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Annette Bening, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Hugh Jackman Introduce Entertainment Community Fund Campaign

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Last night at the Entertainment Community Fund, (formerly The Actors Fund) gala, they announced the $160 million ESSENTIALCampaign: a bold and comprehensive effort that will combine all of the organization’s fundraising, allowing the Fund to serve more people in more places. The campaign will support expanding and sustaining Fund services; growing the Emergency Relief Reserve Fund to allow the Fund to respond immediately to the next crisis that will impact the entertainment community; and support mission-critical capital projects.

Within these tentpoles, specific goals include tripling the number of people the Fund serves; executing an innovative digital engagement strategy that includes the roll-out of a new client portal funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Digital Accelerator Program; reaching more people in additional communities with services such as scholarships, mental health services, insurance and career counseling; complete construction of The Hollywood Arts Collective, a complex in the heart of Hollywood that combines 151 units of affordable housing with an arts building and a new home for the Fund’s Western Region offices; upgrading the Actors Fund Home, an assisted living, skilled nursing and rehabilitation residence for seniors in New Jersey; modernize The Schermerhorn and The Dorothy Ross Friedman affordable housing residences in New York; and creating an Affordable Housing Catalyst Fund to stimulate investment in new projects.

Fundraising for the ESSENTIAL Campaign began in 2022, with contributions already made by individuals, foundations, corporations, unions and guilds. An additional $1.1 million was raised at the gala last night.

Led by Honorary Co-Chairs Annette Bening and Brian Stokes Mitchell, the ESSENTIAL Campaign Committee also includes Co-Chairs Hugh Jackman, Chris Keyser, Kenny Leon, Matthew Loeb, Shonda Rhimes and Robert Wankel. Committee members include Greg Berlanti, Janice Reals Ellig, Robert Greenblatt, David Henry Hwang, Sharon Karmazin, Brooke Kennedy, James L. Nederlander, Ruth Nerken, Laura Penn, David Rambo, Lauren Reid, Kate Shindle, Henry Tisch and Lisa Ann Walter.

This morning, Campaign Co-Chair Hugh Jackman shared this special message in celebration of the public launch that can be viewed

“The Entertainment Community Fund has been a longstanding cornerstone in our industry, lending support and meeting the unique needs of thousands of people. Still, more of our colleagues need help, and it will take all of us to support the transformative ESSENTIAL Campaign and ensure that the Fund reaches as many individuals who need these services as possible,” shared Committee Co-Chair Shonda Rhimes.

Bening and Mitchell added, “As Board Chairs for the Entertainment Community Fund and as Honorary Co-Chairs for the ESSENTIAL Campaign, we are tremendously grateful to everyone who has already supported this fundraising initiative and to those who will help us meet our goal. With significant campaign contributions already distributed to provide much-needed services to our community, the Fund is already impacting the lives of more people in more places.”

For more information and to learn how you can support the ESSENTIAL Campaign, please visit entertainmentcommunity.org/Essential.

In addition to announcing the exciting campaign, the evening celebrated Sonia Friedman CBE, Olivier and Tony Award-winning producer; Seth MacFarlane, Founder, Fuzzy Door and Award-winning writer, actor, director, producer and singer; and Warner Bros. Television Group, Emmy-winning producer of scripted, unscripted and animated programming, as they received the Entertainment Community Fund Medal of Honor.

Special guests, presenters and performers included Kelsey Anderson, Eric Bauza, Michael Evans Behling, Annette Bening, Melissa Benoist, Kola Bokinni, Holly Ann Butler, John Cardoza, Corey Cott, Hannah Cruz, Stephen Daldry, Cristo Fernández, Maria Friedman, Drew Gehling, Liz Gillies, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Hawley Gould, Joey Graziadei, Bonita Hamilton, Shanola Hampton, Brian d’Arcy James, Leslie Rodriguez Kreitzer, McKenzie Kurtz, Camryn Manheim, Julia Mattison, Allyson Tucker Mitchell, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Katherine Oliver, Greta Onieogou, Cassadee Pope, Dennis Stowe, L. Steven Taylor, Ryan Vasquez,Joy Woods, Chip Zien and more.

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 Outer Critics Circle (OCC) Awards And You Are There Part 1

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The Outer Critics Circle (OCC), awards ceremony for the winners was held on Thursday, May 23, 2024, in the Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center’s New York Public Library for The Performing Arts (111 Amsterdam Avenue, NYC).

Current President David Gordon and  Vice President Richard Ridge welcomed everyone. There were celebrity presenters and Tony Danza proved why he is a comedy star. The first award given out was to Outstanding Video/Projections: Peter Nigrini – The Who’s Tommy.

Danza also gave out the awards to Outstanding Orchestrations Marco Paguia – Buena Vista Social Club.

Outstanding Costume Design: Linda Cho – The Great Gatsby

Outstanding Lead Performer in a Broadway Play: Jessica Lange – Mother Play

Receiving the John Gassner Award for New American Play (preferably by a new playwright): Oh, Mary! and a tie for Outstanding Lead Performer in an Off-Broadway Play (tie): Cole Escola left a video message.


Next to present was Montego Glover who gave Outstanding Featured Performer in an Off-Broadway Musical (tie) Judy Kuhn – I Can Get It For You Wholesale

and to Thom Sesma – Dead Outlaw

Outstanding Book of a Musical and Outstanding Score Shaina Taub – Suffs

Outstanding Scenic Design (tie): Paul Tate dePoo III – The Great Gatsby

Outstanding Lighting Design: Brian MacDevitt  The Outsiders

Outstanding Featured Performer in a Broadway Play: Kara Young – Purlie Victorious

Next up Steve Gutenberg gave awards to Outstanding Revival of a Play: Appropriate

Outstanding Sound DesignRyan Rumery – Stereophonic

Outstanding Solo Performance: Patrick Page – All the Devils are Here

Founded during the 1949-50 Broadway season by respected theater journalist John Gassner, The Outer Critics Circle is an esteemed association with members affiliated with more than ninety newspapers, magazines, broadcast stations, and online news organizations, in America and abroad. Led by its current President David Gordon, the OCC Board of Directors also includes Vice President Richard Ridge, Recording Secretary Joseph Cervelli, Corresponding Secretary Patrick Hoffman, Treasurer David Roberts, Cynthia Allen, Harry Haun, Dan Rubins, Janice Simpson and Doug Strassler. Simon Saltzman is President Emeritus & Board Member (Non-nominating) and Stanley L. Cohen serves as Financial Consultant & Board Member (Non-nominating). Lauren Yarger serves as the Outer Critics Circle Awards ceremony executive producer.

Tomorrow Part 2.

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Ken Fallin’s Broadway: On The Town For Fleet Week

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Fleet Week is upon us, so, attached is a drawing I did of Channing Tatum a few years ago for The Los Angeles Times. This was done for Hail Caesar! choreographed by Christopher Gattelli.

Hail Caesar!  is by Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men, Fargo), starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Channing Tatum, Hail, Caesar! follows a single day in the life of a studio fixer who is presented with plenty of problems to fix.

Here is a video with Channing and the rest of the cast. Talk about a great Happy Memorial Day!

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Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet Times Three

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It’s going to be some Shakespeare-heavy months ahead, especially around those famously doomed lovers named Romeo and Juliet, as I fly into the Stratford Festival (formally called the Stratford Shakespeare Festival) here in Ontario, Canada for their first big opening week of six shows. The week will start with Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night followed by the musical comedy about Shakespeare, Something Rotten, and then Shakespeare’s Cymbeline on night three. The fourth night will be the opening of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler; the fifth, La Cage Aux Folles, followed by, lastly (at least for this coming week) the final opening of this particular opening week, show number six, Shakespeare’s ultimate romantic tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. (Much more follows over the summer of Canada’s fantastic Stratford Festival.)

As directed by Sam White, the founding Artistic & Executive Director at Shakespeare in Detroit, Shakespeare’s great romance Romeo and Juliet slides in at the Festival Theatre on Saturday, June 1st, 2024, starring Jonathan Mason (Stratford’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Vanessa Sears  (CS/Obsidian/Necessary Angel’s Is God Is) as those starcrossed titular characters and lovers. As with the whole season, I’m hoping this production, and all the others, will live up to the festival’s high standards, and be just the beginning of a spectacular year of Shakespeare. And of these two young lovers.

Kit Connor and Rachel Zegler. Photo by Sam Levy.

After that jam-packed week in Stratford, Canada, it doesn’t end for this theatre junkie and his faithful companion. Jetting off soon after to London, England, we have another week of theatre planned. As scheduled, the two of us will see an onslaught of plays, including Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard at Donmar, two National Theatreproductions; Hills of California and the Olivier-winning Standing at the Sky’s Edge, as well as Ian McKellen in Player Kings (Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1 & 2), the Royal Court Theatre’s Bluets, and (of course) the much-talked-about production of Romeo & Juliet, directed and produced by Jamie Lloyd. It just opened this week at the Duke of York’s Theatre, running from Saturday, May 11 through Saturday, August 3, starring Tom Holland as Romeo and Francesca Amewudah-Rivers as Juliet.

#RomeoJulietLDN production photography by Marc Brenner

From the photos popping up on Facebook, Lloyd’s pulsating new vision of Shakespeare’s immortal tale of wordsmiths, rhymers, lovers, and fighters is sure to be something to see. It will definitely be talked about all over the world, yet it was truly disheartening to read about all the hateful postings around the casting choice of Lloyd’s Juliet. It says, sadly, so much about our world right now, but it seems to have quieted down some (although the sting and stink must still be lingering in the air for us all), and although the reviews of this West End production came out today, I will try to stay away from them until long after. Whether the production will follow the successful path of other Lloyd hits, including the pared-down stagings of A Doll’s House that starred the incredible Jessica Chastain or the phenomenal Betrayal with Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Cox, and Zawe Ashton, remains to be seen, but I am curious if it will also find its way across the pond to Broadway.

If it does, it will have some pretty fierce competition, as another Romeo & Juliet, this one starring Heartstopper‘s Kit Connor and West Side Story‘s Rachel Zegler will begin Broadway performances on Thursday, September 26, at Circle in the Square Theatre, with an official opening night set for Thursday, October 24. The run, directed by Sam Gold, is a strictly limited, 16-week engagement, and I can not wait to get in to see it as well. All three really. And I won’t have to ask the forever question, “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” I’ll just have to ask which Romeo are we looking for? And which Juliet.

See video here. 

Often called the greatest love story of all time, Romeo + Juliet has captivated audiences and artists for centuries and provided the inspiration for hundreds of films, ballets, operas, novels, including the iconic Broadway musical West Side Story.

Stratford Festival’s production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet officially opens on June 1 and runs until October 26 at the Festival Theatre. Tickets are available at stratfordfestival.ca

The West End’s Romeo & Juliet officially opened on May 23rd at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London, and runs until Saturday, August 3. Tickets are available (although probably sold out) at https://www.thedukeofyorks.com/romeo-and-juliet

The Broadway production of Romeo + Juliet at Circle in the Square Theatre, with an official opening night set for Thursday, October 24, and running for a limited engagement of 16 weeks. Tickets will be available at https://romeoandjulietnyc.com/

For tickets and more information, click here.

 

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League of Professional Theatre Women Invite the Public to Oral History Interview Of Broadway Playwright Theresa Rebeck

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Stage, film, television and novel writer Theresa Rebeck will be interviewed about her long and brilliant career at 6p.m., Monday, June 3, at the Bruno Walter Auditorium, at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center (111 Amsterdam Avenue at 65th Street), New York.
This event, which is FREE and open to the public, is part of the League of Professional Theatre Women’s (LPTW) Oral History Project in partnership with the Library and is a highlight of LPTW’s 41st season.
Theresa Rebeck is a widely produced writer for stage, film, television and novels, whose work can be seen and read throughout the United States and internationally. With five plays produced on Broadway, Rebeck is the most Broadway-produced female playwright of our time.
Rebeck’s Broadway credits include I Need That (starring Danny DeVito), Bernhardt/Hamlet (starring Janet McTeer), Dead Accounts (starring Norbert Leo Butz); Seminar (starring Alan Rickman); Mauritius (starring F. Murray Abraham). Other New York productions of her work include Dig (Outer Critic’s Circle nomination), Seared (starring Raul Esparza, DramaLeague Award) at MCC Theater, Downstairs (starring Tim Daly and Tyne Daly); The Scene (starring Tony Shalhoub), The Water’s Edge, Loose Knit, The Family of Mann and Spike Heels at Second Stage; Bad Dates, The Butterfly Collection and Our House at Playwrights Horizons; The Understudy at Roundabout Theatre Company; and View of the Dome at New York Theatre Workshop. Other notable plays include Poor Behavior, What We’re Up Against, and Omnium Gatherum (co-written), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2013.
As an author, Rebeck has written three novels: Three Girls and Their Brother (Random House/Shaye Areheart Books, 2008), Twelve Rooms with A View (Random House/Shaye Areheart Books, 2010) and I’m Glad About You (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2016), along with Free Fire Zone, a book of comedic essays about writing and show business.
Rebeck made her NYC Directorial debut with Rob Ackerman’s play Dropping Gumballs on Luke Wilson at The Working Theatre and directed the World Premiere of her new play Dig at Primary Stages in NY and Dorset Theatre Festival in Vermont. Her new podcast play, “Nightwatch” (starring Norbert Leo Butz), was released in 2023.
In television, Rebeck created the NBC showbiz drama “Smash,” and has written for “Canterbury’s Law,” “LA Law,” NYPD Blue,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “Dream On,” Brooklyn Bridge,” and many more.
Her produced feature films include the big-budget all-female spy thriller 355 (co-written with Simon Kinberg for Jessica Chastain’s production company); Trouble (writer/director), starring Angelica Huston and Bill Pullman; Harriet the Spy; Gossip and the independent features Sunday on the Rocks and Seducing Charlie Barker, an adaptation of her play, The Scene.
Theresa lives in Brooklyn with her husband Jess Lynn.
To attend this event, please RSVP HERE.
To view past oral history interviews, visit the Library’s Theatre on Film and Tape Archive, or visit the LPTW’s archive.
Women working in the theatre industry are eligible to join LPTW.  For more information on upcoming events and to join LPTW, visit: www.theatrewomen.org.
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Museum of Broadway Launches ‘Moulin Rouge! The Musical: Spectacular, Spectacular’ Exhibit

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Sparkle this summer with the most dazzling exhibit at The Museum of Broadway.

This week the beloved museum hosted the launch for the opening of Moulin Rouge! The Musical: Spectacular, Spectacular, presented in partnership with Chase Freedom.

Cast members and friends were on hand at the Big Apple opening nigh including Courtney Reed (Satine), Ashley Loren (OBC Satine), Jacqueline B. Arnold (La Chocolat), Jeigh Madjus (Baby Doll), Jessica Lee Goldyn (Nini), Krystal Joy Brown (Merrily, We Roll Along), Jay Armstrong Johnson (Parade), Charl Brown (Motown the Musical), and more gathered to raise a glass to the glitter.

The exhibit will run through September 8, 2024. Marking the fourth dedicated installation created exclusively for The Museum of Broadway, the new exhibit follows SIX: The Royal GalleryALL THAT JAZZ: The Legacy of Chicago The Musical, and The American Theatre As Seen by Hirschfeld. Entrance to the special exhibit is included in any ticket purchased to the Museum of Broadway and for museum members. The Museum of Broadway is open seven days a week – tickets start at $34.

FOR MORE INFO, CLICK HERE.

 

Photos by David Troncoso for The Museum of Broadway

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