News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 25th May 2009

It's Official! As previously forecast here, a revised version of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company production of Tracy Letts's Superior Donuts, a comedy about life in a run down uptown Chicago donut shop, which originally featured Michael McKean, directed by Tina Landau, will be remounted on Broadway, opening at a Shubert Theatre yet to be announced on October 1st. The producers are Jeffrey Richards, Jean Doumanian, Steve Traxler and Jerry Frankel.

This year's Lincoln Center Festival, running from 7th to 26th July, will include Ariane Mnouchkine's Theatre du Soleil performing Les Ephemeres, examining the threads that connect people universally; Piccolo Teatro di Milano and Teatri Uniti di Napoli with Carlo Gondoni's The Holiday Trilogy, a satire on the Italian middle class, featuring and directed by Toni Servillo; Katoni Jozef Theater Company of Budapest with Anton Chekov's Ivanov, in which a young woman is determined to save a burnt out landowner; Maly Drama Theatre of St Petersburg performing Life And Fate, about a physicist with a moral dilemma, adapted and directed by Lev Dodin, from the novel by Vasily Grossman; and Chekhov International Theatre Festival with Alexander Pushkin's Boris Godunov, an expose of corrupt Tsarist Russia, directed by Declan Donnellan; Poland's Narodowy Stary Teatr performing Kalkwerk, which delves into the mind of an obsessed scientist, adapted and directed by Krystian Lupa, from the novel by Thomas Bernhard; and Bela Pinter and Company with Peasant Opera, a dark musical comedy of taboos and tradition juxtaposing present and past in the Hungarian countryside.

Firebone Theatre Company will stage free performances of Steven Walters's A Mysterious Way, with Christopher John Domig and Jared Houseman, directed by Steve Day, previewing from June 4th, opening on June 11th, playing to June 21st, Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm on the uptown C train platform on 81st Street, and Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm on the downtown J/M train platform at Chambers Street (subject to change due to the inconsistent environment of the MTA). A seemingly benign conversation between two strangers develops increasingly dubiously as the true intentions of one of them are revealed. Further information can be found on the FTC web site, via the link from Off Broadway Venues & Companies in the Links section of New York TheatreNet.

Hudson Warehouse will present free outdoor performances of William Shakespeare's The Tempest, directed by Jerrod Bogard, from June 4th to 28th, Hamlet, directed by Nicholas Martin-Smith, from July 9th to August 2nd, and A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Richard Harden, from August 6th to 30th. The productions will be performed Thursdays to Sundays on the North Patio of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument at West 89th Street and Riverside Drive.

Make Music New York will hold its annual festival of around 1,200 free concerts, featuring music of all genres and styles, in parks and streets throughout the five boroughs of New York City from 11am to 10pm on June 21st, the summer solstice. The festival is modelled on France's Fete de la Musique, first held in 1982 in Paris, and an annual event throughout the country ever since. The idea has been picked up in 321 cities around the world, including London, Beijing, Tokyo and Sydney. Community groups, Business Improvement Districts, and hundreds of individual artists, both amateurs and professionals, have already signed on to produce free concerts on sidewalks, parks, closed streets and community gardens. This year there is a new project called Mass Appeal, where hundreds of musicians will band together to perform pieces written for a single type of instrument. Further information about taking part or attending an event can be found on the MMNY web site, via the link from Festivals & Events in the Links section of New York TheatreNet.

With its first season of Chekov's The Cherry Orchard and Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, about to open at the Old Vic Theatre in London, The Bridge Project has announced that the productions in its second season will be Chekhov's Three Sisters and Shakespeare's As You Like It, both featuring the same company of British and American actors, directed by Sam Mendes. The productions will open at the Brooklyn Academy of Music next January and transfer to the Old Vic Theatre in London next summer.

The 34th annual Samuel French Off Off Broadway Original Short Play Festival, Manhattan's oldest short play festival, will take place from July 14th to 19th, at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Playwright Horizon. 40 plays have been selected to be performed over the 6 evenings, before a panel of judges composed of playwrights, agents and Samuel French editorial staff, who will select 6 finalists to have their works licensed and published by Samuel French. Over 360 companies and schools from the U.S. and abroad have participated in the festival through the years, and 181 of the submitted plays have been published. Playwright Horizon is located at 416 West 42nd Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues. Further information can be found on the Samuel French web site, via the link from The Emporium in the Links section of New York TheatreNet

The York Theatre Company's 2009/2010 season of musicals will include Blind Lemon Blues, based on more than 60 Blind Lemon Jefferson songs, created by Alan Govenar and Akin Babatunde, directed and choreographed by Babatunde, set in New York City in 1948 at the last recording session of the legendary singer Huddie Ledbetter, opening in the fall; and Yank!, book and lyrics by David Zellnik, music by Joseph Zellnik, the story of a Midwestern kid drafted for World War II, who becomes a photographer for Yank Magazine, the journal 'for and by the servicemen', opening next February. The York Theatre Company's Theatre at Saint Peter's is located in Citigroup Center on 54th Street, between Lexington and 3rd Avenues.

WorkShop Theater Company will stage From Russia With Angst, adapted from Anton Chekhov short stories, comprising Death Of A Government Employee, by Jonathan Pereira, directed by Katrin Hilbe; In Country, written and directed by Timothy Scott Harris; Joy, by Robert Strozier, directed by Elena Araoz; Misery, Apathy And Despair, by John Mc Kinney, directed by Richard Kent Green; and We'll Take A Cup of Kindness Yet, by Scott Sickles, directed by David Gautschy, from June 11th. The company features Sutton Crawford, James Davies, Jed Dickson, Liz Forst, James Francini, Dee Dee Friedman, Stephen Girasuolo, Michael Gnat, Carrie Edel Isaacman, Noah Keen, Carolinne Messihi, Mike Mihm, David M. Pincus, Amanda Sayle, Tracy Shar and Sean Singer. The WorkShop Theater Company is located at 312 West 36th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues.

The Rumour Machine says: that Fela!, the back catalogue biomusical about the African composer and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti, directed and choreographed by Bill T Jones, book by Jones and Jim Lewis, who also provided additional lyrics, which played Off Broadway at 37 Arts last fall, will transfer to Broadway, opening at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in September; and that the previously mentioned musical Memphis, book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro, music and lyrics by David Bryan, directed by Christopher Ashley, with choreography by Sergio Trujillo, telling the fictionalized life story of a white radio disc jockey growing up in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1950's, with a passion for black music, who falls in love with a black singer, will open at the Shubert Theatre in October. The Rumour Machine grinds on.