Arts and Culture News

News from the arts world.

She says she was born doing it. He says a schoolboy crush got him interested. Years later, their mutual love for their shared art form has brought them critical acclaim, awards, magazine covers — and each other.

Jerry Bergman is sitting in the audience at a Broadway matinée performance of The Band's Visit. Despite the fact that a huge sign above the stage tells the audience — in English, Hebrew and Arabic — to turn off cellphones, Bergman is keeping his on so he can read closed captions while watching the show.

He is one of an estimated 48 million Americans who have some degree of hearing loss. And he is availing himself of new technology that allows deaf and hearing-impaired people to enjoy shows with something most people have in their pocket — a smartphone.

For Daniel Breaker, who plays the sardonic, soulful Aaron Burr in Broadway's Hamilton, the kitchen is the room where it happens.

Jan Regan

The Philadelphia Orchestra and Carnegie Hall recently announced their 2018-2019 season plans, and this week on A Tempo (Sat. 2/10 at 7 pm) host Rachel Katz provides a look at what's in store. 

If any feminist walks the walk, it's author, actress and activist Eve Ensler, best known for her play The Vagina Monologues. In 2009, Ensler went to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to help victims of rape and torture create a sanctuary called City of Joy.

That's when her own life got upended.

By the time Angels In America got to Broadway in 1993, after workshops, a pair of west-coast stagings, and an ecstatically received London production, it played like the smash audiences had heard it was.

By her own admission, composer Florence Price had two strikes against her.

"To begin with I have two handicaps – those of sex and race. I am a woman; and I have some Negro blood in my veins," is how she began a 1943 letter to Serge Koussevitzky, the revered conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She added later, "I would like to be judged on merit alone."

The renovated Helen Hayes Theater reopens in a few weeks, and also enlarges the scope of non-profit producers on Broadway. Howard Shapiro explains more about it this week on In a Broadway Minute Friday at 8 am and Saturday at 10 am. 

Actor John Mahoney, best-known for his portrayal of the grouchy and sharp-witted father of the title character in the TV show Frasier, died Sunday. He was 77.

The Steppenwolf Theatre Company confirmed his death, saying in a statement, "John Mahoney passed away due to complications from cancer while in hospice care on Sunday."

For 11 years, from 1993 to 2004, Mahoney played the blue-collar, retired-cop foil to Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce, his dandy and effete sons on the NBC hit show.

Fred Stucker

When the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra takes the stage for its 2018-2019 season, its musical selections and performers will reflect the themes of diversity, community and the ability to convey thoughts, ideas and stories through music. 

Candide is a show with a classy pedigree. Voltaire wrote the 1759 novella. It became an operetta in 1956 with a libretto by Lillian Hellman, contributions from Dorothy Parker and Richard Wilbur, the noted poet — and some gorgeous music by Leonard Bernstein. The original production lasted just two months on Broadway, but the score is still a popular favorite — and the show has been revived many times over the years, with Stephen Sondheim, Hugh Wheeler, John Mauceri, and Bernstein himself adding material.

At first, there's just a drip: a gentle pulse from a marimba. Then a bewitching melody played on a set of tuned cowbells enters and the music comes into focus. The four musicians in the Chicago-based Third Coast Percussion let the piece unfold deliberately. They play as if they're a single, eight-armed organism.

Emilio Madrid-Kuser/Broadway.com

Broadway's "Phantom of the Opera" has reached another milestone in its storied stage history. Join Howard Shapiro this week on In a Broadway Minute as he notes this and other accomplishments of this Broadway favorite. In a Broadway Minute airs Friday at 8 am and Saturday at 10 am. 

It's not often that an actor is encouraged to toss back a real cocktail while on stage. But at the nightly performances of the off-Broadway play Drunk Shakespeare, having a drink — or five — is actually required.

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