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Theatre and Cabaret News: Lucie Arnez, National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill, Aladdin, Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation, Fear, Bewilderness, Victor, Big Apple Circus and Molly Sweeney

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Founded in 1964, the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center is the country’s premiere institution for new play development. Every summer, six to eight unproduced works are selected from a pool of 1,000+ submissions for a playwright-driven workshop on the O’Neill’s campus in beautiful Waterford, CT. At every step in the process, the O’Neill strives to foster an inclusive, collaborative environment in which artistic exploration and experimentation is encouraged.

Applications for the 2020 National Playwrights Conference will open September 12 – October 11, 2019. 

Adam Jacobs from the original production

Disney’s hit stage musical version of Aladdin has been filmed in London at the Prince Edward Theatre for a future broadcast release.

Forbidden Broadway, Gerard Alessandrini’s award-winning musical spoof of theater is back in Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation. It is set for a 10-week limited engagement at the Triad Theatre from September 18 through November 30, with an official opening night set for October 16. Alessandrini will direct the production, with Gerry McIntyre as choreographer.

The full company will include Jenny Lee Stern (Jersey Boys), Aline Mayagoitia (Kinky Boots), Chris Collins-Pisano (Elf), Joshua Turchin (A Christmas Story: The Musical) and newcomer Immanuel Houston, with Fred Barton on piano.

Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation will feature up-to-the-moment spoofs of Hadestown, Moulin Rouge!, this season’s Oklahoma! revival, The Ferryman, Tootsie, Beetlejuice, Frozen, the Yiddish-language Fiddler on the RoofDear Evan Hansen, What the Constitution Means to Me and the new generation of Broadway stars including Ben Platt, Billy Porter, Santino Fontana, Karen Olivo, Alex Brightman and exciting turns by Bette Midler, André De Shields, Bernadette Peters and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Obi Abili

Matt Williams’ play Fear will receive its World Premiere beginning Tuesday, October 15 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre (121 Christopher Street), directed by Tea Alagić. A limited run, Fear will celebrate its opening night on Thursday, October 24 and run through December 8, 2019. 

Fear follows a little girl’s disappearance as it prompts a tense confrontation among a plumber, college professor, and teenage boy. In this psychological drama, three neighbors discover how far they are willing to go to defend the values that define them.

The cast will feature Obi Abili (TV’s “Billions,” “ Delicious.” Irish Rep’s  The Emperor Jones), Enrico Colantoni (Film: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood;   TV’s “Veronica Mars”),  and  Alexander Garfin (Film:  Peanuts). 

The Circle Series has proven itself to be an apt home for comedy, in its sixth installment, Circle in the Square Theatre School will present Bewilderness by Zack Fine, an unconventional and absurdist comedy following the life (and failures!) of Henry David Thoreau on his journey to writing his masterpiece, Walden.

The staged reading is held at Broadway’s Circle in the Square on Monday, September 16 at 7pm and is open to the public. Admission is a suggested donation of $20 for adults and $10 for seniors and students, with all proceeds benefiting Circle in the Square Theatre School.

Edger Oliver Photo by Pavel Antonov

Axis Theatre Company (1 Sheridan Square) presents Victor (world premiere), written and performed by Edgar Oliver, directed by Randy Sharp, with live musical accompaniment arranged and composed by Paul Carbonara

Previews: October 2–5 at 8pm, press opening: Sunday, October 6 and performances through October 26: Wednesday – Saturday at 8pm

For over a decade, Axis Theatre Company has served as an incubator and theatrical home for the beloved performer, poet, and storyteller Edgar Oliver, a fixture of the New York downtown scene for over three decades. In deep collaboration with Axis Theatre Company founder Randy Sharp, Oliver has created a body of work that Hilton Als of The New Yorker has described as “so beautiful—so enthralling in its undisguised but never tedious self-absorption, in its command of the spoken word, and in its demand for love.”

Big Apple Circus is thrilled to announce their 42nd season, celebrating the heartbeat, everyday delights, and spirit of New York City with astounding talent from around the world, led by Brooklyn-born singer and Ringmaster Storm Marrero. This year’s brand-new show begins performances October 12, 2019 at Lincoln Center and will run through February 2, 2020. Tickets are now on sale at Ticketmaster.com.

Featuring a magical set design touching every corner of the tent, Season 42 is ready to transport audience members upon entering. A thrilling addition to this year’s show will be original compositions by Drama Desk nominated composer, writer, performer, and multi-instrumentalist Ada Westfall (Death of a Salesman at BAM). Also on board to create the eclectic and vibrant environment to highlight the extraordinary performances are music director Wages Argott, composer Janine Delwarte, lighting designer Jesse Alford, and Tony Award nominated costume designer Emilio Sosa (“Project Runway” finalist, Porgy & Bess, Motown).

  • Circus of the Senses (December 5th and 6th) offers special enhanced inclusive experiences for audiences who are deaf, blind, low vision and more. The performances feature ASL interpretation, Live Audio description through infrared headsets, pre and post show tactile experiences and both braille and large print programs.
  • For one night only (December 5 at 5:30PM) there will be a completely empathetic and immersive experience where audiences will enjoy a 3-course dinner and the show – all while wearing a blindfold. The performance is full guided, audio described, and will provide the audience with the incredible perspectives afforded only to the blind. 
  • Sensory-friendly Autism performances (October 26 and November 1st at 11 am ) feature lowered light and sound levels, a complete social story available for download with a descriptive picture book showing the different areas and acts involved with the circus, a professionally staffed “calming center” and additional support that can be accessed at any point during the show.
  • As part of the Circus for All initiative, eighteen performances throughout the fifteen-week run will offer $10 tickets for every seat in the house to underserved schools and community groups.  In addition to the tickets, Big Apple Circus offers a complete study guide highlighting both CORE and STEAM curriculums for the students to learn about science, history, geography, and more first-hand as they experience the Big Apple Circus

Tickets are now on-sale at www.Ticketmaster.com 

Keen Company Artistic Director Jonathan Silverstein today announced the cast for the first play of the new season, Keen’s 20th: Paul O’Brien, Pamela Sabaugh andTommy Schrider will star in Brian Friel’s Molly Sweeney directed by Mr. Silverstein. 

Molly Sweeney’s resonate meditation on sight and dreams has captivated me since I first read it over twenty years ago and I am thrilled to begin rehearsals with this terrific cast and creative team. Pamela is a wonderful actor, and her experience as a person with low vision has already illuminated the text for me in new ways. Paul and Tommy are both inspired actors who I have wanted to work with for quite some time. Keen is working with consultant George Ashiotis (former co-Artistic Director, Theatre by the Blind) and partnering with blind and low vision schools and organizations to make Molly Sweeney accessible to the blind and low vision audience, including offering touch tours and audio described performances. We hope to create a welcoming space for conversation about choice, representation, and connection,” said Silverstein.

Performances for the limited Off-Broadway engagement of Molly Sweeney will begin Tuesday, October 8th, and continue through November 16th only, with opening night set for Wednesday October 23rd.

Having lost her sight at infancy, Molly Sweeney (played by Pamela Sabaugh) knows the world through touch, sound, taste, and smell. When her hopeful husband (Tommy Schrider) and ambitious doctor (Paul O’Brien) propose an operation to restore her sight, Molly and those around her begin to understand that things may not all be as they appear. Brian Friel, Ireland’s master storyteller (Dancing at Lughnasa, Faith Healer, Translations) creates a riveting contemporary drama about the unexpected consequences of a medical miracle.

From one of Ireland’s best living playwrights, this striking piece of dramatic writing is a daring piece of theater. Keeping the play’s three characters on stage at all times to speak directly to the audience, Brian Friel presents three points of view to the same intriguing tale. Each of their voices interweaves, threading in and out with details, spinning a lush and sensate narrative, and carrying us effortlessly to an unexpected and poignant conclusion. Deceptively simple, yet richly multilayered—combining both an insightful story about the way we perceive our existence with an allegory for our times — Molly Sweeney is an Irish storyteller’s art to create an unforgettable theater piece, painting scenery and rousing emotions with nothing more than the simple purity of beautifully rendered words.

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Cabaret

Karen Mason and Louis Rosen

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Karen Mason and Louis Rosen met back in the 70s in Chicago. Karen was a young singer accompanied by a the incomparable pianist-songwriter Brian Lasser. He was close friends with guitarist, pianist-songwriter, Louis Rosen. Mason and Lasser moved to New York and two years later Rosen was there as well. A little over ten years later Lasser died of AIDS. Rosen and Mason have made sure that Lasser’s music is remembered.

Karen Mason

Louis Rosen

Mason and Rosen are back together again celebrating nearly 50 years of collaboration and friendship. The evening is stripped down bare with Rosen on guitar and piano and Mason and Rosen on vocals. Most of the material is Rosen’s songs many from his most recent albums, but added are a few selections by  Lasser, that make you know he died way to soon.

Karen Mason

Louis Rosen

Rosen’s music is what singer/songwriters use to write, full of blues riffs, uplifting swing, folk melodies, jazz cadences and soulful powerful lyrics. It is like an old soul left their words to impart. This night so made me want to hear his newest album “Love and Ashes”. Rosen is a musicians musician.

“A master interpreter… Mason produces a depth of sound and brilliance of color that converge in the work of very few singers!” (Chicago Tribune)

Mason has an authenticity to her voice. She is a storyteller, rich in tone and truly excels on Lasser’s music. She is a belter at heart, but Rosen’s music has her venerable and exposed, which is a new side to her art.

It is always wonderful to watch two artists collaborate,

Luba Mason and Karen Mason

Louis Rosen

Karen Mason and Louis Rosen: Ages Since the Last Time: Chelsea Table + Stage, 152 West 26th Street.

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Cabaret

My View: Why CAN’T A Woman…? This Woman Can…Lianne Marie Dobbs

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The actor Lianne Marie Dobbs played a 1900’s woman in the HBO series The Gilded Age. You also might have seen her in Law & Order, The Equalizer and F.B.I., but yesterday at Chelsea Tables + Stage she wasn’t just playing the part of a Cabaret singer!  Ms. Dobbs is the real deal, and she captivated an audience of music connoisseurs with her formidable vocal talents and wit in her show titled “Why CAN’T a Woman…? 

Lianne’s cabaret act utilizes Broadway leading men’s songs and sassy standards, served up with a twist of SHE, to celebrate all the hats that women wear, and she answered the shows question authoritatively….This woman sure can!

Lianne Marie Dobbs was named one of the Best Vocalists of the Decade (BroadwayWorld, 2020) and has filled The Green Room 42, 54Below, Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael, Feinstein’s at the Nikko, Blue Strawberry in St. Louis, and will be featured in Chicago’s Cabaret Week later in May.  “Why CAN’T a Woman…?” was named one of the best cabaret shows of the year (2022) by BroadwayWorld, and called “an honest to goodness emerging work of art”.  She has appeared in leading roles Off-Broadway, in National Tours, and at renowned theaters such as Denver Center, Repertory of St. Louis, Ogunquit Playhouse, Goodspeed and many more.

Ron Abel is Lianne’s music director and arranger, whose accolades include: LA Critics Circle Award Winner and L.A. Weekly Award Winner for his original compositions and unique arrangements of Broadway hits for orchestras and singers. He has been the music director for acclaimed vocalists such as Lucie Arnaz, Peter Allen, Joely Fisher, Valarie Pettiford, Julia Migenes, Helen Reddy, and John Lloyd Young.

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS & RON ABEL

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS & RON ABEL

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS & RON ABEL

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS & RON ABEL

CHELSEA TABLE + STAGE

CHELSEA TABLE + STAGE

STANDING OVATION

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS & CAROLE J. BUFFORD

PAUL KREPPEL, RON ABEL, EDA SOROKOFF, MURPHY CROSS

EDA SOROKOFF & TAKAKO HARKNESS

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Cabaret

My View: The City Was Special Last Night….Melissa Errico at 54 Below

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The evening at 54 Below was advertised as a “ Vinyl Release Celebration Concert” and how apt that VINYL, the unrivaled substance utilized to capture the subtle nuances and breadth of music has now been used to capture the elegant voice of Melissa Errico singing the songs of  “Sondheim in the City” for posterity. 

Caveat: While Vinyl may capture in analog glory the beautiful notes and words of Melissa, one must be in her presence to experience her irrepressible beauty, wit, and intelligence on stage.

Melissa Errico….Sondheim In The City Vinyl Release Celebration at 54 Below May 7,8,9…..

Tedd Firth Music Director, David Finck (Bass), Eric Halvorson (Drums) Bruce Harris (Trumpet)

About the show:

After the critical triumph of her Sondheim Sublime album-called “the finest all Sondheim recording ever made” by the Wall Street Journal, Melissa Errico returned to one of her cabaret homes (54 Below) last night and to her favorite songwriter with an entire new program of Sondheim songs, celebrating her new album (released February 16, 2024 on Concord) and a different side of Steve, praised in The New York Times as “a New York house tour of thrill and heartbreak..from one of Sondheim’s deepest-hearted yet lightest-touch interpreters.”

Sondheim in the City is the Sondheim of smart, sophisticated New York, the Sondheim of the quick, witty, sardonic, love-seeking and sex-driven city that he recorded and worked in through his long life. From the anthem of city busyness “Another Hundred People” to the bittersweet hymns of city marriage, “Sorry, Grateful” and “Good Thing Going,” with time for hardboiled surprises like “Uptown, Downtown” and surprisingly soft-centered ballads like “All That I Need” and “Dawn”

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO & TEDD FIRTH, music director

54 Below, Eda Sorokoff

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Cabaret

Klea Blackhurst Brings The Songbook Of Jerry Herman To Life

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Klea Blackhurst returned to Chelsea Table and Stage last Sunday with another installment of her monthly series “The Box Set”. Each month Klea reprises one of her acclaimed shows. Last  Sunday she performed  One of the Girls: “The Words and Music of Jerry Herman”. Klea sang Herman’s songs that were made famous by the women in his life.

The evening started with Klea descending down the long staircase of the club singing “Just Leave Everything to Me” from the film, “Hello Dolly!” and she was off running. She is  an actress, singer, comedian and Mermanologist. What is a Mermanologist you ask ? Someone who is an expert on Ethel Merman.

Klea relayed some wonderful stories about Jerry Herman. She  got to know the composer well.  You can feel her admiration for him not only as a composer, but as a human being.

Klea was backed up by superb musicians: Michael Rice – piano/arrangements, Aaon Russell on drums and Tom Hubbard on bass. In between Jerry Herman stories Klea sang some of Herman’s great songs: “Put on Your Sunday Clothes”, “It Only Takes a Moment” from Hello Dolly!, “Open A New Window” and “It’s Today from Mame,  “Time Heals Everything” from Mack &Mabel, “Just Go to The Movies” from A Day in Hollywood/ A Night in the Ukraine and “I Don’t want to Know” from Dear World. Klea knocked it out of the park with her rendition  of “I’m  What I Am” from La Cage aux Folles.

Very seldom do I leave a show and feel I that I need to spread the world about a great performer but for Ms. Blackhurst… I do.

Klea is truly one of the greats of this generation of entertainers.

We have to wait till September 15, 2024 for her next show “Dreaming of A Song” The Music of Hoagy Carmichael co-staring Billy Stritch.

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Cabaret

Laura Slutsky Does Cabaret for a Cause

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Laura Slutsky’s and my paths have crossed many times over the years and I have always found her witty, kind and engaging. I just didn’t know how big a heart she had until I saw she was producing cabaret and comedy shows to raise money for various charities. Over the past few months, she has gathered groups of talented performers to raise money for Parkinson’s Disease and the people of Maui after the devastating fires. On April 28th I was able to attend her latest fundraiser at the Triad Theater to support St Jude Children’s Hospital.  Lyzette Dorado, St Jude Marketing Director for New York City, was in attendance and was able to share how the organization helps the young cancer patients and their families.

Laura Slutsky

Lizette Dorado, St Jude Marketing Director shares what their mission

Laura Slutsky Singing Eydie Gorme

Laura and Sue Matsuki Cohosts of the Evening

I met Sue Matsuki a few years ago when she was organizing the Winter Rhythms concerts for Urban Stages. She is an award winning (MAC, Bistro and Julie Wilson Awards) singer and author. She met Laura in January and in those 3 short months they were able to organize this wonderful entertaining afternoon with a list of Grade A talent.

Sue Matsuki Singing Judy Garland

Saundra Silliman Sings Nancy Wilson

Elvira Tortora Sings Babara Cook

Debra Stone Sings Amanda McBroom

Laura’s Shmoozin’ with Slutsky series of special performance events each has a different theme and this one was “Legends that ‘Muse’ Me,” a 90 minute concert with eleven powerhouse performers, each singing a song from one of their favorite influences. Each performer wowed the packed house and as all proceeds benefitted St Jude it showed a true sense of community and caring.

Jacqueline Draper Sings Piaf

Meg Flather sings one of her own compositions

Kati Nieheisel Sings Julie London

Eva Steinberg Sings Peggy Lee

Ms Slutsky, in addition to co-emceeing with her special wit sang Eydie Gorme and Sue honored Judy Garland.  The afternoon was a wonderful variety of singers each with a different style including ballads, jazz, blues a popular tunes. Saundra Silliman sang Nancy Wilson; Elvira Tortora, Babara Cook and Debra Stone, Amanda McBroom. Jacqueline Draper performed Piaf in French and English while Meg Flather sang one of her own compositions. Kati Nieheisel and Eva Steinberg spoke of Julie London and Peggy Lee, respectively, before giving them tribute in song. Margaret Curry and Leslee Warren, influenced by Linda Ronstadt and Ethel Waters, respectively, turned up the temperature with Blue Bayou and Heat Wave. Lina Koutrakis completed the line up with two 2 songs; one from Michele Brourman and one of her own.

Debra Stone and all the ladies are accompanied by the Gregory Toroian Band

Margaret Curry Sings Linda Ronstadt

Leslee Warren Sings Ethel Waters

Lina Koutrakis sang 2 songs; One from Michele Brourman and one of her own

All the women were accompanied by the Gregory Toroian Band with Mr. Toroian on piano, Skip Ward on bass and Eric Halvorson on drums.

If this afternoon was an example of all the Shmoozin with Slutsky shows I am sorry I am late to the party. She knows how to bring out the best talent and showcase them in a gleaming light. What’s even more special is that she does this for the benefit of so many in need. Her next Shmooze will raise money for Prostate Cancer (date to be determined) but in the meantime you can support St. Jude Children’s Hospital https://www.stjude.org for more information.

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