Friday, December 2, 2016

Week in Review 12.2.16

There was no Week in Review on November 25. This week's post contains news from last week and this week.

Lincoln Center Festival

Exciting news about the 2017 Lincoln Center Festival: For the first time ever, three ballet companies will perform the George Balanchine classic, Jewels, at the same performance. Members of the New York City Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet, and the Bolshoi ballet will share the wings, with NYCB members dancing "Rubies"; POB members dancing "Emeralds"; and Bolshoi members dancing "Diamonds." The five-performance run begins July 20, 2017, and concludes July 23. Premium ticket packages are on sale now, and individual tickets go on sale March 29. You can expect to hear the full Lincoln Center Festival lineup shortly before individual tickets go on sale. Visit for more, and watch the announcement, which was live-streamed on Facebook and includes interviews with the companies' directors, Peter Martins, Aurelie Dupont, and Makhar Vaziev, respectively, below. 

Coming Up

The latest David Byrne–Alex Timbers collaboration, Joan of Arc: Into the Fire, is coming to the Public this winter, running February 14, 2017, through March 26. Previously titled Saint Joan, the rock musical is written by Byrne and directed by Timbers, and the Public production will mark its world premiere. The duo famously collaborated on Here Lies Love, another musical about a notable woman. Tickets for Joan of Arc: Into the Fire will go on sale to Public members this month, and will be available to the public beginning January 10. Playbill has more.

The creative team for the Broadway bow of War Paint, about the women at the head of dueling cosmetic companies, has been confirmed. Scenic designer David Korins (Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen); costume designer Catherine Zuber (The King and I); lighting designer Kenneth Posner (On Your Feet); and sound designer Brian Ronan (American Idiot) will all reprise their work. (War Paint played Chicago this summer; its Broadway home is the Nederlander.) War Paint stars Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole; previews begin March 7, 2017, and officially opens April 6. Tickets are now on sale. Playbill has more.

It's an Honor/End of Year Lists

Grammy Hall of Fame—25 recordings will join the Grammy Hall of Fame. Making up the class of 2017 are, among others, Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit"; REM's "Losing My Religion"; David Bowie's "Changes"; Billie Holiday, Lady Sings the Blues; Lesley Gore's "You Don't Own Me"; N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton; and Prince's Sign O' the Times. Visit Rolling Stone for the full list.

Gotham Independent Film Awards—Winners of the 26th Annual Gotham Awards were announced and honored this week in NYC. Moonlight was a big winner, taking home the top honor, Best Feature, as well as awards for its writers, Tarell Alvin McCraney (Head of Passes) and Barry Jenkins; the Special Jury Award for Ensemble Performance; and the Gotham Independent Film Audience Award. Indie Wire has the full list of winners.

National Board of Review Best of 2016—Members of the NBR have named their picks for the best of 2016. Amy Adams was named Best Actress (Arrival), while Manchester by the Sea was named Best Film and Best Original Screenplay (Kenneth Lonergan, Hold On To Me Darling), among other superlatives. Moonlight and La La Land we also named to its Top 10 Films list. The Film Stage has the full list of honorees.

Time's Top 10Time has released its Top 10 of 2016 lists. Among the magazine's theatre picks are Anna Deavere Smith's Notes from the Field; Dominique Morisseau's Skeleton Crew; this spring's revival of She Loves Me; Natasha, Pierre, and The Great Comet of 1812; Dear Evan Hansen; Mike Bartlett's Love, Love, Love; and the short–lived Shuffle Along, or The Story of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. Visit the magazine's Top 10 of Everything landing page for more.

Critics' Choice Awards—Nominees for the Critics' Choice Awards (film side) were announced, and La La Land leads the pack with 12 nominations. (This is the musical from Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) that features music by Dear Evan Hansen's Pasek and Paul.) Also nominated for Best Picture are Arrival (with additional nods, including for star Amy Adams); Fences (with additional nods, including for supporting actress Viola Davis, who won a Tony for the role); Manchester by the Sea (with additional nods, including for director/writer Kenneth Lonergan); and Moonlight (with additional nods, including for supporting actor Mahershala Ali). Elsewhere on the list, Tom Ford is nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, Nocturnal Animals; and Lin-Manuel Miranda is nominated for Best Song, "How Far I'll Go," Moana. Winners will be announced and feted on December 11. Visit Variety for the full list of nominees.

Casting News

  • Rejoice, theatre fans: Norbert Leo Butz is coming back to the stage. After a multi-year absence (he's been in Florida for a bit filming Bloodlines), Butz (Catch Me If You Can, Big Fish) will join Maura Tierney and Zosia Mamet in the world premiere of Hamish Linklater's, The Whirligig. The New Group production begins previews May 2, 2017. The venerable off-Broadway company also announced initial casting for two of its other shows. Wallace Shawn will appear in his play, Evening at the Talk House, alongside Larry Pine (Casa Valentina) and others, and that begins previews January 31. For Eric Schmidt's All the Fine Boys, which begins previews February 14, the cast will include Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine, The Miracle Worker) and Joe Tippett (Familiar). Playbill has details.

  • Annette O'Toole (A Mighty Wind, Welcome Home Dean Charbonneau) will join Tony winner Reed Birney in the New York premiere of Man From Nebraska, the latest from Tony– and Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright (and actor) Tracy Letts. Previews of the Second Stage production begin January 26, 2017. has more.

  • Beth Leavel has joined the cast of the Broadway bow of Bandstand. Leavel performed in the show's Paper Mill Playhouse production, and will reprise her role alongside the previously announced Corey Cott and Laura Osnes. Previews at the Jacobs Theatre begin March 31, 2017, and opening night is set for April 26. has more.

  • Ari Graynor (The Performers, American Hero) has joined the cast of Yen, the Anna Jordan play that will have its American premiere early next year. Graynor and others have joined the previously announced Lucas Hedges in the MCC production, which is to be directed by Trip Cullman. Previews begin January 12, 2017, with opening night set for January 30. The limited engagement is scheduled to run through February 19. has more.

  • Original Rent star Anthony Rapp, who most recently appeared on Broadway in If/Then, has been cast in Star Trek: Discovery, a new Star Trek series that will air exclusively on CBS All Access in the spring. Playbill has more.
In Other News

  • Town and Country talks to Michael Greif and David Korins about their collaboration on Dear Evan Hansen, now in previews on Broadway, and will celebrate opening night on December 4.

  • Tony winner and Late Late Show host James Corden (One Man, Two Guvnors) will host the Grammy Awards, set to air on CBS on February 12, 2017. Playbill has more.

  • Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton) will serve as creative producer and write songs for film and TV adaptations of The Kingkiller Chronicle, a fantasy trilogy written by Pat Rothfuss. In a statement, Miranda notes the the novels are among the most re-read in his home. The Wrap has more.

  • The Les Liaisons Dangereuses revival, led by Janet McTeer and Liev Schreiber, will conclude its Broadway run on January 8, 2017, rather than January 22, as originally scheduled. has more.

  • A final extension for Oh, Hello has been announced. Starring John Mulaney and Nick Kroll, and directed by Alex Timbers, Oh Hello will now play through January 22, 2017. Playbill has more.

  • Kids' Night on Broadway is set for February 28, 2017. On Kids' Night, people 18 and younger can get a free ticket to participating shows when accompanied by an adult who purchases a full-price ticket. Some of the participating shows include The Great Comet; Significant Other (which begins previews February 14); and Dear Evan Hansen. Visit the program's official website for more.

  • A national tour of the Tony–winning Stephen Karam play, The Humans, will launch in Seattle in November 2017. The Humans concludes its Broadway run January 15. has more.

  • The television adaptation of Mike Bartlett's King Charles III will air on PBS on May 14, 2017. Tim Pigott-Smith, who earned a Tony nomination for playing the title character, reprises his role for the adaptation. Playbill has more.

  • Get on your feet on New Year's Eve. The cast of the Broadway hit, On Your Feet, and Gloria Estefan, the show's subject, will perform on ABC's New Year's Rockin' Eve. Playbill has more.

  • Sarah Ruhl (Stage Kiss) and Rajiv Joseph (Guards at the Taj) are among 25 playwrights who have been commissioned by Washington, DC's Arena Stage for its Power Plays series, which aims to create theatre about American politics and power. Playbill has more.

  • Richard Armitage is the latest actor to appear in's "Fresh Face" series. Armitage can be seen on the New York stage in Mike Bartlett's Love, Love, Love, playing at Roundabout through December 18. Watch below for fun facts about the actor.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Nocturnal Animals

This gritty drama, only writer/director Tom Ford's second film, features both style and substance, with striking aesthetics and intense drama.

Amy Adams plays Susan, an LA art dealer, who was once briefly married to writer Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal). We will learn, through flashbacks, how Susan and Edward came together and fell apart (watch for a brief but indelible appearance by Laura Linney as Susan's mother), and that their time together still haunts them both. Susan's feelings are awakened when, after years of no communication, Edward sends her a novel he's written, Nocturnal Animals, and Susan recognizes themes of their past in the novel.

As Susan reads, Ford (A Single Man) takes us into the story within the story, with Gyllenhaal playing the novel's protagonist, Tony. He and his wife, Laura (Isla Fisher (The Great Gatsby), a ringer for Adams), and daughter, India (Ellie Bamber), are making their way through West Texas, driving on a deserted highway late into the night. A trio of sadistic ne'er-do-wells plays a game of chicken with them, and trouble ensues. (That's putting it mildly, but I don't want to spoil anything.) Eventually, police detective Bobby Andes (the always welcome and always intense Michael Shannon, Grace) will get involved, trying to help Tony.

It's clear that Tony is an avatar for Edward. (Tony will eventually shave his bear, making him look more like Edward.) These are two men who are trying to protect their family, but must grapple with how sensitive men can be strong and decisive. Edward and Tony feel helpless. Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler, Sunday in the Park with George) is mesmerizing, creating different but inextricably linked characters.

Ford, who first rose to fame as a fashion designer, creates provocative tableaux, so Amy Adams (Big Eyes, The Fighter) often has to communicate without words, which, of course, is no problem for the gifted actress. You can see her detachment when Susan's husband, Hutton (Armie Hammer), once again has to attend to business rather than her, and you can see her fragility as Susan makes her way through the book (and, particularly, in the film's final moments). It also doesn't hurt that Susan is decked out in Arianne Phillips's sumptuous costumes (though none by Ford). Susan is impeccably put together, living the life she could never have had with Edward, which makes the moment she wipes off her lipstick a powerful one. We can create or remove whatever artifice we like, but in the end, restless creatures, these nocturnal animals, don't change.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sweet Charity

They don't make them like Sutton Foster anymore. Her go for broke comedic skills make her quadruple threat, and even though I know Gwen Verdon famously created the role, I can't imagine anyone else playing Charity Hope Valentine, the "dance hostess" with the heart of gold.

Written by Neil Simon (book), Cy Coleman (music), and Dorothy Fields (lyrics), Sweet Charity centers on the titular showgirl who, though down on her luck, has optimism to spare. Charity (Foster) works at the Fandango Club alongside Nickie (Asmeret Ghebremichael), Helene (Emily Padgett), and other jaded dancers. She's been jilted by her lover, and is looking for something more. She thinks she finds it in Oscar (Shuler Hensley), a seemingly nice guy, who just might be her ticket out.

Of course, like many of the musicals of its time (the mid- to late-60s), it gets darker at the end (I mean, Charity is just this side of a prostitute, so I guess it starts fairly dark.), which can throw you for a bit of a loop after two hours of musical comedy. But the darkness adds pathos and poignance, and, in this case, relevance. When Charity concludes by asking, "Where Am I Going?" we see that she's taking her life by the reins, no longer content to leave it up to the men and other people in her life.

(More female power: This revival is directed by Leigh Silverman, and the all-female band is led by Georgia Stitt.)

Mostly, though, this is a great excuse to see one of our living legends (Foster) in an iconic role, and make it her own. She is so funny, and she has a way of making Charity's optimism and naïveté seem sincere and genuine rather than saccharine or ironic or arch. And dances. We knew this (see the ten-minute tap number "Anything Goes" from the 2011 revival), and, thankfully, this production and choreographer Joshua Bergasse takes full advantage of his multi-talented leading lady.

He and the team do not make the most of the act two opener, "Rhythm of Life." I remember doing this number in a high school musical theatre class. It was a spirited church revival. Here, it's just a melange of Hippies. There's no plot–related reason to have "Rhythm of Life." You could easily go from the end of act one to the scene following "Rhythm of Life" without the musical interlude, so to not take advantage of the opportunity to have a big, splashy ensemble number at the top of act two, you're just wasting time. (This production has a small ensemble—the entire cast is 12 people—but the distinct characters in the number make clear that this is a directorial choice, not a solution to a logistical problem.)

Business note: This revival of Sweet Charity is being put on by the New Group in association with Kevin McCollum, the Broadway producer who has shepherded such hits as Rent to the stage, so think of this off-Broadway run as a try out. If you can get tickets for this run, which concludes January 8, 2017, get them, and see Sutton Foster be amazing. If not, wait for it to come to Broadway within the next year, and then call your big spender to shell out for the tickets!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Notes from the Field

A quick note to praise Notes from the Field:

Sherrilyn Ifill, the president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., says, "Policies are the investments we make." The incomparable Anna Deavere Smith's Notes from the Field, which is comprised of verbatim interviews Smith conducted with teachers, students, parents, elected officials, and others, crystallizes the ways in which so many of the issues facing us are inextricably linked. The particular focus here is mass incarceration (the disproportionate incarceration of minorities, especially black men, to be particular) and the role of education (or lack thereof) in said challenge. Through Smith's interviews, we learn that education isn't just about reading, writing, and arithmetic; it's also about learning behavior, and how to respond to various situations, about teaching young people they have options. Another home run from Anna Deavere Smith.

(Notes from the Field also includes original music composed and performed (on stage) by Marcus Shelby.)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Week in Review 11.18.16

Coming to Broadway

Amelie—It's official: The new musical, Amelie, will be on Broadway this spring. Based on the [year] film, Amelie features a book by Craig Lucas (An American in Paris), and a score by Daniel Messe (music) and Nathan Tysen (lyrics), and is directed by Tony winner Pam MacKinnon (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?). Amelie will play the Walter Kerr Theatre, with previews beginning March 9, 2017. Opening night is set for April 3, and the cast will be led by Tony nominee Phillipa Soo (Hamilton) and Adam Chanler-Berat (Next to Normal, The Fortress of Solitude).

The Play That Goes Wrong—The Olivier-winning play The Play That Goes Wrong will bow on Broadway this spring. Performances at the Lyceum Theatre begin March 9, 2017, with opening night set for April 2. has more. (Broadway World reports that through November 23, you can purchase $25 orchestra and mezzanine seats—and $15 balcony seats—for preview performances.)

Casting News

  • Tony nominees Norm Lewis (Porgy and Bess) and Carolee Carmello will join the cast of the site-specific Sweeney Todd as Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett, respectively, beginning April 11. The production begins February 14, 2017, with opening night set for March 1. Tickets are available for performances through August 13. Playbill has more.

  • Adam Pascal (Rent) and Rob McClure (Chaplin, Noises Off) will lead the touring company of Something Rotten. The pair can be seen in the Broadway iteration, which is playing through January 1, 2017. The tour launches in Boston on January 17. Playbill has more.

  • Additional casting for the upcoming revival of Sunset Boulevard has been announced. Joining Glenn Close are Michael Xavier, Siobhan Dillon, and Fred Johanson, all reprising their roles from an English National Opera production. Sunset Boulevard will play the Palace Theatre, with previews beginning February 2, 2017. Opening night is scheduled for February 9. has more.
It's an Honor

Bruce Springsteen, Ellen DeGeneres, Tom Hanks, Diana Ross, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are among the 21 people named Presidential Medal of Freedom honorees. In a statement, President Obama said the civilian honor is "a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better. The awards will be presented at a White House ceremony on November 22, and will be live-streamed. Entertainment Weekly has the full list of honorees.

Nominees for the Clive Barnes Awards, honoring young theatre artists and dancers, have been announced. Among the nominees are Timothee Chalamet (Prodigal Son), Khris Davis (The Royale), and NYCB corps de ballet dancers, Spartak Hoxha and Indiana Woodward. Winners will be announced at a January 9, 2017, ceremony, with Joel Grey and NYCB principal dancer Ashley Bouder presenting the awards. The New York Times has more.

Nominees for the Critics' Choice Awards (TV) were announced. Some of the nominated series and performers include: Silicon Valley; SNL's Kate MckInnon; Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Andre Braugher; Full Frontal with Samantha Bee; Last Week Tonight with John Oliver; a slew of Game of Thrones actors; Mr. Robot and its male stars, Rami Malek and Christian Slater; and more. Indie Wire has the full list of nominees. Winners will be announced at a December 11 gala.

Tony-winning director Kenny Leon (Fences, Holler If Ya Hear Me) will receive the "Mr. Abbott" Award at the March 27, 2017, Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation gala. The award is in recognition of his decades-long career as a stage and screen director. Leon is directing the upcoming Hairspray Live NBC special, which airs December 7. Playbill has more.

Broadway Bonuses

A release date for the highly anticipated Dear Evan Hansen original Broadway cast recording has been announced. The album, to be recorded next month, will be released digitally on February 3, 2017, with physical copies available beginning February 24. You can pre-order the album beginning December 2, and when you do, you'll receive an instant download of the moving opening number, "Waving Through a Window." Dear Evan Hansen is is previews on Broadway, and officially opens December 4. Playbill has more.

A companion book for The Great Comet, which just opened on Broadway, will be released on November 22. The book chronicles the musical's journey, from inception to off-off-Broadway to opening on Broadway, with Josh Groban leading the company. A CD featuring recordings from the off-Broadway iteration, as well as a couple of Groban tracks, comes with the book. Broadway World has more.

In Other News

  • Oh, Hello! has extended its Broadway run, playing through January 15, 2017. The hilarious show was created and is performed by John Mulaney and Nick Kroll. Broadway World has more.

  • Additional Broadway performers for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade have been announced. The casts of Waitress and Paramour will perform, in addition to the previously announced casts of Cats, Holiday Inn, and Hairspray Live. Broadway World has more.

  • Jake Gyllenhaal talks to Du Jour about his recent stint in Sunday in the Park with George, his latest movie, Nocturnal Animals, and his upcoming projects.

  • The Encores! production of God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater will receive a cast album. The cast included Skylar Astin, Santino Fontana, and Rebecca Naomi Jones. Playbill has more.