Lyricist Sheldon Harnick doesn’t just have a Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof, directed by Bartlett Sher, to look forward to this season (it opens in December); over the past few months he’s been supervising Rothschild & Sons, a one-act adaptation of the 1970 Broadway musical The Rothschilds, which he wrote with his longtime composing partner, the late Jerry Bock, in a production at the York Theatre Company in Manhattan Oct. 6–Nov. 8. The book was revised by original librettist Sherman Yellen, and Harnick told us he wrote two new songs for the project. He’s also working on the libretto for Lady Bird, a short opera about LBJ’s First Lady, with composer Henry Mollicone, on commission from Texas State University. What’s he looking forward to this month? The new Broadway musical Allegiance, and here’s why: He’s become a friend, fan, and collaborator of the show’s book writer, Marc Acito. Said Harnick, “I find him to be an unusually intelligent and talented man, so I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing his show.”
Jessica Hanna, managing and producing director of L.A.’s Bootleg Theater, just finished hosting the third installment of Live Arts Exchange/LAX Festival, an extravaganza of locally grown experimental theatre coproduced with Los Angeles Performance Practice. Coming up at the Bootleg Nov. 6–Dec. 12 is a coproduction with Rogue Artists Ensemble of Wood Boy Dog Fish, a macabre multimedia mashup of the Pinocchio story, adapted by Chelsea Sutton and the company and directed by Sean Cawelti, with music by Ego Plum and AdrienPrévost. Outside of her theatre, Hanna said she’s “super-excited” about Hopscotch, billed as a “mobile opera for 24 cars,” Oct. 31–Nov. 15. Hanna describes it as “small audiences in cars driven around the Eastside and Downtown,” experiencing a story divided into 36 chapters. “I think there’s supposed to be a hub at the architecture school on Sante Fe, where all the episodes in the cars will be live-streamed and you can go watch the whole thing over four hours.” It’s all the brainchild of a company called the Industry, whose artistic director, Yuval Sharon, Hanna called “a genius,” saying she counted the Industry’s 2013 piece Invisible Cities—in which audiences followed singers and dancers via headphones all over L.A.’s Union Station during regular working hours—“in my top 10 theatrical experiences.”
Pittsburgh-based writer/theatremaker Molly Rice, whose “Saint Tour” we covered in our May/June issue, is brewing up a new project inspired by her hometown’s “passion for sporting events.” Tentatively titled Sport, the project—co-helmed with her partner, Rusty Thelin, under the umbrella of their company, Real/Time Interventions—involves collaborations with “sports fans, athletes of all abilities, and theatre artists to invent a brand-new live sport. Along the way we want to explore the differences between live play and live art—how stories are built, how ‘characters’ come to be, and how winning and losing hinges not on the skill in the room, but in how the rules are made and enforced.” The new sport’s first “season” is expected in 2017. Rice also told us she’s “psyched” about the entire season at American Repertory Theater’s Oberon space in Cambridge, Mass., citing a clutch of shows that ran in October (Todd Almond’s Kansas City Choirboy, featuring Courtney Love; Dave Malloy’s Ghost Quartet; Michael Yates Crowley’s Song of a Convalescent Ayn Rand Giving Thanks to the Godhead), and looking forward to next April’s run of Young Jean Lee’s We’re Gonna Die, “one of my favorite music/theatre creations of the past five years.” With Oberon, Rice said, “ART is introducing audiences to the kind of groundbreaking music theatre that I would have sold my soul to see decades ago as a young punk rock girl, aching for a musical theatre with a braver, broader reach. Brav-f*ing-o.”
Playwright/performer Eisa Davis tipped us that she’s “got two musicals in various states of undress: Flowers Are Sleeping, for which I’m writing book, music, and lyrics as well as performing, and Devil in a Blue Dress, for which I’m writing lyrics.” She also said she’s recently “revisited some older plays,” including Paper Armor, about the relationship between Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, and Ramp, an adaptation of the Isis and Osiris myth, which “needs a coproducer in New York.” She also mentioned a commission from People’s Light “centered around mushroom pickers in Kennett Square, Pa.” She echoed the views of many we spoke to this month in looking forward to the new regime of director Niegel Smith at the Flea in downtown Manhattan, and told us to watch out for singer/songwriter Shaina Taub, who appeared in Malloy’s Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 and did “an amazing American Songbook concert” at Lincoln Center last March. This “fantastically precocious songwriter and artistic community builder,” in Davis’s words, will next appear in a January revival of Bill Irwin and David Shiner’s Old Hats at New York City’s Signature Theatre.
Music director Doug Peck has a busy dance card this season: Ride the Cyclone at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, a Canadian musical about a freak roller coaster accident, runs through Nov. 8; next is Kiss Me, Kate at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. (Nov. 17–Jan. 3, 2016), then the transfer of director Mary Zimmerman’s Guys and Dolls from Oregon Shakespeare Festival to Beverly Hills’ Wallis Annenberg Center. He said he’s most excited about another collaboration with Zimmerman next summer: Bernstein and Comden & Green’s Wonderful Town at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. Asked what he’s interested in outside his own work, he replied, “I’m still reeling from Hamilton, and am interested in anything using musical theatre in a new way that features diverse stories.” Speaking of which, he told us to keep an eye out for two musically inclined African-American directors from Chicago: Samuel G. Roberson Jr., who directed André De Shields’s one-man show at Victory Gardens’s Ignition festival over the summer, Confessions of a P.I.M.P., and Lili-Anne Brown, the artistic director of Bailiwick Chicago, where she last directed Princess Mary Demands Your Attention (AT, Jan. ’15).
At Cleveland Play House, Jocelyn Prince’s job title/description is as “a wraparound site coordinator at Almira PreK-8 Academy, a school in a low-income neighborhood on Cleveland’s West Side.” She’s one of three such coordinators employed by the Play House to work in local community schools. The job includes cultivating community partners and developing a plan focusing on “academics, services, supports, and opportunities” leading to “improved student learning, stronger families, and healthier communities.” Outside her company, Prince says she’s looking forward to the new Studio Gang–designed building at Writers Theatre in Glencoe, Ill., slated to open next March with Arcadia; to the last season of the Windy City’s Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company, which announced plans to close; and, like many, to the new regime of Niegel Smith at NYC’s Flea Theater.