Posts Tagged ‘off broadway’

Last Chance to see “Cagney” Off-Broadway — Closes May 28

You might have forgotten that James Cagney started off in Vaudeville as a song-and-dance man. It was later in life that he developed his “tough guy” persona, becoming one of the Hollywood’s top actors. And you might not even remember some of the songs that made him famous like pretty much everything that George M. Cohan wrote.

You have one more month to see Cagney the Musical, the off-Broadway musical that’s as much a powerhouse as James Cagney was.  Played by Robert Creighton, a Cagney lookalike with matching bravado and appearance, James Cagney dominates the stage as he takes on role after role starting as a chorus girl and rising to the top of the Broadway Vaudeville and Hollywood film scenes. Everyone tap dances in this show, not surprisingly, and it’s wondrous to see this dance form on the stage.  You know the songs: “Give My Regards to Broadway, ““You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

Now you’ll also learn about how this spunky kid from New York City’s Lower East Side won the hearts of the stage and film world too.  The show which chronicles Cagney’s involvement with Warner Brothers over the years and includes both the classic Cohan tunes as well as original music.  Westside Theatre (upstairs), 407 West 43rd Street, Manhattan. For tickets, cagneythemusical.com, 212-239-6200.  https://youtu.be/7s0j_wSwl5w

Off-Broadway is Good for Laughs and Talent – See These 2 Fab Shows

You don’t have to be Jewish to love Not that Jewish.  In fact, the play is really a celebration of family values, family love, and family challenges.  Monica Piper, the writer, is a comedian who has written for the likes of Mad about You, Rugrats and Roseanne. She’s also a stand-up comedienne who began her career teaching English but quickly segueing into the world of improv via Second City in Chicago.

So what has being Jewish got to do with the show?  Well, the cultural richesse passed down from generation to generation among Jewish families lends itself to the creation of language and ritual fodder, making for neuroses, laughs, and, of course, family entanglements.

The play travels the life path of Ms. Piper’s beginnings as the daughter of a comedian through her passages as a single mother, as an adult encountering the old age issues of her parents, and through the successes of her career. It is both humorous and tender, touching and riveting, while hitting a chord with anyone who has endured the rituals of family.  Do you need to be Jewish to understand it?  Not really.  The touchstones are relevant to all, although knowing some of the Yiddishisms will certainly enhance your experience.  (A glossary is handed out along with the Playbill to help you understand the intricacies of this rich, rich but dying language).

Ms. Piper performs the 90-minute show seven times a week at the New World Stages at 340 West 50th Street.  Tickets are available at www.telecharge.com. www.notthatjewish.com.

For Spamilton, it does help if you’ve seen Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brilliant history-making show Hamilton. www.hamiltonbroadway.com. The inside jokes take life from knowledge of the play, its foibles, its characters, and its songs.  They also incorporate a dose of pure Broadway, including some of the nuances that assume a fairly broad knowledge of what makes theater on the Great White Way endearing as well as annoying (or trite).

Written by Forbidden Broadway creator, Gerard Alessandrini, Spamilton is the consummate parody of a popular show. It exploits every nuance, every endearing or annoying gesture that you’ve come to love or hate about Broadway and about Hamilton in particular.

The show, which is extending its reach to Chicago this month, concurrent with the opening of the real Hamilton in that city, depicts all of Hamilton’s lead characters, from the Schuyler sisters to George Washington, Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton himself with a frighteningly close degree of talent and dexterity.  The rapping is unmistakable. The lyrics implausibly phenomenal. If you are familiar with Hamilton, you will be howling non-stop while also remarking at the extraordinary talent of the cast. These actors are so good that you could easily imagine them assuming the Broadway roles of the characters they spoof.

My recommendation?  See this show after you’ve seen Hamilton. Or at least after you’ve listened to the cast album a few times. But given the luxurious price of these tickets compared to the inflated Hamilton ones, you can easily see this show over and over and gain something new from it each time. I can’t wait to see it again. And this time I know I’ll be in the room where it happened, up close and personal, and not perched in a mezzanine seat at the Richard Rodgers Theater.

Spamilton plays eight shows a week at the Triad, 158 West 72nd Street, on the Upper West Side. Tickets are cheap. A two-drink minimum is required, as this is, after all, a cabaret, a cozy room where it will happen. http://www.triadnyc.com/buy-tickets www.spamilton.com.

Theater Closings You Shoudn’t Miss

The theater season starts to wind down a bit in August and September.  It’s the last chance for you to catch some of the wonderful shows that have been playing this year on and off-Broadway before the new crop hits the stages in mid-fall.

Hurry now to get tickets to these six gems:

An Act of God - a hilarious explanation of the 10 Commandments, this revival of the original Jim Parsons’ one-man show now features the talents of Sean Hayes.  It’s irreverent, creative and totally off-the-wall.  www.anactofgod.com.  Booth Theater, 222 West 45th Street.  Closing September 4.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – the thought-provoking show about a 15-year-old autistic boy whose mathematical brilliance motivates him to solve the mystery of a murdered dog closes on September 4 as well.  Don’t miss it.  Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 243 West 47th Street.  www.curiousincidentonbroadway.com.

Fun Home – Tony-winner Fun Home is a musical about a family dealing with the trials and tribulations of gay children and parents.  The children are as entertaining as the adults, although this is a show that’s definitely not appropriate for young ones. www.funhomebroadway.com.  Circle in the Square, 235 West 50th Street.  Closes September 10.

Les Miserables – If you haven’t seen this monster of a musical yet, now is your last chance (at least until it’s next revival).  Closing September 4, Les Miz has an unforgettable mix of drama and music and tells the famous story written by Victor Hugo.  www.lesmiz.com/broadway.  Imperial Theatre, 249 West 45th Street.

Fuerza Bruta – an Off-Broadway favorite for the younger set, Fuerza Bruta involves the audience in its music and acrobatics.  There are no seats and it’s theater at its most immersive.  Closing August 28.  Daryl Roth Theatre, 101 East 15th Street, www.fuerzabrutanyc.com.

Oslo – Also Off-Broadway, at Lincoln Center, the play about a Norwegian diplomat and her husband facilitated the 1993 Oslo Accords and the meetings between Israel and the PLO closes on August 28.  www.lct.org.  Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center, 150 West 65th Street.

Dine Out for a Good Cause this Month: Breast Cancer Research

Although the leaves are turning red and yellow, October is the month for pink awareness, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A notable food event which builds awareness of the potentially deadly disease and adds a charitable component is James Beard-award winner Chef Todd English’s special dining program at Ça Va Brasserie in the Theater District. Chef English has created a special menu which evokes the color pink, a gentle and delicious reminder that there is much work to be done to eradicate breast cancer. Notable on Ça Va’s menu this month are dishes which include reddish or pinkish ingredients, all building awareness of the deadly disease and the need for the development of a cure. Proceeds from all dinners through the month will benefit the Wendy English Cancer Research Foundation.

The InterContinental Hotel, which is well situated across from Birdland jazz club and within walking distance of both Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters, is the location of Ça Va, a five-year old standout restaurant that has been feeding happy hotel guests and theater goer’s three meals a day. This month has special significance to Chef English, who established the Wendy English Cancer Research Foundation to honor his sister who passed away in 2006 at the age of 42 from breast cancer. Fifteen percent of the proceeds from the dishes created for this month will be donated to the Foundation. Special red and pink dishes include Hubbard squash and gala apple soup, with a pomegranate crème fraiche; roasted halibut with fall harvest ratatouille; and New York cheesecake with Meyer lemon, graham cracker, and blueberry. Additionally, each guest dining on any of the special menu dishes will enjoy a pink raspberry madeleine to take home for breakfast the next day. 210 W. 44th Street, Manhattan. For reservations, 212.803.4545, or www.opentable.com. cavatoddenglish.com

Broadway and Off-Broadway Tickets at Discount – for shows into early February

The mystique of theater holds true all year in New York City, but January is the best time to score the deals both on Broadway and Off-Broadway. Beginning January 4, theatergoers can purchase 2-for-1 tickets to 22 Broadway shows between January 17 and February 4 and 38 off-Broadway shows between January 30 and February 12.
More on Broadway and Off-Broadway Tickets at Discount – for shows into early February

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