For female musical theater composers, this season has been a mixed bag. Of eight original Broadway scores, just one, Anaïs Mitchell’s Hadestown, was written by a woman. Yet with its standing-room-only audiences and 14 Tony Award nominations, the folk opera appears to be a hit, a sign that non-traditional work — by a man or woman — can defy conventional wisdom of what belongs on Broadway.
Fans of HBO’s Succession might be surprised that Stewy, the conniving cocaine-snorting private equity operator, is played by an emigré from Iran who co-founded a civic-minded theater company that teaches drama to public school students at New York’s Professional Performing Arts School. Its graduates have gone on to Juilliard and Yale.
The Courtroom is the latest project by Arian Moayed and his company, Waterwell. Created from courtroom transcripts that Moayed edited, the play concerns a recent Filipino immigrant named Elizabeth Keathley (Kristin Villanueva) who, while getting a driver’s license, illegally registers to vote at the behest of a careless government bureaucrat. Issued a voter registration card, she votes in a congressional election and faces deportation.Continue Reading
The set designer and Yale professor Ming Cho Lee is officially synonymous with excellence in theatrical design.
Last week at the Palm West Side restaurant, Lee was recognized for lifetime achievement as part of the annual Henry Hewes Design Awards. Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, a professor of theatre at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and the Hewes Design chairman, announced that future lifetime achievers will be given an award named after Lee.Continue Reading
Shane O’Regan is going places — for starters, Philadelphia, Chicago and Austin, Texas. He and the 24 characters he plays in the World War I drama Private Peaceful tour the U.S. after an off-Broadway run ends on Oct. 7.
Casting agents are checking out the 25-year-old. He slips “from one character to the next with preternatural ease,” critic Alexis Soloski wrote in the New York Times, citing his “actorly excellence (and he really is excellent).” Back home he was nominated for an Irish Times Irish Theatre Award for the role in Dublin.Continue Reading
Pulitzer Prize-winning collaborators Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey have a new musical that airs tonight on the Disney Channel.
They say their adaptation of Mary Rodgers’ 1972 novel Freaky Friday, the mother-daughter body swapping comedy, isn’t so different from Next to Normal, their acclaimed rock musical that explores mental illness. Both pieces seek to convey emotional truths.Continue Reading
INTERVIEW: The last five weeks have been busy for Jason Robert Brown, the 48-year-old composer, lyricist, arranger, orchestrator and performer. There was an acclaimed Encores! run of his 1995 song cycle, Songs for a New World, at City Center; a workshop of an original musical, The Connector, written with Jonathan Marc Sherman, at Vassar College via the nonprofit New York Stage & Film; and a new album, Brown’s first since 2005, How We React and How We Recover. He spoke by phone from his home on the Upper West Side. (The conversation has been condensed.)
Q: How has the political climate affected what you do?
JRB: I don’t want to watch anything that feels frivolous or create anything that feels frivolous.
“Like Christmas Day and sex with supermodels, Broadway seasons are often far more exciting during the anticipation stage.” So began Jess Cagle’s December 1997 review of Broadway’s The Lion King in Entertainment Weekly. (He gave it an A+).
Two decades later, Cagle, 51, is editor-in-chief of People; editorial director of Time Inc.’s Style and Entertainment Group, which includes EW, In Style and Essence; and his conversations with actors, directors and other celebrities — known as The Jess Cagle Interview — are distributed by Sirius XM. We spoke on May 16. Edited excerpts follow:
“There are still many shows doing exceptionally well, but it seems there are more shows falling off the vine really quickly,” said Carl Moellenberg, who’s had 40 Broadway producing credits since 2006. “If people are only seeing two or three shows a year, they want to see the shows everyone is talking about.”
Laura Benanti gained 8 million YouTube views and the wrath of Donald Trump’s angriest devotees when she satirized his wife on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert during the Republican National Convention. On Friday, the actress spoke to Broadway Journal about the experience. Tonight, she headlines a Hillary Clinton fundraiser at Industry bar in Hell’s Kitchen.
Q: Did you learn anything about Trump or politics from appearing on television as Melania?
Benanti: Yes sir. Almost every time I tweet I will get a barrage of terrifying tweets, that range from ‘you’re ugly and fat’ to really scary — like, ‘I want to kill you.’ IContinue Reading
EXCLUSIVE: Accepting the best musical Tony Award for The Book of Mormon in 2011, co-director and co-writer Trey Parker broke up the Beacon Theater audience by thanking “a co-writer who passed away” — Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon religion. “You did it Joseph, you got the Tony!”
Smith, who presided over the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints until he died in 1844, apparently had company. After Avenue Q won three Tonys in 2004, its composers, Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez, disclosed that they were working with Parker and Matt Stone of Comedy Central’s South Park on a musical about a religion they wouldn’t identify. Marx told the Los Angeles Times in 2005 that he and Lopez had spotted Parker and Stone in the audience at Avenue Q, at the Golden Theatre, and went up to them at intermission. “They thought we were really weird, until we whipped out our Playbill and showed them our bios, where we list them as one of our inspirations.”