Playbill is having a Summer clearance sale

The Playbill website lists more than 200 items on sale, including T-shirts, tote bags, posters, baseball hats, shot glasses, mugs from A (“Annie”) to Z, well, actually W (for the “Wonderland” poster). Up to 70 percent off of closed shows and overstocked merchandise. “Bullets Over Broadway,” anyone?

A recording of the live TV broadcast of

the-sound-of-music-live-dvd-2013-nbc-televison-event-5“The Sound of Music,” starring Carrie Underwood, Stephen Moyer, Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti, Christian Borle, is on sale for $9.95 (down from $22.98); a Hugh Jackman “Back on Broadway” poster for $10 (down from $20), and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” Glass Slipper Socks $9.95 down from $19.95.

Click here to shop. 

‘The Good Wife’ books David Hyde Pierce

‘TGW’ mines Broadway for great actors

For 20 years, beginning in 1990, if you read the bios of actors in that Playbill program you get for free at a Broadway show, many actors listed “Law & Order” in their bios.  There was much weeping and wailing when that show ended and many actors lost “day” jobs.

For the past five years, though, stage actors have had “The Good Wife,” which shoots at Broadway Stages in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Not only does the Emmy Award-winning show feature experienced stage actors like regulars Christine Baranski (most recently on Broadway as the surly housekeeper in “Boeing-Boeing”) and Alan Cumming (currently starring in “Cabaret”), it added Nathan Lane and Stockard Channing (both currently in “It’s Only a Play”) several seasons ago in recurring roles.

On Friday, “The Good Wife” creators and writing team, Michelle and Robert King and CBS, announced David Hyde Pierce will be returning to TV for the first time since “Frasier” in a recurring role as “a highly respected cable news legal commentator” who’s so outraged at the corruption and murder rate in Chicago (where the show is set) “that he decides to run for office in order to affect change,” according to CBS.

Continue reading ‘The Good Wife’ books David Hyde Pierce

Best ways to walk out of a show; options when you’re late

As the traditional performing arts season in Manhattan gets going, the New York Times ran two interesting articles today on best practices for walking out of a show, live or at the movies. It was partnered with what to expect when arriving late.

Apparently balletomane Princess Margaret arrived on time to regular performances, but specialized in holding up the curtain on gala nights up to 30 minutes, reports Alastair Macaulay in “The Delayed: To Sit or Not to Sit.” This happens often on gala nights in NYC as well, he says.

Getting to the theater late makes no one happy.
Getting to the theater late makes no one happy.

For people who miss curtain, the Metropolitan Opera  has a room with tiered seating, a large-screen TV and superb sound. That’s where latecomers to the met Opera sit until intermission. But not for latecomers to American Ballet Theatre performances in the same space. They get seated, much to the consternation of the folks they disturb getting to their seats, which always seem to be in the middle of the row down front.

Continue reading Best ways to walk out of a show; options when you’re late

Doctor Faustus, Martin Luther, Hamlet gather at Shakespeare Theatre

” ‘Wittenberg’ should delight Tom Stoppard fans, recovering English majors, disillusioned academics and anyone who has ever wondered what Helen of Troy was like in the sack,” reads the press release from the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey about the David Davalos play in which Doctor Faustus, Martin Luther, and Hamlet are united.


According to the press release, “Wittenberg” is “A play that the Philadelphia Inquirer winkingly celebrates as ‘a decent Protestant Reformation comedy!’  Witty observation. Wish I’d written it.

“Wittenberg” begins in northern Germany in 1517 on the University of Wittenberg campus. ( a real place.) Young Hamlet, prince of Denmark, (not a real person) is a senior, unsure of his beliefs after an eye-opening summer spent studying abroad. Upon his return to school, he seeks guidance from his two trusted professors—philosopher John Faustus (not real) and theologian Martin Luther (super real).

Continue reading Doctor Faustus, Martin Luther, Hamlet gather at Shakespeare Theatre

‘Sherlock’ season 4 ‘devastating,’ says Moffat

Benedick Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman won Emmy Awards last night for their performances on “Sherlock.” Neither were on hand to collect the coveted statuettes. Martin is performing the title role in “Richard III” at London’s Trafalgar Studios and unable to attend.

No idea where Cumberbatch, 38, who won for Actor In A Miniseries or Movie, was. Martin, 42, won for Supporting Actor In A Miniseries or Movie for “Sherlock: His Last Vow.”

Co-creator and writer Steven Moffat also won for Outstanding Writing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A dramatic Special for “Sherlock: His Last Vow,” winning over Larry Kramer’s script for HBO’s “The Normal Heart,” “Treme,” “Luther,” “Fargo” and “American Horror Story: Coven” He had some stiff competition.

Mark Gatiss has written for and acted in the TV series "Doctor Who" and "Sherlock," the latter of which he also co-created.
Mark Gatiss has written for and acted in the TV series “Doctor Who” and “Sherlock,” the latter of which he also co-created.

But the really good news, depending on how you look at it, were the leaks Moffat and “Sherlock” writer-producer and actor Mark Gatiss (who plays Mycroft on the series) hinted at for season 4:

“We have a plan to top it,” Moffat said. “And I do think our plan is devastating. We’ve practically reduced our cast to tears telling them the plan … we’re probably more excited that we’ve ever been about ‘Sherlock’.”

For more details, including why Moffat never looks at Tumblr, click here.



New reviews of long-running Broadway musicals

Broadway_signThinking about catching a Broadway show that’s been around awhile and the original, sometimes award-winning cast, has left?

The New York Times Checking Back series has been revisiting hits such as “Pippin,” “Matilda,” “Mama Mia,” “Phantom,” and “Wicked.” The writers, all of whom saw the original production, note how some cast changes make for a better or more nuanced experience.

For instance, Laura Collins Hughes says that “square-jawed Kyle Dean Massey” as Pippin” is “looking a bit chiseled and mature to be so wide-eyed and, at least to start with, virginal.” On the other hand when Pippin catches the interest of the much older Catherine who considers the lad as possible husband material, she notes, it “no longer (has) that slightly creepy, cradle-robbing feel.”

The Diane Paulus directed musical “has become a warmer, giddier show in its 16 months at the Music Box Theater, and that’s really not a bad thing.” I’m sure the producers breathed a sigh of relief over that comment.

So if you’re thinking about plopping down a hundred dollars for a ducat to a long-running musical, check out the series. No clue if the Times is doing all Broadway musicals (I would think so), but it’s an assignment I sure would love to have.

Here’s what’s been published so far:

“Pippin,” “Matilda,” Mama Mia,” “Phantom,” and “Wicked.”


Quick video fix for ‘Sherlock’ TV fans

"Sherlock" startting Benedict Cumberbatch (left) and Martin Freeman returns to Masterpiece on Jan. 19.
“Sherlock” starring Benedict Cumberbatch (left) and Martin Freeman returns to Masterpiece on Jan. 19.

Jan. 19 seems a long way off. That’s when “Sherlock” returns to American TV as part of the Masterpiece franchise. And before you know it, it will be gone again after three episodes (if past history is future) with another interminable wait for more episodes featuring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

Meanwhile, satisfy your Sherlockian self with this Season Three repeat of a Behind the Scenes peak from PBS.

(So why is his TV show in a theater blog. Because Cumberbatch is a regular on the English stage and is scheduled to play Shakespeare’s Hamlet at London’s Barbican Theatre. The production will be directed by Lyndsey Turner and will be produced by Sonia Friedman. It will start its 12-week run in August 2015. Freeman has also tread the boards as well, as seen here.)

Dan Lauria prefers living playwrights, and now he is one

I can’t remember if it was when Dan Lauria was starring in ” “A Stone Carver” by William Mastrosimone at The Passage Theatre in Trenton or when “The Wonder Years” TV Dad was in “Inspecting Carol” by Dan Sullivan at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, that he told me in an interview he was only interested in doing plays by living playwrights.

And he’s been doing that for all of his 40 years in show biz. Even while he was working mostly on TV and in film. Lauria loves being on stage and seems to like doing so in New Jersey. He also did “The Winning Streak” by Lee Blessing and “The Value of Names” by Jeffrey Sweet at George Street. Now he’s at New Jersey Repertory Company, 179 Broadway, in Long Branch starring in a four-character play he wrote.

The world premiere of Dan Lauria's "Dinner With the Boys" runs Sept. 11 through Oct. 5 at the New Jersey Repertory Theatre in Long Branch, NJ
The world premiere of Dan Lauria’s “Dinner With the Boys” runs Sept. 11 through Oct. 5 at the New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch, NJ

“Dinner with the Boys,”  according to the theater’s website, is “A killer comedy … about a couple of old-time wise-guys who like to cook great Italian food, complain about everything under the sun, and kill anyone who gets in their way.”

Hopefully that doesn’t include theater critics.

Continue reading Dan Lauria prefers living playwrights, and now he is one

Dinklage, Schilling visit off-Broadway reporting “Game of Thrones'” Peter Dinklage and “Orange is the New Black’s” Taylor Schilling will headline Classic Stage Company’s revival of Ivan Turgenev’s classic play “A Month in the Country.” 

Let’s hope this TV star combo gets people who aren’t regular theatergoers into the off-Broadway house. Plenty of comic and erotic turmoil to go around.

Read more.

‘Paper Mill” reveals Broadway-bound ‘Can-Can’ cast

Paper Mill Playhouse has announced the cast for the first Broadway revival of “Can-Can” in 30 years. It will be the first revival in 50 years for the well-known musical theater playhouse that is within 20 miles of NYC.

Maybe that’s why are some high-profile folks involved in the show running in NJ from Oct. 1-26. I’m expecting great things.

First, the cast: it stars  Kate Baldwin as Pistache and Broadway veteran Jason Danieley as Aristide.

David Lee (“Frasier,” “Cheers”) will direct. Choreography is by Patti Colombo (Paper Mill’s “Peter Pan,” “On the Town,” “Seven Brides” for “Seven Brothers”). The show features a book by Abe Burrows (“Guys and Dolls,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”) and a re-crafted script by Joel Fields (“Ugly Betty,” “The Americans”) and  Lee.

“Joel and I started collaborating on “Can-Can” at the Pasadena Playhouse over seven years ago,”  Lee explained in a PMP press release. “­With full permission of the Burrows and Porter estates the book has been updated without being modernized“Can-Can is still set in 1893—and although 90 percent rewritten it retains all of Abe Burrows’ original characters and intent.”
Continue reading ‘Paper Mill” reveals Broadway-bound ‘Can-Can’ cast

News and views of New Jersey's regional theaters, and bits about Broadway.

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