Monday, September 27, 2021

B'way Update: Slave, Skin, and Sondheim

Tony nominees James Cusati-Moyer and
Ato Blankson-Wood in
Slave Play.
(Credit: Matthew Murphy)
Last night's long-delayed Tony Awards were full of surprises from the Paramount Plus portion of the ceremony ending ten minutes early to an extra four minutes of Big Brother cutting into the opening of the CBS portion of the show to the unexpected shut-out of Jeremy O. Harris' Slave Play. Harris' controversial play about sex, race, and oppression received the most Tony nominations ever for a straight play with 12 and was thought to be a shoe-in to sweep the dramatic categories. But, Slave lost all of its categories. Matthew Lopez's The Inheritance dominated the play portion of the awards including the top prize of Best Play while the new version of A Christmas Carol copped all of the design prizes for plays. Twitter exploded with complaints of racism. Some commenters stated that the Tonys were white-dominated and discriminatory since The Inheritance concerned white gay males (with a few incidental Hispanic and African-American roles) while Slave Play was told from a black perspective. Ironically, the winning playwright Lopez pointed out that he was the first Latinx playwright to win the Best Play Award in Tony history and that his community needed more representation on Broadway. 

For my part, I preferred Inheritance to Slave Play. Not because of the race of the playwright or of its characters, but because I found it a better constructed, better written work. Both plays had their flaws, but overall, Inheritance got my vote.

The Slave Play producers may have been counting on a win, since the very next day it was announced the show would be returning to Broadway in a limited run at the August Wilson Theater with previews beginning Nov. 23 and opening Dec. 2 for a run schedule to Jan. 23, 2022. 

Florence Eldridge, Tallulah Bankhead,
Frederic March and Montgomery Clift 
in the 1942 production of
The Skin of Our Teeth.
Also announced for Broadway this season is a revival of Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize winner The Skin of Our Teeth at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater with previews beginning March 31 in advance of an April 25 opening. Liliane Blain-Cruz (Pipeline) will make her Beaumont directing debut. This three-act fantasy-allegory follows the Antrobus family as they survive war, famine, floods, and the Ice Age. A perfect parable for this climate-challenged world. Tallulah Bankhead, Frederic March, Florence Eldridge, and Montgomery Clift starred in the original 1942 production, directed by Elia Kazan. Revivals include a 1998 Delacorte Theater production with John Goodman and Kristen Johnston and an Obie-winning version in 2017 at Theater for a New Audience. (I played the Montgomery Clift role in a non-Equity production in Philadelphia in the 1980s.)

Stephen Sondheim on Stephen Colbert's
Late Show

In other news, last week Stephen Sondheim made a rare TV appearance on Stephen Colbert's Late Show and announced he and playwright David Ives were working on a new musical called Square One and they planned to bring it to Broadway next season. He did not state the subject matter of the show, but according to a letter sent to a fan which has surfaced on social media, the show will be an adaptation of two Luis Bunuel films--The Exterminating Angel and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. Nathan Lane and Bernadette Peters participated in a recent workshop. If, indeed, this is the Bunuel adaptation, Ives and Sondheim did an earlier workshop of the show in 2016 for an Off-Broadway production which never was mounted.

Calendar of 2021-22 Broadway/Off-Broadway Shows
Sept. 28--Lackawanna Blues (MTC/Samuel Friedman); Aladdin (New Amsterdam)
Oct. 1--Diana premieres on Netflix
Oct. 3--Six (Brooks Atkinson)
Oct. 4--Letters of Suresh (Second Stage/Kiser)
Oct. 5--To Kill a Mockingbird (Shubert)
Oct. 7--Freestyle Love Supreme (Booth)
Oct. 8--Tina: The Tina Turner Musical (Lunt-Fontanne)
Oct. 9--Gazillion Bubbles Show (New World Stages)
Oct. 10--Chicken and Biscuits (Circle In the Square)
Oct. 11--Is This A Room (Lyceum)
Oct. 13--Girl from the North Country (Belasco)
Oct. 14--The Lehman Trilogy (Nederlander)
Oct. 14--Fairycakes (previews begin; Greenwich House Theater)
Oct. 16--Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations (Imperial)
Oct. 17--Dana H. (Lyceum)
Oct. 21--Jagged Little Pill (Broadhurst); The Woman in Black (McKittrick Hotel)
Oct. 22--Phantom of the Opera (Majestic)
Oct. 27--Caroline or Change (Roundabout/Studio 54)
Oct. 31--Thoughts of a Colored Man (Golden)
Nov. 3--Morning Sun (MTC/City Center)
Nov. 4--The Visitor (Public); Morning's at Seven (Theater at St. Clement's)
Nov. 5--The Book of Mormon (Eugene O'Neill)
Nov. 12--Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Lyric)
Nov. 14--Assassins (CSC)
Nov. 15--Jersey Boys (New World Stages)
Nov. 17--Diana (Longacre); Cullud Wattah (Public)
Nov. 18--Trouble in Mind (Roundabout/AA)
Nov. 22--Clyde's (Second Stage/Hayes)
Dec. 2--Slave Play (August Wilson)
Dec. 5--Mrs. Doubtfire (Stephen Sondheim)
Dec. 8--Kimberly Akimbo (Atlantic Theater Company)
Dec. 9--Company (Bernard B. Jacobs)
Dec. 11--Dear Evan Hansen (Music Box)
Dec. 13--Flying Over Sunset (LCT/Vivian Beaumont)
Jan. 12, 2022--Skeleton Crew (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)
Jan. 27--Intimate Apparel (LCT/Mitzi Newhouse)
Feb. 1--MJ: The Michael Jackson Musical (Neil Simon)
Feb. 10--The Music Man (Winter Garden)
Feb. 14--Sleep No More (McKittrick Hotel)
March 20--Paradise Square (Barrymore)
March 28--Plaza Suite (Hudson)
April 4--Take Me Out (Second Stage/Hayes)
April 7--The Minutes (Studio 54)
April 8--Beetlejuice (Marriott Marquis)
April 10--Birthday Candles (Roundabout/AA)
April 13--Harmony (Museum of Jewish Heritage)
April 14--To My Girls (Second Stage/Kiser)
April 19--How I Learned to Drive (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)
April 25--The Skin of Our Teeth (LTC/Vivian Beaumont)
May 17--Golden Shield (MTC/City Center)

Spring 2022 (dates TBA)
Funny Girl 
Romeo and Bernadette: A Musical Tale of Verona and Brooklyn (possibly)

No Dates Yet
(New Shows)
American Buffalo (Circle in the Square)
Sing Street

Fall 2022
1776 (Roundabout/AA)
Between Riverside and Crazy (Second Stage/Hayes)

Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death, The Piano Lesson, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

Dancin', Square One

2023 and Beyond
Game of Thrones, The Great Gatsby

Future--Our Town; Death of a Salesman; Funny Girl; K-pop the Broadway Musical; The Nanny; The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me; Smash; Some Like It Hot; Soul Train; A Strange Loop; The Who's Tommy

2021-22 Broadway Season Breakdown:
New Plays
Birthday Candles
Chicken and Biscuits
Dana H. (transfer from Off-Broadway)
Is This A Room (transfer from Off-Broadway)
The Lehman Trilogy (transfer from Off-Broadway)
The Minutes
Pass Over (previously presented Off-Broadway)
Skeleton Crew (previously presented Off-Broadway in a different production)
Thoughts of a Colored Man

Play Revivals
American Buffalo
How I Learned to Drive
Lackawanna Blues (previously produced Off-Broadway)
Plaza Suite
The Skin of Our Teeth
Slave Play (return engagement)
Take Me Out
Trouble in Mind

New Musicals
Flying Over Sunset
Mrs. Doubtfire
Paradise Square
Romeo and Bernadette: A Musical Tale of Verona and Brooklyn (possibly)
Sing Street (transfer from Off-Broadway, possibly)

Musical Revivals
Beetlejuice (return engagement)
Caroline or Change
Funny Girl 
Waitress (return engagement)

Bruce Springsteen on Broadway (return engagement)
David Bryne's American Utopia (return engagement)
Freestyle Love Supreme (return engagement)

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