Theatre News: Broadway Barks, Ralph Fiennes, National Alliance for Musical Theatre and Death of a Salesman
Broadway Barks will take place in Shubert Alley (located between 44th and 45th Streets, between Broadway and Eighth Avenues) on Saturday, July 9th. Expect Bernadette Peters, Sutton Foster, Hugh Jackman, Myles Frost, Jane Lynch, Shoshana Bean, Alex Brightman and more.Festivities begin at 3 p.m. with a ‘meet and greet’ featuring all the adoptable pets (adoption event); from 5-6:30 p.m. adoptees make their Broadway debut on stage alongside some of Broadway’s favorite stars (celebrity presentations).
Over the past 23 years, more than 2,000 cats and dogs have stolen Broadway’s spotlight and the hearts of all who come to the event. Approximately 85% of these furry friends have successfully found forever homes.
The event is free and open to the public.
The US premiere and strictly limited, nine-week New York engagement of David Hare’s new play, Straight Line Crazy, starring Ralph Fiennes as Robert Moses and directed by Nicholas Hytner and Jamie Armitage, this fall at The Shed. Following an acclaimed run this spring at The Bridge Theatre in London, Straight Line Crazy delves into the questionable legacy of Robert Moses and his enduring impact on New York. The play presents an imagined retelling of the arc of Moses’s controversial career in two decisive moments: his rise to power in the late 1920s and the public outcry against the corrosive effects of that power in the mid-1950s. Preview performances begin October 18, and the production opens on October 26 with performances through December 18, 2022, at The Shed’s intimate Griffin Theater as part of the fall 2022 season.
For 40 uninterrupted years, Robert Moses was considered the most powerful man in New York as he envisioned and built public works whose aftereffects determine how New Yorkers experience the city to this day. Hare’s play exposes Moses’s iron will, which exploited weaknesses in the state and city governments as he worked to remake public space. Though never elected to political office, he manipulated those who were through a mix of guile, charm, and intimidation. Motivated at first by a determination to improve the lives of New York City’s working class, he created new parks, new bridges, and 627 miles of expressway to connect the people to the great outdoors. However, Moses often achieved these public works at the expense of disempowered New Yorkers, particularly people of color, living in the way of and near his projects. In the 1950s, groups of citizens began to organize against his schemes and the prioritization of cars over public transportation, campaigning for a very different idea of what a city should be.“When I first read Straight Line Crazy I was compelled by its provocation, humor, and of course by the portrayal of Robert Moses. It seemed its natural home was NYC and now—thanks to The Shed—the play can be seen there. I’m excited. It’s a New York play—that’s simply what it is,” said Ralph Fiennes. “I am very excited to bring Robert Moses home. We had a great educational run in London at The Bridge Theatre where few of the audience had heard of him. But it will be fascinating to bring this controversial figure back to the city, and to the state, on which he left such a lasting mark,” said David Hare.
“Having premiered David Hare’s new play at The Bridge Theatre in London this spring, I’m so thrilled to now partner with The Shed to bring this New York story to New York with Ralph Fiennes leading the way alongside our brilliant cast and creative team,” said Nicholas Hytner.
The cast of Straight Line Crazy includes: Ralph Fiennes (Robert Moses), David Bromley (Stamford Fergus), Alana Maria (Shirley Hayes), Guy Paul(Henry Vanderbilt), Judith Roddy (Finnuala Connell), Helen Schlesinger(Jane Jacobs), Mary Stillwaggon Stewart (Nicole Savage), and Danny Webb (Governor Al Smith) with additional casting to be announced.
Straight Line Crazy was originally produced by the London Theatre Company at The Bridge Theatre in March 2022.
Casting for the world premiere production of the new musical The Notebook will begin performances at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on September 6. Based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name, The Notebook features music and lyrics by Ingrid Michaelson and a book by Bekah Brunstetter. Tony winner Michael Greif and Schele Williams will co-direct with Katie Spelman choreographing.
Portraying leads Allie and Noah across their lifetimes are Jordan Tyson as Young Allie, current Six star Joy Woods as Middle Allie and Tony winner Maryann Plunkett as Older Allie with John Cardoza as Young Noah, Ryan Vasquez as Middle Noah and John Beasley as Older Noah.
The cast also features Yassmin Alers, Andréa Burns, Jonathan Butler-Duplessis, Dorcas Leung, Omar Lopez-Cepero, Sophie Madorsky and Liam Oh. Understudies include Alex Benoit, Mary Ernster, Jerica Exum, Jerome Harmann-Hardeman, RhonniRose Mantilla and Carson Stewart.
The Notebook is set in 1940s South Carolina, where a mill worker named Noah Calhoun and a rich girl named Allie are desperately in love, despite their parents’ disapproval. When Noah leaves to serve in World War II, Allie meets another man. When Noah returns years later as Allie is about to get married, their romance reignites.
National Alliance for Musical Theatre has announced the lineup of new musicals for their 34th Annual Festival of New Musicals, taking place October 20-21 at New World Stages. The festival will include Baked! The Musical (Book, Music & Lyrics by Jord Liu & Deepak Kumar), Blackout (Book by Steven Gallagher, Music and Lyrics by Anton Lipovetsky), Get Out Alive (Book & Lyrics by Nikki Lynette, Music by Nikki Lynette, Matt Hennessy, Clay Bail, Malcom Fong, Slavic Livins and Zeke Macumber), King of Pangaea (Book, Music & Lyrics by Martin Storrow), Perpetual Sunshine & the Ghost Girls (Book & Lyrics by Sara Cooper, Music by Lynne Shankel), Pup! A Chew Story (Book & Lyrics by Marcus Terrell Smith, Music by Robin Schäfer), The Female Pope (Music by Heather Christian, Lyrics & Libretto by Shannon Burkett), and The Pelican (Book & Lyrics by Will Lacker, Music & Lyrics by Dylan Glatthorn).
Broadway’s upcoming production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman announced that McKinley Belcher III will join the cast as Willy and Linda Loman’s son, “Happy.” Producers also revealed key members of the creative team, who will help bring the show to life at the Hudson Theatre (141 West 44th Street) for strictly limited 17-week engagement starting September 19.
McKinley Belcher III said, “I couldn’t be more thrilled to step into the continuum to tell the story of this great American play, and through the eyes and hearts of a Loman family that looks like me. We’ll be standing on the shoulders of such a beautiful and lauded West End production, and the many iconic storytellers who’ve lived Arthur Miller’s words before us. I’m in awe of the talent in the room, from Wendell, Sharon, André and my brother Khris. It’s an honor to be back on Broadway unpacking the meaning of family and our ever-elusive American Dream.”
Following its critically acclaimed run at London’s Young Vic Theatre and on the West End, this vibrant and timely production will feature Olivier Award nominee Wendell Pierce and Olivier Award winner and 2022 Tony Award® nominee Sharon D Clarke, reprising their roles as Willy and Linda Loman. Belcher joins a new cast of supporting actors in New York, featuring Khris Davisas Biff and Tony Award® winner André De Shields as Willy’s brother Ben. This reimagining is told – for the first time on Broadway – from the perspective of an African American family, living and working in a White, Capitalist world.
Complete casting will be announced soon. For all information – including links to purchase tickets – can be found atwww.salesmanonbroadway.com.
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim birthday was March 22nd and somehow I missed it. His masterpiece Sweeney Todd opened on Broadway originally March 1, 1979, at the Uris Theatre (now the Gershwin). His newest revival opened Sunday, March 26th at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. So here’s to you Steve.
Broadway’s Parade, a Masterpiece and Master Class, Not to be Missed.
With a blast of bright white light, the Broadway revival of Parade marches itself forcibly onto the stage, surging from the sidelines once the love-making center stage comes to an end. It’s a compelling beginning, one that, as it turns out, doesn’t really add a whole lot to the proceedings. But the show finds its strong footing soon after. No doubt about it. I didn’t really understand the full need for the sexual interaction between the young soldier (Charlie Webb) and his pretty young companion (Ashlyn Maddox) that takes place in those first few moments, as well as the consistent reappearing of that same soldier, 50 years later, as an old man (Howard McGillin) throughout, other than to remind us that the old Confederate way of thinking still flies its flag strong and true. Even if the flags they are waving in this production of Parade make us feel uneasy and unsure.
Overall, the compounding effect is captivating and intense, as this musical, with a book by Alfred Uhry (Driving Miss Daisy), music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown (Songs for a New World; The Last Five Years), and originally co-conceived by Harold Prince (West Side Story), stands strong, taking on race, antisemitism, and prejudice in “The Old Red Hills of Home” South. It dutifully dramatizes the disturbing but true story of a 1913 trial of a Jewish factory manager who was wrongly accused and convicted of raping and murdering a thirteen-year-old young girl and employee of the factory. The musical revival is as timely as can be, and as surefooted as one could hope for. And as directed carefully and artistically by Michael Arden (Broadway/Deaf West’s Spring Awakening), Parade delivers on all fronts.
After a well-received short run as part of New York City Center’s Encores! series, this tense and sharp musical finally has made its way back. I didn’t really know much about this musical, but I was surprised to hear that it first premiered on Broadway in December 1998 starring Brent Carver and Carolee Carmello in the two lead roles. It won Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Original Score (out of nine nominations), not surprisingly, and six Drama Desk Awards. And I’m guessing the accolades will come pouring in once again when the Tony Award nominations are announced.
Portraying that doomed factory manager, Leo Frank, Ben Platt (Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen) once again finds power and passion in abundance, striding back onto the Broadway stage both sheepishly and strongly. He grabs hold of the part, demanding justice and the truth for the man who tried his imperfect best to live a dutiful life. Married to his loving wife, Lucille, played spectacularly by Micaela Diamond (Broadway’s The Cher Show), the pair seems well-matched, both in their characterizations and their vocal expertise. Their singing and emotionality soar, especially in Lucille’s “You Don’t Know This Man” and Leo’s captivating Statement, “It’s Hard to Speak my Heart“, as the piece gets darker and darker, breaking apart our collective hearts as it marches to the end. We all know this is not going to end well for this innocent man, but we are drawn in completely as the two begin, quite quietly, finding a simple and tender, yet complicated connection in their marriage.
We feel their bond as Leo gets ready and makes his way to the office on this odd day of celebration in Atlanta. He sidesteps the parade, which is oddly celebrating the confederacy and a war lost, leaving his wife to picnic alone. We collectively wish he’d stay home, giving in to the gentle pleas of his wife. Things might have turned out so differently if he had. But this is the tale that must be told, to be witness to, as we are simultaneously given a glimpse into the soon-to-be shortened life of Mary Phagan (Erin Rose Doyle), being flirted with by a young boy (Jake Pedersen) about “The Picture Show“, as she rides a trolley car on her way to the factory to collect her wages, at ten cents an hour. The white balloon floats above her head, just like her spirit, simple and buoyant, until it escapes her hand, and floats away from her into the heavens above.
Broadway’s A Doll’s House Meticulously Stunning Revival Soars Like a Birdie Above That Clumsy Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
For a revival to find its footing, it has to have a point of view or a sense of purpose far beyond an actor’s desire to perform a part, whether it suits them or not. It needs to radiate an idea that will make us want to sit up and pay attention. To feel its need to exist. And on one particular day in March, I was blessed with the opportunity to see not just one grande revival, but two. One was a detailed pulled-apart revolutionary revival of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House that astounded. The other, unfortunately, was a clumsy revival of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof that fell lazily from that high-wired peak – not for a lack of trying, but from a formulation that never found its purpose.
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