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In the News: Beth Leavel Sings Out in In Strange Woods, Joe Iconis and More to Preview New Works in January, More

Read on for some recent theatre headlines you may have missed in today’s news.

A Sneak Listen of Beth Leavel in the Musical Podcast In Strange Woods
In Strange Woods, a new fictional, documentary-style musical podcast created by Jeff Luppino-Esposito, Brett Ryback, and Matt Sav, drops its fourth episode January 4. The story follows 18-year-old Peregrine Wells, played by Lily Mae Harrington (Sing It!, All Rise, The Glee Project), after her brother’s death in the Whitetail National Forest, as she seeks out survivalist skills from the mysterious recluse who found her brother’s body. The podcast, from producers Atypical Artists, features Patrick Page (Hadestown) as that survivalist, Howl. In the sneak listen above, Beth Leavel (The Prom, The Drowsy Chaperone) appears as Howl’s estranged cousin Sandra, who reveals insight about his past as well as a damning family secret. The first three episodes of the five-part series are available wherever you get your podcasts.

Joe Iconis, Rob Rokicki, More Join New York Theatre Barn Programming
New York Theatre Barn will continue its New Works Series in January 2021 with excerpts and conversations with the creative teams of four new musicals: Our New Town and Elektric January 6, and Love in Hate Nation and Experience Marianas on January 20. Our New Town, with book and lyrics by Gabriel Jason Dean and Jessie Dean, and music and additional lyrics by David Dabbon, is set In the aftermath of the deadliest shooting on a college campus in U.S. history. The immersive musical was developed with The Civilians R&D group. Elektric has a book by Emerson Mae Smith and a score by Murphy Taylor Smith. Smith stars in the trans woman-centered retelling of the Oresteia. Next up is Love in Hate Nation from the Be More Chill composer-lyricist Joe Iconis. Set in a 1960s girls’ reformatory, Love in Hate Nation tells the story of young people caught between eras of a changing America. Finishing up the January offerings with Iconis is Experience Marianas from Rob Rokicki (The Lightning Thief) and Sarah Beth Pfeifer. The pair also performs in their rock musical about one woman’s journey to escape an oceanic cult. Watch them on New York Theatre Barn’s YouTube channel.

Millennial-Themed Musical Gets Full Virtual Industry Reading
K-Squared Entertainment will produce an industry reading of the new original musical Millennials Are Killing Musicals, by Nico Juber. An excerpt of the piece premiered earlier this month as part of New York Theatre Barn’s aforementioned New Works Series. Ryan O’Connor directs the reading, starring Asmeret Ghebremichael (The Book of Mormon) as single mom Brenda in her quest to unleash her creative voice and “get it together” like the seemingly flawless moms at kindergarten drop-off.

An Exclusive Look at Maxine Linehan’s “The Perfect Year”
Ring in new year with a new recording of “The Perfect Year” from Sunset Boulevard. MAC Award nominee singer-songwriter Maxine Linehan shares the new video for the song from her first holiday album, This Time of Year.

Watch Powerful Pairing of ‘Make Them Hear You’ and ‘Grateful,’ Featuring Billy Porter, André De Shields, Joshua Henry, Brandon Victor Dixon, More

Take a look at a music video featuring a powerful pairing of Ragtime‘s “Make Them Hear You” and John Bucchino’s “Grateful,” which premiered at the November 2 Actors Fund Virtual Gala, above.

Jelani Alladin, Chuck Cooper, André De Shields, Brandon Victor Dixon, Joshua Henry, and Billy Porter sing Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s “Make Them Hear You,” followed by the chorus of the Tony-winning Broadway Inspirational Voices, led by founder Michael McElroy and Norm Lewis, singing Bucchino’s “Grateful.”

“To those in need in performing arts and entertainment, we say, ‘There is a community that hears you, and is here for you,’” said Actors Fund Chairman Brian Stokes Mitchell. “Thank you to Michael, Jelani, Chuck, André, Brandon, Joshua, Norm, Billy, and the Broadway Inspirational Voices, for reminding us all of the power of justice, and the power of gratitude this holiday season.”

Since March 18, The Actors Fund has provided more than $18 million in emergency financial assistance to over 14,700 people who work in performing arts and entertainment. All proceeds from viewer donations will go directly to The Fund, helping to support programs that foster stability and resiliency and serve as a safety net to everyone in performing arts and entertainment. To donate, visit ActorsFund.org/Grateful.

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Playbill Vault’s Today in Theatre History: December 25

1865 Birthday of Fay Templeton, durable musical comedy actor from the 1870s to the 1930s. Her appearances include Roberta, Forty-Five Minutes From Broadway, and Fiddle-dee-dee.

1907 Birthday of Cab Calloway, bandleader who epitomizes Harlem in the 1920s, and who occasionally appears on Broadway. Appearances include Porgy and Bess in 1953, and Hello, Dolly! in 1967.

1912 Stop Thief don’t steal all the laughs! Frank Bacon and William Boyd lead the cast in the comedy by Carlyle Moore. It runs for 149 performances at the Gaiety Theatre in New York.

1914 It’s Hello Broadway from creator-director George M. Cohan. The cast, including the leads Peggy Wood and Louise Dresser, bring on and strike the sets, speeding up the pace of the revue.

1917 Jesse Lynch Williams‘ comedy Why Marry? is compared by the critics to the satire of George Bernard Shaw, and later receives the first Pulitzer Prize for Drama. A modern young woman asks the title question when she decides to take a mate. Lotus Robb, Beatrice Beckley, and Nat C. Goodwin star.

1918 World War I dogfighters inspire a craze for flying. The first musical to deal with flyers, Going Up, opens at the Liberty Theatre and runs 351 performances, with Ed Begley, Donald Meek, and Marion Sunshine.

1928 Broadway has one of its biggest nights ever, as eight separate shows open on Christmas Day: Cyrano de Bergerac, Falstaff, Ruth Draper, Houseboat on the Styx, The Red Robe, Brothers, Sakura, and Back Seat Drivers.

1934 Samson Raphaelson‘s play Accent on Youth opens at the Plymouth Theatre and stays 229 performances, starring Constance Cummings.

1939 J.B. Priestley‘s drama When We Are Married gets its U.S. premiere, with a cast featuring Estelle Winwood. It runs 156 performances at the Lyceum Theatre.

1940 Opening night for Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart‘s hard-bitten musical, Pal Joey, starring Vivienne Segal and, in the title role, Gene Kelly, in his first (and last) Broadway lead. He is soon snapped up by Hollywood. Pal Joey stays 374 performances, but gets a longer run in a 1950s revival.

1977 Actor, director, producer, screenwriter, and composer Charlie Chaplin dies in Switzerland at age 88. In 2012, Christopher Curtis and Thomas Meehan use Charlie Chaplin’s life as the subject for the Broadway musical Chaplin.

1999 Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding gives its 4,000th performance Off-Broadway. The interactive comedy includes an Italian-American wedding and a sit down reception with a meal.

2008 Singer and actor Eartha Kitt, whose exotic, sex-kitten persona and sultry, purring vocal delivery was unlike anything that had come before her, dies at age 81. Kitt was a best-selling recording artist, a Tony-nominated stage actor (for Timbuktu! and The Wild Party), a sex symbol, a paragon of both high art and high camp, and the author of three autobiographies.

2012 Les Misérables, the star-studded film adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical by Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schonberg, and Herbert Kretzmer, opens in theatres. Directed by Tim Hooper, it stars Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Russell Crowe as Javert, and Anne Hathaway as Fantine. Hathaway receives an Academy Award for her performance.

2014 Meryl Streep casts a spell across the nation as the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine‘s classic musical Into the Woods hits movie theatres. Directed by Rob Marshall, the film stars Streep as the Witch with James Corden as the Baker, Emily Blunt as the Baker’s Wife, and Anna Kendrick as Cinderella.

More of Today’s Birthdays: Evelyn Florence Nesbit (1884-1967). Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957). Lewis Allen (1905-2000). Lew Grade (1906-1998). Quentin Crisp (1908-1999). Rod Serling (1924-1975).