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Special Thanks

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Cast
(in alphabetical order)

Farah Alvin

*

Woman 2

Olivia Hernandez

*

Woman 1

Erick Patrick

*

Man 1

Bobby Conte Thorton

*

Man 2

Setting

Originally produced by the WPA Theatre, New York City, 1995 (Kyle Renick, Artistic Director)
Original Orchestration by Brian Basterman and Jason Robert Brown

SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD is presented through special agreement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. www.mtishows.com

Songs

  • "Opening Sequence I: The New World" - Company
  • "Opening Sequence II: On the Deck of a Spanish Sailing Ship, 1492" - Man 1, Company
  • "Just One Step" - Woman 2
  • "I'm Not Afraid of Anything" - Woman 1
  • "The River Won't Flow" - Company
  • "Stars and the Moon" - Woman 2
  • "She Cries" - Man 2
  • "The Steam Train" - Man 1, Company
  • "The World Was Dancing" - Man 2, Company
  • "Surabaya Santa" - Woman 2
  • "Christmas Lullaby" - Woman 1
  • "King of the World" - Man 1
  • "I'd Give It All For You" - Woman 1, Man 2
  • "The Flagmaker, 1775" - Woman 2
  • "Flying Home" - Man 1, Company
  • "Hear My Song" - Company

Any video and/or audio recording of this production is strictly prohibited.

*Appearing through an Agreement between this theatre, Mill Mountain Theatre, and Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Actors’ Equity Association (“Equity”), founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 actors and stage managers, Equity fosters the art of live theatre as an essential component of society and advances the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits, including health and pension plans. Actors’ Equity is a member of the AFL-CIO and is affiliated with FIA, an International organization of performing arts unions. www.actorsequity.org

Production Staff

Theatre Staff

  • Executive Director
  • Nora Carey
  • Consulting Producer
  • Joe Grandy
  • Technical Director/Production Manager
  • Daniel Whiting
  • Master Electrician
  • Jaron Hermansen
  • Assistant Production Manager
  • Caroline Pastrore
  • Electrician/Light Board Operator
  • Harrison Marcus
  • Carpenter
  • Abigail Feinstein
  • Wardrobe Supervisor
  • Jestina Odell
  • Social Media Manager
  • Kurtis Blackburn
  • House Manager
  • Jonathan Scott Ryder
  • Attendants
  • Zachary Carey
  • Megan Marquit
  • Hannah McLaughlin
  • Helena Moran
  • Dan Robles

Board of Trustees

Board of Trustees

President

William W. Templeton, Esq.

Artistic Director

Vice-President

Linda Deruvo-Keegan

Vice-President

Robert E. Burns

Managing Director

Secretary

Kirsten A. Wickson

Treasurer

Dennis Corcoran

Director of Marketing

Box Office

Ushers

Trustees

  • William Harpin
  • Paul Lambert
  • John T Yunits, Jr.

From all of us at The Cape Playhouse, be well, be safe, and we will look forward to welcoming you this summer for never before seen activities on the campus.

The Cape Playhouse is a 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit organization. All donations are tax-deductible.

Message From The Theatre

The Cape Playhouse is extremely grateful to have the opportunity to present BROADWAY ON THE LAWN for the 2021 Summer Season. A heartfelt thank you to all our patrons and sponsors who have helped make this season possible. We are thrilled to have you back and delighted to be up and running with our stellar production crew and brilliant actors who are ready to bedazzle you on our first ever outdoor stage!

Cast
Creatives

Meet the Cast

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Meet the Cast

Dedication

A large part of In The Heights is our intergenerational stories. The cast is dedicating this production to those who made them who they are, and they would like to say, "Thank you for everything I know."

Farah Alvin

*

Woman 2
(
)

Broadway credits include It Shoulda Been You, Nine, The Look of Love, Saturday Night Fever, and Grease! among others. Off-Broadway credits include Window Treatment (cast album), Goldstein, The Last Smoker In America (cast album), The Marvelous Wonderettes  (Drama Desk Nomination, cast album), I Love You Because (cast album) and more. Lots of regional including The Cape Playhouse in 2014 and 2017, Papermill Playhouse, Goodspeed Opera House, Signature Theatre (Helen Hayes Award), Geva Theater and Alabama Shakespeare. Her solo show Farah Alvin on Vinyl named the Best Cabaret Show 2019. She has performed as a soloist with Symphony Orchestras of Indianapolis, Cleveland, Detroit, and National Symphonies of the United States and Canada. She is also occasionally a funny voice on your radio. In New York, Farah performs regularly in the series Broadway By the Year at Town Hall, Broadway Close Up and Broadway Unplugged at Merkin Hall, Broadway’s Greatest Hits and 54 Sings…at 54 Below.

Olivia Hernandez

*

Woman 1
(
)

Southern California native. Theatre credits include Austen’s Pride at The 5th Avenue (Elizabeth Bennet), Guys and Dolls at The Guthrie (Sarah Brown), Oklahoma! at TUTS (Laurey), West Side Story at Lamb’s Players Theatre (Maria), and Mary Poppins at The Encore Musical Theatre Company (Mary Poppins). BFA in Musical Theatre from The University of Michigan.

Erick Patrick

*

Man 1
(
)

From an early age, Erick Patrick has had a love for acting. He decided to take his training seriously, so he went to the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, where he graduated with a degree in acting for tv and film. Since then, Erick has been performing on stages across America, touring with many broadway shows including Motown the Musical and Jesus Christ Superstar. In addition to being an actor, Erick also sings, writes, and, produces his own music, available on all music streaming platforms under his artist name “Donelle.”

Bobby Conte Thorton

*

Man 2
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)

Bobby Conte Thornton currently stars in the Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Company. He made his Broadway debut originating the role of Calogero in A Bronx Tale, directed by Robert De Niro and Jerry Zaks. Other New York theater: My Fair Lady (Bay Street Theater); Starting Here, Starting Now (York Theatre Company). Regional: Last Days of Summer (George Street Playhouse); all-male A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Two River Theater); world premiere of Ken Ludwig's A Comedy of Tenors (McCarter Theatre Center/Cleveland Play House); regional premiere of Jersey Boys and Lerner & Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon (The Muny). Film/TV: If Beale Street Could Talk (directed by Barry Jenkins); “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix); “Madam Secretary”, “The Code” (CBS). He recently released his debut album Along the Way (available on iTunes/Spotify). Training: BFA, University of Michigan; Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Meet the Team

Jason Robert Brown

*

Music & Lyrics
(
)

Jason Robert Brown is the ultimate multi-hyphenate - an equally skilled composer, lyricist, conductor, arranger, orchestrator, director and performer - best known for his dazzling scores to several of the most renowned musicals of our time, including the generation-defining The Last Five Years, his debut song cycle Songs for a New World, and the seminal Parade, for which he won the 1999 Tony Award for Best Score.

Jason Robert Brown has been hailed as "one of Broadway's smartest and most sophisticated songwriters since Stephen Sondheim" (Philadelphia Inquirer), and his "extraordinary, jubilant theater music" (Chicago Tribune) has been heard all over the world, whether in one of the hundreds of productions of his musicals every year or in his own incendiary live performances. The New York Times refers to Jason as "a leading member of a new generation of composers who embody high hopes for the American musical." Jason's score for The Bridges of Madison County, a musical adapted with Marsha Norman from the bestselling novel, received two Tony Awards (for Best Score and Orchestrations). Honeymoon In Vegas, based on Andrew Bergman's film, opened on Broadway in 2015 following a triumphant production at Paper Mill Playhouse. A film version of his epochal Off-Broadway musical The Last Five Years was released in 2015, starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan and directed by Richard LaGravenese. His major musicals as composer and lyricist include: 13, written with Robert Horn and Dan Elish, which opened on Broadway in 2008 and was subsequently directed by the composer for its West End premiere in 2012; The Last Five Years, which was cited as one of Time Magazine's 10 Best of 2001 and won Drama Desk Awards for Best Music and Best Lyrics (and was later directed by the composer in its record-breaking Off-Broadway run at Second Stage Theatre in 2013); Parade, written with Alfred Uhry and directed by Harold Prince, which won both the Drama Desk and New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards for Best New Musical, as well as garnering Jason the Tony Award for Original Score; and Songs for a New World, a theatrical song cycle directed by Daisy Prince, which has since been seen in hundreds of productions around the world since its 1995 Off-Broadway debut, including a celebrated revival at New York's City Center in the summer of 2018. Parade was also the subject of a major revival directed by Rob Ashford, first at London's Donmar Warehouse and then at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Jason conducted his orchestral adaptation of E.B. White's novel The Trumpet of the Swan with the National Symphony Orchestra, and recorded the score for PS Classics. Future projects include a new chamber musical created with Daisy Prince and Jonathan Marc Sherman calledThe Connector; an adaptation of Lilian Lee's Farewell My Concubine, created with Kenneth Lin and Moisés Kaufman; and a collaboration with Billy Crystal, Amanda Green, Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel on a musical of Mr. Saturday Night. Jason is the winner of the 2018 Louis Auchincloss Prize, the 2002 Kleban Award for Outstanding Lyrics and the 1996 Gilman & Gonzalez-Falla Foundation Award for Musical Theatre. Jason's songs, including the cabaret standard "Stars and the Moon," have been performed and recorded by Ariana Grande, Audra McDonald, Kristin Chenoweth, Billy Porter, Betty Buckley, Renée Fleming, Jon Hendricks and many others, and his song "Someone To Fall Back On" was featured in the Walden Media film, Bandslam.

As a soloist or with his band The Caucasian Rhythm Kings, Jason has performed concerts around the world. For the past four years (and ongoing), his monthly sold-out performances at New York's SubCulture have featured many of the music and theater world's most extraordinary performers. His newest collection, "How We React and How We Recover", was released in June 2018 on Ghostlight Records. His previous solo album, "Wearing Someone Else's Clothes", was named one of Amazon.com's best of 2005, and is available from Sh-K-Boom Records. Jason's 2012 concert with Anika Noni Rose was broadcast on PBS, and he was the featured soloist for a live episode of Friday Night Is Music Night, broadcast live from the London Palladium and featuring the BBC Concert Orchestra. His collaboration with singer Lauren Kennedy, "Songs of Jason Robert Brown", is available on PS Classics. Jason is also the composer of the incidental music for the Broadway revival of You Can't Take It With You, David Lindsay-Abaire's Kimberly Akimbo and Fuddy Meers, and Kenneth Lonergan's The Waverly Gallery, and he was a Tony Award nominee for his contributions to the score of Urban Cowboy the Musical. He has also contributed music to the hit Nickelodeon television series, The Wonder Pets as well as Sesame Street. Jason spent ten years teaching at the USC School of Dramatic Arts, and has also taught at Harvard University, Princeton University and Emerson College.

For the musical Prince of Broadway, a celebration of the career of his mentor Harold Prince, Jason was the musical supervisor and arranger. Other New York credits as conductor and arranger include Urban Cowboy the Musical on Broadway; Dinah Was, off-Broadway and on national tour; When Pigs Fly"off-Broadway; William Finn's A New Brain at Lincoln Center Theater; the 1992 tribute to Stephen Sondheim at Carnegie Hall (recorded by RCA Victor); Yoko Ono's New York Rock, at the WPA Theatre; and Michael John LaChiusa's The Petrified Princ" at the Public Theatre. Jason orchestrated Andrew Lippa's john and jen,Off-Broadway at Lamb's Theatre. Additionally, Jason served as the orchestrator and arranger of Charles Strouse and Lee Adams's score for a proposed musical of Star Wars. Jason has conducted and created arrangements and orchestrations for Liza Minnelli, John Pizzarelli, and Michael Feinstein, among many others.

Jason studied composition at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., with Samuel Adler, Christopher Rouse, and Joseph Schwantner. He lives with his wife, composer Georgia Stitt, and their daughters in New York City. Jason is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and the American Federation of Musicians Local 802.

Igor Goldin

*

Director
(
)

Igor Goldin is thrilled that SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD at the Cape Playhouse is his first show back from the pandemic. Based out of New York City, Igor directs and develops musical theatre around the country. Most recently: Austen's Pride (Seattle 5th Ave), Passing Through (Goodspeed. CT). NYC: Yank! (Drama Desk nom, Outstanding Director of a Musical); With Glee, and A Ritual of Faith (both New York Times Critics Picks). 11 new musicals for the New York Musical Festival (3 NYMF Awards for Excellence in Direction). Regional: Austen’s Pride (ACT of CT); Matilda (co. dir./Mara Greer, Regional Premiere, Tuacahn, UT); Adam Gwon/Michele Lowe’s The Proxy Marriage (Goodspeed 2019 Festival of New Musicals); Grease, Sweeney Todd (SALT Award nom, Director of the Year) and Austen’s Pride (Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival); 26 Pebbles (World Premiere) and A Christmas Story (The Human Race Theatre, OH); Matilda, Newsies, Gypsy, Oklahoma, 1776, Memphis, West Side Story (“Encore” Theatre Award, Best Director), The Producers, Evita, The Music Man (“Encore” Theatre Award), Twelve Angry Men, and South Pacific (Engeman, NY); Crossing Swords and tick, tick…BOOM! (American Theatre Group, NJ); Academy (Tuacahn New Works Festival); Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (La Mirada/McCoy Rigby, CA). Top 5 Finalist for the SDC Joe A. Callaway Award for Distinguished Direction. Proud member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC). Thanks to Joe, Shawn, Dan, Jaron, Gail, Gayle Seay, Erin Craig and all the hard working people at the Cape Playhouse – without them none of this could have happened. Love to Jeff.

Micah Young

*

Music Director/Piano
(
)

Micah is an award-winning music director, composer and arts educator.  Recently he music directed the National Tour of the Tony Award-winning Best Musical Fun Home.  On Broadway, he conducted the Tony Award-winning Best Musical, Spring Awakening as well as played in numerous Broadway productions including: Mary Poppins, Mamma Mia, Chicago, Promises, Promises, Porgy and Bess, Cinderella, Bye, Bye, Birdie! and White Christmas.  He was awarded the Best Music Director in the New York Theatre Festival for Crossing Swords, as well as music directing Pageant (Drama Desk Best Revival nom.), and A Christmas Memory (Outer Critics Circle Best Musical nom.).  Micah is a passionate teacher, having worked with institutions including:  Jacob’s Pillow, Barrington Stages, Broadway Plus, Broadway Official Online Masterclass, Hunter College, NYU, and AMDA.   Micah’s compositions have been performed internationally as well as throughout the US.  Commissions: Miracle House, The Flea Theatre and the Ma-Yi Theatre Company.  His original musical Bea & Ben premiered at the Coastal Carolina University, and Barrington Stages. Training: Interlochen Arts Academy, Manhattan School of Music, with Constance Keene and Maria Asteriadou, BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop in NYC, Musical Theatre Workshop with Paul Gemignani.

Daniel Whiting

*

Set Design
(
)

Daniel Whiting is a Technical Director, Production Manager, Artistic Director, Set Designer, and Production Designer based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. He worked as the Technical Director for Utah Valley University’s Theatre Program for four years, and during that time, he won national recognition for his scenic design and technical direction of Next to Normal and Vincent in Brixton respectively. He has worked with Tuacahn Center for the Performing Arts, Utah Repertory Theater Company, The Neil Simon Festival, The Egyptian Theater, The Sundance Eccles Theater, Radical Hospitality Company, Waterford Theater, The Echo Theater Company, The Cape Playhouse, BYU TV, AMC, and HBO. He is a founding member and former Artistic Director of the Grassroots Shakespeare Company which is Utah’s leading scholarly Shakespeare studies organization and touring theater company. He is a part owner, founder and former Production Manager and Scenic designer of Sackerson Theater Company.

Gail Baldoni

*

Costume Design
(
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NYC credits include My Fair Lady at The New York Philharmonic, Wonderful Town at New York City Opera and an Emmy nomination for NBC’s Another World.  Film work: Mermaids, starring Cher and The Boy in the Bathtub. Numerous shows for Papermill Playhouse, The Goodspeed Opera, The Ahmanson Theater, North Shore Music Theatre, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, The Boston Ballet and The Cleveland Playhouse.  13 Off-Broadway shows to date. Other favorite projects include the Rockettes’ Christmas Show, Disney on Ice and The Ringling Bros. Circus. Gail is currently teaching at SUNY Purchase in the Conservatory of Dance Department. 21 Cape Playhouse productions including: South Pacific, Spelling Bee and Gypsy.

Jaron Hermansen

*

(
)

Jaron has been the resident Lighting Designer for The Cape Playhouse since 2017, where his credits include Little Shop of Horrors, The Importance of Being Earnest, Deathtrap, Clue, Altar Boyz, Steel Magnolias, Art, Red, The Foreigner, Murder for Two. Other credits include: Les Mis, Always Patsy Cline,A Tale of Two Cities, Million Dollar Quartet, Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom the Musical (Hale Centre Theatre); The Music Man, The Wizard of Oz, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Fiddler on the Roof (Sundance Summer Theatre, Utah); Eleemosynary (The Brooks, California); The King’s Men, Private Ear, Hedda Gabler, The Weird Play (Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Utah); Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, I Never Saw Another Butterfly, Romeo & Juliet (Noorda Center for the Performing Arts, Utah); This Bird of Dawning (Reagent Street Black Box, Utah). Jaron sits on the Board of Directors for the Intermountain Desert Region of the United States Institute of Theatre Technology–the association for performing arts and entertainment professionals–and is a nominee for its Rising Star Award. He has been a lecturer at Utah Valley University and the resident designer and technical director at the Waterford School.

Jay Sheehan

*

Sound Design
(
)

Two-time Emmy nominated and award winning, self-declared ‘diverse media’ technologist, Jay Sheehan has been involved with recording and mixing audio for artists, film, television, and the web, as well as providing live sound and mastering since 1995. He holds a degree in Music Production and Engineering from Berklee College of Music. Projects, including "Hit and Run History" series and "Runner", have aired on RIPBS, WGBH online, and Amazon Prime. These projects have taken him across North America, Chile, Argentina, as well as to the Falkland Islands and Cape Horn. He has also won two sound design awards for his film mixing. He splits his time providing sound and video production services in New England with his own company Garrett Audio, Beachpoint Mastering, and Cape Cod Sound School; as well as Director of IT at Cape Cod Community Media Center; freelance engineer for Cultural Center of Cape Cod, Music Room Cape Cod, and Cotuit Center for the Arts. He is also a Board member and Technical Consultant for the Woods Hole Film Festival.

Shawn Pryby

*

Stage Manager
(
)

Welcome back, everyone! Nationally: Hello, Dolly! Starring Carol Channing, The Pointer Sisters’ Ain’t Misbehavin’, Jesus Christ Superstar starring Ted Neeley and Carl Anderson, Regionally: Man Of La Mancha, The Boy From Oz, South Pacific, It Shoulda Been You, The Drowsy Chaperone, Mamma Mia, Sister Act (Stages St. Louis), La Cage Aux Folles, Miss Saigon (North Shore Music Theatre), Barnum (Mercury Theatre), Hats! Starring Melissa Manchester (Royal George), Elf, Spamalot, Carousel, West Side Story, Guys And Dolls (Musical Theatre West), A Little Night Music (Festival Theatre), 110 In The Shade (Light Opera Works).

James Mack

*

Drums & Percussion
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David Gries

*

Bass
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Marquee Digital

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Digital Program
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Marquee Digital is a New York-based tech startup innovating the theatre industry with ground-breaking digital program solutions. The Marquee is a paperless program for the 21st century, employing contactless, eco-friendly, and ADA-compliant technology to create an interactive and highly intuitive experience for audiences at the theatre, opera, art fairs, conferences, and concerts. In the company’s first year, Marquees have been opened in venues across the United States and in more than 80 countries around the globe.

Production staff

Media

Media
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News

While You Wait

With the help of our friends at Theatrely.com, Marquee Digital has you covered with exclusive content while you wait for the curtain to rise.

Theatrely News
"How Black Women-Led Outdoor Productions of Shakespeare Took NYC by Storm This Summer"
Theatrely News
"2022 Primetime Emmy Nominations: SCHMIGADOON!, EUPHORIA, More Make a Splash"
Theatrely News
"Reframing the COVID-19 Pandemic Through a Stage Manager’s Eyes"
How Black Women-Led Outdoor Productions of Shakespeare Took NYC by Storm This Summer
By: Nathan Pugh
14 July 2022

Summer in New York City means the return of outdoor theatre. This year, audiences can see two outdoor Shakespeare productions led by Black women—a rare if not historically absent trend on the stage.

The first to premiere is the Public Theatre’s production of Richard III, led by actress-playwright Danai Gurira (of Black Panther fame). It’s part of the Public’s annual “Free Shakespeare in the Park” series at The Delacorte Theatre in Central Park, and Richard III is running through July 21.

The second Bard show to premiere is the Classical Theatre of Harlem’s production of Twelfth Night, led by actress Kara Young (a recent Tony nominee for Clyde’s). It’s part of Classical Theatre of Harlem’s own tradition of presenting classical works at the Richard Rodgers Amphitheater at Marcus Garvey Park, and Twelfth Night is running through July 29.

The directors of these productions, Robert O’Hara for Richard III and Carl Cofield for Twelfth Night, both started at the Columbia University School of the Arts, and have gone onto successful careers in both theatre and academia. O’Hara is the playwright of works such as Insurrection: Holding History, Bootycandy, and Barbecue, and is a recent Tony nominee for his direction of Broadway’s Slave Play. Cofield is the chair of the NYU Grad Acting program, as well as the associate artistic director of the Classical Theatre of Harlem.

Theatrely spoke to both auteurs over Zoom about directing Black productions of Shakespeare, the special resonance of the Bard’s words as spoken by Black actors, and the unique opportunities presented by outdoor theatre.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How did you get involved in your production, and what drew you to directing your show?

Carl Cofield: When we did season planning, we definitely wanted to introduce the Harlem community to something joyous, something fun. I think everybody coming out of COVIDcould use a little fun. For us, Twelfth Night was something that we thought could speak to the community, engage the community on many different levels, and just bring us back, hopefully to enjoy a moment of theatre together and really celebrate Harlem.

Robert O’Hara: I have a long history with the Public Theater. It was the first place I interned as a graduate student in the mid-to-late nineties, and I’ve done several productions with them. So when Oscar Eustis asked me to consider doing a Shakespeare in the Park, it had always been a dream of mine. I also immediately thought to myself, “I want to work with Danai Gurira.” I had that completely opposite thought pattern as Carl. I was like, “What I don’t want to do is do something nice and sweet and happy and joyous,” because I tend to like the tragedies and the dark Shakespeare plays. Also, I wanted to work with Danai on something a little bit meaty in that she has a very charismatic persona, and I wanted to see what her playing a villain would feel like.

Robert O'Hara and Carl Cofield | Photo: Zack DeZon (left)

It’s fascinating that you both had the opposite reaction on whether to do comedy or tragedy. How do you think that those two two genres are speaking to what audiences are looking for in theatre right now?

Cofield: Well, I think it’s a blessing right now to have two productions like that to come from us. To piggyback on what Robert was saying, I’ve wanted to work with Kara Young forever. I think this is a beautiful aligning of the planets, where audiences can come and see Robert’s wonderful take on this tragedy, and then come up and see something completely different. To see these two beautiful women lead these companies, and tell these stories in unique but possibly similar ways—I would just say it’s an exciting time to be an audience member in New York City.

O’Hara: I second Carl, seeing particularly Black women able to speak in various communities, and tell various stories, is absolutely necessary. So I don’t think it’s very odd at all for directors to have different takes and different interests. I think allowing Black women to embrace their Blackness in Shakespeare is very exciting to have that in New York at this moment.

The complexities of both of your shows hit upon other elements of identity as well, including gender expression in Twelfth Night and disability in Richard III. How did you go about tackling identity in your productions?

O’Hara: The moment I said I wanted to do work with Danai and Richard III was the decision that we would not be performing disability. In fact, there is no world “disability” in Richard III, they call him “deformed,” which has a completely different tone and meaning. Instantly, of course, there is backlash because of the history of white men for centuries wiping their ass, essentially, with Richard: they’re putting a hump on their back, or tying their hand, or sliding their feet across the floor. So I wanted to open up the conversation about why it is that we’re so in demand that the character Richard III be played by a disabled actor or be disabled. Any of these characters can be played by a disabled actress. So that’s the way we approached it. I wanted to surround Richard and Danai with as large a diverse group of people as possible. We began to realize that Richard is actually suffering from the projections of other people around him. If you have a diverse community, then Richard is no different than anyone else. Richard has an interior hatred of himself because of how he is internalizing the projections of others. A Black woman in particular has to deal with projections of others all the time and have to negotiate that. So we have a very particular production here in which the disability of Richard, his otherness, really is internalized and projected. So I’m opening up the conversation. We have several disabled actors in our show, and I believe that it is actually quite exciting just to open up the idea of where disability lives inside Richard III.

Cofield: For us, it’s an exciting opportunity when I look at the magical place that Illyria is. It’s a place where you can excel if you are versed in two currencies: wit and music. For our company, having a room full of beautiful Black and Brown people tell this story and tap into it is something truly special. The show takes on a new meaning, when you see a beautiful Black woman enter the space and say, “Where am I?,” I think that’s what drew me most to this part, because historically Black people have done the most with the least. When Viola washes up, she has nothing but her wit, intelligence, charisma, and sensibilities, and she's able to navigate, excel, and prosper in a world. I think as a Black theatre artist, there are a lot of times in those positions where we’re handed a flashlight, a cardboard box, and some scotch tape, and they say, “make theatre,” and somehow we do.

O’Hara: That’s what Shakespeare allows you to do. It allows you to create a world. Many of these worlds we’ve seen over the centuries are inhabited by white folks and subscribe to white behavior. When you enter into this space of the Black and Brown body, it changes the molecules of the space. Danai is a fully Black person in this part. When you have a Black woman say a line such as, “since I cannot prove a lover… I am determined to prove a villain,” that speaks to a whole history of how we have actually put Black women into the role of villain. All of these layers of history are inside that passage. It is not the same if a white man says it; we have tons and tons of examples of white men being villains.

Some Black audiences and artists have historically felt very conflicted about Shakespeare. In 1964, James Baldwin wrote the essay “Why I Stopped Hating Shakespeare” to track his progress from detesting the Bard to appreciating him. In 1996, August Wilson delivered the speech “The Ground on Which I Stand,” which criticized colorblind casting practices often found in Shakespeare productions of the time. What would you say to Black audience members who, in 2022, are still skeptical about Shakespeare or skeptical about seeing Black productions of his work?

Cofield: I would say, “Come!”

O’Hara: I would say: “You don’t have to come.” You can come or you don’t have to come, but we’re not a monolith. There’s a lot of shit I hate, that I don’t want to see, you know? Black people are not some group of people that have to be spoken to as if, “you all have to like the same thing.” No! Come, and try something new or interesting. You may change your mind. Or don’t come! Go see whoever you want to see, that’s on you. I don’t live my life expecting Black people to reward me for all my choices. I’m all about you making your decisions and if you do come, enjoy yourself. If not, there’s plenty of things to do. There’s plenty of things to do in Central Park in the summer. You do not have to come to the Delacorte.

Cofield: I couldn’t agree more with Robert… I hope it stimulates conversation, but I’m not going to alter or change what I believe in. I believe in stories, and telling stories enriches all of us. I invite you to get on the love train, but if you don’t want to get on the love train, the love train leaves at 11:00 and it’s going to leave whether you [are] on it, or not.

O’Hara: Exactly! Exactly.

Both of these productions are taking place in outdoor theatres. How does performing outside enhance elements of the show, or maybe provide challenges you wouldn’t expect?

Cofield: I think performing outdoors enhances the production because you’re getting the true taste of New York. I’ve been fortunate enough to work in an outdoor space, at Classical Theatre of Harlem, for the past seven years. There are people who live in our space. Let’s underline that: there are people who live in our space. The beauty of that is they get to see arts also, and their opinion is just as valid as the person who’s willing to pay $300 to see the hottest Broadway show. Two years ago, I did The Bacchae. I’ve had conversations with a gentleman who lives in the space, and a lot of times we can overlook or undervalue those peoples’ opinions. But this brother said, “You know, when Dionysus comes down, what he should do is the…” and I’m like, “Yes, yes, tell me more about it!” To me, that is the beauty of this outdoor space. We have politicians seated next to doctors, seated next to people who are less fortunate. I really love that both the Public and the Classical Theatre of Harlem embrace this idea that arts are for everyone. So as opposed to looking at the challenges that performing outdoors present, I think of the opportunity.

O’Hara: I agree. I think that when you’re performing or producing a show outside, then that is part of the performance. Our first preview was canceled because of rain. Our second preview was shut down in the middle of Act 2 because of rain. That becomes a part of the show. Both of these venues are incredibly beautiful. Carl is right that it gives you a sense of community that I don’t think we have very much. I mean, you certainly don’t get a sense of community by paying $300 to see a Broadway show. You know what that community is, and you’re supposed to regulate yourself and your behavior to that community. Here, there is a sort of an openness. People come as they are. I have never understood this idea of dressing up on a Wednesday night to go sit in the dark. Seeing people just coming out the way they woke up or the way they walk through life is so exciting to me, especially watching outdoor theatre.

2022 Primetime Emmy Nominations: SCHMIGADOON!, EUPHORIA, More Make a Splash
By: Dan Meyer
12 July 2022

It seems theatre—and its stars—has once again made an impact on the TV landscape. The nominations for the 2022 Primetime Emmy Awards include Tony winners and nominees, musical series, and stage favorites.

Of the most notable nominations were the love for Schmigadoon!, currently filming Season 2 with a new focus on musicals of the ‘60s and ‘70s, including for choreographer Christopher Gatelli, songwriter Cinco Paul, and composer Christopher Willis.

Gatelli will compete against Ryan Heffington, who choreographed Euphoria's viral high musical scene set to “Holding Out for a Hero,” along with several other scenes in the HBO drama. “I’m Tired” and “Elliot’s Song,”  both of which feature lyrics by star and Emmy winner Zendaya, will go head-to-head with Cinco Paul’s “Corn Puddin’” in the Music & Lyrics category.

Euphoria, nominated for Outstanding Drama Series, also saw nods for Sydney Sweeney (Supporting Actress, Drama), who will soon star in the stage-to-screen adaptation of Is This A Room. Sweeney—who likely couldn’t be happier—also scored a nomination for her work in The White Lotus (Supporting Actress, Limited Series).

Elsewhere, The Tony Awards Presents: Broadway's Back!, which aired last September, was nominated in the Variety Special (Live) category. Tony winners, Tony nominees, and a host of stage favorites also heard their name called this morning for their work on TV, including Rachel Brosnahan, Jean Smart, Steve Martin, Martin Short, Andrew Garfield, Oscar Isaac, Sebastian Stan, Toni Colette, Lily James, Laura Linney, Brian Cox, J. Smith-Cameron, Billy Crudup, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Hannah Waddingham, Mare Winningham, Harriet Samson Harris, Nathan Lane, James Cromwell, Colman Domingo, Arian Moayed, and Tom Pelphrey.

Jodie Comer, who will make her Broadway debut in the spring with Prima Facie, is nominated for the final season of Killing Eve; Jane Lynch, currently starring in Funny Girl through August, earned a nod for her guest role in Season 1 of Only Murders in the Building.

Behind the scenes, Sergio Trujillo scored a nod choreographing Annie Live! (Variety or Reality Programming). In addition, a certain painter is definitely having a moment: The Andy Warhol Diaries is nominated for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series. Theatre fans can currently head to the East Village to check out Chasing Andy Warhol; in the fall, Paul Bettany will play The Factory creator opposite Jeremy Pope as Jean-Michel Basquiat in The Collaboration on Broadway.

Reframing the COVID-19 Pandemic Through a Stage Manager’s Eyes
By: Kaitlyn Riggio
5 July 2022

When the COVID-19 pandemic was declared a national emergency in the United States in March 2020, Broadway veteran stage manager Richard Hester watched the nation’s anxiety unfold on social media.

“No one knew what the virus was going to do,” Hester said. Some people were “losing their minds in abject terror, and then there were some people who were completely denying the whole thing.”

For Hester, the reaction at times felt like something out of a movie. “It was like the Black Plague,” he said. “Some people thought it was going to be like that Monty Python sketch: ‘bring out your dead, bring out your dead.’”

While Hester was also unsure about how the virus would unfold, he felt that his “job as a stage manager is to naturally defuse drama.” Hester brought this approach off the stage and onto social media in the wake of the pandemic.

“I just sort of synthesized everything that was happening into what I thought was a manageable bite, so people could get it,” Hester said. This became a daily exercise for a year. Over two years after the beginning of the pandemic, Hester’s accounts are compiled in the book, Hold Please: Stage Managing A Pandemic. Released earlier this year, the book documents the events of the past two years, filtering national events and day-to-day occurrences through a stage manager’s eyes and storytelling.

When Hester started this project, he had no intention of writing a book. He was originally writing every day because there was nothing else to do. “I am somebody who needs a job or needs a structure,” Hester said.

Surprised to find that people began expecting his daily posts, he began publishing his daily writing to his followers through a Substack newsletter. As his following grew, Hester had to get used to writing for an audience. “I started second guessing myself a lot of the time,” Hester said. “It just sort of put a weird pressure on it.”

Hester said he got especially nervous before publishing posts in which he wrote about more personal topics. For example, some of his posts focused on his experiences growing up in South Africa while others centered on potentially divisive topics, such as the 2020 election and the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Despite some of this discomfort, Hester’s more personal posts were often the ones that got the most response. The experience offered him a writing lesson. “I stopped worrying about the audience and just wrote what I wanted to write about,” Hester said. “All of that pressure that I think as artists we put on ourselves, I got used to it.”

One of Hester’s favorite anecdotes featured in the book centers on a woman who dances in Washington Square Park on a canvas, rain or shine. He said he was “mesmerized by her,” which inspired him to write about her. “It was literally snowing and she was barefoot on her canvas dancing, and that seems to me just a spectacularly beautiful metaphor for everything that we all try and do, and she was living that to the fullest.”

During the creation of Hold Please, Hester got the unique opportunity to reflect in-depth on the first year of the pandemic by looking back at his accounts. He realized that post people would not remember the details of the lockdown; people would “remember it as a gap in their lives, but they weren’t going to remember it beat by beat.”

“Reliving each of those moments made me realize just how full a year it was, even though none of us were doing anything outside,” he adds. “We were all on our couches.” Readers will use the book as a way to relive moments of the pandemic’s first year “without having to wallow in the misery of it,” he hopes.

“I talk about the misery of it, but that’s not the focus of what I wrote... it was about hope and moving forward,” Hester said. “In these times when everything is so difficult, we will figure out a way to get through and we will move forward.”

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