Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tidbits From the Back Office

So, there are a few pieces of news that are not quite enough on their own to merit an entire article, but are definitely newsworthy for this site. I have decided to put them together here in one place to get you guys the news.

First up is an update on The Book of Mormon, 2011's Tony-winning Best Musical and a smash hit that you couldn't get tickets to even if you tried. It is such a smash that it has recouped its capital expenditures in a VERY short 9 months on Broadway. The show has broken house box office records at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre 22 times and has consistently sold over $1,000,000 (yes, over one million dollars) in tickets each week since it opened on March 24th. For comparison's sake, the megahit musical Wicked took 14 months to reach the same benchmark of recovering its capital expenses.

In other news, it has been confirmed that two-time Emmy-winner Jim Parsons, of The Big Bang Theory fame, will be returning to Braodway after his debut performance in The Normal Heart. His return will be in the Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Harvey, Mary Chase's Pulitzer Prize winning 1944 play that became a film in 1950 starring Jimmy Stewart (who got an Oscar nomination for the leading role) and Josephine Hull, who won an Oscar for her supporting performance in the film. Joining Parsons will be Tony-nominee Jessica Hecht and Charles Kimbrough in a production directed by Scott Ellis. The show will begin previews on May 18th, 2012, and will open officially on June 14th, making it ineligible for the current Tony Awards cycle, but eligible in the next Tony Awards cycle.

Last on the docket today is a ghost story. Or, rather, a Ghost story. It has been reported that the two leads of the West End production of Ghost: the Musical, Caissie Levy and Richard Fleeshman, will be coming with the show when it jumps the pond to Broadway. They will be playing the roles made famous in the movie by Demi Moore and Patrick Swayzie. Da'Vina Joy Randolph will be taking on the iconic role of Oda Mae Brown, Whoopi Goldberg's Oscar Winning role from the film.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Creative Marketing Campaign

Dasha Epstein woke up at 2 AM one morning with a crazy idea. The show she is producing on Broadway this season, Chinglish, was in need of a boost and an idea had just occurred to her. The show, according to a article by Andrew Gans, is "about an Ohio businessman navigating misunderstandings of language and etiquette on an important business trip to China."

The idea Ms. Epstein came up with was fortune cookies. Ms Epstein told the story to "I went to the internet and I looked up 'fortune cookie manufacturer in New York City,'I found out it's in Brooklyn on Moore Street [and called] Wonton Inc., and they are the largest manufacturers of fortune cookies and noodles. I went down there and I said, 'I'd like to speak to the president.' I had taken the Chinese reviews from [the play's out-of-town engagement in] Chicago, which were spectacular, thinking the head of the company might be Chinese, and indeed he was. He came down and said, 'What can I do for you?' And, I said, 'I would like you to be part of this show. I would like to have fortune cookies, and I would like to have inserted as a fortune: "Chinglish, Aha! A funny timely Broadway play" and on the other side, "Call Telecharge" and the telephone number.' Nobody had ever done that before, and he looked at me and said, 'That's a very good idea! I will pass those out in every Chinese restaurant,' and I said that we will get people to pass them out in Times Square and the Broadway area."

Ms. Epstein ordered 5,000 cookies and started passing them out. Though the show has faced an uphill climb since it opened in late October, this is certainly a neat trick. Let's hope it works!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Profile of Zhenhua Lim

Zhenhua Lim's Broadway debut may be one of the best reviewed of the year, but audiences would have a hard time finding her name in any Playbill. That's because she is listed under her American name, Jennifer Lim, which is kind of appropriate given the play that she's in. Jennifer is currently performing in David Henry Hwang's new play Chinglish, which is about the linguistic and cultural barriers that separate China from the United States, particularly when it comes to doing business.

Ms. Lim's performance in the play is one of two that spans the language divide, performing some of her lines in broken English but most of them in Mandarin. Her debut performance on the main stem has garnered strong reviews, calling her performance "strident and sensual" (Ben Brantley of The New York Times) and "a Tony-worthy triumph in any language" (Scott Brown in New York Magazine).

In a recent interview she did with the New York Times, she stated that “I’ve always had a strong sense of who I am and where I’m from. I may have a very Westernized education, but my upbringing is very much traditional, conventional Chinese, and the values that have been instilled in me since birth are very Chinese: honor, respect, loyalty, sacrifice, all the things that this character embodies.”

The playwright, David Henry Hwang, knew right away that Lim was right for the part. “Obviously she’s very attractive and sexy, with the whole package necessary to do this part,” he said in an interview with The New York Times. “She’s got great comic timing and she’s able to convey the determination and fierceness of this woman, but at the same time she does not convey the sense of being a Chinese-American woman playing a Chinese national.”

But Ms. Lim wasn't always this way. According to Stefani Katarina, Lim's classmate at Yale Drama School (where Lim graduated in 2004), “When she arrived, she tended to have a British accent, and she was very quiet and reserved. You could see her go through and figure out what emotions needed to be played, as opposed to going straight for the raw emotion. So she grew tremendously as a person and an actor during those three years.”

Ms. Lim's involvement with Chinglish dates back to 2009 when she appeared in an early reading of the play. But, even after having done a few readings, her continued appearance in the play as the show grew to its out of town tryouts in Chicago, and then to Broadway, was not guaranteed. The producers "were trying to do our due diligence and keep our options open [and] didn’t really commit to Jen. [But] she made herself irreplaceable." Leigh Silverman, the play's director said that, "she brought a varied intellectual background and a deep sense of worldliness to the part, and as the play and her character changed, I was always kind of amazed at how much she knew and understood about playing a woman who is both a party official and a little older" than the actress herself.

Even with all her success with this play, Ms. Lim is always thinking about her next role. “It’s still tough to find roles specifically written for Asian women that play against the stereotypes of the dragon lady, the submissive one or the more current ones of the manicurist, the doctor or the lab technician, which you see on film and TV a lot,” she said in an interview with The New York Times. “I had read nothing like this before, so it almost feels like I’ve lived my life to this point in preparation for this role.”

Friday, November 25, 2011

Frank Wildhorn's Ups and Downs

Composer Frank Wildhorn has never has never gotten much love from the critics since his Broadway debut writing additional material for the stage version of Voctor/Victoria. Since then, Mr. Wildhorn has had six more forays onto the Broadway stage, including the musical adaptations of Jekyll & Hyde and The Scarlett Pimpernell, and received a 1999 Tony nomination for The Civil War. His most recent show, Wonderland, A New Alice, received terrible reviews and became a $16 million flop, lasting only 33 performances on Broadway. But his new show, a musical adaptation of the film Bonnie and Clyde, may be able to buck his trend.

There has been an odd dichotomy in getting investors to commit to Bonnie and Clyde. When potential investors heard the music and descriptions of the upcoming adaptations, before learning the identity of the score's composer, people were thrilled to invest. But, once they learned of Mr. Wildhorn's involvement, "a few pulled their money out of [the show], recalled one of its lead producers, Kathleen Raitt, while others dropped from a $250,000 to a $25,000 commitment," according to a New York Times report by Patrick Healy. Ms Raitt, who also produced The Civil War and The Scarlett Pimpernell continued that "Wonderland just kneecapped us, in a way I’d never seen spill over from one show to another."

The producing team includes some new investors, including a hedge fund manager who happens to coach Mr. Wildhorn's son's soccer team (and who also happens to have raised $250,000 towards the $6 million capitalization for Bonnie and Clyde). Ms. Raitt has hope that the show, which opens on December 1st, can succeed, saying “Now come the critics. I’m praying there’s an open mind about Frank.” And no one is hoping more than Mr. Wildhorn himself, who credits his father with giving him his resiliency. “My dad was a great athlete growing up, and his dream was to play baseball. But during the Korean War he was diagnosed with M.S. He had to give up a lot of his dreams. He went into magazine publishing and he provided a great life for my mom and me and my sister. He and my mom were always dancing, they loved it, though I could tell when he was hurting physically. But he never gave up on himself. I think from him I got my work ethic, and to never give up.”

After the show opens on Thursday night, I will post what the critics have said and we shall see what Mr. Wildhorn's fate will be.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"She Loves Me" Concert Stars Set

Casting is now complete for the Roundabout Theatre Company's benefit concert of She Loves Me. The concert, scheduled for December 5th, is not a new show for the Roundabout, whose fully staged production of the show began in 1993 and was the Roundabout's first musical ... a tradition that they have continued to multiple Tony-winning success ever since.

The concert will star Tony-nominee Gavin Creel, replacing Cheyenne Jackson in the leading role of Steven Kodaly, Tony-winner Jane Krakowski as Ilona, and three-time Tony-nominee Kelli O'Hara as Amalia. Josh Radnor, Peter Bartlett, Tony-nominee Michael McGrath, Tony-nominee Rory O'Malley, Ladislav Sipos, and four-time Tony-nominee Victor Garber will also have featured roles in the concert.

Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Roundabout, a not-for-profit theater company based in New York City. According to the Roundabout, She Loves Me is a 1963 musical that "follows Amalia (O'Hara) and Georg (Radnor), two feuding clerks in a European parfumerie during the 1930s who secretly find solace in their anonymous romantic pen pals, little knowing their respective correspondents are actually each other."

The score, by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick (the songwriting team behind Fiddler on the Roof), includes the songs "Dear Friend," "I Resolve," "Tonight at Eight," "Will He Like Me?," "Vanilla Ice Cream," "Days Gones By," "Grand Knowing You," "Try Me" and the title song, among other tunes.

The performance is set for December 5th at 7:30.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Shelagh Delaney, Playwright, Dead at 71

Playwright Shelagh Delaney has died of cancer five days short of her 72nd birthday. She is probably best known for her 1958 play, A Taste of Honey, which played the West End for 358 performances and which transferred to Broadway with Joan Plowright and Angela Lansbury. Some of her more notable screenplays are The White Bus (1967), Charlie Bubbles (also 1967), and Dance With a Stranger (1985).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Seminar Opens on Broadway

Theresa Rebeck's new play, Seminar, about a writer (played by two time Tony-nominee Alan Rickman) giving a lecture to four writing students (played by Hamish Linklater, Jerry O'Connell, Hettienne Park, and Tony-nominee Lily Rabe) opened last night at Broadway's John Golden Theatre. The reviews are in and are decidedly mixed. The acting and direction were universally praised. I think that the reviewer for Variety had the best of the descriptions, describing "a terrific Broadway debut by well-known entity Jerry O'Connell, ... another eye-catching Broadway debut by Hamish Linklater, ... [and] yet another wonderful Main Stem debut by Hettienne Park. Alan Rickman is heaven-sent as the sexy, sneering, snarling literary legend who condescends to tutor four aspiring novelists who have paid through the nose for the privilege of being abused. Best of all, there's Kate, a Bennington girl who's an endearing mass of contradictions -- and cheerfully aware of them all in Lily Rabe's magnetic performance."

The script itself, however, got mixed reviews. Variety sayd, "the problem here is that the audience is never made privy to any actual work produced by Leonard's students, which makes his clever pronouncements sound facile and his sage insights seem shallow. But if Rebeck isn't really interested in a serious literary exchange between a wise old statesmen and his promising apprentices, she's entirely committed to exploring the teacher-pupil and pupil-pupil sexual dynamics of private educational pods like this one."

The New York Times had this to add. "Ms. Rebeck and the agile director Sam Gold are well aware of the market value on Broadway these days of hustling a comedy on and off the stage in a breezy hundred minutes that needn’t pause for intermission. Ms. Rebeck, whose Mauritius was seen on Broadway four years ago, is a canny craftswoman with a sensibility poised somewhere between that of Yasmina Reza (queen of the quick, smart comedy) and Neil Simon (the longest-reigning king of the New York-style one-liner). Brightly acted by an ensemble that includes Hamish Linklater, Lily Rabe, Jerry O’Connell and Hettienne Park, “Seminar” keeps the laughs marching forward like a series of well-drilled military troops, and it never jams up or sags. But it can’t sustain more than one thought or emotion or effect at the same time."

Sets and costumes were also well received.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Two Profiles and a Little Extra ... and They're All British

Three articles have appeared across my sources (in this case, the New York Times Theatre section, Variety Magazine, and Playbill Magazine) that profile or highlight Brits and the New York theater scene. The first is a profile of the first lady of British Theater, Ms. Elaine Paige. The profile talks about her role in the current revival of Follies, her fling with Dustin Hoffman, and her cancer scare a few years back. The next article is about the British invasion. No, it's not about the Beatles. It's about the influx of British directors in American comedy, both on stage and on screen. The final article is about Ray Fiennes and his adaptation of William Shakespeare's Coriolanus for the big screen, and the trials and tribulations that are bound to arise when an actor takes a seat behind the camera to direct. Check them out, then come back here and let me know what you think!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Jim Parsons and a Bunny Rabbit posted this article a few days ago about two time Emmy winner Jim Parsons. Enjoy!

Emmy winner Jim Parsons is “in talks” to play Elwood P. Dowd in a spring 2012 Broadway revival of Mary Chase's Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy Harvey, according to The New York Times. The production, which is contingent on Parsons’ schedule playing physicist Sheldon Cooper in TV’s The Big Bang Theory, will reportedly be mounted by Roundabout Theatre Company.

The title character in Harvey is a six-foot-tall rabbit invisible to everyone except Elwood, much to the exasperation of his sister, Veta. The play opened on Broadway in 1944 starring Frank Fay and Josephine Hull. The 1950 movie version starred Jimmy Stewart and Hull, who won an Oscar for her performance. Stewart reprised his star turn in a 1970 Broadway revival that co-starred Helen Hayes as Veta.

Parsons made his Broadway debut in the spring of 2011 as gay activist Tommy Boatwright in the Tony-winning revival of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Private Lives Opens on Broadway

Noel Coward is coming back in style lately. Blithe Spirit and Present Laughter were both revived within the last year and a half, and now we have the official opening of a revival of his Private Lives. The reviews are in and they are generally positive. Some have said that the revival comes too soon on the previous revival of Private Lives, with the previous production appearing on Broadway only 9 years ago. The production takes the play in a different direction from the norm and turns it into a romantic farce -- a change that not everyone liked, but which most reviewers appreciated. Kim Cattrall's leading performance as Amanda received some high praise. Comparing her to Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's, Cattrall has entirely shed the ghost of the character for which she is most known -- Samantha Jones on television's Sex and the City.

Paul Gross's performance as Amanda's husband Elyot received strong notices, as well, noting the steamy and strong chemistry between him and Ms. Cattrall. Comparing this production to the revival of 9 years ago, Ben Brantley of The New York Times wrote the following. "As Mr. Rickman and Ms. Duncan portrayed them (as, I imagine, did Coward and Gertrude Lawrence, who originated them), Amanda and Elyot were almost a single (if internally divided) androgynous being. Mr. Gross and Ms. Cattrall bring a more solid yin and yang to their performances." The supporting couple played by Anna Madeley and Simon Paisley Day, also received strong notices, and all four actors are (as far as I can see right now) likely to get Tony nominations, as will the production overall.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Multiple Extensions Announced

Extensions for ‘Desert Cities,’ ‘Hand to God,’ ‘Lughnasa,’ ‘Mountaintop’
The New York Times

Lincoln Center Theater has extended the Broadway run of “Other Desert Cities,” Jon Robin Baitz’s play about dark secrets in a wealthy Palm Springs family. Originally scheduled to run through Jan. 8, tickets are now on sale through March 25 and the run is open-ended. The show, with a cast that includes Stockard Channing, Rachel Griffiths, Stacy Keach, Judith Light and Thomas Sadoski, received mostly positive reviews when it opened earlier this month at the Booth Theater.

Three weeks have been added to the run of Robert Askins’s “Hand to God” at the Ensemble Studio Theater. The black comedy about a young man who encounters the devil in a sock puppet had been scheduled to close on Sunday. Instead it will take Thanksgiving week off and resume performances on Nov. 30 and continue through Dec. 18.

“Dancing at Lughnasa,” the Off Broadway revival of Brian Friel’s Tony-winning hit, will play three more weeks as well. Originally scheduled to run through Dec. 11, the Irish Repertory Theater production now continues through Jan. 15, 2012.

Finally, “The Mountaintop,” with Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett, will play one extra week, through Jan. 22, and an evening performance has been added on Jan. 15, Martin Luther King’s Birthday. The play imagines King’s meeting with a young maid the night before his assassination at a Memphis motel.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Productions on the Docket has just announced three new Broadway productions that are on their way.

The first is the much hyped stage adaptation of it's 1992 flop film Newsies. The show will be playing a limited engagement the Nederlander Theatre on 41st Street from March 15th through June 10th, with opening night planned for March 29th. Most of the cast will join the transfer, but the leading man from the original Papermill Playhouse production, Jeremy Jordan, will not be joining them because he is currently starring in the Broadway musical Bonnie and Clyde. That is, of course, unless that show doesn't last as long as the producers would like.

Next up is a new musical called Leap of Faith, which is aiming for a fall 2012 Broadway birth. Though I couldn't dig up much about the content of the show, I have found out that the show is about a phony "reverend" whose bus breaks down, traveling ministry in tow, in a small Kansas town. The show has a gospel score by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, who collaborated on the score for Sister Act, with a book by Warren Leight (the Tony-winning book writer of Side Man).

The final production reported was a transfer from the National Theatre in London. The play is called One Man, Two Guvnors, which is based on Carlo Goldoni's The Servant of Two Masters. The Richard Bean play, in a production directed by Nicholas Hytner, will open at the Music Box Theatre on April 18th, 2012, after starting previews on April 6th, according to producer Bob Boyett.

PBS Great Performances Season to Include Some Broadway Hits

The 2011-2012 season of PBS's Great Performances has been announced and will include some hits from Broadway, off-Broadway, and London's West End. Though a specific schedule has yet to be announced, the season will include Anna Deavere Smith's one-woman play Let Me Down Easy, the Tony-winning Best Musical of 2010, Memphis, and the 25th anniversary performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera. The airing of Memphis will star the Broadway production's Tony nominated original stars, Montego Glover and Chad Kimball. The production of The Phantom of the Opera being aired on PBS was filmed at London's Royal Albert Hall and starred Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karimloo.

In a non-Broadway related note, the PBS season will also feature The Thomashefskys, Michael Tilson-Thomas' performance about the lives of his grandparents who were stars of the Yiddish theater circuit.

Porgy and Bess Plot Reverts Closer to Original

This article about the upcoming production of Porgy and Bess appeared in yesterday's New York Times. It would appear that at least some of the changes to the show that had caused such an uproar in the press will not be making the trip down from Cambridge, MA to Broadway. Check out Patrick Healy's article below.

‘Porgy’: No New Scene, Some Hard Feelings
Published: November 14, 2011

There will be no revisionist happy ending in the coming Broadway production of “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.” A new scene, in which the title characters have a final emotional encounter meant to deepen their love story, has been dropped. But some hard feelings remain, at least on the part of the show’s director and its lead producer.

It has been three months since Stephen Sondheim shocked the theater world with a rare public rebuke of fellow artists — the creative team of this “Porgy and Bess” — for changes to the landmark 1935 opera that they were rehearsing. The director, Diane Paulus, and the producer, Jeffrey Richards, largely stayed silent. And in their first joint interview since the scolding, they insisted — in between expressions of frustration — that they had moved on from L’Affaire Sondheim.

“Are we not saying his name?” Ms. Paulus said of Mr. Sondheim over coffee at a Broadway neighborhood restaurant last Friday.

“It can be said,” Mr. Richards replied, without ever going on to say it.

Ms. Paulus, best known for directing the 2009 hit revival of “Hair” (which Mr. Richards produced), forcefully repeated during the interview that the estates of George and Ira Gershwin and DuBose and Dorothy Heyward had asked her team to change the opera to fit commercial Broadway. The production, which had a tryout run at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass., in late summer, is set to start preview performances on Dec. 17 at the Richard Rodgers Theater.

On one issue Ms. Paulus was particularly emphatic: She and her team, not Mr. Sondheim, were responsible for dropping the most controversial changes contemplated for the show.

“We were learning about the work as we were living it, experimenting with different scenes and endings, and by the culmination of our journey with Porgy and Bess — the show and those characters — we found its strongest version,” Ms. Paulus said. “It had nothing to do with Mr.-Whomever-we-are-not-talking-about, or the producers or the estates.”

In August, shortly before the American Repertory Theater tryout began, The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Boston Phoenix published articles that noted a new, upbeat ending for Broadway.

Instead of Bess’s leaving their Charleston ghetto for New York by herself, with the crippled Porgy giving chase some time later, the Broadway version would include a newly invented scene in which Bess tries to persuade Porgy to start a new life with her up North. She leaves, followed by Porgy; one final stage picture that was considered had the two looking at each other at a distance. The intent was to indicate that Porgy and Bess would be reunited.

Mr. Sondheim, the composer and writer who has won a Pulitzer Prize for “Sunday in the Park With George” and multiple Tony Awards for shows like “Follies” and “Sweeney Todd,” sent a letter to The Times chastising Ms. Paulus; Suzan-Lori Parks, who adapted the book for the production; and the actress Audra McDonald, who plays Bess, for making comments that he found condescending and disdainful of the original opera. He also chided the team for the new ending and other rewrites that deviate from more common reinterpretations of the staging, design or orchestrations of classic musicals.

Ms. Paulus declined to discuss her immediate reaction to Mr. Sondheim’s letter, but people familiar with the situation said that soon after reading it, she called him and left a phone message in hopes of talking it out before the letter was published. They spoke on condition of anonymity because their conversation with Ms. Paulus about the phone message was private; they said they did not know if the two ultimately spoke.

In the days after the publication of Mr. Sondheim’s letter, as hundreds of artists and others began weighing in on blogs about Mr. Sondheim’s complaints, Ms. Paulus said, she and her cast tried to focus on the positive.

“I think it was a tribute to how passionate people are about this masterwork,” she said. “We were determined to put our heads down and do our work.”

The final stage moment of Porgy and Bess’s looking at each other was rehearsed and discarded even before Mr. Sondheim’s letter was made public, Ms. Paulus said. The new scene between Porgy and Bess, meanwhile, had been important to Ms. Parks and Ms. McDonald, who both said in interviews over the summer that they believed that Bess should appear during the final 15 minutes of the two-and-a-half-hour musical. Variations of that scene were included during preview performances at the American Repertory Theater, but it was cut before opening night.

“Our goal for the piece was for the audience to be completely connected to both the characters of Porgy and Bess through to the last second of the piece, and I think we learned how to do that,” Ms. Paulus said. “I’m so reluctant to talk about the details of the ending because, frankly, I don’t want it to get misinterpreted. I don’t want someone to read it and go crazy.”

Mr. Richards also had fallout to deal with. He lost some of his investors for the $8 million Broadway production, but said he also gained some new ones, whom he declined to name.

Mr. Richards made the somewhat unusual decision to produce “Porgy and Bess” as a limited, 26-week run on Broadway, instead of a run of a year or longer. Asked why he opted to budget for a limited engagement (which could be extended if the show is a hit), Mr. Richards said: “Because of all of the controversy that had been going on. We didn’t know how it would play out.”

Ms. Paulus is now looking ahead to casting understudies and planning for rehearsals, which are scheduled to begin on Nov. 28. Modifications are under way to the set design, which was unusually spare in Cambridge, and some of the music will be in a different key for Broadway. The orchestra is also growing to 22 musicians from 18, with the addition of several string instruments.

As for the guest list, Mr. Richards was coy about whether he would invite Mr. Sondheim, who declined to be interviewed for this article. (“I’ve said everything I have to say,” he wrote in an e-mail, adding that he did plan to see the Broadway production.)

“If he wants to come see the show, we would welcome him to see what his theater colleagues have accomplished with respect and love,” Mr. Richards said. “Out of respect for him, I don’t want a firestorm — an invitation would be a private thing.”

Monday, November 14, 2011

Samuel French Makes the Move Online

Following the trend the publishing industry seems to be in these days, Samuel French will be entering the digital publishing world. The play publisher, one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country (founded in 1830), is among the first play publishers to enter this market. According to Variety, Samuel French aims to have 300 plays up by the end of November and 1,000 by the end of the year. The plays will first be available on Apple's iBook app, with Kindle, Nook, and other platforms to follow, starting with plays by Charles Busch, Marsha Norman, Israel Horovitz, and Dale Wasserman. The program is set to roll out on Tuesday.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ben Brantley posted an interesting post on the New York Times' ArtsBeat Blog about enunciation and the use of supertitles on Broadway. Though supertitles are almost always used in the Opera world today, they are only rarely used on Broadway and, when they are, they are used for translating sections of plays in foreign languages. Here is the text of his post. What do you think about this issue?

Theater Talkback: The Writing’s on the Wall

Have you ever been tempted at the theater to lean toward the stage and yell at the performers, “What did you say?” I’m sure you’ve never actually done that. (If you have, you should be banned from theaters for life, even if you were drunk at the time.) But what with all the fuzzy amplification and diction-challenged actors on Broadway these days, even those with acute hearing may miss out on the occasional crucial line. That’s when you wish, if only for a moment, that the theater used supertitles, the way the opera often does.

If you are experiencing such moments with increasing frequency and frustration, then “Chinglish,” David Henry Hwang’s new play about an American businessman in China, may be just the ticket for you. Supertitles are the de facto stars and the leading comedians of “Chinglish,” much of which is performed in Mandarin.

A zippy study of what gets lost in translation, literally and otherwise, when East meets West, this comedy earns its biggest laughs when English is rendered into Mandarin by interpreters and the botched results show up on a screen above the stage. For example, when the American says to potential Chinese partners that he was the director of operations for a firm, the interpreter’s words appear on screen as “He is also a surgeon.”

Mr. Hwang isn’t just going for easy chuckles. The play’s use of supertitles is meant to reveal a more profound cultural disconnect among characters from different worlds. And he wants us to feel their confusion – and in the case of the show’s central love story – their pain. But he runs against an essential problem. Supertitles, by their nature, distance us from the characters. That is especially true in this play, where we often know more than the characters do, since the supertitles function as our own personal and omniscient translators.

Seeing “Chinglish” got me to thinking about supertitles I have known over the years, and their advantages and limitations. For the record, there is at least one Broadway precedent for the comic use of supertitles involving Chinese characters. That would be in the 2002 musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” in which the hapless Chinese henchmen of the play’s villainess, Mrs. Meers, speak uncomprehendingly of what’s going in Chinese (with projected yuk-yuk translations provided). And the human chameleon Danny Hoch, playing a bilingual Puerto Rican taxi dispatcher in his one-man show “Taking Over,” made delightful use of English supertitles to help define his wily, fast-thinking, fast-talking character.

But my greatest exposure to supertitles comes from seeing plays that were performed entirely in languages other than English. One of the privileges of having my job and being in New York City is that so many productions from all over the world visit here. And though I sort of speak French (and have an every-fifth-word comprehension of Italian and Spanish), without supertitles I would have missed what was being said altogether in productions that were performed in Russian, Belarussian, German, Japanese, Greek, Arabic and Zulu, among others.

Though they serve the same function, supertitles in the theater are different in their effect from subtitles in film. A movie (or television or computer) screen is a self-contained space, and the subtitles generally appear within that frame. Even if I haven’t seen a foreign film in a while, I find that when I do, it’s only a matter of minutes before I make the adjustment that allows me to feel I’m “listening” directly as I read.

Supertitles for plays are usually projected on separate screens, above or to the side of the stage. And if the stage is large, your eyes are forced to leave the live action to read the words. (I was especially aware of this during the Berliner Ensemble’s recent production of “The Threepenny Opera” at the Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn, but I was already familiar with the songs and the story.)

You are forced, in these cases, to make a choice between word and image, which isn’t really fair to a work of theater that is ideally a melding of both. (I don’t have that problem with opera, partly because a single sentence – like “I love you” – may be stretched out and repeated to cover acres of music.) And of course when certain infelicities of translation occur, you can be jerked abruptly from the internal reality of the play.

I can remember scratching my head in 2002 when, during a fine production of Sophocles’s “Antigone” from the National Theater of Greece, this description of the title character popped up on the screen: “The glimmer that lit the last blossom of the house of Oedipus.” Watching “Umbatha: The Zulu Macbeth” at the Lincoln Center Festival in 1997, I found myself suppressing giggles as I read the words, “Is it my eyes that shape this assegai in the air?” (That’s instead of Shakespeare’s original line, “Is this a dagger I see before me?”) And Robert Wilson’s splendid French production of the “Fables de la Fontaine” for the Comedie Francaise (2007) suffered from all sorts of miscues, where the translated words didn’t match the actions at all.

It helps of course if you’re already familiar with the material or have the chance to read the script beforehand (as many opera-goers bone up pre-performance with English librettos). And in some cases the foreignness of a language can enrich a theatrical experience.

The best production I’ve ever seen of Stephen Sondheim’s “Pacific Overtures,” about the arrival of Commodore Perry in Japan, was in Japanese (at Lincoln Center in 2002). The use of that language compounded our sense of the English-speaking characters as exotic and barbaric aliens. (Besides, I pretty much knew the lyrics of most of the songs, so I could sit back and relax.)

When the great film and theater director Ingmar Bergman used to bring his stage productions to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, supertitles were eschewed in favor of simultaneous translation via headset. This presented its own problems of adjustment. Getting the volume right – so that you could hear both the Swedish actors and their interpreters at the same time – was the trick. And I sometimes even came to feel that those whispery English-speaking voices were sort of mystical Bergmanesque ghosts, providing an underlayer of subtext.

Basically, though, when a work of theater is good, vital and true to the artistic terms it establishes for itself, you magically push past the language barriers, the way you might if you fell in love with someone who speaks another language. I have seen many productions of Shakespeare performed in languages other than English, which might seem like a form of blasphemy. (I imagine the French feel that way about Racine or Corneille being spoken in English.)

Yet one of the most illuminating lessons I’ve had as a theatergoer is that words are not everything in Shakespeare. I saw an exquisite production of “Twelfth Night” five years ago from the Chekhov International Theater Festival. It was in Russian, and the supertitles, instead of using Shakespeare’s original text, re-translated the words back from Russian in a sort of bizarre telegraph-ese.

And you know something? I felt I learned things about “Twelfth Night” – my favorite comedy by Shakespeare and the one I know best – that I hadn’t appreciated before. At the time, I wrote that the production “finds an alchemical substance in Shakespeare that transcends the verbal,” and added, “Shakespeare’s first language, it would seem, is not English after all; it’s theater.” I humbly give thanks to these Russian actors for making me realize that.

What have been your experiences of supertitles and simultaneous translation? How burdensome and/or illuminating have they been?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Phyllis Love Dies

I just read on that actress Phyllis Love has died. Love appeared on Broadway in The Member of the Wedding, The Rose Tattoo, The Remarkable Mr. Pennpacker, Bus Stop and The Country Girl in the 1950's. She is, perhaps, most known for her TV and some work. She played Gary Cooper's daughter in Willy Wiler's 1956 film Friendly Persuasion. On TV, she acted in Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Perry Mason, Ironside, The Fugitive, and Bonanza.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Writing Seminar on Seminar

The New York Times has a great article about Theresa Rebeck's upcoming play, Seminar, which opens next Sunday on Broadway. The play, which stars Alan Rickman, is about a writer giving a seminar on writing. Check out the preview article on the Times' website and then go see the show when it opens!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Elaine Stritch as Documentary Subject has posted an exclusive announcement that Elaine Stritch is the subject of an upcoming documentary to be released next year. Read on to see Playbill's article.

EXCLUSIVE: Documentary on Tony-Winning Actress Elaine Stritch to Debut in 2012
by Adam Hetrick

Tony and Emmy Award-winning stage veteran Elaine Stritch will be the subject of a new independent documentary film, which will debut in summer 2012, has learned.

Isotope films founder Chiemi Karasawa ("Love, Etc"; Emmy-winning "The Betrayal"), who is directing the film, has been capturing Stritch's public and personal life since February 2011. The goal is to complete filming by the end of this year and to begin rolling out the yet-to-be-titled documentary at festivals by summer 2012. "It's a question of who wants to premiere it when we are ready," Karasawa told

"We basically were connected through our hairdresser," Karasawa laughed. "A dear friend of mine owns the salon. For six months Piet, our hairdresser, would say to me, 'You must make a film about Elaine Stritch.'"

Karasawa courted Stritch for several months during her Broadway engagement in A Little Night Music. "I became fascinated by her as a creature, as a subject and as a performer," Karasawa said. "I found myself with her in the dressing room at A Little Night Music and she politely said, 'No, I'm exhausted and I don't know when I'll want to resurface. But you can call me in the spring.'"

Stritch, whose career on and off-stage has been documented in the DA Pennebaker film "Original Cast Album – Company," as well as "Follies In Concert" and her Tony and Emmy-winning one-woman show At Liberty, spoke of her initial reluctance to allow cameras to follow her throughout her daily routine and rehearsals.
"It's a little frightening for people to get into your life that much, but I don't have anything to hide," she told "So, I'm open. There's no point in doing a documentary unless you absolutely deliver the 100 percent truth. Energy-wise it's very hard work."

Karasawa and her crew have followed Stritch from her residence at the Carlyle Hotel, throughout Manhattan, to rehearsals for her Carlyle show At Home at the Carlyle: Singin' Sondheim... Again. Why Not?, on stage during her recent Town Hall appearance and at a recent concert engagement in her hometown of Detroit, MI.

"It's very comforting, very relaxing and very exhilarating because they support me," Stritch said of performing for Detroit audiences. The documentary also captures Stritch's family, who were in attendance for the intimate concerts.

The untitled documentary will also include a host of theatre vets who have worked with Stritch, including At Liberty collaborator George C. Wolfe, Company and Show Boat director Hal Prince and Tony-winning actress Cherry Jones. Karasawa is in the process of gathering additional interviews with columnist Liz Smith, James Gandolfini, Tony winner Ellen Barkin and Tony winner Bernadette Peters, who co-starred in A Little Night Music with Stritch.

"There's so much that I never expected to capture," Karasawa said. "I think what people have to say about her is going to be really interesting. Not just as a performer, but this woman is a survivor. She's survived a lifetime of career ups and downs, alcoholism, which she's extremely candid about, the loss of her husband – all these challenges. She's an incredibly pure spirit. There will never be anyone like her."

Porgy and Bess Cast Remains Mostly in Tact is reporting that most of the cast from the American Reperatory Theatre production of Porgy and Bess currently playing in Cambridge, MA, has been confirmed for the production's Broadway transfer. So far, the show's producers have confirmed the return of four-time Tony winner Audra McDonald as Bess, two time Tony nominee David Alan Grier as Sporting Life, and Broadway vet Norm Lewis as Porgy. According to Adam Hetrick's playbill article, "Also expected to return for the limited Broadway engagement are Tony nominee Joshua Henry as Jake, Nikki Renee Daniels as Clara, Phillip Boykin as Crown, Bryonha Marie Parham as Serena, NaTasha Yvette Williams as Maria, Cedric Neal as Frazier, J.D. Webster as Mingo, Heather Hill as Lily, Phumzile Sojola as Peter and Nathaniel Stampley as Robbins."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Venus in Fur Opens on Broadway

The Boradway transfer of David Ives' play, Venus in Fur, opened last night at Manhattan Theater Club's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (formerly the Biltmore). The show has gotten pretty strong reviews, having largely improved from its highly acclaimed off-Broadway run earlier this year. Much of the credit goes to the production's leading actress, Nina Arianda -- a Tony nominee for her performance as Billy Dawn in last year's Born Yesterday. Credit should also be given to Walter Bobbie, the production's director, for having recast the male lead with Hugh Dancy, who now balances out the show; a number of reviews had pointed out that, in the off-Broadway incarnation of the show, Arianda basically carried the show herself due to the less-than-stellar male performance, but with the role recast, that problem is alleviated. The sexual chemistry between the two actors is, seemingly, so strong as to set off sparks. The New York Times has said that Arianda's performance is "the first must-see performance of the Broadway season, a bravura turn that burns so brightly you can almost feel the heat on your face," and that Dancy holds his own opposite her is no small feat. I am predicting Tony nominations all around. Certainly for Best Play, Actress, Actor, Director, and most, if not all, of the design awards.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Prepare Ye the Way of the Revival

40 years after the original production debuted on Broadway, Godspell has opened in a revival at Broadway's Circle in the Square Theatre to mixed-to-negative reviews.

Variety has said that all the ways in which the show has tried to modernize the script and score basically fail. There are many ad libs and updates referencing Lindsay Lohan, occupy Wall Street, and The Book of Mormon, which got laughs in the theater, but the reviewer finds to fall flat and not work well with the intent of the show. Variety also says that the soft-rock score that was counter-cultural in the 70's on Broadway just isn't in 2011. However, the one thing that was praised by variety was the singing across the board.

The New York Times had similar things to say, calling the show high energy but saying that they wished that energy were tempered by some calmer moments in between. The effort put into the jokes was appreciated and understood, even if they did sometimes fall flat. Charles Isherwood did seem to recognize, though (even if not explicitly), the popularity of the show.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Time to ... Broadway? is reporting that producer Daryl Roth, who recently won a Tony for Best Revival of a Play for the revival of The Normal Heart, is still looking to get her adaptation of John Grisham's book A Time To Kill to come to Broadway. "I am very enthusiastic about it," Roth told "As you know, theatres are in great demand , so when we I have the right cast and the right home, it will happen," adding, "maybe spring but next fall more likely." The adaptation is written by Rupert Holmes.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Nice Work If You Can Get It Finds Broadway Home

Now that the Broadway revival of Funny Girl has been delayed, the Imperial Theatre has opened up for tenancy after Billy Eliot closes this January. has just announced that Nice Work If You Can Get It, a new musical, will be moving in. The new musical, featuring music by the Gershwin brothers, will open some time in April. The show will star two-time Tony-winner Matthew Broderick and three-time Tony-nominee Kelli O'Hara and will be directed and choreographed by two-time Tony-winner Kathleen Marshall. According to the press release, the show "follows Billie Bendix (Kelli O'Hara), a tough-as-nails bootlegger who meets up with wealthy playboy Jimmy Winter (Matthew Broderick) on the weekend of his nuptials."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Other Desert Cities Opens on Broadway

Jon Robin Baitz's new play, Other Desert Cities, has opened on Broadway. The play has transferred from Lincoln Center's off-Broadway production at its Mitzi Newhouse Theatre.

Variety Magazine loved the physical production and the acting, but not so much the play itself. Judith Light, Rachel Griffiths, and Thomas Sadoski were all singled out for their performances, as was Joe Mantello's direction and John Lee Beatty's set design.

Both Variety and the New York Times have said that the production is better than it was when it appeared off-Broadway, even through the change of two of its actress (the roles now played by Judith Light and Rachel Griffiths were originally played by Linda Lavin and Elizabeth Marvel in performances that are being touted as much flashier than those that appear in the current incarnation). The production, according to the Times, "is now less of a showoff than it was, and its ensemble more of a piece. It has, in other words, settled comfortably into its own skin, which makes its characters’ discomfort all the more palpable." The Times basically singled out the same production factors as Variety, additionally noting the strength of David Zinn's costumes.

Funny Girl Postponed

Both the Los Angeles and Broadway engagements of the upcoming revival of Funny Girl, the Barbara-Streisand-as-Fanny-Brice vehicle that was/is to star Lauren Ambrose has been postponed. Bob Boyett, speaking on behalf of the producing team made the following statement. "We have made the extremely difficult decision today to postpone our production of Funny Girl. Given the current economic climate, many Broadway producing investors have found it impossible to maintain their standard level of financial commitment. Our desire to produce Funny Girl on the scale it deserves required a capitalization of $12 million making it one of the most expensive revivals in Broadway history. I am deeply saddened by this decision, but I, along with the finest group of co-producers I have ever had the pleasure to work with, Sonia Friedman, Jean Doumanian, Stacey Mindich and Tim Levy, determined that this was not the right time to bring Funny Girl to the stage."

Spider Man Tony Eligibility

Here's some news from the New York Times about the ever-buzzed about Spider-Man musical.

Original ‘Spider-Man’ Director Taymor Will Be Eligible for Tony
Julie Taymor will be eligible for a 2012 Tony Award nomination as best director of a musical for “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” the committee that oversees the annual Broadway theater honors announced on Thursday, despite “Spider-Man” being overhauled considerably after she was fired from the show in March.

Her replacement, Philip William McKinley, who re-staged some numbers and several new scenes, will not be eligible for a Tony for directing “Spider-Man,” however.

The producers of “Spider-Man” had recently asked the Tony Awards Administration Committee to make both Ms. Taymor and Mr. McKinley eligible for the award, according to two people familiar with the producers’ request, and who spoke on condition of anonymity because the producers did not want the information made public. But the committee voted for only Ms. Taymor; no reason was given, and a spokeswoman for the Tony Awards said that, per custom, the rationale for the committee’s decision-making would not be disclosed.

The producers gave Ms. Taymor the credit of “original direction” when the musical opened in June. Mr. McKinley was billed as “creative consultant,” though it was well publicized that he had taken over the direction of the show from Ms. Taymor. The producers are now billing him in “Spider-Man” publicity materials as “director.”

With its ruling at a closed-door meeting on Thursday, the committee sought to end one of the mini-dramas in the saga of “Spider-Man,” a show that cost more than twice as much as any in Broadway history and which became a national punch line for its exorbitant expenses, its string of cast injuries, and its seemingly endless period of preview performances. (The musical opened in June after more than six months of previews; most shows have a single month of previews.)

Ms. Taymor, a Tony winner as director of “The Lion King,” began working on “Spider-Man” a decade ago after being recruited by the show’s composers, Bono and the Edge of U2, and its original producer, Tony Adams, who died in 2005. Early reviews for the musical in February were so negative, and the artistic disagreements between Ms. Taymor and her fellow creators and new producers were so sharp, that she was soon ousted from the show.

She did attend the show’s opening night in June and put on a friendly face with Bono and Edge (as well as hugging Mr. McKinley), but her friends said she remained furious at her treatment. Ms. Taymor, who has never given an interview about the falling out, is now pursuing an arbitration claim against the producers through the stage directors’ union, saying that she is owed more than $500,000 in royalties.

The committee also announced that the two stars of “Spider-Man,” Reeve Carney (who plays Peter Parker) and Jennifer Damiano (Mary Jane Watson), will be eligible for Tonys for lead actor and actress, respectively. Because their names are not listed above the “Spider-Man” title in materials, the producers had to ask the administration committee to vote for their eligibility in the lead acting categories.

Even though “Spider-Man” began preview performances in November 2010, it was not eligible for Tonys for the 2010-11 theater season because the musical did not open by the award eligibility cut-off in late April 2011.

Rick Miramontez, a spokesman for the “Spider-Man” producers, said they would have no comment about the Tony committee’s decision-making.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Musical Adaptation of Rebecca Sets Dates

A musical adaptation of Rebecca, Daphne DuMaurier's 1938 novel which became Alfred Hitchcock's only film to win the Best Picture Oscar in 1940, will now be making the jump to Broadway. The musical thriller will start previews at the Broadhurst Theatre on March 27th with an April 22nd opening. Sierra Boggess, of Broadway's The Little Mermaid and Master Class will star in a production being co-directed by Tony-winner Michael Blakemore and Francesca Zambello.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Casting Updates for The Best Man

Casting for the upcoming Broadway revival of Gore Vidal's The Best Man is coming together. In addition to previously announced star James Earl Jones, the production will also star Tony winners John Larroquette and Angela Lansbury, Emmy winner Candice Bergen, and Oscar nominee Michael McKean. The production is expected to begin previews on March 6th, with opening expected for April 1st and will be directed by Michael Wilson. The production is rather timely, in a way, given's plot description: "Vidal’s 1960 political drama centers on power, ambition, political secrets and ruthless behavior surrounding a race for the presidency."

Mountaintop Gets Taller

The Broadway production of Katori Hall's The Mountaintop, a new play about the last day in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., has announced a one week extension. The production, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett, had been scheduled to close on January 15th, but will now play through January 22nd.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Eddie Redmayne Joins "Les Miz" Cast

The cast for the upcoming film version of Broadway's smash hit musical Les Miz is growing. Tony winner Eddie Redmayne, who won a featured actor in a play Tony for his performance in Red, has signed on to play Marius in the film. Other confirmed cast members are Russell Crowe as Javert, Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Anne Hathaway as Fantine, and Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thenardier. Geoffrey Rush is in talks to play Monsieur Thenardier.

Beau Bridges to Return to Broadway

This article appeared yesterday on Enjoy.

Beau Bridges Will Succeed John Larroquette in Broadway's How to Succeed
By Andrew Gans

Emmy, Golden Globe and Grammy Award winner Beau Bridges will return to Broadway for the first time in 38 years Jan. 3, 2012, when he succeeds Tony winner John Larroquette in the role of J. B. Biggley in the Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre.

Bridges is scheduled to play a six-month run through July 1. How to Succeed will mark his Broadway musical debut. (Larroquette will play his final performance along with co-star Daniel Radcliffe on Jan. 1.)

Bridges will co-star with Darren Criss (Jan. 3-22, 2012) and Nick Jonas (Jan. 24-July 1, 2012). Tickets for Bridges’ engagement are now on sale.

In a statement Bridges said, "When the musical How to Succeed came my way, I jumped at the chance. Samuel French recently published Acting: The First Six Lessons, a play I co-authored with my daughter Emily. We performed the play in Los Angeles for two months, and that experience reignited my desire to be on stage. I am very much looking forward to again spending time in the heart of New York City.”

Bridges has appeared on Broadway in the plays Where’s Daddy? (1966) and Who’s Who in Hell (1974). In Los Angeles, he appeared in the original production of The Trial of the Catonsville Nine at the Mark Taper Forum and had the leading role in Jane Anderson’s Looking for Normal at the Geffen Theatre. He has acted in over 100 films, including "The Descendants," which will be released Nov. 18 (co-starring George Clooney), "The Fabulous Baker Boys" (co-starring his brother Jeff Bridges) for which he won the National Society of Film Critics Award, "The Other Side of the Mountain" and "Norma Rae." He won Emmy Awards for HBO’s “The Second Civil War,” “The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom” and “Without Warning: The James Brady Story.

Keeping Things Fresh

This article appeared a few days ago in the New York Times and I thought it was something you all would love to hear about. It's all about how actors keep things fresh in a repetitive job night after night.

One Role, With 10,000 Variations

ASK people to describe a typical day at work and some will say it’s impossible — each day is different. But there are other jobs where people do the same thing every day, like driving the same bus route, or performing the same role in a play year after year. I’ve played the psychiatrist Margaret Brent in “Perfect Crime,” an off-Broadway play, for almost 25 years, ever since it opened.

Friends ask me: “How do you do that every night? Doesn’t it get boring?” “Never,” I tell them. There are always external events that affect the performance, and there are things I do myself to make each performance a little different. I believe that anyone with a repetitive job can do things to make it more interesting. Traffic cops who dance while directing traffic are one example, and subway workers who broadcast entertaining announcements are another.

I’ve heard of employers coming up with ideas to stave off employees’ boredom in certain jobs, such as offering incentives, but for me, the audience does that. Audiences differ: some laugh more than others, for example, and that alters what I do. Near the end of the play, I tell the detective who is trying to make me confess to a murder that I love him. Sometimes the audience laughs, sometimes someone murmurs “Oh, my God” and sometimes the audience is silent, waiting to hear what the detective will say next. Each audience response changes the energy in the room — and our performances.

Then there are the decisions I make to change the role slightly. I say the same lines and stand in the same places show after show, but one night I might decide to be a little nastier to the detective who suspects me, for example. Or I might ask myself: Does she really love him when she says “I love you?” Depending on the night, my mood, the audience, and the particular actor playing the detective, that line changes. There are hundreds of ways to say “I love you,” and I have tried them all.

Just like other kinds of employees, I’m affected by things that have happened during my day. If I’ve had an argument, or if I’ve received good news, it affects how I perform that night. I think I instinctively incorporate my mood into my performance in subtle ways. When I have gone through emotionally difficult times, the comforting consistency of the work has helped me enormously, and I get to cry and to slap and kiss people, which is very cathartic.

Some jobs are more repetitive than you might think at first — even in professional sports. Last spring I posed for a publicity photograph with Cal Ripken Jr., who played for the Baltimore Orioles for 21 years, appearing in 2,632 consecutive games. People magazine called me “The Cal Ripken of Broadway” because of my long run in this play.

I’ll bet that people with repetitive jobs will tell you that they grow with the work if they’ve done it for a long time. I like to think that I’m a better actress after playing the role all these years, and I hope that I bring maturity to the role now.

I enjoy challenging myself to bring something new to the role every single time I play it. It’s enormously satisfying to know I can do the job well over and over. These types of jobs allow you — or perhaps even force you — to use different parts of your brain. I think employees are happiest when they can do that.

On the other hand, some people love rote or mechanical or mindless tasks because there’s still a sense of accomplishment after completing them. I’ve known people to find tasks comforting that others label busywork, especially when they’re going through difficult times. When I have that kind of work, it helps me clear my mind.

A  REPETITIVE job is a trade-off, too, because it can provide stability. That’s an intrinsic reward. I crave constancy in a field that doesn’t have a lot of security. I’ve missed only four of our more than 10,000 performances and those were for family weddings.

We had an unexpected night off during Hurricane Irene this summer and I almost didn’t know what to do with the free night. I’ve never had a vacation during this run, but that’s O.K. Doing the same thing over and over gives me pleasure.

I have done some television and film work, and although it is fun, waiting around on the set before you are called to perform makes me crazy. I love the idea that every night at 8 p.m. I will be onstage doing what I love. If I found it boring, I couldn’t do it. My job fills me up and makes me happy.

As told to Patricia R. Olsen. E-mail: