amBroadway: Shakespeare in the Park goes to radio, Broadway shutdown expected to extend to 2021 and more

BQ6A0678_Alone Together_Photo byEmilio Madrid_
Photo by Emilio Madrid

Shakespeare in the Park – on the radio

Saheem Ali’s production of the historical drama “Richard II,” which was supposed to be produced by the Public Theater this summer at Shakespeare in the Park, will instead be broadcast as a four-part radio serial on WNYC from July 13 to 16 and made available as a podcast for on-demand listening. “It is my hope that listening to Shakespeare’s words, broadcast in the midst of a pandemic and an uprising, will have powerful resonance on the world,” Ali said in a statement. The large cast will include Phylicia Rashad, André Holland, Estelle Parsons and John Douglas Thompson. The Public Theater also confirmed that PBS/Thirteen will rebroadcast last summer’s Shakespeare in the Park production of “Much Ado About Nothing” on Aug. 14.

Broadway shutdown expected to extend into January

The Broadway League is expected to officially extend the ongoing shutdown of all Broadway shows through early January, as reported by Broadway News. The shutdown is currently scheduled through early September. This would come on the heels of similar announcements from Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall canceling all programming through the end of 2020. It is currently unclear when theaters will receive permission from the state and city to reopen their doors either with or without social distancing measures in place.

‘Hamilton’ receives PG-13 rating

In order to secure a rating of PG-13 instead of R from the MPAA, two curse word utterances have been removed from the filmed version of “Hamilton” that will be available for streaming on Disney Plus beginning July 3. Lin-Manuel Miranda explained the decision on Twitter as follows: “”On July 3, you’re getting the whole show, every note & scene, & a 1-minute countdown clock during intermission (bathroom!)…But MPAA has a hard rule about language: more than 1 utterance of ‘F*ck’ is an automatic R rating. We have 3 ‘F*cks’ in our show. So…I literally gave two f*cks so the kids could see it.”

Michael Arden testing COVID-era theater in Hudson River Valley

Actor and director Michael Arden (“Spring Awakening,” “Once On This Island”) has been working with a group of familiar New York stage actors (who have been named the Forest of Arden Company, including Nikki M. James, Krysta Rodriguez, Andy Mientus, Claybourne Elder and Nick Adams) on an “immersive, drive-through, socially-distanced theater piece” that is safe for viewing during COVID-19. Titled “American Dream Study,” it is currently being presented on a private, invite-only basis at locations throughout the Hudson River Valley. “We will be testing new methods of theater-making in order to forge a way forward for this ancient and vital art form,” Arden said in a statement.

The Flea promises to revamp and pay actors

The Flea, a prominent Off-Off-Broadway theater in Tribeca, has made a pledge to radically revamp its production model and institutional culture in order to address serious allegations made against it in a public letter by the Bats, its resident company of young artists. In particular, the Flea vowed that going forward, “all artists will be paid for their work.” In the past, it was an open secret that members of the Bats were not paid by the Flea. “The Flea must reckon with the intersection of racism, sexism and pay inequality and we must properly address grievances expressed by members of our community,” the theater wrote in a statement. When the shutdown occurred, the Flea was presenting “The Fre,” a new play by Taylor Mac starring the Bats and set in and around a giant ball pit. 

This week’s streaming recommendations:

    1. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (the popular National Theatre at Home series continues with an immersive take on Shakespeare’s romantic comedy by the Gate Theatre), June 25-July 2, nationaltheatre.org.uk. 
    2. The Men from the Boys (Pride Plays presents reading of Mart Crowley’s little-known sequel to the groundbreaking “The Boys in the Band”), June 26 at 7 p.m., playbill.com.
    3. Pride Spectacular (starry ensemble concert saluting Gay Pride with John Cameron Mitchell, Harvey Fierstein, Cheyenne Jackson and many more), June 28 at 8 p.m.,. playbill.com.