amBroadway: Hudson Valley Shakespeare finds new home, ‘Defying Gravity’ doc in works and more

Photo by Joan Marcus

Hudson Valley Shakespeare finds new location

While virtually all nonprofit arts organizations struggle to hold themselves together during the pandemic, the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival has some unexpected good news to share. The 34-year-old repertory company, which performs classic plays outdoors at the scenic Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison, NY, has found a permanent new home at a site in Philipstown, NY thanks to a major philanthropic gift. Following a final season at Boscobel next summer, the company will rebuild its open-air tent as a permanent structure and begin performances in Philipstown in 2022.

Major Broadway landlord sues insurers

Jujamcyn Theaters, the owner of five prime Broadway theaters (including the St. James, recently the home of “Frozen”), has commenced legal action in U.S. District Court against its insurance providers for allegedly failing to fully compensate the company for its heavy financial losses resulting from the pandemic. According to the lawsuit, Jujamcyn received only limited coverage under its performance interruption policy and was completely denied coverage under its property damage policy. Back in March, theater owners and producers waited for Governor Cuomo to shut down Broadway pursuant to executive order in the apparent hope that an official governmental directive would bolster their claims for insurance coverage. 

LCT and Second Stage address diversity with new hires

Two major not-for-profit theaters announced hiring decisions on Monday that reflected an industrywide effort to increase gender and racial diversity in positions of leadership. Obie-winning director Lileana Blain-Cruz (“”Pipeline,” “Marys Seacole”) has joined Lincoln Center Theater as resident director. Khady Kamara, currently the managing director of Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., will become the executive director of Second Stage Theater in January. “I’ve advocated for a focused lens on diversity, inclusion and social justice awareness throughout my 22-year career, and I look forward to being an authentic voice as part of a cultural institution that is actively working to uphold these values,” Kamara said in a statement. 

Target Margin to present show in Sunset Park

The latest theater company to move forward with live outdoor performances is Target Margin Theater, which will present “Magic in Plain Sight,” an unconventional 30-minute piece consisting of free, socially-distanced performances at various locations in Sunset Park including storefronts, stoops and parking lots. Taken together, the performances are intended to thematically explore loss, marvel and human connection. The show will run Oct. 10 to 30. For more info visit targetmargin.org.

Stephen Schwartz documentary in the works

The long career of songwriter Stephen Schwartz will be explored in a new documentary titled “Defying Gravity,” with attention paid to Schwartz’s major successes (“Godspell,” “Pippin,” “Wicked”), flops that have since been embraced by fans (“Working,” “The Baker’s Wife,” “Children of Eden”) and films (“The Prince of Egypt,” “Enchanted,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Pocahontas”). Amazingly, Schwartz has never won a Tony Award for Best Score. In 2004, he lost the award for “Wicked” to Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez for “Avenue Q.” Nevertheless, he has won multiple Academy Awards and Grammy Awards and countless other theater awards.  

This week’s streaming recommendations:

  1. “The B-Side” (experimental Wooster Group show exploring a 1965 blues and spirituals album created by black Texas prison inmates), through Sept. 14, thewoostergroup.org.
  2. “Porgy and Bess” (filmed performance of the Met’s acclaimed new production of the Gershwin opera), Fri. at 7:30 p.m. through Sunday, metopera.org.
  3. “Nick Cordero Memorial Tribute” (hooring the Tony-nominated actor, who recently died due to complications arising from COVID), Sun. at 7 p.m., broadwayondemand.com.

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