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broadway

Romeo + Juliet Is Coming To Broadway With Kit Connor And Rachel Zegler To Star 

Romeo + Juliet is officially coming back to Broadway. Acclaimed director Sam Gold is set to adapt the famous Shakespeare play with the help of Grammy winner Jack Antonoff, who will be doing the music for the production. 

The Broadway production is set to have Rachel Zegler, known from West Side Story, as Juliet and Kit Connor, known from Heartstopper, as Romeo. 

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Tony award-winning director Sam Gold has previously taken on adapting other Shakespeare plays such as Macbeth and Othello. In a statement reported by The Guardian, he expressed his excitement about bringing this play to Broadway during a time where the world needs a little joy. 

“With the presidential election coming up in November, I felt like making a show this fall that celebrates youth and hope, and unleashes the anger young people feel about the world they are inheriting.”

The official synopsis states:

 “The youth are f*cked. Left to their own devices in their parents’ world of violent ends, an impulsive pair of star-crossed lovers hurtle towards their inescapable fate. The intoxicating high of passion quickly descends into a brutal chaos that can only end one way.”

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Gold recently directed the Insen adaptation An Enemy of the People, which received critical acclaim for Gold’s directing and for lead actor Jeremy Strong’s performance. Gold has previously worked with other stars such as Daniel Craig and David Oyelowo. 

Zegler celebrated the official announcement by posting on social media: “never beating the broadway debut allegations.” Zegler was recently hailed for her performance in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, and is also going to be starting in new comedy horror Y2K from Kyle Mooney. 

Connor is popularly known for his role in Netflix teen drama Heartstopper. Beside’s playing Romeo, Connor will soon be heard alongside actress Lupita Nyong’o in animated adventure The Wild Robot. He has also previously appeared on stage in London in the play Fanny & Alexander. 

Romeo and Juliet isn’t the only Shakespeare play making its way to Broadway. Denzel Washington and Jake Gyllenhaal are set to star in a new take on Othello this year, which will be the first Broadway staging of the play since 1982.

stage

Broadway Makes Inspiring Statements Against Antisemitism At Tonys, ‘Leopoldstadt’ and ‘Parade’ Win In Major Categories 

During Sunday night’s Tony Awards, Broadway made a defiant statement against antisemitism, as two major shows that thematically embodied the subject pulled in major categories: “Leopoldstadt” and the musical revival “Parade.”

Some of the members of both plays’ casts’ utilized the opportunity to make statements regarding antisemitism, as well as its connection to other forms of bigotry, such as homophobia and transphobia, during a time where, politically, all the groups are under attack. 

“Leopoldstadt” won four of the six Tonys it was nominated for, including best play. Tom Stoppard’s semi-autobiographical play takes the audience through three generations of Viennese Jewish families before and after the Holocaust. 

Brandon Uranowitz of “Leopoldstadt” won for the featured actor category, and thanked Stoppard for writing a show about antisemitism and “the false promise of assimilation,” discussing how members of his family were murdered by Nazis in Poland. 

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“When your child tells you who they are, believe them,” Uranowitz, who is gay, stated.

“Parade” is about the 1915 lynching of Leo Frank, and took home two awards on Sunday, including best revival of a musical. Alfred Uhry, who wrote the book to the original play in 1998, wore the Star of David lapel pin when he came up to accept the award. 

The show’s director, Michael Arden, discussed Leo Frank in his speech, and how he had “a life that was cut short at the hands of the belief that one group of people is more or less valuable than another, which is at the core of antisemitism, of white supremacy, of homophobia, of transphobia, of intolerance of any kind.”

Arden also warned the audience to take in and learn the lessons that these plays are providing, “or else we are doomed to repeat the horrors of our history.”

NYC Broadway

Study Finds Only 20% Of New York Theater Productions Are Written By People Of Color

In an annual study released by the Asian American Performers Action Coalition, it has been found that there are major gaps in racial representation and wage amounts when it comes to white writers versus people of color writers on the New York stage. In the same regard, some theater non-profits were listed as spending up to six times the amount of money on white actors when compared to actors of color. 

“The Visibility Report: Racial Representation on NYC Stages” analyzed the 18 largest non-profit theaters, as well as Broadway production companies in New York, that occurred during the 2017-2018 season. The report did find that the year gave Broadway it’s first play written by an Asian American, Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men, however, it also warned against celebrating small victories like this, as they can “often serve as the poster child of diversity for a particular season, encouraging a false sense of progress.”

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The fact that it’s taken Broadway this long in general to hire an Asian American playwright has been staggering for many critics in the report, and many realize that the 2017-2018 season is only further reflecting the systemic inequalities of racial representation on and off the stage in New York. 

In the 2016-2017 report, it was found that 86.6% of all Broadway and off-Broadway shows were written by white people and 97% of all directors were white. This year, the numbers dipped slightly with 80% of writers and 86% of all directors being white, but essentially, these numbers have always been around the same. 

The report showed that when it came to on stage performers, 60% of all roles on New York City stage went to white actors; to give it some perspective only about 32% of all New York City residents are white, so the on stage roles aren’t reflecting the off stage reality. 23% of all roles went to black actors while only 6.9% went to Asian American actors. 6.1% went to Latino actors, 2% went to Middle Eastern or North African actors, and only .02% went to Indigenous actors. 

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The study was released months after more than 300 stage artists of color signed a letter addressed to “white American theater” as an institution, and called them out for the complete lack of representation on and off the stage, a well as the lack of opportunities made available for people of color on the NYC stage. 

“We have watched you un-challenge your white privilege, inviting us to traffic in the very racism and patriarchy that festers in our bodies, while we protest against it on your stages. We have watched you promote anti-blackness again and again.”

The report also found that when it came to actor wages, non-profit theaters in NYC spent $1.70 for every $1 spent on an actor of color. The wage gaps vary by company but to give an example the Roundabout Theater spent $6.09 on white actors for ever $1 spent on actors of color; the Atlantic Theater was $1.46 for every $1, and the report claimed that a similar gap was “highly likely” to exist on the Broadway stage, however, Broadway productions don’t publish their salaries. 

The end of the study worked to give a similar impact as the 300-page letter, and called upon NYC theater companies to start reflecting the diversity of the streets on the actual stage. When theater reopens in 2021 (tentatively) it will be a unique moment of opportunity for New York to expand their horizons and catch up with the rest of the world when it comes to equality.

Popcorn and Remote by TV

Get The Best Seat In The House With These Online Theater Productions

With Broadway, movies, concerts, and other cultural establishments remaining indefinitely closed amid the Covid-19 pandemic, many are turning to digital forms of entertainment to get their fix. Thanks to the power of live-stream technology and a multitude of archived collections, fans have been able to watch all their favorite productions from home. Here’s some of the most popular things people are watching around the world right now. 

Hamilton: If you’re on social media of any kind you’re definitely already aware that Hamilton has been uploaded to Disney+. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s highly praised Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical about the country’s founding fathers was filmed over the course of three nights in New York back in 2016 with the original cast. Director Thomas Kail claims that they filmed and edited the show to give audiences at home the “best seat in the house.” 

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The National Theater At Home: The National Theater at Home Initiative has become widely popular all around the world. Popular theater productions are streamed for free online every Thursday at 7 pm and then remain uploaded on the site for seven days until the next show. Currently The Deep Blue Sea, written by Terence Rattingan, is set to be performed and uploaded to the site from July 9th-16th followed by Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus. 

549: Scots of the Spanish Civil War: The 2019 archived production of the play has recently been uploaded to YouTube where it will remain until July 31st. Jack Nurse and Robbie Gordon’s play follows four miners from East Lothian who volunteer for the Spanish Civil War in 1936. The play has been widely well received for its polished choreography during battle scenes, and raw singing talent of the actors. 

WeRNotVirus: In this special directed by Jennifer Tang and Anthony Lau, 10 short dramas unfold for the viewer, each depicting a different part of the current racism pandemic the world is battling simultaneously alongside Covid-19. The entire production is two hours in length and incorporates multiple mediums such as animation, poetry, music, and of course, singing and dancing. The special is currently available on YouTube.

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Tiny Dancers: The National Youth Theatre created this production using a multitude of young dancers. Created throughout the course of the pandemic, this production is described as a “funny and heartfelt look at how it feels to be together and apart.” The production will be available for free on YouTube from July 23rd-31st. The group will also be uploading a Q&A style video on July 23rd that will take viewers behind the scenes of the production. 

The Lord Chamberlain’s Men: This all-male theater company is known in the UK for touring and performing open-air Shakespeare productions. They were performing Macbeth when the pandemic began and have since postponed the rest of the tour indefinitely. However, they recently shared two past archived productions online. The Tempest, filmed in 2018, and A Midsummer’s Night Dream, performed last year, are currently streaming to celebrate the companies 15 year anniversary. 

Scenes For Survival: The National Theatre of Scotland was one of the first cultural institutions in the world to announce a lockdown program for viewers at home. The company is continuously streaming and uploading their collection of short films which are meant to “offer audiences a sense of hope and joy” during such uncertain times. 

The Show Must Go Online: Finally, actor Robert Myles has set up a live-stream reading group that he’s advertising for professional and amateur actors to join. The group of actors perform Shakespeare’s complete plays in the order that they agreed they were likely written. The goal is to give actors old and new an opportunity to continue to practice their craft and have a sense of normalcy for a few hours while they do what they love. 

NYC Broadway

Hugh Jackman And Sutton Foster To Star Broadway Revival Of ‘The Music Man’

New York City unfortunately had to close down Broadway and the rest of its cultural institutions amid the Covid-19 pandemic, however, that doesn’t mean they aren’t still planning for the future of theater and entertainment in the city that never sleeps. 

Most recently, Broadway made the announcement that come May 2021, audiences would be able to relive the classic Broadway musicals in history, Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man. Beyond just that, they also announced that the show would be starring none other than Tony, Grammy, and Emmy award-winner Hugh Jackman as Professor Harold Hill. Jackman will be joined on stage by two-time Tony award-winning actress Sutton Foster as Marian Paroo in the musical that initially premiered in 1957. 

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Broadway producers Scott Rudin, Barry Diller, and David Geffen made the announcement this past Tuesday regarding the revival. The goal is to have show previews begin on April 7th, 2021, and open on May 20th, 2021 at the Winter Garden Theater. Rehearsals are also meant to begin on February 8th if all goes to plan. 

“Performing on Broadway is a great honor for an actor; in fact, one of the greatest. No two shows are exactly alike, in large part due to the audience,” Jackman said.

Jackman continued to reflect on his past experiences on Broadway and how excited he was to return to the stage. He’s mainly looking forward to opening night, describing the sensation of being filled with “anticipation, fear and excitement. The energy in the theater is palpable.” Jackman claims that the change in dates and planning for the musicals revival due to Covid-19 may be disappointing, but in the long run it shouldn’t change much in regard to the production and work that needs to be done before the show makes its debut. 

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The show will be directed by Jerry Zaks and choreographed by Warren Carlyle. Other notable individuals that will be starring in the production include Tony-award winning actors Jayne Houdyshell as Mrs. Shinn, Jefferson Mays as Mayor Shinn, Marie Mullen as Mrs. Paroo, and Shuler Hensley as Marcellus Washburn.

“We’re obviously profoundly disappointed to be unable to start rehearsals for The Music Man as scheduled. But safety is safety, and it has to take precedence over every other consideration — for both our audience and for our company,” Rudin said.

Rudin continued to say that despite the show being postponed the entire team and company working behind-the-scenes will be sticking together through it all and will continue to make adjustments as our world attempts to recover from this deadly pandemic. 

As previously mentioned, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo shut down all Broadway Theaters back in the beginning of March when the virus initially infiltrated New York City. Initially, when the city shut down the plan was to remain closed for one month; which has now obviously been extended to Labor Day, prompting many Broadway producers to offer refunds for any shows that were meant to take place before September 6th.Tickets for The Music Man are currently available on Telecharge.com for the April 7th date, and fans will also be able to sign up to be alerted when more tickets go on sale through Broadway.com.

Broadway Sign

Steven Speilberg Is Bringing Hit TV Show “Smash” To Broadway

“Smash” was a NBC TV drama series that only lasted for two seasons, but for those two years that it was on television, it gained a loyal, yet small, fanbase that to this day has been waiting for some sort of revival from the beloved series. “Smash” has been off the air for about seven years now (its last episode premiered in May of 2013), however, it’s looking like fans will be thrilled to learn that their favorite show will be revived, but in a much more lively way.

Steven Spielberg, Robert Greenblatt (the chairman for WarnerMedia Entertainment), and Neil Meron (who produced the Broadway production of “Chicago” recently), all announced that they would be working on a new project titled “Smash, A New Musical,” and the three are looking for it to find its home on the Broadway stage. 

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Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman are the Tony and Grammy-winning duo who wrote and produced over two dozen songs for the original television series, and they will also be returning to their former “Smash” roles through creating the score for the Broadway production. 

The Broadway production is meant to mimic the series in the sense that it will be a stage show that “will follow the efforts to mount ‘Bombshell,’ the Broadway musical-within-a-musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe,” according to Spielberg. However, the creators also want to make sure that the plot deviates from the original series so it’s not overly predictable, especially for those loyal die-hard fans that will surely be lining up down the block the second Broadway is reopened. 

The characters of Julia, Tom, Ivy, and Karen (portrayed in the television production by Debra Messing, Christian Borle, Megan Hilty, and Katharine McPhee), will all be in the play production, and will be just as central to its storyline as the television series. Besides those key details, Speilberg and his team are trying to keep other aspects of the play under wraps until the play is actually able to open. 

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Bob Martin, who helped write the Tony winning music ‘The Prom’, and Rick Elice, known for his writing in “Peter and the Starcatcher”, will be writing the musical’s book itself, and Joshua Bergasse, who has won an Emmy for his work choreographing the “Smash” television show, will also be returning to choreograph the play as well. 

“I am personally thrilled to be a part of this musical and its road to Broadway, ’Smash’ is near and dear to my heart, and it seems fitting that a new musical inspired by what we did on the show would eventually come to the stage. I’m beyond thrilled to be working with this incredible creative team and my producing partners, who began the ‘Smash’ journey with me over ten years ago,” said Spielberg, whose original idea led to the NBC series in 2012. 

When it was on TV, “Smash” was pretty well-received by critics, however, due to backstage conflicts between the show’s creative team and Theresa Rebeck, the show’s creator, which led to her quitting, the show suffered and lost a majority of its audience. Since then, the series circle of supporters has only gotten larger, as the show has begun to appear on a multitude of streaming services since going off the air. 

Obviously, there’s no real timeline as to when this revived “Smash” production will hit the Broadway stage, because there’s no real timeline for when Broadway will reopen in general amid the Covid-19 pandemic. For now, fans can rewatch the series online while we wait.

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During Times Of Quarantine, Streaming Services Bring Broadway To You

COVID-19 has basically guaranteed that a lot of us won’t be leaving our homes anytime soon. Many of us are scrambling to figure out how to occupy our days while we keep ourselves healthy and happy. Binge-watching some of our favorite “streamable” shows is a given, but what if you had the ability to travel to your favorite museums, operas, or Broadway shows, all without leaving your couch. Thanks to certain online servers, art and culture lovers everywhere can now make their way to their favorite Broadway plays and operas that are now closed off to the public. 

BroadwayHD is a streaming service that was launched back in 2015. The service does exactly what you’d expect and brings actual recordings of live Broadway performances into your home. The company statement exclaims that “BroadwayHD was created with the goal of making high-quality theater accessible to everyone globally.” 

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The platform itself offers users a seven-day free trial, after that users will have to pay $9 a month to keep the service, fairly typical for any streaming service. Subscribers will have access to shows that are no longer on Broadway such as Cats, The King and I, and The Sound of Music. Many of the recordings were also made exclusively for the platform, such as original performances of Kinky Boots.

BroadwayHD is also known for its “playlists” of plays, most recently they made one to honor Women’s History Month which included plays exclusively made by female theater-makers and playwrights, as well as feminist performances, including all female renditions of popular Shakespeare plays, A Night with Janis Joplin, and Driving Ms. Daisy

In addition, “BroadwayHD is celebrating theater legend Stephen Sondheim for his 90th birthday and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 72nd with a special tribute playlist including some of their most beloved productions. The playlist includes Gypsy, Putting It Together, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,  Cats, Phantom Of The Opera, Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, and more.”

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Besides streaming services for Broadway plays and virtual tour services for the world’s most popular museums, the Metropolitan Opera decided to join in on offering digital cultural entertainment to the public during this time of isolation. This past week, the Metropolitan Opera announced that it would be streaming performances of some of its most famous shows to the public starting this week. The best part? They’re offering it for free.  

“The Metropolitan Opera announced that it would stream encore presentations from the award-winning Live in HD series of cinema transmissions on the company website for the duration of the closure. We’d like to provide some grand opera solace to opera lovers in these extraordinarily difficult times. Every night, we’ll be offering a different complete operatic gem from our collection of HD presentations from the past 14 years,” Met General Manager Peter Gelb shared in a statement.

Instead of presenting each opera as an option to watch at any time like a regular streaming service, the Met will be instead hosting “Nightly Met Opera Streams” in which each performance is scheduled at the same time every night. Beginning on Monday March 16th, the Met posts a different opera performance to its homepage at 7:30 p.m. where it will remain available until the next day when the next performance is uploaded. For a full list of performances, simply go to the Met Opera’s homepage. So while you may not be able to go out and tour the MoMA, go see Wicked, or relive the magic of Carmen, the digital world has made it possible to still maintain some cultural habits in times of quarantine.

Movie Film

Remembering The Legacy Of “Boys In The Band” Playwright, Mart Crawley

Mart Crawley, a playwright who’s most famously known for his groundbreaking 1968 off-Broadway play The Boys In The Band, has died at the age of 84.

Theatre Stage

Broadway Experiencing Biggest Ticket Sales Slump In Three Years

Now that the holidays are officially over, a general sense of frugalness is in the air. As consumerism continues to increase every holiday season, so does the amount we try to save once the season is complete. Retailers, restaurants, and any other industry that would require the spending of money takes the hit every year, but depending on how much they made during the holidays themselves, they’re normally fine. 

An industry that’s taking the hit particularly hard this year is Broadway. Unless gifted tickets, people tend to stay away from purchasing big ticket items, literally, when they’re trying to save up. This year, it’s been reported that the industry is witnessing a 28% decrease in overall sales with the new year/holiday season. That’s still an estimated $31 million coming into the box office, however, it marks a three-year low for the industry as a whole. 

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Along with the loss of money, theater attendance is also down 6% compared to last year’s stats, however, Broadway had three more active shows this time last January. Over this past weekend (1/10/20), Broadway also closed down three shows but all of them were planned closings as the shows themselves had planned limited runs. 

“While 18 shows grossed over $1 million, most only made it over that threshold by a hair. Only five cracked $1.5 million – down from ten last week. Bucking the downward trend were traditional, non-musical plays, which performed markedly better than they did over the holiday frame. This pattern isn’t unusual – most holiday buyers spend on song-and-dance spectacles – but it was still good news to their producers,” (Forbes).

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2019 in general was the opposite of successful for Broadway; as an industry they grossed $67 million less than what they earned in 2018. The reasoning behind why Broadway takes such a massive financial hit when certain shows fail has a lot to do with real estate costs. As we all know, New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the US to live in, and for businesses, the cost of theater space is just as high. So when a show “flops” in terms of ticket sales and theater attendance, the industry itself loses the most money in real estate and production investments.

When shows continue to remain active into the new year, it typically means that the industry is making an influx of money back on the investment, so they remain open. This year, only four plays remain from 2019’s playbill;  Hadestown, Ain’t Too Proud, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Beetlejuice. 

When 2019 began, Broadway saw seven plays get carried into the new year, three of which are listed above and continue to sell. In total, the number of show closings within 2019 has caused the industry to lose about $100 million in investments and real estate costs. 

“Booking schedules define [a lot] of the [financial] landscape, and those are affected more by individual productions than market trends. This season, several big musical houses have remained empty, leaving big money on the table. That, and the fact that The Palace [a major Broadway Theater] is under renovation accounts for a whole percentage point of lost sales. However, every show is different, and comparing one season to the next is always tricky,” Brian Mahoney, Vice President of ticket sales for the Shubert Organization.