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Streaming with Theatre-Junkie Love LCT’s Glorious Act One in Two Acts, not Three

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Streaming James Lapine’s stage adaptation of Moss Hart’s memoir, Act One is a beautiful dive into a pool of true love and theatrical devotion. It’s filled to the edge with the clear blue water of the unexplainable and never-ending devotion to the creation of art on a stage, and the unbelievable imagination that is at its core. Moss Hart is the ultimate aspiring playwright at the center of this theatre junkie’s dream and it blossoms fully, requiring three actors to fulfill the task of taking us through his passionate rise to fame. In the center of his theatrical overripe heart, Act One of Act One is stuffed with piles and pages of historical exposition, leading us through Hart’s harrowing and dismal childhood, where he grew up in Bronx poverty with two parents who could not see the artist that lives inside their child. The only one that sprinkles the theatrical glitter and dust on his vivid imagination is his Aunt Kate, played lovingly by the always wonderful Andrea Martin (RTC’s Noises Off), who spends her money on cheap balcony seats, even as her sister and her family struggle to put food on the table. It’s a classic storm of misaligned upbringing, one that most who venture into the professional world of Broadway can thoroughly understand. To the credit of very brave Lapine, that well-trodden artistic road is most uniquely paved from beginning to end with genuine adoration, giving us a hero to root for, and a few authentic artists to adore.

Like almost everything in the first half of Act One (streaming now on Lincoln Center‘s YouTube channel), the characters and situations play out in a wild rotating whirl, passing from one almost stereotypical moment to the next with a speed that feels almost as noisy as what is described later on as the one fault of Hart’s play at the tail-end center of this play. As the magnificent set-piece turns through time as elegantly as one could imagine, designed with an expert eye for unique situations and never-ending movement by Beowulf Boritt (RTC’s Bernhardt/Hamlet) – for which he won the 2014 Tony Award, the series of entrances and exits that bring the charming Moss Hart to life fly by like beautiful winged creatures in a magical Times Square. Finding glory but exiting stage left before we can truly become attached, Lapine finds a way, most magically, to establish within all this chaos, a young hero’s wide-eyed love for his Aunt Kate and the gloriousness of the theatre world he so wants to live in.

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Andrea Martin and Matthew Schechter in Lincoln Center Theater’s Act One.

It’s a bit of a wild twisty run-around as we watch the young Hart grow up tall and energized alongside his trio of loyal friends/office boys, played adoringly by Bill Army, Will Brill, and Steven Kaplan, but it’s also a little hard to stay perfectly tuned into the tale throughout Act One of Act One. That is if it were not for the stunningly engaging performance of Santino Fontana (Broadway’s Tootsie) as the young and vibrant Moss Hart (there’s also a younger and older version to, that add depth and meaning to the journey). Finding emotional connection in the sixteen years of Hart’s life in 90 short minutes, the game is on for this talented actor to keep us leaning in and on his side. The young outsider, packed into a Bronx tenement with parents who barely notice his discomfort, Moss struggles work-day-in and school-education-out against all the odds in a stinking furrier job that drains him on almost every emotional level. That is before he stumbles, almost too meet/cute sweetly, into the small-time office boy job assisting a two-bit producer of touring shows. From then on, Fontana’s Hart swirls and swings with hopeful theatrical energy that is thoroughly infectious. 

It’s not long before his trial-by-fire inside his first play, The Beloved Bandit, flopping greenly and dynamically during its Rochester tryout, and the thrown-together musical revues up in the Catskills, bring him to that illustrious moment when he runs up the stairs to finalize a deal with the great Sam Harris, partner of George M. Cohan and Irving Berlin, to produce his newly crafted play, Once in a Lifetime with the leading hitmaker, George S. Kaufman, as co-author and director. It’s a moment of heart-warming joy as Hart soon after finds himself standing alone in Times Square, stunned and overwhelmed, taking it all in with an intense sense of stunned wonder, as the electric signs of the Broadway theatres drop in and shine brightly. It’s a perfect Broadway ending for the overly busy first act of Act One, but it leaves us wanting to know a whole lot more of the man who will become the famous and successful Broadway writer and director, and the play that will lead us to him.

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Tony Shalhoub in Lincoln Center Theater’s Act One.

Evoking the magical love for making theatre, Act Two of Act One is gripping and majestically funny. It is truly where the juice and the excitement of the piece finally find the earth to grow up big and strong. Within the tumultuous and seemingly impossible rendering of Once in a Lifetime’s journey from out-of-town tryouts to Broadway, Hart’s story grabs hold of an emotional drive rather than just pure exposition, building the energy scene by beautifully crafted scene. We watch with intent excitement the trials and failures of his second big play, as they endlessly try to find the fixes it needs just days before opening in New York. It finds the thrilling gas to propel itself forward, but Act One really finds its robust flavor in the artistic endeavors of the enormously talented Tony Shalhoub (Broadway’s The Band’s Visit), who brings a twinkle to his three-pronged performance that surprises even this loving fan.

As the older Hart looking back, he brings loving care to his narration, and as Hart’s father, Barnett, he turns him into something quite the opposite. The hat trick is impressive, but it is in his performance of the eccentric George S. Kaufman, the writer of the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1937 play You Can’t Take It with You(alongside Moss Hart) that Shalhoub finds his true hypnotic glory, transforming himself quickly into a sharp complicated litany of oddball characteristics that give this man a transfixing glory that you can’t comprehend, nor look away from. In the autobiographical source material book, Act One, Hart portrays Kaufman as “morose and intimidating“, uncomfortable with any expressions of affection “in life or on the page.” And in that context, we can’t help but watch and be amazed as he, in one deliciously well-done scene, prepares himself to work on a script with the excited young Hart watching nervously nearby. He clears his throat, mumbling a performative masterclass of sounds and facial renderings that elevates. Then, without warning, he grabs hold of a pencil and crosses out two whole pages, laughing as he does it. We watch as closely as the confused Fontano’s Hart does, wondering and waiting with anticipation to know what all of that meant and means to their collaboration. It’s genius, and compelling, and together these two create a certain type of sensational magic and engagement that propels the whole piece to its joyous end.

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Santino Fontana, Andrea Martin, and Tony Shalhoub in Lincoln Center Theater’s Act One.

The two who play Hart (as well as the young third Hart portrayed by Matthew Schechter) dazzle but one can’t dismiss the legendary Martin who not only endears us instantly with her Aunt Kate, but finds hilarity as Moss’ theatrical agent, Frieda Fishbein, as well as, with loving glamour, Beatrice Kaufman, the wife and play-whisperer to the legendary George S. Kaufman. The depth and intricate portrayals created by this genius shine majestically, as she finds tender attachment with Moss at every stage of the game, and delivers up these characters as wisely and as strongly as that first unforgettable balcony laugh. The rest of the strong cast delivers their characters forth with perfectly timed professionalism, finding unique moves at every turn of the majestic three-tiered set. Whirling around and around, the detailed creations are astonishing, as are the period costumes which are all authentically perfect down to the last silhouette by Jane Greenwood (MTC’s The Little Foxes), the spot-on lighting by Ken Billington (NYCC Encores’ The Grand Hotel), and the spectacularly voiced sound design by Dan Moses Schreier (Broadway’s Gary).  It doesn’t surprise anyone who is used to the high level of creative art and design delivered by the Lincoln Center Theater but even held up against the high bar of that theatre, this production sparkles in its dynamic rotation. 

Once in a Lifetime tryouts fly and fail in Atlantic City and Brighton Beach, but the energy and commitment to perfection shine on, in both Kaufman and Moss’ in and out dedication to the task, and in the Lincoln Center Theater‘s highly entertaining production. We watch with bated breath as Moss Hart stands waiting for the word on the Broadway opening of Once in a Lifetime, and we see the weight of the dream sit squarely on his back. And we join with him as energetically and excitedly as Aunt Kate’s first trip down the center aisle to watch a play in the orchestra. Lapine and company have crafted a glorious journey from an equally loving memoir, that reminds us of the love and devotion that go into creating art on a stage, and the people who labor on to make it all happen. It was a story I did not know all that well, but I’m glad to have been invited to stand alongside these great craftsmen and hear this slice of Broadway history. It’s not perfection, but it is filled to the brim with a whole lot of love for this crazy thing we call theatre. It possesses that unexplainable magical energy that I am missing so much during these crazy COVID19 times, and I can’t wait to once again take in a bit of that theatrical essence once again from pretty much any seat in that house I so love.

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Tony Shalhoub, Andrea Martin, and Santino Fontana in Lincoln Center Theater’s Act One presented and streaming on Lincoln Center’s YouTube channel.

And don’t forget to donate to the Lincoln Center Theater or a theatre company near you that you love. They need all the help we can give them, especially now, as we peer out thewindow like Radcliffe’s Clov in The Old Vic’s Endgame, wondering if it is safe to go outside once again. I just wish I got to see LCT’s The Nance, as that is one show I’ve never seen and have always wanted to. Let’s hope it gets rescheduled soon on LCT’s YouTube channel.

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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

Broadway

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents John Patrick Shanley

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We are so pleased to announce our guest this week John Patrick Shanley is an American playwright, screenwriter, and director. He won the 1988 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the film Moonstruck. His play, Doubt: A Parable, won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama Drama Desk Award and the 2005 Tony Award for Best Play; he wrote and directed the film adaptation and earned a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Shanley is the author of more than 23 plays, which have been translated and performed around the world, including 80 productions a year in North America. He has often directed his own productions. In 1990, Shanley directed his script of Joe Versus the Volcano. Shanley also wrote two songs for the movie: Marooned Without You and The Cowboy Song. He wrote the screenplay for the film Congo (1995), which was based on the Michael Crichton book.

Shanley’s journey in playwriting began in the early 1980s, with his first play, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, which premiered in 1984. This powerful drama showcased Shanley’s talent for creating deeply flawed, yet sympathetic characters.

In 2012, Shanley wrote the libretto for an opera version of Doubt: A Parable, which premiered at the Minnesota Opera in January 2013, with music by Douglas J. Cuomo. In 2012, his play Storefront Church ran Off-Broadway in a production by the Atlantic Theater Company. His play, Outside Mullingar, opened on Broadway at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, produced by the Manhattan starring Debra Messing and Brían F. O’Byrne.

Prodigal Son, which he directed, was produced Off-Broadway by the Manhattan Theatre Club. It starred Timothée Chalamet and Robert Sean Leonard. His play The Portuguese Kid opened on October 24, 2017, at the New York City Center Stage I. Directed by Shanley, the cast featured Jason Alexander, Sherie Rene Scott and Mary Testa. His new play Brooklyn Laundry opened on February 6, 2024, at the Manhattan Theatre Club. Shanley directed, with a cast featuring Cecily Strong and David Zayas.

The New York premiere of his new mystical comedy Banshee, starring Elizabeth Bays (Simpatico) and Erick Betancourt (Cost of Living), with David Zayas Jr. (Simpatico) directing for the Chain Theatre’s 2024 Summer One-Act Festival August 8 – September 1.

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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Theatre News: Cast Albums, Queen of the Mist, Kimberly Akimbo and The Oyster Radio Hour

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The new Broadway cast recordings for The Great Gatsby, The Outsiders and Suffs are out. However Here We Are, the final Original Cast Recording from legendary composer Stephen Sondheim and Jason Robert Brown’s The Connector are out on YouTube and these are the best scores of the year.

Another CD out is My Favorite Things: The Rodgers & Hammerstein 80th Anniversary Concert: featuring a 40-piece orchestra and stars, including Michael Ball, Maria Friedman, Daniel Dae Kim, Audra McDonald, Aaron Tveit, and Patrick Wilson, the Concert was recorded live at London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane. The celebration showcases original arrangements of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s iconic songs from Oklahoma!, South Pacific, Cinderella, The Sound of Music and more.

Mary Testa return to Queen of the Mist in New Jersey Concert Performances at New Jersey’s Montclair State University. The concert performances of Michael John LaChiusa’s Queen of the Mist featuring the work’s original star, Broadway favorite Mary Testa.

Adam Gwon and Sarah Hammond’s Richard Rodgers Award-winning musical String has joined BroadwayLicensing Global’s catalogue and is now available for professional and non-professional productions. The company also dropped a studio cast recording of the show July 16, which is now available on Spotify, Apple Music, and all digital platforms.

Carolee Carmello

Carolee Carmello

Three-Time Tony Nominee Carolee Carmello to Star in Kimberly Akimbo National Tour” by Broadway.com’s Darryn King – “Three-time Tony nominee Carolee Carmello will play Kimberly in the national tour of Kimberly Akimbo.

Little Island is bringing Tony Award® nominees Amber Gray (Hadestown) and Amber Iman (Lempicka) to perform in The Oyster Radio Hour, which begins performances on Wednesday, July 31 and will run through Sunday, August 4 as part of Little Island’s blockbuster summer season.

The Oyster Radio Hour is a live, three-act family-friendly radio show combining science, story and song that celebrates the resilience of oysters and their crucial ecological roles. Beginning at 8PM each evening, the show blends hope and interconnectedness, spotlighting the humble oyster’s journey of revival, including special Broadway guests Amber Gray and Amber Iman.

During The Oyster Radio Hour’s run in the Amph through August 4, the Island’s central plaza, known as the Play Ground, will transform from 6:30-10PM daily into a one-of-a-kind Oyster Market, with food and beverages curated and overseen by New Amsterdam Market founder and world-famous market designer Robert LaValva.

Alongside live oyster shucking, the market will feature 10 local vendors selling their unique culinary creations, which pair perfectly with the live performance. The local vendors include Real Mothershuckers, Oyster Party, Lobster Place, Houseman, Dayboat Blue, Cervo’s, Té Company, La Newyorkina, Chomps Elysées, and Pamina Dolce Gelato. Danny Childs, author of Slow Drinks, will make summer bespoke cocktails during a bar takeover on Friday, August 3.  

The Oyster Radio Hour is a collaboration between RR Sigel, who was the Associate Artistic Director of NY PopsUp in 2021; WNYC podcast producer Ana González, previously of Radiolab: For Kids; composer Angélica Negrón who has performed at Opera Philadelphia, the LA Philharmonic, NY Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and more; and Emmy® and Drama Desk Award®-nominated songwriter Mark Sonnenblick.

Keenan Tyler Oliphant (Hadestown) serves as director with Miller & Harlow as writers; Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew (Kimberly Akimbo) as lighting/video designer; Beth Lake(Camelot) as sound designer; Dr. Matthew Hare, Elliott Ma, Ayasha Guerin, Moody Harney, and Alan Michelson as audio interviewees; and Beatrice Perez-Arche as stage manager.

Little Island’s first annual, four-month-long summer season of world premieres, which kicked off on June 1, features a total of nine newly commissioned pieces. Little Island’s new arts program moves towards the future with a commitment to a multi-year roster of original work, all commissioned by and developed at Little Island. Bookended by the premiere of choreographer Twyla Tharp’s newest work How Long Blues and a 90-minute remix of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in which outré opera diva Anthony Roth Costanzo sings every leading role, the season offers premieres of varying scales across all areas of performance – including music, dance, theater, opera, comedy, jazz, pop, and funk, all outdoors and directly sited on the Hudson River at 14th Street in New York City. The Amph, the park’s 700-seat amphitheater, will house larger scale performances at a $25 ticket price, while The Glade, the park’s

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Broadway

Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Patti LuPone: A Life in Notes

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Patti Lupone is on a roll. Patti LuPone: A Life in Notes will be released digitally on July 19, and on CD on August 30, from Center Stage Records. Her first new studio album since 2006, the Grammy Award winner’s new double album can be pre-ordered now at Amazon and www.CenterStageRecords.com, and the digital album can be pre-saved at https://orcd.co/lifeinnotes.

Never say never, LuPone also returns to Broadway in The Roommate  this fall. It’s been more than two years since LuPone tweeted “Quite a week on Broadway, seeing my name being bandied about. Gave up my Equity card; no longer part of that circus. Figure it out.”

The three-time Tony Award winner will star opposite none other than Mia Farrow in Jen Silverman’s new play “The Roommate,” directed by Jack O’Brien (“Shucked”). The Roommate will begin previews at the Booth Theatre on 45th Street in late August and then open in mid-September.

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Disney Broadway In Bryant Park Part Two

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106.7 LITE FM’s brought Disney to Broadway in Bryant Park. We brought you the video and now the pictures so you are there.

Tshidi Manye

Jackie Rene

Jackie Rene and Gilbert Domally

Jackie Rene and Gilbert Domally

Jackie Rene and Gilbert Domally

Jackie Rene and Tshidi Manye

Jackie Rene and Tshidi Manye

Tshidi Manye and Gilbert Domally

Tshidi Manye and Gilbert Domally

Jim Ferris, Gilbert Domally and Ben Jeffrey

Jim Ferris, Gilbert Domally and Ben Jeffrey

Jim Ferris, Gilbert Domally and Ben Jeffrey

Ben Jeffrey, Jackie Rene, Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris and Gilbert Domally

Gilbert Domally, Jackie Rene, Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris and Ben Jeffrey

The Lion King’s Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris, Jackie René, Ben Jeffrey and Gilbert Domally

Charissa Hogeland

Charissa Hogeland

Chad Burris

Frozen’s Charissa Hogeland and Chad Burris

Michael James Scott

Adi Roy

Adi Roy

Michael James Scott, Adi Roy

Michael James Scott, Adi Roy

Sonya Balsara

Sonya Balsara

Adi Roy, Sonya Balsara

Sonya Balsara, Adi Roy

Adi Roy, Sonya Balsara

from Aladdin‘s Michael James Scott, Sonya Balsara and Adi Roy

106.7 Lite FM’s Hosts-Paul Cubby Bryant and Christine Nagy

Paul Cubby Bryant and Christine Nagy

The hosts were Paul ‘Cubby’ Bryant and Christine Nagy.

Chad Burris, Charissa Hogeland, Ben Jeffrey, Jackie Rene, Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris and Gilbert Domally

Chad Burris, Gilbert Domally, Jackie Rene. Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris, Charissa Hogeland, Ben Jeffrey, Sonya Balsara, Adi Roy and Michael James Scott

Chad Burris, Gilbert Domally, Jackie Rene. Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris, Charissa Hogeland, Ben Jeffrey, Sonya Balsara, Adi Roy and Michael James Scott

Chad Burris, Gilbert Domally, Jackie Rene. Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris, Charissa Hogeland, Ben Jeffrey, Sonya Balsara, Adi Roy and Michael James Scott

 

 

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Disney Broadway In Bryant Park

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106.7 LITE FM’s Broadway in Bryant Park brought Disney to its 2024 program. The Bryant Park stage is located at 6th Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets. Lawn seating is first come, first serve.

This weeks performances came from Aladdin‘s Michael James Scott, Sonya Balsara and Adi Roy

Frozen’s Charissa Hogeland and Chad Burris

And The Lion King’s Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris, Jackie René, Ben Jeffrey and Gilbert Domally

The hosts were Paul ‘Cubby’ Bryant and Christine Nagy.

 

 

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