Tag Archives: Broadway

Nyack’s Bill Irwin puts on his ‘Old Hats’ again

Bill Irwin in the world premiere run of "Old Hats" at Signature Theatre Company. (© 2013 Joan Marcus)

Bill Irwin in the world première run of “Old Hats” at Signature Theatre Company. (© 2013 Joan Marcus)

Scroll to the bottom of this post for access to a special 2-for-1 ticket deal for Bill Irwin’s “Old Hats,” which returns to Off-Broadway next week. Then click through to read the full story.

 

You know Bill Irwin.

Maybe you didn’t see him on Broadway, clowning around onstage in baggy pants in “Fool Moon” 1n 1993, or playing the comical Mr. McAfee in “Bye Bye Birdie” in 2011.

Maybe you didn’t grow up with him as Mr. Noodle on “Sesame Street.”

But if you watch “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Law and Order SVU,” or “Sleepy Hollow,”  you’ve probably seen him playing everything from psychologists to over-the-top villains.

Bill Irwin as the title character in "Uncle Vanya" at Lake Lucille, NY, in 2007. (©2007 Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Bill Irwin as the title character in “Uncle Vanya” on Lake Lucille in New City in 2007. (©2007 Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Or maybe you saw him locally, in some of the summer plays on Lake Lucille in northern New City. He appeared as the title character in Anton Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” in 2007 and the clown Radish in Chekhov’s “Platonov” in 2008.

He’s a versatile actor who admits he works hard to stay that way for a practical reason: to pay the bills. (The Lake Lucille shows may be an exception since they’re labors of love for all involved!)

“It isn’t really an aesthetic choice as much as it is just trying to make the monthly nut,” he told me recently as we sat down for a chat for The Journal News/lohud.com.

He says he and wife Martha Roth take the need to pay the bills pretty seriously.

Bill Irwin clowns around as Radish in Chekhov's "Platonov" on Lake Lucille in New City in 2008. (©2008 Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Bill Irwin clowns around as Radish in Chekhov’s “Platonov” on Lake Lucille in New City in 2008. (©2008 Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

“Everybody has a monthly nut, but we have a chant: Monthly nut, monthly nut!”

Irwin and David Shiner, his partner-in-clowning, are returning to the New York City stage next week for a return engagement of their 2013 revue “Old Hats” — with splendid young singer-songwriter Shaina Taub as their onstage foil, master of ceremonies, and music director, filling the shoes of quirky chanteuse Nellie McKay, who originated the part.

The show was a delight the first time around, and sounds like it’ll be just as much of a hoot this time — with some changes that’ll make it well worth seeing again.

Check out my FULL INTERVIEW by clicking here, or pick up this Sunday’s edition of The Journal News on your local newsstand.

GO HERE FOR INFORMATION ON HOW TO GET 2 TICKETS FOR THE PRICE OF 1.

Stew and The Negro Problem returning to Barbès

UPDATE: Stew Sez Showtime’s now 9:30 p.m.

Photo from Stew's Facebook announcement of the upcoming gig at Barbès.

Photo from Stew’s Facebook announcement of the upcoming gig at Barbès.

There was a moment or two of confusion Thursday morning when Stew,the singer-songwriter and Tony winner for the book of Passing Strange posted on Facebook that he and his band, The Negro Problem, would be appearing two weeks from now at “our beloved Barbès” and included the date of Oct. 25.

Stew, Heidi and an incarnation of The Negro Problem at Barbés in 2011. (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

Stew, Heidi and an incarnation of The Negro Problem at Barbés in 2011. (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

Well, fans of Stew’s work won’t have to wait that long. Maybe Stew is just jonesing for Fall. But according to the Barbès calendar, it’s Thursday, July 25, at 10 p.m., which is in two weeks.

Whew. Glad I could clear that up.

Stew posted a Facebook update on Friday, July 19, saying showtime was changed to 9:30. So I’m getting there by 9 just to be on the safe side:

showtime for stew & the negro problem’s BARBES show this THURSDAY JULY 25th is now 9:30. We will play some songs inspired by recent events.

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Colman Domingo puts ‘Soul’ back into the Vineyard Theatre (updated with discount code to see ‘Wild With Happy’ for just $25)

Colman Domingo

Tickets on sale now for this one-time event

If you haven’t seen Colman Domingo‘s wonderful “A Boy and His Soul,” which was such a treat at the Vineyard Theatre a few years back, you’ll get another chance to check it out in January.

Tickets are on sale now for a one-night-only reading of Colman’s one-man (but multi-character) show.

You probably know him from “Passing Strange,” on Broadway or at the Public Theater. And maybe even from “The Scottsboro Boys” at the Vineyard or, briefly, on Broadway.

And I certainly hope you’re seeing the play he wrote and stars in at the Public Theater through Nov. 18, “Wild With Happy.”

UPDATE: See “Wild With Happy for just $25. Use the code STORM by calling (212) 967-7555 (daily noon-8pm), or visiting the Public Theater Box Office at 425 Lafayette Street (Sun & Mon 1-6pm; Tue-Sat 1-7:30pm) or by clicking here.

“A Boy and His Soul” tells a slice of Colman’s life story using his record collection (yes, remember records?) to lead the audience through. It will help bring “Wild” into sharper focus.

Colman’s a major talent, brimming with life, love and emotion.

James Earl Jones told Colman that “Wild” was “miraculous.” I couldn’t agree more. And “A Boy and His Soul” is just as miraculous. If you loved “Wild,” then “Boy” will flesh out Colman’s story for you. Yes, it’s theater. Yes, it’s fiction. But the underpinnings of both shows are first-rate, true-blue Colman.

“A Boy and His Soul,” a reading and pre-show toast. 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Vineyard Theatre, 108 E. 15th Street (Union Square East/Irving Place) in Manhattan. Call (212) 353-0303 or click here for tickets. $75.

Tony Award nominations announced

Read the full list of Tony nominees on the official tonys site. Click here

The 66th annual Tony Award nominations are out this morning, with a movie remake, Once, topping the list. But another film takeoff, the just-opened Leap of Faith, also got one in the Best Musical category.

There’s lots of other news to report, including the snubbing of big stars Bernadette Peters and Ricky Martin and the revamped Spider-Man, but we’ll leave that to other reports.

The full list is here.

New York Daily News theater critic Joe Dziemianowicz‘s report is here.

New York Times ArtsBeat blog report here.

Billboard’s take here.

Playbill.com offers coverage here and reaction here.

We told you Condola Rashad was great! Now the Tony Awards panel backs us up by nominating her as best featured actor in a play

Condola Rashad outside the Cort Theatre after a performance of Stick Fly. (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

The Alicia Keys-produced play Stick Fly hung on at Broadway’s Cort Theatre for just 93 performances last winter. The play may have fallen a bit flat, despite every promotional effort. But one member of the cast made a big impression that has lasted well beyond that last performance on Feb. 26.

Condola Rashad (yes, the daughter of The Cosby Show alum Phylicia Rashad and former NFL wide receiver Ahmad Rashad) was that show’s secret weapon, as Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? told you back in December.

On Tuesday morning, she was nominated as Best Featured Actor in a Play.

So she’s crossed the first hurdle. The Tony nominators have joined with WYMMWIG? in recognizing this young superstar. Now, Tony judges, it’s time to vote for her and give her the award she earned and so richly deserved.

Her reaction was sweet and humble, as you’d expect from the sassy-smart young actress. She took to Twitter to tell her fans:

Funny fact about Condola: She never watched The Cosby Show when she was growing up. “I was on the set!” she says in this interview with The Associated Press:

Daniel Breaker and special guests played Joe’s Pub

Daniel Breaker and his crew at Joe's Pub. (Photos 2012, Steven P. Marsh)

Broadway star spices up his elegant cabaret set with help from fab up-and-comer Jo Lampert and Broadway vet Morgan James

The inimitable Daniel Breaker at Joe's Pub.

We’re hoping Daniel Breaker is going to be a regular on the Joe’s Pub stage. His performance there Sunday night, April 22 — his second cabaret show there — showcase the winning singer/actor even better than the first. He seemed more comfortable in his role as a front man, and less like an actor putting on a show.

Jo Lampert kills it at Joe's Pub, with drummer Christian Cassan in the background.

With the help of a dozen or so musical compatriots — including drummer Christian Cassan and music director/guitarist Jon Spurney from his time in the hit musical “Passing Strange” — Breaker put on a great show.

He sang original and classic cabaret numbers, and even dipped into rock with Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” charming the crowd all evening.

Breaker’s special guest vocalists once again gave him a run for his money. In Breaker’s last show at Joe’s, guest Condola Rashad  threatened to steal the spotlight altogether with her amazing power and charming stage persona.

Breaker clearly didn’t feel threatened. He chose equally intense guests for this show. Jo Lampert, who not long ago was a production assistant at Joe’s Pub and who was involved in the Public Theater’s incarnation of “Passing Strange,” blew the doors off with her rendition of Beyonce‘s “Halo,” and also filled in superbly on backing vocals.

Morgan James, currently in the cast of "Godspell" on Broadway, at Joe's Pub.

Morgan James, who’s in the ensemble with “Godspell” on Broadway, also did a great job.

Kelvin Dinkins Jr. and William Jackson Harper (a must-see in our book after his amazing work “The Total Bent” at the Public Theater) helped out on backing vocals.

New World Stages responds to talk that The Scottsboro Boys will make a New York comeback there

New World Stages marquee, 340 West 50th Street, Manhattan. (Photo courtesy New World Stages)

‘No conversations’ about staging the Kander and Ebb musical, says NWS managing director

When we reported the news that one of the producers of The Scottsboro Boys publicly proclaimed the show was returning soon to an NYC stage, Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? offered it with a grain of salt.

It’s a good thing, because the the people at New World Stages, the house specifically named by the producer, are denying shooting down the idea — at least for now.

Michael Coco, NWS managing director, got back to us with this response:

Currently, all five theaters at NWS are filled with successful productions all with open ended contracts.  We do not anticipate any changes in our programming in the near future.

We followed up with Coco on this to clarify further. Continue reading

New World Stages responds to talk that The Scottsboro Boys will make a New York comeback there

New World Stages marquee, 340 West 50th Street, Manhattan. (Photo courtesy New World Stages)

‘No conversations’ about staging the Kander and Ebb musical, says NWS managing director

When we reported the news that one of the producers of The Scottsboro Boys publicly proclaimed the show was returning soon to an NYC stage, Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? offered it with a grain of salt.

It’s a good thing, because the the people at New World Stages, the house specifically named by the producer, are denying shooting down the idea — at least for now.

Michael Coco, NWS managing director, got back to us with this response:

Currently, all five theaters at NWS are filled with successful productions all with open ended contracts. We do not anticipate any changes in our programming in the near future.

We followed up with Coco on this to clarify further.

Continue reading

UPDATED: Provocative musical ‘The Scottsboro Boys’ returning soon to the New York stage?

The cast of The Scottsboro Boys.

BREAKING NEWS: New World Stages reacts. Click HERE.

UPDATED: An earlier version of this post conflated the Broadway show where this news was overheard with the source’s current Broadway credits. This update clarifies the source’s credits and reflects that Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? has now reached out to New World Stages and the producer for comment.

Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? has heard an interesting bit of theater gossip. We’re not generally given to reporting gossip, but the source of this one seems impeccable.

At intermission during the matinee performance of Leap of Faith on Broadway Saturday, April 7, a man greeted some friends near the bar. We couldn’t help but hear him reveal to his friend that he’s a Broadway producer. We didn’t immediately recognize him, but he mentioned that he’s producing Clybourne Park, a straight play now on Broadway, as well as a current Broadway musical comedy.

As the conversation went on, the subject of the short-lived Kander and Ebb musical The Scottsboro Boys,came up. It turns out the guy also was a producer of that provocative, somewhat unsettling minstrel-style musical about an infamous racist incident involving accusations of rape by a white girl against nine black teenage boys in 1931.

“It’s coming back, soon, to New World Stages,” he said with obvious pride. Lately, New World is where Broadway shows that, for one reason or another are no longer viable in a Broadway house, take on new life. Rent was revived there, Avenue Q and Million Dollar Quartet live on there. And soon, it seems, The Scottsboro Boys will find new life there, too.

We didn’t recognize the producer who was doing all the talking. T-+here are only one or two producers whose images who are seared in our memory, including Elizabeth McCann and Steve Klein, both of whom were involved with Passing Strange. But a few minutes of research on IBDB.com and Google Images helped us figure out that the guy was, indeed, a producer of the shows in question. So we’re guessing he knows what he’s talking about.

Scottsboro got good reviews in its off-Broadway run at the Vineyard Theatre. (Full disclosure: Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? is friend and huge fan of Colman Domingo, one of its stars.) It took us a bit of time to get past our feeling that it was somehow wrong to laugh at such a serious true story from the sad history of race relations in the United States. But once we set that aside and got into the spirit of the show, we really enjoyed it. But others in our audience, including a black couple we encountered nearby after the show, left feeling more uncomfortable than entertained.

The show fell flat when it moved to Broadway, running for just 29 previews and 49 regular  performances in the fall of 2010. The feelings of discomfort dogged it from the beginning of its run, and the show drew protesters who claimed it was racist. It also earned 12 Tony Award nominations and gained some rabid fans who continue to beat the drum for its return.

The Scottsboro Boys hasn’t disappeared. It got an extended run in Philadelphia earlier this year, and is set to begin performances April 29 at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, Calif. And it’s scheduled to play at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco starting June 21.

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Suzanne Vega channels Carson McCullers: Just three chances left to see it

Suzanne Vega channels the Southern Gothic novelist in the off-Broadway musical Carson McCullers Talks About Love. (Photo by Sandra Coudert)

From the moment I heard that Suzanne Vega was writing a musical, I was determined to see it. The subject didn’t matter much, actually.

Suzanne Vega

Suzanne and her music were a big part of my musically formative years. She fell off my radar over the last decade or so, but she and her classic songs like “Luka” and “Small Blue Thing” are always lurking in the back of my mind.

It turns out she chose a fascinating subject for the show: Southern Gothic novelist Carson McCullers. Despite her Southern roots, McCullers spent much of her life in New York City and the suburbs, living from 1945 until her death in 1967 in a house on South Broadway in South Nyack, N.Y. She’s buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, just a mile or so northwest of her home.

McCullers wrote The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and many other works that you might have been required to read in school. But just because you had to read them doesn’t mean they’re not great, entertaining works.

Vega has talked widely about how connected she feels to the novelist she brings to life onstage.Check out what she had to say about McCullers in The New York Times.

Duncan Sheik (Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN)

Then when I found it was playing off-Broadway this spring and that Duncan Sheik, who was responsible for the stunning Spring Awakening, was partnering with her on the music, I was hooked. (It’s funny, back when Spring Awakening was on Broadway, I went to see Sheik in concert and was left rather disappointed. I guess he’s more to my taste as a show composer. His pop performance of his personal songs, like his overexposed “Barely Breathing” left me cold. But I’ll have a chance to reconsider next Wednesday, June 8, when he plays the Highline Ballroom.)

And then my schedule started filling up. I kept meaning to get tickets. And I kept getting distracted — and now time’s almost up.

Read through to the jump for ticket information, including a special discount offer.

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More video of Stew, Heidi and The Negro Problem at Joe’s Pub

It’s time for a better taste of The Negro Problem‘s fantastic show at Joe’s Pub on Jan 7 .

Here’s all the video Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? managed to shoot in the crowded room.

The first clip is just an excerpt, the last minute or so of one of my favorite Stew/TNP songs, “Peter Jennings,” performed with as much joy and excitement as I’ve ever seen.

After that is “Willow Song,” a Stew and Heidi number that many in the audience hadn’t heard before. It was written for last summer’s production of Othello for Shakespeare on the Sound, an outdoor community Shakespeare program in Connecticut. (Stew and Heidi tackle Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing for SotS Artistic Director Joanna Settle this summer.) It’s a beautiful, dreamy number that worked well in the play, but also stands alone surprisingly well.

Finally, for all you Passing Strange fans, there’s “Amsterdam.”

Enjoy!