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I’d Like to Propose a Toast to the 2019/20 Broadway Play Opening Night Schedule Excitement



Sea Wall/A Life snuck in over the summer, giving Broadway a magnificent head start to a stellar 2019/20 season, filling the Hudson Theatre with an audience eager to hear the two stories told by these two fantastic actors on that grand stage. It’s an impressive construction, beautifully aligning two one-act plays by two different, but exceptional playwrights into an evening’s meditation on fatherhood drenched in grief and love. Sea Wall clicks instantly into place with the Tony Award nominee Tom Sturridge (Broadway’s 1984, Orphans), snapping the lights on to shed light on his third collaboration with Tony and Olivier Award winner Simon Stephens (HeisenbergOn the Shore…Wastwater). His sentences drop off leaving us dangling like a swimmer at the Sea Wall. It’s a truly mesmerizing performance, pulling us towards his love and hurt like a strong undertow that will leave us gasping for air and battling the waves to survive. After we catch our broken hearted breath at intermission, Academy Award nominee Jake Gyllenhaal (Broadway’s Sunday in the Park..) saunters onto the stage in a similar fashion, flipping the power switch but then struggling to find his circle of light. It’s a perfect re-entry, keeping us at bay wondering what his own grand artistic collaboration with the fantastical detailed Nick Payne (Broadway’s Constellations) will be, and how if would expand or contrast with the previous confessional. The two dive in deep, swerving back and forth between waves, dousing themselves to the bone with the condition of what it is like to swim in a father’s ocean of pain, anger, joy and the hopefulness of humanity. If you haven’t bought into Sea Wall/A Life, then you must, and not just for Jake.

Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune

But the first true show of the new season is and was the already shuttered Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune which played with our hearts at the Broadhurst Theatre, closing far too early on July 28th.  The two leading ‘love birds’; the gloriously heart-breaking Audra McDonald (Broadway’s Lady Day…Shuffle Along…) and the phenomenally determined Michael Shannon (Broadway’s Long Day’s Journey…), square off in this classic play, face to face before diving in and shedding all of their superfluous armor in an intense coming together that is, simply, a fucking great start to this engagement. It’s clear from that first scene, after coming to its natural climax, that the two, dynamically played with a clarity for realistic pain and discomfort, are on a difficult journey forward. But the play rolls out with passion and a solid preciseness that could only be lead by exceptional pros, but unfortunately, their difficult journey was matched by the box office ticket sales in the middle of the summer.  It’s a tough time I guess, those hot summer months, unless of course, you’re Jake Gyllenhall.


• Theatre: Jacobs
• First Preview: August 14
• Opening: September 5
• Written by Harold Pinter
• Directed by Robert O’Hara


These three aren’t matinee idols, but these three actors bring a pedigree of excellence in an assortment of genres. All three were present when I saw this production of Pinter’s Betrayal in London earlier this year, and I couldn’t be more thrilled that it has flown over the pond to Broadway. It’s breathtakingly simple in concept and design, ending just as it is beginning, as this play is about an affair, in reverse. “A triangle within a circle against a rectangular wall, poised for interaction, one by one, as directed with precision by Jamie Lloyd (Trafalgar Studio’s The Maids). The pairs unwrap a series of betrayals between friends, lovers, and partners, as the clock turns backwards, beautifully structured and balanced, facing off against the things they don’t know are coming, but strangely we do”.

Tom Hiddleston in Betrayal at the Harold Pinter Theatre, London. Photo: Marc Brenner.

It’s a powerful altercation, starring the fantastically elegant Tom Hiddleston (Cheek by Jowl’s The Changeling), having reached fame as Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, leaning in quite brilliantly as Robert, the husband; Zawe Ashton (Royal Court’s Rhinoceros) as the sensual Emma, the deceiving wife; and the gloriously sexy and intense Charlie Cox (MTC’s Incognito) as Jerry, the best friend of Robert and the lover of Emma. Strikingly heavy with the stillness breathing loud, Betrayal was first staged in 1978 featuring Penelope Wilton, Michael Gambon, and Daniel Massey, but seen on Broadway in the 2013 revival starring Daniel Craig, his real-life wife Rachel Weisz, and Rafe Spall at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. And even though that production broke records in weekly revenue, the play felt fussy and overly produced, oddly stripped of its power and its passion.  Here void of locational references, the triangulational impact of the secrets and lies told within an extra-marital affair by all three, lash out harder and pin point the pain of love and deception with an exacting punch. Take your best friend, or your partner, or both, if you dare, as this Betrayal is as seductive as one can imagine.

The cast of The Inheritance.

• Theatre: Barrymore
• First Preview: September 27
• Opening Night: November 17
• Written by Matthew Lopez
• Directed by Stephen Daldry


The show I’m most excited to see this fall though is also a show that I have already seen in London’s West End last November (I feel I’ve made some good choices over in London). Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance, winner of the 2019 Olivier Award for Best New Play, is a queer-themed, two-part play loosely inspired by E. M. Forster’s Howards End. Set in New York City a generation after the HIV/AIDS crisis of the ‘80s and ‘90s, the play follows a group of gay men as they struggle to connect to the past and maintain a sense of history. Paying a certain homage to the fore-bearers of gay culture, The Inheritance tackles a tremendous amount of complicated territory, pushing its place onto the fireside mantle somewhere beside Kushner’s far more ethereal Angels in America. With a slightly aggressive and pompous stance of an overly confident pretty boy, Lopez dares us to look away from its imperfect but devastatingly emotional six acts and seven hours, even as the play pretends to be a bookend to the angelic. Even in comparison to that, The Inheritance is most decidedly a masterpiece, almost measuring up to Kushner’s triumphant Angels as it dives head first into 21st Century queer politics and the economic discrepancies within modern culture and society. It’s epic in its journey, and even with the hours that one must commit to seeing it, I’m looking forward to donating that time once again.

Slave Play
James Cusati-Moyer in the New York Theatre Workshop production of Slave Play. All photos by Joan Marcus.

• Theatre: Golden
• First Preview: September 10
• Opening: October 6
• Written by Jeremy O. Harris (Broadway debut)
• Directed by Robert O’Hara

Just as powerful, and maybe even more daring, Slave Play rides into town, determined to throw convention off balance with its stark examination of the lasting impact of white supremacy through the lens of sexuality. With it’s complicated satirical approach, Jeremy O. Harris (Daddy) throws a reflective mirrored light on slavery, power dynamics, sexuality, and class, while trying with desperation to find the shades in between stances of racism, the power of internal music, and the ability to let it flow wild, fast and free. It’s all “work, work, work, work, work” when it ran Off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop in 2018 where the play earned Harris the Rosa Parks Playwriting Award, the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, The Lotos Foundation Prize in the Arts and Sciences and the 2018 Paula Vogel Award. Most of the Off-Broadway cast joyfully returns for another session: Ato Blankson-Wood, James Cusati-Moyer, Sullivan Jones, Chalia La Tour, Irene Sofia Lucio, Annie McNamara, and Paul Alexander Nolan, with Joaquina Kalukango joining in the festivities to play Kaneisha. Based on the viewing at NYTW, Harris seems to want to ask a lot of complex questions at this Slave Play colloquium, some more pointed than others, poking at our funny bones and our deep sexual fantasies, making us wiggle in our seat because of numerous observations that cling to our skin and our seminar materials. So sign up for this sexy and dynamic experiment and become engaged in a conversation that will likely continue long after the last group member leaves the stage. You all are “making such great progress” Broadway so keep up the great work bringing this level of dissection to the stage for all to see.


• Theatre: Helen Hayes
• First Preview: December 20
• Opening Night: January 23, 2020
• Written by Bess Wohl
• Director: Leigh Silverman

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Michael Urie, Thomas Sadoski, and Ashley Park.

Bess Wohl is certainly having quite the year. I just saw her fascinating Make Believe at Second Stage‘s off-Broadway Tony Kiser Theater where the four central kid characters’ games foreshadow a dangerous despair and a rupture that will have them ‘howling at the moon” in hunger while making our own hearts skip a few beats from nervousness. It gives a vantage point of historical painfulness that resides under the ghostly bruises that have since vanished. It’s a powerful view that left me triggered in its authenticity, and with her Broadway premiere, Grand Horizons, this time at Second Stage‘s Helen Hayes Theater, it sounds like inside the comfortable suburban home there is an equally uncomfortable breakdown to navigate. With Michael Urie (2ST’s Torch Song), Thomas Sadoski (Public’s White Noise), Ashley Park (Broadway’s Mean Girls), Maulik Pancholy (TNG’s Good for Otto), and Priscilla Lopez (the original Diana Morales in A Chorus Line) aligning themselves under the direction of Leigh Silverman (Broadway’s The Lifespan of a Fact) the foreshadowing feels all positive and exciting. Wohl, once again, wants us to bare down on that familial difficulty, a moment when Bill and Nancy, after spending numerous full years as husband and wife find some desperate trouble in their partnership. They have just settled down comfortably into their new home when Nancy suddenly announces she wants out. And their two adult sons must struggle to cope with the shocking news and what it all means. Forced to question everything they had assumed about the two people they thought they knew the deepest and the best, the two struggle on, and we join them in observance.

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• Theatre: Samuel J. Friedman
• First Preview: September 10
• Opening: September 24
• Written by Florian Zeller and translated by Christopher Hampton
• Directed by Jonathan Kent


The conceptual and emotional setup feels somewhat similar to Florian Zeller’s The Height of the Storm. For 50 years the lives of André and Madeleine, portrayed by the legendary Jonathan Pryce and Eileen Atkins, have been filled with the everyday pleasures and unfathomable mysteries of an enduring marriage. That is until suddenly their life as a couple begins to unwind, and their loving relationship faces the difficult inevitability of change. Amanda Drew and James Hillier join these two formidable stars to reprise their performances from the spellbound London production. Lucy Cohu and Lisa O’Hare also co-star in The Height of the Storm, a translation by Christopher Hampton. This collaboration should crackle with tension and finesse, as it has done before when Hampton translated, to acclaim, Zeller’s The MotherThe Father, and The Son. I’ve seen two out of three of those, and will also hold my breath waiting for The Son to also arrive stateside. Or must I go to London’s West End to see it as it makes a transfer there?

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Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley, and Ben Miles in The Lehman Trilogy Photo: Mark Douet.

• Theatre: Nederlander Theatre
• First Preview: March 7
• Opening: March 26
• Written by Stefano Massini and adapted, English-language script by Ben Power
• Directed by Sam Mendes


Like The Height of the Storm which I was panting over when I was in London this past year, The Lehman Trilogy is another play that I’ve been holding my breath for.  The Broadway production has been bouncing around, back and forth across the pond. This transfer follows a sold-out premiere at London’s National Theatrein 2018, an acclaimed North American debut at the Park Avenue Armory earlier this spring (which sadly I was unable to fit into my schedule), and a subsequent West End engagement. Now as it makes plans to return to NYC, directed by Academy Award and Tony Award winner Sam Mendes, The Lehman Trilogy will once again, dazzle, as it follows the 163-year saga that begins with a young man in Bavaria dreaming of a new life and ends encased, literally (I believe) inside one of the world’s largest financial crises.

Reprising their performances for the Broadway run will be Adam Godley, Ben Miles, and Simon Russell Beale, who play the three title brothers, their sons, and grandsons. This is the one to make sure you see. I couldn’t get it scheduled last time, and I’m not going to let that happen this go-round.


• Theatre: Vivian Beaumont
• First Preview: September 6
• Opening: October 1
• Written by Robert Schenkkan
• Directed by Bill Rauch

I’m looking forward to seeing Brian Cox star as former President Lyndon B. Johnson in this sequel to Schenkkan’s All the Way, a play I never did get to see. I might have to do a bit of homework for this Great Society. Brush up on my political history but also some theatrical, as this show begins right after Johnson’s landslide victory in the 1964 election, and then exploring his full four-year term against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movement. Also appearing will be Tony nominee Marc Kudisch as Richard J. Daley, Grantham Coleman making his Broadway debut as Martin Luther King Jr., Richard Thomas as Hubert Humphrey, Barbara Garrick as Ladybird Johnson, and David Garrison as Richard Nixon. Maybe after I read up a bit on both the time and the play, I’ll be more intrigued, but right now my interest revolves around the stellar cast.

• Theatre: American Airlines
• First Preview: April 2, 2020
• Opening Night: April 21, 2020
• Director: Vivienne Benesch


I’ve never seen Debra Messing on stage, so I’m going to be excited to see her in the New York premiere of Noah Haidle’s play, Birthday Candles about a woman striving for significance in her life.  That’s about all I know about this new play by Haidle (Mr. Marmalade) but I’ll gladly show up to help her celebrate her birthday and blow those candles out. Here’s hoping we all get our wish.

• Theatre: TBA
• Target Opening: Spring 2020
• Written by Charles Randolph-Wright
• Music and lyrics by Nona Hendryx
• Directed by: Phylicia Rashad

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Phylicia Rashad and Charles Randolph-Wright.

This one feels a bit up in the air, as no theatre has been named just yet, but with Phylicia Rashad named as director, this play, Blue, about three generations of a small-town South Carolina family, will surely find the light of day. First premiering at Arena Stage in April 2000, with music by Nona Hendry and starring Rashad as the feisty matriarch, the revival, as written by Charles Randolph-Wright (Cuttin’ Up), sounds like a winner.

• Theatre: TBA
• Target Opening: Spring 2020
• Written by Tracey Letts
• Directed by: Anna D. Shapiro

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Sally Murphy. ‘The Minutes’, Steppenwolf Theatre, 2017. Photo: Michael Brosilow

Tracy Letts, as playwright, is back on Broadway again with The Minutes, a 2018 Pulitzer Prize finalist, reuniting him with his August: Osage County director, the incomparable Anna D. Shapiro. They wow’d us back then, winning  five 2008 Tony Awards for their August, giving us ample reason to be excited about this scathing new comedy about small town politics. The Minutes premiered at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre in 2017 with a cast of eleven. It was filled to the brim with back-stabbing manipulation and perhaps a few authentic power dynamic mistruths, leading us to believe that the Broadway version will dive in as tight and strong as we could hope, and give us a compelling and powerful vantage point on the current state of America by peering inside the politics of the very small fictional city of Big Cherry. That’s one town hall I’ll gladly attend this spring.

• Theatre: Helen Hayes
• First Preview: September 19
• Opening Night: October 10
• Written by: Tracy Letts
• Director: Dexter Bullard

“Linda Vista” at Steppenwolf Theatre in 2017, with Ian Barford and Caroline Neff. Photo: Michael Brosilow.

And that’s not all for the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Tracy Letts, who also takes a brutally comedic look at a simple man’s troubles. Wheeler, a 50-year-old divorcee is in the throes of a mid-life spiral in Second Stage‘s Linda Vista. Just out of his ex-wife’s garage and into a place of his own, the path toward self-discovery is a complicated reconciling, one full of exploratory opinions, while somehow falling short of complete understanding and self awareness. Sounds too good to miss.

• Theatre: Samuel J. Friedman
• First Preview: January 6, 2020
• Opening Night: January 15, 2020
• Written by Elizabeth Strout and adapted by Rona Munro
• Director: Richard Eyre


My Name is Lucy Barton is another one flying over the pond on the wings of great reviews after a brief run at the Bright Theatre, UK. The namesake of the play, portrayed by the uber-talented Laura Linney, who enraptured the same MTC audiences with the alternating dual roles in The Little Foxes, wakes after an operation to find, much to her surprise, her mother at the foot of her bed. They haven’t seen each other in years, and during their visit, Lucy tries to come to terms with her past and family with the hope that would lead to finding her true self. Based on the Elizabeth Strout’s bestselling novel “My Name Is Lucy Barton” the play doesn’t scream theatrical adaptation as it is basically a rumination on a writer’s blurry remembrance of her life growing up all from the tight confines of a hospital bed. It’s a compelling challenge, to bring energy into and out of stillness and confinement, but the formidable director, Richard Eyre seems to have found a way to unearth the kernel of truth inside its quietness. With the exquisite Laura Linney leading Barton’s personal exploration, something bigger and more profound is said to have been found in the play that has scored Linney some of the best reviews of her career. I’m game for a visit to that hospital bed.


• Theatre: Studio 54
• First Preview: September 14
• Opening: October 17
• Written by Adam Rapp
• Directed by David Cromer

Willl Hochman and Mary-Louise Parker in the Williamstown Theatre Festival production of ‘The Sound Inside.’ Photo: Carolyn Brown.

One of my all time favorite stage actors Mary-Louise Parker, who sparked fire inside the small but magnificent Heisenberg in 2016, returns to Broadway in Adam Rapp’s The Sound Inside. Directed by phenomenal David Cromer (Broadway’s The Waverly Gallery) , the engaging Will Hochman (CSC’s Dead Poets Society), making his Broadway debut, plays a student named Charlie who gets entangled in an Ivy League professor’s dramatic trouble. With Parker playing that challenged professor, the play, that first premiered at Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2018, is sure to fire up some similar sparks when it opens at Studio 54 this fall, and I’ll be more then happy to attend that lecture.


• Theatre: Samuel J. Friedman
• First Preview: March 27, 2020
• Opening Night: April 22, 2020
• Written by Paula Vogel
• Directed by Mark Brokaw

Broadway is wisely being given a double dose of Mary-Louise Parker (HBO’s Angels in America) this theatrical season, when she joins her former co-star, David Morse (Broadway’s The Iceman Cometh) to reprise their roles more than 20 years later after the 1997 Off-Broadway debut of Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer-prize winning play, How I Learned to Drive. It follows Li’l Bit (Parker) as she looks back in time in order to make sense of an uncle (Morse) who impacted every part of her self and her being. It’s a play I have never had the opportunity to see, and a perfect example of what makes theatre so powerful and dynamic. It is the idea that once a production closes, the opportunity to bare witness to that particular event ceases to exist. But here, by the grace of whatever god you choose to pray to, this supposedly astounding play has returned giving us the rarest of opportunities. It’s not just a revival, but a chance to see these two stellar actors play it out once again, probably with an even greater edge and a more mature response to the tragedy in the driver’s seat. I’ll gladly sit in the back seat for that ride.

• Theatre: TBA
• First Preview: March 2, 2020
• Opening Night: April 9, 2020
• Director: Joe Mantello

Laurie Metcalf, Eddie Izzard, Russell Tovey, Patsy Ferran.

Here’s another that expresses the power of theatre: a great play reimagined once again by another crew of talented artists. This play never gets tired. I’ve seen it at least three times and counting, but all I really have to say is Laurie Metcalf (Broadway’s Hillary and Clinton) opening another play, her fifth consecutive on Broadway, in the spring just before the Tony deadline. Joining the Tony winner is Eddie Izzard (Broadway’s A Day in the Death of Joe Egg), Russell Tovey (West End’s Angels in America), and Patsy Ferran (Almeida Theatre’s Summer and Smoke) bringing the booze and the acid to the Broadway revival party with the classic Edward Albee drama.

Albee’s powerful drama premiered in 1962 winning multiple Tonys including best play, lead actor Arthur Hill and lead actress Uta Hagen. Albee himself directed a 1976 revival that earned Tony nominations for its leads; Colleen Dewhurst and Ben Gazzara. There is of course the iconic movie version in 1966 directed by Mike Nichols in his first feature and written by Ernest Lehman. It starred Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal and Sandy Dennis, and was nominated for 13 Oscars winning five, including best actress for Taylor and supporting actress for Dennis, as well as best cinematography for Haskell Wexler’s richly textured black-and-white visuals.

I personally was around to see the astounding revival starring Kathleen Turner, Bill Irwin, David Harbour and Mireille Enos in a 2005 with Irwin taking home best actor honors. I also was blessed to see the 2012 revival that flew over from Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre earning Tonys for best revival, lead actor Tracy Letts and director Pam MacKinnon, with fellow cast Amy Morton and Carrie Coon also being nominated. I have a feeling this revival and that wild drunken night of lies and attacks are going to play out similarly.  And I can’t wait.

• Theatre: Helen Hayes
• First Preview: March 31, 2020
• Opening Night: April 23, 2020
• Director: Scott Ellis

Jessie Williams from Grey’s Anatomy/ABC.

I saw this play many many moons ago at the Walter Kerr Theatre, probably sometime in 2003 after it transferred there from an off-Broadway run at The Public Theater. Wowing us at every turn, Denis O’Hare and Daniel Sunjata triumphed in this excitingly deep Richard Greenberg play about the coming out of a gay baseball player and his wonderfully geeky lawyer/friend. Frederick Weller co-starred as the redneck homophobe that adds trouble and drama to the game.

The revival of the Tony-winning comedy-drama stars the handsome and sexy Jessie Williams (ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy“) as Darren Lemming, a popular and successful mixed-race baseball player at the peak of his career, alongside the talented and funny Jesse Tyler Ferguson (PH’s Log Cabin) as his lawyer. Between the two and the other players and team mates, the themes of homophobia, racism, class, and masculinity in sports play out on the baseball diamond to a horrific conclusion. I’m game.


• Theatre: American Airlines
• First Preview: September 19
• Opening: October 15
• Written by Tennessee Williams
• Directed by Trip Cullman


Under the astute director Trip Cullman, Oscar winning actress Marisa Tomei takes on the pivotal role of Serafina Delle Rose, a recovering widow and dedicated mother looking forward into the next unwritten chapter of her life. This is the fourth time The Rose Tattoo has made it to Broadway after productions in 1951 (when it won the Tony for Best Play), 1966 and 1995. With a cast that includes Emun Elliott, Cassie Beck, Alexander Bello, Tina Benko, Susan Cella, Paige Gilbert, Greg Hildreth, Isabella Iannelli, Jacob Michael Laval, Antoinette Lavecchia, Kecia Lewis, Ellyn Marie Marsh, Portia, Ella Rubin, Jennifer Sánchez, Constance Shulman, and Burke Swanson, this four time Tony Award winning play from Tennessee Williams is sure to impress, and with Tomei, who is, for me, a mostly underrated actress will do what she always does, find intricate depth in every movement she makes. The Rose Tattoo is sure to blossom powerfully this time around and I’m looking forward to smelling its perfume.

• Theatre: TBA
• Target Opening: 2019
• Director: Amy Morton


With the venue, exact dates and casting information for the 2019 revival of David Mamet’s Pulitzer-winning play Glengarry Glen Ross still needing to be announced, the powerful classic hangs in limbo. Here’s hoping that two-time Tony Award nominee Amy Morton gets her chance to direct this exciting play with an exciting gender-swapping twist. Similarly to the  Tony Award-winning director Marianne Elliott’s production of Company coming to Broadway (check out my Broadway Musical preview post) hopefully around the same time, Morton hopes to reinvigorate the text with an all-female production, with women taking over all the parts traditionally played by men. The ruthless environment of salespeople competing to sell mostly worthless properties to unwitting customers in a cutthroat Chicago real estate office is the perfect setup to examine preconceived notions of female vs male stereotypes. One that I’m crossing my fingers will find the space and the placement in this year’s competitive theatrical market.

There will be no unwitting customers this 2019/20 theatre season, and hopefully no worthless properties to be sold.

Fingers crossed. So now let’s dance like we’ve inherited the best, and drink it all down in one exciting gulp.

inheritance dance
The Inheritance

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


Ossie Davis’s Purlie Victorious Is A Satire On Fire



The cast of Ossie Davis’s 961 satire Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch, is helmed by Leslie Odom Jr. as a conniving preacher with a conscience and made into comic genius by Kara Young. This revival brings humor against a prejudice South whose injustices were a crime against humanity. They say that all good comedy is bore out of pain and this show aims to fight historic injustice with laughter.

Leslie Odom, Jr Photo by Marc J. Franklin

The play tells the fictional story of Reverend Purlie Victorious Judson (Leslie Odom, Jr.), a dynamic traveling preacher who has returned to his hometown in rural Georgia, to save his small hometown church Big Bethel. He left due to a brutal whipping by the land owner Ol’ Cap’n Cotchipee (Jay O. Sanders) twenty years, but has come back to save his church, and emancipate the cotton pickers who work on oppressive Ol’ Cap’n Cotchipee’s plantation. He has brought with him Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins (the adorable Kara Young), to impersonate his long-lost cousin, Bee, and trick Ol’ Cap’n into handing over a five-hundred-dollar inheritance that he owes the family.

Kara Young Photo by Marc J. Franklin

To pull off this scheme he needs the help of his sister-in-law Missy (Heather Alicia Simms) and his brother, Gitlow (Billy Eugene Jones) who is the Cap’n’s main singing and shuffling work hand.

Kara Young and Heather Alicia Simms Photo by Marc J. Franklin

However thanks to another Black member of Ol’ Cap’n’s household Idella (Vanessa Bell Calloway), who raised Ol’ Cap’n’s son, Charlie (Noah Robbins), as if he were her own, does the church and Purlie get saved with a brave act of defiance.

Noah Robbins and Vanessa Bell Calloway Photo by Marc J. Franklin

Davis wrote and performed this play at the height of the Civil Rights Era, when Martin Luther King, Jr. words were having an impact. He even attended the show.

Leslie Odom, Jr. and Kara Young Photo by Marc J. Franklin

Kenny Leon keeps this show at a fast pace, with wit and sarcastic humor abounding. He brings his exceptional cast to peak performances. Odom, Jr. (Hamilton’s original Aaron Burr), inhabits this preacher with conviction, fighting for justice and the rights of his people. Jones (Fat Ham and On Sugarland), brings a charm to Gitlow as he embodies those who had to bow low just to survive. Simms and Calloway ground the show with warmth and maternal longing. O. Sanders plays the Cap’n looking like a Tall Colonel Sanders, but sounding like Foghorn Leghorn. He is as amusing, as frightening as it is to look at the past. Playing his son, Robbins offers the hope of seeing and righting the wrongs. But it is Young (Cost of Living, Clyde’s) who walks away with her remarkable performance. Completely and utterly in love with Purlie, Young is a whirlwind of emotions and physical comedy. She is big and broad, all in one petite compact body. When she comes to tell of the misjustice done to her by the Cap’n she has us in the palms of her hands.

Leslie Odom, Jr. and Kara Young Photo by Marc J. Franklin

Purlie in a word is victorious.

Kara Young, Heather Alicia Simms, Leslie Odom, Jr., Vanessa Bell Calloway, Billy Eugene Jones, and Noah Robbins Photo by Marc J. Franklin

Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch, Music Box Theatre, 239 West 45th Street, until January 7th.

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Barry Manilow’s and Bruce Sussman’s Harmony Meets The Press Part 3



We told you how the cast and creative’s met the press. Then we played you some of the songs from the show. Today we’ll introduce you to the cast.

Barry Manilow, Bruce Sussman

First up The Harmonists; Sean Bell, Danny Kornfeld, Zal Owen, Eric Peters, Blake Roman and Steven Telsey

The vocally winning Sierra Boggess was next on our list.

Chip Zien and director/choreographer Warren Carlyle shared insights.

Finally Julie Benko, Allison Semmes and Andrew O’Shanick.

Harmony begins previews at the Barrymore Theatre on Wednesday, October 18, ahead of a Monday, November 13 official opening night.


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Melissa Etheridge My Window A Rock Goddess Spiritual Journey



Oscar and Grammy winner Melissa Etheridge’s autobiographical musical My Window is an informative, riveting, raw, intimate and musically thrilling alsmost 3 hours of entertainment. With 22 albums to her name, Etheridge is a female rock goddess and is on par with Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Ann Wilson, Grace Slick, Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Stevie Nicks, Debbie Harry and the incomparable Janis Joplin.

I originally saw this show when it opened at New World Stages almost a year ago and Etheridge’s theatrical solo show has only gotten better and tighter. She invites theatergoers into an exhilarating evening of storytelling and music. Starting with her birth, we learn about her childhood in Kansas, groundbreaking career highlights, coming out, her lovers, the drugs she has taken, her spiritual journey, her wives, her kids, cancer and what makes Melissa who she is. She is charming, revealing, illuminating as she bares her heart & soul to all who attend.

Photo by Jenny Anderson

In between learning about this bluesy warrior are her confessional lyrics, the raspy, smoky vocals and classics numbers  like “Like The Way I Do,” “Twisted Off To Paradise,”“I’m the Only One,” “Come to My Window,” “I Want to Come Over”.

Photo by Jenny Anderson

Winning a tiny trophy gave way to winning a Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocalist in 1998 and again in 1995. Before that in 1993 Etheridge came out publicly, early on in her career. In 2005 Etheridge took the Grammy stage after having cancer to join in a tribute to Janis Joplin. She appeared hairless. Etheridge also won an Oscar for Best Original Song in 2007 for “I Need To Wake Up” for the film “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Photo by Jenny Anderson

It turns out Etheridge has always loved musical theatre, as she treated us to a wonderful rendition of “On Broadway.” She did make her Broadway debut in a weeklong stint as St. Jimmy in Green Day’s American Idiot in 2011, but she doesn’t talk about that.

Melissa Etheridge My Window, is wonderfully is written by Etheridge with additional material by Linda Wallem-Etheridge (“Nurse Jackie” showrunner, “That ’70s Show”). The direction by Amy Tinkham is succent and well done.

Everything about this production is well done from the scenic design by Bruce Rodgers, lighting design by Abigail Rosen Holmes, fabulous projection design by Olivia Sebesky and the sound design by Shannon Salmon, which keeps this show clear and clean.

Kate Owens is hysterical as the Roadie/ Stage Manager. This little girl is a star in the making with her rubber face and facial expressions galore. She adds to this show immensely and I definitely want to see more of what she can do.

This is a must see show for anyone LGBTQIA. The message is positive and life affirming. This is a women who owns her talent, charisma and choices, which makes this a joy to watch.

Photo by Jenny Anderson

Melissa Etheridge My Window: Circle In The Square, 235 West 50th Street. Closes November 19th.

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Barry Manilow’s and Bruce Sussman’s Harmony Meets The Press Part 2



Yesterday we told you how the cast and creative’s met the press.

The cast and creatives

In today’s edition hear director Warren Carlyle, Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman describe their show.

Then it was a treat as the cast sang 5 songs from the show. Including “Harmony,” Hungarian Rhapsody,” “Where You Go’ and “Stars in the Night.”

Hear The Harmonists Sean Bell, Danny Kornfeld, Zal Owen, Eric Peters, Blake Roman and Steven Telsey, along with Chip Zien, Sierra Boggess and Julie Benko.

The hit song of the show will be the gorgeous ballad “Every Single Day” sung by Danny Kornfeld.

Harmony begins previews at the Barrymore Theatre on Wednesday, October 18, ahead of a Monday, November 13 official opening night.

Photo’s by Genevieve Rafter Keddy


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The Glorious Corner



G.H. Harding

JESSE L MARTIN — We caught the debut of Jesse L. Martin’s The Irrational Monday night and really enjoyed it. I’ve been aware of Jesse since his role in Broadway’s Rent and he’s really tremendous. He was great on Law & Order as Ed Green (10 years and 9 seasons); and his role on the CW’s The Flash (as Joe West) was simply terrific.

The show, based on the book by Dan Ariely and created by Arika Mittman, certainly reminds one of The Mentalist or Instinct. This first case isn’t wondrous by any means, but Martin’s charisma carries it all through.

Lauren Holly (NCIS) is in it too, thought her one-scene was over and out in a flash.

I hear the third episode of the show is magnificent, so stay tuned. Don Johnson said many years ago that Don Johnson was made for TV … so is Martin!

Will Swenson and Neil Diamond

SWENSON OUT — (per Deadline) Will Swenson will play his final performance as Neil Diamond in Broadway’s A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical on Sunday, Oct. 29, producers announced today.

A replacement for the starring role will be announced at a future date.

“It’s been the thrill of a lifetime to get to stand in Neil’s shoes,” Swenson said in a statement. “It’s been such an incredible honor to get to know Neil, to tell his powerful story, and bring his amazing songs to Broadway audiences every night. I’m immensely proud of the moving, beautiful show we made. I will miss it very much.”

A reason for Swenson’s departure was not disclosed, but his planned departure date suggests a year-long contract coming to a close: He and the bio-musical began previews at the Broadhurst Theatre last Nov. 2 (official opening was Dec. 4).

“Making A Beautiful Noise with Will Swenson was a deep and wonderful experience,” said director Michael Mayer. “The true affection he has for Neil’s work and life is palpable in every aspect of his tremendous performance. I will miss him terribly, of course, but will always treasure our time together, and very much look forward to the next show we do.”

Swenson has been one of Broadway’s go-to leading men since his breakthrough performance in 2009’s Hair, and he has since starred on the New York stage in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Little Miss Sunshine, Waitress and Assassins, among many other shows.

In addition to Swenson, the cast of A Beautiful Noise features a principal cast of Mark Jacoby as the aged Neil Diamond, Robyn Hurder and Shirine Babb.

The musical includes a score of Diamond’s hits, a book by Anthony McCarten, direction by Mayer, and choreography by Steven Hoggett.

He’s pretty tremendous as Diamond. I didn’t see the show straight away, but absolutely loved it when I did. His exit of kind of short notice … but let’s see what happens.

SHORT TAKES — How about those snappy new graphics for NBC’s Today Show. Introduced a week ago, they certainly look more relevant and certainly more fun. They did the same for Nightly News a week ago. Per TVNewser:The network said the decision to unveil a new logo and graphics for Nightly was made as a way of appealing to younger viewers who primarily consume news using digital media. It’s safe to assume is true for Today, the youngest-skewing of the linear morning shows that boasts a robust digital presence. Here’s their whole story:,effects%20as%20the%20previous%20design%20%E2%80%A6

The Rolling Stones

The next Rolling Stones single, “Sweet Sounds of Heaven,” is tremendous. Mick hasn’t sounded this good in years and Lady Gaga is an added treat. Magnificent! Take a listen:

Donnie Kehr

Donnie Kehr and Cori Gardner’s Rockers On Broadway (their 30th edition) is coming up on Monday, October 16 at SONY Hall. 

Debbie Gibson

Joining honoree Melissa Etheridge will be KT Tunstall and Debbie Gibson, Simon Kirke, Dan Finnerty and Ty Taylor … Happy Bday Chuck Taylor!

NAMES IN THE NEWS –— Anthony Noto; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Paul Lester; Ian Harrison; Magda Katz; Pete Townshend; Miko Blanco; Brad LeBeau; Mal Evans; Derek Taylor; Andrew Sandoval; Rick Rubin; Bill Adler; Cory Robbins; Manny Bella; Race Taylor; Scott Shannon; Buddy Blanch; Steve Walter; Benny Harrison; and BELLA!

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