Broadway Monotheism, Masochism, Gay Marriage. Tweets 83

Follow New York Theater on Twitter at @NewYorkTheater
On seeing his first play, Harry Belafonte discovered “theater was power: power to influence, power to know of others…” I cannot say that for sure about Twitter, even though I have now been Tweeting as @NewYorkTheater for exactly two years, and have written more than 19,000 Tweets, about half a million words — enough to fill four good-sized books.
Still, without Twitter, would I have gotten my interviews with Zach Graff or one of the stars of “The Book of Mormon”? (See Sunday below). Or talked to a Glee alumni now on Broadway?
This week in New York Theater includes my reviews of five shows, two of them on Broadway, the return (not in a good way) of Spider-Man, and more than one theater-related lawsuit. Broadway monotheism=Godspell; masochism=Venus in Fur; gay marriage=”Standing on Ceremony”

Monday, November 7, 2011
Asuncion, written by and starring Jesse Eisenberg, will play an extra three weeks, through Sunday, Dec 18th

Manhattan Theatre Source at 177 MacDougal St in the Village will shut down in January, another victim, its chairman says, of “the terrible economy.”

Blue Man Group comes to the Public Theater. Patrick Willingham, ex-CEO of Blue Man Productions, is the new Executive Director of the Public Theater
Kristoffer Diaz (@KristofferDiaz): This is a big deal


My review of Godspell

Given how widespread the productions of “Godspell” are, does it make sense to have one on Broadway too? That is the calculation of “The People of Godspell,” the people who invested relatively small amounts to get this show mounted in what lead producer Ken Davenport coined as a pioneering exercise in theatrical crowd-funding. But to me, the simplicity and the familiarity of “Godspell” makes it best-suited now for production in a church, school or children’s theater, where it is an expression in and of a community, and won’t set theatergoers back $125 per seat.

Full review

Tuesday, November 8, 2011
What will Broadway be like 20 years from now? Jordan Roth, Neil Patrick Harris and others address the question in TedX Broadway on January 23rd

Stephen Sondheim himself as well as Bernadette Peters and other cast members of Follies will be signing new CDs of show December 1 at Barnes & Noble on East 86th Street

Marc Camoletti is the author of Boeing-Boeing. Its sequel, Don’t Dress for Dinner, is heading for Broadway, Roundabout Theater’s American Airlines Theater March 30-June 17, 2012

My review of La MaMa Cantata
The first Broadway show Ellen Stewart saw was “A Streetcar Named Desire,” with Marlon Brando. “I hated it,” she later said. “It was just talking the whole time.” That was not the kind of theater Stewart was destined to do.

When she quit her job as a fashion designer at Saks Fifth Avenue and took a trip to Morocco, Stewart encountered the ghost of a Jewish mentor, who told her to get a pushcart. She traveled back to New York and rented a basement for $50 a month, which she offered as a space to beginning playwrights. “There’d be 10 people in the audience, maybe. But it was my pushcart,” she said.

That was the beginning of La MaMa Experimental Theater Company, whose 50th anniversary season is being celebrated by a series of new works. These include “La MaMa Cantata,” composed and directed by Elizabeth Swados, which features these and other fascinating stories by and about Stewart, the mama of La MaMa. Full review

Venus in Fur.Samuel J. Friedman Theatre

My review of Venus in Fur
The story at the heart of “Venus in Fur” fascinates Americans above almost any other. I don’t mean the sadomasochistic power struggle between a 19th century European nobleman and his dominatrix, or even the shifting mano a mano between the actress and the playwright-director for whom she is auditioning to play the part of the dominatrix. That’s just the plot.
The more winning story is how Nina Arianda, the New Jersey-born, Ukrainian-speaking daughter of immigrants, a recent acting school graduate with a very thin resume, suddenly at age 25 became a star…Full review

King Lear .The Public

My review of King Lear
“Mend your speech a little, lest it mar your fortune,” King Lear tells his youngest daughter. This is good advice for the Twitter generation, and in the production at the Public Theater starring Sam Waterston, it is indeed baffling why Cordelia is so stingy with her expression of affection. … Full review

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Did you know that Anthony Rapp (from the original cast of Rent) and Adam Rapp (the playwright Charles Isherwood hates) are brothers? Tony reads Adam’s play, “Nocturne” at Symphony Space on December 12th.

The 1961 film of West Side Story will be playing, tonight only, in 400 movie theaters across the U.S. to mark 50th anniversary

I know West Side Story film has its charms, but whenever I think of it, I picture those guys in bad makeup leaping in the air.

Diep Tran (@diepthought): I think of a spray-tanned Natalie Wood hilariously rolling her ‘rrrr’s’
Billy Flood (@Bflood28): I think of Rita Moreno’s Oscar-winning performance, Jerome Robbins genre-changing athletic choreography
Jonathan Mandell: The West Side Story episode of Glee was weird. What does all that deflowering have to do with the themes of the musical?
Lara Morton (@laraemorton): For the record, high school theater directors don’t instruct their actors to experiment sexually for role preparation!

Does comedian Sarah Silverman have a future in musical theater? Judge for yourself

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Matthew James Thomas, making Broadway debut as Peter Parker on matinees of Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark,
has been injured
during a performance #dejavu

Here’s Julie Taymor’s actual lawsuit against Spider-Man. Here’s how it could cost Spider-Man producers BILLIONS of dollars

Broadway musicals that didn’t win any Tonys (in original productions) Gypsy, Hair, Funny Girl, Chicago etc.

Telly Leung (@tellyleung): Backstage, with some famous Godspell alums
Jonathan Mandell: Can you identify everybody in your picture? There’s you, Victor Garber, Martin Short, Stephen Schwarz. Who else?
Telly Leung: Eugene Levy, Paul Shaeffer, @WallaceSmith007, @nickblaemire, @georgesalazar, also in the pic. Hope that helps!

Friday, November 11, 2011

James Taylor reportedly makes his theater debut at Berkshire Theater Festival as Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol Dec 17. BUT actually he made his “theater debut” long ago…on Broadway. He composed several songs for Stephen Schwartz’s 1978 Working, a musical based on Studs Terkel’s bestseller.

Ben Brantley’s piece on titles (captions) in the theater omits mention of primary use – aid for hearing-impaired

Saturday, November 12, 2011
Harlem nun sues Sony and Disney for stealing her story in “Sister Act”

Seven reasons why theater makes our lives better: eg #1 When you’re engaging in it, you can’t be waging war

Humana Festival 2012: New plays by Lisa Kron, Idris Goodwin, Greg Kotis and many more

Hunter Parrish implies he feels “persecuted” as a Christian who is playing a pot-dealer on Weeds. Godspell’s Jesus speaks

“I have worse nerves now, 54 years after entering this business, than when I started” – Dame Judi Dench
But “…if I retire I think I should fall over. You’ve got to keep learning. I think everybody should take the time to recite two lines of something every day. I’ve also just taken up sudoku – bloody difficult, isn’t it.”

Sunday, November 13, 2011
Could it be? The Lion King opened on Broadway14 years ago today!
Racheal McCaig (@RachealMc): Boy do I now feel old.

All New PeopleMy interview with Zach Braff, whose playwriting debut was at Second Stages in “All New People”:
Jonathan Mandell: What’s your next play going to be called?
Zach Braff (@ZachBraff): Les Miserables 2

My interview with Rory O’Malley, of The Book of Mormon:
Jonathan Mandell: Do you feel like Josh Groban before each performance of Book of Mormon: “like I’m preparing for the title fight.”
The Book of Mormon.Eugene O'Neill Theatre.
Rory O’Malley (@RoryOMalley): ha! Not exactly. Its kind of like a rock concert though. Most of the time the audience starts screaming when the lights go out before the curtain goes up. I’ve never experienced anything so cool. We are lucky actors here at the O’Neill:)
Jonathan Mandell: What’s different on Book of Mormon with you now than 9 months ago when you started? Nine months — as long as a pregnancy!
Rory O’Malley: Wow! Time to deliver that baby:) The biggest difference is the audience knows the show more. People lip sync from their seats!

Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays.Minetta Lane Theatre..

My review of Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays

One couple decides to call each other brooms, a combination of groom and bride, and even orders a wedding cake with two little brooms on top. When it comes to same-sex marriage, you can’t be standing on ceremony.
“Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays” is an uneven but often hilarious and occasionally touching evening of theater that has now opened at the Minetta Lane. Like its subject, it breaks with tradition — in this case theatrical tradition — even while celebrating it. Although an official Off-Broadway play with an open run, it has the feel of a one-night-only, star-studded fund-raising event. Six well-known actors, reading scripts from music stands, present short plays written by nine celebrated playwrights.
Full review

The week in New York Theater Tweets is a selection and enhancement of Jonathan Mandell’s Twitter feed, and is posted every week, usually on Monday.

For up-to-the-minute theater news, views and reviews, follow Jonathan Mandell on his Twitter feed at @NewYorkTheater
Broadway World has designated @NewYorkTheater as one of the top theater Twitter feeds: “Talk about a tweeter who knows his Broadway stuff! From news to conversation-starters to commentary, he’s got it all.”

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Jonathan Mandell, who tweets as New York Theater, is a native New Yorker and third-generation journalist with diverse experience on newspapers, magazines and websites.He has written for a wide varie more


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