Eight Questions with Pulitzer Prize Winning and Cost of Living Playwright, Martyna Majok

By Robyn Roberts

Poland born Martyna Majok—her last name pronounced like “my oak”, which is perfect, really, because her path to get here is like that of a stunning and mighty tree that keeps growing upward—won the Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for her original play, Cost of Living. The play is a story about the relationships between the disabled and the abled, and the exploration into the parallels between the haves and the have-nots. Without even stopping to catch her breath as the curtain lifted on debut night, Majok graciously answered our most pressing questions we had for the playwright. 

Read on to learn how Majok draws on inspiration for her characters, her first peek at theatre (thanks, mom!), and how grief and financial instability led to a Pulitzer. 


1). Give us a brief synopsis of your background. What your hopes and dreams were as a child, and how you came to be the playwright you are today. 

I was born in Poland and came to America with my mom a few years after the fall of The Wall. We moved to working class North Jersey — right at the end of the PATH train — where my mom worked in factories and cleaned houses. I didn’t grow up with theatre. Then one day, while my mom was cleaning a house, she came across a pamphlet that had been set out for recycling. It was for “something called ‘Cabaret’.” And John Stamos was starring in it. So my mom brought it home for me, informing me that “Uncle Jessie was in NYC!”  Around that same time, I’d won $45 playing pool (at a pool hall ironically named ‘Guys & Dolls’), the most I’d ever won. And the cheapest tickets happened to be $45…

I knew nothing about the show going in. This, of course, turned out to be the iconic Sam Mendes’ production at Studio 54, originally starring Alan Cumming. I was shaken to be in a theatre, full of that much life. And I was moved to be experiencing a story that did not compromise the difficulties of the times — and that reality invited me into its world and storytelling. It communicated to me that both things could exist together — truth and generosity — that ultimately connected a group of strangers to each other and to their own lives. There were many steps and struggles along the way to becoming a playwright, but it was that experience that lit the fire in me. I wanted to devote my days to inspiring that much life in others. 

Ironbound (Round House Theatre) Josiah Bania (Maks) and Alexandra Henrikson (Darja). Photo: Cheyenne Michaels

2). Tell us a little about your first successful piece of work, when you knew that life and work would be a bit different thereafter. 

The most personally meaningful moment at one of my own plays was at the opening night performance of Ironbound in Round House Theatre in DC. The play is largely inspired by my mother’s life. Like many working class immigrants, she spent much of her life doing the physically demanding, undersung work that keeps this country running. I was sitting next to my mother in the theatre. And as the final lights went down on the show, and the audience leapt to their feet for a standing ovation, I felt like they were applauding my mother. Standing up for and seeing her life and her struggles.

3) What inspires you to write a new play or story? Is it the world around you, perhaps? Or, experiences taken from moments and people throughout your life? 

A combination. There’s usually something churning in my life that I’m having trouble looking at. Then, something external will unexpectedly hit against that and get my imagination going — a moment I’ve observed, an anecdote I’ve heard, something I’ve read. I start writing once I can hear dialogue. And I learn who my characters are as I go.

Many, though not all, of my characters are composites of people I know or have been. The humor of one person, a particular experience of another, the speaking rhythms of this one or that one, etc — I mix bits of myself and others, and situate them in worlds I’ve lived in. I write to find out what I feel.

4) For Cost of Living, what inspired you to write this story? 

Grief. Financial instability. And my experiences as a caregiver.

Martyna Majok accepts the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama from Columbia University President Lee Bollinger. (Photo: Eileen Barroso/Columbia University)

5) Incredible to have won a Pulitzer. What was that recognition and winning that award like for you? 

Absolutely incredible. An amazing, amazing honor. And a complete surprise. When my agent called to tell me, I didn’t believe him for a full ten minutes. I hope most of all that the award, as well as the play being on Broadway, amplifies this story — and its performers — and encourages theatres to more widely produce stories like it. And not just on its small stages.

6) Any particular moments from seeing Cost of Living live that stick with you most? 

There is a moment in the play that I don’t want to spoil…but it has to do with the vulnerability of the human body. And every night, the audience has such a strong, collective reaction. At one point, an audience member even got out of her seat and started going toward the stage to try to help what she thought was happening. To me, those audience reactions show me how much we actually care for one another, as humans in the world. How connected we actually are.

7) What do you hope the audience learns, feels, or takes with them, after seeing Cost of Living

I hope they see themselves and others — and feel more connected, less alone. I hope they find a home with these characters. I hope they yearn with them. I hope they laugh and I hope they cry (I say this as someone who loves crying in the theatre.) I hope they feel every feeling. 

When I was preparing to start rehearsals, I worried whether I would be ‘over’ the play. But that first read hit me so deeply. It seemed to hit everyone in that room deeply. I think after having experienced these past two years, after all this collective loss and struggle, Cost of Living and its themes speak to us in a much more impactful way. The play’s been good for my soul. I hope it is for others’ as well.

Florence Welch and Martyna Majok in studio for The Great Gatsby Musical

8) How’s it going so far with The Great Gatsby

Wonderfully. Florence [Welch, of Florence + the Machine] and Thomas’ [Bartlett, a.k.a. Doveman] music is beautiful and transcendent. All the collaborators have been a joy to work with. I can’t wait to share this piece with the world.


And we cannot wait to see it. Our sincere thanks to Martyna Majok for indulging us so vivaciously. How fortunate we are, to have her unique perspectives unfold in diverse storytelling to better our own theatre experiences. Get your tickets to Cost of Living on Broadway now, and stay tuned for her upcoming adaptation of Broadway’s The Great Gatsby coming soon! 


Broadway Fairy Tales

by Jordan Levinson

With rumors currently spreading regarding a forthcoming transfer of Once Upon a One More Time at the Marquis Theatre in the spring, it means New York City is being treated to three different musicals in the 2022-23 season using fairy tales as their inspiration (also Into the Woods and the forthcoming Bad Cinderella). 

Why fairy tales? Perhaps the answer lies in the colorful utopia in which these stories are set: a perfect world free of corruption, plague, and strife, and full of love and magic defined by larger-than-life creatures, humans or not. In this second full Broadway season back from an 18-month COVID-19 shutdown, it can be assumed theatregoers want to forget their troubles and be transported to a different environment — and the familiarity of centuries-old fairy tales can help their cause, serving as lighthearted, bubblegum fare to all those in need of it.

But there’s a twist though…this season, these stories that have been told and retold for generations are not always the ones you think you know. Audiences will head to their seats expecting the familiar, but instead be treated to new, diverse tales with some recognizable figures. 

Once Upon a One More Time

Take, for instance, Once Upon a One More Time. While utilizing the impressive back catalogue of pop princess Britney Spears, Jon Hartmere’s book brings the Brothers Grimm’s princesses together at a book club. There, a fairy godmother introduces the group to Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique”, inspiring them to gain new perspective on themselves and their lives. The women eventually realize that waiting for their princes or knights in shining armor to arrive and kiss them may not be the only path to “happily ever after.” 

Sondheim’s Into The Woods

Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods also combines multiple Grimm stories to form an original creation. Though the show begins rather lighthearted, it eventually becomes the darker side of a fairy tale. James Lapine’s book introduces a common everyman and everywoman — the Baker and his wife — and their quest to start a family. To do so, they must reverse the curse that a witch has placed on their house. The two interact with Jack, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Little Red Riding Hood. It turns out, they all have something they wish for — and the latter half of the show teaches audiences a harsh truth: granted wishes have consequences and repercussions, so “careful the wish you make.”

A second revival kicked off the current Broadway season in late June 2022; it was originally staged in 1987 and revived for the first time in 2002.

Bad Cinderella

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Bad Cinderella will begin previews at the Imperial Theatre on February 17, prior to a March 23 official opening. Here, the famous titular damsel in distress is both a damsel and a distress. Cinderella is a goth-dressing, rebellious outcast in Belleville, a town that prides itself on beauty and attractiveness. Also, her beloved Prince Charming (as seen in other works) is seemingly dead; his younger brother — the shy Prince Sebastian — is Cinderella’s only friend and love interest. Other plot points in this new adaptation include reflections on body shaming and some recast gender relationships. 

Between the Lines

Some credit must also be given to Between the Lines, which had a brief Off-Broadway run at the beginning of the season. Although it isn’t based on any particular fairy tale (the basis is Jodi Picoult’s YA novel of the same name), this musical follows a high school girl who escapes her difficult life at home and school by reading books. In particular, she is struck by a fictional fairy tale involving a prince who she has a crush on. When the prince starts talking to her, she longs to escape into his world; however, if the two want to stay together, they must change the story he is stuck in so that they can control their own narrative. 

Of course, adapting fairy tales into Broadway musicals is not a brand-new trend; more traditional productions have popped up through the years. As early as 1903, L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz — considered by some to be America’s first great fairy tale — was musicalized for the first time before receiving a legendary film adaptation in 1939 and a Motown makeover in 1975’s The Wiz. Wicked — the backstory of the two witches of Oz — provided a prequel of The Wizard of Oz in 2003 and is still currently running on Broadway. 

The Wiz

In 2013, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella opened on Broadway for the first time. Although more traditional (and true to the Grimm original) than something like Bad Cinderella, librettist Douglas Carter Beane adapted the old tale by throwing in some small additions to bolster the show’s running time, including a romantic subplot, several new characters, and a sympathetic stepsister. 

Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella

The various stories of Danish author Hans Christian Andersen have also made their way to the Great Bright Way; in 1959, his The Princess and the Pea was adapted into Once Upon a Mattress. The plot chronicles a far-off place in which its inhabitants must abstain from marriage until Prince Dauntless — the Queen’s son — finds a bride of his own. The Mary Rodgers tuner received a Broadway revival in 1996. 

Disney’s Frozen

Finally, no list on musical fairy tales would be complete without mentioning the success of Disney on Broadway. Under the leadership of Thomas Schumacher, the Mouse has launched many of its films into the theatrical medium. The venture launched in 1994 with the purple-and-gold warhorse known as Beauty and the Beast, running for 13 years at two different houses and ushering in a new era of commercial Broadway theatre that continues to this day, before closing to make way for a splash-hit adaptation of Andersen’s The Little Mermaid (which in turn, was given a Caribbean twist in Once on This Island). 

Andersen’s most recent Broadway adaptation was a twist on his short story “The Snow Queen.” Following the runaway success of the 2013 animated feature Frozen, Disney did not miss a beat and brought a stage version to New York five years later. The heartwarming story about two sisters who find love where they least expect it thawed many cold hearts, and it had a solid run at the St. James Theatre before the COVID-19 shutdown provided its knockout punch.

Capsule Reviews


If you’re looking for a modern take on a classic, look no further than the American Airlines Theater. The 1969 Tony Award Winning Best Musical, 1776 is back on Broadway with a modern revival full of comedy and commentary. For the first time on Broadway, the cast of characters, founding fathers from the history books arguing for the fate of a nation, are portrayed by a diverse group of actors who all identify as female, transgender, and nonbinary. Crystal Lucas-Perry commands attention as the fiery John Adams, fighting on the side of independence from the tyrannical rule of Great Britain. Carolee Carmello brings a suave strength to the loyalist John Dickinson. Other stand outs include Elizabeth A. Davis as Thomas Jefferson and Sara Porkalob as Edward Rutledge, who’s haunting rendition of “Molasses to Rum” cuts deep. Directed by Jeffrey L. Page and Diane Paulus, this fresh Roundabout/A.R.T production allows us to reimagine the creation of our country through the lens of those excluded from the room without losing any of the patriotism from Sherman Edwards’ and Peter Stone’s original material.

1776 is now playing at the American Airlines Theatre

Capsule Reviews


If you’re feeling the least bit down (or depressed), a play that could make you realize how fortunate you are opened at the Samuel J. Friedman on Broadway. It’s a play about loneliness and loss, relationships and hopefulness and it is a powerful and touching play.   The winner of a Pulitzer Prize four years ago for its gifted playwright Martyna Majok  it has been beautifully directed by Jo Bonney and the four actors that will imprint themselves on your memory are Greg Mozgala, Katy Sullivan, Kara Young and David Zayas. Young, who was Tony nominated last year for her work in “Clydes” is one of Broadway brightest new stars. A salute to Lynn Meadow who has been the Artistic Director of the Manhattan Theatre Club for 50 years and her colleague Executive Producer Barry Grove (48 years), both  who have contributed mightily to the American theatre.

Capsule Review By Aubrey Blaine

Cost of Living is now playing at MTC


The Kite Runner, Ohio State Murders, and what inspires Broadway Producer extraordinaire, Jayne Baron Sherman

By Robyn Roberts

Jayne Baron Sherman has produced a wealth of Broadway shows and her IBDB reads like a laundry list of the theatre’s best hits since the early aughts. From 2004’s A Raisin in the Sun to the long-running Kinky Boots ten years later, Sherman seems to know good storytelling and what might resonate with a wide audience. So we wondered—what inspires Jayne Baron Sherman to want to be a part of a new production? Luckily for us, Sherman obliged. Read on for the producer’s reflections on seeing more headscarves in the audience on Broadway, and the timely stage debut of a 91 year old author.

On the phone with Sherman, we dove right in. What inspires this producer to take on a new Broadway production? Sherman didn’t hesitate to answer, telling us that a story must touch her in a personal way, that she must feel compelled to share these stories and experiences with others. “It must touch my heart and soul, yes, but it also needs to have some impact on the world,” Sherman says. “Therefore, no fluff, but a chance to see everyday lives differently, through a new window.” Keeping her producer’s hat firmly on, Sherman adds that a new production must be commercially viable too, and that her instinct for this isn’t always right, but admits to having a pretty decent track record commercially, and we’d agree to that.

For the current production of American novelist Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, adapted for the stage by Matthew Spangler, Sherman tells us that two things have stuck with her most each time she sees it live (which is frequently): The sincere diversity, for starters, does her heart good. “Seeing more women in the audience with headscarves, it sticks with you,” she says. “Witnessing the way the audience is touched by the performances of the actors, and the actors themselves, feels new each time. Each production brings out a new reaction. The majority of times, they jump to their feet and cheer when the lights go on, which is unique for a play—usually reserved for musicals—but it’s a story of redemption that ends on an uplifting redemptive note, which is rewarding in storytelling.” 

Sherman goes on to explain that certain scenes from The Kite Runner still bring her to tears after so many times, and seeing the audience react similarly to that is special. “This is a fully authentic cast of fine actors that are so happy to be a part of this production. They are not out of central casting. They have been refugees themselves, or have immigrant family members. They’ve lived the life to truly share this window with you. It’s an experience.” 
The Kite Runner on Broadway is a must-see experience indeed, and one that will close soon, at the end of this month.

Speaking of current productions, we were curious about what Sherman thought was inspiring Broadway of late, so we asked her. We especially wanted to know if the producer thought there were any current parallels to the shows, whether that be nostalgia exacerbated by the pandemic, politics or pop culture or all of the above. Turns out, nostalgia will always play a leading role in audience demand, but quality content comes to mind too. “Showgoers are simply thrilled to be back”, Sherman tells us. “Nostalgia is always a big deal for viewers, and maybe more so right now. Into The Woods has a host of celebrity actors, which is a draw for out of towners especially. The Kite Runner is probably more timely now than during its London run. Especially with Afghanistan today, Ukraine, and Iran, most notably recent. The Kite Runner has adopted four different non-profits helping Helping refugees and women to resettle, and aiding women with diminished rights in Afghanistan, and other essential, timely and localized needs. We put inserts in Playbills with QR codes to get involved, and we have them on signage in the lobbies as well. These are vetted organizations and we’re finding that more and more people today want to help beyond their own backyards.”

As for what’s currently inspiring Sherman? We wanted to know where she goes for inspiration, and how she stays creatively motivated to keep going. It’s the old art of people watching for this producer. “I’m always looking for ways to expand people’s horizons and views, to help them see things a bit differently. As an activist in the LGBTQ+ community for years, I’m constantly inspired by storytelling that touches people in unfound ways and opens their eyes a bit wider. The ‘touching’ doesn’t need to be a hammer, it can be a nudge which can actually be more effective.” Sign us up for people watching with Jayne, stat. 

Finally, we wanted to know if Sherman could share any small tidbits about her upcoming production of Ohio State Murders, which debuts on Broadway in December. Giving us just a taste in order to entice us into the theatre for more, Sherman exudes excitement that’s a bit harder to contain. “It will be a very interesting evening of theatre! Audra McDonald plays a novelist, and she also plays herself as a younger college student. This is a cast of five actors and it unravels as a mystery—a whodunit—so the audience will be thoroughly engaged! There’s an exploration of race dynamics and how that’s unfolded over the years, which plays into the mystery of the story. Seeing this production live will be a riveting evening of 75 or 80 minutes total but it’s a big one. And, another absolutely thrilling main dish of this show—it’s the author, Adrienne Kennedy’s Broadway debut at 91 years old. Her debut will open the new James Earl Jones Theatre, a gorgeous spectacle to witness on its own.” 

The newly restored Cort Theatre on Broadway has been renamed the James Earl Jones Theater, on Sept.12, 2022 in New York.

Another noteworthy honor from the incredible playwright Adrienne Kennedy—in 2022 she became the sixteenth recipient of the Gold Medal award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for Drama. Only two awards in the rotating categories have been given each year since 1909, and the Drama list includes such talent as Eugene O’Neill, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, and Sam Shepard, to name a few. 

Many thanks to Jayne Baron Sherman for allowing us to pick her Broadway-loving brain. 

Be sure and see The Kite Runner before its New York close this month, and get your tickets for this December’s production of the must-see mystery, the Ohio State Murders.  


Gore Vidal Would Have Been 97 Today, We will Look at His Contribution to the American Theatre

Gore’s first venture in the theatre was the result of a teleplay that had been produced on the Goodyear Playhouse in 1955;  It was described thusly:  “A visitor from another planet arrives on Earth and seems anxious to provoke a war- “one thing you people do really well”.   The teleplay starred Cyril Ritchard, at the height of his US popularity having created the role of Captain Hook in Peter Pan.  He starred as Kreton, the visitor who had hoped to cover the United States during the Civil War, and through a time warp, had arrived in the 1950’s, upending the household of a General in Manassas, Virginia.  The popularity of the Playhouse presentation inspired Gore to expand the “Visit” into a full-length play and it opened to mostly positive reviews in February of 1957.

Brooks Atkinson in the Times called “Planet” “uproarious” and Life Magazine called it “the freshest and funniest invasion of the Broadway season.”  Not only did Ritchard create the role, he also directed the production. The play was later adapted into a Jerry Lewis film which bore little resemblance to the original. In the fall of 2000, there was a special reading of “Visit to a Small Planet at the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre.  The cast included Alan Cumming (as the Visitor), Lily Tomlin (in the gender-changed role of the General), Philip Bosco, Christine Baranski, Kristin Chenoweth and Tony Randall, directed by John Tillinger.  One could have charged premium tickets.  While the reading was positively received, its future was dimmed when Cumming, who was approached to continue in the role, was unable to schedule a commitment.

Melvyn Douglas, Lee Tracy and Leora Dana in “The Best Man” by Gore Vidal, (1960)

His most famous play would open three years later. When it opened in 1960, it was simply titled “The Best Man” and acclaimed as one of the best political plays ever on Broadway.  It ran for over a year at the Morosco Theatre and the leading role won Melvyn Douglas the Tony Award for Best Actor.  In the fall Douglas had portrayed President Warren G. Harding in “The Gang’s All Here” but here he was merely a former Secretary of State who was was an aspiring Presidential Candidate at a convention. The play was written pre-primary politics which has subsequently become a staple on the American scene, though that spring there would be the first highly publicized major Presidential primary with Senators Stuart Symington, Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey and John F. Kennedy vying to be the Democratic candidate. In the play the opposing candidates were famously drawn upon Adlai Stevenson who had twice been the Democratic presidential candidate and Richard Nixon. Almost stealing the spotlight was the character of the ex-President and potential kingmaker (patterned after Harry Truman) portrayed by Lee Tracy, who recreated the role in the film, which co-starred Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson.

Melvyn Douglas (far right) with fellow 1960 Tony winners Mary Martin (“The Sound of Music”), Jackie Gleason (“Take Me Along”), and Anne Bancroft (“The Miracle Worker”).

When the play was revived in the year 2000, it came on the heels of the popular film “The Best Man” which starred Taye Diggs. When the producer Jeffrey Richards, with director Ethan McSweeney,  travelled to Ravello to meet with Vidal, it was suggested, to avoid confusion, that the play be retitled “Gore Vidal’s The Best Man”. Gore’s response:  “I thought you’d never ask”.   The production which co-starred Charles During, Spalding Gray, Chris Noth, Elizabeth Ashley, Michael Learned and Christine Ebersole won both the Drama Desk Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Revival and was a surprise success of the fall season. It also benefitted from the five week delay in the Presidential contest which resulted in the George Bush presidency.  A line that before the election did not get a laugh was noted to receive one after November 4th when the putative candidate Joe Cantwell remarked “and the last thing we want is a deadlocked convention.”

Spalding Gray, Mark Blum and Charles Durning, 2000 THE BEST MAN Photo by Peter Cunningham
John Larroquette and James Earl Jones, 2012 THE BEST MAN directed by Michael Wilson
From left, Angela Lansbury, Candice Bergen, Amy Tribbey, Kerry Butler and Donna Hanover in “Gore Vidal’s The Best Man.”Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
Elizabeth Ashley as Mrs. Sue-Ellen Gamadge and Cybill Shepherd as Alice Russell in The Best Man. Photo Joan Marcus

There was a second revival of the play in 2012 with another all-star cast including John Larroquette, James Earl Jones, Eric McCormack, Angela Lansbury, Candice Bergen, Jefferson Mays, Kerry Butler, and Michael McKean.  Again the play was a success. Gore attended the second week of rehearsals in a wheelchair and serenaded the company with stories about the original production and the night that JFK attended a performance. Unlike the first revival in which he joined the company on stage at a glittering opening night with celebrities in the audience included Woody Allen, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Bebe Neuwirth, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick among others, Gore was unable to attend the second re-opening. He died later that year, during the engagement of the production, which focused attention on his life and work and, consequently, resulted in an extension of the play with a replacement cast of Cybill Shepherd, John Stamos, Elizabeth Ashley and Kristin Davis.

Gore Vidal (AP)

Gore’s third Broadway play was an adaptation of Frederich Durrenmatt’s “Romulus” about the last of the Roman emperors. premiered on Broadway in 1962; once again his director and star was Cyril Ritchard (Vidal quipped- “Cyril was a wonderful actor but as a director he would just tell the actors to stand there, in a line and recite the dialogue”) and Dame Cathleen Nesbitt and Howard DaSilva were also starred.  

His fourth play reunited him with the original director of “Gore Vidal’s The Best Man”, Joseph Anthony, but did not repeat the success.  The play was “Weekend “and a one sentence description of the play read as follows:  “An unscrupulous Republican senator’s son brings home his black girlfriend”.  The play opened in March of 1968;  the previous December the Spencer Tracy-Katherine Hepburn-Sidney Poitier film had a similar racial theme in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and was Oscar-nominated and a big box office success.  “Weekend” was neither a box office success, despite a starry cast which included John Forsythe, Rosemary Harris and Academy Award winner Kim Hunter and introduced Carol Cole, Nat King Cole’s daughter, as the girlfriend, nor was it well received. The producers advertised it without quotes calling it THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE. It wasn’t. It played three weeks at the Broadhurst Theatre.

Gore’s fifth and final play on Broadway was in 1972; a blistering satire called “An Evening With Richard Nixon and…” with George S. Irving in the title role.  Originally scheduled to be directed by (Sir) Peter Hall, it was directed by Ed Sherin, who had staged “The Great White Hope”. It opened 50 years ago and was budgeted at $150,000; there was a cast of fifteen (with a very young Susan Sarandon) portraying a gallery of over 50 characters ranging from George Washington to JFK, including, FDR, Harry Truman, Thomas E. Dewey, Dwight Eisenhower, FDR, Gloria Steinem and Pat Nixon – Clive Barnes in his review said “I laughed a great deal at this political bloodletting” but had reservations about the play’s cumulative impact.  So did audiences, and without the star power that had been associated with previous Vidal entries, the play last only two weeks after opening at the Shubert Theatre.

George S. Irving, Susan Sarandon
Gore Vidal celebrates Charles Durning birthday during the engagement of On The March to the Sea
Charles and Gore Vidal bond backstage

Gore’s final play that received a production premiered at Duke as part of Duke Theatres’ Previews in 2005.  A glittering cast headed by Charles During, Chris Noth, Michael Learned, Harris Yulin, Richard Easton, Isabel Keating and David Turner brought “On the March to the Sea” to life for a brief engagement.  Directed by Warner Shook, who had brought “The Kentucky Cycle” to Broadway, “Sea” was a noble effort that failed to march on to New York.  The play concerned a Georgian family’s trial by fire during Sherman’s famous march during the Civil War.  Vidal delighted students at a writing class with various bon mots such as “The best writers have been actors…Shakespeare, Shaw, Twain, Wilder.”;  “Reading is like going to bed with someone.  Save Jane Eyre for a dismal night” and on the staged reading format of the play “naked language…the eye is not distracted by the adventurous and dangerous set designer”…

Gore had developed and was retooling a script inspired by his novel Lincoln (which had also been a mini-series on television in the late 80’s) when he passed away. A reading had been scheduled and ultimately was not realized.


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 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)


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. 


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.


Twenty Questions with Tony Award Winner Michael Rupert

Michael Rupert won the 1986 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Oscar in the revival of Sweet Charity. He received his first Tony Award nomination in 1968 at the age of 16 for his Broadway debut in Kander and Ebb’s The Happy Time. Rupert originated the role of Marvin in the William Finn musicals March of the Falsettos (1981) and Falsettoland (1991), which would later be combined into the 1992 two-act Broadway musical that featured Rupert, Falsettos. His impressive resume also includes Pippin (1974), Mail (1988), City of Angels (1991), Ragtime, originating the role of Professor Callahan in Legally Blonde (2007), and Our Town (2014). 

In addition to acting, Rupert is an experienced director, writer, and composer. He directed The Lunch Anxieties Off-Broadway as well as the musical The Stars In Your Eyes. He composed the score to Strange Vacation, Mail, 3 Guys Naked from the Waist Down, and Streets of America, which he also co-wrote the lyrics and books. 

We were fortunate enough to speak with Michael and get Twenty questions with a Tony Award Winner. 

1. What were your first thoughts upon being nominated for a Tony Award?

I was thrilled. I had been nominated once before and had not gone on to win, so I thought whatever happens, at the very least, I’ll get to enjoy the next few weeks of parties and anticipation. 

2. What were your first thoughts upon winning?

I was pretty shocked. I didn’t think it was going to happen. I hadn’t even come up with any kind of “Thank You” speech, so I fumbled a few words and made my way backstage. Very surreal.

3. Do you have any fond memories from the night of the ceremony? 

The Tony ceremony that year happened in the theater where my show, Sweet Charity, was playing, so when I got backstage, I was greeted by all the crew people I was working with 8 times a week. That was quite special. I got to share the moment with my friends.

4. What was a great opportunity winning the Tony Award afforded?

Winning the Tony Award did not really change my life or my career considerably, other than whenever anyone wrote about me or mentioned me, I was referred to as “The Tony Award-winning Actor…etc.

5. Where do you keep your award now? 

I keep my Tony in a cabinet with other memorabilia.

6. Who is an artist/performer you admire?

Sam Gold.

7. What is the best advice you have received in your career?

“Just say the words. Don’t act. Trust that you’re interesting enough.”

8. What is the last book you read?

NEVER by Ken Follett.

9. What is a dream role of yours?

I have no dream role, per se. Though, Fagin in OLIVER! is cool.

10. What previous role of yours had your favorite costumes?

In LEGALLY BLONDE The Musical, I got to wear very expensive tailored suits. I enjoyed that.

Kate Shindle, Laura Bell Bundy, and Michael Rupert in Legally Blonde, photo by Joan Marcus.

11. What is a fond rehearsal memory of yours? 

I was in the very first workshop of William Finn’s A NEW BRIAN at The Public Theater. Jason Robert Brown was our musical director/vocal arranger. The first day of rehearsal I watched him attack the keyboard like no one I’d ever seen. Truly brilliant muscular musicianship. I was in awe.

12. Which of your previous roles did you feel most similar to? 

Marvin in FALSETTOS.

13. Which of your previous roles did you feel most different from? 

I once played a cranky, old elf in a workshop production of Harry Connick, Jr.’s THE HAPPY ELF directed by John Rando. I am not an elf.

14. What has been a challenge you’ve faced in your career?

Letting go and trusting myself. I’ve always been too self-critical.

15. What are you working on now?

I’m retired from acting/performing at this point. I spend my time now directing and working with students at various colleges and universities.

16. What is your favorite song?

“I’ve Never Said I Love You” from Jerry Herman’s DEAR WORLD. I can still listen to Pamela Hall’s performance of that song, and it gets to me every time. Brilliant.

17. What is a show or movie you are looking forward to seeing?

It doesn’t come out until next year, but I look forward to seeing the next part of DUNE.

18. What was your best subject in school?

English Lit.

19. What is your go to brunch order? 

The Avocado Burrito at Tajin in Lower Manhattan. Unbelievably brilliant!

20. What is your favorite part of theatre?

Sitting in the audience the moment the lights go down.

Michael Rupert and Debbie Allen in Sweet Charity.