Category Archives: New York theater

Book review: ‘Wendy and the Lost Boys: The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein’

When playwright Wendy Wasserstein died in 2006, a lot of theater-lovers grieved. Many of them were people something like me – a woman, a baby-boomer, a product of the same kind of New England women’s college that Wasserstein attended and just a year younger, almost to the day, than Wasserstein herself.

So it was easy to believe that Wasserstein’s plays, especially her Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy The Heidi Chronicles, were about me and the people I knew.

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Chris Leavy aims to take Manhattan (and K.C.)

Christopher Leavy

Send your best leg-breaking thoughts to singer-pianist Chris Leavy, who’s taking his hit Fringe show I’m Just Not That Gay to New York July 13 and then on to the Kansas City Fringe July 22-29.

Here are the details:

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Postcard from Broadway: ‘The Book of Mormon’

By Elizabeth Maupin
Elizabeth Maupin on Theater

In the world of The Book of Mormon, Jesus has a Southern accent and flowing blond hair. In the world of The Book of Mormon, Orlando is the most glorious place on earth. In the world of The Book of Mormon, a song called “I Am Africa” is sung by the whitest boys you have ever seen.

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Postcard from Broadway: ‘Jerusalem’

By Elizabeth Maupin
Elizabeth Maupin on Theater

Mark Rylance as "Rooster" Johnny Byron in 'Jerusalem.' Photo by Simon Annand.

“Rooster” Johnny Byron has been banned from every pub in Flintock, Wiltshire.

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Postcard from Broadway: ‘Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo’

By Elizabeth Maupin
Elizabeth Maupin on Theater

Robin Williams in 'Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.' Photo by Carol Rosegg.

As long as storytellers have existed, they have told us that war is hell.

But few have told us from such a remarkable perspective as Rajiv Joseph, the playwright whose darkly comic drama Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo depicts war through the eyes of a majestic but dead tiger played by Robin Williams, along with an Iraqi gardener, two American soldiers and the playboy psychopath Uday Hussein.

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Postcard from Broadway: ‘The Normal Heart’

By Elizabeth Maupin
Elizabeth Maupin on Theater

Joe Mantello and John Benjamin Hickey in 'The Normal Heart' (photo by Joan Marcus)

When reports of the horrors of AIDS first reached the Orlando Sentinel, in the early and mid-1980s, no reporter in the newsroom was assigned to cover the story. It took the newspaper’s dance critic, who was already hearing indications of how the epidemic would hit close to home, to persuade editors that this was a story that had to be heard.

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Postcard from Broadway: ‘Arcadia’

By Elizabeth Maupin
Elizabeth Maupin on Theater

There’s nothing stately about the life in and around Sidley Park, the stately home at the center of Tom Stoppard’s glittering Arcadia. Ideas fly by like tennis balls – ideas about mathematics, and landscape architecture, and thermodynamics, and romantic art. Those who volley such ideas back and forth are blessed with the kinds of minds that can never be stilled. Those who do not are left to watch gape-mouthed in wonder.

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Postcard from Broadway: ‘The Motherf**ker With the Hat’

By Elizabeth Maupin
Elizabeth Maupin on Theater

If you know the playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis from his dramas Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot – both of which have been produced by Orlando’s Empty Spaces Theatre Co(llaboration) – you will most likely be shocked by his latest offering (and his Broadway debut), The Motherf**ker With the Hat.

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Newest ‘Company’ revival to turn up in movie theaters

There’s been a spate of theatrical productions showing up on movie screens lately, but most of them have not made their way to Central Florida. (The hit Broadway revival of The Importance of Being Earnest, starring Brian Bedford, is playing in only one movie theater in the entire state of Florida — in Vero Beach. Not so convenient.)

But the recent New York Philharmonic concert version of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s Company will make it to one  Central Florida screen — in Orlando — at 7:30 p.m. June 15. That’s at the Premiere Cinema 14 at Fashion Square Mall.

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Is there such a thing as too much theater?

Do theater-lovers spend too much time in the dark? Howard Sherman says they might.

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Lights dimmed on Broadway to honor Randall Wreghitt

Lights dimmed for Randall Wreghitt Thursday night at the Helen HayesJohn deHaas, a friend of Broadway producer Randall Wreghitt, sent me this photo of the lights dimmed last night at Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theatre in Randall’s memory.

A former Disney marketing guy and an actor in Central Florida’s theater community, Randall died Wednesday from complications of carbon-monoxide poisoning (apparently the result of a faulty heater in his apartment).

Randall has many other friends in Orlando theater, and we will miss him.

In memoriam: Randall Wreghitt

Randall Wreghitt

I’m sorry to report that former Orlandoan Randall Wreghitt, for many years a Broadway and off-Broadway producer, has died of carbon-monoxide poisoning.

Some of you probably knew Randall when he lived in Orlando in the 1980s and was Randy Wreghitt. He worked in marketing at Disney, was on the board of the Civic Theatre and acted in community theater around town. I remember seeing him in Godspell at the IceHouse Theatre in Mount Dora and as Melvin P. Thorpe in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at the Civic, among other shows.

Randall moved to New York to work with the Big Apple Circus and then became a producer, eventually producing such shows as The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Metamorphoses and Grey Gardens. In 2001 he won a Tony Award as a producer of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which won for best revival of a play.

Here’s a short piece about his death. All my best to his family and friends here and elsewhere.

Online theater auditions for Broadway revival of ‘Annie’

There’s another revival of Annie coming to Broadway, and this time around the producers are looking for potential young stars online. The open call is for girls 6-12, who may audition by going to New York or by creating their own videos and submitting them online.

Here’s more:

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‘Book of Mormon, ‘Scottsboro Boys’ lead Tony nominations

The Book of Mormon, the impudent hit musical by the creators of South Park and Avenue Q, has won 14 Tony nominations, the most for any Broadway production in the 2010-2011 season.

In nominations announced this morning, that show was followed closely by 12 nominations for The Scottsboro Boys, a serious musical by John Kander and the late Fred Ebb, creators of Cabaret and Chicago, which ran on Broadway for only six weeks last fall.

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Broadway theater coming to a movie screen near you — if you’re lucky

Broadway productions of Memphis, last year’s Tony-winner for best musical, and the critically acclaimed revival of The Importance of Being Earnest are headed for movie screens across the country this spring.

Also coming: The recent New York Philharmonic concert version of Stephen Sondheim’s Company, which starred Patti LuPone and a host of TV stars, including Neil Patrick Harris (as Bobby) and Stephen Colbert.

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‘Clybourne Park’ wins drama Pulitzer

Bruce Norris

Clybourne Park, Bruce Norris’s drama suggested by the story of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for drama today.

The play had its premiere Feb. 21, 2010 at Playwrights Horizons in New York and ran only a month, until March 21. A different production opened in London in August 2010 and then transferred to the West End.

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Spidey to shut down for a while

The tale of Spider-Man gets more and more tangled. It’s now been reported in the New York Times that the production — rather than opening next week, as had been scheduled — is going to shut down for a few weeks and that rehab is expected to take three more months. At that point, the Times says, director Julie Taymor may or may not still be around.

Here’s the story.

And here’s the official announcement saying that Taymor is out — sort of.

Orlando director Kenny Howard to be part of NY directors’ program

Kenny Howard, who has directed many shows at the Orlando Fringe and at the Parliament House’s Footlight Theater, has been accepted into the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society’s observership pool — a program that will allow him to track a director and an off-Broadway production from the first day of rehearsals to opening night.

Howard has been assigned to director Leigh Silverman, who will be directing the world premiere of the David Greenspan play Go Back to Where You Are at Playwrights Horizons in New York. Rehearsals begin March 1 and the play, described as a comic romance, will be performed March 24-May 1.

The cast features Stephen Bogardus, David Greenspan, Tim Hopper and Mary Shultz.

“Interestingly enough,” Kenny says, “what seemed to be of most interest to Leigh was my ‘activist’-type resume.  Titles like Dragness of God and PieFace! The Adventures of Anita Bryant, etc., appealed to her and apparently gave me a leg up from my competition.”

Congratulations to Kenny, who’s also dabbling in Broadway in the coming months by investing in the new Marc Shaiman-Scott Wittman musical Catch Me If You Can and the revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, starring Daniel Radcliffe.  Busy man.

Taylor part of ‘Broadway Backwards’ fundraiser in NYC

Mark Richard Taylor, one of the owners of Winter Park’s Master Class Academy, was part of last weekend’s Broadway Backwards 6, a sold-out New York fundraiser that collected $281,243 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fight AIDS and the Center, a gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender community center in New York.

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Broadway’s ‘Spider-Man’ gets its reviews

After 2-1/2 months of previews and three opening nights postponed, theater critics from the country’s major newspapers have stepped in and written their reviews of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the $65-million musical that has become a running joke on Broadway.

And the word is not good.

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