Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Highest Grossing Broadway Season on Record Reported

Broadway saw its highest grosses on record last season with revenue up 5.9 percent and attendance up 5.4 percent, according to the Broadway League.

End-of-season statistics for the 2010-2011season, which began May 24, 2010 and ended May 29, 2011.  For the2010 – 2011 season, show $1,080,562,880 in grosses, and a total attendance of  12,534,595.

To account for variances in the calendar year and in an effort to maintain an end-of-May end to the season, a 53rdweek is added every seven years. (The last 53-week year was 2004; nextone will be 2018). 

As a point of reference, attendance through week 52 was 12.26 million, which was up 3.1% over last year’s 52-weekseason. Grosses as of last week totaled $1.057 billion and were still thehighest grossing of any season on record (up 3.6% over last year).

“The diversity of shows currently on Broadway succeeds in providing something for everyone, so it's no accident thatwe're having the biggest season in our history and even in the toughesteconomic times have over a 5-percent increase in attendance year-over-year,"commented Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of The League.

In the 2010-2011 season,  42 shows opened (14 musicals, 25 plays and 3 specials).

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Broadway Godspell Revival Gets Closer Day By Day

The 40th anniversary production and first-ever Broadway revival of Godspell will play Broadway’s Circle in the Square Theatre with premieres beginning Oct 13. Opening night will be on Nov. 7. Ken Davenport (Altar Boyz, Oleanna, Blithe Spirit) is lead producer. Danny Goldstein will direct the production with choreography by Christopher Gattelli.
Group tickets are available at http://www.godspell.com/group-tickets.html or by calling 877-943-2929.
Single tickets go on sale July 11. For more information, visit Godspell.com.

View a video by composer Stephen Schwartz at http://www.godspell.com/?utm_source=Godspell&utm_campaign=100b6285a8-2011_05_26_Godspell_newsletter&utm_medium=email#.

A Christmas Story Announces Tour

Photo credit: Don Ipock and Kansas City Rep

This holiday season, one of America’s favorite Christmas movie comes to life on stage as a hilarious holiday musical. A Christmas Story, The Musical! features a bright holiday score by composer/lyricist team Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and a book by Joseph Robinette based on the writings of radio humorist Jean Shepherd and the 1983 holiday film favorite.

Acclaimed director/choreographer Warren Carlyle (Broadway’s Finian’s Rainbow, Follies at The Kennedy Center, An Evening With Hugh Jackman) will helm the production. Peter Billingsley, who starred as Ralphie in the original 1983 film, serves as a producer for the holiday tour.

After acclaimed, sold-out, record-breaking runs at Kansas City Rep in 2009 and Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre in 2010, A Christmas Story, The Musical! will launch a five-city National Tour for the 2011 holiday season with engagements in Hershey, PA (Hershey Theatre, Nov. 8 – 13); Detroit, MI (Fisher Theatre, Nov. 15 – 27); Raleigh, NC (Memorial Auditorium, Nov. 29 – Dec. 4); Tampa, FL, (Straz Center, Dec. 6 – Dec. 11); and Chicago, IL (Chicago Theatre, Dec. 14 – 30).

A Christmas Story, The Musical! chronicles young and bespectacled Ralphie Parker as he schemes his way towards the holiday gift of his dreams, a Red Ryder Action Air Rifle BB Gun (“You’ll shoot your eye out kid!”). A kooky leg lamp, outrageous pink bunny pajamas, a maniacal department store Santa, and a double-dog-dare to lick a freezing flagpole are just a few of the distractions that stand between young Ralphie and his Christmas wish. Produced by the film’s original Ralphie, Peter Billingsley, It’s a perennial holiday classic that will entertain the whole family.

A Christmas Story, The Musical! features scenic design by Walt Spangler  (Desire Under the Elms); costume design by Elizabeth Hope Clancy (Passing Strange, The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?); lighting design by Tony Award winner Howell Binkley;  orchestrations by Larry Blank ; musical supervision by Ian Eisendrath; dance arrangements by August Eriksmoen.

For more information, visit www.aChristmasStoryTheMusical.com or the links below.

A CHRISTMAS STORY, THE MUSICAL! - 2011 HOLIDAY SEASON TOUR
November 8 – 13
Hershey, PA
Hershey Theatre
www.hersheytheatre.com

November 15 – 27
Detroit
Fisher Theatre
www.broadwayindetroit.com

November 29 – December 4
Raleigh, NC
Memorial Auditorium
www.progressenergycenter.com

December 6 –11
Tampa, FL
Straz Center
www.strazcenter.org

December 14 – 30
Chicago
Chicago Theatre
www.thechicagotheatre.com

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Lights Are Bright on Broadway Awards

It's time to let us know which people and shows you think have made a difference through their Christian faith.

Masterwork Productions, Inc. bestows the annual The Lights Are Bright on Broadway Awards each year on individuals and organizations reaching out in the Broadway community. Has someone touched your life? Did a show make you think about God or faith differently? Let us know.

Send us your nominations, along with information links to masterworkproductions@yahoo.com. While many individuals or organizations may be having an impact in other theater community, this award is for those making a difference in the Broadway community only.
Nominations EXTENDED THROUGH JUNE 3. Award recipients will be announced June 15.

Last year's recipients were Max McLean for his interpretation of C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters Off-Broadway and Kia Corthron, author of A Cool Dop in the Barren Saharan Crick at Playwrights Horizons. In 2009, recipients were Dan Gordon, author of Irena's Vow on Broadway and Cheryl Cutlip, founder of Project Dance in Times Square.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

2011 Drama Desk Award Winners

The 56th Annual Drama Desk Awards for excellence in New York theater were presented Monday night at a gala awards ceremony at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan Center, hosted by Harvey Fierstein.

The Book of Mormon and Anything Goes each won five Drama Desk Awards to lead the parade of winners, followed by The Normal Heart and Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo which won two awards each. Cast members of The Normal Heart also took home special non-competitive Outstanding Ensemble Awards which were bestowed earlier by the Drama Desk nominating committee. No other production won more than one award.

War Horse by Nick Stafford and The Book of Norman with music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone were voted Outstanding Play and Outstanding Musical, respectively, and The Normal Heart and Anything Goes won as Outstanding Play and Musical Revivals. The team of Parker, Lopez and Stone also won the Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Music and Outstanding Lyrics for their collaboration on The Book of Mormon
.
Bobby Cannavale (The Motherf**ker With the Hat) and Frances McDormand (Good People) were chosen as Outstanding Lead Actor and Actress in a Play, and Norbert Leo Butz (Catch Me If You Can) and Sutton Foster (Anything Goes) won as Outstanding Lead Actor and Actress in a Musical. The Outstanding Featured Actor and Featured Actress in a Play awards went to Brian Bedford (The Importance of Being Earnest) and Edie Falco (The House of Blue Leaves), and the Outstanding Featured Actor and Actress in a Musical awards were won by John Larroquette (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying) and Laura Benanti (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown).

The Outstanding Direction winners were Joel Grey and George C. Wolfe (The Normal Heart) and Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker (The Book of Mormon); and the Outstanding Choreography award was given to Kathleen Marshall (Anything Goes). Adam Mathias (See Rock City & Other Business) won for Outstanding Book of a Musical. Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus (The Book of Mormon) won for Outstanding Orchestrations and Wayne Barker (Peter and the Starcatcher) won for Outstanding Music in a Play.

The Drama Desk for Outstanding Revue was given to Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles on Broadway. John Leguizamo won the Drama Desk for his Outstanding Solo Performance (Ghetto Klown). The Unique Theatrical Experience award was presented to Sleep No More.

Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo won two Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Lighting Design (David Lander) and Outstanding Sound Design (Acme Sound Partners and Cricket S. Myers). Derek McLane (Anything Goes) won for Outstanding Set Design and Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner (Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical) won the Outstanding Costume Design award.

Each year the Drama Desk votes special awards to recognize excellence and significant contributions to the theater:

Outstanding Ensemble Performances
This year the nominators chose to bestow special ensemble awards for acting to
the casts of two shows. Therefore, individual cast members for these shows were not
eligible for acting awards in the competitive categories.
  • In Transit
  • The Normal Heart
Special Awards
Each year, the Drama Desk votes special awards to recognize excellence and
significant contributions to the theater. For 2010-2011, these awards are:
  • To A.R. Gurney for his enduring, keenly observed portraits of American life over
    a prolific four-decade-long career.
  • To Reed Birney for his versatile and finely nuanced performances over the past
    thirty-five years, and for his exceptional work this season in Tigers Be Still, A Small Fire and The Dream of the Burning Boy.
  • To The New Group and Artistic Director Scott Elliott for presenting contemporary
    new voices, and for uncompromisingly raw and powerful productions.
  • To The Pearl Theatre Company for notable productions of classic plays and
    nurturing a stalwart resident company of actors.
  • To the creative team of War Horse for thrilling stagecraft: Paule Constable,
    Marianne Elliott, 59 Productions, Adrian Kohler with Basil Jones for Handspring
    Puppet Company, Tom Morris, Rae Smith, Christopher Shutt, Toby Sedgwick,
    Adrian Sutton and John Tams.
Presenters at the 56th Annual Drama Desk Awards ceremony included (in alphabetical order): Ellen Barkin, T.V. Carpio, Tyne Daly, Jennifer Damiano, Montego Glover, Jonathan Groff, Katie Holmes, Cheyenne Jackson, Larry Kramer, Marsha Mason, Karen Olivo, David Hyde Pierce, Colin Quinn, Daniel Radcliffe, Liev Schreiber, Annabella Sciorra, Christian Siriano, Holland Taylor and Tom Wopat.

The 56th Annual Drama Desk Awards highlights special will premiere on Ovation, the only network dedicated to arts culture, Saturday, June 4 at 9:00 pm ET/7:30 pm PT.   In addition to the June 4 premiere, Ovation will broadcast encore presentations on Sunday, June 12 at 12:30 pm ET/9:30 am PT and 2:00  pm ET/5:00 pm PT. 

Full List
2010/2011 DRAMA DESK AWARD WINNERS

Outstanding Play: War Horse by Nick Stafford
Outstanding Musical: The Book of Mormon
Outstanding Revival of a Play:The Normal Heart
Outstanding Revival of a Musical: Anything Goes
Outstanding Actor in a PlayBobby Cannavale (The Motherf**ker With the Hat)
Outstanding Actress in a Play: Frances McDormand (Good People)
Outstanding Actor in a Musical:Norbert Leo Butz (Catch Me If You Can)
Outstanding Actress in a Musical: Sutton Foster (Anything Goes)
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play:Brian Bedford (The Importance of Being Earnest)
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play: Edie Falco (The House of Blue Leaves)
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical:John Larroquette (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying)
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical:Laura Benanti (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown)
Outstanding Director of a Play:Joel Grey and George C. Wolfe (The Normal Heart)
Outstanding Director of a Musical:Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker (The Book of Mormon)
Outstanding Choreography:Kathleen Marshall (Anything Goes)
Outstanding Music:Trey Parker, Robert Lopez & Matt Stone (The Book of Mormon)
Outstanding Lyrics:Trey Parker, Robert Lopez & Matt Stone (The Book of Mormon)
Outstanding Book of a MusicalAdam Mathias (See Rock City & Other
Destinations
)
Outstanding Orchestrations:Larry Hochman & Stephen Oremus (The Book of Mormon)
Outstanding Musical Revue:Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles on Broadway
Outstanding Music in a Play: Wayne Barker (Peter and the Starcatcher)
Outstanding Set Design:Derek McLane (Anything Goes)
Outstanding Costume Design:Tim Chappel & Lizzy Gardiner (Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical)
Outstanding Lighting Design:David Lander (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo)
Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical: Brian Ronan (Anything Goes)
Outstanding Sound Design in a Play: Acme Sound Partners and Cricket S. Myers (Bengal Tiger at Baghdad Zoo)
Outstanding Solo Performance:John Leguizamo (Ghetto Klown)
Unique Theatrical Experience:Sleep No More

Non-Competetive Awards
Outstanding Ensemble Performances
This year the nominators chose to bestow special ensemble awards for acting to the casts of two shows. Therefore, individual cast members for these shows were not eligible for acting awards in the competitive categories.
  • In Transit
  • The Normal Heart
Special Awards
For 2010-2011, these awards are:
  • To A.R. Gurney for his enduring, keenly observed portraits of American life over a prolific four-decade-long career.
  • To Reed Birney for his versatile and finely nuanced performances over the past thirty-five years, and for his exceptional work this season in Tigers Be Still, A Small Fire and The Dream of the Burning Boy.
  • To The New Group and Artistic Director Scott Elliott for presenting contemporary new voices, and for uncompromisingly raw and powerful productions.
  • To The Pearl Theatre Company for notable productions of classic plays and nurturing a stalwart resident company of actors.
  • To the creative team of War Horse for thrilling stagecraft: Paule Constable, Marianne Elliott, 59 Productions, Adrian Kohler with Basil Jones for Handspring Puppet Company, Tom Morris, Rae Smith, Christopher Shutt, Toby Sedgwick, Adrian Sutton and John Tams.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Theater Review: The Normal Heart

Joe Mantello and John Benjamin Hickey. Photo credit Joan Marcus


After Almost Three Decades, the Message Still is Relevant
By Lauren Yarger
HIV continues to infect a growing numbers of people every year. There is no cure. Those statements, true in 2011, haven’t changed since we first heard them uttered three decades ago about a then new and mysterious disease.

The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer’s play about efforts to educate the gay community about the dangers of having sex and about trying to get governmental funding to study the disease is just as relevant in today’s Broadway production as it was when it was staged in New York back in 1985.

The play chronicles the efforts of Ned Weeks (Joe Mantello), urged by Dr. Emma Brookner (Ellen Barkin) to get the message out about the AIDS plague she is witnessing to those in his homosexual community and to the New York Times. The victim of another plague, polio, which has left her in a wheel chair, Bookner isn’t sure what she is dealing with, but she’s pretty sure the disease is being transmitted sexually and she wants to keep it from spreading.

No one is paying attention, however, since the disease only seems to be targeting gays – a term The Times won’t even use except in quoted text. Gays are a political hot potato too and the mayor’s office won’t meet with Ned or the members of the advocacy group he forms (in real life, Kramer founded the Gay Men’s Health Crisis).

Ned is the most outspoken of the group, and the most willing to be identified with a gay cause, but board members Bruce Niles (Lee Pace), Tommy Boatright (Jim Parsons) and Mickey Marcus (Patrick Breen) feel he is too militant and offensive in his blunt speaking to serve as their president. Ned’s message that there is a need for abstinence doesn’t sit well with them either and it becomes even more personal when Ned finds himself falling in love with a fashion writer at the Times, Felix Turner (John Benjamin Hickey), who also contracts the disease.

Also unable to lend his full support to Ned’s cause is his brother, Ben (Mark Harelik), a high-powered attorney who loves his brother, but who is embarrassed by the lifestyle he has chosen. Some great dialogue between the two ensues when Ben can’t give Ned the personal validation of his lifestyle he so desires or even a statement that gays are just as “normal” as he.

“Please stop trying to ring an admission of guilt,” Ben pleads.

“You still think I am sick,” Ned counters. “And I can’t accept that any more.”

Sounds like a conversation two brothers could have today. In fact, a lot of the piece is very relevant – maybe even more so now, with its references to gay marriage which must have seemed almost an impossibility when the play was written.

When the disease first reared its head, and when Ned becomes aware of it in 1981, 41 people had died. Today, the number stands at more than 35 million worldwide. Drugs have slowed, but not defeated the disease. Names of those who have died are projected onto the white, phrase-chiseled walls (David Rockwell, scenic design) linking the past with the present. It’s a stark reminder that while a lot of time has passed, some of the most compelling issues around the disease still bring a lot of hurt, division and questions.

The Normal Heart plays through July 10, 2011 at the Golden Theatre, 252 West 45th St., NYC. Discounted tickets are available at http://www.givenik.com/show_info.php/Masterworks/313/individual.

Christians might also might like to know:
Show posts a MATURE advisory
Language
God’s name taken in vain
Homosexual activity
Sexual dialogue

Quick Hit Theater Review: Picked

Mark Blum and Michael Stahl-Davi​d. Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg.
Picked
By Christopher Shinn
Directed by Michael Wilson

Summary:
A young actor, Kevin (Michael Stahl-David) is “picked” by famous Hollywood director, John (Mark Blum) to star in his next project, a film that will feature the hero and an unseen villain being played by the same actor. John’s script will be created after studying neurological images of Kevin’s brain taken during their interview sessions. Kevin’s a little skeptical, but with the support of his girlfriend, Jen (Liz Stauber), he heads out to Hollywood where he starts to bond with the odd, but friendly director. Suddenly John tells Kevin that he’s brought another actor, Nick (Tom Lapinski) in to play the villain and suddenly life imitates art as unseen villains emerge in a rival for John’s and Jen’s attention, Kevin’s shot at fame and from deep down within as Kevin comes to terms with some deep-rooted demons from his past.

Highlights:
Nice performances and an interesting script. Blum makes the shallow John believable as well as likable. Stahl-David and Lapinski have a genuine rapport that comes through as their characters become friends and adds to the tension when one feel betrayed by the other. Wilson gives tight direction on Rachel Hauck’s sand-toned paneled set which makes a lot of use of a sectional sofa to define rooms. At one point a light pattern on the floor evokes images of motion pitcure film, as though the action in the lives of the characters is being captured for the big screen-- which it is (very clever).

Lowlights:
Some annoying incidental music (Jill BC DuBoff, sound design). The action loses momentum and the conclusion seems anticlimactic.

Information:
Picked plays at the Vineyard Theatre, 108 East 15th St., NYC through May 22, 2011.

Christians might also like to know:
  • Language
  • Lord’s name taken in vain

Quick Hit Theater Review: As it is in Heaven

Rachel Cantor, Megan Tusing, Annie McGovern and DeWanda Wise. Photo by Rick Berube

As it is in Heaven (10th anniversary production)
By Arlene Hutton
Directed by Ludovica Villar-Hauser

Summary:
Life is simple in the stark, ordered 1838 Shaker community at Pleasant Hill, KY until three girls new to the order, Fanny (Meg Tusing), Polly (DeWanda Wise) and Izzy (Rachel Cantor) start having the “gift” of seeing angels. Hannah (Margot Avery), the sort of elderess of the women, urges Phebe (Kathleen Bishop) to work them harder, but the visions keep coming and Polly starts claiming to have seen Mother Anne, founder of the Shaker movement, who gives her drawings and pictures for the others. Most affected is Jane (Annie McGovern) who finds the only joy she has known since entering the celibate community with her husband when one of the drawings depicts the five children she’s lost, now in heaven with Mother Anne.

Highlights:
An interesting look at the almost extinct religious community (at the height of the movement there were 6,000 believers; today only three remain in the last community in Maine, according to the program). Shaker songs are woven into the play. Some lines about the pending end of the world got a lot of laughs, as I saw this on Saturday, May 21, the date for the rapture according to one religious group given a lot of media attention. Very nice lighting by Joshua Sherr, whether creating a sunny picnic or visiting angels.

Lowlights:
The pace slows at times and the script can be confusing in places.

Information:
As it is in Heaven is a production of 3 Graces Theater Company. The company is committed to exposing and exploring the power of women’s experiences through theater and to providing a forum for new and experimental works.

The show runs through June 11, 2011 at The Cherry Lane Studio, 38 Commerce St., NYC. Tickets are $18 and are available by calling 212-239-6200.

Christians also might like to know:
  • No notes. Enjoy!

Theater Review: A Minister's Wife


The Condensed Version of Candida with some Music to Boot
By Lauren Yarger
For some reason George Bernard Shaw’s play Candida, about a minister’s wife whose husband’s feelings for her are awakened when another suitor declares his love, continues to be produced by theater companies year after year.

The long story is rather boring in my opinion, but every time a theater season is announced, there it is. The latest is a musical version, A Minister’s Wife, playing at Lincoln Center, and this might be my favorite yet.

It’s still not a great show. There’s only so much you can do to improve the original material, but for this one, writer Austin Pendleton eliminates characters and scenes, heightens some romantic tension and increases James’ socialistic leanings in a welcome 90-minute timeframe. The story is married to an elegant, if sometimes a little too lengthy, musical score by Joshua Schmidt with lyrics by Jan Levy Tranen. It doesn’t hurt, either, that this version stars Mark Kudisch as the Rev. James Morell (who comes off a little darker and less pleasant than usual) and Bobby Steggert, very funny, as poet Eugene Marchbanks, who falls for his wife Candida (Kate Fry).

Conceived and directed by Michael Halberstam, the show also features strong performances by Drew Gehling as James’ curate Alexander and Liz Baltes, giving nice layers and some humor to James’ besotted secretary Prosperine Garnett.

Timothy Splain conducts the four-piece orchestra housed behind a scrim of wallpaper doubling as the backdrop for Allen Moyer’s plush-but-tattered minister’s study. David Zinn designs the late 19th-century costumes.

In short, because I like abbreviated when it comes to Candida, I liked it more than I expected to. A Minister’s Wife plays through June 12, 2011 at the Mitzi Newhouse Theatre, 150 West 65th St., NYC. Tickets are available by calling 212-239-6200 or 800- 432-7250.

Christians also might like to know:
  • No notes. Enjoy!

Theater Review: Baby It's You


The Shirelles. Photo Credit: Ari Mintz

The Story of the Shirelles at Warp Speed (with Countless Costume Changes)
By Lauren Yarger
How many costume changes does it take to tell the story of the pop singing group The Shirelles? Too many to count, but the wardrobe crew at Broadway’s Broadhurst Theatre, where Baby It’s You is running, deserves combat pay.

The hundreds of attractive 1950s and ‘60s outfits designed by Lizz Wolf are a show by themselves, and are enhanced by great vocals on some favorite tunes, but all of this combined isn’t enough to overcome a very weak book (Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott) that tries to cram every thought, event and lyric any and all of the people connected with the Shirelles might have experienced from 1958 to 1965 in a two-and-a-half hour show.

Without pausing for a breath, bored Passaic, NJ housewife Florence Greenberg (Beth Leavel) tells husband Bernie (Barry Pearl) that she wants to find a job, decides she wants to manage a music group, checks out a group her daughter, Mary Jane (Kelli Barrett) has discovered, signs them, has them record a song written by her blind son, Stanley (Brandon Uranowitz), sells their contract, buys it back again, then hires a new producer, Luther Dixon (Allan Louis) with whom she has a fling despite opposition to a mixed-race relationship.

All that takes about 10 minutes, complete with about 200 costume changes. Suddenly we’re in the middle of a scene where, after being told that Stan is blind for about the fifth time (editing… editing…), we discover that Florence has really hurt him in some way. Exactly what she did got lost in the whiplash of the last costume change, however. Directors Mutrux and Sheldon Epps keep the action at the top of the chart with choreography by Brigitte Mutrux.

In all, there are more than 35 musical numbers including favorites like “I Met Him on Sunday,” “Dedicated to the One I Love” and “Tonight’s the Night.”

When we get to hear a full song (often we hear only a few lines before the group switches costumes and sings a few bars of another….) the story frenzy is almost worth sitting through, because there are some talented singers up there. Leavel is a pleasure to listen to and does a good job infusing Florence with some personality. Barrett also has a great voice, especially in a turn as Lesley Gore (everyone who ever appeared with the Shirelles is given a costume and a moment on stage too keeping several of the actors busy with multiple roles). Geno Henderson plays four, most notably a nice turn as Chuck Jackson.

Christina Sajous (Shirley), Erica Ash (Micki), Crystal Starr (Doris) and Kyra daCosta (Beverly) as the Shirelles each get a chance to showcase their considerable vocal talents as well.

Scenic designer Anna Louizos houses Music Director Shelton Becton’s band on the second level of the stage framing the numerous other snippet scenes that take place, enhanced by projections designed by Jason H. Thompson.

If you like the Shirelles, go join the other audience members who had no problem singing along while texting during the performance. For those of you looking for a little more substance, the juke box that appears on a scrim at the top of the show is a clue that Baby It’s You is just the latest jukebox musical to hit Broadway.

Baby it’s You runs at the Broadhurst Theatre, 235 West 44th St., NYC. Discounted tickets are available at http://www.givenik.com/show_info.php/Masterworks/310/individual.

Christians also might like to know:
  • God’s name taken in vain.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Theater Review: Sleep No More

Careena Melia and Ching-I Chang with audience members © Alick Crossley


I really don't like participatory theater, and for me Sleep No More was no exception. I just didn't find creeping around in too darkly lighted rooms, getting lost amongst thousands of props that I couldn't see, with actors pantomiming scenes that I didn't get what I would call a "fun" experience, even though I'm a big fan of Macbeth and Hitchcock's "Rebecca" on which it is supposed to be based. My experience consisted primarily of counting the seconds until I could leave the claustrophobic, unsettling atmosphere where I kept getting run over by white-masked audience members running from room to room.
 
Overcome by fog I choked for some time, watched by passersby who apparently assumed I was Duncan, or Mrs. Danvers taking some last dying gasps. When I recovered, I realized that, as a directionally challenged person under the best of circumstances (like when the sun is out and street signs are in front of me, I still can't figure out which way to go), I had no hope of ever finding my way out of a never-ending graveyard with its twisting labyrinths and black-clad ghost who was dancing around. Her acting was lost on me as my mind was on more important things like the fact that I hadn't packed any food or water in my bag and that I hadn't seen an exit sign in a long time. And also by the fact that if I really couldn't find my way out and perished down here, my dead corpse would appear, after all, just as a prop.
 
Finally I emerged around 8 pm, an hour into the experience, via a room full of baby carcases. A black-masked helper told me I couldn't leave until 8:30 when the lounge would open. At about 8:10 I gave up trying to force myself to like the experience and backtracked to a tree near an exit door. I clung to it so I wouldn't get lost again and miss a second of getting back to the second-floor lounge where my coat and umbrella were being held held hostage.
 
I think I set a new record for leaving the otherwise widely acclaimed theatrical experience. There was another couple on my heels as I ran from the place. The woman was even more shaken than I, telling her husband ominously that she had "something sticky on her hands."  I left friend Misti Wills, from whom I was separated at the top of the experience (rather gleefully by the guy operating the dark elevator) on her own in the hotel of gloom and doom and burst out the door. I was never so happy to see rats on the streets of New York in my life. I greeted them like old friends. Misti had a rather different experience, however, which she shares below.
--Lauren Yarger
 
 
Sleep No More
By Misti B. Wills

Mix one part performance art with one part theatrical dance and add a dash of haunted house and you’ll have unlocked the combination that creates the wildly eccentric and innovatively site specific production of Sleep No More presented by Punchdrunk, a renowned company from the UK.


Set in the 1930’s McKittrick Hotel, Punchdrunk has created a mashup of Shakespeare’s Macbeth with Hitchcock’s "Rebecca." With over 100 rooms spanning 5 floors, audience members follow their own story through a maze of decorative rooms, choreographed scenes, and mysterious characters. Upon arrival and check in at the hotel entrance, audience members are self-guided through a long, dark and winding corridor with only velvet walls as a map. At the end of the corridor awaits a beautiful 1930’s jazz club where costumed actors hand out white masks and place groups on elevators. The audience is instructed that they must wear the provided white mask at all times and may not speak. They are invited to go anywhere they choose in the hotel and are reminded that they can always come back to the lounge to relax or enjoy the live music.

Once taken on the elevator, a spooky operator chooses who will get off on which floors. Partners are usually broken up as the experience is meant to be self led. After the floor is chosen, the audience is set free to explore the detailed rooms which are created with the meticulousness of a museum. The beauty is that in these rooms, however, everything may be touched, opened and investigated. The rooms cover a wide range from the Macbeth’s bedroom and the Macduff’s children’s rooms to a hospital wing, dining hall, ballroom, cemetery, herb room, candy room, etc. Follow where your instincts lead or until a scene is found. Once a scene is discovered, it is recommended that you pick a character to follow so that you are able to uncover most of their story. The story will not be cohesive, however, as each scene is primarily told through dance or stage combat with little to no dialogue. Following a character can also be quite challenging as some take off up the flights of stairs which lead from floor to floor.

I followed Lady Macbeth for the first half of my experience and had an amazing time. From running behind her in the cemetery (complete with fog and music) to watching her dance, to interacting with Macbeth in their bedroom following the murder, to seeking help from a nurse in the hospital, and even desperately trying to wash the blood off her body, I was able to get a full reenactment of her arc in the play Macbeth. For imaginative theater makers like me, the experience of walking through her journey was breathtaking. I felt like a story book had opened and I had magically been placed inside it.

This experience will not be for everyone. It requires an instinctual, experiential sojourner who thirsts for adventure and knows the plot of Macbeth well. Bring sneakers and an open mind to let yourself explore. Even opening the drawers and books in Macduff’s study was thrilling so if the characters don’t excite, the sensory museum might.

The creative team features Felix Barrett (Direction and Design), Maxine Doyle (Direction and Choreography), Stephen Dobbie (Sound Design), Beatrice Minns (Design Associate), and Livi Vaughan (Design Associate).  

Sleep No More is an indoor promenade performance lasting up to three hours. There are five arrival times at 7:00PM, 7:15PM, 7:30PM, 7:45PM and 8:00PM, Mondays to Saturdays, plus Friday and Saturday late nights at 11:00PM, 11:15PM, 11:30PM, 11:45PM and 11:59PM.

Tickets are $75 and are available via http://www.sleepnomorenyc.com/ or by calling 866-811-4111.
 
Christians should know: Full Male and Female Nudity

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Daniel Radcliffe, Liev Schreiber, Katie Holmes Among Drama Desk Presenters

A star-studded list of Presenters will be on hand Monday for the 56th Annual Drama Desk Awards Ceremony  at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan Center.

Presenters include stage, screen and television stars, among them (in alphabetical order): Ellen Barkin, Tyne Daly, Jonathan Groff, Katie Holmes, Cheyenne Jackson, Larry Kramer, Marcia Mason,  David Hyde Pierce, Colin Quinn, Daniel Radcliffe, Liev Schreiber,  Annabella Sciorra, Christian Siriano,  Holland Taylor and Tom Wopat.
The 56th Annual Drama Desk Awards, which celebrates outstanding New York theater productions and creative talent for the 2010-2011 season, will premiere on Ovation, the only network dedicated to arts culture,  Saturday, June 4 at 9 pm ET/7:30 p.m. PT with encore presentations on Sunday, June 12 at 12:30 PM ET/9:30 AM PT and 2:00 PM ET/5:00 PM PT.The 90-minute highlight special, directed by Jeff Kalpak, will be hosted by Tony® and Drama Desk Award-winner Harvey Fierstein. 
Ovation.com will stream a special red-carpet show on May 23 at 6 pm hosted by stylist/designer Phillip Bloch and The Broadway Channel’s Maribel Aber. The Red Carpet coverage will feature arrivals and interviews with the Drama Desk nominees, presenters and guests.

The Drama Desk (www.dramadesk.org) is an organization of professional theater writers, editors, critics and columnists who cover all areas of professional theater in the greater New York area, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway and not-for-profit theaters. The organization was founded in 1949 to explore key issues of the theater community.

Monday, May 16, 2011

War Horse, Book of Mormon Win Top Outer Critics Circle Awards

Anything Goes, Normal Heart are Best Revival of Musical, Play
The Outer Critics Circle, the organization of writers and commentators for all media covering New York theatre announced today its award winners for the 2010-11 season in 23 categories.

As previously announced, based on recommendations by the OCC Executive Committee, Special Achievement Awards will be given to Ellen Barkin for her Outstanding Broadway Debut in The Normal Heart and Adrian Kohler with Basil Jones for Handspring Puppet Company Puppet Design, Fabrication and Direction for War Horse.

Charles Busch, Julie Halston, Swoosie Kurtz and Brian D'Arcy James will serve as presenters at the organization's 61st Annual Award ceremony on Thursday, May 26 at Sardi's in New York.

Outer Critics Circle 2010-2011 Award Winners (Winners are notated in BOLD)

OUTSTANDING NEW BROADWAY PLAY
Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
Good People
The Motherf**ker With the Hat
* War Horse

OUTSTANDING NEW BROADWAY MUSICAL
* The Book of Mormon
Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Sister Act
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

OUTSTANDING NEW OFF-BROADWAY PLAY
Blood From a Stone
Kin
* Other Desert Cities
The Other Place

OUTSTANDING NEW OFF-BROADWAY MUSICAL
Freckleface Strawberry
In Transit
* The Kid
Tomorrow Morning

OUTSTANDING NEW SCORE
(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
* The Book of Mormon
Catch Me If You Can
Sister Act
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

OUTSTANDING REVIVAL OF A PLAY
(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Born Yesterday
The Importance of Being Earnest
The Merchant of Venice
* The Normal Heart

OUTSTANDING REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL
(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
* Anything Goes
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Hello Again
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR OF A PLAY
* Marianne Elliott & Tom Morris War Horse
Emma Rice Brief Encounter
Anna D. Shapiro The Motherf**cker With the Hat
Daniel Sullivan Good People

OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR OF A MUSICAL
Rob Ashford How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Kathleen Marshall Anything Goes
* Casey Nicholaw & Trey Parker The Book of Mormon
Jerry Zaks Sister Act

OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHER
Rob Ashford How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Ross Coleman Priscilla Queen of the Desert
* Kathleen Marshall Anything Goes
Casey Nicholaw The Book of Mormon

OUTSTANDING SET DESIGN
(Play or Musical)
Desmond Heeley The Importance of Being Earnest
Derek McLane Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
* Neil Murray Brief Encounter
Todd Rosenthal The Motherf**ker With the Hat

OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN
(Play or Musical)
Lez Brotherston Sister Act
* Tim Chappel & Lizzy Gardiner Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Desmond Heeley The Importance of Being Earnest
Lizz Wolf Baby It’s You!

OUTSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN
(Play or Musical)
* Paule Constable War Horse
Natasha Katz Sister Act
David Lander Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
Malcolm Rippeth Brief Encounter

OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A PLAY
Reed Birney The Dream of the Burning Boy
Bobby Cannavale The Motherf**ker With the Hat
Joe Mantello The Normal Heart
Al Pacino The Merchant of Venice
* Mark Rylance Jerusalem

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A PLAY (tie-win!)
* Nina Arianda Born Yesterday
Edie Falco The House of Blue Leaves
Judith Light Lombardi
* Frances McDormand Good People
Laurie Metcalf The Other Place

OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Norbert Leo Butz Catch Me If You Can
* Josh Gad The Book of Mormon
Daniel Radcliffe How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Tony Sheldon Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Aaron Tveit Catch Me If You Can

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Victoria Clark Sister Act
* Sutton Foster Anything Goes
Beth Leavel Baby It’s You!
Patina Miller Sister Act
Donna Murphy The People in the Picture

OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY
* Brian Bedford The Importance of Being Earnest
Evan Jonigkeit High
Stacy Keach Other Desert Cities
Seth Numrich War Horse
Yul Vázquez The Motherf**ker With the Hat

OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Renée Elise Goldsberry Good People
Linda Lavin Other Desert Cities
Estelle Parsons Good People
Alison Pill The House of Blue Leaves
* Elizabeth Rodriguez The Motherf**ker With the Hat

OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Colin Donnell Anything Goes
* Adam Godley Anything Goes
Chester Gregory Sister Act
John Larroquette How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
John McMartin Anything Goes

OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
* Laura Benanti Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Nikki M. James The Book of Mormon
Patti LuPone Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Marla Mindelle Sister Act
Laura Osnes Anything Goes

OUTSTANDING SOLO PERFORMANCE
Daniel Beaty Through the Night
Mike Birbiglia My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend
* John Leguizamo Ghetto Klown
Michael Shannon Mistakes Were Made

JOHN GASSNER AWARD
(Presented for an American play, preferably by a new playwright)
Amy Herzog After the Revolution
* Matthew Lopez The Whipping Man
David West Read The Dream of the Burning Boy
Kim Rosenstock Tigers Be Still

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
Ellen Barkin for her Outstanding Broadway Debut in The Normal Heart
Adrian Kohler with Basil Jones for Handspring Puppet Company Puppet Design, Fabrication and Direction for War Horse

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Spider-Man Resumes Previews

Spider-Man flies through the Foxwoods Theatre. A scene from “SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark” © Jacob Cohl
Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark will unveil the new version of the mega musical tonight at 7:30. The official opening night now is Tuesday, June 14 at the Foxwoods Theatre (213 West 42nd Street). Tickets are now on sale through Oct. 2, 2011, with group tickets on sale through Jan. 8, 2012.

The  new version, replacing the original directed and co-written by departed Julie Taymor, takes the best aspects of the original, adds new music by Bono and The Edge, tells the story from a different angle, and promises an even more thrilling audience experience according to a spokesperson.

Philip William McKinley, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, and Chase Brock have joined the creative team to help implement new staging, assist with book rewrites, and create additional choreography, respectively.  McKinley has vast experience directing technically complex productions on Broadway and beyond. Aguirre-Sacasa is an acclaimed playwright, screenwriter (Big Love) and a noted writer of Spider-Man comic books. Brock is an innovative choreographer experienced with large Broadway shows.

The show will now play the following performance schedule: Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 pm, Wednesday at 1:30 p.m, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm., Saturday at 2 pm and Sunday at 3 pm.
Discounted group tickets are available at http://www.givenik.com/show_info.php/Masterworks/178/individual.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Driving Miss Daisy Review Wins Award

Lauren Yarger's review of Broadway's Driving Miss Daisy posted at on this site has received a second-place award for web criticism from the Connecticut Press Club.

Yarger, a member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle and the American Theater Critics Association, writes reviews of Broadway and New York theater for the site, which is the only source of reviews with added information for Christian perspective. She resides in Connecticut, where her editing of the arts news site Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com/) will recevie a first-place award at the press club's 10th annual awards banquet tonight in Norwalk where TV news exec Al Primo, credited with creating the Eyewitness News format, will receive the Mark Twain Award of Excellence.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Theater Review: The People in the Picture


Portrait of the Past Comes Alive with Murphy's Performance
By Lauren Yarger
A picture’s worth a thousand words, or in the case of Roundabout Theatre’s The People in the Picture, a whole Broadway musical.

Giving a flash of brilliance to the show is Donna Murphy who gives a strong performance as Raisel, a grandmother slowly slipping into Alzheimer’s while bringing alive her past as a star of Yiddish theater in pre-war Poland.

“Bubbie” recounts her experiences and teaches Yiddish to granddaughter Jenny (Rachel Resheff) with the help of the spirits of the members of her acting troupe known as The Warsaw Gang -- captured in an old photo (massive gilded picture frames provide the set backdrop designed by Ricardo Hernandez). They are Doovie Feldman (Hal Robinson), Chayesel Fisher (Joyce Van Patten), Yossie Pinsker (Chip Zien), Avram Krinsky (Lewis Stadlen), Moishe Rosewald (Alexander Gemignani), and Chaim Bradovsky (Christopher Invar). Megan Reinking gives a nice turn in a minor role as Dobrisch, a woman who helps hide Raisel’s daughter from the Nazis.

All grown up now, Raisel’s daughter, Red (the lovely voiced Nicole Parker), doesn’t like leaving Jenny alone with the increasingly forgetful and confused Bubbie, however, and starts looking for a care facility for the mother whom she resents teaching her daughter about a past she would rather forget.

Leonard Foglia directs Murphy in flawless morphs from Bubbie in 1977 Manhattan to Raisel in Poland between 1935 and 1946. Ann Hould-Ward’s simple costumes prevent a stark visual difference between the time periods. Murphy really is fascinating to watch and gives sympathy to a woman who not only endured the Holocaust, but who now stands to lose her mind, her home and the chance to pass on traditions when she’s denied the privilege of spending time with her beloved granddaughter.

Her portrayal keeps us interested, despite the completely predictable book from Iris Rainer Dart whose sole purpose seems to be to set up a good cry like the one guaranteed if you watch her movie “Beaches.” She succeeds, as loud sniffles and searching around for tissues in handbags can be heard throughout the house toward the end.

Dart’s lyrics are clever (additional lyrics and music by Mark Warshavsky are used for an old Yiddish lullaby), but they don’t overcome the melodramatic, hokey tone of the book (and Jenny’s just a little too sweet and good). One number, in which actress Raisel portrays The Dancing Dybbuk, a demon-like spirit who used to be a song-and-dance-man, is really ridiculous. Andy Blankenbueler provides the musical staging for the numbers, one of which evokes spirits of  Fiddler on the Roof.

Also disappointing is the music by Mike Stoller (of Leiber and Stoller fame) and Artie Butler. There are some strange note choices and none of the tunes is memorable.

Murphy’s performance has earned her Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics award nominations.

The People in the Picture runs through June 19 at Studio 54, 254 West 54th St., NYC. For tickets, visit www.roundabouttheatre.org.


Christians might also like to know:
• God’s name taken in vain
• Homosexuality

Friday, May 6, 2011

Marquees Dim for Aurthur Laurents

The Broadway community mourns the loss of Arthur Laurents,best known for his work as librettist on Gypsy and West Side Story, who passed away Thursday night at age 93. The marquees of Broadway theatres in New York will be dimmed in his memory tonight, May 6, at exactly 8 pm for one minute.

Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of The Broadway League, said, “The legendary works of Arthur Laurents are responsible for creating many generations of star-struck individuals, myself included! His name is synonymous with the great Broadway musicals and plays of our time. We have been enjoying his shows for over fifty years - including the very recent revivals of West Side Story and Gypsy, which he directed - and thankfully his talent will live on in future productions. Our thoughts go out to his friends, family, and fans.”

Laurents also was well known as a playwright, having won a Tony Award® for Hallelujah, Baby! in 1968. Later as a director, he was Tony-nominated for Gypsy in 1975 (and the 2008 revival) as well as the original 1984 La Cage Aux Folles. He made his Broadway debut in 1945 with Home of the Brave, but in the late 1940s Laurents successfully tried his luck as a screenwriter in Hollywood. Film credits include Hitchcock’s “Rope,” “Anastasia,” with Ingrid Bergman, and “The Turning Point,” with Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine. His screenplay for “The Way We Were,” with Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand, was adapted from his novel by the same name.

In 2010, he established an award for emerging playwrights, to be funded through the Laurents-Hatcher Foundation, a tribute to his relationship with Tom Hatcher, an aspiring actor when they met. The first recipient of the Laurents-Hatcher award was named only weeks ago: Jeff Talbott, an unproduced New York City playwright. His play, The Submission, will be presented by Off-Broadway's MCC Theater in the fall.

In recent weeks, Laurents had finished work on a new play, and had concluded negotiations with a major studio for a new feature film version of Gypsy.

Theater Review: House of Blue Leaves

Bananas Comes Up Three Times for Edie Falco Award Jackpot
By Lauren Yarger
Edie Falco (of TV’s “Sopranos” and “Nurse Jackie” fame) goes Bananas and hits the Broadway awards jackpot --  earning Drama Desk, Outer Critics and Tony Award nominations for her role as a mentally unbalanced woman in The House of Blue Leaves.

Falco is superb as the aptly named Bananas, the frail and damaged, but resilient woman forced to endure humiliation and degradation by her husband, Artie Shaughnessy (Ben Stiller) who is fed up with caring for her  and wants out so he can marry their downstairs neighbor Bunny Flingus (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Bunny encourages Artie, very strongly and with relentless persistence, to pursue his dream of being a songwriter while helping him sling insults at Bananas as he forces medication down his wife's throat to quiet her protests about his plans to commit her to the institution nicknamed the House of Blue Leaves

The tension comes to a head during a 1965 visit to New York by the Pope. Bunny insists they go to see him so he can bless Artie’s career. Just in case that doesn’t work, Bunny forces Artie to contact his old childhood pal Billy Einhorn (Thomas Sadoski) who has made it big in Hollywood to see if he can land him a job writing music for the movies. The plan might backfire, however, because Billy has a soft spot for Bananas and encourages Artie to stick by her.

Billy’s hard-of-hearing girlfriend, Corinna Stroller (Alison Pill) pays a visit, for reasons that aren’t clear, as does the Shaughnessy’s AWOL son, Ronnie (Christopher Abbott) who has plans to blow up the pontiff amidst protests over the war in Viet Nam. Abbott nails the funniest scene in the play, where Ronnie describes his childhood hopes of landing the film role of Huck Finn in one of Billy's movies.

If all that sounds a little incohesive, it is, as quite a lot of John Guare’s play is rather bizarre, with a lot of random action tossed in soley for a laugh. The bits don't move the plot along, however, and the first act, in particular, drags. Three nuns (Mary Beth Hurt, Susan Bennett and Halley Feiffer)implausibly show up in the messy Queens apartment (Scott Pask, set design) and a policeman (Jimmy Davis) and another character identified as White Man (Tally Sessions) also are thrown in for good measure.

A reviewer colleague told me that the play, which starred Stiller's mother, Anne Meara, as Bunny Off-Broadway in 1971 and in which Stiller made his Broadway debut playing Ronnie in the 1986 Broadway revival, is supposed to be a farce. Some of the more bizarre elements do seem like they might be intended for the genre, but the subject matter seems too dark for a successful farce, however. If it worked in the previous productions, it sure doesn’t in 2011, even with the talented David Cromer directing. In fact, his presence seems oddly absent.

In addition, Designer Brian MacDevitt makes some odd choices with lighting. Sometimes parts of the audience find themselves lighted, almost as if something is about to take place in the house, but the action remains on stage. At other times, it’s hard to see. Jane Greenwood designs the ‘60s era costumes.

Falco’s performance makes it worth the trip, however. She’s truly riveting.

The House of Blue Leaves plays at the Walter Kerr Theatre, 219 West 48th St., NYC through July 23. For tickets call 212-239-6200.

Christians might also like to know:
God's name taken in vain
Violence

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Book of Mormon, Scottsboro Boys Top Tony Award Nominations

Nominations for the 2011 American Theatre Wing's Tony Awards®
Presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing:

Best Play
Good People by David Lindsay-Abaire
Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth
The Motherf**ker with the Hat by Stephen Adly Guirgis
War Horse by Nick Stafford

Best Musical

The Book of Mormon
Catch Me If You Can
The Scottsboro Boys
Sister Act

Best Book of a Musical
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson by Alex Timbers
The Book of Mormon by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone
The Scottsboro Boys by David Thompson
Sister Act by Cheri Steinkellner, Bill Steinkellner and Douglas Carter Beane

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
The Book of Mormon, Music & Lyrics: Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone
The Scottsboro Boys, Music & Lyrics: John Kander and Fred Ebb
Sister Act, Music: Alan Menken, Lyrics: Glenn Slater
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Music & Lyrics: David Yazbek

Best Revival of a Play
Arcadia
The Importance of Being Earnest
The Merchant of Venice
The Normal Heart

Best Revival of a Musical
Anything Goes
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Brian Bedford, The Importance of Being Earnest
Bobby Cannavale, The Motherf**ker with the Hat
Joe Mantello, The Normal Heart
Al Pacino, The Merchant of Venice
Mark Rylance, Jerusalem

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Nina Arianda, Born Yesterday
Frances McDormand, Good People
Lily Rabe, The Merchant of Venice
Vanessa Redgrave, Driving Miss Daisy
Hannah Yelland, Brief Encounter

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Norbert Leo Butz, Catch Me If You Can
Josh Gad, The Book of Mormon
Joshua Henry, The Scottsboro Boys
Andrew Rannells, The Book of Mormon
Tony Sheldon, Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Sutton Foster, Anything Goes
Beth Leavel, Baby It's You!
Patina Miller, Sister Act
Donna Murphy, The People in the Picture

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Mackenzie Crook, Jerusalem
Billy Crudup, Arcadia
John Benjamin Hickey, The Normal Heart
Arian Moayed, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
Yul Vázquez, The Motherf**ker with the Hat

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Ellen Barkin, The Normal Heart
Edie Falco, The House of Blue Leaves
Judith Light, Lombardi
Joanna Lumley, La Bête
Elizabeth Rodriguez, The Motherf**ker with the Hat

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Colman Domingo, The Scottsboro Boys
Adam Godley, Anything Goes
John Larroquette, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Forrest McClendon, The Scottsboro Boys
Rory O'Malley, The Book of Mormon

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Laura Benanti, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Tammy Blanchard, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Victoria Clark, Sister Act
Nikki M. James, The Book of Mormon
Patti LuPone, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown


Best Scenic Design of a Play
Todd Rosenthal, The Motherf**ker with the Hat
Rae Smith, War Horse
Ultz, Jerusalem
Mark Wendland, The Merchant of Venice

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Beowulf Boritt, The Scottsboro Boys
Derek McLane, Anything Goes
Scott Pask, The Book of Mormon
Donyale Werle, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Best Costume Design of a Play
Jess Goldstein, The Merchant of Venice
Desmond Heeley, The Importance of Being Earnest
Mark Thompson, La Bête
Catherine Zuber, Born Yesterday

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Tim Chappel & Lizzy Gardiner, Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Martin Pakledinaz, Anything Goes
Ann Roth, The Book of Mormon
Catherine Zuber, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Paule Constable, War Horse
David Lander, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
Kenneth Posner, The Merchant of Venice
Mimi Jordan Sherin, Jerusalem

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Ken Billington, The Scottsboro Boys
Howell Binkley, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Peter Kaczorowski, Anything Goes
Brian MacDevitt, The Book of Mormon

Best Sound Design of a Play
Acme Sound Partners & Cricket S. Myers, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
Simon Baker, Brief Encounter
Ian Dickinson for Autograph, Jerusalem
Christopher Shutt, War Horse

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Peter Hylenski, The Scottsboro Boys
Steve Canyon Kennedy, Catch Me If You Can
Brian Ronan, Anything Goes
Brian Ronan, The Book of Mormon

Best Direction of a Play
Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, War Horse
Joel Grey & George C. Wolfe, The Normal Heart
Anna D. Shapiro, The Motherf**ker with the Hat
Daniel Sullivan, The Merchant of Venice

Best Direction of a Musical
Rob Ashford, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Kathleen Marshall, Anything Goes
Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker, The Book of Mormon
Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys

Best Choreography

Rob Ashford, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Kathleen Marshall, Anything Goes
Casey Nicholaw, The Book of Mormon
Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys

Best Orchestrations
Doug Besterman, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Larry Hochman, The Scottsboro Boys
Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus, The Book of Mormon
Marc Shaiman & Larry Blank, Catch Me If You Can

Recipients of Awards and Honors in Non-competitive Categories:
Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Athol Fugard
Philip J. Smith

Regional Theatre Tony Award
Lookingglass Theatre Company (Chicago, Ill.)

Isabelle Stevenson Award
Eve Ensler

Special Tony Award
Handspring Puppet Company

Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre
William Berloni
The Drama Book Shop
Sharon Jensen and Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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