Posted in Daily Prompt, Hair the musical, Hamilton, Joe Papp, John Leguizamo, landmark, Lin-Manuel Miranda, New York City, real estate, The Public Theater, theater space

A theatrical intersection

via Daily Prompt: One-Way

There is a short street in the East Village which goes two-ways but is at its heart a one-way street. 425 Lafayette Street, formerly the Astor Library, was saved from demolition, and gained landmark status, when Joseph Papp turned it into The Public Theater.

A part of the theater’s mission statement says “THE PUBLIC is theater of, by, and for the people. Artist-driven, radically inclusive, and fundamentally democratic, The Public continues the work of its visionary founder Joe Papp as a civic institution engaging, both on-stage and off, with some of the most important ideas and social issues of today.” The Public began life in 1954 as the New York Shakespeare Festival, but moved into 425 Lafayette in 1967. Fittingly, the opening production was the innovative and “radically inclusive”  Hair, a musical that has had many revivals over time, including the one in 2011 at the St James Theatre in Times Square.

In honor of the 50 year anniversary of the Public, Lafayette at Astor Place will be co-named Joseph Papp Way on December 1 at 8:30a.m. The Public’s Artistic Director, Oskar Eustis will be at the ceremony along with Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs,  Rosie Mendez,  District 2 City Councilwoman, and Gail Papp, Public Theater Board Member. Gail Papp will unveil the commemorative sign, while Eustis will make a few remarks on the occasion.

The recent history of The Public has given us the 11 Tony winning Hamilton, which transferred to the Richard Rodgers Theatre in 2015. This year, John Leguizamo brought his downtown show, Latin History for Morons,  to Broadway’s Studio 54. In addition to its free Shakespeare in the Park programs, The Public is also a recipient of countless awards and honors for its productions, which are represented not only on Broadway but on stages across the country and worldwide.

“Joe Papp changed the life of New Yorkers forever, creating a beloved institution devoted to making the life of our culture inclusive,” said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. “It is thrilling that the city of New York will recognize him forever by co-naming this street for him.”

Posted in 2014-15 Public Theatre Season, dance, Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, New York Neo-Futurists, performance piece, Sartre's No Exit, Spring 2014

Coming soon to a theater near….

Not so soon, in fact 2014-15 season at the Public:

“Hamilton,” written by the Tony and Grammy Award-winning composer and lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda, will have its world premiere next January as part of The Public’s 2014-15 season at Astor Place. Directed by his In The Heights collaborator Thomas Kail, this new musical features Miranda playing Alexander Hamilton, one of our country’s Founding Fathers and the first Secretary of the Treasury.

The brilliant musical “previewed” at an American Songbooks presentation in 2012. Performances begin at the Public on January 20, 2015.

“Lin-Manuel Miranda is a marvel, but nothing could have prepared us for the astonishing achievement of Hamilton,” said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. “Alexander Hamilton was born in the West Indies, the only Founding Father who was an immigrant, and Lin’s genius is to tell the story of the birth of the United States as an immigrant’s story. The energy, the passion, joy, tragedy, and raw intelligence of this show are stunning.”

More information at http://www.publictheater.org/

February 25-March 30

Do we exist only as constructs in each other’s minds? Explore this concept and Sartre’s famous bon mots, “Hell is other people,” at the Pearl Theatre’s production of “No Exit.” For tickets and informaiton, please go to http://www.pearltheatre.org/1314/noexit/
Jolly Abraham as Inez and Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris as Estelle in a scene from “No Exit.”
Photo by Al Foote III

March 11-April 12

Paula Vogel’s “And Baby Makes Seven” is an uproarious and timely comedy that has not been seen professionally in New York in 20 years. Marc Stuart Weitz directs an ensemble including Ken Barnett,  Susan Bott and Constance Zaytoun. Vogel’s “And Baby Makes Seven” tells the story of Anna and Ruth, a lesbian couple, who enlist their gay friend Peter to help them create a family. But are any of them ready for parenthood?
For tickets and to find out more, visit newohiotheatre.org

March 14-April 5

The Chocolate Factory Theater is presenting the world premiere Target Margin Theater’s “Uriel Acosta: I Want That Man!” from March 14-April 5. This new adaptation of one of the central plays of Yiddish history is taken from a variety of literary and historical sources and created and directed by TMT’s Artistic Director, David Herskovits. Original songs are by Rebecca Hart, with toy theater created by Kathleen Kennedy Tobin for this production.
Tickets and information are available at chocolatefactorytheater.org

April 1-12

Singer-songwriter Alexa Ray Joel, Christine Brinkley’s and Billy Joel’s talented daughter, makes her premiere at Cafe Carlyle.
Visit www.thecarlyle.com to find out more.

April 5

Patricia Kenny Dance Collection presents “Spring Collection” which includes their world premiere of “Unrest” choreographed by Patricia Kenny Reilly. Excerpts of “Unrest” were released on film in an open rehearsal series web forum, and this evening PKDC will share the culmination of the work-in-progress. The evening of dance is at the Queens Theatre for one night only.
For tickets, visit https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe.c/9883433. To learn more about PKDC, go to www.patriciakennydancecollection.com.

April 17-30

Ripe Time, the Brooklyn-based company led by Rachel Dickstein, will premiere “The World is Round,”
which adapts the Gertrude Stein book, at BAM Fisher. Conceived, written and directed by Dickstein, the work is a fable (for grownups and mature children) full of original live music by Heather Christian and aerial movement choreographed by Nicki Miller. “The World is Round” is Ripe Time’s first new show since 2011 when it launched its celebrated Mrs. Dalloway adaptation Septimus and Clarissa.
Go to www.bam.org/theworldisround for tickets and informaiton.

April 17-May 11

“The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill, Volume 2” in sequel to the award-winning “… Volume 1” is adapted and directed by Christopher Loar, ensemble member of the New York Neo-Futurists.

Now he’s a legendary playwright and a Broadway mainstay, but Eugene O’Neill was once considered an experimental, downtown playwright. His plays defied the melodramatic conventions of the day and much of his work premiered with the Provincetown Players on MacDougall Street. The New York Neo-Futurists return O’Neill to his experimental roots, and “…Volume 2”  spans the years 1913 – 1915, and includes his plays Recklessness, Warnings, Fog, Abortion, and The Sniper.
Tickets and informatiokn at www.nynf.org

April 23- May 18

Part of the Brits off Broadway at 59E59, Harry Melling’s debut play, “Peddling” makes its US premiere.
A peddler wakes up in a field, with no memory of how he got there or what happened the night before. In his attempt to find out what happened, everything comes into question.
Learn more at www.59e59.org

50 Shades of Gray, the musical and Beauty and the Beast are among the shows still playing in these listings:
http://tbontheaisleatheaterdiary.blogspot.com/2014/02/around-town.html

Fast Company” plays through April 6th and “The Pig, or Vaclav Havel’s Hunt for the Pig” only through March 29th.. At the latter, dinner is served at the 3 Legged Dog production, provided by the Slovakian restuarant Korzo.

Posted in based on a book by Studs Terkel, James Taylor, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mary Rodgers and Susan Birkenhead, musical, newly revised version of a Broadway musical, Stephen Schwartz

Pride in "Working"

Joe Cassidy in foreground with cast of “Working ” at 59E59 Theaters in a Prospect Theater Company production.
Photo by Richard Termine.

For most people, work is more than a job. It’s about more than collecting a paycheck. It’s about making a contribution.

“Working A Musical,” at 59E59 Theaters in a production by the Prospect Theater Company through December 30th, celebrates the dignity of the American workforce. The closing number,  Craig Carnelia’s “Something To Point To,” for instance, is a song of workers’ pride in what they do.

Based on Studs Terkel’s seminal series of interviews, “Working” was originally adapted by Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso, for a Chicago run at the Goodman Theatre in 1977 and moved to Broadway where it closed after just 24 post preview performances. It has been revised and performed many times since in Chicago and LA, Florida, New Haven and San Diego. The current revival, which also commemorates Terkel’s centenary, adds two new songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda and has additional contributions to the book by director Gordon Greenberg.

Marie-France Arcilla with the cast behind her working in a factory to the James Taylor tune “Millwork.”Photo by Richard Termine.
  

Songs in “Working” range from laments like Micki Grant’s “Cleanin’ Woman” and “If I Could’ve Been” and James Taylor’s “Millwork” to anthems like Taylor’s “Brother Trucker” those by Stephen Schwartz “All The Livelong Day,”or “Nobody Tells Me How” from Susan Birkenhead (lyrics) and Mary Rodgers  
(music) or Craig Carnelia’s “The Mason.”

“It’s An Art,” according to Delores Dante (Donna Lynne Champlin with cast  in background). Photo by Richard Termine.

If “Working” teaches us anything it’s that “Nobody is just a waitress!” Donna Lynne Champlin is a show of her own as the wonderful Delores Dante. “I get intoxicated with giving service,” Delores says as she shuttles plates and cups. “It becomes theatrical and I feel like… I’m on stage.” For Delores, being a waitress — well, in Schwartz’s words, “It’s An Art.”  

Variety is the spice of this musical tribute to “what we do all day,” as Terkel put it. Everyone gets to work in several settings.  In “Working,” six hard-working actors portay 36 of Terkel’s  industrious subjects. For instance, Joe Cassidy is credibly and movingly by turns an ironworker, hedge fund manager, a publicist, and a retiree.

Among the workers interviewed in “Working,” there is a factory worker (Marie-France Arcilla), a sex worker (Kenita R. Miller), a stone mason (Nahal Joshi), a fireman and a UPS driver (Jay Armstrong Johnson), a nanny and a flight attendant (Marie-France again),  a cleaning lady (Kenita), a fast food worker (Nahal), and a school teacher (Donna Lynne). Each has his own story and song  in the vignettes that make up the show.

Nehal Joshi, Jay Armstrong Johnson, and Joe Cassidy with Marie-France Arcilla, Kenita R. Miller and Donna Lynne Champlin behind them in Taylor’s “Brother Trucker.”  Photo by Richard Termine.

Along with Donna Lynne Champlin’s show-stopping contributions as Delores and then again as the school teacher, Rose Hoffman, there is also Joe Cassidy’s poignant portrayal of the retiree, Joe Zutty in Carnelia’s “Joe,”  neatly followed by “A Very Good Day” by Miranda and performed by Nehal Joshi as a elder-care worker, Utkarsh Trajillo and Marie-France Arcilla as the nanny, Theresa Liu. Kenita R. Miller’s Kate Rushton, “Just A Housewife” (Carnelia),  and Maggie Holmes, “A Cleanin’ Lady” (Grant) contrast with her buttomed-up project manager, Amanda McKenny, and her all-out prostitute Roberta Victor.  

The pace is fast, and the subject interesting.  In this economy, it sometimes feels like just having a job is a gift, but “Working” is about all the people who do the jobs–menial and meaningful– and how they feel about what they accomplish each day.

For more information about “Working,” visit www.59e59.org, please.

Posted in Amanda Green, based on a film, boys and girls, Bring It On The Musical, cheerleaders, Jeff Whitty, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tom Kitt

"The Unbearable Lightness of Being"… A Cheerleader

Cheerleading is not a philosophical endeavor. We get that. But it should have plenty of verve.

“Bring It On, The Musical,” at the St. James Theatre for a limited run through October 7th, wants to make absolutely clear that it is a physically demanding activity.



The cast of “Bring It On” (C) Photo by Joan Marcus

In fact, Campbell (Taylor Louderman) narrates the facts of her life as she becomes the captain of the Truman pep-squad, introducing the predictable power points that describe this spirited pursuit and the dedication with which she pursues it. Complications follow when Campbell is transferred to Jackson High in a stroke of redistricting. At Jackson, Campbell meets Danielle (Adrienne Warren) the leader of a dance crew.Will she triumph and find her “One Perfect Moment?” 

Taylor Louderman, Neil Haskell, Kate Rockwell, and Janet Krupin (c) Photo by Joan Marcus 

The songs (by the usually brilliant Lin-Manuel Miranda (“In The Heights” was terrific)  who teams up with Amanda Green on lyrics and Tom Kitt for the music) narrate a dull recitation of the lives of girls determined to win a state championship in rallying. Jeff Whitty has created a libretto based on the 2000 movie written by Jessica Bendinger to take “Bring It On” to the stage.

Adrienne Warren and cast. Photo (c) Joan Marcus 

Once there, even with propulsive rally-squad moves and togh hip-hop inflected dancing (choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, who also directs), “Bring It On” dies a thousand deaths. Stereotypes abound: the black girls (and guys) are cool, the white girls vapid. Campbell’s boyfriend Steve (Neil Haskell) is pretty effectively channelling his inner Woody Harrelson as Woody Boyd from “Cheers.”  Despite the paucity of interesting characters, Adrienne Warren as the head of the Jackson dancers,  and Ryann Redmond as the fat girl, Bridget, are both quite charming.

Gasps of admiration at girls tossed into the air and landing gracefully quickly dissipate in the general dumbing down. Unfortunately dumbing down seems to have risen to a competitive sport in this musical. Aiming squarely for the lowest common denominator, “Bring It On” hits its target.

For more information about “Bring It On, The Musical,” visit  http://www.bringitonmusical.com/