Category Archives: Events




By Marit Shuman

There’s a fountain in the Piazza Trilussa, in the Trastevere, where people can sit and watch live performance. 

The fountain is called fontana di Ponte Sisto, which refers to the bridge right across from the piazza.



Generally, there is music being played at all hours or events like this one, which was filmed on Sunday, June 18, 2017.


The story of Persephone is being reenacted, using dancers on stilts and plenty of pyrotechnics.


The ancient story tells how Persephone is abducted by Pluto, the god of the Underworld.  


Her mother, Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, heartbroken at the loss of her daughter, plunges the world into darkness. 


Finally, Persephone is found and allowed to resurface on earth, bringing spring. 

But, because she has eaten the food of Hades, pomegranate seeds, she must return again every year, as the seasons change to winter.



Photos:  Fountain: Starhotels; Ponte Sisto: Wikipedia.




(Manish Mehta’s article appeared on ABC News, 6/34; via the Drudge Report.)

The son of a welder from this city’s slums had a dream few Indians dared to dream — to dance with the New York City Ballet.

In a few months, that dream may be a little bit closer as 15-year-old Amiruddin Shah begins four years of training at the prestigious American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School.

“I never thought I would become a ballet dancer,” Shah said, though he knew from the age of 6 that he loved to move with music. “India is not on the ballet map, and I want to take India to an even higher level.”

Shah began studying ballet less than three years ago when Israeli-American instructor Yehuda Maor was invited by the Danceworx Academy to teach in India — a country with no special ballet academies.

(Read more)



Sherman Yellen was nominated for a Tony Award for his book for the 1970 musical The Rothschilds, with a score by Fiddler on the Roof songwriters Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, which he and Harnick have recently reimagined as Rothschild & Sons. Sherman wrote the libretto for the Will Holt and Gary William Friedman musical Treasure Island, winner of the Broadway World Best Regional Musical Award (2012). Among his many theater works is his satirical sketch “Delicious Indignities,” which appeared in the New York and London revue Oh! Calcutta! His straight plays on and off Broadway include New Gods for LoversStrangers, and December Fools.  

Sherman was librettist and lyricist for Josephine Tonight, an original musical he wrote with the late composer Wally Harper, about the early life of Josephine Baker, which The Chicago Sun-Times called “a shining new musical” and which the D.C. press praised for being “so hot that it sizzles.”

In his youth he worked as a librettist with legendary composer Richard Rodgers. Together with Sheldon Harnick they recently revised the Rodgers-Harnick musical Rex about Henry VIII. This new version had a successful premiere in Toronto.  Yellen’s teleplays have won him two Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award, first for his John Adams, Lawyer in the PBS series The Adams Chronicles, and later for An Early Frost, a groundbreaking drama about AIDS in America broadcast on NBC, as well as an Emmy Nomination for his Hallmark Hall of Fame version of Beauty and the Beast starring George C. Scott. Sherman’s screenplay adaptations of classic novels range from Great Expectations to Phantom of the Opera. He has received awards in Arts and Letters from Bard College, and he is a frequent contributor of essays on the arts, literature, and politics to online publications such as The Huffington Post.

Sherman recently published his autobiographical novella Cousin Bella–The Whore of Minsk, available in a volume, which also includes his holiday short story A Christmas Lilly,” and a collection of three plays, December Fools and Other Plays (December Fools * Budapest * Gin Lane).  Sherman is married, the father of two sons, Nicholas and Christopher, and has three much loved granddaughters. He has lived in London and Los Angeles, worked in Berlin and Budapest, but home was, is, and always will be New York City.

Sherman Yellen talks, with SV’s Bob Shuman, about his new memoir Spotless: Memories of a New York City Childhood.  The second part, of this three-part interview, will appear, 6/28.

View ‘Spotless’ on Amazon: 

How are the Yellens, the Rothschilds, and the Adamses the same; how are they different?

When I write about people I can only do so by connecting them to myself, my character, my beliefs, and my experiences.   All three: the Yellens, the Rothschilds, and the Adamses come from very different cultures, but what they share is a deep belief that the world must be better, and we must work to make it so.   It may sound foolish but, while writing these very different works, I became John Adams, Mayer Rothschild, and the little boy who inhabits Spotless, the saga of my family.  If we don’t bring ourselves to everything we write, there can be little truth or passion in the writing–it becomes a dry history rather than drama.   The trick is to find some part of yourself in every character you write, even the nasty ones.  For a while I had the joy of being John Adams, Mayer Rothschild, and, late in life, the observant child that I was.   

Did you ever believe that you would excel in writing about families–or how would you describe your new book?

I’ve always had a deep interest in families–what holds them together, what pulls them apart–probably flowing from the closeness of my own family– both my first family, the one in Spotless,  and the second, with my wife, Joan, which has lasted nearly 64 years.  I am deeply interested in how we remember those who are gone:  For me, Spotless was an attempt to recall and recreate what I had experienced as a child of the ‘30s and ‘40s–to go deeper yet into that world of my grandparents and parents: their journey, from European and Lower East Side poverty to affluence, and the cost of it, for everyone who traveled that very American path.   It is summed up by critic/novelist Christopher Davis who said, “Spotless is a story of family love trapped in the old world’s hurricane of desire to share in American dreaming.”

How did you decide on the title?  Tell us about it.

The title Spotless has several meanings–it certainly has little to do with that questioning, and somewhat judgmental, child on the cover of the book, a born observer:  indeed, the title has more to do with my mother’s use of the word to describe the character of a friend, a housekeeper, or the kitchen floor in our apartment.  In a sense it was her ideal.  She came from a world where half her family died of TB–spots on the lung were the sign of that disease.  To be Spotless was, for her, to be safe, healthy, and to be alive.  

You write that hardship “doesn’t often make people better, it just makes them harder.” You are referring to the Depression and the ‘40s.  Have you noticed other periods when people became harder–and have there been times when they seemed otherwise? 

My observation is a generalization, and, like most, it is only partially true.   There are people who rise up from their own despair to help others in the worst of times, but I have observed that many who have suffered are locked into their own cages of suffering, and they have not found a key to escape.  I do believe that we learn and grow more from kindness than from suffering.  Corny?  Maybe.  But I have found the truth in this over a long lifetime.

What do you miss most about the New York you grew up in (the book brings up cultural references, such as Baby Peggy, Olive Thomas, and Sonja Henie)? 

I miss so many of the old pleasures of the old NYC: the trolley cars in the Bronx, the double-decker buses on Fifth Avenue, the old Schrafft’s restaurants, where my parents took me for a Sunday lunch, and I miss the mom-and-pop stores that helped to create the New York of neighborhoods–I miss the old Reuben’s Restaurant, of the 1950s, which allowed my wife and I to dine with our schnauzer Gus seated beside us–before the health police took charge of the city.   I love the spirit of that city, before real estate became the King of New York, driving the small shopkeepers out and bringing in those ubiquitous banks and chain stores.  And I miss the affordable price of a theater ticket, and the smaller, more human scale of the city.  An example of that is the old MOMA.  I would go there with my friends and girlfriends, as a teenager at the High School of Music & Art–a kid who loved fine art–and it was a welcoming place.  Today, it is a glass palace, an expensive tourist spot, not the warm, second home for many art-loving city kids.  Needless to say, I loved the New York that didn’t have a Trump Tower and kept its Trumps sequestered in Queens.

I am not one who subscribes to the idea that the high cost of living in NYC is proportionate with the cost of living in the past.  Baloney!  The world was affordable for those who were not in the one percent.  It was there for most of the residents–even during the Depression.  I miss the courtesies that made for a gentler city, and oh Lord, do I miss those marvelous movie theaters–growing up, as I did, in the golden age of Hollywood.  Nothing short of heaven itself can replicate the grandeur of the old Loew’s Paradise, on the Grand Concourse, and its sister theaters throughout the boroughs.    I do not miss the bigotry of that time, but we may have traded it in for the repellant hard-nosed ambition that I often see today.   But oh, the beauty of Central Park now–almost nothing compares with it in the past–and the everyday mix of races and classes in NYC makes me proud to be a New Yorker.

View ‘Spotless’ on Amazon:


(c) 2017 by Sherman Yellen (answers) and Bob Shuman (questions). All rights reserved.

Yellen family photos: Courtesy of the Sherman Yellen. All rights reserved.

Central Park: Fodor’s Travel Guides.


(Carly Maga’s article appeared in the Toronto Star, 6/17.)

Written by Euripides. Adapted and translated by Anne Carson. Directed by Jillian Keiley. Until Sept. 23 at the Tom Patterson Theatre, 111 Lakeside Dr., Stratford., 1-800-567-1600.

Is that a deep red leaf painted onto the stage of the Tom Patterson Theatre in Stratford, Ont. … or is that what I think it is?

In Jillian Keiley’s production of Bakkhai (otherwise known as Euripides’ The Bacchae), using the 2015 version adapted by Canadian poet Anne Carson, the double meaning of Shawn Kerwin’s set as both a representation of nature as well as female sexuality instantly demonstrates the director’s approach to this classic Greek tragedy. It transforms these two elements into one and the same: organic, primal, brutal if it needs to be. They are forever under the attempted control of man or mankind (this is a blazingly contemporary play, if not only for its discussion of sexual politics but also for the way man’s relationship to global warming is still somehow considered a debate).

There’s a reason why Dionysos holds his Bacchanalian rituals on mountaintops, uses a thyrsus staff of ivy and pine cones, and encourages his followers to drape themselves in grapevines. He also orchestrates the climax of Bakkhai to occur among the trees of Mount Cithaeron, bringing the doomed King Pentheus from the protection of the city and quite deliberately out of his element, into the elements.

(Read more)




“Simon Godwin crafts an appropriately unsettling rendition of this disturbing comedy of sexual politics.” – Metro NY



Directed by SIMON GODWIN

“Simon Godwin directs Shakespeare’s problematic play about repression, lust, and hypocrisy—a few human characteristics that never go out of style.” – The New York Times

“One of the best Shakespeare productions this Spring…Simon Godwin crafts an appropriately unsettling rendition of this disturbing comedy of sexual politics.” – Metro NY

“Simon Godwin has turned heads with his…innovative stagings of the Bard’s major works.” – Backstage

Simon Godwin, Associate Director, London’s National Theatre, stages Measure for Measure, William Shakespeare’s dark comedy about justice, faith, power, sex, and family. Jonathan Cake, Cara Ricketts, and Thomas Jay Ryan lead a company of 12 actors in a high-stakes conflict of clashing ideologies–a diverse world in which incompatible values collide.

Godwin sets this urgent play in a modern city becoming increasingly authoritarian. The production engages audiences directly with the play’s clashing arguments. Audience members will enter the theatre through hallways transformed into Mistress Overdone’s brothel; some will visit a café where Mariana sings; and twelve will sit around the stage as a jury.

Please note: Measure for Measure contains sexually explicit content which some may find inappropriate for those under 16 years of age.

For this production, the audience will enter the house via a backstage route within the Polonsky Shakespeare Center. Patrons are encouraged to come early to allow time for this element of the production. Please arrive by 1:30pm for matinee performances and 7:00pm for evening performances. 

Please note: Seats in Row AA are positioned apart from the main seating structure and directly in front of the stage. Click here to view the seating charts for this production.

Run Time: Approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes with one intermission


Join us for our free post-show conversations with artists and scholars that will take place after the

Saturday matinee performances on July 1 and July 8.

Join us for a party with the cast and crew after the evening performance on Sunday, June 18.

Every ticket purchased to that evening performance includes a drink ticket for use at the party.


(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 6/12.)

What determines our character? Nature or nurture? Genetic inheritance or social environment? It is an age-old debate, and Alice Birch now adds to it with this startling theatrical triptych about three generations of mothers and daughters. Whatever my doubts about Birch’s conclusion, the play is odd, arresting and, in Katie Mitchell’s immaculate production, highly original in its form.

Birch’s progress as a writer has been fascinating to watch. She delivered a short, sharp shock in 2014 with Revolt, She Said, Revolt Again which was a subversive, playful piece calling for revolution in everything from sexual relationships to the workplace. In 2015, the Orange Tree brought us an earlier Birch play, Little Light, about sibling rivalries, that suffered from too much withheld information. Since then Birch has written a polemical piece about porn, We Want You to Watch; the admired Ophelias Zimmer, which I missed; and the recent film Lady Macbeth, which transposed a Russian novel to Victorian England and got a five-star review from Peter Bradshaw.

(Read more)


(By Bob Dylan; via Pam Green; listen to Dylan give the speech using the link below; photo: Rolling Stone.)

When I received this Nobel Prize for Literature, I got to wondering exactly how my songs related to literature. I wanted to reflect on it and see where the connection was. I’m going to try to articulate that to you. And most likely it will go in a roundabout way, but I hope what I say will be worthwhile and purposeful.

If I was to go back to the dawning of it all, I guess I’d have to start with Buddy Holly. Buddy died when I was about eighteen and he was twenty-two. From the moment I first heard him, I felt akin. I felt related, like he was an older brother. I even thought I resembled him. Buddy played the music that I loved – the music I grew up on: country western, rock ‘n’ roll, and rhythm and blues. Three separate strands of music that he intertwined and infused into one genre. One brand. And Buddy wrote songs – songs that had beautiful melodies and imaginative verses. And he sang great – sang in more than a few voices. He was the archetype. Everything I wasn’t and wanted to be. I saw him only but once, and that was a few days before he was gone. I had to travel a hundred miles to get to see him play, and I wasn’t disappointed.

(Read more)


(Adam Hetrick’s article appeared in Playbill Online, 6/17.)

Dear Evan Hansen and the Bette Midler revival of Hello, Dolly! were among the night’s biggest winners.Dear Evan Hansen, the original Broadway musical that tells the story of an “invisible” high school outsider whose desperate longing for acceptance leads him to an unimaginable lie, was the most-awarded production of the 71st Annual Tony Awards, which were presented June 11 at Radio City Music Hall.

(Adam Hetrick’s article appeared in Playbill Online, 6/17.)

Nominated for nine awards, Dear Evan Hansen won in six categories, including Best Musical. Ben Platt took home the Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for his emotionally raw performance in the show’s title role, while Rachel Bay Jones won for Best Performance by an Actress in Featured Role a Musical for her performance as his mother Heidi. Oscar winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul also took home their first Tony Award for Best Original Score. Alex Lacamoire won his third Tony for Best Orchestrations, having previously won for Hamilton and In the Heights.

The celebrated Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly! starring Bette Midler took home four Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role a Musical for Midler. It was also awarded Best Performance by an Actor in Featured Role a Musical for Gavin Creel, as well as Best Costume Design of a Musical for Santo Loquasto.

Best Play was awarded to Oslo, the new work by J.T. Rogers, who made his Broadway debut with the political drama about high-level meetings between the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, which culminated in the signing of the historic 1993 Oslo Accords. Michael Aronov’s performance as Israeli diplomat Uri Savir earned him the Tony for Best Performance by an Actor in Featured Role a Play.

Additional honors went to Laurie Metcalf, who won her first Tony Award for her performance as Nora in Lucas Hnath’s A Doll’s House, Part 2, and Kevin Kline, who won his third Tony Award for Present Laughter. August Wilson’s Jitney—the last of his plays to receive its Broadway debut—won for Best Revival of a Play.

Click here for a full list of nominees.

The complete list of winners follows:

Best Musical
Dear Evan Hansen

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen

Best Revival of a Musical
Hello, Dolly!

Best Play
Oslo by J.T. Rogers

Best Revival of a Play
August Wilson’s Jitney

Best Choreography
Andy Blankenbuehler, Bandstand

Best Direction of a Musical
Christopher Ashley, Come From Away

Best Direction of a Play
Rebecca Taichman, Indecent

(Read more)


(Kate Feldman’s article appeared in the Daily News, 6/11; via the Drudge Report.)

Delta Airlines and Bank of America pulled out of their sponsorship of New York’s Public Theater on Sunday over a production of “Julius Caesar” that reimagines the main character as President Trump.

Shortly after Delta, who was a four-year sponsor, made its announcement, Bank of America yanked its support as well.

The Shakespeare in the Park play tells the story of the leader assassinated by Roman senators over the fear that he’s becoming too tyrannical, but rather than the original setting, the production stages Caesar (Gregg Henry) and his wife, Calpurnia, (Tina Benko) with Donald and Melania Trump lookalikes.

(Read more)


(Michael Paulson’s article appeared in The New York Times, 6/10; via Pam Green.)

Sunday, June 11 is the biggest night of the year for Broadway: the Tony Awards, when the industry honors the best work of the season. Just as important to Broadway producers: the millions watching on television who are potential ticket buyers.

For those of us on the theater desk — The New York Times has six theater staffers, including an editor, two critics, a photographer, a digital specialist, and a reporter (that’s me), as well as several invaluable freelancers — the Tony season began weeks ago, early on the morning of May 2, when this year’s nominations were announced.

(Read more)