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Remembering Broadway: Leading Women…Oooooh Those Legs The Incredible Gwen Verdon

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Gwen Verdon won four Tony Awards for her roles in Can-Can, Damn Yankees, New Girl in Town, and Redhead. She was the muse and married to director-choreographer Bob Fosse, and as the guardian of his legacy after his death.

As a toddler, she suffered from rickets, which left her legs so badly misshapen and spent her early years in orthopedic boots and rigid leg braces. At age three, her mother enrolled her in dance classes. Further ballet training strengthened her legs. By age six, she was dancing on stage.


At age 11, she appeared as a solo ballerina in the musical romance film The King Steps Out (1936), While in high school, she was cast in a revival of Show Boat. In 1945, she appeared as a dancer in the movie musical Blonde From Brooklyn.


Verdon was the assistant to choreographer Jack Cole, whose work was respected by both Broadway and Hollywood.


Verdon took small roles in movie musicals as a “specialty dancer”. She also taught dance to stars such as Jane Russell, Fernando Lamas, Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe.


Verdon started out on Broadway going from one chorus line to another. Her break was as the second female lead in Cole Porter’s musical Can-Can (1953), as Eve in the Garden of Eden ballet she upstaged the show’s starand stopped the show. She received her first Tony Award for her performance.


Next came Damn Yankees, Verdon won another Tony and went to Hollywood to repeat her role in the 1958 movie version. It is her she met Bob Fosse who partnered with her in the original mambo duet “Who’s Got the Pain”.


Verdon won another Tony for her performance in the musical New Girl in Town


and her fourth Tony for Redhead, which was Fosse’s Broadway debut as a director/choreographer. In 1960, Fosse and Verdon wed.


In 1966, Verdon returned to the stage in the role of Charity in Sweet Charity, choreographed and directed by husband Fosse. Shirley MacLaine was Charity, but Fosse made his film debut as director and choreographer.


Verdon helped with the choreography. Verdon also traveled to Berlin to help Fosse with Cabaret, the musical film for which he won an Oscar for Best Director.


Estranged as a couple, Verdon and Fosse continued to collaborate on projects such as Chicago (1975) and the musical Dancin’ (1978), as well as Fosse’s autobiographical movie All That Jazz (1979).


After Chicago, Verdon focused on film in movies such as The Cotton Club(1984), Cocoon (1985) and Cocoon: The Return (1988). She continued to teach dance and musical theater and to act. She received three Emmy Award nominations for appearances on Magnum, P.I. (1988), Dream On (1993) and Homicide: Life on the Street (1993). Verdon appeared as the title character’s mother in the Woody Allen movie Alice(1990) and as Ruth in Marvin’s Room (1996).


Verdon served as artistic consultant on a Broadway musical Fosse. Verdon’s daughter Nicole received a “special thanks” credit. The show won a Tony Award for Best Musical.


In 1997 Verdon appeared in an episode of Walker Texas Ranger she reprised the role in 1999. Walking Across Egypt (1999) and  Bruno, released in 2000.


Verdon was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1981. In 1998, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts.


Verdon was a mental health-care advocate and taught dance as a form of therapy, she sat on the board of directors for the New York Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, and actively raised funds to support mental health-care research.

Verdon died from a heart attack on October 18, 2000, at age 75, at her daughter’s home in Woodstock, Vermont. Later that night, at 8 pm, all marquee lights on Broadway were dimmed in a tribute to Verdon’s talent and contribution to the American Musical Theatre.

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

Broadway

The  78th Annual Theatre World Awards And You Are There

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The historic 78th Annual Theatre World Awards Ceremony was held on Monday evening, June 10, 2024 at the Marquis Theatre.

The event was hosted by well-known theater journalist, Peter Filichia.

Ali Louis Bourzgui

Winners of the 2024 Theatre World Awards were honored The Who’s Tommy‘s Ali Louis Bourzgui

 Oh, Mary!‘s Cole Escola

 The Outsiders‘ Brody Grant was given his award by Daphne Rubin Vega

Michael Imperioli and wife

 An Enemy of the People‘s Michael Imperioli

Phillip Johnson Richardson

The Wiz‘s Phillip Johnson Richardson

Nichelle Lewis

Nichelle Lewis, Phillip Johnson Richardson

and Nichelle Lewis

 Patriots‘ Will Keen

 Mary Jane‘s Rachel McAdams

Hell’s Kitchen‘s Maleah Joi Moon was given his award by Kristin Chenoweth

Casey Likes

Tom Pecinka

and Stereophonic‘s Tom Pecinka

Sarah Pidgeon

Sarah Pidgeon

Chris Stack.

and Chris Stack.

A.J. Shively

Also receiving honors were A.J. Shively, who has won the Dorothy Loudon Award for his work in Irish Rep’s Philadelphia, Here I Come

Len Cariou

Len Cariou, winning the John Willis Award for Lifetime Achievement

Peter Filichia

and arts writer Peter Filichia, this year’s Special Award honoree.

There to honor them were

Maria Friedman

André De Shields

A great night was had by all.

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Broadway

Drama Desk Awards Backstage In The Press Room

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T2C was backstage at the Drama Desk Awards last night. Here is a look at the action.

First in the room:

Kara Young

Celia Keenan-Bolger

Celia Keenan-Bolger and Jessica Lange

Jessica Lange

Sarah Paulson

The Cast of Stereophonic-Will Brill, Sarah Pidgeon, Juliana Canfield, Andrew R. Butler, Tom Pecinka, Chris Stack and Eli Gelb

Nikiya Mathis

JR Goodman, Ray Wetmore and Camille Labarre

Nikki M. James

Patrick Page

Enver Chakartash

Paul Tazewell

Cole Escola

How to Dance in Ohio cast members that includes-Liz Weber, Jeremy Wein, Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt, Nicole D’Angelo and Becky Leifman

Paul Tate dePoo

Avran Mlotek, Motl Didner, Dominick Balletta and Zalem Miotek

Jane Cox

Brian MacDevitt

Brian MacDevitt and Jane Cox

Isabella Byrd

Ryan Rumery

Walter Trarbach, Cody Spencer and Kai Harada

David Yazbek

Itamar Moses

Lady Irene Gandy

Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick

Matthew Broderick

Nathan Lane

Will Butler

Marco Paguia

Shaina Taub

Justin Peck

Daniel Aukin

Jessica Stone

Corbin Bleu and Sarah Hyland

Andre Bishop and James Lapine

Keisha Lewis

Maleah Joi Moon, Brian d’Arcy James and Kelli O’Hara

Maleah Joi Moon

Keisha Lewis and Maleah Joi Moon

Kelli O’Hara

Brian d’Arcy James

Peter Nigrini

Carole Rothman and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

Amy Herzog

David Adjmi

Adam Greenfield, David Adjmi

Sarah Hyland and Debra Messing

 

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Broadway

The 2024 Winner’s Of The Drama Desk Awards The Red Carpet

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The 2024 Annual Drama Desk Awards were announced last night at NYU Skirball Center. Tony Award Winners Sutton Foster and Aaron Tveit hosted the ceremony.

Sutton Foster and Aaron Tveit

Aaron Tveit

Sutton Foster

T2C was on the red carpet.

Andrew Durand

Jeff Kuperman and Rick Kuperman

William Jackson Harper

Shaina Taub

Peter Nigrini

Kecia Lewis

Celia Keenan-Bolger

Jocelyn Bioh

Laura Benanti

Jesse Robb and Shana Carroll

Jessica Lange

Camille Labarre, Ray Wetmore and JR Goodman

Michael Starobin, Andrea Grody and Shaina Taub

Will Brill

Sarah Paulson

Richard Ridge

Sarah Hyland

Maleah Joi Moon

Patrick Paige

Brooke Shields

Brooke Shields, Maleah Joi Moon

Brian D’Arcy James

Will Keen

Michael Stuhlbarg, Will Keen

Mary Louise Burke

Isabella Byrd

Justin Peck

Kara Young

Marco Paguia

Miss New York Rachelle diStasio

Josh Breckenridge

Lorin Latarro

Ricky Ubeda

Glauco Araujo

Dorian Harewood and Nancy Harewood

Mark Williams

Brody Grant

The Cast of Stereophonic-Andrew R. Butler, Will Brill, Tom Pecinka, Juliana Canfield, Eli Gelb, Chris Stack and Sarah Pidgeon

Paige Davis and Patrick Page

James Monroe Iglehart

Sarah Pidgeon

Nikiya Mathis

Montego Glover

Cole Escola

Tom Pecinka

Chris Stack

Leslie Kritzer

Miriam Silverman

Andrew R. Butler

Pat Swinney Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment with Juliana Canfield

Juliana Canfield

Enver Chakartash

Robert Pickens and Katie Geil

Will Butler

David Adjmi

Daisy Prince

Debra Messing

Lena Hall

Debra Messing

Nikki M. James

Michael Stuhlbarg

Paul Tazewell

Camille A. Brown

Marin Ireland

How To Dance in Ohio-Liz Weber, Jeremy Wein, Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt, Nicole D’Angelo and Becky Leifman

Jacob Karr

Dylis Croman and Robert Montano

Eli Gelb

Walter Trarbach

Steven Valentine

Peter Charney and Brendan George

Rebecca Frecknall

Lady Irene Gandy

Timo Andres

 

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Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth

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The Broadway League’s Black to Broadway initiative announces the performers for this year’s Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth concert taking place in Times Square on Wednesday, June 19th from 11:00am – 12:30pm (rain or shine).

Michael James Scott

Michael James Scott will host. Flagstar Bank will be this year’s presenting sponsor.

Phylicia Rashad

The 2024 Juneteenth Legacy Award will be presented to two-time Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad, a versatile performer, director, educator, and humanitarian who has delighted generations of audiences through her work in beloved roles both in theatre and on screen. As an actress, Ms. Rashad has won two Tony Awards, for A Raisin in the Sun (2004 Best Actress in a Play) and Skeleton Crew (2022 Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play). She was also a 2005 Best Actress in a Play nominee for Gem of the Ocean. As a producer, Ms. Rashad recently received a Best Revival of a Play nomination for Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch.

The fourth annual Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth concert features more than 35 performers from the following 17 Broadway shows: Aladdin; & Juliet; Back to the Future: The Musical; Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club; Chicago; Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; The Heart of Rock and Roll; Hell’s Kitchen; Illinoise; The Lion King; MJ; Moulin Rouge! The Musical;The Notebook; Suffs; Water for Elephants; The Who’s Tommy; The Wiz; and the return of the kids of Young Gifted and Broadway. All performances will be accompanied by live music thanks to The Music Performance Trust Fund and the Film Funds. American Sign Language interpretation will be provided.

The exciting line-up of Broadway stars set to perform includes: Blu Allen, Donovan Louis Bazemore, Jace Bentley, Ronnie S. Bowman Jr., Maya Boyd, Tsilala Brock, Max Chambers, Taylor Colleton, Jay Copeland, Lorna Courtney, Charity Angél Dawson, Mariama Diop, Desmond Sean Ellington, Will Ervin Jr., Jerome Hermann-Hardeman, Dorian Harewood, Jackson Hayes, Najah Hetsberger, Afra Hines, Manny Houston, Jaylen Lyndon Hunter, Bre Jackson, Polanco Jones Jr., John-Michael Lyles, Mehret Marsh, Deja McNair, Alex Newell, Veronica Otim, Cristina Rae, Jelani Remy, William Rhem Jr., Albert Rhodes Jr., Walter Russell III, Antoine L. Smith, Nia Thompson, Lamont Walker II, Rachel Webb, NaTasha Yvette Williams, and Hailee Kaleem Wright.

Joining The Broadway League in partnership for Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth are Black Theatre United (BTU), Black Theatre Coalition (BTC), The New York Times, and the Times Square Alliance. Black Theatre United has curated a selection of Black-owned restaurants to take part in the celebration by selling food and treats to attendees. Kokomo, LaMode BK, and Brooklyn Sweet Spot will be on-site with a selection of delicious options to add to the festivity.

Flagstar Bank is the 2024 presenting sponsor of Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth. Other sponsors include: The Music Performance Trust Fund and Film Funds; the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment; Audience Rewards; Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS; Broadway.com; M·A·C Cosmetics; TodayTix; Playbill; The Araca Group; and Open Jar Studios.

The creative and production teams of Broadway Celebrates Juneteenth include Director and Writer Steve H. Broadnax III, Music Director Rashad McPherson, Executive Producers Brian Anthony Moreland and Aaliytha Stevens, Stage Manager Monet Thibou, and General Manager Devon Miller of Foresight Theatrical.

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The 2024 Winner’s Of The Drama Desk Awards With Interviews

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Photo Aaron Tveit and Sutton Foster Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy

The 2024 Drama Desk Awards were a star-studded ceremony at NYU Skirball Center co-hosted by Sutton Foster and Aaron Tveit. This is the only major NYC theater awards for which Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway productions are considered in the same categories. Two recipients in each of the gender-free performance categories were announced and in some categories not only were their ties but three winners selected.

The winners are:

Outstanding Play: Stereophonic, by David Adjmi, Playwrights Horizons

Outstanding Musical: Dead Outlaw

Outstanding Revival of a Play: Appropriate, Second Stage Theater

Outstanding Revival of a Musical: I Can Get It for You Wholesale, Classic Stage Company


Outstanding Lead Performance in a Play:
Jessica Lange, Mother Play, Second Stage Theater

and Sarah Paulson, Appropriate, Second Stage Theater

Outstanding Lead Performance in a Musical: Brian d’Arcy James, Days of Wine and Roses, Atlantic Theater Company, Maleah Joi Moon, Hell’s Kitchen and Kelli O’Hara, Days of Wine and Roses, Atlantic Theater Company


Outstanding Featured Performance in a Play:
Celia Keenan-Bolger, Mother Play, Second Stage Theater and Kara Young, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch

Outstanding Featured Performance in a Musical: Kecia Lewis, Hell’s Kitchen and Bebe Neuwirth, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club


Outstanding Direction of a Play:
Daniel Aukin, Stereophonic, Playwrights Horizons


Outstanding Direction of a Musical:
Jessica Stone, Water for Elephants

Outstanding Choreography: Justin Peck, Illinoise, Park Avenue Armory


Outstanding Music:
Shaina Taub, Suffs

Outstanding Lyrics: David Yazbek and Erik Della Penna, Dead Outlaw

Outstanding Book of a Musical: Itamar Moses, Dead Outlaw

Outstanding Orchestrations: Marco Paguia, Buena Vista Social Club, Atlantic Theater Company


Outstanding Music in a Play:
Will Butler, Stereophonic, Playwrights Horizons

Outstanding Revue: Amid Falling Walls, National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene

Outstanding Scenic Design of a Play: David Zinn, Stereophonic, Playwrights Horizons

Outstanding Scenic Design of a Musical: Paul Tate DePoo III, The Great Gatsby (includes projections)


Outstanding Costume Design of a Play:
Enver Chakartash, Stereophonic, Playwrights Horizons


Outstanding Costume Design of a Musical:
Paul Tazewell, Suffs

Outstanding Lighting Design of a Play: Jane Cox, Appropriate, Second Stage Theater


Outstanding Lighting Design of a Musical:
Brian MacDevitt and Hana S. Kim (projections), The Outsiders

Outstanding Projection and Video Design: Peter Nigrini,Hell’s Kitc

Outstanding Sound Design of a Play: Ryan Rumery, Stereophonic, Playwrights Horizons


Outstanding Sound Design of a Musical:
Nick Lidster for Autograph, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club, Cody Spencer, The Outsiders and Walter Trarbach, Water for Elephants


Outstanding Wig and Hair:
Nikiya Mathis, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding, Manhattan Theatre Club


Outstanding Solo Performance:
Patrick Page, All the Devils Are Here: How Shakespeare Invented the Villain

Unique Theatrical Experience: Grenfell: in the words of survivors, St. Ann’s Warehouse, National Theatre, and KPPL Productions

Outstanding Fight Choreography: Cha Ramos, Water for Elephants

Outstanding Adaptation: An Enemy of the People, by Amy Herzog


Outstanding Puppetry:
Ray Wetmore, JR Goodman, and Camille Labarre, Water for Elephants

SPECIAL AWARDS

Ensemble Award

The cast of Stereophonic – Will Brill, Andrew R. Butler, Juliana Canfield, Eli Gelb, Tom Pecinka, Sarah Pidgeon, and Chris Stack – who execute David Adjmi’s hypernaturalistic text with extraordinary care and precision, while also performing Will Butler’s music with the freshness and life that makes us believe we are witnessing, first-hand, the creation of a new American classic.


‘Sam Norkin Off-Broadway Award

Cole Escola, who both wrote and stars in one of this season’s biggest hits Off Broadway, Oh, Mary! Following in the long legacy of queer artists who write themselves into American history, Escola’s new “gay fantasia on national themes” is a hilarious reminder of why we must continue to interrogate our past.

ADDITIONAL SPECIAL AWARDS

How to Dance in Ohio Authentic Autistic Representation Team – Sammi Cannold, Nicole D’Angelo, Becky Leifman, Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt, Liz Weber, and Jeremy Wein  – for their steadfast support of autistic theatermakers, and their strides toward true accessibility for neurodiverse individuals both on and offstage.


Lighting designer Isabella Byrd, whose self-described technique as a “darkness designer” has earned her a cache of nominations and awards in the United States and abroad. During this season, Byrd illuminated two Broadway shows done in the round, An Enemy of the People and Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club. Off Broadway, her spotlight on quiet, small-scale stories both enchanted us in Primary Trust and mesmerized us in Infinite Life, with a parking-lot sky that marked the passage of time.


Lady Irene Gandy, for career achievement. A press agent extraordinaire for over five decades, Lady Irene has always demonstrated her passion, dedication, and love for theater. A Broadway producer and Sardi’s honoree, she is a zealous advocate for inclusion, diversity, and equity in the arts.

 

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