Jena Tesse Fox, Peter Filichia, James Marino, and Michael Portantiere talk about the CATS film, the end of New York Musical Festival, Harold Prince Birthday Party, Sing Along Show and Tell, and New York Philharmonic’s Sondheim on New Year’s Eve. Jena reviews JF: Sing Street @ New York Theatre Workshop and The Thin Place @ Playwrights Horizons
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Jena Tesse Fox | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter
Jena is a theater writer and reviewer whose articles have appeared online at TimeOutNewYork.com, Playbill.com, BroadwayWorld.com and NewYorkTheaterGuide.com. She also has has her own podcast, Spotlight on the BroadwayRadio network.
Peter Filichia | email@example.com | 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 | firstname.lastname@example.org | 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.
Notes and links for the podcast.
Peter’s Trivia Answer
Curtain Goes Down on New York Musical Festival By Nancy Coleman
Faced with staff resignations and significant debt, the organization declared bankruptcy after 15 years.
The Board of Directors of the New York Musical Festival (NYMF) announced today that after 15 years of presenting vibrant, new musical theater, NYMF will cease operation immediately.
The first Festival, staged in 2004, featured over 30 new fully staged full-length musicals and was met with critical and popular acclaim. More than 400 shows have premiered at the Festival since then, featuring more than 8,000 artists and entertaining more than 300,000 audience members. The musicals and artists introduced at NYMF have, in turn, gone on to further successes on and Off-Broadway, across the country, and around the globe – reaching literally millions of theatergoers worldwide.
NYMF was honored with a 2013 Drama Desk Award recognizing its first decade of creating and nurturing new musical theatre, ensuring the future of this essential art form.
It is with a heavy heart that we face the reality of the arts funding crisis in the United States. It has caught up with NYMF. The Board and donors have been valiantly subsidizing NYMF operations for 15 years, but looking ahead, we do not see a clear path forward.
The Board would like to praise the current executive director Scott Pyne, artistic director West Hyler, their staffs, and the hundreds of creative teams who have participated over the years to create excellent new musicals.
The legacy of NYMF will live on in productions seen around the world for many years to come.
Previous discussion: This Week on Broadway for August 5, 2012: Carousel at Goodspeed, Isaac at NYMF
Company, Follies, A Little Night Music… Phantom, Evita, Cabaret, Fiddler… Merrily! Sweeney! West Side! Oh My… What’s your favorite? Lend your voice to our Harold Prince celebration. Play games, win prizes, and sing along to live performances of beloved songs from Harold Prince musicals.
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Date And Time: Thu, January 30, 2020, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM EST
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MP: New Year’s Eve – New York Philharmonic
Living legend and multi-award winner Stephen Sondheim’s oeuvre takes center stage at the New York Philharmonic’s New Year’s Eve concert, hosted by Sondheim specialist Bernadette Peters and featuring Tony Award winner Katrina Lenk (The Band’s Visit) — soon to star in Company — and music from Company, Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George, Sweeney Todd, and more. Ring in 2020 with the Philharmonic and the music of this American master!
JF: 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.
JF: 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.”
Film and Television:
Michael’s Music Moment:
Memory (From The Motion Picture Soundtrack “Cats”) · Jennifer Hudson
Taylor Swift – Beautiful Ghosts (From The Motion Picture “Cats” / Lyric Video)
Other Music: Memories from www.bensound.com
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