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Trial

Trial

Trial, a new play by Ashley Griffin (Snow, Twilight the Unauthorized Musical Parody) and directed by Lori Petty (Orange is the New Black, A League of Their Own) is set to open at The American Theatre of Actors at the Beckmann Theater on January 11, 2018. This production is produced by THML Theatre Company (Cagebirds, Where Angels Fear To Tread), a women-led company dedicated to engaging audiences with stories of women who survive and thrive.

Trial is about a  young woman waiting for her own judgment in the bureaucratic system of the afterlife finds herself in the role of judge and jury to determine the fate of the man responsible for her death. An intimately difficult yet moving play, Trial questions the morality of justice versus mercy.

The ensemble cast features Gisela Adisa* (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical ), Jennifer Bareilles,  Ryan Clardy* (One Life to Live),  George Drance*,  Ashley Griffin* (The Greatest Showman, “Hamlet” in Hamlet ), Malloree Hill, Jeté Laurence (The Snowman), and Malcolm Stephenson*.  * Appear courtesy of Actors Equity Association

Trial was developed with Lori Petty during a reading at the Manhattan Theatre Club in 2016, featuring Geneva Carr (Tony Nomination for Hand to God), Oona Laurence (Tony Award for Matilda, Southpaw), Xanthe Elbrick (Tony Nomination for Coram Boy), Jillian Louis (It Shoulda Been You), Ryan McCurdy (Once), and Ray Virta (Therese Raquin). Previous readings of the play were produced by Dreamcatcher Entertainment, The Ivy Theatre Company, and Red Fern Theatre Company with notable film actor Finn Wittrock (The Big Short, American Horror Story).

After her breakout starring role in Point Break, Lori Petty quickly achieved celebrity status in Hollywood starring in A League of Their Own, Tank Girl and others. Most recently she has become the fan favorite star of Orange Is the New Black and Gotham. Lori made her directorial debut with the feature film The Poker House (Jennifer Lawrence’s first film) which Lori co-wrote.

Trial: The American Theatre of Actors Beckmann Theater (314 W 54th St, New York, NY) January 11-28, 2018   Times:  Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8:00 PM;  Sunday at 3:00 PM

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

Out of Town

Another Barricade Visit for Mirvish Toronto’s “Les Misérables”

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I was apprehensive and excited, all at the same time, as I entered the touring company staging of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg’s  Les Misérables, now taking form at the Princess of Wales Theatre, Toronto. The production, brought to us by Mirvish Productions, transported me back to that time, about forty years ago, when I first saw this glorious musical over in London’s West End. Twice actually, with the magnificent Patti LuPone. Lupone was divine, broking my heart at every moment given. This might have been the show that somehow created this theatre junkie, so much so that I had to return again a few weeks later, spending more than this young man could really afford. And I believe I also returned to see that same beautiful revolving stage design when it made its award-winning debut on Broadway, about two more times before it closed.  It was heavenly and forever memorable.  I remember being swept away by the intensely moving story, and sumptuous music and songs. Tears were in my eyes at so many emotionally heart-breaking moments, that I left fully satisfied and happy each and every time.

The staging this time around, with set and projected image design created by Matt Kinley (25th Anniversary Production of Phantom of the Opera) is said to be “inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo”, and with a stunning musical staging by Geoffrey Garratt and directed most beautifully by Laurence Connor (Mirvish’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) and James Powell (London’s The Witches of Eastwick), the production still found its way into my emotional heart. It carried forth all of the same powerful moments, even without that famous revolve. It was different, and in some ways, it felt smaller and not as expansive and connecting, but maybe, with time and an awareness that I didn’t have when I first saw the same touring revival on Broadway back in 2016, this familiar staging fully engaged, taking me happily on that same emotional journey, even while missing the expansive previous revolving set design.

The music and those powerful tragic moments still deliver with a vengeance, mainly because of the incredible vocal performances of this touring cast. Tears came to my eyes at numerous moments, and I knew that I would enjoy myself from the moment the Bishop of Digne, played by a wonderful Randy Jeter (Public’s Parable of the Sower) told the constables that he had in fact given Jean Valjean, embodied by a magnificent Nick Cartell (Broadway’s Paramour) the church’s silver (that he, in fact, had stolen). And furthermore, he had forgotten to take the more valuable pieces of silver during the epic Prologue and ‘Soliloquy’. That and each subsequent moment, lasting all the way from the beautiful ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ sung with such loving sadness by Haley Dortch, the saddest of all sad songs; the engaging ‘On My Own’ by the powerful voiced Mya Rena Hunter; to Valjean’s stunningly rendered of ‘Who Am I?’ and all points in-between, moved me most generously. The songs, delivered graciously by these glorious-voiced actors brought it all back to life, and embedded itself inside my soul once again.

The glorious “Bring Him Home“, sung with incredible intensity and love by the gifted Cartell, felt as tender and angelic as ever. Understudy Cameron Loyal (Broadway’s Bad Cinderella) as the determined Javert couldn’t match the heightened level of expertise that Cartell climbed himself up to and was maybe the weakest link in this beautifully performed construction, but it never tarnished the overall effect. The Thenardier husband and wife team, gorgeously well-played by Matt Crowle (Mercury Theater’s The Producers) and Victoria Huston-Elem (Goodspeed’s Gypsy), performed the wonderfully crafted ‘Master of the House’ number with great comic timing and delivery, and the Student’s songs, ‘The People’s Song’ and ‘Drink With Me to Days Gone By’ were also lovingly performed, although there were a few over-done attempts of humor and inauthentic drunkenness. Marius, lovingly portrayed by the handsome Jake David Smith (Off-Broadway’s Between the Lines) delivers a tender (but not so well stage-designed) version of one of my favorite songs, ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’.  His voice graced us with its loving tones, lifting us in its softness, and working well our emotional heartstrings with this sad sweet song.

All in all, my friend and I had gathered together to hear all these aforementioned, beautifully crafted, and much-loved songs, sung with care, expertise, and love. Les Misérables sounds as glorious as ever, and I must add that I was happy to have had the chance to insert these songs back into my head. I’ve been humming these numerous melodies, all of which brought me great joy and happiness, all weekend long.  This small simple staging still packs a musically beautiful and powerful punch, and I’m forever grateful for that gift, revolving or not.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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Broadway

Broadway’s Revival of “The Wiz” Delivers the Touring Goods Without Inspired Elevation

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There’s a strange wind in the air blowing into NYC’s Marquis Theatre a production of the famed musical, The Wiz, aimed at recapturing the family-friendly aura that lives to this day swirling around it. I’ve only really seen, in its entirety, this 1975 musical when it was produced “Live!” on television in 2015 (beyond YouTube clipsfrom the famous movie adaptation starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, just to name a few). “The Wiz Live!,” was an enjoyable, star-packed swirling that had more highs than lows, if I’m remembering correctly, so when this current revival gets its groove started, all in black and white, I was feeling the excitement build with high hopes for an electrifying colorful adventure. Courtesy of director Schele Williams (Broadway’s The Notebook), we are greeted with a heartfelt introduction of their Dorothy, played by Broadway newcomer, Nichelle Lewis (national tour of Hairspray) and her loving Aunt Em, portrayed strongly and gently by the very good Melody A. Betts (Broadway’s Waitress). “The Feeling We Once Had” connects, offering hope, home, and compassion wrapped up in their warm embrace. And then the faulty Tornados roll in as the shift to color rushes forward and all hell breaks loose.

Wayne Brady in The Wiz. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

Starting out on the road in late 2023, this production of The Wiz tries to harness that wind and pull us into the colorful and hopeful idea that this production, designed by Hanna Beachler (Marvel’s “Black Panther“) with lighting by Bryan J. O’Gara (Broadway’s Thoughts of a Colored Man), costumes by Sharen Davis (HBO’s “The Watchman“), sound by Jon Weston (Broadway’s Parade), and video/projections by Daniel Brodie (Broadway’s Motown), is trying for. Unfortunately for Broadway audiences, the show feels somewhat limited, unpacked from a truck and quickly carted in with hopes of impressing. That’s not to say that the production lacks appeal, as it is, thanks to the projections and colorful costuming that attempt to be visually creative, many of the moments don’t feel as well constructed as any other show made and created for a specific Broadway stage. The units are chunky and compact, representing structures that would easily roll out and roll onto any stage anywhere across the country. It’s an odd sensation, when one is used to seeing Broadway productions that carry an organic rooted energy created just for that stage. But there is no surprise here, because that is exactly what this production is; a touring show that is making a stop in a Broadway house. And there is no crime in that. Just, maybe, some disappointment for those of us who are used to something else; something more refined and deeply seeded.

Deborah Cox, Nichelle Lewis, and the cast of The Wiz. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

You look like a gold angel,” Dorothy cries out to Gilda, played by the very talented understudy Judith Franklin (Broadway’s Tina…) stepping in for an absent Deborah Cox (Broadway’s Jekyll & Hyde), and we secretly wish the visuals were as gloriously golden as Lewis’ Dorothy sees surrounding her. Lewis is charming and engaging as the lost young girl trying to reconnect with and remember the warmth and value of “Home“, even if her vocals are a little bit less than dazzling. Choreographed strongly (yet somewhat straightforwardly) by Jaquel Knight (Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies“), the three traveling characters that join her on her quest deliver the goods with zeal and talent, giving the show an added burst of excitement that radiates out into the audience with something akin to glee. The Scarecrow’s “You Can’t Win“, performed endearingly by Avery Wilson (“Grown-ish“), astonishes, even if the fancy footwork is repeatedly invoked throughout the show; the Tinman, devilishly portrayed by the charming and handsome Phillip Johnson Richardson (Berkeley Rep’s Goddess), finds authenticity and connectivity even under all that makeup by Charles G. LaPointe with his seductive “Slide Some Oil to Me“; and the Cowardly Lion, portrayed a bit reductive by Kyle Ramar Freeman (Broadway’s A Strange Loop), gives it their all as the “Mean Old Lion.” The four are on track, easing on down the road with an optimistic cadence to find the lost thing that they each feel they are missing. They place all their hope on that big Technicolor Wiz, played solidly by Wayne Brady (Broadway’s Kinky Boots) who will magically grant them their wish and desire; that is unless the Wicked Witch of the West, Evillene, the most evil sister of the witch that Dorothy’s house did a number on, played big and loud by Betts (who was so warm and kind as Aunt Em) doesn’t get them first with some silliness around “Poppies” and a “Kalidah Battle.

Kyle Ramar Freeman, Nichelle Lewis, Phillip Johnson Richardson, and Avery Wilson in The Wiz. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

With a fun score by Charlie Smalls and a book by William F. Brown, this show, when it first came to Broadway won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and ran for 1,672 performances. It broke new grounds on Broadway, yet this current iteration, with additional materials by Amber Ruffin (“A Black Lady Sketch Show“), doesn’t exactly live up to the hope of its ancestors, feeling a bit tired from the road upon its arrival. The creative team didn’t seem to adjust or elevate the scene for Broadway, delivering a touring production that is good but not Broadway remarkable. The performers work hard against the flatness of the video projection screens that should enhance, not take over the visual landscape, yet here they carry the weight as the clunky set pieces just roll in without much delight attached to them. The choreography being the real star of this revival is energetic and psuedo-exciting, even in its straightforward approach to the material. Luckily the dancers deliver the goods with gusto. The ballads, like “Home” find their way through the meekness of the production, giving us the feelings, but as a whole, I’d stick to rewatching the Live! TV version or even the campy film version. There’s more to be dazzled by there on the screen than in this Broadway theatre.

Nichelle Lewis and Melody Betts in The Wiz. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

 

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Events

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents Jana Robbins and Tim Tuttle

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“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents”, is  filmed live every Wednesday from 5 – 6 now in the conference room at the Hotel Edison.

In this episode T2C’s publisher and owner Suzanna Bowling talks with Jana Robbins and Tim Tuttle. Jana Robbins is starring in A Final Toast, which opens at The Chain Theatre, 312 West 36th Street #3rd Floor, this Friday. Her performance this Thursday, which is an invited dress is dedicated to the memory of her beloved mother Edythe Elaine Eisenberg May 16, 1922 – Oct. 24, 2022.

Tim Tuttle, wrote the book, music and lyrics for 44 Lights: The Musical that opened last night at the AMT Theatre, 354 W 45th StreetTuttle worked as a trader on Wall Street, until September 11th, 2001. He turned to music to heal. 44 Lights is a chance for Tim to tell his story, to remember the many who didn’t come home, and find a way to keep their memories alive forever.

We are so proud 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 Jana Robbins and Tim Tuttle.

Thank-you Magda Katz for videoing and creating the content to go live, Rommel Gopez and The Hotel Edison for their kindness and hospitality.

We are so proud and thrilled that Variety Entertainment News just named us one of Summer’s Best Picks in the category of Best Television, Radio, PodcastsThe company we are in, has made us so humbled, grateful and motivated to continue.

You can catch us on the following platforms:

Pandora:

https://www.pandora.com/podcast/live-from-the-edison-hotel-times-square-chronicles-presents/PC:1001084740

Stitcher:

https://www.stitcher.com/show/1084740

Spotify:

Amazon:

https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/e3ac5922-ada8-4868-b531-12d06e0576d3

Apple Podcasts:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/live-from-the-edison-hotel-times-square-chronicles-presents/id1731059092

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Broadway

New Dramatist Annual Spring Luncheon Brought Out The Best Of Broadway

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New Dramatists, Tony® honor recipient Tony-nominated director Michael Greif (Days of Wine and Roses, The Notebook and Hell’s Kitchen) and the nation’s premier playwright development laboratory, hosted their Annual Spring Luncheon Tribute yesterday on Tuesday, May 14 at the New York Marriott Marquis (1535 Broadway, between 45th and 46th Streets).

Michael Grief, photo by Magda Katz

Michael Grief, photo by Magda Katz

Michael Grief, photo by Magda Katz

A beloved theater community tradition, the afternoon featured several performances and tributes, including a spoken tribute by Brian D’Arcy James of Days of Wine and Roses; a musical performance by cast members from Hell’s Kitchen;  John Cardoza, Jordan Tyson, Ryan Vasquez and Joy Woods from The Notebook; among others. Tony Award-winning producers Kevin McCollum and Stacey Mindich serve as honorary co-chairs for this year’s luncheon. At this year’s luncheon, New Dramatists will present its inaugural Konecky Award to Concord Theatricals. Named for New Dramatists’ beloved Board President Isobel Konecky and her husband, renowned entertainment attorney Ron Konecky, TheKonecky Award recognizes those in the theatre and entertainment industry, who serve the field with passion, dedication, excellence, and leadership.

Attending the event was Betsy Aidem (Prayer for theFrench Republic), Shoshana Bean (Hell’s Kitchen), Francis Benhamou (Prayer for the French Republic), Ali Louis Bourzgui (The Who’s Tommy), Will Brill (Stereophonic), John Cardoza (The Notebook), Chuck Cooper (Trouble in Mind), Brian D’Arcy James (The Days of Wine and Roses), Brandon Victor Dixon (Hell’s Kitchen), Christine Ebersole (War Paint), Eden Espinosa (Lempicka), Eli Gelb (Stereophonic), Jonathan Groff (Merrily We Roll Along), Grant Gustin (Water for Elephants), Nikki M. James (Suffs), Celia Keenan-Bolger (Mother Play), Kecia Lewis (Hell’s Kitchen), Casey Likes (Back to the Future), Alison Luff (The Who’s Tommy), Isabelle McCalla (Water for Elephants), Lindsay Mendez (Merrily We Roll Along), Maleah Joi Moon (Hell’s Kitchen), Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog), Justin Peck (Illinoise), Sarah Pidgeon (Stereophonic), Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer (Spamalot), Daphne Rubin-Vega (A Streetcar Named Desire), Amy Ryan (Doubt), Lea Salonga (Here Lies Love), Corey Stoll (Appropriate), Shaina Taub (Suffs), Quincy Tyler Bernstine (Doubt), Jordan Tyson (The Notebook), Ryan Vasquez (The Notebook), Joy Woods (The Notebook), Doug Wright (Good Night, Oscar) and so many more.

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Events

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents Was Named One Of Summer’s Best Picks

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We started “Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents” on February 11th to celebrate Fashion Week. We are so proud and thrilled that Variety Entertainment News just named us one of Summer’s Best Picks in the category of BEST TELEVISION, RADIO, PODCASTSThe company we are in has made us so humbled, grateful and motivated to continue.

We’d like to thank Walter Norris, Eileen Shapiro, Rommel Gopez and the Hotel Edison and Magda Katz for videoing and creating the content to go live.

Join us today with our guests Tony and Olivier Award winning Broadway actor and producer Jana Robbins and book, music and lyric writer Tim Tuttle at 5pm in the hotel lobby.

You can see our past episodes here: First episode click here second episode click here,  third episode click here, fourth episode click here, fifth episode click here, sixth episode here, seventh episode here, eighth episode here, ninth episode here, tenth episode here, eleventh episode here, our twelfth episode here and our thirteenth episode here.

You can catch us on the following platforms:

Pandora:

https://www.pandora.com/podcast/live-from-the-edison-hotel-times-square-chronicles-presents/PC:1001084740

Stitcher:

https://www.stitcher.com/show/1084740

Spotify:

Amazon:

https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/e3ac5922-ada8-4868-b531-12d06e0576d3

Apple Podcasts:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/live-from-the-edison-hotel-times-square-chronicles-presents/id1731059092

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