amBroadway: Theater stars confront unrest, petition for Apollo Broadway status

Alice Smith, one of the many performers who were part of the Apollo Theater's 85th anniversary in 2019. A petition seeks Broadway status for the famed Harlem venue. (Photo courtesy of the Apollo Theater)

Miranda, Davis and more sign “We See You, White American Theater” letter

Hundreds of black, indigenous and minority theater artists unveiled a public letter on Tuesday titled “We See You, White American Theater” in which they address the “ground we stand on in the wake of our nation’s civic unrest.”

It is aimed at “theaters, executive leaders, critics, casting directors, agents, unions, commercial producers, universities and training programs.”

Notable artists who signed the letter included Lin-Manuel Miranda, Uzo Aduba, Viola Davis, Colman Domingo, David Henry Hwang, Condola Rashad, Billy Porter, Suzan-Lori Parks, Leslie Odom Jr., Tarrell Alvin McCraney and Blair Underwood.  The full letter is available to read at weseeyouwat.com.

Muny cancels summer season

The Muny of St. Louis, one of the last theaters that was still hoping to be able to present productions this summer, threw in the towel this week and officially cancelled its season due to the health risks of COVID-19.

It was the first time in 102 years that the 11,000-seat amphitheater will be devoid of live programming.

The entire 2020 lineup (comprised of seven musicals including “Sweeney Todd” and “Mary Poppins”) will be postponed to the summer of 2021.

“The sad reality is that there is simply no way to overcome the obstacles this pandemic has presented while ensuring the safety of our audience, staff, artists and community,” Muny board chair Louis A. Cella said in a statement. 

Shaina Taub arrested in the midst of protests on UWS

Actress and songwriter Shaina Taub was arrested last week in the midst of Black Lives Matter protests on the Upper West Side. Taub’s husband, comedian Matt Gehring, was also arrested.

On social media, Taub wrote that the arrests occurred while they were “on the stoop of our building…cheering on a peaceful protest on our block…This was my small visceral window into the police brutality black folks have experienced for centuries.”

Taub’s musical adaptation of “As You Like It” was supposed to be produced this summer by the Public Theater at Shakespeare in the Park. She is currently writing co-writing a stage musical adaptation of “The Devil Wears Prada” with Elton John. 

Petition seeks to give Broadway status to Apollo Theater

An online petition at change.org to grant official Broadway status to Harlem’s Apollo Theater has garnered over 15,000 signatures as of June 9.

Except for the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center, all of the 41 Broadway theaters are located in the Times Square area. As noted in the petition, the Apollo meets traditional requirements for being a Broadway theater having a Manhattan location and at least 500 seats and employing union artists.

As of this time, neither the Apollo Theater or the Broadway League has commented on the petition.

This week’s streaming recommendations:

  1. The Madness of George III (National Theatre at Home broadcasts Alan Bennett’s 1991 bio drama about mental illness and royalty), June 11-18, nationaltheatre.org.uk.
  2. One in Two (Pride Plays continues with a reading of Donja R. Love’s recent Off-Broadway play about being black, gay and HIV positive), Fri., June 12 at 7 p.m., playbill.com.
  3. 65th Annual Drama Desk Awards (following a last-minute postponement two weeks ago, the annual awards show will recognize the Broadway and Off-Broadway shows of the abridged season), Sat., June 13 at 7:30 p.m., dramadeskawards.com.
  4. The Government Inspector (Michael Urie and the cast of Red Bull Theater’s acclaimed 2017 production of Gogol’s political farce reunite for reading), Mon., June 15 at 7:30 p.m., redbulltheater.com.
  5. Yes! Reflections of Molly Bloom (one-woman adaptation of James Joyce’s “Ulysses” presented by Off-Broadway’s Irish Repertory Theatre), June 16-20, irishrep.org.

Spotted at the theater…

Still no one.

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