♦ The big theater news this week (aside from the Tonys, of course – and in case you missed them, we’ve listed the winners at the end of this post) was the announcement by both Delta Air Lines and Bank of America that they are withdrawing corporate sponsorship of the Public Theater following the opening of the theater’s production of Julius Caesar that depicts the assassinated Roman leader as a Donald Trump-like political figure. “No matter what your political stance may be, the graphic staging of Julius Caesar at this summer’s Free Shakespeare in the Park does not reflect Delta Air Lines’ values,” Delta’s statement said. A spokeswoman for Bank of America stated: “The Public Theater chose to present Julius Caesar in a way that was intended to provoke and offend.” Bank of America later said it would withdraw financial support from the production alone, rather than the theatre itself. The New York Times review on Friday said the show’s “depiction of a petulant, blondish Caesar in a blue suit, complete with gold bathtub and a pouty Slavic wife, takes onstage Trump-trolling to a startling new level.” If you’d like to see for yourself what all the fuss is about, you’d better hurry. The production closes June 18.
♦ Off Broadway’s Pearl Theatre Company announced last week that after 33 seasons, the theater will cease all operations as of June 7 due to long-standing financial difficulties. A statement on the company’s website stated: “Despite this company’s continuing critical acclaim, record-setting audiences, and landmark institutional support, the efforts of the artists, staff, and Board of Trustees simply could not outpace the economic reality of operating a mid-size theatre company in Manhattan amid a crowded field of worthy causes.” The theater, known for its revivals and classic works, just ended its third season under artistic director Hal Brooks. The Pearl Theatre is located at 555 West 42nd Street, New York. The future of the 160-seat theatre space is yet to be determined.
♦ Off Broadway’s New York Theatre Workshop will kick off its 2017-18 season this fall with the New York premiere of Amy Herzog’s new play, Mary Jane, which tells the story of a mother caring for her chronically sick child. Direction is by Anne Kauffman. Kauffman will also direct the theater’s next offering, a folk-punk musical from indie music duo The Bengsons called Hundred Days, about what you would do if you only had 100 days to live. The production features music by The Bengsons, a book by Sarah Gancher and choreography by Sonya Tayeh. In the new year, NYTW will present the world premiere of An Ordinary Muslim by Hammaad Chaudry, about two siblings struggling to straddle the gap between their Pakistani heritage and their British upbringing. Jo Bonney directs. Next, Caryl Churchill returns to NYTW with her play Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, directed by Rachel Chavkin. Closing out the season will be the New York premiere of The House That Will Not Stand by Marcus Gardley, inspired by Federico García Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba, with direction by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Performances dates for all plays will be announced at a later time.
♦ A new musical from Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire, based on William Wycherley’s Restoration comedy The Country Wife, will be given two concert readings June18-19 as part of Red Bull Theater Revelation Readings series. According to Maltby, the story will be reset in pre-Civil War New Orleans and will emphasize the cultural diversity of “the most European city in America” at the time. “The population was a bouillabaisse of French settlers, Southern aristocrats, American adventurers, French Arcadians—the Cajuns—from Canada, Creoles, mulattos, educated refugees from the revolution in Haiti, and wealthy blacks who actually owned plantations,” said Maltby in a statement. The cast will include Louis Butelli, Lilli Cooper, Ed Dixon, John Edwards, Carson Elrod, Kim Exum, Ann Harada, T. Oliver Reid, Donald Webber Jr., LaVon Fisher-Wilson and Maria-Christina Oliveras.
♦ Speaking of new musicals by Broadway vets, Off-Broadway’s Atlantic Theater Company has announced the world premiere of Stephen Trask, Peter Yanowitz and Rick Elice’s new musical This Ain’t No Disco as part of its 2017-18 season. Production notes for the show state: “Set against the grit, the garbage strikes, the graffiti of 1979 New York City, the musical tells the story of drifters and dreamers searching for their place in the night world of Studio 54 and Mudd Club.” Performances will run May 11–July 1, 2018 with direction by Cullman. Prior to its run at Atlantic Theater next year, the musical will receive a developmental workshop this summer as part of Vassar and New York Stage and Film’s 33rd annual Powerhouse Theater season.
♦ And finally, the Drama League will hold a Summer Professional Theater Intensive from Aug. 15-21, its first-ever pre-professional training program for college-aged actors and directors. The workshop will employ Broadway and Off-Broadway teaching artists, who will help prepare aspiring young actors and directors for a career in the theatre industry. The workshop, which will include classes in text analysis and audition protocols, will start at The Drama League Center in New York City, before moving to Stump Sprouts Retreat Center in Hawley, Massachusetts. Applications are now open.
Written by Richard Hart
2017 Tony Awards
Oscar and Tony Award winner Kevin Spacey did a terrific job last night hosting the 70th annual Tony Awards, showcasing his talent for mimicry with impressions of Johnny Carson and Bill Clinton, among others. The evening was less political that last year’s ceremony, which took place in the wake of the Orlando shootings, due perhaps to a bit of resistance fatigue. Bette Midler, winner for Lead Actress in a Musical, gave the evening’s longest and perhaps most impassioned speech, encouraging audiences to see her show. “This thing has the ability to lift your spirits in these terrible, terrible times,” she said. “Come and see it.”
The big winner for the evening was the musical Dear Evan Hanson, a heartfelt show about a lovable high school outsider that picked up six awards, including best musical, lead actor Ben Platt, featured actress Rachel Bay Jones, score and book. In the play category, a visibly shocked Rebecca Taichman’s won for direction of Indecent, beating out favorites Sam Gold and Bartlett Sher, while J.T. Roger’s Oslo took home the prize for best play. Laurie Metcalf won Lead Actress in a Play for A Doll’s House, Part 2 and Kevin Kline won Lead Actor in a Play for the revival of Noel Coward’s Present Laughter.
Here are the 2017 Tony Awards winners:
Best Musical – Dear Evan Hansen
Best Play – Oslo
Best Revival of a Musical – Hello, Dolly!
Best Revival of a Play – Jitney
Lead Actress in a Musical – Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!
Lead Actor in a Musical – Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen
Lead Actress in a Play – Laurie Metcalf, A Doll’s House, Part 2
Lead Actor in a Play – Kevin Kline, Present Laughter
Featured Actress in a Musical – Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen
Featured Actor in a Musical – Gavin Creel, Hello, Dolly!
Featured Actress in a Play – Cynthia Nixon, The Little Foxes
Featured Actor in a Play – Michael Aronov, Oslo
Direction of a musical – Christopher Ashley, Come From Away
Direction of a play – Rebecca Taichman, Indecent
Book of a musical – Steven Levenson, Dear Evan Hansen
Original score (music and/or lyrics) – Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, Dear Evan Hanson
Orchestrations – Alex Lacamoire, Dear Evan Hansen
Choreography – Andy Blankenbuehler, Bandstand
Scenic design of a musical – Mimi Lien, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Scenic design of a play – Nigel Hook, The Play That Goes Wrong
Costume design of a musical – Santo Loquasto, Hello, Dolly!
Costume design of a play – Jane Greenwood, The Little Foxes
Lighting design of a musical – Bradley King, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Lighting design of a play – Christopher Akerlind, Indecent
Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theater – James Earl Jones
For a complete list of all the nominees and winners, please visit the American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards site at http://www.tonyawards.com/index.html.