Notes from New York: Theatre festivals and sexy sailors make us love summer
But we also know some great theatrical ways to escape the city heat
There's nothing quite like summer in New York City. Sure, it smells like a slow cooker full of garbage all the time, but there are also theatre festivals, Broadway in Bryant Park , Independence Day, and, of course, leftovers from our Independence Day picnics. As mentioned in last month's Notes From New York, one of the most beloved NYC summer theatrical traditions is Shakespeare in the Park, but one new favourite tradition (which involves air-conditioning!) is New York City Center's Encores! Off-Center series. The series, now in its second season, features landmark off-Broadway musicals like Jonathan Larson's Tick, Tick…Boom! and Randy Newman's Faust "filtered through the lens of today's most innovative artists."
Even with all that summertime fun at everyone's fingertips, it appears the heat (or maybe the smell) is getting to some New Yorkers. Shia LaBeouf, Alec Baldwin's almost-costar in Broadway's Orphans, made yet another conspicuous Broadway exit when he was ushered out of a performance of Cabaret in handcuffs. Of course, as most New York residents know, when the city summer starts to feel like too much to handle, the thing to do is to get out of dodge. Theatre fans can head almost anywhere in the US to find great theatre being performed by big-name stars. And even if your summer vacation of choice involves more Mickey than method, you can still support theatrical innovation — Disney, it can be argued, represents the future of American theatre. Unfortunately, many of us haven't been able to physically escape the city. But we were able to find respite by throwing ourselves into World Cup mania, because who can even think about the weather when there are so many sizzling torsos to dreamcast.
"When the long, hot summer finally does draw to a close, the theatre community has a lot to look forward to"
Though we didn't end up with as much to celebrate on the soccer front as we would have liked, the last month has been full of toast-worthy theatrical events. Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey's new Broadway show If/Then, starring Idina Menzel, brought in a delicious-looking two-toned cake on the day of their 100th performance. Likewise, the cast of The Phantom of the Opera celebrated a mind-boggling 11,000 performances with practically as many tiny cupcakes. Though the new iteration of Cabaret on Broadway is still quite new, its Emcee, Alan Cumming, had been stepping into his suspenders much longer. The Broadway favourite was presented with accolades and balloons upon hitting a milestone 500 performances in the iconic role.
When the long, hot summer finally does draw to a close, the theatre community has a lot to look forward to. Bridesmaids star Rose Byrne has been added to the James Earl Jones-led cast of You Can't Take It With You, Kelli O'Hara and Ken Watanabe will star in The King and I, and Andrew Rannells is set to take over for Neil Patrick Harris in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. It goes without saying that the city is abuzz about the upcoming revival of On The Town, because even the most hardened tourist-hating New Yorker couldn't say no to the sailors-about-town in these photos and this video. In fact, tourists are all over Broadway stages this season. In preparation for their eight-night-a-week travels overseas next year, the stars of An American in Paris visited the real-life City of Lights for inspiration.
Parisian holidays are hardly Broadway's only European connection. Duncan Sheik's American Psycho musical, which premiered at the Almeida Theatre in 2013, is heading across the pond for its American premiere. But sadly, it's come time for us to send Daniel Radcliffe and the cast of Michael Grandage's production of The Cripple of Inishmaan back. At least we got one last chance to chat with Radcliffe about the production and potentially reuniting onstage with his Harry Potter costars. Radcliffe seems to think Merrily We Roll Along might be the right Broadway fit for that trio, but we're holding out for The Boy Who Lived: The Musical.
One magical childhood icon whose story definitely will be coming back to life in musical form(s) is Peter Pan. As we've mentioned before, The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up will take to the small screen in CBS' Peter Pan Live! But now we know it's legit because Christopher Walken has been cast as Captain Hook (sorry, Laura Benanti!). And the beloved tale will also be at the centre of A.R.T.'s new musical adaptation of Finding Neverland. TheatreMania spoke to the show's star, Jeremy Jordan, about the experience of playing J.M. Barrie. As we contemplate eternal youth, one young performer who we hope never grows up is Les Misérables' Gaten Matarazzo. Though if he has to, we're pretty sure he'd make an awesome Phantom.