Friday, May 28, 2010

We Never Knew Just What It Was: Symphony in Three Movements, Why am I not where you are, and Fancy Free at the New York City Ballet


It’s true what they say about me. After I leave the ballet, for about 10 minutes, I am convinced that I can dance. I’m sure other people have this feeling. I’m a little surprised other women don’t run up to me to form a line on Lincoln Center Plaza where we rise up on our toes and do our Symphony in 3 Movements changing of the guard. How practical that would be: We would stop the taxis right in our tracks.

Symphony in 3 Movements appeared on the first evening of the 1972 Stravinsky Festival (can you believe that this ballet and the Violin Concerto had premieres on the same day?), when Balanchine rose from the ashes and showed the dismissive critics he was still alive and kicking.

So I always get a little misty eyed at the opening and closing of this ballet. I remember in my earlier ballet-going days when I thought this work was depressing, with all that machinery running and the pulse of the great impersonal century, the dancers moving their elbows like pistons as they sprint around the stage, ponytails flying. Eventually, I realized that the piece is about triumphing over that mentality. On Saturday, years after I’d passed through that threshold of excitement about Balanchine and Stravinsky ballets (I remember at a matinee when the curtain went up and a woman behind me sighed, “Oh, it’s one of THOSE ballets.” I’ve been there.)…

Let me start that sentence again.

On Saturday, I tried to watch Symphony in 3 Movements as if for the first time. I realize that when you look at new ballets for the first time, you’re reaching back to other ballets to see what it looks like. Yes, that is silly, but what else is there to do? With this work, the music leaves you breathless and the images, too: I saw what could have been some bits and pieces of a tribute to Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol with Abi Stafford’s birdlike movements and the fluttering of her hands and fingers in the pas de deux. With the ballet’s ending picture of lines of arms and the faces looking right at us, I always feel I have to do something. (Same thing goes for the end of Balanchine’s Episodes. Who, me? Dance? But, wait, I think I can.) I noticed how the music and dancing fit like cogs into a machine. Even a little circling foot making a simple move to the back of the other foot, over and over, fitting into the music exactly. There are times when I think I’d like to watch this ballet while following a music score.

I missed the Stravinsky Festival by several years. My history at the New York City Ballet goes back to the late 1970s and great discernment on my part: I went to NYCB because the seats were cheaper than at ABT and because NYCB had Vienna Waltzes. I didn’t know Balanchine from Baltimore. NYCB wasn’t what I thought ballet was – you know, Sleeping Beauty and cavaliers and scenery and effects up to the wazoo. NYCB taught me not to mind about scenery; the dancers were the scenery and the special effects and everything. So how strange after all that training to read brochures about the theme of NYCB’s current season, Architecture of Dance. I was puzzling through the essay, when halfway through I realized it was all about an ARCHITECT (Santiago Calatrava), and there was nothing about the dances or dancers. What the…? I was a little worried about all this “architecture” business.

When the curtain went up to mystical and creepy music on Benjamin Millipied’s ballet, Why am I not where you are (a quirky enough title, or was it a silly enough title as how many works could those words fit?), I was charmed by the set. Okay, some people have compared it with a Slinky, and I guess the archway does look like it. But Slinky is such a comforting toy! To me, the archway looked clean and graceful, and it shimmered as it moved. While even the movement of its “strings” has added to the Slinky comparison (others have compared the arch to a fan), the movement delighted me. I thought, it’s a musical instrument, a lyre, the symbol of NYCB and Orpheus’ instrument. Orpheus is a symbol of NYCB, a singer who loves the dance. Well, okay, maybe that’s just me.

The commissioned score was fairly interesting if derivative; I could hear Stravinsky’s Firebird in it as well as the emotional La Valse (Ravel). Even the costumes resembled those of La Valse. The ballet was interesting, too, and maybe I’m being a bit too kind. Is it just me or are the new ballets just collages of other ballets or is it that I’m falling into the same trap as everyone else and seeing the past in the present? (You don’t have to answer all those questions.) This piece struck me as being made by a dancer who had danced in many of Balanchine’s works (La Valse, Sonnambula to name the obvious ones) and who also went to a lot of clubs or had a miserable high school experience. I had a sinking feeling that the mysterious plot of people at a party who don’t see boy in white TO guy makes deal with some Mephistophales Type so girl can see him in right clothes TO girl becomes girl in white and the people at party including the boy can’t see her – got that?) was really just a story of an encounter at a club that ended oh so sadly but the sun came up the next day. Oh, but it was lovely, really it was – swoopy music, swoopy tulle dresses, and Sean Suozzi in white, sweetly and earnestly playing the innocent. Again, a young man in white! (See Namouna.) There were dancers chasing each other around a stage; a mocking siren type (Sara Mearns) so maybe throw Prodigal Son into the mix, why not, and the boys confronting Suozzi could certainly add to the comparison; the tempter from La Valse (a compelling Amar Ramasar); and the girl Suozzi loved eventually lost to view in somnambulistic white (Kathryn Morgan). Everyone’s quite good, and with all that racing around, it might have been the dodo race in Through the Looking Glass. Really, I did like it, even though it sagged a bit with too much running around in the middle, for the dancers were enthusiastic and enjoyable, and even the scenery was tickled. What do you want? Significance?

Amar Ramasar was back for Fancy Free, and was he ever sassy and elegant. The curtain went up and everyone was happy; this piece, father to On the Town, says I love to be in America, says fun, and these are anything but innocent sailor boys in white (Tyler Angle, Joaquin De Luz, and Ramasar). You don’t have to look for other ballets (although even here I could catch something of Symphony in 3 Movements in the Bernstein). They sauntered around, preening for the girls (Kaitlyn Gililand, Georgina Pazcoguin, and Tiler Peck), and who cares. I usually don’t care for Robbins’ pieces, with a few exceptions, and I’ve always had trouble with this one. They grab her purse for heaven’s sake. It’s a mugging! But this cast differed from others in that they started with the assumption that they were giving us one big wink. Well, I’m a sucker for a sailor. So was my mom, in that same year, 1944. And I’m a sucker for Fancy Free, especially when it’s brilliantly danced. Don’t forget to tip the bartender (David Prottas).

As I left the theater, thinking that I could dance (as you undoubtedly recall), I was humming the Bernstein. One of those gracious elderly gentlemen, who had certainly been at the 1972 Stravinsky Festival, came up and said, “Do you feel like dancing?” And so we did a little dance with us both humming the Bernstein. For a few minutes only, we were darn good. Took me a while to get a taxi, though.

SYMPHONY IN THREE MOVEMENTS: Choreography by George Balanchine; Music by Igor Stravinsky; Lighting by Mark Stanley. Premiere: June 18, 1972, New York State Theater.
Why am I not where you are: Choreography by Benjamin Millipied; Music by Thierry Escaich (commissioned by New York City Ballet); Scenic Design by Santiago Calatrava; Costumes by Marc Happel; Lighting by Mark Stanley. Premiere: April 29, 2010, The David H. Koch Theater.
FANCY FREE: Choreography by Jerome Robbins; Music by Leonard Bernstein; Scenery by Oliver Smith; Costumes by Kermit Love; Lighting by Ronald Bates. Premiere: April 18, 1944, Ballet Theatre, Metropolitan Opera House, New York. NYCB Premiere: January 31, 1980, New York State Theater.

The New York City Ballet spring season goes through June 27 and features seven new ballets and four commissioned scores in its “Architecture of Dance” theme at the Koch Theater. Tickets are available at the theater’s box office and through the company’s engaging Web site,

Singer/writer Mary Sheeran has sung through several operas, cabarets, and song recitals, including several performances of Songs From the Balanchine Repertory. Her novel, Who Have the Power, an exploration of cultural conflict, feminism, and Native American history set on the American frontier, was published in 2006 ( Her next novel, Quest of the Sleeping Princess, which unfolds during a gala performance of the New York City Ballet, will be published later this year.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Celebrating Father Joe Kelly at Sardi's

Sardi’s might seem like an strange place to celebrate the life of a Roman Catholic priest, but in the case of the Rev. Joseph A. Kelly, S.J., a man called Father Broadway by mystery novelist and friend of 40 years Mary Higgins Clark, it was most appropriate.

So yesterday, the eve of what would have been Joe’s 79th birthday, more than 200 people gathered at the famous Broadway watering hole to raise a glass and pay tribute to the priest who as parochial vicar of St. Malachy’s/The Actors’ Chapel for 15 years combined his love of God, people and the theatre. We did so while unveiling one of show business’s highest honors, his portrait that will hang in the main dining room along side those of Broadway’s greatest stars, past and present.

“This room is filled with people who loved him,” said Kathryn Fisher, a former St. Malachy’s parishioner who led the campaign to have Joe, who died a year and a half ago, immortalized at Sardi’s. “He was my best friend. I bet plenty of people here would say that.”

He certainly was a friend to me. I met Joe in 1996 when I interviewed him and then-pastor Monsignor Michael C. Crimmins for a feature on St. Malachy’s for America magazine. After hearing about the work they were doing ministering to struggling actors, I felt called to create a celebratory service that would reach out to that community across faith lines. I wrote to theatre district clergy -- Jewish and Christian -- and proposed a gathering in September to ask God’s grace on the new season. All were enthusiastic, but none so much as Joe. Within days he had talked it up so vigorously around the Broadway business world that he lined up enough money for us to put on a lovely reception afterwards.

I don’t know if I’d be preparing for our 14th annual Broadway Blessing this year without Joe’s early and continued support -- probably not -- but I’m certain we wouldn’t be having it at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, where it is thriving and entertaining nearly 500 people each year. Few people know what a friend to me Joe was in this regard.

There was no one like Joe. He was an Irish Jesuit, and as true a representative of those two categories as ever lived. Born in Tullamore, County Offaly, Ireland, Joe had a sense of humor and love of life that radiated. As a Jesuit, he was a politician in the purest sense of the word. His rallying support for Broadway Blessing was just one example of how he could inspire people to join his vision. When St. Malachy’s was planning to celebrate its centennial in 2003, he raised $250,000 for the parish, and got the city to name the church’s block of West 49th Street “St. Malachy’s Way.”

He just had a way of drawing people to him. They responded to the way he took such an interest in them. Actor Malachy McCourt, in an address to the Sardi’s gathering, said he felt as if he had lost another brother when he lost Joe, too close to the time he lost his own brother, Frank.

“Joe had no concept of sin,” he said. “He just thought we all had some minor defects.”

He spoke about Joe’s love of the drama of biblical stories -- “Joe knew about the Bible, oddly enough for a Catholic” -- and his lightheartedness. “There’s only one letter difference between pray and play. He often confused them.”

One of Joe’s favorite theatres (and mine too) was the Irish Repertory Theatre. Joe christened the daughter of managing producer Ciaran O’Reilly eight years ago.

“I can’t wait to bring her to Sardi’s to see the portrait of the man who baptized her,” he said. “His acts of God could fill Times Square.”

Mary Higgins Clark said she loved Joe’s wit, and admired all he did to raise money for St. Malachy’s, which had been in financial trouble before he arrived. “I’m very sure Joe is here. He was a joy, a delight.”

She remembered a time when she and Joe were in a restaurant and actress Maureen O’Hara was seated nearby. Joe, who loved celebrities, debated whether he should go over to introduce himself, quickly deciding he would just say a quick hello. But Joe being Joe, he ended up pulling up a chair and chatting about Ireland -- they were from neighboring towns -- and many other things.

“He was a boy and a man,” she said. “He charmed everyone. He’s one of the reasons St. Malachy’s lasted. He brought that beautiful chapel back to life. He gave it back to us.”

She speculated as to why he was taken from us so unexpectedly 18 months ago, saying that the angels must have been feeling glum and saying to God, “Lord, you have stated you love cheerful saints, so bring him home.”

The celebration concluded with Broadway actor David Beach leading the gathering in singing Joe’s favorite song (and one of mine too!), “The Best of Times” from La Cage aux Folles:

“The best of times is now.
What’s left of Summer
but a faded rose ?
The best of times is now.
As for tomorrow,
Well, who knows? Who knows? Who knows?

So hold this moment fast,
And live and love
As hard as you know how.
And make this moment last
Because the best of times is now,
is now, is now.

Now, not some forgotten yesterday.
Now, tomorrow is too far away.

So hold this moment fast,
And live and love
As hard as you know how.
And make this moment last,
Because the best of times is now,
Is now, is now
Is now, is NOW!”

At the start of the evening, Kathryn explained why she wanted Joe’s portrait on Sardi’s wall. He had lamented to her that he felt he hadn’t made enough impact in life and that he would quickly be forgotten.

“I think we showed him tonight,” she said.

As long as my memory is functioning, I won’t forget you Joe, and you will always be part of the spiritual fabric of Broadway Blessing. Until we meet again, I’ll let you take care of the actors in heaven and I’ll do my best to look out for the ones down here.

God bless you, Joe.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Free as a Bird: TAKE Dance Takes Flight


Watching Takehiro Ueyama’s new work, Flight, was one of those times when I just sat back, enjoyed the dance, and gained insight from it. That’s good theater.

The choreographer (and artistic director of this small, impressive company of dancers called TAKE Dance, which I saw May 20 at the DanceTheaterWorkshop in Chelsea) stands alone on stage, his back to us while he contemplates the changing formations of images of starlings that are projected against the back wall. In response, he begins to dance. His first responses are wrong, and he knows it. After several of these attempts, dancers suddenly flood the stage, swirling and soaring. Are they the starlings? Are they the dances Ueyama creates? For what we were watching was Ueyama, a choreographer, responding to beauty, and then attempting to show us that response in a dance he created, all done so simply, so magically.

How does one respond to the beauty of starlings swirling together? The images on the screen are beautiful. Do we need to imitate them? They are different from us, and they have some understanding of beauty we humans can’t understand, unless we try to move like them. Not that we can, as we realize, watching them sweep across the sky. Except one – she soars out alone. Why does she do that? Why does she than return to the flock that swirls so beautifully and so indifferently? And how can the starlings know they are beautiful? We are the ones watching them, and we can’t tell them. Is someone else watching who can see? Does it even matter to them that they’re beautiful? Does anyone have to see them?

Ueyama felt compelled to make Flight after watching a flock of starlings against the Roman sky. “Their movements far surpassed any dance I had ever witnessed, with their breathtaking unison flights and banking turns, sculpting the air in patterns so seamlessly elegant,” he observed.

“Seamlessly elegant” describes the passion Ueyama shows us with the dancers. They too swirl and bank against the changing images of the real starlings. Are they dancers or are they birds who turned themselves into dancers? But there’s music, too, and it seems natural; it’s a variety of music, although one is an obvious choice (and why not?) -- a Glass piece. Finally, all is still, and man and birds watch each other.

Flight is a lovely piece. You leave the hall hoping you can find a flock of birds in the sky. (You can see the starling images on exhibit at the Foley Gallery through June 5; 547 W. 27th St., 5th floor,

The rest of TAKE Dance’s program reflected that same sensitive response to the world we see but can’t always understand. It was not a dance chauvinistic formula (dance = the world) but, rather, a more respectful question, How can dance respond to the world? That is a subtle and important difference. Based on Thursday’s evidence, TAKE Dance doesn’t react to dance as a feeding frenzy, self indulgent with vocabulary; rather, it does what Ueyama does in Flight – responds to beauty with humility and shows us something we can respond to in turn and perhaps reach greater understanding with what we see outside and within ourselves.

Another lovely piece on the program was Sakura Sakura, featuring Nana Tsuda and Sharon Park. This piece (the title is Japanese for “”cherry blossoms”) also by Ueyama, represents the beauty and strength of Japanese women. It shows, simply, what lies inside stillness. The dance begins and ends with women in repose, arms gracefully moving as if in a tea ceremony. A third piece, Left There by the Tide, with gentle but emphatic choreography by Jill Echo, represents waves of beginnings and endings of relationships, the title taken from a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Much of the company’s dancing had the effect of both jarring and soothing simultaneously – jarring in that many movements are at first unexpected and then soothing because you understand their context right away. Dancers roll out onstage, heads and feet tucked under – like of eggs rolling into new life. (One latecomer rolled swiftly to stage center much later, funny and surprising.) A dancer leaps onto another’s back over and over, is tossed down or falls, and she keeps trying. It was violent, erotic, and playful all at once – or it represents a time when we didn’t make those distinctions.

What also struck me about TAKE Dance was the sensitivity and simplicity of their subjects (I wish the costumes had followed that path better, alas), and the wealth of music used, ranging from Mozart to Glass to the traditional song Sakura Sakura. Watching this elegant small troupe, I realized that the first rule of life isn’t survival, it’s to enjoy life’s beauty, even if you can’t understand it. We can still respond to beauty, and still cherish and respect it.

Singer/writer Mary Sheeran has sung through several operas, cabarets, and song recitals, including several performances of "Songs From the Balanchine Repertory." Her novel, Who Have the Power, an exploration of cultural conflict, feminism, and Native American history set on the American frontier, was published in 2006 ( Her next novel, Quest of the Sleeping Princess, which unfolds during a gala performance of the New York City Ballet, will be published later this year.

FLIGHT: Choreography by Takehiro Ueyama; Costumes by Cheryl McCarron; Lighting and Production Design by Jason Jeunnette.

SAKURA SAKURA: Choreography by Takehiro Ueyama; Costumes by Sabado Lam; Lighting by Jason Jeunnette.

LEFT THERE BY THE TIDE: Choreography by Jill Echo; Costumes by Cheryl McCarron.

TAKE Dance, May 20, presented at DanceTheaterWorkshop as part of the GuestArtistSeries. Artistic Director, Takehiro Ueyama; with Jill Echo, Assistant Director. Dancers: Kristen Arnold, Elise Drew, John Eirich, Gini Ianni, Kile Hotchkiss, Mariko Kurihara, Milan Misko, Sharon Park, Nana Tsuda, Amy Young; with guest dancers Stephanie Amurao, Christina Illisijie, Gabe Spellberg, Ann Olson, Jake Warren, Marie Zvosec. The company will perform at Skidmore College at Saratoga Springs, NY, on June 10. For more information, go to

Monday, May 24, 2010

Something About Believing

I was just listening to Duke Ellington’s Second Sacred Concert, something I haven’t done in a long time. It was recorded live at my church, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, where Ellington was an artist in residence and where his funeral drew an estimated 10,000 people.

It’s a two-record album and I love it all, but especially “Something About Believing.” If you’re not familiar with it, here are the words:

“Something ‘bout believing that keeps unfolding,
Something ‘bout believing that makes my soul sing.
Something ‘bout believing that keeps me holding
On to GOD Almighty.

I don’t light a lamp to see the Sun,
Don’t need proof of GOD,
Because I know that there ain’t a-gonna be but One.

Something ‘bout believing in the creation,
Something ‘bout believing the information.
Something ‘bout believing there’s just one nation,
Under GOD Almighty.

I want to be hip, I want to be cool,
I got to be with it all the way,
Because I ain’t about to be no fool.

Something ‘bout believing that’s greater than pleasure,
Something ‘bout believing that’s more than treasure,
Something ‘bout believing that’s beyond measure,
Just one GOD Almighty.

I know that you know,
The Bible says it’s so.
There is much mystery in the history,
To be exact, accept the fact,
An example or two is here for me and you.

Animals, birds and fish,
Have senses much keener and stronger.
And scientists do the difficult today,
And even the impossible just takes a little longer.

If you believe this,
What’s to keep me from believing that?

Something ‘bout believing that keeps me going,
Something ‘bout believing my faith is growing,
Something ‘bout believing that keeps me knowing,
I’ll see GOD Almighty.

Silliest thing ever read,
Was that somebody said,
‘GOD is dead.’
The mere mention of the first word,
Automatically eliminates
The second and the third.”


The 55th Annual Drama Desk Awards for excellence in New York theater were bestowed last night at a gala awards ceremony at the F.H. LaGuardia Concert Hall at Lincoln Center, hosted by Patti LuPone, and the results reflected the diversity and competitive nature of the past season’s theater season. Memphis, the new musical set in the 1950’s Memphis dance clubs, won four Drama Desk Awards to head the list of multiple winners, followed by Fences,
La Cage Aux Folles and Red, with three each, and A View from the Bridge with two. There were also two deadlocks: Catherine Zeta Jones (A Little Night Music) and Montego Glover (in photo, Memphis) tied for Outstanding Actress in a Musical, and A View From The Bridge and Fences tied in the Outstanding Revival of a Play category.

In addition to Ms. Glover’s award, Memphis also captured Drama Desk trophies for Outstanding New Musical, Outstanding Music (David Bryan) and Outstanding Orchestrations (Daryl Waters and David Bryan), Red, the Broadway drama about tortured artist Mark Rothko, won for Outstanding Play (John Logan), Outstanding Director (Michael Grandage) and Outstanding Lighting Design (Neil Austin). In addition to sharing the Outstanding Revival of a Play award, Fences also garnered the Outstanding Actress in a Play award for Viola Davis and Outstanding Music in a Play award for Branford Marsalis. La Cage Aux Folles won for Outstanding Revival of a Musical, for Outstanding Actor in a Musical (Douglas Hodge) and for Outstanding Costume Design (Matthew Wright).

The Drama Desk Award as Outstanding Actress in a Musical is shared by Montego Glover (Memphis) and Catherine Zeta Jones (A Little Night Music) and Jan Maxwell (The Royal Family) was voted Outstanding Actress in a Play. The Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical award went to Katie Finneran (revival of Promises, Promises) and the Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical trophy was presented to Christopher Fitzgerald (the revival of Finian’s Rainbow). Santino Fontana (Brighton Beach Memoirs) won the Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play award

Michael Mayer (American Idiot) garnered the Drama Desk trophy as Outstanding Director of a Musical and Twyla Tharp (Come Fly Away) was voted Outstanding Choreographer. Sondheim on Sondheim won the Drama Desk Award as Outstanding Musical Revue and John Kander and Fred Ebb (The Scottsboro Boys) were voted Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Lyrics. The Outstanding Book of a Musical went to Alex Timbers (Off Broadway’s Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson).

The Outstanding Set Design Drama Desk was won by Phelim McDermott, Julian Crouch & Basil Twist for The Addams Family. The Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical went to Acme Sound Partners (Ragtime), and Fitz Patton (When The Rain Stops Falling) captured the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Sound Design in a Play.

Jim Brochu won the Outstanding Solo Performance Drama Desk Award for his portrayal of Zero Mostel in Zero Hour. The Unique Theatrical Experience Drama Desk award was voted to Love, Loss and What I Wore, the Nora and Delia Ephron scripted Off Broadway show about matters of the heart and matters of the closet.

Matthew Wright (La Cage Aux Folles) won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Costumes and Neil Austin (Red) took home the award for Outstanding Lighting Design, Acme Sound Partners (Ragtime) was voted the award for Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical and Fitz Patton (When The Rain Stops Falling) won for Outstanding Sound Design in a Play.

The following awards were voted by the nominating committee and were presented at the awards ceremony this evening:

Outstanding Ensemble Awards for acting were presented to the cast members of two shows -- The Temperamentals and The Orphan’s Home Cycle. Therefore, individual cast members for these shows were not eligible for acting awards in the competitive categories.

Each year the Drama Desk votes special awards to recognize excellence and significant contributions to the theater. These awards were presented this evening to:

To the cast, creative team and producers of Horton Foote’s epic The Orphan’s Home Cycle: We salute the breadth of vision, which inspired the exceptional direction, performances, sets, lighting, costumes, music and sound that made it the theatrical event for this season.

To Jerry Herman for enchanting and dazzling audiences with his exuberant music for more than half a century.

To Godlight Theatre Company for consistent originality and excellence in dramatizing modern literature, and especially for the vibrant theatricality of its innovative productions.

To Ma-Yi Theater Company for more than two decades of excellence and for nurturing Asian-American voices in stylistically varied and engaging theater.

Presenters at the 55th Annual Drama Desk Awards ceremony included (in alphabetical order): Edward Albee, Corbin Bleu, Michael Cerveris, Boyd Gaines, Ana Gasteyer, Mitzi Gaynor, Cheyenne Jackson, Leslie Jordan, Jesse L. Martin, Matthew Modine, Martha Plimpton and Brooke Shields.

The Drama Desk was founded in 1949 to explore key issues in the theater and to bring together critics and writers in an organization to support the ongoing development of theater in New York. The organization began presenting its awards in 1955, and it is the only critics organization to honor achievement in the theater with competition between Broadway, Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway productions in the same categories.


Outstanding Play: Red by John Logan

Outstanding Musical: Memphis

Outstanding Revival of a Play (A Tie): A View from the Bridge and Fences

Outstanding Revival of a Musical: La Cage Aux Folles

Outstanding Actor in a Play: Liev Schreiber (A View from the Bridge)

Outstanding Actress in a Play: Jan Maxwell (The Royal Family)

Outstanding Actor in a Musical: Douglas Hodge (La Cage Aux Folles)

Outstanding Actress in a Musical: (A Tie) Catherine Zeta Jones (A Little Night Music)
Montego Glover (Memphis)

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play: Santino Fontana (Brighton Beach Memoirs)

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play: Viola Davis (Fences)

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical: Christopher Fitzgerald (Finian’s Rainbow)

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical: Katie Finneran (Promises, Promises)

Outstanding Director of a Play: Michael Grandage (Red)

Outstanding Director of a Musical: Michael Mayer (American Idiot)

Outstanding Choreography: Twyla Tharp (Come Fly Away)

Outstanding Music: David Bryan (Memphis)

Outstanding Lyrics: John Kander & Fred Ebb (The Scottsboro Boys)

Outstanding Book of a Musical Alex Timbers (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson)

Outstanding Orchestrations: Daryl Waters & David Bryan (Memphis)

Outstanding Musical Revue: Sondheim on Sondheim

Outstanding Music in a Play: Branford Marsalis (Fences)

Outstanding Set Design: Phelim McDermott, Julian Crouch & Basil Twist
(The Addams Family)

Outstanding Costume Design: Matthew Wright (La Cage Aux Folles)

Outstanding Lighting Design: Neil Austin (Red)

Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical: Acme Sound Partners (Ragtime)

Outstanding Sound Design in a Play: Fitz Patton (When The Rain Stops Falling)

Outstanding Solo Performance: Jim Brochu (Zero Hour)

Unique Theatrical Experience: Love, Loss, and What I Wore

Outstanding Ensemble Awards The Orphan’s Home Cycle and
The Temperamentals

For a list of the nominees click here.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Chenoweth and Hayes honored

Promises, Promises stars Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes were honored May 20 at Tony's DiNapoli with the unveiling of an oil painting for the restaurant's "Broadway Wall of Fame."

(Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN)

Blessings for Pentecost

“When things get broken, which can happen so easily, [the] divine creative assumes the shape of a rejuvenating energy that renews the face of the earth (Ps 104:30). The damaged earth, violent and unjust social structures, the lonely and broken heart -- all cry out for a fresh start. In the midst of this suffering the Creator Spirit . . . comes, as the Pentecost sequence sings, to wash what is unclean; to pour water upon what is drought-stricken; to heal what is hurt; to loosen up what is rigid; to warm what is freezing; to straighten out what is crooked and bent.

“The Spirit is life that gives life. She is radiant life energy that like wind, fire and water awakens and enlivens all things. Each of these symbols. . . evokes better than abstract words the presence of the Creator Spirit in the world, moving over the void, breathing into the chaos, pouring out, informing, quickening, warming, setting free, blessing, dancing in mutual immanence with the world.”

-- Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, Women, Earth and Creator Spirit

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Anderson Twins and their band celebrate Artie Shaw's centennial

Some of my most enjoyable musical experiences in New York have been at 59E59 Theaters. The intimacy is just right for cabaret shows, but also, as I discovered Wednesday night, for big band music as well.

I was thoroughly, thoroughly swept away by the Anderson Twins and their band as they celebrated Artie Shaw’s centennial, with nods to Benny Goodman as well.

There has never been more beautiful popular music than that of the 1930s and 40s, and no better way to enjoy it than with a band of first-rate musicians, which these are. Twins Pete (right in photo) and Will Anderson each play clarinet and saxophone with a devotion that is apparent in every note. They are backed by Jon-Erik Kelso on trumpet, Clovis Nicolas on bass, Ehud Asherie on piano and Steve Little, a veteran of Duke Ellington’s orchestra, on drums, playing improvisations as well as original arrangements.

How refreshing it is to see musicians in suits and ties and to listen to a band free of amplification. Not one microphone is used. This is a real treat for someone like me who spends so many nights in Broadway theatres have her eardrums blast out with hideously overly amplified sound.

And, oh, did those songs ever sound wonderful! So many of my favorites -- “Avalon,” “What Is This Thing Called Love,” “Moonglow,” a sublime “Concerto for Clarinet,” a transporting “Begin the Beguine,” Shaw’s signature song, and rousing “Shine.”

The twins, handsome 23-year-old men with a self-effacing Jimmy Stewart charm, talked to the audience from time to time, making us feel connected. Luckily it wasn’t with the all-too-frequent self-involved celebrity chatter; it was almost always about the music, and if their comments were personal, they were in how the music related to their lives.

And it has been part of their lives since they were 9 years old growing up in Bethesda, MD, when they started playing clarinet. The first song they learned was “Stardust” after hearing Shaw’s 1941 rendition. Their parents also bought them recordings of Goodman, Ellington and Count Basie and they were hooked on the big band sound.

Pete told a story of how he and Will almost met the man who had influenced them so profoundly. Shaw was to be honored on Jan. 5, 2005 with a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters award; previous winners include Basie, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. The twins would be playing clarinet at the ceremony in Long Beach, CA, and looked forward to meeting and possibly even having a conversation with the legendary band leader. Shaw had made plans to be there, but died six days before.

Well, they might not have gotten to meet their hero, but they continue to honor him with concerts like the one at 59E59. When Peter announced after two hours -- which flew by -- that they would be performing their last song, the audience groaned and several called out “NO!”

You will not hear anything better musically on a New York stage this month. The Shaw/Goodman show continues through Sunday and is followed by “The Anderson Twins Celebrate Artie Shaw at 100 with Daryl Sherman,” running from May 25 through May 30. Sherman is an appropriate choice for this centennial celebration, having been handpicked by Shaw to be his vocalist when he re-formed his band in 1983 after a 25-year retirement.

Both programs are part of 59E59 Theaters’ Americas Off Broadway series. Tickets are available by calling Ticket Central at 212-279-4200 or online at For more information visit 
If you are unable to make it to either show, the twins play every Thursday night at the EBar at the theater, between Madison and Park, from around 10:30 to midnight -- and it's free. They will start up again in two weeks after the Shaw concerts are over.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Yay! The Witch Is Gone! The New York Theatre Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty


Sitting in a great audience is a joy. I had just that pleasure when I went to the New York Theatre Ballet Saturday to see a delightful and engrossing one-hour adaptation of Sleeping Beauty. I was surrounded by little girls, perhaps the wisest beings on the planet, though it was nice to see boys and several dads. All of us were outnumbered, however, by the princesses: several Snow Whites, Ariels, and Cinderellas, all there to see the triumph of one of their sisters.

Now I have heard some deplore the deterioration of the art of mime in the major ballet companies. Oh, thou naysayers! This crowd loved mime. Diana Byar and two young dancers came onstage before the ballet to demonstrate some of the mime passages in the ballet. They got us kids to do some mime, too! Do you remember dead she is not, just sleeping, and she will wake up. Cool, huh? The kids got it; in fact, during the mime-intensive prologue, the audience was mesmerized. One little girl started a running commentary (it was not at all disturbing, I was entertained by her flow of creative ideas: “Maybe she needs us to clap to wake up, maybe the witch can learn to be kind, maybe the prince will go with the witch and she’ll be nice.” She was all about witch transformation.)

Anyway. The company tells this story beautifully. Elena Zahlman danced Aurora with a regal manner, very still and clear, and those discerning audience members around me clapped when she was very clear. They were astute watchers. Diana Byar as a glamorous Carabosse threatened convincingly, her shoulders crouched, her hands like talons. We all kept our eyes on her. The compassionate young commentator said, “The witch is here, she’s mad she wasn’t invited. Oh, yay, the witch is gone. I hope she’s not dead.”

I’ve never seen a production where the Lilac Fairy’s role was so predominant and not weighed down by the elements of a mammoth 6-D production. Even then, the scenario allowed for young dancers to do some solo turns, which did capture the children’s interest. And the “just the basics, ma’am” approach is actually helpful to remember what the story is really about! Once again the wise child behind me made an astute observation about the Lilac Fairy. After the critical moment when Aurora pricked that fateful spindle (quite rightly described by another child as “cotton candy on a stick”), the wise child said, “She’s not sad. She’s happy.” Rie Ogura, the Lilac Fairy, danced with an expressive line and lovely phrasing, a strong and most definitely happy, calming presence, and she helped the humans to happiness in a kingdom that, according to the charming scenic design, was part of a gigantic forest, the palace doors set among enormous tree roots.

On the other hand, the Prince suffered from the condensation of the story. Without any background or scenes involving his character, he remained a cipher. At least he had the sense to be wary of Carabosse’s lure. And when he finds Aurora, it is a profound moment we all waited for.

I loved their finish. When Aurora wakes up, the people in the palace wake up, too, and hold a grand masquerade party. Derek Lauer and Carmella Lauer danced Puss ‘n Boots and The White Cat with an infectious glee; they were a great hit with their clawing and pounces, not quite in time with the taped music, but it didn’t matter. The kids loved it, too, when Little Red Riding Hood (Rebecca Seow) knocked out the Wolf (Kai Monroe) with her little basket. (Those were the two young dancers featured, and they were much appreciated by the audience.) But this audience wasn’t just interested in such obvious humor. They loved the pas de deux, too, gasping with “Wow!” at every fish dive. They were right to be so gleeful. Ms. Zahlman and Kieran Stoneley were sublime. As the ballet drew to a close, and the kids started clapping in time to that old rouser, Tchaikovsky, I joined right in. I’m going to try that at ABT next month!

But they’ll have to work harder to accomplish what this company does.

Sleeping Beauty. Music by Peter Tchaikovsky; conceived and choreographed by James Sutton after Marius Petipa; costume design by Sylvia Taalsohn Nolan; set and property design by Gillian Bradshaw-Smith; lighting design by Brett Maughan. Presented by the New York Theatre Ballet. Diany Byar, Founder and Artistic Director; Christina Paolucci, Executive Director/Associate Artistic Director.

(Photo by Richard Termine)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dancing Through the Dark: Wayne McGregor’s Outlier Premieres at New York City Ballet


There was an extraordinary world premiere at New York City Ballet Friday. And as I left the theater, everyone was talking about it – at least on the way to the subway. Words like “amazing”, “beautiful”, “moving” were heard in the crowd.

But first, Outlier.

Outlier is the second of seven new ballets in New York City Ballet’s “Architecture of Dance” spring series (the preview of the Millipied ballet at the opening gala doesn’t count) and was made by Wayne McGregor, who was appointed Resident Choreographer for The Royal Ballet in 2006, the first modern dancer to be given that post. He’s interested in sharpness and speed, the press releases say, and in the technology of the dancing body (I’m not sure what that means or how that makes him different from any other choreographer), and he has been experimenting with projecting computer generated images on the stage. There’s a lot about that information to unpack, and there’s a lot there to be both wary and welcoming of. Oh, he also choreographed the movement for the film, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” I wish I could remember that movie much less the movement.

McGregor picked an extraordinary piece of music, Thomas Adès’ “Concerto for Violin – Concentric Paths” (2005). Both the title and the music itself would seem an open door to a choreographer interested in music and visuals. The sweet, extraordinary reachings of the violin in this concerto take a circuitous and satisfying journey from a high yearning to a low resigned growl, where the instrument renews its musical strength and charges back (what a wonderful ballet it would make). The first movement alone is an astonishing cry (after some very, very quiet recorded sci-fi music by Cliff Martinez written for the film “Solaris”), and it doesn’t let go of the listener. Kurt Nikkanen, NYCB’s concertmaster, played the violin magnificently. I headed home and found it on Youtube.

The choreography begins against a changing backdrop of concentric circles, against which the dancers appear small and overwhelmed, even when they dance vigorously, storm, and jump about with jagged and jarring moves that are even interesting, and even when they are intimate with one another. McGregor seems to have responded to the music with a desperation in darkness. No matter how bright the light becomes, and occasionally it does, the dancers continue to be overwhelmed by its omnipresence and then are swallowed up by the darkness literally and metaphorically. The choreography of Outlier is a depressing response to an elegant piece of music that does exactly the opposite – that allows for rage, lament, and triumph against the dark as well as diverse, seamlessly presented, musical styles.

“Rings”, the first movement, indeed had red rings on the backdrop, and these concentric circles deepened and changed color and size throughout the piece. Once, when looking up from the dancing, I found that the design looked unfortunately like the Looney Tunes image. I half expected Bugs to lean out and chomp on his carrot. (I really didn’t want to think that.) In the second movement, “Paths”, the backdrop transformed to bars and light shifted from bright to dark, with one bar often a different color than the rest, these patterns echoing on the floor. For the third movement, “Rounds,” we were in light again before the darkness swallowed everything up.

Oh, the dancers? Yes, there were dancers. There were some lovely moments. When the piece begins, two dancers appear (Tiler Peck and Craig Hall), one walks to the other, and they begin to dance as the violin begins to sing. The partnering, while nothing spectacular, was intelligent, involved, circular, and grew intense with a hint of violence. It seemed that the dancers did not want to let go of each other. They were joined by two other couples and a frantic shift from one set of movements to another. In the second movement, the shadows of the dancers appeared on the backdrop, again marvelous, like a Platonic show. I found myself watching the shadow dancers more; they seemed to belong more to the designs and to the music. And they seemed more human.

The choreography, as I mentioned, was disjointed, jerky, plastic, suffered from a lack of continuity, and oh, let me just say it, ugly, not of itself but of the context and relationship with the dancers, music, and even the lighting. The dancing had nothing in common with the music. The women did at times seem to have some relationship to the violin, but they were outsung. It isn’t that this kind of dancing, perhaps resembling something Michael Jackson would do, has no place on a ballet stage. No, my beef here is that dancers are the point of dance, and that they should be the focal point. (Taking dancers out of dance happened a generation ago.) Sets and lighting should support what human beings do. The audience doesn’t come to see a choreographer play with toys, they come to see people dancing. What we got was something like a music video or a game show or a bad night at the rehearsal studio during a power outage. In the end, the dancers were swallowed up as they spun into darkness, where metaphorically, they had been dancing for the entire piece. For the record, they also included Ashley Bouder, Sterling Hyltin, Maria Kowroski, Wendy Whelan, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Joaquin De Luz, Robert Fairchild, Gonzalo Garcia, Craig Hall, and Amar Ramasar.

Meanwhile, the real core of the ballet lay under the dancers’ feet: The orchestra under Fayçal Karoui direction did masterful work. The lighting, designed by McGregor and Lucy Carter, was fun but not interesting enough; I know because by its constant changing, it forced me to look at it and not the dancers. The lack of makeup and the colorless costuming (mostly gray, gray, gray, some black, and lighter tops for the women) pushed the dancers further into anonymity. The picture accompanying this piece is solely about the dancers; consequently, they look much more interesting than McGregor let them appear on stage. The naked leg and thigh muscles of the men, by the way, reminded me of the NYCB ads for the season, but in context, there was no joy in being human here. Being human was incidental; indeed, the human condition an outlier. Oh, let’s change ballets and dance.

The sun always shines over Cortege Hongrois. It’s set in happy ballet land, where there’s a court, happy peasant types to provide character dancing, and something of a grand finale to a grand ballet. The heart of the piece lies in its variations for two women and the pas de deux which has everything a classic pas de deux should have: luminescent regals, swelling music, and eloquent partnering.

Gwyneth Miller danced her music box variation with a pleasing air and a sense of humor about her wonderfully strong feet. Ana Sophia Scheller danced as clear as crystal, her body a match for the music, absolutely lovely, and well rewarded with abundant applause.

Jonathan Stafford was capable in his variations for the pas de deux; Sara Mearns seemed to be having an off night. Her dancing lacked line and any sense of the fun (I had the same feeling watching the czardas), and it was distant from the music. Still, there’s no denying her strong technique and musicality, and even on an off night, one can’t discount her gifts. It’s really easy to turn this work into kitsch; to avoid that, the dancers go at it heart and soul, and I’ve seen them do just that, just not on Friday. Don’t they know Cortege Hongrois is fun? It used to be the piece where dancers charged across the floor and often fell. That energy complements the sweetness of the ballet. No one fell on Friday. I guess that’s good.

All the ballets on Friday had to do with light, which haunts us humans. We keep returning to it, reaching for it, even after it abandons us to the dark. We continue to have hope that it will return. And for the first ballet --

Oh, the world premiere? You thought it was Outlier? Well, yes, but there was another one.

The people leaving the theater were talking about it: “The first ballet was amazing!” “The first ballet was wonderful!” “Oh, that first ballet!”

The first ballet on the program was Serenade, and I don’t remember seeing it so well danced, so richly performed, so clear, so heart and soul and human, and so moving. It was just one of those performances that people remember in a season and that you’re grateful you were present for. Even the tulle skirts fell as if rehearsed into beautiful shapes around the dancers’ legs. Here, too, is desperation in darkness, frantic flinging across the stage, reaching for the light. But the piece moves, it has impetus, and it has dancers. One step and leap and, with exuberance and vitality, dancers are halfway across the floor. That energy is Balanchine’s America. The cast, particularly Jenifer Ringer and a truly exuberant dancer, Kaitlyn Gilliland, had us literally gasping in happiness. You can sense a great ballet getting a great performance; the audience stops breathing as individuals. We all shared one heart watching Serenade, and it was in our throats. (Yes, I am speaking metaphorically.) Outlier, which followed this in the program, had no chance.

Serenade is the miracle ballet, Balanchine’s first in America, its first performance (1934) in a backyard (okay, the Warburg estate) in the rain. City Ballet audiences cherish Serenade, its themes of grief, loss, and hope in the light, the light nurturing that impossible art called ballet. Me, I tear up at the first chords of the Tchaikovsky. And after seeing it, a little girl about eight years old charged up the aisle, her arms flying. For her, it was a world premiere, and it was one smashing success.

They’re dancing Balanchine’s work beautifully over at NYCB: They should advertise that. Earlier in the week I saw Concerto Barocco, Duo Concertant, and Symphony in Three Movements, all excitingly danced. This company is indeed a gift to New York.

I didn’t hear much talk about Outlier as I headed up the street, sauntering slowly to the subway. The talk was all about Serenade. The rain had come and gone, and we moved into the night with hope for the light.

Serenade: Music by Ilyitch Tschaikovsky (Serenade for Strings), Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska; Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley. Premiere: March 1, 1935, American Ballet, Adelphi Theater, New York. NYCB premiere: October 18, 1948, City Center of Music and Drama, New York.

Outlier: Music by Thomas Adès, Choreography by Wayne McGregor, Set by Wayne McGregor and Lucy Carter, Costumes by Moritz Junge, Lighting by Lucy Carter, Solo violinist: Kurt Nikkanen. Additional performances can be seen on May 18 at 7:30 PM and on May 20 and 21 at 8 PM.

Cortege Hongrois: Music by Alexander Glazounov (from Raymonda), choreography by George Balanchine, Décor and Costumes by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Premiere May 17, 1973, New York State Theater.

The New York City Ballet spring season goes through June 27 and features seven new ballets and four commissioned scores in its “Architecture of Dance” theme at the Koch Theater. Tickets are available at the theater’s box office and through the company’s engaging Web site,

Singer/writer Mary Sheeran has sung through several operas, cabarets, and song recitals, including several performances of "Songs From the Balanchine Repertory." Her novel, Who Have the Power, an exploration of cultural conflict, feminism, and Native American history set on the American frontier, was published in 2006 ( Her next novel, Quest of the Sleeping Princess, which unfolds during a gala performance of the New York City Ballet, will be published later this year.

Monday, May 17, 2010


When I received the invitation for John Tartaglia’s ImaginOcean I thought it sounded like a fun show, but voting season is such a busy time for theatre critics that I put it aside and hoped I could get to it later. When our Drama Desk nominations were announced and ImaginOcean got a nod for Unique Theatrical Experience I knew the time had come. And I was right. It is a thoroughly delightful little show.

My friend Trixy and I were the only unaccompanied adults in the theatre at New World Stages, but we got right into the spirit of this underwater journey of friendship and adventure. And the subtle lessons of determination, teamwork and creativity are good to remember at any age. I came out with the songs (music and lyrics by composer William Wade) playing in my head, but not in that annoying way some little kids’ tunes can drive you crazy. These songs -- I especially loved “On Our Way” -- are an important part of the upbeat experience of the afternoon.

Against a black light background as the ocean floor and with plenty of special effects, three effervescently colorful and illuminated fish -- Tank, Bubbles and Dorsel -- go in search of a treasure chest, “swimming through a maze against the current,” encountering other little creatures along the way. Because they don’t know the way, they must learn to figure it out. To do so they address the children in the audience and ask for their help, a great way to keep youngsters involved.

At the end of their journey, the three travelers discover the greatest treasure is friendship, and Dorsel learns that by not being afraid or letting his imagination get carried away, he could succeed. “I believed in myself and I did it,” he exclaims triumphantly.

Veteran director and choreographer Donna Drake directs the unseen puppeteers who bring the creatures, designed and built by artists at The Puppet Kitchen in New York City, to life. The brilliantly colored sets were designed by set Robert Kovach.

ImaginOcean is the latest brainchild of John Tartaglia, creator, executive producer and star of the Emmy Award nominated “Johnny and the Sprites” (now airing worldwide).   Earning a Tony nomination for his performance in Avenue Q, Tartaglia was most recently seen on Broadway as Pinocchio in Shrek the Musical and previously starred as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast. A 10-year veteran of “Sesame Street,” Tartaglia is one of the youngest puppeteers ever to perform on the show, starting at age 16.

ImaginOcean’s 50-minute running time is just right. Even the toddlers in their mom’s laps stayed involved, although with a bit of squirming on the part of the little fellow next to me.

For tickets and a video clip about the show, visit

Theatre District Police Precincts To Receive Special Tony Award

I’m so glad the Tony Awards committee will present a Tony for Excellence in the Theatre to the Midtown North and South New York City Police Precincts. They deserve it!

"We had decided on this particular Tony Honor well before the May 1st incident in Broadway/Times Square which brought the NYPD's skills to the forefront of a very public stage, so our desire to award them for their consistent day-to-day dedication proved even more appropriate,” Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of The Broadway League said. “Since the New York City Police Department is a City Agency, they had to first ensure that they could accept this recognition. Today, that approval was received and we are thrilled that they will join their fellow recipients at the Tony Awards on Sunday, June 13th at Radio City Music Hall."

The NYPD isn’t usually associated with theatre, and yet they are definitely an essential and, until now, unacknowledged part of an evening at a show. How smart of those Tony people to recognize that.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Life Lived

To know what I know
and acknowledge what I don't.
To marvel at budding potential
while embracing brokenness.
To be attentive to the present
and open to the future
while conditioned by the past.
To dwell in peace
while vibrantly alive
and interconnected.
This is life lived,
and longed for.
-- Madeleine Kavanagh, DC

Thursday, May 13, 2010

That they may all be one

This Sunday's Gospel reading, John 17: 20–26, is one of my favorites. So comforting, and it's always good to be reminded of God's love.

Jesus prayed for his disciples, and then he said. “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tammy Grimes

Broadway veteran Tammy Grimes -- the original Molly Brown -- previewed her new show yesterday at our final Dutch Treat Club luncheon for this season at the National Arts Club. In her four decades of performing, Tammy became the first actress to win Tonys for her work in a musical (The Unsinkable Molly Brown, 1961) and a straight play (Private Lives, 1970). A member of the Theatre Hall of Fame (and the Dutch Treat Club!), her new show opens at The Metropolitan Room June 22.

She started off with “Melancholy Baby,” the song she sang to audition for Molly Brown, which she also sang for President Lyndon Johnson at the White House because it was his favorite. She followed with “Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby” and “The Rose.” Fellow DTC-er and jazz pianist Jon Weber accompanied her.

At 76 her deep, gravely voice isn't’ as strong as it used to be, but as my friend and cabaret critic Gerardo Ramirez-Miller said, “She still knows how to put over a song.”

And for me, she will always be Molly as I continue to listen to the original cast recording, the cover of which is now yellow with age. “I Aint Down Yet” has been one of my favorites since I was a child. Those lyrics were a fighting song for me and I really took them to heart: “I'm goan' to learn to read and write,/ I'm goan' to see what there is to see,/ So if you go from nowhere/ On the road to somewhere/ And you meet anyone/ You know it's me.”

It was a good DTC year and I look forward to staying in touch with member friends as we shift our base to Sardi’s for the summer. We don’t have the entertainment there, but our members -- and Sardi’s -- are entertainment enough!

Just Sit Right Back and You’ll See a Tale: Alexei Ratmansky’s Namouna, a Grand Divertissement at the New York City Ballet


Even though the sailors in On the Town knew that the Bronx is up and the Battery’s down, most sailors in dramatic literature from The Odyssey to "Gilligan’s Island" tend to get lost and end up with some sort of woman trouble on some island. It happens again in Alexei Ratmansky’s new work for the New York City Ballet, Namouna, A Grand Divertissement, which is, let me tell you, one hoot of a ballet. Ratmansky did away with the story that composer Édouard Lalo used in his 1882 grand ballet with its pirates and slave girl set on the island of Corfu. I guess that’s a good thing as you’d probably need Johnny Depp to pull that off anyway.

Ratmansky did make something of a story, although he didn’t take it seriously. The island is still there, where a sailor (the excellent Robert Fairchild) searches for his love among three women. Minus two sailors, this is almost On the Town, which is almost Robbins’ Fancy Free. That the sailor finds his love (assumedly Namouna) at the end and is not totally distracted by the other two women makes him doubly smarter than that prince who gets into so much trouble at Swan Lake.

Let’s see, how many other ballets did this make me think of? A corps of golden gowned women wearing short, black, silent-filmish vamp wigs flows on and off the stage and they do a good deal of sinking down and rising up (Balanchine’s Serenade); fish dives (any grand ballet of your choice); one dancer stays up while the rest of the corps sinks down (Robbins’ The Concert); and that awful headgear of swimming caps or skull caps? (Balanchine’s Prodigal Son), and even a smoking siren. Aside from these droll references, there were comic moments rooted in the steps themselves or in the situations. For example, a humorous little trio featuring a delightful Daniel Ulbricht (who is something like Puck here ) with Megan Fairchild and Abi Stafford in a tiny space where Ulbricht picks each girl up and moves them round and round over and over again and after all that circling, he walks off with them both. Sunny sailor boy goes off to smoke with the boys while the cigarette girl (Jenifer Ringer) does her dance with a few of her friends sharing and waving away the joys of smoking, and there’s more falling down again. (There is a LOT of falling down in Corfu.) In the original Namouna, the girl rolled a cigarette for her lover; here she just rolls. A dance can slip from lovely to loony with only a shift of a foot or an attitude of the arms or when a situation simply turns comical because we’re not sure where else to file it. We’re Lost. Wherever. But that’s okay.

For Namouna also had many lovely moments. At the very beginning, the waves of golden women flowing in and out of different formations (Swan Lake-like) compel your attention and wonder, and since we’re at the very beginning of the ballet, and the lush orchestral introduction (with its Wagnerian overtones that put the 19th century Parisians off back in 1882) have us sinking into mystery. Another time, the golden women surround the stage, their eyes magically gleaming. It was eerie, it was lovely. Well, those gleamings were hand cymbals, and the women clapped them together as Fairchild danced – marvelously – a magical/childlike/beautiful sequence. Even the cigarette dance, while brash, nevertheless had its lovely moments before the falling down started up.

After Jenifer Ringer smoked out, Sara Mearns reached out with elegantly gloved arms, flinging herself into superb jumps and turns. Then, at one point, Fairchild falls asleep and is rocked by several women, and he awakens (I’ll leave that reference for you to figure out). There’s also something like a water dance, with liquid moves, indeed as if swimming through water (ah, Balanchine’s playful Apollo). Speaking of Apollo, our searching sailor is looking for his muse among three women. Finally, Wendy Whelan and Fairchild approach each other but are each pulled back by three dancers (muses?) before they eventually touch hands. Their pas de deux is lovely and delicate, but also gasp-inducing as Fairchild lifts his water maiden/bird higher and higher and finally up so high that her toes touch the sky or is it the earth, because, dear readers, I’m not quite sure where in the universe we are at this point. Whelan’s hands flutter birdlike as she sinks into her sailor’s arms, and as the true lovers are united, the entire cast offers them a reverence before leaving them alone to kiss. Fade out.

Lalo’s music has much that is beautiful, and it calls to mind Debussy and Wagner as much as the Mediterranean. There was a lot to work with. But Ratmansky seems to have mostly heard the colors and moods as playfulness and steered into that, shorting emotionally strong moments. There was so much play and invention, and all of it marvelous, but Fairchild’s and Whelan’s duet, beautiful as it was, was pretty much an anti-climax. I’m glad they got together, but –oh, yeah, was that important? By the time we get to that final kiss, we’re exhausted. Fairchild is sweet in his innocent searching (a fairchild in short trousers), but I found myself thinking of Judy Garland parodying “searching, searching” in “A Star Is Born.” His wasn’t a whole character; it’s the dancer who appeals, not the sailor.

Ratmansky followed the changes in the music literally, ignoring everything but the superficial in its structure. Even though his invention of steps was boundless, the ballet felt empty at the end. Wonderful moments that could have opened up were quickly and nervously dismissed with a sudden joke as if to say, just kidding. In that way, Namouna, A Grand Divertissement, is of its anxious, giggly times that can occasionally stop for a sincere moment and then nervously move on.

The orchestra, conducted by Fayçal Karoui, gave the ballet all the help it could; as did the gorgeous costumes (by Marc Happel and Rustam Khamdamov); as did the stunning lighting (by Mark Stanley). But you know what? The music really, really, sincerely was made for a real grand ballet, a La Bayadere or a Corsaire with several acts, big scenery, and a big payoff ending like a temple crashing down or digitally produced waves sweeping over the audience. Making a lot of entertaining steps is not making a ballet, although it can pass for one. Lalo had taken the music of his not very successful ballet (well, Debussy liked it) and created a few orchestral suites from them, and that’s the music Ratmansky used. The problem may simply be that you can take the music out of the ballet but you can’t take the ballet out of the music. Ratmansky’s stylistic references were not enough; they made for an Alice in Wonderland fantastic, episodic journey, both mad and mischievous, that couldn’t reach as high as Whelan’s toes. But it sure was fun to watch. And the dancing was fab.

George Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15 is located in a truly magical land, perhaps situated above the mystical mischief on Corfu. As soon as the curtain goes up, the simple placement of dancers, the lemon-colored costumes, the radiant light, and the blue background is enough to make the audience gasp before enjoying its well ordered universe of sunny classicism. I enjoyed the smooth, anchoring presence of Tyler Angle and Amar Ramasar and the ballet’s most beautiful echoing pas de deux, with two couples doing the swooning honors and the audience doing the sighing. Karoui conducted with a brisk verve but did not lose sight of the lyricism. There is some humor here, too, especially in the first and sixth variations, danced by Anna Sophia Scheller and Ashley Bouder. And that last vivacious section that sets everyone to skipping is set to an old folk song called “The Farmer’s Wife Has Lost Her Cat.” Now THAT’S a hoot.

Divertimento No. 15: Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Choreography by George Balanchine; costumes by Karinska; Lighting by Mark Stanley. Premiere May 31, 1956, American Shakespeare Theater, Stratford, CT.

Namouna, A Grand Divertissement: Music by Édouard Lalo, choreography by Alexei Ratmansky; Costumes by Marc Happel and Rustam Khamdamov; Lighting by Mark Stanley. Premiere: April 29, 2010 at The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center.

The New York City Ballet spring season goes through June 27 and features seven new ballets and four commissioned scores in its “Architecture of Dance” theme at the Koch Theater. Namouna, A Grand Divertissement can be seen on May 12 at 7:30 p.m. along with Balanchine’s Duo Concertant and Concerto Barocco. Tickets are available at the theater’s box office and through the company’s Web site,

Singer/writer Mary Sheeran has sung through several operas, cabarets, and song recitals, including several performances of Songs From the Balanchine Repertory. Her novel, Who Have the Power, an exploration of cultural conflict, feminism, and Native American history set on the American frontier, was published in 2006 ( Her next novel, Quest of the Sleeping Princess, which unfolds during a gala performance of the New York City Ballet, will be published later this year.

(Caption: Sara Mearns and her wonderful white gloves in Namouna, A Grand Divertissement by Alexei Ratmansky for the New York City Ballet.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Kicking up her show girl legs till the end!

Please remember in your prayers Doris Eaton Travis, who died today at the age of 106. She is believed to be the last of the Ziegfeld Girls. I saw her last month as she opened the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS annual Easter Bonnet contest where she was still kicking up her legs and giving a big welcome to the theatre full of people. Her love of show business was obvious, and her youthful spirit was a joy to see. Check out the feature about her on

God bless her. She was a Broadway baby right up until the end!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Earthlings Project

I met composer/lyricist Earl Wilson Jr. last week at our Drama Desk cocktail party for nominees. Please check out his web site for the exciting project he is developing. Earthlings, The One Big Happy Family Musical! is a musical that acts as a focal point for The Earthlings Project, a community-based series of events that will bring organizations and sponsors together to examine how they can work together in their “going green” initiatives. The participating communities will have the opportunity to put together a professional quality musical as a fund raiser for themselves, receive a piece of future royalties when the show becomes a commercial entity, and come together in a localized sustainability movement. He’ll be archiving this process as they go forward and hopes to involve many participants in the endeavor.

"This is an interesting and, I believe, new way of creating a commercially viable musical…perhaps one that will eventually play on Broadway," he writes.

It's exciting to learn about something so creative. Keep this one in your prayers!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Collected Stories

If you don’t want to spend the $120 or so for a ticket to see Collected Stories revived on Broadway, just get “All About Eve” out of the library and watch it again. Same story, only the film has more interesting characters and is better written.

Too bad because the acting in Donald Margulies' 1996 play is fine, although the characters portrayed are stereotypical. Linda Lavin (left in photo) plays Ruth Steiner, a successful short story writer living in a book-filled apartment in Greenwich Village. (Nice set by Santo Loquasto.) Sarah Paulson (right) is Lisa Morrison, one of her students who ambitiously weasels her way into Ruth’s life through flattery, becoming her dutiful assistant.

As time goes on, Lisa begins getting her work published, thanks to Ruth’s guidance, and ends up writing a novel based on a stories Ruth had told her about her early life. Ruth feels betrayed and threatens to sue, saying she might want to writer her own story someday.

I guess we’re supposed to question the morality of this -- Collected Stories is inspired by a real incident in which a man charged a student with plagiarism -- but the situation didn’t seem ambiguous to me. Ruth had taught Lisa that writers borrow from each other all the time -- they collect stories. She also advised Lisa never to talk about a piece she was planning to write because the telling relieves the pressure to write. Lisa says she took that as an indication that Ruth had no plans to tell her own story and was giving it to Lisa. Neither character was likable to me, so I felt no distress for Ruth nor any triumph for Lisa.

Lavin has received a Tony nomination for her performance. The production received no Drama Desk nominations.

This is the second play by Margulies I’ve seen this season. His Time Stands Still, starring Laura Linney, preceded Stories at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Both were produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club, whose shows I more often than not don’t like. Stories is directed by MTC artistic director Lynne Meadow.

For more information, visit

Friday, May 7, 2010

“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength.”
-- August Wilson

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Broadway Lights Will Dim Tonight in Honor of Lynn Redgrave

Marquees along the Great White Way will be dimmed at 7 p.m. tonight for one minute to pay tribute to Lynn Redgrave, who died Sunday at her home in Kent, CT.

Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of The Broadway League, is quoted on as saying, "In addition to Lynn Redgrave's genius as a multitalented performer and writer, she was very generous with her time and influence. My memories of her brilliant performances on stage are matched with seeing her dedicated activities offstage. Whether participating in an Actors Fund meeting or a walkathon for charity, her warmth and selflessness always made the day brighter. Our thoughts are with her family, friends, and audiences."

Anyone who heard her moving theatre reflection at last year’s Broadway Blessing would have felt that warmth. We were so fortunate to have had her with us.

St. Paul tells us that “the lives of those who are faithful to God are changed not ended,” but we will miss not having her in our world. May God bless her richly, as she blessed so many in her time here.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lynn Redgrave was a blessing in this world

I am so sad that Lynn Redgrave lost her battle with breast cancer. She died last night at her home in Kent, CT, at the age of 67.

I met Lynn in September when she gave a theatre reflection at Broadway Blessing. We had plenty of time to talk before hand, just the two of us, and I found her to be warm and gracious. She seemed to actually glow, as if she were lit from within. I have a photo of us together taken that night framed on my wall and that shimmering quality radiates out even there.

Please keep Lynn and her family in your prayers. This is the third death to hit the legendary British acting family in a little over a year. Last month Lynn’s brother, actor Corin Redgrave, died and in March 2009 her niece, actress Natasha Richardson, died as a result of a head injury sustained in a skiing accident.

In a recent interview for, Ms. Redgrave spoke about her illness. When asked how her battle with breast cancer had changed her life, she answered, "Life-threatening disease tends to make anyone stop in your tracks and look at life. Before I had cancer, I don't know that I ever slowed down inside my mind enough to look outside and really live in the moment. But once you have that threat of the moment actually not being there you're going to pay attention. And that has completely stuck with me. I savor every moment with family and loved ones. I find that I never want to leave unsolved or unhealed a relationship, a disagreement, something between me and another person. If they've upset me, or the other way around, we have to talk about it. If someone did something that upset me, I have to tell them why they've upset me. And if I've given short shrift to someone else, however inadvertently, I apologize and try to put it right immediately, lest there be no tomorrow.

"And I don't stress about the little things, the stupid things. I used to get distress attacks, almost panic attacks, packing to go on trips – what if the car doesn't come? Sitting at airports when the plane is delayed. Well, you know, I let it go. What will be will be. I usually try to have a copy of the latest New Yorker with me. That can see you through any plane delay.”

I last saw Lynn in November following a performance of her one-woman play Nightingale. I was fortunate that I was able to go backstage and give her a hug and tell her I was praying for her everyday. She greeted me warmly and was grateful for the prayers. At Broadway Blessing she had talked about how her faith had carried her through her first battle with breast cancer in 2003, and her recitation of Psalm 23 was glorious. We have lost a very special person.

God bless you, Lynn.

Drama Desk Nominees Announced; Ragtime and The Scottsboro BoysReceive Most

Brian Stokes Mitchell and Cady Huffman announced our Drama Desk nominations this morning during breakfast at the Friars Club.

The shows receiving the most nods, Ragtime and The Scottsboro Boys, have already closed. Each received nine nominations apiece, the most of any productions from this season. Ragtime never found an audience and closed after a short run; Scottsboro had been a limited run from the beginning.

Winners will be announced at our May 23 awards ceremony at the LaGuardia Concert Hall at Lincoln Center. Patti LuPone (in photo) will host. But before that, we'll celebrate Thursday at our annual cocktail reception for nominees, to be held for the first time at Churrascaria Plataforma, a Brazilian restaurant on West 49th.

So here are this year’s selections from our nominating committee:

Outstanding Ensemble Performances 
This year the nominators chose to bestow special ensemble awards for acting to the casts of two shows. (Therefore, individual cast members for these shows were not eligible for acting awards in the competitive categories.)
• Circle Mirror Transformation 
• The Temperamentals 
Special Awards: 
Each year, the Drama Desk votes special awards to recognize excellence and significant contributions to the theatre.
• To the cast, creative team and producers of Horton Foote’s epic The Orphans' Home Cycle: "We salute the breadth of vision, which inspired the exceptional direction, performances, sets, lighting, costumes, music and sound that made it the theatrical event of this season."
• To Jerry Herman "for enchanting and dazzling audiences with his exuberant music and heartfelt lyrics for more than half a century." 
• To Godlight Theatre Company for "consistent originality and excellence in dramatizing modern literature, and especially for the vibrant theatricality of its innovative productions."
• To Ma-Yi Theater Company for "more than two decades of excellence and for nurturing Asian-American voices in stylistically varied and engaging theater."
Nominations for the competitive categories follow:
Outstanding Play: 
Alan Ayckbourn, My Wonderful Day 
Annie Baker, Circle Mirror Transformation 
Lucinda Coxon, Happy Now? 
John Logan, Red 
Geoffrey Nauffts, Next Fall 
Bruce Norris, Clybourne Park 
Outstanding Musical: 
American Idiot 
Everyday Rapture 
The Addams Family 
The Scottsboro Boys 
Outstanding Revival of a Play: 
A View from the Bridge 
Brighton Beach Memoirs 
So Help Me God! 
The Boys in the Band 
Outstanding Revival of a Musical: 
A Little Night Music 
Finian's Rainbow 
La Cage Aux Folles 
Promises, Promises 
Outstanding Actor in a Play: 
Bill Heck, The Orphans' Home Cycle 
Jude Law, Hamlet 
Alfred Molina, Red 
Eddie Redmayne, Red 
Liev Schreiber, A View from the Bridge 
John Douglas Thompson, The Emperor Jones 
Christopher Walken, A Behanding in Spokane 
Outstanding Actress in a Play: 
Ayesha Antoine, My Wonderful Day 
Melissa Errico, Candida 
Anne Hathaway, Twelfth Night 
Kristen Johnston, So Help Me God! 
Laura Linney, Time Stands Still 
Jan Maxwell, The Royal Family 
Outstanding Actor in a Musical: 
Brandon Victor Dixon, The Scottsboro Boys 
Douglas Hodge, La Cage Aux Folles 
Cheyenne Jackson, Finian's Rainbow 
Chad Kimball, Memphis 
Nathan Lane, The Addams Family 
Bobby Steggert, Yank! 
Outstanding Actress in a Musical: 
Kate Baldwin, Finian's Rainbow 
Montego Glover, Memphis 
Jayne Houdyshell, Coraline 
Christiane Noll, Ragtime 
Sherie Rene Scott, Everyday Rapture 
Catherine Zeta-Jones, A Little Night Music 
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play: 
Chris Chalk, Fences 
Sean Dugan, Next Fall 
Santino Fontana, Brighton Beach Memoirs 
Adam James, The Pride 
Hamish Linklater, Twelfth Night 
Nick Westrate, The Boys in the Band 
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play: 
Victoria Clark, When the Rain Stops Falling 
Viola Davis, Fences 
Xanthe Elbrick, Candida 
Mary Beth Hurt, When the Rain Stops Falling 
Scarlett Johansson, A View from the Bridge 
Andrea Riseborough, The Pride 
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical: 
Kevin Chamberlin, The Addams Family
Robin De Jesus, La Cage Aux Folles 
Jeffry Denman, Yank! 
Christopher Fitzgerald, Finian's Rainbow 
Jeremy Morse, Bloodsong of Love 
Bobby Steggert, Ragtime 
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical:  
Carolee Carmello, The Addams Family 
Carrie Cimma, Lizzie Borden 
Katie Finneran, Promises, Promises 
Angela Lansbury, A Little Night Music 
Kenita Miller, Langston in Harlem 
Terri White, Finian's Rainbow 
Outstanding Director of a Play: 
Jonathan Bank, So Help Me God! 
Jack Cummings III, The Boys in the Band 
Sam Gold, Circle Mirror Transformation 
Michael Grandage, Hamlet 
Michael Grandage, Red 
Ethan Hawke, A Lie of the Mind 
Outstanding Director of a Musical: 
Warren Carlyle, Finian's Rainbow 
Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Ragtime 
Igor Goldin, Yank! 
Terry Johnson, La Cage Aux Folles 
Michael Mayer, American Idiot 
Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys 
Outstanding Choreography: 
Warren Carlyle, Finian's Rainbow 
Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Ragtime 
Lynne Page, La Cage Aux Folles 
Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys 
Twyla Tharp, Come Fly Away 
Sergio Trujillo, Memphis 
Outstanding Music: 
David Bryan, Memphis 
Michael Friedman, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson 
Joe Iconis, Bloodsong of Love 
John Kander & Fred Ebb, The Scottsboro Boys 
Andrew Lippa, The Addams Family 
Joseph Zellnik, Yank! 
Outstanding Lyrics: 
Rick Crom, Newsical The Musical 
Kevin Del Aguila, Click, Clack, Moo 
John Kander & Fred Ebb, The Scottsboro Boys 
Dillie Keane and Adèle Anderson, Fascinating Aïda Absolutely Miraculous! 
Andrew Lippa, The Addams Family 
David Zellnik, Yank! 
Outstanding Book of a Musical: 
Joe DiPietro, Memphis 
Joe Iconis, Bloodsong of Love 
Dick Scanlan & Sherie Rene Scott, Everyday Rapture 
David Thompson, The Scottsboro Boys 
Alex Timbers, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson 
David Zellnik, Yank!  
Outstanding Orchestrations: 
William David Brohn, Ragtime 
Larry Hochman, The Scottsboro Boys 
Tom Kitt, American Idiot 
Tom Kitt, Everyday Rapture 
John Oddo, All About Me 
Daryl Waters & David Bryan, Memphis 
Outstanding Musical Revue: 
Fascinating Aïda Absolutely Miraculous! 
Million Dollar Quartet 
Newsical The Musical 
Simon Green: Traveling Light 
Sondheim on Sondheim 
Outstanding Music in a Play: 
Adam Cochran, A Play on War 
Adam Cork, Red 
Gaines, A Lie of the Mind 
Philip Glass, The Bacchae 
Hem, Twelfth Night 
Branford Marsalis, Fences 
Outstanding Set Design: 
Sandra Goldmark, The Boys in the Band 
Phelim McDermott, Julian Crouch & Basil Twist, The Addams Family 
Derek McLane, Ragtime 
Christopher Oram, Red 
Jay Rohloff, Underground 
Karen Tennent, Hansel and Gretel 
Outstanding Costume Design: 
Antonia Ford-Roberts & Bob Flanagan, The Emperor Jones 
Santo Loquasto, Ragtime 
Clint Ramos, So Help Me God! 
Bobby Frederick Tilley II, Lizzie Borden 
Matthew Wright, La Cage Aux Folles 
David Zinn, In the Next Room or the vibrator play 
Outstanding Lighting Design:  
Neil Austin, Hamlet 
Neil Austin, Red 
Christian M. DeAngelis, Lizzie Borden 
Maruti Evans, John Ball's In the Heat of the Night 
Natasha Katz, The Addams Family 
Dane Laffrey, The Boys in the Band 
Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical: 
Acme Sound Partners, Ragtime 
Jonathan Deans, La Cage Aux Folles 
Ashley Hanson, Kurt Eric Fischer & Brian Ronan, Everyday Rapture 
Peter Hylenski, The Scottsboro Boys 
Scott Lehrer, Finian's Rainbow 
Brian Ronan, Promises, Promises 
Outstanding Sound Design in a Play: 
Dan Bianchi & Wes Shippee, Frankenstein 
Dale Bigall, Underground
Adam Cork, Enron 
Lindsay Jones, Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers 
Fitz Patton, When the Rain Stops Falling
Elizabeth Rhodes, John Ball's In the Heat of the Night 
Outstanding Solo Performance: 
Theodore Bikel, Sholom Aleichem: Laughter Through Tears 
Jim Brochu, Zero Hour 
Colman Domingo, A Boy and his Soul 
Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking  
Judith Ivey, The Lady With All the Answers 
Anna Deavere Smith, Let Me Down Easy 
Unique Theatrical Experience: 
Charles L. Mee's Fêtes de la Nuit 
Hansel and Gretel 
John Tartaglia's Imaginocean 
Love, Loss, and What I Wore 
Stuffed and Unstrung 
The Provenance of Beauty 
Ragtime      9 
The Scottsboro Boys     9 
Finians’ Rainbow     8 
The Addams Family     8 
La Cage Aux Folles     7 
Memphis      7 
Red       7 
Yank!       7 
Everyday Rapture     5 
The Boys in the Band     5 
Fences      4 
Hamlet       4 
So Help Me God!     4 
A Little Night Music     3 
A View from the Bridge    3 
American Idiot      3 
Bloodsong of Love     3 
Lizzie Borden      3 
Promises, Promises     3 
Twelfth Night      3 
When the Rain Stops Falling    3 
A Lie of the Mind     2 
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson   2 
Brighton Beach Memoirs    2 
Candida      2 
Circle Mirror Transformation    2 
Fascinating Aïda Absolutely Miraculous!  2 
Hansel and Gretel     2 
John Ball's In the Heat of the Night  2 
My Wonderful Day     2 
Newsical The Musical     2 
Next Fall      2 
The Emperor Jones     2 
The Pride      2 
Underground      2 

The Drama Desk is an organization of theatre critics, writers and editors that honors excellence in all areas of New York theatre: Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway and not-for-profit. It was organized in 1949 and presented its first awards in 1955. For more information visit