Monthly Archives: October 2013

***** SONDHEIM/FURTH: ‘MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG’ (FILM REVIEW of the NCM Fathom Events, Digital Theatre, Cinema Live, the Menier Chocolate Factory, Neal Street Productions, and SFP production) ·


In 1983, of course, we thought goodness was rewarded, an idea that is corrosively stripped away in Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, a legendary musical failure that ran on Broadway for 16 performances in 1981.   Last night, at the  Regal Union Square Stadium 14, in advance of its October 23 nationwide screening, an extremely well-produced film of the acclaimed Menier Chocolate Factory’s London stage version was shown to New York audiences (Maria Friedman has empathetically directed; she has also straightforwardly edited a film of the production, without fancy cinematography or close-ups–you can even hear audience reactions, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself applauding, forgetting that you aren’t in the theater with them).  Had this been what was presented in New York during the early ‘80s, the trajectory of American musical theatre would have been different. 

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(Charles Isherwood’s article appeared in The New York Times, 10/17/13.)

Much patience is demanded from the family of Arthur Winslow, the British patriarch waging a long battle to see that justice is properly served in “The Winslow Boy,” the 1946 play by Terence Rattigan that is being splendidly revived by the Roundabout Theater Company at the American Airlines Theater.

Maybe I should add that a little patience may be required of audiences, too. Rattigan was one of the most successful British playwrights of the middle years of the last century, and wrote firmly in the tradition of the “well-made” play, drama that moves cleverly and deliberately, but with no great haste, through its unruffling paces. During the sometimes languid first act of “The Winslow Boy,” I occasionally found myself wondering whether we really needed to hear so much about a character’s crack cricketing (Rattigan was an avid fan), or, indeed, whether the kernel of the plot — the question of whether a 13-year-old boy stole a “postal order” (whatever that is!) of “five shillings” (whatever that is!) — was really substantial enough to merit such expansive dramatization.



(Chris Jones’s article appeared in the Chicago Tribune, 10/17. The above clip is from the London production.)

The physical elements of the current spectacular attraction visiting Chicago Shakespeare Theater from the United Kingdom consists of the following: one puppet (hollow cardboard head and cloth body) and one table (rectangular, prosaic).

The diminutive puppet, whose name I did not catch but whose killer personality and improvisational chops will long be etched in my consciousness, lives on this table, with occasional
excursions into the air, and is manipulated by three noir-clad puppeteers from
Blind Summit Theatre. One does the head, one does the hands, one does the feet.
That's it.

As this caustic, British, Bunraku-style dude dryly notes, no expense was spared this evening.,0,5068943.column

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Red Monkey Theater Group's Season of Sisters begins with Anton Chekhov's dramatic
masterpiece. This quiet, funny, shattering story of domestic upheaval remains
as relevant and revealing in the 21st century as it did at the dawn of the


Oct 19, 20, 25, 26, 27 & Nov 1, 2

Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm

Cahill Theater, Founder's Hall

College of Mount Saint Vincent

6301 Riverdale Avenue

Riverdale, New York

Tickets & Directions:

Admission: $18 general, $15 students & seniors, FREE for College of
Mount Saint Vincent students and staff with ID


(Alfred Hickling’s article appeared in the Guardian, 10/16.)

Under David Thacker's tenure, the Octagon has become the home of heavyweight American drama. Yet you suspect that his productions of Miller, Williams and Albee were merely gateway drugs that would sooner or later lead towards the hard stuff: Eugene O'Neill's masterful study of sickness and addiction, which was so closely based on his own family that he forbade any performance until 25
years after his death.

Set over a single day in summer 1912, O'Neill presents a fleeting moment of togetherness for the Irish American Tyrone family, between rehab spells and sanatorium visits. Mother Mary has just returned from a course of treatment for morphine addiction; youngest son Edmund has tuberculosis and is headed the other way. Father James, a fading theatrical idol, and elder son James Jr, are so wedded to the bottle as to be beyond saving.



(Ben Brantley’s article appeared in The New York Times, 10/15.)

There they are again, Max and Lola, framed in the doorway of a pitch-black room, the light behind them and the darkness ahead. Their wariness about taking the first step inside seems unreasonable, given that where they’ve arrived is a spick-and-span, soothingly generic condo in Florida. But Max and Lola aren’t wrong to hesitate. Monsters wait in the dark for this elderly couple; they always have and they always will.

The man and the woman in the doorway, first glimpsed in the opening moments of Donald Margulies’s “Model Apartment,” haven’t been seen in New York in 18 years, and it’s been way too long. Max and Lola aren’t exactly cozy company. Quite the contrary, they are sure to make you uncomfortable.

But getting to know them is essential. And now that they’re back in town, in the first (and first-rate) New York revival of a very fine playwright’s masterwork, it’s important that you find the time. Max and Lola, you see, are going to make one of the most horrible chapters in world history feel very real and personal to you, though at first you won’t have a clue that this is what they’re doing. 

(Monologues from Margulies’s work The Loman Family Picnic are available in One On One: Playing with a Purpose from Applause Theatre & Cinema Books: .)


Broadway Press Agent Susan L. Schulman

 will discuss  her book


True Tales of a Theatre Press Agent at Barnes & Noble’s Upper West Side Store on

Monday, October 28th at 7 pm 

Broadway press agent Susan L. Schulman will discuss her memoir, BACKSTAGE PASS TO BROADWAY True Tales of A Theatre Press Agent, at Barnes & Noble’s Upper West Side store, 2289 Broadway at 82nd Street, on Monday, October 28th at 7 PM.    Ms. Schulman has worked with some of Broadway’s most talented and creative people – sometimes behaving badly and often with astonishing grace – as they struggled to create theatre magic.  In this entertaining, dishy book, she shines the spotlight behind the show curtain, sharing true tales of her life in the theatre.   Admission is free and her talk will be followed by a Q&A and book signing.

Schulman was a New York City ‘theatre kid’ who waited outside stage doors, not for autographs, but to tell actors how they had enhanced her life.  After learning her craft from some of Broadway’s legendary press agents, she handled the publicity for many Broadway shows including DREAM, DANCIN’, SLY FOX, STATE FAIR, APPLAUSE, DEATH OF A SALESMAN, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, SCAPINO, DEATH AND THE MAIDEN and REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT.  She shares her adventures working with Mary Martin, George C. Scott, Lauren Bacall, Yul Brynner, Robert Redford, David Merrick, Bob Fosse, Raul Julia, Zero Mostel, Vanessa Redgrave, Henry Winkler, Lesley Ann Warren, Katharine Hepburn, Glenn Close, and many more.   Schulman has survived some spectacular theatrical train wrecks including the play that killed Zero Mostel; legendary producer David Merrick’s final hurrah, and the fading film diva who sabotaged her own return to Broadway.   Schulman also explains what a theatrical press agent does, how she does it, and how theatre promotion has changed.

Broadway’s top graphic designer, Frank Verlizzo, known as FRAVER, has designed the cover for BACKSTAGE PASS TO BROADWAY.

For more information about BACKSTAGE PASS TO BROADWAY, visit

View book on AMAZON: 


Broadway press agent SUSAN L. SCHULMAN talks about her new book BACKSTAGE PASS TO BROADWAY and the legendary stars she has worked with including YUL BRYNNER, ZERO MOSTEL, MARY MARTIN, DAVID MERRICK, LAUREN BACALL, GEORGE C. SCOTT, BOB FOSSE and others.    At Barnes & Noble, Upper West Side store, 2289 Broadway at 82nd Street.  Monday, October 28th at 7 PM



Openings and Previews 

Event: After Midnight

Venue: Brooks Atkinson Theatre

Warren Carlyle directs and choreographs this musical, which reimagines the shows of the Cotton Club. The musical arrangements of Duke Ellington, performed by the Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars, led by Wynton Marsalis, are combined with the poetry of Langston Hughes. Fantasia plays the Special Guest Star. Previews begin Oct. 18.


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(Chris Jones’s article appeared in the Chicago Tribune, 10/11/13.)

Detroit might be America's Motor City, but the "Motortown" of Simon Stephens' bleak, searing, deeply disturbing play of the same name is Dagenham, a working-class London exurb, famous for being the British home of the Ford Motor Co. More recently, the postindustrial Dagenham, dangling just beyond the string of the cultural and economic pearls of London, has been fertile recruiting ground for the British military, especially when it was looking for volunteers to go to Iraq.

Steep Theatre is a Chicago company increasingly known for its uncompromising acting, and Lord knows this particular production, directed by Robin Witt, more than enhances that reputation. It also has been the main Chicago home for Stephens. Also the author of "Harper Regan," "Punk Rock" and "Pornography" and similarly popular at Griffin Theatre, he was produced often in Chicago far earlier than in New York, where his plays are just now beginning to make inroads. He is a phenomenally talented writer, a formative risk-taker unstinting in theme as well as compassionate, warm and kind.,0,3226995.column


(Dalya Alberge’s article appeared in the Observer, 10/12.)

The hand of William Shakespeare has been identified in scenes or passages in three Elizabethan plays previously believed to have been written by others, following linguistic "fingerprinting" tests and other new research.

Arden of Faversham, The Spanish Tragedy and Mucedorus will now be included in a major edition of collaborative plays bearing the Bard's name. Jonathan Bate, a renowned Shakespeare scholar, said the evidence has convinced him that specific parts within those plays must have had input from Shakespeare.

The three plays will be included in the edition which he is co-editing with other scholars in a collaboration between the Royal Shakespeare Company and Palgrave Macmillan. Plays known as the "Shakespeare Apocrypha" have long intrigued scholars, with claims and counter-claims over whether he could have written dramas beyond the 36 in the First Folio, the edition put together by his fellow actors after his death. Arguments over plays beyond the "authorised" collection have raged since the 18th century. The strengthened evidence will be outlined in the book, William Shakespeare and Others: Collaborative Plays, to be published on 28 October.