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The stars have come out to party, birthday-wise, at the Booth Theatre on Broadway arranging themselves on that stage around a candle topped cake, ready to play a mean-spirited parlor game of sorts.  With a cast of the Out Who’s Who signing up for this band of gay men, the excitement level is high, and it’s no wonder.  Boys in the Band is a classic icon of a play, written by Mart Crowley (A Breeze from the Gulf) premiering Off-Broadway in April 14th, 1968 at Theater Four. The play received rave reviews, and ran for a total of 1,001 performances.  It revolves around a group of gay men who gather for a birthday party held in Michael’s New York City apartment, taking its title from a line in A Star is Born when James Mason tells a distraught Judy Garland, “You’re singing for yourself and the boys in the band.”  That line signifies much in this play, and what has basically been the political gay movement stance for decades much like Harvey Milk and his theatrical campaign of coming out to the people around you. Boys and the Band was groundbreaking, portraying a gay life that was yet to be seen so clearly and unapologetically on stage.  The world at the time of this play’s writing did not accept these gentleman and their lifestyle, proclaiming such untruths like what Alan McCarthy, the unexpected party guest says to his host and former college roommate, that he doesn’t care as long as ‘it’ is kept private and not shoved in his face. Today that slogan is sometimes said, especially in our tense political world of Republican lies and con jobs. Some accept that.  But we clearly know what that means, and it ain’t good.  That statement has nothing to do with loving. Or openness. Or accepting.  It’s homophobia pure and simple, wrapped up in a false public relations spin, and is really and truly a threat and a lie, telling us all to step back into the closet, or else.

Boys in the Band

It was a brave act of courage writing this play back in the late 1950’s. At the time, Crowley was working on a number of television projects in Hollywood before meeting the woman who would help make this play a possibility. Natalie Wood, after meeting Crowley on the set of her film Splendor in the Grass, hired him as her assistant. She held strong convictions and sympathies to the Hollywood gay scene, and help create a way to financially support the writer while giving him plenty of spare time to work on this gay-themed play. According to Crowley in an interview with Sherry Lucas for Mississippi Today, (March 24, 2018), his motivation in writing the play was not particularly born out of activism, but more igniting from a place of anger that “had partially to do with myself and my career, but it also had to do with the social attitude of people around me, and the laws of the day.”  As directed by Joe Montello (Broadway’s Three Tall Women), that anger flies at us in this 50th anniversary production, punching us as hard as it can, taking no prisoners in this game of telephone calls.  He and this marvelously authentic cast makes us sit up and take notice of these boys, and the band they all play for.

Boys in the Band

In the 1995 documentary, The Celluloid Closet, Crowley explained, “The self-deprecating humor was born out of a low self-esteem, from a sense of what the times told you about yourself.” Much like Andrew Garfield’s turn as Prior in the current revival of Angels in America, the front is protective, used as a deflective tool against the world and its hatred. Michael, as portrayed strongly by the surprising Jim Parsons (Broadway’s An Act of God, The Normal Heart) breaths fire in and out with this highly volatile brand of self-deprecating wit.  It’s like his second bullet-proof skin or layer of armor used to keep the world out, just as much as his fancy sweaters make him feel safe and sound in his very pink apartment.  One by the one the guests start to arrive for his best friend’s birthday party.  The first is the gorgeously depressed Donald, played stunningly by the stunning Broadway virgin, Matt Bomer (“American Horror Story: Hotel“). The two set the mood exquisitely with their casual barb-laden banter, filling the air within the marvelously designed set and costumes by the incredibly talented David Zinn (Broadway’s SpongeBob SquarePants) with subtly perfect lighting by Hugh Vanstone (Matilda) and sound by Leon Rothenberg (A Doll’s House, Part 2). Everything about this, including the ripe and engaging performances remind us of the 1968 time period without beating us over the head with it. It’s a compelling mixed cocktail of 60’s and modernist, stirred for the upmost relevance and flavor, and a strongly orchestrated statement to all.

boys2

But then the phone rings, and instead of it being one of the five guests who are still on their way, it is the very upset Alan, Michael’s straight and married college friend, played solidly by Brian Hutchison (Broadway’s Looped). Crying on the other end of the line, Alan basically pleads with Michael to let him come over that very night. It sounds like he has a confession to make, but to what order is the question. Against his better judgement, Michael gives in, telling him he is welcome, even though the anxiety of what will be seen and revealed to his old friend is almost enough to make a sober man drink.boys

Each time the doorbell rings, Michael thinks it is this straight-laced man, but it is the party guests in a pack, minus the birthday boy. He comes later, fashionably late as predicted. Flamboyantly arriving at the party is Emory, played with a wild abandonment by the clear-minded Robin de Jesus (Broadway’s In the Heights, Rent), followed by the one black man at the party, Bernard, played strongly by Michael Benjamin Washington (Broadway’s Mamma Mia!, La Cage aux Folles), and the handsome but bitterly tense couple, Hank and Larry, played with a sexually controlled edge by the suited Tuc Watkins (Cherry Lane’s Fortune’s Fools) and the tightly clad sexual beast, Andrew Rannells (LCT’s Falsettos, The Book of Mormon).  The gifts are piled in the corner, just as fast as the jabs and jokes start to fly at one another.  They have all come together in lancing love to celebrate the birthday of Harold, played with a hard veneer by the dry Zachary Quinto (Off-Broadway’s Angels in America, Broadway’s The Glass Menagerie), but before he or the old college buddy arrives, one more gift comes hand-delivered in the form of the beautiful and deliciously divined Charlie Carver (HBO’s “The Leftovers“), giving us the best gay cowboy ride seen on Broadway. Their camaraderie is deliciously solid and specific, engagingly filled with a neediness for love and acceptance, maybe not emanating from within, but wanted from each other. They bicker and poke at each other, picking at their own scars, while inflicting more on each other, with love. It’s spectacular to watch these pros work their way around the room, all the while being personally relieved to be merely an observer rather than a guest.

Boys in the Band

Once that spotlight of vodka gets poured, this game of shredding each other begins with full brutal force. The main focus of Michael’s vicious anger comes from an idea he has about Alan, and one he is desperate to force out from his overwhelmed and drunk college friend. His current friends, caught in the cross fire, each step up and expose themselves in ways that even when the structure feels forced, it still resonates. It’s hard at points for this modern gay man to take the mean-spirited attacks on one another. It’s a stereotype that maybe modern gay culture would like to erase, but it’s still there, maybe not as blatant as it was, but that self-deprecating wit still survives lurking in the corner at every party. There is some strong authentic truth in the play, especially taken as a hard look back at where we came from and where we are trying to be now. Quinto’s laconic and droll delivery wears a bit, but its truth and power never dissipates, building to a complex battle between two men who love and need each other in ways that are too difficult to convey.  His performance, along with Parson’s, details the tortured soul in a way that is both brutally funny and wickedly devastating. I have never seen the 1970 film, directed by William Friedkin, but I’m thankful to have had the chance to see this rendering.  I hoped for a slight bit of redemption, but what I got was far more detailed and intense. Back in the day, Boys in the Band was called “A true theatrical game-changer”  showcasing the result of being gay in a world that was not willing to accept them. It’s a testament to that time and a warning for us all, as we watch the powers that be right now attempt to push us back into that shame-filled closet demanding that we hide out scared in our pink apartments.  I don’t want to reverse the progression. I will #resist.

Boys in the Band

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

Theatre News: Here We Are, Water For Elephants, Tuesdays with Morrie, The Tempest: A Surround Sound Odyssey, FIVE: The Parody Musical, Forbidden Broadway

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Producers Tom Kirdahy, Sue Wagner, John Johnson, and The Stephen Sondheim Trust announced today that the critically acclaimed world premiere production of Here We Are, the new musical from David Ives and Stephen Sondheim that debuted at The Shed’s Griffin Theater in 2023, was filmed by the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive (TOFT) at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and added to its collection. The complete show was filmed by TOFT in December of 2023 and is now available and free to view by anyone with a library card.

 Here We Are is directed by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello, and features Francois Battiste, Tracie Bennett, Bobby Cannavale, Micaela Diamond, Amber Gray, Jin Ha, Rachel Bay Jones, Denis O’Hare, Steven Pasquale, David Hyde Pierce, and Jeremy Shamos.

The musical features a book by Tony Award nominee David Ives, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and is inspired by two films, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and The Exterminating Angel, by Luis Buñuel.

Here We Are opened on October 22, 2023 at The Shed and performed its final show on January 21, 2024.

Water For Elephants is announcing their Tent Talkback Series with members of the creative team following selected Saturday matinees between March 2 through April 6, at the Imperial Theatre (249 West 45th Street).  Creative team members will include book writer Rick Elice and composers and lyricists PigPen Theatre Co.  The Water For Elephants Tent Talkback Series will be a moderated 15-minute discussion about the creative process and development of the show and commence at the conclusion of selected Saturday matinee performances.

Tent Talkback Series Schedule

Saturday, March 2, matinee performance

Saturday, March 9, matinee performance

Saturday, March 30, matinee performance

Saturday, April 6, matinee performance

Water For Elephants is based on the critically acclaimed and New York Times Bestselling novel by Sara Gruen. The new musical has a book by three-time Tony Award nominee Rick Elice (Jersey Boys, Peter and the Starcatcher), a soaring score by the acclaimed PigPen Theatre Co. (The Tale of Despereaux) and is directed by Tony Award nominee Jessica Stone (Kimberly Akimbo).

The cast stars Grant Gustin (“The Flash”, “Glee”) in his Broadway debut, Isabelle McCalla (The Prom, Shucked), four-time Tony Award nominee Gregg Edelman (City of Angels), Drama Desk and Outer Critic Circle Award nominee Paul Alexander Nolan (Slave Play), Stan Brown (“Homicide: Life in the Streets”), Joe De Paul (Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion), Sara Gettelfinger (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and Wade McCollum(Wicked) and features Brandon Block, Antoine Boissereau, Rachael Boyd, Paul Castree, Ken Wulf Clark, Taylor Colleton, Gabriel Olivera de Paula Costa, Isabella Luisa Diaz, Samantha Gershman, Keaton Hentoff-Killian, Nicolas Jelmoni, Caroline Kane, Harley Ross Beckwith McLeish, Michael Mendez, Samuel Renaud, Marissa Rosen, Alexandra Gaelle Royer, Asa Somers, Charles South, Sean Stack, Matthew Varvar and Michelle West.

After losing what matters most, a young man jumps a moving train unsure of where the road will take him and finds a new home with the remarkable crew of a traveling circus, and a life—and love—beyond his wildest dreams. Seen through the eyes of his older self, his adventure becomes a poignant reminder that if you choose the ride, life can begin again at any age.

The award-winning Sea Dog Theater’s production of Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie, by Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom, based on the book by Albom, directed by Erwin Maas (NY Times Critic’s Pick for Poison and A Kid Like Rishi), starring Tony Award winner and Emmy nominee Len Cariou (Sweeney Todd original cast, CBS’s “Blue Bloods”) and three-time NYIT “Best Actor” nominee Chris Domig.Tuesdays with Morrie runs March 1 – 23 in a limited engagement at St. George’s Episcopal Church (209 East 16 St.) Opening night is March 7.Two post-show talkbacks are scheduled during the run. On Monday, March 4, Len Cariou and Judy Kaye will discuss working with Stephen Sondheim. On Monday, March 18, Len and Abigail Hawk will discuss working on CBS’s “Blue Bloods.”Tuesdays with Morrie is the humorous and poignant story of career-obsessed journalist Mitch Albom, who sixteen years after graduation serendipitously learns that his former sociology professor Morrie is battling Lou Gehrig’s Disease. What starts as a simple visit, turns into a weekly pilgrimage and the last class in the meaning of life.Featuring vocalist Sally Shaw. Original music written and performed on piano by Chris Domig.

The Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC, Executive Director Khady Kamara Nunez and Artistic Director Bill Rauch) announces complete casting and creative team for An American Soldier at the new performing arts center at the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan.  An American Soldier will premiere in New York during AANHPI Heritage Month with performances starting May 12 through May 19, 2024.

An American Soldier will feature principal cast members Hannah Cho, Alex DeSocio, Nina Yoshida Nelsen and Brian Vu. Ensemble members include Ben Brady, Cierra Byrd, James C. Harris, Shelén Hughes, Joshua Sanders, Christian Simmons and understudies, Misoon Ghim, Luke Harnish and Angela Yam. Photos of the company are available here.

An American Soldier features scenic design by Daniel Ostling, costume design by Linda Cho, lighting design by Jeanette Yew and multi-media design by Nick Hussong, joining the previously announced creative team members Huang Ruo (composer), David Henry Hwang (libretto), Carolyn Kuan (conductor), and Chay Yew (director).

On October 3, 2011, Chinese-American Army Pvt. Danny Chen was found dead in a guard tower at his base in Afghanistan. Based on his story and the ensuing courts-martial of Chen’s fellow soldiers, this New York City premiere opera tells the powerful true story of a young soldier from Manhattan’s Chinatown who sought to serve his country, only to find his biggest threat was the very people who swore to protect him.

Told through the multidimensional music of Huang Ruo (M. Butterfly, Book of Mountains and Seas) with libretto by Tony and Grammy winner David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly, Soft Power), and directed by Obie Award winner Chay Yew (Cambodian Rock Band, Sweatshop Overlord), An American Soldier is a powerful and unforgettable experience.

Due to popular demand, Knock at the Gate producers Joseph Discher and Sean Hudock announced a two-week extension of their audio immersive streaming production of The Tempest: A Surround Sound Odyssey, now available to stream virtually through Saturday, March 16.

Tickets for the stream are $9.99 and are available for purchase at KnockattheGate.com. The broadcast is available worldwide on all internet connected devices with a dimmable screen and a pair of headphones. Audiences will receive a link and password to access the listening portal prior to the broadcast.

The cast includes Hale Appleman (SyFy’s “The Magicians,” FX’s “American Horror Story”) as ‘Ariel,’ Tony® and Grammy® Award nominee Emily Skeggs (Broadway’s Fun Home) as ‘Miranda,’ Joel de la Fuente (Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle) as ‘Prospero,’ and Derek Wilson (Amazon’s “Gen V,” Hulu’s “Future Man”) as ‘Caliban.’ Rounding out the cast are Michael Daly, Sean Hudock, Greg Jackson, Maurice Jones, Raphael Nash Thomspon, Shane Taylor, Patrick Toon.

Due to popular demand, producers of FIVE: The Parody Musical have put a new block of tickets on sale through April 21. The world-premiere production, initially announced as a limited four-week engagement, will now play an additional 6 weeks Off-Broadway at Theater 555 (555 W 42nd St, NYC). For tickets and further information, visit www.FiveTheMusical.com.

Look out SIX, here comes FIVE: The Parody Musical. Henry VIII and his six wives had nothing on Donald, the 45th, and these five ladies. Poised to make America laugh again, FIVE is an 80-minute, irreverent musical comedy revue starring some of the women in the life of America’s past President. Ivana, Marla, and Melania are joined by crowd favorite Stormy and daddy’s girl Ivanka as they each take the spotlight and sing their hearts out for your vote.

Presented by Five Musical LLC, FIVE: The Parody Musical features a book and lyrics by Shimmy Braun & Moshiel Newman Daphna, music and lyrics by Billy Recce (A Musical About Star Wars, Little Black Book), and direction and choreography by Jen Wineman (Dog Man: The Musical, F#%king Up Everything).

FIVE: The Parody Musical features Anyae Anasia as Ivana, Gabriella Joy Rodriguez (The Color Purple Tour) as Marla, Jaime Lyn Beatty (Stranger Sings! The Parody Musical, Starkid Founding Member) as Melania, Gabi Garcia as Stormy, and Hannah Bonnett (Legally Blonde National Tour) as Ivanka, with a special appearance by drag legend Jasmine Rice LaBeija as Hillary Clinton.

Forbidden Broadway will open on Broadway titled Forbidden Broadway on Broadway: Merrily We Stole a Song. It will begin previews on July 29 and open August 15 at the Hayes Theater. Creator Gerard Alessandrini, a Tony honoree for the musical’s Off-Broadway stagings, will direct the Broadway production and it will play a limited run through November 1.The musical revue will feature a five-person cast, who will be joined weekly by guest stars. The production will parody Back to the Future, Company, The Great Gatsby, Hell’s Kitchen, Into the Woods, Merrily We Roll Along, The Notebook, Sweeney Todd and Water for Elephants. Forbidden Broadway on Broadway is produced by Broadway & Beyond Theatricals (Ryan Bogner, Victoria Lang and Tracey Stroock McFarland) in association with John Freedson and Harriet Yellin.”

 

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Grand Hotel: The 35th Anniversary Original Broadway Cast Reunion Concert at 54 Below

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Grand Hotel original cast members Karen Akers, Timothy Jerome, Bob Stillman, David Jackson, David Andrew White, and Walter Willison, reunited last night at 54 Below. Even original bass player Ray Kilday was there.

Tim Jerome

The fabulous David Jackson, David White

54 Below was transformed into Berlin’s Grand Hotel for the event. The staging was immersive as Walter Willison, introduced, directed and produced. The choreography (originally done by Broadway legend Tommy Tune, was there celebrating his 85th birthday on Monday night).

Two tango dancers (Michael Choi and Vanda Polakova), circled the room making their way to the stage for “I Waltz Alone.” The concert featured choreography by Michael Notardonato, who also served as associate director.

Bob Stillman Jennifer Bassey Davis

Ken Jennings

Willison, who also played Colonel Doctor Otternschlag) kept Maury Yeston’s entire glorious score. “I Want to Go to Hollywood” for example. That number was skillfully sung by Susan Wood Duncan, who played Flaemmchen in the touring cast.

Bob Stillman

Walter Willison

Ken Jennings stepped in as Otto Kringelein, leading the company in a moving “We’ll Take a Glass Together!” was sung in the bar area.

Diane J. Findlay

A highlight was Diane J. Findlay

Karen Akers

Jennifer Bassey Davis as Elizaveta Grushinskaya, and Akers as Rafaella, were haunting.

Susie McCollum

Harper Lee Andrews and Susie McCollum played the roles their mothers originated.

The cast

On Monday Happy Birthday closed the show to a reprise of “We’ll Take a Glass Together” and thus they did.

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More Theatre News:  James Monroe Iglehart, Bonnie Milligan, J. Harrison Ghee, Santino Fontana, Len Cariou, Peter Filichia and Patricia Birch

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After winning rave reviews in New Orleans and Chicago, Tony Award winner James Monroe Iglehart (Disney’s AladdinHamiltonSpamalot) will star as jazz legend and American icon Louis Armstrong in A Wonderful World: The Louis Armstrong Musical on Broadway in Fall 2024.

Tony Award winner James Monroe Iglehart will play
Louis Armstrong in A Wonderful World: The Louis Armstrong Musical,
opening November 11, 2024 at Studio 54. ©Jeremy Daniel

Produced by Thomas E. Rodgers, Jr., Renee Rodgers, Martian Entertainment (Carl D. White and Gregory Rae) and Vanessa Williams and Elizabeth Curtis, A Wonderful World will open on Monday, November 11, 2024 at Studio 54 (254 West 54th Street). Previews will begin on October 16, 2024. Tickets will be available at CriterionTicketing.com, with the on-sale date to be announced in coming weeks.  With a book by Aurin Squire (“This Is Us,” “The Good Fight”) and featuring songs made famous by Louis Armstrong, A Wonderful World is co-conceived by Drama Desk Award winner and Tony Award nominee Christopher Renshaw (The King and ITaboo) andAndrew Delaplaine, and directed by Renshaw.  Cast and full creative team for A Wonderful World: The Louis Armstrong Musical will be announced soon.  Last fall, Iglehart starred in the pre-Broadway production of A Wonderful World in New Orleans and Chicago, where he won raves for his performance. The Chicago Tribune called him “just fabulous! – a knockout Louis Armstrong.” The Chicago Sun-Times, cheered, “James Monroe Iglehart gives a phenomenal, dynamic and vivacious lead performance as the wondrous Louis Armstrong.”  “I am so excited to bring this wonderful brand-new musical to Broadway,” James Monroe Iglehart commented. “American music wouldn’t be what it is today without Louis Armstrong and what is Broadway if not American music? ‘Pops’ doesn’t get enough credit for his contribution to our entertainment industry or our country. I know I have never studied, researched, or prepared for anything as much in my career as I have for this role. I feel such a strong connection and an obligation to bring his voice, his music, and his story to the one place where it can be presented in all its glory – Broadway! I can’t wait for you all to become a part of A Wonderful World.”

Maestra Music, the Obie Award-winning nonprofit organization founded by Georgia Stitt to support the women and nonbinary musicians in the musical theatre industry, is pleased to announce hosts Tony Award-winner Bonnie Milligan and Tony Award-winner J. Harrison Ghee for this year’s Amplify 2024, directed by Jessica Ryan (Between Riverside and Crazy Live Broadcast). This fourth-annual concert and fundraising event features stories, conversations, and musical performances from an impressive array of Broadway stars, composers, music directors, and more. Amplify 2024 will take place on Monday, March 25, 2024, at 8:00 pm at Sony Hall (235 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036). Tickets for the in-person event are on sale now at maestramusic.org/amplify/.

Amplify 2024 celebrates the rich creativity and ingenuity of Maestras in musical theatre, ranging from legendary to emerging talents.

The performers showcasing the musical brilliance of renowned composers and lyricists in this diverse and dynamic lineup embody the spirit of creativity and inclusivity in musical theatre including Tony Award-winner Santino Fontana (Tootsie), Two-time Tony Award-nominee Amanda Green (Mr. Saturday Nightand Hands on a Hardbody), Brooke Ishibashi (Into the Woods, Broadway), Jay Armstrong Johnson (Parade, Broadway), Mary Kate Morrissey (Wicked, Broadway), Liam Pearce (How to Dance in Ohio, Broadway), Jasmine Amy Rogers (BOOP! The Musical, Chicago), Sushma Saha (Interstate, Off-Broadway), Jordan Tyson (The Notebook, Broadway), Joy Woods (Six, Broadway), and Grammy Award-winning Nicole Zuraitis.

The celebrated composers and lyricists include Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Frozen), Susan Birkenhead (BOOP! The Musical), Amanda Green (Female Troubles), Rebekah Greer Melocik (How to Dance in Ohio), Brandy Hoang Collier, Clare Fuyuko Bierman, and Erika Ji (Yoko’s Husband’s Killer’s Japanese Wife Gloria), Christine Lavin (InunDATED), with newly added Bree Lowdermilk and Kait Kerrigan (The Mad Ones), Melissa Li and Kit Yan(Interstate) Ingrid Michaelson (The Notebook), and Lynne Shankel.

Music Director Julianne B. Merrill (My Son’s A Queer) leads a band made up entirely of Maestra members: Monica Davis (violin), Ann Klein (guitar), Mary Ann McSweeney (bass),  Merrill (piano), Noelle Rueschman (reeds), Shirazette Tinnin (drums), and Clerida Eltimé (cello). Kristy Norter serves as the Music Coordinator and Lexi Vollero is music assistant.

  • Date & Time: Monday, March 25, 2024, 8:00 pm (doors open at 7:30 pm)
  • Venue: Sony Hall, 235 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036
  • Tickets: maestramusic.org/amplify/

Len Cariou

The Theatre World Awards Board of Directors has announced two of the individuals to be honored at 78th Annual Theatre World Awards to be held on Monday evening, June 10, 2024 beginning at 7:00 p.m. at a Theater Venue TBA. Tony Award winner Len Cariou (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, A Little Night Music, Applause) will receive the 11th Annual John Willis Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, while acclaimed theatre journalist Peter Filichia will receive a 2024 TWA Special Awardfor his quarter-century of service to the organization. The recipient of the 15th Annual Dorothy Loudon Award for Excellence in the Theater, and the 2024 Theatre World Award Honorees for Outstanding Broadway or Off-Broadway Debut Performance will be announced in early May.

Hosted annually by well-known theater journalist, Peter Filichia, the 78th Annual Theatre World Awards Ceremony will be produced by Theatre World Awards, Inc. Board of Directors/Dale Badway. The Musical Director is Michael Lavine.

Theatre World Award winner (1979) Ken Jennings who played ‘Tobias’ in the original Broadway production of Sweeney Todd will perform in a musical tribute to Len Cariou.

Patricia Birch, Harold Prince, Candide

Patricia Birch, Choreographer, Harold Prince, Director Photo Stephen Sorokoff

Amas Musical Theatre (Donna Trinkoff, Artistic Producer), New York City’s award-winning pioneer in diversity and multi-ethnic casting in the performing arts since 1968, will celebrate its 55th Anniversary at its annual Gala Benefit Concert on Monday, May 13, 2024 at Baruch Performing Arts Center (Engelman Recital Hall) One Bernard Baruch Way (25th Street -between Lexington & 3rd Avenues). For more information, please visit http://www.amasmusical.org/. The evening will benefit Amas Musical Theatre’s education programs.

The gala evening will begin at 6:00pm with a champagne toast. At 7:00pm the evening continues with a concert performance of “A Lotta Night Music,” directed by Jonathan Cerullo. A cast of Broadway luminaries will perform songs from such shows as Grease, They’re Playing Our Song, and A Little Night Music, among others. Teens from The Rosetta LeNoire Musical Theatre Academy will be part of the evening.

The evening will culminate with the presentation of the 2024 “Rosie” Award to Honorees award-winning choreographer and director Patricia Birch (A Little Night Music, Parade), Tony Award-wining actor Len Cariou (Sweeney Todd, Applause), and Butler Tibbets, a beloved corporate sponsor for Amas programs for many years.

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Theatre News: Legacy: An Evening with Maria Friedman and Friends, Heart of Rock and Roll, Melba Moore, Gun & Powder and Bordello The Musical

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The new, one-night-only concert event Legacy: An Evening with Maria Friedman and Friends will celebrate the brilliance of Stephen Sondheim, Marvin Hamlisch and Michel Legrand on Monday, March 4, 2024 at 8PM at Broadway’s Hudson Theatre (141 West 44th Street). The evening will benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, The Stephen Sondheim Foundation and The Marvin Hamlisch International Music Awards. Tickets, which start at $100, and VIP sponsorship packages are now on sale at broadwaycares.org/mariafriedman.

Four-time Olivier Award winner and director of this season’s critically acclaimed Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s Merrily We Roll Along, Maria Friedman has crafted a special one-night-only concert, with friends old and new, that will explore the legacies of three titans of 20th century musical theatre. The evening will showcase Maria Friedman, Santino Fontana, Savy Jackson and a special company of extraordinary young talent performing from the songbooks of celebrated composers Stephen Sondheim, Marvin Hamlisch, Michel Legrand, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Bernstein, along with a special surprise performance from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in which Friedman famously starred as The Narrator alongside Donny Osmond.

 Collaborating with musical director and pianist Theo Jamieson, Legacy: An Evening with Maria Friedman and Friends is directed by Tony Award Winner Christopher Gattelli.

Corey Cott

Producers Hunter Arnold, Tyler Mitchell and Kayla Greenspan welcomed the company of The Heart of Rock and Roll as rehearsals began for the upcoming Broadway musical, which is set to begin previews on March 29th, 2024.

Hunter Arnold, Huey Lewis, Gordon Greenberg, Lorin Latarro

The Heart of Rock and Roll, the new musical inspired by the iconic songs of Huey Lewis and The News, will open on Broadway at The James Earl Jones Theatre (138 W 48th St, New York, NY 10036) on Monday, April 22, 2024.

Hunter Arnold and Huey Lewis

The principal cast features Corey Cott, McKenzie Kurtz, Josh Breckenridge, F. Michael Haynie, Zoe Jensen, Tamika Lawrence, Raymond J. Lee, John-Michael Lyles, Orville Mendoza, Billy Harrigan Tighe and John Dossett.  

McKenzie Kurtz

The cast also includes Mike Baerga, Tommy Bracco, TyNia René Brandon, Olivia Cece, Taylor Marie Daniel, Lindsay Joan, Ross Lekites, Robin Masella, Kara Menendez, Joe Moeller, Jennifer Noble, Fredric Rodriguez Odgaard, Michael Olaribigbe, Kevin Pariseau, Robert Pendilla and Leah Read.

Kevin Pariseau and John Dossett

Set in 1987 and jam-packed with Huey Lewis megahits like “Do You Believe in Love”, “Hip to Be Square” , and “If This Is It,” The Heart of Rock and Roll centers on a couple of twenty-somethings on the cusp of their futures—Bobby, a rock and roller who’s traded his guitar for the corporate ladder and his boss Cassandra who’s always put the family business first. When they both get a second shot at their dreams, it’ll take “The Power of Love” and a little help from their friends — to figure out what kind of life they really want.

Tommy Bracco

The Heart of Rock and Roll premiered in San Diego at The Old Globe, helmed by Erna Finci Viterbi Artistic Director Barry Edelstein and the Audrey S. Geisel Managing Director Timothy J. Shields, in 2018.

Melba Moore is paying tribute to the ladies of Broadway and taking a look back on her own career with a new production opening March 15 and 16 at 54 Below.

Paper Mill Playhouse (Mark S. Hoebee- Producing Artistic Director; Michael Stotts- Executive Director), recipient of the Regional Theatre Tony Award, is pleased to announce the full cast and creative team for the new musical Gun & Powder, with book and lyrics by Angelica Chéri and music by Ross Baum. Directed by Stevie Walker-Webb, choreographed by Tiffany Rea-Fisher and music directed by Austin Cook, the production will play April 4 – May 5, 2024 at Paper Mill Playhouse (22 Brookside Drive). Opening night is Sunday, April 14.Gun & Powder will feature Liisi LaFontaine (West End: Dreamgirls, Moulin Rouge!; Regional: Born for This) as Martha Clarke,Ciara Renée (PMP: The Hunchback of Notre Dame; Broadway: Waitress; TV: “The Flash,” “Arrow”) as Mary Clarke, Jeannette Bayardelle (Broadway: Girl from the North Country, The Color Purple) as Tallulah Clarke, Aaron James McKenzie (Broadway: A Beautiful Noise; TV: “Bull”) as Elijah, Hunter Parrish (Broadway: To Kill a Mockingbird; TV: “Weeds,” “The Other Black Girl”) as Jesse Whitewater, and Jisel Soleil Ayon (National Tour: Hamilton, Waitress) as Standby for Mary and Martha.The ensemble of Gun & Powder will include Rickens Anantua, Reed Campbell, Carrie Compere, Meghan Olivia Corbett, Joann Gilliam, Francesca Granell, Aaron Arnell Harrington, Mary Claire King, Malik Shabazz Kitchen, Rayshun LaMarr, Zonya Love, Tiffany Mann, Tony Perry, Adam Roberts, Hank Santos, Christine Shepard, Katie Thompson, Aurelia Williams, and Jason SweetTooth Williams.

Gun & Powder is a new musical inspired by the true story of Mary (Renée) and Martha Clarke (LaFontaine), African American twin sisters who take extraordinary measures to settle their mother’s sharecropper debt and save her home. In 1893 Texas, the Sisters Clarke—passing as white—embark on a remarkable Wild West adventure that examines race, family, and identity with two electrifying women who transformed from farm girls to outlaws to legends.

The company of Gun & Powder at Paper Mill Playhouse. Photo by Billy Swann.

The production features orchestrations by John Clancy (Broadway: Kimberly Akimbo, The Notebook), scenic design by Beowulf Boritt (PMP: The Wanderer, Murder on the Orient Express; Broadway: Harmony; New York, New York; The Scottsboro Boys), costume design by Emilio Sosa (PMP: On Your Feet!; Broadway: Sweeney Todd; Ain’t No Mo’; Good Night, Oscar), lighting design by Adam Honoré (PMP: After Midnight; Broadway: Purlie VictoriousAin’t No Mo’), sound design by Connor Wang (Broadway: How to Dance in Ohio; American Repertory Theatre: Evita), wig, hair, and makeup design by J. Jared Janas & Tony Lauro (PMP: Clue; Broadway: Sweeney Todd, & Juliet), fight direction by Sordelet, Inc./Rick Sordelet (PMP: The Wanderer, Fiddler on the Roof; Broadway: Take Me Out), and intimacy direction by Crista Marie Jackson (Broadway: Between Riverside and Crazy; Film: Dumb Money, No Hard Feelings). Casting is by Tara Rubin Casting. Jakob W. Plummer is the Production Stage Manager.

The York Theatre Company (James Morgan, Producing Artistic Director, Marie Grace LaFerrara, Executive Director) “Where Musicals Come to Life,” will present developmental readings of Bordello, The Musical, with book by Barbara Bellman and Joan Ross Sorkin, music by Emiliano Messiez, lyrics by Barbara Bellman, music direction by Steven Gross and directed by Will Pomerantz. The presentations by invitation only will take place on Thursday, February 29 and Friday, March 1. These presentations are part of The York Theatre Company’s Developmental Reading Series. General Management by Hillel Friedmanfrom Evan Bernadin Productions. Executive Producer is Rashad Chambers.

Synopsis: Set in the colorful world of Buenos Aires in 1920 and inspired by historical events surrounding Raquel Liberman, Bordello is the story of a Polish immigrant who is forced into prostitution and risks everything to bring an international Jewish sex-trafficking ring to justice. This never-been-told-before tale of love and bravery has a musical theatre score that incorporates tango, klezmer and other sounds of the period.

Cast: Dana Aber, Harrison Bryan, Emily Brockway, Ellie Biron, Alison Cimmet, Omar Cepero-Lopez, Cicily Daniels, Ryan Duncan, Jamie LaVerdiere, Jillian Louis, Benjamin Magnuson, Samantha Massell, Shereen Pimentel, Cheryl Stern, Pablo Torres, and Eric Van Tielen. Stage Manager is Michael Wizorek.

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Iconic New York City Restaurant Serendipity3 Celebrates The City and “The Notebook”on Broadway, Opening in March

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Though I’ve lived in New York for many years, a stop at Serendipity3, the decades-old restaurant on East 60th Street, eluded me. Until now. Thanks to a recent connection with the romantic musical The Notebook — in previews on Broadway — a new dessert specially designed to celebrate Valentine’s Day and the show was unveiled. And I got to sample it in all its super sweet glory.

The Notebook Hot Chocolate Affogato Sundae features a marshmallow rimmed Serendipity goblet filled with two towering scoops of vanilla ice cream, a giant pillow of creamy whipped cream, romantic Valentine’s sprinkles. Once the server pours a carafe of super-rich and thick hot chocolate (made with semisweet and bitter-sweet chocolates, rich cocoas, heavy cream, Maldon sea salt and Madagascar vanilla paste) over the ice cream, it’s ready for consumption. The dessert is also topped off with a dusting of iridescent edible glitter, an edible frosting-sheet with The Notebook logo, as well as a field of edible butterflies and flowers. Available at the restaurant for $24.95, it became my introduction to this glittery and iridescent palace of pop culture.

Like The Notebook — first experienced as Nicholas Sparks debut novel and then as feature film starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams —  Serendipity3 is a quintessential piece of 21st century pop culture. Not only does it offer classic restaurant fare such as sumptuous hamburgers and salads but many, many desserts especially sundaes.

When Serendipity3 added The Notebook to their list of Broadway collaborations, it was hardly the first. The restaurant is known for bringing extravagant desserts and world-record-breaking menu items to the table. These menu items have captivated a worldwide audience and a celebrity following for decades.

Founded in 1954, it is one of the city’s unique dining experiences. The home of decadent desserts such as the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate, Serendipity has been captivating millions of patrons since its inception. It’s a quirky place where artists got their inspiration and actors fulfilled their cravings. Beginning with Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol, Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in the ‘50s, continuing with a celebrity following that includes Cher, Candice Bergen, Melanie Griffith and Ron Howard, the restaurant continues to attract celebrities such as Beyoncé, Ryan Reynolds, Selena Gomez and Kim Kardashian. In addition, the restaurant has been the setting of three major Hollywood productions, “One Fine Day” (1996) with George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer, Serendipity (2001) with John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale, and Trust The Man (2005) with Julianne Moore and David Duchovny.

Produced by Kevin McCollum and Kurt Deutsch, “The Notebook” features music and lyrics by multi-platinum singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson and a book by playwright Bekah Brunstetter (writer and producer on NBC’s “This Is Us,” The Cake). The production is directed by Michael Greif (Dear Evan Hansen, Next to Normal) and Schele Williams (Aida, The Wiz), with choreography by Katie Spelman (Associate Choreographer on Moulin Rouge! The Musical).

The show tells of Allie and Noah, both from different worlds, sharing a lifetime of love despite the forces that threaten to pull them apart, in a deeply moving portrait of love’s enduring power. The cast features Tony Award®-winner Maryann Plunkett as Older Allie, Dorian Harewood as Older Noah, Joy Woods as Middle Allie, Ryan Vasquez as Middle Noah, Jordan Tyson as Younger Allie, John Cardoza as Younger Noah, Andréa Burns as Mother/Nurse Lori. Playing various roles are Yassmin Alers, Alex Benoit, Chase Del Rey, Hillary Fisher, Jerome Harmann-Hardeman, Dorcas Leung, Happy McPartlin, Juliette Ojeda, Kim Onah, Carson Stewart, Charles E. Wallace and Charlie Webb.

With a book that has sold millions of copies worldwide and a film that’s one of the highest-grossing romantic dramas of all-time, the musical adaptation of The Notebook comes to Broadway following a critically acclaimed world premiere engagement at Chicago Shakespeare Theater in the fall of 2022.

As for Broadway’s The Notebook, it’s now in previews at the Schoenfeld Theatre (236 W. 45th Street, NYC) and opens Thursday, March 14th.

For tickets and more info, visit www.NotebookMusical.com.

Serendipity3

225 E 60th Street

Open seven days a week from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. EST

For more information or to book a reservation, visit www.serendipity3.com

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