Peter Filichia, James Marino, and Jan Simpson talk about Sidekicked @ Cape May Stage, Eureka Day @ Walkerspace, Make Believe @ Second Stage, Because of Winn Dixie @ Goodspeed Opera House, A White Man’s Guide to Rikers Island @ The Producer’s Club, Tech Support @ 59e59, and the new book, Ensemble: An Oral History of Chicago Theater Hardcover by Mark Larson
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Peter Filichia | [email protected] | Facebook
PETER FILICHIA is a playwright, journalist, and historian with a number of books. His columns appear at MTI, Masterworks Broadway, Broadway Select and many other places.
Jan Simpson | [email protected] | Facebook | Twitter
Broadway & Me
JAN SIMPSON is the Director of the Arts and Culture Journalism Program at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, and also writes for TDF Stages, American Theater and has her own blog at Broadway & Me. She sits on the executive board of the Outer Critics Circle and is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association.
Notes and links for the podcast.
PF: Cape May Stage production of Sidekicked @ Robert Shackleton Playhouse, Cape May, NJ, through September 20, 2019
By Kim Powers, Directed by Roy Steinberg, Starring Sally Mayes
It’s the last night of filming “I Love Lucy” and America’s favorite sidekick – Ethel Mertz, played by Vivian Vance – has a lot to get off her chest. This new play gives a glimpse into the behind the scenes drama of “I Love Lucy” as well as incredible unheard stories from Vivian Vance’s extraordinary career.
JS + PF: Colt Coeur’s production of Eureka Day @ Walkerspace, 46 Walker Street, through September 21, 2019
The east coast premiere of Jonathan Spector’s screamingly funny yet profound EUREKA DAY. Spector’s lauded play uses a heated vaccination debate at a progressive elementary school as a metaphorical lens for the escalating hostility of America’s culture wars and our inability to listen to those with whom we disagree. This timely comedy is directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt.
JM: Make Believe @ Second Stage, Tony Kiser Theater, 305 West 43rd Street, through September 22, 2019
Written by Bess Wohl and directed by Michael Greif. MAKE BELIEVE features Kim Fischer, Susannah Flood, Ryan Foust, Harrison Fox, Maren Heary, Brad Heberlee, Casey Hilton and Samantha Mathis.
When does real life collide with make believe? For the four Conlee kids, ages 5 to 10, playing house is no longer a game when their parents inexplicably disappear. Thirty-two years later, their search for answers continues. Bess Wohl returns to Second Stage after her funny and poignant play, American Hero, with a look inside the minds of children, their parents and the mysteries of childhood that haunt us forever.
PF: Because of Winn Dixie @ Goodspeed Opera House (East Haddam, CT), through September 5, 2019
Book and Lyrics by Nell Benjamin, Music by Duncan Sheik, Animal Direction by William Berloni, Choreographed by Chris Bailey, Directed by John Rando
Not since Annie has a stray dog inspired such joyful noise! In a Southern town filled with lost souls, a new leash on life is just around the corner when a preacher and his daughter take in a mutt named Winn Dixie. The beloved, award-winning novel about a quirky community learning to get along now sings for the first time in this uplifting new musical. Let Grammy and Tony winner Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening) and Tony nominee Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde, Mean Girls) take you on a heartwarming adventure for all ages.
A few previous productions:
— Because of Winn Dixie the Musical, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Animal Direction by William Berloni, 2017
— Because of Winn Dixie the Musical, Delaware Theatre Company, Animal Direction by William Berloni, 2015
— Because of Winn Dixie the Musical, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Animal Direction by William Berloni, 2013
PF: Tech Support @ 59e59, through September 21, 2019
Written and Directed by Debra Whitfield
With Ryan Avalos, Leanne Cabrera, Lauriel Friedman, Mark Lotito, and Margot White
Life has become too complicated for technophobe and antique book seller, Pamela Stark.Pam’s world is soon turned upside down when, instead of providing assistance with her printer, the tech support guy, “Chip,” offers her choices for different centuries. In each era, this reluctant time-traveler saves lives as she is hurled from decade to decade. Pam’s emotional and witty journey finally ends with one last rescue—her own.
JS: Preview: Ma-Yi Theater Company’s production of Felix Starro @ Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street, through September 15, 2019
Marking the first off-Broadway musical created by Filipino Americans, Felix Starro explores issues of faith, family, love, loss, betrayal, and what it means to be an undocumented Filipino immigrant in America.
Felix Starro, a famous faith healer from the Philippines whose clients once included Hollywood celebrities and the most powerful politicians, has returned to San Francisco for one last healing mission to cure ailing Filipino Americans in the Bay Area. Unbeknownst to Felix, however, Junior, his nineteen-year-old grandson who has been acting mysteriously, has a mission of his own and the choice he makes could rip their family apart forever.
Felix Starro features a book & lyrics by Jessica Hagedorn and a score by Fabian Obispo, and is based on the powerful short story by acclaimed Filipino American writer, Lysley Tenorio. The musical is directed by Ma-Yi Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña and features choreography by Brandon Bieber of “Fosse/Verdon.”
Chicago is a bona fide theater town, bursting with an explosive, innovative vitality that’s fed every sector of the entertainment industry—from Hollywood to Broadway to Studio 8H—for as long as it’s delighted adoring local fans. Ensemble is an in-depth, first-of-its-kind history of Chicago’s internationally celebrated theater scene, spanning 65 years and told through first-person accounts from the people who made it happen.
Among many other topics, this book explores the early days of the fabled Compass Players and the legendary Second City in the ’50s and ’60s; the rise of internationally acclaimed ensembles like Steppenwolf in the ’70s; the explosion of storefront and neighborhood companies that began in earnest in the ’80s; and the enduring global influence of the city as the center of improv training and performance.
Drawing from more than 300 interviews, author Mark Larson has woven a narrative that expresses the spirit of Chicago’s ensemble ethos: the voices of celebrities such as Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Ed Asner, George Wendt, Michael Shannon, and Tracy Letts comingle with stories from designers, composers, and others who have played a crucial role in making Chicago theater so powerful, influential, and unique.
Michael’s Music Moment:
Highlights from BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE at Goodspeed Musicals