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What to Watch in The New Year: May 6

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Carry On Tony nominee Jeremy Jordan This event is being streamed online through BroadwayWorld Events. There will be no in-person audience.

Broadway’s Jeremy Jordan, known for his powerful voice and provocative storytelling, returns to the stage with his most ambitious and personal performance to date. Equal parts humor and heartache, Carry On takes us deep into Jeremy’s new life as a father. Unpacking and attempting to reconcile his own complicated childhood, Jeremy soon discovers there is more to being a parent than he could have ever imagined. Featuring an array of musical styles, as well as some never-before-heard songs, Carry On has been thoughtfully reimagined for the virtual stage after winning multiple awards for its premiere at Feinstein’s/54 Below just over a year ago. Featuring musical direction by Benjamin Rauhala.

7pm: Waiting for Godot Directed by Scott Elliott, the classic features Tony nominee Ethan Hawke as Vladimir, Tony recipient John Leguizamo as Estragon, Wallace Shawn as Lucky, rapper Tarik Trotter as Pozzo, and Drake Bradshaw as Boy.

In Waiting for Godot two wanderers wait by a lonely tree, to meet up with Mr. Godot, who they hope will change their lives for the better. Instead, another couple of eccentric travelers arrive, one man on the end of the other’s rope.

The creative team also includes production designer Derek McLane, costume designer Qween Jean, sound designer Justin Ellington, director of photography Kramer Morgenthau, editor Yonatan Weinstein, and associate director Monet.

7pm: 50 in 50: Shattering the Glass Ceiling The Billie Holiday Theatre presents a special fifth anniversary virtual edition of its popular 50in50 monologue showcase. The theme is shattering the glass ceiling. The event features 50 stories from 50 female writers across the African Diaspora to be read by a star-studded collective of women, including Vanessa Williams, Audra McDonald, Dawnn Lewis, Wanda Sykes and more.

Katarina Link
Katarina Lenk

7:30pm: Against Women & Music! Amber Gray, Katrina Lenk, Heath Saunders, Natalie Walker, Andrew Kober, Kuhoo Verma and Scott Stangland star in this absurdist-horror Victorian chamber musical by Grace McLean and Kate Douglas. Against Women & Music! follows new widow Celine as her daughter readies for her debut into society, and what happens when Celine discovers a sinister presence has possessed her daughter.

7:30pm: Bellini’s Norma Bellini’s fiery masterpiece about a strong-willed priestess in love with a Roman soldier is a supreme vehicle for singers with a flair for high drama and seemingly limitless technique. The opera’s standout arias, full of filigreed passagework and florid runs, have put many daring singers to the test, but they also perfectly capture the turbulent psychological states of the main characters as they endeavor to make sense of their conflicted emotions.

8pm: Stars in the House Celebrating Moms

9pm: 5 Questions with James and JAM Obie Award winners James Jackson, Jr. and John-Andrew Morrison from Michael R. Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning off-Broadway musical A Strange Loop are hosting a new virtual talk show, 5 Questions with James and JAM, streamed through their website, YouTube channel, and Facebook page. 

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

10:30pm: Ibsen’s Ghosts, Starring David Strathairn and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio A fresh and relevant new translation of one of Henrik Ibsen’s most vivid and controversial masterpieces.

The Final Pose – An Exhibition Ball Get in on the action as Pose invites everyone to The Final Pose – An Exhibition Ball, a virtual event immediately preceding the premiere of the series’ third and final season.

The online event will run for 90 minutes and feature exclusive messages from show talent, guest judges, ball performances, and more.

Twiggy Pucci Garçon, Pose’s runway choreographer, will produce and host the celebration honoring ball culture from the 80s to today.

Open to all to attend, fans can take part in this unique experience from the comfort of their own homes and view the virtual ball live on Pose social platforms. 

Missed Connections Jon Tai and Alex Gruhin’s live, interactive play with magic begins its run of livestreamed performances as part of 59e59 Theaters’ Plays in Place series. Inspired by the work of writer Haruki Murakami, philosopher Marshall McLuhan, and magician Derek DelGaudio, Missed Connections is a magician’s cosmic love story—one that explores the fleeting bonds that can emerge between total strangers. Audiences can experience the magic for themselves through May 20.

An Evening with Sheldon Harnick and Friends is an intimate evening giving audience members some of the celebrated songs Mr. Harnick has created in his astonishing 60+ year career, it includes his collaborations with composers such as Richard Rodgers, Joe Raposo, Michel Legrand, and—of course—Jerry Bock. Sprinkled with some behind-the-scenes anecdotes from such hit shows as Fiorello!, She Loves Me, and Fiddler on the Roof, as well as the lesser-known Tenderloin, The Rothschilds, Rex, and Dragons.  A rare treat for musical theater buffs of all ages, this event was created by Mr. Harnick especially for The York Theatre. This evening is presented under the auspices of the Theater Authority, Inc. 7pm: Three-time Tony Award winner, Pulitzer Prize winner, and Oscar Hammerstein Award recipient Sheldon Harnick is joined on stage by Tony Award nominee Liz Callaway(Miss Saigon), Tony Award winner Karen Ziemba (Contact), and Rebecca Luker(The Sound of Music) in her last stage appearance. The music director is Jeffrey Saver, with Special Guest Margery Grey Harnick.

Leading into the evening, James Morgan, York Producing Artistic Director, shares a special birthday conversation with Sheldon and Margery.

Available on demand through Friday, May 14, 2021. Reservations are required.

For Us All and No-No Boy L.A. Theatre Works presents two new audio theater recordings about the Japanese-American experience.

Both the LATW-commissioned world premiere of For Us All by Jeanne Sakata and No-No Boy by Ken Narasaki adapted from the novel by John Okada, are sponsored by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, a state-funded grant project of the California State Library.

Each of the plays features a large ensemble cast, with several members appearing in both. In addition, each playwright is featured in the cast of their respective play. Both productions are directed by Anna Lyse Erikson.

In For Us All, an experienced civil rights lawyer teams up with a group of young Japanese-American attorneys to use a little known legal writ to overturn the convictions of men unjustly sentenced for resisting the Japanese-American internment. While the government uses every tactic to make the case go away, the lawyers and their defendant, Fred Korematsu (played by Greg Watanabe) insist on nothing short of justice. In addition to Watanabe, the cast includes Edward Asner, Brooke Ishibashi, Tess Lina, Mike McShane, Derek Mio, Joy Osmanski, André Sogliuzzo, Josh Stamberg and Paul Yen, as well as playwright Sakata.

No-No Boy is set during the aftermath of the U.S. government’s incarceration of 120,000 people of Japanese descent during World War II. Greg Watanabe again stars, this time as Ichiro, who, upon his return to Seattle, is finding it difficult to transition to post-war life. Also in the cast are Sab Shimono as Pa, Sharon Omi as Ma, Emily Kuroda as Mrs. Kanno and Kurt Kanazawa as Taro. Joy Osmanski, Paul Yen and playwright Narasaki each play multiple roles.

Tarantula Georgie Henley, of The Chronicles of Narnia film series, stars in the new one-person play by British playwright Philip Ridley (The Fastest Clock in the UniverseRadiant VerminThe Pitchfork Disney).

London’s Southwark Playhouse will stream the production live from The Little for three performances only.

The story centers on Toni’s teenage first kiss in this play about “identity, memory, love, and the lengths it takes someone to free themselves from the web of their past.” Wiebke Green directs.

Jane Austen’s PERSUASION Song Cycle What did we do on our CoVid quarantine vacation? With a baseline of Beethoven’s glorious chamber music, director/lyricist Emily King created a series of 9 songs which capture, each in their unique way, the flavor, plot and characters of PERSUASION, Jane Austen’s last completed, least read and most fiercely defended novel.

Twelve remarkable singer actors and eleven musicians are creating a wholly original, completely Pastiche way of bringing you back in time with our latest technology.

Diverse and distanced, gorgeous and witty, liberating talent from Canada to Israel and all over the US, for Austen, Beethoven and musical theater fans all over the world. Ludwig calls the tune as we celebrate Jane Austen, and her ability to create happy endings in her stories, when real life so often sadly disappoints.

The Waves in Quarantine: A Theatrical Experiment Begins Raúl Esparza leads a star-studded cast, including Alice Ripley, Carmen Cusack, Nikki Renée Daniels, Darius de Haas and Manu Narayan, in this musical adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s The Waves for Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Watch through May 28.

Twelve remarkable singer actors and eleven musicians are creating a wholly original, completely Pastiche way of bringing you back in time with our latest technology.

Diverse and distanced, gorgeous and witty, liberating talent from Canada to Israel and all over the US, for Austen, Beethoven and musical theater fans all over the world. Ludwig calls the tune as we celebrate Jane Austen, and her ability to create happy endings in her stories, when real life so often sadly disappoints.

Brutal Imagination  Joe Morton and Sally Murphy reprise their roles for this audio production of Cornelius Eady’s play, which premiered at the Vineyard Theater in 2002.

Slow Food A vacationing couple heads to a Greek restaurant in Palm Springs for their anniversary dinner — but will the marriage survive the service?

International City Theatre presents a virtual presentation of Slow Food, a tender, uproarious comedy by Wendy MacLeod, directed by Marya Mazor.

The Destruction of Jane Edgar Rice Burroughs will be spinning in his grave this spring. A new seven-part miniseries, inspired by the infamous film Tarzan the Ape Man, debuts this month.

The Destruction of Jane is an unauthorized parody of the King of the Jungle is told from the point of view of Miss Jane Parker. 

Weekly installments premiere on Thursdays.  

The miniseries stars stars Paul Pecorino and Rob Eco as Jane and Tarzan, respectively, and features special cameo appearances by Mario Cantone and Randy Rainbow. The show is written by Paul Pecorino and directed by Drue Pennella.

Set in the current COVID-19 pandemic, this comedy follows Jane to the African jungle where she meets and falls in love with the spectacular specimen we all know as the legendary Tarzan. The 1981 Tarzan film became a massive financial hit due to its dizzyingly unintentional bad taste, and screenwriter Paul Pecorino has set out to push these offensively vulgar boundaries even further.

The creative team includes director of photography Erik Paulsen, composers Drew Fornarola and David Nehls, musical arranger Paul Doust; costumes & wigs designer David Mitsch; makeup & wig styling designer Vera Stromsted and Donanyely Mejia and Marty Thomas; and specialty costumes designer Gail Baldoni. The Destruction of Jane is presented by Pure Motion Pictures.

Back to the Future: From Screen to Stage Ahead of the Back to the Future musical opening in the Adelphi Theatre on August 20, BFI at Home presents an online discussion with members of the cast and crew about how the hit film became a full-fledged stage musical.

The Baltimore Waltz Mary-Louise Parker, Eric McCormack and Brandon Burtom star in this livestreamed production of Paula Vogel’s play. Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, The Baltimore Waltz is based on the love and adventures of a brother and sister, one of whom has a fatal disease and was the winner of the 1992 Obie Award for Best New American Play.

Caesar: A Surround Sound Experiment This immersive listening experience based on William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar airs at 8PM ET through April 29. Designed for headphones and lunar light, the production is a benefit for The Actors Fund.

Little Gem Amber, Lorraine, and Kay, three generations of North Dublin women, find themselves suddenly facing the unexpected. Young Amber’s case of indigestion grows into something more, while her mother Lorraine reluctantly attempts therapist-suggested self-care, and Grandmother Kay struggles with a personal itch while adjusting to life as a caretaker for her beloved Gem. In this hilarious and poignant award-winning work, three women find strength in one another and discover the beauty and complexity of family.

Irish playwright Elaine Murphy’s debut play, Little Gem, premiered at the Dublin Fringe Festival in 2008 where it won the Fishamble New Writing Award. It then transferred to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it won the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award, the festival’s top prize. 

This new digital production was filmed remotely at the actors’ homes in Connecticut, London, and New York. It is an adaptation of Irish Rep’s acclaimed 2019 production. Until May 9th.

Romeo & Juliet Jessie Buckley and Josh O’Connor star in a film of London’s National Theatre’s Romeo and Juliet. It premieres on PBS as part of the Great Performances series. 

I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical West End regulars Luke Bayer, Charlotte O’Rourke, Lucas Rush and Charlotte Anne Steen star in this streaming production of Alexander S. Bermange’s musical revue. Audiences can watch the journey a wide-eyed drama school graduate takes to become a difficult diva through May 12.

The Gett, Starring Tovah Feldshuh will be available to stream on-demand through April 30. Proceeds benefit Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and Congregation Beth Elohim.

The Gett is a Jewish myth about divorce and how we salvage and recover meaning through profound loss and ancient ritual. ​​

Written by Liba Vaynberg and directed by Daniella Topol 

Featuring Tony and Emmy nominee Tovah Feldshuh, Peter Mark Kendell, Alfredo Narciso, and Vaynberg. 

The Woman’s Party Clubbed Thumb presents the world premiere of The Woman’s Party. Originally slated to premiere as part of the 2020 Summerworks Festival, the piece will now premiere virtually.

Written by Rinne B. Groff and directed by Tara Ahmadinejad, The Woman’s Party has been divided into three 30-minute episodes.

1947 is the year that the savvy politicos of the National Woman’s Party will finally get the ERA passed once they quash that insurgency—or oust the old guard. The Woman’s Party takes place 27 years after the ratification of women’s suffrage, when the Equal Rights Amendment was poised for passage. 

The cast includes Rosalyn Coleman, Alma Cuervo, Laura Esterman, Marga Gomez, Marceline Hugot, Emily Kuroda, Lizan Mitchell, Socorro Santiago, Rebecca Schull, and Connie Winston.

Two Sisters and a Piano Emmy winner Jimmy Smits and Daphne Rubin-Vega star in a streaming production of Nilo Cruz’s 1999 play presented by the new streaming theater company New Normal Rep. Cruz also serves as director for the work that follows follows two sisters serving time under house arrest in Cuba, and the lieutenant assigned to their case who falls in love with one of them.

Cheyenne Jackson, Ted Sperling, More Sing Adam Guettel’s Myths & Hymns (Episode 3) 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. 

The Wandering an immersive theatrical experience inspired by the music of Franz Schubert, is set to premiere online and in real life on April 15–May 15.

Part visual album, part queer drama, and part communal live experience, The Wandering transports participants into a wonderous environment that unfolds both online and via physical tasks and ephemera shipped directly to audiences.

At its heart, The Wandering uses a queer lens to examine the love and pain that divided Schubert while taking guests on a journey that radically reshapes how classical music can be presented.

The Wandering is created by newcomers Calista Small and Jeremy Weiss in collaboration with filmmaker Lara Panah-Izadi, designer Charlotte McCurdy, animator Zach Bell, theater artist Christine Shaw, graphic and print designer Irina Wang, web designer TanTan Wang, and executive producer Max Sauberman.

Neat: Manhattan Theatre Club presents a virtual performance of Charlayne Woodard’s play that originally premiered in 1997. Neat is an inspiring portrait of a young woman’s coming of age, and her realization that some of life’s most difficult times can also be the most fulfilling.

Fat Ham: world premiere of the digital production of Fat Ham by James Ijames from Philadelphia’s Wilma Theater will now stream April 29-May 23.

The play, a contemporary adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is being filmed on location in Virginia, and shot as a one-take film to retain the real-time storytelling of a play.

It is directed by Morgan Green and stars Brennen S. Malone, Taysha Marie Canales, Kimberly S. Fairbanks, Jennifer Kidwell, Anthony Martinez-Briggs, Brandon J. Pierce, and Lindsay Smiling. 

Shadow/Land Michelle Wilson, Te’Era Coleman, Lizan Mitchell, Lance E. Nichols, Lori Elizabeth Parquet and Sunni Patterson star in the world premiere of Erika Dickerson-Despenza’s audio play. The drama is set amidst the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and is part of the Public Theater’s digital stage.

Reverb Theatre Arts Festival through May 20th. Reverb Theatre Arts Festival presents the voices of artists with disabilities on the virtual stage. Artists from around the country submitted their works of original theatre—monologue, spoken word, dance, or music—based on creative prompts on the theme of Connection. The work is the result of twenty-four collaborations between Participating Artists and Collaborating Artists. 

John Cullum: An Accidental Star Two-time Tony winner stars in a streaming production of his new solo show that features songs and stories from his six-decade career. Extended through May 6th.

The Last Five Years (Encore) The Last 5 Years, with book, music and lyrics by three-time Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown, stars Nasia Thomas (Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the TemptationsBeautiful: The Carole King Musical) and Nicholas Edwards (Frozen, Berkshire Theatre Group’s Godspell), and is directed and musically directed by Tony Award winner Jason Michael Webb (Choir Boy). 

The production, which was rehearsed remotely and filmed in a New York apartment, following all COVID-19 safety protocols from Actors’ Equity Association, the state of New York and federal guidelines, was produced by Out of the Box Theatrics, Holmdel Theatre Company, and Blair Russell (Slave Play). 

An emotionally powerful and intimate musical about two New Yorkers in their twenties who fall in and out of love over the course of five years, The Last 5 Years’ unconventional structure consists of Cathy (Thomas), the woman, telling her story backwards while Jamie (Edwards), the man, tells his story chronologically; the two characters only meet once, at their wedding in the middle of the show.

The Thanksgiving Play Spotlight on Plays returns with Larissa FastHorse’s The Thanksgiving Play, directed by Leigh Silverman. The cast features Tony nominees Heidi Schreck and Bobby Cannavale, along with Keanu Reeves and Alia Shawkat.

Whiterock Cliff Goode Productions presents a streaming production of Ryan McCurdy’s one-man Off-Broadway musical Whiterock Cliff will be performed live at New York’s Funkadelic Studios for a five-week virtual run.

The show features a book by Ryan McCurdy and Ellie Pyle, music and lyrics by McCurdy, and directed by Mary Chieffo.

Whiterock Cliff weaves together memory, music, mental health, the creative process, the stories we tell ourselves, and the ones we tell to each other.

This act is performed live each night with the permission of Actors’ Equity from a Times Square studio with one performer, three cameras, and eight musical instruments.

Wish You Were Here: The world premiere of Sanaz Toossi’s new work releases as part of the partnership between Williamstown Theatre Festival and Audible Theater. Nikki Massoud, Marjan Neshat, Nazanin Nour, Artemis Pebdani, and Roxanna Hope Radja star in the podcast production directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch.

The musical follows two aspiring playwrights, Bud and Doug, as they attempt to secure producers for their new musical about printing press inventor Johann Gutenberg. The pair sing all the songs and play all the parts in the hope of a Broadway contract.

Romeo y Julieta Lupita Nyong’o and Juan Castano star in this free bilingual audioplay of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, presented by the Public Theater and WNYC Studios.

Lights on the Radio Tower Originally developed at the Adirondack Theatre Festival and Bloomington Playwrights Project, this thrilling two-hander rock musical tells the story of Molly and Jesse, a brother and sister who, after eighteen years apart, reunite at their decaying childhood home following the death of their father. The estranged rock duo’s competing recollections of their childhood, their last night together, and their final gig force them to face the painful truth of their past.

La Femme Theatre Productions: The Night of the Iguana The show will feature Golden Globe winner and Emmy nominee Dylan McDermott (Netflix’s “Hollywood”) as Reverend Shannon, Emmy nominee and Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad  (Broadway’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) as Maxine, Roberta Maxwell (Broadway’s Summer and Smoke) as Judith Fellowes, Tony nominee, Obie and Drama Desk Award winner Austin Pendleton (Broadway’s Choir Boy) as Nonno, and Jean Lichty (Off-Broadway’s A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, The Traveling Lady) as Hannah, with Keith Randolph Smith (Broadway’s Jitney, American Psycho) as Jake, Carmen Berkeley (Off-Broadway’s Our Dear Dead Drug Lord) as Charlotte, Eliud Kauffman (Roundabout Theatre’s 72 Miles to Go) as Hank, Julio Macias (Netflix’s “On My Block”) as Pancho, Stephanie Schmiderer (No Exit, The Human Voice) as Frau Fahrenkopf, Bradley James Tejeda (Broadway’s The Inheritance) as Pedro, and John Hans Tester (Amazon’s ”Hunters” ) as Herr Fahrenkopf.

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. 

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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

Cabaret

Cabaret Loses The West Bank Cafe and Laurie Beechman Theatre

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The West Bank Cafe and the Laurie Beechman theatre are closing their doors in August.

The West Bank Cafe opened in 1978. The restaurant’s early clients even included the notorious Irish gang, the Westies. The neighborhood was rough. In 1980, The New York Times awarded West Bank two stars, which increased its visibility and attracted a wider range of diners. 
In this era, West Bank Cafe’s owner, Steve Olsen opened the Laurie Beechman Theatre downstairs from the Cafe, which staged plays and hosted events nightly. A young Lewis Black was named playwright-in-residence; Howard Stern aired his third-annual live birthday broadcast from the theater; and the restaurant’s regulars included Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Bruce Willis, among others.

Soon the redevelopment of 42nd Street spread further west, bringing new businesses and residents to the area. Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, the restaurant was a leader in the growing Theater District and Hell’s Kitchen dining scenes. As new theaters opened in the area, the restaurant’s connection to stage and screen remained strong as well. The Laurie Beechman Theatre continued to regularly stage the work of emerging writers, actors, and singers (many of whom later became stars) as well as established acts: The Who even gave four live performances at the restaurant while their musical Tommy was running on Broadway.

After 45 years, the restaurant’s surrounding neighborhood and America’s culinary tastes have changed dramatically. West Bank Cafe has evolved along with the neighborhood and maintained a commitment to serving high-quality food in a unpretentious setting where both theater-goers and theatre stars feel at home.

In 2020 the West Bank was likely to close imminently as it faced mounting debts and a steep drop-off in customers due to COVID. By Tuesday, though, there was an online fundraiser had raised more than $330,000, shooting past its initial goal of $250,000. Donations came pouring in thanks to Tom D’Angora, a Broadway producer and longtime customer. But things took off on Christmas Day, thanks to a star-studded, nine-hour telethon, featuring speeches and performances by Sean Penn, Nathan Lane, Pete Townshend, Debra Messing, Andre De Shields and dozens more performers who have called themselves West Bank regulars during its 42-year history.

The money raised allowed Olsen to pay off the cafe’s debts and save some cash for the future. Sadly it seems 2024 might be the end.

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Cabaret

Jason Robert Brown To Perform at Carnegie Hall In October

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Now here is a concert I will definitely be attending. Three-time Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown will perform a special concert event at Carnegie Hall on October 25, 2024, at 8:00 PM. He already had a sold-out concert at the London Palladium.

Expect to hear “Still Hurting,” and “Stars and the Moon.” I have included some of my favorite video’s of Mr. Brown’s music sung to perfection.

His repertoire, spans over thirty years of unforgettable and some of the best musical theatre songs ever written.

At the concert some of his closest collaborators and newest friends and some of the most celebrated performers of the stage and the music world – soon to be announced.

The Orchestra of St. Luke’s, New York’s own chamber orchestra, will accompany Jason and his guests with their virtuosic 22-piece ensemble. The evening will be conducted by Jason Robert Brown and Georgia Stitt.

Tickets go on sale to the general public at 11am EST on July 19, 2024, with a general pre-sale on Wednesday, July 17th, and a Live Nation presale, starting Thursday, July 18th. Tickets start at $59.50. For ticketing information and further details, please contact CarnegieCharge at (212) 247-7800, carnegiehall.org, or visit the Box Office on 57th Street and Seventh Avenue.

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My View: Lucie Arnaz…..How Did She Get This Job?

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With apologies to politicians who tout their job creating policies, Lucie Arnaz did not need any assistance to get her current job at 54 Below with a show titled “I Got The Job”.  Lucie got this gig because she is a supremely talented actor/singer/dancer who possesses a distinguished resume and long career of memorable performances on the stages of Broadway, Cabaret, and Concert Halls all over the world… and as I’ve said before about this show….

Lucie Arnaz hit the stage of 54Below with all cylinders on burn and guns ablaze! She performed an evening she calls “I GOT THE JOB” and kept the New York City audience entranced from beginning to end, garnering multiple ovations that seemed as natural as breathing.

For 85 minutes, she owned the stage, dressed to work, in black tights with tuxedo rhinestone striping and a dazzling orange silk blouse with glimmering buttons and cuffs. Basic, simple, perfect. This woman comes with all the equipment to perform, entertain and break your heart. She’s a master storyteller with impeccable timing and the voice shows up for her song after song, from show after show, exhibiting range and colors and nuancing that engage the audience at every turn. The star, of course, is the daughter of showbiz royalty, but she doesn’t rely on that one bit and has her own stories to tell, and they are mesmerizing.

Lucie Arnaz has had an extraordinary life and career and judging by what was on display, last night, I imagine, as Cy Coleman & Carolyn Leigh wrote, “The Best Is Yet To Come.” Lucie wrote and directed herself in this show, which opened the Birdland Theater years ago, but it has been fully fleshed out and brought to vivid life. Sharing the stage with her is what appears to be a musical soulmate in her Musical Director, Arranger and “Acting Partner,” Ron Abel, whose hands gave Ms. Arnaz her orchestra.

During the evening we were treated to a story of her audition (in a theatre) for THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG. During the audition, Neil Simon walked onto the stage and told her she was a breath of fresh air. She later “got the job.” Last night, she also stole our hearts and, now, we’re helpless and LOVE LUCIE.

LUCIE ARNAZ

LUCIE ARNAZ

RON ABEL

54 BELOW

LUCIE ARNAZ

RON ABEL & LUCIE ARNAZ

54 BELOW

MACRON PRICKETT

54 BELOW

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Cabaret Shows To Watch

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At Birdland Jazz Club the return of songwriter Scott Alan on Monday, August 5 at 7:00 PM. Alan will be joined by some of today’s brightest stars singing his compositions, including Audrey Belle Adams, Beatriz Melo, Marylee Fairbanks, LaRaisha DiEvelyn Dionne, Carla Mongado, Ashlyn Combs, Natalie Ortega, Cassidy Ewert, Eli Thomas, T’Arica Crawford, Jenna Miller Ferreira, Julian Carli, and Kendall Paige Parrett. There is a $34-45 music charge. Birdland is located at 315 West 44th Street in New York.

Scott Alan is an internationally acclaimed songwriter who has worked with some of the biggest names in theater, TV, film, and recording. Some of those artists include Grammy Award-winning Pentatonix; Grammy Award-nominated artists Jane Monheit, Marc Broussard, Marc Feehily, and Taylor Dayne; Tony Award-winning artists Sutton Foster, Adriane Lenox, Randy Graff, Frances Ruffle, and Lea Salonga; film and TV stars Tracie Thoms, Patina Miller, Katie Stevens, Danny-Boy Hatchard, Cheyenne Jackson, Megan Hilty, Samantha Barks, and Jeremy Jordan; and reality stars Sam Bailey, Collabro, Diane DeGarmo, Christina Marie, and RJ Helton, among others.

After the 2007 release of his debut album Dreaming Wide Awake, Alan has gone on to release seven follow up albums that include KeysWhat I Wanna Be When I Grow UpLiveAnything Worth Holding on ToCynthia Erivo and Oliver Tompsett sing Scott AlanLifeline, and Nothing More. His compositions have been featured on “American Idol,” “So You Think You Can Dance,” “Entertainment Tonight,” HBO, MTV, and VH1.

Scott Alan on Monday, August 5 at 7:00 PM. There is a $35-45 music charge and a $20 food and beverage minimum. Birdland is located at 315 West 44th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues) in Manhattan. For reservations, please call (212) 581-3080 or visit www.BirdlandJazz.com.

At Birdland Jazz Club Julie Benko returns. The Broadway star of Funny Girl and Harmony – as she marches her band out again on Monday, August 12 at 7:00 PM. Following her recent tour of sold-out shows at San Francisco’s Venetian Room at the Fairmont Hotel, Los Angeles’ Catalina Jazz Club, and New York’s Café Carlyle, and after announcing she was expecting her first baby, Julie introduces a new show that explores the surprises, challenges, and joys of pregnancy. This evening of music will highlight female songwriters (Brandi Carlisle, Laura Nyro), Broadway favorites (selections from Into the Woods, Baby and more), and Disney classics (songs from Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and more). The new arrangements are by her longtime music director and husband (and, of course, the father-to-be!) Jason Yeager. In addition to Yeager on piano, the show features Paul Francis on drums, Michael O’Brien on bass, Justin Poindexter on guitars and mandolin, and Gabe Terraciano on violin. Jeremiah James, Benko’s former Funny Girl co-star, will be featured as guest vocalist. There is a $40 music charge. Birdland is located at 315 West 44th Street in New York.

Jeff Harner

Jeff Harner

PS CLASSICS, the label dedicated to the heritage of Broadway and American Popular Song, has announced that the new album from MAC and Bistro Award-winning concert artist Jeff Harner – Jeff Harnar Sings Sammy Cahn: The Second Time Around – is available for iTunes pre-order starting today, Tuesday, July 16. This pre-order allows for instant download of two tracks, “I’ll Only Miss Him When I Think of Him” and “Come Fly with Me,” which features Grammy Award winner Nicole Zuraitis. The album will be released on CD and digital formats on Friday, July 26. Harnar revisits his 2001 Sammy Cahn recording, long out-of-print: the original album has been remixed, reimagined and expanded upon, reflecting both Harnar’s desire to widen his perspective on the lauded lyricist’s work – new tracks feature guest appearances by Grammy Award nominee Clint Holmes, the acclaimed vocal trio MOIPEI and Nicole Zuraitis – and his own growth as an artist and interpreter. The Second Time Around is also available for pre-order on Amazon.com. A special video trailer for the album, featuring exclusive studio footage, can now be viewed on YouTube HERE.

Harnar will celebrate the album with concerts at New York’s 54 Below on Friday, July 26 and Saturday, July 27. The album’s guest vocalists – Clint Holmes, MOIPEI, and Nicole Zuraitis – will appear on Saturday, July 27, while MOIPEI, Sally Mayes, and Eric Comstock will appear Friday, July 26. Harnar will also feature the Cahn program in London, England at The Pheasantry (9/13-14, 2024) and Boca Raton, FL, at the Adolph & Rose Levis JCC (1/22-23, 2025), with other tour dates to be announced.

July 22 (Monday) 7:00 PM – Birdland Jazz Club Telly Leung – “Back to Birdland”. Telly Leung is the  Broadway star of the musicals Aladdin, Allegiance, Godspell, Rent, and more – returns in the new show “Back to Birdland.” Leung’s six-year hiatus has taken him all over the world as a performer and director. Expect to hear Broadway classics, as well as songs from his solo recordings, featuring a trio of New York’s finest musicians with Gary Adler on piano, Mary Ann McSweeney on bass, and Joe Choroszewski on drums. Leung is a Chinese-American, New York City native, Broadway and television performer, recording artist, producer, director, theater arts teacher, and coach. His Broadway and national touring performing credits include Aladdin in Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway, In Transit, Allegiance (with George Takei and Lea Salonga), Godspell, Rent (final Broadway company), Wicked (Boq, original Chicago company), Pacific Overtures, and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song. In 2010, he starred as Angel in Rent at the Hollywood Bowl opposite Wayne Brady, directed by Neil Patrick Harris. Television audiences will remember him as Marcel in Season three of “Warrior” (HBO Max), Wes the Warbler on “Glee,” as well as his guest star appearances on “Instinct,” “Odd Mom Out,” “Deadbeat,” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” Telly is featured as a performance coach for the Jimmy Awards in the PBS documentary, Broadway or Bust.

July 29 (Monday) 7:00 PM – Birdland Jazz Club. A Celebration of Maurice Hines – Tappin’ Thru Life”. This concert will honor the life and legacy of show business icon Maurice Hines through his award-winning, autobiographical show “Tappin’ Thru Life.” The original cast, including John Manzari (vocals/tap), Leo Manzari (vocals/tap) and The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, will reunite to celebrate Maurice’s remarkable career. Special guests will include Clint Holmes and Ann Hampton Callaway on vocals.

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My View: An Evening With Rex Reed, Will Friedwald, & POLLY BERGEN

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Will Friedwald’s Clip Joint presented the legendary film critic and personality “Rex Reed Remembers Polly Bergen” last night at the TRIAD Theater.  It was a fascinating evening as Rex, who was one of Polly Bergen’s closest friends told fly on the wall show biz stories and personal anecdotes about her remarkable life.  An especially hilarious one occurred at the annual OSCAR NIGHT party that Polly had every year in her New York apartment.  There was Rex, watching the Oscars on a TV in Polly’s bedroom, Lucille Ball on one side of him and Paul Newman on the other .  Milton Berle who had been in another room parades past them wearing one of Polly’s gowns that he snatched from her closet!

Will and Rex reminisced about her amazing career in the movies ( including three classic comedies with Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis) but even more so on television.  In fact, her career spans the very history of the small screen medium, starting with appearances on pioneering broadcasts of the late 1940’s right up to a memorable regular role in the hit series DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES-although she was probably best known for starring in the legendary 1957 PLAYHOUSE 90 live television biography of HELEN MORGAN.  In other guises, she was an entrepreneur and political activist. 

Will Friedwald brought along his extensive library of film clips of her appearances on The Hollywood Palace, The Andy Williams Show, The Dean Martin Show, The Perry Como Kraft Music Hall, The Dinah Shore Chevy Show and appearances with Phil Silvers, George Burns, Red Skelton, Andy Williams and many more. Polly Bergen (1930-2014) had three husbands, and unfortunately became a Doris Day type financial victim because of her last one. And now “here’s the rest of my personal Polly Bergen story”.

Many years ago a firm placed a large order with my factory.  When I checked with our credit insuring agency they advised me that the company did not have enough finances to purchase that amount of goods and consequently the agency would only insure half the order.  Not wanting to reject a sizable order I made an appointment to meet the owner in his garment center office and check out his business for myself.  During the course of the conversation somehow the entertainment business came up (of course it did) and he mentioned that he was married to Polly Bergen.  Being a fan and and having reverence for the famous and talented artists in this world I dropped my usual due diligence guard and the hour was spent talking about show business, I loved it, especially when he invited me over to their apartment to watch the Super Bowl.   Well, I shipped all the merchandise…and you can guess what happened….Years later I met Polly Bergen at one of Rex Reed’s evenings and introduced myself with the opening line “ you cost me a lot of money” and then related the story of how her husband never paid.   Polly put her arm around me and said in her bawdy way, “ honey, you’re lucky it was only that much, he bankrupted me”.

WILL FRIEDWALD

REX REED & WILL FRIEDWALD

POLLY BERGEN

REX REED

POLLY BERGEN & DEAN MARTIN

PERRY COMO & POLLY BERGEN

REX REED & WILL FRIEDWALD

ANDY WILLIAMS & POLLY BERGEN

POLLY BERGEN & SANDLER & YOUNG

REX REED & POLLY BERGEN

REX REED & EDA SOROKOFF

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