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What to Watch in The New Year: March 17

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Bonnie Milligan

MTA Radio Plays: Episodes 7–9 By Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. MTA Radio Plays is a series of audio dramas created to honor and celebrate the people that keep New York City running. Conceived and curated by playwright Ren Dara Santiago (The Siblings Play), MTA Radio Plays features the work of 17 playwrights.

Each episode is inspired by a stop along the MTA’s 2 Train Line and each writer has selected a stop that reflects their own experience, in whatever style they choose.

Written by Victor Cervantes jr., Episode 7: 110th Street (blurry nights) is directed by TJ Weaver and features the vocal talent of Ianne Fields Stewart, Kara Young, Tamara Williams, Samy Nour Younes Figaredo, and Julissa Contreras with music by Lil’ Guac.

Episode 8: 96th Street is written by Xavier Galva, directed by Obi Abili, and features the vocal talents of Kai Heath, Juan Skittlez Ortiz, Biko Eisen-Martin, Robbie Tann, Kara Young, Amelia Fowler, Eric Tabach, Christopher Gray, Paul Urcioliof, and Julissa Contreras with music by music by Giullian Gioiello.

Written by Robert Lee Leng, Episode 9: 72nd Street Station is directed by Obi Abili and features the vocal talents of David Zheng, Broderick Clavery, Curtiss Cook Jr., Oliver Palmer, and Julissa Contreras.

These episodes are sound designed and engineered by Twi McCallum and Chris Darbassie. MTA Radio Plays is made possible with the generous support of the Battin Foundation, the Howard Gilman Foundation, and the Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation with additional individual support by Willy Holtzman & Sylvia Shepard and Jeffrey Steinman & Jody Falco. 

Broadway Profiles with Tamsen Fadal Sneak Peek Check out the latest episode of the only nationally syndicated theater news program! Hosted by Emmy-winning anchor Tamsen Fadal and powered by Broadway.com, the weekly show features interviews with the stars who make Broadway shine bright. Premieres on Broadway.com prior to nationwide broadcast.

The New York Pops Up Festival a thousand in-person performances throughout the state from now through June. Most events associated with NY PopsUp will be unannounced (and unticketed) and will be designed so that New Yorkers happen upon them in their everyday lives. (Since we can’t have large gatherings right now, we want to bring a lot of small things to the public where they are) NY PopsUp is a surprise that you happen upon, rather than an event or concert you are alerted to via a notification or a schedule.

6pm: Irish Poetry Slam with Tonya Pinkins, Jessica Hecht, More Join Gingold Theatrical Group and an all-star company including Robert Cuccioli, Tyne Daly, Melissa Errico, Jessica Hecht, Daniel Jenkins, Andrea Marcovicci,  Tonya Pinkins, Thom Sesma, Renee Taylor, Sally Wilfert, Karen Ziemba, and more, for a virtual open mic: come as you are and share what you’d like: a poem, an excerpt, a monologue, a saying, a song, or a toast!

6:30pm: New Student Master Classes with Betty Buckley Performer Betty Buckley will offer weekly virtual master classes designed for singers and actors who have not previously worked with the Tony winner.

Texas native Buckley, recently seen in an acclaimed performance as Dolly Gallagher Levi in the national tour of the Tony-winning revival of Hello, Dolly!, won a Tony Award for her performance as Grizabella in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats, later earning another nomination for her work in the musical Triumph of Love.

She starred in both the London and New York productions of Sunset Boulevard, earning an Olivier nomination for her take on the ill-fated silent-screen star Norma Desmond. London audiences have also enjoyed Buckley’s work in Promises, Promises and Dear World, and her other Broadway credits include CarrieSong & DanceThe Mystery of Edwin Drood, and 1776.

6:30pm: La MaMa LiveTalks: CultureHub By La Mama presents La MaMa LiveTalks, conversations with artists, activists and thought leaders from around the country and around the world who join in discussions about art and life in times of crisis. 

In this Live Talk, the CultureHub team will reflect on the creative producing practices that have emerged in our organization and recent collaborations with our local and global community.

Panelists will include the CultureHub Team:

DeAndra Anthony, Mattie Barber-Bockelman, Sangmin Chae, Billy Clark, Jean Garcia, Iris Yujin Jeong, and Scarlett Kim

Hosted by Ryan Leach

7pm: New York Theatre Barn: Anjou / For Tonight By New York Theatre Barn who continues its New Works Series live streams, featuring excerpts from the new musicals Anjou and For Tonight.

The company will be giving 50% of its donations each week to a different charity that supports black lives and civil rights. 

7:30pm: Donizetti’s Anna Bolena Donizetti crafted his three dazzling “queen” operas, a trilogy chronicling the courtly conspiracies of the 16th-century Tudor monarchs, over a seven-year burst of creativity. The three are rarely performed all in a row, or even in the same season, so taxing is the intricate vocal writing, although there have been a few notable and ambitious exceptions. The intrepid soprano who tackles the lengthy first installment about Anne Boleyn, second wife of the matrimonially prolific Henry VIII, joins a cast of infamous history-book characters revived for the operatic stage.

Peppermint
Peppermint Photo by Joan Marcus

8pm: Stars in the House: Head Over Heels Reunion!! Original Broadway Cast members reunite including Bonnie Milligan, Peppermint, Alexandra Socha, Andrew Durand, Jeremy Kushnier, Rachel York and Tom Alan Robbins.

8pm: Broadway Bar Crawl By Playbill. Since Broadway began, theatre and food have always been intertwined. Clustered in and among our Broadway theaters are theatrical watering holes where deals are made over drinks, actors convene, and theatregoers dine.

From gentleman-only theatre restaurants of the 1880s to the Lobster Palaces of the early 1900s to our beloved locations of today: “Green Team” Owner Tim will virtually explore the quirky, fascinating histories of some of Broadway’s most famous eateries through rarely seen photographs and stories. Fill your glass or two with your fav, sit back, and join us for our first-ever Broadway Bar Crawl!   

7pm: The Aran Island Irish Repertory Theatre presents their next Performance on Screen digital production is The Aran Islands by J.M. Synge and adapted and directed by Joe O’Byrne.

Starring Brendan Conroy, the virtual production of The Aran Islands will premiere on March 16 at 7 PM ET and run through March 28.

In the grey, sea-battered landscape of the Aran Islands, full of mist and wild rain, hearth is home and storytellers regale with tales by the fire. When John Millington Synge traveled to these remote islands upon the advice of W.B. Yeats in 1898, he discovered a bleakly primitive, mystical land that would inspire him for the rest of his life, leading to canonical works in Irish theatre, including The Playboy of the Western World and Riders to the Sea

Wil Premieres through March 17. Will Swenson, Ann Harada, Eric McCormack, Oliver Dench and more star in a reading of a new feature project by Dan Rosen. The work follows a young William Shakespeare and what happens when he lands his first professional gig running a summer stock theater program while finishing Romeo and Juliet. The free reading benefits The Actors Fund and The Actors Fund Canada.

The Picture of Dorian Gray 
Fionn Whitehead, Alfred Enoch (above), Joanna Lumley, Russell Tovey, Emma McDonald and Stephen Fry star in Henry Filloux-Bennett’s drama that follows Dorian Gray as he makes a deal for his social star to never fade. Audiences can watch the production through March 31.

The Year of Magical Thinking through March 17. Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking for Off-Broadway’s Keen Company.

Adapted from Didion’s best-selling memoir, the performance is directed by Keen Artistic Director Jonathan Silverstein.

The Year of Magical Thinking paints a vivid and heartfelt picture of a family dissolving while Didion struggles to maintain security through her grief and memories. Didion relives the death of her husband of 40 years, writer John Gregory Dunne, as the couple sat down for dinner in their New York City apartment. Complicated by Didion’s ailing comatose daughter, Quintana, who Didion would also lose, the events of one night—and the year that followed—are recounted in a candid and intimate manner.

The New York Pops Up Festival a thousand in-person performances throughout the state from now through June. Most events associated with NY PopsUp will be unannounced (and unticketed) and will be designed so that New Yorkers happen upon them in their everyday lives. (Since we can’t have large gatherings right now, we want to bring a lot of small things to the public where they are) NY PopsUp is a surprise that you happen upon, rather than an event or concert you are alerted to via a notification or a schedule.

Julius Caesar, Starring Patrick Page By Shakespeare@ Tony nominee Patrick Page (Hadestown) stars in the title role with Jordan Barbour (The Inheritance) as Brutus and Keith Hamilton Cobb (American Moor) as Cassius. West End Harry Potter and the Cursed Child performers Jamie Ballard and James Howard co-star as Mark Antony and Metellus Cimber, respectively. 

The production is also be available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, and Stitcher.

Produced by Jersey City’s Shakespeare@, this audio production is the third installment of the season, produced and adapted by Artistic Director Sean Hagerty.

Hagerty has crafted the production into four weekly parts and partnered with the Emmy-winning team at Sonic Designs to capture the lost art and thrill of radio drama all without leaving the confines of quarantine.

Julius Caesar features original music composed by Joan Melton with sound design by the Emmy-winning team of Dan Gerhard and Ellen Fitton of Sonic Designs. Justin Goldner is the music producer and supervisor, and casting is by Robin Carus. Sydney Steele serves as the associate producer. 

Gallathea First performed in 1588, John Lyly’s Gallathea is a queer love story set inside the landscape of classical myth. In order to avoid becoming dinner for a sea monster, Gallathea and Phillida are sent into the forest dressed as boys. Meanwhile, three shipwrecked brothers set out to seek their fortunes, Cupid stirs up his usual trouble, nymphs fall for mortals, and Neptune–God of the Sea–waits to make his move. This playful pastoral of love, desire, and finding yourself is an affirmation of identity–joyfully reclaimed for 2021.

​Directed by Emma Rosa Went and featuring Olivia Rose Baressi, Helen Cespedes, Nathaniel P. Claridad, Yonatan Gebeyehu, Amy Jo Jackson, Layla Khoshnoudi, Rami Magron, Christopher Michael McFarland, Jason O’Connell, Aneesh Sheth, David Ryan Smith, and Zo Tipp.

Presented by Red Bull Theater in collaboration with The Drama League. A recording of the livestream will be available until 7 PM ET March 19.

Treason the Musical Online West End stars Lucie Jones, Oliver Tompsett and more appear in this concert of Ricky Allan and Kieran Lynn’s musical Treason, which follows the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 in which Guy Fawkes and his anarchist supporters tried to blow up the U.K. Halls of Parliament. The concert was filmed at Cadogan Hall in London.https://www.youtube.com/embed/tUSY3MtAvSM?feature=oembed

Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures Festival: The Car Man The series, highlighting Bourne’s twists on ballet classics, continues with The Car Man, available on demand for 10 days.

The Car Man features Christopher Trenfield as Luca, Zizi Strallen as Lana, Dominic North as Angelo, Kate Lyons at Rita, and Alan Vincent as Dino Alfano.

Assassins Reunion: Original Off-Broadway Cast The original cast and creative team of the 1991 Off-Broadway debut of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s Tony-winning Assassins will reunite virtually to celebrate the musical’s 30th anniversary.

The free online event is part of the Studio Tenn Talks: Conversations with Patrick Cassidy series and will feature Studio Tenn Artistic Director Cassidy as well as other original cast members Victor Garber, Greg Germann, Annie Golden, Lyn Greene, Jonathan Hadary, Eddie Korbich, Terrence Mann, Debra Monk, William Parry, and Lee Wilkof plus Sondheim and Weidman, director Jerry Zaks, musical director Paul Gemignani, and orchestrator Michael Starobin.

Jill Eikenberry

Jericho NNR Premiere. Marsha Mason, directs Jill Eikenberry in Jack Canfora’s play, which serves as New Normal Rep’s inaugural production. The thought-provoking piece explores how people cope with personal and collective catastrophe as a family reunites for Thanksgiving dinner after tragedy

SuperYou Musical the new musical that last year pivoted from its traditional opening to a drive-in concert in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, is now heading online. A filmed version of the drive-in presentation will stream on Broadway On Demand 

The musical, penned by Lourds Lane, tells the story of a woman and her superheroine creations that suddenly come to life, reminding her of the power of her own voice.

Prior to the 8 PM stream, Playbill will host a virtual red carpet event, with interviews with the cast and creative team. A digital afterparty will also take place at 9 PM.

TRANS(4)MISSIONS Disability intersects with all populations in our world: Every age, race, gender and sexual orientation. Theater Breaking Through Barriers  strives to create a common ground for all voices and serve as an ambassador in the quest for full, systemic equality in our world.

The eleven original plays constituting the 4th Virtual Playmakers’ Intensive represent a diverse chorus within American culture. Created for and rehearsed entirely on the Zoom platform, TBTB’s VPI4 will stream live performances of these new short works directly to you, wherever you may be!

An Iliad (Streaming) Court Theater. A film of the site-specific production at Chicago’s Oriental Institute by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare.

hieroglyph] by San Francisco Playhouse presented as an on-demand video stream through April 3rd, 2021. 

San Francisco Playhouse and Lorraine Hansberry Theatre present a co-production of the new play [hieroglyph] by Erika Dickerson-Despenza.

The cast features Jamella Cross, Safiya Fredericks, Khary L. Moye, and Anna Marie Sharpe. The work is directed by Margo Hall, marking Lorraine Hansberry Theatre’s first staged production since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and the first production Hall has directed for the company since taking the helm in September 2020.

The Things Are Against Us Susan Soon He Stanton’s The Things Are Against Us will be the next production in MCC’s LiveLab one-act digital reading series. Ellie Heyman directs the cast, which includes Juan Castano, Emily Davis, Susannah Flood, Babak Tafti, and Danny Wolohan, in tthe play set in a mysterious house with a mind of its own. 

John Lithgow, Daniel Breaker, More Sing Adam Guettel’s Myths & Hymns (Episode 2) By MasterVoices The central project of MasterVoices’ 2020-2021 season will be a virtual rollout of award-winning composer Adam Guettel’s theatrical song cycle, Myths and Hymns, in an online staging conceived by Ted Sperling. 

SoHo Playhouse Presents Typical Soho Theatre and Nouveau Riche present the world premiere of Typical, the film version of the stage play, released exclusively on Soho Theatre On Demand 

Written by Ryan Calais Cameron and directed by Anastasia Osei-Kuffour, Typical uncovers the man and the humanity behind the tragic true-life events of Black British ex-serviceman Christopher Alder and the injustice that still remains twenty years since his story emerged. 

Franz Kafka’s Letter to My Father M-34 through March 28
In 1919, the ailing writer wrote a letter to his father full of intense mixed emotions.

Expirer Wilma Theater Dive into a cyberspace underworld through this interactive website. Demons, both classical and contemporary, lurk among the virtual artifacts, waiting to be purged. Part of this Philadelphia theater’s weekly Hothouse Shorts.

The Manic Monologues Current Slave Play Tony nominee Ato Blankson-Wood, Rent Tony winner Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Accidentally Brave playwright Maddie Corman, and more stage favorites will explore mental health this winter in a new digital production from the McCarter Theatre Center.

The Manic Monologues debuts February 18 with 21 true-life monologues that users can explore at their own pace and through an interactive element virtually respond to.

Christa McAuliffe’s Eyes Were Blue Center Theater Group
through April 4. $10 Kemp Powers’ play tells the story of twins, one who dreamt of space, the other who became a successful attorney, who have lived starkly different lives, because one has dark skin and the other passes as white. The action plays out in 1980s New York and a Minnesota courthouse in 2006.

Simply Sondheim Signature Theater of Arlington. Available through March 26. Thirty Sondheim songs performed by a 16-piece orchestra and a dozen singers, including Norm Lewis, Emily Skinner, Solea Pfeiffer and Conrad Ricamora

Directed by Golden Globe winner Marsha Mason, Napoleon in Exile stars Emmy nominee Jane Kaczmarek and Will Dagger as mother and son. After the performance, the artists join host Claudia Catania to discuss writing for actors and bringing theater chops to the world of sitcom TV.

Playdate: A Playing House Reunion By Play-PerView. Stars and co-creators of USA’s comedy series Playing House, Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair, will appear for Playdate: A Playing House Reunion. Proceeds for these events will benefit Feeding America.

The Niceties until the 28th Who gets to tell the story of race, history and power in America? In this riveting, provocative play, a black student and her white professor – both brilliant – debate whether the legacy of slavery defines our past, and our present.

The Niceties made its MV Playhouse debut in October as a live virtual reading and is back by popular demand for a virtual two-week run.  Amy Brenneman and Tsilala Brock will reprise their roles as Janine and Zoe.

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

Art

Bonnie Comley Nothing To Wear

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Bonnie Comley stepped into the art world last night. She and ChaShaMa presented a piece called “Nothing To Wear”, at 340 East 64th Street, which is an interactive installation, a thought provoking look at fast fashion and body image. This provocative look at our relationship with our clothing choices as it pertains to our self image, fast fashion and textile waste, challenges the fashion industry to create an alternative to current business models and the global appetite for consumption. “Nothing to Wear”, asks viewers to question dress codes like the current policing of women in political office, facilitates self-reflection on biases regarding our own clothing and the community around us as uniform, self-expression, or just protection from the elements of weather.

Also involved were Sarah DeMarino – Co-Producer/Director, Leah Lane – Soundscape Monologue Writer and Jasper Isaac Johns the Exhibit Designer.

Sarah DeMarino and Dallas Bernstein

At the opening and on certain dates Hannah Durant Joe Guccione and Dallas Bernstein perform monologues that coincide with the project. These mini playlets were insightful and thought provoking.

Hannah Durant Joe Guccione and Dallas Bernstein

In attendance were:

Anita Durst and fashion designer Shani Grosz

Cooper Lawrence, Dr. Robi Ludwig, Errol Rappaport, Bonnie Comley, Quinn Lemley, Suzanna Bowling, Shani Grosz and Merrie Davis

Anita Durst and Bonnie Comley

Danielle Price, Bonnie Comley and Andrina Wekontash Smith

Sylvia Hemingway and Bonnie Comley

Bevin Ross and Bonnie Comley

Alyssa Ritch Frel and Bonnie Comley

Shady Kerko and McLean Mills

Frankie Lane, Bonnie Comley and Lenny Lane

Riki Kane Larmire

Bonnie is a three-time Tony Award-winning producer. She has, also, won an Olivier Award and two Drama Desk Awards for her stage productions. She was recently re-elected as the Board President of The Drama League. She is a full member of The Broadway League and the Audience Engagement and Education Committee. Comley has produced over 40 films, winning five Telly Awards and one W3 Award. She is also the founder and CEO of BroadwayHD, the world’s premier online streaming platform delivering over 300 premium live productions to theatre fans globally. The theatre community has honored Comley for her philanthropic work; she is the recipient of The Actors Fund Medal of Honor, The Drama League Special Contribution to the Theater Award, The Paul Newman Award from Arts Horizons and The Theater Museum Distinguished Service Award.

Stewart F Lane and Bonnie Comley

ChaShaMa helps create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive world by partnering with property owners to transform unused real estate. Currently, they present 150 events a year, have workspace for 120 artists, and have developed 80 workshops in under served communities. They have awarded 11 million dollars worth of real estate to artists and have subsidizes another 300 with work spaces. They provide over 215 free art classes and have supported over 75 businesses with free space

To see Nothing to Wear click here

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Days of Wine and Roses” the Musical Ages Like Cut Flowers, Rather Than Wine in its Transfer Uptown to Broadway

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This is my second shot of The Days of Wine and Roses, after seeing it at the smaller Atlantic Theatre off-Broadway stage, and unlike the wine mentioned in the title, time played with it like the roses. The musical, about a doomed couple destroyed by alcoholism, did not thrive, like fine wine, but wilted like cut flowers in a bigger vase. The larger stage of Studio 54, as hoped, did not make this drink taste any better for me, but it did make me notice some of the sharper tones that I must have overlooked before, leaving a slightly bad taste that still lingers in the back of my throat after swallowing.

With a book by Craig Lucas (I Was Most Alive with You) and distancingly complex music, lyrics, and orchestrations by Adam Guettel (The Light in the Piazza), Days of Wine and Roses does continue to deliver musical “magic time” in an effort to give us some abundance. It flows forward, trying to make us drunk with its intricate chocolate flavors of a Brandy Alexander, but left me cold outside in the murky waters that it tries to overlook. “What’s your tragic story?” he asks, as the two soon-to-be lovers drift forward, far too abruptly, into the choppy suburban sea of coupledom, isolation, and cocktail hours, shaken and stirred with complicated textured notes of sadness and need.

The music is soaring, in an operatic repetitive way, melodramatically hitting high, without giving much depth, much like what lives at the core of the 1958 teleplay and 1963 movie “Days of Wine and Roses” on which this new musical is based. Although the film, starring the magnificent Lee Remick and Jack Lemmon, never gives these two characters a moment to sing, even as the two fall madly in love, the premise is ripe for some introspection and investigation. These are their days of wine and roses, we are told, but here, in this sometimes compelling, but surprisingly distancing musical, the songs fling themselves out like a distress call for help from an isolated island, heaving with the intense feelings of being stranded, desperate, and seemingly on their own, but flailing in the choppy waters trying to connect. Even during the more enjoyable drunk song numbers, which are more fun and entertaining than some of the other more ‘meaningful’ songs.

Brian d’Arcy James and Kelli O’Hara in Broadway’s Days of Wine and Roses. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The musical’s ideas have depth and courage, and are delivered pitch perfectly by the two magnificent leads who carry most of the vocal weight and baggage. Brian D’Arcy James (Broadway’s ShrekInto the Woods) vocally ushers forth a Joe Clay that swings wide and true, sounding, quite possibly almost as brilliant as Kelli O’Hara (Broadway’s Kiss Me, Kate) in her role as the beautifully kind Kirsten Arnesen, the young secretary (that’s what they called them back then) who had not found the flavor of alcohol appealing until that fateful night. We watch with nervous anticipation as the drink is lifted to her lips, knowing what is in store. We hope that she doesn’t drink the Kool-Aid that Joe keeps pushing. And then they are off to the races, finding melancholy melodies in both the drunken pleasures and pain of addiction.

It’s a quick dive into the dark and dirty waters of this quicksand river. It jumps forward with wild drunken abandonment, never really feeling authentic this time around, but somehow forced and perplexing. Each song, particularly the more dramatic ones, seems to stop the story in its tracks, like a drunk trying to regain its balance as it walks down the street. The moments feel somehow true and isolated from us all at the same time, keeping us at a distance and never really engaging with us enough to want to join in with the emotional story. When the Kirsten character asks Joe if they can go somewhere other than that first scene party, it struck me as odd, as the book up to that moment has painted Joe in pretty negative annoying tones. Why she was the one who suggested that an intimate outing would be something she wanted at that exact moment didn’t really make sense. But if he had been the one asking, I could have believed, that after a little thought, she might have agreed to it, but this way around? It didn’t sit authentically true for me.

The music hangs big and bold between them, delivering the depth of their destructive ways, while keeping them isolated from the outside world (including us) that keeps shining a light on the problems that are approaching. The voices of the two leads are really the best part of this construction, with the other characters, under the direction of Michael Greif (2ST’s A Parallelogram), doing their best to step into that light, especially David Jennings (Broadway’s Tina) as Joe’s AA sponsor, Jim Hungerford, who wisely underplays this pivotal role rather than presenting a sermon. There is also the troubled father of Kirsten, played intently by Byron Jennings (Broadway’s Harry Potter…), who flounders a bit in the foreground, worried and angry about the road his daughter is taking, yet seeing clear that he has little power to challenge her path.

Brian d’Arcy James and Kelli O’Hara in Broadway’s Days of Wine and Roses. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Guettel pours out song after jagged song, exposing the twisted engagements that are taking over their lives. It’s troubling and upsetting to watch, and sometimes very difficult to follow along with the lyrics, even when so beautifully sung. The songs teeter on melodrama and mayhem, and the two leads strive forward, wobbly, leading us through the tangled path they are taking. The ideas and formulations don’t exactly mesh and blend in with each other, separating songs from the action, and the heart from the formula, all on an awkwardly complicated set designed by Lizzie Clachan (National Theatre’s The Witches). The piece somewhat stays far too close to the expanse of the film version, struggling to keep up, and crowding the stage more and more as it gets closer to the final blackout. I went in hoping that with the larger Broadway stage, a sharpening of its visual could have settled the piece, simplifying the locations and finding other ways to tell this tale without bringing a room full of plants, coffeeshop counters, and a motel room into the already crowded picture.

With determined costumes by Dede Ayite (Broadway’s Topdog/Underdog), simple lighting by Ben Stanton (Broadway’s Good Night, Oscar), and a solid sound design by Kai Harada (Broadway’s Kimberly Akimbo), the piece never shuffles with ease. This isn’t a hummable show, more akin to an opera led by two, at least in the beginning, before their daughter, Lila, dutifully portrayed by Tabitha Lawing (Atlanta Opera/Alliance’s The Shining), begins to join them in their vocal union, expanding what is at stake, from a pair to something more. Lila and her mother’s correspondence is one of the few moments that actually registered on the emotional spectrum inside, while the rest blurred together like a movie viewing after one too many martinis.

Under the watchful eye of choreographers Sergio Trujillo (Broadway’s Next to Normal) and Karla Puno Garcia (Netflix’s tick, tick…BOOM!), and backed most gorgeously by the score courtesy of music director Kimberly Grigsby (Broadway’s Camelot), The Days of Wine and Roses rolls forward drunkenly playing a tender but blurry game of hide and seek, teasing us with highend music and magnificent performances, but leaving us, somewhat unsettled and distant from this fragmented and choppy musical melodrama.

Kelli O’Hara and Brian d’Arcy James in Broadway’s Days of Wine and Roses. Photo by Joan Marcus.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Sweeney Todd’s New Cast

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Aaron Tveit and Sutton Foster joined the Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd February 9th, at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. They replaced Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford, who both earned 2023 Tony nominations for their leading performances in the production.

The Tony Award winning Tveit stepped into the role of Sweeney Todd, which is his first Broadway role since he originated the lead, Christian, in Moulin Rouge! The Musical. He is also known for his performances in Wicked, Catch Me If You Can, Hairspray, and Rent. Tveit has also portrayed several musical theatre roles on screen, such as Enjolras in the film adaptation of Les Misérables (2012), as well as Danny Zuko in Fox’s Grease: Live (2016). In television, he was Gareth Ritter on BrainDead, Tripp van der Bilt on Gossip Girl, Mike Warren on Graceland, and Danny Bailey/Topher in Schmigadoon!.

Foster’s last Broadway role was Marian Paroo in the 2021 revival of The Music Man, which earned her a Tony nomination the following year. She has earned six additional nominations and she is a two-time Tony winner for Thoroughly Modern Millie and Anything Goes. Her other credits include Violet and Little Women. In 2016, she starred opposite Aaron Tveit and Betty Buckley in the Stephen Schwartz revue Defying Gravity in Australia. She appeared in the Off-Broadway revival of Sweet Charity and was in the miniseries Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life opposite her ex-husband, Christian Borle. She made guest appearances on The Good Wife and Mad Dogs, she is known for her role as Liza Miller in Younger. A month earlier she wow’d audiences as Winfred in the Encore production of Once Upon A Mattress.

Now the two are winning raves in this macabre masterpiece of musical theatre,

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Museum of Broadway Celebrates Black History Month

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Museum of Broadway, 145 W. 45th Street, upcoming February Events

Saturday, February 24th | 12:00 PM

The Museum of Broadway Presents: A History of Minstrelsy with Ben West 

Join musical theatre artist and historian Ben West, author of the upcoming book The American Musical, for a journey into the history of minstrelsy, including its legacy of blackface on Broadway, its trailblazing Black artists, and its impact on the development of the American musical. Note: This talk will involve mature content.

– Event link here

Monday, February 26th | 11:00 AM

The Museum of Broadway Presents: A Conversation with Black Broadway Creatives

Join in celebrating and honoring the lives, careers, and experiences of Black Broadway creatives in the American theater.  Panelists include Ken Hanson, Dante Harrell, Destiny Lilly, Zane Mark, Thelma Pollard and Virginia Woodruff, in-conversation with Erich McMillian-McCall of Project 1 Voice.

– Event link here

Wednesday, February 28th | 12:00 PM

The Museum of Broadway Presents: Mary & Ethel…And Mikey Who? 

Talkback and Book Signing with award-winning author Stephen Cole joined by famed cabaret star Klea Blackhurst and special guest Anita Gillette

– Event link here 

Thursday, February 29th |10:30 AM

The Museum of Broadway Presents: Spotlight on Black Broadway Producers

Join acclaimed award-winning producers Rashad Chambers, Sade Lythcott & Brian Anthony Moreland in-conversation with Merrily We Roll Along’s Krystal Joy Brown

– Event link here

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The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

MORE MURDER — (Via Deadline) Sophie Ellis-Bextor is gearing up to tour around North America for the first time and adding more cities for fans to see her perform “Murder on the Dance Floor” live.

The British singer’s song is featured in the final scene of Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn, where Barry Keoghan’s Oliver dances naked around the manor. After the scene went viral, the song, co-written by Ellis-Bextor and Gregg Alexander, also went viral on social media. “Murder on the Dance Floor” was originally released in 2001, but it never charted on the Billboard Hot 100 until now, peaking at 51 recently.

Ellis-Bextor recently made an appearance on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon where she performed the viral hit and the star is now embarking on a North America tour.

The artist announced her first-ever live show in NYC, set to take place on June 6 at Webster Hall, and the date quickly sold out. Ellis-Bextor has now announced more dates across the U.S. and Canada that will take her to San Francisco, San Diego, Boston, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.

“Oh my… the New York show sold out in a day! Thank you thank you thank you,” Ellis-Bextor said in her newsletter announcing the additional tour dates. “So – how about some more shows in some more cities?! My band and I are coming for you! Super excited. Come and dance with me….”

May 30: August Hall (San Francisco, CA)May 31: The Observatory North Park (San Diego, CA)June 3: 9:30 Club (Washington D.C.)June 4: Royale Boston (Boston, MA)June 5: Union Transfer (Philadelphia, PA)June 6: Webster Hall (New York City, NY)June 8: Danforth Music Hall (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

I love this record, because its an actual song. Sure, they repeat the title about three-dozen times, but its a great track.

Neil Diamond and Micky Dolenz

NOISE CLOSES — (Via Deadline) Broadway’s A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical will play its final performance on Sunday, June 30, before launching a national tour this fall, producers announced today.

The musical, which began previews on November 2, 2022, at the Broadhurst Theatre and opened that year on December 4, will have played 35 preview performances and 657 regular performances when it closes.

As I’ve said, early reviews of the show, kind of stopped me from going to this. An artist who is even referenced in the play said to me ‘why would I go to a play that got bad reviews.’ Understood.

But, I did see it and absolutely loved it. Of course, I’m somewhat on the business side and loved all the insider-nuances. And, I saw it with the original performers in it.

There will be a national tour and I predict it will be a huge hit as Diamond’s music is multi-generational. As I’ve said, I preferred Diamond’s “Solitary Man”-period more than “America” and “I Am, I Said.” Although, “Turn On Your Heart Light” (written with Carole Bayer Sager and Burt Bacharach) was a great record.

An icon for certain.

SHORT TAKES — Warner’s second Aquaman movie; Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will stream on MAX on February 27. The first Aquaman movie, out in 2018, remains the highest-grossing DC film of all time. The sequel, after a plethora of media, mostly about Amber Heard, disappeared in a matter of weeks … Broadway-journeyman and Rockers On Broadway-creator Donnie Kehr recupping. Get well soon brother! … Keith Girard’s New York Independent featured an interview with 17-old wunderkind Kjersti Long. Check it out: https://www.thenyindependent.com/music/1704991/kjersti-long-17-explores-her-jersey-roots-by-way-of-utah-with-power-pop-style-video/

Pet Shop Boys

Just listened to the Pet Shop Boys “West End Girls.” What a tremendous record that hold up amazingly well all these years later. It came out in 1984 and produced by Bobby Orlando … Amazon shuttering Freevee? First off, as an offshoot of Amazon, this has got to be one of the worst monikers ever! I mean, FreeVee ... always sounded like frisbee!  Adios … Thursday’s Law & Order was the ode to Sam Waterston’s Jack McCoy-character (Last Dance).

Sam Waterston

After 404 episodes, we had to say goodbye. It wasn’t the greatest episode, but when McCoy took over the case and presented it to the jury, Waterston shone brightly. When McCoy said to Hugh Dancy (Nolan Ryan), it was a hell of a ride, it resonated terrifically. Thanks Jack! …

True Detective

I loved the finale on HBO of True Detective with Jodie Foster and Kali Reis. I didn’t understand it all, but the look and direction (by Issa Lopez) and Jodie Foster was just superb. I had forgotten just how good an actress Foster was. Sure, she was good in Nyad, but it was a supporting role. Here, she was just stellar. I’d like to see more of her …

Micky Jones

It was a grim week medically speaking as talk-show hostess Wendy Williams was diagnosed with aphasia and dementia and Mick Jones of Foreigner, with Parkinson’s. Sending prayers to both … And finally, news surfaced Thursday that an “inebriated” Andy Cohen harassed Brandi Glanville. I don’t know Andy at all, but his bad-boy antics of the last several years were clearly leading to something like this. Glanville’s lawyers even invoked NBC’s Matt Lauer in their brief. Expect a huge media brouhaha over this one. Sad for sure … Happy Bday Lou Christie; Niki Avers and Chloe Gaier.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Steve Walter; Obi Steinman; Felix Cavaliere; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Kent Kotal; Ace Frehley; Alex Saltzman; Lush Ice; Tony King; Barry Zelman; Justin Ridener; Kent & Laura Denmark; Mark Bego; Mark Scheerer; Barbara Shelley; and SADIE!

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