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Mark Medoff’s Children of a Lesser God is one of those plays that I should have read or seen by now, but I actually don’t know anything about it beyond the basics. When it made its Broadway debut in 1980, it won three Tony Awards, including Best Play, Best Actor for John Rubinstein, and Best Actress for Phyllis Frelich, a deaf actress that the part was specially written for. But it’s the 1986 film, directed by Randa Haines (“Antwone Fisher“), and starring Marlee Matlin and William Hurt, that really brought this story into modern culture prominence. It received five Academy Award nominations, including Matlin’s, who became the youngest actress, 21 years old at the time, to win the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, and becoming the only deaf Academy Award recipient in any category. I never did see the film, nor do I think I ever read anything about it, except for the main romantic structure and storyline. It had always intrigued me, but for whatever reason I never did get around to seeing it on stage or screen.

Joshua Jackson, Anthony Edwards, Lauren Ridloff. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Medoff (Obie Award winning: When You Come Back, Red Ryder?) meet Frelich, the deaf actress, the eventually star in the play, at the University of Rhode Island’s New Repertory Project in 1977. Structuring the play partially on Frelich’s own romantic relationship with her hearing husband, Children of a Lesser God, a phrase that comes from Tennyson: “For why is all around us here / As if some lesser god had made the world“, sets out to chronicle the tumultuous relationship and marriage between an unconventional speech pathologist for the deaf and a reluctant-to-speak deaf woman who was also his former student. So when it was announced that this play, after a summer run at the Berkshire Theater Group’s Fitzpatrick Main Stage, was going to be staged at the Roundabout’s Studio 54 theatre, I was genuinely interested and excited to venture into that world and see what all the fuss was about.

Lauren Ridloff, Joshua Jackson. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Adding to that curiosity, the back story of the leading lady in this particular production is quite the tale in itself. Lauren Ridloff, the deaf actress who can also be seen in Todd Haynes 2017 film “Wonderstruck“, is making her Broadway debut after landing the part in the Berkshires. She was initially hired to assist in the reading of the play, but after her deeply emotional delivery during that table reading, the production quickly regrouped and restructured, decided to cast her in the part of Sarah Norman, the deaf young woman at the center of this romantic tale. The New York Times after seeing her in the summer stage production referred to her as a “sensational find” so it didn’t take long for the powers that be to persuade her to reprise the role on Broadway alongside her handsome, famous, and very talented leading man, Joshua Jackson (2ST’s Smart People, West End’s A Life in the Theatre). And the rest, as we say, is history in the making.

John McGinty, Lauren Ridloff, Julie Cerda. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

As directed with a surprisingly vague randomness by Kenny Leon (A Raisin in the Sun, August Wilson’s Fences), Ridloff finds a way to sparkle in the part of a rebellious student and resident maid at a school for the deaf and hard of hearing in New England. She beautifully embodies the role with every inch of her body, making us feel her troubled story as it reverberates out like sound waves with every gesture, even though this staging doesn’t particularly help. But it is within her use of sign language as her communicative tool that she finds safety and structure. James Leeds, played solidly by Jackson, the new teacher on the block, wants her to stop hiding away behind the school walls, and learn how to speak aloud and read lips, but she resists, seeing this as an insult. She steadfastly refuses his attempts, somewhat out of fear of being ridiculed, but also believing fully that she shouldn’t be forced to assimilate in that manner. She sides with the other rebellious resident, Orin Dennis, played with passion and intensity by John McGinty (NY’s Fête de la Nuit), who is trying his hardest to create change from within, and through a lawyer, Edna Klein, played with a fine balance of awkward and privilege by Julie Cerda (Netflix’s “House of Cards”) hired to represent them. Treshelle Edmond (Deaf West’s Spring Awakening) sweetly portrays a young and feisty deaf student who sees big hearts floating over the tall and handsome James Leeds, and Anthony Edwards (TV’s ‘ER‘) is almost unrecognizable as the straight-laced and backward facing Mr. Franklin who runs the school where this tale mostly takes place. The formidable Kecia Lewis (Broadway’s The Drowsy Chaperone) is also present, playing Sarah’s emotionally overwhelmed and disconnected mother, with almost too much presence and sass to believe in her disregard, but the outlook she presents is as real and understandable as any, and maybe more so.

The set-up is compelling and the way the story is being laid out at the beginning seems reasonable and thought-provoking. The set, by designer Derek McLane (The Parisian Woman), with fine but uninspiring period costumes by Dede Ayite (PH’s Mankind),  is surprisingly cold and modern, as is the lighting by Mike Baldassari (Broadway’s First Date), in sharp contrast to  the intimate moments trying to be constructed. The structures work against the emotionality of these performers, making it almost impossible to see the romance that we need to believe in blossom. Leeds behavior as he tries to woo his former student starts to feel a bit stalker-like and creepy, climbing up a tree and peering into her bedroom, persuading her to open the window to let him in. He then proceeds to seduce her at the same time as he tells her they don’t have to do anything that night. Back in the 80’s, maybe this development was seen as natural and even romantic, but in these days of the #MeToo movement with these type of power dynamics being scrutinized and investigated, his behavior being characterized as romantic is just not acceptable anymore. Their whole relationship, even when taken in the period context, seems awash in unbalanced power and control and her character is limited and devalued to a woman who marvels at the idea of a blender in her lovely new kitchen.

Lauren Ridloff, Joshua Jackson, Treshelle Edmond. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

As the Broadway houses that hold the musicals, My Fair Lady and Carousel struggle with their own problematic story lines, trying their hardest to find modern sensibilities to unravel the unhealthy power dynamics within their plots, Children of a Lesser God seems to be sitting quietly on the sidelines of this dialogue, pretending these complications don’t exist in the play. The play seems old-fashioned and happy to be just that, with the first act seemingly ending on a romantic note, with very little of a conflict being fully constructed. They are in love and want to marry. That’s great, and Orin doesn’t really agree with it. A problem that doesn’t seem to carry much weight. When did they fall in love? That is a solid question in this telling, as I never really saw it arriving or growing. Medoff’s famous play may need a strong rewrite or adaptation if he wants it to continue to be a well-regarded study of conflicting ideologies on speech and deafness, but as it stands right now in this well acted, but poorly constructed production, it stalls and starts to feel creepy. Ridloff’s performance does a great deal to soften the sharp edges, but it still cuts deeply into the problematic dynamic. Congrats to her, but I left feeling ill at ease about what I just witnessed.

Lauren Ridloff, Kecia Lewis. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

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My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to


And The Winners of The 2023 Drama Desk Awards Are ………



The 2023 67th Drama Desk Awards, honoring artistic excellence on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway, will take place on June 6 at Sardi’s Restaurant. Today the winners were announced.

Outstanding Play: “Leopoldstadt,” by Tom Stoppard

Outstanding Musical: “Some Like it Hot”

Outstanding Revival of a Play: “The Piano Lesson”

Outstanding Revival of a Musical: “Parade”

Outstanding Lead Performance in a Play: Jessica Chastain, “A Doll’s House” and Sean Hayes, “Good Night, Oscar”

Outstanding Lead Performance in a Musical: Annaleigh Ashford, “Sweeney Todd”
and J. Harrison Ghee, “Some Like it Hot”

Outstanding Featured Performance in a Play: Miriam Silverman, “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window,” Brooklyn Academy of Music and Brandon Uranowitz, “Leopoldstadt”

Outstanding Featured Performance in a Musical: Kevin Del Aguila, “Some Like it Hot” and Alex Newell, “Shucked”

Outstanding Direction of a Play: Max Webster, “Life of Pi”

Outstanding Direction of a Musical: Thomas Kail, “Sweeney Todd”

Outstanding Choreography: Casey Nicholaw, “Some Like it Hot”

Outstanding Music: Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, “Shucked”

Outstanding Lyrics: Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, “Some Like it Hot”

Outstanding Book of a Musical: Matthew López and Amber Ruffin, “Some Like it Hot”

Outstanding Orchestrations: Charlie Rosen and Bryan Carter, “Some Like it Hot”

Outstanding Music in a Play: Suzan-Lori Parks, “Plays for the Plague Year,” The Public Theater

Outstanding Scenic Design of a Play: Tim Hatley, “Life of Pi”

Outstanding Scenic Design of a Musical: Beowulf Boritt, “New York, New York”

Outstanding Costume Design of a Play: Emilio Sosa, “Ain’t No Mo’”

Outstanding Costume Design of a Musical: Gregg Barnes, “Some Like it Hot”

Outstanding Lighting Design of a Play: Natasha Chivers and Willie Williams (video), “Prima Facie”

Outstanding Lighting Design of a Musical: Natasha Katz, “Sweeney Todd”

Outstanding Projection and Video Design: Andrzej Goulding, “Life of Pi”

Outstanding Sound Design of a Play: Ben & Max Ringham, “A Doll’s House”

Outstanding Sound Design of a Musical: Scott Lehrer and Alex Neumann, “Into the Woods”

Outstanding Wig and Hair: Mia M. Neal, “Ain’t No Mo’”

Outstanding Solo Performance: Jodie Comer, “Prima Facie”

Unique Theatrical Experience: “Peter Pan Goes Wrong”

Outstanding Fight Choreography: B.H. Barry, “Camelot”

Outstanding Adaptation: “A Doll’s House,” by Amy Herzog

Outstanding Puppetry: Nick Barnes and Finn Caldwell, “Life of Pi”

Shows with multiple wins

Some Like It Hot: 8

Life of Pi: 4

A Doll’s House: 3

Sweeney Todd: 3

Ain’t No Mo’: 2

Leopoldstadt: 2

Prima Facie: 2

Shucked: 2

Special Awards

Harold Prince Lifetime Achievement Award

Stephen McKinley Henderson has been bringing in-depth, gripping portrayals of memorable characters to the stage for over four decades. With his return to Broadway this season as Pops in “Between Riverside and Crazy,” which the Drama Desk previously nominated in 2015, this year’s Harold Prince Lifetime Achievement Award marks Henderson’s role in this powerful production as a celebration of his brilliant career.

Ensemble Award

The cast of Soho Rep’s “Public Obscenities” – Tashnuva Anan, Abrar Haque, Golam Sarwar Harun, Gargi Mukherjee, NaFis, Jakeem Dante Powell, and Debashis Roy Chowdhury – embodied the transnational world of Shayok Misha Chowdhury’s bilingual play with memorable authenticity, remarkable specificity, and extraordinary warmth.

Sam Norkin Off-Broadway Award

From his standout performance in american (tele)visions, to writing and performing the autobiographical “Dark Disabled Stories,” Ryan J. Haddad’s work this season has expanded on and interrogated what the idea of “accessibility” really means. Whether riding a shopping cart like a throne, or relating his experiences on a “gay, pink bus,” Haddad shared with audiences an unabashed queer fabulosity that was both unforgettable and deeply human.

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Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Remembering Angela Lansbury in Sweeney Todd



On Sunday look for a brand new charcuterie of Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford in Sweeney Todd..  I loved the new production, and it’s two leads.

I saw the original with Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou, which was also a favorite. I think it’s Sondheim’s greatest work.
Here is my drawing of Angela as Mrs. Lovett, to salute the original.
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League of Professional Theatre Women’s 10th Annual Women Stage The World March



 The League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW) will hold its 10th Annual “Women Stage the World March”  — a Suffragette-inspired project to educate the public about the role of women in the theatre industry — on Saturday, June 17.   The march will begin at noon, at Shubert Alley and weave through Times Square and the Broadway Theatre District, wrapping up at about 2 p.m.

“The event is FREE and LPTW invites all theatre women and allies to join us as we increase awareness, lift our voices, and advocate for more opportunities for women in theatre,” said Ludovica Villar-Hauser, Co-President of LPTW.

“The Women Stage the World March is designed to educate the public about the role women play in creating theatre and the barriers they face as men continue to outnumber women by 4 to 1 in key roles such as playwright, director and designers.  Women buy 67% of the tickets and represent 65% of the audience, yet 80% of the storytelling on stage is shaped by men’s voices,” said Katrin Hilbe, Co-President of LPTW.

Handouts during the March will prompt ticket-buyers to ask three questions as they make buying decisions: (1) Who wrote, directed and designed this play? (2) What is this theatre’s track record in giving opportunities to women? (3) How can you spread the word and promote women’s voices?

“All participants are encouraged to dress as their favorite historical theatre woman, or dress all in white.  March participants will gather at Shubert Alley starting at 11:30 AM, in preparation for the start of the march at noon.   Women Stage the World sashes and signs will be provided, as supplies last,” noted Penelope Deen, LPTW member and organizer of the event. Those interested in participating in the event please R.S.V.P. at: or contact Penelope Deen at:

LPTW Co-President Ludovica Villar-Hauser added:  “The League of Professional Theatre Women stands alongside the Writers Guild of America (WGA) as they demand fair wages and take action to ensure more protections for artists. We encourage LPTW members to find a time to join the WGA on the picket lines this month as the strike continues.  Women writers are the future of the film and television industry, just as they lead the way in theatre.  LPTW supports the women on the frontlines of this movement as they call for long overdue change. We are stronger together.”

For the past 10 years LPTW members, affiliated union members, theatre artists and their allies have hit the streets in a March reminiscent of the Suffragette parades of the early 20th Century, with some marchers dressed in traditional suffrage garb and colors. ​ Like the Suffragettes before them, participants in the Women Stage the World March empower women and men to become aware, take action and influence others.

The League of Professional Theatre Women (LPTW) is a membership organization championing women in theatre and advocating for increased equity and access for all theatre women. Our programs and initiatives create community, cultivate leadership, and increase opportunities and recognition for women working in theatre. The organization provides support, networking and collaboration mechanisms for members, and offers professional development and educational opportunities for all theatre women and the general public.  LPTW celebrates the historic contributions and contemporary achievements of women in theatre, both nationally and around the globe, and advocates for parity in employment, compensation and recognition for women theatre practitioners through industry-wide initiatives and public policy proposals.   LPTW is celebrating its 40th Anniversary in 2023.

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Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Chicago



John Kander & Fred Ebb / Bob Fosse musical Chicago is now the longest running show playing on Broadway. Having played 10,338 performances, Chicago is the Tony Award-winning, record-breaking hit musical playing at the Ambassador Theatre, 219 W. 49th St., NYC.

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Ham4Ham: Some Like It Hot, Parade and Shucked With Special Guests



Lin-Manuel Miranda brought out a. special edition of Ham4Ham outside the Richard Rodgers Theater yesterday and it was a star studded afternoon.

J Harrison Ghee

First up Leopoldstadt stars Josh Molina and Brandon Uranowitz introduced Some Like It Hot‘s J. Harrison Ghee, who performed “You Coulda Knocked Me Over With a Feather” accompanied by the show’s composer, Marc Shaiman. You can watch the beginning of this and the whole performance of that song here.

The crowds

Then Nikki Crawford and playwright James Ijames from Fat Ham, introduced composer Jason Robert Brown and performers Ben Platt and Michaela Diamond who perform the duet “This Is Not Over Yet” from the must see revival of Parade.

The Thanksgiving Play stars D’Arcy Carden and Chris Sullivan introduced book writer Robert Horn and the Tony-nominated cast of Shucked recreated new lyrics for “We Love Jesus” and a parody of Hamilton‘s “The Story of Tonight.”led by Ashley D. Kelley, Grey Henson, Andrew Durand and Kevin Cahoon

This was a spectacular afternoon that can only be had in NYC.

Kevin Cahoon

T2c would love to thank these three ladies who gave us a chair to sit on.


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