St. Patrick’s Day is in the rearview mirror but two weeks from today Brain Friel’s “Dancing at Lughnasa,” winner of the 1992 Tony Award for Best Play, begins performances at Two River Theater in Red Bank. Opening night is April 20.
Friel’s play — set in the summer of 1936 during the Celtic harvest festival of Lughnasa — is considered a modern masterpiece about the Mundy sisters, five unmarried women who live together in County Donegal, on the west coast of Ireland. Their brother, Father Jack, has just returned from 25 years as a missionary in Uganda.
Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ, is swapping out “Ooo-Bla-Dee,” written by Regina Taylor and the last play of the season (June 9-July 1), for “Songbird,” written by Michael Kimmel with music and lyrics by Lauren Pritchards, so that Ruben Santiago-Hudson can make his directorial debut at Shakespeare in the Park with “Othello” in Manhattan.
Well that certainly beats “My dog ate my script” excuse. And congrats Mr. RSH. Hope to snag one of those free tickets this summer
McCarter Theatre Center’s Board of Trustees have announced the appointment of Michael S. Rosenberg as managing director. A nationally respected arts leader, Rosenberg will work together with McCarter’s artistic director/resident playwright Emily Mann and special programming director William W. Lockwood in leading Princeton’s Tony Award- winning arts institution.
Harry Connick Jr. will play Paul Newman in the world-premiere musical production of “The Sting” at the Paper Mill Playhouse (March 29-April 29). Once again, this Tony Award-winning theater is serving as an out-of-town launch pad for Broadway.
Obviously, Rex Harrison making his Hollywood debut as the King of Siam is casting that wouldn’t happen now. But it was 1946. Better yet, read the memoirs written by Anna Leonowens, the Anglo-Indian, British-born travel writer, educator and social activist (on whom the films and musical were based) whose achievements include co-founding the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.
Not many Americans are alive today who watched the original broadcast of “The Honeymooners,” the iconic TV show created by Jackie Gleason that has morphed into a limited run world premiere musical (after two previous attempts) that begins performances today (Sept. 28) at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey and probably is Broadway bound.
It’s based on the 1950s CBS television series that featured Gleason as bus driver Ralph Kramden; Audrey Meadows his as faithful but sharp-tongued wife Alice, Art Carney as his best friend Ed Norton, a sewer worker, and his wife Joyce Randolph and best friend to Alice.
Coming full circle, Gleason’s skits about working-class married couples in a gritty Brooklyn apartment originally were broadcast live in front of a theater audience on the DuMont network’s variety series “Cavalcade of Stars,” which Gleason hosted, and subsequently on the CBS network’s “The Jackie Gleason Show” (1951–55).
Sam Shepard’s work spanned over half a century. He wrote 44 plays, several books of short stories, essays, and memoirs.
He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his play “Buried Child.” He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in film “The Right Stuff” (1983).
Shepard’s plays are known for their bleak, poetic, often surrealist elements, black humor, and rootless characters living on the outskirts of American society. His style evolved over the years, from the absurdism of his early off-off-Broadway work to the realism of “Buried Child” and “Curse of the Starving Class” (both 1978).
He pulled out after a social media storm that condemned the producers’ decision to replace black actor Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan with the white Broadway legend in an effort to sell tickets, which had fallen off with the departure of Josh Groban. His final performance was July 2.
Not the only actor on the show with stage credits, Bebe Neuwirth is a Tony Award-winning actress for roles of Nickie in the revival of Sweet Charity (1986), and Velma Kelly in the revival of Chicago (1996). Other Broadway musical roles include Morticia Addams in The Addams Family (2010), Lola in “Damn Yankees (1995) and the ensemble shows “Fosse” and revival of “Chicago.”
Patina Miller is best known for originating the role of disco diva wannabe Deloris Van Cartier in the 2009 West End and 2011 Broadway productions of Sister Act. She also starred as the Leading Player in the 2013 revival of Pippinfor which she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.