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Theatre News: Short Takes, Chess in Concert, Estelle Parsons, Eleanor and Alice and Designing Broadway

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Short Takes: The Piano Lesson extends. The revival of the August Wilson-penned play will now close on Jan. 29, 2023, instead of the previously announced Jan. 15. Jessica Hecht to join Laura Linney in Summer, 1976. Summer, 1976 is scheduled to begin previews on April 4, 2023, at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre ahead of an opening night on April 25. John Leguizamo will bring Kiss My Aztec his new satirical musical to Broadway.


The Entertainment Community Fund, formerly The Actors Fund, announced today a one-night-only benefit concert of the legendary musical Chess. The concert will be held on Monday, December 12 at 7:30 pm ET at the Broadhurst Theatre and will star Darren Criss as “Freddie Trumper”, Lena Hall as “Florence Vassey”, Ramin Karimloo as “Anatoly Sergievsky” and Solea Pfeiffer as “Svetlana Sergievsky”. The evening, a benefit for the Entertainment Community Fund, will be presented in association with Tom Hulce and Ira Pittelman whose award-winning Broadway credits include Ain’t Too Proud, Green Day’s American Idiot and Spring Awakening.

The concert celebrates the gorgeous score by ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus and celebrated EGOT winner Sir Tim Rice, and features a new book by Emmy Award®  winner Danny Strong. Tony Award® Winner Michael Mayer (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Spring Awakening) directs.

Chess is a love story set against the historic Cold War chess battles between the United States and Russia where ideologies dangerously clash. Strong’s new book is sharp, funny and captures the tension of the era as the iconic score keeps the stakes high from start to finish.

“We’re thrilled to help bring this new iteration of such a beloved musical to New York City,” said Entertainment Community Fund Chair Brian Stokes Mitchell. “Our thanks to Tom, Ira and the whole Chess company for their generous support of our programs and services to help those in our industry this holiday season.”

Additional casting will be announced at a later date.

For tickets (starting at $75) visit entertainmentcommunity.org/Chess or call 212.221.7300 ext. 133. For Sponsorship opportunities, contact Douglas Ramirez at 917.281.5921 or dramirez@entertainmentcommunity.org

The Lambs Club presented Estelle Parsons and Genevieve Rafter Keddy was there. Ms. Parson’s was interviewed by Foster Hirsch and Marilyn Sokol was in attendance.

Urban Stages Celebrates Eleanor and Alice Roosevelt

By Craig Horsley

Best Selling author Steven Alter with playwright Ellen Abrams

On November 17, Urban Stages unveiled their new production with a special preview performance. Eleanor and Alice: Conversations between Two Roosevelts written by Ellen Abrams will be playing at Urban Stages 259 West 30th Street through December 4th.

Mary Bacon plays Alice Roosevelt

The preview performance played to a full house with a very impressed audience that afterwards joined for dinner at OCabanon Restaurant (245 W29th Street) where they were able to meet the playwright, and cast; Tony winner Trezana Beverleyas Eleanor Roosevelt and Sam Norkin Drama Desk Award-Winner Mary Bacon as Alice Roosevelt Longworth. Jonathan Alter, bestselling author of The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days spoke at the dinner complimenting the performers and playwright for its realistic portrayal of the Roosevelt cousins, stating that ” this is not a manipulated Hollywood production.”

Playwright Ellen Abrams and Director Frances Hill

Tom Toce, new President of Urban Stages Board with President Emeritus Lynn San Andres

Trezana Beverley plays Eleanor Roosevelt

Frances Hill who has been the Artistic Director of Urban Stages for over thirty years fell in love with the play and decided to direct this production herself. Eleanor and Alice has been performed as a radio play produced by Urban Stages and was seen last year at the FDR Memorial for a special celebration at FDR 4 Freedom Park on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island. This full production opens on Sunday November 20 at 7:30PM. Tickets are available on the Company’s website: Urbanstages.com.

The Barnes & Noble – Union Square announced a discussion and signing for Tony and Emmy Award-winning set designer Derek McLane and entertainment and fashion writer Eila Mell’s new book, Designing Broadway: How Derek McLane and Other Acclaimed Set Designers Create the Visual World of Theatre. With a discussion lead by Tony and Emmy nominated director and playwright Moisés Kaufman.

The event will take place on Monday, November 28 at 7:00pm at The Barnes & Noble – Union Square (33 East East 17th Street). Admission can be purchased at stores.barnesandnoble.com with the following options: Book Admission – $49.04 which includes entrance to the event, copy of Designing Broadway and admission to signing line with Derek McLane and Eila Mell. Gift Card Admission – $5.00 which includes one $5 B&N gift card, and admission to signing line with Derek McLane and Eila Mell. It is highly recommended that guests wear a mask inside. Socially distanced photos will be allowed, no memorabilia will be signed.

In this richly illustrated and information-packed celebration of Broadway set design, Tony Award–winning designer Derek McLane explores the craft while reflecting on some of the greatest stage productions of the past few decades.

Together with other leading set design and theatre talents, McLane invites us into the immersive and exhilarating experience of building the striking visual worlds that have brought so many of our favorite stories to life. Discover how designers generate innovative ideas, research period and place, solve staging challenges, and collaborate with directors, projectionists, costume designers, and other artists to capture the essence of a show in powerful scenic design.

With co-writer Eila Mell, McLane and contributors discuss Moulin Rouge!, Hamilton, Hadestown, Beautiful, and many more of the most iconic productions of our generation. Among the Broadway luminaries who contribute are John Lee Beatty, Danny Burstein, Cameron Crowe, Ethan Hawke, Moisés Kaufman, Carole King, Kenny Leon, Santo Loquasto, Kathleen Marshall, Lynn Nottage, David Rabe, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Wallace Shawn, John Leguizamo, and Robin Wagner.

Filled with personal sketches and photographs from the artists’ archives, this stunningly designed book is truly a behind-the-scenes journey that theatre fans will love.

Designing Broadway is available everywhere books are sold, November 22, 2022.

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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The Hotel Edison Opulent and Convenient with History

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George Burns and Gracie Allen lived on the 9th floor of The Edison Hotel. Their friend Jack Benny lived on the 4th floor. Moss Hart lived there after his Once in a Lifetime was a Broadway hit. He then moved his parents there until he found them an apartment. The Edison Hotel is featured in the movies “The Godfather” and “Bullets Over Broadway”, so history abounds.

Located at 228 West 47th Street, you are down the street from Six, Hamilton, Prayer for the French Republic and Sweeney Todd. Across the street is the Barrymore Theatre, but all of Broadway and Times Square is a hop, skip and a jump away. Talk about location, location, location.Built in the late 1920’s, Art Deco abounds from the hotel lobby to the lights and the bed spread in the lush rooms. The hotel is elegant and feels like you stepped back in time. My room was spacious with a king-sized bed that was so comfortable, I wish this was a staycation where I could have spent more time catching up on sleep. I also had a small sitting room with a couch, desk and more windows with views.

The rooms are well designed with great features, such as a Keurig coffee maker and coffee, black-out drapes, windows that opened, and a full-marble bathroom. In the bathroom fluffy towels, designer toiletries and a hair dryer awaited me. The spacious shower also had a relaxing rain shower. In the closet a safe, iron, ironing board and fluffy robes.

There were also two flat-screen high-definition smart TVs, Bluetooth-enabled audio, high-speed Wi-Fi which made my life so much easier, and an alarm clock.

The room was ultra clean and to get to it you need a room key, which you also need for the elevator, so you feel incredibly safe.

Another fun fact…when you arrive you will have a personalized note waiting just for you and some lovely snacks, which were highly appreciated considering I had been running all day and needed a pick me up.

Amenities to the hotel are a gym, two fabulous restaurants, a piano bar, complimentary wine and cheese receptions (Tuesday & Friday), with entertainment, as well as complimentary walking tours of the neighborhood.

You would think for this much pampering and convivence this hotel would be overpriced but it is not. There are rooms are the best offer and prices in town.

If you are looking for history, comfort, boutique, friendliness and luxury, this is the perfect place to stay.

The Edison Hotel: 228 West 47th Street

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Going Down The Rabbit Hole To Discover A Fabulous Unheard Treasure of Linda Eder

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In February one of my favorite singers is coming to 54 Below on the 6, 13, & 17. Linda Eder is forever linked to Broadway history via her Theatre World Award winning performance in Jekyll & Hyde. Her concerts sell out and the reason why is her voice is remarkable.

In 2020 she release an album that somehow slipped through my radar. Retro – volume two is full of Broadway and Standards. There are 17 tracks on the CD. Most are written by Frank Wildhorn with the exception of four tracks. There are two pop tracks, one written by Frank Wildhorn and one written by Jake Wildhorn. She recorded the vocals for four of the tracks at home by herself due to social distancing. This CD is only available at LindaEder.com.

Guest stars on the CD are Will Lee and Michael Lanning. Songs from Bonnie & Clyde, Svengali, Tears of Heaven, Havana andThe Last Five Years are heard here.

I can not believe this slipped through the cracks, but thrilled to find it. Can’t wait to see her at 54 Below.

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Celebrating Love in Times Square

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There’s no better place to say “I love you” than Times Square. On Valentine’s Day 2024, New Yorkers and visitors alike will once again declare their love and celebrate their relationships at the Crossroads of the World through surprise proposals, weddings in the heart of Times Square, and a Vow Renewal Ceremony on Duffy Square’s iconic Red Steps.

Want to participate? Click here for proposals. Click here to get married and click here to renew your vows.

 

 

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Felicia Finley Shines in From Backwoods to Broadway

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As Broadway veteran Felicia Finley proves in her one woman cabaret show, From Backwoods to Broadway, which she showcased at The Green Room 42 in NYC this week, you can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl. And that’s a very good thing!

Ms. Finley chronicles her lifelong journey from her Appalacian roots to the Great White Way in a program of emotionally powerful songs spanning both worlds with vocal mastery and personal passion.

She began her journey as a performer when she started singing at age four. Her first big break came at age nine, when she was cast in the Broadway company of Annie…and her first big heartbreak came when the show closed the very next weekend. Her early career was a roller coaster of promising opportunities and dashed hopes. She might have co-starred in the film of Gypsy opposite Bette Midler had five foot one Ms. Midler not refused to stand on a box to look Ms. Findley in the eye. But that’s show biz.

Finally her talent prevailed. She made her Broadway debut in Smokey Joe’s Café, before going on to play Amnaris in Aida, April in the original cast of The Life, and to create the role of Linda in The Wedding Singer.


Along the way, Ms. Finley has never lost track of her gospel roots, or her love for Patsy Kline. Her rendition of “Sweet Dreams”, one of Patsy’s big hits, was a highlight of the evening, flavored with the smoky sound that makes Ms. Finley’s voice so distinctive. Not surprisingly, Ms. Finley won a “Best Actor” award for portraying Ms. Kline in A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline at the Meadowbrook Theatre in Rochester, NY.

Ms. Finley was ably accompanied for this performance by her talented musical director, Michael McBride.

Under the direction of JoAnne Zielinski, From Backwoods to Broadway is like spending a welcoming evening in the intimate warmth of Ms. Finleys living room.  The next chance you get to see her, dont miss her.

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Sing Your Heart Out at Baby Grand

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In New York City everyone is a singer and or wants to sing. Well, one of the best places to go for karaoke is Baby Grand, located at 29 West 17th Street, With three private rooms, a large event space, a large neon sign to light the way and a main stage, you can have the time of your life. Get ready to show that you have what it takes to make it anywhere.

The hours are Sunday-Wednesday 5 pm – 3 am, Thursday-Saturday 5 pm – 4 am so you can sing into the wee morning. For just $2 a song in the main room you can rent a small room (1-5 people) for $50 a hour  a medium room (6-10 people) $75 an hour or for a $100 hour (11-16 people) a large room to party with all your friends.

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