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David Hyde Pierce

David Hyde Pierce

The Drama League (Executive Artistic Director Gabriel Stelian-Shanks) announced today that Tony® and Emmy® Award winner David Hyde Pierce will be the Honoree of the 33rd Annual Musical Celebration of Broadway, to be held on Monday evening, November 7, 2016 at The Plaza (768 Fifth Avenue) in New York City.  Celebrating Mr. Pierce’s career in theater, film and television including this season’s productions of A Life (Playwrights Horizons) and Hello, Dolly!, the black-tie gala will feature dozens of stars from Hollywood and Broadway in a one-night-only musical tribute supporting The Drama League’s educational initiatives for promising young artists. VIP and Ballroom seats are now available, with a limited number of seats open to the General Public.  For more information, please call (212) 244-9494, Ext. 101 or visit the website at www.dramaleague.org.

“Since 1916, The Drama League has been honored to celebrate the career achievements of great theatrical artists,” noted Drama League Executive Artistic Director Gabriel Stelian-Shanks. “To kick off our second century in this tradition, we could think of no one more perfect than David, who exemplifies the absolute best of what American theater can be.  What a pleasure it is to gather his friends, co-stars and colleagues for an unforgettable night celebrating his many triumphs, and his return to Broadway this season.”
 Emmy® and Tony® Award winner David Hyde Pierce made his professional and Broadway debut in 1982 as the waiter in Christopher Durang’s Beyond Therapy, and will return to the Great White Way in the Spring of 2017 as Horace Vandergelder in the revival of Hello, Dolly!, opposite Bette Midler. He will be seen Off-Broadway this fall in Adam Bock’s “A Life,” which will play at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater for Playwrights’ Horizons.
Pierce won the Tony® Award for his role as Lieutenant Frank Cioffi in the Musical Comedy, Curtains, before going on to appear in the Manhattan Theatre Club revival of the 1930’s comedy Accent on Youth. In 2010, Pierce starred in the acclaimed London and Broadway productions of La Bête. He returned to Off-Broadway in the Vineyard Theatre’s 2013 production of The Landing, a new musical from John Kander. He went on to create roles in the off-Broadway productions of That’s it Folks!, The Author’s VoiceMaderatiZero Positive, and Elliot Loves before returning to Broadway in The Heidi Chronicles. In 2005, he originated the role of Sir Robin in the Broadway production of Monty Python’s Spamalot. For his performance, Pierce was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical.
In addition to his work in new plays, Pierce has appeared in Hamlet and Much Ado (New York Shakespeare Festival), Holiday and Camille (Long Wharf Theatre), Candida (Goodman Theatre), The SeagullTartuffeCyrano, and Midsummer’s Night’s Dream (Guthrie Theatre), and Peter Brook’s The Cherry Orchard in New York, Moscow, Leningrad, and Tokyo. In Los Angeles, he appeared in Terrence McNally’s It’s Only a Play at the Doolittle Theatre and in the Geffen Playhouse production of Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks with Uta Hagen.
Pierce made his Broadway directorial debut with Barbara Anselmi and Brian Hargrove’s original musical It Shoulda Been You, which opened last spring at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre and ran through the summer. Pierce first directed the show at the George Street Playhouse, starring Tyne Daly and Harriet Harris, who reprised their roles on Broadway. He most recently helmed David Lindsay-Abaire’s new dark comedy, “Ripcord,” for Manhattan Theater Club. The show, which starred Mary-Louise Burke and Holland Taylor as mismatched roommates in an assisted living facility, played a limited engagement in the winter of 2015. Pierce’s other directing credits include Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at Los Angeles’s Mark Taper Forum (Pierce originated the role of Vanya on Broadway, and was nominated for a Tony® Award for his performance), as well as a reimagining of “The Importance of Being Earnest” for the Williamstown Theatre Festival, in which he set the play in Prohibition era times.
Pierce’s film credits include “Bright Lights, Big City,” “Crossing Delancey,” “Little Man Tate,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” “Wolf,” “Nixon,” “Isn’t She Great,” “Wet, Hot, American Summer,” “Full Frontal,” “Down With Love,” “A Bug’s Life,” “Osmosis Jones,” “Treasure Planet,” and the Sundance Film Festival Selection “The Perfect Host.”
His television credits include a short but happy stint on Norman Lear’s political satire “The Powers That Be,” and a long but happy stint on “Frasier,” for which he earned four Emmy® Awards and the American Comedy, Television Critics, Viewers for Quality Television and Screen Actors Guild Awards. He returned to series television in 2014 with a guest arc on the critically acclaimed CBS drama “The Good Wife.” He also reprised his role in last summer’s Netflix reboot of “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.”
Pierce has worked with The Alzheimer’s Association for nearly twenty years. As a board member and national spokesperson, he has worked with the Association in its mission to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. In 2010, he was awarded the Tony® Awards’ Isabelle Stevenson Award for his work with the Association.
Resolution Life is the proud Lead Season Sponsor of The Drama League. The Drama League Benefit Gala Sponsors include Delta Air Lines, the Official Airline of The Drama League; M.A.C. Cosmetics, the Official Makeup Partner of The Drama League; Starbright Floral Design, the Official Florist of The Drama League; and The Plaza.
 
The Gala Chairpersons are Anna May Feige and Stan Ponte, with Vice-Chairs Rebecca A. Gillan, Kathy Henderson, Mary Jain, Kari Nettles, Joseph and Lauren Pizza, Resolution Life, Elaine C. and W. Weldon Wilson, and Nadine Wong.
The Drama League Benefit Gala helps to raise funds to support the educational training programs of The Drama League Directors Project.  The award-winning initiative, which began in 1982 and whose alumni now number over 300, has been instrumental in launching the careers of Tony® Award winners Sam Gold (Fun HomeThe Glass Menagerie), Diane Paulus (Waitress), Pam MacKinnon (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?Amélie), Michael Mayer (Hedwig and the Angry InchBurn This), and John Rando (On The Town); Tony Award nominees Mark Brokaw (Heisenberg), Christopher Ashley (Come From Away), Moritz von Steulpnagel (Hand to God) and Alex Timbers (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson); and OBIE and Emmy Award winners Rachel Chavkin (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812), Lear deBessonet, R.J. Cutler, and Anne Kaufmann (A Life), to name a few.  ‘Drama League Directors’ have been honored with Tony, Emmy, Grammy, Obie, Peabody, Drama Desk, GLAAD, Drama League, New York Drama Critics Circle, Outer Critics, Evening Standard, Lucille Lortel, Bessie, Princess Grace, Garland, Drama-Logue, Barrymore, Helen Hayes, Elliot Norton, and Joseph Jefferson Awards, and have directed films and plays that received Academy Award nominations and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
The Drama League of New York, since 1916, has been at the forefront of the American Theatre community, providing talent, audiences, and prosperous support. It is one of the nation’s oldest continuously-operating, not-for-profit arts advocacy and education organizations. Through its programs, initiatives and events, The Drama League serves over 3,000 artists and 15,000 audience members each season with over 150 events and programs. More information can be found at www.dramaleague.org.

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 Wiz’s Eases Back Onto Broadway

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There is much to love about the Broadway revival of The Wiz, which opened tonight at the Marquis Theatre. This beloved musical originally opened on Broadway in 1975, was made into film in 1978 and is back with a score by Charlie Smalls, that sparkles due to the orchestrations by Joseph Joubert and vocal arrangements by Allen René Louise. I love the Lalo Schifrin sound.

Nichelle Lewis, Melody A. Betts Photo By Jeremy Daniel

Directed by Schele Williams and an updated book by Amber Ruffin, what this revival has is heart, what it is missing is style.

Deborah Cox


Now Dorothy (a terrific Nichelle Lewis, a newcomer making her Broadway debut) has moved to Kansas to live with her Aunt Em (Melody A. Betts, who shines as  the beloved Aunt, but isn’t evil enough as the wicked witch Evillene, due in part to the sound designer Jon Weston and costume designer Sharen Davis). Dorothy has lost her parents and apparently her dog (no Toto), is being bullied, feels lost and alone, until a tornado sends her hurling to Oz. Her house still kills the wicked witch of the East, but Dorothy is introduced to golden glittery Glinda (Deborah Cox), by Addaperle ( a vocal glorious Allyson Kaye Daniel). She is sent to meet the powerful Wizard (a phenomenally grounded Wayne Brady) to get back home. Along the way meets the scarecrow (Avery Wilson) in need of a brain, the tinman (Phillip Johnson Richardson) wanting a heart and a lion (Kyle Ramar Freeman) in need os some courage.

Avery Wilson, Nichelle Lewis, Phillip Johnson Richardson Photo By Jeremy Daniel

All shine in their performances and vocals though the sound design threatens to derails them. Ms. Cox who is gloriously in voice, is not well mic’d, nor is anyone else. I was in the sixth row and it was hard to hear and I really did want to as the vocals were terrific.

Wayne Brady and Emerald City Photo By Jeremy Daniel

The choreography, by JaQuel Knight, is clunky with numbers seeming not to gel with each other. Each number looks like it belongs in a different show. However the individual performances take the movement to levels that work. Mr. Wison’s scarecrow, is all limbs and displays his flexibility and acrobatic tricks to the nth degree. Mr. Richardson gives the tinman a heart with his soulful “What Would I Do If I Could Feel”. Freeman’s lion, is an amusing scaredy cat who breaks though.

Kyle Ramar Freeman, Nichelle Lewis, Wayne Brady, Phillip Johnson Richardson, Avery Wilson wanting a heart and a lion Photo By Jeremy Daniel

Wayne Brady is a standout as The Wiz and I was wow’d by him.
Lewis is a find as the teenager trying to find herself. “Home”, is now the final song and she nails it making us fall in love with this revival despite it’s designer flaws.

The Oscar-winning production designer Hannah Beachler and costume’s look like they were designed on acid with no filter and no funding. The color choices and styles all look tacky. I really wanted to rip the tablecloth looking skirt off the lion and still do.

I have such fond memories of this show and I left with them intact. Sometimes things do not have to be perfect in order to shine.

The Wiz: Marquis Theatre, 210 W 46th Street, until April 18th.

 

 

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Barry Manilow, Bruce Sussman and More At The Museum of Broadway As Harmony Is Honored

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On Thursday, April 18th Barry Manilow, Bruce Sussman, The Comedian Harmonists Sean Bell, Danny Kornfeld, Zal Owen, Eric Peters, Blake Roman and Steven Telsey, as well as Company members including Chip Zien, Kate Wesler, Kyla Stone, Matthew Mucha, Stuart Zagnit, Zak Edwards, and more TBA will be at The Museum of Broadway to unveil a brand-new window display dedicated to the Broadway musical Harmony. Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman brought the long-forgotten story of The Comedian Harmonists, a German singing group of six young men whose fame was abruptly cut short by the rise of Nazism, to life in the 2023 hit Broadway musical Harmony.

The Museum of Broadway will honor their story with a dedicated window featuring exclusive items donated by Manilow and Sussman, and historical items dating back to the 1920s.

The program will include a special a cappella performance by the OBC Comedian Harmonists.

Harmony, featured an original new score by legendary Tony, Grammy, and Emmy Award® winner Barry Manilow with lyrics and book by Drama Desk Award Winner, Bruce Sussman. Directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Warren Carlyle (The Music Man, Hello Dolly!), this timely and captivating rags-to-riches story lost to history came to dazzling life with a sensational cast of Broadway favorites.

Based on an unbelievable true story, the musical told the tale of the most successful entertainers you’ve never heard of. . . until Harmony. In the 1920s and 30s, The Comedian Harmonists sold millions of records, made dozens of films, and sold-out the biggest theaters around the world. Their heavenly harmonies and musical comedy antics catapulted these six talented young men from singing in the subway tunnels of Berlin to international superstardom.  What happened next was the story of Harmony.

The female-founded award-winning Museum of Broadway is the world’s first-ever permanent museum dedicated to the storied history and legendary artists, creators and stars of Broadway musicals and plays, past and present. Offering unrivaled “backstage” access, the Museum of Broadway goes behind-the-scenes to show guests of all ages how a Broadway show is made from conception to curtain call.  A one-of-its-kind entertaining and educational celebration of Broadway for the theatre enthusiast and insider alike, the Museum of Broadway transports visitors visually through centuries of time.  Experience a stunning, ever-evolving curation from the 1700s-present day one dazzling, unforgettable exhibit, costume, prop, rendering and rarity at a time. Through each piece, the Museum of Broadway honors the legacies of those who paved the way for today’s Broadway and the next generation of theatregoers and creators.

Founded in November 2022, the Museum of Broadway highlights more than 500 showstopping and hidden gem productions across three floors of exhibits.  Open seven days a week and welcoming thousands of guests weekly from all over the world, the museum also offers free educational programming, special events with your favorite Broadway casts and creatives, a membership program, merchandise from your favorite shows, and so much more. A portion of proceeds from every ticket sold is donated to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Be sure to follow @MuseumofBroadway on all social channels for the latest artifact drops, special offers, events and happenings and visit themuseumofbroadway.com to complete your perfect day on Broadway.

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Broadway

Lempicka Brings An Artist Work Back To Life

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In 1984, I saw the interactive show Tamara based on the life of the artist Tamara de Lempicka in LA and fell in love with it, so much so that it has stayed one of my favorites to this day. Lempicka is a new musical based more on her sexual choices than her stylized Art Deco portraits that changed and inspired generations. She was one of the first feminists, as Tamara choose art, sexual freedom and a lifestyle in a time of war and destruction.


The musical starts out on a park bench in LA as an older Tamara (Eden Espinosa) reflects on her life. Flash back to Warsaw, Poland as Tamara is to be wed to Lempicka (Andrew Samonsky) an aristocrat and is to live a life of luxury. Then the Bolshevik’s in prison her husband, she uses sexual favors to free him and they flee to Paris with their daughter. When her husband is unwilling to work she becomes a painter and uses the name Lempicka. There she is befriended by a wealthy art patron (Nathaniel Stampley) and his wife (Beth Leavel), is influenced by Marinetti (George Abu), the founder of the Futurist art movement, and is inspired and in love with Rafaela (Amber Iman). Both Lempicka and the musical come alive at this point. Tamara finds friendship and solace with a nightclub owner, Suzy (Natalie Joy Johnson), who gives her and others like her a refuge, until the Nazi’s invade. In the end, while breaking ground Lempicka’s life style becomes rather self centered or should I say one of self preservation as she loses her husband, her daughter and her lover.

Amber Iman, Eden Espinosa Photo by Matthew Murphy/Evan Zimmerman

Matt Gould’s music and Carson Kreitzer’s lyrics are well sung and the show sounds glorious. This is a new take on pop music. The problem here is the minor characters get the songs that make the show come alive. Iman, Abu and Johnson almost steal the show with their numbers. Level gets the 11 O’Clock number and breaks our hearts. Though Espinoza has some good numbers and sells them, none of them really stand out.

George Abud photo by Matthew Murphy/Evan Zimmerman)

Kreitzer also conceived the book and wrote it with Gould. Again the show does and doesn’t work. Instead of focusing on Lempicka’s art, the changing world around her and the fact that she was one of the first feminists, the story is more focused on lesbian repression. The show is billed as a triangle of love, but her husband once they get to Paris is in his own world until she gets together with Rafaela a prostitute. Rachel Chavkin’s direction makes the scenes between Rafaela and Lempicka beautiful and in a strange sense if feels a little like Indecent, however the show as a whole doesn’t jell.

Photo by Matthew Murphy/Evan Zimmerman

I did like Raja Feather Kelly’s choreography that seemed to evoke the changing world around.

Riccardo Hernández’s set of steel, seems like the world is on the verge of collapse and rebuilding. The lighting by Bradley King and projections by Peter Hylenski and Justin Stasi added to that effect. Paloma Young’s costumes missed the mark and seemed like they were in two different stories.

The reason to see Lempicka is it is sung and acted gloriously.

Once you see Lempicka, you will realize how much Tamara de Lempicka’s art change and influenced the world of art. This was a woman who survived at all costs and that should always be admired.

Lempicka: Longacre Theatre, 220 West 48th Street.
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Ken Fallin’s Broadway: The Outsiders

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These boys are taking Broadway by storm Jason Schmidt, Sky Lakota-Lynch, and Brody Grant. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1967, the hardened hearts and aching souls of Ponyboy Curtis, Johnny Cade and their chosen family of “outsiders” are in a fight for survival and a quest for purpose in a world that may never accept them. A story of the bonds that brothers share and the hopes we all hold on to, this gripping new musical reinvigorates the timeless tale of “haves and have nots”, of protecting what’s yours and fighting for what could be.

The Outsiders opened on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 W 45th Street.

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Broadway

We Say Good Bye To Costume Designer Extraordinaire Carrie Robbins

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I met Carrie Robbins at an art gallery with Louis St Louis, Baayork Lee and Judy Jacksina. The four of us stayed well into the morning talking, laughing and having a fabulous time. Carrie and I bonded after that as she turned to playwriting. It broke my heart to learn that on the evening of April 12, 2024 Costume Designer extraordinaire Carrie Robbins passed away.

Carrie’s work has been featured in over 30+ Broadway shows, including Class Act, Grease (original), Agnes of God, Yentl, Octette Bridge Club, Sweet Bird of Youth (Lauren Bacall), Frankenstein, Happy End (Mary Streep), Boys of Winter, Cyrano (Frank Langella), & Shadow Box (Mercedes Ruehl).

Her awards and nominations included: 2012 recipient of the Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Theatre Development Fund & the tdf/Costume Collection with the support of the Tobin Theatre Arts Fund. 2 Tony (Noms.), 5 Drama Desks, Maharam, USITT/Prague International, L.A. Dramalogue, Henry Hughes, F.I.T-Surface Design, & Audelco, among others.

Robbins’ costumes for the Irving Berlin musical White Christmas played major cities in the USA, Broadway, and Great Britain. Her regional work included M. Butterfly and On the Verge, for director Tazewell Thompson (Arena Stage) and the Gershwin musical American in Paris by Ken Ludwig for director Gregory Boyd (Alley Theatre, Houston) as well as The Tempest (Anthony Hopkins as Prospero) & Flea in Her Ear (director Tom Moore at Mark Taper Forum), many productions for the Guthrie (MN), Williamstown, and many others from Alaska to Buffalo.


Locally, in NYC, Robbins designed for many productions for The Lincoln Center Repertory Theatre, Chelsea Theatre at BAM, Acting Company at Juilliard and NY Shakespeare Festival.

She also designed for the Opera and they included Death in Venice for Glimmerglass (’08 Prague International Design Exhibit), Samson et Dalila (San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand, more), and many productions for Sarah Caldwell’s Opera Company of Boston. Her work has also been seen at the Hamburg StatsOper.

For film Robbins designed the movie “In The Spirit” (Elaine May, Peter Falk, Marlo Thomas); TV design included: Saturday Nite Live, PBS Arts in America, & several unseen pilots.

Robbins has designed clothes for several seasons of Queen Esther Marrow and The Harlem Gospel Singers’ European Tour. She also did the designs for The Cincinnati Ballet’s new Nutcracker, in December of 2011

Robbins was an MFA grad from the Yale School of Drama and was Master Teacher of Costume Design at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts for many years. She is extremely proud of the extraordinary number of award-winning, successful young costume designers and costume teachers across the country who came out of her classes.

Besides being a costume designer Carrie also was a playwright. In August 2010, her play, The Death & Life of Dr. Cutter, a Vaudeville, based on the true stories told by her husband Dr. R.D.Robbins, had its 4th reading at the Snapple Theatre Center; it was chosen by Abingdon Theatre Co, NYC, to be part of its First Readings Series in Fall, 2009. In 2011-12 the  League of Professional Theatre Women chose The Dragon Quartet as part of its 30th year anniversary celebration. In 2012-13, La MaMa (oldest off-off-Broadway theater in NYC at 51 years) chose The Diamond Eater for its “Concert Reading Series”. In 2013: TACT (The Actors Company Theatre, chose Sawbones for part of its newTACTics New Play Festival. In 2014 both The Diamond Eater and Sawbones  received 6 Nominations from N.Y. Innovative Theatre Awards (the most nominations given out in the 2014 season). In 2015, Le Wedding Dress, was a semi-finalist in NYNewWorks Theatre Festival. In 2016: Obsessions Of An Art Student chosen by NYNewWorks Theatre Festival. In 2016, The Actress, was a finalist in NY Thespis Summer Festival. In 2017, My Swollen Feet, chosen by NY Summerfest Theatre Festival/ Hudson Guild Theatre. In 2018 The Diamond Eater , semi-finalist at the 14th St. Y competition War + Peace/2018/19 season and The Dragon Griswynd, was chosen by Theater for the New City for its “Dream-Up Festival” In 2019 Pie Lessons, was invited by Crystal Field, Exec. Artistic Director of Theater for the New City, to be part of “Scratch Night at TNC”.

The last thing Carrie was working on was For The Lost Children Of Paris. This play was about how the Nazis, with help from the Vichy Government, collected French-Jewish schoolchildren and delivered them to Auschwitz. Excellent German record-keeping revealed 11,400 children were taken. At the liberation, only 200 were found alive. This is the story of one classroom’s collection day and its aftermath.

She did this play using puppets as the children.

Carrie had a voice that she used in a multiple of ways. She was a caring friend, a dedicated teacher, a prolific writer and costume designer, who always cared about others first. Carrie you will be missed.

 





 

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