Monthly Archives: January 2015


(Alexis Soloski’s interview appeared in The New York Times, 1/22; via Pam Green.)

Tonya Pinkins and Dianne Wiest sank into chairs at the back of the room after a recent rehearsal of the play “Rasheeda Speaking.” Ms. Pinkins sipped a mug of tea; Ms. Wiest wrapped herself in a gray cardigan. The antagonism of the last scene they’d worked lingered.

“I will say,” Ms. Pinkins said, “this has been very hard to shake off.”

“It’s been hard.” Ms. Wiest agreed.

Ms. Pinkins added, “I’ve gone home and been kind of depressed.”

“Very depressed,” Ms. Wiest said. “And I’m the white person.”

A dark comedy about racism both covert and obvious, written by the Chicago playwright Joel Drake Johnson, “Rasheeda Speaking” begins previews Tuesday at the Signature Center in a New Group production directed by Cynthia Nixon.


(via the Public Theater)

This summer, The Public Theater charms New York residents and visitors alike with two of Shakespeare’s final and most epic works, known for their mystery and mysticism, scorching rivalries, brilliant wit, and dramatic love affairs. 


Academy Award nominee Sam Waterston ("Newsroom," "Law & Order," The Public’s King Lear) returns in THE TEMPEST, Shakespeare’s classic about young love, old enemies and the eternal magic of storytelling. Exiled to a fantastical island, Prospero unleashes a churning storm to shipwreck the traitor brother who stole his throne and settle the score once and for all. But bitter revenge is upended by newfound love in this sublime masterpiece that proves we are all “such stuff as dreams are made on.” Tony Award nominee Michael Greif (Romeo and Juliet, Our Lady of Kibeho, If/Then, Next to Normal) directs. May 27 – July 5


Tony Award winner Daniel Sullivan (King Lear, The Comedy of Errors, Proof) directs the Shakespearean fairy tale CYMBELINE. Princess Imogen’s fidelity is put to the royal test when her disapproving father banishes her soul mate. Cross-dressing girls and cross-dressing boys, poisons and swordfights and dastardly villains all take the stage in this enchanting story about the conquering power of love. July 27 – August 23



(from AFP, 1/30.)

Washington (AFP) – US poet, songwriter and singer Rod McKuen, a multiple Academy Award nominee, has died at the age of 81, US media reported.

McKuen died on Thursday in Los Angeles of respiratory arrest after suffering from pneumonia, friend and producer Jim Pierson said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

His work included the Academy Award-nominated song "Jean" for the 1969 film "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" and he was nominated for an Oscar again in 1971 for his work on the animated film "A Boy Named Charlie Brown.";_ylt=AwrBJR6Ru8tUXUIAgO7QtDMD



(Ben Brantley’s article appeared in The New York Times, 1/22.)

These are the woods that you want to get lost in, a place you’ll find buried treasures that you didn’t even know existed. Fiasco Theater’s truly enchanting production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s “Into the Woods,” which opened on Thursday night at the Laura Pels Theater, makes the best case ever for a musical that interpreters have been trying to get right since the show was first staged in the mid-1980s.

Directed by Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, but obviously the product of a fully collaborative troupe, this “Into the Woods” reminds us that it takes a village to give myths enduring life. The particular myths under consideration here are ones you’ve known since before you could read, involving archetypes like Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and the beanstalk-climbing Jack.


(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 1/29.)

Plays with fat star-parts tend to survive. Even if the class antagonism in Peter Barnes’s 1968 extravaganza now looks a bit blatant, the piece has a juicy lead role that Peter O’Toole played on screen with mercurial fervour. Following in his footsteps, James McAvoy lends Jamie Lloyd’s revival a no less astonishing physical bravura.

McAvoy plays Jack, the 14th Earl of Gurney, who, believing he is the New Testament God, is immediately classified as mad. “How do you know you are God?” he is asked. “Simple,” he replies. “When I pray to Him, I find I am talking to myself.”

Plots by the family to strip Jack of his title are, however, foiled by an enthusiastic therapist who restores him to what passes for sanity. Once Jack joins the ranks of the hangers and floggers, espouses Old Testament values and announces “there is no love without fear”, he is ready to take his place in the House of Lords.



(Alexis Soloski’s article appeared in The New York Times, 1/26; via Pam Green.)

If you have to be haunted, you really couldn’t ask for a nicer sort of ghost. The specter at the heart of Hugh Leonard’s semi-autobiographical play “Da,” revived by the Irish Repertory Theater, pours piping cups of tea and proffers packs of cigarettes. Most of the time he lounges in

This friendly ghoul is the Da of the title, of course, a retired gardener, jovial and unambitious. Just because he’s been laid to rest doesn’t mean he has any intention of leaving alone his adopted son, Charlie (an adept Ciaran O’Reilly, who has played the role in an earlier revival). Charlie, a successful writer, can hardly wait to zip back to civilized London. But as he sorts through his father’s papers and photographs and unused razors, he’s bothered by a fright of ghosts — not only his adoptive da (Paul O’Brien), but also his adoptive mother (Fiana Toibin), his former boss (Sean Gormley), his younger self (Adam Petherbridge) — crowding around the kitchen table.




The Vineyard presents the world première of a musical directed by Michael Mayer, with music and lyrics by Peter Lerman, a book by Lerman and Mayer, and choreography by Steven Hoggett, about a hardware-store clerk who wants to be a superhero, and a superhero who wishes she could live a normal life. Previews begin Jan.

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·         Fish in the Dark

Larry David stars in this comedy, which he wrote, about a death in the family. Also starring Rita Wilson, Jayne Houdyshell, Ben Shenkman, Jake Cannavale, Lewis J.

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·         Pretty Filthy

The Civilians presents a new piece, by Bess Wohl, about the adult-entertainment industry. With music and lyrics by Michael Friedman; Steve Cosson directs.

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For Five Weeks Only . . .  New York’s Resident Classical Company The Pearl Theatre Company . . .  in association with the Shakespeare Society . . . .  presents Shakespeare’s Rare and Beautiful Tale of Late Romance . . . The Winter’s Tale . . . a wise and winsome fairytale, in which nothing is truly lost—certainly not love—if only we know where to seek it . . . Directed by Shakespeare Society Artistic Director Michael Sexton . . .   You know the story . . .  a moment of jealousy and an act of anger lead to a lifetime of regret for Leontes, the rash king who destroys his family on a whim . . .  But as time glides gently on, fate, love, and a few true friends, are ready to work wonders to restore happiness to his world . . . The cast includes Pearl Resident Acting Company (RAC) members Jolly Abraham (Hermione), Rachel Botchan (Paulina), Bradford Cover (Polixenes) and Dominic Cuskern (Shepherd/Antigonus). Company members are joined by Steve Cuiffo (Autolycus), Adam Green (Clown), Peter Francis James (Leontes), Tom Nelis (Camillo), Imani Jade Powers (Perdita) and James Udom (Florizel) . . . the creative team includes Brett J. Banakis (Sets), Bradley King (Lighting), Tilly Grimes (Costumes), John D. Ivy (Sound), Michael Palmer (Production Stage Manager) and original music composed by Raymond Bokhour . . . Preview Performances: Feb. 10 & 17 at 7pm; Feb. 11, 15, 18 & 21 2pm; Feb. 12-14 & 19-21 at 8pm
Opening Night Benefit Performance: Feb. 22 at 7pm . . . Regular Performances: Tuesday at 7pm; Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2pm; and Thursday–Saturday at 8pm through March 15 . . . Curtain-Up Classics Informal Lecture: Saturday, Feb. 21, 11am, free . . . Tuesday Talkbacks with Cast & Crew: Tuesday Mar. 3 and Mar. 10, post-performance, free with admission . . . Actors’ Night ($20 Rush Tickets with any valid performance or design Union Card): Friday Feb 13, 8pm . . . School Night ($20 Rush Tickets for educators with a valid educator email address): Friday, Feb. 20, 8pm . . . Buzz Nights ($20 Rush Tickets and Free Beer): Thursdays, Feb. 12; Feb 19; Feb. 25; Mar 5; Mar 12

The Pearl Theatre (555 West 42nd Street)
Tickets are $65 ($50 previews, $39 seniors, $20 student rush, $20 Thursday rush, $100 Opening Night); 212.563.9261
2 hours, 30 minutes

Press contact: John Wyszniewski at Blake Zidell & Associates



(from The New York Times, 1/26; via Pam Green.)

It’s too cold to go out. Your remote is working, but forget flipping though the channels: let us guide you. Your stereo is searching for something better than what you’re listening to now? You need a new book? We hear you. Here are our recommendations for what’s streaming on TV, what should be rocking your apartment and great reads to curl up with.

You want to be a detective:

CRACKER Long before David Tennant in “Broadchurch” or Matthew McConaughey in “True Detective,” Robbie Coltrane was perfecting the damaged crime solver as the criminal psychologist Fitz Fitzgerald in this mid-1990s British series. All 25 episodes are available at Acorn TV and Amazon.

THE FALL The second season of this dark British crime drama, set in Northern Ireland and starring Gillian Anderson, recently went up exclusively on Netflix. The two seasons represent a perfect one-day, 11-episode binge.



(Elizabeth Kolbert’s article appeared in the New Yorker, 2/2.)

Sometime in the spring of the year 59, the emperor Nero decided to murder his mother. As you can imagine, the two were not on good terms. In a gesture designed to appear conciliatory, Nero invited his mother, Agrippina, to join him at a festival in Baiae, a resort town near present-day Naples. During the festivities, he treated her with great affection. Then, when it was time for her to leave, he presented her with a gift—a beautifully appointed boat to ferry her up the coast.

The gift was supposed to be a death trap. But just about everything that should have gone wrong didn’t. The deck of the ship fell in, yet, rather than killing Agrippina, it crushed one of her attendants. The hull, too, had been crafted to break apart; in all the confusion, though, it failed to do so. The rowers tried to overturn the ship. Once again, the effort fell short. Agrippina and a second attendant, Acerronia, swam free. Acerronia—“rather unwisely,” as Tacitus puts it—kept screaming that she was Agrippina and needed help. The rowers rushed over and bashed her on the head with their oars. The real Agrippina slipped away. She was picked up by a fishing boat and deposited safely onshore. When Nero learned that his mother had survived, he sent his minions to stab her.