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Amber Tamblyn, Thomas Sadowski

Sacred Valley, By Josh Radnor, Directed by Sheryl Kaller, Amber Tamblyn and Thomas Sadowski
Vassar Stage and Film/ Buck Lewis

Vassar & New York Stage and Film have announced initial casting for the first mainstage and first musical workshop productions of the 33rd Powerhouse Season in Poughkeepsie, NY, running from June 23 through July 30, 2017:

The cast of Powerhouse alum and “How I Met Your Mother” star Josh Radnor’s playwriting premiere Sacred Valley will include TV regulars Michael Chernus (“Orange Is The New Black”), Abigail Spencer (“Rectify,” “Timeless”), and David T. Patterson (“The Path”). The first mainstage play will be directed by Sheryl Kaller, and will play the Powerhouse Theater from June 29 – July 9, 2017.

Powerhouse’s first musical workshop, Stilyagi, featuring lyrics by Lisa Kron (Fun Home), music by Peter Lerman (Brooklynite), and direction by Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening, American Idiot), will include cast members Krysta Rodriguez (Spring Awakening, “Smash”), Dave Thomas Brown (American Psycho), Lauren Patten (seen last season in Powerhouse’s smash hit The Wolves), Dale Soules (“Orange Is The New Black”), Jeb Brown (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), George Salazar (The Lightning Thief), Alex Boniello (Spring Awakening), Joel Perez (Fun Home), Sarah Hunt, Maria Louissant, Chelsea Turbin, Megan Masako Haley, Karl Josef Co, Daniel Jackson, Thomas Hettrick, in addition to lyricist Lisa Kronwho will also be performing in the workshop. The first musical workshop will play the Martel Theater at the Vogelstein Center from Drama and Film from June 23-25, 2017.

New to the Play Workshop series: The Homecoming Queen, by Powerhouse Founders Award recipient Ngozi Anyanwu. A bestselling novelist returns to Nigeria to care for her ailing father, but before she can bury him, she must relearn the traditions she’s long forgotten. Having been absent for over a decade, she must collide with her culture, traumatic past, painful regrets, and the deep, deep love she thought she could never have. (The Homecoming Queen replaces the previously announced presentation of the play Hang Man, which has been postponed indefinitely because of scheduling conflicts. Tickets to Hang Man will be honored for the same performance time and seat location for the run of The Homecoming Queen.)

Three new projects to the annual Readings Festival include: Diana, a new musical about Princess Diana by the creative team behind Memphis (book & lyrics by Joe DiPietro, music & lyrics by David Bryan, direction by Christopher Ashley); One Good Egg by Annie Evans, directed by Melia Bensussen; and The Fit by Carey Perloff, directed by Daniel Aukin.

Vassar & New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse collaboration continues to be the launching pad for some of the most groundbreaking new works for the American theater, with countless productions in New York City, regionally and internationally.  Notably, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton and Stephen Karam’s The Humansthe reigning Tony® winners for Best Musical and Best Play, respectively—received early development at Powerhouse.  Most recently, during its 32nd Season last summer, Powerhouse presented first-look productions of two daring new works that were just named finalists for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama: Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves, which moved directly from its Powerhouse premiere to a recent celebrated run at The Playwrights Realm in NYC; and Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music.  Among 30 other projects developed recently at Powerhouse with new or upcoming major productions: Richard Greenberg’s The Babylon Line at Lincoln Center Theater; The Light Years at Playwrights Horizons; Ayad Akhtar’s Junk at Lincoln Center Theater; and Anna Ziegler’s The Last Match at the Roundabout Theatre Company.

The upcoming 33rd Powerhouse Season will feature two mainstage productions in the Powerhouse Theater:

Sacred Valley (June 29 – July 9) By Josh Radnor  and directed by Sheryl Kaller

Narby and Natalie can’t remember a time when they weren’t friends. But their seemingly rock-solid friendship is upended when Narby takes Natalie’s husband Brian out for his first mushroom trip. The next day, a confused Brian leaves Natalie, an enraged Natalie blames Narby, and three people are forced to ask themselves the deepest questions about love, friendship, and growing up in this bittersweet comedy from Josh Radnor (Liberal Arts, “How I Met your Mother,” Powerhouse’sThe Babylon Line).

Good Men Wanted (July 20 – July 30) by Kevin Armento, directed by Jaki Bradley and choreographed by Ani Taj

Good Men Wanted brings to life the incredible true stories of renegade women who disguised themselves as men to fight in the Civil War. In a searing drama punctuated by explosive dance sequences set to contemporary pop music, five women of vastly different backgrounds become warriors and spies, endure prison camps and midnight raids, and ultimately intersect at America’s most storied battlefield, Gettysburg. These unsung heroes circumvented the limitations of their time, with a boldness that speaks loudly to our own.

The musical workshop presentations, presented in the Vogelstein Center for Drama & Film, will include three exciting new projects:

Stilyagi (June 23-25) lyrics by Lisa Kron, music by Peter Lerman, based on the motion picture The Hipsters, produced by Red Arrow Films and directed by Michael Mayer

“This is musical about me, Mels Yefimovich Vasnetsov, about difficult time in my life when I was young (hard to believe) and good looking (harder to believe) in no-longer-existing world of 1950s Moscow, when I was pulled from promising future in Komosomol Leninist Youth Brigade by beautiful, corrupt and dissipated Stilyaga girl by name of Polly, who ruined my life in best and worst possible manner, which, to this day, I am not reconciling. Obviously, this is complicated Soviet story, not fit subject for frivolous American musical. But they ask for blurb so here is blurb so if you are interested, please, I invite you, come. But if you ask me this is terrible idea.”

This Ain’t No Disco (June 30 – July 2) music and lyrics by Stephen Trask & Peter Yanowitz, book by Rick Elice and directed by Trip Cullman

 Set against the garbage strikes, the grit, the graffiti of NYC 1979, This Ain’t No Disco tells the story of drifters and dreamers who search for their place in the night world of Studio 54 and the Mudd Club. Ultimately, it’s about finding community and purpose in a city where one’s fate can turn on a dime bag, where every few steps gives you a chance to pick a new direction, to take a new path. From the creator of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the director of Six Degrees of Separation.

The Secret Life of Bees (July 27-29), book by Lynn Nottage, music by Duncan Sheik, lyrics by Susan Birkenhead, based on the novel by Sue Monk Kidd and directed by Sam Gold

It’s 1964 in South Carolina, and restless white teenager Lily Owens wrestles with her controlling father and a haunting memory of her dead mother. When Rosaleen, her Black caretaker, is beaten and jailed for attempting to vote, Lily’s rebellious spirit is awakened and she and Rosaleen escape their circumstances on an adventure, to find the truth about her mother’s death. One portentous clue leads them to a colorful bee farm run by three eccentric and spiritual Black sisters, whose wisdom, warmth and motherly love help both Lily and Rosaleen grow and heal. Written by two time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage, lyrics by Tony and Drama Desk nominee Susan Birkenhead, composed by Tony Winner Duncan Sheik, and directed by Tony winner Sam Gold.

This summer’s ‘Inside Look’ Workshops to be presented in the Susan Stein Shiva Theater are:

The Great Leap (July 7-9) by Lauren Yee and directed by Will Davis

San Francisco, spring 1989. Manford Lum, locally renowned on the sidewalk basketball courts of Chinatown, talks his way onto a college team, just before they travel to Beijing for a “friendship” game. His background is a mystery, but he can sink 100 free throws in a row, so who cares? When they arrive, China is in the throes of the post-Cultural Revolution era, and Manford must juggle international politics and his own personal history. There’s more at stake on the court than just who wins or loses. Inspired by events from the life (and short-lived basketball career) of playwright Lauren Yee’s father.

The Homecoming Queen (July 28-30) by Ngozi Anyanwu and directed by Awoye Timpo

A bestselling novelist returns to Nigeria to care for her ailing father, but before she can bury him, she must relearn the traditions she’s long forgotten. Having been absent for over a decade, she must collide with her culture, traumatic past, painful regrets, and the deep, deep love she thought she could never have.

The annual Readings Festival, split between two weekends (June 23-25 and July 21-23), will include: Amy and the Orphans by Lindsey Ferrentino, directed by Scott Ellis; Little Orphan Danny, with book, music, and lyrics by Dan Finnerty, directed by Sean Daniels; Ironweed by William Kennedy and Jodie Markell, based on the novel by William Kennedy, directed by Jodie Markell; Paris, Actors by Hamish Linklater; Serious Moonlight by Adrienne Shelly, co-adapted by Liz Tuccillo and Andy Ostroy; Jane Says by Diana Son; and Kid Prince and Pablo by Brian Quijada.

Members of the noted Powerhouse Theater Training Program will present reimaginings of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (July 14-16) adapted and directed by Emily Mendelsohn and Cymbeline (July 21-23) adapted and directed by Andrew Willis-Woodward. Members of the Training Company will continue Soundpainting (July 6, 13, 20, 27), a series of improvisational performances featuring music, dance, and acting in a dynamic and unique type of ensemble performance; as well as Workshop Performances of 12 Ophelias (a play with broken songs) (July 23-24) by Caridad Svich, directed by Heidi Handelsman; One Act Plays Festival (July 26); and Not, Not, Not, Not, Not Enough Oxygen (July 28) by Caryl Churchill. Young actors, playwrights, and directors from around the country and internationally, along with an exceptional faculty of artists, comprise this important component of the Powerhouse artistic community.

Now in its 33rd year, Powerhouse Theater is a collaboration between New York Stage and Film and Vassar College dedicated to both emerging and established artists in the development and production of new works for theater and film. The Powerhouse program consists of an eight-week residency on the Vassar campus during which more than 300 professional artists and 40 participants in the Powerhouse Training Program live and work together to create new theater works. In 2016, three productions that trace their developmental roots to Powerhouse ran simultaneously on Broadway – Hamilton, Bright Star, and The Humans – and in the 2016/17 theater season, ten projects premiered in New York City that had been developed and presented at Powerhouse: The Wolves (Playwrights Realm); The Babylon Line (Lincoln Center Theater); Rancho Viejo, The Light Years, and The Profane (Playwrights Horizons); Marry Harry (The York Theater); Nollywood Dreams (Cherry Lane Theater); The View Upstairs (Lynn Redgrave Theater); The Mother of Invention (Abingdon Theatre Company); and Taylor Mac’s epic A 24- Decade History of Popular Music (St. Ann’s Warehouse).  Later this year, they will be joined by Ayad Akhtar’s Junk (Lincoln Center Theater on Broadway) and Anna Ziegler’s The Last Match (Roundabout Theatre).  Other projects developed at the Powerhouse include the Tony Award-winning Side Man and Tru; the multi-award-winning Doubt by John Patrick Shanley; the groundbreaking Broadway musical American Idiot; and A Steady Rain.

New York Stage and Film (Johanna Pfaelzer, Artistic Director; Thomas Pearson, Executive Director; Mark Linn-Baker, Max Mayer, Leslie Urdang, Producing Directors) is a not-for-profit company dedicated to both emerging and established artists in the development of new works for theater and film. Since 1985 New York Stage and Film has played a significant role in the development of new plays, provided a home for a diverse group of artists free from critical and commercial pressures, and established itself as a vital cultural institution for residents of the Hudson Valley and the New York metropolitan region www.newyorkstageandfilm.org.

Vassar College (Ed Cheetham, Michael Sheehan, Producing Directors) is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861. Consistently ranked as one of the country’s best liberal arts colleges, Vassar is renowned for its long history of curricular innovation, and for the natural and architectural beauty of its campus. More than 50 academic departments and degree programs — from Anthropology to Cognitive Sciences to Urban Studies — encompass the arts, foreign languages, natural sciences, and social sciences, and combine to offer a curriculum of more than 1,000 courses.  Vassar College is sited in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley in Poughkeepsie, NY.  www.vassar.edu

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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Inside Bucks County Playhouse World Premiere Musical Last of the Red Hot Mamas

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From serving up jokes with a side of blintzes in a Hartford Jewish deli to performing for adoring crowds at Broadway’s Palace Theater in seven short years, the unexpected rise of Sophie Tucker to the rank of comic superstar is the subject of the new world premiere musical, Last of the Red Hot Mamas, making its debut at Bucks County Playhouse, June 28 through July 27. Last of the Red Hot Mamas will begin previews on Friday, June 28 with an official press opening on Thursday, July 11 at 7:30 pm.
T2C was there at the press meet and greet.
The Playhouse’s Producing Director Alexander Fraser, Executive Producer Robyn Goodman, and Producer Joshua Fiedler announced casting and details for this new musical, which features direction and choreography by Shea Sullivan, and a book by Susan Ecker, Harrison David Rivers and Lloyd Ecker.
Last of the Red Hot Mamas is the 11th world premiere production at the New Hope theater since it reopened in 2012 and is part of Playhouse’s commitment to developing new work.
“The big surprise for me was seeing how Sophie Tucker’s wild, racy and very funny take on life changed show business forever,” says Alexander Fraser, Producing Director. “Sophie Tucker made the world accept her for who she was . . . a full-figured Jewish girl with a voice as loud as a steam whistle. We’re proud to help shed light how she paved the way for all those to follow who felt like they didn’t fit in.”
In 1973, while they were students at Ithaca College, Susan Denner (now Ecker) and Lloyd Ecker went on a first date to a Bette Midler concert. The couple quickly fell in love—with both each other and the “Divine Miss M.” Midler’s hilarious ‘Soph’ jokes piqued their curiosity about their origin — the pioneering vaudeville performer Sophie Tucker — leading the duo to publish a fictional memoir, “I Am Sophie Tucker,” and create a well-regarded documentary, “The Outrageous Sophie Tucker.”  A big new musical is the next step in the Eckers’ 50-plus year fascination with the saucy, sassy comedienne — Sophie Tucker. To bring their dream to life, they joined forces with Sullivan, and award-winning playwright, Harrison David Rivers.
“Picture a groundbreaking, occasionally arrested for sexual innuendo, jazz-singing, 25-year-old very plump ‘Taylor Swift’ of 1913. Sophie Tucker was on the front pages every day, with men craving her and women copying her hair and fashion styles. We’re confident our must-see world premiere musical is going to make Tucker an international icon… again,” says Lloyd Ecker.
“We’re equally sure the innovative and exciting Bucks County Playhouse is about to become the place to be this July,” added Susan Ecker.
Before Mae West, Bette Midler or Queen Latifah, there was Sophie Tucker. With the help of two former Harlem headliners, Tucker rose from the deli counter to become a full-fledged star in her own right. Tucker was known for performing songs, including “After You’re Gone”, “There’ll Be Some Changes Made” and “Some of These Days.” The musical will feature these songs, along with other classics of their time — delivered with lots of tap dancing, and a big dose of Sophie’s groundbreaking, sassy humor.
Ryann Redmond (Broadway’s first female Olaf in Disney’s Frozen and most recently Once Upon a One More Time) will perform the role of Sophie Tucker alongside Rheaume Crenshaw (Broadway’s Shucked, Groundhog Day, Caroline or Change) as Mollie Elkins, DeWitt Fleming Jr. (Tour of A Wonderful World, and Encore’s The Tap Dance Kid) as Bojangles Robinson and Stephanie Gibson (BCP’s The Rocky Horror Show and National Pastime and Broadway’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) as Nora Bayes.
The cast also includes Willie Clyde Beaton II (Walnut Street’s Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), Lincoln Belford (National Tour of Chicago), Natalie Bellamy (Playhouse debut), Kelly Bolick (Public Theater’s Southern Comfort), Jonathan Hadley (Broadway’s Jersey Boys), Jenny Kay Hoffman (National Tour: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer), Hannah Hubbard (Fulton Theater’s Something Rotten), Daniel Lopez (Into the Woods at the Hollywood Bowl), Bobby MacDonnell (currently in Boy Band Evolution), Michael Persson (National Tour: 42nd Street), Danny Rutigliano (Broadway’s I Need That and Beetlejuice) and Rachel Stern (Broadway’s Girl from North Country and Shrek).
The creative team for the production consists of Nate Bertone (Scenic Design), Jeanette Christensen (Costume Design), J. Jared Janas (Hair, Wig and Makeup Design), Kirk Bookman (Lighting Design), and Jeff Sherwood (Sound Design). Merrick A.B. Williams is production stage manager. Musical arrangements by Sam Davis with orchestrations and additional arrangements by Greg Jarrett. Casting is by Paul Hardt.
Last of the Red Hot Mamas will begin previews on Friday, June 28 with an official press opening on Thursday, July 11 at 7:30 pm. Starting with the 2024 season, the show times have changed – with performances beginning 30 minutes earlier than in 2023. All evening performances now all begin at 7:30 pm, with all matinees now performed at 1:30 pm. Last of the Red Hot Mamas will play Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 pm with matinees on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 pm. Tickets start at $39. Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Patrons are invited to a special “Pay-What-You-Can Preview Performance” on Friday, June 28 at 7:30 pm. Suggested minimum is $10. Student rush tickets are also available at all performances, based on availability.
For full details, and to purchase tickets, please visit buckscountyplayhouse.org, call 215-862-2121, or visit the box office at 70 South Main Street, New Hope, PA.
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Hamptons Fashion Week Keeps Getting Hauter So Save The Date

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Hamptons Fashion Week®, is the premier fashion event in the Hamptons! On July 26th-27th, 2024, join us at the luxurious Summer Series and an unforgettable experience. With over multiple designer shows, runways, luxury brands and exhibitor spaces during Hamptons Super Saturday®, Hamptons Swim Week® with a range of exciting activations, this is the must-attend event of the year.

At Hamptons Fashion Week®, leading fashion designers, entertainment, and productions are all under one roof, creating a truly immersive and transformative experience. You’ll have the opportunity to rub shoulders with industry professionals, fashion designers, models, and more, all while experiencing the latest trends in fashion.

From panel discussions and product demonstrations to social events such as industry mixers, after parties, lifestyle events and more! Guests will have access to exclusive, on-site hospitality, unmatched insider extras, and more, making this a truly coveted invitation.

Reserve your access now to receive one of fashion’s most coveted invites and be a part of the best touring fashion hampton experience of the year. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to be a part of the transformation of the fashion industry. Join us at Hamptons Swim Week® presented by Hamptons Fashion Week® Summer Series and Experience 2024!

Hamptons Fashion Week announced that it will feature Alice & Olivia and Michelle Farmer as their award recipients at Hampton’s Fashion Week Retail Of The Year Award Show on July 26th VIP Reception. Event coverage will be brought to you by E! News!, Bella Magazine, Dans Paper, Hamptons.com, Vogue  and other major influencers! There will also be a swim Week Runway Showcase by Johnny Was

 
This year, Celebrity, Hollywood Stylist & Designer Phillip Bloch will be receiving the Style Icon of The Year Award , July 27th during the program and show 6pm-10pm
 
Shop our latest brands at theHamptons Fashion Week Online Marketplace!
 
You need tickets so click here. Security will be super tight for this event. So if you don’t have a ticket there is no entrance.

VIP Tickets $500 include:

Swag Bag-Valued at $500{One Per Person]

Seating

Access to ALL 3 Events!

July 26th, 6=10pm, Vip Launch Party-Drinks , Bites & Entertainment. The cocktail reception is from 6pm to 8:30pm 

July 27th, Drinks, Bites , Entertainment plus Hamptons Fashion Week Fashion Show Debut in Westhampton. The cocktail reception is from 6pm to 8:30p and After Party.Double check on the List below

VIP Restaurant Sponsors:

Justin Chop Shop

Rouge Kitchens

The Cottage On The Hamlet

Sobol

Centro

Mill Road Seafood

Fruit King

North Fork Chocolate Company

Honest Plate Chef Nicolas

Mary’s Pizza And Pasta

Tonino’s Pizza

Buoy One

Jerri’s Cakery & Confections

Daphne’s Westhampton Beach

Insatiable Eats

Vern Restaurant And Bar

VIP Spirit Sponsors

William Grant And Sons

Votto Vines Importing

Hamptons Wine Shoppe

Handlebar

British Ginger T

Monkey In Pardise

Elbuhl Mezcal

Twin Stills Moonshine

Blue Nextar

Penelope Bourbon

Westhampton Beach Brewing

Twin Stills Moonshine

Fort Hamilton Distillery

Kleos Mastiha Spirits

Beau Joie Rose Champange

Cantera Negra Tequila

Bay Gin

Twisted Cow Distillery

Series 19 Wheat Vodka

Series 19 Rye Vodka

Series 19 Jalapeno Vodka

Dune Drifter Agave Spirit

Spy Ring Rum Raisin

Drinksouthside

 

 

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Standing at the Sky’s Edge in the West End Soars Three Times Higher Than Expected

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As the dawn breaks” over the houses, a songbird’s tender melody flies this new musical forward over the three mornings, decades apart. As three households are revealed, dated and notated above as 1960, 1989, and 2015, we are welcomed most harmoniously to the brutalist iconic housing development in Sheffield, and the emotionally clever and connecting musical, Standing at the Sky’s Edge. Sitting forcibly on top of the world, with a forever fussy neon sign giving us a glimpse into some form of engagement ahead, the musical, as written by the wonderfully talented Richard Hawley (“Soldier On“), digs into the personal ramifications of the nation’s political upheavals that bubble up into the lives of these families from the 1960s through Thatcherism, immigration, Brexit, and beyond. With a strongly layered book by Chris Bush (The Changing Room), Sky’s Edge unearths deeply felt, intertwined connections in the three families of three generations over six decades. The opening feels almost Shakespearian, with subtle flavors that remind us of that opening monologue from Romeo & Juliet (a show we were seeing hours after this show), with these somewhat stereotypical family dynamics moving steadily forward in life and love. Planted inside this boxy structure of many layers, these characters find greater depth with each passing emotional moment as they move forward through a classic gentrification dynamic all within one concrete iconic housing estate.

Laura Pitt-Pulford as Poppy, Elizabeth Ayodele as Joy. and Rachael Wooding as Rose in Standing at the Sky’s Edge in the West End. Photo Credit: Brinkhoff Moegenburg

All adventures are scary,” we are told pretty straight up in this fascinating creation, and we lean into the melodic unveiling before us. The three stories of differing social situations are riveting, engaging us in ways that resemble more of a play with fantastic deliverable songs sung in a more performative fashion rather than sung from within the storytelling. Delivered like rockstars standing at their microphone stand (sometimes), and arranged and orchestrated by Tom Deering (Almeida’s Tammy Faye) with musical direction by associate music supervisor Alex Beetschen (RADA’s Spring Awakening), this midnight train is a clever layering filled with many little treasures that add energy and emotional clarity to the piece. As the characters open up their doors to us, they keep deepening their directive, revealing their dilemmas and dynamics with sharp contrast and emotional compassion.


Elizabeth Ayodele as Joy and Samuel Jordan as Jimmy in Standing at the Sky’s Edge in the West End. Photo Credit: Brinkhoff Moegenburg.

The cast is completely fantastic across the board, giving us chills in their unity of action, striking forward the distress and pain of the world they live in while struggling to hold on to the few crumbs of gratitude and humble acceptance. They find harmony in their collective, drawing us in, even as they stand together in a more choral arrangement. The leads are particularly good, with Samuel Jordan (“Sex Education“) in the pivotal role of Jimmy giving us an anchor to hold onto, with his counterpoint, Elizabeth Ayodele (NT’s Small Island) as Joy, the one who catches his eye (or is it the other way around). The circumstances that plant her here are complicated and emotionally stirring, delivered well by the family of actors that surround her, including Sharlene Hector (Barbican’s Strange Loop) as her Aunt Grace and Baker Mukasa (RSC’s The Winter’s Tale) as cousin George. Also tugging hard on our heartstrings are the young married couple who move into the flat with the view in the 1960s, played strongly by Rachael Wooding (Dominion’s We Will Rock You) as Rose and Joel Harper-Jackson (West End’s Cock) as Harry. Their heartbreaking unraveling is the key to the Sky’s Edge puzzle that slowly comes together with grace and dignity. But they are just part of the formulations.The whole is what makes this musical sing and stride forward so effectively.

The most modern entry into that flat is the compelling story of Poppy, played strong and true by Laura Pitt-Pulford (NT’s The Light Princess), and the complexities that surround Nikki, played engagingly well by Lauryn Redding (Vaudeville’s The Worst Witch). Redding delivers the song, “Open Up Your Door” with a force that knocks us off-center, mainly because we see it one way, until we are thrown a curve ball to look at it in a different framing of light. Poppy’s story is the looser connective tissue, keeping itself one knot removed, unlike the other two tales. But it somehow stays tied in, even if the grief and the sense of loss are played out in reverse. They still register, and give us a new doorway to walk through.

Lauryn Redding as Nikki, Laura Pitt-Pulford as Poppy, and the cast of Standing at the Sky’s Edge in the West End. Photo Credit: Brinkhoff Moegenburg

Tonight, the streets are hot,” and the show unpacks a wealth of interactive complications and connections in a series of tender boxes that have been dutifully crafted to keep the tumultuous rain out, laid out with style by set and costume designer Ben Stones (Leeds’ Hedwig and the Angry Inch), with sharply tuned in lighting by Mark Henderson (Chichester’s Flowers for Mrs. Harris) and a strong sound design by Bobby Aitken (West End’s Ghost). As directed with care and focus by Robert Hastie (Sheffield/Donamr’s She Loves Me), the framing embraces our curiosity continuously, and engages our attention throughout, leading us through fireworks, love, despair, and grief that touch our collective heart and soul in abundance.

This magnificently moving three-layered story, with stunningly searing songs and sharply tuned-in choreography by Lynne Page (Broadway’s American Psycho) is billed as a musical, but carries the heavy weight of a play that is unpacking modern Britain and its politics. Delivered and unpacked through the stories of the landmark Park Hill estate. this view from the sky’s edge is a powerfully performed and sung exploration of the connective tissues of community and family, and what it means to take shelter in a brutialist box that will keep out the rain.

Rachael Wooding as Rose and Joel Harper-Jackson as Harry in Standing at the Sky’s Edge in the West End. Photo Credit: Brinkhoff Moegenburg.

The musical engages, pulling us gently into a dramatic tension that surprises and enlightens. Standing at the Sky’s Edge gives us a stunning view to take in, three times stronger than anything I could have imagined, and one that we won’t easily forget. Winner of the 2023 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, UK Theatre Award for Best Musical Production, and the South Bank Sky Arts Award, Standing at the Sky’s Edge soars to the highest of heights and holds us tight. Now playing until August 3rd at the Gillian Lynne Theatre, London.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com
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Billy Joel and Roger Sichel Quiet Brunch Turned Newsworthy Thanks to Justin Timberlake

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The night before Justin Timberlake was busy drinking and talking with his friends. Timberlake was stopped by police just after midnight on Tuesday. Billy Joel and artist Roger Sichel the next morning were having brunch at their usual hang out at the American Hotel, next to each other. Joel and Sichel were bombarded by photographs due to the late breaking news. What was scheduled to be a  quite afternoon turned out to be what has taken over the news.


Timberlake who is in the middle of a world tour that includes upcoming Madison Square Garden told the officers he had just “one martini.” According to sources he was inhibited on them and refused to take the sobriety test.

Billy Joel is busy working and lives within walking distance of the hotel.

Sichel just finished an art show in Beverly Hills and will be opening in Sag Harbor Kramois’s art gallery two doors down from the American Hotel next week.

Seems that the American Hotel is the place to hang this summer, well it always was.

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Jamie Lloyd’s “Romeo & Juliet” in the West End Finds Unparalleled Amplification in its Microphoned Words and Limited Movements

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Behind a large industrial gate, Verona stands hard and dominant in the stark white light. It’s 1597, as projected, but the energy is utterly contemporary and fascinatingly modern. Designed to shock and startle from the get-go, this Romeo, as directed with a sharp focus by Jamie Lloyd (Broadway/West End’s Betrayal), strides in through the backstage hallways in dynamic fashion, destined to illicit a guttural response. “See where he comes,” we are told, and as movie star Tom Holland (West End’s  Billy Elliot the Musical) makes his way confidently forward, we must come to amplified terms with Lloyd’s very distinct version of this famed tale, one that will either excite or disappoint, but it will never be a bore.

Maybe because I came into West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre just days after seeing a more traditional (and somewhat lackluster) Romeo and Juliet at the Stratford Festival in Canada, I was game for some changing of the rules, and inside the editing of the iconic text, fascinatingly created in layers by Nima Taleghani (“Heartstopper“), this radical reappraisal by the Jamie Lloyd Company unpacks more emotional layers while barely moving a muscle than many a traditional staging does. Delivered with clarity and an extreme understanding of what’s at stake in the storyline, it simmers with taunt muscular sexuality, anchored in their tight formulations and delivery, and held together by the star-powered force that is Holland and company.

Francesca Amewudah-Rivers and Tom Holland, starring in Romeo & Juliet, a Jamie Lloyd Company production at West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre. Photo by Marc Brenner.

More importantly, Francesca Amewudah-Rivers (“Bad Education“), as his ill-fated Juliet, unmasks layers of unapologetic strength and passion giving the delivery and the play’s text its captifying edge. She is a hopeless romantic, but more of a determined woman than a cowering child. The power dynamics are reframed and realigned with this more stripped-away staging, giving Amewudah-Rivers’ Juliet more room to engage with that overpowering chemistry that exists between her and Holland’s Romeo, even when she almost ridicules the young man when he attempts to swear by the moon. That isn’t going to fly with this engaging creation.

This Juliet is a powerfully profound unpacking, supported most brilliantly by Freema Agyeman (Trafalgar Studieo’s Apologia) as her confidently embodied confidant; the multilayered Nurse. Her in-tune performance adds weight, connection, and energy, humorously stroking Holland’s impressive biceps, while proclaiming Juliet “will be a joyful woman.” But she also masterfully delivers despair and angst, possibly because the sharp edit has cut down the external paternal voices to only one per household. Juliet’s mother is nonexistent, giving all matters to her father, Capulet, masterfully maneuvered by Tomiwa Edun (NT’s Macbeth). This sliced-down rendering elevates the positioning that the maternal Nurse must take. The actor must balance both the emotional engagement and the hierarchy at play within the household. The mother-subtraction ultimately adds a jolt of energy into the whole, especially the pivotal scene between Juliet, her father, and the maternal Nurse, when the marriage to Paris, played engagingly by fresh-faced newcomer, Daniel Quinn-Toye, making his professional debut, is being forced upon the young already married daughter. It’s a captivating unraveling that lives and breathes inside a construct that completely makes sense.

The same is true for Romeo’s parental force. His mother, already barely a presence in the text of the play, especially at the end, has been given full command and sole ownership of the Montague household. Played well and true by Mia Jerome (Punchdruck’s Lost Leading Library), she delivers the required emotional force but leaves a special space for the paternal Friar, normally portrayed by Michael Balogun (Gillian Lynne’s The Lehman Trilogy), but was delivered with intensity by Phillip Olagoke (Old Vic’s A Number), to step in and engage with Romeo as if he is the son he never had. It’s a spectacularly astute repackaging that really shows its full worth when two scenes of the young married lovers’ angst are played on top of each other with the four: Nurse, Romeo, Juliet, and the Friar, lined up intersecting their lines straight into microphones on the stand.

Tom Holland (center) and cast in Romeo & Juliet, a Jamie Lloyd Company production at West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre. Photo by Marc Brenner.

When I tried to explain this to someone, their reaction was, with all those microphones and cameras on stage, projecting images that overlay one another, that it must feel stalled and somewhat boring. But in many ways, Lloyd’s creative engagement in stillness and striped-away engagement elevates the dynamic, creating a telling of this tale that is sexy, intense, and completely haunting. It’s filled with suspense and understanding, played true and confident by a cast that is completely engaged with the text. The electricity lives and breaths within these assured performances, and I was enraptured from beginning to end.

The editing pen also solidly pulls out all the excess in the play’s denouement, leaving the two to deliver their hopelessness without a soul in sight to get in the way and muddy the water. Played out on that bare cavernous stage, crafted with intent by set and costume designer Soutra Gilmour (West End/Broadway’s A Doll’s House), with meticulous lighting by Jon Clark (West End/Broadway’s The Lehman Trilogy), a solid sound design by Ben & Max Ringham (West End’s An Enemy of the People), composition by Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante (NT/The Shed’s The Effect), and assisted by the tender and captivating video design and cinematography by Nathan Amzi & Joe Ransom (Savoy’s Sunset Boulevard), this unpacking is as dark and engaging as one could possibly hope for. There is no Paris to do battle with, and the Friar doesn’t run in and out attempting to, and failing, to save the two from their breaking hearts. It’s just the two broken souls, overcome with grief, unable to move forward without their other.

Casting stares into the audience, the two leads deliver the goods in spectacular fashion, given that violence and hate are hovering behind them in the smokey darkness. The force is as exacting as the expert mashing and cutting of truth, side by side. There is more authentic emotion than many other pairings (and foursomes) that I have seen over the years, giving this tragic love story the undeniable edge and intensity that electrifies Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Even when it flies sometimes a bit too far from the stage, Lloyd’s distinctive directorial style lands hard and true.

Francesca Amewudah-Rivers, Tom Holland (center), and the cast of Romeo & Juliet, a Jamie Lloyd Company production at West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre. Photo by Marc Brenner.

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