The SAG-AFTRA Foundation and Broadway World has partnered for a filmed Conversations and Q&A series to recognize and celebrate the vibrant theatre community in New York City. This Monday, December 10th at 2:00 PM at the Robin Williams Center, 247 W 54th St, please join for a Conversations Q&A with Darren Criss, moderated by Broadway World’s Richard Ridge of “Backstage with Richard Ridge!”
Darren Criss is a multi-faceted artist with an illustrious career spanning television, film, music and stage. He recently won a Primetime Emmy Award and received a Golden Globe nod for his portrayal of Andrew Cunanan in Ryan Murphy’s award-winning series “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace.” He made television history for being the second actor of Asian descent to ever win in this category and first Filipino-American to ever win an Emmy. His turn as Cunanan garnered him rave-reviews, being deemed as “electrifying,” “chilling,” “compelling,” “magnetic and frightening,” and “career-changing.” It has also earned him acting nods from the Television Critics Association Awards, MTV Movie & TV Awards and People’s Choice Awards.
Criss has also starred on Broadway in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. In 2015, Criss co-founded Elsie Fest which is touted as “New York City’s first outdoor music festival celebrating tunes from the stage and screen”.
Criss is best known for his portrayal of Blaine Anderson on the Fox musical comedy-drama series Glee. Initially appearing as the lead vocalist of Glee‘s Dalton Academy Warblers, Criss’ first number, a cover version of “Teenage Dream”, became the fastest-selling Glee single, reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100, and was certified gold in the US. The Warblers have sold over 1.3 million tracks, and the soundtrack album, Glee: The Music Presents the Warblers (2011), peaked at number two on the US Billboard 200. He was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2015 for writing the song “This Time” for the Glee finale.
To Register for Event click here.
Meet The Playwrights of The NY Summer Theater Festival: Dan Brown Brings His Profound Sense of Writing of The Human Condition To Life
Dan Brown is a writer/director from NYC. In 2013 he released the documentary film- John Cori Warned You. In 2020, Dan published a collection of fiction writing- The Sometimes Why. In ’21 he directed the theatre production-Tales From the Sometimes Why. In January ’23 he debuted the stage show; The Eleven Story Drop. His play- The Mollies was selected to the Queens Short Play Festival.
In Sunshine Unlimited a 14 minute play at The New York Festival we meet Martin who was promoted to management. He is the first African American to be elevated to an executive position, but it seems not just , fanfare within the company is linked to the promotion. Months later when his hiring is still being celebrated, Martin experiences doubts about his boss, and himself. Is racism still wrong when the perpetrators have good intentions. Is one truly a victim when racism come with a raise and window view?
Step Inside The New Musical The Gospel According to Heather
Tony nominee Paul Gordon’s new musical The Gospel According to Heather will premiere Off-Broadway this summer at Theatre 555, with performances beginning June 14 ahead of a June 22 opening night. The limited run will continue through July 9.
On Monday the cast premiered a few of the numbers and talked to the press. In this video meet Brittany Nicole Williams (The Prom), Maria Habeeb, Carlos Alcala, Lauren Elder (Hair), Carson Stewart, Donna Trikoff the artistic producer of Amas Musical Theatre, Katey Sagal (The Connors, Sons of Anarchy, Married with Children) as “Agatha,” Jeremy Kushnier (Atomic, Footloose) and composer, lyricist and book writer Paul Gordon.
In The Gospel According to Heather, Heather Krebs wants a boyfriend, but how can she navigate her way through high school if she might be the new Messiah? A small town in Ohio grapples with politics, religion, and teenage romance in the pop musical featuring a book, music, and lyrics by Tony nominee Gordon (Jane Eyre).
The Gospel According to Heather is being presented by Amas Musical Theatre in association with Jim Kierstead, Broadway Factor, Linda Karn and David Bryant.
All video’s by Magda Katz
Sunshine Unlimited Soars With Truth at The New York Theatre Festival
Dan Brown’s Sunshine Unlimited was part of The New York Theatre Festival shorts. Sitting through four other shorts Brown’s powerful words, superb direction also by Brown and the strong acting choices by Sean Philips were refreshingly riveting. These were not the words from a first time playwright, but of someone who understands language and how people feel.
Sunshine Unlimited is about how the African American, Black male resents being a quota, paraded around, being classified by his skin color and having to act as if it is ok. Martin (Philips) has been the executive director for his company for years, yet the poster saying he is the First African American Executive Director still stands in the lobby. The fact that there have been no other African American’s promoted is part of the problem. His girlfriend (Alonda Jones), is proud of him for opening doors for their people and doesn’t want him to rock the boat.
His father Matin Sr. (Jaymz Nylon) worked for the railroad and on the day he started, so did another man with his same name, so throughout his entire time with the company he was known as “Black” Martin, even when the “White” Martin was promoted. When he complained, he was told the “White” Martin was ok with this so why wasn’t he. His wife (Linda Nesbit Floria) silently supported him, though in fear.
One day the younger Martin gets feed up and destroys the poster and his boss (Alexander D. Carney) asks him why. Martin tells him his truth and asks for more African American’s to be hired. Instead of being fired, Martin does open the doors.
This play is more of a 14 minute monologue, where you see the other people, but they do not talk. I would love to see Sunshine Unlimited expanded, so that each of the characters explains their thoughts as succinctly as Martin does. With the generational gaps and gender versions of how we see life, this could prove to be Pulitzer Prize winning. I know I sat on the edge of my seat the entire time and saw this problem with new eyes.
Sean Philips gives an award winning performance as he draws you into Martin’s plight. I would love to see more of his work, as well as more content from Mr. Brown.
This is a playwright to keep on your radar, as he is so prolific and I think has much to say that is worth listening to.
Sunshine Unlimited: The New York Theatre Festival, closed.
Out of Town
Stratford’s Rent Soars with Scrappy Energy and Talent
It’s all heart-wrenching “glory, from the pretty boy frontman“, as Stratford Festivalmagnetically brings to life the epic Rent, the rock musical that slices together Puccini’s 1896 opera La Bohème with the deep emotional saga of a group of young starving artists struggling against all odds to survive and create in NYC’s East Village. It’s the thrilling dark and stormy days of bohemia in Alphabet City, heaving breathlessly under the shadow of HIV/AIDS, with awe-inspiring music, lyrics, and book by the magnetic and too-soon departed Jonathan Larson. The tale is tight and strong with a captivating emotionality, digging deep into love and loss in the most energetic of ways possible under the watchful eyes of illuminated apartment windows thirsty for more. It is filled with emotion, this production, taking me back to that thrilling moment in my theatrical history when I first saw the musical in previews on Broadway back in 1996 after it transferred from the New York Theatre Workshop to great acclaim.
I was a young 32-year-old gay man, living and struggling with life in the East Village of New York City. And I knew the distress and exhilaration well. The creation of Rent has a well-known story now, thanks to the numerous documentaries mapping out its birth, as well as the majestic filming of Larson’s “tick, tick…BOOM!” that gives us a strong sense of all that had to happen in order to get this rock opera to the stage. Rent is somewhat of an autobiographical piece of work, as Larson lived and breathed so many of the elements that became part of the details of his show. He lived in New York pushing hard and deliberate as a starving artist with a goal and a dream. He shared many of the same hopes and fears as the epic characters that endeared in Rent, struggling day to day with some of the same poor living conditions, like the illegal wood-burning stove in the middle of their apartment, a bathtub sitting center in his kitchen, a broken door buzzer that made it imperative that his guests call up from the pay phone across the street. These slices of authenticity made their way into the musical creating a piece that breathes with an air of honesty, and Stratford, in ways that I can’t quite put my finger on, has unearthed that same quality, energy, and connection. It feels scrappy yet so solidly produced and performed by a strong cast of singers and actors that give you the right combination of youthful edge and strong fiery devotion to the tale at hand. As directed by Thom Allison (Stratford’s Into the Woods; Broadway’s Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), Rent shockingly does the impossible. It finds its way through, giving you the desperate energy of a young artist, mixed with vocals that soar with the material and the emotional heart of a caring complicated community that fight and love equally. Just like that first batch of actors/singers that I saw when Rent first opened on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre back in 1996.
Theatre News: Doubt: A Parable, Here Lies Love, Prayer for the French Republic, Eisenhower and Hell’s Kitchen
Tyne Daly and Liev Schreiber will star in a revival of Doubt: A Parable on Broadway. The production is to begin performances next February at the American Airlines Theater.
The new production is produced by the Roundabout Theater Company, and will be directed by Scott Ellis, who has been serving as the nonprofit’s interim artistic director since the death of artistic director Todd Haimes in April.
The play, by John Patrick Shanley, is about a nun who suspects a priest has sexually abused a student at a Catholic school. In 2005, the year it first opened on Broadway, it won both the Pulitzer Prize for drama and the Tony Award for best play; it was later adapted into a film and an opera.
Daly, who will play the nun who serves as the school principal, and Schreiber, who will play the parish priest, are both Tony winners. Daly, is known for her role in “Cagney & Lacey”. She won the 1990 Tony Award for her portrayal as Mama Rose in the revival of Gypsy. Schreiber, is the star of Showtime’s “Ray Donovan.” He won a Tony Award in 2005 for a revival of Glengarry Glen Ross.
Doubt is one of three plays to be staged by Roundabout this coming season. The others are I Need That, a new play by Theresa Rebek starring Danny DeVito alongside his daughter, Lucy, and Home, a 1979 revival, directed by Kenny Leon, by Samm-Art Williams.
David Byrne, Fatboy Slim and Here Lies Love are causing controversy with their July Broadway debut. The show’s extensive use of prerecorded music has the American Federation of Musicians’ Local 802, up in arms. The Local’s Broadway musical contract stipulate that productions employ 19 live musicians.
In response to the union’s concerns, Byrne and the show’s PR team released a statement on Instagram to lay out the production’s revolutionary format and genre-bending originality. Here Lies Love is not a traditional Broadway musical. The music is drawn outside of the traditional music genre. The performance of the live vocals to pre-recorded, artificial tracks is paramount to its artistic concept. Production has ripped out the seats in the theater and built a dance floor. There is no longer a proscenium stage. The Broadway Theater has been transformed into a nightclub, with every theatergoer immersed in the experience.
Here Lies Love is on Broadway because Broadway must support boundary-pushing creative work. Broadway is also the venue for a well conceived, high-quality show that highlights the valued traditions of specific cultures whose stories have never been on its stages. Here Lies Love does not believe in artistic gatekeepers. Here Lies Love believes in a Broadway for everyone, where new creative forms push the medium and create new traditions and audiences.
I saw Here Lies Love at The Public and not sure what kind of fast talking this is, but this statement rings false and full of how can we cut the costs while sticking it to the audience.
Prayer for the French Republic, by Joshua Harmon is coming to Broadway this season.This award-winning Off Broadway production played to rave reviews at The Manhattan Theatre Club. The production was the winner of the 2022 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play and Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play. Broadway performances will begin previews on Tuesday, December 19, at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, with an official opening night on Tuesday, January 9, 2024. David Cromer directs.
Off Broadway: Tony winner John Rubinstein starts previews June 13 at St. Clement’s in one-man show Eisenhower.
Alicia Keys’ musical Hell’s Kitchen will run at The Public Theater from October 24 – December 10, starring Shoshana Bean. Inspired by Keys’ own life, the new musical features an original score by the 15-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, with a book by Kristoffer Diaz. Hell’s Kitchen will be directed by Michael Greif and choreographed by Camille A. Brown.
Leading the cast will be Maleah Joi Moon as Ali, opposite Bean as Ali’s mother Jersey, with Brandon Victor Dixon as Ali’s father Davis, Chad Carstarphen as Ray, Vanessa Ferguson as Tiny, Crystal Monee Hall as Crystal, Chris Lee as Knuck, Jackie Leon as Jessica, Kecia Lewis as Ali’s piano teacher Miss Liza Jane, Mariand Torres as Maria, and Lamont Walker II as Riq.
Completing the cast are Reid Clarke, Chloe Davis, Nico DeJesus, Timothy L. Edwards, Raechelle Manalo, Sarah Parker, and Niki Saludez, with understudies Badia Farha, Gianna Harris, Onyxx Noel, William Roberson, and Donna Vivino.
The musical is described as a coming-of-age story set in a cramped apartment in the neighborhood of the title near Times Square, where 17-year-old Ali is desperate to get her piece of the New York dream. Ali’s mother is just as determined to protect her daughter from the same mistakes she made. When Ali falls for a talented young drummer, both mother and daughter must face hard truths about race, defiance, and growing up.
The production has set design by Robert Brill, costumes by Dede Ayite, lighting by Natasha Katz, sound by Gareth Owens, and projection design by Peter Nigrini.
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