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Valerie Harper Loses Her Battle With Cancer

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Best known for her role as Rhoda Morgenstern in the Mary Tyler Moore Show, Valerie Harper has passed away from leptomeningeal carcinomatosis. The 80 year old had been fighting lung and brain cancer. The Emmy winner got her start in theatre making her Broadway debut at the age of 20 in the ensemble of Take Me Along. That same year she appeared in the film adaptation of Li’l Abner.

Born on August 22, 1939 Harper started off as a dancer. On Broadway she went onto dance in Wildcat (1960), Subways Are for Sleeping (1961) and Something Different (1967). She stared with such legends as Jackie Gleason, Robert Morse, Walter Pidgeon, Phyllis Newman, Sydney Chaplin, Orson Bean and Lucille Ball.

Valerie Harer in Wildcat.

It was Paul Sills award winning Storytheatre (1970) that brought her to attention. Valerie first met Mary Tyler Moore on set of The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961), where her then-husband,Richard Schaal, was guest-starring. Storytheatre lead to The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She was a a series regular for four seasons winning four Emmy Awards. She launched into her own spinoff series Rhoda from 1974 to 1978 picking up another Emmy and beating out Moore who had won the previous two years. She was nominated for the following three seasons.

In Paul Sills Storytheatre

Valerie, made several guest staring appearances on other TV shows before getting her own series again. Valerie ran from1986-1987, but Harper was fired after the second year due to a salary dispute. Harper sued the network for breach of contract. The jury sided with Harper, who was awarded a percentage of the show’s profits. Harper was replaced by Sandy Duncan; the show was eventually retitled The Hogan Family and continued through 1991.

photo by  Carol Rosegg

Harper returned to Broadway in 2001 in The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife, taking over for Linda Lavin and took the play on it’s national tour. In 2008, she starred as Tallulah Bankhead in the world premiere of Matthew Lombardo’s Looped at Pasadena Playhouse. She was set to star in the show’s national tour, but was diagnosed with brain cancer. Lawsuits ensued when she was forced to withdraw.

Harper continues to make guest appearances until 2013.

Harper is survived by her husband, Tony Cacciotti, and their daughter, Christina.

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

Broadway

Theatre News: Doubt: A Parable, Here Lies Love, Prayer for the French Republic, Eisenhower and Hell’s Kitchen

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Tyne Daily

Tyne Daly and Liev Schreiber will star in a revival of Doubt: A Parable on Broadway. The production is to begin performances next February at the American Airlines Theater.

The new production is produced by the Roundabout Theater Company, and will be directed by Scott Ellis, who has been serving as the nonprofit’s interim artistic director since the death of artistic director Todd Haimes in April.

The play, by John Patrick Shanley, is about a nun who suspects a priest has sexually abused a student at a Catholic school. In 2005, the year it first opened on Broadway, it won both the Pulitzer Prize for drama and the Tony Award for best play; it was later adapted into a film and an opera.

Daly, who will play the nun who serves as the school principal, and Schreiber, who will play the parish priest, are both Tony winners. Daly, is known for her role in  “Cagney & Lacey”. She won the 1990 Tony Award for her portrayal as Mama Rose in the revival of Gypsy. Schreiber, is the star of Showtime’s “Ray Donovan.” He won a Tony Award in 2005 for a revival of Glengarry Glen Ross.

Doubt is one of three plays to be staged by Roundabout this coming season. The others are I Need That, a new play  by Theresa Rebek starring Danny DeVito alongside his daughter, Lucy, and Home, a 1979 revival, directed by Kenny Leon, by Samm-Art Williams.

David Byrne, Fatboy Slim and Here Lies Love are causing controversy with their July Broadway debut. The show’s extensive use of prerecorded music has the American Federation of Musicians’ Local 802, up in arms. The Local’s Broadway musical contract stipulate that productions employ 19 live musicians.

In response to the union’s concerns, Byrne and the show’s PR team released a statement on Instagram to lay out the production’s revolutionary format and genre-bending originality. Here Lies Love is not a traditional Broadway musical. The music is drawn outside of the traditional music genre. The performance of the live vocals to pre-recorded, artificial tracks is paramount to its artistic concept. Production has ripped out the seats in the theater and built a dance floor. There is no longer a proscenium stage. The Broadway Theater has been transformed into a nightclub, with every theatergoer immersed in the experience.

Here Lies Love is on Broadway because Broadway must support boundary-pushing creative work. Broadway is also the venue for a well conceived, high-quality show that highlights the valued traditions of specific cultures whose stories have never been on its stages. Here Lies Love does not believe in artistic gatekeepers. Here Lies Love believes in a Broadway for everyone, where new creative forms push the medium and create new traditions and audiences.

I saw Here Lies Love at The Public and not sure what kind of fast talking this is, but this statement rings false and full of how can we cut the costs while sticking it to the audience.

Photo by Murphymade

Prayer for the French Republic, by Joshua Harmon is coming to Broadway this season.This award-winning Off Broadway production played to rave reviews at The Manhattan Theatre Club. The production was the winner of the 2022 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play and Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play. Broadway performances will begin previews on Tuesday, December 19, at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, with an official opening night on Tuesday, January 9, 2024. David Cromer directs.

Off Broadway: Tony winner John Rubinstein starts previews June 13 at St. Clement’s in one-man show Eisenhower.

Alicia Keys’ musical Hell’s Kitchen will run at The Public Theater from October 24 – December 10, starring Shoshana Bean. Inspired by Keys’ own life, the new musical features an original score by the 15-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, with a book by Kristoffer Diaz. Hell’s Kitchen will be directed by Michael Greif and choreographed by Camille A. Brown.

Leading the cast will be Maleah Joi Moon as Ali, opposite Bean as Ali’s mother Jersey, with Brandon Victor Dixon as Ali’s father Davis, Chad Carstarphen as Ray, Vanessa Ferguson as Tiny, Crystal Monee Hall as Crystal, Chris Lee as Knuck, Jackie Leon as Jessica, Kecia Lewis as Ali’s piano teacher Miss Liza Jane, Mariand Torres as Maria, and Lamont Walker II as Riq.

Completing the cast are Reid Clarke, Chloe Davis, Nico DeJesus, Timothy L. Edwards, Raechelle Manalo, Sarah Parker, and Niki Saludez, with understudies Badia Farha, Gianna Harris, Onyxx Noel, William Roberson, and Donna Vivino.

The musical is described as a coming-of-age story set in a cramped apartment in the neighborhood of the title near Times Square, where 17-year-old Ali is desperate to get her piece of the New York dream. Ali’s mother is just as determined to protect her daughter from the same mistakes she made. When Ali falls for a talented young drummer, both mother and daughter must face hard truths about race, defiance, and growing up.

The production has set design by Robert Brill, costumes by Dede Ayite, lighting by Natasha Katz, sound by Gareth Owens, and projection design by Peter Nigrini.

 

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Countdown to The Tony Awards: Who Will and Who Should Win in Best Performance in a Musical

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The countdown is on and the winners of the 2022/2023 season will be announced in a live televised ceremony on Sunday, June 11. 

Here is who we think will win and who should.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical 

The Nominees

Annaleigh Ashford, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Sara Bareilles, Into the Woods
Victoria Clark, Kimberly Akimbo
Lorna Courtney, & Juliet
Micaela Diamond, Parade 

This to us is a no brainer … Victoria Clark performance has stood out since she brought Kimberly Akimbo to life off-Broadway in 2021. Though Annaleigh is a terrific performer this is Victoria’s year.

Will Win: Victoria Clark
Should Win: Victoria Clark 

J. Harrison Ghee photo by Marc J. Franklin)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical 

The Nominees

Christian Borle, Some Like It Hot
J. Harrison Ghee, Some Like It Hot
Josh Groban, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Brian d’Arcy James, Into the Woods
Ben Platt, Parade
Colton Ryan, New York, New York 

This is another no brainer J. Harrison Ghee gives a textured layered performance. Ben Platt and Josh Groban cancel each other out, though both are riveting performances.

Will win: J. Harrison Ghee
Should win: J. Harrison Ghee 

Bonnie Milligan photo by Joan Marcus

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical 

The Nominees

Julia Lester, Into the Woods
Ruthie Ann Miles, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Bonnie Milligan, Kimberly Akimbo
NaTasha Yvette Williams, Some Like It Hot
Betsy Wolfe, & Juliet 

Bonnie Milligan took the theatre community by storm in Head Over Heels, but it was not her time. This year Milligan commands the stage and you definitely remember her performance.

Will win: Bonnie Milligan
Should win: Bonnie Milligan 

Alex Newell photo by Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical 

The Nominees

Kevin Cahoon, Shucked
Justin Cooley, Kimberly Akimbo
Kevin Del Aguila, Some Like It Hot
Jordan Donica, Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot
Alex Newell, Shucked 

Many think Alex Newell was snubbed in 2018 for his performance in Once on This Island. Newell gets standing ovations over at Shucked for “Independently Owned” and they are well deserved. Kevin Del Aguila to me was a breath of fresh air and made me love his performance not once, but twice.

Will win: Alex Newell
Should win:Kevin Del Aguila

 

 

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National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene Summer Soirée With Barry Manilow, Julie Benko, Adam B. Shapiro, Michael Zegen and More

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On June 19 the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene Summer Soirée at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers is set to impress. Adam B. Shapiro (from the cast of the award winning Fiddler on The Roof in Yiddish), will be the Master of Ceremonies The celebrity address will be by Michael Zegen, co-star of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” with a special performance by Julie Benko, the sensational breakout star of Broadway’s Funny Girl. Benko has joined the cast of Harmony coming to Broadway this fall.

Musical Moments from NYTF’s Upcoming Season including a performance by Danny Kornfeld from Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman’s Broadway Bound New Musical ‘Harmony

The evening will also feature performances from artists who have been part of  NYTF’s stellar productions, including a special appearance by The Mameles, whose singing trio – Maya Jacobson, Raquel Nobile and Jodi Snyder – met while starring in Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish.

Throughout the night, attendees also will be treated to performances by: Dani Apple, Joanne H. Borts, Aaron Diskin, Brian Glassman, Sophie Knapp, Annette Ezekiel Kogan, Yosef Kogan, Frank London, Avram Mlotek, Jenny Romaine, Rachel Yucht, Avi Fox-Rosen, Ilya Shneyveys, Dmitri Zisl Slepovitch, and Matt Temkin and the Schechter Bergen Children’s Chorus

Indulge in a delightful cocktail reception followed by an exquisite dinner as you prepare to be dazzled with exclusive previews of musical moments from NYTF’s upcoming 2023-2024 Season.

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Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Annaleigh Ashford and Josh Groban in Sweeney Todd

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Sweeney Todd is a show that thrilled me when I saw the original Broadway production in 1979. The current Broadway production is just as thrilling, with Annaleigh Ashford and Josh Groban making the roles of Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney Todd their own unique creations. The entire cast is excellent.
I wish I had the time to draw everyone in this terrific production. I consider Sweeney Todd to be the best of all of his greats. Each song is so special.
Here in my drawing, I tried to capture the feeling and atmosphere  that Annaleigh and Josh put on that stage.
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Grey House Is Haunting in More Than One Way

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Levi Holloway’s Grey House is a mental mind bend. It tries to come off as a haunted thriller with blackouts galore, moments left hanging, loud noises and flashes in the dark of dead things, but deep down it is a lot more than that. The script lacking in text, takes awhile to figure out the ins and outs.

Colby Kipnes, Laurie Metcalf, Sophia Anne Caruso, Millicent Simmonds, Alyssa Emily Marvin, Tatiana Maslany, Eamon Patrick O’Connell Photo by MurphyMade

We starts off as a blizzard rages outside, four feral teenage girls, a young boy (Eamon Patrick O’Connell) and their mother Raleigh (Laurie Metcalf), who is asleep on the couch or is she passed out, entertain themselves. There is Bernie (Millicent Simmonds) who is deaf, a cynical Marlow (Sophia Anne Caruso), the unpredictable Squirrel (Colby Kipnes), and the sweet A1656 (Alyssa Emily Marvin). The girls do what looks like a spell, as a car crashes bringing in Max (Clare Karpen, standing in for Tatiana Maslany) and Henry (Paul Sparks). From the beginning you know nothing good is going to happen.

Paul Sparks, Cyndi Coyne Photo by MurphyMade

Henry called Hank by the girls has broken his ankle and is given “moonshine” for the pain. The refrigerator mysteriously offers this liquid when it feels like it. Henry becomes addicted to the liquid as he encounters first Squirrel, then The Ancient (Cyndi Coyne).

Millicent Simmonds, Laurie Metcalf Photo by MurphyMade

In the meantime Max is manipulated into playing games with these strange children, as Raleigh throws caustic asides and distain to her.

As Henry gets more and more into his “moonshine” addiction he becomes the men who have abused all the inhabitants of this purgatory. The house it turns out is a cross over between heaven and hell or is it way station where karma is played out? It is a surprisingly that this play is written by a man, because at the crux of this play is men will always hurt, disappoint and destroy the female gender.

Director Joe Mantello (Wicked) has used set designer Scott Pask, sound designer Tom Gibbons and lighting designer Natasha Katz to make Grey House a living breathing entity that haunts from within. His cast is uniformly excellent with Sophia Anne Caruso bringing yet another haunting performance to life with a scalding clarity. Metcalf brings to mind every Stephen King novel and gives a masterclass in acting. Karpen gives us a women who is lost in mourning  due to her father just passing and a long-dead sister whom she loved. We see the weight put upon her that ultimately binds her to this place. Sparks is the epitome of a week man who fight is within himself.

This play leaves more questions than answers that are left to the audience to figure out. At the heart of this story is grief and how we are trapped and make our own prisons instead of moving to the light.

Grey House: Lyceum Theatre, 149 W 45th Street, through September 23rd.

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