Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sondheim Puts Together Jurassic Treaure Hunt at Museum to Benefit Friends in Deed

For two decades Friends In Deed has offered emotional and spiritual support forall those affected by life threatening illness, caregiving and grief.  In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Friends In Deed, Emmy Award winner Sarah Jessica Parker and TonyAward winner Matthew Broderick will host “A Little Jurassic Treasure Hunt,” a once-in-a-lifetime event on Monday, Oct. 3.  

At this special benefit event, guests will form teams to trace clues through the American Museum of Natural History in a specially devised hunt created by legendary composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim.  Following a cocktail reception in The Museum’s Hall of Mammals, the hunt will take place in the Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs and the Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs before a dinner reception in the Rose Center for Earth and Space.  The dinner reception will feature performances of Sondheim’s songs by Tony Award winner Barbara Cook and Tony nominee Raul Esparza.

“I'm thrilled that Stephen Sondheim has lent his name and brilliance to help Friends In Deed,” says Broadway actor and Friends In Deed Board Member Anthony Rapp. “Mr. Sondheim’s treasure hunts arequite legendary, and rare, and I feel privileged to get to partake in one. This event will go a long way in allowing Friends In Deed to continue its lifesaving work.”


For decades, Sondheim has famously devised private treasure hunt parties. In the late 1960s Sondheim started hosting game nights with friends. They gradually grew in size andcomplexity. In one of his famed Halloween Hunts, created with Anthony Perkins ,the participants arrived at an old brownstone, rang the bell and were invited in by an unknown white-haired lady who is was sworn to answer no questions.Tensely, they waited for their next message as she served coffee and cake in silence. Film star Lee Remick was hungry and ate her portion. "Stop!"shouted the group-leader …too late. Rearranged, the icing on the cake would have revealed the map reference of their next rendezvous.

This year, Mr. Sondheim has offered to create a special hunt to benefit Friends In Deed and celebrate their two decades of invaluable work.  This event marks a rare occasion when members of the public will have the opportunity to participate.  
Founded by Mike Nichols and Cynthia O’Neal in1991, Friends In Deed-- The Crisis Center for Life-Threatening Illness -- has helped transform many thousands of livesthrough a wide array of free programs and services. Friends In Deed providesemotional and spiritual support for anyone diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-threatening physical illnesses. Support is also available for family, friends, and caregivers of those who are ill, and anyone dealing with grief and bereavement. All services are free of charge. For more information,visit www.FriendsInDeed.orgor call (212) 925-2009.

The Friends In Deed Board of Directors: Tom Cashin,Andy Cohen, Federico Garza-Bueron, Patrick Gordon, Michael P. Harrell, RobertLevithan, Jay Johnson, Cynthia O'Neal, Sandra W. Parker, Anthony Rapp and JulieWong.


Individual tickets for “A Little Jurassic Treasure Hunt” are $1,500. Tables (10 seats) are $15,000. All but $500 of each seat is tax deductible. Proceeds benefit Friends In Deed, The Crisis Center fo rLife-Threatening Illness.   To purchase tickets visit www.FriendsInDeed.org or call (212)866-2608.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hanna Montana Star Will Make Broadway Debut in Godspell

Disney Channel star Anna Maria Perez de Tagle will make her Broadway stage debut in the upcoming Broadway revival and 40th anniversary production of the legendary rock musical Godspell.

She joins previously announced cast members Hunter Parrish (as Jesus), Wallace Smith (as Judas), Uzo Aduba, Nick Blaemire, Celisse Henderson, Morgan James, Telly Leung and Lindsay Mendez.

Perez de Tagle began her career onstage, starring in regional productions of Cinderella, Bugsy Malone, The Wiz and The King and I.

She is best known for her role as Ashley Dewitt on the Disney Channel's hit series "Hannah Montana."  Her other performing credits include acting, singing and dancing in "Camp Rock" (Disney/Sudden Motion), the motion picture "Fame" (MGM/Lakeshore) and the recent "Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam."

In 2010, she toured with the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato in North and South America as an opener and performer throughout the show.

Recently she performed "I Dreamed A Dream" from Les Miserables and "Someone Like You" from Jekyll and Hyde at the Ronald Reagan 100th Centennial Birthday Celebration, in front of former First Lady Nancy Reagan and hundreds of dignitaries at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California.

Free Dance Performances Slated Weekend of 9/11 in Rockefeller Park

The Joyce Theater Foundation, Inc. will present two free performances on September 10 and 11 at 5pm in the Nelson A. Rockefeller Park (North end of Battery Park City, west of River Terrace) to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of September 11, 2001.  This special event will feature performances by the Limón Dance Company with Voices of Ascension; the Paul Taylor Dance Company with Orchestra of St. Luke’s; and a new work created by Jessica Lang especially for this occasion, among others to be announced.  This free event, with general lawn-seating on a first-come first-served basis, is made possible through the generosity of TheJoyce Theater Foundation with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts, The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation and the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust.
Limón Dance Company will present José Limón’s 1958 Missa Brevis, which features music by Zoltán Kodály, performed by 18 dancers.  Zoltán Kodály, the Hungarian composer, wrote Missa Brevis in Tempore Bellie at the end of World War II.  A Mass in time of war, it was completed under great hardship during the siege of Budapest.  Limón's stirring choreography depicts an indomitable humanity rising up after near destruction. The piece, a memento to cities destroyed during World War II and to those unconquerable qualities that permit hope to survive, perfectly reflects the spirit of this commemorative event.
The Paul Taylor Dance Company will present Brandenburgs, Paul Taylor’s 1988 masterwork for six men and three women.  Performed to Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 3 and 6, this work displays Taylor’s special affinity for the music of Bach – also seen in such works as Esplanade, Musical Offering and Promethean Fire.  Brandenburgs is a joyous and exuberant showcase of movement invention that matches the uplifting spirit of this commemorative event.

Endurance Theatre Performs 9/11 Tribute 'Ordinary People'

Endurance Theatre is proud to present Performing Tribute 9/11: Ordinary People, Remarkable Stories in New York and New Jersey to commemorate the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001.  Performing Tribute will be staged on August 17th at Harlem Stage, September 7th at Theatre at St Clement’s, September 8th at All Souls Church and on August 31st at the Mount St Olive library in Flanders, New Jersey. 
Performing Tribute brings together the unique and inspiring stories of individuals who were directly impacted by the events of 9/11— survivors of the North and South Towers; family members who lost loved ones; an evacuated area resident; a retired FDNY firefighter who responded to the site, a New Jersey resident who volunteered in the aftermath with the Salvation Army, and volunteers who helped in the rescue and recovery.  The individual experiences are told first-hand and woven together in a moving theatrical event.

The actual people who experienced 9/11 perform the piece, telling their stories via a reader’s theatre style in front of moving images from the day.

At each presentation of Performing Tribute a piece from the cladding of the towers will be on display.  The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey distributed pieces of the World Trade Center rubble to organizations and cities around the world for memorials. Endurance Theatre received a small piece in August of 2010. 

PERFORMING TRIBUTE 9/11: Ordinary People, Remarkable Stories plays the following schedule:

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 7PM at Mount Olive Public Library (202 Flanders-Drakestown Rd, Flanders, NJ)
Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 7PM at The Theater at St. Clement’s (423 W. 46th St)
Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 7PM at All Souls Church (1157 Lexington Ave)
Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 7PM at Jan Hus Church (351 E. 74th St)

Created by theatre artist Donna Kaz, a former resident of Battery Park City and volunteer docent at the WTC via the Tribute Center, Performing Tribute is made possible in part with public funds from the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and administered by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
Tickets are FREE and will be distributed on a first come, first served basis. Doors open twenty minutes prior to the start of each show.

Running Time: 75 minutes (including post-show Q&A)
Website: www.performingtribute.com

Sweet & Sad Performed on 9/11 Anniversary

The cast of Sweet and Sad(clockwise from left) Maryann Plunkett, Jay O. Sanders, Shuler Hensley, J. Smith-Cameron, Laila Robins, and Jon DeVries, written and directed by Richard Nelson, a Public Lab production running at The Public Theater September 6 – September 25. Photo credit: Joseph Moran.
The Public Theater (Artistic Director Oskar Eustis; Interim Executive Director Joey Parnes) will begin previews for the world premiere of Richard Nelson’s new play SWEET AND SAD on Tuesday, September 6. The first show in the 2011-2012 Public Lab season,SWEET AND SAD takes place over Sunday brunch on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 with a cast that featuresJon DeVries,Shuler Hensley,Maryann Plunkett, Laila Robins, Jay O. Sanders and J. Smith-Cameron.
SWEET AND SAD will run through Sunday, September 25, with an official press opening on Sunday, September 11.All tickets for Public Lab productions are $15 and are on sale now.

The Apple Family finds themselves together again for the first time since Election Night, 2010. Marian, reeling from a personal tragedy, now lives with her sister Barbara; sister Jane is back with her boyfriend Tim; their brother Richard has come up from Manhattan; and Uncle Benjamin prepares for his first dramatic performance in years. Over Sunday brunch on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the Apples find themselves talking about loss, memory, remembrance and the meaning of compensation.

SWEET AND SAD will feature scenery and costumes designed bySusan Hilferty; lighting designed by Jennifer Tipton; and sound designed byScott Lehrer.
The 2011-2012 Public Lab fall season will continue withLOVE’S LABOR’S LOST, directed by Karin Coonrod (October 16 to November 6), and TITUS ANDRONICUS, directed byMichael Sexton and featuring Jay O. Sanders as Titus (November 29 to December 18).

Celebrating its 5th Anniversary Season, Public Lab provides thrilling opportunities for both audiences and artists. Audiences gain access to more of the theater they love from The Public -- both Shakespeare and new work -- at the affordable price of only $15, and artists, both emerging and established, gain a new platform to further develop their work on stage and in performance.  With scaled-down productions (shorter rehearsal periods and smaller budgets), Public Lab allows audiences and artists to experience extraordinary theater together.

Remembering 9/11 with The Performance Project at John Jay

The Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College presents The 9/11 Performance Project, a series of three complementary plays, from Friday, September 9 - Sunday, September 11, 2011 at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College, 899 Tenth Avenue, NYC. Tickets are available at www.ticketcentral.com or by phone at 212-279-4200.

Co-Produced with Professor Seth Baumrin, Chair of the Department of Communications and Theatre Arts at John Jay College, The 9/11 Performance Project is a set of three very different yet complementary plays: The Domestic Crusaders written by Wajahat Ali, Another Life written by Karen Malpede, and Demolition of the Eiffel Tower written by Jeton Neziraj. The Project is a vehicle for cultural diplomacy that advocates reform of the post-September 11th political atmosphere and promotes a return to critical thinking, adherence to the rule of law, respect for civil liberties and upholding human rights in the United States and abroad. The goal of the performances and public dialogue is to create an experience that will engage the public and help society enact more progressive thinking and action in the search for understanding current U.S. and world policies, and their consequences, and furthering the understanding of Islam as it is lived today. A JUST-US Dialogue will follow most performances. Two student productions and a series of free panel discussions will round out The 9/11 Performance Project.

Demolition of the Eiffel Tower
Written by Jeton Neziraj (Kosovo), Directed by Kushtrim Bekteshi (Macedonia), Produced by International Theatre Festival MESS
Starring Amar Selimovic, Alban Ukaj, Adi Hrustemovic, Irma Alimanovic, and Alma Terzic
Friday, September 9, 2011 at 7:30pm, followed by a JUST-US Dialogue;
Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 12pm
Performed in Albanian with English supertitles
A tragicomedy, Demolition of the Eiffel Tower addresses one of the modern world's most significant problems - terrorism arising as a consequence of global political and religious conflicts. Above all, the play highlights misunderstandings, stereotypes, and prejudices created as a consequence of secular politics clashing with religious observations in Paris. For more information about the playwright, visit www.jetonneziraj.com. For more information on MESS Festival, visit www.mess.ba.
Tickets $20 ($10 students)

The Domestic Crusaders
Written by Wajahat Ali, 2011 OTTO-award winner for The Domestic Crusaders and San Francisco based attorney
Directed by Carla Blank
Starring Adeel Ahmed, Deepti Gupta, Imran Javaid, Kamran Khan, Monisha Shiva, and Abbas Zaidi
Invited Dress Rehearsal: Friday, September 9, 2011 at 10am; Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 4pm;
Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 5pm, followed by a JUST-US Dialogue Moderated Panel
An award winning two-act play written by a Muslim-American, The Domestic Crusaders, the first play ever published by McSweeney's,is an authentic, revelatory, and no-holds barred depiction of a day in the life of a contemporary Pakistani-American Muslim family post-9/11/01. For more information about the playwright and the company, visit www.domesticcrusaders.com.
Tickets $20 ($10 students)

Another Life
Written and Directed by Karen Malpede (author/director of Prophecy, editor: Acts of War)
Starring George Bartenieff with Eunice Wong, Ariel Sharif, Omar Koury, Christen Clifford, Dorien Makhloghi
Co-Produced with Theater Three Collaborative
Invited Dress Rehearsal Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 7:30pm, following The
Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 8pm;
Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 1:30pm, followed by a JUST-US Dialogue with author Chris Hedges
A surreal, real, and satiric story of a mogul and his daughter locked in a titanic struggle, Another Life offers a whirl-wind trip through the past ten years.  Greed, torture, war-lust and sexual enslavement vie with a subtle but growing resistance that leads to brave acts of caring and whistle-blowing. Another Life employs inventive language and memorable characters to bring to light questions of complicity and conscience in civil society. For more information, visit www.theaterthreecollaborative.org.
Tickets $20 ($10 students)

Student Productions

What Happened: The September 11th Testimony Project
By Professor Amy S. Green, Directed by Professor Michael Aman
Performed and produced by Chris Balda, Lori Duran, Jonathan Hamilton, Stephanie Lubin, Calvin Massiah, Michelle Robles, and Tyler Romero.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 1:40pm, Haaren Hall, 3rd floor, John Jay College; Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 1:40pm, selected scenes from the Play during the John Jay College of Criminal Justice 9/11 Community Event at 1:40pm the Gerald W. Lynch Theater; Monday, September 12, 2011 at 1:40pm, Haaren Hall, 3rd Floor, John Jay College
Based on interviews conducted by students at John Jay College of Criminal Justice during 2001-02

We Were Kids: 9/11 Stories
By Ayana Atkinson, Shaina Chavis, Gregg Donshik, Yun Gao, Peter Jules, Ashley Neely, Daniel O'Keefe, Stanley Santana, Mellody Tabary, Susan Tillman, Vivian Wang, Nadetia Williams, and Alex Zeaman.
Conceived in Professor Karen Malpede's Criminal Justice in Theatre class Summer 2011.
Directed by Vernice Miller, Artistic Director of A Laboratory of Actor Training
Stage Manager Syeda Fatima, John Jay College of Criminal Justice Peer Ambassador
Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 1:40pm and Tuesday, September 13, 2011 at 1:40pm, Haaren Hall, 3rd Floor, John Jay College
A collaborative venture comprised of personal and community-based oral histories authored by John Jay students who were children in September 2001.

September 14, 2011 - Double Bill:
What Happened: The September 11th Testimony Project and We Were Kids: 9/11 Stories
Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 7:05pm, Haaren Hall, 3rd Floor, John Jay College

FREE Panel Discussions
Sponsored in collaboration with the:
Center on Terrorism, John Jay College
Together with 9/11: Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
York College, CUNY, and the Christian Regenhard Center for Emergency Response Studies
Thursday, September 8 - Sunday, September 11, 2011
Nothing can adequately honor the pain of 9/11 survivors and the families of those who died in the disaster. It was too large an event, one that remains simultaneously ever-present and elusive. At John Jay College, which lost 68 alumni that day, we feel a special connection to the significance of 9/11 and wish to probe some of its enduring meanings on the cusp of this tenth anniversary year. In three panels and some smaller breakout sessions, these panels will explore 9/11 in cultural and historical memory.

The Guantanamo Lawyers' Panel
Thursday, September 8 at 5pm in the Gerald W. Lynch Theater lobby
This panel of lawyers who represent Guantanamo and other detainees and work to defend civil liberties at home is bound to create an incredible dialogue about some of the most hotly debated and contested issues surrounding the ongoing detainment of terrorism "suspects" and the line between interrogation and torture. Panelists: Jonathan Hafetz, Seton Hall and Rutgers Universities; Martha Rayner, Fordham Law, currently representing a Guantanamo detainee; Gita Gutierrez, the Center on Constitutional Rights; Alex Abdo, ACLU's National Security Project; chaired by Kathleen Chalfant, award-winning actress of stage and screen and advocate of social justice.

Panel: 9/11 After Ten Years - The Cultural Perspective
Friday, September 9 at 11am in Room 630, Haaren Hall, John Jay College
The vast scale of 9/11 left its enduring mark on our culture. There is nothing that has been untouched, from novels and poetry, to film, art, theater, photography, and television, indeed all aspects of the way we try and creatively imagine terrorism, survival and resilience. This panel of writers and scholars will address these interrelated issues and invite reflection on the deeper meanings of culture and 9/11. Panelists: Amy Waldman, national correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly and author of The Submission: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011); Karen Malpede, playwright, author of "Another Life" at John Jay College, as part of the 9/11 Performances Series and editor of Acts of War: Iraq and Afghanistan in Seven Plays (Northwestern University Press, 2011); Susie Linfield, Professor of Journalism at New York University Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and author of The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence (University of Chicago Press, 2010); Chaired by Michael Flynn, Associate Professor of Psychology, York College, CUNY and Associate Director, Center on Terrorism, John Jay College, CUNY

Panel: 9/11 After 10 Years - The Historical Perspective
Friday, September 9 at 4:30pm in Room 630, Haaren Hall, John Jay College
Mourning a loss, whether personal or collective, finds its most poignant moment of commemoration after a year. After that the dates tend to blur and anniversaries mean different things to different people. But with the tenth anniversary of 9/11, memories will fade, which is not to say forgotten but memorialized in different ways. The context changes, an idea that will be explored from several perspectives in this panel of scholars who will examine the disaster in historical perspective as we look forward, with some trepidation, to the future. Panelists: Robert Jay Lifton, Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology Emeritus, John Jay College and the Graduate Center, CUNY and author of Witness to an Extreme Century (The Free Press, 2011); Karen Joy Greenberg, Executive Director of the Center on Law and Security at New York University School of Law and author of The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo's First 100 Days (Oxford University Press, 2009); Moustafa Bayoumi, Professor of English, Brooklyn College, CUNY and author of How Does it Feel to be a Problem: Being Young and Arab in America; Louis Bickford, Adjunct Associate Professor of Public Administration, New York University Wagner School and Director of the New York office of the Robert F Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights; Chaired by Peter Romaniuk, Associate Professor of Government and Associate Director of the Center on Terrorism, John Jay College, CUNY and author of Multilateral Counterterrorism: The Global Politics of Cooperation and Contestation (Routledge, 2010)

Panel: The Muslim-American post 9/11 experience
Sunday, September 11 at 7:30pm, immediately following 5pm performance of The Domestic Crusaders, Gerald W. Lynch Theater, Haaren Hall, John Jay College
This panel will solicit audience responses to the play and will specifically include issues pertaining to the Muslim-American experience post 9/11. Panelists: Wajahat Ali, playwright of The Domestic Crusaders and San Francisco-based attorney; Carla Blank, director of The Domestic Crusaders; Ishmael Reed, American poet, essayist, and novelist. A prominent African-American literary figure, Reed is known for his satirical works challenging American political culture, and highlighting political and cultural oppression.

Beginning in 2008, the Theater created what has become its signature series, ART OF JUSTICE, which focuses on how the artistic imagination can shed light on the many perceptions of justice in society. ART OF JUSTICE focuses on advocacy for marginalized communities through music, drama, dance and fine art. JUST-US Dialogues, a supplemental series, will be formally introduced this fall. Through intimate discussions, lectures and post-show dialogues with artists and experts, audiences will gain legible context and have the opportunity to exchange critical thinking and share perspectives. Provocative and engaging performances that explore topics ranging from the post 9/11 political and cultural environment in the United States and abroad, immigration and race, religious freedoms and separation of church and state are included in this season's ART OF JUSTICE series.

Since opening its doors in 1988, the Gerald W. Lynch Theater has been an invaluable cultural resource for John Jay College and the larger New York City community. Its signature series, The Art of Justice, is the only performance series in New York that presents a diverse exploration of the role performing arts have played in the pursuit of social, transitional and criminal justice. The Theater has collaborated with such noted companies as Epic Theatre Ensemble, Gotham Chamber Opera, and has also hosted prestigious events for Lincoln Center Festival, Great Performances, Juilliard, Alvin Ailey and numerous television specials for HBO and Comedy Central.

About John Jay College of Criminal Justice: An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit www.jjay.cuny.edu.

For more information, visit www.jjay.cuny.edu/theater.php.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Updates

  • Perfect Crime,Warren Manzi’s long-running Off Broadway thriller, will perform its usual 2pm matinee on Saturday, August 27, 2011.  Perfect Crime is performed at The Snapple Theater Center, 210 West 50th St. at Broadway. For tickets call (212) 921-7862 or visit www.Ticketmaster.com.
  • 59E59 Theaters is canceling all Saturday and Sunday performances due to Hurricane Irene. Current shows running are Summer Shorts 5, Captain Ferguson's School for Balloon Warfare and Olive and the Bitter Herbs. Ticket holders can call Ticket Central on 212-279-4200 or email tickets@59e59.org for refunds or exchanges.

Hurricane Irene Cancels Broadway Shows This Weekend

 As a result of the suspensionof public transportation by government authorities in preparation of theincoming storm, all Broadway performances on Saturday, August 27th andSunday, August 28th will be cancelled.
Paul Libin, Chairman of The Broadway League, stated, “The safety and securityof theatregoers and employees is everyone's primary concern. As a resultof the suspension of public transportation by government authorities inpreparation of Hurricane Irene, all performances will be cancelled on Saturday,August 27th and Sunday, August 28th.”
For Refund and Exchanges:
-        If tickets were purchased via Telecharge orTicketmaster via phone or online your credit card will be refunded automaticallywithin 7-10 business days.  For any issues, please contact the customerservice information included with your tickets.  Please have yourOrder Number/Confirmation Number handy.  Original tickets need notbe retained.
-        If tickets were purchased at the Box Office:please return your original tickets to the Theater Box Office.  Youhave the option of receiving a full refund to the original method of paymentor exchanging your tickets for an alternate date of your choice, subjectto availability.
-        If tickets were purchased as part of a Group:please contact your Group Sales Agent for more information regarding refundsor exchanges. Original tickets should be retained until you contact theGroup Sales Agent.
-        If tickets were purchased through any othersales channel, please return to the original point of purchase for more information.   If you have your tickets in hand, please retain themfor a refund or exchange.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Theater Review: RENT

New Tenants Come Up a Little Short on the RENT
By Lauren Yarger
The new Tenants of Jonathan Larson’s musical about friends coping with love, money and AIDs issues are using all the utilities – the heat of a passionate story, lyrics flowing with emotion and the electricity of a rock score – but the new Off-Broadway revival comes up a little short on the RENT.

Part of the problem is that most of us have seen the show (or been in it) multiple times over the years since RENT burst onto the Broadway stage in 1996 and changed the face of musicals. The original launched the careers of Broadway performers like Anthony  Rapp, Adam Pascal, Jessie L. Martin and Idina Menzel, so this first New York revival since the 12-year Broadway run ended in 2008 has a big vacancy to fill.

Michael Greif, who directed the original, returns to direct the story, loosely based on Puccini’s LaBoheme, and casts a sensational Annaleigh Ashford as Maureen Johnson, a performance artist and activist for the homeless. Her rendition of “Over the Moon” is sensational and, well, over the moon, and it’s the reason you should see this version of RENT. If only the rest of this production could have been so mooo-ving.

Vocals on a number of the other leads are lacking. Adam Chandler –Berat plays Mark Cohen, a filmmaker whom Maureen left for lesbian lover Joanne Jefferson (Corbin Reid), Matt Schingledecker is Roger Davis, Mark’s roommate, and Arianda Fernandez plays Mimi Marquez, a sex-club dancer who becomes involved with Roger.  All three spend most of their time yelling songs instead of reaching stylized belts. Roger and Mimi also don’t seem to have any chemistry as the HIV-positive couple who find love despite their baggage. He just doesn't light her candle.

Also lacking chemistry are Tom Collins (Nicholas Christopher) and Angel (Dumott Schunard), though they lend lovely singing voices to “You Okay Honey?,” “Santa Fe,” and “I’ll Cover You.” We get that Tom, who brings friends Roger and Mark food and other gifts at Christmas time and who cares for partner Angel dying of AIDS, represents compassion, but Angel’s role representing the good in mankind gets padlocked from the premises, somehow, like the characters who fail to  pay their rent. Most of the time this character evokes thoughts of an “odd” fellow, not “every” fellow. His metallic red cape, silver platformed boots, ruffled sleeves, blond hair-piece and glittered eye shadow detract from poignant lyrics like “will I lose my dignity?” (Angela Wendt, costume design, also designed for RENT on Broadway).

The small band, conducted by Music Director Will Van Dyke, housed on the second story of Mark Wendland’s truss/platform set, does a nice job with Larson’s score (Billy Aronson, original concept/additional lyrics; Steve Skinner, musical arrangements; Tim Weil, music supervision and additional arrangements). Amazing snow effects (Peter Nigrini, projection design) are visually pleasing, but watching cast members climb and hang off of various parts of the set grows wearisome (choreography is by Larry Keigwin).

Rounding out the principal cast is Ephraim Sykes as Benjamin Coffin III who owns Roger and Mark’s building and who gets tangled up with Mimi. Tamika Sonia Lawrence is notable as the homeless woman and the soloist for the musical’s best known number, “Seasons of Love.”

RENT plays at New World Stages, 340 West 50th St., NYC. Tickets are available by clicking here.

Christians might also like to know:
      ·         Show posts a MATURE Advisory
·         Language
·         Sexually suggestive moves
·         Homosexuality
·         Homosexual activity
·         Nudity

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Do You Want to Be Ralphie in A Christmas Story?

Photo credit: Don Ipock and Kansas City Rep

As A Christmas Story, The Musical! prepares to launch a five-city national tour for the 2011 holiday season, the show’s producers, including Peter Billingsley, who starred as Ralphie in the original 1983 film, take their search for talented children to the internet.  Young performers can now submit their audition by visiting www.achristmasstorythemusical.com/casting  and following three simple steps:
1.     Record a video of yourself singing a brief song that is rhythmic and that shows us your voice, high notes, and personality. A classic Broadway or a holiday song is suggested. Show your personality.
2.     Get a recent digital picture or headshot of yourself and your resume. (If you don’t have a resume, just prepare a brief paragraph about yourself in a Word Document.)
3.     Go to www.achristmasstorythemusical.com/casting and follow the link to register with the online casting site, LetItCast®, and follow to submit your video, photo, and information.

Casting directors are seeking to fill the iconic lead role of Ralphie and his troupe of friends and classmates, including: Randy, Flick, Schwartz, Scut Farcus, Grover Dill, Mary Beth, and Esther Jane.   Children, ages of 8 – 13, should be extraordinary actors, singers, and dancers. The production seeks young actors of all ethnicities who are 4’ 11” and shorter. (Boys, your voice should not have changed yet.)

The videos are only made available to the creative team and producers of A Christmas Story, The Musical!, Submissions should be no longer than 90 seconds and only one audition video is allowed

A Christmas Story, The Musical! will rehearse in Chicago, Oct. 10 before commencing a five-city national tour: Hershey, PA (Hershey Theatre, Nov. 8 – 13); Detroit, MI (Fisher Theatre, Nov. 15 – 27); Raleigh, NC (Memorial Auditorium, Nov. 29 – Dec. 4); and Tampa, FL (Straz Center, Dec. 6-11), before returning to The Chicago Theatre for performances Dec. 14 - 30, 2011.

For more information about the audition, visit www.achristmasstorythemusical.com/casting.

20at20 Returns to Offer Bargain Price for Off-Broadway Shows Sept. 6-18

Deni Yang in Gazillion Bubbles. Photo courtesy of Springer Associates PR.
For two weeks only, Off Broadway will offer $20 tickets 20 minutes before show time during 20at20, the bi-annualcelebration of Off Broadway’s best shows.
Beginning Tuesday, Sept, 6 and continuing through Sunday, Sept. 18 a total of 35 Off-Broadway shows will offer available seats 20 minutes before curtain for only $20 each when purchased at the box office.  For a complete list of participating shows and venues, visit www.20at20.com.

Here’s your chance to catch up with shows you may have missed, get a sneak peek at the newest hit, or revisit a favorite – all for only $20.  And since Off Broadway has performance schedules to fit everyone’s schedule, you can see more than one.  On a typical Saturday, for example, you can see Gazillion Bubble Show ( I highly recommend this one-- especially for very little kids.) at 11, The Fantasticks (see our recommendation of this production here) at 2, Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating,& Marriage! at 5, Million DollarQuartet at 8 and SILENCE! The Musicalat 10:30 pm.  That's five shows in a day, for less than the price of one Broadway ticket.

This year, see any seven of the participating 20at20 shows between Sept. 6 and 18 and receive a free voucher for dinner for two at an area restaurant.  Just mail your original ticket stubs (no photocopies accepted) to: 20at20 Dinner Special, 250 West 49th St., Suite301, NY, NY 10019. All entries must be postmarked by Feb. 8 to be valid.Please include your name, phone, email, and mailing address.

20at20 is presented by The Off BroadwayAlliance, a non-profit corporation organized by theater professionals dedicated to supporting, promoting and encouraging the production of Off Broadway theaterand to making live theater increasingly accessible to new and diverse audiences.  The Alliance holds monthly meetings and membership is open to everyone in the Off Broadway theater community.  Among its initiatives, TheOff Broadway Alliance sponsors a free Seminar Series focusing on the culture,business and history of Off Broadway featuring major players from the OffBroadway scene.  The Alliance released the first ever Off Broadway Economic Impact Report, which detailed Off Broadway's $461 million annual impacton the economy of the City of New York.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Hunter Parrish Will Play Jesus in Broadway's Godspell

Hunter Parrish, star of the acclaimed Showtime series "Weeds" and the Tony Award-winning hit Spring Awakening, is set to star as Jesus in the upcoming Broadway revival of the legendary rock musical Godspell

"I am elated to be joining the Godspell family, and honored to be a part of bringing this thrilling classic back to Broadway," he said . "I knew after meeting with the creative team that I was going to be a part of something really exciting. I can't wait to get started."
On television, Parrish is currently reprising his role as Silas Botwin on the seventh season of "Weeds" opposite Mary-Louise Parker, Justin Kirk and Kevin Nealon. The series was nominated in 2006 and 2007 for a Golden Globe for Best Television Series - Music or Comedy, a SAG Award in 2007 and an Emmy Award in 2009 for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.
Parrish made his Broadway debut to critical acclaim as Melchior in the Tony Award-winning hit musical Spring Awakening.
On the big screen, he starred in director Nancy Meyers' 2009 hit "It's Complicated" opposite Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin; in Burr Steers' "17 Again" opposite Zac Efron, Matthew Perry and Leslie Mann; and in Kieran Mulroney and Michele Mulroney's "Paper Man" opposite Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Daniels and Lisa Kudrow.
Other film credits include "Freedom Writers," and "RV."  His other television appearance include guest starring roles on "Law & Order: SVU," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and the CBS drama "Close to Home."
Directed   by Daniel Goldstein and choreographed by Tony Award nominee Christopher Gattelli (South Pacific), Godspell begins preview performances at Circle in the Square Theatre (1633 Broadway at 50th St., NYC) on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011. Opening Night is Monday, November 7 at 7 pm.
Godspell reunites Goldstein, making his Broadway directorial debut, and members of the design team from his critically-acclaimed 2006 Paper Mill Playhouse conception in a new production that has been completely re-imagined for the Circle in the Square.
Conceived and originally directed by John-Michael Tebelak with music and new lyrics by Academy and Grammy Award winner Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin), Godspell has been performed  throughout the US since its original New York premiere in May 1971.
Godspell 's Tony-nominated score includes "Day by Day," "Turn Back, O Man," "Learn Your Lessons Well, "Prepare Ye the Way," "Light of the World" and many more.
The new Broadway revival of Godspell is produced by Ken Davenport, Edgar Lansbury and The People of Godspell. Additional casting will be announced soon.
Godspell features scenic design by David Korins (Passing Strange), costume design by Miranda Hoffman (Well), lighting design by David Weiner (The Normal Heart), sound design by Andrew Keister (Company), orchestrations by Michael Holland (Hurricane) and musical direction by Charlie Alterman (Next to Normal).
Visit Godspell online at www.Godspell.com.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Richard Maltby, Jr. Will Speak at Annual Broadway Blessing Sept. 12

Producer, director and lyricist Richard Maltby, Jr. will deliver a theatre  reflection at the 15th anniversary celebration of Broadway Blessing, 7 pm Sept. 12 at the Cathedral Church of St. the Divine, Amsterdam Avenue at 112th  St., NYC.

Maltby holds the distinction of having conceived and directed the  only two musical revues to ever win the Tony Award for Best Musical: Ain't Misbehavin' (1978, also Tony Award for  Best Director) and Fosse (1999:). He was  director/co-lyricist for the American version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song and  Dance, starring Bernadette Peters, and was co-lyricist for Miss Saigon.

In a partnership that  began when they were students at Yale, Maltby and composer David Shire have  collaborated many times over the years. Their first Broadway credit was in 1968,  when their song "The Girl of the Minute" was used in the revue New Faces of  1968. In 1977 the Manhattan Theatre Club produced a review of their  earlier songs, written for other works, titled Starting Here, Starting Now.

With Shire  as composer, Maltby directed and was lyricist for Baby and the lyricist for Big. Also with Shire, he conceived and wrote  the lyrics for Take Flight, which had  its world premiere in July 2007 at the Menier Chocolate Factory in  London.

He also conceived and directed Ring Of Fire, The Johnny Cash Musical Show and  was co-bookwriter/lyricist for The Pirate  Queen. He was most recently represented on Broadway as the director of  the new, original musical The Story of My  Life by composer/lyricist Neil Bartram. That musical had a brief run at  the Booth Theatre in February 2009 and received a 2009 Drama Desk Award  nomination for outstanding production of a musical.

Maltby will be joined  by Broadway singer/actress Natalielie  Toro who will sing the Michel Legrand/Alan and Marilyn Bergman song “Where  Is It Written,” backed by the Broadway Blessing Choir, and Tony Haris will  perform a new song by composer/playwright Phil  Hall written in honor of the anniversary.

Following a tradition  established at the 10th anniversary celebration, Project  Dance will perform and Rabbi Jill Hausman of The Actors’ Temple and the Rev.  Canon Tom Miller, the Cathedral’s canon for liturgy and the arts, will lead the  annual candle lighting ceremony.

As with all announced guests, Maltby’s  availability is subject to change. Broadway Blessing is the free interfaith  service of song, dance and story that has been bringing the theatre community  together every September since 1997 to ask God’s blessing on the new season.  Reservations are not necessary.
was founded and is produced by journalist and author Retta Blaney, who will receive a 2011 "Lights Are Bright on Broadway Award" presented by Masterwork Productions, Inc. as part of the service.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Obituary -- Cartoonist and Former Drama Desk President Sam Norkin

World-renowned artist, caricaturist, illustrator and cultural critic Sam Norkin died in his sleep July 30. 
For more than seven decades, Norkin depicted and described the performing arts in America through his sketches and artworks.  During his long career, he created more than 4,000 published drawings of theater, dance, opera, jazz, pop, circus and classical music.  He was also a writer, lecturer and noted raconteur.  His first sale was a 1940 drawing of Alfred Hitchcock directing “Mr. and Mrs. North” that ran in the New York Herald Tribune - it netted him the princely sum of $15.      

From 1940 to 1956, his witty and elegant stage illustrations were featured in the Tribune.   During the next 26 years, he covered all of the performing arts for the New York Daily News.  Uniquely, his theater drawings also appeared in newspapers in all cities where shows made their debuts in preparation for Broadway, including the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Toronto Star.  His drawings of theater, opera, ballet and film celebrities were also published in Variety, Backstage, the Los Angeles Times and many other publications.  His portraits frequently appeared on covers of the magazines Saturday Review and Harpers.  Norkin also served as an art critic for the Carnegie Hall house program and was a cultural reporter for the New York Daily News.  

Norkin was born in Brooklyn on January 10, 1917.  He was accepted into muralist Mordi Gassner’s life classes for talented teenagers at the age of 9 and studied with him for nine years.  He attended the Metropolitan Art School after high school and later studied at Cooper Union and The School of Fine and Industrial Art.  During the 1940s, newspaper editors wanted to devote more space to new theatrical events, but advance photo opportunities in street clothes did not reflect the essence of the productions.  He “dressed” the performers in their costumes based on costume sketches and added the scenic design, thus providing an accurate illustration prior to an opening.  When he began doing theatrical caricatures, he also supplied his own captions, which eventually prompted him to write articles and reviews.

His theater reminiscences and a selection of 266 drawings came together in the book "Sam Norkin:  Drawings - Stories" (Heinemann, 1994).  In 2009, he provided the illustrations for "Having Fun With Words of Wit and Wisdom," written by his friend and colleague Tom McMorrow.  Norkin's artwork  has been exhibited twice at the prestigious Lincoln Center Library and Museum of the Performing Arts; The Museum of the City of New York; the Metropolitan Opera House; the Hudson River Museum in  Yonkers, NY; and in various galleries on the East coast.
Norkin was a longtime member of the Drama Desk, the association of drama critics and editors, and served as its president. He was a member of the Drama Desk Board for more than 40 years. In June 2011, the Drama Desk Board of Directors established an annual special award in his memory – the Sam Norkin Off Broadway Award – which will be presented for the first time at the 67th Annual Drama Desk Awards in 2012. Upon the news of his passing, current Drama Desk President Isa Goldberg remarked that “Sam was a lovely, sweet man, beloved by all. His contributions to the organization will always be remembered.”

Norkin iwon an award for “Outstanding Theater Art” from the League of American Theatres and Producers (1980); an award for “Lifetime Body of Work” from the Drama Desk (1995) and two awards from the National Cartoonists Society:  the “Special Features Award” (1980) and the “Silver T-Square Award” (1984).

Norkin is survived by his wife and constant companion of 43 years, Frances Norkin; his son Richard Norkin and wife Mary; his daughter Laura DeSena and husband Fred; grandsons Johann and Sam Waes (Laura’s sons); Frances’ daughter Sue Fallon and her daughter, Dr. Kim Fallon and husband Brett Merker and their three sons; her son Ken Landsman and wife Renee and their sons, Dr. Michael Brucculeri and wife Maartje and their two sons; and Officer Jim Brucculeri and wife Cathryn.

He donated his body to New York’s Presbyterian Hospital. 

Gracewell Prodiuctions

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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 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. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York. Shifting from reviewing to producing, Yarger owns Gracewell Productions, which produced the Table Reading Series at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT. She trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Intensive and other 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 wrote 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 was a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com. She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice president and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (producer of the annual awards ceremony) and a member of The League of Professional Theatre Women, serving as Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter. Yarger was a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly 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.


All material is copyright 2008- 2022 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com


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 or people of a certain race 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. 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 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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