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Showing posts from March, 2016

Lucille Lortel Nominations

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The Lucille Lortel Awards honor excellence in off-Broadway. Winners will be announced and honored at the May 1 ceremony. Herein, the full list of nominees, as well as special award recipients. (Unless indicated, categories were open to both plays and musicals.) Of note: There are several incredible shows, performances, and creative efforts that did not get nominated (say, like, Significant Other), which just shows how rich the off-Broadway scene is these days.

Outstanding Play
The Christians, by Lucas Hnath 
Eclipsed, by Danai Gurira 
Gloria, by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Guards at the Taj, by Rajiv Joseph 
John, by Annie BakerOutstanding Musical
Futurity, by Cesar Alvarez (music, lyrics, book) and The Lisps (music) Iowa, by Jenny Schwartz (book and lyrics) and Todd Almond (music and lyrics) Southern Comfort, by Dan Collins (book and lyrics) and Julianne Wick Davis (music) Tappin' Thru Life, by Maurice Hines The Wildness: Sky-Pony's Rock Fairy Tale, by Kyle Jarrow (text and songs) a…

Head of Passes

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I don't like knowing a lot about a show before seeing it. Sure, sometimes I do, but some of my favorite experiences have been when I had no idea what the show was about, who the writer is, had no expectations of the cast (I'm thinking of Circle Mirror Transformation). I like to be surprised, and I like being sure that my reaction is my own, not filtered through someone else's lens. But sometimes, like when I go to the ballet, it's beneficial to read through the program notes, if there are any, once you're at the theatre. It can help you understand what's happening while it's happening, instead of having to sort through things in hindsight.

Such was the case with Head of Passes, the new play from Tarell Alvin McCraney (Choir Boy), directed by Tina Landau. The program notes explain the play's inspiration, the biblical story of Job, and the ensuing debates about his struggle. The notes also speak to the title of the play, a geographical reference to the w…

Week in Review 3.25.16

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New York City Ballet Teases New Season
The full lineup, including specific performance dates, has not been announced yet, but New York City Ballet did announce the outline of its 2016-2017 season. Most noteworthy is that the season will feature two world premieres by female choreographers. (The last time the company premiered a ballet by a female choreographer was in 2011.) Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and principal dancer Lauren Lovette will choreograph ballets that will premiere at the company's Fall Gala, which will also include a new work by soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck (one of three ballets he'll create in the season), and a new work by corps de ballet member, Peter Walker. Continuing its focus on new(er) works, the spring season will include a four-week festival of ballets that were commissioned in the last 30 years. Highlights of the festival, I'm sure, will be all–Peck, all–Christopher Wheeldon, and all–Alexei Ratmansky nights. (The company isn't tot…

Bright Star

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Did you hear the one about Steve Martin writing a musical? It's true. Along with Edie Brickell, with whom he's collaborated on a Grammy–winning album, Martin wrote Bright Star, a new musical making its Broadway debut. (Music, book, and story credit goes to Martin; music, lyric, and story credit goes to Brickell.)

The company steps out onto the set (love the rustic scenic design by Eugene Lee), and our leading lady, Alice Murphy (Carmen Cusack), teases us with "If You Knew My Story." And so, for the next two hours (plus intermission), we learn her story, which takes place in North Carolina in 1945-46 and 22 years earlier. In 1945/46, Alice is the well-regarded editor-in-chief at a popular Asheville magazine. (Jeff Blumenkrantz (Murder for Two) and Emily Padgett (Side Show) provide amusing comic relief as her sassy busybody assistants, Daryl and Lucy, respectively.) It is at the magazine that she meets Billy Cane (A.J. Shively), a young man just home from the war. He&…

Dry Powder

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We're eight years removed from the crippling financial crisis of our age, yet few people understand what happened. What are "financial products," and what kinds of financial services do people in finance provide? I could give you a jaded and cynical answer, but instead I'll focus on the finance people at the center of Sarah Burgess's new play, Dry Powder.

(If you do want an in-depth look at the financial crisis, read Matt Taibbi's Griftopia.)

The title is a finance term referring to liquid assets or a cash-on-hand fund. Unlike restricted funds, dry powder can be used on short notice and for a variety of purposes, whatever the finance people, like the private equity folks of Dry Powder, deem a worthy investment. Burgess is clever, though, and throughout her smart, sharp play, it seems dry powder can refer to not just funds that are expendable, but people, too.

Rick (Hank Azaria) is the founder of a private equity (PE) firm, and Jenny (Claire Danes) and Seth (Jo…

Familiar

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The new Danai Gurira play, Familiar, is a bit, well, familiar, what with its exploration of family dynamics. That is also what makes it easy to relate to, and even a bit comforting.

To be sure, the family in Familiar does not look like mine. The parents, Donald (Harold Surratt) and Marvelous (Tamara Tunie), emigrated from Zimbabwe, and made a life in Minnesota, where their children were born. (By contrast, my family is Caucasian, and we've been New York natives since my great-grandparents' generation.) Their younger daughter, Nyasha (Ito Aghayere), has just returned from a trip to "Zim," as the character call it. Her older sister, Tendi (Roslyn Ruff), is about to get married—to a white Christian, Chris (Joby Earle). The family, including Marvelous's sisters, Margaret (Melanie Nicholls-King) and Anne (Myra Lucretia Taylor), and Chris's brother, Brad (Joe Tippett), is gathered for the wedding.

We all have families, both the one we're born into and the one …

Week in Review 3.18.16

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John Gallagher, Jr. Releases Music Video
Check out the video for Johnny Gallagher's "Sarasota Someone," the first single off his debut solo album, Six Day Hurricane. The video was shot live at the Rockwood Music Hall record release party in January. Gallagher, who won a Tony Award for Spring Awakening, returns to Broadway this spring in a revival of Long Day's Journey Into Night (previews begin March 31; opening night is April 19, and the limited run concludes June 26). The American Idiot star last appeared on Broadway in Jerusalem, and was part of the HBO–Aaron Sorkin TV show, TheNewsroom


Casting Updates
Christopher Jackson (Hamilton) has been cast in the CBS pilot, Bull, which, you might recall from a few weeks ago, is based on the early days of Dr. Phil's trial consulting practice. Deadline has more.

Tony winner Julie White (Little Dog Laughed,Sylvia) has joined the cast of the CBS pilot, Real Good People. The show is executive produced by Greg Garcia, who wa…

She Loves Me

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Ah, She Loves Me. It's a story we all know, thanks, mostly, to the movie You've Got Mail, which is based on the same source material as the musical. (That would be the Miklos Laszlo play Parfumerie and the ensuing film adaptation, The Shop Around the Corner.) That familiarity doesn't mean it's not worth retelling. It's a lovely story, quaint, old-fashioned, and sincere, the kind of story we don't see these days, which makes this glorious revival such a welcomed treat.

She Loves Me comes from songwriting duo Jerry Bock (music) and Sheldon Harnick (lyrics), who brought us Fiddler on the Roof, and book writer Joe Masteroff, who wrote the libretto for the Kander and Ebb classic, Cabaret. (What a winning trio; Bock and Harnick's score is a feast for your ears, and Masteroff's book is substantive and feels fresh.) It takes place in Maraczek's parfumerie in Budapest, circa 1934. (The locale is rather inconsequential; no one puts on a Hungarian accent (than…