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Suzie Miller: “Don’t give up. If you feel passionate, just keep doing it. There will be knocks and hardships and it is easy to give up along the road. But keep going, you will see it all come together.” 

When Prima Facie hits our cinemas next month cinemas as part of NT Live to see Jodie Comer’s sell-out West End debut the play’s writer Suzie Miller will be watching intently to see how it translates from stage to screen. Prima Facie shines a light on the Australian legal system. Around 60,000 people shared in Tessa’s story at the Harold Pinter Theatre – from 21st July the conversation continues with the rest of the world.

Suzie Miller © by Helen Murray

We are talking on the telephone, a couple of weeks after Opening Night, in which Comer received rave reviews. “I just think that NT Live is such a wonderful thing, it makes theatre accessible to everyone and is an astonishing leveller and the ultimate invite to experience theatre filmed,” Miller says.

An Australian-British criminal defence lawyer working in the human rights sector, writer Miller witnessed first-hand how the Legal System fails most sexual assault victims. She studied while working as a lawyer and left the bar to be a full-time playwright in 2010.  

“The play began when I was studying criminal law and how it is structures and thinking there’s something about the way sexual assault that is doesn’t feel right – as went through my practice in law it continued to come through to me that it just wasn’t working for victims,” Miller tells me.

Due process is everything: “I was and still am committed to the concept of innocence until proven guilty. I also think that sexual assault is a special area that is not necessarily being catered to by a very male focussed legal system.”  

At almost 2 hours long and with no interval, the play packs a lot in. Essentially, a play about a lawyer who specialises in defending men accused of sexual assault, until she is assaulted herself: the insecurities she’s faced, heartbreak, sexism, misogyny, being told to look and behave a certain way. 

I mention that Comer owned the courtroom; a theatre animal. “Jodie is such an incredible screen actress,” she says with some admiration. “It is astonishing how she stepped out on the stage (Comer had only been in one play before, in Scarborough, when she was 16) and become a theatre actor. I just think that she’s born to do theatre. She is incredible.” 

Suzie Miller with Jodie Comer © by Helen Murray

The play, it is fair to say, recieved a mixed reception here; some critics were not enthusiastic about the text itself. In a four-star review, the Evening Standard said: “Suzie Miller’s script is a great vehicle rather than a truly great play, however – shrewd and economical in its analysis of how the system treats assault survivors, but schematic in its plotting.”

The Guardian’s review stated that “[Comer] roars through Suzie Miller’s script. The play roars, too, sometimes too loudly in its polemic, but Comer works overtime to elevate these moments,” and that the script “ falls into a loudly lecturing tone at the end.” 

I ask her how the critical and audience responses varied here to the Australia run. She responds pragmatically. “Somehow having a woman stand on stage and make a direct political address within the confines of her story, it is bordering on being a lecture,” she says. “Look at Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird or Mark Rylance’s final speech in Jerusalem. Hailed as mesmerising. It seems to be something that some critics here are not used to. You know you’ve made a difference when the play is not just in the arts pages,” Miller says. 

Still, quibbles about polemic do not matter, Prima Facie was one of the hottest tickets in Europe; with Killing Eve star Comer attracting the mythical kind of post West End show frenzy not seen in years – and her legions of teenage fans love her. Truly.

Jodie Comer in Prima Facie

For Miller, though, the idea that someone is consenting unless they tell you that they are not “doesn’t fit with women’s lived experience” and she thinks that “something in the legal system is fundamentally broken.” It is hard to disagree. It becomes clear as we talk that this is a universal issue. 

In fact, figures released earlier this year showed that in the 12 months to September 2021, only 1.3% of the 63,136 rape offences recorded by police resulted in a suspect being charged.

“I think what consent runs through everyone’s relationship and what sexual entitlement is and when it should be called out. It can also happen to anyone. So, it’s about a huge change and a group of Barrister’s are going out to schools to talk about consent which is fantastic,” Miller says.

Prima Facie has partnered with The Schools Consent Project and has given away free tickets to 10 partner school groups so that teachers can bring students to see the show and access further ancillary support. Funds have also been donated to support the essential work the charity does to educate young people in the UK about consent.

Set up in 2014 by barrister Kate Parker, The Schools Consent Project is a charity that sends lawyers into schools to teach young people (11–18-year-olds) the legal definition of consent. Their aim is to normalise these sorts of conversations; to empower young people to identify and communicate boundaries, and to respect them in others. To date, they have worked with over 20,000 young people across the country.

Jodie Comer in Prima Facie © by Helen Murray

Miler believes a rich cultural education is key to changing the world: “It’s fundamental,” she tells me. “Theatre is the town square. It is so important – people can pretend to be other things, whilst an audience breathes in the same emotional mist. I feel like it offers a way of interpreting the world. A writer’s job is to show the paradox of being human. I went to law to change the world and now in theatre I still want to do that and make a difference.” 

So which writers inspire her? “Well, growing up I read a lot of Shakespeare. I was mentored by Edward Albee early in my career. All hail mighty Edward. Dennis Kelly, Mike Bartlett, Caryl Churchill and Maria Irene Fornes,”

Looking to the future, Comer will reprise her role in Prima Facie on Broadway. It will have a limited engagement at one of New York’s Shubert theaters, with the exact venue and dates to be announced. “It has been an absolute privilege to tell Tessa’s story here in London over the past few months and to now have the opportunity to take Prima Facie to New York is a dream come true,” said Comer in a recent statement.

With Prima Facie playwright Suzie Miller on Opening Night

In conversation Miller is as tranquil and delightful as she is compellingly eloquent. You’re relatively productive, I add. What’s your secret? “Don’t give up,’ she says quickly. “If you feel passionate, just keep doing it. There will be knocks and hardships and it is easy to give up along the road. But keep going, you will see it all come together.”  

Prima Facie is released to cinemas around the world via NT Live and in association with Sky Arts on Thursday 21 July 2022.

COME FROM AWAY to play final Broadway performance October 2, 2022

Come From Away

After 1,670 performances and 25 previews on Broadway, Junkyard Dog Productions (Randy Adams,  Marleen and Kenny Alhadeff and Sue Frost) announce the Tony & Olivier Award-winning smash hit musical COME FROM  AWAY will play its final Broadway performance on Sunday, October 2, 2022 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre (236 West  45th Street). By the time the company takes its final bow, COME FROM AWAY will be the 49th longest-running production  in Broadway history and the longest-running show in the 105-year history of the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, a milestone  the musical will celebrate on Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Junkyard Dog Productions said, “When we first saw COME FROM AWAY at NAMT, we were profoundly moved by this  life-affirming musical set in the wake of 9/11, and the incredible artistry of Irene & David’s storytelling. We were  passionate to share this work with a wider audience and, throughout its development across North America, we were  continually amazed by the overwhelming audience enthusiasm for this story about the power of human kindness. This  journey, which started 7 years ago, has exceeded every expectation we could have ever had for COME FROM AWAY. We 

are forever inspired by the unfailing generosity of the people of Newfoundland, and so grateful to the entire COME FROM  AWAY Broadway family, onstage and off, many of whom have been with us since our world premiere at La Jolla Playhouse  and Seattle Repertory Theatre.” 

Irene Sankoff & David Hein said, “We are immeasurably grateful for the past five years, to Junkyard Dog Productions,  Chris Ashley, Kelly Devine, Ian Eisendrath and our entire team, for the support of this incredible Broadway community and  for our audiences who embraced and celebrated a story about kindness and being good to one another – a message which  is needed now more than ever. Winning awards around the globe and becoming the most successful Canadian musical is  a testament to this story and the incredible artistry of every member of our Come From Away family. But we’re even more  proud of the good we’ve all been able to do with this show: packing meals for food banks on 9/11, paying it forward with  random acts of kindness and raising millions of dollars for countless charities. The candle is still in the window and the  kettle’s always on at COME FROM AWAY, with the continuation of our North American Tour and West End production,  the return of our productions in Australia and Canada – and returning from a Netherlands production in Dutch to see an  Argentinian production in Spanish, we are amazed how far the incomparable Newfoundland generosity continues to  inspire around the globe. It continues to be an honor to tell this story and an incredible gift we’ll never forget.” 

A “Best Musical” winner all around the world, COME FROM AWAY began performances on Broadway on February 18,  2017, and officially opened to critical acclaim on March 12, 2017, earning 7 Tony Award nominations including Best  Musical and winning the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical (Christopher Ashley). The original musical recouped  its $12 million capitalization in less than 8 months on Broadway. 

Following the Broadway shutdown, COME FROM AWAY reopened on September 21, 2021 after a special free  performance with Ford’s Theatre at Washington D.C.’s National Mall in front of the Lincoln Memorial on Friday,  September 10, 2021 in commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of 9/11. The musical’s road to Broadway also included  two benefit concert performances at the hockey rink in Gander, Newfoundland, the small Canadian town where the  musical takes place. 

There are four global productions of COME FROM AWAY including on Broadway; the four-time Olivier Award-winning,  including Best Musical, production in London’s West End; the North American Tour and the Australian National TourCOME FROM AWAY will return to Toronto following a run at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre in July 2024. 

The Critics’ Choice Award-nominated live filmed version of COME FROM AWAY, captured from the Gerald Schoenfeld  Theatre stage during the shutdown, is streaming globally on Apple TV+

COME FROM AWAY features a book, music and lyrics by Olivier, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award winners and  Grammy and two-time Tony Award nominees Irene Sankoff & David Hein, direction by Tony Award winner and Outer  Critics Circle Award winner Christopher Ashley, musical staging by Olivier Award winner and two-time Tony Award  nominee Kelly Devine, and music supervision by Olivier Award winner and Grammy Award nominee Ian Eisendrath.  

COME FROM AWAY features scenic design by Tony Award winner Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Tony Award nominee  Toni-Leslie James, lighting design by two-time Tony Award winner Howell Binkley, sound design by Olivier & Outer Critics  Circle Award winner and Tony Award nominee Gareth Owen, orchestrations by Olivier Award winner and Grammy & Tony  Award nominee August Eriksmoen, and music arrangements by Olivier Award winner and Grammy Award nominee Ian  Eisendrath.  

COME FROM AWAY currently features Petrina Bromley, De’Lon Grant, Becky Gulsvig, Caesar Samayoa, James Seol, Q.  Smith, Astrid Van Wieren, Emily Walton, Jim Walton, Gene Weygandt, Sharon Wheatley, Paul Whitty, Josh  Breckenridge, John Jellison, Tony LePage, Monette McKay, Happy McPartlin and Julie Reiber. Original Broadway cast  member Jenn Colella will return as ‘Beverley/Annette & others,’ a performance that earned her a 2017 Tony Award  nomination and Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Craig Noel, Helen Hayes and Dora Awards, for a strictly limited  engagement from Tuesday, June 21 through Sunday, August 7, 2022. Sharone Sayegh (The Band’s Visit) will also join the  Broadway company direct from the North American Tour on Tuesday, June 21 as ‘Bonnie & others.’Olivier Award nominee 

Rachel Tucker will return to the role of ‘Beverley/Annette & others’ on Tuesday, August 9, 2022 and original Broadway  cast member Petrina Bromley will return to the role of ‘Bonnie & others’ on Tuesday, September 27, 2022. 

COME FROM AWAY tells the remarkable true story of 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland  that welcomed them. Cultures clashed and nerves ran high, but uneasiness turned into trust, music soared into the night,  and gratitude grew into enduring friendships. On September 11, 2001, the world stopped. On September 12, their stories  moved us all.  

COME FROM AWAY has won the Tony Award for “Best Direction of a Musical” (Christopher Ashley), 4 Olivier Awards  (London) including “Best New Musical,” 5 Outer Critics Circle Awards (NYC) including “Outstanding New Broadway Musical,” 3 Drama Desk Awards (NYC) including “Outstanding Musical,” 4 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards (North  American Tour) including “Best Production,” 4 Helen Hayes Awards (D.C.) including “Outstanding Production of a Musical,”  4 Gypsy Rose Lee Awards (Seattle) including “Excellence in Production of a Musical,” 6 San Diego Critics Circle Awards  including “Outstanding New Musical,” 3 Toronto Theatre Critics Awards including “Best New Musical,” 3 Dora Awards  (Toronto) including “Outstanding New Musical/Opera” and “Outstanding Production,” and the 2017 Jon Kaplan Audience  Choice Award (Toronto).  

Tickets for COME FROM AWAY on Broadway are available at Telecharge.com (212.239.6200) and the Gerald Schoenfeld  Theatre box office, and range from $49 – $177 (including $2 facility fee). A limited number of $38 general rush tickets  (including the $2 facility fee) will be available at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre box office when it opens for that day’s  performance(s). Limited two tickets per person, subject to availability. Cash and major credit cards are accepted.  

The playing schedule for COME FROM AWAY on Broadway is as follows: Tuesday through Friday at 7pm and Saturday at  8pm, with matinees on Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm and Sunday at 3pm. 

The Grammy Award-nominated original Broadway cast recording of COME FROM AWAY is available digitally and in stores  everywhere. Grammy Award winner David Lai, and Grammy Award nominees Ian Eisendrath, August Eriksmoen, Irene  Sankoff & David Hein served as album producers. 

COME FROM AWAY is produced by Junkyard Dog Productions (Randy Adams, Marleen and Kenny Alhadeff and Sue Frost),  Jerry Frankel, Latitude Link, Smith & Brant Theatricals, Steve & Paula Reynolds, David Mirvish, Michael Rubinoff,  Alhadeff Productions, Michael Alden & Nancy Nagel Gibbs, Sam Levy, Rodney Rigby, Spencer Ross, Richard Winkler,  Yonge Street Theatricals, Sheridan College, Michael & Ellise Coit, Ronald Frankel, Sheri & Les Biller, Richard & Sherry  Belkin, Marlene & Gary Cohen, Allan Detsky & Rena Mendelson, Lauren Doll, Barbara H. Freitag, Wendy Gillespie, Laura  Little Theatricals, Carl & Jennifer Pasbjerg, Radio Mouse Entertainment, The Shubert Organization, Cynthia Stroum,  Tulchin Bartner Productions, Gwen Arment/Molly Morris & Terry McNicholas, Maureen & Joel Benoliel/Marjorie & Ron  Danz, Pamela Cooper/Corey Brunish, Demos Bizar/Square 1 Theatrics, Joshua Goodman/Lauren Stevens, Adam  Blanshay Productions/Judith Ann Abrams Productions, Bill & Linda Potter/Rosemary & Kenneth Willman, and La Jolla  Playhouse and Seattle Repertory Theatre.  

COME FROM AWAY was originally co-produced in 2015 by La Jolla Playhouse and Seattle Repertory Theatre, and  presented in 2016 by Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC and Mirvish Productions at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto,  CA. COME FROM AWAY (NAMT Festival 2013) was originally developed at the Canadian Music Theatre Project, Michael  Rubinoff Producer, Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, Canada and was further developed at Goodspeed Musicals’  Festival of New Artists, in East Haddam, CT. The Canada Council for the Arts, The Ontario Arts Council, and the Fifth Avenue  Theatre in Seattle WA also provided development support.  

For more information visit: www.ComeFromAway.com.  

Follow COME FROM AWAY on TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. 

The Shubert Organization is committed to the health and safety of all members of the Broadway community—theatre  employees, production staff, cast, and audience members. View Details and Terms & Conditions. Safety guidelines will  continue to be updated on the official COME FROM AWAY website.

WHAT THE CRITICS ARE SAYING 

“YOU LEAVE THE THEATRE FULL OF HOPE!” – Daily Express 

“A HIT AND A MASTERPIECE! JOYOUS, UPLIFTING AND PENTY OF HUMOR!” – Herald Sun “BEAUTIFULLY GIVES PEOPLE REASON TO COME TO THE THEATER—AND COME TOGETHER.” Chicago Tribune “A MIGHTY MUSICAL THAT REMINDS US OF THE POWER OF HUMAN GOODNESS!” Los Angeles Times 

“EXUBERANT! THE IMPACT IT’S HAVING ON HEARTS AND MINDS IS REMARKABLE. AN EFFERVESCENT MUSICAL  ANTIDOTE FOR WHAT AILS THE AMERICAN SOUL.” The Washington Post 

“THIS STORY TOUCHED THE WORLD AND CELEBRATES THE BEST THAT WE CAN ALL BE. WE NEED IT, ESPECIALLY  RIGHT NOW.” – Tom Brokaw, NBC News 

CRITIC’S PICK! “THE CATHARSIS WE NEED IN THIS AMERICAN MOMENT. IMAGINATIVE AND EMOTIONAL. A  GALE OF GOOD WILL BLOWS OUT OF THIS SMART, ROBUST SHOW.” The New York Times 

“IT DOES WHAT ALL THE BEST MUSICALS DO: IT TAKES YOU TO A PLACE WHERE YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU  WANTED TO GO, AND MAKES YOU NOT WANT TO LEAVE.” Newsweek 

“A GLOBAL PHENOMENON!” – The Guardian 

“THIS MIRACULOUS MASTERPIECE IS TOTALLY, SOUL-FEEDINGLY WONDERFUL.” Time Out  “A MOVING AND THOROUGHLY ENTERTAINING TRIBUTE TO THE INDOMITABLE HUMAN SPIRIT.” – Variety # # #

MRS. DOUBTFIRE to End Broadway Run at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on May 29, 2022

Mrs Doubtfire

Mrs. Doubtfire, the new musical, will end a third Broadway engagement on May 29, 2022, at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre(124 W 43rd St, NYC).

After breaking box office records at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre over the holidays in 2019, Mrs. Doubtfire began preview performances on March 9, 2020 before being shut down three days later by government order in response to the COVID pandemic.  Performances of Mrs. Doubtfireresumed on October 21, 2021 and stopped again on January 9, 2022. The third engagement, which began on April 14, 2022 will end on May 29, 2022.

When Mrs. Doubtfire first officially opened on December 5, 2021, the Chicago Tribune said, “This lovable, big-hearted musical comedy delivers a good time for all ages. The best choice for families on Broadway” and The Star-Ledger proclaimed “Glorious! The return to Broadway we need!”

Producer Kevin McCollum said, “Even though New York City is getting stronger every day and ticket sales are slowly improving, theatre-going tourists and, especially for our show, family audiences have not returned as soon as we anticipated.  Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to run the show without those sales, especially when capitalizing with Broadway economics on three separate occasions.”  

“I would like to express my profound and unending admiration for our extraordinary Broadway cast, crew, orchestra, creative team, and entire company who brought the show to the stage. They have risen to every challenge thrown at them over the last two years with a remarkable amount of resilience, good humor, passion, and love for one another.  I hope audiences will come to the Sondheim over the 20 showsto see and celebrate their remarkable performances.” 

“Looking to the future, I am thrilled to say that a British engagement of Mrs. Doubtfire will play from September 2 – October 1in Manchester, England and the National Tour will open in October 2023.”

Mrs. Doubtfire received six 2022 Outer Critics Circle Nominations including Outstanding New Broadway Musical; Outstanding Actor in a Musical, Rob McClure; Outstanding Director of a Musical, Jerry Zaks; Outstanding Book of a Musical, Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell; Outstanding Score, Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick and Outstanding Costume Design, Catherine Zuber.

Mrs. Doubtfire received a Drama League Nomination for Outstanding Production of a Musical (Broadway or Off-Broadway) and a Distinguished Performance Award Nomination for Rob McClure.

The cast of Mrs. Doubtfire is led by 2022 Tony Award Nominee Rob McClure, Jenn Gambatese, Peter Bartlett, Charity Angél Dawson, Mark Evans, J. Harrison Ghee, Analise Scarpaci, Titus Landegger, Tyler Wladis, Austin Elle Fisher, Ava Gail Prince and Brad Oscar as well as Cameron Adams, Calvin L. Cooper, Kaleigh Cronin, Maria Dalanno, Casey Garvin, David Hibbard, KJ Hippensteel, Aaron Kaburick, Jodi Kimura, Erica Mansfield, Brian Martin, Alexandra Matteo, LaQuet Sharnell Pringle, Renée Reid, Jaquez André Sims, Travis Waldschmidt and Aléna Watters.

Helmed by four time-Tony Award winning director Jerry Zaks, the new musical comedy features a book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell and music and lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick, the Tony Award- nominated team behind Something Rotten!  The creative is rounded out by choreographer Lorin Latarro; Music Supervisor, Arranger and Orchestrator Ethan Popp; Scenic Designer David Korins; Costume Designer Catherine Zuber; Lighting Designer, Philip S. Rosenberg; Sound Designer Brian Ronan; Hair & Wig Designer David Brian Brown; and Make-up & Prosthetics Designer Tommy Kurzman.

Tickets for Mrs. Doubtfire are on sale now through May 29 at Telecharge.com

The Mrs. Doubtfire Cast Recording with the complete original cast will be released next month.

Each day beginning at 9:00am, a limited amount of rush tickets for Mrs. Doubtfire will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Rush tickets will be sold exclusively by Today Tix for $35. To gain access to rush tickets, ticket-buyers must download the Today Tix app and unlock the functionality by sharing on their Facebook or Twitter pages. Mobile rush concludes when inventory has sold out or two hours before the performance.

Daniel Hillard, a struggling, out-of-work actor, will do anything for his kids. After losing custody in a messy divorce, he creates the kindly alter ego of Scottish nanny Euphegenia Doubtfire in a desperate attempt to stay in their lives. As his new character takes on a life of its own, Mrs. Doubtfire teaches Daniel more than he bargained for about how to be a father. A hysterical and heartfelt story about holding onto your loved ones against all odds, Mrs. Doubtfire is the musical comedy we need right now — one that proves we’re better together.

Mrs. Doubtfire is presented by special arrangement with Buena Vista Theatrical. Though it is being performed at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, Mrs. Doubtfire is not a Roundabout Theatre Company production.

Broadway Companies come together to celebrate Stephen Sondheim

Broadway Tribute to Stephen Sondheim, Photo by Jenny Anderson
Broadway Tribute to Stephen Sondheim, Photo by Jenny Anderson
Broadway Tribute to Stephen Sondheim, Photo by Jenny Anderson

Today, hundreds of members of the Broadway community and casts of Broadway shows came together to celebrate and honor the life of the late Stephen Sondheim. Gathered on the iconic red steps in Duffy Square, participants sang “Sunday” from Sondheim’s celebrated work, Sunday in the Park with George. They included Lin-Manuel MirandaCelia Keenan-BolgerSara BareillesRaúl EsparzaStephen SchwartzLaura BenantiBrian Stokes MitchellJosh GrobanErich BergenLonny PriceJim WaltonTom KittReeve CarneyEva NoblezadaMarc ShaimanLauren PattenKathryn GallagherAbby MuellerJudy KuhnBrandon UranowitzAdam Chanler-BeratTavi GevinsonErin DavieBryan Clark Tyrell, and many more.

This event was co-presented by the Broadway League, the Times Square Alliance, and Playbill. The participants were conducted by Michael J. Moritz. Produced by Erich Bergen.

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Stephen Sondheim was a genius – we shall not see his like again

I never thought Stephen Sondheim would die.

Oh, I know we all do eventually, but he carried with him such an aura of invincibility that if anyone could cheat the passage of time, I assumed it would be musical theatre’s God. (The New York Times even once ran a story on the phenomenon, asking if Sondheim and God had ever been seen in the same place).

Sondheim, the maestro who reinvented musical theatre has passed at his home in Connecticut suddenly at 91.

His attorney, F. Richard Pappas, also confirmed the composer’s death: “The day before, Mr. Sondheim had celebrated Thanksgiving with a dinner with friends in Roxbury,” Pappas said in a written statement. “And he spent all day Wednesday seeing the matinee and evening performances of Dana H and Is This a Room — doing what he most loved to do.”

West End theatres will dim their lights on Monday 29 November at 7.00pm for 2 minutes. This tradition is reserved for the industry’s most celebrated figures and last occurred over here in 2018, following the death of trailblazing choreographer Gillian Lynne.  

In truth, what mattered to Sondheim, widely considered the most influential composer-lyricist in the American musical theatre of the 20th century, was his art, in all its guises. His legacy is eternal.

Stephen Sondheim

Six of Sondheim’s musicals won Tony Awards for best score, and he also received a Pulitzer Prize (Sunday in the Park), an Academy Award (for the song Sooner or Later from the film Dick Tracy), five Olivier Awards and the Presidential Medal of Honor. In 2008, he received a Tony Award for lifetime achievement. 

He was born into a Jewish family in New York City, and his career began in the 1950s, a decade in which he wrote the lyrics for Broadway classics Gypsy and West Side Story. For his fans, his audience, this is a moment of infinite sorrow. 

Looking back, I finally got Sondheim musicals– there’s cynicism, endless philosophy, and pure emotion in his work – when I turned thirty.

Seeing Dominic Cooke’s Follies and Marianne Elliott’s gender flipped Company within months of each other, it’s fair to say, hit me during a life affirming period of reflection and recalibration. 

The West End company of Company
© Brinkhoff Mogenburg

Think of modern musicals like Hamilton and even Fun Home and you’ll find the composers owe their style, as well as the roof over their head and the food on the table, to the genius of Stephen Sondheim. 

All in all, losing Sondheim in 2021 is all the more surprising after he so joyously attended the current revival Company on Broadway earlier this month. A ripple of murmurs and a rapturous standing ovation greeted the masked nonagenarian as he emerged from a side entrance shortly before showtime, walking along the fifth row to his aisle seat. 

Stephen Sondheim attends Company on Broadway

He was a keen teacher and mentor and used his talent always to make a difference. Art isn’t easy.

I asked Robbie Rozelle, A&R Director at Broadway Records for a few words on Sondheim’s legacy and impact. He said: “Taking the foundation that Oscar Hammerstein laid for him, Sondheim proceeded to become the greatest architect of musicals. He was also an important teacher, who worked with people to stretch the form even further – Jonathan Larson, Jason Robert Brown, so many. He was the bridge between the Golden Age of musicals and the new form of musical, and what a beautiful bridge he was.”

Sondheim was also generous with his time, and with his encouragement, just very, very giving. 

An unsurpassed musical theatre super-hero. 

In short, he was an insightful, shrewd operator who could spot a contradiction at 50 paces. The irony of this, and the debt we all owe him, is not lost on me. He is survived by his husband, Jeffrey Scott Romley, whom he married in 2017.

“You have to work on something that makes you uncertain – something that makes you doubt yourself,” 

“If you know where you’re going, you’ve gone, as the poet says. And that’s death,” Sondheim said in 2017.

I’d like to propose a toast. Stephen Joshua Sondheim, may peace be upon you.

Steve

BEETLEJUICE is Returning to Broadway

Beetlejuice

From Shubert Alley to TikTok, fans chanted “BEETLEJUICE!” three times, summoning “The Ghost with the Most” back to life.  On Friday, April 8, 2022, BEETLEJUICE will play its first performance since March 11, 2020, this time haunting Broadway’s Marriott Marquis Theatre (210 west 46th Street). 

BEETLEJUICE tickets will go on sale October 1, at www.Ticketmaster.comwith casting for BEETLEJUICE at Broadway’s Marriott Marquis Theatre to be announced shortly.

“We are overjoyed to be able to bring ‘The Ghost with The Most’ back to Broadway and are looking forward to seeing all our BEETLEJUICE fans this spring at the Marriott Marquis.  We sincerely thank the BEETLEJUICE fans; it is because of their support that we will be able to blow the roof off the Marquis Theatre three-times over with fun and laughter, laughter and laughter!” said producers Mark Kaufman (Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures) and Kevin McCormick (Langley Park Productions).

It’s showtime, folks! The ghost-with-the-most makes his Broadway return in this edgy and irreverent musical comedy based on Tim Burton’s dearly beloved film. BEETLEJUICE tells the story of Lydia Deetz, a strange and unusual teenager whose life changes when she meets a recently deceased couple and Beetlejuice, a demon with a thing for stripes. When Lydia calls on Beetlejuice to scare away anyone with a pulse, this double-crossing specter unleashes a (Nether)world of pandemonium, and the biggest sandworm Broadway has ever seen.

BEETLEJUICE is directed by two-time Tony Award nominee Alex Timbers (Moulin Rouge, Director of Warner Bros. forthcoming TOTO, the animated musical film adaptation of Michael Morpurgo and Emma Chichester Clark’s 2017 book), with an original score by Tony Award nominee Eddie Perfect (King Kong), a book by Tony Award nominee Scott Brown (“Castle Rock”)& Award and Tony Award nominee Anthony King (“Robbie”), music supervision, orchestrations and incidental music by Kris Kukul (Joan of Arc: Into the Fire), and choreography by Connor Gallagher (The Robber Bridegroom).

BEETLEJUICE opened on Broadway on Thursday, April 25, 2019,presented by Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures (Mark Kaufman) and Langley Park Productions (Kevin McCormick), and won theDrama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for David Korins’ scenic design and was nominated for eight Tony Awards including BEST NEW MUSICAL.  BEETLEJUICE had a history making run on Broadway – following the release of the musicals original Broadway cast recording and Tony Awards appearance, the box office exploded, making it the surprise hit of the 2018/2019 season.  BEETLEJUICE’s Tony Awards performance has gone on to be the most watched musical number from the broadcast with over 3,921,530 views.  BEETLEJUICE became a sensation with fans everywhere including on Tiktok, which lead to an additional burst of ticket sales from a new audience for Broadway, making the musical one of the top grossing shows on Broadway, going on to break the Winter Garden box office record.  The smash hit musical BEETLEJUICE played 366 performances at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway before being shuttered with the rest of Broadway on March 12, 2020.

BEETLEJUICE features scenic design by three-time Tony Award nominee David Korins (Hamilton), costume designby six-time Tony Award winner William Ivey Long (The Producers), lighting design by Tony Award winner Kenneth Posner (Kinky Boots), sound design by five-time Tony Award nominee Peter Hylenski (Frozen), projection design by Tony Award nominee and Drama Desk Award winner Peter Nigrini (Dear Evan Hansen), puppet design by Drama Desk Award winner Michael Curry (The Lion King), special effects design by Jeremy Chernick (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), illusions by Michael Weber (Forrest Gump), hair & wig design by Drama Desk Award nominee Charles G. LaPointe, make-up design by Joe Dulude, physical movement coordinator Lorenzo Pisoni, casting by Telsey + Company and Rachel Hoffman, CSA, dance arrangements by David Dabbon, music producing by Matt Stine, production stage manager Rachel Bauder, associate director Catie Davis, associate choreographer Nancy Renee Braun and line producer Jenny Gersten.

GHOSTLIGHT RECORDS and WARNER RECORDS released BEETLEJUICE – ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST RECORDING for digital download, streaming and on CD. The album is produced by Matt Stine, Alex Timbers, Eddie Perfect and Kurt Deutschand has surpassed 250 million streams in the United States and 760 million streams globally. These landmark numbers continue the remarkable success of the album, reaching the list of top 10 most streamed OBCRs of the previous decade. The show’s songs have placed in Spotify’s “Viral 50” charts in 13 different countries. In addition, “Say My Name,” one of the show’s breakout showstoppers, was chosen as Amazon’s “Alexa Song of the Day” in 2019. The incredible growth is partly a result of user-generated content on TikTok, where songs from the album have been used in over one million videos.

BEETLEJUICE is produced by Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Langley Park Productions, Jeffrey Richards, JAM Theatricals, IMG Original Content, Rebecca Gold, Ben Lowy, James L. Nederlander, Warner/Chappell Music INC., and Zendog Productions in association with DeRoy Federman Productions/42nd.club, Latitude Link, Mary Lu Roffe, Terry Schnuck, Marc Bell & Jeff Hollander, Jane Bergere, Joanna Carson, Darren Deverna & Jere Harris, Mark S. Golub & David S. Golub, The John Gore Organization, Ruth & Steve HendelLHC Theatrical Fund, Scott H. Mauro, Networks Presentations, No Guarantees, Gabrielle Palitz, Pierce Friedman Productions, Adrian Salpeter, Iris Smith and Triptyk Studios.  

BEETLEJUICE is based on the 1988 Academy Award®-winning Geffen Company motion picture presented by Warner Bros. and directed by Tim Burton. The smash hit comedy starred Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Jeffrey Jones, Catherine O’Hara and Winona Ryder with story by Michael McDowell and Larry Wilson.

Like Beetlejuice on Facebook at Facebook.com/BeetlejuiceBway/

Follow on TikTokTwitter & Instagram @BeetlejuiceBway.

For more information visit www.BeetlejuiceBroadway.com

“The whole world LOVES BEETLEJUICE!” – Cindy Adams, New York Post

BEETLEJUICE is SURPRISING audiences with a WILD RIDE that is both NAUGHTY AND NICE in unexpected ways.  Eddie Perfect has written STANDOUT SONGS WITH KILLER TUNES.  Sophia Anne Caruso serves goth teen to PERFECTION.  BEETLEJUICE is an EBULLIENT ANTIDOTE TO REALITY. It’s a ROLLICKING GOOD TIME!” – Jerry Portwood, Rolling Stone

“Burton’s cult classic BEETLEJUICE is reborn in the DELICIOUSLY DARK and HILARIOUS new musical, with a CATCHY SCORE.” – Maureen Lee Lenker, Entertainment Weekly

“SPECTACULARLY WEIRD!” – Adam Feldman, Time Out

“It’s showtime for Broadway’s BEETLEJUICE! THIS HILARIOUS AND THRILLING SHOW BRINGS WITH IT A BIG, FANTASTICAL FUN HOUSE OF BURTONESQUE MAGIC!” – Dave Quinn, People

“A GUT-BUSTING BROADWAY MUSICAL WHERE GHOULS GO WILD! You are in for one irreverent, funny roller-coaster ride. Scott Brown and Anthony King’s book is clever, constantly surprising, and very, very funny. This is one show where some people will bust a gut; others laugh their asses off—and, if the audience I was with is any indication, that could happen literally. A man down the aisle from me laughed so hard he nearly lost one of his heads.” – Joe Westerfield, Newsweek

“BEETLEJUICE is back from the dead in a SPOOKTACULAR new musical, turning the Great White Way into THE GREAT FRIGHT WAY!  For a show about a dead guy THERE IS A TON OF LIFE IN THIS MUSICAL!  2 ½ hours of non-stop energy!  INCREDIBLE ACTORS and a GENIUS CREATIVE TEAM” – Will Gans, ABC News

“BEETLEJUICE has never felt so lively. Audiences can expect a stylish visit to the Netherworld, an eclectic score from composer Eddie Perfect, and, of course, a Burtonesque celebration of outsiders.” – Jessica Derschowitz, Entertainment Weekly

“Directed by a feverishly inventive Alex Timbers, BEETLEJUICE IS A JAW-DROPPING FUNHOUSE” – Ben Brantley, The New York Times

“Pure mischief! ROWDY, CHEEKY AND GLEEFULLY IRREVERENT, BEETLEJUICE is all about excess. Alex Timbers and his designers are all riffing merrily on Burton’s unmistakable aesthetic: stripes and spirals and sandworms, oh my!” – Sara Holdren, New York Magazine

“A RIOTOUS, RAMBUNCTIOUS, SPECTACULAR PRODUCTION, with huge laughs, full-throttle performances and a mischievous sense of fun that literally seems to drip from the ceiling.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

“Gleeful, jubilant and funny, with zippy one-liners that detonate like a string of firecrackers and juicy performances that PROVIDES PEAKS OF MUSICAL THEATER PLEASURE!” – Charles Isherwood, Broadway News

“It’s showtime! It’s showtime! It’s showtime! Beetlejuice is a story about death with tons of life. A HILARIOUS, PULL-OUT-THE-STOPS EXTRAVAGANZA. The Winter Garden is a frequent home to now-and-forever-running staples, and Beetlejuice is guaranteed to follow suit. THESE GHOSTS ARE GONNA LIVE FOREVER!” – Jesse Oxfeld, New York Stage Review

“A morbidly MAGICAL musical” – Rob LeDonne, Billboard

“UTTERLY DAZZLING” – Roma Torre, NY1

“SCREAMINGLY GOOD FUN, with off-the-wall humor and ENDLESS VISUALS AND AURAL DELIGHTS.” – Frank Rizzo, Variety

“A BOLD, SHAMELESS, NUTTY, BRASSY, ROLLICKING PIECE OF FUN. Prepare for giant sand worms, dancing skeletons, lots of zingers, and a stage that is a frenzy of visual delight.” – Tim Teeman, Daily Beast

The Broadway cast of “Company” presents a benefit concert for “Darkness Rising” Monday, September 20 at 7 PM at Birdland Jazz Club

Darkness RISING

The cast of the new Broadway production of Company is proud to present a benefit concert for Darkness RISING on Monday, September 20 at 7 PM ET at Birdland Jazz Club (315 West 44th Street). Tickets are available now at www.birdlandjazz.com.

Company cast members scheduled to perform at the concert include Kathryn AllisonTerence ArchieNikki Renée DanielsMatt DoyleClaybourne ElderJavier IgnacioChristopher SieberJennifer Simard, and Bobby Conte Thornton, with Company’s associate music director Paul Staroba on piano.  

Darkness RISING is a non-profit organization composed of singers and musicians from the Black Broadway community and Black mental health providers whose purpose is to help those in both the Black community, as well as for Broadway show company members begin conversations about mental health, provide direct resources, and erase the negative stigma of mental health issues.

Carlita Victoria, Executive Director of Darkness RISING said, “We are grateful to the cast of Company for raising awareness and much needed funding to support our mission. Thanks to Company cast members, we will be able to continue providing direct mental health resources to marginalized communities which experience ongoing barriers to resources, as well as artists navigating the difficulties of the past 18 months.”

The cast of Company was inspired by the organization’s mission, workshops, and toolkits.One resource, Broadway for Mental Health Support, a campaign in collaboration with Adrienne Warren, helps provide therapy and mental health resources for returning Broadway company members through funding contributed by show producers. 

All ticket holders to the concert will be required to show proof of vaccination upon entry.

ABOUT DARKNESS RISING

Darkness RISING Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit which provides direct mental health resources and helps those in the Black community have conversations about their mental health and emotional well-being. We accomplish this by partnering with mental health providers, mental health educators, and Black performers from the Broadway community to create events, seminars, and direct resources where the intersection between mental health education and the arts collide. 

ABOUT COMPANY

The upcoming revival of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s landmark American musical Company, under the direction of two-time Tony Award® winner Marianne Elliott will resume performances on Monday, November 15 ahead of a Thursday, December 9 opening night at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (242 West 45th Street). For more information, please visit www.companymusical.com.

Beanie Feldstein Will Star in FUNNY GIRL on Broadway

BEANIE FELDSTEIN

Sonia Friedman Productions, Scott Landis and Chocolate Factory Productions have announced that Golden Globe Award nominee Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart; Hello, Dolly!) will star as “Fanny Brice” in the first Broadway revival of FUNNY GIRL. Back on Broadway for the first time in 58 years, the new production directed by Tony Award winner Michael Mayer (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Spring Awakening) features some of the most iconic songs in theatre history including “People” and “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” Performances begin in spring 2022 at a Broadway theatre to be announced.

With choreography by Ellenore Scott (Head Over Heels, “So You Think You Can Dance”), tap choreography by Ayodele Casel (New York Times’ “Biggest Breakout Stars of 2019”), a revised book by Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein (Kinky Boots, La Cage Aux Folles) and scenic design by Tony Award winner David Zinn (Fun Home), FUNNY GIRL features music by Tony, Grammy and Academy Award winner Jule Styne, lyrics by Tony Award nominee and Grammy Award winner Bob Merrill and a book by Isobel Lennart, from an original story by Miss Lennart.

Beanie Feldstein said, “The first time I played Fanny Brice was at my third birthday party, in a head-to-toe leopard print outfit my mom made for me. So, it’s safe to say that stepping into this iconic role, on Broadway and not in my family’s backyard, is truly my lifelong dream come true. I am immensely grateful to be able to do so alongside such a remarkable creative team, and cannot wait for audiences to get back in theaters again!”

The full creative team, further casting, production dates, theatre and onsale plans will be announced shortly.

FUNNY GIRL tells the bitter-sweet story of Fanny Brice (Feldstein), whose unique comedic and vocal talent see her rise from young Brooklyn music hall performer to star, and her tempestuous relationship with gambler, Nicky Arnstein. 

Michael Mayer’s bold new production marks the first time FUNNY GIRL will return to Broadway since its debut 58 years ago. The original production of FUNNY GIRL premiered on Broadway in 1964 starring Barbra Streisand as “Fanny Brice” and was nominated for eight Tony Awards including Best Musical.

Bruce Springsteen re-opens Broadway

Springsteen on Broadway

Bruce Springsteen re-opened Broadway last night for a limited run of Springsteen on Broadway at Jujamcyn’s St. James Theatre (246 W 44th Street). Performances began last night, Saturday June 26 and will continue through September 4.

Proceeds from Opening Night of Springsteen on Broadway at the St. James Theatre will be donated to a group of local New York and New Jersey charities including the Boys and Girls Club of Monmouth County, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids, Community FoodBank of New Jersey, Food Bank for New York City, Fulfill (Monmouth & Ocean Counties Foodbank), Long Island Cares, NJ Pandemic Relief Fund and The Actor’s Fund.

The creative team for Springsteen on Broadway includes Heather Wolensky (scenic design), Natasha Katz (lighting design) and Brian Ronan (sound design).

Based on his worldwide best-selling autobiography ‘Born to Run,’ Springsteen on Broadway is a unique evening with Bruce, his guitar, a piano, and his very personal stories. The show’s original run included 236 sold-out performances at Jujamcyn’s Walter Kerr Theatre, beginning in October 2017 and concluding in December 2018. Springsteen earned a Special Tony Award for the performances, which were later adapted into a film and a soundtrack album.

Tickets for Springsteen on Broadway are on sale through the show’s official ticketing provider SeatGeek at https://seatgeek.com/springsteen-on-broadway-tickets.

For each performance, 32 lottery tickets will be sold for $75 each. To register and find more information, please visit http://www.luckyseat.com

Audience members will be required to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination in order to enter the theater. For more information visit brucespringsteen.net or jujamcyn.com/springsteenFAQ.