APPROPRIATE is a Revival, Tonys Seek New Spokesperson, and Shabbat Comes to Broadway

Although most of the new shows haven't started performances, there are a lot of things happening on Broadway right now.

By: Jan. 29, 2024
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APPROPRIATE is a Revival, Tonys Seek New Spokesperson, and Shabbat Comes to Broadway
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I like to do one topic per week, but on rare occasions, so much happens that a subdivided column is necessary. This is one of those times.

Appropriate is a Revival

The Tony Awards Administration Committee met last week regarding the eligibility status of a handful of shows.  They didn’t make an official announcement regarding the rulings, but one promises to shake up a major Tony race. Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ acclaimed Appropriate (rumored for a commercial transfer) will be considered a revival, according to multiple producers with knowledge of the decision.

I’ve written frequently about how confusing I find the application of the so-called “Classics” rule, which can make a show that has never been on Broadway a revival. This season, Gutenberg was deemed revival under it. But Appropriate is closest to last season’s Between Riverside and Crazy, which was deemed a new play for Tony purposes. Both premiered off-Broadway in 2014. Both have been produced regionally. Both were produced on Broadway by Second Stage, but started off-Broadway at another non-profit (though Between Riverside and Crazy's 2nd off-Broadway run was co-produced by Second Stage). Between Riverside and Crazy even won the Pulitzer in 2015, making it if anything more famous than Appropriate. The only argument to possibly explain the discrepancy is that the Broadway production of Riverside was essentially the same production from off-Broadway (with a change in “Junior”s for each of the show’s three New York mountings). But that’s not a truly valid argument. Under that argument, How I Learned to Drive should have been deemed “new” in its 2022 Broadway debut; it was not.

Making this decision even more puzzling is that, as multiple journalists have noted, Appropriate has had rewrites along the way. But so it is. Appropriate joins Purlie Victorious, Doubt, An Enemy of the People, and Uncle Vanya in the Best Revival of a Play category.

The Tonys Will Have a New Spokesperson

The Broadway League will have a new head soon and the Tony Awards, which the League co-presents with the American Theatre Wing, will have a new spokesperson.

In summer 2004, Tony Award Productions left theatrical press agent Keith Sherman, who had repped the Tonys for 18 years, for a more widely known press outfit, PMK/HBH. When the folks that handled the account at PMK went to Slate PR, they took it. Now, almost 20 years later, the Tonys will have a new PR team. Slate is no longer on retainer and a new press agent will soon be announced for theater’s biggest night. One has to expect the team will be from one of the bigger firms, as Tony Award Productions rightfully looks for mainstream international press.

Jews on Broadway Unite

It’s a tough time to be visibly Jewish, irrespective of one’s feelings on Israel. Shortly after October 7—when we witnessed people taking to New York City streets chanting “more to come” and displaying Nazi swastikas (before any new Israeli action)—I noticed young women on my subway hiding their Jewish star or Hebrew necklaces. I bought a Jewish star, though I’d never worn one, because I figured I should wear one for all those people who felt afraid wearing one. Since then, I’ve been called derogatory terms for Jews and, while on the streets giving pie to the homeless, a protestor started shouting "shame" at me. Of course, others have experienced much worse.

With rising antisemitism, the need to come together has increased. This weekend, several well-known Jewish performers, including Shoshana BeanJulie BenkoTovah FeldshuhAdam KantorCaissie LevyCamryn ManheimSamantha MassellDebra Messing, and Adam Pascal, took part in Shabbat on Broadway at the St. James Theater, an event designed to create a sense of community in these painful times. Produced by Key to the City Productions, led by Amanda Lipitz and Henry Tisch, tickets to the event were free and went quickly.

“I felt it important to participate in this event to celebrate with my fellow Jews at a time when once again, we face the ugly reality of global antisemitism,” stated Pascal, who ended the event with “I Got Life.”

There was both a prayer part to the festivities (complete with a tiny prayer book) and a theater part. Various Cantors and Rabbis participated. Highlights not brought to you by well-known stars included Broadway Inspirational Voices performing a moving rendition of “You Will Be Found” and children performing “Adon Olam” with a Hamilton twist. Shout out to the donors who made the event possible, because they rarely get mentioned in stories and some of them are familiar names to theater fans: Heather Baker and Felix Baker, Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley, Dobkin Family Foundation, Kim Hartman and Alan Hartman, Ruth Hendel and Stephen Hendel, Roger Lipitz and Flo Lipitz, Marcie Orley and Rob Orley, Brenda Brown Rever, Lismore Road, Inc., Jenna Segal and Paul Segal, Alexandra Siva and Jonathan Marc Sherman, Jenny Steingart and Jon Steingart, Cynthia Stroum, Ann Tisch and Andrew Tisch, Lizzie Tisch and Jonathan Tisch, and The Warrior Mensch Foundation. 

I hope there is another edition of Shabbat on Broadway specifically, but there are additional efforts to keep the Jewish community united during these tough times. Seth Rudetsky, who sang backup and played keyboard during portions of Shabbat on Broadway, is founding the Jewish Broadway Alliance (not to be confused with the Jewish Theatre Advocacy Coalition, which formed last year and I haven’t heard about since). The Alliance is currently conducting an anonymous survey from theater professionals about their experiences with anti-Jewish bias and how their unions can help. (Visit @JewishBwayAlliance on Facebook and Instagram for more information on the survey.)

There is no question the war overseas is fueling antisemitism and Islamophobia. And it has been disheartening to me, in our liberal theater world, to have so many friends participate in events where violent and antisemitic rhetoric is spoken. (They are participating as individuals. The Broadway League and most major New York theaters have remained silent on the October 7 attack, the war, and related geopolitical issues. New York Theater Workshop is the one exception I know about, though there could be others. In December, Artistic Director Patricia McGregor spoke at a “Free Palestine” rally related to Jenin’s Freedom Theatre. The "Free Palestine" movement opposes the existence of Israel. Noting that NYTW and the Freedom Theatre have a prior relationship, a spokesperson for the theater stated NYTW participated at the event solely to speak on behalf of the Freedom Theatre and its detained leaders. The Public Theater didn’t make a statement on the war, but posted on Instagram condemning the rise in hate in the city; several comments criticized the theater for not condemning Israel.) Worse yet, I’ve had industry people I’ve known for years use antisemitic tropes and reasoning in discussions with me. I’m not talking about criticisms of Israeli actions, I’m talking about antisemitism. I hope that any sort of antisemitic bent is not trickling into hiring; I personally currently have no reason to believe that it is. The Jewish Broadway Alliance is aiming to empirically find out. And I applaud thatI do love data. I'd welcome such research about other groups as well.

Please fight against all types of hate in the theater community. We should be better.

Industry Trends Weekly is a short column that runs in the weekly Industry Pro Newsletter. To read past columns and subscribe https://cloud.broadwayworld.com/rec/ticketclick.cfm?fromlink=2263077&regid=&articlelink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.broadwayworld.com%2Ftopic%2FIndustry-Pro?utm_source=BWW2022&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=article&utm_content=bottombuybutton1. If you have an idea for the column, you can reach the author at cara@broadwayworld.com.



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