Interview with Tammy Ryan: Her Life as a PLONY (Playwright Living Outside of New York)

Tammy Ryan born and raised in Astoria, Queens, left to go to college, and, despite having New York roots, officially became a #PLONY when she wrote her first play as a theater major at the University at Buffalo (UB) and had it produced in the back room of Nietzsche’s bar…

If you were in school for theater, what made you write a play?

I wasn’t being cast in the plays they were doing, which were restoration comedies and I had a thick New York accent and a lisp and something of an attitude. Plus, I’d never even seen a play before I went to college. I came from this big dysfunctional Irish American family and my uncle was an actor, and it seemed like an exotic life so I kind of latched onto that. I lived in New York City; you’d think we would have gone to plays. My mother was a Girl Scout leader, and we went to the Statue of Liberty and Central Park, but not plays.

Read the full interview from Donna Hoke’s blog here.

Sure, ‘Hamilton’ Is a Game-Changer, But Whose Game?

hamilton2-1940x1293Lamentably, however, much of the acclaim that has and will accrue to Hamilton brands it as one of the first pieces of theatre to successfully incorporate hip-hop elements and sensibilities. That’s like someone thinking they’ve discovered rap music after hearing Eminem’s song “Stan” (coincidentally, and arguably, another white narrative). This is unfortunate; it not only ignores the 20-plus year legacy of hip-hop theatre in the U.S.—Idris Goodwin, Eisa Davis, Psalmayne 24, Hip-Hop Theatre Junction, Teo Castellanos, Will Power, Universes, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, etc. It also, more disturbingly, ignores LMM’s own In The Heights, a hip-hop-infused musical with a contemporary story about Latinos in a changing neighborhood that ran on Broadway for 3 years, won 4 Tonys and recouped its money after just 10 months. Yet we’re still in a cultural landscape where In The Heights and other hip-hop generation stories will never be celebrated to the extent that Hamilton will be, simply by virtue of who the show is about.

-April 23, 2015 – Excerpt from a piece by Danny Hoch for American Theatre.  Read it all here.

Gretchen Cryer, Melissa Errico & Orville Mendoza Set for Prospect Theater’s EVERGREEN Holiday Concert, 12/18-19

Prospect Theater Company, under the leadership of Cara Reichel, Producing Artistic Director and Melissa Huber, Managing Director, will present a concert staging of Evergreen, a family friendly musical for the holidays at The TimesCenter (242 W 41st Street), with performances Friday, December 18 at 7pm and Saturday, December 19 at 2pm and 6pm.

The concert will feature the Obie Award-winning Gretchen Cryer (I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It On the Road), Tony Award nominee and Drama Desk Award winner Melissa Errico (Amour), and Orville Mendoza (Peter and the Starcatcher), alongside Pace University students Hillary Fisherand Joe Ottavi-Perez in the leading roles of Maya and Joshi.

The cast also features an ensemble of youth performers ages 8 to 15, including Abbie Anderson, Anabella Brizuela, Victoria Csatay, Ciela Elliott, Maddox Elliot, Virginia Franks, Andre Gulick, Gabrielle-Marie Kaufman, Irena Kogarova, Joy Kate Lawson, Jibreel Mawbry, Carys Mesinai, McKenzie Mullahey, Lily Peterson, Violet Prete, Nolan Shaffer, Brigit Eileen Tejada,Alexa Valentino, and Thomas Vaethroeder.

Recommended for ages six and up, Evergreen is an original (one act, 75-minute) holiday musical by Peter Mills and Cara Reichel, that follows Maya, a headstrong girl on a fantastic adventure to find the Earth’s last living evergreens.

Read more here.

‘The Wiz,’ With Added Street Cred, Heads for TV and Broadway

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WATCH LIVE NOW ON NBC!

Clockwise from top left, Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Uzo Aduba and Ne-Yo in “The Wiz,” on Thursday on NBC.

Perched atop a spiky chariot, Mary J. Blige rolled onto a set here and began making demands. “What’s that there?” she yelled, pointing to an invisible blotch. Underlings scurried to clean up. “Worrrk!” she bellowed.

Ms. Blige, the enduring R&B star, was rehearsing her part as Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West, in “The Wiz,” the enduring musical, which NBC will broadcast live on Thursday night at 8, Eastern time. As with its live-broadcast predecessors “The Sound of Music” and “Peter Pan,” the cast is a mix of Broadway, television and film veterans, alongside music stars like Queen Latifah as the Wiz, and Ne-Yo as the Tin Man. There will be spectacle, too, in the form of Cirque du Soleil acrobats.

Unlike the audiences of the previous shows, Thursday’s viewers may get a chance to see this one again, off screen: “The Wiz” is already scheduled for a Broadway run next year, with much of the same design, costuming and choreography, including the Cirque performers. For the actors, then, it amounts to a live televised tryout.

Ms. Blige has been cramming. In a break from rehearsals last week, she talked about plumbing her “nasty, dark side” and showed off her crimson-tipped nails, which she has been growing long to feel witchy. She lobbied to play Evillene, she said, because the character’s number “Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News” is one of her favorites.

“My sister and I were singing this song recently, before I even got the part, just playing around with it,” she said. “Something about that ‘no bad news’ part relates to me now as a businesswoman: I don’t want to hear it. I want you to make it happen.”

For a while, though, it looked as if a full-fledged new “Wiz” might never happen.

An urban adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Wiz” won seven Tonys after it opened in 1975, a milestone for a show with an all-black cast, and introduced the song “Home,” sung by Stephanie Mills, as a radio hit. It became a cultural touchstone, especially for African-American audiences, who grew up on the over-the-top 1978 film version starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, a pricey critical flop that went on to have a devoted following. The show is also a school theater staple.

But a 1984 Broadway revival was short-lived. And a starry Encores! concert production in 2009 at City Center that featured members of the creative team now behind “Hamilton” generated tepid reviewsthat seemed only to remind critics of the show’s flaws.

Read the full article from the New York Times here.