SUMMER OVER THERE – NEW YORK THEATRE ROUND-UP SUMMER 2008.

Hazel Kyte on and beyond the Great White Way.
Going to New York for the TONYS on June l5, I was happy to be supporting the Brits, and cheered loudly when Sonia Friedman took the award for best revival with BOEING BOEING (Longacre Theater), together with Mark Rylance winning for best supporting actor in the revival of Marc Camoletti’s 1960s farce..

Sadly the other British nominations, mainly from Fringe productions, didn’t win but it was interesting to see SUNDAY IN THE PARK (coming in to Studio 54 from Southwark’s Menier Chocolate Factory) together with Daniel Evans as George Seurat, nominated, as were Tom Stoppard’s ROCK’n’ROLL (Bernard B Jacobs – show now closed – originally at the Royal Court) and THE 39 STEPS (Cort, coming in from The Tricycle, via the Criterion and many a place on tour). Other British contenders were Conor McPherson’s THE SEAFARER (Booth – show now closed – from the Cottesloe, and Pinter’s THE HOMECOMING (Cort – show now closed – but not the splendid Almeida production).

AUGUST : OSAGE COUNTY (Music Box)– Tracey Lett’s new play about an Oklahoma dysfunctional family getting together when the Patriarch goes missing – won best new play and is due in on London’s South Bank this autumn.

David Mamet’s NOVEMBER (Ethel Barrymore) was a fun piece of political mayhem with Nathan Lane as the current useless President seeking re-election on any terms. (I would love this to be produced at the Almeida or Donmar with Henry Goodman in the role).

The new musicals are all loud and to my older ears tuneless, but never the less IN THE HEIGHTS (Richard Rodgers), PASSING STRANGE (Belasco), XANADU (Helen Hayes) and SPRING AWAKENING (Eugene O’Neill – last year’s TONY Winner which is coming into the Lyric Hammersmith) all have their fans. I much prefer the Golden Oldies; GYPSY (St James) with Patti LuPone (another winner) and SOUTH PACIFIC (Vivian Beaumont) are the shows playing to packed houses.

However, I did enjoy CRY-BABY (Marquis, show now closed) and LEGALLY BLONDE (Palace) – lightweight but fun. YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (Hilton) does not have anywhere near the clout of The Producers, but Mel Brooks devotees still enjoy his silliness.

Among revivals are a delightful production of LES LIASONS DANGEREUSES (American Airlines), A COUNTRY GIRL (Bernard B Jacobs), COME BACK LITTLE SHEBA (Biltmore), CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (Broadhurst), TOP GIRLS (Biltmore), and Harvey Fierstein’s adaptation of A CATERED AFFAIR (Walter Kerr), with a score by John Bucchino, and starring Faith Prince.

For amazing performances look to Laurence Fishburne starring in the solo drama THURGOOD (Booth THeatre) about the life of Civil Rights Activist and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and in from Chichester, Rupert Goold’s production of MACBETH with Patrick Stewart (Lyceum).

The Red Carpet outside the Radio City is a wondrous place to see all the celebs on their hopeful way to honour and glory, while the Media Room, on the 64th floor of the Rainbow Room is my idea of heaven, with a magical view over the city. No wonder, I keep singing ‘I like New York in June….’.

AND WHAT’S ON OFF-BROADWAY – JUNE 08?

The fabulous KT Sullivan and Mark Nadler celebrate Cole Porter’s Birthday with A SWELL PARTY at The Town Hall. A one-nighter only; however The Town Hall also hosts a Summer Broadway Festival: Broadway’s Rising Stars (21 July), and, 28 July, Scott Siegel directing and Josh Rhodes choreographing ALL SINGING ALL DANCING 11 – an extravaganza of music by The Gershwins, Rogers and Hart, (and Hammerstein) Kander and Ebb and Sondheim)
E59 – (helpful to have the address in your title) is the home of the 5th annual ‘Brits Off Broadway’; I caught Melvin Bragg’s musical THE HIRED MAN, which ran to the end of June and ARTEFACTS by Mike Bartlett, directed by James Grieve (in from the Bush).
THE ULTIMATE JEW is Jackie Mason performing what he says will be his last
Broadway show. He was in good form, attacking the late arrivals, and explaining the differences between Jews and non-Jews in what I found a totally acceptable way. (New World Stages).

REASONS TO BE PRETTY (Lucille Lortel Theatre) is the third in Neil LaBute’s trilogy, yet to be seen in London. It begins with a flaming row between a couple who have been together for some time, as the male partner has commented to his work colleague that his ‘girl’ may not be the prettiest, but he is happy with her – unfortunately only the first half of the sentence is passed on by the colleague’s wife to the girlfriend… and the rest of the piece is about self-confidence. Directed by Terry Kinney, it’s extremely thought provoking.

HEIST at the Sargent Theatre is a zany production by Paul Cohen, where a team planning a robbery have to coincide their explosions with the suitably loud orgasms of a one-woman sex show playing in the adjoining theatre.

The Signature Theatre Company always give first class performances, as they do in Edward Albee’s OCCUPANT starring Mercedes Ruehl and Larry Bryggman. First written in the ‘80s, this is in the form of a series of interviews with famous sculptor Louise Nevelson.

I LOVE YOU, YOURE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE has run for several years at The Westside Theatre; a musical review looking at ‘courting’ it is still good fun. In the same theatre MY MOTHER’S ITALIAN, MY FATHER’S JEWISH & I’M IN THERAPY finds Paul Kreppel performing Steve Solomon’s show of growing up in family religious conflict. Quite funny, but you’ll probably have heard a lot like it before.

FORBIDDEN BROADWAY is constantly updating, whilst it takes the ‘micky’ out of all the current Broadway Musicals. I see each version, and always love them. The more you know the shows and stars the greater you appreciate the wit and humour.

SAVED at the Playwright’s Horizon (book and lyrics by John Dempsey and Rinne Groff, music and lyrics by Michael Friedman) is based on the MGM picture. It’s the story is of an extremely religious school, where one of the pupils thinks he may be ‘gay’ and in an effort to ‘save him’, his girlfriend becomes pregnant. The music and choreography are great, and the whole piece very funny and extremely well done.

Playwright’s Horizon on 42nd Street has been the starting point of many musicals transferring to main Broadway and becoming Tony winners, and is always worth a visit.

2008-07-09 11:23:05

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