PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, July 2-8: Tyne Daly Shines in Master Class; RSC in NYC; Harriet Harris Is Busy

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, July 2-8: Tyne Daly Shines in Master Class; RSC in NYC; Harriet Harris Is Busy
Sixteen years after it had its premiere, Terrence McNally's Master Class opened again on Broadway on July 7. The Manhattan Theatre Club production was staged at the Friedman Theatre, and was something of a replication of an earlier mounting at the Kennedy Center in 2010, directed by Stephen Wadsworth. (The DC institution is doing well in sending productions to New York lately. Follies, which will open later this summer, also came from there.)

Tyne Daly
Tyne Daly Photo by Joan Marcus

Any production of Master Class is all about who plays the central role of opera diva Maria Callas. In this case, it is Tyne Daly. Known for playing what the Times called "tough broads," she's not exactly an actress you think of when you think "opera type." But the critics found her delectable, saying she "transforms that script into one of the most haunting portraits I've seen of life after stardom," that her performance "gives equal exposure to her character's formidable outer shell and to the corrosive solitude within" and possessed "pitch-perfect comedic timing, the theatricality of a diva, and apparent signs of insecurity and vulnerability." As for the play itself, it was damned as "not very good," praised as "funny, reverential and wholly engrossing" and damned with faint praise as "completely successful on the level of intelligent entertainment."


Let's talk about Tyne Daly a little more.

Richard Kline will join the previously reported Daly, Harriet Harris and Edward Hibbert in the George Street Playhouse's upcoming world premiere of the new musical It Shoulda Been You. Kline will play Tyne Daly's husband Murray.

Directed by David Hyde Pierce, performances are scheduled to begin at the New Jersey venue Oct. 4. The new musical, about a wedding that goes awry, features book and lyrics by Brian Hargrove and music by Barbara Anselmi. ***

Harriet Harris

But let's talk about Harriet Harris a little more.

The new Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis musical at the New York International Fringe Festival has nabbed itself a Tony winner. Harris, that is. She will star in the musical Yeast Nation (The Triumph of Life), which is, yes, about the lives of microscopic yeasts. Performances will begin this August at La Mama ETC. Co-author Kotis will direct the engagement.


Now, Finch, this is highly unorthodox behavior!

Beginning July 7, the Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Businesas Without Really Trying took a three-performance coffee break. No, nobody had fallen out of their harness; no one was raced to the hospital. It's just that star Daniel Radcliffe had to fulfill press commitments for the final film in "Harry Potter" franchise.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" will arrive in movie houses July 15. Radcliffe had previously scheduled press appearances for the film, and worked out this arrangement with Broadway producers. Due to the star's absence, How to Succeed will not perform July 7 at 7 PM, July 8 at 8 PM and July 9 at 2 PM. Radcliffe will return in time for the production to resume performances July 9 at 8 PM.



Shakespeare in the Park has a little summer competition this year.

The Royal Shakespeare Company began an unusual New York residency on July 6. For six weeks, it will call the Park Avenue Armory home, offering five Shakespeare plays in repertory, and performed on a replica of its Stratford-upon-Avon Theatre. That's right — in the tradition of Medieval Passion Plays, they brought their theatre with them!

The residency brings together The Lincoln Center Festival, Park Avenue Armory and Ohio State University as producers. RSC artistic director Michael Boyd presides over the 44-performance event, which is presented on a thrust stage that is a recreation of the RSC's Courtyard Theatre. The 965-seat theatre was specifically designed as a freestanding structure to fit within the Armory's Wade Thompson Drill Hall. (Ah, the Drill Hall. I saw my first Streetcar there, I believe.) Forty-one actors and 21 musicians comprise the troupe who offer As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, The Winter's Tale and Julius Caesar in repertory through Aug. 14.

All the productions will be just as they were in England. With one amusing exception.

In the U.K., the staging of As You Like It included a scene of an actor skinning a dead rabbit on stage. A dead rabbit, mind you. Michael Boyd said the rabbits were obtained from a U.K. farm and were used in a scene where a dinner is being prepared.

The RSC had intended to source rabbits for the New York production from a company that provides already killed animals as food for pet snakes and other animals. But once New Yorkers learned of the scene, a host of animal lovers and activists began protesting the staging. The Lincoln Center Festival had its Facebook page inundated with calls to halt the use of actual (deceased) rabbits in the scene. The company caved in to the pressure. On July 3 Boyd issued a statement that the RSC would not be incorporating rabbits into the run.

Poor exiles of Arden Forest! They're going to starve out there.

The view from onstage at the new theatre space.
The view from onstage at the new theatre space. Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN
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