MCC Theater officially opens its first permanent home, the Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space, at 511 West 52nd Street, between 10th and 11th Ave. Uniting the leading Off-Broadway company’s diverse roster of programs under one roof and creating a new cultural anchor in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood is a dream come true for this company.
The facility was designed by Andrew Berman Architect in collaboration with MCC Theater to serve as a generator for creative exchange between the artists, audiences, and young people who engage with MCC Theater’s diverse productions and programs.
The space encompasses two state-of-the-art theaters, the Newman Mills Theater (245 seat proscenium). First up here is Alice By Heart January 30 – March 10th. When the madness of the world is too much to bear, we take refuge in the stories we love. Tony® and Grammy® award-winning creators of Spring Awakening, Steven Slater and Duncan Sheik, reunite for their new musical Alice By Heart, inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and directed and co-written by Jessie Nelson (Waitress). In the rubble of the London Blitz of World War II, Alice Spencer’s budding teen life is turned upside down, and she and her dear friend Alfred are forced to take shelter in an underground tube station. When the ailing Alfred is quarantined, Alice encourages him to escape with her into their cherished book and journey down the rabbit hole to Wonderland. As they travel through the tale, Alice By Heart explores the poignancy of first love, coming to terms with loss, and finding the courage to move forward. This world premiere musical encourages us all to celebrate the transformational power of the imagination, even in the harshest of times.
Thanks to the new space MCC will be starting a songwriting lab for new musical.
At the Susan & Ronald Frankel Theater (100 seat flexible space), from January 23rd to March 27th. Loy A Webb The Light plays. The Light is a reckoning that unfolds in real-time and peels away the layers of truth, doubt, pain, and ultimately the power of love. Not every marriage proposal goes as planned. Loy A. Webb’s The Light introduces us to Rashad and Genesis on what should be one of the happiest days of their lives, but their joy quickly unravels when ground-shifting accusations from the past resurface in this gripping two character drama. Can their relationship survive the growing divide between them over who–and what–to believe? Directed by Logan Vaughn.
There are also spaces for MCC’s Theater Youth Company, rehearsals, workshops, meetings, administration, public conversations, and other events.
There are two visual art installations by Brooklyn based artists Francesco Simeti, “Set Perspectives” and “Tale of a City”.
MCC is one of New York’s leading nonprofit Off-Broadway companies, driven by a mission to provoke conversations that have never happened and otherwise never would. Founded in 1986 as a collective of artists leading peer-based classes to support their own development as actors, writers, and directors, the tenets of collaboration, education, and community are at the core of MCC Theater’s programming.
One of the only theaters in the country led continuously by its founders, Artistic Directors Robert LuPone, Bernard Telsey, and William Cantler, MCC fulfills its mission through the production of world, American, and New York premiere plays and musicals that challenge artists and audiences to confront contemporary personal and social issues, and robust playwright development and education initiatives that foster the next generation of theater artists and students.
MCC Theater’s celebrated productions include Jocelyn Bioh’s School Girls; or, the African Mean Girls Play (2018 Lucille Lortel Award, Best Play); Penelope Skinner’s The Village Bike; Robert Askins’ Hand to God (Broadway transfer; five 2015Tony Award® nominations including Best Play); John Pollono’s Small Engine Repair; Paul Downs Colaizzo’s Really Really;Sharr White’s The Other Place (Broadway transfer); Jeff Talbott’s The Submission (winner of the inauguralLaurents/Hatcher Award); Michael Weller’s Fifty Words; Alexi Kaye Campbell’s The Pride; Bryony Lavery’s Frozen(Broadway transfer; four 2004 Tony Award® nominations including Best Play, Tony Award® for Best Featured Actor); TimBlake Nelson’s The Grey Zone; Rebecca Gilman’s The Glory of Living (2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist); Margaret Edson’s Wit(1999 Pulitzer Prize); and the musicals Coraline, Carrie, and Ride the Cyclone. Many plays developed and produced by MCC have gone on to productions throughout the country and around the world.
Meet The Playwrights of The NY Summer Theater Festival: Dan Brown Brings His Profound Sense of Writing of The Human Condition To Life
Dan Brown is a writer/director from NYC. In 2013 he released the documentary film- John Cori Warned You. In 2020, Dan published a collection of fiction writing- The Sometimes Why. In ’21 he directed the theatre production-Tales From the Sometimes Why. In January ’23 he debuted the stage show; The Eleven Story Drop. His play- The Mollies was selected to the Queens Short Play Festival.
In Sunshine Unlimited a 14 minute play at The New York Festival we meet Martin who was promoted to management. He is the first African American to be elevated to an executive position, but it seems not just , fanfare within the company is linked to the promotion. Months later when his hiring is still being celebrated, Martin experiences doubts about his boss, and himself. Is racism still wrong when the perpetrators have good intentions. Is one truly a victim when racism come with a raise and window view?
Step Inside The New Musical The Gospel According to Heather
Tony nominee Paul Gordon’s new musical The Gospel According to Heather will premiere Off-Broadway this summer at Theatre 555, with performances beginning June 14 ahead of a June 22 opening night. The limited run will continue through July 9.
On Monday the cast premiered a few of the numbers and talked to the press. In this video meet Brittany Nicole Williams (The Prom), Maria Habeeb, Carlos Alcala, Lauren Elder (Hair), Carson Stewart, Donna Trikoff the artistic producer of Amas Musical Theatre, Katey Sagal (The Connors, Sons of Anarchy, Married with Children) as “Agatha,” Jeremy Kushnier (Atomic, Footloose) and composer, lyricist and book writer Paul Gordon.
In The Gospel According to Heather, Heather Krebs wants a boyfriend, but how can she navigate her way through high school if she might be the new Messiah? A small town in Ohio grapples with politics, religion, and teenage romance in the pop musical featuring a book, music, and lyrics by Tony nominee Gordon (Jane Eyre).
The Gospel According to Heather is being presented by Amas Musical Theatre in association with Jim Kierstead, Broadway Factor, Linda Karn and David Bryant.
All video’s by Magda Katz
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Sunshine Unlimited Soars With Truth at The New York Theatre Festival
Dan Brown’s Sunshine Unlimited was part of The New York Theatre Festival shorts. Sitting through four other shorts Brown’s powerful words, superb direction also by Brown and the strong acting choices by Sean Philips were refreshingly riveting. These were not the words from a first time playwright, but of someone who understands language and how people feel.
Sunshine Unlimited is about how the African American, Black male resents being a quota, paraded around, being classified by his skin color and having to act as if it is ok. Martin (Philips) has been the executive director for his company for years, yet the poster saying he is the First African American Executive Director still stands in the lobby. The fact that there have been no other African American’s promoted is part of the problem. His girlfriend (Alonda Jones), is proud of him for opening doors for their people and doesn’t want him to rock the boat.
His father Matin Sr. (Jaymz Nylon) worked for the railroad and on the day he started, so did another man with his same name, so throughout his entire time with the company he was known as “Black” Martin, even when the “White” Martin was promoted. When he complained, he was told the “White” Martin was ok with this so why wasn’t he. His wife (Linda Nesbit Floria) silently supported him, though in fear.
One day the younger Martin gets feed up and destroys the poster and his boss (Alexander D. Carney) asks him why. Martin tells him his truth and asks for more African American’s to be hired. Instead of being fired, Martin does open the doors.
This play is more of a 14 minute monologue, where you see the other people, but they do not talk. I would love to see Sunshine Unlimited expanded, so that each of the characters explains their thoughts as succinctly as Martin does. With the generational gaps and gender versions of how we see life, this could prove to be Pulitzer Prize winning. I know I sat on the edge of my seat the entire time and saw this problem with new eyes.
Sean Philips gives an award winning performance as he draws you into Martin’s plight. I would love to see more of his work, as well as more content from Mr. Brown.
This is a playwright to keep on your radar, as he is so prolific and I think has much to say that is worth listening to.
Sunshine Unlimited: The New York Theatre Festival, closed.
Theatre News: Doubt: A Parable, Here Lies Love, Prayer for the French Republic, Eisenhower and Hell’s Kitchen
Tyne Daly and Liev Schreiber will star in a revival of Doubt: A Parable on Broadway. The production is to begin performances next February at the American Airlines Theater.
The new production is produced by the Roundabout Theater Company, and will be directed by Scott Ellis, who has been serving as the nonprofit’s interim artistic director since the death of artistic director Todd Haimes in April.
The play, by John Patrick Shanley, is about a nun who suspects a priest has sexually abused a student at a Catholic school. In 2005, the year it first opened on Broadway, it won both the Pulitzer Prize for drama and the Tony Award for best play; it was later adapted into a film and an opera.
Daly, who will play the nun who serves as the school principal, and Schreiber, who will play the parish priest, are both Tony winners. Daly, is known for her role in “Cagney & Lacey”. She won the 1990 Tony Award for her portrayal as Mama Rose in the revival of Gypsy. Schreiber, is the star of Showtime’s “Ray Donovan.” He won a Tony Award in 2005 for a revival of Glengarry Glen Ross.
Doubt is one of three plays to be staged by Roundabout this coming season. The others are I Need That, a new play by Theresa Rebek starring Danny DeVito alongside his daughter, Lucy, and Home, a 1979 revival, directed by Kenny Leon, by Samm-Art Williams.
David Byrne, Fatboy Slim and Here Lies Love are causing controversy with their July Broadway debut. The show’s extensive use of prerecorded music has the American Federation of Musicians’ Local 802, up in arms. The Local’s Broadway musical contract stipulate that productions employ 19 live musicians.
In response to the union’s concerns, Byrne and the show’s PR team released a statement on Instagram to lay out the production’s revolutionary format and genre-bending originality. Here Lies Love is not a traditional Broadway musical. The music is drawn outside of the traditional music genre. The performance of the live vocals to pre-recorded, artificial tracks is paramount to its artistic concept. Production has ripped out the seats in the theater and built a dance floor. There is no longer a proscenium stage. The Broadway Theater has been transformed into a nightclub, with every theatergoer immersed in the experience.
Here Lies Love is on Broadway because Broadway must support boundary-pushing creative work. Broadway is also the venue for a well conceived, high-quality show that highlights the valued traditions of specific cultures whose stories have never been on its stages. Here Lies Love does not believe in artistic gatekeepers. Here Lies Love believes in a Broadway for everyone, where new creative forms push the medium and create new traditions and audiences.
I saw Here Lies Love at The Public and not sure what kind of fast talking this is, but this statement rings false and full of how can we cut the costs while sticking it to the audience.
Prayer for the French Republic, by Joshua Harmon is coming to Broadway this season.This award-winning Off Broadway production played to rave reviews at The Manhattan Theatre Club. The production was the winner of the 2022 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play and Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play. Broadway performances will begin previews on Tuesday, December 19, at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, with an official opening night on Tuesday, January 9, 2024. David Cromer directs.
Off Broadway: Tony winner John Rubinstein starts previews June 13 at St. Clement’s in one-man show Eisenhower.
Alicia Keys’ musical Hell’s Kitchen will run at The Public Theater from October 24 – December 10, starring Shoshana Bean. Inspired by Keys’ own life, the new musical features an original score by the 15-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, with a book by Kristoffer Diaz. Hell’s Kitchen will be directed by Michael Greif and choreographed by Camille A. Brown.
Leading the cast will be Maleah Joi Moon as Ali, opposite Bean as Ali’s mother Jersey, with Brandon Victor Dixon as Ali’s father Davis, Chad Carstarphen as Ray, Vanessa Ferguson as Tiny, Crystal Monee Hall as Crystal, Chris Lee as Knuck, Jackie Leon as Jessica, Kecia Lewis as Ali’s piano teacher Miss Liza Jane, Mariand Torres as Maria, and Lamont Walker II as Riq.
Completing the cast are Reid Clarke, Chloe Davis, Nico DeJesus, Timothy L. Edwards, Raechelle Manalo, Sarah Parker, and Niki Saludez, with understudies Badia Farha, Gianna Harris, Onyxx Noel, William Roberson, and Donna Vivino.
The musical is described as a coming-of-age story set in a cramped apartment in the neighborhood of the title near Times Square, where 17-year-old Ali is desperate to get her piece of the New York dream. Ali’s mother is just as determined to protect her daughter from the same mistakes she made. When Ali falls for a talented young drummer, both mother and daughter must face hard truths about race, defiance, and growing up.
The production has set design by Robert Brill, costumes by Dede Ayite, lighting by Natasha Katz, sound by Gareth Owens, and projection design by Peter Nigrini.
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