amBroadway | ‘Phantom’ hits more milestones before closing date, ‘Ragtime’ reunion rescheduled and more

A still from Phantom of the Opera on Broadway
Ben Crawford as The Phantom and Emilie Kouatchou as Christine in “The Phantom of the Opera.”
Photo: Matthew Murphy

‘Ragtime’ reunion concert is rescheduled

A sold-out concert performance of the 1998 musical “Ragtime” starring the original Broadway cast, which had been planned for 2020 and then got postponed due to the pandemic, has been rescheduled to March 27 at Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre. The performance will benefit the Entertainment Community Fund (formerly the Actors’ Fund”). Participating original cast members will include Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Peter Friedman, and Judy Kaye. Kelli O’Hara will play Mother, the role originated by the late Marin Mazzie. Frank Galati, director of the original Broadway production, passed away on Jan. 2.

‘Here Lies Love’ addresses online political criticism

The news that David Byrne and Fatboy Slim’s electronic pop, dance club-style musical “Here Lies Love” will transfer to Broadway this summer (a decade following is Off-Broadway debut has) reignited a debate over whether the musical glorifies the notorious former First Lady of the Philippines Imelda Marcos and her husband Ferdinand Marcos. As pointed out by Playbill.com, performer Sara Porkalob (who recently created a frenzy with her harsh takedown of the Broadway revival of “1776” while she was still appearing in it), previously criticized “Here Lies Love” as “a collection of re-appropriated historic material that musically remakes and recirculates Filipina femininities to commercialize and reconstruct US and Philippine history for marketable, danceable consumption.”

In response, “Here Lies Love” put out a statement via its Twitter handle describing itself as “an anti-Marcos show” and a “pro-Filipino show.” “How is the story told? Through spectacular music and dynamic staging in an immersive club experience where young Filipinos and Filipino Americans explore, grapple with and interrogate a vital part of their history,” it stated. Notably, similar arguments have been made about whether or not “Evita” glorifies or criticizes Eva Peron.

‘The Piano Lesson’ piano goes to the Smithsonian

The Broadway revival of August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson,” which played its final performance on Sunday, is set to live on in a most unusual way. The piano at the center of the play (which contains hand-carved illustrations of the main characters’ enslaved ancestors) is being donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. In a statement, Kenneth Chenault, the museum’s chair, described it as “an important reminder of the significance of the Black voice in theater and due recognition of the brilliance of August Wilson.” The piano was created for the revival by scenic designer Beowulf Boritt.

Red Bull to stage extremely rare Elizabethan plays

You’ve got to give credit to Red Bull Theater, the alternative classical theater company, which has made a niche out of producing rarely-seen historic plays that similar companies won’t dare touch (including the lurid and gory thrillers of the Jacobean era). This spring, it will present Off-Broadway productions of two works that are probably known only to classical scholars: “Arden of Faversham,” an Elizabethan “true crime thriller” of unknown authorship (with Shakespeare often cited as a likely co-author), which has been adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher (“The Government Inspector”) and Kathryn Walat; and “The Knight of the Burning Pestle,” a 1607 satire by Francis Beaumont, which is being co-produced by Fiasco Theater.

‘Phantom’ achieves more milestones prior to closing date

Even though it is slated to finally close on April 16, the Broadway production of “The Phantom of the Opera” is still notching some more historic milestones. On Jan. 26, the show reached its 35th anniversary on Broadway, just as it also passed the mark for 20 million cumulative audience members.