Theatre News: Ellen’s Stardust Diner, Linda Purl, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Bingo and On The Stage

Theatre News: Ellen’s Stardust Diner, Linda Purl, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Bingo and On The Stage

Ellen’s Stardust Diner owes $618,459.22 in unpaid rent at West 51st Street, between 7th Avenue and Broadway. A notice, was posted on the property if the rent is not paid by August 7th the restaurant will close. Doughnut Plant who was to come into Times Square, closed all seven of its NYC locations. They had re-opened some of their stores in May and June to do takeout and delivery but escalating costs got the better of them. New York had an eviction moratorium that ends August 20th. With Broadway shut down and restaurants in limbo, one has to wonder what happens to all those who came to New York seeking their dreams?

Stage and screen star, Linda Purl, is presenting a benefit performance for The Actors Fund on July 29th – August 2. The performance is based on Joan Didion’s National Book Award-winning memoir, “The Year of Magical Thinking”. This is a remarkable story of loss, journey, and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit. Please consider making an additional donation to help support The Actors Fund. For more information about Actors Fund go to: www.actorsfund.org. Thank you for your support!

Williamstown Theatre Festival (Mandy Greenfield, Artistic Director) is pleased to announce its 2020 Artists-in-Residence: Obie Award winner Trip Cullman (Before The Meeting), Drama Desk Award winner Joshua Harmon (Admissions), Pulitzer Prize winner and 2017 WTF Playwright-in-Residence Michael R. Jackson (A Strange Loop), L. Arnold Weissberger Award winner and Jay Harris Commissionee Sylvia Khoury (Selling Kabul), Pulitzer Prize winner Martyna Majok (Cost of Living), and Drama Desk Award nominee Tyne Rafaeli (Usual Girls). 

Williamstown Theatre Festival is also pleased to announce that James Anthony Tyler has been named a Community Works Engagement Artist; Maya Davis, in addition to being named a Community WorksEngagement Artist, is also named the Boris Sagal Directing Fellow; Tyler Thomas is the Bill Foeller Directing Fellow; and Charlie Barnett IV, the J. Michael Friedman Fellow.

“The enduring spirit of innovation that has been an inexorable quality of Williamstown Theatre Festival for 66 years guides us through the current moment,” Greenfield said. “We feel fortunate to reach a global audience through our collaboration with Audible while also nurturing our local community through our continued Community Works initiative and now, with our summer 2020 Artists-in-Residence program. We are excited to work with and provide resources to support all of these talented artists and fellows, including our 2020 fellowship recipients, as they develop work for Williamstown Theatre Festival and beyond.”

Through the Artists-in-Residence program, Williamstown Theatre Festival will populate its Massachusetts home this summer with Cullman, Harmon, Jackson, Khoury, Majok, and Rafaeli as generative artists seeking physical and mental space to write, collaborate, and create, far from the pressures of New York City while maintaining proper social distancing and health protocols. 

Davis and Tyler join the Community Works program, which reaches and engages an expanding group of local Berkshire residents and, this summer, continues on a virtual platform.

WTF will engage fellowship recipients Barnett, Davis, and Thomas in an artistic track that deepens the Festival’s relationship with them and highlights their work and accomplishments, even in these unprecedented times. Each will be given space and time in a New York City rehearsal studio (when allowed by local and state guidelines) to work on a project of their choosing. Each also will be featured on a dedicated webpage on the WTF website. As part of the unprecedented collaboration between WTF and Audible, each will have the opportunity to join a WTF Season on Audible production as assistant director. 

In addition to producing the Festival season on Audible and supporting Artists-in-Residence and fellowship recipients, WTF continues to commission and develop work from stellar, diverse playwrights and composers through its New Play and Musical Development Initiative. 

Drag and New York Nightlife Superstar Marti Gould Cummings is hosting a virtual fundraiser on August 6th at 7:00p Eastern for the community initiative helpNYC.  The monies raised will go directly to advancing the initiative’s efforts connecting New Yorkers in need to services that can help them.

helpNYC, founded by stage manager, publicist, and entertainment vetran Josh Parkin-Ring, connects New Yorkers that are experiencing mental health concerns; financial, housing, food, and medical insecurities; and other concerns connect to services and organizations that can help them through their website at www.helpNYC.info.

Since the onset of the Coronavirus Crisis in New York City, helpNYC has been working with their listing partners like established food pantries and community kitchens to make sure they have the resources they need to keep their doors open.  In addition to helpNYC’s normal operation, they have started the Food Assistance Collective of New York that helps connect the people providing organizational and technical support to New Yorkers who are food insecure.

“For the past two years, New Yorkers in need have depended on helpNYC to get information about low-barrier services through our listing partners in New York.  We have seen an increase in need since the onset of COVID-19 with over 1,600 new users, and traffic to our website is up 87%.  We provide accurate, critical information to those who need help, and that is important to us.  Information is knowledge.  Knowledge is power.  And when you have power, anything is possible.” Josh Parkin, founder of helpNYC, said recently about the work he has been doing recently.

Josh continues, “This fundraiser will be a great time for the whole family.  Marti is a Superstar when it comes to entertainment and is dedicated to his community through events like ours to raise money.  I hope everyone will join us!”

August 6th at 7:00p virtually on Zoom.  Tickets start at $25.00 and are available now at www.helpNYC.info and http://bingowithmarti.eventbrite.com.  For more information please contact helpNYC by email at hello@helpNYC.info.

On The Stage, the arts tech company founded by Tony Award-winning Producer Hunter Arnold (Hadestown, The Inheritance, Little Shop of Horrors) who launched the free remote production platform Play It Forward this spring, has announced exciting new expanded capabilities for the user-friendly platform.  Designed to provide theater makers with easy-to-use tools and resources to create and collaboratively live-stream productions — from first audition to final ‘virtual’ bow — the beta program has now been developed into a full-service producing, marketing, ticketing, and performance platform. Named On The Stage Streaming, the expanded program now offers the flexibility to create, promote and stream productions of any kind – live, remote, or pre-recorded – using one single system.

Created out of a desire to continue fostering creativity, community, and connection during this challenging time for live performances, the hugely successful beta launch of Play It Forward in April 2020 helped theater makers from 21 states host over 100 virtual productions for nationwide audiences – all for free.  Now, with the increasing clarity that theater operations will be coming back in different ways and on different timelines based on location, the On The Stage team developed this new platform expansion to provide artists with the flexibility to create and share their work online in accordance with their organization’s unique goals and local safety guidelines.  Whatever the ‘new normal’ may become for the live arts industry, Arnold felt it would be vital to have streaming technology that truly supports all aspects and versions of production – whether completely live with an audience, fully-isolated, pre-taped, or remote. It’s not just technology, though, that will be required to help theater makers move into this new era — On The Stage has also compiled a full suite of how-to-material, live seminar tutorials, best practice exchanges and resources to ensure that artists have everything they need to create the best possible experience for performers and audiences.

On The Stage Streaming provides users with: support in acquiring works from an extensive library of acclaimed, licensed plays and musicals approved for streaming use; a built-in, user-friendly framework for virtually auditioning and rehearsing the show; a secure, custom-branded production website to promote the production, sell tickets and merchandise, or accept donations; software to record the performance (whether on-screen virtual capture or on-stage live filming); and finally, a secure viewing platform for broadcasting the production to your audience. Throughout the entire process, technical support is provided by the On The Stage team to ensure a seamless experience for all.  Although this program was created with community theaters, schools, and non-profit organizations in mind, it is a service available to anyone with the desire to put on a show – all for free to the producing organization: 100% of the program’s fees (which are among the lowest in the ticketing industry) can be incorporated into the ticket price at the online box office.

“On The Stage has developed a platform that takes the stress out of the technology part of the process,” says Sarah Kane, Drama teacher at Notre Dame High School in San Jose, CA, the fate of whose season was thrown into uncertainty when COVID-19 hit. “From sending invitation and reminder emails about rehearsals, to having real people on call to answer questions, I felt completely supported in making the transition to digital performance. I was able to focus on the text since the tech was taken care of.”

Unlike other streaming platforms in the theatre space, On The Stage has no exclusivity agreements in place to limit producers’ options for content. Hunter Arnold said, “Our core mission with streaming is to partner with as many publishers and vendors as possible — to enable clients to make the best theatre they can, and to create a truly egalitarian environment for playwrights, bookwriters, composers and lyricists.  Organizations don’t want to have to switch platforms based on which show they wish to produce; not only is it bad for audience development – which is vital in this unprecedented time of suspension for live arts – but when an artist’s work is only available on certain platforms, they lose valuable income in a moment when value for their work can be vital.  At On The Stage, we’ve worked tirelessly to not only create the best technology, but the best environment where we can serve the ENTIRE community, where all work can thrive.”

OnStage will be hosting free live information and Q&A sessions on Thursday, July 23 at 5:00PM EST and Wednesday, July 29 at 12:00PM EST. For more information, visit www.onthestage.com/streaming.


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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