May 30, 2012

Why the Money Keeps Rolling in for "Evita"

Anyone who still questions the value of star power on Broadway should take a look at the current revival of Evita in which the pop star Ricky Martin plays Che, the narrator of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical about the controversial Argentinean icon Eva Perón. 

The show has gotten only so-so reviews (click here to see the roundup that averaged a B- on StageGrade) and just a stingy three Tony nominations but it is almost selling out the big 1,600-seat Marquis Theatre each night and the majority of those tickets seem to be going for full price.

Similarly, anyone who thinks that it is still career suicide for gay performers to come out to the public might want to think about that again too.  Martin came out in 2010, has become an outspoken advocate for gay rights and married his longtime beau economist Carlos Gonzalez Abella earlier this year. The couple have two-year-old twin sons who were born via a surrogate mother. 

But none of that stopped the women in the audience at the performance my theatergoing buddy Bill and I attended from ogling Martin’s buff physique and loudly expressing their pleasure with it or fantasies about what they might do with it.   

“Ricky. Ricky. Ricky,” the women sitting behind me chanted when Martin came out for the curtain call.  And they knew the real deal. “Do you think he’ll stay around to sign autographs?” one asked her friend.  “Nah,” came the answer.  “He’s got to get home to Carlos and the kids.”

Martin isn’t a stage newbie (he played Marius in Les Misérables back in 1996) and he’s got a good voice but he and director Michael Grandage have reconceived Che so that the character isn’t the cynical provocateur that Mandy Patinkin portrayed in the multiple-Tony winning 1979 Broadway production. Instead, Martin’s Che is literally an Everyman and, as such, he blends into the ensemble far too much.

Of course the real star of Evita is supposed to be the actress playing Evita.  It’s a killer role that requires nuanced acting and a vocal dexterity that might give an opera star agita. It made a star of Elaine Paige when she originated the role in London and of Patti LuPone when she later played the part on Broadway. 

So there was a lot of anticipation about this production which promised to bring a new authenticity to the role by casting the Argentinean actress Elena Roger in the part. And Roger drew raves when she played Evita in London back in 2007.  But something happened in the intervening five years because her Evita is far less successful now. Roger's acting is fine, as is her dancing.  It’s the singing that’s the problem. She's unstable on the high notes and strains with some of the others as well.

And that’s a real shame because the music for Evita is sublime. There’s not one clunker in the entire score.  Luckily, the always-satisfying Michael Cerveris is on hand to deliver as Juan Perón and he's earned one of the show’s three Tony nominations (click here to read a piece about him).   

Meanwhile the creative team is firing on all-cylinders, lead by choreographer Rob Ashford, who fills the stage with terrific tango-infused dance numbers (he got one of the Tony nods too). 

I had a good time at the show.  And yet, I confess, the moment I got home, I fired up the 1979 cast album and luxuriated in the passion and skill that Patinkin and LuPone brought to Che and Evita and that, for all Roger's authenticity and Martin's likeability (and saleability) is missing from the current production. 

May 26, 2012

A Hard Look at Stage Diversity Dos and Don'ts

Another impossibly busy weekend is staring me in the face so I don’t have time to tell you about any of the recent shows I’ve seen. But I have managed to steal a few minutes to put together a different kind of post for today. It’s a little photo essay on two trends that really bothered me this past season.

In what I assume is an attempt to add some diversity to their shows, too many playwrights and directors are falling back on some old stereotypes: the big sassy black woman and the oversexed Asian woman. 

Nobody cares about diversity in the theater more than I do. It's important that we have people of color on stage and behind the scenes. So I try to applaud producers, directors and writers who include them. But this trend is diversity done wrong.

Now I’m going to be honest, it’s uncomfortable for me to talk about this because  (1) I don’t think it’s malicious; although I do think it’s creatively lazy. And (2) I don’t want to talk anybody out of work; I appreciate the eager-to-get-any-acting-job bind that these actors are in and the majority of them do as much as they can with the material they’re given. 

Still, I’ll bet they’d love to play some other kinds of parts. I know that the best of our showmakers are talented and imaginative enough to come up with some better ways to use them. And I’d really love to see what all of them can do once freed from these old clichés. 

In the meantime, here's where we are now:

 THE BIG SASSY BLACK WOMAN: Always there to belt out some big, brassy number
Clockwise from top left: Lysistrata Jones, Ghost, Newsies, Leap of Faith

THE OVERSEXED ASIAN WOMAN: Always ready to jump the bones of the nearest nerd

Clockwise from top left: Seminar, Outside People, 4000 Miles, Asuncion

May 23, 2012

"The Columnist" Is All Tell, Too Little Show

Maybe we should blame Joseph Alsop.  When the KGB tried to blackmail the powerful Washington columnist with a threat to reveal his homosexuality, Alsop marched straight to the U.S. embassy and confessed that the Russians had photos of him having sex with a man in a Moscow hotel room. If Alsop hadn’t done that, then The Columnist, David Auburn’s new play, might have had a plot.

The compromising incident gets The Columnist off to a great start but most of the play, which is now running at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre through July 1, is simply a series of This-Is-Your-Life-style vignettes from the rest of Alsop’s life: the night of JFK’s inauguration, the afternoon of JFK’s assassination, Alsop’s years-long fealty to his hawkish views on the Vietnam War.

All that might be fine for a PBS documentary but theater requires more, well, drama. Alsop, who died in 1989, is nowhere near as well-known as he once was and so theategoers need to be wooed into caring about him or what happened to him. Even the grey-heads that make up so much of Manhattan Theatre Club’s subscription audience, and who might be assumed to have remembered Alsop in his heyday, seemed subdued the night my husband K and I saw the show.

Auburn, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Proof, has said that he wrote this play to explore the subject of power and how someone who had as much of it as Alsop once did could be so little known now (click here to read that interview).  He’s certainly written lots of lines in which characters talk about how powerful Alsop is but the problem is that The Columnist is all tell and too little show. The play might have worked better if Auburn had focused more on the personal than the political.

There’s plenty of back story that could have provided drama, including Alsop’s marriage of convenience to his wife Susan Mary and rivalries with his younger brother Stewart and the then-up-and-coming journalist David Halberstam, who opposed the war.  Auburn’s script touches on each of these relationships but centering the play around any one of them might have made for a far more compelling evening.

Director Daniel Sullivan tries to make the best of what he’s been given with a cinematic approach that includes John Lee Beatty’s terrifically fluid set whose transformations include the Moscow hotel room, a Georgetown drawing room and a Foggy Bottom park. There are also stylish video projections by Rocco Disanti in which typewritten words from Alsop's columns flit across a scrim. And it’s all smartly lit by Kenneth Posner.

Sullivan has also assembled a powerhouse cast, who singly and certainly together, know how to command an audience’s attention. It’s lead by John Lithgow, who captures the smug intellect and WASPy swagger that made Alsop such a dominant figure in mid-century America and then Lithgow laces his portrayal with just the right suggestions of the vulnerability that Alsop clearly worked so hard to mask (click here to read an essay the actor wrote about Alsop).

Lithgow is matched toe-to-toe by Boyd Gaines as Stewart and Margaret Colin as Susan Mary, both of whom love Joe intensely but are deeply frustrated by him. And there is equally nice work by Stephen Kunken as Halberstam, Grace Gummer as Alsop’s adored stepdaughter and Brian J. Smith as the duplicitous Russian lover.

They keep the show from being a dull night in the theater but not even the combined force of their considerable talent can make it anywhere near as powerful as was the man whose life The Columnist attempts to portray.

May 19, 2012

"Cock" is Titillating—And in Just the Right Way

Some people are going to be drawn to the terrific new play that just opened at The Duke on 42nd Street because of its titillating title: Cock. Others may want to see it because of the refreshingly authentic way in which it deals with homosexuality. A few will even go because they know the play won an Olivier for its London run two seasons ago. And, as reviews start to appear for this production, some may want to see it for the marvelous performances of its four-member American cast.  But the real reason true theater lovers should see Cock is because it celebrates the essence of theater in its most elemental form. 

Playwright Mike Bartlett’s theater directions call for no set and no props.  The costumes are stripped-down versions of basic street clothes: jeans, shirt, a simple sweater, a slip of a dress. All that’s left are the actors, the text and James Macdonald’s assured direction which combine into a deeply gratifying evening of theater.

The story goes like this:  a young guy named John has been living with his slightly older male lover for several years when he meets a woman and unexpectedly falls in love with her. Both want John and each, M, as the man is called, and W, as the woman is, tries to force him to choose between them and to define who or what he is. 

It’s a romantic triangle with a contemporary twist but what really makes Cock enthralling is the way in which the story is told. The plot uncoils in a series of short intense scenes, each punctuated by the sound of a ringing bell, like the one that signals the end of a round of boxing or wrestling—or a cockfight.

In fact, the audience is arrayed around the actors in an arena-like seating space. In keeping with the show’s minimalism, the plywood benches have thin cushions and no backs, save for those in the last row. But even the people sitting there at the performance my theatergoing buddy Bill and I attended were leaning forward, drawn in by the unvarnished potency of the emotional combat on display.

It’s a real workout for the actors, who have nothing to hide behind and who, because they are performing in the round, must maintain intense focus.  It would be foolish to single one of them out and since there are only four of them, I don’t have to.

Ben Whishaw, a rising star in British theater, played John in London and Bill and I had lamented that he hadn’t come here with it, as he’d done with The Pride a few years ago (click here to read my review of that).  But I can’t imagine Whishaw being any better than Cory Michael Smith. 

The character of John could easily come off as a narcissistic pain-in-the-ass as he flips back and forth between his lovers but Smith creates empathy for John’s inner turmoil, his unwillingness to label himself as gay, straight or even bisexual and his quiet insistence that he just wants to love whomever he loves. 

Jason Butler Harner has a showier role as M and at moments his bluster feels too put-on. Until you realize that’s exactly the point: M is trying to insulate himself behind a façade of pretended strength and it’s wrenching when Harner lets it crumble. 

At the same time, Amanda Quaid makes it impossible not to agonize for W. In a finely calibrated performance, Quaid makes it clear that W is no stereotypical fag hag but a woman who deeply believes that she has met her soul mate and is equally convinced that she will never find another if she lets him go.

The smallest role, M’s supportive father, is played by the always-reliable Cotter Smith. This is the fourth impressive performance I’ve seen Smith give in just the past year and he’s never been better (click here to read a profile of him).

Now Cock isn’t perfect.  There’s some unnecessary repetition towards the end of its 90-minute running time. And the show isn’t for everyone.  I saw a couple of men across the arena from me who looked as though they wished they’d been able to talk their wives into seeing Rock of Ages

But Cock touched me. It made me think and it made me laugh (Bartlett leavens all the serious stuff with big heapings of humor).  And that's as stimulating an evening as any theater lover could want.

May 16, 2012

"Newsies" Dances Its Way Into Your Heart

To borrow a phrase from Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign, it’s the dancing, stupid.  

The floor-shaking production numbers in which a supercharged ensemble of male dancers buck, wing and stomp their way across the stage of the Nederlander Theatre are the biggest reason that audiences are cheering Newsies, the new Disney musical that is one of the biggest hits of the spring season.

The New York Times reports that there are “425 leaps or jumps, 372 turns and pirouettes, 133 kicks, 11 tumbling passes and 62 flips” in the show.  And it’s such a thrill to see them that I didn’t mind the rest of Newsies, which has a book by Harvey Fierstein that is only slightly more believable than the one for Spider-Man and a score by Alan Menken and Jack Feldman that stays safely within the wheelhouse of the Broadway sound (the cast album got its official release yesterday).

Like most recent musicals, Newsies is based on a movie. Although that trend has never bothered me as much as it has some people because Broadway has been hijacking commercially-proven stories from other media since Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein set Edna Ferber’s best-selling novel “Show Boat” to music 

Ironically, Newsies is based on a 1992 movie musical that flopped at the box office. Its plot is based on an 1899 incident in which boys who sold newspapers on New York City streets went up against the mighty publisher Joseph Pulitzer by going out on strike when he threatened to reduce their already-meager pay. 

The boys won. But the movie only found success when it hit the home video market and developed a cult following with tween girls. Among them were my blogger pals Lucky and the Mick at the Craptacular (click here to read about their obsession with it).

My now-grown niece Jennifer was a fan too.  She texted me that she wanted to see Newsies the minute she heard that the show, which drew raves when it played at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse last summer, was coming to Broadway.  

So we went.  And I’m happy to report that Jennifer wasn’t disappointed.  And you probably won’t be either, particularly if you’re looking for a good old-fashioned singing-and-dancing show that, as the barkers used to say, the whole family can enjoy.

Fierstein has kept the basic David-and-Goliath plot but he’s added a girl reporter named Katharine who covers the strike and serves as both a love interest for the head newsboy Jack and a feisty role model for the new generation of tweens who expect a little girl-power feminism to be mixed into their romantic fantasies.

Kara Lindsay, making her Broadway debut, is appropriately plucky as Katharine and sings well.  But it’s Jeremy Jordan who has won the hearts of the young fans who line up each day outside the stage door and the hearts of most critics as well (click here to read some of their raves).   

Jordan is indeed charming as Jack. But I have to say I liked him better as Clyde Barrow in Bonnie & Clyde, whose premature closing in December after just 36 performances freed the young up-and-comer to have his second Broadway opening of the season (click here to read about that).

Some folks have been trying to draw parallels between the young strikers in Newsies and the young protesters in the Occupy Wall Street movement and implying that connection is what is driving the show’s success.  But I’m sticking to the belief that it’s the dancing. 

Director Jeff Calhoun deserves credit for the overall buoyance of the production but the biggest props have to go to Christopher Gattelli, who just this week beat out a competitive field to win the Outer Critics Circle award for best choreographer. 

Gattelli seems to have canvassed his dancers to find out what special things each could do and then built those feats, plus a little extra, into the show’s dance routines (click here to listen to him describe how he created one that's a real showstopper).  Each dancer gets at least one chance to show off and they all do it exuberantly, although I can’t help singling out the uber-amazing Ryan Steele and Alex Wong.

There’s something primal about good dancing that can make the heart thump even when you’re just sitting in your seat and watching it.  My mind wandered during some of Newsie’s book scenes (which is probably why I haven’t said more about the actual story) and my eyes rolled at some of Feirstein’s lame anachronistic jokes but when the newsboys leaped across center stage, my heart soared right along with them. 

May 14, 2012

Special Edition: The Ticket Giveaway Winner

Maybe the question was simple but my guess is that readers of B&Me are just a theater savvy bunch cause everyone who wrote in got the right answer (the Carnegie Deli) to the question:  What is the unofficial clubhouse for old Jews who tell jokes? 

So I printed the names out and put them all in a bag and my husband K did the honors of picking one out.  The winner for two tickets to the new show Old Jews Telling Jokes is Jason Laks.  Congratulations to him and thanks to all of you who participated.  It was fun and I hope we can do it again.

May 12, 2012

Another Look at the Season's Biggest Transfers

So many shows opened in the final weeks of the theater season that officially ended on April 26 that I’ve had to scramble to catch up with all of them. There were 14 new shows on Broadway in April alone 
(I just saw the final one on my list last night) and maybe a half dozen more off-Broadway.   

There simply aren’t enough Wednesdays and Saturdays for me to tell you what I think about each one.  Luckily, I saw a few of the big Broadway shows when they played off-Broadway and I talked about them then. And since this is an unbelievably busy weekend for me (yes, I do have a life besides seeing shows and writing about them) I’ve decided to cheat a bit with just a small update on three shows that made the transfer to Broadway with their original casts fully intact:

Clybourne Park
Click here for my review of the production that ran at Playwrights Horizons two years ago and before this riff on Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and an Olivier Award for Best New Play when it ran in London last year. It’s now in residence at the Walter Kerr Theatre and although I still have some problems with it, the audiences are gasping with delight at its blunt talk about race and the production has been nominated for a shelf-load of awards, including four Tonys, among them Best Play.   

The Lyons
Click here for my review of the production that ran at the Vineyard Theatre just last October.  One scene has been cut since the production moved to the Cort Theatre but the play still offers the same sardonic look at a dysfunctional family as it prepares for the death of its cancer-ridden patriarch. My tepid feelings about the show are pretty much the same too, except that this time I was content to just sit back and marvel at the comic genius of Linda Lavin, who is deservedly a frontrunner for a Tony in a competitive pack that includes Venus in Fur’s wunderkind Nina Arianda, Tracie Bennett for her turn as Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow, Stockard Channing as the matriarch of a differently troubled family in Other Desert Cities and Cynthia Nixon as the dying poetry scholar in the revival of the Pulitzer-Prize winning  play Wit.

Peter and the Starcatcher
Click here for my review of the production that played at New York Theatre Workshop last spring.  Some of the anachronistic jokes have been toned down for the move to the Brooks Atkinson Theatre but I still don’t know who the target audience is for this fanciful prequel to the Peter Pan story.  Yet its low-tech storytelling is still great fun and the performances are delightful.  Christian Borle--whose performance as the songwriter on "Smash," NBC's behind-the-Broadway-curtains series, is the best thing about that show--is still a hoot as the villainous Black Stache but I’ve now also fallen in love with Celia Keenan-Bolger, who is not only believable as the show’s plucky tween heroine Molly but makes her the kind of role model that any 21st century girl should admire.  But the entire show has become the, ahem, darling of smart theater lovers, having picked up nine Tony nominations.

May 9, 2012

Why "Death of a Salesman" Will Never Die

My friend Doug came to New York last month to celebrate his birthday with some fellow theater lovers, including my buddy Bill and me.  Sometime during the evening, well into our cups, we all started debating which play is truly the Great American Play. 

There were strong candidates:  Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County, August Wilson’s entire 10-play Pittsburgh Cycle. 

It’s hard to argue against any of those choices.  But I did.  Because for me, standing slightly above all of them is Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.  No play wrestles more affectingly with not only the American Dream of getting ahead but the American longing to be liked, or as the play’s tragic hero Willy Loman might say, to be “well liked.”  

Miller’s masterpiece, which mixes poetry (there are lines in the play as lyrical as any ever written for the stage) with a flint-eyed look at the quiet desperation of mid-century Americans that resonates deeply in our own unstable times, is now being revived in a much-acclaimed production at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre through June 2. 

It’s a high-wattage production, directed by Mike Nichols, who has said that seeing the original 1949 production was a seminal moment in his life (click here to read one of the many interviews he’s given about that).   

And Nichols has paid tribute to the memory of that experience with the wonderful decision to use the impressionistic set that the great Jo Mielziner designed for the original production and the moody interstitial music that the equally great Alex North composed for the play under the direction of the supremely great Elia Kazan. 

The roles of the down-on-his-luck title character, his long-suffering wife Linda and their hapless grown sons Biff and Happy who all come together in the family’s small Brooklyn home on what will be the last day of Willy’s life provide big shoes for actors to fill. And several of the fits are slightly off in this production. 

Philip Seymour Hoffman stands the most uneasily in Willy’s brogues. Although he is one of the most emotionally honest actors I’ve ever seen on screen, I’ve rarely believed Hoffman’s stage performances, which have veered towards the self-conscious as Konstantin in The Seagull, Jamie in Long Day’s Journey into Night, and a listless Iago in the Public’s recent production of Othello.

Hoffman does get some things right as Willy—the downtrodden gait, the bewilderment at life’s disappointments—but it’s hard to believe that his Willy was ever the powerhouse who single-handedly opened up the New England territory for the company that’s now ready to let him go. 

Linda Emond is more comfortable on stage but her Linda is so strong and capable that it’s hard to believe that she would have put up with Willy or the boys for all those years and far easier to think that she would have taken a correspondence course, got herself a job as a secretary and left them behind as the she moved into a nice little studio apartment in the East ‘50s along with other career gals of the time.

Finn Wittrock, a recent Juilliard grad who is making his Broadway debut, does nice work as the second-string son Happy (click here to read an interview with him) but the critics and nominators for most of the big theater awards, including the Tonys, have singled out Andrew Garfield, the young movie actor (he's taking over the Spider-Man franchise this summer) who's also making his Broadway debut in the role of the family's tarnished golden boy Biff.

It was hard for me to imagine Garfield as either the football hero son for whom Willie had such big dreams or the has-been roustabout that Biff has become. Still, he gives an intense performance that clearly moves people.  And I was moved too, although I wish Garfield, who is conservatory trained, had relied a little more technique to help ground his histrionics.

But no matter.  It’s Miller play that’s the thing.  And it remains great. And will so as long as there are those of us in the 99 percent.

May 5, 2012

The First-Ever Broadway & Me Ticket Giveaway

Ethnic humor can be a tricky thing.  But anyone who's gone to the website Old Jews Telling Jokes will tell you that it can also be a very funny thing.  Now, some of those classic comic stories are being told on onstage as the new show Old Jews Telling Jokes began previews this week.

Since my friend Dan Okrent is one of the show's creators, I won't feel comfortable reviewing it when it officially opens on May 20 but I feel fine telling you that it's happening.  And Dan and his marketing team have made it possible for me to do even more than that.  They've given me a pair of tickets to give away.

This is a first for Broadway & Me and so I've been thinking hard about the best way to do it.  I thought about inviting you to send me a joke and then I’d pick the best one but, as I said, that can be a tricky thing.  So instead, I’m going to ask a simple question: 

What is the unofficial clubhouse for old Jews who tell jokes? 

(Hint:  you can see it on the Old Jews Telling Jokes website.  Second hint: it made more than a cameo appearance in Woody Allen’s “Broadway Danny Rose.”)

Email the answer to me at by midnight next Saturday, May 12.  I’ll put all the right answers in a hat, pluck one out and then will announce the winner—and send along the voucher for the tickets, which are good through May 25—on the following Wednesday. 

Good luck!  Or maybe I should say Mazel Tov!

May 2, 2012

Tony Love...But Not for Magic/Bird

The Tony nominators spread around their love this year.  When the nominations were announced yesterday, 30 of the 37 eligible shows were named in at least one category. And some of the face-offs—the little chamber musical Once against the big Disney song-and-dance show Newsies; four-time winner Audra McDonald vs. four-time bridesmaid Kelli O’Hara vs. Once’s bright-eyed newcomer Cristin Milioti; campy humor god Douglas Carter Beane taking on campy humor god Harvey Feirstein—have the potential to be showdowns that are as exciting for us theater geeks as the ones between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox almost always are for sports fanatics. 

But there still wasn’t enough love to go around for everybody and closing notices have already gone up for two of the shows left out in the cold, including Theresa Rebeck’s Seminar, which will shut down on Sunday, and Magic/Bird which will give its final performance on May 12 and which my theatergoing buddy Bill and I only got around to seeing last night.  

To be honest, we’d put it off because we knew the show, produced by the same folks who did last year’s short-lived football show Lombardi, is about the rivalry and unlikely friendship between the basketball stars Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird and neither of us is really that into hoops.

But sometimes having low expectations can be a blessing because, as it turned out, we didn’t have nearly as bad a time as we thought we would. Thomas Kail, who helmed both Lombardi and In the Heights, has put together a sprightly production with some nice basketball choreography and some great video clips from the players’ heyday back in the ‘80s that were fun to see even for a basketball no-nothing like me.

And he’s got an engaging cast lead by Kevin Daniels and Tug Coker as the genial stand-ins for the title characters (click here to read about them). But the show’s true MVPs are the supporting cast members who take on multiple roles. 

Peter Scolari is a hoot even if he does have a little problem making each of the major coaches in the stars’ lives truly distinctive. Francois Battiste is totally winning even if he does makes gratuitous fun of newscaster Bryant Gumbel who interviewed the players over the years.  Meanwhile, Deirdre O’Connell—always a favorite of mineis just perfect, particularly in the role of Bird’s mom.  

In fact, the only thing wrong with the show is that it simply has no story to tell.  Instead it just rolls along just one scene following after another for 90 minutes, with very little tension along the way, although playwright Eric Simonson tries to create some by opening with Johnson’s 1991 announcement that he was retiring from basketball because he had contracted the HIV virus. 

But that doesn’t really go anywhere because we know that Johnson has survived and thrived as an AIDS activist and businessman, having just this year become co-owner of the L.A. Dodgers  

Some critics have suggested that Magic/Bird might have had more bite if it hadn’t had the cooperation of its subjects, who reportedly not only shared their remembrances with Simonson but showed up at some rehearsals and even made a joint appearance on “Letterman” to hawk the show (click to here read how Simonson put the show together).

But none of that bothered the man sitting behind Bill and me who whooped with delight as he recognized each key moment in the players’ bio. Alas, for Magic/Bird, there weren’t enough others like him showing up at the Longacre Theatre—or on the Tony nominating committee