Theatre News: Into The Woods, Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish, Be More Chill, Jasper, The Near Disaster of Jasper & Casper and Floyd Collins
Well we already know it, when The Piano Lesson was kicked out of the St. James Theatre, but now it’s official. Jordan Roth, President of Jujamcyn Theaters, 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 for an additional eight weeks. Tickets are now on sale through October 16.
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.
Additional casting announcements will be made soon.
Tickets for the extension will be available beginning at 9:00AM EST via SeatGeek.com/into-the-woods.
Into the Woods first premiered on Broadway in 1987, winning three Tony Awards including Best Score and Best Book. It has since been produced throughout the world and was adapted into a major motion picture in 2014. This production marks its first time on Broadway in 20 years.
Wonder Window Theatre Company and Executive Producer Lisa Dozier are proud to announce the World premiere of Grant MacDermott’s play Jasper off-Broadway, directed by Katie McHugh. Performances will begin on September 8 in advance of its opening night on Wednesday, September 14, 2022, at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 W 42nd St). Tickets are $25- $75 and can be purchased by visiting YonderWindow.co.
Trapped by the reality of their son’s illness, a couple struggles to keep their child and their marriage alive. A chance encounter changes everything and forces them to re-evaluate their circumstances and strive towards what is missing in their lives.
The cast includes Dominic Fumusa (Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie”; Film: 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. Broadway: Wait Until Dark), Abigail Hawk (TV’s “Blue Bloods”), and Jessica Pimentel (Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black”), the understudies are Justin Adams (TV: “The Affair”) is Jessica DiGiovanni (MCC’s Seared, MTC’s Close Up Space).
The creative team includes set and costume design by Michael Gianfrancesco; lighting design by Robin A. Paterson; sound design by John Gromada, the intimacy director is Judi Lewis-Ockler and casting is by JZ Casting. The production stage manager is Merrick Williams, production management is FIVE OHM, and LDK Productions is the general manager.
Jasper won the TRU New Voices Award in 2018. In the summer of 2019, Yonder Window Theatre Company produced an AEA industry staged reading in collaboration with Adelaide Raleigh Productions and Boz and the Bard Productions.
The Near Disaster of Jasper & Casper, a fantastical new solo show and magical adult fairy tale bursting with imagination and adventure. The production will light up the New York stage this Summer in a limited engagement, Off-Broadway run at Theater Row’s Theater Five. Written and performed by Jason Woods and directed by Michelle Svenson, previews on Wednesday, August 24th and the run will continue through Sunday, September 18th. The official opening night is on Thursday, September 1st at 7:30PM. There are 26 performances in total.
InThe Near Disaster of Jasper & Casper, Jasper feels quite different from the people around him and sets out on a quest for his true family. Along the way, he discovers a blunt witch, a mysterious, articulate dragon, and a purpose he never expected. As Jasper gets closer to the truth, he confronts his own fears, his brother Casper’s self-obsession, and a heartbreaking path to his own destiny. Award-winning actor Jason Woods morphs into each character with rapid-fire dexterity and heartfelt authenticity on a fantastical adventure for the child in everyone. Ghosts, magic, and Deadly Cows abound in The Near-Disaster of Jasper & Casper.
Out of the Box Theatrics (Elizabeth Flemming, Founder and Producing Artistic Director; Ethan Paulini, Associate Artistic Director) is thrilled to announce that the company will produce the first Off-Broadway revival of the critically acclaimed musical, Floyd Collins. The production, to be directed by Christina Sajous (Broadway’s SpongeBob SquarePants, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, American Idiot; Out of the Box Theatrics’ 2019 production of Baby), will play from November 11 through December 18, 2022 at Theatre 71 at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament (152 West 71st Street). Opening night is Monday, November 28.
Floyd Collins features music and lyrics by two-time Tony and Drama Desk Award winner Adam Guettel (The Light in the Piazza), with a book by Tony Award nominee and Drama Desk Award winner Tina Landau(member of Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Broadway’s SpongeBob SquarePants, Superior Donuts). The musical was originally commissioned by The American Musical Theatre Festival in Philadelphia, which produced its world premiere in 1994. The Off-Broadway premiere, directed by Landau, was produced in 1996 by Playwrights Horizons. It won the 1996 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical and Guettel won a 1996 Obie Award for Music for the score’s unique mix of bluegrass and folk music with other contemporary musical forms and influences. The show has been viewed by many critics as a modern classic of musical theatre, with John Simon, New York Magazine, hailing it as “the original and daring musical of our day.” After its brief original New York run, it has since been produced throughout the United States, in London and elsewhere.Floyd Collins is based on the true-life incident of the “Cave Wars” that took place in Central Kentucky in the early 20th century, where explorers and landowners fought each other to exploit the system of interconnected caves for commercial profit. In 1925, while chasing a dream of fame and fortune by turning a Kentucky cave into a tourist attraction, Floyd Collins himself becomes the attraction when he gets trapped 200 feet underground. Alone but for sporadic contact with the outside world, Floyd fights for his sanity – and, ultimately, his life – as the rescue effort above explodes into the first genuine media circus. Reporters and gawkers from across the country descend on the property, fueling the hysteria and manipulating the nation into holding its collective breath. Out of the Box Theatrics, an Off-Broadway company founded in 2015, stages inventive and site-specific productions of new and classic plays and musicals, while challenging audiences to experience work outside of their expectations. The company has earned recent attention for its critically acclaimed streaming co-production of Jason Robert Brown’s The Last 5 Years (New York Times’ Critic’s Pick, 2021 Drama League Nominee for Outstanding Digital Theater, 2022 Antonyo Award nominee for Best Digital Theater Production), and its new production of the 1983 Broadway musical Baby, originally staged in 2019 and revived in 2021 (2022 Drama Desk Award nominee for Outstanding Revival of a Musical). Out of the Box Theatrics’ production will explore the sensationalist news reporting in the show’s world, which almost 100 years later reflects our own era of ‘fake news’ and ‘click bait.’ The production will also examine the racial elements at play in the segregated Kentucky of the 1920s. Known for staging site-specific productions, Out of the Box Theatrics selected Theatre 71 in the basement of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament for the underground feeling the intimate space generates. The church was in danger of closing during the pandemic, and Out of the Box Theatrics is thrilled to perform at this hidden gem of the Upper West Side. Casting and additional production details will be announced in coming weeks.
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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