Monthly Archives: September 2013



Openings and Previews



Event: Anthem

The Austin Shakespeare Company presents a stage adaptation of the Ayn Rand novel, adapted by Jeff Britting, curator of the Ayn Rand Archives. In previews. Opens Oct. 7.

Get Tickets


Event: Bad Jews

Roundabout revives its hit from last year, by Joshua Harmon, about a showdown between the devout and secular grandchildren of a Holocaust survivor. Daniel Aukin directs. Starring Tracee Chimo, Philip Ettinger, Molly Ranson, and Michael Zegen. In previews. Opens Oct. 3.



Event: Betrayal

Rachel Weisz, Daniel Craig, and Rafe Spall star in this 1978 play by Harold Pinter, directed by Mike Nichols, about a woman who is cheating on her husband with his best friend. In previews.

Get Tickets


Event: Big Fish

Norbert Leo Butz, Kate Baldwin, and Bobby Steggert star in this musical adaptation of the novel by Daniel Wallace, in which a man tries to determine whether the tall tales of his dying, estranged father are true. Andrew Lippa wrote the music and lyrics, and John August, who wrote the screenplay for the 2003 film adaptation, wrote the book. Susan Stroman directs and choreographs. In previews. Opens Oct. 6.

Get Tickets


Primary Stages presents the world première of a play conceived by Fran Kirmser and written and directed by Eric Simonson, about the history and legacy of the New York Yankees. The cast includes Francois Battiste as Reggie Jackson, Chris Henry Coffey as Joe DiMaggio, and Joe Pantoliano as Yogi Berra. In previews. Opens Oct. 8.

Get Tickets



Continue reading


You Never Can Tell

Duration: 2 hours

First broadcast: Sunday 29 September 2013

Listen at: 

A starry cast in George Bernard Shaw's dazzling romantic comedy from 1897, in a new production directed by Martin Jarvis. The play follows a battle of the sexes beside the seaside, with marital mayhem and social strategy. The last in three classic plays in Drama on 3 that explore the changing role of women at the end of the nineteenth century. Shaw pokes fun at many of the progressive ideas he truly advocated.

Mrs Clandon (Rosalind Ayres) celebrated New Woman, returns to England from Madeira, with her three grown children. In Torbay they meet Valentine (Jamie Bamber), an impecunious dentist. The offspring know nothing of their father, but they'll need one in British polite society. Valentine introduces the Clandons to his landlord, Mr Crampton (Christopher Neame.) Guess who he turns out to be?

Valentine is besotted by gorgeous Gloria Clandon (Sophie Winkleman). But in accepting him it's clear who'll be wearing the Shavian trousers. Matters are resolved by old William-the-waiter (Ian Ogilvy), his QC son (Julian Holloway) and cynical solicitor (Adam Godley.) Gloria's feisty twin siblings (Moira Quirk and Matthew Wolf) satirise everybody and it's barrister Bohun whom Gloria allows to have the first dance. As the waiter remarks: 'You never can tell, sir.' Richard Sisson's piano arrangements reflect the sea-breezy emotions of these engaging characters.

Valentine ….. Jamie Bamber
William ….. Ian Ogilvy
Fergus Crampton ….. Christopher Neame
Finch McComas ….. Adam Godley
Mrs Clandon ….. Rosalind Ayres
Gloria Clandon ….. Sophie Winkleman
Dolly Clandon ….. Moira Quirk
Phillip Clandon …. Matthew Wolf
Boon QC ….. Julian Holloway
Jessie ….. Paula Jane Newman
Jo ….. Darren Richardson

Piano music arranged and performed by Richard Sisson

Sound design, Wesley Dewberry
Director, Martin Jarvis

A Jarvis and Ayres Production



(Chris Jones’s article appeared in the Chicago Tribune, 9/22.)

I was listening to the radio Saturday afternoon as I drove to the Steppenwolf Theatre Company: Reports were coming in of the shooting in a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. A kids' cooking competition had been going on. “A lot of children were involved,” I heard a reporter for the Daily Telegraph say, dryly, as I locked my car. He was not exaggerating. By Sunday morning, it was clear several children had died, and a 2-year-old was among the wounded.

Here in Chicago, of course, you do not have to look to Africa to see children impacted by violence and war: 3-year-old Deonta Howard was shot in the head Thursday night in Cornell Square Park, less than 12 miles from Steppenwolf.

Children have always died in wars, and, make no mistake, there is a war going on within Chicago city limits. And children have always watched adults they love die — or be imprisoned, tortured, transported, gassed, chased away, exiled or otherwise removed from their lives.,0,7039630.column



(Ben Brantley’s article appeared in The New York Times, 9/26.)

A onetime Southern belle, long ago abandoned by her husband, the father of her children, Amanda is a classic Williams woman, tethered to a beautiful past and struggling to stay on her feet in an ugly present. You can see why pretty much every formidable actress of a certain age has wanted to have a go at her. The list of those I’ve seen, onstage and on screen, includes Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, Julie Harris, Joanne Woodward, Katharine Hepburn, Sally Field and Jessica Lange.

Some of them, though fewer than you would think, were good. Ms. Jones is great. She gives the foolish, garrulous Amanda — forever nagging her damaged children to be successes and nattering about the social triumphs of her youth — a towering, pathos-steeped gallantry. She is big because the world shrank on her, and she keeps trying to pretend that it hasn’t, even when she’s reduced to selling magazine subscriptions on the phone.


(Patricia Cohen’s article appeared in The New York Times, 9/26.)

You might not know it from the sold-out crowds at Broadway’s big-budget musicals like “The Book of Mormon” or “Wicked,” but theater is the artistic discipline in America that is losing audience share at the fastest rate in recent years.

According to a survey on public participation scheduled to be released on Thursday by the National Endowment for the Arts, one out of every three Americans, or about 78 million people, visited an art exhibition or attended a performing arts event in 2012. That figure represents a drop across
the board since the last survey in 2008, but the slide was steepest for musicals and plays. For musicals, the 9 percent drop in the attendance rate between 2008 and 2012 was the first statistically significant change in that category in more than 25 years. Straight plays fared even worse, with a 12
percent drop over the same period, a figure that has contributed to a whopping 33 percent rate of decline over the past decade.



Openings and Previews 

Event: Betrayal

Venue: Ethel Barrymore Theatre

Rachel Weisz, Daniel Craig, and Rafe Spall star in this 1978 play by Harold Pinter, directed by Mike Nichols, about a woman who is cheating on her husband with his best friend. In previews.

Get Tickets


Event: The Snow Geese

Venue: Samuel J. Friedman Theatre

Mary-Louise Parker stars in this new play, written by Sharr White and co-produced by Manhattan Theatre Club and MCC, about a recent widow whose son will soon go off to fight in the First World War. Daniel Sullivan directs the world première. Also with Danny Burstein and Victoria Clark. In previews.


(Lyn Gardner's article appeared in the Guardian, 9/22.)

The Party plays plenty of mind games in George Orwell's novel about a world ruled by the all-seeing Big Brother, where love is forbidden, history erased and language twisted. Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan, co-creators of this stage version, are not afraid of playing a few of their own in their pitilessly brilliant retelling of the doomed love affair between Winston and Julia.

Drawing on Orwell's crucial appendix entitled "The Principles of Newspeak", which follows the apparent end of the narrative, the show places past, present and future in constant dialogue. At times it feels like a vision of tomorrow, and at others like something half-remembered. Chloe Lamford's clever design offers the retro alongside the futuristic; the figure of a small child is frequently glimpsed, sometimes a sinister Midwich-Cuckoo presence, and at others a symbol of the hope Winston places in the children of the future. A snatch of the rhyme Oranges and Lemons is heard in various forms, from a hum to a ringtone.



The Father

Duration: 1 hour, 30 minutes

First broadcast:  Sunday 22 September 2013

Listen at:

August Strindberg's notorious drama from 1890 is re-assessed in an uncompromising new version by Laurie Slade. Part of Radio 3's series of classic plays that tackle the revolutionary changes in the role of women at the end of the nineteenth century.

The play charts an explosive power-struggle between a married couple and was Strindberg's response to the most famous gender drama of the day, Ibsen's A Doll's House.

This new version by Laurie Slade makes the The Father an uncompromising and psychologically astute portrayal of the battle of the sexes in a nineteenth-century middle-class marriage, with surprising insights into issues such as gender, the meaning of marriage, parental attitudes to child education, and the conflicts between science and religion.

This production was originally staged at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry with award-winning actors Joe Dixon and Katy Stephens as The Captain and his wife Laura.

An uneasy stand-off exists between an army Captain and his wife. A disagreement over the future of their daughter, Bertha, triggers an all-out war. Laura will stop at nothing to gain control of her daughter's education and when she suggests to the Captain that he may not actually be the girl's father at all, she sets a chain of events in motion, from which nobody escapes unharmed.

The Captain ….. Joe Dixon
Laura ….. Katy Stephens
Bertha ….. Holly Earl
The Doctor ….. Patrick Toomey
The Pastor ….. Laurence Kennedy
The Nurse ….. Barbara Young
Nöjd ….. Staten Cousins-Roe

Director: Joe Harmston
Adaptation: Laurie Slade



Zachary Spicer, a Sherlock Holmes in black cape and mask, walks off with the Pearl Theatre’s production of Shaw’s 1875 seaside comedy and seventh play (now through October 13 at 555 West 42nd Street), chiding the ensemble like an Obama IRS officer, told to keep harassment to a minimum, “Oh, yes, you did; you may not know it, but you did.”  It’s a “theatrical” role and a stylish interpretation (Shaw asks for a hefty middle-aged lawyer and Spicer is lean and young, working minimally and pursuing the acting adage to “walk on the stage with a secret”). It’s also the jolt of stage magnetism we’ve been waiting for in an otherwise well-meaning, if mild, evening of contrivances, missing some of the fizz we can expect from high comedy or Shaw, much less the show’s advertising poster:  a champagne bottle just uncorked.  The lack of a buzz may not entirely be the fault of the actors or the director–the original 1900 production confounded the original cast, who were unsure how to play the indecisive and contradictory roles, caught between social acceptability, intellectual thought, and heart. Shaw canceled the original production after six matinees (he thought the actors “lacerated” his “very soul”).  However, five years later it would return to roaring acclaim. Part of the continued appeal (a British You Never Can Tell will also be broadcast this October on BBC Radio 3) might be the proto-Woody Allen neurotics, the wimpy lead, a dentist (Sean McNall), now on his last nickel, intellectualizing love before (Amelia Pedlow) the “New Woman” (one that Shaw confessed attracted and scared him):  

          May I ask just this one question? Is your objection an objection to marriage as an institution, or merely an objection to marrying me personally?

Continue reading


(Alfred Hickling’s article appeared in the Guardian, 9/19.)

It is now fairly common to see behemoth Broadway musicals recalibrated as bijou, actor-musician pieces. Even so, you have to admire the chutzpah of the Coliseum for nipping in and becoming the first to claim the UK rights to Kander and Ebb's masterpiece when the all-conquering West End franchise finally closed last year.