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Jay Armstrong Johnson, Ryan McCartan and More In Adam Gwon’s New Musical Scotland, PA

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Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes, Artistic Director/CEO) is pleased to announce full casting for of the world premiere of the new musical Scotland, PA, featuring a book by Michael Mitnick, music & lyrics by Adam Gwon, directed by Lonny Price and choreographed by Josh Rhodes.

The cast includes Jeb Brown as “Duncan,” Jay Armstrong Johnson as “Banko,” Taylor Iman Jones as “Pat,” Lacretta as “Mrs. Lenox,” Megan Lawrence as “McDuff,” Ryan McCartan as “Mac,” Will Meyers as “Malcolm,” Wonu Ogunfowora as “Stacey,” David Rossmer as “Doug,” Alysha Umphress as “Jessie” and Kaleb Wells as “Hector.”

Scotland, PA begins preview performances on Saturday, September 14 at 7:30PM and opens officially on Wednesday, October 23. This will be a limited engagement at the Laura Pels Theatre in the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre (111 West 46th Street).

In Scotland, PA, revenge is a dish best served with fries. This deliciously dark new musical comedy, based on the cult film (and the bard’s Macbeth), springs to life in a sleepy Pennsylvania town (population 1,203—and dropping), where a burger-joint manager (Ryan McCartan) and his wife (Taylor Iman Jones) cook up a plan to super-size their lives. As their ambitions grow and the bodies fall, the couple finds out just how far they’ll go for a taste of the oh-so-tempting American dream.

Since Gwon’s Ordinary Days premiered at Roundabout in 2009, it has been produced around the world from Paris to Rio de Janeiro with his songs becoming concert standards for legendary singers such as Audra McDonald.  Gwon’s commission Scotland, PA has been in development at Roundabout since 2014 with multiple readings and creative team workshops. This production marks the first new musical at the Laura Pels since Death Takes a Holiday in 2011. Roundabout is thrilled to welcome back longtime friends of the theater, director Lonny Price (110 in the Shade, Master Harold and the Boys), Music Director Vadim Feichtner (Ordinary Days) and actor Megan Lawrence (The Pajama Game, Holiday Inn: The New Irving Berlin Musical).

The creative team for Scotland, PA includes Anna Louizos (Scenic Design), Tracy Christensen (Costume Design), Jeanette Yew (Lighting Design), Jon Weston (Sound Design) and Frank Galgano & Matt Castle (Orchestrations).

Tickets for Scotland, PA will go on sale to the general public Friday, July 19. Tickets are available by calling 212.719.1300, online at roundabouttheatre.org, in person at any Roundabout box office: American Airlines Theatre Box office (227 West 42nd Street); The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre (111 W 46th Street) and Studio 54 (254 West 54th Street); or by visiting StubHub, The Premier Secondary Ticketing Partner of Roundabout. Ticket prices range from $79-99. For groups of 10 or more please call 212-719-9393 x 365 or email groupsales@roundabouttheatre.org.

Major support for Scotland, PA is provided by Hal Luftig/LHC Theatrical Development, Ken Davenport, Perry and Marty Granoff.

Additional support is provided by The Ted & Mary Jo Shen Charitable Gift Fund, and the Laurents/Hatcher Foundation.

Scotland, PA benefits from Roundabout’s Musical Theatre Production Fund with lead gifts from the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, Perry and Marty Granoff, Michael Kors and Lance Le Pere, Diane and Tom Tuft, and Cynthia C. Wainwright and Stephen Berger.

Scotland, PA is based on a film written by Billy Morrissette and produced by Richard Shepard, Jon Stern, Abandon Pictures.

Scotland, PA will play Tuesday through Saturday evening at 7:30PM with Wednesday, Saturday matinees at 2:00PM and Sunday matinees at 3:00PM.

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Off Broadway

Public Theater Brings “The Ally” Forward for an Intense Debate

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So here’s the pickle. This play, The Ally, clocking in at a far too long two hours and forty minutes, throws controversy at you in numerous long-winded speeches one after the other, filling your brain with details and complexities that clash and do battle with each other from beginning to end. The structuring is intelligent, as the Public Theater‘s new play, The Ally, written by Itamar Moses (Outrage; The Band’s Visit) and directed with precision by Lila Neugebauer (Second Stage’s Appropriate), strides forward into dangerous territory with determination against all odds. Wickedly smart and articulate, the play, in general, overwhelms the intellectual senses. It’s factual and intricate, somewhat off-balanced and attacking, delivering detailed positions with fiery accuracy, which only made me question whether I wanted to sit this one out. Or step more in.

It’s unsafe and determined, placing the action (or inaction, if you really want to get into it) inside a college campus, and attempting to engage in deep-level conversations and arguments with the complicated issues of the world. These are exactly the debates worth having, says basically one character to another, in the tradition of arguing. Because banning free speech is “weird on a college campus.” These conundrums and conflicts are core to passionate dialogue, and just the idea of having them is meeting with fierce debate at universities and colleges across the country. The complexities and the tipping points are layered and real, swimming in a sea of questions about what free speech really truly means, and how differing points of view, civil dialogue, and the stark polarization contrasts collide and enflame. And how, in discussion, defensiveness and aggressive emotional stances are taken on and used against one another like weapons; bullets, and missiles. I even feel a bit worried that taking this stance of wanting to back away might be taken as ‘part of the problem’.

Ben Rosenfield and Josh Radnor in The Ally at The Public Theater. Photo credit: Joan Marcus.

The program notes that “the theatre is a safe space in the most literal sense of that term: no one is going to be physically harmed during this performance in the Anspacher. But it is most decidedly not a safe space if by that term we mean a space where everyone will feel comfortable and no one will feel angry, saddened, or offended. It can’t be that kind of space. The theater depends on conflict – the form itself refuses the idea of a single truth. It’s why I [Oskar Eustis; Artistic Director of The Public Theater] believe that theater is the ultimate democratic art form – just like citizens in democracy, the theater demands that we listen to and share opposing viewpoints, and that from that conflict, a greater truth will emerge.” And I couldn’t agree more with that.

Yet, even with such heightened emotions on stage, delivered full throttle by the excellent cast that includes Cherise Boothe (Signature’s Fabulation,) as Nakia; Elijah Jones (Signature’s Confederates) as Baron; Michael Khalid Karadsheh (Target Margin’s The Most Oppressed by All) as Farid; Joy Osmanski (“Stargirl“) as Gwen; Josh Radnor (LCT’s The Babylon Line) as Asaf; Ben Rosenfield (RTC’s Love, Love, Love) as Reuven; and Madeline Weinstein (BAM’s Medea) as Rachel, who each try to make it sound more authentic than the writing really allows, the play suffers from how deep of a dive the writing goes. But not without a solid attempt by this cast, bringing qualities and characteristics to the forefront whenever they are given the chance. But a lot of the time, like their main focus, Radnor’s Asaf, they must stand and listen to whoever has the microphone at that one particular speechified moment. And wait, just like us, for the next round. And viewpoint.

Madeline Weinstein, Michael Khalid Karadsheh, and Elijah Jones in Ally at The Public Theater. Photo credit: Joan Marcus.

Playwright Itamar has certainly dived fully into some of the most difficult topics of our time and asks us to patiently listen to all sides, even when the dialogue doesn’t really resemble discussion but more like informed lectures or one-framed speeches. On the plainest of sets, designed by Lael Jellinek (Public/Broadway’s Sea Wall/A Life), with costuming by Sarita Fellows (Broadway’s Death of a Salesman), lighting by Reza Behjat (ATC’s English) and sound design by Bray Poor (Broadway’s Take Me Out), The Public‘s The Ally, uncovers some emotional space within the manifestos presented. Itamar states in the note section: It “wasn’t that i had nothing to say,” he carefully explains, like the main character who has to stand back and take on the full force and brunt of the argument. “Rather, I didn’t know where to begin because what I had to say was too confused, too contradictory, too raw.” And if that was the complicated stance he was trying to unpack, the playwright succeeded tremendously well.

But does that make The Ally, at The Public Theater, especially this long-winded one, worth sitting through? I’d say yes, and I’d say no. I couldn’t wait to leave that debate hall, but I was also impressed and intrigued by the arguments presented and discussed, even if ‘debate’ would not exactly be the word I would use for the ideas thrown around at one another with brutal force. One of the later statements said to Radnor’s Asaf by his ex-girlfriend, Nakia (Boothe) at maybe one of the few truly emotional moments of actual human souls speaking their truth, sums up my stance. “The thing you need, may not be words.” I won’t argue with that.

For more information and tickets, click here.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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Family

The Hotel Edison Opulent and Convenient with History

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George Burns and Gracie Allen lived on the 9th floor of The Edison Hotel. Their friend Jack Benny lived on the 4th floor. Moss Hart lived there after his Once in a Lifetime was a Broadway hit. He then moved his parents there until he found them an apartment. The Edison Hotel is featured in the movies “The Godfather” and “Bullets Over Broadway”, so history abounds.

Located at 228 West 47th Street, you are down the street from Six, Hamilton, Prayer for the French Republic and Sweeney Todd. Across the street is the Barrymore Theatre, but all of Broadway and Times Square is a hop, skip and a jump away. Talk about location, location, location.Built in the late 1920’s, Art Deco abounds from the hotel lobby to the lights and the bed spread in the lush rooms. The hotel is elegant and feels like you stepped back in time. My room was spacious with a king-sized bed that was so comfortable, I wish this was a staycation where I could have spent more time catching up on sleep. I also had a small sitting room with a couch, desk and more windows with views.

The rooms are well designed with great features, such as a Keurig coffee maker and coffee, black-out drapes, windows that opened, and a full-marble bathroom. In the bathroom fluffy towels, designer toiletries and a hair dryer awaited me. The spacious shower also had a relaxing rain shower. In the closet a safe, iron, ironing board and fluffy robes.

There were also two flat-screen high-definition smart TVs, Bluetooth-enabled audio, high-speed Wi-Fi which made my life so much easier, and an alarm clock.

The room was ultra clean and to get to it you need a room key, which you also need for the elevator, so you feel incredibly safe.

Another fun fact…when you arrive you will have a personalized note waiting just for you and some lovely snacks, which were highly appreciated considering I had been running all day and needed a pick me up.

Amenities to the hotel are a gym, two fabulous restaurants, a piano bar, complimentary wine and cheese receptions (Tuesday & Friday), with entertainment, as well as complimentary walking tours of the neighborhood.

You would think for this much pampering and convivence this hotel would be overpriced but it is not. There are rooms are the best offer and prices in town.

If you are looking for history, comfort, boutique, friendliness and luxury, this is the perfect place to stay.

The Edison Hotel: 228 West 47th Street

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Going Down The Rabbit Hole To Discover A Fabulous Unheard Treasure of Linda Eder

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In February one of my favorite singers is coming to 54 Below on the 6, 13, & 17. Linda Eder is forever linked to Broadway history via her Theatre World Award winning performance in Jekyll & Hyde. Her concerts sell out and the reason why is her voice is remarkable.

In 2020 she release an album that somehow slipped through my radar. Retro – volume two is full of Broadway and Standards. There are 17 tracks on the CD. Most are written by Frank Wildhorn with the exception of four tracks. There are two pop tracks, one written by Frank Wildhorn and one written by Jake Wildhorn. She recorded the vocals for four of the tracks at home by herself due to social distancing. This CD is only available at LindaEder.com.

Guest stars on the CD are Will Lee and Michael Lanning. Songs from Bonnie & Clyde, Svengali, Tears of Heaven, Havana andThe Last Five Years are heard here.

I can not believe this slipped through the cracks, but thrilled to find it. Can’t wait to see her at 54 Below.

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Celebrating Love in Times Square

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There’s no better place to say “I love you” than Times Square. On Valentine’s Day 2024, New Yorkers and visitors alike will once again declare their love and celebrate their relationships at the Crossroads of the World through surprise proposals, weddings in the heart of Times Square, and a Vow Renewal Ceremony on Duffy Square’s iconic Red Steps.

Want to participate? Click here for proposals. Click here to get married and click here to renew your vows.

 

 

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Cabaret

Felicia Finley Shines in From Backwoods to Broadway

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As Broadway veteran Felicia Finley proves in her one woman cabaret show, From Backwoods to Broadway, which she showcased at The Green Room 42 in NYC this week, you can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl. And that’s a very good thing!

Ms. Finley chronicles her lifelong journey from her Appalacian roots to the Great White Way in a program of emotionally powerful songs spanning both worlds with vocal mastery and personal passion.

She began her journey as a performer when she started singing at age four. Her first big break came at age nine, when she was cast in the Broadway company of Annie…and her first big heartbreak came when the show closed the very next weekend. Her early career was a roller coaster of promising opportunities and dashed hopes. She might have co-starred in the film of Gypsy opposite Bette Midler had five foot one Ms. Midler not refused to stand on a box to look Ms. Findley in the eye. But that’s show biz.

Finally her talent prevailed. She made her Broadway debut in Smokey Joe’s Café, before going on to play Amnaris in Aida, April in the original cast of The Life, and to create the role of Linda in The Wedding Singer.


Along the way, Ms. Finley has never lost track of her gospel roots, or her love for Patsy Kline. Her rendition of “Sweet Dreams”, one of Patsy’s big hits, was a highlight of the evening, flavored with the smoky sound that makes Ms. Finley’s voice so distinctive. Not surprisingly, Ms. Finley won a “Best Actor” award for portraying Ms. Kline in A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline at the Meadowbrook Theatre in Rochester, NY.

Ms. Finley was ably accompanied for this performance by her talented musical director, Michael McBride.

Under the direction of JoAnne Zielinski, From Backwoods to Broadway is like spending a welcoming evening in the intimate warmth of Ms. Finleys living room.  The next chance you get to see her, dont miss her.

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