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Theatre News: Lucille Lortel Theatre, Cyndi Lauper, Keen After Hours, Be An #ArtsHero, Jim Caruso’s Cast Party Candle and A Five Mile Radius

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The Lucille Lortel Theatre has announced its initial guest lineup for the second season of their popular “Live at The Lortel” podcast. The upcoming season is filled with award winning actors that grace stages off and on Broadway, leading theater administrators, and thought-provoking playwrights and directors.

The season launched with Tony Award winner BD Wong, OBIE Award winner and Producing Artistic Director of the Classical Theatre of Harlem Ty Jones, transgender actor and rights advocate Maybe Burke, and stage, screen and recording artist Telly Leung.

Hosted by Eric Ostrow along with co-hosts John-Andrew Morrison and Daphne Rubin-Vega, Season 2 of “Live at The Lortel” is dedicated to amplifying the voices and stories of people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, and artists who stand in solidarity with the continued fight against institutional racism and racial injustice. Theater makers will delve into their thoughts on the future of theater during this period of radical change. They will also discuss their craft, as well as their professional and personal projects that help to make theatre and the world more equitable. 

In accordance with social distancing guidelines, the podcast is being recorded via ZOOM rather than at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. These webcasts will offer theater fans the opportunity to watch live interviews and participate in a Q&A with artists. For information on future guests and how to register for upcoming webcasts in October and beyond, please visitwww.liveatthelortel.com.

The “Live at The Lortel” podcast can be heard at www.liveatthelortel.com and wherever you get your podcasts: Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotify, and Soundcloud. New episodes of “Live at The Lortel” will be posted each Friday as follows.

October 23  Telly Leung Actor, recording artist, producer, and theater arts teacher. Most recently seen as Aladdin in Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway, In Transit, and Allegiance. Television credits include Wes the Warbler on Glee, as well as guest star appearances on InstinctOdd Mom OutDeadbeat and Law and Order: Criminal Intent.

October 30  Tonya Pinkins Tony Award-winning actor on stage, television, and film with more than twenty years in daytime television, 9 Broadway shows, and numerous award-winning Off-Broadway credits. Currently writing, producing, directing, and acting in Red Pill, a socio-political horror film.

November 6 Pooya Mohseni Iranian American actor, writer, filmmaker, and Transgender activist. Star and writer of “Transit,” a short film about love between a trans woman and a cis man, coming out in 2021. Stage performances include She,He,Me for National Queer Theater, and the award winning show, One Woman.

November 13 Karen Olivo Television, film, and stage actor most recently playing “Satine” in Moulin Rouge, The Musical. Tony Award winning performance as “Anita” in Broadway revival of West Side Story. Off-Broadway credits include Murder Ballad at the Manhattan Theater Club, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark at 2nd Stage, and The Miracle Brothers at the Vineyard Theatre.

November 20  Betty Shamieh Arab-American playwright with several off-Broadway premieres including The Black Eyed directed by Tony Award winner Sam Gold, Roar the first play about the Arab-American experience to be produced off-Broadway and The Strangest. Currently developing a new screenplay, As Soon As Impossible for the Arab-American actor Jamie Farr, based on the play commissioned by Second Stage and Time Warner.  Current Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at the Classical Theatre of Harlem. 

November 27  Andréa Burns  Drama Desk Award winner, having created the role of Daniela, the saucy hairdresser, in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical, In The Heights. Last seen on Broadway playing the role of Peppina in The Rose Tattoo by Tennessee Williams. Recently hailed by critics as “radiant” and “incandescent” for her portrayal of Judy Holliday in the Off-Broadway premiere of Smart Blonde by Willy Holtzman. Cast as Fausta in the upcoming Stephen Spielberg film adaptation of West Side  Story

New this season, Keen After Hours connects audiences with luminaries of the theatre world, every Monday night at 6:30pm on Keen Company’s website and Facebook page. Team Keen and a special guest will discuss their careers, their artistic process, and take questions from the audience. On October 26th John-Andrew Morrison & Jasminn Johnson. Keen After Hours is free and open to all.

Be An #ArtsHero, in association with a groundbreaking coalition of Youth Arts Organizations around the country, has launched #ArtsAreMySuperpower, a nationwide letter writing effort to galvanize the more than 6 million youth directly impacted by the coalition’s work. The campaign seeks to educate and inspire youth to use their voices and compel our government to save their future in the arts and culture sector of our country. 

Representing arts professionals, artists and educators employed by children’s theaters, museums, cultural spaces, music venues, arts schools and camps, the coalition includes Theatre for Young Audiences/USA (TYA/USA), The American Alliance for Theatre & Education (AATE), International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY), Association of Teaching Artists (ATA), iTheatrics, and New Victory, making up over 20,000 organizations and individual arts workers nationwide. Together, they will supply families with free letter-writing and art-creating templates to express their love of the arts and demonstrate its significant contribution to our nation, offering young people a chance to participate in civic engagement, perhaps for the first time.

The #ArtsAreMySuperpower initiative, taking place throughout the month of October, advocates for Congress to support the DAWN Act (Defend Arts Workers Now), urging the U.S. Government to pass a comprehensive arts relief package in recognition of the Arts and Culture sector’s $877 billion value added contribution to the national economy (which is 4.5% of GDP), employing 5.1 million Arts Workers. 

“Without massive, immediate Federal relief to the Arts & Culture sector, we will lose an entire generation who would have otherwise joined the labor force of the Creative economy, not to mention consumers of Arts and Culture,” said the founders of Be An #ArtsHero. “The fine and performing arts economies are estimated to lose 50% of all jobs, due to COVID-related unemployment. This is nothing short of an economic depression. We need proportionate relief from Congress in order to sustain and rebuild our sector and the communities in which we are economic drivers. Without it, our youths may be forced to divert their dreams, our social fabric will tear, and our economy will suffer catastrophic results locally and nationally.”

Research conducted by the New Victory Theater in New York City and research firm WolfBrown demonstrate the benefit of the arts towards young people’s social-emotional growth and their ability to imagine the future. In the only longitudinal study of its kind, New Victory joined with under-resourced school communities with no arts programming and found that children exposed to the arts are much more able to imagine the lives of others who are different from them and much more likely to continue seeing and participating in the arts as they grow, further indicating that investment in youth engagement with the arts will benefit the U.S. economy for years to come. 

Check out the gorgeous Cast Party scented candle, made especially for Cast Party by We Light … “Jim Caruso’s Pajama Cast Party

Hudson Guild Theatre Company presents the world premiere of Tasha Partee’s A Five Mile Radius; a virtual productionwith performances on October 23rd, 24th and 25th. Jim Furlong and Devin Klos direct a twelve actor cast. The play will be imaginatively filmed using zoom technique.

Set in a Staten Island apartment complex on the evening of July 4th, A Five Mile Radius revolves around Edie Pfeiffer, a popular local food critic from a working class background whose career is on the rise. Edie’s life is suddenly upended when a neighbor’s seven year old son is shot. With his life hanging in the balance, she insists that her assistant use twitter to post a controversial picture of the boy, asking for prayers that he survive and to find the culprit who fired the gun. This sets off a flurry of comments, both supportive and hostile, while it is simultaneously revealed that Edie’s deceased husband belonged to the NRA. All at once she is forced to come to terms with her past while preparing for the possibility of losing a coveted opportunity for her future. Using Staten Island as a prototype, A Five Mile Radius addresses the current divisive social and political landscape with issues of class, race, guns and social media.

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

Events

Titanic is a Complete Musical Triumph at NYCC Encores!

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By Dennis W

Titanic sailed into New York City Center full speed ahead saved from a watery grave and stoked with a newfound energy that brought the house down. Encores! latest concert production dazzles, taking on the famed musical about the sinking of the largest, fastest ship afloat on its maiden voyage in 1912 with expert gusto. The Tony-winning 1997 musical, with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston (Broadway’s Nine),resonates with emotion, class struggle and humanity.

The Encores! Orchestra, with Guest Music Director Rob Berman (Encores! Into the Woods), takes center stage and the spotlight delivering a phenomenal interpretation of the nuanced score. Filling the theater with a powerful rendition of Yeston’s vision, Berman’s musical direction breathes new life into the score that tells the saga of the iconic doomed “unsinkable” ship that went down with more than a 15-hundred people aboard. The audience is transported by the music to the disaster and seems locked in on every note. The 32 voices in the cast joined to present a sound that reverberated through the space creating a richness and fullness that would give you goosebumps.   After the curtain call the orchestra played as people left and when it was done the audience who was still left in the theater roared with appreciative applause. It’s no surprise that Titanic: A New Musical swept the music category at the 1997 Tony Awards winning for orchestration, score, and best musical.

The ensemble cast, in Encores! tradition, was chosen from the best and brightest Broadway has to offer. Each actor gave an amazing performance from the leads to the chorus but there were a few standouts. Ramin Karimloo ( Broadway’s Funny Girl) as Barrett gave a deft performance as the ship’s stoker. His duet with Harold Bride played by Alex Joseph Grayson (Encores!/Broadway’s Parade) is a highlight portraying a mix of emotions including love, hope, and desire while we watch the voyage come to a tragic end. Brandon Uranowitz (Broadway’s Leopoldstadt) is convincing as the tightly wound and controlling owner of the shipping line. The always astounding Bonnie Milligan (Broadway’s Kimberly Akimbo) as Alice Beane adds a little comic relief as the social climbing 2nd Class passenger who is determined to hobnob with the rich and famous. Drew Gehling (Broadway’s Almost Famous) as Edgar Beane gives a noteworthy performance as the husband who can not see his wife’s vision of a new society where people are not locked in their station forever. Encores!, as always, it seems, assembled an all-star cast who together brought this production of Titanic to life.

The direction by Anne Kauffman (Encores! Assassins) is limited but interesting given the small amount of stage the actors have to work in as the orchestra is elevated on stage directly behind the action. The scenic design by Paul Tate Depot III (Broadway’s The Great Gatsby) acts as a three-dimensional backdrop that gives the impression of the famed ship, billed as the next wonder of the world, but is rarely used by the actors. The costumes designed by Márion Talán de la Rosa (Off-Broadway’s The Connector) seemed to lose the formal spirit of the early 1900s on their way to the Encores! stage. The men were basically in suits and the women’s costumes did not evoke the structure of dresses of the era which were simpler in construction and with higher hemlines.

City Center Encores! production of Titanic is a complete triumph. It relies on a magnificent score and poignant lyrics to tell the story of one of the world’s major shipping disasters that sent shock waves around the globe. The orchestra, conductor, and actors embraced the rich score giving a performance that bowed the walls and wowed the crowds packed inside the New York City Center with their intensity and magnitude. Encores! Titanic is the show to see right now, playing at the New York City Center until June 23rd. Is there a Broadway transfer in the works? We hope so.

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Events

The Musical Titanic Successfully Sails onto the Stage at City Center

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Titanic The Musical proves that the music and story does not need the special effects of a sinking ship to send the audience on an emotional journey. Twenty-five years ago when Titanic opened on Broadway, after reading headlines about the  malfunctioning unsinkable set, I skeptically went to the show; but, those first 18 minutes turned out to be the greatest opening number I had ever seen. The show is currently being performed at City Center in the Encores! Series and this score can stand alone without the trappings usually required to produce a Broadway spectacle. The opening number not only introduced us to the three focal people who each in their own way contributed to the disaster of the iceberg: Captain E.J. Smith (Chuck Cooper), Thomas Andrews (Jose Llana), J. Bruce Ismay (Brandon Uranowitz); but, also the members of all three classes aboard the ship and the crewmembers. As the 32 member cast raises their voices in beautiful harmony to cheer “Sail on, great ship Titanic” the hopes of the third class passengers, the wonder of those in first class and the pride of the crew are all felt by the audience. So moving is this song that we can suspend reality and wish that the maiden voyage of this “floating city” actually successfully makes it to New York.

This is not the Rose and Jack story that fictionalized a love story between a third and first class passenger but an even more beautiful story based on real people who either survived or were left onboard as the ship broke apart.


The music and lyrics by Maury Yeston are thrilling, cheerful, romantic and haunting. The story and book by Peter Stone who had previously done justice to the telling of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 again brings history to the stage with wit and suspense despite knowing the eventual tragedy.

Over twenty songs fill this musical score with a variety of styles and themes. Each one perfectly delivered by this amazing team of actors and singers briskly directed by Anne Kauffman. There is not a bad song in the mix nor a disappointing performer; but, in addition to that opening number I must highlight a few.

Lady’s Maid sung by the 3rd class passengers brings me to tears as three Irish lasses all named Kate start by telling their fellow travelers their dreams for America. Samantha Williams, Lilli Cooper, and Ashley Blanchet play the ‘three Kates’ and are joined by the ensemble all singing their own individual ambitions – to be a constable, engineer, and governess, etc. It fills my heart with pride that America is such a land of opportunity and then it breaks when I realize that some of these dreamers will never make it to their destination.

A pairing of two male singers, Ramin Karimloo and Alex Joseph Grayson, playing coal stoker Barrett and radio operator Bride, respectively sing two love songs one to his fiancé and one about his career choice is a magical duet where each voice is given a chance to shine.

Another example of Yeston’s genius is a song where three voices combine but certainly not in love; the ship’s owner, designer, and captain Blame each other for the inevitable sinking. It is a dramatic song that is rarely seen in such a show but too often seen in human nature.

The real life owner of Macy’s department store was actually onboard the Titanic with his wife. Chip Zien and Judy Kuhn portray the elderly Isidor and Ida Straus whose love proved even stronger than the two youngsters in the James Cameron film. Ida chose not to get on a lifeboat without her life long partner and that love is beautifully sung in their duet Still.

Love, anger, hope and desire are all represented on the stage but it is second class passenger Alice Beane that gives the tension a bit of comic relief. Wonderfully sung and acted by Bonnie Milligan, Mrs Bean dances into the first class salon and in one of the few choreographed numbers brings joy to the festivities. She and her husband Edgar (Drew Gehling) sing I Have Danced – a song that depicts the struggle of a happily married couple when ambitions are not in line.

We know the ship is going to hit the iceberg but as Matthew Scott as the ship entertainment sings the rhythmic tune Autumn coupled with the Company repeating the haunting No Moon the suspense grows as the ship sails in the night.

Anne Kauffman directs the cast seamlessly from scene to scene not only allowing the songs to tell a fantastic story but to bring out the wit and passion of Peter Stone’s words.

Rob Berman, the Encores! Music Director, again conducts this 30 piece orchestra with incredible ease despite the complicated orchestrations created by Johnathn Tunick. With every violin string, trumpet note, drum roll and cymbal clash the music envelops the huge theater yet touches every individual in it.

Encores! Began 30 years ago to honor scores that are not often revived. With minimal rehearsal time for this limited run some actors are still on book but that does not diminish either the music, story or the talent on the stage. Much has been written about the cost of producing on Broadway so a production with this many cast members and musicians may never be transferred to a Broadway theater as Encores other 2024 title, Once Upon a Mattress will be doing so do not hesitate to buy a ticket. Do not be left on the dock waving goodbye to this magnificent creation.

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Off Broadway

The Opposite Of Love A Devastating Look At Where We Are At Sexually

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Ashley Griffin (Trial)  new play The Opposite of Love, is an uncomfortable, truthful, devastating and brave play about sexual intimacy, trauma, sexual abuse, assault, suicide and the sexualized world we live in today. This piece shows how the misuse of sex has permeated our culture, our minds and our feeling. We no longer truly date or have relationships, but look to satisfy our needs with not love, but sex. When you have grown up sexually abused, without a solid family background how do you navigate this world, that your heart tells you is instinctively wrong? That is at the crux of The Opposite of Love.

Ashley Griffin and Danny Gardner Photo credit: Jeremy Varner

The play follows trust fund baby Eloise (Ashley Griffin) who has been sexually compromised since she was a small child by a relative. Though not penetrated in the true sense of the word, her boundaries and trust issues have been violated. Wanting a loving, intimate romantic relationship she is ill equipped to function. Enter Will ( Danny Gardner), a male prostitute she has hired to take away her virginity. Unable to connected in any way Eloise sends Will away, but Will seeing a potential cash cow, suggests that they meet weekly to just…talk.

Ashley Griffin and Danny Gardner Photo credit: Jeremy Varner

During the course of several weeks the two share the trauma’s of their lives until they finally connect and Eloise feels safe enough. We learn about both of their insecurities, their deepest wants and lies they tell the world until they both feel seen.

Intimacy director Crista Marie Jackson has allowed us to see just enough without crossing the line, but the real kudos goes to director Rachel Klein, who does not play down to us. She crafts this play with heart, soul and intelligence allowing us to go on this journey without falling completely apart with it’s honest look at where we have come to.

Ashley Griffin, as a writer has a wonderful way with words as she expresses what we all are feeling. She shows us that we are both Will and Eloise. Who we are depends on our financial circumstances and upbringing.

Griffin as an actress needs to slow down on her delivery. Her words have so much to say but we miss some of the text due to her rushing and projection. Her charactazation fares better as she takes us on the rollercoaster of this journey. You are never going to expect the ending and that is where she really shines.

Gardner’s Will is organic as we follow his transformation with anticipation. He goes from shallow cad to a broken man who has finally allowed himself to care. We see his mind work as he lies, then tells the horrors of his actions and his the trauma’s of his life, than are even more devastating than Eloise’s as he is told by society that he can not feel. In the end when he finally let’s his guard down we feel his pain and heartbreak.

Gardner, who is primarily known for his tap dancing work on Broadway’s in Dames at Sea and Flying Over Sunset, wow’s as a dramatic actor. I look forward to seeing him do more straight acting.

Griffin and Gardner have chemistry, which allows the play to go even deeper.

The scenic design by Brendan McCann and lighting by Zach Pizza, do well in such a small space and on a small budget

The Opposite of Love, could easily upset and anger those who have not come to terms with the shadows within, but if you are willing to face those devils you just might find a fabulous piece of theatre. I hope this show gets a longer run, where audiences will have a chance to experience this intimate look at the reality of where we are now. I know it is Tony season and there are only a few more performances but if you get a chance, I highly recommend this show.

The Opposite of Love: New York Rep at the Royal Family Theater (145 West 46th Street, until June 15th.

We did a Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents with Ashley Griffin and Danny Gardner. Click here to see this interview and learn even more about The Opposite of Love.

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Broadway

Drama Desk Awards Backstage In The Press Room

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T2C was backstage at the Drama Desk Awards last night. Here is a look at the action.

First in the room:

Kara Young

Celia Keenan-Bolger

Celia Keenan-Bolger and Jessica Lange

Jessica Lange

Sarah Paulson

The Cast of Stereophonic-Will Brill, Sarah Pidgeon, Juliana Canfield, Andrew R. Butler, Tom Pecinka, Chris Stack and Eli Gelb

Nikiya Mathis

JR Goodman, Ray Wetmore and Camille Labarre

Nikki M. James

Patrick Page

Enver Chakartash

Paul Tazewell

Cole Escola

How to Dance in Ohio cast members that includes-Liz Weber, Jeremy Wein, Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt, Nicole D’Angelo and Becky Leifman

Paul Tate dePoo

Avran Mlotek, Motl Didner, Dominick Balletta and Zalem Miotek

Jane Cox

Brian MacDevitt

Brian MacDevitt and Jane Cox

Isabella Byrd

Ryan Rumery

Walter Trarbach, Cody Spencer and Kai Harada

David Yazbek

Itamar Moses

Lady Irene Gandy

Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick

Matthew Broderick

Nathan Lane

Will Butler

Marco Paguia

Shaina Taub

Justin Peck

Daniel Aukin

Jessica Stone

Corbin Bleu and Sarah Hyland

Andre Bishop and James Lapine

Keisha Lewis

Maleah Joi Moon, Brian d’Arcy James and Kelli O’Hara

Maleah Joi Moon

Keisha Lewis and Maleah Joi Moon

Kelli O’Hara

Brian d’Arcy James

Peter Nigrini

Carole Rothman and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

Amy Herzog

David Adjmi

Adam Greenfield, David Adjmi

Sarah Hyland and Debra Messing

 

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Broadway

The 2024 Winner’s Of The Drama Desk Awards The Red Carpet

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The 2024 Annual Drama Desk Awards were announced last night at NYU Skirball Center. Tony Award Winners Sutton Foster and Aaron Tveit hosted the ceremony.

Sutton Foster and Aaron Tveit

Aaron Tveit

Sutton Foster

T2C was on the red carpet.

Andrew Durand

Rick Kuperman and Jeff Kuperman 

William Jackson Harper

Shaina Taub

Peter Nigrini

Kecia Lewis

Celia Keenan-Bolger

Jocelyn Bioh

Laura Benanti

Jesse Robb and Shana Carroll

Jessica Lange

Camille Labarre, Ray Wetmore and JR Goodman

Michael Starobin, Andrea Grody and Shaina Taub

Will Brill

Sarah Paulson

Richard Ridge

Sarah Hyland

Maleah Joi Moon

Patrick Paige

Brooke Shields

Brooke Shields, Maleah Joi Moon

Brian D’Arcy James

Will Keen

Michael Stuhlbarg, Will Keen

Mary Louise Burke

Isabella Byrd

Justin Peck

Kara Young

Marco Paguia

Miss New York Rachelle diStasio

Josh Breckenridge

Lorin Latarro

Ricky Ubeda

Glauco Araujo

Dorian Harewood and Nancy Harewood

Mark Williams

Brody Grant

The Cast of Stereophonic-Andrew R. Butler, Will Brill, Tom Pecinka, Juliana Canfield, Eli Gelb, Chris Stack and Sarah Pidgeon

Paige Davis and Patrick Page

James Monroe Iglehart

Sarah Pidgeon

Nikiya Mathis

Montego Glover

Cole Escola

Tom Pecinka

Chris Stack

Leslie Kritzer

Miriam Silverman

Andrew R. Butler

Pat Swinney Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment with Juliana Canfield

Juliana Canfield

Enver Chakartash

Robert Pickens and Katie Geil

Will Butler

David Adjmi

Daisy Prince

Debra Messing

Lena Hall

Debra Messing

Nikki M. James

Michael Stuhlbarg

Paul Tazewell

Camille A. Brown

Marin Ireland

How To Dance in Ohio-Liz Weber, Jeremy Wein, Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt, Nicole D’Angelo and Becky Leifman

Jacob Karr

Dylis Croman and Robert Montano

Eli Gelb

Walter Trarbach

Steven Valentine

Peter Charney and Brendan George

Rebecca Frecknall

Lady Irene Gandy

Timo Andres

 

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