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Broadway’s “An Enemy of the People” Shines a Strong Candle Light on Humanity

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A hush comes over the crowd before the strumming float in, singing a sweet tune that takes us back, as the stage is slowly illuminated by warm subtle candlelight. She sits, sewing, I believe, as the receptive audience leans in with anticipation, demonstrating a total solidarity to the wise words of Henrik Ibsen (Ghosts; A Doll’s House), as adapted by Amy Herzog (Mary Jane). The spirit of morality, intolerance and the tensions that surround the brave act of whistle blowing live solid and true inside the new Broadway revival of An Enemy of the People, giving space to hidden greed and selfishness in the name of community and care. Shaped and shifting around the idea of professional responsibilities for the greater good, the play feels completely relevant as we watch this nation being pushed down a muddied path of outlandish lies that are repeatedly given megaphones for distribution. It’s a disquieting phenomenon that we see happening all around us, especially during those years when the Orange Monster held office, although he continues with his barrage to this very day. We should all be very afraid.

Just ask Dr. Fauci, former Chief Medical Advisor to the President. Health and environmental issues versus economic interests, and which voice can overcome the other, are at the heart of this conflict, layered masterfully on top of this 1882 play by the famed Norwegian playwright. As directed with intent by Sam Gold (Broadway’s King Lear; Fun Home), the energy and exacting focus find all the flavour you could hope for in the lead character’s tendency to go his own way, telling the truth, but learning the hard way that truth sometimes grow stale and platitudinous if they go against those in power. Sometimes dying on the alter of what is right and righteous. We see this a lot these sad unfortunate days, and the play illuminates the theme far stronger and greater than those simple lit candles.

Michael Imperioli in An Enemy of the People – Photo by Emilio Madrid.

Truths are by no means the wiry Methuselahs some people think them. A normally constituted truth lives—let us say—as a rule, seventeen or eighteen years; at the outside twenty; very seldom more. And truths so patriarchal as that are always shockingly emaciated.” states Dr. Stockmann, played to beautiful perfection by Jeremy Strong (“Succession“; “Masters of Sex“) delivering the themes into very literal terms. Truth dies, we are shown, if lies and deception are given a louder voice and fit a narrative that many want to personally and selfishly believe. And with Stockmann charging forward, even when told “you won’t get what you want by embarrassing people,” Strong’s performance lives up to his name, and is dynamically matched with stupendously smart stiffness by Michael Imperioli (“The Sopranos“; “The White Lotus“) as his Mayor brother, Peter. He does not want to embrace the scientific reality presented to him by his scientifically educated brother, but instead demonizes and deforms it into an unproven theory that should be discarded. “It’s a matter of financials,” we are told, and the parallels hit hard, as its clear that the facts are being turned upside down and recalibrated into the new, more convenient truth, or as called in modern terms, ‘alternative facts.’

We hear, subtitled in a way, ‘fake news’ being shouted over Strong’s impressive Dr. Stockmann and his report, by his once supportive friends. The most heartbreaking reversal comes from the young and determined Hovstad, played solidly by Caleb Eberhardt (MTC’s Choir Boy), as the editor of the town’s newspaper, who tosses aside his vocal value system for the sake of survival. Such a sad, hard to witness turn-around and deep dive away from truth and friendship. Also jumping on board the ‘Fox News’ equivalent is the printer and spokesperson on the townsfolk, Aslaksen, sharply portrayed by Thomas Jay Ryan (MTC’s The Nap), and the sub-editor, Billing, slyly portrayed by Matthew August Jeffers (MCC’s Moscow x6), after both voiced strong support in regards to publishing the report. But Mayor Peter is by far the worst of “all the devils’ messengers” as he is leading the charge, knowing exactly what he is doing, and who will pay the price for his actions. After failing to convince Dr. Stockmann to retract the article reporting the dangerous levels of bacteria in the water at the new spa, he labels his own brother, An Enemy of the People, and one by one turns the table on his brother, urging everyone to think of the bigger economic picture and try to solve the problem in a quiet, unreported manner, regardless of how many people might get sick. “The resort is the town’s future,” he tells all, feeding into the survival instincts of everyone and anyone who might listen to his scientific brother. And the turn around is devastating.

Victoria Pedretti in An Enemy of the People – Photo by Emilio Madrid.

Only Dr. Stockmann’s daughter, Petra, played wisely by Victoria Pedretti (“Origin“), and their sailor Captain Horster, well played by Alan Trong (Amazon’s “The Tomorrow War“), stand up to the turned and misguided townspeople (Bill Buell, David Mattar Merten, Max Roll), delivered forth on a smartly designed set by dots (Broadway’s Appropriate), with gentle lighting by Isabella Byrd (Broadway’s Cabaret), detailed costuming by David Zinn (Broadway’s SpongeBob…), and a clear sound design by Mikaal Sulaiman (Broadway’s Doubt). But the sharp turn made by father-in-law Morten Kiil, powerfully embodied by David Patrick Kelly (Broadway’s Into the Woods), is the final support beam that is knocked down, icing his son-in-law to the ground, and exposing the financial flavour which is at the core of this rotten apple town. It’s a moment I had forgotten about, as its been many years since I’ve seen this play, and it hit our sensibilities hard and exacting.

Fact turned into speculation, and labeled as true for the sake of a town’s financials is the framing of this majestic reforming, and we can’t help but feel the screw tightening on our already stressed out soul. Ibsen once wrote to his publisher: “I am still uncertain as to whether I should call [An Enemy of the People] a comedy or a straight drama. It may [have] many traits of comedy, but it also is based on a serious idea.” and here at the Circle in the Square Theatre on Broadway, the energy of a discovery, brought down by cowardice moderation and lies, is so well done that it is almost too smart and right on target to be all that funny.

Victoria Pedretti and David Patrick Kelly in An Enemy of the People – Photo by Emilio Madrid.

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

Broadway

Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Richard M. Sherman Songwriter for Mary Poppins and Jungle Book Passes On

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Richard M. Sherman, was a nine-time Academy Award nominee along with his brother Robert. The Sherman Brothers wrote more than 200 songs for some 27 films and 24 television productions. Their film credits include Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, The Absent-Minded Professor, The Parent Trap, Summer Magic tv, The Sword in the Stone, That Darn Cat!, Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, The Happiest Millionaire, The Aristocats, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

The won two Academy Awards for Mary Poppins, taking home the trophies for Best Score – Substantially Original and Best Original Song (for “Chim Chim Cher-ee”). They won three Grammy awards and received 24 gold and platinum albums and were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005 and received the US National Medal of the Arts in 2008.

They also wrote the score on Broadway for Over Here.

The brothers were portrayed in the 2013 film Saving Mr. Banks, which told the story behind the making of Mary Poppins.

Sherman died of age-related illness at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills. His brother Robert died in 2012.

 

 

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The Outer Critics Circle (OCC) Awards And You Are There Part 2

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Yesterday we gave you part 1 of The Outer Critics Circle (OCC), awards ceremony held at the Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center’s New York Public Library for The Performing Arts 111 Amsterdam Avenue, NYC).

In this part Steve Guttenberg gives the award to Outstanding Featured Performer in an Off-Broadway Play: Jay O. Sanders – Primary Trust


Outstanding Lead Performer in an Off-Broadway Musical:
 Andrew Durand  Dead Outlaw

Current President David Gordon introduced Andrea Martin who gave away the awards for Outstanding Direction of a Musical: Jessica Stone – Water for Elephants

A special award was given to Harry Haun longtime OCC member who served on the board as well.

Outstanding Choreography (Broadway or Off-Broadway):Justin Peck —Illinoise

And the tie for Outstanding Lead Performer in an Off-Broadway Play: William Jackson Harper, Primary Trust

Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play: Primary Trust

Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical: Dead Outlaw

Kelechi Watson presented the awards for Outstanding Featured Performer in a Broadway Musical: Kecia Lewis  Hell’s Kitchen

Outstanding Direction of a Play: Daniel Aukin – Stereophonic

Outstanding Lead Performer in a Broadway Musical: Kelli O’Hara  Days of Wine and Roses


Outstanding New Broadway Play:
 Stereophonic

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Outstanding New Broadway Musical: Suffs

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.

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The Stars Showed Up Michael Greif at The New Dramatists Luncheon

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The New Dramatists Annual Spring Luncheon at the New York Marriott Marquis honored Michael Greif, the acclaimed director of not one but three shows playing on Broadway, Days of Wine and Roses, The Notebook and Hell’s Kitchen. Tony Award-winning producers Kevin McCollum and Stacey Mindich served as honorary co-chairs.

Michael Greif

Michael Greif

Christie Brown, Michael Greif, Brian d’Arcy James and Emily Morse

Michael Greif, Brian d’Arcy James

Michael Greif, Brian d’Arcy James

New Dramatists also presented the inagural Konecky Award, named for New Dramatists’ beloved Board President Isobel Konecky and her husband, renowned entertainment attorney Ron Konecky, recognizes those in the theatre and entertainment industry, who serve the field with passion, dedication, excellence, and leadership. The inaugural Konecky Award will be presented to Concord Theatricals.

Attending were:

Ali Louis Bourzgui

Joy Woods

Jordan Tyson

John Cardoza

Betsy Aidem

Will Brill

Rick Elice

Brian d’Arcy James

Michael Greif, Hannah Greif and David Greif

Adam Pascal, Michael Greif and Daphne Rubin-Vega

Members and Creatives of Hell’s Kitchen that includes-Susan Oliveras, Lily Ling, Tom Kitt, Camille A. Brown, Michael Greif, Kecia Lewis, Desmond Sean Ellington, Badia Farha, Kristoffer Diaz, Aaron Nicholas Patterson and Oscar Whitney Jr.

Ryan Vasquez

Kecia Lewis

Camille A. Brown

Kristoffer Diaz

Schele Williams, John Cardoza, Victoria Navarro, Geoffrey Ko, Dorian Harewood, Michael Greif, Maryann Plunkett, Jordan Tyson, Bekah Brunstetter, Katie Spelman and Kurt Deutsch

Schele Williams and Michael Greif

Priscilla Lopez

Jennifer Whyte, Steven Skybell, Tom Scutt, Rebecca Frecknall, Julia Cheng and Henry Gottfried

Priscilla Lopez and Michael Greif

Henry Gottfried

Tom Scuttt

Christine Ebersole and Michael Greif

Francis Benhamou

Steven Skybell

Jennifer Whyte

Julia Cheng

Michael Greif, Christine Ebersole, Priscilla Lopez and Doug Wright

Rebecca Frecknall

Eli Gelb

David Adjmi

Corey Stoll

Alison Luff

Isabelle McCalla

Amy Ryan

Amanda Green

Eden Espinosa

Sarah Pidgeon

Shoshana Bean

Quincy Tyler Bernstine

Michael Greif and Shoshana Bean

Justin Peck

Paula Vogel and Celia Keenan-Bolger

Juliana Margulies

Daryl Roth and Juliana Margulies

Jim Dale and Daryl Roth

Jim Dale, Daryl Roth and Juliana Margulies

Brody Grant

Lea Salonga

Lea Salonga

Sarah Paulson

Leslie Kritzer

Shaina Taub and Leigh Silverman

Amber Iman

Nikki M. James

John Weidner

Jessica Hecht

Andrew R. Butler

Casey Likes

Grant Gustin

Sean Patrick Flahaven

Doug Wright

Bradley King

Jamie deRoy

New Dramatists

 

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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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