Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Lehman Trilogy, Kimberly Akimbo, Harmony Lead Outer Critics Circle Award Nominations

 


The Lehman Trilogy, Harmony and Kimberly Akimbo lead nominations for the The Outer Critics Circle Awards honoring the 2021-2022 Broadway and Off-Broadway season.

The Lehman Trilogy, a play, topped the nominations with nine. followed by the Off-Broadway musicals Harmony and Kimberly Akimbo which earned eight nods each. The most recognized Broadway musicals of the season are MJ the Musical and Paradise Square, with seven nominations each.

Nominees for the annual John Gassner Award — for a new American play, preferably by a new playwright — are Erika Dickerson-Despenza for Cullud Wattah, Sanaz Toossi for English, Sylvia Khoury for Selling Kabul, Dave Harris for Tambo and Bones and Keenan Scott II for Thoughts of a Colored Man.

Returning to an in-person ceremony this spring after the 2020 virtual honors, the Outer Critics Circle Award winners will be announced Monday, May 16, with a ceremony honoring the award recipients on Thursday, May 26 at the Bruno Walter Auditorium at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

Special Achievement Awards will be presented to How I Learned to Drive stars Johanna Day, David Morse, and Mary-Louise Parker, as well as Lackawanna Blues star Ruben Santiago-Hudson, to mark their outstanding returns to roles they originated two decades ago.

Additionally, the Outer Critics Circle presents commendations to two groups whose contributions to the 2021-22 season were immeasurable: the Standbys, Understudies, and Swings, as well as the Covid-19 Safety Officers.

"In the spring of 2020, we gathered on Zoom to determine that year's slate of Outer Critics Circle Awards recipients, not knowing when or if we'd ever have the chance to do it again,” said Outer Critics Circle President David Gordon. “We are very grateful to have been able to see more than 100 productions for this year's consideration, and even more appreciative of all the work that it took to bring live performance back to New York City safely. Every single person involved in the 2021-2022 theater season, from onstage and backstage to front of house, should be immensely proud of this accomplishment."

The 2021-2022 Outer Critics Circle Award Nominations

Outstanding New Broadway Musical
MJ the Musical
Mr. Saturday Night
Mrs. Doubtfire
Paradise Square
Six

Outstanding New Broadway Play
Birthday Candles
Clyde's
Skeleton Crew
The Lehman Trilogy
The Minutes

Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical
Black No More
Harmony
Intimate Apparel
Kimberly Akimbo
Little Girl Blue

Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play
Morning Sun
On Sugarland
Prayer for the French Republic
Sanctuary City
The Chinese Lady

John Gassner Award (presented to a new American play, preferably by a new playwright)
Cullud Wattah by Erika Dickerson-Despenza
English by Sanaz Toossi
Selling Kabul by Sylvia Khoury
Tambo and Bones by Dave Harris
Thoughts of a Colored Man by Keenan Scott II

Outstanding Revival of a Musical (Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Assassins
Caroline, or Change
Company
The Music Man
The Streets of New York

Outstanding Revival of a Play (Broadway or Off-Broadway)
for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
How I Learned to Drive
Take Me Out
A Touch of the Poet
Trouble in Mind

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Justin Cooley, Kimberly Akimbo
Myles Frost, MJ the Musical
Rob McClure, Mrs. Doubtfire
Jaquel Spivey, A Strange Loop
Chip Zien, Harmony

Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Kearstin Piper Brown, Intimate Apparel
Victoria Clark, Kimberly Akimbo
Sharon D Clarke, Caroline, or Change
Carmen Cusack, Flying Over Sunset
Joaquina Kalukango, Paradise Square

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Quentin Earl Darrington, MJ the Musical
Matt Doyle, Company
Steven Pasquale, Assassins
A.J. Shively, Paradise Square
Will Swenson, Assassins

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Shoshana Bean, Mr. Saturday Night
Jenn Colella, Suffs
Judy Kuhn, Assassins
Patti LuPone, Company
Bonnie Milligan, Kimberly Akimbo

Outstanding Actor in a Play
Patrick J. Adams, Take Me Out
Simon Russell Beale, The Lehman Trilogy
Adam Godley, The Lehman Trilogy
Adrian Lester, The Lehman Trilogy
Sam Rockwell, American Buffalo

Outstanding Actress in a Play
Betsy Aidem, Prayer for the French Republic
Stephanie Berry, On Sugarland
Edie Falco, Morning Sun
LaChanze, Trouble in Mind
Debra Messing, Birthday Candles

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play
Chuck Cooper, Trouble in Mind
Brandon J. Dirden, Skeleton Crew
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Take Me Out
Michael Oberholtzer, Take Me Out
Austin Pendleton, The Minutes

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
Chanté Adams, Skeleton Crew
Uzo Aduba, Clyde's
Francis Benhamou, Prayer for the French Republic
Phylicia Rashad, Skeleton Crew
Nancy Robinette, Prayer for the French Republic

Outstanding Solo Performance
Alex Edelman, Just For Us
Jenn Murray, A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing
Arturo Luís Soria, Ni Mi Madre
Kristina Wong, Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord

Outstanding Director of a Play
Camille A. Brown, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
Scott Ellis, Take Me Out
Sam Mendes, The Lehman Trilogy
Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Skeleton Crew
Anna D. Shapiro, The Minutes

Outstanding Director of a Musical
Warren Carlyle, Harmony
Moisés Kaufman, Paradise Square
Jessica Stone, Kimberly Akimbo
Christopher Wheeldon, MJ the Musical
Jerry Zaks, Mrs. Doubtfire

Outstanding Choreography
Camille A. Brown, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
Warren Carlyle, Harmony
Warren Carlyle, The Music Man
Bill T. Jones, Alex Sanchez, Garrett Coleman, and Jason Oremus, Paradise Square
Christopher Wheeldon and Rich + Tone Talauega, MJ the Musical

Outstanding Book of a Musical
Billy Crystal, Lowell Ganz, and Babaloo Mandel, Mr. Saturday Night
Karey Kirkpatrick and John O'Farrell, Mrs. Doubtfire
David Lindsay-Abaire, Kimberly Akimbo
Lynn Nottage, Intimate Apparel
Bruce Sussman, Harmony

Outstanding Score
Jason Howland, Nathan Tysen, and Masi Asare, Paradise Square
Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick, Mrs. Doubtfire
Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman, Harmony
Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, Six
Jeanine Tesori and David Lindsay-Abaire, Kimberly Akimbo

Outstanding Orchestrations
John Clancy, Kimberly Akimbo
David Holcenberg and Jason Michael Webb, MJ the Musical
Greg Jarrett, Assassins
Jason Howland, Paradise Square
Doug Walter, Harmony

Outstanding Scenic Design (Play or Musical)
Beowulf Boritt, Flying Over Sunset
Es Devlin, The Lehman Trilogy
Scott Pask, American Buffalo
Adam Rigg, The Skin of Our Teeth
David Zinn, The Minutes

Outstanding Costume Design (Play or Musical)
Jane Greenwood, Plaza Suite
Santo Loquasto, The Music Man
Gabriella Slade, Six
Emilio Sosa, Trouble in Mind
Catherine Zuber, Mrs. Doubtfire

Outstanding Lighting Design (Play or Musical)
Jon Clark, The Lehman Trilogy
Natasha Katz, MJ the Musical
Bradley King, Flying Over Sunset
Brian MacDevitt, The Minutes
Jen Schreiver, Lackawanna Blues

Outstanding Sound Design (Play or Musical)
Nick Powell and Dominic Bilkey, The Lehman Trilogy
André Pluess, The Minutes
Ben and Max Ringham, Blindness
Dan Moses Schreier, Harmony
Matt Stine, Assassins

Outstanding Video/Projection Design (Play or Musical)
59 Productions and Benjamin Pearcy, Flying Over Sunset
Stefania Bulbarella and Alex Basco Koch, Space Dogs
Shawn Duan, Letters of Suresh
Luke Halls, The Lehman Trilogy
Jeff Sugg, Mr. Saturday Night

Special Achievement Awards are presented to:
Johanna Day, David Morse, Mary-Louise Parker, and Ruben Santiago-Hudson for reprising their outstanding performances in How I Learned to Drive and Lackawanna Blues two decades later. All had been eligible in previous seasons.

Outer Critics Circle Commendations are presented to:

· The Standbys, Understudies, and Swings of the theatrical community who step up to perform, often on hours' notice, to keep their shows running.

· To the Covid Safety Supervisors, Managers, and Compliance Officers who put themselves in harm's way eight times a week to keep the curtains up.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Broadway Theater Review: Plaza Suite with Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick

Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker in Neil Simon's Plaza Suite (Photo by Joan Marcus)

UPDATE
SARAH JESSICA PARKER TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID TOO. SHOW APRIL 7 IS CANCELLED. CHECK with the Box Iffice for further information on upcoming performances.


Plaza Suite
By Neil Simon
Directed by John Benjamin Hickey
Hudson Theatre
Through June 26, 2022

By Lauren Yarger
Sarah Jessica Parker and real-life husband Matthew Broderick are back together on a Broadway stage for the first time in more than 20 years when they starred in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Sign me up! I wasn't disappointed as the couple has a chance to display their comedic chops in Neil Simon's Plaza Suite getting a limited revival at the Hudson Theatre -- the first revival of the playwright's work since his death in 2018.

Parker and Broderick play three different couples who, during different times in 1968 and 1969, stay in suite 719 at New York's Plaza Hotel (John Lee Beatty's elegant, subtle-toned set design brings applause). Despite hearing complaints that Simon's script is dated, I found that most of the humor holds up and that except for some derogatory comments about women, some decades-old jokes are made funnier by the audience's informed knowledge. Funny is funny, after all, regardless of the time it is experienced -- Simon didn't achieve fame writing more then 30 plays and books for musicals and receive a Pulitzer for nothing -- and both Parker and Broderick don't disappoint either, under the direction of John Benjamin Hickey. 

Parker distinguishes herself as a solid comedic actress, delivering lines with expert timing and delighting with moments of hysterical physical comedy. The depths of feelings of a woman being betrayed by her husband, a woman longing for the love of her youth and a mother facing the reality that her daughter doesn't want to turn out like her all get full development as well.

Broderick, while somewhat more reserved, gets a few moments of physical comedy as well. His being attacked by birds while on a ledge outside the suite's window (thanks to superb lighting by Brian MacDevitt) has the audience roaring. He also transforms from a boring, stuffy character to a nerdy, silly guy with ease. But whereas Parker indwells the humorous characters and lines, Broderick, who incidentally, won his first Tony Award for creating the role of Eugene Jerome in Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs, simply delivers his.
 
Adding some dimension to the action between the couples are additional actors playing visitors who stop by the suite:  In act one, Eric Wiegand and Danny Bolero play a bellhop and waiter, respectively, and Molly Ranson is the secretary having an affair with Broderick's character. Bolero returns as a waiter in act two and in the third act, Ranson is the couple's daughter, reluctant to go through with her wedding to Wiegand's character. A 20-minute intermission separates the first two acts and a brief pause follows the second act.

The play ultimately is a serious study of relationships and not all of them fall on the side of happy, despite Simon's comedic technique. Plaza Suite had been scheduled to open on Broadway in 2020 just days before Covid shut down all of Broadway. And now, just days after returning to open 2022, Broderick is out of the show until April 15 after testing positive for the virus. Understudy Michael McGrath is playing Broderick's roles.

If you are picking and choosing shows this year, add this one to your list, especially if you have a chance to see Parker and Broderick together.  The limited run is scheduled through June 26. Tickets and performance information at plazasuitebroadway.com.

Additional credits:
Jane Greenwood (costume design), Scott Lehrer (sound design),  Marc Shaiman (incidental music).

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:
-- Derogatory terms about women
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Adultery

Theater COVID POLICY:

When you arrive at the Hudson Theatre, guests age 12 and older will need to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated with an FDA or WHO approved COVID-19 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), as well as wear a mask inside unless actively eating or drinking.

“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 the age of 12 must be accompanied by a vaccinated adult and provide proof of one of the following:

  • • Full vaccination; 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. Tests administered by a medical professional are preferred and will guarantee entry, though over-the-counter, app-base testing kits will be accepted if they clearly provide the date/time of the test results.

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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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