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Five By Tenn a Montage of Five Tennessee Williams’ One- Acts

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Out of the Box Theatre Company will continue its 2021-22 season with an Actors’ Equity Association–approved showcase production of Five By Tenn, an evening of short plays by Tennessee Williams, June 9–19, 2022. The live, in-person performances will take place at the Bernie Wohl Center, 647 Columbus Avenue (between 91st and 92nd Streets), New York, N.Y. Tickets are $25 and $20 (seniors and students) and can be purchased at https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/65031.
Five By Tenn will be performed ten times only and the Saturday, June 18 matinee performance will feature ASL interpretation:
Thursday, June 9 at 8 pm EDT
Friday, June 10 at 8pm EDT
Saturday, June 11 at 3pm & 8pm EDT
Sunday, June 12 at 3pm EDT
Thursday, June 16 at 8 pm EDT
Friday, June 17 at 8pm EDT
Saturday, June 18 at 3pm & 8pm EDT
Sunday, June 19 at 3 pm EDT
The five Tennessee Williams one-act plays featured in Five by Tenn are “The Strangest Kind of Romance,” “The Last of My Solid Gold Watches,” “The Lady of Larkspur Lotion,” “Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen” and “Hello From Bertha.”
While each play is set within a rather shabby bedroom in a rather seedy location from East St. Louis to New Orleans, the audience is introduced to a delightful range of seven female and eight male Williams’ characters striving to survive and thrive within their less-than-fortunate situations.
“Five By Tenn is a montage of five Tennessee Williams’ one-act plays that looks life squarely in the eye, unapologetically. The unabated reality for each person in this diverse and colorful group of people is not always pleasant, sparking an array of raw organic emotions that encompass hurt, pain, betrayal, loss, failure, love, laughter, anger, bitterness and loneliness,” said Ward Nixon, director of Five By Tenn.
“Like other Tennessee Williams’ plays, the people introduced here are experiencing varied states of deterioration, mentally, physically and spiritually, in direct tandem with their immediate physical surroundings” he continued. “What binds this distressed group of people together is the primal desire to truly live, and, with fortitude and strength, attempt to pull themselves out of the suffocating and drowning quicksand that threatens to engulf them. In their quest for redemption, each person goes on a personal and unique journey with unexpected twists, turns, highs and lows along the way, leading to valuable life lessons, which, if embraced, could potentially change the course of their lives forever, further confirming the reality that humankind is far more similar to each other, than different.”
The cast includes Frank Bowman*, Jeff Burchfield,* Susan Case*, Sheila Dehner*, Marilyn Duryea*, Clinton Faulkner, Kelly Gilmore, Beth Griffith, Janet Girardeau*, Franco Pistritto*, Joseph Rose*, Gloria Sauvé*, Mark Solari, and Valarie Tekosky*.
The production is directed by Ward Nixon. Tuquan Smith is the technical director. Costumes are by Katherine Roberson, with sound design by Nicholas Wilson, lighting design by Stephen D. Cornelius and scenic design by Harlan Penn. Halina Malinowski is the producer.
The mission of Out of the Box Theatre Company, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, is to feature working professionals at their peak and in their prime: seasoned actors, directors and designers primarily past 50 years of age, and to present new interpretations of period plays and contemporary classics: works written in the last century and earlier. Out of the Box also distributes free tickets to senior citizens through various NY-area senior centers.
More information about the company, including previous and future productions, can be found at OutOfTheBoxTheatre.com.
Five By Tenn is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals in arrangement with Samuel French Inc. ConcordTheatricals.com.

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

Dance

The Cast of Ain’t Done Bad Meets the Press And You Are There

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Tuesday morning the cast of Ain’t Done Bad meet the press. This hybrid theatrical dance experience is conceived, directed, and choreographed by Jakob Karr (“So You Think You Can Dance”) and featuring the music of country star Orville Peck will play a limited engagement at The Pershing Square Signature Center with previews beginning July 9, opening July 14, and running through September 1st.

Ain’t Done Bad tells the powerful heartwarming story of coming out, falling in love, and finding one’s true voice as a queer person in the South. Told entirely through contemporary dance without a single spoken word, the 90-minute performance stars Jakob Karr along with ten leading dancers.

The Cast of Ain’t Done Bad that includes Jakob Karr, Joshua Escaper, Caden Hunter, Magma Iwama, Yusaku Komori, Adrian Lee, Jordan Lombardi, Madison O’Connor, Luke Qualls and Ian Spring Photo’s By Genevieve Rafter Keddy

Karr is joined onstage by Adrian Lee (Wicked) as the Father, Megumi Iwama (“Mean Girls” the movie) as the Mother, Ian Spring (Parsons Dance) as the Brother, Luke Qualls (The Radio City Christmas Spectacular) as Jakob Karr’s alternate, Yusaku Komori (“The Greatest Showman”) and Jordan Lombardi (Phantom Of The Opera Nat’l Tour) as the Friends, and Joshua Escover (“Empire Strips Back”) as the Lover. Swings include Caden Hunter (Juilliard) and Madison O’Connor (Radio City Rockettes), who also acts as Dance Captain.

Jakob Karr Photo’s By Genevieve Rafter Keddy

Ian Spring, Jakob Karr and Adrian Lee Photo’s By Genevieve Rafter Keddy

Ain’t Done Bad comes to The Irene Diamond Stage at The Pershing Square Signature Center after critically-acclaimed workshops in Orlando at Renaissance Theatre Company and in North Carolina at Durham’s PSI Theatre, Greensboro PAC, and the Wortham Center for Performing Arts in 2023. The production premiered in 2021 at the Orlando International Fringe Festival, where it received the festival’s highest honor (Best Show). Karr is joined by Scenic Designers Philip Lupo, Joey Coombs, and Blake Schulte, with Lighting Design by Philip Lupo. Morgan Lemos is the Stage Manager and additional creatives include Grace Buckley (Associate Choreographer) and Joi Marchetti (Additional Music Production). Evan Bernardin Productions is the general manager, Eli Owens in the production assistant, and digital advertising is by SINE Digital.

Patti Maurer, Jakob Karr and Donald Rupe Photo’s By Genevieve Rafter Keddy

The Cast of Ain’t Done Bad that includes Jakob Karr, Joshua Escaper, Caden Hunter, Magma Iwama, Yusaku Komori, Adrian Lee, Jordan Lombardi, Madison O’Connor, Luke Qualls and Ian Spring Photo’s By Genevieve Rafter Keddy

Jakob Karr with Adrian Lee, Megumi Iwama and Ian Spring Photo’s By Genevieve Rafter Keddy

 

 

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Off Broadway

“N/A” at LCT Delivers the Wit and the Anger Somewhat Lopsided, But Still With Value

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We aren’t here to talk about him,” N states pretty early on in Mario Correa’s new play N/A which recently had its world premiere at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theaterat Lincoln Center. And we all breathe somewhat a sigh of relief, even though my viewing of this playfully fascinating play winds its way forward through time, starting out with these two characters’ first meeting. It happens soon after the younger woman named A surprises them all by winning her primary against an established politician. A, to no one’s surprise, basically stands for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or the AOC, as I like to call her. The other, N, stands for Nancy Pelosi, although don’t quote me, as those names don’t appear anywhere in the program or the press release.

What Correa (Tail! Spin!; Commander) does tell us quite quickly is that this play, written with a wit and a wink, is about the clashing of two types of liberals; the old guard and the new green. It’s preaching to the choir, though, on both sides of that L-word and for the crowd that has assembled at the Lincoln Center, we are all game to hear both sides.

Directed with a straightforward, somewhat loose easy by Diane Paulus (Broadway’s Jagged Little Pill), N/A dives in with both hearts fully exposed. Holland Taylor (Broadway’s Ann; The Front Page) as N revels in the part, giving us a masterclass of comic timing and sharp wit. Her character has been gifted quite generously with many of the stand-up comedy zingers, flung out with ease and clarity by an actress who’s relishing the experience. She’s a well-crafted machine, echoing her part’s strength of character and determination in all the ways it blesses and bruises her.

Holland Taylor and Ana Villafañe in LCT’s N/A, at the Mitzi E. Newhouse. Photo by Daniel Rader.

Ana Villafañe (“Castro’s Daughter“; UK’s Sinatra the Musical) as A isn’t given as much froth and fun to play with. You see the anger that leads her forward, coming off as less fun, for a good reason. It’s somewhat clear that this is the side where Correa’s heart truly lies (or is it?), but like our own sensibilities, it flies back and forth with almost every point made by both. The fencing match is almost always off-balance, with the older more experienced guard winning pragmatic points in abundance against the idealistic and less experienced Representative from Queens and the Bronx. And definitely don’t forget the Bronx, we are told.

But the framework is sharp enough to know that a shift is coming, and it happens with a somewhat overly dynamic departure from the one-on-one battle that has been laid out before us, with set and costumes designed by Myung Hee Cho (Shakespeare in the Park’s Richard III), with lighting by Mextly Couzin (Off-Broadway’s JOB), sound design by composer Sun Hee Kill alongside German Martínez, and projection design by ‘Possible’, taking on the charge with a non-fussy approach. “Change takes courage”, we are told, and the shifting of perspectives happens with almost every line. Whether pleased or disappointed, they are here to talk, even if not about him. They have come together to let us understand what’s at stake in our country, and give us some hope that these two ideals might find a way to come together, in a way that is needed even more today than back then.

Watching this fresh off last night’s debate (and posting this one day after the Supreme Court’s treacherous ruling), the clickity-clack of the work feels as fresh and as forced as it needs to be, even if we would like some theatrical relief from the world of politics. They fling slogans and formulations at one another within the clever text, sometimes feeling forced but also feeling true, and wickedly funny. It’s lopsided, this act that is both serious to A and to the world, and to the comedically enhanced N. Past triggers and memories of what has changed (and not) within those walls of the U.S. House of Representatives where this play takes place fill out the framing, trying to give it a bit more human alignment, and it does level out after the storm, but the play, in the end, after scoring fairly well for Holland, remains a teeter-totter of an ideal, where two women who orbit one another throughout never really find their way to come together. But these two actors certainly find their way into our conscious collective hearts.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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Events

The Musical Titanic Successfully Sails onto the Stage at City Center

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Titanic The Musical proves that the music and story does not need the special effects of a sinking ship to send the audience on an emotional journey. Twenty-five years ago when Titanic opened on Broadway, after reading headlines about the  malfunctioning unsinkable set, I skeptically went to the show; but, those first 18 minutes turned out to be the greatest opening number I had ever seen. The show is currently being performed at City Center in the Encores! Series and this score can stand alone without the trappings usually required to produce a Broadway spectacle. The opening number not only introduced us to the three focal people who each in their own way contributed to the disaster of the iceberg: Captain E.J. Smith (Chuck Cooper), Thomas Andrews (Jose Llana), J. Bruce Ismay (Brandon Uranowitz); but, also the members of all three classes aboard the ship and the crewmembers. As the 32 member cast raises their voices in beautiful harmony to cheer “Sail on, great ship Titanic” the hopes of the third class passengers, the wonder of those in first class and the pride of the crew are all felt by the audience. So moving is this song that we can suspend reality and wish that the maiden voyage of this “floating city” actually successfully makes it to New York.

This is not the Rose and Jack story that fictionalized a love story between a third and first class passenger but an even more beautiful story based on real people who either survived or were left onboard as the ship broke apart.


The music and lyrics by Maury Yeston are thrilling, cheerful, romantic and haunting. The story and book by Peter Stone who had previously done justice to the telling of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 again brings history to the stage with wit and suspense despite knowing the eventual tragedy.

Over twenty songs fill this musical score with a variety of styles and themes. Each one perfectly delivered by this amazing team of actors and singers briskly directed by Anne Kauffman. There is not a bad song in the mix nor a disappointing performer; but, in addition to that opening number I must highlight a few.

Lady’s Maid sung by the 3rd class passengers brings me to tears as three Irish lasses all named Kate start by telling their fellow travelers their dreams for America. Samantha Williams, Lilli Cooper, and Ashley Blanchet play the ‘three Kates’ and are joined by the ensemble all singing their own individual ambitions – to be a constable, engineer, and governess, etc. It fills my heart with pride that America is such a land of opportunity and then it breaks when I realize that some of these dreamers will never make it to their destination.

A pairing of two male singers, Ramin Karimloo and Alex Joseph Grayson, playing coal stoker Barrett and radio operator Bride, respectively sing two love songs one to his fiancé and one about his career choice is a magical duet where each voice is given a chance to shine.

Another example of Yeston’s genius is a song where three voices combine but certainly not in love; the ship’s owner, designer, and captain Blame each other for the inevitable sinking. It is a dramatic song that is rarely seen in such a show but too often seen in human nature.

The real life owner of Macy’s department store was actually onboard the Titanic with his wife. Chip Zien and Judy Kuhn portray the elderly Isidor and Ida Straus whose love proved even stronger than the two youngsters in the James Cameron film. Ida chose not to get on a lifeboat without her life long partner and that love is beautifully sung in their duet Still.

Love, anger, hope and desire are all represented on the stage but it is second class passenger Alice Beane that gives the tension a bit of comic relief. Wonderfully sung and acted by Bonnie Milligan, Mrs Bean dances into the first class salon and in one of the few choreographed numbers brings joy to the festivities. She and her husband Edgar (Drew Gehling) sing I Have Danced – a song that depicts the struggle of a happily married couple when ambitions are not in line.

We know the ship is going to hit the iceberg but as Matthew Scott as the ship entertainment sings the rhythmic tune Autumn coupled with the Company repeating the haunting No Moon the suspense grows as the ship sails in the night.

Anne Kauffman directs the cast seamlessly from scene to scene not only allowing the songs to tell a fantastic story but to bring out the wit and passion of Peter Stone’s words.

Rob Berman, the Encores! Music Director, again conducts this 30 piece orchestra with incredible ease despite the complicated orchestrations created by Johnathn Tunick. With every violin string, trumpet note, drum roll and cymbal clash the music envelops the huge theater yet touches every individual in it.

Encores! Began 30 years ago to honor scores that are not often revived. With minimal rehearsal time for this limited run some actors are still on book but that does not diminish either the music, story or the talent on the stage. Much has been written about the cost of producing on Broadway so a production with this many cast members and musicians may never be transferred to a Broadway theater as Encores other 2024 title, Once Upon a Mattress will be doing so do not hesitate to buy a ticket. Do not be left on the dock waving goodbye to this magnificent creation.

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Out of Town

Crow’s Theatre, Musical Stage Company, and Soulpepper Theatre Company Take Home Numerous 2024 Toronto Theatre Critics’ Awards

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After a four-year hiatus, the Toronto Theatre Critics’ Awards (S) returned to honor excellence from the 2023-24 professional theatre season. The 11th TTCAs, announced Tuesday morning, June 11th, boast 19 winners across 14 categories, including a special citation for artistic achievement.

Crow’s Theatre and Soulpepper Theatre Company were the big winners this year, each receiving seven awards, with the sensationally well-received Crow’s Theatre/Musical Stage Company co-production of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. The production led the musical division with three wins, including Best Production of a Musical, with two members of its company; George Krissa and Heeyun Park 박희윤, jointly awarded for Best Supporting Performance in a Musical.

Soulpepper Theatre Company followed close behind with two wines for the fascinatingly dynamic world premiere of De Profundis: Oscar Wilde in Jail. Damien Atkins, the production’s star, won the award for Best Lead Performance in a Musical. Gregory Prest, who directed and adapted the production from its source material; Wilde’s original love letter of the same name, was also recognized as Best Director of a Musical.

Damien Atkins and Colton Curtis in Soulpepper Theatre’s De Profundis: Oscar Wilde in Jail. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

In the Musical Division

  • Crow’s Theatre and Musical Stage Company co-production of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812: Best Production of a Musical, and George Krissa and Heeyun Park박희윤 were jointly awarded the prize for Best Supporting Performance in a Musical.
  • Soulpepper’s production of De Profundis: Oscar Wilde in Jail: Damien Atkins won the award for Best Lead Performance in a Musical, and Gregory Prest, who directed as well as adapted the material from Wilde’s original love letter of the same name won Best Director of a Musical.
  • Kelly v. Kelly, Britta Johnson and Sara Farb’s new musical inspired by true events, produced by the Musical Stage Company in association with Canadian Stage won Best Ensemble in a Musical.
Sean Arbuckle (left) as Thomas and Krystin Pellerin as Diana in Casey and Diana. Stratford Festival 2023. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

The Play Division

  • Nick Green’s drama Casey and Diana, which ran at Soulpepper after premiering at the Stratford Festival, won the award for Best New Canadian Play, and actor Sean Arbuckle received the prize for Best Leading Performance in a Play.
  • Michael Healey’s satire The Master Plan, produced by Crow’s Theatre, also won Best New Canadian Play, and the cast won Best Ensemble in a Play
  • Amaka Umeh also won Best Leading Performance in a Play for their performance playing two characters in Soulpepper’s Sizwe Banzi is Dead.
  • Two actors were awarded the prize for Best Supporting Performance in a Play: Jadyn Nasato, for her performance in the Studio 180 Theatre production of Four Minutes, Twelve Seconds, and Oyin Oladejo for her turn in Three Sisters, co-produced by Soulpepper and Obsidian Theatre Company.
L-R: Antoine Yared, Stephen Jackman-Torkoff, Ben Page, Qasim Khan, and Daniel MacIvor in Canadian Stage’s production of Matthew López’s The Inheritance. Photo by Dahlia Katz.
  • Crow’s Theatre’s production Bad Roads won Best International Play, and Andrew Kushnir won Best Director of a Play. The work by Ukrainian playwright Natal’ya Vorozhbit is based on real-life testimonies from witnesses to Russia’s invasion of the Donbas in 2014.
  • Leora Morris also wins Best Director of a Play for their work on Coal Mine Theatre’s production of The Sound Inside by Adam Rapp.
  • Canadian Stage’s production of the two-part drama The Inheritance won Best Production of a Play.
  • Best Design, Play or Musical went to Nick Blais (lighting), Heidi Chan (sound), Anahita Dehbonehie (set), and Niloufar Ziaee (costumes) for their collective work on A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney, co-produced by Outside the March and Soulpepper Theatre Company.
  • Theatre legend Daniel MacIvor received a special citation for his work over the past season, which included a memorable performance in The Inheritance, and the revivals of his plays Monster and Here Lies Henry, both produced by Factory Theatre.
Mike Shara (front and center) and the cast of Crow’s Theatre’s The Master Plan. Photo by Dahlia Katz.
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Broadway

Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Bernadette, Angela, Ethel and Patti

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Gypsy turned 65 on May 21, and soon Audra mcDonald will take over the role. Let’s look at the other Mama Rose’s. Ethel Merman originated the character at the Broadway Theatre in 1959, and received a Tony nomination for her performance.

Patti LuPone last Rose, took home the 2008 Tony for her turn.

Angela Lansbury took on Rose in the 1973 London revival of Gypsy, which later transferred to Broadway in 1974. She was the first Rose to win a Tony Award for her performance.

Bernadette Peters took on Rose in the 2003 Broadway revival and received a Tony nomination for her perofrmance. At the 57th annual Tony Awards, she sang “Rose’s Turn.”

Bette Midler played Mama in the 1993 television adaptation of Gypsy and Barbra Streisand played the role on the big screen.

Looking forward to the next incarnation.

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