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Flying Over Sunset Explores

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For anyone who does not like a conceptual show you may very well not like Flying Over Sunset at The Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center. What is a Conceptual show? It begins with an idea or theme’, elaborates them with music and story and it never banters in traditional narrative. Sunset is of imaginative type: a musical that pushes against the traditional notions of what a Broadway musical should be or might be.

Michele Ragusa, Harry Hadden-Paton, and Kanisha Marie Feliciano. Photo by Joan Marcus.

James Lapine who wrote and directed this show gives us three Hollywood personalities who use LSD to overcome unresolved conflicts in their lives. The drug helps them confront, work through and get rid of these bad thoughts… a chemical psychotherapy. The show is woven together, but not altogether plotless, we get small bits about the use of LSD before it was declared illegal in the late 1960’s. Gerald Heard (Robert Stella) has shown both Clare Boothe Luce (Carmen Cusack), a playwright and a politician and Aldous Huxley (Harry Hadden- Paton), a novelist the benefits of doing LSD. Heard is a wealthy scholar of Eastern religion, who doubled as an ardent advocate for hallucinogenic drugs. He is always the proctor at administrating the drug, measuring and calculating how much a person should take for maximum benefit. It is through happenstance that the three should meet Cary Grant (Tony Yazbeck) who also “explores” (the term used for acid users). Grant wanting to understand why his wife is using the drug. He even visited her doctor, Dr. Harris (Nehal Joshi). Under the drug we come to find out that Grant, whose real name is Archibald Leach, was abused by his father mentally and his mother dressed him in girl’s clothing. This was a wonderful scene watching Yazbeck and young Atticus Ware do a tap dance number that is one of the shows memorable moments.  

Carmen Cusack, Robert Sella. Photo by Joan Marcus.

As the show went along, we realized that Beowulf Boritt may very well win the Tony for his set designs. The vast sets made one think that these grandiose sets belonged next door at the Met. In fact, many of Cusack’s song deliverys also belonged in the next building. A booming voice left the audience wanting more of what she was singing. Though most of the songs where not memorable. “Someone”, “Flying Over Sunset”, “The Music Plays On”, “If Only I’ve Known” and “How” were the exceptions. Even when songs did not hit home, it was great projections (59 Productions) that picked up the slack. Most noteworthy was the beach scene to “Three Englishmen”. 

Tony Yazbeck Photo by Joan Marcus.

The performance comes in at two hours and forty-five minutes and could have and should have been cut down. Scene 4 in Act Two was a bit tedious and boring. “Melancholy Hour” and “The 23rd Ingredient” tested the audiences patience. We already knew at this point what ailed each character. Clare’s losing both her mother and then years later her daughter, both to car accidents. Huxley books were misunderstood a, which many were thought to be downright subversive. Gerald and his love affair with George Cukor and his shaky upbringing. While Gerald and Aldous Huxley had privileged growing up, they too had deep routed issues. 

Carmen Cusack Photo: Joan Marcus

While Sunset has a big cast, the show stayed very well on point with the four people who focused on LSD, as a method for dealing with their emotional problems. Even though they needed and loved others, it was these four that piqued our interest.

Robert Sella, Harry Hadden-Paton, Carmen Cusack, and Tony Yazbeck. Photo by Joan Marcus.

In Michael Dorrance’s choreography we get better acquainted with Maria Huxley (Laura Shoop), young Archie Leach and Ann/Judith (Kanisha Marie Feliciano). In Dan Moses Schreier’s sound we get the eerie footsteps that start both acts. Schreier puts us in a place that is dark and desolate, as we await the unknown and wonder what is in store for these four people that are about to go on these strange trips to find themselves.

Robert Sella, Carmen Cusack, Tony Yazbeck and cast. Photo by Joan Marcus.

As Cary Grant tells us during a acid trip “every man wants to be me, but no one knows what it is like too be me”. Clare too realizes that she is now in a loveless marriage and Huxley thinks that his books are very misunderstood.  It is the sundry elements of Flying Over Sunset that is pushed forth with extreme flair. Yazbeck, Paton, Cusack and Stella are all excellent in this production.

Some may find this show underwhelming, but for a theatergoer who wants to sit back and wait for the rush to hit them without resistance, it is an entertaining evening.

Flying over Sunset plays through February 6, 2022. 

Robert Massimi is the Chief Drama Critic for Metropolitan Magazine.Chief Drama Critic for Nimbus Magazine.Chief Drama Critic for My Life Publications.Member of The Dramatists Guild.Member of The National Arts Club.Former Member of the Board of Directors Metropolitan Playhouse.I Have produced 14 shows both on and off Broadway.A Graduate of Manhattan College. Alpha Sigma Lambda and Triple Major :English, Government and Psychology.

Broadway

Disney Broadway In Bryant Park Part Two

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106.7 LITE FM’s brought Disney to Broadway in Bryant Park. We brought you the video and now the pictures so you are there.

Tshidi Manye

Jackie Rene

Jackie Rene and Gilbert Domally

Jackie Rene and Gilbert Domally

Jackie Rene and Gilbert Domally

Jackie Rene and Tshidi Manye

Jackie Rene and Tshidi Manye

Tshidi Manye and Gilbert Domally

Tshidi Manye and Gilbert Domally

Jim Ferris, Gilbert Domally and Ben Jeffrey

Jim Ferris, Gilbert Domally and Ben Jeffrey

Jim Ferris, Gilbert Domally and Ben Jeffrey

Ben Jeffrey, Jackie Rene, Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris and Gilbert Domally

Gilbert Domally, Jackie Rene, Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris and Ben Jeffrey

The Lion King’s Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris, Jackie René, Ben Jeffrey and Gilbert Domally

Charissa Hogeland

Charissa Hogeland

Chad Burris

Frozen’s Charissa Hogeland and Chad Burris

Michael James Scott

Adi Roy

Adi Roy

Michael James Scott, Adi Roy

Michael James Scott, Adi Roy

Sonya Balsara

Sonya Balsara

Adi Roy, Sonya Balsara

Sonya Balsara, Adi Roy

Adi Roy, Sonya Balsara

from Aladdin‘s Michael James Scott, Sonya Balsara and Adi Roy

106.7 Lite FM’s Hosts-Paul Cubby Bryant and Christine Nagy

Paul Cubby Bryant and Christine Nagy

The hosts were Paul ‘Cubby’ Bryant and Christine Nagy.

Chad Burris, Charissa Hogeland, Ben Jeffrey, Jackie Rene, Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris and Gilbert Domally

Chad Burris, Gilbert Domally, Jackie Rene. Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris, Charissa Hogeland, Ben Jeffrey, Sonya Balsara, Adi Roy and Michael James Scott

Chad Burris, Gilbert Domally, Jackie Rene. Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris, Charissa Hogeland, Ben Jeffrey, Sonya Balsara, Adi Roy and Michael James Scott

Chad Burris, Gilbert Domally, Jackie Rene. Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris, Charissa Hogeland, Ben Jeffrey, Sonya Balsara, Adi Roy and Michael James Scott

 

 

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Broadway

Disney Broadway In Bryant Park

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106.7 LITE FM’s Broadway in Bryant Park brought Disney to its 2024 program. The Bryant Park stage is located at 6th Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets. Lawn seating is first come, first serve.

This weeks performances came from Aladdin‘s Michael James Scott, Sonya Balsara and Adi Roy

Frozen’s Charissa Hogeland and Chad Burris

And The Lion King’s Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris, Jackie René, Ben Jeffrey and Gilbert Domally

The hosts were Paul ‘Cubby’ Bryant and Christine Nagy.

 

 

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A Tribute to Tony Award-Winning Composer Steven Lutvak

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NYU Skirball Center will honor the late Tony Award-winning composer Steven Lutvak, the musical mind behind the Tony Award-winning musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, with performances and tributes from family and friends in a celebration of his life on Thursday, July 18 – which would have been his 65th birthday – at 3:00 PM. The event will include performances by Broadway Inspirational Voices, Crystal Monee Hall, Bryce Pinkham, Catherine Walker, Scarlett Strallen, Catherine Porter, Lori Wilner, and Jenna Pastuszek, and feature songs from A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder (Tony Award for Best Musical, 2014), his albums Ahead of My Heart and The Time It Takes, and several never-before heard works-in-progress. Admission is free, but reservations are encouraged. For tickets, please visit tickets.nyu.edu/stevenlutvak

Born and raised in the Bronx, Mr. Lutvak was a talented multi-hyphenate, working as a cabaret performer, music arranger, director, and as a performance coach in addition to his songwriting and compositional work. As a singer-songwriter, he performed across the country, including successful New York engagements at Carnegie Hall, which led to releasing two albums, The Time It Takes and Ahead of My Heart.

Mr. Lutvak made his Broadway debut with A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder in 2014, for which he composed the music, and co-wrote the lyrics with Robert L. Freedman. The musical won the Drama League, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Tony Awards for Best Musical. The pair had previously written the musical Campaign of the Century together, which won the California Musical Theater Competition from the Beverly Hills Theater Guild.

Other musicals by Mr. Lutvak include Almost September, The Wayside Motor Inn (an adaptation of a play by A. R. Gurney), and Esmeralda. For the screen, Mr. Lutvak composed the title track for the film Mad Hot Ballroom, and the score to Anything But Love, starring Eartha Kitt and Andrew McCarthy. Mr. Lutvak was a highly awarded composer, receiving the Kleban Award for Lyric Writing for the Theater, the Fred Ebb Award for Songwriting for the Theater alongside Freedman, the American Theatre Wing’s Jonathan Larson Grant, the Johnny Mercer Foundation’s Emerging American Songwriter Award, two Bistro Awards, three MAC Awards, and multiple ASCAP Awards.

In his later years, Mr. Lutvak worked as an adjunct professor at his alma mater, the New York University Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program.

Mr. Lutvak died October 9, 2023 at the age of 64. He is survived by his husband, Artistic Director of Flight Path Dance Project, Michael McGowan, and their daughter, Eliot Rose Lutvak-McGowan.

The tribute to Steven Lutvak will take place at NYU Skirball Center, located at 566 LaGuardia Place, between West 4th and West 3rd Street, on Thursday, July 18 at 3:00 PM. Running time is 90 minutes with no intermission. Admission is free, but reservations are encouraged. For tickets, please visit tickets.nyu.edu/stevenlutvak

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Theatre News: Teeth, Soft Power, Redwood, BOOP! The Betty Boop Musical and Pre-Existing Condition

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Jenna Rose Husli, Wren Rivera, Alyse Alan Louis, Phoenix Best and Helen J Shen in Teeth (Photo: Chelcie Parry)

Teeth is coming back to New World Stages in the fall for an open-ended run. The transfer begins on October 31, Halloween night, as its official opening. While casting for the commercial remount is yet to be announced, the Playwrights Horizons cast featured Alyse Alan Louis, Steven Pasquale, Will Connolly, Jason Gotay, Jared Loftin, Courtney Bassett, Phoenix Best, Jenna Rose Husli, Lexi Rhoades, Wren Riveras and Helen J. Shen.

The off-Broadway cast album for Teeth, written by written by Pop! creator Anna K. Jacobs (book and music) and Pulitzer Prize-winning A Strange Loop creator Michael R. Jackson (book and lyrics), is now available to stream on all major music platforms. The physical CD will be released August 30. Teeth opened its off-Broadway world premiere at Playwrights Horizons in March with direction by Sarah Benson and choreography by Raja Feather Kelly.

Based on Mitchell Lichtenstein’s screenplay for the cult-classic 2007 horror comedy, Teeth is a tale of revenge and transformation that tears through a culture of shame and repressed desire one delightfully unhinged song at a time. The musical follows Dawn O’Keefe, an evangelical Christian teen struggling to be an exemplar of purity amongst her community of fellow Promise Keeper Girls. As Dawn’s desires become tested and twisted by the men in her life, she discovers a deadly secret not even she understands: when men violate her, her body bites back—literally.

I loved Jeanine Tesori and David Henry Hwang’s SoftPower when it appeared at The Public, now it’s coming to the Signature Theatre in Washington  D.C., newly revised production and directed by Signature Associate Artistic Director Ethan Heard. The show opens August 6 and runs until September 15. Could NYC be next? The cast will feature Steven Eng as DHH, Daniel May (Flower Drum Song) as Xue Xing, and Grace Yoo (Hadestown) as Hillary Clinton with Eymard Cabling (Miss Saigon national tour) as Randy Ray and others, Andrew Cristi (A Christmas Story) as Chief Justice and others, Jonny Lee Jr. as Bobby Bob and others, Quynh-My Luu as Waiter and others, Christopher Mueller as VEEP and others, Ashley D. Nguyen as Jīng and others, Chani Wereley as Betsy Ross and others, Nicholas Yenson as Holden Caulfield and others, and Sumié Yotsukura as Flight Attendant and others. Olivia Clavel-Davis, Brian Dauglash, Emily Song Tyler, and Joey Urgino are swings.

After the 2016 election, when a Chinese American playwright is attacked by an unknown assailant, he hallucinates a Golden Age musical comedy about a Chinese theater producer and Hillary Clinton falling in love. Hilarious and biting, this political satire dares to ask: Does American Democracy still work? And is it worth believing in?

An exhilarating ride through political absurdity with a faceoff between Chinese and American exceptionalism, Soft Power makes an electric debut in the nation’s capital.

Idina Menzel, will open at the Nederlander Theatre in Redwood. This new Broadway musical starts previews January 24,  with a February 13 opening. Written and directed by Tony Award nominee Tina Landau, Redwood features music by Kate Diaz and lyrics by Diaz and Landau. The show is conceived by Landau and Menzel, with additional contributions by Menzel. The musical premiered earlier this year at La Jolla Playhouse. “I made my Broadway debut at the Nederlander Theatre in Rent almost 30 years ago, so to be returning there with Redwood is very emotional for me as it feels like a real homecoming. It has been such a gift to collaborate with Tina and Kate on this show, and I’m so proud to bring it to Broadway” stated Menzel. Redwood follows Jesse (Menzel), a successful businesswoman, mother and wife who seems to have it all, but inside, her heart is broken. Finding herself at a turning point, Jesse leaves everyone and everything behind, gets in her car and drives. Thousands of miles later, she hits the majestic forests of Northern California, where a chance meeting and a leap of faith change her life forever.

BOOP! The Betty Boop Musical has found is set to open at Broadway’s Broadhurst Theatre on April 5, 2025. Tony Award®-winning director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell brings the Queen of the Animated Screen to the theater  with celebrated multiple Grammy® Award-winning composer David Foster, Tony Award®-nominated lyricist Susan Birkenhead and Tony Award®-winning book writer Bob Martin. This score is fabulous and we can’t wait to hear the rest of it.

Edie Falco Photo by Emilio Madrid

Today, producers O’Henry Productions, The Cohn Sisters, Jessica Chase, Taylor Williams, David Blum, Jesse Eisenberg and Charlie Kaufman announced that Pre-Existing Condition by Tony Award® nominee Marin Ireland will extend for two weeks through August 17 and will star Emmy Award® winner Edie Falco in the rotating role of “A” beginning on August 6

Pre-Existing Condition, directed by Maria Dizzia, is currently playing at the Connelly Theater (220 East 4th St.) in the intimate 60-seat Upstairs space. The play was originally set to close on August 3.

Pre-Existing Condition is a play exploring the challenges, shared community, and everyday indignities of learning to move forward after a life-altering, harmful relationship.

About the play, Ms. Falco said, “I am thrilled at the opportunity to be a part of something that moved me so much as a spectator. It involves an intimacy and vulnerability that I’ve sorely missed in the theater. I can’t wait to work with these people who I deeply respect so that hopefully more people can see and feel what I did when I saw the play.”

The role of “A” has rotated throughout the production and is currently played by Tony Award® winner Deirdre O’Connell (Dana H.). Tavi Gevinson (“American Horror Story”) will play the role from July 24-August 3 with Ms. Falco starting August 6-August 17. Previously, the role was played by Emmy Award® winner Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”), Julia Chan (Uncle Vanya) and Tony Award® nominee Maria Dizzia (In the Next Room).

The cast also includes Sarah Steele (“The Good Fight”), Dael Orlandersmith (Pulitzer Prize Finalist, Yellowman), Greg Keller (Alliance); with Raquel Chavez (Uncle Vanya) and Gregory Connors (The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window), understudies.

Tony Award® nominee Anne Kauffman (Mary Jane) serves as Creative Consultant on the production. In addition to Ms. Kauffman, the creative team includes Louisa Thompson (A Simulacrum), Set Designer; Tony Award® nominee Enver Chakartash (Stereophonic), Costume Designer; Tony Award® nominee Isabella Byrd (Enemy of the People, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club), Lighting Designer; Tony Award® nominee Palmer Hefferan (The Skin of Our Teeth), Sound Designer. Taylor Williams is Casting Director, Ashley-Rose Galligan is Production Stage Manager, Eric Nolan Mattingly is Assistant Stage Manager with Wagner Johnson Productions serving as General Management.  Associate Producer is Joe Meyer. David Manella at Loeb & Loeb LLP serves as Production Counsel.

For information on performance dates, ticketing lottery information please visit preexistingconditionplay.com. Tickets start at $49.

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Hell’s Kitchen And New York Liberty Host Block Party At Block Party

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The new musical Hell’s Kitchen will be the presenting sponsor of the New York Liberty’s game today July 16th. As a celebration of New York culture, Hell’s Kitchen and the New York Liberty will host a free open-to-the-public Block Party for fans on Tuesday, July 16 from 3:00-6:00 p.m. on the Ticketmaster Plaza at Barclays Center. The New York Liberty continue to underscore their intentional focus to bring together its passionate community and fanbase.

To emphasize the unique intersection of sport and theater, the Block Party will include a meet and greet with select cast members of Hell’s Kitchen, special performances from the New York Liberty Entertainment team and the Brooklyn Elite Jumpers Double Dutch, exclusive giveaways from Keys Soulcare and American Express, food vendors and more!

The festivities will continue during the New York Liberty’s game against the Connecticut Sun, where the Liberty aim to build upon the historic momentum experienced throughout the 2024 WNBA season. During the game, there will be a special halftime performance choreographed by Hell’s Kitchen’s choreographer Camille A. Brown and associate chorographer Rickey Tripp featuring the New York Liberty mascot, Ellie the Elephant, and dance team, as well as an on-court giveaway where two fans will have the chance to win tickets to an upcoming Hell’s Kitchen performance.

Ali is a 17-year-old girl full of fire – searching for freedom, passion and her place in the world. How she finds them is a New York City coming-of-age story you’ve never felt before – Hell’s Kitchen, a new musical from 16-time Grammy® Award winner Alicia Keys, whose songs and experiences growing up in NY inspire a story made for Broadway.

Rebellious and stifled by an overprotective single mother, Ali is lost until she meets her mentor: a neighbor who opens her heart and mind to the power of the piano. Set to the rhythm of the 90s, Hell’s Kitchen is a love story between a mother and daughter.  It’s about finding yourself, your purpose, and the community that lifts you. Come remember where dreams begin.

The “powerhouse cast” is led by Tony Award® winner Maleah Joi Moon, Shoshana Bean, Brandon Victor Dixon, Tony Award® winner Kecia Lewis and Chris Lee. Hell’s Kitchen is directed by four-time Tony Award® nominee Michael Greif, with choreography by four-time Tony Award nominee Camille A. Brown, a book by Pulitzer Prize finalist and Tony Award nominee Kristoffer Diaz – and the music of Keys, featuring new songs and her greatest hits.

The Hell’s Kitchen Original Broadway Cast Recording is available now via Alicia Keys Records/Interscope Records on streaming and digital platforms worldwide with a physical release to follow.

Hell’s Kitchen lottery tickets are available through a digital lottery the day before the performance at rush.telecharge.com. The digital lottery opens at rush.telecharge.com at 12AM (ET) one day before the performance with winners announced that same morning at 10AM (ET), with a second announcement of additional winners that afternoon at 3PM (ET). Winners may purchase up to two tickets at $39 each (inclusive of $5 service fee), subject to availability. Seats may be partial view.

A limited number of in-person Hell’s Kitchen rush tickets will be available on the day of each performance for $39 per ticket when the Shubert Theatre box office opens. Maximum of two tickets per person, subject to availability. Seats may be partial view. The box office opens Monday through Saturday at 10AM (ET) and Sunday at 12PM (ET).

Tickets for Hell’s Kitchen are available at HellsKitchen.com and Telecharge.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the Shubert Theatre box office. Ticket prices range from $59-199.

Season ticket memberships and single game tickets for New York Liberty home games at Barclays Center are on sale now via Ticketmaster. To learn more and view additional ticketing options such as group tickets and ticket plans, visit liberty.wnba.com/tickets.

The performance schedule for Hell’s Kitchen is Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 7PM, Wednesday at 7:30PM, Saturday at 8PM, with matinees on Wednesday and Saturday at 2PM, and Sunday at 3PM.

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