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Eclipsed’s Danai Gurira’s Advice to Young Female Writers: ‘Go Where You Are Loved’

Tony-nominated Eclipsed playwright and The Walking Dead star Danai Gurira knows something about writing. While speaking at the Lilly Awards, which honored her Monday night, Gurira gave some key advice to young female writers. She remembered sitting at the inaugural Lilly Awards as a guest when fellow playwright Sarah Ruhl told her she had just read her play, Eclipsed. “She told me how she thought it was beautiful, powerful, and important,” Gurira said. “I remember being filled with so much hope, inspiration, and fuel to know that I was on the right track and doing the right thing even though the world may not tell you so all the time.”

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Watch Cynthia Erivo Perform Her Big Number From The Color Purple on Colbert, If You Like Witnessing Beautiful Things

If you've yet to experience the magic that is Broadway's revival of The Color Purple, Stephen Colbert has a real treat for you. He invited the show's breakout star and now Tony nominee, Cynthia Erivo, to perform her standout solo number, "I'm Here," on Monday's Late Show. Erivo's turn as Celie has been one of the most-talked-about performances of the season, and if it wasn't yet clear why, allow her to blow you away.

Jake Gyllenhaal Will Embrace His Inner Post-Impressionist for a One-Night-Only Show of Sunday in the Park With George

Time to break out your easel and brush up on your color theory. Jake Gyllenhaal, for a special performance on October 24 to raise money for the New York City Center, will be portraying post-impressionist artist Georges Seurat in the musical Sunday in the Park With George. The Pulitzer Prize–winning musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine chronicles the various, often humorous life exploits of a fictionalized Seuret as he works on his seminal painting "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." Gyllenhaal previously showed off his musical chops as a plant-shop employee last summer during a brief production of Little Shop of Horrors. Tickets for Sunday will be on sale beginning May 25, so alert your former art-history professor.

Theater Review: The Underworld on East 4th in Hadestown

When the very first lyric of a sung-through show like Hadestown attempts to rhyme “flames” with “hurricanes,” you know you’re in for a crossover experience. And though I doubt that the songwriter Anaïs Mitchell did it deliberately, as if to signal “We’re not in Oklahoma! anymore,” it would have made sense if she had. Certainly, the scenic design — an egg-shaped amphitheater snuggled within New York Theatre Workshop’s usual space — offers that useful information straight up. I say “useful” because in the case of Hadestown the likelihood of enjoyment may depend on your willingness to accept that what you are watching is not in fact a musical but more of an illustrated pop concert, if a very pretty one. On the other hand, if you go in hoping for a story told through song, the traditional province of musical theater, you will be very much disappointed. The songs are sung and the story is told, but rarely are the two things one. 

A sassy Eurydice, a feckless Orpheus. »

Even That One Guy From Shark Tank Couldn’t Get Into Hamilton, Because No One Can Get Into Hamilton

Ahem. "There's nothin' rich folks love more / Than going to Midtown and havin' tantrums at the door." It is a truth you can go ahead and hold self-evident that tickets to Hamilton are harder to get than ... oh, there’s no equivalent item. Hamilton tickets are the hardest thing to get right now. According to the New York Post, Shark Tank guest judge and venture investor Chris Sacca and his wife, Crystal English, arrived at Hamilton’s Richard Rodgers Theatre last Thursday with what they thought were two valid tickets. Unfortunately, they discovered upon entry they had been scammed; the tickets they'd purchased through StubHub were fake. You might say they were Ham Scammed. That’s when Sacca, well, put himself into the narrative. “Do you know who I am?” he allegedly asked a theater employee. A source also claimed, “He said he was a ‘shark’ on Shark Tank and warned it wouldn’t be good if they couldn’t get in.” After demanding to see a manager and unsuccessfully trying to finagle a way into the show, the pair eventually went to see Mike Birbiglia’s Thank God for Jokes, which seems wonderful in a completely different way. Just another reminder that even if Alexander Hamilton himself crawled out of the grave, he would probably still have to wait in the #Ham4Ham line with the rest of us plebes.

Should You Revisit the Recast The King and I?

Many a Golden Age musical has grown musty with overfamiliarity and rote revival. And many a hit show, unable to maintain discipline or accommodate replacements, grows ragged during a long run. Lincoln Center Theater’s production of The King and I, which opened last April to rave reviews, had already avoided the first problem; Bartlett Sher’s staging of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic uncovered new reserves of emotion in the piece while demonstrating why it was a classic in the first place. Happily, this King and I has also avoided the second problem. More than a year later, and with new actors in the two title roles, it is still, as I wrote upon its opening, too beautiful to miss

Subtle shifts in the leads' dynamic. »

Lin-Manuel Miranda Cannot Emotionally Handle Patti LuPone’s Presence in Today’s Ham4Ham

For those unlucky theater enthusiasts who haven't had a chance to see Hamilton yet, there have been lots and lots of free preshows called Ham4Hams in which creator Lin-Manuel Miranda often brings out a special guest to give a short-and-sweet performance in front of the fawning fans outside the Richard Rogers Theater. Today was no ordinary Ham4Ham, though. Miranda, theater god, brought out Patti LuPone, theater goddess, for a rousing rendition of "Give My Regards to Broadway," except Miranda was so smitten with LuPone that all he could do was stare longingly, giggle, and sit down for a little bit. We can't blame him.

Theater Review: Rupert Everett Fully Inhabits Oscar Wilde in The Judas Kiss

Unless cunnilingus is part of the late Victorian housekeeping routine, the studly footman and nubile maid seem to have seriously misinterpreted the task of straightening the bed. How daring of David Hare to begin The Judas Kiss — his play about Oscar Wilde — with such an explicit act of heterosexuality. And yet how dangerous, too. In the drama’s desultory 1998 Broadway debut, starring Liam Neeson, this feint seemed like bad foreplay: a halfhearted apology for all the gayness about to transpire. But now, in the terrific Hampstead Theatre production that has landed at BAM after its success in England, the moment is much more fulfilling in itself and makes much more sense overall. So does the rest of the play, not least because, as Wilde, Rupert Everett apologizes for nothing. I don’t want to claim this as a victory for typecasting, but Everett (who is gay) could hardly be better in a role he seems to have grown himself toward. Not literally: What turns him into a reasonable physical replica of the fleshy poet is a fat suit, complete with what he has called “baboon moobs” and “a marvelous knee-length arse.” But Everett inhabits each facet of Wilde’s cut-glass intelligence so precisely, and commands respect for his contrariness so fully, that the man comes alive as a specific human even as his mystery is enhanced. In the process the play, too, grows toward the brilliance of its subject.

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ESPN Knows You’ll Pay Attention to Its Upfront If Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs and Leslie Odom Jr. Are Performing

With upfronts in full swing for the 2016–2017 television season, networks are always on the hunt for new, exciting ways to liven up their presentations and keep snappy reporters at bay. (Do you know how many presentations there are? A lot. And often very early.) ESPN, keenly sensing an opportunity to one-up the competition, eschewed the standard complimentary brunch and instead enlisted Hamilton's Daveed Diggs and Leslie Odom Jr. to open and close the event  not with a Hamilton number, but with an original motivating and empowering performance. (Sample lyrics: "You're the stuff of comets / don't you let 'em dim your fire baby / get higher baby.") So, as of now, ESPN is essentially the Steph Curry of upfronts.

A Day With Ben Whishaw, From Diner Coffee to Onstage Scars

Since January, British actor Ben Whishaw has spent most days on West 48th Street, railing against a group of seemingly possessed young girls: He's playing John Proctor in Arthur Miller's The Crucible. The rest of the time, Whishaw (who also stars in this month's The Lobster) leads a relatively quotidian New York existence: trips to CVS and the local bookshop with his partner, composer Mark Bradshaw. "It's only fractionally quieter than Hackney, where we live in London," Whishaw says of the construction that plagues his West Village neighborhood. "They seem to have been digging up the road outside the apartment since we arrived."

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Jane the Virgin’s Jaime Camil Joins the Cast of Broadway’s Chicago

Notice his mouth never moves. Almost. Jane the Virgin's Jaime Camil has joined the cast of Chicago for a five-week run, from May 31 to July 3. He'll play fast-talking lawyer Billy Flynn, who can win nearly any trial with the help of a little razzle dazzle. The glitzy role should be a great fit for the actor who brought us the glorious Rogelio De La Vega, provided his run isn't sabotaged in a telenovela-like twist by the crime lord Mutter, or worse, Britney.

Theater Review: The Missteps (and Joys) of Do I Hear a Waltz?

Though Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim are arguably the two greatest writers of American musical theater, their one collaboration — Do I Hear a Waltz? — was a fizzle. Some of the reasons are all too evident in the equally fizzly Encores! production, which is erratic and mild in a way that suggests the show’s history of overcompromise. By 1964, when it opened on Broadway, Rodgers was 62 and almost rigid with fear about the waning of his melodic gift. Bereft of his H’s — Hart, who died in 1943, and Hammerstein, who died in 1960 — he sought out Sondheim, the rising young lyricist of West Side Story and Gypsy, and not incidentally a close friend of his daughter Mary. The two men were temperamentally unsuited, not least because Rodgers was a homophobe, though he’d somehow tolerated Hart. More than that, they brought clashing ideologies to the table. Rodgers was wedded to a form of musical storytelling that Sondheim, in just a few years, would shatter with shows like Company and Follies. Approaching Arthur Laurents’s story for Do I Hear a Waltz? from opposite sides of an aesthetic divide, the best they could achieve was a stalemate.

The clash is visible onstage. »

Audra McDonald Is Pregnant, Postponing West End Debut of Lady Day and Return to Shuffle Along

Audra McDonald is one of the greatest voices on the stage and the main draw for Shuffle Along, a show about the creation of a Broadway hit, but the production will have to shuffle along without her for much of this year. Why? Audra's having a baby! The six-time Tony winner announced her pregnancy today, and with it, the news that she'll be out of the show from July 24 through this fall. McDonald's West End debut in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, which was set for this summer, has been postponed as well. Rhiannon Giddens will fill the role of Lottie Gee in Shuffle Along in McDonald's absence, while choreographer Savion Glover will also step into the dance-heavy show. 

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Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs Raps Super-Fast on The Tonight Show, Proves Why He Should Be on Money, Too

Daveed Diggs! He's taking this horse by the reins, making sport of Tony campaignsDaveed Diggs! And he's never gonna stop wearing those cool tops and rapping totally insane! Daveed Diggs! Watch him play games with Jim, engagin' Jim, amazin' Jim! Daveed Diggs! He went on TV to have fun. Daveed Diggs! And he hit a home run, like this: Rapping a verse of his, from "Taking Off," a song with words spoke super-quick. He can win an award next month, get his first Tony, but for him to succeed, there is something else we'd like to see — him on money! Can we suggest the dime?

  • Posted 5/9/16 at 1:33 PM
  • Tours

Darren Criss to Strap on the Glitter Once More for Hedwig’s National Tour

If you missed Darren Criss warbling his way through Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway back in 2015, you're in luck: The New York Times reports that Criss will return to the title role in the production's national tour. He'll play the tour's opening dates in San Francisco and Los Angeles in October and November, before the show moves on to other cities and other actors. San Francisco, coincidentally, is Criss's hometown, which we hope marks the start of a trend with this particular tour. Just imagine: Channing Tatum playing Hedwig in Cullman, Alabama; Bruno Mars playing Hedwig in Honolulu; Mickey Rourke playing Hedwig in Schenectady!

  • Posted 5/4/16 at 2:31 PM
  • Ham4ham

J.J. Abrams Joined Ham4Ham to Sing Force Awakens’ Cantina Song

How does a bastard, orphan, son of a Port and a Hayden, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in space's Outer Rim, impoverished by providence and Jawas, grow up to be a Jedi and a scholar? We're not sure, but rather than provide the answer, Force Awakens buddies Lin-Manuel Miranda and J.J. Abrams came together in a wretched hive of scum and villainy to perform a little ditty for Wednesday's Ham4Ham. The occasion was May the 4th — a day that makes everyone sound like a Jedi with a lisp — and the song was the cantina tune from Episode VII, which, Manuel explained, was basically a Huttese version of Shaggy's "It Wasn't Me." (The movie version is available for download here.) You learn something new every day.

  • Posted 5/4/16 at 9:34 AM
  • Theater

John Boyega Lands His First Starring Role on London’s West End in Woyzeck

John Boyega's post–Star Wars trajectory now includes his first starring role in a major theater production. Deadline reports that Boyega will star in an adaptation of Georg Büchner's Woyzeck at the Old Vic Theatre in London's West End. He'll play the titular Woyzeck, a mentally troubled soldier who murders his wife. Boyega previously had minor roles at the National Theatre and the Tricycle in Kilburn, and was handpicked for Woyzeck by the theater's artistic director. Jack Thorne, the playwright behind the upcoming Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, will adapt Woyzeck, which is set to open in 2017. Boyega also recently signed on for a voice-over role in the BBC's animated Watership Down mini-series. The news that he's headed to the theater after starring in the Force Awakens comes just a day after Lupita Nyong’o explained in Lenny that she opted for her Tony-nominated role on Broadway to avoid playing stereotypes for Hollywood.

2016 Tony Award Nomination Snubs and Surprises

In any Tony season, the idea of snubs is a little ridiculous; there’s never been a conspiracy to deny Sutton Foster her next award. Among the nominators, who are generally not affiliated with any current show, there’s no horse-trading and no debate. It’s all done by secret ballot, and the results are what the accountants say they are, WTFs included.

But this season in particular it’s hard to speak of snubs, or even of surprises, with the Hamilton behemoth standing in the way of any shadowy theorizing. That the show received a record 16 nominations — at least one in every category available to it — is what everyone knew would happen, and probably what it deserved. So where’s the room for shock?

That doesn’t mean that all the excellent work being done in other musicals was rewarded; naturally, some was cut adrift in Hamilton’s wake. And of course those 16 noms in the 14 musical categories had no effect on the ten play categories. So let’s look at some of the non-snub choices and unshocking surprises that are now beginning to bubble up from the data.

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Will Hamilton Win a Record 13 Tony Awards? A Look at Its Nominations

Does Hamilton have a chance to beat the record set by The Producers for the most Tony wins — 12? Mathematically, yes. But to do this it would have to sweep all 13 categories in which it is nominated, a feat that even with its 16 nominations I highly doubt it can achieve. Hamilton is vulnerable in the women’s acting categories and, thanks especially to Shuffle Along, in design. And some voters, having acknowledged the year of Miranda with the top awards, may simply wish to spread the wealth among many other deserving artists.

In any case, though this is still early days, I would guess that only three categories are “locks,” with another five likely, and three more toss-ups. That leaves the likely Hamilton haul at nine or ten. Still impressive, but not like The Producers, which was lucky enough to come around in a miserably weak season. That may be the only smart move Hamilton didn’t make.

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  • Posted 5/3/16 at 2:51 PM

Why Jennifer Hudson Isn’t Too Surprised She Got Snubbed for a Tony

When the Tony nominations were announced this morning, most people were quick to analyze just exactly how well Hamilton fared. (Record breaking! Surprised?) But when the initial excitement dissipated a bit, one thespian spoke out regarding her lack of nomination — and her subsequent lack of surprise. Jennifer Hudson, who made her Broadway debut as nightclub singer Shug Avery in the revival of The Color Purple, was quick to respond to a fan on Twitter who denounced her snub in a now-deleted tweet:

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