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What to Watch: May 31

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2pm: Tune in worldwide on American Forces Network to watch the parade on Memorial Day on CBS and ABC

7:30pm: Puccini’s Turandot  An ancient Chinese princess presents each new suitor with a series of riddles; success will win her hand, but failure costs his head. One brave warrior prince rises to the challenge, determined to thaw Turandot’s frozen heart. Puccini raises the temperature to boiling by lavishing the legendary tale with some of his finest and most spectacular music—not to mention “Nessun dorma,” one of the catalog’s most beloved arias. Combined with Zeffirelli’s breathtakingly opulent production, it makes for one of opera’s grandest experiences.

8pm: Songs From Tony Award Winning Musicals: Part Three airing every other Monday. Jamie deRoy & friends now airs on Spectrum HD Channel 1993 and Verizon FIOS Channel 37. Featuring Doreen Montalvo, Stephanie J. Block, Paulo Szot and more.

Bandstand By Broadway on Demand The rebroadcast includes a 30-minute preshow hosted by Corey Cott. The stream is available on demand through May 31.

The 2017 Broadway musical Bandstand, winner of the Best Choreography Tony Award for director-choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, will stream on Broadway on Demand.

The musical by Richard Oberacker and Robert Taylor starred Laura Osnes, Corey Cott, and Beth Leavel.

Bandstand follows World War II vet and musical prodigy Donny Novitski, who is trying to return to life after losing his best friend in combat. When he hears of a radio contest to support the troops and meets a star vocalist in his friend’s widow Julia, played by Osnes, he puts together the Donny Nova Band to go all the way to the top.

The 1945-set musical also starred Joey Pero, Joe Carroll, Brandon J. Ellis, James Nathan Hopkins, and Geoff Packard as the remaining musicians in the Donny Nova Band. Tony winner Leavel played Julia’s mother June.

The original company also featured Mary Callanan, Max Clayton, Andrea Dotto, Ryan Kasprzak, Erica Mansfield, Morgan Marcell, Drew McVety, Kevyn Morros, Jessica Lea Patty, Keven Quillon, Jonathan Shew, Ryan VanDenBoom, and Jaime Verazin as well as swings Patrick Connaghan, Matt Cusack, Marc A. Heitzman, Andrew Leggieri, Becca Petersen, Mindy Wallace, and Kevin Worley.

Bandstand featured scenic design by Tony nominee David Korins, costume design by Tony winner Paloma Young, lighting design by Tony winner Jeff Croiter, sound design by Tony nominee Nevin Steinberg, hair, wig, and makeup design by J. Jaren Janas and Dave Bova, and musical supervision by Greg Anthony Rassen.

Myths and Hymns: Faith Jennifer Holliday, Mykal Kilgore and Anthony Roth Costanzo star in the final installment of Adam Guettel’s song cycle.

Empress Mei Li Lotus Blossom Abingdon Theatre Company presents this short film written and directed by Christine Toy Johnson that tells the story of a Teaneck-born Asian American actress who poses as an exotic Hong Kong movie star so she can get her shot at Broadway. Reggie Lee moderates a talkback with the cast and creative team after the viewing that celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Brutal Imagination: Vineyard Theatre Artistic Directors Douglas Aibel and Sarah Stern announce the company’s second original cast benefit reading, reuniting renowned actors Joe Morton (“Scandal”) and Sally Murphy (August: Osage County) for Oppenheimer Award-winning playwright and poet Cornelius Eady’s (Vineyard’s You Don’t Miss The Water) play, Brutal Imagination. Directed by Joe Morton, this digitally-staged reading includes video design by Jared Mezzocchi and is available for on demand streaming through June 3.

The Zip Code Plays: Los Angeles Antaeus Theatre Company highlights the culture and history of six additional Los Angeles neighborhoods with Season 2 of its popular The Zip Code Plays: Los Angeles podcast series.

The latest installments will introduce audiences to the geographically, historically and culturally diverse locales of Echo Park (90026), West Hollywood (90069), Inglewood (90303), Pacoima (91331), North Hollywood (91601) and Monterey Park (91754). 

Herding Cats Starring Jassa Ahluwalia, Greg Germann, and Drama Desk nominee Sophie Melville, Herding Cats by Lucinda Coxon is a chillingly funny play about a generation negotiating intimacy and independence in the 21st century.

Meeting the demands of modern life is as impossible as herding cats for Justine, Michael and Saddo. To deal with work, Justine talks—a little too much—to her roommate Michael who earns a living by chatting with strangers like Saddo. But all three will soon find that in a cold, disconnected world, words may not be enough.

Directed by Anthony Banks, this revival of Coxon’s play uses the technical feats that adventurous theatre artists have discovered during the pandemic and combines them with the raw intimacy of in-person performance. This first-of-its-kind, transcontinental event features Ahluwalia and Melville performing for an in-person audience on Soho Theatre’s London stage with Germann performing live via video from the United States.

This production contains distressing themes of sexual abuse. If needed, you may seek help from the RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline. (Click here to access their website.)

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.

Animal Wisdom Heather Christian’s Animal Wisdom will unfold on screen rather than on stage. The writer-performer’s show originally debuted at The Bushwick Starr in 2017 but now gets a film adaptation. 

In Animal Wisdom, singer-songwriter-soothsayer Christian lays to rest the souls that haunt her, shape-shifting between rock star, folklorist, and high priestess, as she conjures a constellation of souls in an effort to confront her family’s mythologies.

Amber McGinnis directs the film, with stage direction by Emilyn Kowaleski. The cast also includes Sasha Brown, Eric Farber, B.E. Farrow, and Maya Sharpe.

The film is presented by Woolly Mammoth Theater Company and American Conservatory Theater. 

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Columns

My View: Opening Night ….BOEING BOEING at Barrington Stage Company

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We were up at Barrington Stage Company last night for the opening night of BOEING BOEING and as Julianne Boyd BSC’s founder and recently retired artistic director had previously stated, “We need so much to laugh together. Each week, laughter becomes more important”. (Julianne Boyd directed the production.)

Well, the laughter from the audience at BSC’s Boyd/Quinson MainStage must have been heard all over Pittsfield MA. as they watched the classic comedy farce by French playwright Marc Camoletti unfold. 

The play came to Broadway in 1965 and was revived in London in 2007 and again on Broadway in 2008.

The cast featured Barrington Stage Company Associate Artists Mark H. Dold, Christopher Ingvar and Debra Jo Rupp, along with Gissela Chips, Stephanie Jean Lane, and Kate Maccluggage.

BOEING BOEING is deservingly getting rave reviews from all the Berkshire critics. It runs through August 3.

Here are some cell phone photos from the opening night festivities.

And…..stay tuned NYC for info on Barrington’s New York City Benefit this fall.

BOYD/QUINSON MAINSTAGE BARRINGTON STAGE CO

ALAN PAUL, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

DEBRA JO RUPP, MARK H. DOLD, CHRISTOPHER INNVAR…….JULIANNE BOYD, director

DEBRA JO RUPP, JULIANNE BOYD, EDA SOROKOFF

JULIANNE BOYD & EDA SOROKOFF

GISELA CHIPE

MARK H. DOLD

CHRISTOPHER INNVAR

STEPHEN SOROKOFF & ALAN PAUL

EDA SOROKOFF & RICHARD SLUTZKY BSC Board President

ALAN PAUL

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Broadway

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents John Patrick Shanley

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We are so pleased to announce our guest this week John Patrick Shanley is an American playwright, screenwriter, and director. He won the 1988 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the film Moonstruck. His play, Doubt: A Parable, won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama Drama Desk Award and the 2005 Tony Award for Best Play; he wrote and directed the film adaptation and earned a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Shanley is the author of more than 23 plays, which have been translated and performed around the world, including 80 productions a year in North America. He has often directed his own productions. In 1990, Shanley directed his script of Joe Versus the Volcano. Shanley also wrote two songs for the movie: Marooned Without You and The Cowboy Song. He wrote the screenplay for the film Congo (1995), which was based on the Michael Crichton book.

Shanley’s journey in playwriting began in the early 1980s, with his first play, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, which premiered in 1984. This powerful drama showcased Shanley’s talent for creating deeply flawed, yet sympathetic characters.

In 2012, Shanley wrote the libretto for an opera version of Doubt: A Parable, which premiered at the Minnesota Opera in January 2013, with music by Douglas J. Cuomo. In 2012, his play Storefront Church ran Off-Broadway in a production by the Atlantic Theater Company. His play, Outside Mullingar, opened on Broadway at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, produced by the Manhattan starring Debra Messing and Brían F. O’Byrne.

Prodigal Son, which he directed, was produced Off-Broadway by the Manhattan Theatre Club. It starred Timothée Chalamet and Robert Sean Leonard. His play The Portuguese Kid opened on October 24, 2017, at the New York City Center Stage I. Directed by Shanley, the cast featured Jason Alexander, Sherie Rene Scott and Mary Testa. His new play Brooklyn Laundry opened on February 6, 2024, at the Manhattan Theatre Club. Shanley directed, with a cast featuring Cecily Strong and David Zayas.

The New York premiere of his new mystical comedy Banshee, starring Elizabeth Bays (Simpatico) and Erick Betancourt (Cost of Living), with David Zayas Jr. (Simpatico) directing for the Chain Theatre’s 2024 Summer One-Act Festival August 8 – September 1.

We are so proud and thrilled that Variety Entertainment News named us one of Summer’s Best Picks in the category of Best Television, Radio, Podcasts.

Host Suzanna Bowling was also just named Most Engaging Hosts on TV, Radio and Podcasts on “The Daily Geek Report.” We are so grateful.

“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents ”, is a show filmed at the iconic Hotel Edison, before a live audience. To see our past episodes; First episode click here second episode click here,  third episode click here, fourth episode click here, fifth episode click here, sixth episode here, seventh episode here, eighth episode here, ninth episode here, tenth episode here, eleventh episode here, our twelfth episode here, thirteenth episode here, fourteenth here, fifteenth here , 16th here, 17th here, 18th here, 19th here, 20th here, 21st here and 22nd here.

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Celebrity

The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

Madonna; Jellybean and David Salidor

MADONNA’S BACK — (via Deadline) Madonna is teasing she is back working on her biopic and is titling it Who’s That Girl.

The singer shared a social media post where she is seen with a typewriter and making edits to a movie script.

“I Need A-lot of Bandz to make this………..OKAY. (Story of my life),” she captioned the post on Instagram.

In one of the pictures from the slideshow Madonna teased, you see a line drawn across the title M Untitled. The new title of the biopic is Who’s That Girl, a nod to Madonna’s 1987 film and song of the same name.

The script is noted as being “Rewritten by Madonna and ECW.”

News of Madonna working on her biopic comes almost a year and a half after the project was paused indefinitely. In January 2023, it was reported that the film at Universal Pictures had been scrapped.

Madonna was set to direct the film about her life and career, penning the script with Diablo Cody and Erin Cressida Wilson. Julia Garner had been chosen by the Queen of Pop herself to star in the film after proving to be a standout in a singing and dancing boot camp.

Entertainment Weekly reports that Garner is still attached to star in the film now called Who’s That Girl.

Following the biopic getting put on pause, Madonna suffered a “serious bacterial infection: in June 2023, which made her postpone her Celebration Tour. After recovering from health complications, Madonna embarked on her tour in October 2023 with stops in cities like London, Paris, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Houston, San Francisco, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, and many more.

Having lived through Madonna’s hey-day (and survived) I will admit it’s quite the story: From Patrick Hernandez to 610 Broome Street, Jellybean, Shep, PR-man David Salidor, MTV, Mark Kamins, Preston Powell and Seymour Stein and Warren Beatty too, I wonder just how forthcoming she’ll be. To me, the truth is, those early days were simply astounding and do make a terrific story, but that said, they’ve have to be told honestly and a accurately.

Julia Garner would be great, though I wonder again, what exactly was involved in Madonna’s so-called boot camp? Madonna can be, somewhat demanding!

BIDEN OUT — I knew it was a forgone conclusion after that first (and last debate with Trump) but Biden is officially out; with Kamala Harris eyed as the new choice. Biden did, btw, endorse her, though as of this writing she has not been formally nominated.

Topsy-turvy? Yes. More to come? I’m sure. Stay tuned.

Amos Lee

SHORT TAKES — Amos Lee was terrifically impressive on CBS’ Saturday Sessions this weekend. Stellar in fact.

Adrian Niles

Reminded us of Adrian Niles from years ago … After a seemingly endless heat wave in NYC, I heard one of the weather-heads describe the break in the heat as borderline comfortableGuess Who Don’t Sue: What enterprising director had a red-hot doc ready to go on a iconic superstar, but he let his reps go fingering he could do it with his own mojo? He couldn’t and the deal fell through …

Steven J. Immerman

Brad Balfour interviewed Steven J. Immerman on his In Search Of Pleasure Island tome for the Irish Examiner. Check it out here: https://irishexaminerusa.com/wp/?p=29625

We watched Sofia Coppola’s On The Rocks with Bill Murray and Rashida Jones. Coppola’s Lost In Translation (2003) is perhaps my all-time favorite film. This was a different, lighter path, but we definitely give it a thumbs up. Murray, as usual, was terrific …

Katy Perry

I’m a bit bothered by all this media-backlash about Katy Perry and her comeback single “Women’s World.” There were disturbing items about it in both SHOWBIZ 411 (https://www.showbiz411.com/2024/07/19/katy-perrys-new-single-womans-world-fails-to-launch-with-just-3k-sold) and the Daily Mail (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-13635579/Katy-Perry-comeback-music.html); citing everything from Dr. Luke’s involvement to a hideous video for the song. It all seems a bit unwarranted. It may not be “Firework,”  but not totally a disaster. Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVIJUH29pjU … And, great quote from Peter Frampton on the passing of Bob Newhart: We were friends and when I took him to lunch, it was the Four Seasons. when he took me to lunch, it was some place else. It was the accountant in him.” Much-missed and thank you Bob! for all the laughs.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Andrew Sandoval; Bob Merlis; Roy Trakin; Roger Grimsby; Bill Beutel; Spike Jonze; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Kent & Laura Denmark; Susan Storm; Geraldo Rivera; Rosanna Scotto; Paul Mescal; Paul Undersinger; Harrison Jordon; Jordon Gray; Lori Immerman; Vinny Rich; Scott Stark; Don Wardell; Marsha Stern; Billy Smith; Robert Funaro; and CHIP!

Images on this page have been licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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Out of Town

Stratford Festival’s Two Musicals: Something Rotten! & La Cage aux Folles Extended

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July 18, 2024…There was some great news coming from the Stratford Festival! Both of their acclaimed musicals – Something Rotten! and La Cage aux Folles – are being extended to mid-November.

Mark Uhre as Nick Bottom (centre-left) and Dan Chameroy as Nostradamus with members of the company of Something Rotten!. Stratford Festival 2024. Photo: Ann Baggley.

Mark Uhre as Nick Bottom with members of the company in Something Rotten!. Stratford Festival 2024. Photo: Ann Baggley.

Something Rotten!, the show that launched the Festival’s 2024 season in April, is being hailed by critics (including myself: read my review here) and audiences as one of the best musicals ever.

Helmed by director-choreographer Donna Feore (Stratford’s ChicagoBilly Elliot the Musical) with music director Laura Burton (Stratford’s You Can’t Stop the Beat), Something Rotten! is a hilarious, laugh-a-minute musical, filled with dazzling dance numbers and unforgettable songs, including “God, I Hate Shakespeare,” “Hard to Be the Bard” and “Welcome to the Renaissance.”

It follows a pair of discouraged playwrights, Nick and Nigel Bottom – played superbly by Mark Uhre (Broadway’s Les Misérables; Grand’s Seeds of Self) and Henry Firmston (Stratford’s Spamalot) – as they try to find a way to succeed in the theatre when their main competitor is the rock star William Shakespeare, played wonderfully by Jeff Lillico (Soulpepper/SignatureNYC’s Of Human Bondage). When Nick consults the soothsayer, Thomas Nostradamus, played deviously well by Dan Chameroy (Stratford’s Chicago), he sets out on a path to develop the world’s first musical, and true musical hilarity ensues.

The production also features Starr Domingue (Stratford’s Little Shop of Horrors) as Bea, Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah (Stratford’s A Wrinkle in Time) as Lady Clapham, Steve Ross (Stratford’s Love’s Labour’s Lost) as Shylock and Olivia Sinclair-Brisbane(Stratford’s Rent) as Portia.

Each and every performance is producing super-fans, who are returning time and again, asserting that Something Rotten! is really something fantastic. Less than halfway into the run, more than 4,000 people have returned to see the show for a second time – some more than twice!

“It’s pure unadulterated joy watching this production deliver world-class entertainment with an endless supply of laughs and spectacular song-and-dance numbers, one that I would happily return to again and again. Here’s to hoping this production finds a life beyond the Stratford Festival. Because these Bottom brothers have certainly found their way to be on top of that silly scene-stealin’ Shakespeare. Rightfully so.” – Frontmezzjunkies

Steve Ross as Albin playing Zaza (centre) with from left: Jordan Goodridge as Mercedes, Josh Doig as Chantal, David Andrew Reid as Bitelle, Eric Abel as Hanna, David Ball as Phaedra, and George Absi as Angelique in La Cage aux Folles. Stratford Festival 2024. Photo: David Hou.

Over at the Avon Theatre, the musical La Cage aux Folles has earned its extension, as it packs houses and makes headlines with a dazzling production, which at its heart is a touching family story about acceptance in a politically divided world.

It features the wonderful Sean Arbuckle (Stratford’s Casey and Diana), as Georges, the manager of a drag club in St. Tropez, and the incredible Steve Ross(Stratford’s Something Rotten!) as Albin, his life partner and the club’s star performer. Georges agrees to “play it straight” to meet the ultra-conservative parents of their son’s new fiancé, while Albin is shocked to discover that he is being sidelined. The ensuing clash unravels truth and consequences with heartwarming grace – and fabulous drag performances!

The production is directed by Thom Allison (Stratford’s Rent) and choreographed by Cameron Carver (Stratford’s Richard II) with music director Franklin Brasz (Stratford’s Chicago. It features Juan Chioran (Stratford’s Something Rotten!) as Edouard Dindon, James Daly (Off-Broadway’s Dracula – A Comedy of Terrors) as Jean-Michel, Sara Jeanne Hosie (Musical Stage’s The Wild Party) as Dindon’s wife, Marie, Starr Domingue (Stratford’s Something Rotten!) as Jacqueline, and Heather Kosik(Toronto’s Chris, Mrs) as Anne.

From left: Chris Vergara as Jacob, Sara-Jeanne Hosie as Mme. Dindon, Sean Arbuckle as Georges, James Daly as Jean-Michel, Heather Kosik as Anne and Juan Chioran as Edouard Dindon in La Cage aux Folles. Stratford Festival 2024. Photo: David Hou

The production features the unforgettable anthem “I Am What I Am,” sung by Steve Ross in what many are calling the performance of a lifetime, as he brings the character of Albin to vivid life: by day, a caring, if dramatic, spouse and parent, by night a star performer, the headliner of La Cage aux Folles, home of Les Cagelles, played electrically by Eric Abel (Stratford’s Frankenstein Revived), George Absi (Toronto’s Chris, Mrs), David Ball (Shaw’s Sweeney Todd), Josh Doig (Stratford’s Spamalot), Jordan Goodridge (Drayton’s The Music Man), and David Andrew Reid (Shaw’s Brigadoon). These drag performers entertain in supreme style, with opulent costumes and sensational hair and makeup. Their cabaret-style performances range from sexy and sultry to zany and outrageous. The show is a perfect combination of guts and glitter – with a whole lot of love thrown in.

“With all that glamorous glitter and high kicks by men in heels, those fiendishly fun flashy numbers, and all those wild laughs delivered by a pained pseudo-mom (and ourselves), La Cage Aux Folles still rings engagingly honest, touchingly endearing, and endlessly entertaining as it plays itself out, beautifully and hilariously, on the Stratford Festival stage. I’m not sure what the old-time festival audiences will think of it all, but, as directed by Thom Allison with care and a grand eye for fun and all those complex feelings, it would take one cold dark heart to not walk out of Stratford’s Avon Theatre singing those songs and feeling completely invigorated by their visit to La Cage Aux Folles. The cabaret might be the pride of Saint Tropez, but this revival has to now be one of the joys of Stratford. It truly is the best of times in this small Ontario town, with this show and that other hilariously well-done musical, Something Rotten!, together, walking down Ontario Street arm in arm, feeling as handsome and tall as a Festival could.”

Tickets for the additional performances listed below go on sale Friday, July 19, and are available at www.stratfordfestival.ca or by calling the box office at 1.800.567.1600. Tickets are still available for current performances.

Henry Firmston as Nigel Bottom and Olivia Sinclair-Brisbane as Portia with members of the company of Something Rotten!. Stratford Festival 2024. Photo: David Hou.

Something Rotten! Extension Dates:

Wednesday, October 30 at 2 p.m.

Thursday, October 31 at 2 p.m.

Saturday, November 2 at 8 p.m.

Sunday, November 3 at 2 p.m.

Tuesday, November 5 at 2 p.m.

Wednesday, November 6 at 2 p.m.

Saturday, November 9 at 2 p.m.

Sunday, November 10 at 2 p.m.

Wednesday, November 13 at 2 p.m.

Thursday, November 14 at 2 p.m.

Saturday, November 16 at 8 p.m.

Sunday, November 18 at 2 p.m.

Steve Ross as Albin playing Zaza (left) and Starr Domingue as Jacqueline in La Cage aux Folles. Stratford Festival 2024. Photo: David Hou.

La Cage aux Folles Extension Dates:

Tuesday, October 29 at 2 p.m.

Friday, November 1 at 2 p.m.

Saturday, November 2 at 2 p.m.

Thursday, November 7 at 2 p.m.

Friday, November 8 at 8 p.m.

Saturday, November 9 at 8 p.m.

Tuesday, November 12 at 2 p.m.

Friday, November 15 at 2 p.m.

Saturday, November 16 at 2 p.m.

Festival Theatre, 2003. Stratford Festival. Photo by Richard Bain.

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Broadway

Theatre News: Cast Albums, Queen of the Mist, Kimberly Akimbo and The Oyster Radio Hour

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The new Broadway cast recordings for The Great Gatsby, The Outsiders and Suffs are out. However Here We Are, the final Original Cast Recording from legendary composer Stephen Sondheim and Jason Robert Brown’s The Connector are out on YouTube and these are the best scores of the year.

Another CD out is My Favorite Things: The Rodgers & Hammerstein 80th Anniversary Concert: featuring a 40-piece orchestra and stars, including Michael Ball, Maria Friedman, Daniel Dae Kim, Audra McDonald, Aaron Tveit, and Patrick Wilson, the Concert was recorded live at London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane. The celebration showcases original arrangements of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s iconic songs from Oklahoma!, South Pacific, Cinderella, The Sound of Music and more.

Mary Testa return to Queen of the Mist in New Jersey Concert Performances at New Jersey’s Montclair State University. The concert performances of Michael John LaChiusa’s Queen of the Mist featuring the work’s original star, Broadway favorite Mary Testa.

Adam Gwon and Sarah Hammond’s Richard Rodgers Award-winning musical String has joined BroadwayLicensing Global’s catalogue and is now available for professional and non-professional productions. The company also dropped a studio cast recording of the show July 16, which is now available on Spotify, Apple Music, and all digital platforms.

Carolee Carmello

Carolee Carmello

Three-Time Tony Nominee Carolee Carmello to Star in Kimberly Akimbo National Tour” by Broadway.com’s Darryn King – “Three-time Tony nominee Carolee Carmello will play Kimberly in the national tour of Kimberly Akimbo.

Little Island is bringing Tony Award® nominees Amber Gray (Hadestown) and Amber Iman (Lempicka) to perform in The Oyster Radio Hour, which begins performances on Wednesday, July 31 and will run through Sunday, August 4 as part of Little Island’s blockbuster summer season.

The Oyster Radio Hour is a live, three-act family-friendly radio show combining science, story and song that celebrates the resilience of oysters and their crucial ecological roles. Beginning at 8PM each evening, the show blends hope and interconnectedness, spotlighting the humble oyster’s journey of revival, including special Broadway guests Amber Gray and Amber Iman.

During The Oyster Radio Hour’s run in the Amph through August 4, the Island’s central plaza, known as the Play Ground, will transform from 6:30-10PM daily into a one-of-a-kind Oyster Market, with food and beverages curated and overseen by New Amsterdam Market founder and world-famous market designer Robert LaValva.

Alongside live oyster shucking, the market will feature 10 local vendors selling their unique culinary creations, which pair perfectly with the live performance. The local vendors include Real Mothershuckers, Oyster Party, Lobster Place, Houseman, Dayboat Blue, Cervo’s, Té Company, La Newyorkina, Chomps Elysées, and Pamina Dolce Gelato. Danny Childs, author of Slow Drinks, will make summer bespoke cocktails during a bar takeover on Friday, August 3.  

The Oyster Radio Hour is a collaboration between RR Sigel, who was the Associate Artistic Director of NY PopsUp in 2021; WNYC podcast producer Ana González, previously of Radiolab: For Kids; composer Angélica Negrón who has performed at Opera Philadelphia, the LA Philharmonic, NY Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and more; and Emmy® and Drama Desk Award®-nominated songwriter Mark Sonnenblick.

Keenan Tyler Oliphant (Hadestown) serves as director with Miller & Harlow as writers; Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew (Kimberly Akimbo) as lighting/video designer; Beth Lake(Camelot) as sound designer; Dr. Matthew Hare, Elliott Ma, Ayasha Guerin, Moody Harney, and Alan Michelson as audio interviewees; and Beatrice Perez-Arche as stage manager.

Little Island’s first annual, four-month-long summer season of world premieres, which kicked off on June 1, features a total of nine newly commissioned pieces. Little Island’s new arts program moves towards the future with a commitment to a multi-year roster of original work, all commissioned by and developed at Little Island. Bookended by the premiere of choreographer Twyla Tharp’s newest work How Long Blues and a 90-minute remix of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in which outré opera diva Anthony Roth Costanzo sings every leading role, the season offers premieres of varying scales across all areas of performance – including music, dance, theater, opera, comedy, jazz, pop, and funk, all outdoors and directly sited on the Hudson River at 14th Street in New York City. The Amph, the park’s 700-seat amphitheater, will house larger scale performances at a $25 ticket price, while The Glade, the park’s

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