“On a clear day“, is the bookend-beginning and end of this powerfully told origin tale grown strong and true on those 1943 fields of the rural South. Returning to the MTC to perform her magically powerful and engaging one woman storytelling show, Charlayne Woodard (Broadway’s Ain’t Misbehavin’; Primary Stages’ The Night Watcher) fearlessly paints with perfect strokes a stunning portrait of a young woman coming of age in America, embracing and wrapping her conflicted arm over the shoulder of her disabled aunt, Neat. The detailed journey, in distinct chapters of revelation, unpack a profound understanding of what it means to be “chocolate brown” in America, listening to the beautiful sound of snow while never forgetting the frightening stories that are dishonestly told on the televised news.
Ignoring the danger of the leopards waiting in the dark to nip at their legs, Woodard finds a ‘say it loud‘ way with subtlety, to age herself, alter herself, and realign herself inside and out, to deliver a difficult story of entrenched prejudice and racial violence. She does this with an expertise that enlightens and pulls us in, while thoroughly embracing the humanity of that awkward teenage/familial bond that helps alter her perspective of the world. A simple curiosity is delivered that shifts her senses around her snow bound feet, and pushes her to expand her vision and her historic roots.
It is a tale of tests, daily tests, that are saved and played out with cleverly delivered tales, as Woodard beautifully tries to make sense of the specialness and wonder of Neat. With no shots of their betrayed faces in the history books and on the news of the day that surround her Northern experience, the storytelling rises up, flying through the air as if Neat had wings like a dove. Spinning through tender and heartfelt constructions of teenage fashion, hairdos and pop culture, Neat flips to a fro with wisely crafted precision, etching a clear portrait that, hopefully, will undo the spell of poisonous systematic racism and open up the sky, on this certainly clear day, for us all to see. “Life doesn’t get much better than this,” she tells us, and we couldn’t agree more. “It tastes like….yeah!“
Originally produced by MTC in 1997, Charlayne Woodard returns to present her one-woman show, Neat as part of MTC’s Curtain Call. Sign up at MTC (click here to register) for the FREE stream available now through April 29.
Theatre News: Wicked, Kimberly Akimbo, Alice in Neverland and Ballad of Dreams, The Night of the Iguana and Ode To The Wasp Woman
On Monday, October 30th, the blockbuster musical Wicked will celebrate its 20th Anniversary on Broadway, a milestone achieved by only three other Broadway productions in history. To commemorate this landmark, Wicked is partnering with several national organizations to celebrate all things Oz.
Additional Wicked celebrations, including cast appearances, New York City food and drink collaborations, and special events throughout the month of October, will be announced in the coming weeks.
A KIND OF RECIPE BOOK. FOR CHANGE…
In celebration of Wicked’s 20th Anniversary on Broadway, Moleskine has created a beautiful Wicked-inspired 20th Anniversary notebook that can be purchased in theatre, Moleskine Direct channels, and with several Moleskine wholesale partners, beginning October 23rd. This limited-edition notebook will inspire Wicked fans to put pen to paper (following in the footsteps of Wicked novelist Gregory Maguire and book writer Winnie Holzman) to bring their own stories to life.
PINK GOES GOOD WITH GREEN…
Hill House Home, a New York-based fashion brand founded by Nell Diamond, worked closely with Wicked’s Tony Award-winning costume designer, Susan Hilferty, to create a Wicked-inspired Nap Dress™ collection in honor of the show’s 20th anniversary. The collection will include two adult dresses and two children’s dresses inspired by the characters Glinda and Elphaba. The styles will be available for purchase online and in Hill House’s store at Rockefeller Center toward the end of the year.
LIKE A HANDPRINT ON MY HEART…
Little Words Project, which started in 2013 in founder Adriana Carrig’s parents’ basement, creates handcrafted word bracelets with messages of kindness and love that aim to support women and to remind us to be kind to one another. In the past ten years, the company has become a worldwide brand with an extremely engaged and loyal community of fans. This fall, Little Words Project is partnering with Wicked to create four exclusive bracelets inspired by the unique friendship between Elphaba and Glinda. The collection will be featured in all nine Little Words retail stores across the country. To honor 20 years on Broadway, Little Words Project has designed Wicked-inspired bracelets. Little Words Project creates handcrafted bracelets, each with an inspirational word displayed on the beads. The bracelets – in the spirit of the “pay it forward” movement – are meant to uplift the wearer, and then be passed on to someone else who needs them more. The Wicked bracelets are inspired by Glinda and Elphaba, who helped uplift one another through their friendship; they will feature the words “Wicked,” “Unlimited,” “Defy Gravity,” and “For Good.”
WHAT’S THE MOST SWANKIFIED PLACE IN TOWN?
Beginning October 6th, WICKED fans can indulge in the elegance of The Plaza Hotel’s Wicked–themed Afternoon Tea at The Plaza’s famed Palm Court Restaurant. The “Defying Gravi-tea” will feature special sweet and savory delights, like the “Look To The Brest’ern Sky” pate a choux, or the “Flying Monkey” Macaron. Under the Palm Court’s iconic dome, which will be lit Emerald Green, guests can also enjoy The Palm Court’s mixologists’ most Wicked cocktails in high Plaza fashion. The venue will be adorned with emerald-green accents, glittering with hints of emerald and black, paying homage to Wicked’s beloved story.
The Plaza is also offering “The Emerald City Experience,” which includes a stay at The Plaza, as well as tickets to the special 20th anniversary “Green Performance” of Wicked on October 29th, the Wicked-themed Afternoon Tea, a Playbill signed by the full company, and house car transportation to the Gershwin Theatre. For details, pls visit The Emerald City Experience | The Plaza (theplazany.com)
ONE SHORT DAY, FULL OF SO MUCH TO DO…
Capital One became Wicked’s official Credit Card Partner in May of this year, marking the first time the company has partnered with a Broadway musical. Eligible Capital One cardholders had pre-sale access to tickets for the anniversary performances on October 29th and 30th. Cardholders were also able to gain entry to exclusive events taking place at the Museum of Broadway during Wicked’s Anniversary weekend, featuring alumnae Brittney Johnson and Kara Lindsay, available only on Capital One Entertainment.
TWO BEST FRIENDS…
American Girl, known for helping girls grow up with courage, confidence, and strength of character, has teamed up with Wicked to celebrate their 2023 Girl of the Year™, Kavi Sharma™. Kavi is an Indian American girl growing up in New Jersey who loves singing, dancing, and performing with her friends. Her favorite Broadway show is Wicked and American Girl has designed special Wicked costumes for Kavi to celebrate her love of the musical.
Hear Your Song – a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering young people with serious illnesses and complex health needs through collaborative songwriting – continues its partnership with Broadway’s Tony-award winning show Kimberly Akimbo with a special concert at Green Room 42 on November 12th at 7 pm. You can find tickets to the in-person concert and livestream alongside more details here.
In this evening of songs and performances from both Kimberly Akimbo and Hear Your Song, Broadway company members sing alongside youth songwriters to showcase the score of Kimberly Akimbo and a treasure trove of songs written by kids who, in a lot of ways, have a lot in common with Kimberly. There will be performances by Kimberly Akimbo company members, such as Tony nominee Justin Cooley, Alli Mauzey, Betsy Morgan, Miguel Gil and Alex Vinh, as well as children and teens from Hear Your Song.
Within this partnership, Hear Your Song participants had the opportunity to develop their own songs and gain a deeper understanding of the songwriting process through a songwriting masterclass led by Kimberly Akimbo’s creators, composer Jeanine Tesori and lyricist David Lindsay-Abaire. 16-year-old Hannah, who will be performing at the concert, is an accomplished youth songwriter living with Crohn’s Disease. She shared her songs with Tesori and Lindsay-Abaire in a virtual masterclass in March.
Hear Your Song’s mission is to provide a platform for youth to share their experiences and perspectives through the art of songwriting. By partnering with members of the Kimberly Akimbo team, Hear Your Song is able to offer a unique opportunity for young people living with serious illnesses to be heard by a wide audience as they learn from professionals in the industry and gain valuable skills and experience.
All of Hear Your Song’s programming is free of charge for youth and families. Please visit www.hearyoursong.org to learn more about how to get involved and donate to support hundreds of youth songwriters like Hannah.
A sequel to one of the most beloved stories of all time, Lewis Carrol’s “Alice in Wonderland,” and a prequel to J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan,” the new musical Alice in Neverland took place. The cast was led by Allie Seibold, Heath Saunders (Company), Kyle Selig (Mean Girls), Grace McLean (Bad Cinderella), Courtnee Carter (Parade) and Rob Colletti (Almost Famous).
Growing older and obsessed with her memories of Wonderland, Alice embarks on the daring journey to recapture youth – including the sacrifices that might be required to never grow up.
Alice in Neverland features book, music and lyrics by Phil Kenny and Reston Williams, director Catie Davis (Beetlejuice, Moulin Rouge), music director Kris Kukul(Beetlejuice), and general manager Joey Monda (Sing Out, Louise! Productions). The reading is being presented by six-time Tony Award® winning production team 42nd.club (& Juliet, Hadestown, Moulin Rouge).
Rounding out the reading cast are Travis Artz, Bobby Daye (Moulin Rouge), LaVon Fisher-Wilson (Chicago), Mia Gerachis, Stephanie Gibson (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Donnie Hammond, Benjamin Henderson, Eddie Korbich (The Music Man), Garth Kravits (Gettin’ the Band Back Together), Elliott Mattox (Beetlejuice), Tiffany Mann (Be More Chill), Adelina Mitchell, Chase Petersen, Honor Blue Savage, and Emmet Smith.
Inspired by a true story, a love letter to New York City, Ballad of Dreams illuminates the struggle of two resilient women fighting for their place in the glittering world of 1940’s theater, chasing the dream of being a performer and being a mother. Against insurmountable odds they must confront the universal question faced by women of every era: can we truly have it all?
Audrey McKenna, a vibrant grandmother and mother of thirteen, is confronted with the unfulfilled dreams of her youth to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City, circa WW2. With the help of her best friend Rose, they each journey in discovering love, their own identities, and independence as women in a time when society tried to define that for them.
The cast includes Hunter Parrish (Broadway: To Kill a Mockingbird, Showtime’s “Weeds”), Erin Davie (Broadway: Diana, The Musical, Sunday in the Park with George), Nicholas Rodriguez (Broadway: Company), Allyson Hernandez (Off-Broadway: If This Hat Could Talk), Robb Sapp (Broadway: The Lion King, Wicked), Alan H. Green (Broadway: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Sharon Wheatley (Broadway: Come From Away), Neal Mayer (Broadway: Les Misérables), Emily Walton (Broadway: Come From Away), Elizabeth Bedley (Regional: A Chorus Line), Noah Wolfe (Regional: A Little Night Music), Laura Sky Herman (National Tour: Hello, Dolly!), Emily Jewel Hoder (Broadway: The Music Man) and Charlie Carroccio (Film:The 12 Days of Christmas Eve), with Harmony Harris (Associate Director), Jamibeth Margolis, CSA (Casting) LDK Productions (General Manager).
For more information on Ballad of Dreams, please visit www.BalladofDreams.comLa Femme Theatre Productions (Jean Lichty, Executive Director), renowned for its dedication to showcasing the diverse female experience, is set to illuminate the Off-Broadway stage this season with an evocative 21st century production of Tennessee Williams’s timeless masterpiece, The Night of the Iguana. Under the direction of Tony Award nominee, Emily Mann , this production will star Emmy Nominee Tim Daly (Broadway: The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial. TV: “The Sopranos,” “Madam Secretary,” “Wings’), Tony Award – Winner Daphne Rubin-Vega (Broadway: Rent, Anna in the Tropics), Drama Desk nominee Lea DeLaria(Netflix “Orange Is the New Black.” Broadway: POTUS) , Tony nominee Austin Pendleton (Broadway: Between Riverside and Crazy, The Minutes) , and Jean Lichty(Off-Broadway: La Femme’s A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, The Traveling Lady ). It will begin performances on December 6 in advance of its opening on December 17. It will run through February 25, 2024 at The Irene Diamond Stage at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street, Jim Houghton Way) . The Night of the Iguana is not a production of Signature Theatre.
Sean Young (Blade Runner, Fatal Instinct) in Ode To The Wasp Woman, a new play by Rider McDowell (The Mercy Man, Wimbledon). The limited 13-week Off-Broadway engagement will play October 30, 2023 through January 31, 2023, at The Actors Temple Theatre (339 W. 47th St, NYC). Opening night is Thursday, November 9 at 7:30PM. Tickets are now on sale at Telecharge.com.
Ode To The Wasp Woman chronicles the last 48 hours in the lives of four 1950’s B movie stars; Susan Cabot, leading lady of the Roger Corman’s cult classic The Wasp Woman; George Reeves, the man who brought Superman to life on TV screens across America; Carl ‘Alfalfa’ Switzer of the beloved “Our Gang” comedies; B-movie queen Barbara Payton. The desperate and sensational events that lead to the demise of these four fallen stars are told in four one acts with music, a veritable homage to film noir and true crime.
Rider McDowell directs Sean Young as Susan Cabot, leading a company of actors, To be announced, portraying George ‘Superman’ Reeves, Carl ‘Alfalfa’ Switzer, and B-movie queen Barbara Payton.
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Opening Night of Golden Rainbow
Last night the York Theatre Company presented their production of Golden Rainbow, with book by Ernest Kinoy and music and lyrics by Walter Marks, the third offering of the Fall 2023 “Musicals in Mufti” series. Performances continue through Sunday, October 1, 2023.
The show stars Max Von Essen (York’s Tenderloin)
Benjamin Pajak (Broadway’s The Music Man)
Mara Davi (Broadway’s Dames at Sea)
Robert Cuccioli (York’s Rothschild & Sons)
Danielle Lee Greaves (Broadway’s Parade)
Felipe Barbosa Bombonato (Les Misérables)
Jonathan Brody (The Sorceress)
Nick Cearley (The Skivvies),
Jillian Louis (York’s The Game of Love),
Gina Milo (York’s Subways Are for Sleeping)
and Maria Wirries (York’s Penelope: or How The Odyssey Was Really Written).
Golden Rainbow is directed by Stuart Ross (York’s Enter Laughing), with music direction by David Hancock Turner (York’s Cheek to Cheek and Desperate Measures). The production team includes Lighting Designer Garett Pembrook, Projections/Sound Designer Peter Brucker, Production Manager Aaron Simms, Production Coordinator Noah Glaister, Production Stage Manager Hailey Delaney, Assistant Stage Manager Carson Ferguson, and Company Manager Tori Calderon-Caswell.
By Jacqueline Parker
Nature’s reward for enduring a spate of rain and gloomy weather is a rainbow. The York has delivered just that in their latest production in their Mufti series, Golden Rainbow. This musical from the late 60s is always mentioned among aficionados of this art form with wistful smiles and fond remembrances. The York has brought it back to life in a version that features some new lyrics by original composer/lyricist Walter Marks that carry the storyline into this century.
From the opening notes of the Jule Styne-esque overture to the rousing finale, the audience was toe-and-finger tapping along to the sounds so evocative of the time when most of us were very young. The story itself is touching—a single father of a boy on the brink of teenhood must wrestle with the choice of saving his livelihood or letting his son move to the other side of the country with his aunt. The connection between father and son is made clear through several songs delivered touchingly by dad Max Von Essen and son Benjamin Pajak.
The arrival under a false pretense of Mara Davi as Aunt Judy sets the plot spinning and allows Robert Cuccioli as mobster Carmine Malatesta and Danielle Lee Greaves as Jill to play their part in the resolution with songs hilarious and touching.
If the story seems familiar it’s because it is taken from the film “A Hole in the Head,” based on the same source material, that starred Frank Sinatra and Eddie Hodges singing the Oscar-winning song High Hopes. Golden Rainbow opened in 1968 starring Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme in the leads. They were household names at the time, based on their talent and popularity from television appearances and cabaret performances.
Perhaps most impressive in this production was Von Essen’s version of the hit song “I Gotta Be Me.” It was haunting as it built in intensity and left the audience almost breathless at the end of Act 1.
Pajak, familiar to all from his recent appearances in Oliver! and The Music Man was astounding in his ability to project the at times heartbreaking and lovingly joyous emotions of his character.
Mara Davi’s character has her own roller coaster ride of emotions, which she transmits with style and conviction.
Robert Cuccioli was hilarious as a mobster singing Taste,
and Danielle Lee Greaves delivered two of the new songs, making me hope for a new recording of this terrific show soon.
The clock is ticking on this gem of a show – it closes Sunday, October 1st. Get your tickets at yorktheatre.org and find your own pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.
Theatre News: Here We Are, Some Like It Hot, A Beautiful Noise, All The Devils Are Here: How Shakespeare Invented The Villain and The Laramie Project
The curtain rose last tonight on the first performance of the final Stephen Sondheim musical. Here We Are, the new musical from David Ives and Sondheim, is on stage at The Shed’s Griffin Theater (545 W. 30th Street), with an Opening Night on Sunday, October 22, for 15 weeks only.
Directed by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello, the cast of Here We Are will feature Francois Battiste, Tracie Bennett, Bobby Cannavale, Micaela Diamond, Amber Gray, Jin Ha, Rachel Bay Jones, Denis O’Hare, Steven Pasquale, David Hyde Pierce, and Jeremy Shamos. The understudies for Here We Are are Adante Carter, Lindsay Nicole Chambers, Bradley Dean, Mehry Eslaminia, Adam Harrington, and Bligh Voth.
Here We Are is inspired by two films, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and The Exterminating Angel, by Luis Buñuel.
Here We Are will include choreography by Sam Pinkleton, set design and costume design by David Zinn, lighting design by Natasha Katz, sound design by Tom Gibbons, orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, musical supervision and additional arrangements by Alexander Gemignani, hair & make-up design by Wigmaker Associates, and casting by The Telsey Office.
Tickets are on sale on TheShed.org.
For each performance, a limited number of $25 tickets will be available via a weekly lottery, which will open for entries on the TodayTix app each Sunday at 12:01 AM for the coming week’s performances and will close at 12:00 PM on the day before each performance. Winners will be notified by push notification and email between 1 – 4 PM on the day before their selected show, and will have 30 minutes to claim their tickets in the app. Entrants may request 1 or 2 tickets, and entry is free and open to all.
Via TodayTix’s mobile rush program, a limited number of $40 same-day rush tickets will be available for that day’s performance of Here We Are at 9:00 AM each day on a first-come, first-served basis. Users can download the app and “unlock” rush tickets by sharing the program on social media ahead of their desired performance day.
The most award-winning musical of the 2022-2023 season, Some Like It Hot, will play for 13 more weeks through Saturday, December 30, 2023, at Broadway’s Shubert Theatre (225 West 44th Street) before launching a national tour and West End production.
Awarded Best Musical by The Drama League, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle, Some Like It Hot received over 20+ major awards throughout the 2022-2023 season, including four Tony Awards for Best Lead Actor in a Musical (J. Harrison Ghee), Best Choreography (Casey Nicholaw), Best Orchestrations (Charlie Rosen & Bryan Carter) and Best Costumes in a Musical (Gregg Barnes). J. Harrison Ghee made history as the first non-binary performer to take home the Tony Award in their category.
A national tour will launch in September 2024 and a West End production will follow in 2025, produced by The Shubert Organization and Neil Meron in partnership with Ambassador Theatre Group.
At the time of the final performance, the production will have played the Shubert Theatre for over a year, for a total of 483 performances.
Will Swenson, who is electrifying audiences with his star turn in A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical, will play his final performance as ‘Neil Diamond – Then’ at the Broadhurst Theatre (235 West 44th Street) on Sunday, October 29. Casting for the role of ‘Neil Diamond – Then’ will be announced at a future date.
The unofficial commencement of “spooky season” takes place this Friday, September 29, when Tony Award® Nominee and Grammy Award® Winner Patrick Page returns to the New York stage in All The Devils Are Here: How Shakespeare Invented The Villain, a new work created and performed by Mr. Page, based on the villains of William Shakespeare. Directed by Simon Godwin, the solo show will play the DR2 Theatre (103 E 15th Street) beginning Friday, September 29, with an Opening Night set for Monday, October 16, for 14 weeks only.
Julie White and Brandon Uranowitz will join Ato Blankson-Wood in a staged benefit reading of The Laramie Project. Moises Kaufman and the Members of Tectonic Theatre Project’s The Laramie Project, will bedirected by Dustin Wills (Wolf Play, Wet Brain). The event, which will raise funds to support the work of The Trevor Project, will take place on Monday, October 16th at 7:00 PM at Peter Norton Symphony Space, and is being produced by District Productions. Additional casting is soon to be announced. For tickets and more information, visit https://www.symphonyspace.org/events/vp-the-laramie-project-a-benefit-staged-reading
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