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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

Events

Tribeca Festival Premieres ‘Elizabeth Taylor: The Lost Tapes’

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Tribeca Festival hosted the North American premiere “Elizabeth Taylor: The Lost Tapes” on June 11 in New York City.

The film which makes the audience understand Taylor’s moxie in a whole new way is captivating and a thrill to watch. It is hard to turn your eyes away from the screen that shines a spotlight on one of the most famous legends in Hollywood history. The tapes tell her version of an icons larger than life script.

As the iconic actress says in a recording as highlighted in the HBO Documentary film, “To thine own self be true. That’s all I have to do.”

In attendance at the screening at the SVA theater were Aude Temel (Co-Producer), Barbara Berkowitz (EP & Elizabeth Taylor Estate), Bill Gerber (Producer), John Paul Horstman (Co-Producer), Nancy Abraham (Executive Vice President, Documentary and Family Programming, HBO),Nanette Burstein (Director/Writer), Glen Zipper (Producer), Quinn Tivey (EP, Elizabeth Taylor Estate and Elizabeth Taylor’s grandson), Rachel Rusch Rich (Producer), Sean Stuart (Producer), Tal Ben David (Editor/Writer), and Tim Mendelson (EP & Elizabeth Taylor Estate).

Oscar-nominated director Burstein’s documentary showcases a mesmerizing journey via audio tapes discovered in the archive of journalist Richard Meryman. Through her lens we are guided by Taylor’s voice as she walks the audience from the first step of her career through her time with Burton in the 1970s.  As described, “she reveals intimacies about her relationships, romantic and otherwise, she peels back the layers of a beloved public figure to reveal a vulnerable, funny, and tenacious woman who persevered despite a life led almost entirely under the scrutiny of public opinion.”

Speaking on the red carpet about Taylor’s accomplishments on the screen to her celebrated advocacy work Burstein mused over the icon and said, “She realized that she could change the game and she did.”

Photo Credit: HBO Documentary Films

 

 

 

 

 

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Composer Randy Edelman Will Be Honored And Closes The Evening At The Metropolitan Club for Career Bridges

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On Tuesday May 7, 2024, The Schuyler Foundation for Career Bridges, David Schuyler Bender and Barbara Bender will be celebrating their Twentieth Annual Concert and Dinner at the historic and illustrious Metropolitan Club located @ 1 East 60th Street, NYC. There will be a cocktail reception & silent auction beginning at 6:30 and the dinner and concert will begin at 7:30. Black tie is preferred, tickets are still available at careerbridges.org.

David Schuyler Bender and Barbara Meister Bender

The mission of Career Bridges is to help young opera singers launch their careers by awarding them grants in voice coaching, diction, language, repertory and stage presence. Many of the grant recipients will be performing at this year’s Gala hosted by renowned Metropolitan Opera Star Denyce Graves and Theodore S. Chaplin, former President of Rogers and Hammerstein Organization.

As one of the prestigious honorees, eminent Symphonist Randy Edelman will be granted “The Lifetime Achievement Award” for his endless contributions to the cultural mosaic of music in film, television, recording, and nearly every aspect of the music industry.

The music of composer Randy Edelman isn’t just a tune, but rather a touch, a supernatural force that makes galaxies collide and creates a million tiny universes. His music is an emotion unfurled and perfectly orchestrated, a melody that becomes a story making song and singer, a single force engulfed by the notes. The crowd caresses the echoes of his lyrics replaying past memories that awaken forgotten worlds. His music is stronger than time.

Others to be honored alongside the multi-award winning composer include: Jason Kwintner, Director of Special Events for the Metropolitan Club, Dr. Joan Taub Ades, who will receive the Humanitarian Award for her musical philanthropic work, and Tony Award winning producer Jane Bergère.

Special thanks to Lorraine Silvetz (Executive Director Of Global Stress Initiative), Yvette Wenger and Jane Thorngren.

The official website for tickets may be found at the Career Bridges Website here:
https://careerbridges.org

T2C will be interviewing Randy Edelman this Wednesday at The Hotel Edison.

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Art

Tony Bennett Auction Exhibition at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco

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Tony Bennett: A Life Well Lived,” exclusive exhibition opening at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, California, celebrating the legendary life and career of the iconic pop jazz vocalist before its two-day auction event by Julien’s Auctions taking place April 18th and Friday, April 19th, 2024 at Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame in Jazz at Lincoln Center. The free public exhibition opens April 8th and runs through April 10th (10am-6pm daily).The Fairmont San Francisco and Mr. Bennett have enjoyed a special relationship for decades. Mr. Bennett first performed his hit “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” in the Venetian Room at the hotel in 1961. The Fairmont San Francisco has had the honor and pleasure of welcoming Mr. Bennett and his family to the hotel for decades. The hotel also touts a special Tony Bennett suite that pays homage to his career and features several pieces of his artwork.Highlights of the exhibition include artifacts pertaining to the American songbook master’s life and career with his special link to San Francisco such as a San Francisco cable car bell award presented to Bennett for his instrumental role in saving the city’s iconic cable car system in the 1980s; a San Francisco Giants jacket worn by Bennett as the Texas Rangers faced the San Francisco Giants in Game 1 of the World Series in San Francisco, California, October 27, 2010 and his white personalized “Bennett” San Francisco Giants jersey; his original “Landscape San Francisco” watercolor painting; as well as record awards, a Grammy nomination plaque for his iconic hit, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and more.

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Events

Jameson Set to Take Over Times Square for Epic Event and More with Colin Jost and Michael Che

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To make St. Patrick’s Eve as epic as possible, Jameson is taking over Times Square on Saturday, March 16. Starting today, fans can visit JamesonSPE.com to enter for a chance to score a spot on the guest list for Jameson’s St. Patrick’s Eve celebration in New York City, co-hosted by Jost and Che, featuring a  surprise DJ performance and a can’t-miss, first-of-its-kind ‘rock drop’ – a Jameson version of the famous Times Square ball drop – at 8 p.m. ET (aka midnight in Ireland) to mark the occasion. Jameson Irish Whiskey is one of the first brands to ever drop the Times Square Ball to launch a celebration for a new holiday. To further spread the St. Patrick’s Eve spirit from coast-to-coast, Jameson will also light up the Sphere in Las Vegas in Jameson green, wrap the ferries and water taxis in the dyed- green Chicago River and have a complete digital takeover at L.A. Live – all marking the new holiday.

Anyone 21+ can tune into the rock drop live streamed on JamesonSPE.com and for those in NYC, Jameson will have a kick-off to St. Patrick’s Eve in Times Square Plaza between 43rd and 44th Streets with a live DJ, giveaways and more from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET.

Because a special holiday deserves an equally stylish look, Jameson is releasing limited-edition, vintage-inspired jackets at JamesonSPE.com. The design includes a hidden pocket inside the jacket to perfectly

hold a Jameson hip flask that comes with the order, as well as luxe patches signature to the iconic Irish Whiskey brand. The Jameson St. Patrick’s Eve jacket will retail for $150 plus tax with free shipping in the continental U.S., and 50-jacket drops will take place weekly hrough March 12.

All proceeds will benefit the Restaurant Workers’ Community Fund (RWCF), a nonprofit dedicated to advocating for food and beverage service industry workers, continuing the brand’s long-standing partnership with the organization to support its bartending community.

For more details about Jameson St. Patrick’s Eve festivities or for St. Patrick’s Eve cocktail ideas, visit JamesonSPE.com and follow @Jameson_US.

 

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Public Theater Brings “The Ally” Forward for an Intense Debate

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So here’s the pickle. This play, The Ally, clocking in at a far too long two hours and forty minutes, throws controversy at you in numerous long-winded speeches one after the other, filling your brain with details and complexities that clash and do battle with each other from beginning to end. The structuring is intelligent, as the Public Theater‘s new play, The Ally, written by Itamar Moses (Outrage; The Band’s Visit) and directed with precision by Lila Neugebauer (Second Stage’s Appropriate), strides forward into dangerous territory with determination against all odds. Wickedly smart and articulate, the play, in general, overwhelms the intellectual senses. It’s factual and intricate, somewhat off-balanced and attacking, delivering detailed positions with fiery accuracy, which only made me question whether I wanted to sit this one out. Or step more in.

It’s unsafe and determined, placing the action (or inaction, if you really want to get into it) inside a college campus, and attempting to engage in deep-level conversations and arguments with the complicated issues of the world. These are exactly the debates worth having, says basically one character to another, in the tradition of arguing. Because banning free speech is “weird on a college campus.” These conundrums and conflicts are core to passionate dialogue, and just the idea of having them is meeting with fierce debate at universities and colleges across the country. The complexities and the tipping points are layered and real, swimming in a sea of questions about what free speech really truly means, and how differing points of view, civil dialogue, and the stark polarization contrasts collide and enflame. And how, in discussion, defensiveness and aggressive emotional stances are taken on and used against one another like weapons; bullets, and missiles. I even feel a bit worried that taking this stance of wanting to back away might be taken as ‘part of the problem’.

Ben Rosenfield and Josh Radnor in The Ally at The Public Theater. Photo credit: Joan Marcus.

The program notes that “the theatre is a safe space in the most literal sense of that term: no one is going to be physically harmed during this performance in the Anspacher. But it is most decidedly not a safe space if by that term we mean a space where everyone will feel comfortable and no one will feel angry, saddened, or offended. It can’t be that kind of space. The theater depends on conflict – the form itself refuses the idea of a single truth. It’s why I [Oskar Eustis; Artistic Director of The Public Theater] believe that theater is the ultimate democratic art form – just like citizens in democracy, the theater demands that we listen to and share opposing viewpoints, and that from that conflict, a greater truth will emerge.” And I couldn’t agree more with that.

Yet, even with such heightened emotions on stage, delivered full throttle by the excellent cast that includes Cherise Boothe (Signature’s Fabulation,) as Nakia; Elijah Jones (Signature’s Confederates) as Baron; Michael Khalid Karadsheh (Target Margin’s The Most Oppressed by All) as Farid; Joy Osmanski (“Stargirl“) as Gwen; Josh Radnor (LCT’s The Babylon Line) as Asaf; Ben Rosenfield (RTC’s Love, Love, Love) as Reuven; and Madeline Weinstein (BAM’s Medea) as Rachel, who each try to make it sound more authentic than the writing really allows, the play suffers from how deep of a dive the writing goes. But not without a solid attempt by this cast, bringing qualities and characteristics to the forefront whenever they are given the chance. But a lot of the time, like their main focus, Radnor’s Asaf, they must stand and listen to whoever has the microphone at that one particular speechified moment. And wait, just like us, for the next round. And viewpoint.

Madeline Weinstein, Michael Khalid Karadsheh, and Elijah Jones in Ally at The Public Theater. Photo credit: Joan Marcus.

Playwright Itamar has certainly dived fully into some of the most difficult topics of our time and asks us to patiently listen to all sides, even when the dialogue doesn’t really resemble discussion but more like informed lectures or one-framed speeches. On the plainest of sets, designed by Lael Jellinek (Public/Broadway’s Sea Wall/A Life), with costuming by Sarita Fellows (Broadway’s Death of a Salesman), lighting by Reza Behjat (ATC’s English) and sound design by Bray Poor (Broadway’s Take Me Out), The Public‘s The Ally, uncovers some emotional space within the manifestos presented. Itamar states in the note section: It “wasn’t that i had nothing to say,” he carefully explains, like the main character who has to stand back and take on the full force and brunt of the argument. “Rather, I didn’t know where to begin because what I had to say was too confused, too contradictory, too raw.” And if that was the complicated stance he was trying to unpack, the playwright succeeded tremendously well.

But does that make The Ally, at The Public Theater, especially this long-winded one, worth sitting through? I’d say yes, and I’d say no. I couldn’t wait to leave that debate hall, but I was also impressed and intrigued by the arguments presented and discussed, even if ‘debate’ would not exactly be the word I would use for the ideas thrown around at one another with brutal force. One of the later statements said to Radnor’s Asaf by his ex-girlfriend, Nakia (Boothe) at maybe one of the few truly emotional moments of actual human souls speaking their truth, sums up my stance. “The thing you need, may not be words.” I won’t argue with that.

For more information and tickets, click here.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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