Who: Amber Iman, Danielle Brooks, Alia Jones-Harvey, Audra McDonald, Lillias White, Pilin Anice, Jamila Souffrant, Rashad V. Chambers, Lelund Durond, DJ Cocoa
What: All-day virtual conference presented by Black Women on Broadway
Where: Online (information given after registration)
When: Monday, June 29, free with advance RSVP, noon - 10:00 pm
Why: On June 19, I watched the inaugural Antonyo Awards, and it was an eye-opening experience. Sponsored by Broadway Black, the evening celebrated the best of the Black theater community, from actors, writers, and directors to composers, designers, and special honorees. I’ve seen a lot of awards shows, but never one quite like this one, which was by, about, and for the Black community. The presenters and winners made speeches that they probably couldn’t do at the Tonys, the Obies, or the Drama Desk Awards; accepting his Lifetime Achievement Award, Chuck Cooper said, “I am honored, and more than a bit surprised, by this. At this point in my life, it feels like my major achievement was to survive long enough to reach this age being a Black man in America.”
On June 29, Black Women on Broadway, an organization founded by Amber Iman, Jocelyn Bioh, and Danielle Brooks, is hosting the all-day virtual conference “Black Women in Theatre Appreciation Day,” consisting of more than ten hours of panel discussions, interviews, and a closing dance party, chosen through a poll of thirty artists who were asked, “What do you need?” The lineup features “Meditation & Movement” with Pilin Anice at noon, “Money Talks!” with Jamila Souffrant at 1:15, “Producing” with Alia Jones-Harvey and Rashad V. Chambers at 2:30, “Mastering the Art of the Self-Tape” with Lelund Durond at 3:45, “Girl Talk on Zoom” with Amber Iman at 5:00, “The Main Event” with Lillias White and Audra McDonald at 6:30, and “Ladies Night: Let’s Dance!” with DJ Cocoa at 8:00, with Brooks serving as conference moderator.
Who: Audra McDonald, Tituss Burgess, Alex Newell, Jordan E. Cooper, Teyonah Parris, Ephraim Sykes, LaChanze, Derrick Baskin, Nicolette Robinson, Jelani Alladin, Christiani Pitts, James Monroe Iglehart, Amber Iman, Kalen Allen, Nzinga Williams, Jackson Alexander, Cody Renard Richard, Ashton Muñiz, Shereen Pimentel, Kirsten Childs, Aisha Jackson, Antoine L. Smith, Griffin Matthews, Michael McElroy, Jocelyn Bioh, L Morgan Lee, more
What: Inaugural Antonyo Awards show with red carpet, musical numbers, and all-star presenters
Where: Broadway Black YouTube and Facebook
When: Friday, June 19, free, 7:30
Why: In celebration of Juneteenth, Broadway Black is hosting the inaugural Antonyo Awards, honoring the best in Black talent on and off Broadway. Online voting, which was open to the general public, has ended — you can watch the nomination ceremony here, then tune in to YouTube or Facebook on Friday night at 7:00 to see a virtual red carpet and the presentation of the awards, the name of which is a sly twist on the Tonys. Among the shows receiving multiple nominations are A Solder’s Play, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, A Strange Loop, One in Two, The Hot Wing King, Slave Play, The Secret of Life Bees, We’re Gonna Die, Toni Stone, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, and The Wrong Man, with nods going to such individuals as Okwui Okpokwasili, David Alan Grier, Saycon Sengbloh, Robert O’Hara, Whitney White, Raja Feather Kelly, Lileana Blain-Cruz, Camille A. Brown, Daniel J. Watts, Portia, Danielle Brooks, Audra McDonald, Blair Underwood, and Joshua Henry. In addition, the Kinship Awards (the Lorraine Hansberry Award, the Langston Hughes Award, the Welcome Award, and the Doors of the Theatre Are Open Award) will be given out, and Chuck Cooper will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. Scheduled to appear during the broadcast are Tituss Burgess, Jordan E. Cooper, LaChanze, Jelani Alladin, Amber Iman, Nzinga Williams, Ashton Muñiz, Aisha Jackson, Jocelyn Bioh, and many others. Founded in 2012 by Drew Shade, Broadway Black is “dedicated to highlighting the achievements and successes of Black theater artists.”
Who: George Takei, Telly Leung, more
What: Online streaming of 2015 Broadway musical Allegiance
Where: Broadway on Demand
When: Friday, May 29, $14.99 with red carpet, $8.99 without, 7:30/8:00
Why: Beginning on May 29, Broadway on Demand will start streaming the 2015 Broadway musical Allegiance, about a Japanese American family that was forcefully removed from its homes and imprisoned in an internment camp. It was inspired by the real-life story of Star Trek veteran George Takei, who appeared in the show as the father. The presentation will stream for ten days, kicking off May 29 at 7:30 with a virtual red carpet featuring Takei, costar Telly Leung, and other members of the cast and creative team discussing the making of Allegiance. In my review, I wrote, “Takei, with his big, welcoming smile, riotous sense of humor, and fearlessness in standing up for what he believes in, is an inspiring American, and it is heartwarming watching him in such an important, if not completely successful, Broadway production, one that will very likely have you teary as you leave the theater.” Among the other events streaming at Broadway on Demand this month are Turn It Out with Tiler Peck, “The Producer’s Perspective with Lisa Kron,” “First Look: New Musicals with Jeanine Tesori, Kirsten Childs, and Ben Wexler,” Bandstand, “Bard & Brew,” and other live and prerecorded events, many of which are free with a basic subscription.
Who: Laura Osnes, Telly Leung, Jenna Leigh Green, Santino Fontana, Jenn Colella, Lilli Cooper, Chilina Kennedy, Lesli Margherita, Karla Garcia, Corey Cott, more TBA
What: Broadway Fantasy Camp
Where: Broadway Fantasy Camp Zoom room
When: May 30 - July 1, $25
Why: Broadway Fantasy Camp usually takes place at Sardi’s, where fans can get up close and personal with some of their favorite stars. With the Great White Way dark because of the pandemic, one of the cornerstones of the annual event, now rechristened “Broadway Banter: Safe-at-Home,” has moved online, where you can spend an hour on Zoom with a Broadway star, joined by no more than forty-nine other guests. The performers will talk about their career, from their debut to onstage mishaps to how they are coping during the coronavirus crisis, followed by a Q&A, so have your questions ready. The sessions, which cost a mere $25 each, are scheduled for May 30 to July 1 and feature an impressive roster: Laura Osnes, Telly Leung, Jenna Leigh Green, Santino Fontana, Jenn Colella, Lilli Cooper, Chilina Kennedy, Lesli Margherita, Karla Garcia, and Corey Cott. For every twenty-five tickets sold, a free ticket will be donated to a hospital worker. “The Broadway community leads the way in being generous and sensitive to the human condition,” Broadway Fantasy Camp founder and producer Lauren Class Schneider said in a statement. “Broadway Fantasy Camp is humbled to include hospital workers in our audience as they continue to serve on the frontlines across the country and around the world.” Tony nominee Colella added, “I’m looking forward to creating a community through ‘Broadway Banter.’ It’s not just a Q&A session. . . . I want to hear my fans express in their own voices how they are feeling during this time and what they are doing to stay creative. I want us to create a dialogue together to lift one another up in this very strange time. The opportunity to ‘hang out’ with my fans and for them to get to know one another makes my heart soar.”
Who: Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Stephen M. Kaus
What: Livestream discussion with exclusive footage
Where: Manhattan Theatre Club Facebook Live
When: Thursday, May 21, free, 5:00
Why: In 2017, Manhattan Theatre Club presented the August Wilson’s Jitney at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, the first American Century Cycle play Wilson wrote but the last to reach Broadway. The production, which earned the Tony for Best Revival of a Play and featured John Douglas Thompson, André Holland, Ray Anthony Thomas, Brandon J. Dirden, Carra Patterson, Michael Potts, Harvy Blanks, Anthony Chisholm, and Keith Randolph Smith, was directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, who has acted in, directed, and/or recorded the complete ten-play cycle and was friends with the playwright; he was Wilson’s personal choice to portray him in the autobiographical one-man show How I Learned What I Learned once Wilson got ill and then passed away, in 2005 at the age of sixty. On May 21 at 5:00 on MTC’s Facebook page, Santiago-Hudson will discuss his directorial choices, accompanied by clips from the Broadway run that he will review in depth; he will be joined by MTC director of artistic producing Stephen M. Kaus. Santiago-Hudson won a Tony for his performance in Wilson’s Seven Guitars, has written Lackawanna Blues and Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine, and has directed such other plays as Paradise Blue and Wilson’s The Piano Lesson.
Who: Jon Bon Jovi, Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton, Rachel Brosnahan, Stephen Colbert, Martin Short, Dolly Parton, Dionne Warwick, Stephanie J. Block, Tony Shalhoub, Charlie Day, Chris O’Dowd, Zachary Levi, Zachary Quinto, Robin Thicke, Deborah Cox, Quentin Earl Darrington, Ariana DeBose, Darius de Haas, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Eden Espinosa, Jordan Fisher, Stephanie Hsu, Randy Jackson, Capathia Jenkins, Jeremy Jordan, Ramona Keller, Alex Newell, Karen Olivo, Dawn O’Porter, Laura Osnes, Benj Pasek, Jodi Picoult, Shereen Pimentel, Andrew Rannells, Keala Settle, Jake David Smith, Will Swenson, Bobby Conte Thornton, Ana Villafane, Frank Wildhorn, Broadway Inspirational Voices, Covenant House Youth, more
What: Virtual benefit for Covenant House
Where: Amazon Prime Video, Broadway on Demand, Facebook, iHeartRadio Broadway, Stars in the House, Twitch, YouTube
When: Monday, May 18, free with advance registration (donations accepted), 8:00
Why: Covenant House’s annual gala goes virtual this year with A Night of Covenant House Stars on May 18 at 8:00. It’s free to watch, although you can donate to help homeless youth specifically during Covid-19. The mission of Covenant House, which was founded in 1972 and now has locations in thirty-one cities in six countries, is that “through a combination of support strategies, including educational programs, job training and placement, medical services, mental health and substance abuse counseling, legal aid and beyond, we help young people embrace the great promise of their lives, overcome steep barriers to independence, and strive to achieve their aspirations.” The ninety-minute concert will feature performances by such stars as Stephanie J. Block, Jon Bon Jovi, Dolly Parton, Jeremy Jordan, and Laura Osnes with appearances by Rachel Brosnahan, Stephen Colbert, Meryl Streep, Zachary Quinto, Diane Keaton, Tony Shalhoub, and more, cohosted by Audra McDonald and John Dickerson. While we’re all stuck at home, there are too many young people who don’t have anywhere to go, before, during, and after the pandemic. Covenant House seeks to change that.
Who: Gideon Glick, John Behlmann, Sas Goldberg, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Lindsay Mendez, Luke Smith, Barbara Barrie
What: One-night-only livestreamed reading benefiting the Actors Fund
Where: Broadway’s Best Shows, the Actors Fund YouTube page
When: Thursday, May 14, free (donations accepted), 8:00
Why: Joshua Harmon’s Significant Other seems tailor made for the coronavirus pandemic: a brilliant show about a group of friends who are seeking romantic partners, with varying degrees of success, while focusing on Jordan Berman, a twentysomething gay man who thinks he might be doomed to spend his life alone. I first saw the play — and loved it — in 2015 at the Roundabout, then fell in love with it all over again when it moved to the Booth on Broadway in 2017. On May 14, the original Broadway cast will reunite for a one-time-only Zoom reading benefiting the Actors Fund. Participating from wherever they are sheltering in place — either by themselves or with significant others — are Gideon Glick as Jordan, Sas Goldberg as Kiki, Rebecca Naomi Jones as Vanessa, Lindsay Mendez as Laura, Barbara Barrie as Helen, and John Behlmann and Luke Smith as various potential partners, with Trip Cullman directing. The show is sponsored by Broadway’s Best Shows, which previously presented David Mamet’s November on May 8 with John Malkovich, Patti LuPone, Dylan Baker, Ethan Phillips, and Michael Nichols and will next stream A. R. Gurney’s Love Letters, starring Bryan Cranston and Sally Field, directed by Jerry Zaks, on May 21. “Seeing Significant Other for the second time was like reconnecting with old friends,” I wrote back in 2017. I can’t wait to see how I feel when I see it for the third time, from the comfort of my chair in front of my desktop computer, a friendly cat on my lap.