Thursday, June 20, 2013

After the ‘Cinderella’ Ball...

After the ‘Cinderella’ Ball,
Enjoy Your Vacation Off
and Way Off Broadway

by Tony Vellela
There are those who seek out a vacation destination based on how near it is to a great golf course.  Others want to be assured that an endless stretch of white, sandy beach will permit them to fry their skin on both sides at the same time.  We, however, cannot survive for too many nights without experiencing that special lift we get, from sharing that unique pleasure that comes during two magical hours in the dark.  No, it’s not gazing at the rings of Saturn, munching popcorn at a drive-in, or even sharing a hammock behind a cabin in the piney woods.

Gotta see a show.  So with that in mind, this time around, I’m offering a few leads that might help you choose where to head for when you get your reprieve from the time clock, the lunchroom, the car pool and the boss.

At the Barrington Stage in Pittsfield, MA, the captivating Annette O’Toole stars in ‘Southern Comfort,’ a new musical by Dan Collins [book & lyrics] and Julianne Wick-Davis [music], about transformation, love and redefining family.    It runs from July 19 through August 10.  Jeff McCarthy co-stars, in this production directed by Tom Caruso.

If your feet can move as fast as that master of fancy tap footwork Maurice Hines, you can catch his dazzling new tribute show ‘Tappin’ Thru Life,’ at the Cleveland Playhouse.  It’s only on until June 22, but it’s a great chance to see and hear Hines honoring many of the previous show biz greats who inspired his career, among them Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra.  Hines has ‘tapped’ Jeff Calhoun to helm the show. Tony-winner Mary Zimmerman both adapted and directed this premiere, family-friendly for Chicago’s Goodman Theatre.  Zimmerman has taken the original Rudyard Kipling stories, and the subsequent Disney film, and fashioned her own vision to create ‘The Jungle Book.’ using music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.  The adventures of young Mowgli are a mainstay in the bedtime story hours of many children and hold a place of honor in the memories of their parents, teachers, aunts, uncles, and the rest of us.  Choreography by Christopher Gattelli adds to the lively event, which opens June 21 and will guide us through its colorful jungle until July 28.

While you’re in the Windy City, if you plan it carefully, you can also catch a new play directed by Pam MacKinnon, at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.  If you missed the Tony-winning revival of  ’Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ this past season, you will now have an opportunity to witness why MacKinnon won a best director Tony for handling the same post she holds down here for the new Bruce Norris play, ‘The Qualms.’  This one also takes a jaundiced look at marital relationships, as a group of married couples gathers at an apartment complex by the beach, for yet another swinging soiree laced with food, drinks and drugs.  When they attempt to integrate a new twosome into the festivities, the mix’n'match-fest doesn’t quite gel. The fireworks go off July 3rd, and keep bursting forth until 8/31.

If you do find yourself in the city with the big shoulders, head north for a few days.  It doesn’t matter when, because from now until the fall, Ontario, Canada’s Shaw Festival, with its four performing spaces, guarantees that there will be something to your liking. A few examples: in the mood for a romantic tale?  There’s “A Light in the Piazza,” and “Enchanted April.”  Eager to be transported back about a century, to what seemed like simpler times?  Try “Major Barbara” or “Lady Windemere’s Fan.”  How about a classic toe-tapper that never fails to leave you humming – what better than “Guys and Dolls?”  And that’s truly only the half of it!  What gives the Shaw its ‘died and gone to theatre heaven’ quality, aside from the picturesque, small town environs that’s beautifully manicured and maintained, is its playing schedule.  You can take in three separate productions in one day, starting with an 11:30 AM performance, then a 2 PM matinee, followed by an 8 PM offering.  Type in to get the whole story.

If you like the fun of intrigue in the traditional noirish style, the Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA presents a cloak & dagger tuner titled, simply, ‘Cloak & Dagger.’  Written as an intermission-less 90 minute show, [a la Hollywood B pictures of mid last century], this new musical by Ed Dixon pits his luckless gumshoe Nick Cutter against all the usual suspects, especially the blonde femme type. 

This one opened already [in the dead of night?] and plays until 7/6.

Do not overlook or look past local, regional, senior or college productions when you’re visiting a new-to-you destination.  These are folks whose love of theatre is genuine, and if you willingly suspend your disbelief, you’ll find that they’ll got a lot to offer in the ‘jus

Finally, if you find yourself hankering for the lights of 14th street, the Goodspeed in East Haddam, Ct is happy to satisfy your hanker, with its gala revival of the Jerry Herman/Michael Stewart classic, ‘Hello, Dolly!’  One of the most acclaimed regional theatres in the world of musical revivals, the Goodspeed hosts Dolly Levi and company, directed by Daniel Goldstein, from June 28 through 9/8.
If your vacation looks more like a stay-cation [for those of us Big Applers], it WILL be the lights of 14th street, and environs, that can offer a rich, rewarding and memorable grab-bag of theatre treats.  For a start, you might finally check off a few shows that you were too distracted to take in when they were first on display on Broadway.   Two cases in point:  you can bask in the joy of both “Peter and the Starcatcher,”  and “Avenue Q” in the same day, because they’re both holding forth at the New World Stages complex, at 340 west 50th Street.

There is another destination that’s located right in the heart of little ole New York, at the Broadway Theatre.  It’s a vacation not in a geographic place [although the locale is certainly distinctive]. It’s Rodgers & Hammerstein-land.  Their “Cinderella” will transport you back into that special world of bachelor princes, fairy godmothers, passenger pumpkins and breakable footwear.  Even if you are not familiar with its original television incarnation [Julie Andrews, and my God! Kaye Ballard!], even if it’s all new to you, you will luxuriate in the hallmark R&H elements, chief among them, a signature waltz.  Recall: the Carousel waltz, or ‘Shall We Dance?’ from ‘The King and I.’  This time it’s ‘Ten Minutes Ago,’ and it could be the sweetest of them all. Cinderella & Company do justice to the original tale, with a few noteworthy adjustments, compliments of its adult-friendly new libretto [book] by Douglas Carter Beane.  This version has laughs for the designated escort.  With apologies to Prince Santino Fontana, this time the Bachelor fits the contemporary mold – real handsome but not drop-dead gorgeous.  He’s from the Dustin Hoffman school.

But he is still quite a catch.

Most of all, for me, it’s another chance to hear that gorgeous voice of Victoria Clark.  She does have echoes of Mary Martin, but with the corners sanded off.  [Oh, and the wicked ogre-woman who keeps Cindy chained to the sooty hearth?  In a role she was born to play - Harriet Harris.  A very big bonus.]  Now if only the management will keep the line for the disabled rest room [I'm in that category] clear of doting mommas with cute-as-a-button little princesses too precious to be walked down a flight of stairs to the ladies’...

Finally, here’s an off-Broadway development that will have long-range echoes for years to come. Sometimes all the parts seem to come together with such ease that it appears to have been pre-ordained.  So it is with the announcement that the Culture Project, which has operated from 45 Bleecker Street for many years, will produce its Women Center Stage 2013 Festival for one month, starting July 8, at that venue, which was recently renamed in honor of a great lady of the theatre, and a great human being in life, Lynn Redgrave.  The Festival’s mission is to promote the work of women artists, especially those that have proven to be inspirational through their life and work.  No one fits that description better than Lynn.

Claimed by a cancer that she beat back vigorously for years, Lynn was always a woman who shied away from trading on her family name, a family that produced three generations of truly remarkable, estimable and individually unique theatre artists, whose talents shone on stage, on film and in television roles, starting with her grandfather, Roy Redgrave, a leading man in silent films, followed by her parents, Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson, siblings Vanessa and Michael, and nieces Natasha Richardson and Jenna Redgrave.  A friend for more than thirty years, one of my fondest memories centers around the happy discovery of how modestly she kept things, chief among them her simple little flat on west 57th street, just down the block from Carnegie Hall.  One might think it was the residence of a starting-out musician toiling to appear on that great  stage, instead of the woman who garnered dozens of honors, and along with her signal acting skills, was also an accomplished playwright.  She used that side of her creative self to honor her parents in two separate works, “Shakespeare for my Father,” and “Nightingale.”  To many, including myself, the highest honor that can be bestowed on a person whose life was dedicated to the theatre, is to have a theater named in their honor.

On Book

Continuing with recommendations of books to tote to the beach, the cottage,the deck of a cruise ship or the back porch, here are more titles to consider. ‘Actors at Work,’  a collection edited by Rosemarie Tichler and Barry Jay Kaplan, for Faber & Faber; ‘The Mystic in the Theatre – The Life of Eleanora Duse,’ by Eva Le Gallienne, Southern Illinois University Press; ‘Working in American Theatre,’ by Jim Volz, Metheun Press; ‘Introduction to Theatre Design,’ Stephen Di Benedetto, Routledge Press, and ‘Anne Bogart – Conversations with Anne,’ Theatre Communications Group.’

TONY VELLELA wrote and produced the PBS series about theatre, ‘Character Studies.’  His play ‘Admissions’ was performed three times in New York, each time directed by Austin Pendleton.  It won Best Play at the New York International Fringe Festival, and is published by Playscripts.  His play ‘Maisie and Grover Go to the Theatre,’ is published by ArtAge Press.  His feature articles about the performing arts have appeared in dozens of publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Dramatics, Parade, Rolling Stone, the Robb Report, Reader’s Digest and Saturday Review.  His ‘Test of Time’ won a CableACE Award for Lifetime Television Network.  He has taught theatre-related classes at the New School, HB Studio, Columbia University’s Teachers College, and several other institutions.  He conducts small-group sessions and private tutoring from his home -get latest information by contacting him at

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Thurs, March 15 @ 6.00 P.M: Jon Robin Baitz OTHER DESERT CITIES, Talk, Q&A and Book Signing

Jon Robin Baitz OTHER DESERT CITIES, Talk, Q&A and Book Signing

Jon Robin Baitz, author of Other Desert Cities, will be interviewed by theatre critic and author David Finkle, followed by a Q&A and a book signing. At the Drama Book Shop on March 15, 2012, beginning at 6:00 p.m. The event is free.

JON ROBIN BAITZ (Playwright). Plays include Mizlansky/Zilinsky or "schmucks," The Film Society, The Substance of Fire, The End of the Day, Three Hotels, A Fair Country, (an adaptation of) Hedda Gabler, Ten Unknowns and The Paris Letter. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist for A Fair Country and a Guggenheim, NEA and American Academy of Arts & Letters Award winner. He is on the faculties of the New School's Graduate Drama Division and Stony Brook Southampton's MFA in Theater and Film Program. His screenplays include The Substance of Fire and People I Know starring Al Pacino, both for Miramax. He created the ABC-TV drama "Brothers & Sisters" in 2006, after writing an episode of "The West Wing" ("The Long Goodbye"). Other Desert Cities was nominated for Lortel, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards, winning the latter.

DAVID FINKLE is a New York-based writer who concentrates on the arts. He's currently writes for The Huffington Post, is the chief drama critic for and writes regularly on music for The Village Voice and Back Stage. He's contributed to many publications, including TheNew York Times, The New York Post, The Nation, The New Yorker, New York, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and American Theatre. He is the author of People Tell Me Things published by Nthposition Press.

Lincoln Center Thatre's production of OTHER DESERT CITIES is currently running on Broadway. Visit for more info or call Telecharge at (212) 239-6200.

Other Desert Cities (Paperback)
By Jon Robin Baitz, Honor Moore

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mon, March 5 @ 5.00 P.M: Star-Studded Book Launch: IN REHEARSAL at The Drama Book Shop

Star-Studded Book Launch: IN REHEARSAL
Stacy Keach, Kathleen Chalfant and others, with author Gary Sloan

The free even event will feature readings from Gary Sloan's IN REHEARSAL, a Q & A and a book signing, at the Drama Book Shop, Monday, March 5, 2012, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

The cast is:
Author plus Stacy Keach (currently on Broadway in Other Desert Cities), Kathleen Chalfant (Tony nominee for Wit), Janet Zarish (Head of Acting at NYU), Keith Hamilton Cobb (Emmy nominee from All My Children), Chris Martin (founder of CSC), and Donna Bullock.

About the Author:
Gary Sloan
has been a professional actor for thirty years and has performed leading roles in New York, Los Angeles and the most prestigious regional theatres in the United States.

Recent performances include: a world premiere of a new children's play by Ken Ludwig at Adventure Theatre in D.C., narrations in Defiant Requiem, Verdi at Terezin for the Prague Music Festival in CZ and the Kennedy Center; Enoch Arden for the Virginia Chamber Orchestra.

In 2009, he traveled to the English Theatre of Vienna to perform the role of Walter in Arthur Miller's The Price, directed by the late Robert Prosky. In 2007, he co-authored and performed the role of Edwin Booth in a one person show at the National Portrait Gallery as part of the Kennedy Center's Shakespeare in Washington Festival.

Favorite stage roles include: Shakespeare's Hamlet, Mercutio, Mark Antony, Berowne and Edgar at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C., Rakitan in A Month In the Country at Arena Stage, Macbeth at the Folger, Doc Holliday in The Legend of the Five Pointed Star at Cincinnati Playhouse, Moe Axelrod in Awake & Sing at the Huntington Theatre in Boston, Otto Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank at the Round House theatre, Serge in Art at Syracuse Stage, Judge Brock in Hedda Gabler at the Hudson Guild in L.A., Jack Rover in Wild Oats and Faust in Goethe's Faust off-Broadway at the CSC Repertory and a production of King Lear with Hal Holbrook at Roundabout theatre in NY.

About the Book:
In Rehearsal is a clear and accessible how-to approach to the rehearsal process. Author Gary Sloan brings more than thirty years' worth of acting experience to bear on the question of how to rehearse both as an individual actor and as part of the team of professionals that underpins any successful production. Interviews with acclaimed actors, directors, playwrights, and designers share a wealth of knowledge on dynamic collaboration.

The book is divided in to three main stages, helping the reader to refine their craft in as straightforward and accessible manner as possible:

In the world: A flexible rehearsal program that can be employed daily, as well as over a typical four week production rehearsal.

In the room: Advice on working independently and productively with other members of a company, such as directors, playwrights, designers and technical crew; how your personal creative process varies depending on the role, be it Shakespeare, musicals, film, television or understudying.

On your own: Creating your own rehearsal process, exploring original and famous rehearsal techniques, breaking through actor's block and how to practice every day.

In Rehearsal breaks down the rehearsal process from the actor's perspective and equips its reader with the tools to become a generous and resourceful performer both inside and outside the studio. Its independent, creative and daily rehearsal techniques are essential for any modern actor.

Praise for In Rehearsal
"I loved discovering this book. I found Gary Sloan's writing current, fresh, smart and inspiring. The overall message of encouraging the actor to take responsibility for his own creative rehearsal process is conveyed with beautiful clarity and usefulness. It is an empowering guide for the actor who, too often, floats in a sea of unorganized questions and impulses until he finds his way. This book leaves nothing to chance and, ultimately, everything to a creative, courageous, collaborative and crafted freedom. It could easily become the modern bible for our beginning theater actor today."--Janet Zarish, Head of Acting, NYU Graduate Acting Program, USA

"Sloan deftly defines the responsibilities an actor must bring to the creative environment inside a director's rehearsal process. However, his real gift is the blueprint of how every actor must explore, research, and prepare a role outside the rehearsal room. In my opinion, In Rehearsal should be required reading for all undergraduate actors." --John David Lutz, Chair, Department of Theatre, University of Evansville, USA

"Everyone who is contemplating going into rehearsal for anything at all (the theatre, movies, television, life or just a walk in the park) should rush out and buy Gary Sloan's book - all the questions you might ever ask about the rehearsal process are addressed here and all kinds of solutions are offered but even more than the specific solutions the gold in the book is that it makes the reader understand that the profession of acting is a serious, noble, difficult, essentially human, often ridiculous, honorable, beautiful, HARD, glorious way to spend a life - this book is invaluable to people just getting started because it gives you a practice and a peek at anything and everything that might happen - for people who have been at it for the 20 years and more it is a companion to talk to and argue with and seek advice in and laugh with in that absolutely satisfying way you do when you come upon something that gets it absolutely RIGHT." --Kathleen Chalfant, Actor

In Rehearsal: In the World, in the Room, and on Your Own (Paperback)
by Gary Sloan

Saturday, February 25, 2012

POW! (Play Of The Week)

by Moises Kaufman

It’s about time!! I have been waiting three years for this beautiful play to be published. When I saw it in 2009, I was blown away by the poignant and sensitive portrayal of human nature as expressed in art. How do we communicate? Is there a common language through which we describe and record the minute details of human emotion. All of this is explored in 33 Variations as Dr. Kathleen Brandt attempts to understand why Beethoven became obsessed with a mediocre waltz and composed 33 variations instead of the single composition requested. Why so many variations? Dr. Brandt cannot rest until she has the answer, yet she is fighting a loosing battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and her own relationship with her daughter has been suffering for some time. We see these two artists, Beethoven and Dr. Brandt, grapple with their morality and how this struggle manifests through art.

Kaufman makes note that in addition to the actors there are two more “characters” in the play, Beethoven's music (played live by a pianist) and projections of Beethoven's sketches. All of the music is included in the playscript (which is why it is oversized). After seeing the Broadway production, I wondered how the play would translate on paper. Kaufman is right, the play is incredibly dependent on the music. You definitely don't get the whole experience just reading the play, but then when does one ever? The music is more than an underscore, it speaks as loudly as any other character, always present and informative. I would recommend listening to some of the Variations while reading the play to get a fuller experience. An appreciation or understanding of classical music is not necessary because the play is beautiful enough on it's own. In witnessing the characters frenetically search to connect and achieve personal goals, one becomes aware of the profound simplicity of a single moment. The play begs us to slow down, and open ourselves to the people and fleeting moments that make up our lives.

Lastly, the scene in the second act where Beethoven constructs Variation #32 (while the pianist plays along) was one of the most breath taking moments I have ever experienced in my 15+ years of attending Broadway theatre.

Great scenes for a man and woman in their 20s, two women 40-60, and two men 30-50. Some monologues for a woman 40-60 and possible monologues for a man and a woman in their 20s.

4M, 3W (and 1 pianist)

Reviewed by Abi

Monday, February 13, 2012

Intermission Talk

“Porgy & Bess” needed

“Wit” to travel

“The Road to Mecca”


Back in 1995, when she was appearing with Jude Law and Kathleen Turner in “Indiscretions” on Broadway, I had a wonderfully candid conversation with Cynthia Nixon. The topic under discussion was acting styles. We’d just been sharing our experiences with Uta Hagen. “I’d always been a very emotional actor,” she confided. “I would go right into the emotions of the character, rather than the circumstances. I would ‘pump’ the emotions. Now I see that it’s kind of a dead-end way to work.” She had just completed a series of sessions with the HB co-founder, and noted that “Miss Hagen expects you to think on stage as the character . . . to have many circumstances in your head, and so many maps of where you might go, that you can explore any territory the character might lead to.”

The “Indiscretions” cast: Jude Law, Cynthia Nixon, Roger Rees and Eileen Atkins.

Today, Nixon is starring in the revival, and Broadway premiere of Margaret Edson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Wit,” portraying a cancer victim confronting her mortality. And were she alive, I believe Miss Hagen would be proud of her former student. And while some of the specifics of cancer treatment have evolved since the play opened in 1998, off-Broadway, the core of its compelling story involves how any of us faces our impending demise. Dr.Vivian Bearing, [Nixon], with her PhD. in 19th century metaphysical poetry, would seem to be a good candidate for growing thick armor as her situation becomes more and more compromised. The brilliance of Edson’s writing becomes apparent as Bearing’s personal, closely-guarded fears bump up against her fierce intelligence and scalding sense of humor. Previous high-profile Bearings [Kathleen Chalfant off-B'way and Emma Thompson in an HBO film], projected an obvious toughness of spirit, which suggested that, whatever the details of the story’s conclusion, it would be one chosen by the central character. Nixon’s ‘persona,’ though, reflects a less galvanized spirit, even at times fragile. Her ‘victimhood’ is apparent from the get-go, not diminished because of her railing against all manner of institutional ineptitude, against the approach often taken by medical professionals who seem impervious to human feelings, or by the comfort she may have expected from the poetry of John Donne she holds so dear, in and out of the classroom. Like all of us, she cannot dictate or direct the details of our final moments of life.

At rise, with her bald head, she resembles an alien refugee from “Close Encounters…”. She first-person narrates the story, employing the sharp wit her IQ and usually rarified company would suggest. But here, in the world of diagnoses and observations and X-rays and meds and hospital dressing ‘gowns,’ her IQ doesn’t come into it at all. And whenever she does locate an opportunity to roll out a smart-as-a-whip caustic comment, it does not find a place to land. This professor, so comfortable in her role as celebrated teacher, must now try to do her own learning – which is, learning to suffer. Because director Lynn Meadow surrounds Nixon with a first-rate ensemble [including the always spot-on Michael Countryman, the happily understated Carra Paterson, and Suzanne Berish so effective in the pivotal role of Bearing's early-career mentor], the sense of ‘reality,’ such as it may be in a narrated play, registers as strongly as a death sentence.

The current revival of “Porgy & Bess,” [not comfortable, despite how many others are, with calling it 'The Gershwins' ...] features scenic design by Riccardo Hernandez. Having seen some of his other work, it should not have been a surprise that this time out, he would also forge an overpowering abstract element in which the musical takes place. As in “The People in the Picture,” [a mile-high picture frame] and “Parade,” [a mile-high dead tree], to name a few, this effort also puts experimental concept above the needs of the story. Catfish Row, Charleston, South Carolina, in the late 1930s, an enclosed courtyard of ramshackle tenements, clotheslines, cobblestones and a well, here has been transformed into a vertical lumberyard. For comparison, take Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge,” which also requires a feel for the Italian-immigrant neighborhood where the apartment hours is located, in Brooklyn. When we first meet Eddie, he strides home through small knots of friends, a member of a community. So, too, when his betrayal is revealed, do we see how that same community shuns him. Catfish Row should also be seen as that kind of enclave, heads popping out of windows, doorways open, broken stairways leading to broken lives. But Hernandez’s barren design robs us of that vital component, the interrelationships among the hard-scrapple folk who collectively suffer indignities large and small. Other faults have been found with this production, including the weakening of the score and the tinkering with the book, which also deserve mentioning. Another example of this re-imagining has turned the almost mournful solo “Summertime” into a kind of young-couple romantic duet, draining it of its ability, at the very top of the show, from depicting the enervated quality of life now, and the wrenching aspirations a young mother has for her child. The set design places this at once delicate and brutal story inside a wooden diorama, robbing it of a critical element in creating the vitality and spark it is capable of.

Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis as Bess and Porgy.

And then there’s Audra. Ms. McDonald again demonstrates that her greatest gift is the ability to generate, in almost any situation, a breathtaking fearlessness. Notice that quality in her duet with Porgy [the solid Norm Lewis], “Bess, You Is My Woman Now.” It mirrors her eye-popping outcry as Ruth in “A Raisin in the Sun,” when she decries her boundless joy at the prospect of leaving behind “these Goddamned cracking walls – and these marching roaches! . . . Hallelujah! and good-bye misery.” When Sportin’ Life [David Allan Grier, whose sly cunning is balanced with his powerful vocals] teases his way into her latent weakness for ‘happy dust,’ we can see past and present Bess doing battle, the expressions of doubt and commitment and fear and hope crossing her face like lines on a map. Her wrenching calls for help as Crown reclaims her go unheeded, but they are undercut by the lack of a true, real-looking ‘place’ where the action goes down.

Opera? Musical theatre work? A definitions distinction I’m not qualified to parse. If you don’t expect to have an opportunity to hear this score and experience this tale live, it’s a rich, rewarding event. Like so much of what comes back labeled as revival, this one also suffers from the commercial expectations a more manageable production might lead to, as well as the ever-growing mania for imprinting a classic work with the distortions visited upon it by willful directors, book re-writers or designers. Must that be the case? Ain’t necessarily so.

Bucking this pernicious trend, the respectful revival of Athol Fugard’s 1985 chamber-piece drama “The Road to Mecca” gives us what one could imagine the playwright had in mind. In this instance, he brings us to a remote hut along a back road in the small Karoo village of New Bethesda, South Africa, circa 1974. A spirited widow, Miss Helen descends from the original Dutch settlers, and embodies their flinty independence. Her pastor, Marius, is also an Afrikaner. The third character, a schoolteacher named Elsa, from English stock, came into Helen’s life when her car broke down a few years back.

Last things first. Thanks to the sensitive, careful and caring set design by Michael Yeargan, Helen’s circumscribed world within that hut tells us so much about its inhabitant, a sculptor, lover of literature and of nature, and a woman of great resourcefulness. Notice the books that have replaced one of the legs on her well-worn chaise. Miss Helen has painted her walls the colors of a blazing sunset. Artwork, found pieces, carvings, masks and other items of interest bedeck her walls. And the absence of electric lights accounts for more than two dozen candles of varying sizes and thicknesses that reside on almost every flat surface.

As Miss Helen, Rosemary Harris knows her way around a feisty persona, but tempers her with the self-doubt that has frozen her in place and time. When Marius and his congregants threaten to take her home and her land, she writes to Elsa to come to her aid. After her eight-hour drive, Elsa finds Helen’s reticence to spilling out the facts nearly exasperating. As Marius, who was portrayed in the original New York production by the playwright, Jim Dale creates a folksy charm about him that seems to hint at some underlying deception. And Carla Gugino’s Elsa provides another opportunity for this insightful and perceptive young woman to shine. Twists are twisted and turns are turned. A seemingly little, personal tale of crisis becomes a solid foundation to examine what independence means, what responsibility to ourselves and others entails, how age does not always bestow total wisdom and when to negotiate, as Prof. Bearing does in “Wit,” the consequences of coming to the end of one’s journey.

In The Wings

Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts continues its Solo Sessions series with a presentation of Steve Solomon’s “My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish, I’m in Therapy!” If you missed its two-year off-Broadway run, you can book tickets for this April 1 at

The Judy Garland world of tributes and recreations continues, this time via a property titled “End of the Rainbow.” Hopping the Atlantic from an acclaimed London run, it will star Tracie Bennett, recreating her role as Judy, as the show traces the singer’s last two years, from the iconic Palace Theatre concert to her death in 1969.

Another entertainment giant, Charlie Chaplin, has inspired a new musical about the silent film star’s life and career. “Becoming Chaplin” may look more viable now that a motion picture, “The Artist,” has successfully recreated and celebrated the mute world of those early pictures. Originating at the La Jolla Playhouse in California, the musical is expected to have its voices heard next season.

The 1991 indie fave “Dogfight,” which starred Lili Taylor and River Phoenix, has spawned an eponymous musical set to heat up Second Stage this summer. The ’60s-era story follows a young, and shy waitress and a Marine on the verge of being shipped out to Vietnam. The romantic tale features music & lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, a book by Peter Duchan, and the show was awarded the 2011 Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theatre. Joe Mantello directs.

Finally, for readers from out-of-town, here are two resources to seek out which will help you navigate your Broadway getaway: [1] Created by veteran Broadway producer, The Broadway Hotline was launched the first of this month, as a one-stop phone service to answer all questions to make it easier [and possibly cheaper!] to make tracks to the Theatre District. This toll-free hotline = 1-855-SEE-BWAY = operates seven days a week, from 10 AM until showtime, and offers advice and answers about ticket prices and bargains, parking, geography of the streets and avenues, the consequences of there’s a snowfall closing streets and businesses, and more. It’s like having a hotel concierge you can summon at the touch of your phone pad. For more info: www.The And [2], when you check in, ask the desk clerk for a copy of the Winter 2012 edition of Playbill that features information on current shows, including discount coupons for many of them. For more info:

On Book

To enrich your understanding of the context of two of the shows reviewed above, here are three books that do just that. The discussions about the origins and original intentions of the creators of “Porgy and Bess,” check out “Geniuses of the American Musical Theatre,” by Herbert Keyser. This handsome overview includes a substantive, well-written chapter on George Gershwin, and others on the creators who shaped the world the Gershwins flourished in. For the libretto, pick up Stanley Richards’ “Ten Great Musicals of the American Theatre.” You can see for yourself what the original book and lyrics were, and compare them to the revisal now on display.

Athol Fugard has become of the more heralded playwrights of the last century. After you take in “The Road to Mecca,” and also “The Blood Knot,” now at the stunning new Signature Theatre center, familiarize yourself with some of his other works. Four of his plays are collected in an Oxford University Press, but any other collection will do.


TONY VELLELA wrote and produced the theatre series ‘Character Studies’ for PBS. His award-winning play “Admissions” is published by Playscripts, and “Maisie and Grover Go to the Theatre” by Art Age Publications. His feature stories about the performing arts have appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Dramatics Magazine, Theatre Week, Parade, Rolling Stone and dozens of other publications. He is currently teaching very small, private sessions on plays, musicals, characters in them and for actors, directors, designers and dramaturgs, an examination of the creators’ intentions when preparing to work on a production, along with one-to-one coaching. He can be reached at

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Wed, Feb 8 @ 5.30 P.M: PAULA VOGEL: An evening with the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE at The Drama Book Shop

PAULA VOGEL: An evening with the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE

Paula Vogel’s acclaimed play is returning to New York City for the first time since its premiere 15 years ago.

Wednesday, February 8, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Paula Vogel's plays include A Civil War Christmas, The Long Christmas Ride Home, The Mineola Twins, The Baltimore Waltz, Hot'N'Throbbing, Desdemona, And Baby Makes Seven, and The Oldest Profession.

Work in progress includes a collaboration for Yale Repertory and Oregon Shakespeare Festival (based on The God of Vengeance), with director/cowriter Rebecca Taichman and an adaptation of Von Horvath's Don Juan Comes Home from the War with director Blanka Ziska at the Wilma Theatre.

Theatre Communications Group has published three books of her work, The Mammary Plays, The Baltimore Waltz and Other Plays and The Long Christmas Ride Home. A Civil War Christmas will be published this spring.

She received the 1998 Pulitzer Prize, the Lortel, Drama Desk, Outer Critics and New York Drama Critics Awards for best play, as well as her second OBIE. In 2004-5 she was in residence at The Signature Theatre in New York. Other awards include the 2004 Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Pew Charitable Trust Award, Laura Pels Award, the Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, the Fund for American Plays, the Stephen and Christine Schwarzman Legacy Award, and the Thirtini from 13P. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the Dramatists Guild and Writers Guild of America.

She recently received the lifetime achievement award from the Dramatists Guild. She is the Eugene O'Neill Professor at the Yale School of Drama, and lives with her wife, scientist/writer Anne Fausto-Sterling in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.

"Paula Vogel has a gift for sustaining humor and pathos at the same time without trivializing either emotion." --The New York Times

The event is FREE and open to the public.

250 West 40th Street
New York, NY 10018


How I Learned to Drive at the Second Stage Theatre

How I Learned to Drive (Paperback)
By Paula Vogel

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tues, Jan 31@ 6:00 p.m: J. T. Rogers: performance from and signing of Blood and Gifts (FREE) at The Drama Book Shop

The cast of Lincoln Center Theater’s celebrated production of Blood and Gifts perform excerpts from the play, followed by a Q&A with and book signing by playwright J. T. Rogers.

“My God, Russian soldiers being shot by Chinese bullets. Sometimes the world is so beautiful.”

1981. The Soviet army burns its way through Afghanistan, CIA operative Jim Warnock is sent to try and halt its bloody progress, and a secret spy war behind the official Soviet-Afghan war begins. The ground constantly shifts for Jim and his counterparts in the KGB and British and Pakistani secret service as the men wrestle with their shifting personal and political loyalties, and their friendships with—and betrayals of—each other. As the outcome of the entire Cold War comes into play, Jim and a larger-than-life Afghan warlord find the only person they can trust is each other. Spanning a decade and playing out in Washington DC, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, Blood and Gifts is a sweeping, often shockingly funny, epic set against one of the greatest historical events of recent history.

Blood and Gifts: Top Ten Play of the Year from The New York Times, Time Out NY, Bloomberg News

“Superb! Engrossing and illuminating. A first-rate production with the taut grip of a spy novel. J.T. Rogers's knowledge of the hearts and minds of his characters is as deep as his grasp of the geopolitical games being played.”-- New York Times

“A gripping, sensational spy tale!” -- Time Out New York

“A smart, stimulating and just-plain entertaining spy thriller!”-- Entertainment Weekly

“An espionage thriller and dark comedy with fascinating characters.”-- New York Post

“J.T. Rogers asserts a unique voice in this gripping and absorbing drama.”-- Backstage

J. T. Rogers’s plays include Blood and Gifts (National Theater, London; Lincoln Center Theater), The Overwhelming (National Theatre, followed by UK tour with Out of Joint and BBC Radio; Roundabout Theatre); Madagascar (Theatre 503, London; Melbourne Theatre Company) and White People (Off Broadway with Starry Night Productions). As one of the original playwrights for the Tricycle Theatre of London’s Great Game: Afghanistan, he was nominated for 2009 Olivier Award. His works have been staged throughout the United States and in Germany, Canada, and Israel, and are published by Faber and Faber and Dramatists Play Service. Rogers’s essays have appeared in American Theatre and in London’s Independent and The New Statesman. He is a member of New Dramatists and the Dramatist Guild and holds an honorary doctorate from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Blood and Gifts: A Play
By J. T. Rogers
Paperback. $14.00

Monday, January 23, 2012

POW! (Play Of The Week)

by Bekah Brunstetter

Bekah Brunstetter’s hilarious yet sad play Be A Good Little Widow is a wonderful depiction of loss, longing, and dealing with the people who suddenly become a large part of your life.

Newlyweds Melody and Craig have just moved into a new home to attempt at becoming proper sophisticated grownups. Though 23 year old Melody loves her husband, she is constantly competing for attention with his blackberry. As if that weren't bad enough, when her mother-in-law, Hope, comes into the picture we get to experience the horrid battle of, "well little girl, you are obviously not good enough for my son."

Because of Craig's Job, Melody is often left alone and only seems to feel relaxed or comfortable around Brad (Craig's assistant) who seems to be just as dazed and confused as she is. When Craig suddenly dies, Melody begins an uncontrollable journey of trying to mourn "properly" because, of course, her mother-in-law is a professional. In fact, she is the leader of the Widows League in town. As the plot grows we learn that Melody and Hope have much to teach each other about the grieving process.

This play was a surprising and wonderful read. You can't help but fall in love with each character. Be A Good Little Widow may seem like a cute play but do not be fooled; it is unexpectedly hilarious, sexy and moving.

If you enjoy Annie Baker or Brooke Berman's work you will not be disappointed.

Great scenes for 2W and for M/F
2M, 2W

Reviewed by Sharone

Monday, December 19, 2011

POW! (Play Of The Week)

by Laura Wade

What happens when you put ten rich, smart, competitive men in the same room with a case of expensive wine and a ten-bird roast (imagine a turducken times three)? Posh.

Every term, the ten members of the Oxford University’s Riot Club gather together to eat good food, drink expensive wine and trash a dining room with the expectation that they can pay off anyone who complains. This term, a clash over the leadership and the future of the club agitate this already combative group of affluent students. Dressed in tails and up for a night of debauchery, the Riot Club exchange insults, brilliant quips and stories about their crumbling castles that have been turned over to the state. Throw in an overly attentive proprietor, his “tasty” daughter and a “professional” prostitute and the boys of the Riot Club are in for a more memorable night than they bargained for.

Posh premiered at London’s Royal Court in the spring of 2010 on the eve of the general election that brought the Tories to power. Modeled after the Bullingdon Club (which current Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron was a member of), the Riot Club is Wade’s means of exploring England’s ruling class, their attitudes and their origin. Her apt use of the well-bred vernacular simultaneously charms and terrifies the audience as the Riot Club members continuously undercut one another. These are smart young men who have a frightening hatred bubbling beneath the surface. A hatred for poor people, a hatred for unintelligent people, a hatred for the people who have taken their country away from the people who deserve to rule it. What’s even more frightening is how good they are at articulating this hatred and how comfortable they are doing so in the company of one another.

Wade has written a clever, scathing, funny play about the men behind the curtain in politics and how they got there.

12M, 2W
Reviewed by Kate

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thurs, Dec 15 @ 6 P.M: Tony award winning playwright David Henry Hwang reading and book signing at The Drama Book Shop. FREE Admission.

Tony award winning playwright David Henry Hwang reading and book signing at The Drama Book Shop Thursday December 15, 2011, at 6:00 pm. Free admission.

A rare opportunity to hear one of America’s finest playwrights.

David Henry Hwang, with special guests, will read and discuss his current Broadway offering, Chinglish as well as his award-winning plays M. Butterfly and Yellow Face at The Drama Book Shop, 250 West 40th Street on Thursday, December 15th.

David Henry Hwang's works include the Tony Award-winning M. BUTTERFLY, the hit musical AIDA, and his current Broadway comedy, CHINGLISH. He is a three-time Tony Award nominee, a three-time Obie Award winner, and has twice been a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wed, Dec 14 @ 5 P.M: Teresa Rebeck & cast members reading from Broadway show Seminar at The Drama Book Shop

A terrific free event at The Drama Book Shop with Teresa Rebeck and cast members reading from her Broadway show Seminar, now playing at The Golden Theatre to rave reviews.

There will also be a Q&A and she will also sign her plays.

Broadway credits include Seminar (currently running at the Golden Theatre) and Mauritius. Past New York productions include The Scene, The Water’s Edge, Bad Dates, The Butterfly Collection, Spike Heels, Loose Knit, The Family of Mann, View of the Dome and Omnium Gatherum (co-written, Pulitzer finalist). Publications include her Collected Plays Volume I (volumes II and III, fall 2007), Free Fire Zone (fall 2007), all with Smith & Kraus, and her first novel, Three Girls and Their Brother (spring 2008) with Shaye Areheart/Random House. Rebeck has written extensively for film and television as well. She has won the National Theatre Conference Award, the William Inge New Voices Playwriting Award, Boston‘s Elliot Norton and IRNE awards, a Writers Guild Award, an Edgar and a Peabody. She thanks her husband Jess and children, Cooper and Cleo.

Thurs, Dec 15 @ 9 P.M: A FREE night of sketch comedy at The Drama Book Shop

A FREE night of sketch comedy from the New Sketch Group

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Sister Act at The Drama Book Shop

Saturday, November 19, 2011

POW! (Play Of The Week)

by Christopher Shinn

After seeing Picked at the Vineyard Theatre this spring, I was immediately drawn to Shinn’s plays. The festering underbelly in his work is quite engaging, and the actor is forced to acknowledge the haunting subtext. The task is fun, and Shinn allows for complicated, indecisive, twisted characters.

In Four, which was originally produced by the Royal Court Theatre in London and later in New York City by the Worth Street Theater Company, four characters come together under similar, but two different circumstances. One of which is between a sixteen-year-old boy and a closeted, married black man whom he met on the internet. The other is the man’s sixteen-year-old daughter and a twenty-year old drug dealer. The scene work is quite interesting and the power play between charters is lustful and complicated. The two situations are foils for one another, and Shinn keeps us engaged by switching back and forth between each rendez vous.

There are good monologues and scenes for teenage actors. However, I recommend they be in their twenties or extremely mature since the subject matter is quite jarring. The piece is perfect for colleges or audiences open to a profound, heartbreaking exploration of sexuality, secrets, trust, and what happens when obligation is lifted.

When people place themselves in such impersonal situations, we often see them unfolding and exposing themselves in ways otherwise hidden by a socially acceptable guise. We see a “festering underbelly” bubbling to the surface out of sheer ambiguity.


Review by Shawn Verrier

Monday, November 07, 2011

Thurs, Nov 10 @ 6pm: Jerry Stiller and Ann Meara: WHERE'S THE WATCH? By "Uncle Leo" Len Lesser at The Drama Book Shop

Jerry Stiller and Ann Meara (and possibly Ben Stiller) celebrate the publication of Where's the Watch?! And Other Tales — a memoir from Seinfeld's Uncle Leo… Len Lesser.

Len Lesser passed away unexpectedly this February before the release of his memoir. Join the Stiller's for an evening talking theater, Hollywood and humor all wrapped up with their fond memories of Len Lesser, a lovable man whose life was a whole lot more than Seinfeld's Uncle Leo.

"Lesser's book is a theater buff's thriller. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. And you'll recognize all the suspects."--Jerry Stiller

"Len was an educated, articulate, hip, thoughtful contemporary man. Uncle Leo was a bit, a put on. It was so brilliant,it is unfathomable that it was a performance.--Jason Alexander

"I loved Len. We had fun every day we got to work together."--Jerry Seinfeld


You are about to meet the actor Len Lesser. An ordinary man with an extraordinary career. One of the longest in Hollywood.

A quintessential ladies man, Len was a WWII veteran, who held a degree in economics. He was intelligent, driven, and handsome. He could have done anything with his life. But he chose to act. That decision would land him jobs as a factory worker and a dishwasher. He would struggle throughout his life while still sharing the screen with Hollywood legends.

Before his breakout role as Uncle Leo on Seinfeld at age sixty-eight, Len was known for his work in films such as Kelly's Heroes, Birdman of Alcatraz, How to Stuff a Wild Bikini, Papillon, The Outlaw Josie Wales and TV shows like That Girl, The Monkees, and Get Smart.

Told in his own distinctive voice, Where's the Watch will introduce you to a different side of Seinfeld's Uncle leo. It is a poignant, inspiring romp through Hollywood…and life itself.

You will never see Uncle Leo the same way again.

Where's the Watch?! and Other Tales: A Memoir from Seinfeld's Uncle Leo
by Len Lesser and Tama Ryder with a foreword by Ed Asner
Staff Picks Press, November 2011
Paper: $17.50

Len Lesser was an award-winning actor and a longtime member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His career spanned more than six decades during which time he appeared in hundreds of critically acclaimed stage performances, films, and television shows, most notably on Seinfeld. He worked with Dustin Hoffman, Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood, Barbra Streisand, Mel Brooks, and Frank Sinatra, among others. He resided in Los Angeles, where he and Ed Asner liked to stir up trouble with the ladies.

Tama Ryder is a Harvard-educated writer who grew up without a television. She wrote and produced an award-winning documentary about the Fresh Air Fund program and most recently worked for Senator Bob Kerrey. She tried to stay clear of the Sunset Strip when she knew Len and Ed were on the prowl. You can read more about her at

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fri, Nov 4 @ 5 P.M: David Finkle reading from “People Tell Me Things,” his new collection of short stories at The Drama Book Shop

David Finkle will read from the ten-story collection focusing on Manhattan people and theater, publishing, and music, and their often complicated friendships. He’ll read the story “Banana Nose,” which deals with a successful producer and his somewhat well-known private life. Mr. Finkle will sign copies after the reading. David Finkle is the chief drama critic at He writes often about theater, books, and music for The Huffington Post. He also interviews theater personalities for the Drama Book Shop series.

People Tell Me Things (Paperback)
by David Finkle

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thurs, Nov 3 @ 6 P.M: Casting Insider Offers Advice on Nailing Your Audition: FREE at The Drama Book Shop

A free audition workshop with Jason Buyer, author of Inside the Audition Room: The Essential Actor's Handbook for Los Angeles.

Inside the Audition Room: The Essential Actor's Handbook for Los Angeles (Paperback)
by Jason Buyer

POW! (Play Of The Week)

Sixty Miles to Silver Lake
by Dan LeFranc

Soccer: the quintessential sport to play as a kid. A car ride: a quintessential way to be stuck with someone you’d rather not spend much time with.

Sixty Miles to Silver Lake follows the relationship between one such soccer-playing kid and his father. The kid, Denny, lives with his mother during the week and his dad, Ky, on the weekends. Ky picks Denny up every Saturday after his morning soccer game, and on the sixty mile trip to Ky’s home, the two spend an uniquely uninterrupted period of time together. What appears, initially, to be a play chronically just one of those car rides, LeFranc ingeniously spins into a composite of all of the car rides Ky and Denny have on the way to Silver Lake over dozens of years of their lives. With utmost subtlety, LeFranc reveals the way these two men change and grow during their years of soccer playing and chauffeuring, and the ins and outs of this example of the deep but delicate bond between father and son.

This sparse, beautifully crafted play was co-produced by P73 and Soho Rep., two important organizations for emerging playwriting talent, and it won LeFranc the 2010 New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award. LeFranc is certainly a writer to watch, and Sixty Miles to Silver Lake is a great way to get a look.

Cast: 2M, one spanning tweens to twenties, the other spanning the corresponding ages of his father
Scenes/Monlogues: The entire play is made up of a scene between two men, one younger, one older. Within that, the father goes off on some humorous rants that could make for unique monologues.

Review by Rachel K.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thurs, Oct 20 @ 6 P:M: Daniel Talbott & Jessica Bauman direct moments from The Amish Project, Milk, Birthday and Nobody at The Drama Book Shop

Inspired! Samuel French Celebrates New Plays by Emily DeVoti, Jessica Dickey, and Crystal Skillman

Daniel Talbott and Jessica Bauman direct moments from The Amish Project, Milk, Birthday and Nobody at the Arthur Seelen Theater

Celebrating Samuel French’s hot-off-the press publications written by three up-and-coming women playwrights who find inspiration in each other’s work. Along with insights from the authors on each other’s pieces, moments will be shared from the plays directed by a director who has also inspired these writers: Rising Phoenix Rep Artistic Director Daniel Talbott (Director of Birthday and Nobody, and author of Slipping, also available for purchase). Book signing party upstairs with wine and refreshments to follow!

"(Dickey's) craft made me weep. The virtuosic writer-performer acts her bonnet off."--Time Out New York

Birthday is a romantic comedy, sort of; it’s a lovely, sweet play of connection and camaraderie. Skillman picks up details of the trappings of our lives and makes them sing resonantly.”

“There is an engagingly original streak running through her writing… [DeVoti] fills Milk with interesting details (lots of cow knowledge) and unexpected touches.” --The New York Times.

Jessica Dickey is a professional actress and emerging playwright. She is a company member of Rising Phoenix Repertory, an Affiliated Artist of New Georges and a Founding member of the Fire Dept. Her hit one-woman show, THE AMISH PROJECT, examines the aftermath of the notorious Pennsylvania schoolhouse shootings. It premiered at the New York Fringe Festival in 2008, and went on to open at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, where it was greeted with tremendous response from both audiences and critics. For more info, visit

Emily DeVoti is a playwright and founding editor of The Brooklyn Rail. Her play MILK was produced Off-Broadway by New Georges in NYC in 2010 at HERE Arts Center in SoHo.

Crystal Skillman is a Brooklyn based playwright. NOBODY & BIRTHDAY, originally produced by Rising Phoenix Rep in NYC with director Daniel Talbott. She is honored to announce her comedy Action Philosophers! will be returning for a full run at the Brick this fall - Oct. 6th-16th following its sold out debut in the Comic Book Theatre festival this summer. In Spring 2012 he will be the resident playwright at Overturn Theatre Ensemble.

AMISH PROJECT: The Amish Project is a fictional exploration of the Nickel Mines schoolhouse shooting in an Amish community, and the path of forgiveness and compassion forged in its wake.

BIRTHDAY & NOBODY: In Birthday, an anxious young woman slips away from a unwelcoming birthday party in a bar only to discover a stranger sitting in the other room – they find they may have a chance to forgive themselves and each other. In Nobody six people come together, each for their own reasons, at a restaurant on the Lower East Sid and grasp at trying to come to terms with their disjointed lives and their singular, unsettling dream.

MILK: An elegant parable of change set on the cusp of a shifting American landscape. First produced by New Georges and New Feet Productions in New York City.

The Amish Project (Paperback)
By Jessica Dickey

Birthday & Nobody: Two Plays (Acting Edition) (Paperback)
By Crystal Skillman

Milk (Paperback)
By Emily Devoti

Slipping (Paperback)
By Daniel Talbott

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thurs, Oct 13 @ 6.00 P:M: Ken Bloom (Broadway Musicals: 101 Greatest Musicals) interviews Peter Filichia about his new book at The Drama Book Shop

Broadway Musical MVPs, 1960-2010: The Most Valuable Players of the Past 50 Seasons

Ken Bloom (Broadway Musicals: 101 Greatest Musicals) interviews Peter Filichia about his new book.

About the Author:
Peter Filichia is a theater critic for the Star-Ledger in Newark. Three times a week, he also writes Peter Filichia's Diary for theatermania, and every Tuesday writes a column for He is the author of Let's Put on a Musical, now in its third printing, and Broadway Musicals: The Biggest Hit & The Biggest Flop of the Season: 1959-2009. He is the chairperson and host of the annual Theatre World Awards.

Broadway Musical Mvps: 1960-2010: The Most Valuable Players of the Past 50 Seasons
By Peter Filichia
Paper. $19.99

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Thurs, Oct 6 @ 6.00 P.M: Peter Neufeld: For The Good of The Show. at The Drama Book Shop

Peter Neufeld: For The Good of The Show with Victor Garber, Steve Bogardus, Karen Ziemba, Peter Filichia (Moderator) and Seth Weinstein (Piano)

Brooklyn born and raised, Peter Neufeld fell in love at age seven when his mother took him to his first Broadway musical and the curtain rose on the original company of—Oklahoma!. His story takes us through his “maturing years” at the College of William and Mary, where his passion for the theater was reinforced. Here he established enduring friendships and “learned that it was kind of okay for the theater to be important to me.”

When Neufeld returned to New York, he eventually formed a business partnership with R. Tyler Gatchell, Jr. Their firm handled many of the most important shows of the 1970s and ’80s, including No, No, Nanette; Jesus Christ Superstar; Annie; Sweeney Todd; Evita; and Cats, to name a few. As the years unfolded Peter worked with theatrical royalty: from Claudette Colbert and Ruby Keeler to Cherry Jones and Patti LuPone; Mike Nichols and Ed Harris to Janet Leigh and Jack Cassidy; Ethel Merman, Linda Lavin and Alfred Drake to Noël Coward, Lynn Fontanne, and Madeline Kahn, Judith Ivey, Martin Charnin, and many, many more—always with a wry smile and a twinkle in his eye.

Peter’s memoir is also the touching story of a man wrestling with his sexuality while working in the Broadway theater. After Tyler’s death he found his interest in the business side waning. A new path led him closer to “the heart of the Broadway community,” a perfect footnote to the career of a man initially drawn to the stage by its spirit of mutual support. That gift for personal connection—along with integrity, warmth, humor, and an insistence on doing his job right— made him one of the most beloved and respected members of his profession. It also makes his memoir a saga of glamorous stars, laughter, soaring successes and humbling failures, keen insights into the world of theater, even a special Tony award. Peter’s story is the inspirational tale of a man in pursuit of a lifelong passion.

Hard Cover: $28.50
Paper: $19.50

POW! (Play Of The Week)

by Neal Bell

Doris and her teenage daughter, Lorna, are on the run. They witnessed Doris’s ex (Lorna’s father) kill the banker who’d come to foreclose on their farm, and they know they are next in line. The road trip they take to avoid being found is full of places to hide but the trip also brings them hallucinations and the dead banker’s son. They depend on each other as much as they don’t understand each other and with each mishap they continue on. Finally stopping at a small motel, for one night’s sleep behind a real door, and knowing they can’t pay the bill, they confront their would-be killer. Only now he’s dead. So what do they do? And do they do it together?

Wonderfully written tale of two people finding out what it takes to confront who they are. Tragic turns keep us guessing yet reveal two souls who love each other but are at odds with one another. The real people and the illusions add depth and humor. A real gem.

"Bell's story of the women's ghostly escape from realistic pursuit is…staged…with a grave simplicity that was haunting."--American Theatre.

"Part scathing satire and part gut-wrenching melodrama, Bell's script is as mean as yesterday's headlines and driven over the edge with language that beats on the brain with a message of despair and horror at what has happened to the American dream."--Express News.

Cast: 4M, 2W

Great scenes for mother and teenage daughter
Good monologue for a teenage girl and teenage boy

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fri, Sept 23 @ 5:00 p.m.: FREE AUDITION WORKSHOP With Andrew Gerle at The Drama Book Shop

Andrew Gerle gives a musical theatre audition workshop & signs copies of his new book, The Enraged Accompanist’s Guide to the Perfect Audition.

Award-winning composer, musical director, pianist, and accompanist Andrew Gerle shares the secrets from the piano bench in a free master class on musical theater audition technique. Please bring your book of music with you if you would like personalized tips on your technique. Learn how to interact with the accompanist, how to improve your performance, and find out what they're saying about you after you leave the room! In addition to this free workshop, at 5:45pm, Andrew Gerle will come upstairs to sign copies of his book, The Enraged Accompanist’s Guide to the Perfect Audition.

Andrew Gerle has played thousands of auditions for Broadway, off-Broadway, and regional productions, and has served as an accompanist and musical director for major Broadway and recording artists over the past 15 years. He is a recipient of the Jonathan Larson Award, four Richard Rodgers Awards, and the Burton Lane Composer’s Fellowship from the Theatre Hall of Fame. He is the composer of six acclaimed musicals, and his opera “The Beach” was excerpted by the New York City Opera with City Opera singers and an 80-piece orchestra. A sought-after vocal coach, he has worked at NYU’s Tisch Graduate School of Acting and is currently a lecturer at the New York Film Academy and Yale University.

The Enraged Accompanist’s Guide to the Perfect Audition
Award-winning New York theatre composer and pianist Andrew Gerle pulls no punches in this irreverent, fly-on-the-wall guide to everything you've never been taught about auditioning for musical theatre. From the unique perspective of the pianist's bench, he demystifies the audition process, from how to put together your book and speak to an accompanist to the healthiest and savviest ways to approach the audition marketplace and your career. By better understanding the dynamics of professional auditions, you will learn to present yourself in the strongest, most castable way while remaining true to your own special voice – the one that, in the end, will get you the job.

The Enraged Accompanist's Guide to the Perfect Audition
by Andrew Gerle
Paper. $16.99

Thurs, Sept 22 @ 6:00 p.m: DAVID IVES New Playwright Series Hosted by David Finkle at The Drama Book Shop

New Playwright Series: David Ives
Join us for the first of our new monthly playwright series. This month's playwright is David Ives. Selections will be read from Ives upcoming Broadway production of Venus in Fur as well as a Q&A moderated be David Finkle. Book signing to follow.

David Ives is perhaps best known for his evenings of one-act comedies called All In The Timing and Time Flies. All In The Timing won the Outer Critics Circle Playwriting Award and ran for two years Off-Broadway. His full-length plays include Venus In Fur, which recently enjoyed a vast critical and audience success Off-Broadway; New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza, which won the prestigious Hull-Warriner Award and was presented by Washington’s Theatre J this spring; Is He Dead? (adapted from Mark Twain); Irving Berlin’s White Christmas; Polish Joke; and Ancient History. He has translated Feydeau’s classic farce A Flea In Her Ear as well as Yazmina Reza’s drama A Spanish Play, and has adapted 28 musical for Encores!. He is also the author of three young-adult novels, Monsieur Eek, Scrib, and Voss. A graduate of Yale School of Drama and a former Guggenheim Fellow in playwriting, he lives in New York City.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tues, Sept 20 @ 5:00 p.m: An Evening with David Lindsay-Abaire at The Drama Book Shop

An Evening with David Lindsay-Abaire
The award winning-winning playwright of Good People and Rabbit Hole discusses his work

Please join us for a special evening with David Lindsay-Abaire, as the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Rabbit Hole and Good People reads selections from his plays and enters conversation with Manhattan Theatre Club’s Artistic Producer, Mandy Greenfield, about his work. A book signing will follow a brief Q & A.

David Lindsay-Abaire is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of author Rabbit Hole, which was made into a feature film. He is the author of Fuddy Meers, Wonder of the World, Kimberly Akimbo, A Devil Inside, as well as the librettos for the musicals High Fidelity and Shrek. He has written the screenplays for Rabbit Hole and the upcoming Rise of the Guardians and Oz: The Great and Powerful. Born in South Boston, he now lives in Brooklyn.

Well known for his absurdist comedies Fuddy Meers and Kimberly Akimbo, David Lindsay-Abaire brings his signature humor to Good People, his tough and tender new work that recently concluded its world premiere production at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Set in Bostons’s Southie, the neighborhood the playwright grew up in, Good People follows Margie Walsh who is facing eviction and scrambling to catch a break. When an old flame from the neighborhood – now “lace curtain Irish” – moves back to town, Margie hopes he may be her ticket to a fresh new start. Raising difficult questions with unsentimental observation and appealingly scrappy characters, Good People explores the struggles, shifting loyalties and unshakeable hopes that come with having next to nothing in America.

“Good People is the most substantial new Broadway play since August: Osage County.”-- Time Out

“Good People is poignant, brave and almost subversive in its focus of what it really means to be down on your luck.” --New York Post

“Shot through with aching authenticity, Good People is that rare play that is both timeless and completely keyed into a specific moment in American life – without the need for grasp for topicality.” --Hollywood Reporter

Winner – New York Drama Critics’ Award for Best Play

Nominee – Tony Award® for Best Play

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Thurs, Sept 15 @ 6:00 p.m: Young & The Restless Star, Sean Kanan Book Signing…THE MODERN GENTLEMAN at The Drama Book Shop

Actor Sean Kanan will meet and greet book enthusiasts and television fans and sign copies of his book.

Sean Kanan plays the role of bad boy, Deacon Sharpe (the role he originated on The Bold & The Beautiful) on the daytime drama, The Young & The Restless. Sean is also a recurring panel guest on HLN's Showbiz Tonight and on FOX's Red Eye. Sean got his first big break in Hollywood in the role of Mike Barnes in the now iconic film, Karate Kid III. Sean is very involved with the Anti-Defamation League especially in the area of anti-bullying. He has lobbied in Washington, D.C. in an effort to create effective anti-bullying legislation.

About the Book: THE MODERN GENTLEMAN is more than a cookbook of recipes Sean has collected over the years as a self-taught gourmet cook and avid traveler. This book speaks to men about the lost art of being a gentleman. He offers ideas on how to impress someone of the opposite sex including setting a table, arranging flowers, advice on manners, etiquette and more. He hopes his book will be used as a tool for men and he encourages women to share this book with the men in their lives.

"Sean's book gives single clowns like me the courage to step into the kitchen and actually do something besides stand around! With his recipes and advice, we may even be able to impress a girl or two!" --Justin Chon, Actor...The Twilight Saga

"Women will certainly applaud Sean's efforts. His book is just the right nudge that most men need!" --Eva La Rue, Actress, CSI:Miami

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Frid, July 22 @ 5:00 P.M: KAREN KOHLHAAS. Free monologue and cold reading clinic w/author

Atlantic Theater Company Co-Founder, Director, Author & Teacher, Karen Kohlhaas will coach monologues performed by attendees; talk about what makes a great monologue audition, and introduce part of her 10-point 'FEARLESS COLD READING' system.

KAREN KOHLHAAS is a founding member of New York's Atlantic Theater Company, where she recently directed the Lucille Lortel Award nominated THE COLLECTION and A KIND OF ALASKA by Harold Pinter which was named a top-10 theater production of 2010 by the New York Times, New York magazine, and the New York Daily News. Other productions for Atlantic include plays by David Mamet, Annie Baker, Keith Reddin, Shel Silverstein, Harold Pinter, Kate Moira Ryan, Kia Corthron, Joe Penhall, and Hilary Bell.. She directed the award-winning "25 QUESTIONS FOR A JEWISH MOTHER" by Kate Moira Ryan with Judy Gold at the Montreal Comedy Festival, Ars Nova, St. Lukes Theatre, and national tour. She has also directed at the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater; Naked Angels, IRT Theatre; and Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York; the Menagerie Theatre in Cambridge, U.K. and the Practical Theatre Company in Sydney, Australia. Her documentaries and short films have played at festivals in the United States and internationally. She is a senior teacher at the Atlantic Acting School, and teaches her own Monologue Workshops, Fearless Cold Reading & Audition Technique classes, and her yearly Directing Class in New York. She also guest teaches in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. Karen is the director/producer of The Monologue Audition Video (DVD), and author of The Monologue Audition: A Practical Guide for Actors (Foreword by David Mamet), How to Choose a Monologue for Any Audition, and The Monologue Audition Teacher's Manual.

The Monologue Audition: A Practical Guide for Actors
by Karen Kohlhaas
Limelight, 2000
Paper, $16.99

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Newly Published

Behanding in Spokane by Martin McDonagh
My Wonderful Day by Alan Ayckbourn
Fox on the Fairway by Ken Ludwig

and call (212) 944-0595 x3 to order the following:

Me, Myself & I by Edward Albee
Black Tie by A.R. Gurney
Graceland by Ellen Fairey
Mr. & Mrs. Fitch by Douglas Carter Beane
After the Revolution by Amy Hertzog

Sun, July 17th @ 3.00 P.M: How to Build and Maintain an Acting Career in NYC with Actress and Career Coach Annie Chadwick at The Drama Book Shop

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND! Whether you are a seasoned professional, a wide-eyed beginner or lost in the actor maze, Annie Chadwick's motivational career building workshop will give you: the vision to create your own unique theatrical career; no nonsense business strategies; innovative self-promotional techniques and the most current industry trends.

  • Have you just finished an acting training program and are ready to begin seeking work
  • Have you recently moved to NYC and need a plan to introduce your talent to the Big Apple?
  • Are you returning to acting or just starting after working in the business world?
  • Has your career stalled and you need fresh innovative tools to move to the next level?

In this 2 hour workshop, Annie will meet with you briefly before the workshop to review your picture/resume and help you target an area of concentration for the next 6 months.  In the actual workshop you will get handouts with current marketing tools and a clear, step-by-step path to evolve your acting career in NYC.

The Workshop will cover:

Marketing Tools and Strategies
Are your marketing tools a current representation of your talent?
This is one of the most important parts of building a career and introducing your talent to the industry. Learn the most current trends in effective Pictures, Resumes, Cover Letters and Postcard content, Website, Reels, Email Submissions, Industry Mailings and Personal Appearance. Get specific letter writing skills and tips to make your cover letters, postcards, follow-ups and submissions more targeted. Are emails, faxing, website promotion the way of the future?

Learn the most effective ways to introduce yourself to the industry agents, personal managers, casting directors, showcases, seminars.
Film/TV and theatre opportunities are greater than ever in NYC. Learn how a talented actor can get auditions without representation and start developing a legit career. Get information on how to self-submit and get your own Film/TV auditions from Online Casting Opportunities and Trade publications. Learn what TV/Film projects are shooting in NYC and who is doing the casting. For theatre projects you will get specific tips on how to find out six months in advance what's being produced before casting notices go out; the best ways to get auditions, target and identify the roles you are most right for; and how to see the latest NYC Off-Broadway theatre for free.

Classes, Coaches, and Resources
Training for artists never ends. Get recommendation of on-going classes and coaches that will help you get noticed in the very competitive NYC market. We'll also go on a tour of the Drama Book Shop with a list of resources that are essential to keeping-up with the latest projects and acting techniques.

For more information on Up-to-Date Theatricals and Annie Chadwick, visit:

The cost of this workshop is $50, payable on the day of the workshop. For reservations call 212-265-0260, or the Drama Book Shop at (212) 944-0595 (option 3) during regular business hours.

Annie just worked with director P.J. Hogan on the new Jerry Bruckheimer film, CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC, playing John Lithgow's wife, Mrs. Edgar West.

Workshop Reviews
"I came to Annie's workshop hoping to at least get some decent info for $50. What I came away with was not only worth the price, but much more than I had hoped for. Annie is genuine, goes out of her way to not only make you feel special, but to really give you that extra individualized attention, which is completely unexpected but absolutely appreciated. Her workshop was not only chalked full of relevant and useful information, but she added something that I did not expect to find there...hope and inspiration. What a truly fabulous workshop! I highly recommend it to anyone who is beginning their career or feeling like they are at a stalemate here in New York!"--Krista, NYC actress/singer/musician

"I took your career-building workshop yesterday. I wanted to drop you a line to say how thankful I was for your advice, attention, and for all the wonderful information you gave us. It was so awesome! I was so energized and excited after the meeting that I felt hopeful I could indeed pursue this career on a professional level. I feel like I have a clear-cut focus for how to approach the next six months and I feel awash in relief! Where to put your time, money and energy in your acting career feels so overwhelming, so it was nice to get some solid, practical advice. Thank you again."--Jennifer, NYC actress

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Thurs, July 7 @ 6P.M: FREE READING: THE "LOST" GROUP PLAYS Discussion & Book Signing with author at The Drama Book Shop

Join ReGroup members for a reading from the new play collection, The "Lost" Group Theatre Plays. Book signing to follow.

Claire & Paul Sifton wrote many socially relevant plays together during the 1920s & 30s and spent their lives fighting for social causes. John Howard Lawson was one of the premiere playwrights of the early 20th century. His plays were frequent staples on Broadway until he became one of the infamous Hollywood Ten during the McCarthy hearings.

For the first time in over 75 years, three of the famed Group Theatre plays are now back in print! Foreword by Estelle Parsons, Legendary Actress and Oscar Winner Introductions by George Bartenieff, life-long actor and teacher, and Allie Mulholland, Artistic Director of the ReGroup Theatre.

"Let's give thanks to Allie Mulholland and his ambitious ReGroup Theatre, which airs plays that the Group Theatre produced in its decade-long history. ReGroup is quickly becoming one of the town's most valuable troupes." --PETER FILICHIA

"I've been greatly impressed with Allie Mulholland and his ReGroup Theatre and in the ways they've brought forward and give life to the forgotten Group Theatre Plays." --JEFFREY LAWSON

The "Lost" Group Theatre Plays
by Claire Sifton, Paul Sifton, John Howard Lawson
ReGroup Theatre Company, 2011
Paper, $26.99

Call to order (212) 944-0595 x3