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George Takei

George Takei Photo by Joan Marcus

Sondheim wrote in his fascinating (and time sucking) book, ‘Finishing the Hat‘, about a Japanese screen he saw one afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum. It was a three panel work of art that was more about what was omitted than what was depicted, inspiring Sondheim to attempt the same with the 1976 musical, Pacific Overtures.  The adage about “Less is More” was incorporated not just by Sondheim in the writing of this beautiful but slightly off-putting musical, but in John Doyle’s presentation of this tale. Doyle, the infamous director of the scaled down musical revivals recently seen on Broadway (The Color Purple, Sweeney Todd, Company) is at it again, simplifying another one of Sondheim’s shows (music/lyrics: Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with Georgetwo of his shows currently on stage in NYC) at Classic Stage Company. Just like he did a few years back with Sondheim’s dark and obscure classic, Passion, he’s whittled down the space inside this small East Village theater and has come out with a distant but  thoughtful tale, much like the isolated Japan, being dragged into the western culture, for better or worse. Designing the stage in an attempt to bring focus on the simple story and the loveliness of the music, he brings it back to the basics, just like the screen that inspired Sondheim to write what he called his most “unadorned” and “lean lyrics”. That leanness is keenly apparent from the moment we enter and see the white runway that is the stage.

It’s a fascinating slice of history centered around ancient Japan, and the slow integration of that island and culture into the world’s market place. Custom and old protective law for centuries forbid any foreigner to set foot on the land of the island, but when a fisherman, Manjiro, played solidly by Orville Mendoza (CSC’s Passion) who was lost at sea, and rescued by an American ship, arrives back on the sacred Japanese soil with news of American ships approaching, the Shogun and his Councilors must decide how to deal with the world coming to their doorstep. It’s a history play, set to music, about the the difficult westernization of Japan told from the point of view of the Japanese, and in particular, on the lives of two friends caught in the charge. Within that friendship is the emotional heart of this story, and the one component that pulls us in.
Steven Eng, Megan Mask Haley, Ann Harada

Steven Eng, Megan Mask Haley, Ann Harada.Photo by Joan Marcus

It’s 1853 Japan, and Commodore Matthew Perry is sailing a fleet of ships towards this country with the goal to open trade relations at any cost. Enlisted to solve the doom that is approaching is a simple and kind young Samari, Kayama, wisely and sweetly portrayed by Steven Eng (Paint Your Wagon).  He leaves behind his wife, Tamate, a still and kind Kimberly Immanuel (understudy for Megan Masako Haley) to head out and try to stop the Americans, with the help of the fisherman. Playing a strong voiced teacher/narrator, The Reciter, George Takei (Allegiance) majestically guides us through this unique moment in history, one that is filled with fascinating details and interesting tidbits. But does it make a compelling musical?

One wouldn’t think so. But there is an elegance to the story telling, a lovely culturally pointed design and directing point of view, some beautiful singing, and one can’t deny the Sondheim style. His trademarked sound is stamped all over this story, and one can’t help but be reminded of other more compelling stories he has told, like Into the Woods and A Little Night Music. His songs are small stories wrapped in a puzzle, telling us history without relating it action by action (much of what I didn’t like about the much loved, Tony nominated Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812). A perfect example is the unique telling of the meeting between the Americans and the Councilors in a treaty house erected solely to receive them, ‘Someone in a Tree“. It is sung by an old man, a wondrous Thom Sesma (Disney’s The Lion King); a warrior, Kelvin Moon Loh (The King and I, Side Show), who hides under the floor in case he is needed; and a boy, Austin Ku (CSC’s Iphigenia in Aulis) to the curious Reciter who wishes more was known about what was said behind those closed doors on that historic day. It’s an interesting take on an event where few details are known, but a compelling re-creation of those who had a glimpse, but didn’t see or hear the whole story. It connects without resonating or being that emotionally deep, which in itself is what could be said about this creative and detailed musical.
Thom Sesma, Megan Masako Haley, George Takei, Marc Oka

Thom Sesma, Megan Masako Haley, George Takei, and Marc Oka Photo by Joan Marcus

Simply dressed in clothes that don’t represent the time period at all, Ann Hould-Ward (The Visit) in a very different approach to other productions, has forgone old Japanese costuming and uses swathes of fabric over simple modern dress to give clues to titles and positions of power.  It’s as simple as it comes, just like the lighting design by Jane Cox (Amelie, NYTW’s Othello) and the sound by Dan Moses Schreier (Falsettos) working on the same strong theatrical ideal that inspired Sondheim.  Musically, this piece is lovely and moving (orchestrations: Jonathon Tunick; music supervisor: Rob Berman; music director: Greg Jarrett; music coordinator: Seymour Red Press) and the story being told by book writer, John Weidman (Assassins, Road Show), is a fascinating slice of history that fluctuated between ‘America the Great’ and ‘America the Oppressor’.  In what is generally the opening number of Act 2 (here Doyle has tightened the piece, wisely, into a one act 90 minute piece suitable to the story), the song ‘Please Hello‘ represents the world at Japan’s doorstep. The countries demand Lord Abe, the First Councilor (Sesma) to the Shogun to sign treaties with each of them, granting various trade alliances. Each country is wonderfully and hilariously represented by an Admiral; the French Admiral, portrayed by the my favorite cast member, Ann Harada (Avenue Q), British Admiral  (Ku), Russian Admiral (Moon Loh), American Admiral (Karl Josef Co), and the Dutch Admiral played by Marc Oka (The King and I). Each one showcases the aggressive style of the western world forcing themselves on a country that had tried for centuries to remain disconnected and untangled from these oppressive colonizers. The outside world has come and forced itself on this ancient civilization, and as the story veers off in a dizzying side story of murder and revenge, the end apparently has come to the old ways. My fellow theater companion, who witnessed his first Sondheim show that afternoon, wondered if America was being seen in a positive or negative light in the final moments of this complex show.  It’s not so obvious in this production, but the Western world appears to be forcing itself onto the shores of Japan in a violent intrusion; culturally apocalyptic in nature. It’s a disturbing scenario to take in at the end of a slightly detached musical.  But leave it to the wonderful Takei to solidify the moment:

“There was a time when foreigners were not welcome here. But that was long ago…” the Reciter says, “Welcome to Japan.”
So for more, go to frontmezzjunkies.com

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my last...so far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

Off Broadway

MART Foundation presents Arlekin in Residence at Off-Broadway’s Classic Stage Company with Two Productions

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After its sold-out run at Brooklyn Academy of Music in winter 2024, the off-Broadway production Our Classby Polish playwright Tadeusz Slobodzianek, and helmed by Ukrainian-born, Jewish director Igor Golyak, will transfer to Classic Stage Company’s Lynn F. Angelson Theater (136 E. 13th Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues) in Manhattan for a limited run September 12-November 3. It will be immediately followed by Golyak’s adaptation of The Merchant of Venice November 22-December 22 featuring the same cast. As wars rage in Israel and Gaza, and in Ukraine, neighbor fights neighbors, and antisemitism rises across the globe, these two plays are acutely relevant and timely, and together comprise a powerful four-month artistic residency Arlekin in New York, presented by MART Foundation.

Our Class follows ten Polish classmates, five Jewish and five Catholic, growing up as playmates, friends, and neighbors, who then turn on one another with life and death consequences. The piece comes at a time when the world is facing an increase in antisemitism across the globe. Our Class was a featured production of the 2024 Under the Radar Festival and has received multiple award nominations: a Drama League Award Nomination for Outstanding Revival of a Play; an Outer Critics Circle Award Nomination for Outstanding Featured Performer in an Off-Broadway Play (Gus Birney); and a Drama Desk Award Nomination for Outstanding Projection and Video Design (Eric Dunlap).

Critics raved about the New York Premiere production of Our Class at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). The Wall Street Journal cheered, “An epic and intimate drama…stark and uncompromising,” and the Boston Globe agreed, saying “This production is a dead-serious indictment of antisemitism and bigotry from a dizzyingly kaleidoscopic array of angles. The entire cast is excellent!”

Our Class is the first of two productions that comprise Arlekin in Residency at Classic Stage Company, directed by Igor Golyak, playing back-to-back on the Lynn F. Angelson stage.

The second is a new adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Adapted by Golyak and starring Richard Topol as Shylock, the play will feature much of the same cast as Our ClassThe Merchant of Venice will be performed for the first time in New York from November 22-December 22.

The cast of Our Class features Gus Birney (The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window) as Dora, Andrey Burkovskiy  (Call DiCaprio!) as Menachem, José Espinosa (Take Me Out) as Rysiek, Tess Goldwyn (New Amsterdam) as Zocha, Will Manning (As Reaper in the Summer Gain) as Heniek, Stephen Ochsner (Chicks) as Jakub Katz, Alexandra Silber (Fiddler on the Roof) as Rachelka/Marianna, Richard Topol (Indecent; The Normal Heart) as Abram, Ilia Volok (Gemini Man, The Gaaga) as Władek and Elan Zafir (Hedda Gabler) as Zygmunt.

Much of the company will return for The Merchant of Venice. Richard Topol will play Shylock, joined by Birney, Espinosa, Goldwyn, Ochsner, and Alexandra Silber as Portia. Additional casting to be announced.

The creative teams consist of artists from New York and across the world. For Our Class, scenic designer Jan Pappelbaum of the Schaubuehne, сostume design by Sasha Ageeva, lighting design by Adam Silverman, music by Oscar® winner Anna Drubich (Navalny), music direction by Lisa Gutkin, projections design by Eric Dunlap, chalk drawings design by Adreea Mincic, choreography by Or Schraiber, intimacy design by Leana Gardella, hair & makeup design by Timur Sadykov, and dramaturgy by Dr. Rachel Merrill Moss. Kyra Bowie is the production stage manager. Helmed by Golyak, this cross-cultural collaboration between actors, designers, producers, artists, and technicians is an effort to untangle traumas of the past and wrestle with these same questions of today. Our Class is co-executive produced by MART’s Sofia Kapkova and Arlekin’s Sara Stackhouse.Stackhouse also executive produces The Merchant of Venice.

The Arlekin Residency at Classic Stage Company (September 12–December 22) is helmed by Arlekin artistic director Igor Golyak and producing director Sara Stackhouse (The OrchardJust Tell No One; State vs. Natasha Banina), in partnership with Sofia Kapkova of MART Foundation.

Tickets for Our Class are available on the official website (https://ourclassplay.com). Our Class plays Tuesdays at 7:00pm, Wednesdays at 7:00pm, Thursdays at 7:00pm, Fridays at 7:00pm, Saturdays at 2pm & 7:30pm, and Sundays at 1:30pm.

Tickets for The Merchant of Venice are available on the Classic Stage Company website (https://www.classicstage.org/venice). The Merchant of Venice plays Tuesdays at 7:00pm, Wednesdays at 7:00pm, Thursdays at 7:00pm, Fridays at 7:00pm, Saturdays at 2pm & 7:30pm, and Sundays at 1:30pm & 7:00pm.

Golyak, founder of Boston’s Arlekin Player Theatre, was born in Kyiv and came to the US as a Jewish refugee at age 11. The New York Times praised him, saying “Igor Golyak is among the most inventive directors working in the United States” and The Forward called Igor “a visionary theater maker [who] never thought he’d be ‘Jewish Director’ — then the times demanded it.’’ In 2022, Golyak conceived and directed The Orchard at Baryshnikov Arts Center starring Mikhail Baryshnikov and Jessica Hecht. Golyak received global acclaim during the pandemic as he conceived and directed WITNESS, chekhovOS/an experimental game/ and State vs. Natasha Banina, each playing virtually around the world and receiving multiple New York Times Critics Picks.

The Company of Our Class Photo: Pavel Antonov.

Arlekin has been warmly welcomed for this artistic residency by CSC Producing Artistic Director Jill Rafson. “We’re so pleased to welcome Arlekin and the riveting work of Igor Golyak into our theater,” says Rafson. “We’re thrilled to bring in work that is aligned with CSC’s mission and that uses our unique space both to expand the canon and to embrace the theatricality of the Lynn F. Angelson Theater. We’re excited about this Arlekin residency and the collaboration with MART Foundation that is making it possible, and we can’t wait to share these plays both with the CSC communities and audiences who will set foot in our space for the first time.”

During its premiere at BAM earlier this year, Our Class struck a nerve and took on a life of its own that continues to grow as world events unfold. With this Our Class transfer to the illustrious Classic Stage Company, we have the opportunity to share it with more audiences, this time with a powerful companion,” said Igor Golyak. “I feel compelled to pair it with The Merchant of Venice because the human tendencies illuminated in Our Class track back through the centuries, and there is an artistic connection between the two pieces — they speak to each other. There are powerful threads that link these incredible stories and our lives today. We think it’s important and timely that both plays will be performed all Autumn, on stage in the same theater, with many of the actors acting in both productions and with the magnificent Richard Topol playing Rabbi Abram and then Shylock. There is no project that feels more important to direct right now than this one.

The Company of Our Class Photo: Pavel Antonov.

Arlekin in Residence at Classic Stage Company is presented by MART Foundation with support from Jadow Productions.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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Events

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents Kelley Curran and Frank Wood

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We are so pleased to announce our guest this week are Kelley Curran and Frank Wood

Kelley Curran

Kelley can be seen, as Turner, in Julian Fellowes The Gilded Age for HBO. Prior to the intricate characters she will now tackle in The Meeting: The Interpreter, she appeared off-Broadway in Half-God of Rainfall at NYTW; at The Public Theater opposite Glenn Close in Mother of the Maid, and as Clytemnestra in Ellen McLaughlin’s world premiere of The Oresteia at The Shakespeare Theatre Company. Kelley has also appeared on Broadway in Present Laughter with Kevin Kline, and at The Signature Theatre, Classic Stage Company, Theatre For a New Audience, and LAByrinth Theatre Company, among others. She made her network television debut on NBC’s The Blacklist, and recently appeared on the CBS drama God Friended Me. In 2019 she made her feature film debut in The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot.  Kelley was nominated for a SAG Award, won The Callaway Award, Emery Battis Award, NTC Emerging Professional Award, and in 2016 was nominated for a Drama League Award alongside Lupita Nyong’o, Michelle Williams and Lin Manuel-Miranda. She has also been nominated for both a Princess Grace and Helen Hayes Award.

Frank Wood

Frank Wood was first celebrated for his work on the Broadway production of Side Man, a performance that earned him both a Tony Award and a Drama League Award. His portrayal of Gene, a jazz musician grappling with personal and professional turmoil, highlighted his profound emotional depth and versatility. It’s a role that parallels the soul searching experience of The Interpreter in many profound ways. Wood has an impressive array of Broadway credits, including notable performances in The Great Society, Network, The Iceman Cometh, Clybourne Park, August: Osage County, Born Yesterday, and Hollywood Arms. Off-Broadway, he earned a Lucille Lortel nomination for Toros at Second Stage and has graced stages at Signature Theatre, Vineyard Theatre, Lincoln Center, Atlantic Theater Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, and Playwrights Horizons. His filmography includes roles in acclaimed films such as She Said, Joker, St. Vincent, Changeling, Dan in Real Life, Thirteen Days, In America, Down to You, and The Royal Tenenbaums. On TV, he appeared in series like Billions, The Blacklist, The Night Of, Mozart in the Jungle, The Newsroom, Girls, Flight of the Conchords, The Sopranos, and had a recurring role on

Law & Order: SVU.
These Two brilliant actors are starring in The Meeting: The Interpreter, a new play written by Catherine Gropper and directed by Brian Mertes, Previews begin Monday, July 29 with an opening night set for Sunday, August 4 at the Theatre at St. Clements 423 W 46th Street .

Set against the backdrop of the infamous Trump Tower Meeting of 2016, the play tells the story of an international interpreter thrown up against government systems of congressional and senate interrogations, catapulting him into circumstances beyond his control. “This man could be everyman … one of us,” says playwright Catherine Gropper.

This play is about the loss of individuality and privacy is based on actual events (a chance meeting between the playwright and an actual government interpreter). This two-person play supports a cast of thousands thanks to Mertes’ production scheme including puppetry, film sequences, projections, and intricate lighting and sound.

We are so proud and thrilled that Variety Entertainment News named us one of Summer’s Best Picks in the category of Best Television, Radio, Podcasts.

Host Suzanna Bowling was also just named Most Engaging Hosts on TV, Radio and Podcasts on “The Daily Geek Report.” We are so grateful.

“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents ”, is a show filmed at the iconic Hotel Edison, before a live audience. To see our past episodes; 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, thirteenth episode here, fourteenth here, fifteenth here , 16th here, 17th here, 18th here, 19th here, 20th here, 21st here and 22nd here.

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Off Broadway

Oscar, Tony, And Pulitzer Prize WinnercJohn Patrick Shanley New York Debut Of Banshee At The Chain Summer One-Act Festival

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Chain Theatre, Kirk Gostkowski, Artistic Director, Rick Hamilton, Managing Director, Christina Elise Perry, Director of Development, is pleased to announce the 2024 edition of the Chain Summer One-Act Festival, featuring the New York premiere of Banshee by award-winning writer John Patrick Shanley,  the world debut of the Jesse Eisenberg-produced Catch by Jeryl Brunner, and two new plays by 2024 ScreenCraft Stage Play Competition grand prize winner Matthew McLachlan. The festival will feature over 50 new plays at the Chain Theatre (312 W 36th St, 3rd Floor, New York, NY, 10018). The festival begins Thursday, August 8 and continues through Sunday, September 1.  Tickets will be $23 in advance and $26 at the door. More information available at www.chaintheatre.org

Now one of the largest theatre festivals in New York City, The Chain Summer One-Act Festival will celebrate over 50 plays this summer. The festival is a hub for new work by established and emerging artists. Chain Theatre is once again opening its doors to New York City’s playwrights, actors, and directors for a festival of original works. All productions are carefully curated and designed to create a ‘mix-tape’ of Live Theatre. Past festivals have included original works by Broadway’s Lyle Kessler (Orphans) and award-winning actor, and writer Eric Bogosian (AMC’s Interview With The Vampire).  Show your support for the arts and join us for an exciting festival of live performances created by the best artists at one of the top independent theatre venues in New York City.

Three highlights of the festival include:

  1. The New York premiere of Banshee by John Patrick Shanley. Starring Elizabeth Bays (Off-Broadway Simpatico) and Erik Betancourt (Broadway’s Cost Of Living, Between Riverside And Crazy) directed by Chain Summer One-Act Festival. (Off-Broadway Simpatico), Banshee is a mystical comedy about a banshee, a fantastical Irish spirit, who pays an ailing teacher a visit and makes him an otherworldly proposal.
  2. Academy Award-nominee Jesse Eisenberg returns to the Chain as the co-producer of Catch by Jeryl Brunner. Eisenberg and Brunner originally collaborated on the critically acclaimed Dill during the Chain Winter One-Act Festival, which marked Eisenberg’s stage directorial debut. Eisenberg co-produces Catch with Anna Strout and Barbara Toy.
  3. Lastly, Matthew McLachlan returns to the Chain with two new plays: Online Dates Are Hard To Handle, directed by David Zayas Jr., and Who You Are To Me, directed by Lee Zayas. McLachlan is the 2024 ScreenCraft Stage Play Competition Grand Prize Winner for This G*D Damn House, which was a world premiere at the Chain Theatre in 2023.

Chain Summer One-Act Festival boasts a production team featuring Spencer Giles (Hofstra University Graduate), Uma Rao-Labrecque  (Simpatico), Evie Brandford, Stewart Harrison, and Megan Sophie Gore. Publicity by Katie Rosin, Kampfire PR.

Running Time: 60-90 minutes depending on the program block

Website: www.chaintheatre.org

IG: @chaintheatrenyc FB: ChainTheatre

Chain Theatre always seeks to reflect and react to the world around us. Culturally. Politically. Socially. Audiences can find investment in the work at the Chain, because the work is about them, no matter what it might be. It’s a place where artists and audiences can expand their perspectives.

The critically-acclaimed Chain Theatre (NYT Critic’s pick macbitches) is a premiere Off-Broadway producing organization in midtown Manhattan. Chain Theatre produced the World Premiere of ​Garbageman​ by Emmy-nominated Keith Huff (A Steady Rain, Mad Men, House of Cards) and has also collaborated with Tony Award winner David Rabe (Streamers) Past award-winning productions include ​Hurlyburly​ by David Rabe, ​One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest​ by Dale Wasserman, and ​Talk Radio​ by Eric Bogosian. Most recent hit productions include A Will to Live, This G*d Damn House, and What Passes for Comedy. Chain Theatre is located at 312 W. 36th Street, 3rd and 4th Floor, New York, NY 10018 For more about the Chain Theatre visit ​www.chaintheatre.org @chaintheatrenyc

Chain Theatre is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization. All donations are tax-deductible.

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Broadway

Theatre News: Teeth, Soft Power, Redwood, BOOP! The Betty Boop Musical and Pre-Existing Condition

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Jenna Rose Husli, Wren Rivera, Alyse Alan Louis, Phoenix Best and Helen J Shen in Teeth (Photo: Chelcie Parry)

Teeth is coming back to New World Stages in the fall for an open-ended run. The transfer begins on October 31, Halloween night, as its official opening. While casting for the commercial remount is yet to be announced, the Playwrights Horizons cast featured Alyse Alan Louis, Steven Pasquale, Will Connolly, Jason Gotay, Jared Loftin, Courtney Bassett, Phoenix Best, Jenna Rose Husli, Lexi Rhoades, Wren Riveras and Helen J. Shen.

The off-Broadway cast album for Teeth, written by written by Pop! creator Anna K. Jacobs (book and music) and Pulitzer Prize-winning A Strange Loop creator Michael R. Jackson (book and lyrics), is now available to stream on all major music platforms. The physical CD will be released August 30. Teeth opened its off-Broadway world premiere at Playwrights Horizons in March with direction by Sarah Benson and choreography by Raja Feather Kelly.

Based on Mitchell Lichtenstein’s screenplay for the cult-classic 2007 horror comedy, Teeth is a tale of revenge and transformation that tears through a culture of shame and repressed desire one delightfully unhinged song at a time. The musical follows Dawn O’Keefe, an evangelical Christian teen struggling to be an exemplar of purity amongst her community of fellow Promise Keeper Girls. As Dawn’s desires become tested and twisted by the men in her life, she discovers a deadly secret not even she understands: when men violate her, her body bites back—literally.

I loved Jeanine Tesori and David Henry Hwang’s SoftPower when it appeared at The Public, now it’s coming to the Signature Theatre in Washington  D.C., newly revised production and directed by Signature Associate Artistic Director Ethan Heard. The show opens August 6 and runs until September 15. Could NYC be next? The cast will feature Steven Eng as DHH, Daniel May (Flower Drum Song) as Xue Xing, and Grace Yoo (Hadestown) as Hillary Clinton with Eymard Cabling (Miss Saigon national tour) as Randy Ray and others, Andrew Cristi (A Christmas Story) as Chief Justice and others, Jonny Lee Jr. as Bobby Bob and others, Quynh-My Luu as Waiter and others, Christopher Mueller as VEEP and others, Ashley D. Nguyen as Jīng and others, Chani Wereley as Betsy Ross and others, Nicholas Yenson as Holden Caulfield and others, and Sumié Yotsukura as Flight Attendant and others. Olivia Clavel-Davis, Brian Dauglash, Emily Song Tyler, and Joey Urgino are swings.

After the 2016 election, when a Chinese American playwright is attacked by an unknown assailant, he hallucinates a Golden Age musical comedy about a Chinese theater producer and Hillary Clinton falling in love. Hilarious and biting, this political satire dares to ask: Does American Democracy still work? And is it worth believing in?

An exhilarating ride through political absurdity with a faceoff between Chinese and American exceptionalism, Soft Power makes an electric debut in the nation’s capital.

Idina Menzel, will open at the Nederlander Theatre in Redwood. This new Broadway musical starts previews January 24,  with a February 13 opening. Written and directed by Tony Award nominee Tina Landau, Redwood features music by Kate Diaz and lyrics by Diaz and Landau. The show is conceived by Landau and Menzel, with additional contributions by Menzel. The musical premiered earlier this year at La Jolla Playhouse. “I made my Broadway debut at the Nederlander Theatre in Rent almost 30 years ago, so to be returning there with Redwood is very emotional for me as it feels like a real homecoming. It has been such a gift to collaborate with Tina and Kate on this show, and I’m so proud to bring it to Broadway” stated Menzel. Redwood follows Jesse (Menzel), a successful businesswoman, mother and wife who seems to have it all, but inside, her heart is broken. Finding herself at a turning point, Jesse leaves everyone and everything behind, gets in her car and drives. Thousands of miles later, she hits the majestic forests of Northern California, where a chance meeting and a leap of faith change her life forever.

BOOP! The Betty Boop Musical has found is set to open at Broadway’s Broadhurst Theatre on April 5, 2025. Tony Award®-winning director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell brings the Queen of the Animated Screen to the theater  with celebrated multiple Grammy® Award-winning composer David Foster, Tony Award®-nominated lyricist Susan Birkenhead and Tony Award®-winning book writer Bob Martin. This score is fabulous and we can’t wait to hear the rest of it.

Edie Falco Photo by Emilio Madrid

Today, producers O’Henry Productions, The Cohn Sisters, Jessica Chase, Taylor Williams, David Blum, Jesse Eisenberg and Charlie Kaufman announced that Pre-Existing Condition by Tony Award® nominee Marin Ireland will extend for two weeks through August 17 and will star Emmy Award® winner Edie Falco in the rotating role of “A” beginning on August 6

Pre-Existing Condition, directed by Maria Dizzia, is currently playing at the Connelly Theater (220 East 4th St.) in the intimate 60-seat Upstairs space. The play was originally set to close on August 3.

Pre-Existing Condition is a play exploring the challenges, shared community, and everyday indignities of learning to move forward after a life-altering, harmful relationship.

About the play, Ms. Falco said, “I am thrilled at the opportunity to be a part of something that moved me so much as a spectator. It involves an intimacy and vulnerability that I’ve sorely missed in the theater. I can’t wait to work with these people who I deeply respect so that hopefully more people can see and feel what I did when I saw the play.”

The role of “A” has rotated throughout the production and is currently played by Tony Award® winner Deirdre O’Connell (Dana H.). Tavi Gevinson (“American Horror Story”) will play the role from July 24-August 3 with Ms. Falco starting August 6-August 17. Previously, the role was played by Emmy Award® winner Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”), Julia Chan (Uncle Vanya) and Tony Award® nominee Maria Dizzia (In the Next Room).

The cast also includes Sarah Steele (“The Good Fight”), Dael Orlandersmith (Pulitzer Prize Finalist, Yellowman), Greg Keller (Alliance); with Raquel Chavez (Uncle Vanya) and Gregory Connors (The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window), understudies.

Tony Award® nominee Anne Kauffman (Mary Jane) serves as Creative Consultant on the production. In addition to Ms. Kauffman, the creative team includes Louisa Thompson (A Simulacrum), Set Designer; Tony Award® nominee Enver Chakartash (Stereophonic), Costume Designer; Tony Award® nominee Isabella Byrd (Enemy of the People, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club), Lighting Designer; Tony Award® nominee Palmer Hefferan (The Skin of Our Teeth), Sound Designer. Taylor Williams is Casting Director, Ashley-Rose Galligan is Production Stage Manager, Eric Nolan Mattingly is Assistant Stage Manager with Wagner Johnson Productions serving as General Management.  Associate Producer is Joe Meyer. David Manella at Loeb & Loeb LLP serves as Production Counsel.

For information on performance dates, ticketing lottery information please visit preexistingconditionplay.com. Tickets start at $49.

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Off Broadway

Coney Island Nursery Rhyme Is a New Play Still In Its Embryonic State

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In the press release and on their own site Coney Island Nursery Rhyme sounds so intriguing. This historical fiction set in Connecticut and New York in the 1930’s is based on a true story. They state; Follows the esteemed incubator-doctor, showman, and unofficial father of Neonatology, Martin A. Couney. In a time where eugenics-focused medical culture refused to employ incubator technology. Martin A. Couney took it upon himself to save premature babies in his own incubators at a sideshow at Coney Island where funds were used to hire nurses and essentially create an unofficial hospital. We focus on Beatrice Winthrop, a woman from the American gentry who seeks Couney’s assistance after giving birth prematurely.

This is what we are told, but what the play is about, is less about the doctor and more about Raymond Abbot (Zachary Speigel) a fool who has a secret to confess. His friend Beatrice Winthrop (Jessica Noboa) has had a premie and her mother Candace Lahey (Phyllis Lindy) thinks the child would be better off dead. The doctor in charge (Judge Boothby) doesn’t hold out much hope and wants to send the child to Chicago. In the meantime Lt. Peter Petrovick (Pete Marzilli), wants to capture the killer of Mrs. Winthrop husband who was shot dead by his friend.

Jessica Noboa

The play by Lubomir Rzepka spends the first hour teaching us nothing about eugenics, making us wonder why we are here. We are introduced to Martin A. Couney (Mike Timoney), but Mrs. Winthrop dismisses him, until Raymond Abbot steals the child, saving the child’s life.

Mike Timoney, Jessica Noboa, Phyllis Lindy

Rzepka also directed the piece, but this was a mistake, as the actors for the most part scream for two hours.

Mike Timoney, Zachary Speigel

So little is spent on “The Infantorium”, in which visitors paid 25 cents to view prematurely born babies displayed in incubators. Thanks to Couney, who was one of the first advocates for premature babies, and his Infantoriums have become widely accredited with saving the lives of over 6,500 premature babies in the 30’s. Couney is additionally recognised as one of the first pioneers of neonatological technology. Now that is interesting.

Coney Island Nursery Rhyme: 754 9th Ave 4th floor (word of warning NO elevator). Premiering for 8 select shows July 12 through July 20th as an Equity Approved Showcase at the NuBox Theatre.

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