This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

IN THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR WITH RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON

in the directors chair

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.

A NIGHT OF COVENANT HOUSE STARS

covenant house

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.

BROADWAY’S BEST SHOWS: SIGNIFICANT OTHER LIVESTREAM READING

significant other

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.

BROADWAY DOES MOTHER’S DAY

broadway

Who: More than fifty Broadway performers
What: Mother’s Day benefit for the Broadway Cares COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund
Where: Broadway.com
When: Sunday, May 10, free (donation suggested), 3:00
Why: Broadway tickets are a popular Mother’s Day gift from children. This year, there is currently no Broadway, and most Americans will not be able to visit their mothers because of the coronavirus shutdown. So Broadway.com has teamed with Broadway Cares for a holiday spectacular, presenting Broadway Does Mother’s Day, a one-time-only livestreamed event featuring more than fifty Broadway stars (and their children and mothers) in a Sunday matinee of comedy sketches, musical numbers, and surprises. The celebration will include performances from the casts of such shows as Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations, Beetlejuice, Chicago, Come from Away, Company, Dear Evan Hansen, Diana, Girl from the North Country, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Jagged Little Pill, Mean Girls, Mrs. Doubtfire, Sing Street, and Moulin Rouge! All proceeds go to the Broadway Cares COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund, which “helps entertainment professionals meet coronavirus-related expenses and other challenges brought about by the evolving pandemic” and are part of a matching program. Below are the announced participants in this holiday extravaganza.

Jill Abramowitz • Annaleigh Ashford • Kate Baldwin • Jenni Barber • Laura & Linda Benanti • Denée Benton • Betty Buckley • Liz Callaway • Carolee Carmello • Miguel Cervantes • Linda Cho • Victoria Clark • Jenn Colella • Chuck, Eddie & Lilli Cooper • Lea DeLaria • Claybourne Elder • Eden Espinosa • Beanie Feldstein • Harvey Fierstein • Victor Garber • Leah C. Gardiner • Molly Griggs • Ann Harada • Jennifer Holliday • Robyn Hurder • James Monroe Iglehart • Sheryl Kaller • Ryan Kasprzak • Judy Kaye • Celia Keenan-Bolger • Kylie Kuioka • LaChanze • Raymond J. Lee • Lesli Margherita • Ellyn Marie Marsh • Michael McElroy • Alexis Michelle • Bonnie Milligan • Brian Stokes Mitchell • Anisha Nagarajan • Manu Narayan • Bernadette Peters • Greg Anthony Rassen • Amanda Spooner • Jason "SweetTooth" Williams • NaTasha Yvette Williams • Vanessa Williams • Betsy Wolfe • Shahadi Wright Joseph

TAKE ME TO THE WORLD: A SONDHEIM 90th BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION

A parade of Broadway stars will celebrate Stephen Sondheim’s ninetieth birthday Sunday night on YouTube

A parade of Broadway stars will celebrate Stephen Sondheim’s ninetieth birthday Sunday night on YouTube

Who: Meryl Streep, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Mandy Patinkin, Christine Baranski, Donna Murphy, Kristin Chenoweth, Sutton Foster, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Kelli O’Hara, Aaron Tveit, Maria Friedman, Iain Armitage, Katrina Lenk, Michael Cerveris, Brandon Uranowitz, Stephen Schwartz, Elizabeth Stanley, Chip Zien, Alexander Gemignani, Melissa Errico, Ann Harada, Austin Ku, Kelvin Moon Loh Thom Sesma, Annaleigh Ashford, Laura Benanti, Beanie Feldstein, Josh Groban, Jake Gyllenhaal, Neil Patrick Harris, Judy Kuhn, Linda Lavin, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Platt, Randy Rainbow, Lea Salonga, Victor Garber, Joanna Gleason, Nathan Lane, Steven Spielberg, Raúl Esparza
What: Live online celebration of Stephen Sondheim’s ninetieth birthday
Where: Broadway.com YouTube channel
When: Sunday, April 26, free, 8:00
Why: Stephen Joshua Sondheim was born in New York City on March 22, 1930. Over his long career, the Oscar, Tony, and Grammy winner has written the music and lyrics for such shows as West Side Story, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, and many others. A much-lauded revival of Company was set to hit Broadway on March 22, joining a revival of West Side Story, but both shows were closed down when Broadway went dark March 12 because of the coronavirus. But an all-star lineup will be paying tribute to Sondheim from their homes with “Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration,” a gala event being held on April 26 at 8:00. Sponsored by Broadway.com, the party will be streamed live on YouTube for free, but watchers are encouraged to donate to ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty), an NYC Service organization that seeks to “unite New Yorkers in service to advance lifelong civic engagement for a more equitable and inclusive city.” Above is the remarkable guest list of performers and well-wishers; the evening will be hosted by Tony winner Raúl Esparza, a veteran of Sunday in the Park with George and Company. Sondheim might be ninety, but we got used to seeing him all the time at the theater, as an audience member. Sunday night he’ll take center stage, where he belongs.

COVID-19 & NEW YORK CITY ARTS AND CULTURE

covid-19-faq

Since May 2001, twi-ny has been recommending cool things to do throughout the five boroughs, popular and under-the-radar events that draw people out of their homes to experience film, theater, dance, art, literature, music, food, comedy, and more as part of a live audience in the most vibrant community on Earth.

With the spread of Covid-19 and the closing of all cultural institutions, sports venues, bars, and restaurants (for dining in), we feel it is our duty to prioritize the health and well-being of our loyal readers. So, for the next several weeks at least, we won’t be covering any public events in which men, women, and children must congregate in groups, a more unlikely scenario day by day anyway.

That said, as George Bernard Shaw once noted, “Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.”

Some parks are still open, great places to breathe in fresh air, feel the sunshine, and watch the changing of winter into spring. We will occasionally be pointing out various statues, sculptures, and installations, but check them out only if you are already going outside and will happen to be nearby.

You don’t have to shut yourself away completely for the next weeks and months — for now, you can still go grocery shopping and pick up takeout — but do think of others as you go about your daily life, which is going to be very different for a while. We want each and every one of you to take care of yourselves and your families, follow the guidelines for social distancing, and consider the health and well-being of those around you.

We look forward to seeing you indoors and at festivals and major outdoor events as soon as possible, once New York, America, and the rest of the planet are ready to get back to business. Until then, you can find us every so often under the sun, moon, clouds, and stars, finding respite in this amazing city now in crisis.

JAGGED LITTLE PILL

(photo by Matthew Murphy)

The Healys celebrate another Christmas in suburbia in Jagged Little Pill (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Broadhurst Theatre
235 West 44th St. between Broadway & Eighth Ave.
Tuesday - Sunday through July 5, $49-$189
jaggedlittlepill.com

Don’t be misled into thinking that Jagged Little Pill is yet another high-profile jukebox musical about a famous entertainer. The mostly worshipful and misguided biographic whitewashes such as The Cher Show, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and even the best of the bunch, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, have been inundating Broadway over the last few years with, for the most part, a dreary mediocrity and predictability. Instead, Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody and Tony-winning director Diane Paulus have crafted a powerful narrative of suburban America inspired by the songs of seven-time Grammy winner Alanis Morissette, primarily from her smash 1995 breakthrough album, Jagged Little Pill, in addition to other tunes from throughout her career as well as a few new, previously unreleased ones, with music by her longtime collaborator Glen Ballard.

The show opens in the Healys’ home as Mary Jane (Elizabeth Stanley) is preparing the family’s annual Christmas letter. She brags about her husband, Steve (Sean Allan Krill), a partner in a law firm; their daughter, Frankie (Celia Rose Gooding), an artistic wunderkind; their son, Nick (Derek Klena), who has been accepted to Harvard; and even herself, focusing on how she has survived a car accident. “It’s amazing what you can get used to with a little discipline,” she cheerfully writes. “The mind and body are connected in ways we can’t even imagine. I’ve gotten to a point where I can’t feel anything!” She can’t feel anything because she’s hooked on opioids, which help her not face the reality of her life: Her husband is a workaholic, her daughter is a radical lesbian, her son is about to get caught up in a sex scandal, and she is a drug addict. When she later bumps into three vapid friends at the local coffee shop, one says to her, “M.J., you have to give yourself some credit. We all know you’re ‘Super Mom.’” But even Superman has his Kryptonite.

(photo by Matthew Murphy)

Lauren Patten brings down the house as Jo in Alanis Morissette musical (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Her carefully created world threatens to come crashing down when she learns that one of Nick’s best friends, Bella (Kathryn Gallagher), might have been raped at a party and Nick might be involved in some way. But she’s not about to let the truth get in the way of her family’s success, even as the house of cards starts tumbling down all around her. “Whether you like it or not, how you present yourself to the world matters,” she tells Frankie, an African American child the Healys adopted. “People act like my parents are heroes or something just for wanting me,” Frankie explains to Phoenix (Antonio Cipriano), the new kid in school. “My mom always says she ‘doesn’t see color.’ But sometimes I wish she did. Is that weird?” Frankie is instantly attracted to the strange Phoenix, which does not make her supposed girlfriend, Jo (Lauren Patten), very happy. Meanwhile, Steve thinks it’s time for him and Mary Jane to go to marriage counseling. “I don’t want to be resented when I’m just trying to provide for you / I don’t want to be berated for simply doing my best to reach you / I don’t want to be controlling / I just want our life to be normal again,” he sings. But nothing will ever be “normal” for the Healys again, whatever “normal” even means anymore. As Bella later says to Mary Jane, “Tell me when I’m going to feel normal again.”

(photo by Matthew Murphy)

Bella (Kathryn Gallagher) tries to stand tall in the wake of sexual abuse in Jagged Little Pill (photo by Matthew Murphy)

Jagged Little Pill has its share of jagged edges, occasionally dancing too close to clichés, hammering home its #MeToo message far too aggressively, Frankie’s affection for Phoenix is underdeveloped, and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s choreography feels like it’s escaped from a different show as an ensemble of frantic dancers regularly get in the way. They almost — but thankfully don’t — ruin Patten’s dynamic performance of one of Morissette’s most famous songs, “You Oughta Know,” which rocks the theater to its foundations. Patten, seen previously in such shows as Fun Home, The Wolves, and Days of Rage, firmly establishes herself as someone to watch. Cody (Juno, Tully) has a lot of fun with riffing on “Ironic” (“Hold up, wait a second, that’s actually not ironic,” one of Frankie’s classmates argues) and cleverly exposes disturbing aspects of suburban America while tackling issues of race, addiction, and sexual abuse.

Tom Kitt’s orchestrations do justice to Morissette’s originals, with powerful versions of such familiar songs as “All I Really Want,” “Hand in My Pocket,” and “You Learn” in addition to tunes from such other Morissette albums as Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie and Under Rug Swept, delivered by a terrific cast and an eight-piece band (that really don’t need to keep rolling onto Riccardo Hernández’s set. There’s also a beautiful scene in which Mary Jane is joined by her younger self in a haunting dance. Jagged Little Pill might not be nonfiction, but it rocks with a poignant realism, since Morissette’s songs are often so confessional, based on painful events from her life. The story takes place over the course of a year, concluding with a very different Christmas letter. As Morissette so poignantly wrote, “You live you learn / You love you learn / You cry you learn / You lose you learn / You bleed you learn / You scream you learn.”