Tag Archives: off-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.

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Mary Bridget Davies: More than a Janis Joplin tribute artist

Mary Bridget Davies does Janis Joplin and a whole lot more at B.B. King's Blues Club in Manhattan. (© 2014 Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Mary Bridget Davies does Janis Joplin and a whole lot more at B.B. King’s Blues Club in Manhattan. (© 2014 Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

If you go to see Mary Bridget Davies‘ show at B.B. King’s Blues Club in Manhattan, don’t count on an evening of Janis Joplin.

If you do, you’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment, like the woman standing near me at the bar on Monday night. She was wearing a muumuu and a multicolored headband, which made her look like she was ready for a psychedelic Sixties sort of evening.

But when Davies kicked into a set that was heavier on non-Joplin songs, including some massive versions of some Amy Winehouse hits, the woman started getting antsy, asking people around her if they knew whether Davies would be doing “songs from the show” at some point. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

In the Heights headed to the silver screen

Lin-Manuel Miranda (center, wearing cap), who created and composed In the Heights, is set to reprise his starring role as Usnavi in the big-screen version.

The New York-themed hit Broadway musical In the Heights will follow in the cinematic footsteps of its contemporary, Passing Strange, with a film adaptation.

The Hollywood Reporter says the movie will be directed by Kenny Ortega, the director of the High School Musical movies and Michael Jackson’s This Is It. No dates have been announced.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, who created and composed the show about three days in the lives of neighbors in NYC’s Washington Heights section, is starring and producing the movie. Quiara Alegria Hudes, who wrote the book for the musical, is writing the script. Lin-Manuel originated the starring role of Usnavi in the off-Broadway production, and opened in the show when it transferred to Broadway.

In keeping with a trend on Broadway, a movie star — Corbin Bleu of High School Musical — is set to take over the show’s starring role starting Jan. 25.

In the Heights was nominated for 13 Tony awards in 2008, and won for best new musical. Passing Strange got seven 2008 Tony nods, and won best book of a musical.

This is just the latest parallel between theatrical classmates Heights and PS, both of which were staged off-Broadway to great acclaim in 2007 and transferred to Broadway in 2008. NYC-themed Heights won the East Coast-West Coast battle against PS, which tells the story of a black man growing up in Los Angeles. Heights, which had its first Broadway performance a week after Passing Strange transferred, remains open, while PS closed on July 20, 2008, after 186 performances during a six-month run.

Director Spike Lee, a Strange Freak (a term used to describe the most devoted Passing Strange fans), filmed the final performances of PS. His film — a relatively low-buget record of the stage show with few grand cinematic tricks — was released earlier this year. The Heights movie is being billed as an “adaptation,” which suggests a slicker, big-budget project complete with location shots. Heights struck me from Day One as an updated West Side Story, and this approach to making the film seems likely to underscore the comparison.

Where does Fela! go from here?

Sahr Ngaujah onstage as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

Sahr Ngaujah onstage as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

The off-Broadway smash muscical focusing on the life and music of Afrobeat originator Fela is inching toward a future run. Auditions were held on Monday for the three principal roles in Fela! — Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the title character, Funmilayo, his mother, and Sandra Isidore, the love interest who changes Fela’s life.

The show, conceived, directed and choreographed by Bill T. Jones, will audition dancers, singers and percussionists next week.

There are still more questions than answers about the future of Fela. The contract period for this Fela! developmental project runs from June 15 to July 3, with the expectation of a move to a Broadway house or similar venue in the fall.

But for now, the show’s production team is playing things close to the vest. Asked by Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? about the future of the show, a spokesman says:

“At this date, there is nothing to report about the future Fela! If/when anything becomes official, I’ll let you know.”

One key question is there’s a chance that the fantastic Sahr Ngaujah (say it Sah EN-gow-jah) will reprise his spectacular performance in the title role. Sahr talks about playing the larger-than-life Fela in this interview: