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Theatre News: A Christmas Carol, Into the Woods, A Beautiful Noise The Neil Diamond Musical, Little Shop of Horrors and Black Theatre United

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Tony Award® winner Jefferson Mays will play 50+ Roles in A Christmas Carol on Broadway. This strictly limited 66-performance engagement at the Nederlander Theatre (208 West 41st Street)). Mr. Mays, who is currently performing as Mayor Shinn ten blocks north in The Music Man, will depart that role on October 23rd.

Directed by two-time Tony Award nominee Michael Arden, adapted by Mays, Susan Lyons, and Arden, and conceived by Arden and Tony Award nominee Dane Laffrey,

“After everything we’ve been through in the past few years it seems fitting to tell the story of one man’s reflection and redemption on the Broadway stage” Hunter Arnold said. “In a time where the world needs each of us to look within and find our own best selves we are ecstatic to bring this iconic tale of metamorphosis and catharsis to audiences this holiday season.”

Preview performances for A Christmas Carol will begin Tuesday, November 8 with an official opening night set for Monday, November 21 in a strictly limited engagement through Sunday, January 1, 2023. Tickets for the production are on sale now at www.ticketmaster.com and can be purchased in-person at the Nederlander Theatre box office starting Tuesday, October 11. Group pricing for 10+ coming soon.

Jordan Roth, President of Jujamcyn Theaters, today announced that the hugely acclaimed and much beloved New York City Center Encores! production of James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s revival of Into the Woods at the St. James Theatre will be extended one final time through Sunday, January 8, 2023.

Into the Woods, the first Broadway show of the 2022/2023 season, is directed by Lear deBessonet, music direction by Rob Berman with The Encores! Orchestra, and choreographed by Lorin Latarro. This production is dedicated to the memory of Stephen Sondheim.

Casting announcements for the rest of the run will be made soon.

Tickets for the extension will be available beginning at 9:00AM EST via SeatGeek.com/into-the-woods.

Additionally, last night, Montego Glover, Stephanie J. Block, Sebastian Arcelus Krysta Rodriguez, Katy Geraghty, Jim Stanek, and Andy Karl all took their initial bows in the production as the show’s new cast began performances.

Casting for A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical which will begin preview performances Wednesday, November 2 ahead of a Sunday, December 4 opening night at the Broadhurst Theatre.

The cast is led by Tony Award® nominee Will Swenson as Neil Diamond – Then. Swenson starred in A Beautiful Noise’s world premiere this summer at Boston’s Emerson Colonial Theatre and his performance was universally hailed by critics. Don Aucoin of The Boston Globe said, “Swenson’s electric, sparkling performance nearly blows the roof off! His blend of magnetism, virtuosity, and dynamism blasts full throttle through Neil Diamond’s hits,” and Jared Bowen of WGBH said, “he was born to play this role.”

Swenson will be joined at the Broadhurst by his costars from the Boston run Tony Award nominee Mark Jacoby as Neil Diamond – Now, who Joyce Kulhawik called, “stunning,” Tony Award nominee Robyn Hurder as Marcia, who Jacquinn Sinclair of WBUR said is “an absolute force who brings down the house,” and Linda Powell as Doctor who was hailed by Leah Klein of Boston Living as “wonderful.”

They will be joined by Jessie Fisher as Jaye Posner; Michael McCormick as Fred Colby, Tommy O’Rourke; Tom Alan Robbins as Bert Berns, Kieve Diamond; and Bri Sudia as Ellie Greenwich, Rose Diamond.

The ensemble, swings, and standbys include Neal Benari (standby Neil Diamond – Now), Ninako Donville (swing), Nick Fradiani (standby Neil Diamond – Then), Kalonjee Gallimore (ensemble), Samantha Gershman (swing), Alex Hairston (ensemble), Makai Hernandez (swing), Jess LeProtto (ensemble), Tatiana Lofton (ensemble), Aaron James McKenzie (ensemble), Mary Page Nance (ensemble), Robert Pendilla (swing), Max Sangerman (ensemble), and MiMi Scardulla (ensemble).

Will Swenson will play a schedule of seven performances per week with Nick Fradiani playing Neil Diamond – Then during the Wednesday evening performances.

Director Michael Mayer said, “I’m excited to bring our stunning company to the Broadhurst this fall to celebrate the music and life of Neil Diamond. His exceptional career speaks for itself, and I think A Beautiful Noise speaks to the extraordinary range and depth of his songwriting in all sorts of fresh ways. I can’t wait to share this special musical with Broadway audiences.”

Tickets for A Beautiful Noise are available at www.abeautifulnoisethemusical.com or www.telecharge.com. The Broadhurst Theatre box office will open on Wednesday, September 21.

The Little Shop of Horrors turns 40 this year, and I am excited to share news of a new book publishing tomorrow (Sept. 8) that delves into its fascinating trajectory. How does a B-movie shot in two days with a budget of $30,000 spawn one of the most-produced musicals? In Attack of the Monster Musical: A Cultural History of Little Shop of Horrors, scholar Adam Abraham chronicles the unlikely phenomenon.
Through 65+ interviews and newly unearthed material on the early development of the show–Ashman’s original outlines, drafts of songs, and cut lyrics–Abraham shows the development of this “strange and interesting” musical from the dreams of a b-movie fan to countless productions, including a successful 2022 off-Broadway revival.
Through extensive research, Attack of the Monster Musical shares such insights and revelations as,
  • For the role of Audrey in the 1986 Warner Bros. film, the producers considered Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Madonna, and Cyndi Lauper. Lauper was interested but wanted to write her own songs for the film (years later, she did write a Broadway musical). The producers finally agreed to shoot a screen test with Ellen Greene, and she won the part she had already played on stage in New York, Los Angeles, and London.
  • Ellen Green, a significant reason for the show’s success, also created a challenging rehearsal process.
  • The first-ever audience for Little Shop of Horrors hated it. Ashman and Menken basically ignored this reaction. However, some critical changes followed, including adding “Somewhere That’s Green,”–lending emotional depth to the piece.
Attack of the Monster Musical is chock-full of new and seen-in-a-new-light material. I’ve attached more information; please let me know if you’d like to see a galley (physical or digital).

 

Black Theatre United (BTU) is proud to announce their inaugural gala, “A Night to Remember,” will take place on Monday, October 3 at The Rooftop at Pier 17. Supported by Business for Good (BFG), the evening will begin with a concert featuring performances by America’s most sought-after Black Broadway and theater talent. Doors to the concert open at 5:30pm. The opening act, the popular R&B duo Lion Babe, will perform at 6:15pm and the special A Night to Remember” concert will begin at 7:00pm.

The star-studded concert will include performances by BTU Founders Vanessa Williams, Norm Lewis, Audra McDonald, LaChanze, Capathia Jenkins, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Darius de Haas, Natasha Yvette Williams, Lillias White, with special performing guests Josh Groban, Joaquina Kalukango, Chuck Cooper, Lilli Cooper, Eddie Cooper and special appearances by Sara Bareilles and Gavin Creel. The evening will be hosted by James Monroe Iglehart, directed by Jerry Dixon and Musical Directed by Michael Mitchell.

Throughout the evening, BTU will also honor trailblazing leaders in Black theatre who are inspiring the next generation of Black theatre professionals. Honorees will be announced at a later date.

Tickets for “A Night to Remember” begin at $40 and are available NOW at http://www.blacktheatreunited.com/gala/.

BTU Co-Founder Vanessa Williams said, “Black Theatre United is thrilled to have Business for Good be our lead sponsor for our first annual concert and gala. BFG invests in people to build better businesses, stronger communities, and a more equitable world. A perfect alignment for BTU’s vision and commitment. Diversity is a fact but inclusion is a choice “

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

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Inspired by True Events Inspires a New Kind a Theatre

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Ryan Spahn’s new play, Inspired by True Events, takes its audience to the green room at Out of the Box Theatrics at 154 Christopher Street for 90 minutes. The audience is limited to 35 and in a small enclosed space, it is a little claustrophobic, strange considering there is a theatre that holds 74 seats. The title is award winning and this true story is so dramatic, that is was begging to be theatricalize.

The play is loosely based on Daniel Wozniak, who was a community theater actor in Costa Mesa, California, where he was arrested for the gruesome murders of Sam Herr, a war veteran, and Julie Kibuishi, a college student and dancer, in May 2010. Desperate for money he shot and killed Herr, his 26-year-old neighbor, in an attempt to steal the $62,000. Herr had saved from his combat pay and Wozniak was in desperate need of money to help pay for his honeymoon. Wozniak was engaged to Rachel Buffett, a fellow community theater actress, and both were performing in a production of Nine. Wozniak then took the stage just hours after murdering his victim’s.

Dana Scurlock and Jack Difalco in Inspired By True Events Photo by Thomas Brunot

In the green room the first to enter is Mary (Dana Scurlock), the stage manager of a community theater in Rochester. She brews coffee, cleans up an opening night party with cake, pizza and liquor bottles. She is the den mother of this resident theatre, clearly her favorite is Colin (Jack DiFalco), the lead actor of the current production. Colin, is clearly unbalanced, still drunk from the night before. He tells Mary the girl he wants to marry, he broke up with after the opening. He is concerned with performing for a sold-out house after rave reviews. In the meantime mice infestation is freaking out his cast mates, Eileen (Mallory Portnoy) and Robert (Lou Liberatore), but it turns out the mice are not the worse thing that has happened.

Mallory Portnoy and Lou Liberatore star in Ryan Spahn’s Inspired by True Events, directed by Knud Adams, for Out of the Box Theatrics.
Photo by Thomas Brunot)

Ryan Spahn, is an actor making his debut as a playwright. This show is a play within a play, but it is hard to understand the play, because it is not one we know. There is humor, but at 90-minutes it seems at times to be more of an improv.

Staged by Knud Adams, an Obie-winning director, He directs his actors, as if they are in a melodrama, with a lot of over acting. It would have been great to see the mouse infection or possibly a mouse or something heinous on the fencing foil. There is no real danger or horror or anything to really keep our interest.

Portnoy’s self-involved Eileen is reminiscent of actress we all know. Liberatore, is the more restrained character in the show, but it is Scurlock, who seems genuine and is the most gifted actor on stage. Then there is DiFalco, who just seems over acting or in a different show. His sobbing seems deranged and there really is no build up. This is a man, who has just killed two people, possibly three and he is able to go on stage and act normally, but when in the green room calculated and insane. Not sure I understand his portrayal.

Lindsay G. Fuori’s scenic design, Sean Frank’s props, sound designer Peter Mills Weiss and Paige Seber’s lighting are all done well, but don’t move the play further.

Though Inspired by True Events was previously developed in workshops with New York Stage & Film, The Vineyard Theatre and EST, it seems that it has not been developed fully.

Inspired By True Events: Out of the Box Theatrics at 154 Christopher Street, runs through August 4. Tickets and information: ootbtheatrics.com

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Tribeca Festival Premieres ‘Elizabeth Taylor: The Lost Tapes’

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Tribeca Festival hosted the North American premiere “Elizabeth Taylor: The Lost Tapes” on June 11 in New York City.

The film which makes the audience understand Taylor’s moxie in a whole new way is captivating and a thrill to watch. It is hard to turn your eyes away from the screen that shines a spotlight on one of the most famous legends in Hollywood history. The tapes tell her version of an icons larger than life script.

As the iconic actress says in a recording as highlighted in the HBO Documentary film, “To thine own self be true. That’s all I have to do.”

In attendance at the screening at the SVA theater were Aude Temel (Co-Producer), Barbara Berkowitz (EP & Elizabeth Taylor Estate), Bill Gerber (Producer), John Paul Horstman (Co-Producer), Nancy Abraham (Executive Vice President, Documentary and Family Programming, HBO),Nanette Burstein (Director/Writer), Glen Zipper (Producer), Quinn Tivey (EP, Elizabeth Taylor Estate and Elizabeth Taylor’s grandson), Rachel Rusch Rich (Producer), Sean Stuart (Producer), Tal Ben David (Editor/Writer), and Tim Mendelson (EP & Elizabeth Taylor Estate).

Oscar-nominated director Burstein’s documentary showcases a mesmerizing journey via audio tapes discovered in the archive of journalist Richard Meryman. Through her lens we are guided by Taylor’s voice as she walks the audience from the first step of her career through her time with Burton in the 1970s.  As described, “she reveals intimacies about her relationships, romantic and otherwise, she peels back the layers of a beloved public figure to reveal a vulnerable, funny, and tenacious woman who persevered despite a life led almost entirely under the scrutiny of public opinion.”

Speaking on the red carpet about Taylor’s accomplishments on the screen to her celebrated advocacy work Burstein mused over the icon and said, “She realized that she could change the game and she did.”

Photo Credit: HBO Documentary Films

 

 

 

 

 

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Composer Randy Edelman Will Be Honored And Closes The Evening At The Metropolitan Club for Career Bridges

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On Tuesday May 7, 2024, The Schuyler Foundation for Career Bridges, David Schuyler Bender and Barbara Bender will be celebrating their Twentieth Annual Concert and Dinner at the historic and illustrious Metropolitan Club located @ 1 East 60th Street, NYC. There will be a cocktail reception & silent auction beginning at 6:30 and the dinner and concert will begin at 7:30. Black tie is preferred, tickets are still available at careerbridges.org.

David Schuyler Bender and Barbara Meister Bender

The mission of Career Bridges is to help young opera singers launch their careers by awarding them grants in voice coaching, diction, language, repertory and stage presence. Many of the grant recipients will be performing at this year’s Gala hosted by renowned Metropolitan Opera Star Denyce Graves and Theodore S. Chaplin, former President of Rogers and Hammerstein Organization.

As one of the prestigious honorees, eminent Symphonist Randy Edelman will be granted “The Lifetime Achievement Award” for his endless contributions to the cultural mosaic of music in film, television, recording, and nearly every aspect of the music industry.

The music of composer Randy Edelman isn’t just a tune, but rather a touch, a supernatural force that makes galaxies collide and creates a million tiny universes. His music is an emotion unfurled and perfectly orchestrated, a melody that becomes a story making song and singer, a single force engulfed by the notes. The crowd caresses the echoes of his lyrics replaying past memories that awaken forgotten worlds. His music is stronger than time.

Others to be honored alongside the multi-award winning composer include: Jason Kwintner, Director of Special Events for the Metropolitan Club, Dr. Joan Taub Ades, who will receive the Humanitarian Award for her musical philanthropic work, and Tony Award winning producer Jane Bergère.

Special thanks to Lorraine Silvetz (Executive Director Of Global Stress Initiative), Yvette Wenger and Jane Thorngren.

The official website for tickets may be found at the Career Bridges Website here:
https://careerbridges.org

T2C will be interviewing Randy Edelman this Wednesday at The Hotel Edison.

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Tony Bennett Auction Exhibition at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco

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Tony Bennett: A Life Well Lived,” exclusive exhibition opening at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, California, celebrating the legendary life and career of the iconic pop jazz vocalist before its two-day auction event by Julien’s Auctions taking place April 18th and Friday, April 19th, 2024 at Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame in Jazz at Lincoln Center. The free public exhibition opens April 8th and runs through April 10th (10am-6pm daily).The Fairmont San Francisco and Mr. Bennett have enjoyed a special relationship for decades. Mr. Bennett first performed his hit “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” in the Venetian Room at the hotel in 1961. The Fairmont San Francisco has had the honor and pleasure of welcoming Mr. Bennett and his family to the hotel for decades. The hotel also touts a special Tony Bennett suite that pays homage to his career and features several pieces of his artwork.Highlights of the exhibition include artifacts pertaining to the American songbook master’s life and career with his special link to San Francisco such as a San Francisco cable car bell award presented to Bennett for his instrumental role in saving the city’s iconic cable car system in the 1980s; a San Francisco Giants jacket worn by Bennett as the Texas Rangers faced the San Francisco Giants in Game 1 of the World Series in San Francisco, California, October 27, 2010 and his white personalized “Bennett” San Francisco Giants jersey; his original “Landscape San Francisco” watercolor painting; as well as record awards, a Grammy nomination plaque for his iconic hit, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and more.

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Jameson Set to Take Over Times Square for Epic Event and More with Colin Jost and Michael Che

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To make St. Patrick’s Eve as epic as possible, Jameson is taking over Times Square on Saturday, March 16. Starting today, fans can visit JamesonSPE.com to enter for a chance to score a spot on the guest list for Jameson’s St. Patrick’s Eve celebration in New York City, co-hosted by Jost and Che, featuring a  surprise DJ performance and a can’t-miss, first-of-its-kind ‘rock drop’ – a Jameson version of the famous Times Square ball drop – at 8 p.m. ET (aka midnight in Ireland) to mark the occasion. Jameson Irish Whiskey is one of the first brands to ever drop the Times Square Ball to launch a celebration for a new holiday. To further spread the St. Patrick’s Eve spirit from coast-to-coast, Jameson will also light up the Sphere in Las Vegas in Jameson green, wrap the ferries and water taxis in the dyed- green Chicago River and have a complete digital takeover at L.A. Live – all marking the new holiday.

Anyone 21+ can tune into the rock drop live streamed on JamesonSPE.com and for those in NYC, Jameson will have a kick-off to St. Patrick’s Eve in Times Square Plaza between 43rd and 44th Streets with a live DJ, giveaways and more from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET.

Because a special holiday deserves an equally stylish look, Jameson is releasing limited-edition, vintage-inspired jackets at JamesonSPE.com. The design includes a hidden pocket inside the jacket to perfectly

hold a Jameson hip flask that comes with the order, as well as luxe patches signature to the iconic Irish Whiskey brand. The Jameson St. Patrick’s Eve jacket will retail for $150 plus tax with free shipping in the continental U.S., and 50-jacket drops will take place weekly hrough March 12.

All proceeds will benefit the Restaurant Workers’ Community Fund (RWCF), a nonprofit dedicated to advocating for food and beverage service industry workers, continuing the brand’s long-standing partnership with the organization to support its bartending community.

For more details about Jameson St. Patrick’s Eve festivities or for St. Patrick’s Eve cocktail ideas, visit JamesonSPE.com and follow @Jameson_US.

 

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