Tent Talkback Series will be a moderated 15-minute discussion about the creative process and development of the show and commence at the conclusion of selected Saturday matinee performances.

Tent Talkback Series Schedule

Saturday, March 2, matinee performance

Saturday, March 9, matinee performance

Saturday, March 30, matinee performance

Saturday, April 6, matinee performance

Water For Elephants is based on the critically acclaimed and New York Times Bestselling novel by Sara Gruen. The new musical has a book by three-time Tony Award nominee Rick Elice (Jersey Boys, Peter and the Starcatcher), a soaring score by the acclaimed PigPen Theatre Co. (The Tale of Despereaux) and is directed by Tony Award nominee Jessica Stone (Kimberly Akimbo).

The cast stars Grant Gustin (“The Flash”, “Glee”) in his Broadway debut, Isabelle McCalla (The Prom, Shucked), four-time Tony Award nominee Gregg Edelman (City of Angels), Drama Desk and Outer Critic Circle Award nominee Paul Alexander Nolan (Slave Play), Stan Brown (“Homicide: Life in the Streets”), Joe De Paul (Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion), Sara Gettelfinger (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and Wade McCollum(Wicked) and features Brandon Block, Antoine Boissereau, Rachael Boyd, Paul Castree, Ken Wulf Clark, Taylor Colleton, Gabriel Olivera de Paula Costa, Isabella Luisa Diaz, Samantha Gershman, Keaton Hentoff-Killian, Nicolas Jelmoni, Caroline Kane, Harley Ross Beckwith McLeish, Michael Mendez, Samuel Renaud, Marissa Rosen, Alexandra Gaelle Royer, Asa Somers, Charles South, Sean Stack, Matthew Varvar and Michelle West.

After losing what matters most, a young man jumps a moving train unsure of where the road will take him and finds a new home with the remarkable crew of a traveling circus, and a life—and love—beyond his wildest dreams. Seen through the eyes of his older self, his adventure becomes a poignant reminder that if you choose the ride, life can begin again at any age.

The award-winning Sea Dog Theater’s production of Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie, by Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom, based on the book by Albom, directed by Erwin Maas (NY Times Critic’s Pick for Poison and A Kid Like Rishi), starring Tony Award winner and Emmy nominee Len Cariou (Sweeney Todd original cast, CBS’s “Blue Bloods”) and three-time NYIT “Best Actor” nominee Chris Domig.Tuesdays with Morrie runs March 1 – 23 in a limited engagement at St. George’s Episcopal Church (209 East 16 St.) Opening night is March 7.Two post-show talkbacks are scheduled during the run. On Monday, March 4, Len Cariou and Judy Kaye will discuss working with Stephen Sondheim. On Monday, March 18, Len and Abigail Hawk will discuss working on CBS’s “Blue Bloods.”Tuesdays with Morrie is the humorous and poignant story of career-obsessed journalist Mitch Albom, who sixteen years after graduation serendipitously learns that his former sociology professor Morrie is battling Lou Gehrig’s Disease. What starts as a simple visit, turns into a weekly pilgrimage and the last class in the meaning of life.Featuring vocalist Sally Shaw. Original music written and performed on piano by Chris Domig.

The Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC, Executive Director Khady Kamara Nunez and Artistic Director Bill Rauch) announces complete casting and creative team for An American Soldier at the new performing arts center at the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan.  An American Soldier will premiere in New York during AANHPI Heritage Month with performances starting May 12 through May 19, 2024.

An American Soldier will feature principal cast members Hannah Cho, Alex DeSocio, Nina Yoshida Nelsen and Brian Vu. Ensemble members include Ben Brady, Cierra Byrd, James C. Harris, Shelén Hughes, Joshua Sanders, Christian Simmons and understudies, Misoon Ghim, Luke Harnish and Angela Yam. Photos of the company are available here.

An American Soldier features scenic design by Daniel Ostling, costume design by Linda Cho, lighting design by Jeanette Yew and multi-media design by Nick Hussong, joining the previously announced creative team members Huang Ruo (composer), David Henry Hwang (libretto), Carolyn Kuan (conductor), and Chay Yew (director).

On October 3, 2011, Chinese-American Army Pvt. Danny Chen was found dead in a guard tower at his base in Afghanistan. Based on his story and the ensuing courts-martial of Chen’s fellow soldiers, this New York City premiere opera tells the powerful true story of a young soldier from Manhattan’s Chinatown who sought to serve his country, only to find his biggest threat was the very people who swore to protect him.

Told through the multidimensional music of Huang Ruo (M. Butterfly, Book of Mountains and Seas) with libretto by Tony and Grammy winner David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly, Soft Power), and directed by Obie Award winner Chay Yew (Cambodian Rock Band, Sweatshop Overlord), An American Soldier is a powerful and unforgettable experience.

Due to popular demand, Knock at the Gate producers Joseph Discher and Sean Hudock announced a two-week extension of their audio immersive streaming production of The Tempest: A Surround Sound Odyssey, now available to stream virtually through Saturday, March 16.

Tickets for the stream are $9.99 and are available for purchase at KnockattheGate.com. The broadcast is available worldwide on all internet connected devices with a dimmable screen and a pair of headphones. Audiences will receive a link and password to access the listening portal prior to the broadcast.

The cast includes Hale Appleman (SyFy’s “The Magicians,” FX’s “American Horror Story”) as ‘Ariel,’ Tony® and Grammy® Award nominee Emily Skeggs (Broadway’s Fun Home) as ‘Miranda,’ Joel de la Fuente (Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle) as ‘Prospero,’ and Derek Wilson (Amazon’s “Gen V,” Hulu’s “Future Man”) as ‘Caliban.’ Rounding out the cast are Michael Daly, Sean Hudock, Greg Jackson, Maurice Jones, Raphael Nash Thomspon, Shane Taylor, Patrick Toon.

Due to popular demand, producers of FIVE: The Parody Musical have put a new block of tickets on sale through April 21. The world-premiere production, initially announced as a limited four-week engagement, will now play an additional 6 weeks Off-Broadway at Theater 555 (555 W 42nd St, NYC). For tickets and further information, visit www.FiveTheMusical.com.

Look out SIX, here comes FIVE: The Parody Musical. Henry VIII and his six wives had nothing on Donald, the 45th, and these five ladies. Poised to make America laugh again, FIVE is an 80-minute, irreverent musical comedy revue starring some of the women in the life of America’s past President. Ivana, Marla, and Melania are joined by crowd favorite Stormy and daddy’s girl Ivanka as they each take the spotlight and sing their hearts out for your vote.

Presented by Five Musical LLC, FIVE: The Parody Musical features a book and lyrics by Shimmy Braun & Moshiel Newman Daphna, music and lyrics by Billy Recce (A Musical About Star Wars, Little Black Book), and direction and choreography by Jen Wineman (Dog Man: The Musical, F#%king Up Everything).

FIVE: The Parody Musical features Anyae Anasia as Ivana, Gabriella Joy Rodriguez (The Color Purple Tour) as Marla, Jaime Lyn Beatty (Stranger Sings! The Parody Musical, Starkid Founding Member) as Melania, Gabi Garcia as Stormy, and Hannah Bonnett (Legally Blonde National Tour) as Ivanka, with a special appearance by drag legend Jasmine Rice LaBeija as Hillary Clinton.

Forbidden Broadway will open on Broadway titled Forbidden Broadway on Broadway: Merrily We Stole a Song. It will begin previews on July 29 and open August 15 at the Hayes Theater. Creator Gerard Alessandrini, a Tony honoree for the musical’s Off-Broadway stagings, will direct the Broadway production and it will play a limited run through November 1.The musical revue will feature a five-person cast, who will be joined weekly by guest stars. The production will parody Back to the Future, Company, The Great Gatsby, Hell’s Kitchen, Into the Woods, Merrily We Roll Along, The Notebook, Sweeney Todd and Water for Elephants. Forbidden Broadway on Broadway is produced by Broadway & Beyond Theatricals (Ryan Bogner, Victoria Lang and Tracey Stroock McFarland) in association with John Freedson and Harriet Yellin.”

 

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