Broadwayworld.com has just announced The Tank's 2017 season, and I'm thrilled that The Hunger Artist, which I've been working on with Jon Levin and Josh Luxenberg (of Sinking Ship Productions) will get a full run this coming June at The Connolly Theater.
The Black Crook is a New York Times Critic's Pick, with Laura Collins Hughes calling it a "redemptive love letter to theater history." You can read the rest of the review here! There's been so much written about the Black Crook in the past couple weeks that it's hard to find it all. I've done what I can, and here is a most unbiased list of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
This September The Black Crook will be turning 150 years old, marking 150 years of the American Musical, and I am so excited to be bringing it back to the New York stage at the Abrons Arts Center just in time for it's sequicentennial anniversary. This has been a pet project of mine for many years (almost 10?), and I can't wait to share some the new work I'm been doing on it, as well as the incredible artists I've gathered to help me. The Black Crook is a neglected artifact in American History; it is an origin story for the spectacle that is America, and for that reason alone it deserves to be exhumed once again. Abrons Arts Center has generously provided msyelf and my producing partner Moe Yousuf with an incredible amount of resources, but we still need some help getting this epic melodrama back on it's feet. We're trying to raise $8,000 on Hatchfund in the next 34 days, all of which will go to supporting our array of artists. So please consider spreading this link, or even donating yourself (we've got some incredible perks, including a tour of Edwin Booth's bedroom). Help us make history. And if you'd like to see the full clip of Leonard Bernstein discussing the Black Crook, I've uploaded it here.
Since I couldn't find a gif of a bear drinking beer, here's one of a bear belly-flopping into an above ground swimming pool. But for the purposes of this email try to imagine a bear drinking beer, because right now Ars Nova is offering a free beer with every ticket to Bear Slayer purchased between now and midnight Friday (code: BEERBEAR). For the past two weeks Dan O'Neil, Katie Rose McLaughlin, and I have been revamping our 2015 AntFest production as an Ars Nova project residency. It has been such an amazing experience getting to revisit this hilarious play, and I hope you'll join us on either May 25, 26 or June 1 at 8PM.
While I've been busy in Philly, Little Lord's Michael Levinton was interviewed by Clyde Fitch Report's Tim Cusak in a roundup of 2015's most memorable theater events. So excited that Bambifucker was included! And even more excited by Levinton's theater pick for 2016!
Levinton’s pick is a new adaptation of The Black Crook by Joshua William Gelb, opening at Abrons in September: “It’s supposedly the first true piece of American musical theater, and it has this crazy back story, and 2016 is the 150th anniversary of it’s premier.” Gelb also appeared as Bambi with Levinton’s company, so if his performance in that show is any indication, New York is in for a treat.
Thrilled to annouce that The Black Crook has been selected to receive a Creative Engagement LMCC Grant this year! 150 years ago The Black Crook opened at Niblo's Garden on the corner of Prince and Broadway (it's an Armani Exchange now) and I can't wait to share this original downtown theater juggernaut this September at Abrons Arts Center (another downtown Manhattan stallwart) with support from the Lower Manhattan Culture Council!
Thought we'd never finish this silly little short. And honestly, it's still not finished. But it's almost finished. And for that, I am posting this screenshot. #comingsoon
Stephanie Johnstone and I are Philly bound, bringing Sometimes in Prague to the UArts Polyphone Festival. This incredible lineup of new musicals also includes "Finn the Fearless" with music and lyrics by Andrew Butler, book by Andrew Farmer, directed by Kent Nicholson; "Annie Salem: An American Tale" with music and lyrics by Heather Christian and book by Rachel Chavkin; and "Material World" by Dan Fishback, directed by Stephen Brackett. If you're in Philly, or if you plan on coming down to check it out, you can get tickets here!
There are still some tickets available to HAIL OBLIVION: A Pirate Fantasia (in concert), October 12th at JACK, featuring Bryce Pinkham (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Gentlemen's Guide, Heidi Chronicles), Ato Blankson-Wood (Lysistrata Jones, Hair), Amber Gray (Great Comet, An Octoroon), Julian Fleisher (February House), Rick Burkhardt (Three Pianos), among so many others. This epic pirate adventure unfurls across the globe and across centuries as three ordinary men from three different eras are brought together by the Sirens’ call to the open sea. From the Bahamas (1717), where Major Stede Bonnet deserts his family overnight to become an actual pirate, to Hollywoodland (1943), where Errol Flynn is arrested and exonerated in a very public statutory rape case, to present day Seattle, where a young advertising executive attempts to sell a luxury cruise in light of a recent Somali-Pirate hostage crisis, this swashbuckling fantasia features a roller coaster score of sea-shanties, jazz, and rock. An outlandish and provocative new piece of music theater HAIL OBLIVION takes on our cultural infatuation with piracy, challenging the tantalizing prospect of shedding moral, legal, and social obligations in pursuit of individual freedom upon the high seas. $10 Tickets can be purchased at: hailoblivioninconcert.brownpapertickets.com.
The haggard Impresario, dragging only a worn-out steamer trunk onto the stage, attempts to resurrect the spectacle and fanfare surrounding the once world-famous and now forgotten Hunger Artist - a performer whose act consisted solely of publicly starving for days on end. Using puppetry, clowning, and toy theater, Jon Levin and I are thrilled to present our new adaptation of Kafaka's short story for Sinking Ship Productions. Check out our first draft of this new piece this weekend, September 19th & 20th @ 7pm, The Jalopy Theater (in Red Hook), 315 Columbia St, Brooklyn, NY 11231. Tickets $12.
Co-Created and Performed by Jon Levin. Directed and Co-Created by Joshua William Gelb. Additional text by Josh Luxenberg. Costume Design by Peiyi Wong. Puppet Design by Charlie Kanev. Sound Design by Joshua William Gelb
It's been such a pleasure being dropped into Woodshed Collective's madcap immersive experience known as Empire Travel Agency. Thrilled they're getting so much love. Check out the latest Times Review. "The future belongs to Canada!"
After a 6 year hiatus I have returned to French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts, where I've spent the last 2 months directing and teaching an incredible array of student performers. What a privelage to work with such talented kids. Cheers to the casts and crews of HMS Pinafore, Spelling Bee, Amadeus and Finian's Rainbow (which opens tonight!). It's been a real nostalgia trip to return to my old stomping ground after so many years. Now on to Cambridge, NY to join Jon Levin and Josh Luxenberg at the Freight Residency to work on Sinking Ship's adaptation of Kafka's Hunger Artist. After that I'm back in New York starting rehearsals for Woodshed Collective's Empire Travel Agency!
In this action adventure tragi-comic bromance, two men decide they must go to Alaska and kill a bear despite their complete lack of preparation, gun training or survival skills. Bear suits and Walmart gun buying excursions drive you to ask: how far is too far?
Dan O'Neil's Bear Slayer will be making its world premiere at Ars Nova's Ant Fest on June 12th for one night only! I'll be straddling the stage and the directing chair on this one, playing a character not so loosely based on myself alongside a character not so loosely based on Dan. With us will be Madeleine Bundy and R.N. Healey. Design by Josh Smith and Gavin Price. Choreography by the incomparable Katie Rose McLaughlin. Tickets here. Don't miss it!