The four intriguing characters that make up the square edges in Kenneth Lonergan’s Lobby Hero, the revival that ushers Second Stage Theater on to the Broadway scene, find themselves caught in a quagmire of complications as they struggle and get tied up into ever tightening knots of loyalty and emotions during the midnight shift at an upscale Manhattan apartment complex lobby. We know these kind of simple but complex souls, where heroic moments are not so clear, but layered with regrets and bad choices. These knots are the very fabric of a Lonergan drama, much like his Oscar nominated film, ‘You Can Count on Me’ (2000), and the Academy Award winner for Best Original Screenplay, ‘Manchester by the Sea‘(2016). The four that stand make up the corners of the magnificently designed square lobby, rotating around one another as flawlessly as David Rockwell’s carousel set does around the actions of this crew of working class security guards and police officers. They are so solidly present in this drama, that first premiered Off-Broadway in 2001 at Playwrights Horizons, subsequently nominated for a Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Olivier Award for Best Play during its West End run, that we are thoroughly transfixed by the authentic and constant twisting of the web that is slowly weaved.
Director Trip Cullman (Broadway’s Six Degrees of Separation, 2ST’s The Layover) keeps the action of these four pulsing forward with an ease and an urgency that keeps our focus tuned in and our blood flowing. There are no moments of boredom or lethargy that one might expect during the graveyard shift of a lobby security guard, just well-played and orchestrated interactions all floating around the issues of morality and ethics. Michael Cera, who was so brilliant in Lonergan’s Broadway play, This Is Our Youth, is the rambling and insecure doorman, wait, I’m sorry, I mean, ‘security guard’, Jeff who holds that title very dear to his persona, sits at the center of this revolve, trying ‘sorta’ hard to pull his life together after, what he calls, some ‘bad luck’ in the navy. His body language, with hands shoved forcibly down inside his polyester uniform pant pockets, screams of a lost soul who wants to believe in salvation, but is far too impulsive, sarcastic, and lazy, all at the same time, to really do the work to make solid gains in his life. He’s like a smart stoner without the stone. With strong inspirational yet somehow confrontational support from his boss, the solid Captain William, played as perfectly as one could imagine by Brian Tyree Henry (The Book of Mormons), Jeff states he is being lifted up, when he’s not being torn down, by the motivational encouragement coming at him from his boss. It’s a complicated mess to watch, as William is a good man, but doesn’t seem aware of the put downs and hardness thrown at regular intervals at his subordinate. But the twist of Lobby Hero and the conundrum of the play that enters casually into that square lobby is on the back of Captain William, who is the first to broach the subject of “what would you do if…hypothetically speaking?“. That question hangs over the tiled floor, and slowly crystalizes into the larger one that asked, who will be the man who stands on the higher ground at the end of the shift; who will be the hero of the moment and the lobby who finally does the right thing for the right reason? Or will there, in the end, be one soul who can securely claim that title? And who will be left trapped and wiggling to death in the web of their own creation?
Balancing out the dynamics of these two are a pair of cops that routinely show up in that same lobby each night. Chris Evans, using every imaginary quasi-connection to his ‘Captain America‘ of the movies, makes an impressive Broadway debut playing the overly confident policeman-narcissist, Bill, who likes to swing by the building every night for an on-duty personal visit to a pretty and obliging female up on the 22nd floor. He won’t sign in, naturally ignoring the request from the lowly security guard, as Evans wondrously inhabits the beautifully arrogant and cocky persona of a super-cop basking in his powerful magnetism and manliness. Bill is also all too aware of the hold he has over his police partner, Dawn, and the belittling nervousness he can elicit from Jeff just by standing up close to him, exuding from his very core the feeling that he has every right and privilege to do so. The #MeToo movement has yet to creep up on him, but it’s only a matter of time, as the way he engages with all, especially with his buddy William, is both icky and charming, pulling us in seductively while at the same time, we see the knot of complications slowly tighten on them all.
Waiting patiently down in the lobby when Bill is upstairs doing his thing, is the rookie police officer and far too green partner, Dawn, played marvelously by Bel Powley (Broadway’s Arcadia). She is totally smitten by her Human Torch of a partner, believing in his boastful platitudes until the obvious is pointed out to her by the overzealous Jeff. Jeff, you see, is awkwardly smitten by Dawn and doesn’t seem able to stop the flood gates of words that constantly come rattling out from his nervous mouth. Their growing chemistry and dynamic is brilliantly caustic, cute, and electric, as she battles herself for what is right and wrong in any and all situations, trying so hard to become the cop she wants to be and the person that does that right thing in the end, even if it means throwing someone under the bus.
Lust, power, and attraction are played out impulsively and organically by the brilliant dialogue of Lonergan, as all four bounce off each other in ways that is both surprising and thrilling. Lobby Hero is strangely dynamic, hilarious, and crisply fascinating with a strong moral conflict at its center, spinning everyone around without throwing anyone off the turntable with too much force. I’m not sure what the overall scheme is in Lonergan’s heart regarding these four, but it’s obvious he loves and cares about them all, hoping they find solutions and optimism for what lays ahead. One thing is clear though. What lies ahead for these actors, and for the production as a whole, is numerous thumbs up and accolades coming their way, as we never get sick of watching them fight to stay upright. And Chris Evans, as he states about himself at one point, is “the best cop I ever saw”, or at least he’s pretty darn close, but not due to his complicated morality.
For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com
Stephen Schwartz To Be Inducted into The Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame
Legendary Award Winning Broadway and Movie Music Composer Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, Pippin) will be inducted into the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame (LIMEHOF) on Saturday, March 23rd, 2024 at 7pm.
There will also be concert emceed by Musician Paul Shaffer (from the David Letterman Show) who worked with Schwartz early in his career.
Schwartz has won 4 Grammys and 3 Oscars among other awards in his career that spans over 50 years both on Broadway and on the silver screen. Additionally, Schwartz has contributed music and lyrics to several movies such as “Pocahontas” (1995), “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996), “The Prince of Egypt” (1998), and “Enchanted” (2007).He was also involved with the upcoming feature film adaptation of Wicked to be released in the fall.
Ani DiFranco and Lola Tung Join Hadestown
The Tony and Grammy Award®-winning Best Musical Hadestown is currently stars Grammy Award winner Ani DiFranco as Persephone singing “Our Lady Of The Underground”.
Lola Tung (“The Summer I Turned Pretty”) as Eurydice, Jordan Fisher (Dear Evan Hansen, Grease: Live,) as Orpheus here singing “All I’ve Ever Known”.
Grammy Award nominee Phillip Boykin as Hades, and Tony Award winner Lillias White as Hermes.
They are joined by Belén Moyano, Kay Trinidad, and Brit West as the Fates. The chorus of Workers is played by Emily Afton, Malcolm Armwood, Chibueze Ihuoma, Alex Puette, and Grace Yoo. The cast includes swings Sojourner Brown, Brandon Cameron, Tara Jackson, Max Kumangai, Alex Lugo, and Tanner Ray Wilson.
Hadestown originated as Anaïs Mitchell’s indie theater project that toured Vermont which she then turned into an acclaimed album. With Rachel Chavkin, her artistic collaborator, Hadestown has been transformed into a genre-defying new musical that blends modern American folk music with New Orleans-inspired jazz to reimagine a sweeping ancient tale.
Live From The Edison Hotel Times Square Chronicles Presents Goes Live With Bonnie Comley and Stewart F. Lane
Photo of Bonnie Comley, Stewart F. Lane and Suzanna Bowling
“Live From The Edison Hotel 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. We will run the video on our site every Thursday and then it moves onto the podcast networks.
In this episode T2C’s publisher and owner Suzanna Bowling talks with Broadway royalty and longtime married couple Bonnie Comley and Stewart F. Lane. We talk about the Palace Theatre, Broadway HD and so much more.
We were also so excited because the show and our guests are now featured on the TV screens in the lobby and the hotel rooms.
I am so grateful to my guests Bonnie and Stewart for joining me. Thank-you Magda Katz for videoing and creating the content to go live, the audience who showed up to support us, Rommel Gopez and The Edison Hotel for their kindness and hospitality.
We hope to see you there on February 21st for our guests the creator of Times Square and Hampton Fashion Week Dee Rivera, Celebrity hairstylist Samantha Smoker and Fashion Designer Shani Grosz.
Live From The Edison Hotel Times Square Chronicles Presents Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley
I am so pleased to announce our guests for Valentine’s Day are Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley, the founders of BroadwayHD.com, an online streaming service on a mission to promote and preserve live theatre, extending the reach of Broadway and Broadway-caliber shows to anyone, anywhere. BroadwayHD currently has a catalog of over 300 full-length stage plays and musicals available for streaming on demand, so when you can’t get to Broadway, go to BroadwayHD on your tv, phone, or tablet!
Mr. Lane and Ms. Comley have collectively produced over 40 films and 45 Broadway shows, garnering nine Tony Awards and another 14 Tony nominations. They have also won Olivier Awards, Drama Desk, Drama
League, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for their stage productions. Lane has co-owned Broadway’s famous Palace Theater for almost 40 years.
The theater community has honored the couple for their philanthropic work, including The Actors Fund Medal of Honor, The Drama League Special Contribution to the Theater Award, The Paul Newman Award from Arts Horizons, and The Theater Museum Distinguished Service Award. The stage at Boston University’s new theater center is named in their honor, as is the Music Theater Program. The Musical Theater Society Room bears their name at Emerson College, and the 500-seat theater at the University
of Massachusetts Lowell is known as the Comley Lane Theater. Lane is a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award at Boston University, and Comley is Distinguished Alumni of both Emerson College and UMass Lowell.
Mr. Lane is a theater historian and playwright and has written the critically acclaimed “Black Broadway: African Americans on the Great White Way” (Square One Publishers), “Jews on Broadway” (McFarland Publishers), “Let’s Put on a Show” (Working Arts Library), and the plays “In The Wings (published in spring 2008 by Hal Leonard), “If It Was Easy” (published by Performing Books and nominated for Best New Play by the American Theatre Critics Association), and the musical “Back Home Again” (with music
and lyrics by John Denver) which he was awarded The 2011 John Denver Spirit Award for his work.
“Live From The Edison Hotel Times Square Chronicles Presents”, is a new show that will be 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.
Originally our guest was Maury Yeston, but he had to reschedule. He will be our guest at a later date, however Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley, our guests for Valentine’s Day could not be more perfect. They are the epitome or Love and Broadway.
See you at The Edison Hotel.
Chita Will Be Honored As Lights Dim
Broadway will dim its marquee lights to honor the two-time Tony-winning star of the original West Side Story Chita Rivera. This iconic star died January 30 at the age of 91.
The dimming of Broadway marquees will occur for the traditional one minute on Saturday, February 17 at 7:45 p.m./ET.
“Chita Rivera was Broadway royalty, and we will miss her with all our hearts,” said Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League. “For nearly seven decades she enthralled generations of audiences with her spellbinding performances and iconic roles. The triple threat actor, singer, and dancer leaves behind an incredible legacy of work for which she was honored with a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement.”
Rivera’s Broadway career began in 1950 with Guys and Dolls. Her signature role came in 1957 when she played the original “Anita” in West Side Story. Other Broadway credits include Bye Bye Birdie, Chicago, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, The Visit and The Rink. She was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, winning for The Rink in 1984 and Kiss of the Spider Woman in 1993. She received the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2018.
We give you the talented Ken Fallin’s drawing of Chita in The Visit.
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