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Creative

8 Shows Opening on Broadway in October

Mother Nature has her faux fur coat on the foot of her bed and she’s almost ready to step out for New York’s hottest shows. We are here to celebrate the eight shows that will open up on Broadway before October.

October 2
Leopoldstadt (Longacre Theatre)

  • Olivier Award Winning NEW play by Tom Stoppard
  • Features 38 actors
  • Tom Stoppard’s “most personal work of his career”
  • From Director Patrick Marber (Closer, Tom Stoppard’s Travesties)

October 3
Cost of Living (Samuel J. Friedman Theatre)

  • Winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize
  • Martyna Marjok is a new playwright with a very promising future (she’s penning The Great Gatsby with Florence Welch)
  • Kara Young stars after exploding onto the Broadway stage after Clyde’s

October 6
1776 (American Airlines Theatre)

  • Reimagined revival with an all woman presenting cast
  • Jeffrey L. Page (Violet, FELA!) and Diane Paulus (Waitress, Pippin, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Jagged Little Pill) co-directs
  • Carolee Carmello is back on Broadway after 6 years

October 9
Death of a Salesman (Hudson Theatre)

  • Marianne Elliott (Company, Angels in America, Warhorse) directs this critically-acclaimed West End Transfer
  • Tony Award Nominee and Multi-Olivier Award Winner Sharon D. Clarke, Wendell Pierce (HBO’s The Wire) and the incomparable André De Shields round out this powerhouse cast
  • The Black actors portraying the Loman family during the 1940s transcends the writing making an even harder hit for Willy, his wife and his boys

October 13
The Piano Lesson (Ethel Barrymore Theatre)

  • Samuel L Jackson and Danielle Brooks return to Broadway in this much-anticipated revival
  • Directed by Latanya Richardson Jackson
  • August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize Winning Masterpiece about how we perceive our past

October 20
Topdog/Underdog (John Golden Theatre)

  • The first ever Suzan-Lori Parks’ Pulitzer Prize-winning drama revival
  • Kenny Leon directs
  • New York Times says it’s “the Greatest Plays of the last 25 years”

October 27
Take Me Out (Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre)

  • The hit revival is back from it’s sold-out run at the Helen Hayes
  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson won his first Tony Award for this hilarious and heart-breaking role
  • A scintillating drama about being authentically oneself and the importance of friendship and community

October 27
Walking with Ghosts (Music Box Theatre)

  • Gabriel Byrne (Hereditary, HBO’s In Treatment) returns to Broadway with his one-man staged biography
  • The incredible Lonny Price directs
  • The Times calls it “Spell-binding”

NOVEMBER OPENINGS

November 3 – Almost Famous (Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre)

November 10 – Kimberly Akimbo (Booth Theatre)

November 13 – Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man & the Pool (Vivian Beaumont Theater)

November 17 – & Juliet (Stephen Sondheim Theatre)

November 20 – KPOP (Circle in the Square Theatre)

November 21 – A Christmas Carol (Nederlander Theatre)

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Cover Story Creative

History of Movies to Musicals on Broadway

The 2017-2018 Broadway season reached 13,792,614 in attendance and grossed over $1.6 million. Despite these record setting numbers, discussion and debate broke out amongst fans as all four Tony nominated Best Musicals were stage adaptations of films; The Band’s Visit, SpongeBob SquarePants the Musical, Frozen, and Mean Girls. 

The Broadway cast of Some Like It Hot

A major criticism of Broadway is the trend of stage adaptations of popular movies, which has been featured heavily in recent seasons. With this upcoming season having two announced adaptations, Almost Famous and Some Like It Hot, and even more rumored for the future including The Notebook, The Devil Wears Prada, and a transfer of the West End’s Back to the Future, there is an understandable interest in the creation and development of original stories on Broadway. What many theatergoers are unaware of is that this trend isn’t new to Broadway. In fact, Broadway has a long history of translating movies to the stage including some classic and fan favorite shows. 

Little Shop Of Horrors

While some adaptations are more obvious, such as the Disney Broadway catalog including shows like Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, and The Lion King, many well known theater classics were inspired by movies. Sondheim and Wheeler’s A Little Night Music, which originally opened on Broadway in 1973 and ran for 601 performances, is based on the 1955 Ingmar Bergman film Smiles of a Summer Night. The well-known Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon staple Sweet Charity, written by Neil SImon with music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Dorothy Fields, is based on the 1957 screenplay Nights of Cabiria. Little Shop of Horrors, whose award winning Off-Broadway revival is currently running at the Westside Theatre, is based on the low budget 1960 dark comedy, The Little Shop of Horrors. Andrew Lloyd Webbers’ Sunset Boulevard, which broke advance sale records and sold over 1 million tickets with its original Broadway production, is based on the 1950 film of the same name. Some other classics include Nine, based on Frederico Fellini’s 1963 film 8½, On The 20th Century, based on the 1930s film of the same name, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s State Fair, and Promises, Promises, based on the 1960 film The Apartment.  

Heathers The Musical on Roku

Beyond the classics, many fan favorites, such as Heathers which currently has a production on the West End, are based on films. The 2007 Legally Blonde, which has become a go-to for many community theaters and High Schools across the country, is heavily based heavily on the 2001 film starring Reese Witherspoon as well as the Amanda Brown novel. The beloved Sara Bareilles musical Waitress, which ran on Broadway from 2016 to 2020 and returned in a limited engagement in 2021, is based on the 2007 film written by Adrienne Shelly. Other fan favorite adaptations include the currently running Beetlejuice, based on the Tim Burton horror comedy, 9 to 5, based on the 1980 film, Anastasia, based on the 1997 animated movie, and many more. 

Billy Elliott the Musical

Some screen to stage adaptations have even garnered critical acclaim and gone on to win Tony Awards, such as Once, which won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Musical. Carnival, which won the 1962 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical and an Outer Critics Circle Award, was based on the 1953 film Lili. The 2013 winner Kinky Boots, which ran on Broadway for 2,507 performances and is currently running Off-Broadway at Stage 42, is based on a 2005 British film of the same name. The 2021 Tony Award-winning Best Musical, Moulin Rouge!, is based on the 2001 film starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor. Other Tony Award winning adaptations include Billy Elliot the Musical, Spamalot, Hairspray, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Producers, and Passion. 

The river flows both ways. While many musicals based on films have gone on to win awards and break records, Hollywood continues to turn out movies based on beloved Broadway shows. In the last 5 years alone, there have been a slew of film adaptations of Musicals including Jonathan Larsons’ Tick, Tick…Boom, directed by Lin Manuel Miranda starring Andrew Garfield, a remake of West Side Story directed by Stephen, In The Heights, 13, The Prom, Dear Evan Hansen, and The Last 5 Years (although this came out in 2014 and has yet to have a Broadway production). Coming to Netflix this December will be a movie adaptation of the acclaimed musical Matilda. The long-running Broadway musical Wicked, which has multiple national tours and international productions, has a film adaptation in the late stages of development starring Ariana Grande, Cynthia Erivo, and Jonathan Bailey. 

While there should be a healthy mix of original stories and adaptations in commercial theater, the relationship between Broadway and the silver screen has an extensive history that shouldn’t be dismissed. If a screen to stage adaptation is done well, it has the potential to connect with audiences, set records, and become a staple in the theater canon. 

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Creative

Celebrating the Jewish Holidays with Iconic Moments in the American Musical Theatre

by Sydney Lydecker

Is there anything more moving or beautifully rendered than the Sabbath Prayer from “Fiddler on the Roof”.  Whether it was recently celebrated on Broadway by Danny Burstein or is currently in its fourth year in a record-breaking national tour, whether it is done in English or in Yiddish by Steven Skybell about to return to New York for the holiday season in the unique Joel Grey production, this is a highlight of one of the great American musicals.

Danny Burstein (Photo: Joan Marcus) Steven Skybell
(Photo © Matthew Murphy)

What better time to listen to “Falsettoland” which not only has its youngest protagonist singing about “The Miracle of Judaism” but then also has the ensemble celebrating “Jason’s Bar Mitzvah”.  William Finn is not the only acclaimed composer-lyricist that has explored the Bar Mitzvah on stage—one could go back 60 years ago when Harold Rome’s heartfelt “A Gift Today” was sung (by Elliot Gould, no less) to Sheldon the young Bar Mitzvah in “I Can Get It For Your Wholesale”. 

And composer Jule (“Gypsy,” “Funny Girl”) Styne, one of the most prolific of Broadway composers, couldn’t get his musical “Bar Mitzvah Boy” to Broadway (it played in London and was introduced in New York by the American Jewish Theatre) but if you can find the original British recording, take a listen to the obscure song “The Bar Mitzvah of Eliot Green”.

Stephen Bogardus, Barbara Walsh, Chip Zien, Jonathan Kaplan, Michael Rupert, Heather MacRae and Carolee Carmello in the original Broadway production of Falsettos Photo by Carol Rosegg – pictured right, Elliot Gould

Looking forward to Jerry Herman’s “Dear World” at Encores this coming season.  Well, before that there was “Hello, Dolly!” and “Mame” and after that came “Mack and Mabel” and “La Cage Aux Folles”.   But in his very first show, Herman said hello to Broadway with “Shalom”, the opening number of his vastly underrated score for “Milk and Honey”.  That may not have been the first time that word found itself in a Broadway lyric but it definitely was the first Broadway song to use that word in the title.   When “Milk and Honey” arrived on Broadway in the state of Israel had recently celebrated its Bar Mitzvah as a nation and the rousing title song was a paean to the spirit, humanity, the dreams and the hopes of that country.

Last season the Tony nominated revival of “Caroline, Or Change” reminded us of the  Festival of Lights, with its joyous “The Chanukah Party”.  The Tesori-Kushner score was even handed with its equal appreciation of that other seasonal holiday with its lively “Santa Comin Caroline”.   Theatergoers can look forward later this fall to the latest Jeanine Tesori score when “Kimberly Akimbo” arrives on Broadway at the Booth Theatre.

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Finally let us salute, with break fasts coming up in at the conclusion of Yom Kippur, the ultimate panacea proscribed by almost every Jewish mother.  Again we reference “I Can Get It For You Wholesale” with the quiet but powerfully moving finale (in the original production) of “Eat a Little Something”, sung by Mrs. Bogen to her son Harry, whose ambition and manipulation has come tumbling down on his friends, family and business empire.

Lillian Roth

Maybe “Milk and Honey” at a future Encores; maybe “I Can Get It For You Wholesale” at a major revival of a resident theatre.  Maybe happy New Beginning and Ending for them both, as we wish you a Happy New Year from Broadway’s Best Shows.

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Creative

Stupid Kids

STUPID KIDS
By John C. Russell
Directed By Michael Mayer
Starring John Clay III, Lauren Patten, Ali Stroker and Taylor Trensch
With Stage Directions By Christian Borle

Stupid Kids premiered Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021 at 8:00PM ET/5PM PST and was available to stream on demand through Saturday, September 25th at 6:00PM ET.

STUPID KIDS follows four students at Joe McCarthy High School as they make their way from first through eighth period and beyond, struggling with the fears, frustrations, and longings peculiar to youth. With his magical touch, John C. Russell turns these familiar stereotypes into moving and provocative archetypes of adolescence whose lingo takes on a lyricism that is both true to its source and revelatory of the hearts and minds of contemporary youth.

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Creative

Dear Elizabeth: Introduction

“Sometimes it seems…as though only intelligent people are stupid enough to fall in love & only stupid people are intelligent enough to let themselves be loved.” – Elizabeth Bishop, from her notebook

Dream

I see a postman everywhere

Vanishing in thin blue air,

A mammoth letter in his hand.

Postmarked from a foreign land.

The postman’s uniform is blue.

The letter is of course from you

And I’d be able to read, I hope,

My own name on the envelope

But he has trouble with this letter

Which constantly grows bigger & bigger

And over and over with a stare,

He vanishes in blue, blue air. 

–Elizabeth Bishop, Uncollected Poems, Drafts and Fragments

“Elizabeth told me about Robert Lowell. She said, “He’s my best friend.” When I met him a few years later, I mentioned that I knew her and he said, “Oh, she’s my best friend.” It was nice to think that she and Lowell both thought of each other in the same way” (Thom Gunn, Remembering Elizabeth Bishop, 244.)

“While we were with her, she managed to finish ‘North Haven,’ the poem [or elegy] for Lowell. She read it to us and walked about with it in her hand. I found it very moving that she felt she could hardly bear to put it down, that it was part of her. She put it beside her plate at dinner” (Ilsa Barker, Remembering Elizabeth Bishop, 344)

“I can remember Cal’s carrying Elizabeth’s “Armadillo” poem around in his wallet everywhere, not the way you’d carry the picture of a grandson, but as you’d carry something to brace you and make you sure of how a poem ought to be.” (Richard Wilbur, Remembering Elizabeth Bishop, 108)


FORWARD 

The great poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell were great friends, and they wrote over eight hundred pages of letters to one other. When I was on bed-rest, pregnant with twins, a friend gave me their book of collected letters Words in Air: the complete correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. I already had a long-standing obsession with Elizabeth Bishop; my obsession with Lowell and their friendship now began. I could not put the letters down. I hungered to hear them read aloud; I particularly longed to hear letter number 157 read out loud. Number 157 is Lowell’s most confessional letter to Bishop, and I think, one of the most beautiful love letters ever written. In it, he says, about not asking Bishop to marry him: “Asking you is the might have been for me, the one towering change, the other life that might have been had.” 

Reading these eight hundred pages, these strands of two lives, intersecting, rarely meeting–I thought: why do I find this narrative so compelling, even though theirs is not a story in the traditional sense? I was desperate to know how the “story” would come out—how each life would progress, how the relation would end. But I also loved how the letters resisted a sense of the usual literary “story”—how instead, the letters forced us to look at life as it is lived. Not neat. Not two glorious Greek arcs meeting in the center. Instead: a dialectic between the interior poetic life and the pear-shaped, particular, sudden, ordinary life-as-it-is-lived. 

Life intrudes, without warning. Elizabeth Bishop’s great love and partner Lota commits suicide without much warning. Bishop has multiple asthma attacks, and often needs to be hospitalized for alcoholism and depression. Robert Lowell dies suddenly of a heart attack in a taxi cab en route to see his ex-wife, Elizabeth Hardwick. As he died in the taxi he held a painting of his third wife, painted by her ex-husband, Lucian Freud. Lowell had bipolar disorder, and often found himself quite suddenly in a sanitarium. Bishop and Lowell’s carefully built, Platonic poetic worlds are intruded on constantly by the vagaries of life and the body. And through such sudden disturbances, their letters were like lanterns sent to one another across long distances. Bishop lived in Brazil most of her life, and Lowell lived in New York, Boston and London. Their friendship was lived largely on paper, though they met at crucial times in their lives. 

Bishop was in New York when Lota commited suicide, and she stayed at Hardwick and Lowell’s apartment. They paid for her ambulance ride through Central Park, a result of a bad fall she took, perhaps induced by too much drink, after Lota’s suicide. Bishop was plagued her whole life with alcoholism; at one point a friend eliminated all the liquor in her house and Bishop was reduced to drinking rubbing alcohol and ended up in the hospital. Lowell visited Bishop in South America and was hospitalized in Argentina for a manic episode. 

Their correspondence spans political epochs—coups in Brazil, the Vietnam war—personal epochs, and literary epochs. Bishop observes Lowell’s trajectory as he creates the confessional movement in poetry. I love, in the letters, the extraordinary dialectic between Lowell’s more confessional mode and Bishop’s formal restraint. Her disgust for the confessional, however, didn’t keep her from loving Lowell’s poetry. They both carried each other’s poems in their minds and in their pockets. Lowell carried Bishop’s Armadillo (a poems she dedicated to Lowell) in his wallet, a kind of talisman for how a poem ought to be. 

Lowell wrote Skunk Hour for Bishop, as well as many sonnets, and a poem called “Water”, about a seminal weekend the two of them spent in Maine. 

After Lowell divorced Jean Stafford in July of 1948, he visited Elizabeth Bishop in Maine. It’s a visit they would both return to again and again in their letters and in their poetry. It’s impossible to reconstruct exactly what happened; we know from letters and poems that they spent the weekend together, at one point standing waist high in water, and Bishop said to Lowell, “When you write my epitaph, you must say I was the loneliest person who ever lived.” Bishop wrote later that they were: “Swimming, or rather standing, numb to the waist in the freezing cold water, but continuing to talk. If I were to think of any Saint in his connection then it is St. Sebastian—he stood in a rocky basin of the freezing water, sloshing it over his handsome youthful body and I could almost see the arrows sticking out of him.” 

We know that shortly after that visit, Lowell told some friends he was going to marry Bishop. Soon after, they had a drunken weekend at Bard where many poets were gathered. Lowell was rumored to have proposed to her that weekend. Bishop wrote to another friend, “Saturday night was worst—a really drunken party, I’m afraid, with everyone behaving very much the way poets are supposed to.” In another account, Bishop remembers that she and Elizabeth Hardwick had helped a drunken Lowell back to his room, taken off his shoes and tie, loosened his shirt, upon which Hardwick said, “Why, he’s an Adonis!” and Bishop said “from then on I knew it was all over.” 

We also know from their friend Joseph Summers that at the end of the Bard weekend, “He and Elizabeth seemed to be very much in love that weekend. He was saying, ‘Now let me know when you are coming back.’ And she said, “I don’t know.’ “Let me know where you are,” and so on.” Another friend reports, “She told us at one point she loved Cal more than anybody she’d ever known, except for Lota, but that he would destroy her.” And from another friend: Lowell “was the one of the few people Bishop addressed in her poems. She said that he had proposed to her, and she had turned him down.” Apparently her greatest regret was not having a child, and she considered having one with Lowell early on, but worried about the history of mental illness in both of their families. 

The gaps between their letters, the mysterious interludes in which Lowell and Bishop actually saw each other, leaves much to the imagination. Their letters are so hyper-articulate that one almost has the impression that no bits of life were lived without been written down. These silences between the letters fascinated me as much as the letters themselves. But rather than invent dialogue for these interludes in which they actually met, it felt important to me to let Bishop and Lowell speak only in their own words. Bishop’s reserve, and her insistence on not mixing fact and fiction, was always with me as I arranged the letters. All the words from the play are taken from their letters and from their poetry. 

There are many ways to do this play. One can imagine the full spectacle I have suggested in the stage directions, complete with planets appearing and water rushing onto the stage, as in its premier at Yale Repertory Theater. I wanted to see the images in their letters made three- dimensional, to somehow see the reach of their imagery. But I’m also interested in how much the language can do all by itself. One can imagine, for example, a simple book club version. I saw pictures of one such event in Illinois and was very moved by the simplicity of non-actors who loved poetry reading the letters out loud to fellow travelers. One could also 

imagine doing the play in a library, at a poetry foundation, or even doing the play on the set for another play on its dark Monday night. You really need nothing more than a table and two chairs for two wonderful actors who could even read the letters straight from the page rather than memorizing them. You might then use someone to read stage directions rather than projecting subtitles. 

Regardless of how the play is performed, in a theater or in a room, when I first read the letters, I felt that they demanded to be read out loud, whether by actors or by lay-people. Bishop and Lowell had unerring, consummate ears, and they wrote poetry for a time when Lowell could command massive crowds in Madison Square Gardens, all gathered to hear him read his poems out loud. I offer this arrangement, then, in the spirit of a contemporary hunger to hear poetry out loud. I think we are starved for the sound of poetry. I wonder if Bishop and Lowell are among the last great people of letters to write out their lives in letter form. Their letters become almost a medieval church constructed in praise of friendship. It’s difficult to write about friendship. Our culture is inundated with the story of romantic love. We understand how romantic love begins, how it ends. We don’t understand, in neat narrative fashion, how friendship begins, how it endures. And yet life would be unbearable without friendship.

– Sarah Ruhl

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Creative

A Show of Titles Preview!

We can’t wait to have you join us for our presentation of Show of Titles, streaming from Sunday, June 13 at 7pm EST to Thursday, June 17 at 4pm EST.

We’ve created a Spotify playlist of some classic title songs you can expect to hear during the show. Check it out below!

Broadway’s Best Shows is proud to present Show of Titles, a musical extravaganza with dozens of Broadway stars performing the title songs from over 20 beloved musicals to benefit The Actors Fund.

With Performances by Annaleigh Ashford, Glenn Close, Len Cariou, Gavin Creel, Darren Criss, Santino Fontana, Kelsey Grammer, David Alan Grier, Jake Gyllenhaal, Isabelle Huppert, Norm Lewis, Patti LuPone, Rob McClure, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Melba Moore, Jessie Mueller, Eva Noblezada, Kelli O’Hara, Laura Osnes, Steven Pasquale, Michael Rupert, Ernie Sabella, Lea Salonga, Phillipa Soo, Will Swenson, Aaron Tveit, Leslie Uggams, Vanessa Williams, Patrick Wilson, and more!

And Special Appearances by Broadway Inspirational Voices, Candice Bergen, Danny Burstein, Bryan Cranston, Sheldon Harnick, John Kander, Angela Lansbury, John Leguizamo, John Lithgow, Lindsay Mendez, Phylicia Rashad, BD Wong & Florian Zeller.

Show of Titles premieres on Stellar at 7PM ET / 4PM PT on Sunday, June 13th and will be available for a limited time only.

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Creative

Spotlight on Plays – Spring 2021

Broadway’s Best Shows is proud to present Spotlight on Plays, a starry series of livestream readings of Broadway’s best plays to benefit The Actors Fund (now the Entertainment Community Fund).

With Jason Alexander, Debbie Allen, Ellen Burstyn, Bobby Cannavale, Alfred Enoch, Carla Gugino, Kathryn Hahn, Kevin Kline, Eric McCormack, Audra McDonald, Mary-Louise Parker, Phylicia Rashad, Keanu Reeves, Heidi Schreck, Alia Shawkat, Meryl Streep, and many more. 

The Spring 2021 season of Spotlight on Plays, a celebration of women playwrights, raised over $100,000 for the Entertainment Community Fund.

The seven productions were produced and captured entirely virtually by dedicated digital line production and post-production teams with each show’s cast, creative, and crew scattered across the United States and the world. The playwrights and directors were intimately involved in the process and often made adjustments to the material to better adhere to the medium.

We are proud to have given a platform to women playwrights, continuing to make theatre while in-person live entertainment was shut down, and fundraising for those in need in our community while keeping each other safe and healthy.

The virtual series has acted as an incubator for upcoming Broadway productions, with The Thanksgiving Play and Ohio State Murders recently announcing Broadway runs, and more are currently in discussion.

Thank you to our streaming and ticketing partner Stellar Tickets!


THE THANKSGIVING PLAY
By Larissa FastHorse
Directed By Leigh Silverman
Starring Bobby Cannavale, Keanu Reeves, Heidi Schreck and Alia Shawkat

Larissa FastHorse’s wickedly funny comedy finds a troupe of terminally “woke” teaching artists scrambling to create a pageant that manages to celebrate both Turkey Day and Native American Heritage Month. “A delicious roasting” (The New York Times) of the politics of entertainment and political correctness, The Thanksgiving Play puts the American origin story in the comedy-crosshairs.

Premiered Thursday, March 25th, 2021 at 8:00PM ET


ANGRY, RAUCOUS AND SHAMELESSLY GORGEOUS
By Pearl Cleage
Directed By Camille A. Brown
Starring Debbie Allen, Phylicia Rashad, Heather Alicia Simms, and Alicia Stith

Pearl Cleage’s “funny and hopeful” (Georgia Magazine) comedy is all about aging gracefully and gorgeously. Anna Campbell, now 65, sparked controversy when she bared it all on stage years ago. When a theatre festival asks to re-stage the work with a younger actress in her role, dramatic and comic fireworks ensue.

Premiered Thursday, April 8th, 2021 at 8:00PM ET


THE BALTIMORE WALTZ
by Paula Vogel
Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz
Starring Mary-Louise Parker, Eric McCormack, and Brandon Burton

A comic and dramatic fantasia based on the love and adventures of a brother and sister, one of whom has a fatal disease.  Winner of the 1992 Obie Award for Best New American Play.

Premiered Thursday, April 29th, 2021 at 8:00PM ET


WATCH ON THE RHINE
By Lillian Hellman
Directed by Sarna Lapine
Starring Ellen Burstyn, Alan Cox, Sasha Diamond, Alfred Enoch, Carla Gugino, Luca Padovan, Mary Beth Peil, Gabriella Pizzolo, Neel Sethi, and Jeremy Shamos

Written and set during the rise of Hitler’s Germany, Watch on the Rhine is a play about an American family, suddenly awakened to the danger threatening its liberty.  Hellman’s powerful drama won the 1941 New York Drama Critics Circle Award.

Premiered Thursday, May 13th, 2021 at 8:00PM ET


THE SISTERS ROSENSWEIG
By Wendy Wasserstein
Directed by Anna D. Shapiro
Starring Jason Alexander, John Behlmann, Tracee Chimo Pallero, Lisa Edelstein, Kathryn Hahn, Kathryn Newton, Chris Perfetti, and James Urbaniak

Three very different sisters reunite after a lengthy separation and discover humanity, respect, and love in this definitive serious comedy about sisterhood. 

Premiered Thursday, May 20th, 2021 at 8:00PM ET


OHIO STATE MURDERS
By Adrienne Kennedy
Directed by Kenny Leon
Starring Audra McDonald, Warner Miller, Lizan Mitchell, and Ben Rappaport

Ohio State Murders is an unusual look at the destructiveness of racism in the U.S.  When Suzanne Alexander, a fictional African American writer, returns to Ohio State University to talk about the violence in her writing, a dark mystery unravels.

Premiered Thursday, June 3rd, 2021 at 8:00PM ET


DEAR ELIZABETH
By Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Kate Whoriskey
Starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline

Based on the compiled letters between poets Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop, Dear Elizabeth maps the relationship of the two poets from first meeting to an abbreviated affairand the turmoil of their lives in between.

Premiered Thursday, June 17th, 2021 at 8:00PM ET


The Actors Fund envisions a world in which individuals contributing to our country’s cultural vibrancy are supported, valued and economically secure.

The Actors Fund fosters stability and resiliency, and provides a safety net for performing arts and entertainment professionals over their lifespan.

Categories
Creative

JUNE PROGRAMMING!

Show of Titles Ohio State Murders Dear Elizabeth

Show of Titles

Broadway’s Best Shows is proud to present Show of Titles, a musical extravaganza with dozens of Broadway stars performing the title songs from over 20 beloved musicals to benefit The Actors Fund.

With Performances by Annaleigh Ashford, Glenn Close, Len Cariou, Gavin Creel, Darren Criss, Santino Fontana, Kelsey Grammer, David Alan Grier, Jake Gyllenhaal, Isabelle Huppert, Norm Lewis, Patti LuPone, Rob McClure, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Melba Moore, Jessie Mueller, Eva Noblezada, Kelli O’Hara, Laura Osnes, Steven Pasquale, Michael Rupert, Ernie Sabella, Lea Salonga, Phillipa Soo, Will Swenson, Aaron Tveit, Leslie Uggams, Vanessa Williams, Patrick Wilson, and more!

And Special Appearances by Broadway Inspirational Voices, Candice Bergen, Danny Burstein, Bryan Cranston, Sheldon Harnick, John Kander, Angela Lansbury, John Leguizamo, John Lithgow, Lindsay Mendez, Phylicia Rashad, BD Wong & Florian Zeller.

Show of Titles premieres on Stellar at 7PM ET / 4PM PT on Sunday, June 13th and will be available for a limited time only.

Ohio State Murders

OHIO STATE MURDERS
By Adrienne Kennedy
Directed by Kenny Leon
Starring Audra McDonald, Warner Miller, Lizan Mitchell, Ben Rappaport

Ohio State Murders is an unusual look at the destructiveness of racism in the U.S.  When Suzanne Alexander, a fictional African American writer, returns to Ohio State University to talk about the violence in her writing, a dark mystery unravels.

Premieres Thursday, June 3rd, 2021 at 8:00PM ET – available to stream on demand for four days ONLY through Monday, June 7th at 6:00PM ET (date subject to change)

Dear Elizabeth

DEAR ELIZABETH
By Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Kate Whoriskey
Starring Kevin Kline and Meryl Streep

Based on the compiled letters between poets Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop, Dear Elizabeth maps the relationship of the two poets from first meeting to an abbreviated affairand the turmoil of their lives in between.

Premieres Thursday, June 17th, 2021 at 8:00PM ET – available to stream on demand for four days ONLY through Monday, June 21st at 6:00PM ET (date subject to change)


The Actors Fund envisions a world in which individuals contributing to our country’s cultural vibrancy are supported, valued and economically secure.

The Actors Fund fosters stability and resiliency, and provides a safety net for performing arts and entertainment professionals over their lifespan.

Categories
Creative Interviews

Sarna Lapine On Directing “Watch On The Rhine” for Spotlight on Plays

Sarna Lapine (Sofia Colvin)

You are probably familiar with the name Sarna Lapine, you know, the director of “Sunday In The Park With George,” “Madame Butterfly,” “Little Women,” “War Horse” and “Dirty Dancing,” just to name a few. Well, Lapine has decided to turn her focus to a new production and is doing a livestream of Lillian Hellman’s, “Watch On The Rhine”, as part of the “Spotlight on Plays” series to benefit The Actors Fund, Thursday, May 13th at 8pm, livestreaming on Stellar. Yes, this Thursday, Lapine and a global cast will mount this production after only a three-day period of reflection and rehearsal and give a riveting performance of the classic antifascism, Nazi-Germany drama, set in a wealthy home in the United States.

Lapine, discussing this project, explained that “it’s the first thing I’ve done in this particular way, with the livestream.” The original Broadway production, which won a New York Drama Critics Circle Award in 1941, showed audiences 80 years ago, the depth of storytelling that Hellman was capable of. Reflecting on why she chose this play Lapine shared, “I think part of the reason I’ve had a diverse career is that my first love is reading and literature. I gravitate towards writers and stories that grab me by the throat. I had never seen or read this play and I was grabbed by it. It’s chilling because of how it resonates in this moment and time. One of the little handbooks I keep in my pocket is ‘On Tyranny Twenty lessons for the Twentieth Century’ by Timothy Snyder. I’m Jewish, so I have a close relationship to the history of WWII as a Jewish person. Because of my education in that, some of the things that Donald Trump and his party have stood for have frightened me, because there are echoes of Hitler and Nazism. Timothy Snyder’s book lays out lessons from history that can alert us to the rise of tyranny now. The last lesson is to be as courageous as you can. ‘If known of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die under tyranny,’ page 115. What was also a discovery in thinking about this book in relationship to this play is he echoes Hamlet, ‘the time is out of joint’. In Lillian’s play, Kurt (the main character) says, ‘the world is out of shape.’ Hellman was living this history, traveling the world, she had a front row seat to see fascism. I was struck by the fact that it opened on stage in 1941. She’s writing in the crucible of this moment and watching how it’s taking shape in the minds and hearts of ordinary citizens. It’s not a piece about heroes and villains, it’s about ordinary citizens in Europe and American and the decisions we make every single day that tip the hand of history…The piece gets to the heart of the moral, ethical and modern realities of what happens to citizens who are faced with the threat of tyranny. 80 years later it’s a continuum.”

The message of this play could not possibly resonate more than it does today. “At it’s core it’s a conversation. In this country, whether or not we stand and choice democracy, this is a conversation that I want to be in, even with people who don’t see the world the way I do.”

Staying true to the original 1940s based play, without the benefit of sets, costumes and a physical theatre, Lapine focused on the bottomline, “Plays are language based. The language of the play is routed in the period in which it was written. One esthetic choice I made was editing all the footage in Black and White, which gives a nod to the 1940s period in which the film was made. There are very few stage directions presented as title cards.

Pondering the challenges of doing a livestream, Lapine remarked, “The challenge is the lack of physical interpersonal connection. The energy that comes from being in a room with an amazing group of artists. Time is out of joint when we can’t live through that moment together and have the luxury of time to do a deep dive into the material.” Considering audiences consumption of the production, Lapine suggests watching with friends, so that you can discuss it afterwards.

Lapine will be directing an outstanding cast including Ellen Burstyn; Alan Cox; Sasha Diamond; Alfred Enoch; Carla Gugino; Luca Padovan; Mary Beth Peil; Gabriella Pizzolo; Neel Sethi and Jeremy Shamos. “This pandemic has been so devastating to our theater community. I almost have no words and still feel very much in that space. It’s a lot that has been lost and I think to make any contribution to this community is the least I can do. I want to work towards not only healing, but reimagining how we can rebuild ourselves in a healthier form, more sustainable and reflective of the world so many of us want to live in.”

Spotlight on Plays is presented by Broadway’s Best Shows. You can purchase individual tickets to Watch on the Rhine (May 13-17) at Stellar Tickets. All proceeds go to benefit The Actors Fund.


Linda Armstrong is a theatre critic with the New York Amsterdam News, Theatre Editor for Neworldreview.net, A&E Editor for Harlem News Group and has written for Playbill Online, had a Theatre column “On The Aisle” for Our Time Press, Network Journal Magazine, Show Business Weekly Newspaper, Headline Magazine, Theatre Week Magazine, Black Masks Magazine, and the New York Daily News. Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library interviewed her for their “Critical Perspectives” series, and she was cited on the Jeanne Parnell Radio Show in March 2021 as a Woman Making History.

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ARMIE HAMMER WITHDRAWS FROM THE MINUTES ON BROADWAY

PRODUCTION STILL ON TRACK FOR 2021-2022 SEASON

(New York, NY) Armie Hammer has withdrawn from the production of The Minutes for personal reasons.  

“I have loved every single second of working on The Minutes with the family I made from Steppenwolf. But right now I need to focus on myself and my health for the sake of my family. Consequently, I will not be returning to Broadway with the production.” – Armie Hammer

“Armie remains a valued colleague to all of us who have worked with him onstage and offstage on The Minutes. We wish only the best for him and respect his decision.” – A statement from The Minutes

As previously announced, Steppenwolf’s production of The Minutes by Tracy Letts, directed by Anna D. Shapiro, will return to Broadway in the 2021-2022 season.