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Tracy Sallows, Bryan Burton

Tracy Sallows, Bryan Burton. All photos by Carol Rosegg

Sarah Levine Simon and Mihai Grunfeld’s The Dressmaker’s Secret, getting its world premiere at 59E59 Theatres, is obviously a personal piece direct from the heart and most definitely from a deeply felt memory. Based on Gunfeld’s novel, ‘The Dressmaker’s Son, the play is an expansive story filled with extensive details of life in 1944 post-World War 2 communist Romania. Etched in the particulars of survival, The Dressmaker’s Secret is not just a singular tale of one woman’s secret but numerous other secrets as well. It seems everyone in this four character soap opera has a deep dark secret wrapped up and buried in war-time intrigue and politics. And here lies the problem. Either this is going to be a story about one secret, which as it is written now, it is not, or possibly, it should revolve around what the book referred to, a mother and her son.

Robert S. Gregory, Caralyn Kozlowski

Robert S. Gregory, Caralyn Kozlowski All photos by Carol Rosegg

The story is compelling in its simplicity but in the telling of it, has become convoluted and overly complex. It is understandable that Gunfeld has a deep intrinsic connection to the story, but the details are held too closely, and treated like precious items, just like the mementos given from mother to son in this touching story. Overly fleshed out in a realistic style and approach, the day-to-day particulars muddle the dramatic tension. Directed by Roger Hendricks Simon, the meals and the beverages, the cigarettes and the desserts, take up too much important space and time in this overly long and messy production.  The design of the production (scenic and lighting design: Stephen C. Jones) doesn’t help with the action, as it is cluttered and unfocused with too many setups, rearrangements, and knickknacks. We become impatient for these fine actors, who are working so hard to flesh out these poor souls, to stop moving around so much and deliver us to the real emotional core of the secret and the scenario.

The story could have been whittled down to five or so more straightforward scenes that dealt with the interlocking drama. But we become lost in the cafes and unrealistic apartments, where the pacing and intentions don’t register as true and real. People don’t move around a cafe table when conversing over delicate subject matters, especially when they talk about being ‘watched’. They engage and speak to each other, softly and directly. If a play is going to attempt realism, any step outside of that rings too loudly as false.

Caralyn Kozlowski, Bryan Burton

Caralyn Kozlowski, Bryan Burton All photos by Carol Rosegg

The actors do their best reaching into these tortured souls in an attempt to create believable characters that are trying to deal with the left over trauma of twenty-year-old secrets. Marla (Tracy Sallows) is the dressmaker and mother to young Robi (Bryan Burton). The secret she carries with her also encompasses Irma (Caralyn Kozlowski), her once best friend, and Irma’s brother, Robert (Robert S. Gregory). It’s not that complicated, but the scope of the director and playwright casts too great a net. Subplots revolving around Communists, Nazis, Jewish Ghettos and the holocaust are all intertwined; fascinating details for sure, and made me want to read more about the history of Romania post WW2, but combined with the unfocused structure of the play, the factual details of this specific time period doesn’t do the play’s dynamic energy any favors.

The play is called The Dressmaker’s Secret, which is singular. Had they focused themselves on one person’s dramatic arch (as the title of the book implies), and let the others revolve around that one perspective maybe this piece would have had more focus and a greater impact. The pain and suffering is there, especially within the mother/son dynamic, but this play is too widespread. So dramaturge, Eddie Lew, tighten this piece up, and slice this thing down to something more straightforward and to the point. Get rid of the coffee and tea breaks, the dinners and the desserts, the numerous locales, the window frames, and especially all those old photos of Romania on the walls. There is a compelling beautiful story lost somewhere in this theatre, and it should be heard. And put some thread in that sewing machine if you want us to believe in the dressmaker, her son, and her secret.   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

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

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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Events

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents David Zayas Jr.

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We are so pleased to announce our guest this week is David Zayas Jr.

David Zayas Jr. is making his Off-Broadway directorial debut with Simpatico at The Chain Theatre, 312 West 36th Street 3rd Fl. Simpatico plays until June 29th. David most recently directed the Jesus Hopped the A Train staged reading starring Common, John Ortiz, and David Zayas. David also directed LABs 30th Anniversary and the Barn Series, which included three New Works in progress by Stephen Adly Gurgis. A Bronx Native, theater and film Director, Actor, and Photographer, David is a member of The Actors Studio’s Playwright/Directors Unit and LAByrinth Theater Company. He has directed with Planet Connections, Actors Theatre of NY, NY Theater Festival, Samuel French OOB Festival, and Chain Theatre along with award winning films in over 20 festivals.

“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 and 18th here.

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Off Broadway

David A New Musical Opens At The AMT Theater

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David, A New Musical, with music by Al Tapper, book and lyrics by Martha Rosenblatt, Gary Glickstein, and Tapper opened yesterday at the AMT Theater. With the music direction by David Wolfson, direction and choreography by Kyle Pleasant, this show does well, on all these accounts, which is remarkable considering there are 14 in the cast. All sing and move incredibly well.

Timothy Warmen, Kenny Morris, Caleb Mathura
Photo Credit: Russ Rowland.

David is the biblical story of David of David and Goliath fame. Now King, David (Timothy Warmen) feels he is dying and wants to set his affairs in order. His son Solomon (Caleb Mathura) seems a bit too delighted and is chomping at the bit. David wants the prophet Nathan (Kenny Morris) to officiate, but Nathan is not interested. So David goes back down memory lane. Here we meet the younger version of David (Ethan Zeph), who slays the giant, because friends with King Saul’s (Danny Arnold) son Johnathan (Jacob Louchheim) and falls and marries Saul’s daughter Michal (Olivia Vadnais).

Ethan Zeph (center) and cast
Photo Credit: Russ Rowland.

In Act two David makes a deal with Achish (Jay Aubrey Jones) a Philistine, cheats on Michal, even though she gave up everything to be with him and somehow Sodom and Gomorrah gets in the picture. All through this, Nathan claims he was not really chosen by God, but by the end David is not dying …..yet and the two recognize their friendship.

Pictured: L to R: Danny Arnold, Jacob Loucheim, Ethan Zeph, Timothy Warmen and cast
Photo Credit: Russ Rowland.

There are a few things missing here, first David was known for his legendary skills as a poet, harpist, and hymnist. Saul plotted to kill David way before Michal, out of fear he would replace his sons, which he did. A chance for some real fun with Bathsheba, is null and void instead we get a seriously boring plot line and mundane songs with Michal. Also please somebody tell me why young David has brunette hair, when it is mentioned several times in text and song that he has blondish/reddish hair? Change the text or the hair.

Kenny Morris, Ethan Zeph, Timothy Warmen and cast

The reason I mention the later is what is done to perfection is the set design by James F. Fenton and the costume design by Ashley Soliman.  Though I like the  lighting design by Mary Ellen Stebbins at times the show is too dark. Sound designer Elisabeth Weinder needs to listen to the show as the sound is uneven and the drums over power at times.

The direction and choreography are impressive considering the size of the stage and the amount of people on it. I just wished the show had been cut because it is way too long at two and half hours. The audience loses focus as the show is not tight enough and has way to many songs that seem unfocused.

In reading Mr. Tapper’s extremely long bio, the fact that there is an over abundance of songs makes sense. Though catchy, many are generic. The score is inconsistent, but has some wonderful themes that if edited could really be good. A prime example of this is the opening number which is good, but does not tell us really where we are going, as David is not dying and Solomon is not going to be king for awhile, at least not according to the end of the show. A better song would have been based on the fact King David doesn’t want to be remembered as the kid with the slingshot, which he is. Now there is a clear picture of where we are going.

Curtain Call photo Genevieve Rafter Keddy

The cast also excels here especially the scenes with King David and Nathan and ones with Johnathan. All three are terrific actors with wonderful voices.

Curtain Call photo Genevieve Rafter Keddy

Kudos has to be given to he ensemble consisting of Ashley Marie Arnold, Blair Alexis Brown, Bruce Blanchard, Scott Harrison, Garland Ray, and Jodi Snyder. They sing, act and dance well.

Curtain Call photo Genevieve Rafter Keddy

While David, A New Musical, has a lot to work on, it is well done for an Off Broadway show and I wish it well.

David, A New Musical: AMT Theater, 354 W. 45th Street until July 13.

Opening Night Photo’s Genevieve Rafter Keddy

Ethan Zeph, Olivia Vadnais 

Olivia Vadnais

Ethan Zeph

Ethan Zeph, Al Tapper

Al Tapper

Timothy Warmen

Ethan Zeph, Timothy Warmen

Jacob Louchheim

Garland Ray

Garland Ray, Ashley Marie Arnold

Ashley Marie Arnold

Gary Glickstein, Al Tapper

Scott Harrison

The cast

The cast

Jay Aubrey Jones

Kenny Morris

Al Tapper, Kenny Morris

Gary Glickstein, Blair Alexis Brown, Garland Ray

Jay Aubrey Jones, Blair Alexis Brown

Blair Alexis Brown

Caleb Mathura, Jodi Snyder, Danny Arnold

Olivia Vadnais, Ashley Marie Arnold, Blair Alexis Brown

Jacob Louchheim

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