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Theatre News: Here Lies Love, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, Disney’s Hercules, Casting Aspersions: The Backstage Tales of a Casting Director and Theatre Producers of Color

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The show that brought Ruthie Ann Miles to our attention Here Lies Lovewill open on Broadway in 2023. The musical about the rise and fall of former First Lady of the Philippines Imelda Marcos, will open on Broadway this summer. Previews will begin on June 17 ahead of an official opening night on July 20 at the Broadway Theatre. …Originally a concept album, the album was adapted into a stage musical, directed by Alex Timbers, that premiered off-Broadway at The Public Theater in New York City in 2013. It starred Ruthie Ann Miles in the title role, with Jose Llana as Ferdinand Marcos and Conrad Ricamora as Ninoy Aquino. The production was a semi-immersive experience and this production will transform the venue’s traditional proscenium floor space into a dance club environment, where audiences will stand and move with the actors. Standing and seated tickets will be available throughout the theater’s reconstructed space.Tony Award winner Alex Timbers will direct. He will be joined by choreographer Olivier winner Annie-B Parson. The musical’s concept and lyrics are by Tony, Oscar and Grammy winner David Byrne with music by Byrne and Grammy winner Fatboy Slim. Additional music is by Tom Gandey and J Pardo.

Rachel Brosnahan, Oscar Isaac Photo by Catalina Kulczar

BAM (The Brooklyn Academy of Music) announces the full company and creative team for the first New York revival in 50 years of Lorraine Hansberry’s The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, directed by Obie Award winner Anne Kauffman at the BAM Harvey Theater beginning February 4 and opening February 23, 2023.

Oscar Isaac (Sidney Brustein) and Rachel Brosnahan (Iris Brustein) star in Hansberry’s sweeping drama of identity, idealism, and love.

Joining Isaac and Brosnahan are Gus Birney (Gloria Parodus), Julian De Niro (Alton Scales), Glenn Fitzgerald (David Ragin), Andy Grotelueschen (Wally O’Hara), Miriam Silverman (Mavis Parodus Bryson), Raphael Nash  Thompson (Max).  The understudy company features Joey Auzenne, Gregory Connors, Brontë England-Nelson and Amelia Pedlow.

The A Raisin in the Sun playwright invites us into Greenwich Village in the 60s, crafting a razor-sharp portrait of a diverse group of friends whose loudly proclaimed progressive dreams can’t quite match up with reality. At the center are Sidney and Iris Brustein, fighting to see if their marriage—with all its crackling wit, passion, and petty cruelty—will be the final sacrifice to Sidney’s ideals.  Discover the “astonishing force” (The Chicago Tribune) of this stunning drama from one of America’s greatest playwrights when it finally returns to New Yor​k.

Following Hansberry’s meteoric debut with A Raisin in the Sun (1959), The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Windowdebuted on Broadway in 1964 just before Ms. Hanberry’s death at the age of 34.  Since then, her play has never been produced on a major New York stage.  Director Anne Kauffman presented an acclaimed revival in Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in 2016.

Tickets for The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window are available at BAM.org or by calling BAM Ticket Services 718.636.4100.  Ticket prices begin at $35.

Paper Mill Playhouse, recipient of the 2016 Regional Theatre Tony Award, has announced full casting and the creative team for the all-new musical production of Disney’s Hercules. Joining previously announced cast members Bradley Gibson (The Lion King, A Bronx Tale: The Musical) as Hercules, Tony Award winner Shuler Hensley (Broadway’s The Music Man 2022 revival, Oklahoma!) as Hades, Tony Award winner James Monroe Iglehart (Aladdin, Hamilton) as Phil, and Isabelle McCalla (PMP’s Clue, Broadway’s Aladdin, The Prom) as Meg will be Jeff Blumenkrantz (Bright Star) as Panic and Reggie De Leon (Aladdin) as Pain, alongside the Muses: Charity Angél Dawson (Waitress) as Clio, Tiffany Mann (Waitress) as Calliope, Anastacia McCleskey (Caroline, or Change) as Thalia, Destinee Rea (The Book of Mormon) as Terpsichore and Rashidra Scott (Company) as Melpomene. The ensemble of Hercules will feature Kathryn Allison (Company) as Despina, Allyson Kaye Daniel (1776) as Aunt Tithesis/Lachesis, Lucia Giannetta (Broadway and PMP’s A Bronx Tale: The Musical) as Atropos, Jesse Nager (Motown: The Musical) as Nessus, Kristen Faith Oei (Lincoln Center’s The King & I) as Hera, Dennis Stowe (Aladdin) as Zeus and Anne Fraser Thomas (PMP’s Sister Act) as Clotho, as well as Joshua Buscher (Kinky Boots), Marcus Cobb (In the Heights film), Zachary Downer (Hello, Dolly!), Ryan Fitzgerald (Matilda at the Muny), Kendall LeShanti (Lifetime’s “Bring It”), Chani Maisonet (Ain’t Too Proud), Skye Mattox (Carousel), Jason W. McCollum (Taft Theater’s Cinderella), Erin Moore (Shuffle Along), JJ Niemann (The Book of Mormon), Gabrielle Reid (PMP’s The Color Purple, Broadway’s Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), Adam Roberts (Pippin), Ben Roseberry (The Lion King), Christine Shepard (Head Over Heels), Chiara Trentalange (Girl from the North Country) and Lamont Walker II (MJ: The Musical). Hercules features music by Oscar, Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award winner Alan Menken (Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, Newsies) and lyrics by Tony Award winner David Zippel (City of Angels, Mulan) and a book by Tony Award winner Robert Horn (Tootsie) and Kwame Kwei-Armah (Artistic Director of London’s Young Vic), based on the Disney film written by Ron Clements, John Musker, Donald McEnery, Bob Shaw, and Irene Mecchi and directed by Ron Clements and John MuskerThe music is supervised and arranged by Michael Kosarin (Aladdin, Broadway and PMP’s Newsies, animated film Hercules), with orchestrations by Danny Troob (Broadway and PMP’s Newsies, animated films Hercules, Beauty and the Beast) and Joseph Joubert (Caroline, or Change; Motown: the Musical), dance music arrangements by Mark Hummel (Broadway and PMP’s Newsies, Sister Act), and music direction by Ted Arthur (Moulin Rouge!, The Prom). Choreography is by Chase Brock (PMP’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Be More Chill) and Tanisha Scott (Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls). Hercules is directed by Obie Award winner Lear deBessonet (Into the Woods). The show will begin performances at Paper Mill Playhouse on Thursday, February 16, and play through Sunday, March 19, 2023. Opening night is set for Wednesday, March 1, 2023.

Award-winning Off-Broadway theater, Urban Stages, will present a special presentation of Casting Aspersions: The Backstage Tales of a Casting Director , written and performed by Jeffery Passero, and directed by Elizabeth Hayden. It will begin performances January 27 – 30 at Urban Stages (259 West 30, 2023)

A prominent casting director, Mr. Passero’s Casting Aspersions is a look back at his career on his last day in the profession as he cleans up his cluttered office. Passero’s Casting Aspersions had a run in 2019. Originally an actor raised in New York theatre, Jeffery Passero’s career has run the gamut from actor, casting director, producer, stage director, acting teacher and private coach to teacher of musical theatre audition technique. He studied with Uta Hagen and Ed Moorhouse (HB Studios), Terry Schreiber, Jill Andre (T.Schreiber Studio) and Larry Moss (Larry Moss Studio). He studied musical theatre audition technique with David Craig and was greatly influenced by Craig’s technique and his landmark book “On Singing On Stage”. For the past forty years, Jeffery has been a casting director of theatre and over 60 movies, including Poison Ivy with Drew Barrymore, Nick Cage’s Sonny with James Franco, Flypaper with Lucy Liu (which he co-produced), and The Sasquatch Gang with Justin Long for Kevin Spacey’s Trigger Street Films. He and his wife Amy were co-producers of It Shoulda Been You.

Performances:

Friday, January 27 at 7 PM

Saturday, January 28 at 7 PM

Sunday, January 29 at 3 PM

Monday, January 30 at 7 PM

The running time is 75 minutes

Tickets are $30 and can be purchased by visiting UrbanStages.org

Urban Stages is located at 259 West 30 th Street, NYC

Theatre Producers of Color (TPOC), the newly formed organization committed to supporting the next generation of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) producers by providing access to education, training, and mentorship, announced today the return of their annual educational program – “Producing 101,” where aspiring producers are able to learn the fundamentals of commercial producing, including development paths, financing, budgeting, and more, with experienced BIPOC and White ally leaders as their guides, tuition free over 11 weeks. Applications are now opening for aspiring producers.

The deadline to submit is January 30. To apply, please submit a resume and complete a short application at the following link: https://theatreproducersofcolor.org/producing-101

For more information, please visit: https://theatreproducersofcolor.org/.

Guest speakers for “Producing 101” include Jill A. Anderson, Osh Ashruf (Tony Winner), Rashad V. Chambers (Tony Winner), Samuel Dallas, Ken Davenport (Tony Winner), Ben Holtzman (Tony Winner), Toni Isreal, Nicole Javanna Johnson, Dale Mott (Tony Winner), Doug Nevin, Leslie Papa, Ilene Rosen, Matt Ross (Tony Nominee), Erica Rotstein, Heather Shields, Ron Simons, Rachel Sussman(Tony Nominee), Cynthia J. Tong, and Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt. For more information on the guest speakers and their headshots, please click HERE.

The course will meet on Mondays from 6:30-9:00pm EST beginning March 20, 2023 through June 19, 2023.

The selection panelists and final cohort will be announced in March.

TPOC is incubated and supported by Broadway For All (BFA), an organization that provides young artists and stakeholders in entertainment with the programming, community, and vision to build a more inclusive and powerful arts industry.

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

Broadway

The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

MORE MURDER — (Via Deadline) Sophie Ellis-Bextor is gearing up to tour around North America for the first time and adding more cities for fans to see her perform “Murder on the Dance Floor” live.

The British singer’s song is featured in the final scene of Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn, where Barry Keoghan’s Oliver dances naked around the manor. After the scene went viral, the song, co-written by Ellis-Bextor and Gregg Alexander, also went viral on social media. “Murder on the Dance Floor” was originally released in 2001, but it never charted on the Billboard Hot 100 until now, peaking at 51 recently.

Ellis-Bextor recently made an appearance on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon where she performed the viral hit and the star is now embarking on a North America tour.

The artist announced her first-ever live show in NYC, set to take place on June 6 at Webster Hall, and the date quickly sold out. Ellis-Bextor has now announced more dates across the U.S. and Canada that will take her to San Francisco, San Diego, Boston, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.

“Oh my… the New York show sold out in a day! Thank you thank you thank you,” Ellis-Bextor said in her newsletter announcing the additional tour dates. “So – how about some more shows in some more cities?! My band and I are coming for you! Super excited. Come and dance with me….”

May 30: August Hall (San Francisco, CA)May 31: The Observatory North Park (San Diego, CA)June 3: 9:30 Club (Washington D.C.)June 4: Royale Boston (Boston, MA)June 5: Union Transfer (Philadelphia, PA)June 6: Webster Hall (New York City, NY)June 8: Danforth Music Hall (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

I love this record, because its an actual song. Sure, they repeat the title about three-dozen times, but its a great track.

Neil Diamond and Micky Dolenz

NOISE CLOSES — (Via Deadline) Broadway’s A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical will play its final performance on Sunday, June 30, before launching a national tour this fall, producers announced today.

The musical, which began previews on November 2, 2022, at the Broadhurst Theatre and opened that year on December 4, will have played 35 preview performances and 657 regular performances when it closes.

As I’ve said, early reviews of the show, kind of stopped me from going to this. An artist who is even referenced in the play said to me ‘why would I go to a play that got bad reviews.’ Understood.

But, I did see it and absolutely loved it. Of course, I’m somewhat on the business side and loved all the insider-nuances. And, I saw it with the original performers in it.

There will be a national tour and I predict it will be a huge hit as Diamond’s music is multi-generational. As I’ve said, I preferred Diamond’s “Solitary Man”-period more than “America” and “I Am, I Said.” Although, “Turn On Your Heart Light” (written with Carole Bayer Sager and Burt Bacharach) was a great record.

An icon for certain.

SHORT TAKES — Warner’s second Aquaman movie; Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will stream on MAX on February 27. The first Aquaman movie, out in 2018, remains the highest-grossing DC film of all time. The sequel, after a plethora of media, mostly about Amber Heard, disappeared in a matter of weeks … Broadway-journeyman and Rockers On Broadway-creator Donnie Kehr recupping. Get well soon brother! … Keith Girard’s New York Independent featured an interview with 17-old wunderkind Kjersti Long. Check it out: https://www.thenyindependent.com/music/1704991/kjersti-long-17-explores-her-jersey-roots-by-way-of-utah-with-power-pop-style-video/

Pet Shop Boys

Just listened to the Pet Shop Boys “West End Girls.” What a tremendous record that hold up amazingly well all these years later. It came out in 1984 and produced by Bobby Orlando … Amazon shuttering Freevee? First off, as an offshoot of Amazon, this has got to be one of the worst monikers ever! I mean, FreeVee ... always sounded like frisbee!  Adios … Thursday’s Law & Order was the ode to Sam Waterston’s Jack McCoy-character (Last Dance).

Sam Waterston

After 404 episodes, we had to say goodbye. It wasn’t the greatest episode, but when McCoy took over the case and presented it to the jury, Waterston shone brightly. When McCoy said to Hugh Dancy (Nolan Ryan), it was a hell of a ride, it resonated terrifically. Thanks Jack! …

True Detective

I loved the finale on HBO of True Detective with Jodie Foster and Kali Reis. I didn’t understand it all, but the look and direction (by Issa Lopez) and Jodie Foster was just superb. I had forgotten just how good an actress Foster was. Sure, she was good in Nyad, but it was a supporting role. Here, she was just stellar. I’d like to see more of her …

Micky Jones

It was a grim week medically speaking as talk-show hostess Wendy Williams was diagnosed with aphasia and dementia and Mick Jones of Foreigner, with Parkinson’s. Sending prayers to both … And finally, news surfaced Thursday that an “inebriated” Andy Cohen harassed Brandi Glanville. I don’t know Andy at all, but his bad-boy antics of the last several years were clearly leading to something like this. Glanville’s lawyers even invoked NBC’s Matt Lauer in their brief. Expect a huge media brouhaha over this one. Sad for sure … Happy Bday Lou Christie; Niki Avers and Chloe Gaier.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Steve Walter; Obi Steinman; Felix Cavaliere; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Kent Kotal; Ace Frehley; Alex Saltzman; Lush Ice; Tony King; Barry Zelman; Justin Ridener; Kent & Laura Denmark; Mark Bego; Mark Scheerer; Barbara Shelley; and SADIE!

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Broadway

Stephen Schwartz To Be Inducted into The Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame

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Legendary Award Winning Broadway and Movie Music Composer Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, Pippin) will be inducted into the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame (LIMEHOF) on Saturday, March 23rd, 2024 at 7pm.

There will also be concert emceed by Musician Paul Shaffer (from the David Letterman Show) who worked with Schwartz early in his career.

Schwartz has won 4 Grammys and 3 Oscars among other awards in his career that spans over 50 years both on Broadway and on the silver screen. Additionally, Schwartz has contributed music and lyrics to several movies such as “Pocahontas” (1995), “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996), “The Prince of Egypt” (1998), and “Enchanted” (2007).He was also involved with the upcoming feature film adaptation of Wicked to be released in the fall.

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Ani DiFranco and Lola Tung Join Hadestown

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The Tony and Grammy Award®-winning Best Musical Hadestown is currently stars Grammy Award winner Ani DiFranco as Persephone singing “Our Lady Of The Underground”.

 Lola Tung (“The Summer I Turned Pretty”) as Eurydice, Jordan Fisher (Dear Evan Hansen, Grease: Live,) as Orpheus here singing “All I’ve Ever Known”.

Grammy Award nominee Phillip Boykin as Hades, and Tony Award winner Lillias White as Hermes.

They are joined by Belén Moyano, Kay Trinidad, and Brit West as the Fates. The chorus of Workers is played by Emily Afton, Malcolm Armwood, Chibueze Ihuoma, Alex Puette, and Grace Yoo. The cast includes swings Sojourner Brown, Brandon Cameron, Tara Jackson, Max Kumangai, Alex Lugo, and Tanner Ray Wilson.

Hadestown originated as Anaïs Mitchell’s indie theater project that toured Vermont which she then turned into an acclaimed album. With Rachel Chavkin, her artistic collaborator, Hadestown has been transformed into a genre-defying new musical that blends modern American folk music with New Orleans-inspired jazz to reimagine a sweeping ancient tale.

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Broadway

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents Goes Live With Bonnie Comley and Stewart F. Lane

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Photo of Bonnie Comley, Stewart F. Lane and Suzanna Bowling

“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents ”, is a new show that is filmed live every Wednesday from 5 – 6 in the lobby of the iconic Hotel Edison, before a live audience. We will run the video on our site every Thursday and then it moves onto the podcast networks.

In this episode T2C’s publisher and owner Suzanna Bowling talks with Broadway royalty and longtime married couple Bonnie Comley and Stewart F. Lane. We talk about the Palace Theatre, Broadway HD and so much more.

We were also so excited because the show and our guests are now featured on the TV screens in the lobby and the hotel rooms.

I am so grateful to my guests Bonnie and Stewart for joining me. Thank-you Magda Katz for videoing and creating the content to go live, the audience who showed up to support us, Rommel Gopez and The Hotel Edison for their kindness and hospitality.

We hope to see you there on February 21st for our guests the creator of Times Square and Hampton Fashion Week Dee Rivera, Celebrity hairstylist Samantha Smoker and Fashion Designer Shani Grosz.

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Book Reviews

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley

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I am so pleased to announce our guests for Valentine’s Day are Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley, the founders of BroadwayHD.com, an online streaming service on a mission to promote and preserve live theatre, extending the reach of Broadway and Broadway-caliber shows to anyone, anywhere. BroadwayHD currently has a catalog of over 300 full-length stage plays and musicals available for streaming on demand, so when you can’t get to Broadway, go to BroadwayHD on your tv, phone, or tablet!

Mr. Lane and Ms. Comley have collectively produced over 40 films and 45 Broadway shows, garnering nine Tony Awards and another 14 Tony nominations. They have also won Olivier Awards, Drama Desk, Drama
League, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for their stage productions. Lane has co-owned Broadway’s famous Palace Theater for almost 40 years.

The theater community has honored the couple for their philanthropic work, including The Actors Fund Medal of Honor, The Drama League Special Contribution to the Theater Award, The Paul Newman Award from Arts Horizons, and The Theater Museum Distinguished Service Award. The stage at Boston University’s new theater center is named in their honor, as is the Music Theater Program. The Musical Theater Society Room bears their name at Emerson College, and the 500-seat theater at the University
of Massachusetts Lowell is known as the Comley Lane Theater. Lane is a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award at Boston University, and Comley is Distinguished Alumni of both Emerson College and UMass Lowell.

Mr. Lane is a theater historian and playwright and has written the critically acclaimed “Black Broadway: African Americans on the Great White Way” (Square One Publishers), “Jews on Broadway” (McFarland Publishers), “Let’s Put on a Show” (Working Arts Library), and the plays “In The Wings (published in spring 2008 by Hal Leonard), “If It Was Easy” (published by Performing Books and nominated for Best New Play by the American Theatre Critics Association), and the musical “Back Home Again” (with music
and lyrics by John Denver) which he was awarded The 2011 John Denver Spirit Award for his work.

“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents ”, is a new show that will be filmed live every Wednesday from 5 – 6 in the lobby of the iconic Hotel Edison, before a live audience. To see our first episode click here.

Originally our guest was Maury Yeston, but he had to reschedule. He will be our guest at a later date, however Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley, our guests for Valentine’s Day could not be more perfect. They are the epitome or Love and Broadway.

See you at The Hotel Edison.

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