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1. Three Shows Announce Extensions (A)
James, we had a multitude of extensions announced yesterday, both on Broadway and Off-Broadway.
First up, the critically acclaimed and recently opened David Byrne’s AMERICAN UTOPIA will now play an extra month by popular demand at Broadway’s Hudson Theatre. The production was originally scheduled to run through January 19, and will now play through February 16. As Matt and I discussed on the show the other day, AMERICAN UTOPIA opened to rave reviews and was named a NY Times Critics Pick.
Second on the list for extensions yesterday was the much-buzzed-about HEROES OF THE FOURTH TURNING at Playwrights Horizons, which has announced a second extension.The play, written by Will Arbery and directed by Danya Taymor will now run through November 17, twice extended from the initial closing date of October 27, at the Mainstage Theater. Likewise, the show was named a Times Critics Pick and was one of Helen Shaw’s rare five-star reviews at Time Out New York.
And finally, MCC has once again announced an extension of its highly anticipated world premiere production of Ross Golan’s THE WRONG MAN, starring Joshual Henry, Ciara Renée, and Ryan Vasquez. Originally scheduled for a limited run through October 27, the new musical will now play through November 24 at The Newman Mills Theater at The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space.
2. ONLY HUMAN Will End Off-Broadway (J)
The new musical ONLY HUMAN, which stars Gary Busy as God, announced last night it will play its final performance at Off-Broadway’s Theatre at St. Clements on October 28th. The musical comedy, which began previews October 8th and officially opened on October 21st, re-imagines the story of Jesus and Lucifer in a contemporary workplace.
With Busy stars Mike Squillante (who is also the show’s composer and lyricist), Kim Steele, Evan Maltby, Ben Bogen, Lili Thomas, and Charles West.
3. Drew Gehling to Return to WAITRESS (J)
WAITRESS alum Drew Gehling will return to the musical, reprising his performance as Dr. Pomatter for the show’s final weeks on Broadway.
Gehling will step into the role on October 30, succeeding Mark Evans, and stay through the show’s closing on January 5th, 2020.
The current cast includes Jordin Sparks (through November 24th), Natasha Yvette Williams, Caitlin Houlahan, Ben Thompson, Benny Elledge, Christopher Fitzgerald, and Larry Marshall. As previously announced, Al Roker will also return to the musical on for a limited engagement beginning November 1st.
4. BELLA BELLA Reviews (A)
James, we had two highly-anticipated shows open on Tuesday night Off-Broadway that we didn’t get a chance yet to cover, so I want to briefly go over some reviews for both of them.
First up, over at MTC, Harvey Fierstein’s BELLA BELLA has officially opened. The solo show features the Tony winner as Bella Abzug, New York City’s very own firebrand, on the eve of her bid to become New York State’s first female senior. Kimberly Senior directs the show from Fierstein’s script, and all of the reviews I’ve seen touch on the same important point.
Jesse Green at The New York Times writes: “Those who have seen Fierstein onstage won’t be surprised; they know he’s not going to lose a battle for dominance with any author, including himself. He’s a big, tasty ham and will do whatever is necessary to make sure you get an ample helping of his warmth and flavor regardless of the role. That’s usually a net plus. But in a biographical vehicle like BELLA BELLA… it unfortunately means someone else is not getting served. In this case, big surprise, it’s the woman. Her name may appear twice on the Manhattan Theater Club marquee but neither the anecdotal play nor the droll performance provides the depth of a reasonably thorough obituary.”
On the similar-but-different end, Melissa Rose Bernardo of New York Stage Review writes: “The idea of Fierstein, or any man for that matter, playing Abzug might be jarring, but frankly-it works. And it would work just as well with other actors as Bella too. (Tovah Feldshuh, anyone?) The beautiful thing about BELLA BELLA is its timing: a fiercely intelligent, outspoken woman fighting for equal rights, civil rights, and abortion rights, blazing her own political trail and creating a legacy that future generations can admire and emulate? We can never see too many of those.”
5. FOR COLORED GIRLS… Reviews (A)
The other show I want to make sure we touch on is the major Off-Broadway revival of Ntozake Shange’s FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE/WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF. As we talked about earlier this week, The Public Theater production has been extended one week and will run through November 24. Based on the reviews, it will be a shock if we don’t get another extension.
Ben Brantley of The New York Times writes: “What’s most striking about this incarnation…is its pervasive sense of women talking to – and being deeply invested in – one another, as if in an eternal support group. It’s a sensibility that starts with its circular stage…which seems to exert a centripetal force, repeatedly pulling the performers into a single huddle. Not that the form of the individual monologues has been jettisoned. But while I remember COLORED GIRLS as a series of vivid star turns, this version feels like an endlessly fluid collaboration.”
And Helen Shaw of Vulture writes: “Shange’s poetry is as keen as it was nearly a half-century ago, but it’s this turning-towards-one-another quality that makes the show so rich. The poems are about the wounds of black womanhood…The Ladies tell stories about joyful sexual awakening, but also about rape; they tell stories about confident, big-spirited women who cry themselves to sleep. Yet once the wounds are spoken about and danced about, they turn into healing balms…The audience has its experience, certainly, carried along by sound and courage and beauty. But this one is for the Colored Girls in the show: At every performance, they are the rainbow, and they are enough.”
6. In Other News… (A)
12th Annual Jimmy Awards Sets Date
Ramin Karimloo and Samantha Barks Will Star in CHESS in Japan
MY FAIR LADY Tour Casting
Whoopi Goldberg Will Join London SISTER ACT
Some new items to run through real quick, James:
We now officially have a date for the 12th Annual Jimmy Awards. The Broadway League announced the ceremony will take place next year on Monday, June 29th, 2020 at 7:30 pm at the Minskoff Theatre. 92 nominees from 46 regional awards programs around the US will be featured, making it the biggest Jimmy Awards in history. The national Broadway-focused talent showcase celebrates high school students from across the country and features ensemble and solo performances.
Also announced yesterday, Ramin Karimloo, Samantha Barks, Luke Walsh, and Takanori Sato will lead a production of the musical CHESS at Osaka, Japan’s, Umeda Arts Theater. The Nick Winston-directed production will run on January 27th, 2020.
Complete casting has finally been announced for the upcoming North American tour of Lincoln Center Theater’s production of MY FAIR LADY. Joining the previously announced Shereen Ahmed a Laird Mackintosh will be Leslie Alexander, Adam Grupper, Wade McCollum, Kevin Pariseau, Gayton Scott, and Sam Simahk. The tour will tech and launch in Syracuse, New York, before officially opening at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. with an official press opening for December 19th. Additional tour dates include Charlotte, North Carolina; Greenville, South Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; and East Lansing, Michigan, with more dates to come.
And finally, James, some exciting news was teased last night on the tweety as Baz Bamigboye broke the news that Whoopi Goldberg and Jennifer Saunders will be joining the London 2020 run of SISTER ACT. Goldberg, of course, starred in the original film and played a very limited engagement in the original London production. The new production is scheduled to open on July 29th, 2020, at the Hammersmith Apollo for, currently, 39 performances. Goldberg will play Deloris and Saunders will play Mother Superior.
We should be getting more information on the production and cast at some point this morning, according to Bamigboye…