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Adina Verson, Katrina Lenk

Adina Verson, Katrina Lenk

God of Vengeance a serial play by Sholem Asch was originally performed on the LES, in Yiddish, but when transfered to Broadway in 1923, the cast was jailed and labeled as “indecent” for presenting Lesbianism on stage for the first time. Indecent is the new work by playwright Paula Vogel, transferring from the Vineyard Theatre to Broadway. It takes on God of Vengeance and the consequences that production, created. Ms. Vogel and the wonderful director Rebecca Taichman, have created a powerful piece that almost seems like a dance.

Indecent

The symbolism of ash flowing from the selves of the performers is utilized by David Doorman’s stylized movements. This cast is seamless as they tell the tale of Jewish culture, theatrical history and homosexuality, which ends in a devastating way, yet seen in another light, one of hope.

Katrina Lenk

Katrina Lenk

It is 1906 and we first meet Sholem (Max Gordon Moore) in a Warsaw apartment and the reading of the play God of Vengeance. For those who do not know this play, it is about a brothel owner and his daughter. His wife (Mimi Leiber) is an ex-prostitute and along with his seventeen-year-old daughter, live above the brothel downstairs. The brothel has made the man prosperous, but he aspires to something more—respectability, and towards that end, he hopes to marry his precious daughter to a Talmudic scholar. His daughter strikes up a friendship with the most-desired prostitute and the two begin a love affair that develops and finalizes in completion in a rainstorm.

In Indecent Sholem’s wife and actress Madje (Adina Verson) plays the young daughter. Originally the play is ostracized by the Jewish community, but is beloved throughout Europe. During the play all the actress who play the daughter fall for the actress playing the prostitute (Katrina Lenk). When Lemml (Richard Topol), the tailor hears the play, he is deeply moved and becomes committed to the production and the stage manager for life. Famed actor Rudolph Schildkraut (Tom Nelis) stars, giving the show a name when attached to it. God of Vengeance comes to New York, and is highly successful in Yiddish and then moves uptown thanks to producer Harry Weinberger (Steven Rattazzi) first to The Provincetown Theatre, then to Broadway. The show is re-written in English to become more commercial and eliminates the lesbian love scene, which is the heart of the show. Sholem agrees to this not having command of the english language. His wife is replaced and the other cast members, along with the stage manager are furious at the changes. The cast and producer are charged with obscenity and the show closes in one day.

Ms. Taichman uses projections to indicate if the language is English, German or Yiddish. She also uses it to tell the passing of time, which is quite clever and keeps us in the clear about what is going on. Klezmer songs and music by Lisa Gutkin and Aaron Halva, along with dances keep the story light and flowing. It is almost the same technique used in Cabaret to establish the jovial mood covering the horrors to come. Asch, becomes beyond depressed when he travels to  Europe and sees what anti-Semitism has wroth. He comes back never to return to Europe. His performers and stage manager do not escape fate and end up returning back home presenting the play until their death.

Indecent’s cast, director’s and play are first rate. It is hard to single anyone out, because this is a true collaborative effort. My only draw back to this play is it seems to have three ending and that takes away from the power of the piece. The transfer from The Vineyard also includes a lot of changes making this once subtle piece a little too blatant. I actually preferred it more at The Vineyard.

No matter the changes, this is a show not to miss. It is powerfully acted and beautifully staged.

Indecent: Cort Theatre, 138 West 48th St.

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

Get Ready For Broadway in Bryant Park

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The most popular shows on and off Broadway will perform their biggest hits in the park starting this Thursday the 11th! Head to the the lawn at Bryant Park and enjoy Broadway for lunch. The performances will happen on four summer Thursdays, hosted and presented by LiteFM.

This week from 12:30pm-1:30pm 106.7 LITE FM Host: Helen Little will host. For the pre-show: A special performance by the students of AMDA College of the Performing Arts. Then get ready for performances by Back to the Future, Hell’s Kitchen, The Who’s TOMMY, The Wiz and
Water For Elephants.

In coming weeks look from The Outsiders, SIX: The Musical, Moulin Rouge! The Musical, Wicked, Chicago and & Juliet.

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Broadway

Ken Fallin’s Broadway:​ Happy Birthday Audra McDonald

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On July 3rd, Audra McDonald celebrated her 54th birthday. The 1970 American Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award-winning theatrical and operatic singer, and stage and screen actress (Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar and Grill; Sweeney Todd; Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny; TV Private Practice, The Good Wife), was born in West Berlin, West Germany (now Berlin, Germany)

As been announced six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald will return to Broadway this fall, as Mama Rose in Gypsy.

Performances begin Thursday, November 21st, at Broadway’s newly renovated Majestic Theatre. Happy Thanksgiving! The show will open on Thursday, December 19th. Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah.

The last show to play the Majestic Theatre was The Phantom of the Opera, which concluded its 35 year-run on April 16, 2023.

This upcoming revival will be directed by the legendary five-time Tony Award-winning director George C. Wolfe. The choreography will be by four-time Tony Award nominated Camille A. Brown.  Additional casting and creative team members will be announced at a later date.

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Broadway

Coming In August Broadway Barks Returns to Shubert Alley

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The 26th anniversary of the star-studded dog and cat adoption event, Broadway Barks returns to Shubert Alley on Saturday, August 3, 2024 to benefit New York City animal rescue groups. The event, co-founded by Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore, features Broadway celebrities who use their star power to help find loving homes for animals in need from 24 NYC area adoption and rescue groups.

Bernadette Peters and Sutton Foster. Photo courtesy of Broadway Barks.

Bernadette Peters and Sutton Foster will co-host this year’s festivities! Other celebrity participants to be announced soon.

Photo by Daniel Roberts, © Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Barks begins at 3pm with a ‘meet and greet’ of all the adoptable pets; from 5–6:30pm, adoptees make their Broadway debut on stage alongside some of Broadway’s favorite stars for the celebrity presentations.Produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the adoption event takes place in Shubert Alley (located between 44th and 45th Streets, between Broadway and Eighth Avenues).

Photo by Daniel Roberts, © Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

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Broadway

Shows to Keep Your Eyes On: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Death Becomes Her and The Queen of Versailles

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The new musical Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is based on John Berendt’s 1994 non-fiction book and makes its world premiere this summer at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. The book is by  Taylor Mac and music and lyrics by Tony winner Jason Robert Brown, performances are scheduled for June 25–August 4 in the Albert Theatre. Tony winner Rob Ashford will direct the production with choreography by Tanya Birl.

Tony winner J. Harrison Ghee, is The Lady Chablis; Tony nominee Tom Hewitt as Jim Williams; and Olivier nominee Sierra Boggess as Emma Dawes.

The company also includes Lance Roberts (The Best Man) as Bobby Lewis, Austin Colby (The Great Gatsby) as Danny Hansford, Bailee Endebrock (Parade) as Corrine Strong, Shanel Bailey (The Book of Mormon) as Lavella Cole, Jessica Molaskey (Sunday in the Park with George) as Alma Knox Carter, Brianna Buckley (the ripple, the wave that carried me home) as Minerva, Mary Ernster (War Paint) as Serena Barnes/Dawn Avery, McKinley Carter (Turn of the Century) as Vera Strong, Maya Bowles (The Wiz) as Stacey Brown, DeMarius Copes (Some Like It Hot) as Jeremiah Jones, Sean Donovan as Luther Driggers, Jason Michael Evans (Anastasia tour) as Colonel Atwood/Burt, Christopher Kelley as Bubbles/Gregory, Andre Terrell Malcolm (Hamilton tour) as Josiah Domingo, Aaron James McKenzie (A Beautiful Noise) as Jethro Myles, Wes Olivier as Jack the One-Eyed Jill, Kayla Marie Shipman as Millicent/Mary, and Rory Shirley as Stefanie Davis.

The show tracks an antiques dealer through four trials for murdering a male prostitute in Savannah, Georgia. The story is modeled on the real-life shooting of Daniel Lewis  Hansford. The work won the 1995 Boeke Prize and was a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction. A film adaptation was released in 1997 starring John Cusack and Kevin Spacey.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was a seminal book for me as a young queer person, coming out in the late 1980s and early ’90s,” added Mac. “The eccentricities of Savannah, and how they were celebrated by such a large readership, seemed to say, the things that made me odd and an outcast in the world were actually things I should cherish. Likewise, musical theatre has always had a similar effect on me. Singing our thoughts is such an eccentric way of expressing ourselves—yet so perfectly aligned with my personal liberation and joy. So turning Midnight into a musical, and with such master craftspeople as Jason, Rob, and Tanya is essentially an extension of celebrating the joy and liberation from exposing what’s hidden.”

“When I am deciding to start a new show, the two most important questions I ask myself are: 1) Does it sing? and 2) Do I get to work with fun people? With Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, I knew the answers to both questions immediately,” stated Brown. “The book’s milieu, so rich with mystery and romance and history, sings with every sentence, deeply passionate, slyly comic, emotions threatening to boil over on every page. And to work with Rob Ashford, whose transformative production of Parade at the Donmar Warehouse in 2007 reinvigorated not only the show’s reputation but my creative process, was a no-brainer. But then add to that the brilliant, joyful, radically inclusive mind of Taylor Mac, and there was no way I could resist. Creating this world with these mad geniuses is, in true Savannah tradition, a grand and great party. I can’t wait for the world to join in.”

Madeline Ashton (Tony Award® nominees Megan Hilty (Wicked, “Smash”)) is the most beautiful actress (just ask her) ever to grace the stage and screen. Helen Sharp (Jennifer Simard (Company, Disaster!)) is the long-suffering author (just ask her) who lives in her shadow. They have always been the best of frenemies…until Madeline steals Helen’s fiancé (Christopher Sieber (Spamalot, Company)) away. As Helen plots revenge and Madeline clings to her rapidly fading star, their world is suddenly turned upside down by Viola Van Horn, a mysterious woman with a secret that’s to die for.

After one sip of Viola’s (Grammy® Award winner Michelle Williams (Destiny’s Child, Chicago)) magical potion, Madeline and Helen begin a new era of life (and death) with their youth and beauty restored…and a grudge to last eternity.

Death Becomes Her, based on the classic 1992 film, is a drop-dead hilarious new musical comedy about friendship, love, and burying the hatchet…again, and again, and again.

Life’s a bitch and then you die. Or not!

Death Becomes Her is coming to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on October 23, 2024, ahead of an opening night on November 21, 2024.

The Queen of Versailles, the new Stephen Schwartz musical starring Kristin Chenoweth and F. Murray Abraham as billionarie-couple Jackie and David Siegel, begins performances at Boston’s Emerson Colonial Theatre on July 16 and will now run through August 25.

The cast will feature Stephen DeRosa (Boardwalk Empire) as John, Greg Hildreth (Company) as Gary, Tatum Grace Hopkins as Jonquil, Tony Award nominee Isabel Keating (The Boy from Oz) as Debbie, Melody Butiu as Sofia Flores and Nina White as Victoria Siegel.

The company will also include Anna Bakun, Stacie Bono, Yeman Brown, Amanda Jane Cooper, David Aron Damane, Drew Elhamalawy, Sara Esty, K.J. Hippensteel, Diana Huey, Cassondra James, Andrew Kober, Jesse Kovarsky, Pablo David Laucerica, Travis Murad Leland, Michael Mulheren, Michael McCorry Rose and Grace Slear.

The Queen of Versailles is an adaptation of the 2012 documentary of the same name about socialite Jacqueline “Jackie” Siegel, the book is by Lindsey Ferrentino (Ugly Lies the Bone) and direction by Tony winner Michael Arden (Parade).

From computer engineer to Mrs. Florida to billionairess, Jackie Siegel sees herself as the embodiment of the American Dream. Now, as the wife of David “The Timeshare King” Siegel and mother of their eight children, they invite us to behold their most grandiose venture yet: They’re building the largest private home in America in Orlando, Florida—a $100 million house big enough for her dreams and inspired by the Palace of Versailles. But with the Great Recession of 2008 looming, Jackie and David’s dreams begin to crumble, along with their lavish lifestyle. The Queen of Versailles explores the true cost of fame, fortune and family.

The production will feature choreography by Lauren Yalango-Grant and Christopher Cree Grant, music supervision by Mary-Mitchell Campbell, scenic design by Dane Laffrey, lighting design by Natasha Katz and sound design by Peter Hylenski, as well as costume design by fashion designer Christian Cowan.

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Remembering Marilyn Clark Langner

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by Lee Roy Reams

I heard the sad news on Saturday, June 22nd, 2024, that my dear friend, Marilyn Clark Langner, had died in her Central Park West apartment with her family at her bedside. Like the classic column  in the Reader’s Digest Magazine, Marilyn Clark Langner was one of my “Most Unforgettable Characters.”

Growing up in Covington, Kentucky, I always dreamed of a glamorous show business life like the movies I watched on late night TV.  Having lunch with Kitty Carlisle Hart at a beachside restaurant in Barbados, cocktails with Gena Rowlands at Harry’s Bar in Venice, perhaps a late night supper at a rooftop restaurant in Athens celebrating the First Lady Of The American Theatre, Helen Hayes, on her 90th bithday, were just the kind of things I dreamed about. I got all of this and so much  more from Marilyn and Philip Langner during my tenure as artistic director of their trail blazing and truly amazing project called Theatre At Sea.

Theatre Guild

Marilyn was born in Spokane, Wadhington, on September 28, 1924. Even as a child Marilyn was drawn to the theatre.  Marilyn attended UCLA and set her sights on a show business career. She moved to New York City and hit the jackpot when she met and fell in love with Philip Langner, the only child of Lawrence Langner and Armina Marshall, co-administrators of the Theatre Guild and arguably the two most important figures in the history of the American Theatre.

Marilyn played roles in four Broadway plays including The SevenYear Itch and Absurd Person Singular.  A cast mate in The SevenYear Itch named Gena Rowlands became a life long friend. Marilyn played roles in a number of feature films including several films written and directed by John Cassavetes, Gena Rowlands’ husband.

Loretta Swit in SHIRLEY VALENTINE had a very succesful national tour winning a Sarah Siddons Award for Ms. Swit in Chicago.

Perhaps Marilyn’s most lasting show business legacy will be the creation of Theatre At Sea. Long before the current Broadway style entertainments on cruise ships including Playbill At Sea, Marilyn and Philip Langner and Armina Marshall paved the way  by creating Theatre At Sea.

Lee Roy Reems and Tammy Grimes

Their casts were made up of legendary stars of both theatre and film including Lillian Gish, Roddy McDowall, Tammy Grimes, Dean Jones, Carol Channing, Cyril Ritchard, Patrice Munsel, Eli Wallach, Loretta Swit, Ed Asner, Donna McKechnie, and many more. On an early cruise on board the SS Rotterdam, a musical evening was created called MUSICAL JUBILEE which transferred after the cruise to a Broadway theatre. An “out of town tryout at sea” of a musical called Ruthless! lead to a tranfer to the Players Theatre in New York City. Ruthless! won the Outer Critics Circle Award that year  for Best Musical.

Ed Asner played the role of FDR. The one man show played first on ship and then around the country.

Stars including Loretta Swit, Ed Asner

Jean Stapleton captured the unique spirit of one of America’s most admired first ladies, Eleanor Roosevelt.

and Jean Stapleton performed plays on ships that went on to successful national tours. Academy Award winner Patricia Neal and Joel Vig created a version of Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory, which played around the country for many years.

Academy Award winner Patricia Neal and Joel Vig played A CHRISTMAS MEMORY on ship and then around the country for decades.

Marilyn Clark Langner will be remembered both as a savvy artistic producer and also as the perfect hostess for these remarkable voyages.   Whether sailing up the Amazon River with a final performance in the legendary Manaus Opera House or a Meditteranean cruise ending with a reception in the Princess Grace Theatre in Monaco hosted by Prince Albert II, Marilyn was always charming and elegant with an air of whimsy and a wonderfully wicked sense of humor. When Marilyn and Philip Langner were honored with.the Gold Medal at the National Arts Club in December of 2010, stars of more than thirty years of unforgettable Theatre At Sea cruises expressed their gratitude for the gift.and honor of being part of the Theatre At Sea legacy.

Marilyn Langner: a Most Unforgettable Character.

Marilyn is survived by her husband, Philip, two daughters Lola and Eve, and two grand daughters Lauren Kennedy and Brielle Kennedy.

 

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