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What To Look For This Summer On Broadway and Off

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Summer Theatre

The Tony’s are over but summer is never dull when it come to theatre. Here’s what to look for.

Broadway

Up first is 1984 based on George Orwell’s novel about a dystopian future where critical thought is suppressed under a totalitarian regime. Previously done in the U.K., this production stars Reed Birney, Olivia Wilde and Michael Potts. Opening night is set for June 22, at the Hudson Theatre.

Lili Taylor, Janeane Garafalo, Celia Weston and  Nedra McClyde make Marvin’s Room an interesting choice. Written by Scott McPherson, directed by Anne Kauffman, the Roundabout Theatre Company bring the Broadway premiere about two sisters, Bessie and Lee, who are reunited when one is diagnosed with leukemia. The play has been produced regionally and Off-Broadway, and was adapted as a 1997 film starring Meryl Streep. Previews started June 8th and the show opens June 29th at the American Airlines Theatre.

 

Look for Michael Moore to cross-examination of America’s political climate and take aim at the current administration in Terms of My Surrender. This one person show starts previews July 28th and opens August 10th at the Belasco Theatre.

Hal Prince once ruled Broadway and it looks like he will again with Prince of Broadway. With Chuck Cooper, Emily Skinner, Tony Yazbeck, Brandon Uranowitz, Michael Xavier and Karen Ziemba headlining and with songs by Stephen Sondheim, Kander & Ebb, Strouse & Adams, Bock & Harnick, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jason Robert Brown, and many others this looks to be a knockout. Hal Prince and Susan Stroman co-direct this musical review which starts previews August 3rd and opens August 24th at the Samuel J. Friedman  Theatre.

Off Broadway

 

In the New Mexico desert, a down-on-her-luck folk singer takes a job at a giant online retailer’s shipping center. Her young manager struggles to connect with his girlfriend newly relocated from New York. And a drifter living at a local campground dangerously links them all. Raw, surprising, and funny, this world premiere from the fast-rising author of Kill Floor is about four lonely lives coming together in the search for fulfillment. Manhattan Theatre Club’s Fulfillment Center stars Eboni Booth, Bobby Moreno, Deirdre O’Connell, Frederick Weller, directed by Daniel Aukin. Opening June 20 at New York City Center (Studio at Stage II).

Larry Bull, Lynn Cohen, Angelina Fiordellisi, Jean Lichty, George Morfogen, Ron Piretti, PJ Sosko, Jill Tanner, Korinne Tetlow, and Tony Award winner Karen Ziemba star in  The Traveling Lady at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Penned by the beloved playwright and master storyteller Horton Foote, The Traveling Lady is the unforgettable tale of an intrepid woman who journeys to a small town in 1950’s Texas to reunite with her husband upon his release from prison. A poignant story of loss and redemption, The Traveling Lady looks into the heart and soul of America. Opening night is June 22nd.

 

In 1960, Brooklyn, the women of the Muscolino family are desperate to find a life beyond their four walls, hiding dreams, loves, and longings. Francesca, the youngest, yearns for her true love; Tina, confidence and friendship; and Vita, the chance to live the kind of life she pleases. Their mother Luda nurses her own quiet pains. Yet, in the quest for happiness, each of these women fight to find their voices. They struggle to hold on to them, and to each other. Napoli, Brooklyn is a poetic and beautiful play about sisterhood, freedom, and forgiveness. Meghan Kennedy penned the script, Gordon Edelstein, directs and Shirine Babb, Alyssa Bresnahan, Juliet Brett, Jordyn DiNatale, Lilli Kay, Elise Kibler, Erik Lochtefeld and Michael Rispoli star. The show opens at the Roundabout/Laura Pels Theatre, June 27th .

Shakespeare’s Measure For Measure brings political and sexual hypocrisy to Theatre for a New Audience. Jonathan Cake, Cara Ricketts, and Thomas Jay Ryan star, when Shakespeare has his say June 26th.

A carnival ride through the history of political violence, Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s 1990 musical Assassins looks right into the heart of American anger, providing sensational showstoppers for a gallery of U.S. presidential assassins ranging from John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald to Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme. Assassins offers an uncanny vision of where we are today, where we might be going, and whether everybody really has the right to their dreams. Steven Boyer, Alex Brightman, John Ellison Conlee, Clifton Duncan, Shuler Hensley, Ethan Lipton, Erin Markey, Steven Pasquale, Cory Michael Smith, Julie White, and Danny Wolohan with Damian Baldet, Andrew Durand, Hudson Loverro, and Pearl Sun star July 12-15th at City Center’s Encores.

Hamlet, a Danish prince, discovers that his uncle Claudius murdered his father and took the throne; Hamlet’s mother has married the usurper. Shakespeare’s tragedy of betrayal and revenge is considered among the greatest plays in the English language.  Oscar Isaac, Roberta Colindrez, Peter Friedman, Keegan-Michael Key, Gayle Rankin, Matthew Saldívar, Anatol Yusef, Ritchie Coster, and Charlayne Woodard star in this Public Theatre production. Lets see if this production makes the news and social media as Sam Gold directs. First Preview: June 20th with an opening night set for July 13th.

Perfect for Shakespeare in the Park’s Delacorte Theatre A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. With Annaleigh Ashford, De’Adre Aziza, Kyle Beltran, Danny Burstein, Shalita Grant, Alex Hernandez, Jeff Hiller, Robert Joy, David Manis, Patrena Murray, Kristine Nielsen, Phylicia Rashad and Joe Tapper  this is sure to be a magical night. Starting July 11th Central Park with be  aglow under Lear deBessonet’s direction. 

Bee can click through different moments of her life with the touch of a remote control. Past, present and future collide in this mathematical farce that questions whether we can make peace with those things we don’t have the power to change. A Parallelogram stars uan Castano, Anita Gillette, Celia Keenan-Bolger, and Stephen Kunken under the direction of Michael Greif. Look for playwright Bruce Norris to draw a crows to Second Stage Theatre starting  July 11th with an opening August 2.

Dominique Morisseau Pipeline tells the story of Nya Joseph is a dedicated, inner-city public high school teacher who is committed to her students’ achievement, while she sends her only son, Omari, to a private boarding school. When Omari is involved in a controversial incident which threatens him with expulsion from his school, Nya is forced to reconcile Omari’s rage and her own parental decisions, as she rallies to save her son. Karen Pittman, Namir Smallwood, Tasha Lawrence, Morocco Omari, Jaime Lincoln Smith, and Heather Velazquez star as Lileana Blain-Cruz directs. First Preview is June 15, with an opening July 20, at LCT3/Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater.

Kirsten Childs’ delightful, provocative, and incredibly moving 2000 musical is about a young African-American dancer who finds her way from West Coast suburbia to Broadway, all while navigating the politics of race and gender in an attempt to uncover her own identity. With a deceptively fun and catchy score and a wickedly satirical take on the lives of Broadway dancers, The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin deserves to be seen again. Starring Nikki M. James July 26 – 27th at City Center’s Encores.

Tony Award® Nominee Nancy Opel (Urinetown) returns to the New York stage in Curvy Widow. Based on a true story, this sassy and witty musical follows the daily exploits of a feisty fifty-something whose adventures inspire laughter and, in the least expected places — reveal truths about life, love, and sex. From surviving hilarious first dates, to her intimate rendezvous, this widow navigates her way through it all with humor and perseverance. Featuring a brilliant cast of best friends, a dead husband, and a myriad of potential suitors — Curvy learns the hard way what it means to start life over in the modern age. At Westside Theatre (Upstairs) starting July 20th and opening August 3rd.

Suzan-Lori Parks remixes The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s seminal masterpiece, The Red Letter Plays: In The Blood and F*&king A tear open notions of gender and hypocrisy with poetic honesty and exhilarating wit. In the Blood’s Hester La Negrita is a penniless mother of five condemned by the very men who loved her. F*&king A’s Hester Smith is an abortionist, forced to ply her trade to save her own son. Performed together for the first time, with a shared cast and director, the two plays form a thrilling and powerful indictment of American society. Jo Bonney directs at the Pershing Square Signature Center with opening date to be announced.

In Simon Stephens’ stunning play, something is about to happen that will change one family forever. Set over the course of nine months, On the Shore of the Wide World is a play about love, family, Roy Keane and the size of the galaxy. Atlantic Theatre Company welcomes back Simon Stephens (Harper Regan, Bluebird) with the New York debut of his Olivier Award-winning play starting August 23.

 

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

Get Ready For Broadway in Bryant Park

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The most popular shows on and off Broadway will perform their biggest hits in the park starting this Thursday the 11th! Head to the the lawn at Bryant Park and enjoy Broadway for lunch. The performances will happen on four summer Thursdays, hosted and presented by LiteFM.

This week from 12:30pm-1:30pm 106.7 LITE FM Host: Helen Little will host. For the pre-show: A special performance by the students of AMDA College of the Performing Arts. Then get ready for performances by Back to the Future, Hell’s Kitchen, The Who’s TOMMY, The Wiz and
Water For Elephants.

In coming weeks look from The Outsiders, SIX: The Musical, Moulin Rouge! The Musical, Wicked, Chicago and & Juliet.

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Broadway

Ken Fallin’s Broadway:​ Happy Birthday Audra McDonald

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On July 3rd, Audra McDonald celebrated her 54th birthday. The 1970 American Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award-winning theatrical and operatic singer, and stage and screen actress (Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar and Grill; Sweeney Todd; Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny; TV Private Practice, The Good Wife), was born in West Berlin, West Germany (now Berlin, Germany)

As been announced six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald will return to Broadway this fall, as Mama Rose in Gypsy.

Performances begin Thursday, November 21st, at Broadway’s newly renovated Majestic Theatre. Happy Thanksgiving! The show will open on Thursday, December 19th. Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah.

The last show to play the Majestic Theatre was The Phantom of the Opera, which concluded its 35 year-run on April 16, 2023.

This upcoming revival will be directed by the legendary five-time Tony Award-winning director George C. Wolfe. The choreography will be by four-time Tony Award nominated Camille A. Brown.  Additional casting and creative team members will be announced at a later date.

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Broadway

Coming In August Broadway Barks Returns to Shubert Alley

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The 26th anniversary of the star-studded dog and cat adoption event, Broadway Barks returns to Shubert Alley on Saturday, August 3, 2024 to benefit New York City animal rescue groups. The event, co-founded by Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore, features Broadway celebrities who use their star power to help find loving homes for animals in need from 24 NYC area adoption and rescue groups.

Bernadette Peters and Sutton Foster. Photo courtesy of Broadway Barks.

Bernadette Peters and Sutton Foster will co-host this year’s festivities! Other celebrity participants to be announced soon.

Photo by Daniel Roberts, © Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Barks begins at 3pm with a ‘meet and greet’ of all the adoptable pets; from 5–6:30pm, adoptees make their Broadway debut on stage alongside some of Broadway’s favorite stars for the celebrity presentations.Produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the adoption event takes place in Shubert Alley (located between 44th and 45th Streets, between Broadway and Eighth Avenues).

Photo by Daniel Roberts, © Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

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Broadway

Shows to Keep Your Eyes On: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Death Becomes Her and The Queen of Versailles

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The new musical Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is based on John Berendt’s 1994 non-fiction book and makes its world premiere this summer at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. The book is by  Taylor Mac and music and lyrics by Tony winner Jason Robert Brown, performances are scheduled for June 25–August 4 in the Albert Theatre. Tony winner Rob Ashford will direct the production with choreography by Tanya Birl.

Tony winner J. Harrison Ghee, is The Lady Chablis; Tony nominee Tom Hewitt as Jim Williams; and Olivier nominee Sierra Boggess as Emma Dawes.

The company also includes Lance Roberts (The Best Man) as Bobby Lewis, Austin Colby (The Great Gatsby) as Danny Hansford, Bailee Endebrock (Parade) as Corrine Strong, Shanel Bailey (The Book of Mormon) as Lavella Cole, Jessica Molaskey (Sunday in the Park with George) as Alma Knox Carter, Brianna Buckley (the ripple, the wave that carried me home) as Minerva, Mary Ernster (War Paint) as Serena Barnes/Dawn Avery, McKinley Carter (Turn of the Century) as Vera Strong, Maya Bowles (The Wiz) as Stacey Brown, DeMarius Copes (Some Like It Hot) as Jeremiah Jones, Sean Donovan as Luther Driggers, Jason Michael Evans (Anastasia tour) as Colonel Atwood/Burt, Christopher Kelley as Bubbles/Gregory, Andre Terrell Malcolm (Hamilton tour) as Josiah Domingo, Aaron James McKenzie (A Beautiful Noise) as Jethro Myles, Wes Olivier as Jack the One-Eyed Jill, Kayla Marie Shipman as Millicent/Mary, and Rory Shirley as Stefanie Davis.

The show tracks an antiques dealer through four trials for murdering a male prostitute in Savannah, Georgia. The story is modeled on the real-life shooting of Daniel Lewis  Hansford. The work won the 1995 Boeke Prize and was a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction. A film adaptation was released in 1997 starring John Cusack and Kevin Spacey.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was a seminal book for me as a young queer person, coming out in the late 1980s and early ’90s,” added Mac. “The eccentricities of Savannah, and how they were celebrated by such a large readership, seemed to say, the things that made me odd and an outcast in the world were actually things I should cherish. Likewise, musical theatre has always had a similar effect on me. Singing our thoughts is such an eccentric way of expressing ourselves—yet so perfectly aligned with my personal liberation and joy. So turning Midnight into a musical, and with such master craftspeople as Jason, Rob, and Tanya is essentially an extension of celebrating the joy and liberation from exposing what’s hidden.”

“When I am deciding to start a new show, the two most important questions I ask myself are: 1) Does it sing? and 2) Do I get to work with fun people? With Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, I knew the answers to both questions immediately,” stated Brown. “The book’s milieu, so rich with mystery and romance and history, sings with every sentence, deeply passionate, slyly comic, emotions threatening to boil over on every page. And to work with Rob Ashford, whose transformative production of Parade at the Donmar Warehouse in 2007 reinvigorated not only the show’s reputation but my creative process, was a no-brainer. But then add to that the brilliant, joyful, radically inclusive mind of Taylor Mac, and there was no way I could resist. Creating this world with these mad geniuses is, in true Savannah tradition, a grand and great party. I can’t wait for the world to join in.”

Madeline Ashton (Tony Award® nominees Megan Hilty (Wicked, “Smash”)) is the most beautiful actress (just ask her) ever to grace the stage and screen. Helen Sharp (Jennifer Simard (Company, Disaster!)) is the long-suffering author (just ask her) who lives in her shadow. They have always been the best of frenemies…until Madeline steals Helen’s fiancé (Christopher Sieber (Spamalot, Company)) away. As Helen plots revenge and Madeline clings to her rapidly fading star, their world is suddenly turned upside down by Viola Van Horn, a mysterious woman with a secret that’s to die for.

After one sip of Viola’s (Grammy® Award winner Michelle Williams (Destiny’s Child, Chicago)) magical potion, Madeline and Helen begin a new era of life (and death) with their youth and beauty restored…and a grudge to last eternity.

Death Becomes Her, based on the classic 1992 film, is a drop-dead hilarious new musical comedy about friendship, love, and burying the hatchet…again, and again, and again.

Life’s a bitch and then you die. Or not!

Death Becomes Her is coming to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on October 23, 2024, ahead of an opening night on November 21, 2024.

The Queen of Versailles, the new Stephen Schwartz musical starring Kristin Chenoweth and F. Murray Abraham as billionarie-couple Jackie and David Siegel, begins performances at Boston’s Emerson Colonial Theatre on July 16 and will now run through August 25.

The cast will feature Stephen DeRosa (Boardwalk Empire) as John, Greg Hildreth (Company) as Gary, Tatum Grace Hopkins as Jonquil, Tony Award nominee Isabel Keating (The Boy from Oz) as Debbie, Melody Butiu as Sofia Flores and Nina White as Victoria Siegel.

The company will also include Anna Bakun, Stacie Bono, Yeman Brown, Amanda Jane Cooper, David Aron Damane, Drew Elhamalawy, Sara Esty, K.J. Hippensteel, Diana Huey, Cassondra James, Andrew Kober, Jesse Kovarsky, Pablo David Laucerica, Travis Murad Leland, Michael Mulheren, Michael McCorry Rose and Grace Slear.

The Queen of Versailles is an adaptation of the 2012 documentary of the same name about socialite Jacqueline “Jackie” Siegel, the book is by Lindsey Ferrentino (Ugly Lies the Bone) and direction by Tony winner Michael Arden (Parade).

From computer engineer to Mrs. Florida to billionairess, Jackie Siegel sees herself as the embodiment of the American Dream. Now, as the wife of David “The Timeshare King” Siegel and mother of their eight children, they invite us to behold their most grandiose venture yet: They’re building the largest private home in America in Orlando, Florida—a $100 million house big enough for her dreams and inspired by the Palace of Versailles. But with the Great Recession of 2008 looming, Jackie and David’s dreams begin to crumble, along with their lavish lifestyle. The Queen of Versailles explores the true cost of fame, fortune and family.

The production will feature choreography by Lauren Yalango-Grant and Christopher Cree Grant, music supervision by Mary-Mitchell Campbell, scenic design by Dane Laffrey, lighting design by Natasha Katz and sound design by Peter Hylenski, as well as costume design by fashion designer Christian Cowan.

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Remembering Marilyn Clark Langner

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by Lee Roy Reams

I heard the sad news on Saturday, June 22nd, 2024, that my dear friend, Marilyn Clark Langner, had died in her Central Park West apartment with her family at her bedside. Like the classic column  in the Reader’s Digest Magazine, Marilyn Clark Langner was one of my “Most Unforgettable Characters.”

Growing up in Covington, Kentucky, I always dreamed of a glamorous show business life like the movies I watched on late night TV.  Having lunch with Kitty Carlisle Hart at a beachside restaurant in Barbados, cocktails with Gena Rowlands at Harry’s Bar in Venice, perhaps a late night supper at a rooftop restaurant in Athens celebrating the First Lady Of The American Theatre, Helen Hayes, on her 90th bithday, were just the kind of things I dreamed about. I got all of this and so much  more from Marilyn and Philip Langner during my tenure as artistic director of their trail blazing and truly amazing project called Theatre At Sea.

Theatre Guild

Marilyn was born in Spokane, Wadhington, on September 28, 1924. Even as a child Marilyn was drawn to the theatre.  Marilyn attended UCLA and set her sights on a show business career. She moved to New York City and hit the jackpot when she met and fell in love with Philip Langner, the only child of Lawrence Langner and Armina Marshall, co-administrators of the Theatre Guild and arguably the two most important figures in the history of the American Theatre.

Marilyn played roles in four Broadway plays including The SevenYear Itch and Absurd Person Singular.  A cast mate in The SevenYear Itch named Gena Rowlands became a life long friend. Marilyn played roles in a number of feature films including several films written and directed by John Cassavetes, Gena Rowlands’ husband.

Loretta Swit in SHIRLEY VALENTINE had a very succesful national tour winning a Sarah Siddons Award for Ms. Swit in Chicago.

Perhaps Marilyn’s most lasting show business legacy will be the creation of Theatre At Sea. Long before the current Broadway style entertainments on cruise ships including Playbill At Sea, Marilyn and Philip Langner and Armina Marshall paved the way  by creating Theatre At Sea.

Lee Roy Reems and Tammy Grimes

Their casts were made up of legendary stars of both theatre and film including Lillian Gish, Roddy McDowall, Tammy Grimes, Dean Jones, Carol Channing, Cyril Ritchard, Patrice Munsel, Eli Wallach, Loretta Swit, Ed Asner, Donna McKechnie, and many more. On an early cruise on board the SS Rotterdam, a musical evening was created called MUSICAL JUBILEE which transferred after the cruise to a Broadway theatre. An “out of town tryout at sea” of a musical called Ruthless! lead to a tranfer to the Players Theatre in New York City. Ruthless! won the Outer Critics Circle Award that year  for Best Musical.

Ed Asner played the role of FDR. The one man show played first on ship and then around the country.

Stars including Loretta Swit, Ed Asner

Jean Stapleton captured the unique spirit of one of America’s most admired first ladies, Eleanor Roosevelt.

and Jean Stapleton performed plays on ships that went on to successful national tours. Academy Award winner Patricia Neal and Joel Vig created a version of Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory, which played around the country for many years.

Academy Award winner Patricia Neal and Joel Vig played A CHRISTMAS MEMORY on ship and then around the country for decades.

Marilyn Clark Langner will be remembered both as a savvy artistic producer and also as the perfect hostess for these remarkable voyages.   Whether sailing up the Amazon River with a final performance in the legendary Manaus Opera House or a Meditteranean cruise ending with a reception in the Princess Grace Theatre in Monaco hosted by Prince Albert II, Marilyn was always charming and elegant with an air of whimsy and a wonderfully wicked sense of humor. When Marilyn and Philip Langner were honored with.the Gold Medal at the National Arts Club in December of 2010, stars of more than thirty years of unforgettable Theatre At Sea cruises expressed their gratitude for the gift.and honor of being part of the Theatre At Sea legacy.

Marilyn Langner: a Most Unforgettable Character.

Marilyn is survived by her husband, Philip, two daughters Lola and Eve, and two grand daughters Lauren Kennedy and Brielle Kennedy.

 

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