My View: OPENING NIGHT–THE LUCKY STAR—A mesmerizing, uplifting, and at times irreverent story
A mesmerizing, uplifting, and at times irreverent story of a family torn apart by war, fighting to emigrate, escape and survive”
Douglas Denoff & Beth Goldsmith, and 59E59 Theaters (Val Day, Artistic Director; Brian Beirne, Managing Director) present the Directors Company’s production of The Lucky Star by Karen Hartman, part of the inaugural VOLT Festival at 59E59. Directed by Noah Himmelstein (Rooted). The Lucky Star began previews on April 26, 2022, in Theater A and opened May 5 for a run through June 12, 2022.
The cast of The Lucky Star includes Skye Alissa Friedman (Kimberly Akimbo) as Genka, Danny Gavigan (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) as Joseph, Nina Hellman (Greater Clements) as Mania, Eva Kaminsky (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) as Klara/Felicia, Alexa Shae Niziak (Matilda) as Luisa, Alexandra Silber (Indecent) as Dola/Vita, Steven Skybell (Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish) as Richard, Sky Smith (“The Blacklist”) as Craig, Dale Soules (“Orange is the New Black”) as Berta/Arnold and Mike Shapiro as Salo/Blaustein. The understudies are Eliza Foss, Rachel Alana Handler and Noah Zachary.
The Lucky Star has had two critically acclaimed, sold-out runs under the title The Book of Joseph at the Everyman Theatre in Baltimore and at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, which first commissioned the play.
Like so many great mysteries, it all began in an attic with a dusty old suitcase… The discovery of a stash of over two hundred letters in three languages opens clues to an untold history in The Lucky Star—a gripping true story of resilience and determination, a family torn apart by war, fighting to emigrate, escape and survive. With scenes alternating between past and present, this mesmerizing, uplifting, and at times irreverent drama brings Richard Hollander’s book, Every Day Lasts a Year: A Jewish Family’s Correspondence from Poland to the stage, restoring a family’s uncharted legacy.
VOLT is an unprecedented festival of three New York City premieres by one underrepresented writer. In its inaugural year, 59E59 Theaters has selected local playwright Karen Hartman as the focus of the festival and invited three different non-profit theater companies to produce her plays The Lucky Star (April 26-June 12); New Golden Age (April 28-June 9), presented by Primary Stages; and Goldie, Max and Milk (May 1-June 4), presented by Mary J. Davis and MBL Productions. All three productions will be presented simultaneously across 59E59 Theaters’ three spaces from April 26-June 12, 2022.
The Lucky Star features scenic design by Daniel Ettinger (The Importance of Being Earnest), costume design by David Burdick (Flyin’ West), lighting design by Cory Pattak (Little Shop of Horrors), sound design by Elisheba Ittoop (The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe), wig & hair design by Tommy Kurzman (Macbeth, Mrs. Doubtfire) and projection design by Catie Hevner (In Transit). Casting is by Stephanie Klapper Casting.
The performance schedule for The Lucky Star is as follows: Tuesday – Saturday at 7:00pm, Saturday – Sunday at 2:00pm.
Tickets to The Lucky Star begin at $25 and are on sale now at theluckystarplay.com. Discounts for groups of 10+ are available at theatre4groups.com or by calling 212-265-8500.
Douglas Denoff is a 7-time Tony Award-nominated Broadway producer and is proud to return to 59E59 – the 2013 home of Witnessed by the World, which was his second production as lead producer. His other off-Broadway productions include Handle With Care starring Carol Lawrence, Clever Little Lies starring Marlo Thomas, and the 2015 revival of The 39 Steps.
On Broadway, he has been co-producer on Slave Play, Sea Wall/A Life, Latin History for Morons, Fiddler On The Roof, Torch Song, Pretty Woman, Nice Work If You Can Get It, China Doll and The 39 Steps. Upcoming productions as lead producer on Broadway for 2022-2023 are That’s Broadway, The Moves, The Music, The Magic, and the star-studded hilarious revival of The Pirates of Penzance, and the Broadway revival of 39 Steps. Off Broadway comes an immersive new production of The Lulu Plays by Frank Wedekind (Spring Awakening) and a new revival of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie.
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My View: Charles Strouse Celebrates his 95th Birthday at 54 Below
There were Tony Award winners in the audience and on the stage of the Tony Award Winning 54 Below last night. All had gathered to celebrate the 95th Birthday of Charles Strouse the Tony, Emmy Award winning Composer and Lyricist of many beloved Broadway Shows (Bye Bye Birdie, Golden Boy, Applause and of course Annie among many others). Strouse a classically trained composer and graduate of the Eastman School of Music also composed scores for film, TV, orchestral works, chamber music, piano concertos and opera. Strouse and lyricist Lee Adams wrote the theme song “Those Were The Days” for the Norman Lear sitcom All In The Family.
The evening hosted by Lee Roy Reams featured thrilling and emotional performances by luminaries from the Broadway, Cabaret, and Concert Stages whose artistic paths had crossed with Charles Strouse.
Carolee Carmello, Penny Fuller, Anita Gillette, Alan H. Green, Jeff Harnar, Karen Mason, Andrea McArdle, Donna McKechnie, Steve Ross, Stephen Schwartz, KT Sullivan, and Karen Ziemba, Music direction was by Alex Rybeck with direction by Eric Paul Vitale.
On a personal note, I’ve included a treasured family photo of our granddaughter Zoe Gelman being congratulated by Mr. Strouse after she sang an Annie Medley at a past Mabel Mercer Foundation Cabaret Convention honoring Charles Strouse.
My View: Clint Holmes Is In Town!
In the golden age of Manhattan night life top vocalists of the day would begin their engagements in venues like The Copa, Latin Quarter, Oak Room, Living Room, and similar glamorous nightspots. In the same month you might have Jack Jones at the Plaza’s Persian Room, Buddy Greco swinging in the Americana’s Royal Box and Vic Damone headlining the Rainbow Room. It all created a special kind of entertainment euphoria and excitement in New York City.
When the 54 Below advertisements came out heralding Clint Holmes’ engagement it rekindled that feeling for me. Clint’s talent and fame have been well established over decades and he’s just the type of performer who makes a town more exciting when he’s appearing in it. Seeing Clint’s extraordinary performance last night at 54 Below in his show celebrating Peter Allen, (back to back after being thrilled by Tom Jones at The Beacon and Barry Manilow at Radio City) brought me back to that era of New York’s glittering night life. What a joy to be in the audience and get that adrenaline rush from legendary performers whose artistry and charisma have not diminished, and are now communicating an even deeper expressiveness and musical eloquence than in their earlier years.
Here are photos from the closing night of Clint Holmes sensational run at 54 Below and an after party hosted by Producer Sunny Sessa saluting Director Will Nunziata, Music Director Michael Orland, guest artists Nikki Renee Daniels and Kelly Clinton- Holmes.
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