Thursday, November 11, 2021

Updated Covid Policies for Broadway Shows

 

Photo: Alexander Cy

Vaccination and Mask Policy for Broadway Shows in NYC through Feb. 28, 2022

The owners and operators of all 41 Broadway theatres in New York City will continue to require vaccinations for audience members, as well as performers, backstage crew, and theatre staff, for all performances through Feb. 28, 2022. The Broadway League also has initiated new provisions to welcome international visitors and children under 12 years old. Masks will continue to be required for audiences inside the theatre, except while actively eating or drinking in designated locations.

Under the updated policy, guests age 12 and older will need to be Fully Vaccinated with an FDA or WHO authorized vaccine AND present a government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license or passport. (Guests 12-18 may use a government-issued ID or school ID - no photo required.) “Fully vaccinated” means on the date of the performance a guest is at least 14 days after their second dose of a two dose COVID-19 vaccine OR at least 14 days after their single dose of an approved single dose COVID-19 vaccine.

For international guests Two doses of any “mix and match” combination of an FDA or WHO approved COVID-19 vaccine are acceptable.

Guests under 12, when accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult may enter the theatre with ONE of the following:

  • Proof of ONE dose (through February 28, 2022 only) of an FDA or WHO approved vaccine at least 14 days before the performance date OR
  • A negative COVID-19 PCR test performed by a medical provider within 72 hours of the performance start time. The test results must clearly show the date and time of the test; OR
  • A negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test taken within 6 hours of the performance start time. The test results must clearly show the date and time of the test.
The League still allows exemptions for medical and religious reasons. Venues may have their own protocols in place. Theatregoers may find more information on mask and vaccine policies at Broadway.org. For more information, visit your show’s official website or contact your point-of-purchase.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Broadway Theater Review: SIX

Abby Mueller (Jane Seymour), Samantha Pauly (Katherine Howard), Adrianna Hicks (Catherine of Aragon), Andrea Macasaet (Anne Boleyn), Brittney Mack (Anna of Cleves) and Anna Uzele (Catherine Parr). Photo: Joan Marcus

SIX
By Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss
Directed by Lucy Moss and Jamie Armitage 
Choreography by Carrie-Anne Ingrouille
Brook Atkinson Theater

By Lauren Yarger
Laugh-out-loud jokes and loud, pounding music are not exactly what come to mind when pondering the plight of Henry VIII's six unfortunate wives, but you will find yourself laughing and bopping to the beat while enjoying SIX: The Musical,  Broadway's exciting version of the West End hit by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss.

Directed by Moss and Jamie Armitage, these six women finally get their moment in the spotlight, both in the story and on stage. SIX was one of the tragedies of the pandemic, set to open on the night Broadway went dark back in March 2020. Now, back to tell their stories, the wives compete in a reality-TV mode to see who has the most tragic story from her time as one of the wives of Henry. They each have a song (all done beltingly or balladly beautifully) which explain the theme of their experiences: divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived.

Here's a short history lesson for those of you who aren't up on the six wives of Henry VIII:
Catherine of Aragon (Adrianna Hicks) was Henry's first wife, but when she couldn't produce a male heir, Henry turned his eye to the bewitching Anne Boleyn (a very funny Andrea Macasaet). When the pope wouldn't grant him an annulment, he declared himself the head of the new Church of England, got rid of Catherine (divorced) and married Anne any way.  Unfortunately for Anne, she too only produced a girl (the future Queen Elizabeth I), so Henry got rid of her (beheaded) and married Jane Seymour (Abby Mueller -- I saw understudy Mallory Maedke). Henry got his desired son and male heir but lost Jane who suffered complications in childbirth (died). 

Next, Henry saw a portrait of Anne of Cleves (Brittney Mack) and summoned her to England to become wife number four. She didn't look all that fetching in person, however, so Henry decided he wanted out of the marriage (divorce), set her up in a nice palace and called her "sister" instead of wife. The king, who was SO good at making spousal-type decisions, decided a child bride would be a good idea and married Anne Boleyn's cousin, Katherine Howard (Samantha Pauly -- I saw understudy Courtney Mack). Plagued by gout, obesity and probably a host of other illnesses, Henry wasn't exactly in prime baby-making condition, but he still expected a spare male heir from young Katherine. She turned to some younger male friends to help seal the deal, but the plan backfired when she was caught cheating.  So long, Katherine (beheaded). Finally, Henry chose mature, pious Catherine Parr (Anna Uzele) for his sixth queen. About five years later, he died. She was the only one who survived. The cast also includes Keirsten Nicole Hodgens and Nicole Kyoung-Mi Lambert.

In such a tragic story, Marlow and Moss find lots of humor. And they manage to modernize women from the 16th century to create an exciting energizing show that appeals to young audience members (there were lots at the Brooks Atkinson the night I attended) with color-blind casting  for those wanting to see persons of color, rather than historically accurate portrayals on stage. Carrie-Anne Ingrouille's choreography is energetic and hasn't lost any of its oomph with alterations made with Covid safety in mind. Costumes by Gabreiella Slade are bright and brilliant; the set (Emma Bailey, design) is simple and houses the all-female band, the “Ladies in Waiting.” Tim Deiling's lighting design competes the set for the reality-show concert theme, which thankfully isn't overdone. 

The pop music is loud, percussion-driven and fun. I bought the soundtrack after seeing and loving the show in March of 2020 and it's a favorite (Catherine Parr's solo "I Don't Need Your Love" is the weakest, as though after pounding out so many great tunes, the songwriters just didn't have enough energy to come up with one more.) Most of the others are catchy and will have you humming them long after you leave the theater.

Getting the soundtrack in advance isn't a bad idea. The lyrics are quite clever and vital to the storytelling, but the sound on stage (Paul Gatehouse) doesn't always pick them up and if you don't know Henry's story or all the words to the songs, you could feel like you are missing something in this fast-paced 80 minutes with no intermission.  The score features orchestrations by Tom Curran with music supervision and vocal arrangements by Joe Beighton and US Music Supervision by Roberta Duchak.

SIX is currently on-stage at the Lyric Theatre in London’s West End and on a UK tour. The show will also launch the US National Tour with a return engagement in Chicago where the show will run at the CIBC Theatre in 2022.  

SIX plays at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 W 47th St, NYC. sixonbroadway.com

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FEATURES:
-- Mature themes
-- Some suggestive lyrics

COVID-19 SAFETY PROTOCOL INFORMATION

Please note the following vaccination and mask requirements for all attendees:

  • MASKS REQUIRED: All guests must wear a properly fitting mask over the nose and mouth in the theatre
  • VACCINATIONS REQUIRED: All guests must be fully vaccinated to enter the theatre and must present digital or physical proof at the door.
  • Children under 12 and people with a medical condition or closely held religious belief that prevents vaccination may show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
  • PHOTO ID: Guests ages 18 and older must present a valid government-issued photo ID. Guests under 18 may also show a school photo ID. Guests under 12 must be accompanied by an adult who meets the above requirements.
  • Guests who do not comply with these policies will be denied entry or asked to leave the theatre. The only exceptions are for guests who need reasonable accommodations due to a medical exception or a sincerely held religious belief. In these cases, guests must provide proof of ONE of the following instead of evidence of vaccination:
    • negative COVID-19 PCR test performed by a medical provider within 72 hours of the performance start time.  The test results must clearly show the date and time of the test.

    OR

    • negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test taken within 6 hours of the performance start time.  The test results must clearly show the date and time of the test.  This test may be performed by a medical professional or by using an over-the-counter testing kit.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Off-Broadway Theater Review: Trial on the Potomac starring Rich Little as Richard Nixon

Rich Little as Richard Nixon. Photo: Steve Bergman

Trial on the Potomac
By George Bugatti
Directed by Josh Iacovelli
Theater at St. Clement's
Through Sept. 4, 2021

By Lauren Yarger

We all remember the scandal: Richard Nixon left the White House in disgrace following investigative reports by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and the famous Watergate hearings that exposed corruption and crimes by the president's re-election campaign.

But what if it didn't happen that way?

That is the premise of Trial on the Potomac: The Impeachment of Richard Nixon, a new play by George Bugatti based on Geoff Shepard's book, "The Real Watergate Scandal," and starring famous impressionist Rich Little as "Tricky Dicky." 

What if Nixon wasn't all that tricky, however, but was set up by John Dean (Matthew Hammond) and others who had the press in their pockets and orchestrated the scandalous events to cover up their misdoings and put Sen. Ted Kennedy (Richard Wingert) in power?

So in this alternate explanation of history, instead of delivering the famous announcement of his resignation from office, Nixon shocks CBS reporter Diane Sawyer (Kelsey Lea Jones) and the nation by saying he isn't going anywhere and that he will fight the charges.

Bring on an imagined September 1974 impeachment trial presided over by Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Berger (a delightfully acerbic Paul Caliendo) and prosecuted by Peter Rodino (Tom Gregory) and Phil Lacovara (Chris Lazzaro). 

Nixon's defense is headed by James St. Clair (a savvy Troy Sill) and overzealous newbie Geoff Shepard (Nick Mauldin) who, aided by a deepthroat-like source, follow a trail of memos and secretly taped conversations that throw the burden of suspicion of wrong doing and coverup on Dean, Watergate burglar John Liddy (John Ramain), former Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman (Lou Vitulli) and Watergate trial Judge John Sirica (Victor Colicchio) among others. To add credibility to the play,  the real Geoff Shepard, who worked as a lawyer in the Nixon White House, serves as technical consultant. His books are available for purchase in the lobby and the day I attended, he was available to sign.

Director Josh Iacovelli, who also designs the set,  creates the feeling that the audience (nicely socially distanced and wearing masks) are the Senator jurors attending the trial and skillfully takes us through time jumps in presentation. We travel with ease from attending the trial itself to conversation flashbacks to freeze frames, where some characters stop the action to express thoughts directly to the audience. Some movements of the actors seem halted and unnatural in other places, however.

A circle of presidential stars decorates the stage and video projections (designed by Bugatti/Mynerdywebguy) provide backdrop and setting information. Graphics are by Irvin Productions; Sound Design is by INS & OUTS , Ray Schilke. At the end of the performance, the audience is given ballots and asked to decide whether Nixon was guilty or not. The votes are tabulated and posted on the show's website. As of this writing, no audience has cast the 67 votes it would have taken to convict Nixon and remove him from office.

The play, originally scheduled, for May of 2020 was postponed due to Covid. It could use a few cuts. The "who's who"  which includes 14 men might be a little difficult to follow for those who don't remember the cast of characters when television was preempted for the lengthy Watergate hearings and the ensuing news coverage which made Dean, Liddy, Haldeman, etc. household names. Some minor roles could be eliminated and some of the action condensed. Some of the dialogue concerning manufactured news and stolen elections sounds as though it could have been taken from recent news, however, giving us an uneasy feeling that some things never change..... The play clocks in at 90 minutes with no intermission.

Trial on the Potomac marks Little's New York Stage debut.  Little, the man of more than 200 voices, has been doing impressions of Hollywood stars and other celebrities for decades. He has a voice for every administration, including Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, both George Bushes and Donald Trump. In January 2010, the Canadian native became a United States citizen and during his swearing-in ceremony, the Judge asked Little to recite the "Pledge of Allegiance" as John Wayne and he did.

Confession: I was a bit disappointed that Nixon doesn't have more stage time as Little was a draw and I would have liked to see more of him. Here's an idea for Little's next New York stage show: a one-man play incorporating many of the voices and characterizations he does to such perfection. I'm there!

More information:
Bugatti has authored numerous musical reviews (The Wonderful Wizard of Song: The Music of Harold Arlen). Trial on the Potomac is his first play.

Trial on the Potomac plays at Theatre at St Clement's, 423 W 46th St., NYC
Wednesday at 5 pm; Thursday through Saturday at 7 pm. Matinees Saturday at 1 pm and Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets:  $78.50 - $98.50 at trialonthepotomac.com

Additional Casting:
James Gavin as Leon Jaworski; Chris Rojas as James Flug


FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Some language

Monday, July 26, 2021

Become Part of the Art at Van Gogh Immersive Experience


By Lauren Yarger
Have you ever gazed at a Van Gogh painting and longed to take a walk inside it? Or wondered what the artist must have seen while painting it. Or wished you could have created it yourself?

Well, wishes can come true at Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, a 360-degree digital art exhibition in New York City that allows you to become part of the impressionist's universe.

Located at Skylight, 300 Vesey St. (and no, this is not the other Van Gogh interactive experience across town -- more about that later), the Van Gogh Experience offers four different kinds of experiences beginning with some reproductions of his most famous (and most pricey-at-auction works) and a lot of information about them and the artist who created them.


My guest gasped with delight at the first 3-D painting of a vestibule, with a trompe l'oeil effect that challenged you to walk inside. I think she would have been content to sit and gaze at that for the duration, but much more beckoned. We took in a video about the artist and watched as a stationary vase transformed into numerous renderings.


The interactive room, a massive space where the four walls morph into various works with the aid of video projection and sound, truly give the feel of having entered into the canvas. Folks enjoy the experience from benches, lounge chairs and mats on the floor. It's lengthy and varied in presentation. A courtyard experience in the rain was so realistic, I began to reach for an umbrella before remembering that I was inside and not in any danger of really getting wet.

Participants meander through the exhibit at their own pace. If you want to get "rained on" again, there is no reason why you can't. Following the immersive room, participants enter a drawing room and can create their own version of Van Gogh's works and hang them on the wall. This seemed particularly geared toward the littlest of visitors. There was a wide range of ages attending the day I was there, from babies to the elderly and all seemed engaged.
  
For an additional fee, guests can take a 10-minute Virtual Reality experience (using Oculus headsets) and stroll through the French countryside for "A Day in the Life of the Artist" and discover the inspiration for eight of his iconic works, including "Vincent’s Bedroom at Arles" and "Starry Night Over The Rhone River."

The whole experience took a little over an hour (we didn't do the drawing). Time slots are available every half hour between 10 am and 8 pm weekdays and between 9 am and 9 pm on weekends. Besides in New York, you can experience Van Gogh in Atlanta, Dallas, Boston, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, Philadelphia, Seattle, Washington, DC and internationally. For more information, visit  vangoghexpo.com/new-york.

Now, just to avoid confusion, there is a second immersive Van Gogh experience across town at Pier 39. That one is created by Massimiliano Siccardi with David Korins of Hamilton fame serving as Creative Director. I have debated with several people whether there really are two so-similar experiences running in New York. There are! I have not seen the Pier 39 version, but you can find more information about it here: vangoghnyc.com.



TheWritePros.com

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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 in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day 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 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. 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 preseint 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 (event manager for the annual awards ceremony), The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and the Drama League. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists.

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

She also is a member of the Episcopal Actors' Guild, the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts and The O'Neill Theatre Center..

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- 2018 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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