Posted in musicals, musicals and dramas, The Tony Awards, Tony, Tony Awards, Tony nominee, Tony winner, Tony winning play

$$ Rewarded $$

Lack of Tony® love has done to The Prom what it usually does. The show, with music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin, and a book by Bob Martin and Beguelin and based on an idea of Jack Viertel, is set to close on August 11th.

At the Walter Kerr, across the street from the unappreciated The Prom (the cast and creatives got nods but no statuettes) is Tony® darling Hadestown, There, you will see lines waiting for tickets by lottery early on any given day. (Actual ticket distribution for Rush is around 5pm, so the folks sitting outside the theater at noon are really eager.) The musical’s ticket price skyrocketed thanks to the warm welcome it got at the Awards ceremonies. André De Shields was not the only winner from the cast of this musical, written by Anaïs Mitchell and developed with director Rachel Chavkin, also a winner that night. The scenic designer, Rachel Hauck, and the sound designer, jessica Paz, also won for their contributions to the musical as well.

Of course, if you must close, you must. The Ferryman, Broadway’s Best Play of 2019, is closing tomorrow, July 7th. Tickets for the play put it in the million dollar range over its run. Tickets for Sunday’s final performances run at $224 and up.

It’s expensive to mount a Broadway production, and that explains some of the high prices. There is also a reseller’s premium for some of the hotter shows, of course, but also the fact that demand drives costs allows the producers to write their own ticket, as it were. In fact, for the 2018-19 season, audiences ponied up an average of $123.84 for a seat at a Broadway show.

Posted in 2017 Tony Nominations, The Tony Awards, theater, Tony, Tony Awards, Tony nominee

Tony tonight!

Little Foxes

The Hamilton “phenomena,” I contend, can actually be blamed on The Producers.

The Mel Brooks musical was lauded, and expected to win a lot of the many nominations it received. It did. Susan Stroman had a lot more to work with in the zany plot, choreographing pensioners, than Andy Blankenbuehler did with his Founding Fathers. They could be expected to dance, perhaps, a sedate quadrille.  At any rate The Producers set a record in Tony wins, and everyone expects there will be another such production every year.

Best of luck to all the nominees who will be at the ceremonies tonight, June 11th at 8pm. Televised on CBS, with Kevin Spacey as the host, the Tony is always a good show.

Remember it really is an honor just to be named!

Posted in 2017 Tony Nominations, The Tony Awards, Tony, Tony Awards, Tony nominee

Tony fervor

h_HostAnnouncement_1341If you are a theater-goer and a New Yorker, it’s hard to resist the annual Tony ceremonies. It’s a dapper show, and even at 71 years, young and vibrant.

The broadcast on CBS at 8pm on June 11th will show you excerpts from shows you loved, and some from those you have yet to see.

Some reasons to watch

  1. James Earl Jones is to be honored for his Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre. That in and of itself is a lot to celebrate! I first saw him in The Great White Hope opposite Jane Alexander and most recently in You Can’t Take It With You. I had a chance to speak to him briefly since then when I encountered him as a fellow audience member at 33 Variations.
  2. There will be production numbers from the productions in contention for a Tony Best.
  3. It’s always a grand show. (See 2, and 1. above.)
  4. The talented Kevin Spacey will host.
  5. You’ve seen every play and/or musical nominated, and several that should have been but weren’t. You’re curious.
  6. You haven’t seen every play and/or musical nominated. You’re curious..
  7. This is how you plan for this summer’s theater-going. (See 2 above.)
Posted in 2017 Tony Nominations, drama, Pulitzer Prize winning play, Tony, Tony nominee

A More Perfect Union

Sweat 
Studio 54Work exhausts while giving the worker a sense of purpose and fulfillment. This is especially true of physical labor and its practitioners.

When Lynn Nottage’s characters in Sweat, at Studio 54 through November 19th, lose their jobs, and hit the picket lines, they are unmoored. Sweat is a working class story, of friends who share their lives on the factory floor and then relax at the bar over which Stan (James Colby) presides.

Sweat 
Studio 54The characters in Sweat include two young men, Chris (Khris Davis) and Jason (Will Pullen) and their mothers, Cynthia (Michelle Williams) and Tracey (Johanna Day) in scenes that go back and forth starting with Jason and Chris with their parole officer, Evan, (Lance Coadie Williams) in 2008, and going back to the bar in 2000. Rounding out the cast are Oscar (Carlo Albán), in a pivotal way, Brucie (John Earl Jelks) and Jessie (Alison Wright.)

Sweat 
Studio 54The actors all work hard to make us see them as factory laborers, and they succeed well. We engage in the life stories the characters tell but those seem distant.  We don’t connect not just because we don’t share their workplace experiences, but because they are more representatives than individuals to which we can relate. There is, however, a mystery set up at the beginning of Act One which we look to solve.

The play under Kate Whoriskey’s direction transferred from The Public Theatre in March. Johanna Day and Michelle Williams have been nominated for a Tony as Best Featured roles. Sweat is in contention as the Best Play for 2017.

Lynn Nottage is not afraid of hard work. For Sweat, Nottage researched the background for her scenario, as she has for her previous projects.  In her past plays she has honored her grandmother who toiled behind a sewing machine (Intimate Apparel, which won off-Broadway accolades in its 2004 run); in the equally well-received By The Way, Meet Vera Stark she looked at the roles of black women in Hollywood’s heydey. Nottage is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright; in fact the second win was with Sweat, which won her the prize this year. (Ruined won the 2009 Pulitzer. )

To learn more about and get tickets for Sweat, please visit www.sweatbroadway.com/

 

Posted in Act One, Andrea Martin, James Lapine, Lincoln Center Theater, Moss Hart, Santino Fontana, theater about theater, Tony nominee, Tony Shalhoub

Let’s begin with "Act One"

Tony Shalhoub as Moss Hart, Andrea Martin as Aunt Kate and Santino Fontana as Moss Hart in LCT’s “Act One,” adapted by James Lapine from the memoir by Moss Hart. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Each of us is the hero of our own story. In “Act One,” Moss Hart may have mythologized his ascent in the theater. Cut him some slack, his memoir has been an inspiration to generations of aspiring theater-folk. James Lapine, who also directs, has turned Hart’s book into a thoroughly theatrical event. 

“Act One,” at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater through June 15th, everything as it should be. From the brilliant multi-layered set by Beowulf Boritt to the superb ensemble and smart direction, “Act One” sings with aspiration and 
success.

Tony Shalhoub as George S. Kaufman and Santino Fontana as Moss Hart in a scene from “Act One.”
Photo by Joan Marcus
As James Lapine’s “Act One” opens, Moss Hart (Tony Shalhoub) looks back on his life and career. His Aunt Kate (Andrea  Martin) comes home from the theater and argues with Moss’s father, Barnett (Shalhoub again) over money, while Moss’s mother Lillie (Mimi Lieber) placates their borders.  Aunt Kate and young Moss (Matthew Schechter, who later also plays Moss’s younger brother Bernie) hatch a plan for Moss to skip school and join her at Thursday matinees. Schooling is a moot issue, since by the time Moss is sixteen, he is apprenticed to a furrier, a job he hates. Instead Moss (now played by Santiino Fontana) makes his own way to Broadway and the work for which he yearns. clerking for theatrical booking agent Augustus Pitou (Will LeBow.)
Chuck Cooper as Max Siegel (one of several roles he undertakes) and Bob Stillman as Sam Harris (he also plays other parts) and Company in a scene from “Act One.” Photo by Joan Marcus.

Hart’s first play, written in 1925, when Hart was just 21, to help fill Pitou’s road circuit, “The Beloved Bandit” flopped in Chicago. In the meantime, Hart was directing small theater companies all over the New York area,  from the Borscht Belt to New Jersey. By 1930, “Once In A Lifetime,” co-written with George S. Kaufman (Shalhoub), and Hart’s first theatrical success, opened on Broadway, after many fits and starts out of town. Hart and Kaufman would continue to work together on many a show after this original collaboration. 

Andrea Martin– like Tony Shalhoub, who is a nominee as Best Leading Actor in a Play for his work here– adeptly handles three parts. She is Aunt Kate, eccentric theater producer Frieda Fishbein, and Kaufman’s wife Beatrice. Shalhoub and Martin each give distinct and nuanced lives to each of their characters. In this cast, you risk looking like a slouch if you only have one role to play. Santino Fontana does just that, and he’s outstanding as Hart at his youthful prime. 

“Act One” is a perfectly beautiful production.

To learn more about “Act One,” please visit www.lct.org.