5 New Broadway Plays to Catch in Spring 2019

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Tony Awards season is nearly here! The nominations will be announced on Tuesday, April 30th, and then the big night is on Sunday, June 9th, with the ever-hilarious James Corden hosting. While we can’t say for sure who will be nominated just yet, there are several buzzy new Broadway plays that have recently opened that are certainly contenders. From personal histories to adaptations of classic novels, here are five new Broadway plays to check out this spring.

What the Constitution Means to Me
Yes, it’s got a title that might have some people scratching their heads, but this is one new play that has already blown audiences away. Writer/actress Heidi Schreck takes center stage in this mighty new work that takes on the issues of the day from a fresh perspective, as Schreck looks back on her life and the document that founded our country. It all ends with a live debate (we won’t say anything else). But we will say it’s nothing like you’ve ever seen on stage – and that The New York Times raves, “Joy comes from watching an imaginative new kind of theater emerge.”

To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee’s classic novel comes to life on stage in a vibrant new production written by Oscar winner Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, The West Wing) and directed by Tony winner Bartlett Sher (My Fair Lady). It’s the beloved story of a young girl named Scout trying to find her place in the world as her father, attorney Atticus Finch, wages a difficult court case in Alabama. In a theatrical coup, all of the children are played by actors in their 20s and 30s for an unforgettable dramatic event.

Hillary and Clinton
Tony winners Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow star in this new play, subtitled “primarily a comedy,” by Lucas Hnath, who was a Tony nominee for A Doll’s House, Part Two. Set in the early days of the 2008 election (when Hillary was facing off against Barack Obama), this is a personal look into the lives of two very public figures. But here’s the thing: Metcalf and Lithgow aren’t doing impersonations. It’s a wondrously loose look at these people, with each actor putting his and her stamp on the roles.

All My Sons
Academy Award Nominee Annette Benning, who was last seen on Broadway in Coastal Disturbances, returns to center stage as grieving mother Kate Kellerman in Arthur Miller’s classic play. She is joined by Tony Winner Tracy Letts as patriarch Joe Kellerman, who in addition to being an award-winning actor is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for his play, August: Osage County. The Hollywood Reporter called the new production of All My Sons “One of the dramatic highlights of the Broadway season.”

Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Like Constitution, don’t let the title throw you off. For one thing, it’s written by downtown sensation Taylor Mac, so you know things will be off-kilter. For another, it stars five-time Tony winner Nathan Lane, so you know it’s going to be hilarious. Set just after the fall of the Roman Empire, picking up where Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus left off, anything is possible in this production. And with Lane and his co-stars Kristine Nielsen and Julie While, anything just might happen – and history could be changed, as well as Shakespeare’s drama. Four-time Tony winner George C. Woolfe (Take Me Out, Angels in America) directs.

 

Top 10 Tony-Nominated Shows to See Now

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The 2019 Tony Award nominees have been announced, and it has been a dazzling season that will culminate with the awards ceremony on Sunday, June 9. That means that you still have a window of opportunity to see some of Broadway’s hottest shows before the big night. There are so many terrific shows to experience on Broadway, and many you can enjoy long past the Tonys, but here are ten that we recommend that you try and see before the ceremony to give you an edge on making your predictions:

Hadestown
Greek mythology has never looked like this, and from the rave reviews and the plentiful ticket sales, Hadestown is proving to be an exciting twist on the age-old yarns. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the stories of Orpheus and Eurydice, as well as Persephone and Hades, unfold before our eyes to the thrill of Anais Mitchell’s electrically charged score. A highlight of the show is Rachel Chavkin’s atmospheric, inventive staging.

Nominated for: Best Musical, Best Director (Chavkin), Best Actress (Eva Noblezada), Best Featured Actor (Andre De Shields and Patrick Page), Best Featured Actress (Amber Gray), Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, Best Lighting Design, Best Sound Design, Best Choreography and Best Orchestrations

To Kill a Mockingbird
Aaron Sorkin’s stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s perennial classic To Kill A Mockingbird is proving to be one of the season’s hottest tickets, telling a story of racism in the rural south and of those who have the courage to stand up to it. Film and TV star Jeff Daniels takes on the role of Atticus Finch, one of literature’s most revered characters for his convictions and his gentle way of imparting them to his children

Nominated for: Best Actor (Jeff Daniels), Best Direction (Bartlett Sher), Best Featured Actress (Celia Keenan-Bolger), Best Featured Actor (Gideon Glick), Best Score, Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, Best Lighting Design and Best Sound Design

Tootsie
Who doesn’t enjoy good, old-fashioned musical comedy that imparts joy and provides melodic, infectious music by David Yazbek? The classic 1982 film comedy Tootsie, about a down-on-his-luck actor who reinvents himself as a woman in order to secure a role, has been wisely and wonderfully reimagined with a contemporary slant. The masterful performance of Santino Fontana (Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella; TV’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) is reason enough to see this show, but the whole cast shines in a musical that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Nominated for: Best Musical, Best Actor (Santino Fontana), Best Book, Best Score, Best Featured Actor (Andy Grotelueschen), Best Featured Actress Lilli Cooper, Best Costume Design, Best Direction of a Musical (Scott Ellis), Best Choreography and Best Orchestrations

Hillary and Clinton
The pairing of two of theater’s greatest stars, Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow, in a play that is equal parts political commentary and a raw assessment of sexism, makes Hillary and Clinton a must-see of the current nominees. Playwright Lucas Hnath sets the story in an alternate universe where a presidential candidate named Hillary Clinton is rallying to save a struggling campaign to secure her party’s nomination

Nominated for: Best Actress (Metcalf)

The Prom
What do four Broadway performers do to save their fading careers? They find a way to inject their personalities into a current event issue as part of a publicity stunt. And what is that news item that wins their time and ultimately their hearts? A teenage girl from the Midwest wants to bring her girlfriend to the prom and must fight for the right to do it. The Prom is a winning celebration of our right to love who we want to love.

Nominated for:  Best Musical, Best Actress (Caitlin Kinnunen and Beth Leavel), Best Actor (Brooks Ashmanskas) and Best Direction of a Musical (Casey Nicholaw)

Oklahoma!
Oklahoma! may currently be celebrating 76 years since it first premiered on Broadway back in 1943, but this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic has been revived with a spin that makes it feel refreshingly contemporary. The production, directed by Daniel Fish, probes the darker aspects of this musical about a young woman who finds herself navigating the attentions of a cocky cowboy and a possessive, unstable farmhand.

Nominated for: Best Revival of a Musical, Best Actor in a Musical (Damon Daunno), Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Ali Stroker and Mary Testa), Best Scenic Design, Best Sound Design, Best Direction of a Musical and Best Orchestrations

Kiss Me, Kate!
Two of Broadway’s consistently entertaining musical theater talents, Kelli O’Hara and Will Chase, star in this musical comedy classic about an ex-husband and wife who are starring opposite each other in a stage musical version of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Art imitates life when the action backstage begins to parallel the Bard’s story. Kiss Me, Kate! also features a time-honored score by Cole Porter and a show-stopping dance performance by Chita Rivera Award nominee Corbin Bleu.

Nominated for: Best Revival of a Musical, Best Actress (O’Hara), Best Choreography and Best Orchestrations

Beetlejuice
Tim Burton’s iconic film about the comedically macabre comes to the Broadway stage in a riotously funny production starring Alex Brightman (School of Rock) in the titular role. Beetlejuice takes audiences into the world of the afterlife, where a teenage girl conspires with a couple of ghosts to drive her family out of their newly acquired home. In the process, they unleash one of the un-dead’s most unsavory characters.

Nominated for: Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Best Actor (Brightman), Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, Best Lighting Design and Best Sound Design

What the Constitution Means to Me
Don’t let the title scare you away. Heidi Schreck’s What the Constitution Mean to Me is no mere civics lesson, but rather a compelling glimpse into the document that gives our country structure and how that has shaped women’s role in society. Reflecting on her time as a teenager giving speeches on the Constitution, Schreck recalls how her feelings on the document have evolved in the intervening years.

Nominated for: Best Play and Best Actress (Schreck)

Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations
This jukebox musical about the popular band of the 1960s and ‘70s is more than just a story with songs sandwiched in. Rather, it’s a thoughtful drama about the ups and downs of a group of young artists navigating the world of music in a time period where the odds were stacked against them. Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations features energetic and driving direction by Des McAnuff.

Nominated for: Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Actor in a Musical (Derrick Baskin), Best Featured Actor (Jeremy Pope and Ephraim Sykes), Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, Best Lighting Design, Best Sound Design, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Choreography and Best Orchestrations

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia, and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.

SeaWorld Orlando Joins Aquatica and Discovery Cove as Certified Autism Centers

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Exciting news for SeaWorld Orlando! The amusement theme park has been designated as a certified autism center by The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES).

SeaWorld Orlando joins Aquatica Orlando and Discovery Cove to become the first family of parks in Orlando to be certified.

“We are incredibly proud to be the first family of Orlando theme parks to achieve these certifications,” said Mark Pauls, SeaWorld Orlando park president, in a statement.

The parks are now required to provide ongoing training to ensure that team members have the requisite knowledge, skills, temperament and expertise to interact with all families and children with special needs, specifically on the autism spectrum.

A park specific sensory guide has been added to SeaWorld Orlando’s website, helping parents to plan activities that satisfy their child’s specific needs and accommodations by providing insight on how a child with sensory processing issues may be affected by each sense for each attraction.

“SeaWorld Orlando creates fun, educational experiences that are intended to be enjoyed by all,” Pauls added. “We think the training and the park specific sensory guides provide useful information to ensure that our guests are armed with all the information they need to prepare, be informed and enjoy their time at our parks.”

In other fun SeaWorld news, the park recently debuted Sesame Street at SeaWorld Orlando, an interactive six-acre land providing all the fun, laughter and learning of Sesame Street. The land features the iconic Sesame Street neighborhood including Abby Cadabby’s Garden, Big Bird’s Nest, Mr. Hooper’s Store and the famous 123 Stoop, as well as everyone’s favorite Sesame Street friends and a first ever daily parade.

Save up to 45% on SeaWorld Orlando tickets at TicketsatWork.com!

By Jeff Hyatt

5 Awesome Music Festivals this Summer

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Although Coachella officially ended its annual two-weekend festival, Stagecoach will take its place one week later on April 26, on the same grounds in Indio, California, launching concertgoers into their favorite time of year: the summer music festival season. From celebrated favorites to a few surprise picks, there are plenty of music festival options on the calendar for summer. And with Live Nation National Concert Week coming up, music lovers can get the party started early. Enjoy a $20 all-in ticket to see popular artists perform live – stay tuned for more details!

In the meantime, get ready for days of dancing in the sunshine – we’ve rounded out five can’t-miss summer musical festivals for every taste and budget!

Country Thunder
From July 18-21, the annual Country Thunder music festival takes over Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, for a weekend of food, camping and live performances from some of the biggest acts in country music. Jake Owen, Tim McGraw, Luke Combs, Chris Stapleton and more join the star-studded lineup. Save over 40%

Bonnaroo
Every year thousands of happy campers flock to Manchester, Tennessee, for the highly anticipated four-day music festival. Bonnaroo brings a diverse roster of big acts – from Childish Gambino to Post Malone – plus up-and-coming musicians to the stage for incredible live performances you don’t want to miss. Mark your calendars for June 13-16! Get your tickets

Outlaw
Country and folk fans come together for fun vibes and a hot lineup of performers during the Outlaw Music Festival. For one night only on June 22, join Willie Nelson and Family, The Avett Brothers, Alison Krauss, Old Crow Medicine Show and Dawes in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania. Save over 50%

Lollapalooza
Grant Park in Chicago is the place to be this August 1-4, when thousands of music fans come together for one of the most celebrated music events of the year. The four-day festival features 8 stages and more than 170 bands from all over the world right in the heart of downtown Chicago. Ariana Grande, Childish Gambino, Twenty One Pilots, The Strokes, Tame Impala, Flume, The Chainsmokers and J. Balvin headline this year’s Lollapalooza. Get your tickets

Burning Man
During the last week of August, thousands make their way to Black Rock Desert, Nevada, to experience the nine-day cultural phenomenon that celebrates artistic performances, installations and music. Burning Man prides itself on self-expression and the importance of community. It all begins August 25! Get your tickets