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Fairview Wins Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Aretha Franklin Special Award and Citations

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Aretha Franklin

The Queen of Soul is now a Pulitzer Prize winner. Aretha Franklin was awarded a special citation prize “for her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades.” She is the first individual woman to receive a special citation prize, which was first awarded in 1930. Past winners have included Bob Dylan, Hank Williams and John Coltrane. Franklin died in August at age 76 of pancreatic cancer.

Fairview by Jackie Sibblies Drury won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, with What the Constitution Means to Me by Heidi Schreck and Dance Nation by Clare Barron named as finalists.

Fairview examined race and privilege as told through a family drama and had its world premiere off-Broadway at Soho Rep in June of 2018. The show extended three times. Now Fairview is set to run again at Theatre for a New Audience in June 2 – June 30, 2019. What the Constitution Means to Me is currently playing on Broadway, while Dance Nation had its world premiere at Playwrights Horizons in April of 2018.  

In Fairview, the Frasier family is gearing up for Grandma’s birthday, and Beverly needs this dinner to be perfect. Plus, the radio’s on the fritz, her sister Jasmine is drinking, her husband Dayton isn’t helping, her brother Tyrone might not show up at all, and her daughter Keisha is being a typical teenager. As Beverly’s hostess-neurosis begins to get the better of her while her family acts like family, Keisha’s adolescent malaise starts to seem like maybe it could be something else. 

Jackie Sibblies Drury won the 2019 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for Fairview! This prize recognizes women from around the world who have written works of outstanding quality for the English-speaking theatre.

Jackie Sibblies Drury is a Brooklyn-based playwright. Her plays include We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South West Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915Really; and Social Creatures. Sibblies Drury’s plays have been presented by New York City Players and Abrons Arts Center, Soho Rep., Victory Gardens, Trinity Rep, Matrix Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, Undermain Theatre, InterAct Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Available Light, Company One and The Bush Theatre in London, among others. Her work has been developed at Sundance, The Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep, Manhattan Theatre Club, Ars Nova, A.C.T., the Soho Rep. Writer/Director Lab, New York Theatre Workshop, PRELUDE.11&14, The Civilians, The Bushwick Starr, The LARK, Magic Theatre, Bay Area Playwrights Festival and The MacDowell Colony. Sibblies Drury was a dramaturg for Futurity by César Alvarez and The Lisps; Zero Cost House by Pig Iron Theatre Company and Toshiki Okada; and The Garden by Nichole Canuso Dance Company. She received a 2015 Windham-Campbell Literary Prize in Drama, a 2012-2013 Van Lier Fellowship at New Dramatists, and was the inaugural recipient of the 2012-2014 Jerome Fellowship at The LARK. She is a NYTW Usual Suspect and a 2015 United States Artists Gracie Fellow. 

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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This 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.

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Broadway

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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Celebrity

The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

TRUMAN’S SWANS — I only know Ryan Murphy by reputation. He’s been the flavor-of-Hollywood for quite some time now; yet a devil-may-care attitude persists in his CV. I loved his Nip/Tuck which just defied expectations on every level; terrific acting from Dylan Walsh and Julian McMahon, and just the wildest plots I’ve ever seen.

From there Hollywood started throwing money at him left and right; American Horror Story and Hollywood (with Jim Parsons) followed. Also, the anthology series-Feud which began with the “feud” between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis and was succinctly thrilling.

Now, Feud is chronicling Truman Capote and his “feud” with his Swans; featuring mainly a terrific performance by Noami Watts as Babe Paley. Calista Flockhart; a devilish-Diane Lane and Chloe Sevigny are also there as the other swans. Director Gus Van Sant (Drugstore Cowboy) directed several episodes and it is, without a doubt, the best thing Murphy has done and I’ve seen in quote some time.

One episode is entirely shot in black-and-white, a risky-gamble for anyone … but, it pays off handsomely.

Tom Hollander as Capote is simply off the charts and is, I believe, one of the best performances I’ve ever seen.As a young writer, there were two writers I was absolutely captivated with: Dominick Dunne and Capote. Dunne I met and he was everything I hoped him to be, Capote, never. The Swans is a long, long story and I urge you to look further into it. Capote, truly self-destructive, became an appendage of them all and they all told him everything, some of which he wrote about is Esquire (La Cote Basqu”-1965) exposing their innermost secrets and thereby severing the relationship.

Just a brilliant, brilliant series, Murphy’s crowning touch.

Sanford Townsend Band

SHORT TAKES — In my final few weeks working from home, I finally dialed up ROKU’s Yacht Rock station after initially being somewhat repelled by the term. Turns out, it really means soft rock and I’ve heard everything from Hall & Oates to the Sanford Townsend Band (big favorite) and lots of Steve Winwood; Eagles; Al Stewart; and Chicago.

Not bad actually. Guess I really am old … Micky Dolenz does an interview with NPR’s Lillian Galvez today and BreakfastWith The Beatles’ Chris Carter on March 31 before his show at LA’s Troubadour on April 5 … The Rascals people Got To Be Free tour at the Patchogue Theater on April 26; Keswick Theater on April 27; and SONY Hall in NYC on May 17 …

James Gunn’s Superman: Legacy movie has been re-named Superman; and has cast Wendell Pierce (The Wire; Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan) as Perry White. And remember, Rachel Brosnahan is Lois Lane! … Keith Richards singing Lou Reed’s immortal classic “I’m Waiting For The Man” is so excellent. Take a look: https://variety.com/2024/music/news/keith-richards-covers-waiting-for-the-man-lou-reed-tribute-1235927738/

Lou Reed

The track appears on a Lou Reed tribute album that also features Angel Olsen, Lucinda Williams, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Rufus Wainwright, Rickie Lee Jones, Rosanne Cash and others. It arrives April 19 — with a special Record Store Day edition arriving the following day — on Seattle’s indie Light in the Attic Records (which was chosen by the late artist’s estate to handle his reissues and got a Grammy nomination for the “Words & Music: May, 1965” album). Booklet features liner notes by compilation producer & former Lou Reed publicist Bill Bentley, featuring photos by Mick Rock and Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. Said Richards: “To me, Lou stood out. The real deal! Something important to American music and to ALL MUSIC! I miss him and his dog” …

Micky Dolenz and Chris Carter

SIGHTING: Micky Dolenz and Alison Martino at the Catalina Jazz Club watching Jimmy Webb … And, we watched the awesome Jeffrey Wright in American Fiction and loved it until the end. It’s almost as if writer/director Cord Jefferson couldn’t figure the right ending, so he portrayed three. Pretty weird for sure, but a staggeringly excellent performance by Wright, Erika Anderson and Sterling K. Brown.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Nancy Jeffries; George Michael; Helene Blue; Monica Lynch; Thomas Silverman; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Alexa Blake; Joe Bonadonna; Andrew Sandoval; Race Taylor; Scott Shannon; Dan Ingram; Bruce Morrow; Wolfman Jack; William Schill; Ed Steinberg; Chris Carter; and CHIP!

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Entertainment

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents Classical/Rock Violinist Daisy Jopling

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“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents ”, is a new show that is filmed live every Wednesday from 5 – 6 in the lobby of the iconic Hotel Edison, before a live audience. To see our first episode click here second episode click here and for our third episode click here.

You can also see us on

Pandora:

https://www.pandora.com/podcast/live-from-the-edison-hotel-times-square-chronicles-presents/PC:1001084740

Stitcher:

https://www.stitcher.com/show/1084740

Spotify:

https://open.spotify.com/show/2nKQcaG9hnSeLkxUgR2BzI

Amazon:

https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/e3ac5922-ada8-4868-b531-12d06e0576d3

Apple Podcasts:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/live-from-the-edison-hotel-times-square-chronicles-presents/id1731059092

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Dance

A Sign of the Times Off-Broadway Dreams of the Dawn of a New Day

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It’s the dawn of a new day, says A Sign of the Times, the latest jukebox musical that opens itself up to a sweet nostalgia of American postwar at the New World Stages off-Broadway. It’s overflowing with well-known songs from the 1960s, beautifully performed and glowing, with melodies made popular and iconic by Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield, and Lesley Gore. With such a strong playlist at its core, the new musical, created by producer Richard J. Robin (Memphis) with a somewhat contrived book by Lindsey Hope Pearlman (MacGyver the Musical), tries valiantly to stitch together the tale of a young woman, Cindy, played with wide-eyed determination by Chilina Kennedy (Broadway’s Paradise Square) who is trying with all her might to find a different way of living outside the heteronormative Ohio small town community she rings in the new year with. It’s a well-formulated beginning, possibly because of the fine crew surrounding her, especially her two gal pals, portrayed wonderfully by the very talented and funny Alyssa Carol (Broadway’s Bad Cinderella) and Maggie McDowell (Broadway’s Kinky Boots) giving it their all. The two are conflicted, wanting her both to stay and marry her handsome, epic raspy-voiced boyfriend, Matt, played deliciously croon-worthy by Justin Matthew Sargent (Broadway’s Spider-Man…) giving off a dreamy Luke Perry/Dylan vibe in abundance, but they also would love for her to get out of Ohio and follow her photographic dreams in the big city of New York. Like any good friend would.

J Savage, Alyssa Carol, Justin Matthew Sargent, Chilina Kennedy, and Cassie Austin in A Sign of the Times. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

But the well-strummed “I Only Want to Be with You” proposal, delivered smoothly by Sargent’s Matt, is not enough to hold down the “Who Am I?” questioning for Cindy, and off she goes on an awkwardly tight bus ride to the Big Apple in hope that “Round Every Corner” there might be some morsel of career success. It’s an empowering first chapter to Cindy’s adventure, even with the all too true and too funny apartment hunting shenanigans. Packed in with it all also comes about every culturally significant political movement that existed in those formative years, passively aggressively shoved into this tale of a time and a place in our cultural history. None of which have gone away. It’s a grand attempt, overflowing with issues and meaning, as this musical tries its best to give us another shiny and splashy Hairspray. That comparison, I know is an ‘apples to oranges jukebox’ one, but that show, back in its day, magically and deftly found its way to encapsulate segregation and racism in 1962 Baltimore with originality and musical gold, but unfortunately, with this show’s heavy-handed book, A Sign of the Times doesn’t hold its shape as strongly as that aerosol can of Ultra Clutch was made to do for those dos. Even with all of these stellar songs and performances brought to life at New World Stages.

But the cast of pros can not be held back by this book, as each and everyone delivers those iconic songs with charm, vitality, and style on a slick stage design by Evan Adamson (Le Petit Theatre’s A Christmas Carol) with expert lighting design by Ken Billington (Broadway’s New York, New York), determined and fun costuming by Johanna Pan (Barrington’s James and the Giant Peach), and a solid sound design by Shannon Slaton (Broadway’s Melissa Etheridge: My Window). Their voices ring out infectiously strong, leading us through the chance encounters and “Count Me In” moments that basically “Rescue Me” and everyone around them, particularly Crystal Lucas-Perry (Broadway’s Ain’t No Mo’) as the aspiring singer/quick-change artist Tanya, who even though she was under-mic’d in the first act, still managed to captivate, even when given dialogue that was as corny as Corny Collins. “Something [does] Got a Hold on Me” when she starts to sing, so “why am I dreaming about something else?“.


Crystal Lucas-Perry and Chilina Kennedy in Off-Broadway’s A Sign of the Times. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

There is also the political activist/protestor and Tanya’s handsome man, Cody, played solidly by the well-voiced Akron Lanier Watson (Broadway’s The Color Purple revival) who tries to engage us and her with the cause. On the other end of that police baton, there is a slimy advertising executive Brian, played true to form by Ryan Silverman (Broadway’s Side Show), who uses his power and privilege to woo the determined Cindy. Yet, even with all those red flags flying, she continues to hold on to her dream of being a photographer, even as we watch her fall for this creepy businessman who charms her into not seeing the ugly blending of professional and personal that is rampant in their workplace and in his demeanor. It’s a stretch of the “Gimme Some Lovin’” imagination to believe Cindy, let alone the more worldly Tanya, can not see clearly through his harassment schtick from that first walk home, but I guess we can relax through this two-and-a-half-hour show knowing that it has to come eventually in this “Five O’clock World” gone wild.

Not even when the old Ohio boyfriend, Matt, whom we are all starting to warm up to a bit more with each Brian/Cindy “Call Me” moment, calls himself asking her to take the “Last Train to Clarksville” before he heads off to Vietnam after getting drafted, does Cindy falter in her dream of photography career success. But it’s hard to quibble about too many hot topics for one show when the cast is having so much fun kicking up their heels to the strong choreography of JoAnn M. Hunter (Mirvish’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) and her “The Shoop Shoop Song” energy. The playfulness shines when used in the right moments, exemplified in the “The ‘In’ Crowd” party, hosted by the wildly fun, pop artist, cheekily named Randy Forthwall, played joyfully by Edward Staudenmayer (Broadway’s Girl from the North Country) who also adds that same flair to a dozen other minor roles. It is exactly the formula this show needs a whole lot more of and is the bus ride that could bring it success.

Edward Staudenmayer, Melessie Clark, Lena Teresa Matthews, Alyssa Carol, Erica Simone Barnett, Kuppi Alec Jessop, and Crystal Lucas-Perry in Off-Broadway’s A Sign of the Times. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

Director Gabriel Barre (Broadway’s Amazing Grace) does his best to keep the engine running, but sometimes he stalls it with a few heavy-handed approaches to some bigger issue moments, like Tanya’s “Society’s Child“. It’s touching but somehow too light and in need of a stronger punch, but I also have a feeling that Lucas-Perry could have handled that one all on her own without the dramatization playing out awkwardly over to the side. Yet, once again, the music is what delivers the energy and charm of this piece “Downtown” for our pleasure under the direction of music director Britt Bonney (Broadway’s Camelot) with music supervision, arrangements, and orchestrations by Joseph Church (Broadway’s The Lion King). But as with many jukebox musicals, the songs are the gold here, even when the lyrics only fit marginally into the storyline. The belting and the wildly colorful embodiment of the period are exactly what the piece needs to take it to the finishing line. Not the clumsy overwrought storyline and dialogue, checking as many boxes as one could hope for, that stops it in its soundtracks.

Trying hard to be a whole lot of things to a whole lot of people, Off-Broadway’s A Sign of the Times does find its way to be filled up with a ton of 1960s musical delights, performed wonderfully, all lined up in a row. Unfortunately, it is also a show with a storyline spit out by a computer program to cover all the issues of the time and place (and beyond, maybe “ten years ahead of wherever“) shoved in between and inside the cracks awkwardly. It never really finds its way into the well-balanced heights of its counterpart Hairspray, but it does entertain you well when it embraces the music it wants to share with us. Brad Peterson’s projection design (Off-Broadway’s Broadway Bounty Hunter) tries his best to add dimension and the weight of the decade with his projected photographs of activists and social movement moments, but the energy of the music presented here is really what drives this musical to its destination.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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