Peter Filichia, James Marino, and Michael Portantiere talk about Sing Street @ NYTW, The Thin Place @ Playwrights Horizons, A Frank and Ella Christmas @ The New York Pops, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven @ Atlantic Theater Company, One in Two @ Signature Center, Hal Prince Memorial on Monday, December 16, 2019
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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 Masterworks Broadway, Broadway Select and many other places.
Michael Portantiere | [email protected] | Facebook
MICHAEL PORTANTIERE is a theater reviewer and essayist. He is also a theatrical photographer whose photos have appeared in The New York Times and other major publications. You can see his photography work at FollowSpotPhoto.com.
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MP + PF: Sing Street @ New York Theatre Workshop, 79 East 4th Street, through January 26, 2020
Book by Enda Walsh, Music & Lyrics by John Carney & Gary Clark
Directed by Rebecca Taichman
Based on the motion picture written and directed by John Carney
Design by Bob Crowley, Christopher Akerlind, Darron L West and Charles Coes
Music Supervisor, Orchestrations & Arrangements by Martin Lowe
Choreography by Sonya Tayeh
November 25, 2019—January 26, 2020
SING STREET runs approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes with one intermission.
The World Premiere of Sing Street, a new musical based on the motion picture written and directed by John Carney (Once, Begin Again). Sing Street features a book by Tony Award winner & NYTW Usual Suspect Enda Walsh (Once, Lazarus), music and lyrics by Gary Clark (frontman of Danny Wilson) & Carney, direction by Tony Award winner & NYTW Usual Suspect Rebecca Taichman (Indecent) and choreography by Obie Award winner Sonya Tayeh (Hundred Days). Previews of Sing Street begin at New York Theatre Workshop (79 East 4th Street) on November 25, 2019, with opening night set for December 16, 2019, for a run through January 26, 2020.
Dublin, 1982. Everyone is out of work. Thousands are seeking bluer skies across the Irish Sea. Sixteen-year-old Conor and his schoolmates turn to music to escape troubles at home and impress a mysterious girl. With a score that embraces the new wave sounds of the era, Sing Street celebrates the thrill of first love and the power of music.
The cast for Sing Street will include Max William Bartos (Uncut Gems) as Darren, Brendan C. Callahan (She Loves Me) as Gary, Billy Carter (Hangmen) as Robert, Zara Devlin (Hecuba) as Raphina, Gus Halper (Ride the Cyclone) as Brendan, Jakeim Hart (“Blue Bloods”) as Larry, Martin Moran (All The Rage) as Brother Baxter, Anne L. Nathan (Once) as Sandra, Johnny Newcomb (The Last Ship) as Barry, Brenock O’Connor (“Alex Rider”) as Conor, Gian Perez (In the Heights) as Kevin, Sam Poon (Runaways) as Eamon, Skyler Volpe (The Hello Girls) as Anne, and Amy Warren (Women of a Certain Age) as Penny. Ilan Eskenazi (“Iron Fist”) will understudy the role of Conor.
PF: The Thin Place @ Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd Street, through January 26, 2020 (Extended)
The New York premiere of Lucas Hnath’s The Thin Place, directed by Les Waters. The show is in the Peter Jay Sharp Theater — the more intimate space at Playwrights
Following Acclaimed Broadway Productions of A Doll’s House, Part 2 and Hillary and Clinton, Lucas Hnath Returns to Playwrights Horizons — After His Obie-Winning 2015 Play The Christians — with His Most Intimate Work Yet
Cast Features Randy Danson, Kelly McAndrew, Emily Cass McDonnell, and Triney Sandoval
Playwrights Horizons (Artistic Director Tim Sanford, Managing Director Leslie Marcus) presents the New York premiere of Lucas Hnath’s The Thin Place, directed by Les Waters. Since his “mesmerizing drama” (The New York Times) The Christians made its New York premiere at Playwrights Horizons in 2015, Hnath has received acclaim for two major Broadway productions (A Doll’s House, Part 2 and Hillary and Clinton). He now returns to Playwrights with his most arrestingly intimate work to date. In the burgeoning friendship between two women—one who’s recently experienced a strange loss, and another who communicates with the dead—Hnath crafts an unnerving testament to the power of the mind, and one mind’s power to influence others. The Thin Place runs at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Playwrights Horizons (416 W 42nd St) November 22, 2019, through January 5, 2020, and opens officially on December 12.
The production features Randy Danson (Playwrights: Arts and Leisure; Broadway: Wicked, Wonderful Town; Other Off-Broadway: Venus, Love and Information) as Linda, Kelly McAndrew (Playwrights: Men on Boats; Broadway: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Other Off-Broadway: Novenas for a Lost Hospital) as Sylvia, Emily Cass McDonnell (Off-Broadway: The Antipodes, Mercury Fur, Grasses of a Thousand Colors; Film: Ben Is Back, A Master Builder) as Hilda, and Triney Sandoval (Broadway: Marvin’s Room, Macbeth, A Free Man of Color, A Man for All Seasons, Frost/Nixon) as Jerry. The creative team includes Mimi Lien (Scenic Designer), Oana Botez (Costume Designer), Mark Barton (Lighting Designer), Christian Frederickson (Sound Designer), and Paul Mills Holmes (Production Stage Manager).
The Thin Place is the story of two women, Hilda and Linda. Linda communicates, professionally, with the dead, who are still here, just in a different part of here, in the thin place. She can make those who believe hear them, offering them peace and closure and meaning. Originally from rural England, she’s reestablished herself in the U.S.—birthplace of spiritualism—where she has continued to build a career out of her gift. Hilda, a keen listener and observer who’s grappling with loss, takes a great interest in Linda’s abilities. She befriends the veteran medium, seeking answers that lie across the fragile boundary between our world and the other one.
Hnath’s play bristles with disquieting suggestion, probing the most timeless questions about reality, the impressionability of the mind, and the omnipresence of death as we float through life. Ever gifted at taking the pulse of the world around him, Hnath matches these universals with a timely resonance, distilling collective feelings of national chaos—and our political and spiritual vulnerabilities therein—to a chillingly personal scale.
The Thin Place began only as a name—brought up in a conversation between Lucas Hnath and Les Waters (former Artistic Director of the Actors Theatre of Louisville; Playwrights: The Christians; Broadway: In the Next Room (or the vibrator play)), when Waters and Hnath were workshopping another of Hnath’s plays. Waters referred to a moment of that play as existing in a “thin place,” and when Hnath asked him to explain, he said, “The place where the line between this world and some other world is very thin.” In the town where Waters grew up, he recalled, there were several thin places. Hnath wrote it down as a title for a play that did not yet exist, with the intention—for when whatever it was came into being—of having Waters direct it.
“While Les is able to more easily make room for mystery, I’m more obsessively analytical,” says Hnath. “So very intentionally I tried to make this material come from the unconscious mind. I wanted to write something that would scare me—but I don’t know that I can do that while I’m fully in my analytical mode. A monster does not scare me, but psychology, mind control, possession stories—those uncanny spaces that tie the most obviously into spiritualism—do. I had to work myself into a state of fear and deep anxiety to find my way into this play.”
Waters adds, “Lucas and I both have a real interest in minimalism—in, say, using as little as theatrically possible to create an emotional effect, whether that’s uncertainty or fear. How do audience members participate in conjuring that environment?”
Commissioned by the Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Thin Place made its world premiere at the Humana Festival, where Insider Louisville called it “a marvel” and Broadway World praised the play for the questions it asks, saying they “will perhaps never be answered, but the best horror allows us, tricks us, into thinking about them, and forces us into at least beginning to find some answers for ourselves.”
Related: The New York Times on Lucas Hnath, “Portrait of Newton, Hold the Gravity” (Feb. 9, 2013)
Lucas Hnath didn’t plan a career as a playwright. He arrived at New York University determined to pursue a pre-med degree in 1997. But then he saw “Benita Canova” by the avant-garde director Richard Foreman. “After that I decided I had to transfer into dramatic writing because I wanted to make things like that,” he said.
Raised in Orlando, Fla., Mr. Hnath, (pronounced nayth) 33, grew up enraptured by the theatricality of Disney World and the evangelical church he attended. But New York called to him. “I like a lot of stimulation, a lot of noise,” he said. After earning a dramatic writing M.F.A. at 21, Mr. Hnath remained in New York, laboring as a writing instructor, a literary manager and working with law students on unemployment insurance cases, “which actually ended up being really, really great story training,” he said.
MP: A Frank and Ella Christmas @ The New York Pops, Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, Friday, December 20, 2019 and Saturday, December 21, 2019
Steven Reineke, Music Director and Conductor
Tony DeSare, Guest Artist
Capathia Jenkins, Guest Artist
Essential Voices USA – Judith Clurman, Music Director and Conductor
PF + MP: Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven @ Atlantic Theater Company at the Linda Gross Theater, 336 West 20th Street, through January 5, 2020
World premiere of Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven, written by Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Adly Guirgis and directed by John Ortiz at the Atlantic Theater Company (Neil Pepe, Artistic Director; Jeffory Lawson, Managing Director).
Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven begins previews Wednesday, November 13th and will open Monday, December 9th for a limited engagement through Sunday, December 22nd, 2019 Off-Broadway at the Linda Gross Theater (336 West 20th St). Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven is a co-production with LAByrinth Theater Company.
Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven features Victor Almanzar (Between Riverside and Crazy), David Anzuelo (Se Llama Cristina), Elizabeth Canavan (Between Riverside and Crazy), Lucille Lortel Award winner Sean Carvajal (Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, King Lear), Patrice Johnson Chevannes (The Homecoming Queen), Molly Collier (Salutations! I’m Creative Dave), Liza Colón-Zayas (Mary Jane, Between Riverside and Crazy), Esteban Andres Cruz (Off-Broadway Debut), Greg Keller (Do You Feel Anger?), Wilemina Olivia-Garcia (Dutch Heart Of Man), Kristina Poe (The Idea of Me), Neil Tyrone Pritchard (The Stowaway), Elizabeth Rodriguez (“Orange is the New Black,” The Motherf#cker with the Hat), Andrea Syglowski (queens), Benja Kay Thomas (Barbecue), Viviana Valeria (Off-Broadway Debut), Pernell Walker (Seed), and Kara Young (The New Englanders).
Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven is a harrowing, humorous, and heartbreaking play about the inner workings of a women’s halfway house in New York City.
Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven will feature scenic design by Narelle Sissons, costume design by Alexis Forte, lighting design by M.L. Geiger, sound design and original compositions by Elisheba Ittoop, and casting by Telsey + Company.
PF: One in Two @ The Pershing Square Signature Center (The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre, 480 West 42nd Street).
Donja R. Love’s one in two, featuring Jamyl Dobson, Leland Fowler and Edward Mawere. Directed by Stevie Walker-Webb, this world premiere production from The New Group began performances November 19 in advance of an Official Opening Night on Tuesday, December 10. A limited Off-Broadway engagement is slated through January 12 at The Pershing Square Signature Center (The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre, 480 West 42nd Street).
Three young Black queer men are waiting to be chosen. When one of them is, he’s forced to live a new reality inside an epidemic, exploring the joys, the gags and the truths of not being defined by his diagnosis. Donja R. Love, inspired by his 10th anniversary of being HIV positive, offers an unflinching portrait of being Black and queer today. With grace and humor, one in two breaks the silence on an experience that’s an ongoing reality for so many, and reveals the community that thrives within it. Stevie Walker-Webb directs this world premiere for The New Group.
one in two features Jamyl Dobson, Leland Fowler and Edward Mawere. This production includes Scenic Design by Arnulfo Maldonato, Costume Design by Andy Jean, Lighting Design by Cha See and Sound Design by Justin Ellington. Casting is by Judy Henderson, CSA. Production Stage Manager is Jakob W. Plummer.
The New Group has partnered with the National Queer Theater for community engagement and outreach initiatives surrounding the production of one in two with the support of Gilead Sciences. National Queer Theater fosters and supports LGBTQ communities through social justice in the performing arts. Learn more about their work at NationalQueerTheater.org.
The New Group’s 25th Anniversary season commenced with Cyrano, adapted by Erica Schmidt from Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand, music by Aaron Dessner and Bryce Dessner of The National, lyrics by Matt Berninger of The National and Carin Besser, choreography by Jeff and Rick Kuperman, directed by Erica Schmidt, with Ritchie Coster, Josh A. Dawson, Peter Dinklage, Hillary Fisher, Josh Franklin, Christopher Gurr, Blake Jenner, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Nehal Joshi, Grace McLean, Erika Olson and Scott Stangland (through December 22 at The Daryl Roth Theatre). Following this production of Donja R. Love’s one in two, directed by Stevie Walker-Webb, the season continues at The Pershing Square Signature Center with Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, the world premiere of a new musical with book by Jonathan Marc Sherman, music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik, choreography by Kelly Devine, directed by Scott Elliott, with Duncan Sheik to be featured alongside the actors playing Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice (Winter 2020); and the world premiere of The Seagull/Woodstock, NY, by Thomas Bradshaw from the Chekhov, directed by Scott Elliott (Spring 2020).
The New Group (Scott Elliott, Artistic Director; Adam Bernstein, Executive Director) is an award-winning, artist-driven company with a commitment to developing and producing powerful, contemporary theater. While constantly evolving, the company strives to maintain an ensemble approach to all its work and an articulated style of emotional immediacy in its acting and productions. In this way, the company seeks a theater that is adventurous, stimulating and most importantly “now,” a true forum for the present culture. Notable productions include Ecstasy; This is Our Youth; Aunt Dan and Lemon; Hurlyburly; Abigail’s Party; Rafta, Rafta…; The Starry Messenger; A Lie of the Mind; Blood From a Stone; Marie and Bruce; Things We Want; Burning; The Jacksonian; Sticks and Bones; The Spoils; Steve; Buried Child; The Kid; Avenue Q (2004 Tony Award for Best Musical); Sweet Charity; Jerry Springer—The Opera; Evening at the Talk House; Good for Otto; The True. In 2016/17 the company’s productions of Jesse Eisenberg’s The Spoils and Sam Shepard’s Buried Child had productions at Trafalgar Studios in London’s West End. The New Group has received nearly 150 awards and nominations for excellence. In addition to its productions, the organization’s New Group/New Works play and musical development program champions original works by emerging and established authors. The New Group is also committed to theater education programs that provide opportunities for middle school, high school, college and adult students. TheNewGroup.org
The Pershing Square Signature Center, the permanent home of Signature Theatre, is a three-theatre facility on West 42nd Street designed by Frank Gehry Architects to host Signature’s three distinct playwrights’ residencies and foster a cultural community. The Center is a major contribution to New York City’s cultural landscape and provides a venue for cultural organizations that supports and encourages collaboration among artists throughout the space. In addition to its three intimate theatres, the Center features a studio theatre, rehearsal studio, a bookstore, and the Signature Café + Bar, open to the public from noon-midnight Tuesdays–Sundays. For more information on renting the Center, please visit www.signaturetheatre.org/rentals.
PF + MP: Hal Prince Memorial on Monday, December 16, 2019
Inside Broadway’s Harold Prince Memorial BY RUTHIE FIERBERG
On December 16, the theatre community gathered for a once-in-a-lifetime afternoon of stories and performances in honor of the 21-time Tony winner. Here’s what you may have missed.
JM: Ragtime Actor’s Fund Benefit, who will play Marin role?
A concert version of the Tony-nominated musical Ragtime will be presented April 27, 2020, at the Minskoff Theatre to benefit The Actors Fund.
The evening will feature original cast members, including six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald as Sarah and two-time Tony winner Brian Stokes Mitchell as Coalhouse Walker, Jr., with additional casting to be announced. Stafford Arima will direct with music supervision by David Loud. The conductor is James Moore.
The concert will be dedicated to the late Marin Mazzie, who received one of her three Tony nominations for her portrayal of Mother in the original 1998 production.
Film and Television:
Michael’s Music Moment:
Drive It Like You Stole It (Sing Street) – Darren Criss – Elsie Fest 2016
Our Time (2019 Hal Prince memorial)
Jason Robert Brown
ENSEMBLE MEMBERS: Sierra Boggess, Norm Lewis, Howard McGillin, Hugh Panaro, Ali Ewoldt, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Anthony Crivello, Loni Ackerman, Nancy Opel, Mary-Pat Green, Sal Mistretta, George Lee Andrews, Gregg Edelman, David Pittu, Jason Danieley, Harolyn Blackwell, Jessica Tyler Wright, Richard Kind, Chip Zien, Brooks Ashmanskas, Billy Porter, Jessica Molaskey, Andrea Burns, Bryonha Marie Parham, Kaley Voorhees, Janet Dacal, Karen Ziemba, Chuck Cooper, Brandon Uranowitz, Tony Yazbeck, Georgia Stitt, Rebekah Melocik, Jacob Yandura, Amanda Green, Tom Kitt, Michael John LaChiusa, Lonny Price, Jim Walton, Ann Morrison
Other Music: Memories from www.bensound.com
Email addresses: see above in bios
BroadwayRadio Phone / Voicemail: +1-888-285-4666
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