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Please Bring The Encores! Off-Center Production of Songs For A New World To Broadway

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“It’s about one moment. It’s about hitting the wall and having to make a choice, or take a stand, or turn around and go back.” Jason Robert Brown

Colin Donnell, Solea Pfeiffer

Colin Donnell, Solea Pfeiffer

“It’s about life, decision, transformation and renewal.”

Encores! Off-Center kicks off its 2018 summer season with Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World under the direction of Kate Whoriskey, with music direction by Tom Murray and choreography by Rennie Harris and they couldn’t have picked a better choice. This show was musical nirvana. I wish, I had been at the first performance, so I could have sent ever producer I know in town to see this brilliantly conceived and slightly updated version, because it is spectacular. Each song is a playlet in which the characters move through time and space to make a choice that defines what happens next. In a strange way two songs seem out of place. “The Flagmaker 1775” and “Christmas Lullaby” chronologically should be after “On the Deck of a Spanish Sailing Ship, 1492′, right in the beginning, but seriously that is just being picky.

Mykal Kilgore

Mykal Kilgore

The cast is perfection with Shoshana Bean (Wicked), Colin Donnell (“Arrow, Anything Goes”), Solea Pfeiffer (national tour of Hamilton) and Mykal Kilgore (Motown) creating complexed characters with the heightened thrill of powerful vocal chops.

Shoshana Bean

Shoshana Bean

Shoshana is the comedic diva with “Just One Step” about a Jewish wife who is trying to get her husbands attention. The overly done “Stars and the Moon”, she makes her own, “Surabaya-Santa”, the Kurt Weill parody where Mrs Claus sings about her neglectful husband. Are you starting to get the theme of this character? “The Flagmaker, 1775”, sews a flag to keep her hope alive, as her husband and son are fighting in the Revolutionary War. Donnell is the man who either loses his power, can not commit and then finally sees the errors of his ways. Pfeiffer is the soprano, who longs for more. I am so glad New York has caught on to how fabulous this girl is. I knew it when a friend sent me a rehearsal tape of West Side Story at the Hollywood Bowl. Kilgore knocks every song he sings out of the park, especially “Flying Home”to which a standing ovation and ten minute applause followed. I also like his jumping split that was rather astounding.

What makes this production even more spectacular is the expanded orchestrations and backup dancers who give the songs and the show a new feel. Phil S. Cutting Jr.’s moves were mesmerizing.

For those who don’t know the timeline of  Songs for a New World, Brown met Daisy Prince (daughter of Hal Prince) and with her guidance the show was originally produced Off-Broadway at the WPA Theatre in 1995. Ahead of it’s time the show played a respectable 3 1/2 week run. Thankfully to Daisy’s parents and album was made and reached cult status in the musical theatre world. 23 years later those of us who fell in love with this show finally are getting to see this show the way we say it in our heads.

Without the influence of Jason Robert Brown’s music, theatre may not have had a Lin Manuel Miranda or a Pasek and Paul.

To the producers out there, move this show. First the audience was diverse and was for the most part around 30. Second the applause before and after each song was deafening. I haven’t seen this kind of enthusiasm for a show since Dear Evan Hanson at Second Stage. This could win Best New Musical, since it only had that pretty much non existent off Broadway run. It would definitely win Best New Score and Orchestrations.

I can not wait to attend Gone Missing July 11 and 12th after hearing a snippet of the music and lyrics by the late and wonderful Michael Friedman (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson).

 

Performances for Songs for a New World were June 27th through June 30th.

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

Events

Sail On Sail On Great Ship Titanic To Broadway

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It has been forever since I have bought tickets for a show, however I believe in the Encore series and Titanic holds a special place in my heart. New York City Center production of the Tony-winning 1997 musical, with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston (Broadway’s Nine), reminded me why I love musicals and what is sorely lacking in musicals now.

First there is Yeston’s magnificent score that sails, soars and captures you in its powerful cadence. Music Director Rob Berman, and the full orchestra brought the nuanced score to life from the depths, filling the theater with a powerful emotional tug.


The cast was the best Broadway has to offer. standing out was Ramin Karimloo ( Broadway’s Funny Girl) as the ship’s stoker whose solo’s were heartfelt and sung in perfect voice. His duet with Harold Bride played by Alex Joseph Grayson (Encores!/Broadway’s Parade) brought out what makes Titanic so tragic, the feelings of love, hope, and desire that will never be fulfilled.


“I Want To Be A Lady’s Maid” sung by sung by the 3rd class passengers and the three Kate’s Samantha Williams, Lilli Cooper, and Ashley Blanchet, Irish lasses who all dreams of lives in America that will never be attained, as more than 1,517 and out of the 710 in 3rd class, only 174 survived.

Outher key players who made this show their own were Jose Llama as the architect Andrews. Brandon Uranowitz (Tony winner in Broadway’s Leopoldstadt) as Ismay, the villainous owner of the shipping line. Chuck Cooper (Tony winner Broadway’s The Life), as the Captain of what should have been an unsinkable ship.

As the social climbing 2nd Class passenger Alice Beane, who feels she should not be deterred from hobnobbing with the rich and famous. Bonnie Milligan (Broadway Kimberley Akimbo) brings comic relief. Drew Gehling (Broadway’s Almost Famous) is her husband who can not see his wife’s vision of a new society where classes do not exist.

As the owners of Macy’s department store Chip Zien (Harmony) and Judy Kuhn portray Isidor and Ida Straus whose love keeps Ida staying to go down with her husband. There duet “Still” proves love can always conquer all.

We know the iceberg is coming but the haunting melodic “No Moon” makes it that much more sobering.

Anne Kauffman direction is seamlessly and she brings out the comedy, passion, and horror of Peter Stone’s words. Paul Tate Depot III (Broadway’s The Great Gatsby) is one of the best scenic designers around and his simple design is effective. The costumes by Márion Talán de la Rosa (Off-Broadway’s The Connector) keep us in the time frame.

City Center Encores! Titanic needs to be resurrected and come to Broadway. It is sure to be triumph, at least it was last night.

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Entertainment

New Jersey Hall of Fame Entertainment & Learning Center Opens at American Dream

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Dedicated to encouraging people to find their heroes and achieve their best, the New Jersey Hall of Fame unveiled its Entertainment and Learning Center today at American Dream before a crowd of supporters, inductees, and elected officials, including Governor Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy opened to the public on June 28th.

“We are incredibly excited that America’s first state-focused Entertainment and Learning Center will be right here in the Garden State,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “Located at American Dream, the space will embrace our rich history and celebrate the achievements of over 230 outstanding New Jerseyans. This Center will serve as a testament to our one-of-a-kind entertainment culture and supply knowledge and inspiration for generations to come.”

The 10,000-square-foot Entertainment and Learning Center, now the permanent home for New Jersey Hall of Fame inductees, boasts state-of-the-art exhibits. These include a simulated space ride called “Fly Me to the Moon,” where visitors can experience the thrill of space travel. For music enthusiasts, there’s a karaoke stage where they can sing alongside holograms of Tommy James, Gloria Gaynor, Wyclef Jean, Frankie Valli, and other musical legends. Also, for those interested in the arts, visitors can interview holograms of Tommy James, Danny DeVito, Jason Alexander, Connie Chung, Laurie Hernandez, and other notable Jersey greats in the “Late Night Jersey” Television Studio.

“Through education and entertainment, we are inspiring people to realize their dreams by becoming their best,” added Jon F. Hanson, Chairman of the New Jersey Hall of Fame. “So, there’s no better place to be than here at American Dream!”

“The State of New Jersey boasts a rich history full of iconic moments and legendary heroes, which will now be celebrated for the world to see at American Dream,” notes Don Ghermezian, CEO of American Dream. “We are excited to inspire our guests with leading entertainers, athletes, and influential individuals from the arts, education, science, and public service sectors at this one-of-a-kind Entertainment and Learning Center.”

Added President Steve Edwards, “The soul of the New Jersey Hall of Fame mission is based on the concept of Areté, Ancient Greek wisdom that means the act of actualizing one’s highest and best sense of self, with a moral excellence of character, and for the greater good. Our inductees have indeed realized their Areté, and are heroes who inspire others to do the same.”

The New Jersey Hall of Fame (NJHOF) honors citizens who have made invaluable contributions to society, the State of New Jersey, and the world beyond. Since 2008, the NJHOF has hosted 15 ceremonies for more than 230 notable individuals and groups in recognition of their induction into the Hall of Fame. The NJHOF endeavors to present school children with significant and impactful role models to show that they can, and should, strive for excellence. The NJHOF is thankful for the support of its many sponsors, including Hackensack Meridian Health, without which none of our endeavors would be possible.

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Entertainment

Midnight Moment Our Islands 11°16’58.4 N 123°45’07.0 E

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From July 1–31st starting at 11:57pm – 12am Martha Atienza reimagines a yearly local parade from her native Philippines by staging it on the floor of the Visayan Sea. The film’s performers are underwater compressor divers from Bantayan Island, who specialize in a dangerous form of fishing necessitated by the devastating impact of illegal and commercial fishing, industrialization, and climate change in the archipelago. The exact coordinates for the dreamlike underwater procession were chosen by the divers themselves according to the tide, current, and time of day. As they trudge across the seabed, Atienza’s cast of characters and choice of setting not only present a critical and humorous take on society and culture in the Philippines, but also allude to the threat of climate collapse to which Southeast Asia is increasingly exposed.

Part of her continuing series to establish art as an open source for ideas, Atienza’s moving diorama under the sea is a collaboration with the local community, with whom she creates work to empower and amplify seldom-heard voices. In addition to her art practice, Martha Atienza is the president and co-founder of GOODLand, a platform under her Art Lab that develops and applies a creative and collaborative methodology to tackle social, economic and environmental issues on Bantayan Island in the Visayas, Philippines. Its mission is to facilitate the realization of an empowered, self-sufficient, and resilient community.

The original version of Our Islands 11°16’58.4”N 123°45’07.0”E was awarded the Baloise Art Prize in 2017 and acquired by the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi in 2021, with previous screenings across Asia, Australia, and Europe.

Martha Atienza is a Philippines-based artist whose video work documents issues of the environment, community, and development within her island home. Her observational lens takes on both ecological and sociological concerns as she studies the intricate interplay between local traditions, human subjectivity, and the natural world. By deeply examining the patterns within her immediate surroundings, Atienza explores the potential that the video medium holds as a catalyst for societal transformation. She was twice awarded the Ateneo Art Awards in Manila (2012/2016) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines Thirteen Artists Award (2015). Recent biennials and triennials include the 2nd Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale, Riyadh (2024); 17th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul (2022); Bangkok Art Biennale, Bangkok (2020); Honolulu Biennial, Oahu, Hawaii (2019); and the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane (2018).

In addition to her art practice, Martha Atienza is the president and co-founder of GOODLand, a platform under her Art Lab that develops and applies a creative and collaborative methodology utilized to tackle social, economic and environmental issues on Bantayan Island in the Visayas, Philippines. Its mission is to facilitate the realization of an empowered, self-sufficient, and resilient community.

Silverlens is an international gallery with locations in Manila and New York. Through its artist representation, institutional partnerships, art consultancy, and exhibition programming including art fairs and gallery collaborations, Silverlens aims to place its artists within the broader framework of the contemporary art dialogue. Its continuing efforts to transcend borders across art communities in Asia have earned it recognition as one of the leading contemporary art galleries in Southeast Asia.

Silverlens was founded in Manila by Isa Lorenzo in 2004, and in 2007 she was joined by co-director Rachel Rillo. In September 2022, the gallery opened its doors in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York, broadening its international scope and bringing its diverse roster of artists to a new global audience. In 2024, Silverlens commemorates its 20th anniversary, marking a significant milestone for the global gallery and its dedication to championing diasporic artists.

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Celebrity

The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

MAHER’S APPRENTICE— (Via Deadline) Bill Maher stumped tonight on Real Time for the U.S. release of The Apprentice, the Cannes Competition title starring Sebastian Stan as Donald Trump and Emmy-winner Jeremy Strong as Trump’s onetime firebrand lawyer, Roy Cohn.

“It looks great,” said Maher before observing, “This is Trump’s origin story under the tutelage of Roy Cohn.”

The Real Time host continued, “It’s being released in Japan, Canada, the U.K., Germany, [but] no one here will touch it. It bothers me so much.”

Industry watchers were expectant the film would get a U.S. deal soon after its Cannes launch. Some assumed a streamer would be the most logical fit. However, in an election year, threats of legal action from Trump’s team (the film includes a controversial scene in which the Trump character rapes his former wife Ivana) and a report of one disgruntled financier, didn’t help progress towards a swift domestic pact.

The state of play earlier this month was that multiple parties remained interested in the film domestically, and there was confidence a deal will get done, probably this month.

Maher didn’t sound so sure, and he was not happy.

 “This is MY industry, you f*cking p*ssies,” he said, before commanding, “Find a way to release this movie.”

Maher then went on to explain how he says Trump works to get his way across the board.

“First he intimidates the congresspeople…then he intimidates juries, and now he’s intimidating THIS town? Oy.”

Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a guest on the show, replied, “He is very good at manipulation, at leverage, at the use of power.”

Cuomo continued: “Look at what happened with Fox and the Dominion lawsuit. Fox paid $800 million to the Dominion Voting [machine] company because they lied about the election and they knew they were lying. Why were they lying? Because the Trump people left Fox when they [Fox] said, ‘You lost the election.’ That’s his power: He’s got the dog whistle to his cult.”

Maher then summarized by waxing patriotic: “I’m an American and I want to see the movies that I want!”

I’m not a huge fan of Maher – he fired his agency for not getting invited to an Oscar-party- but he was the first one to get Daryl Hall to profess that he and then-partner John Oates, had a business relationship, not a partisanship. Then all the crap happened dissolving Hall & Oates – which still is a tragedy.

He definitely feels way-entitled … but his show does have its interesting moments. Think of an Andy Cohen-light.

Kelly Clarkson

SHORT TAKES — I happened to catch 2 episodes of Kelly Clarkson’s NBC-afternoon talk fest. Besides reading a tad to near her cue cards, she comes off nowhere as professional as Kelly Ripa or Katie Couric. Doing TV is the next step after making records, so she’s probably upped her income substantially, but she should stick to making records. She looks fabulous, but I was not impressed … Too bad about Justin Timberlake; having lived out there for years, extra-caution should always be applied. I understand the copy who arrested him was too young to even know who he was. Now that’s ironic …

Just saw a feature of NYC’s Virgin Hotel in NOMAD featured on NBC’s First Lookwith the always delightful Sara Gore. They showed the pool, the bar, the restaurant, but not the rooms. Weird, right? Don’t they want people booking rooms there? … Check out this terrific interview (Art Net) with art-maven (and maverick video-director) Ed Steinberg: https://news.artnet.com/market/interview-with-ed-steinberg-317245 … I like Kevin Costner; I always have …

His No Way Out is a major favorite, but as he promoted tirelessly his Horizon epic these last few weeks, he was quoted as saying he’d go back to Yellowstone if asked. Well, the show’s next season as been shot and yesterday Costner said he wouldn’t be going back at all. In a way, this sounds like the Jon Bon Jovi story all over again – will he or won’t he? I loved Yellowstone and loved it with Costner. A shame as it revived his career in a big way. I will see Horizon when it opens next week. Stay tuned …

Paul Giamatti and Robert Funaro

Here’s a great shot of our faves Robert Funaro and Paul Giamatti …

Caught a pretty good movie on Hulu this week, To Catch A Killer with Ben Mendelsohn and Shailene Woodely … New Coldplay album Moon Music (October) featuring the single “feelslikeimfallinginlove.” Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKQ1ai_ymh0 … That long-in-the-works autobiography from old-pirate Dave Masom has new release date: September 10. Seems to be it was to be released almost 2 years ago. Wonder if they’ve updated it …

Donald Sutherland was one of my favorite actors … ever. His performance in Oliver Stone’s JFK was utterly brilliant; as was his roles in MASH; Klute; and Ordinary People. Just a brilliant actor. Rest In Peace … 

Paul McCartney

HAPPY BDAY Paul McCartney and Carson Daly.

ENDQUOTE —From Deadline on Justin Timerberlake’s mug-shot: He should use that picture as an album cover. It actually is a really good picture. Name the album, Trouble Man. And make that remake of Marvin Gaye.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Ed Steinberg; Zach Martin; Scott Shannon; Naples Stamp; Mark Bego; David Geffen; Larry Elllison; Megan Ellison; Nancy Jeffries; Howard Bloom; Mark Adelman; Jared Leto; Tony Seidel; Toby Mamis; Arthur Levy; Danny Fields; Brad Balfour; Jane Blunkell; Sara Gore; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Pete Sanders; Freda Payne; and SADIE!

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Events

Randy Edelman At Chelsea Table & Stage On a Dark And Stormy Night

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I have seen Randy Edelman several times at Chelsea Table & Stage, but this time it was a new Edelman, with a sharp haircut and a stylish look. He was more engaging and his playing exquisite.  This prolific composer has scored over 100 film scores and TV musical themes including excerpts from “My Cousin Vinny”, “While You Were Sleeping”, “The Bruce Lee Story”, “Gettysburg”, “Twins”, “Dragonheart”, “Billy Madison”, the theme from “MacGyver”, “Last of the Mohicans”, and other recognizable themes.

See his first set here.

The audience was well sold despite the horrible weather, but not exactly the best behaved. There was a woman behind me and her friends that were the rudest humans I have ever met. At one point they stood up to take selfies in the middle of the concert. Ironically this woman wanted me to interview her.

Randy’s enchanted the audience with his well known “A Weekend in New England” recorded by Barry Manilow, “You” recorded by The Carpenters and so many more recorded by Olivia Newton-John, Willy Nelson, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Bing Crosby, Dionne Warwick, and other musical stars.

Randy’s comedic sharing of tales with the audience added an intimacy. His heart and soul show through his music but it his conversational style that puts the audience at ease.

Make sure to catch Randy at Carnegie Hall this December.

For more information on Randy Edelman go to www.randyedelman.com

Gary Springer, Sara Johnson Kaplan, Suzanna Bowling

Lorraine Silvetz, Sara Johnson Kaplan, Taty (Tatiana), Gary Springer, Quinn Lemley, Suzanna Bowling, Errol Rappaport

Flora and Liza Pllumaj, Lorraine Silvetz, David Sexta and Elieen Shapiro

 

 

 

 

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