deBessonet Encores! The Kitchen Sink Five @ Theater Row, Raul SEARS, Kathleen Marshall is planning to shAme
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(A) 1. Lear deBessonet to Take Over as Artistic Director of Encores! at New York City Center
Yesterday, it was announced that Lear deBessonet has been named the new artistic director of Encores! at New York City Center. She will succeed Jack Viertel, who has been with the company since its founding in 1994 and who announced in July he would step down following the 2020 season.
DeBessonet most recently helmed the hit and in-high-demand Public Theater’s Public Works presentation of HERCULES this summer.
deBessonet, of course, is no stranger to Encores!, having helmed 2017’s BIG RIVER and Off-Center’s PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES in 2014. She will also direct the final show of Viertel’s Encores! run, an updated approach to THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE with Ashley Park and with additional contributions by Lauren Yee.
(J) 2. Theatre Row Welcomes 5 New Resident Companies
Theatre Row has officially welcomed the new residents of its Kitchen Sink Residency. The Assembly, Broken Box Mime Theater, LubDub Theatre Company, Noor Theatre, and Superhero Clubhouse will be the five inaugeral residents of the new program, a biennial initiative that will see emerging performing arts companies develop world-premiere productions over a two-year period at the multi-theatre complex on 42nd Street.
Kitchen Sink is co-run by Sarah Hughes, who is the new director of artistic programming at Theatre Row, and Stephanie Rolland, Theatre Row’s director of theatre operations.
In addition to a two-year commitment of space and support, Kitchen Sink offers its five companies a home base as they create and present new, never-before-produced work. Companies will first have an opportunity to present the work in progress in front of an audience, followed by a festival showcase presentation and a cumulative world-premiere run co-produced by Theatre Row.
(A) 3. SEARED Opens at MCC Theater and Announced Extension
Moving onto some show news, James, MCC’s production of SEARED, by Theresa Rebeck, has once again extended. The Off-Broadway limited engagement will now play through December 15th (following its initial extension of December 1st).
This comes after the show’s official opening on October 28th, this past Monday. Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel, SEARED features a cast made up of four-time Tony nominee Raúl Esparza, W. Tré Davis, Krysta Rodriguez, and David Mason.
Elisabeth Vincentelli at the The New York Times, who writes: “Rebeck has often considered the tensions generated by art-making, ambition and money, whether it was the maneuvers of aspiring writers and their mentor in SEMINAR a stage manager’s attempt to wrangle high-maintenance actors in THE UNDERSTUDY, or the creation of a Broadway musical in the television series SMASH. Harry (played by Esparza) himself is not so different from the Sarah Bernhardt of her 2018 Broadway play BERNHARDT/HAMLET, both chafing against expectations and fueled by exalted chaos of their own making. But people’s self-dramatizing behavior does not necessarily make them interesting. And for the most part, everybody in SEARED motors forward on a straight track: You get a pretty clear idea of who they are very early on, and they behave accordingly the whole way through.”
Helen Shaw at Vulture continues: “Despite that classic Rebeck tang—a readiness to rise to insults and to have arguments that turn suddenly into airy pronouncements about reality—SEARED is actually quite a modest effort, content to be a forgettable little treat. It’s repetitive and a tad empty, but what’s the harm? Some people have arguments, farce breaks out, someone tells a man that he’s got an overblown sense of his own genius. Bake that thing for 120 minutes, and it’ll work for a lot of people’s tastes.”
And finally, Frank Scheck at The Hollywood Reporter writes: “SEARED is not without its flaws, to be sure. The play lives up to its title by rarely getting more than surface deep. The characterizations are shallow at best, particularly the ambitious Emily who borders on stereotype and whose motivations remain oblique. The show could easily be cut by a half-hour, becoming repetitive in Act II as its characters too often engage in lengthy circular shouting matches. But the play remains very entertaining anyway, thanks to Rebeck’s talent for fast and funny, profane dialogue.”
(A) In Other News…
The Man in the White Suit to Close Early in the West End
Cady Huffman Will Star in MARGUERITE at Astoria Performing Arts Center
Kathleen Marshall Is Developing a Musical Adapation of THE SCARLET LETTER
Let’s quickly run through some other news items, James.
First up, The West End production of THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT announced yesterday it will end its run earlier than expected. The comedy, which stars Stephen Mangan and Kara Tointon, was scheduled to play at the Wyndham Theatre through January 11th, 2020, but will now end on December 7, citing low sales. The play opened at the Wyndham on October 8 after a three-week run at Theatre Royal Bath.
From London back to the city, where in Astoria, Queens, Tony winner Cady Huffman will star in the New York premiere of MARGUERITE, a new solo musical. The musical, which features a book and lyrics by Anton Dudley and music by Michael Cooper, will open the Astoria Performing Arts Center’s 2019–2020 season. APAC Artistic Director Dev Bondarin will direct the show, which traces the life of Marguerite Bourgeoys, the first female saint of Canada, who helped her bring liberated women to Canada to build the city of Montreal. The show will play at The Church of the Redeemer on November 8th–23rd. Tickets can be purchased at apacny.org.
And last up, the Kathleen Marshall is currently developing a musical adaptation of THE SCARLET LETTER with a modern spin. shAme—which is stylized with the ‘A’ being the only capital letter—will reporteldy connect the story to current times and the resonance of the #MeToo movement. The sung-through musical is being developed by Art Lab with Marshall at the helm and film composer Mark Governor writing.