This Week on Broadway for February 23, 2020: The Sabbath Girl @ 59e59

Peter Filichia, James Marino, and Michael Portantiere talk about Zoe Caldwell, The Sabbath Girl @ 59e59, Mack & Mabel @ New York City Center, A Cocktail Party Social Experiment @ The Chelsea Music Hall, and Rules of Desire @ The Playroom Theatre.


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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 BroadwayBroadway Select and many other places.

James Marino | [email protected] | Twitter | Facebook

Michael Portantiere | [email protected] | Facebook
MICHAEL PORTANTIERE is a theater reviewer and essayist. He is the founder and editor of 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

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Zoe Caldwell: 1933 – 2020
Four-Time Tony Award-winning actress
Zoe Caldwell, the four-time Tony Award-winning Broadway actress, died peacefully at the age of 86 at her home in Pound Ridge, New York, on Sunday, February 16, 2020. The cause of death was complications due to Parkinson’s disease, according to her son, Charlie Whitehead. Miss Caldwell was born September 14, 1933 in Melbourne, Australia, to plumber and ballroom bouncer Edgar Caldwell and Zoe Hivon, a taxi-dancer. She began her professional career at age nine in a production of Peter Pan and went on to appear in productions at Melbourne’s Union Theatre Repertory Company and the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Company. She moved to London to join the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1959. She began her American career as an original member of the company at the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. She made her Broadway debut in 1965 in The Devils followed in 1966 by her Tony Award-winning performance in Slapstick Tragedy. She also won Tony Awards for her performances in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1968), Medea (1982), and Master Class (1995).

Miss Caldwell married the noted theatre producer and director Robert Whitehead in 1968. They were together until his death in 2002. She is survived by two sons, Sam and Charlie Whitehead; and 2 young grandchildren Ross and Ward Whitehead.

MP: Feedback of Michael’s Spring Awakening review from last week

Presley Ryan Steps In as Lydia in Beetlejuice; Sophia Anne Caruso Plays Final Performance

Peter’s Trivia Answer

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PF: The Sabbath Girl @ 59e59, through March 8, 2020
By Cary Gitter
Directed by Joe Brancato

Angie Mastrantoni has a lot going for her: a job at a hip art gallery, a new apartment on the Upper West Side, but not much time or hope for relationships. Then her neighbor Seth, a divorced Orthodox Jew with a knish store on the Lower East Side, knocks on her door.

A brand new romantic comedy from the company behind After, Small World, and Freed. Written by Cary Gitter, a two-time O’Neill semifinalist and Jewish Plays Project finalist, The Sabbath Girl explores the loneliness of big-city life and the possibility of finding love next door.

Produced by: Penguin Rep Theatre, in association with Morton Wolkowitz and Joseph Grosso

MP: Mack & Mabel @ New York City Center, February 19 – 23, 2020

Book by Michael Stewart
Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman
Revised version by Francine Pascal
Based on an idea by Leonard Spigelgass
Featuring The Encores! Orchestra
Music Director Rob Berman
Directed and Choreographed by Josh Rhodes

Starring Major Attaway, Michael Berresse, Lilli Cooper, Ben Fankhauser, Jordan Gelber, Evan Kasprzak, Raymond J. Lee, Kevin Ligon, Janet Noh, Allen Lewis Rickman, Douglas Sills, and Alexandra Socha.

With Alex Julian Aquilino, Matt Bauman, Maria Briggs, Julian R. Decker, Sara Esty, Paige Faure, Haley Fish, Leslie Donna Flesner, Garett Hawe, Leah Horowitz, Matt Moisey, Madison Stratton, Diana Vaden, Jacob Keith Watson, Kristen Beth Williams, Darius Wright, Joy Woods, and Richard Riaz Yoder.

Encores! Artistic Director Jack Viertel
Encores! Music Director Rob Berman

Original New York Production Directed and Choreographed by Gower Champion

“Jerry Herman’s buoyant score…has such an embracing loveliness that it trails you right out the door post-show, its romance buoying you like a gentle tide through the Midtown streets”
—The New York Times

“Even the soberest of theater-goer can surrender all hope, for there is no resisting the wildly addictive music and lyrics of Mack & Mabel”
—New York Theater Guide

The Encores! season opens with Mack & Mabel, which tells the story of one of silent film’s first great pioneers, Mack Sennett, played by Douglas Sills (War Paint, The Scarlet Pimpernel), and his first great discovery and muse, the comedienne Mabel Normand, played by Alexandra Socha (Head Over Heels, Spring Awakening). “Sills gives an emotional and vocally rich performance. Socha, also with a big voice and big personality, makes for an endearing and playful Mabel.” (am New York)

Mack makes Mabel a star and love blossoms. But Mack’s insatiable drive to succeed and Mabel’s natural vulnerability—the key to her audience appeal—turn their love affair into a high wire act with no net.

The Mack & Mabel cast album has been treasured by musical theater lovers for decades, though only a few of them ever got to see the actual show. The late Jerry Herman’s score produced “graceful hummability” (The New York Times) in two ballads that have become standards of the American songbook: “Time Heals Everything” and “I Won’t Send Roses.” “If, during that song you feel the urge to stage an intervention to stop Mabel from getting involved with this willful cad, that is to Socha’s credit” (The New York Times).

But many more of the numbers, including “Look What Happened to Mabel” and “Movies Were Movies”—both of which were performed by Sills and Socha in Hey, Look Me Over! as part of the Encores! 2018 season—showcase the upbeat, sunny, irresistible melodies for which the composer of Hello, Dolly! and Mame is so justly celebrated.

New York City Center’s Encores! production of Mack & Mabel is dedicated to the memory of Jerry Herman (1931-2019).

Mack & Mabel is part of the 2020 Encores! season along with Love Life and Thoroughly Modern Millie.

PF: A Cocktail Party Social Experiment @ The Chelsea Music Hall, 407 West 15th Street
Created by Wil Petre.

Next Experiments:
Mon March 16th @ Chelsea Music Hall
Mon April 13th @ Chelsea Music Hall
This is a 21+ event.

Question – Can we create an along experience in which a group of strangers can get to know each other in a deeper and more meaningful way?

Hypothesis – Yes

Procedure – Armed with cocktails and a party game, 8 strangers navigate a cocktail party, skip the small talk, and get into the good stuff.

Come witness (and be a part of): A Cocktail Party Social Experiment

Show ends by 9pm and guests are invited to stay for drinks, music and conversation.

(note: 8 participants will be chosen from guests who willfully wish to participate. This event is catered for players and voyeurs alike. If you wish to put your name in to participate, please arrive no later than 6:40pm.)

PF: Rules of Desire @ The Playroom Theatre, 151 West 46th Street, through March 21, 2020

Eric Krebs
Presents the World Premiere Off Broadway of
“Rules of Desire”
A new Play
By William Mastrosimone
Directed by William Roudebush

Featuring: Tristan Biber, Mckenna Harrington, Christopher Sutton

Rules of Desire, a new play by award-winning playwright William Mastrosimone (Extremities) will have its world premiere Off Broadway in a limited engagement. Produced by Eric Krebs

A startling and timely play by the author of Extremities, Rules of Desire, explores issues of power, self-preservation and profound humanism in the context of a frightening, beautiful drama. Three characters battle for love, lust and survival with stealth and a surprising element of comedy.

Directed by William Roudebush, the cast will feature newcomers Tristan Biber and McKenna Harrington making their New York stage debuts, and Christopher Sutton (God Shows Up, Spamalot).

“Just when I thought there was nothing new and exciting for me in the theater, I went to a one-night reading of Rules of Desire,” says producer Eric Krebs. “It knocked my head off, and the next day I offered to produce it. It is beautifully written, frightening and profound. We have assembled a first-rate cast of three, two of whom, I am proud to say, will make their New York City debuts in Rules of Desire. Watch out! This play is dangerously provocative.”

The creative team for Rules of Desire includes Rob Wolin (set design), Joseph Shrope (costume design), Joan Racho-Jansen (lighting design) and Andy Evan Cohen (projection and sound design). Michael Tosto is Production Stage Manager.

Rules of Desire will play the following performance schedule: Monday through Saturday at 7:30pm. All tickets are $59 and may be purchased online at


Film and Television:



Post Script:

Michael’s Music Moment:


Coming Soon: 

JM + MP + PF: Transport Group’s production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown @ Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street, through March 22, 2020

Transport Group presents a revitalized version of the musical tale of Margaret “Molly” Brown — still the character you know and the songs you love but a story that’s new and true. This is Molly as she really was: vibrant, progressive, and ready to fight for the underdog as a champion of women’s rights, labor rights, and immigration reform. Transport Group’s production, starring Beth Malone, marks this show’s off-Broadway debut, and the first production in New York since its Broadway premiere in 1960.

Explicit: No


Mack & Mabel Overture

Other Music: Memories from

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