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Let Freedom Ring!, Starring Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell, Livestreamed From The Kennedy Center January 21

Six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald and two-time Tony Award winner Brian Stokes Mitchell headline Let Freedom Ring!, a free tribute concert in honor of the late Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Kennedy Center Hall January 21.

McDonald and Mitchell, who co-starred on Broadway in Ragtime and Shuffle Along, reunite for the 6 PM concert on Martin Luther King Day that is presented by the Kennedy Center and Georgetown University. McDonald and Mitchell are joined by the Let Freedom Ring Choir and musical director Rev. Nolan Williams Jr.

The performances will be live-streamed on the Kennedy Center Facebook and YouTube pages and at kennedy-center.org.

Free tickets (up to two per person) are being distributed on the day of the performance starting at 4:30 PM at the entrance to the Hall of Nations, available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Overflow seating will also be available at Millennium Stage North (near Eisenhower Theater) for patrons to view a simulcast of the performance.

Actor Ethan Hawke Makes the Case for Sam Shepard’s Genius

Ethan Hawke decided to be an actor in a single night—when he saw the PBS broadcast of Sam Shepard’s True West, starring Gary Sinise and John Malkovich. “That night I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life, and I didn’t even know what ‘that’ was,” he says. Now, Hawke stars opposite Paul Dano in the first revival of that Shepard work in 19 years.

Ethan Hawke and Paul Dano Joan Marcus

Shepard has been dubbed “one of the most important and influential writers of his generation.” He won the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Buried Child and was a Pulitzer finalist for True West in 1993. (Both plays also earned Tony nominations for the 1996 and 2000 productions, respectively.) He won 13 Obie Awards, a Gold Medal for Drama from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame. But if you’ve ever witnessed a Shepard play, you may have a hard time breaking down his acumen. In his unconventional writing, Shepard propels the story in one direction only to veer with a hard left in the last moments.

“You have to understand that he’s not a dramatist who wanted to be on Broadway. He was not trying to be the Neil Simon of his generation—that his total orientation and the way he’s thinking comes from hanging downtown with jazz musicians,” explains Hawke. “He’s going out with Patti Smith; Alan Ginsberg and Bob Dylan are his heroes; he’s working with Joe Chaikin, who are radical and weird avant-garde artists. He’s often playing with your own expectations of what you think storytelling is supposed to be.”

The playwright’s merit lies in his subversion of the form. “He busts open the idea that anything has a beginning, middle, and end, because everything is part of a continuum,” Hawke continues. “He’s not trying to impress New York intellectuals; he’s trying to communicate something that he thinks is radical and might impress Bob Dylan.”

A Shepard thread weaves through Hawke’s career: Hawke pursued a role in Gary Sinise’s Steppenwolf production of Buried Child back in 1995, earning a spot in the cast and attracting young audiences thanks to his Dead Poet’s Society fame; he eventually directed Shepard’s A Lie of the Mind in 2010, earning a Drama Desk nomination for his work. But Hawke never wanted to touch True West, the perfection of it solidified in his mind.

“It’s even better” than he remembers, Hawke says. “I have known and loved this play for a long time and studied it now and I realized I didn’t respect it enough, and if we do our job right we can submit that to the audience.

“As a student of the play, I’ve come to feel that it’s like a diamond.”

What makes True West so perfect? “You know that feeling when you hear a song that feels like it’s always been there?” Hawke asks back. “When you hear ‘Let It Be’ or ‘Hey Jude,’ it almost seems like, ‘How could it have not existed?’” That’s True West.

True West currently plays Broadway’s American Airlines Theatre (227 W. 42nd Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue) in a limited run. Performances began December 27, 2018, with an official opening set for January 24 and a closing scheduled for March 17.

London Follies Revival Cast Album Now Available

Warner Music Group’s Arts Music has digitally released a cast album of the 2017 London revival of Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s Follies. The recording preserves the performances of the 2017–2018 cast, which was led by Imelda Staunton as Sally Durant Plummer, Janie Dee as Phyllis Rogers Stone, Peter Forbes as Buddy Plummer, Philip Quast as Ben Stone, and Tracie Bennett as Carlotta Campion.

Janie Dee Johan Persson

The production returns to the National February 12, 2019, in a cast newly led by Joanna Riding as Sally and Alexander Hanson as Ben. Dee, Forbes, and Bennett will all reprise their roles from the 2017 run.


This album, available on Apple Music/iTunes and Spotify (with a physical release on the way), marks the second time this production has been recorded; a performance was broadcast live to movie theatres with the National’s NTLive series November 16, 2017, with several encore screenings following.


Helmed by Dominic Cooke, Follies began performances at London’s National Theatre in August 2017, completing its run in January 2018. The production featured scenic and costume designs by Vicki Mortimer, choreography by Bill Deamer, musical supervsiion by Nicholas Skilbeck, musical direction by Nigel Lilley, lighting design by Paule Constable, and sound design by Paul Groothuis.

Set in a decaying Broadway theatre, Follies centers on a reunion of former Ziegfeld-esque follies girls who gather to relive their past and rehash old wounds and regrets. The legendary original 1971 Broadway production was co-directed by Harold Prince and the late Michael Bennett, who also supplied choreography. Sondheim’s Tony-winning score, a mix of pastiche and complex, character-driven material features “I’m Still Here,” “Broadway Baby,” “Losing My Mind,” “In Buddy’s Eyes,” “The Road You Didn’t Take,” and “Too Many Mornings.”

Schedule of Upcoming Live Theatre Broadcasts in Movie Theatres and on Television

The following is a list of live stage productions announced to be shown in movie theatres and on television. If you would like to submit any updates, please email dgewirtzman@playbill.com.

• US Broadcast Date: January 23, 2019
• Theatre: Comédie-Française, Paris
• Stage Director: Denis Podalydès
• Cast: Michel Vuillermoz, Françoise Gillard
• Edmond Rostand’s play about a poet who falls in love with a beautiful woman, but is too ashamed of his large nose to tell her. Performed in French with English subtitles.
• More Information: Fathom Events

U.S. Broadcast Date: January 31, 2019
Theatre: National Theatre, London
Stage Director: Neil Armfield
Cast: Siân Brooke
David Hare’s new play about a doctor who leads a local health campaign, who crosses paths with an old boyfriend who is a loyalist in Labour Party politics.
More Information: National Theatre Live

Channel: PBS
U.S. Broadcast Date: February 1, 2019
Theatre: Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, New York
Stage Director: Lileana Blaine-Cru
Cast: Karen Pittman, Namir Smallwood
A Live From Lincoln Center broadcast of Dominique Morisseau’s drama about an inner-city high school teacher whose son gets into an altercation with a teacher at his private boarding school. Originally filmed in 2017.
More Information: PBS

Channel: PBS
U.S. Broadcast Date: March 29, 2019
Theatre: Donmar King’s Cross, London
Stage Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Cast: Jade Anouka, Jackie Clune, Harriet Walter
A Great Performances broadcast of William Shakespeare’s play about the assassination of the Roman dictator.. Originally filmed in 2016.
More Information: PBS

U.S. Broadcast Date: May 14, 2019
Theatre: Old Vic, London
Stage Director: Jeremy Herrin
Cast: Sally Field, Bill Pullman
Arthur Miller’s drama inspired by the true story of a successful businessman who knowingly sold the government defective airplane parts during World War II.
More Information: National Theatre Live

Channel: WNET-TV
U.S. Broadcast Date: 2019
Theatre: Lucille Lortel Theatre, New York
Stage Director: Rebecca Taichman
Cast: MaameYaa Boafo, Latoya Edwards, Paige Gilbert, Joanna A. Jones, Abena Mensah-Bonsu, Mirirai Sithole, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Zenzi Williams
A Theater Close-Up broadcast of Jocelyn Bioh’s comedy about students at an all-girls boarding school in Ghana who have their sights set on competing in the Miss Universe pageant.
More Information: Playbill

Lillias White to Celebrate Love During Valentine’s Day Concert

Lillias White is set to woo audience members during a her new concert, I’m Getting ‘Long Alright, at The Green Room 42 February 14.

White will sing soulful numbers that explore the power of self-love and independence, with works by Smokey Robinson, Cy Coleman, William Finn, Hoagy Carmichael, and more. The singer and Broadway vet won a Tony award in 1997 for her portrayal of Sonja in The Life; She’s also appeared in Fela!, How to Succeed in Business…, and Once On This Island.

Will Nunziata will direct the concert while Alvin Hough, Jr. will provide musical direction.

For tickets, go to TheGreenRoom42.com. Check out photos from last year’s show, Baby Makin’ Music, below.

14th Season of Project Shaw Launches January 14 With Misalliance

Gingold Theatrical Group’s 14th Season of Project Shaw, a series of plays inspired by the works of George Bernard Shaw that embrace human rights and free speech, launches January 14 with a reading of Shaw’s Misalliance at Symphony Space’s Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre (2537 Broadway at 95th Street).

Directed by Stephen Brown-Fried, the evening features the talents of Kate Abbruzzese, Christian Conn, Andrew Fallaize, Simon Jones, Jennifer Lim, Zachary Piser, Maryann Plunkett, Tony Roach, and Jay O. Sanders.

The new season will continue February 11 with Shaw Songs@The Players (at The Players, 16 Gramercy Park South), On Approval by Frederick Lonsdale (April 15), Shaw’s Man and Superman (May 20), Shaw’s The Philanderer (June 24), The Stepmother by Githa Sowerby (July 22), a Scintillating Shaw Symposium with an international panel (September 23), Shaw’s Arms and the Man (October 28), The Play’s The Thing by Ferenc Molnar (November 18), and I’ll Leave It To You by Noel Coward (December 16).

“Though it hardly seems possible, we’re now joyously preparing to launch into our 14th year of this unique series,” said Artistic Director David Staller in an earlier statement. “GTG was initially founded to produce Project Shaw, but is now just one part of the company, which produces full productions, hosts new play development labs, and facilitates three inner-city educational programs.”

Tickets are $40 and are available by calling (212) 864-5400 or online at SymphonySpace.org. Special reserved VIP seating is available for $55 by contacting the Gingold office (212) 355-7823 or info@gingoldgroup.org.

(Updated January 14, 2019)

8 Magical Moments the Cast of Broadway’ Beautiful: The Carole King Musical Will Never Forget

On January 12, 2014, Beautiful: The Carol King Musical officially opened at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on Broadway. It was the second bio-musical to open that season (A Night With Janis Joplin opened fall 2013) and, later, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill showcased a moment in the life of Billie Holiday. But only Beautiful has lasted five unstoppable years.

Nominated for seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, the production took home two wins: one for original Carole King Jessie Mueller and one for sound design by Brian Ronan—proving that the music and sound of Carole King drives the production and continues to move the earth under the feet of audiences. In celebration of their fifth anniversary on Broadway, the cast of Beautiful shares their most memorable nights onstage:

“Stepping into Carole King’s shoes more than 1,000 times over the past three years has been a privilege. I have been very fortunate to spend time with a woman whom I respect in a profoundly personal way. I have many favorite Beautiful moments, but the Kennedy Center Honors stands out for me as one of the greatest. Having the opportunity to pay tribute to Carole King alongside some of my favorite artists like Aretha Franklin and James Taylor was a dream come true. Seeing the look on Carole’s face when Aretha knocked ‘Natural Woman’ out of the park was truly extraordinary. It was an honor to be included in the celebration of Carole’s legacy.” – Chilina Kennedy, who plays Carole King

“After more than four years at Beautiful, it’s impossible to pinpoint one single high point. There were the times Carole King made a surprise appearance at the curtain call, electrifying the audience and the entire company with a spontaneous singalong. There was our performance at the Kennedy Center Honors, when we visited the White House, met the Obamas, and sang alongside Aretha Franklin and James Taylor. The faces of our audience members I see every night during the curtain call, many moved to tears, all having the time of their lives. And the birthdays, marriages, and babies that we have celebrated, the lives we have lost and mourned, and the family we’ve created that continues to grow with each passing year.” – Paul Anthony Stewart, who plays Don Kirshner

“The first time I saw Beautiful was when I went to see my good friend Jessica Keenan Wynn make her Broadway debut. We had just done Heathers together, and I remember getting so excited seeing her face on the side of the building. As the show started it hit me: That’s my friend in a big Broadway musical! I could never have imagined that within a year I would be up there with her.” – Evan Todd, who plays Gerry Goffin

“When I first saw Beautiful, I was completely blown away by Carole King and Cynthia Weil as women and artists. Carole is beyond amazing—her vulnerability, her strength, how she is equally heartbreaking and inspirational. And Cynthia is so smart, sassy, unapologetic, and also wonderfully loyal and loving. I am so thankful to now go to work and be reminded of what women are capable of, and I’m so proud to be a part of telling their story.” Kate Reinders, who plays Cynthia Weil

Beautiful is my first—and who knows, maybe my only—Broadway show, and for that I’ll always remember it. The night I made my debut is both a vivid memory and a total blur. I vividly remember sitting alone in my dressing room as ‘places’ was called, overwhelmed with nerves, and asking aloud, ‘Why do you do this to yourself?’ I remember the dry mouth. I remember people telling me to ‘just enjoy and take it all in’ and I remember thinking, ‘How could anyone do that?’ I have no idea what happened onstage—that’s where it gets blurry—but I’ve been here ever since. Happy Birthday, Beautiful, and thank you for finding in me the neuroses I never knew I had.” – Ben Jacoby, who plays Barry Mann

“Gerry Goffin came to a preview in San Francisco. I kneeled down next to him and said, ‘Hello sir, is there anything I can get for you?’ “He said, ‘Ah Genie!,” which is my character’s name, I play Carole’s mother in the show, ‘you are so beautiful. I loved you, you know. You were a great playwright.’ Genie wrote plays. I thought, ‘I bet Genie would have loved hearing that.’” Liz Larsen, an original cast member who plays Genie Klein

“My favorite memory was rehearsing for the Tony Awards with Carole King herself. While waiting backstage she told us, ‘We must fight to stay in the wonder of what we get to do.’ She went on to explain that as years go by in this business, we can take for granted this amazing life we get to lead. That there will be days when you don’t want to give your everything, but it’s in those moments we must fight to remember how lucky we are. Being in this brilliant long-running show, I carry this advice with me every time I go onstage. It truly has been some kind of wonderful!” –Melvin Tunstall, original Broadway cast member and current swing

“One of my favorite memories is doing the Tony Awards with Carole herself, and then rushing back on the bus to the theatre to watch the announcement for Best Lead Actress in a Musical. We heard Jessie [Mueller]’s name announced and the lobby literally exploded in screams, tears, laughter, hugs, and a whole lot of jumping up and down! Ashley Blanchet—our original Little Eva—got a video of it and I feel like it encapsulates the amount of love and support this cast, crew, and entire building has for each other.” – Sara Sheperd, original Broadway cast member and current dance captain

Royal Pop Musical Six Extends London Return Engagement

Prior to beginning performances at the Arts Theatre, the London return of the musical Six has extended its limited engagement. The musical, presented as a concert led by the six wives of Henry VIII, will now run from January 17, 2019, through January 5, 2020, instead of the previously announced May 5, 2019.

The pop musical, created by Lucy Moss (who directs with Jamie Armitage) and Toby Marlow, recently played a limited run at Glasgow’s Scottish Event Campus. It began as a student production in Edinburgh before transferring to London in 2018.

Returning to the show for the London run will be Jarneia Richard-Noel as Catherine of Aragon, Millie O’Connell as Anne Boleyn, Natalie Paris as Jane Seymour, Alexia McIntosh as Anna of Cleves, Aimie Atkinson as Katherine Howard, and Maiya Quansah-Breed as Catherine Parr. Rounding out the company are Grace Mouat as the alternate to Jane Seymour/Katherine Howard, Vicki Manser as the alternate to Anne Boleyn/Anna of Cleves, and Courtney Stapleton as the alternate to Catherine of Aragon/Catherine Parr.