♦ After spending last year at the Beacon Theatre, The American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards ceremony will return to historic Radio City Music Hall for its 71st annual presentation. The event will take place on June 11 and will air live on CBS, where the show has been broadcast since 1978. “Bringing Broadway’s biggest night back to Radio City Music Hall truly feels like returning home,” said Heather Hitchens, President of the American Theatre Wing, and Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League. The official eligibility cutoff date for this year’s awards is Apr. 27 for all Broadway productions. Nominations will be announced May 2.
♦ It looks like the London revival of the Dreamgirls, which opened Dec. 14 at the West End’s Savoy Theatre, will be making the move to Broadway sometime next season. The musical, with music and lyrics by Henry Krieger and a book by Tom Eyen, stars “Glee” alum Amber Riley as Effie White, the role originated on Broadway by Jennifer Holliday and on screen by Jennifer Hudson, and is directed and choreographed by Tony winner Casey Nicholaw. No word yet on a venue or dates for the New York run, but the London production has extended its booking through Oct. 21 of this year.
♦ Martin Sherman, author of Bent, has written a new play called Gently Down the Stream that will be produced by the Public Theater this spring. The show, directed by Sean Mathis, stars Tony winners Harvey Fierstein and Gabriel Ebert as a May-December couple who meet through an internet dating service. Christopher Sears completes the cast. Performances being Mar. 14 ahead of an Apr. 5 opening, with a limited run through Apr. 23 only.
♦ Irish Repertory Theatre will present Honor Molloy’s new play Crackskull Row as part of its current season. Directed by Kira Simring, the play tells the story of Rasher Moorigan and the secret he finally reveals to his mother after almost 30 years. The work stars Gina Costigan, Terry Donnelly, Colin Lane and John Charles McLaughlin. Performances run Feb. 3 through Mr. 19 at the W. Scott McLucas Studio Theatre. Ms. Molloy’s play was first presented at the Main Stage of the Workshop Theater in Sept. 2016 as part of Origin’s 1st Irish Theatre Festival.
♦ Tony winner Julie Taymor will direct a Broadway revival of David Henry Hwang‘s 1988 Tony-winning Best Play, M. Butterfly. Rehearsals are set to begin in August with an opening projected for sometime in the fall. Hwang’s play is based on the real-life account of a French diplomat in communist China who carried on an affair for many years with a Chinese “woman” opera singer, Song Liling, who turned out to be a man—and a spy. How the diplomat was fooled—and how he fooled himself—is the essence of the story. The original production starred John Lithgow and B.D. Wong, who won a Tony as Best Featured Actor in a play. No cast, theater or dates have been set for the upcoming revival.
♦ Yale School of Drama has named playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney as the new chair of its playwriting department. McCraney, a member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, is the author of Head of Passes, Wig–Out, and the unproduced In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, which served as the inspiration for the film Moonlight. In announcing the appointment, which is effective July 1, 2017 for a three-year term, Dean James Bundy cited McCraney’s “inspiring voice as a teacher, experience as a leading practitioner in the English-speaking theatre, and vision for the future of our art form.” Mr. McCraney currently serves as Professor of Theatre and Civic Engagement at the University of Miami and also has taught at the School at Steppenwolf, the University of Warwick, and the New World School of the Arts. As part of his appointment, McCraney will also succeed Paula Vogel as Playwright-in-Residence at Yale Repertory Theatre.
♦ And finally, the short list for the fifth annual Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History has been announced. The Kennedy Prize is given annually through Columbia University to a new play or musical that “…enlists theater’s power to explore the past of the United States, to participate meaningfully in the great issues of our day through the public conversation, grounded in historical understanding, that is essential to the functioning of a democracy.” Plays in contention this year are: Roe, by Lisa Loomer; 24-Decade History of Popular Music, by Taylor Mac; Sweat, by Lynn Nottage; Vietgone, by Qui Nguyen; and Indecent, by Paula Vogel. The prize will be announced on or after Feb. 22, the late Massachusetts senator’s birthday. The winning play will receive an award of $100,000 at a ceremony at Columbia later this spring.
– Written by Richard Hart