Mara Isaacs, Princeton-based indie producer, is coproducer of Hadestown, the big winner at Sunday night’s Tony Awards. Isaacs’ crew took home eight Tonys, the most of any show, including best musical. She says she and cast and crew followed a post-Tony tradition, wherein all the winners and other theater people go to a party hosted by the American Theatre Wing at the Plaza Hotel.
Then it was off to the Hadestown-only after-party, where cast, crew, co-producers, and investors partied like Hades. “As you can imagine,” the weary Isaacs says, “it was a very happy room to be in.” We asked Isaacs about her triumphant evening.
For shows on the brink, a good showing at the Tonys can make the difference between survival and not surviving. Going into the Tonys, sure, we hoped that this would be our outcome, but, for us, our fate has been sealed by audience reaction and word of mouth.
Now we have a national profile and platform, so we can extend our reach, to people in all regions of the country. Based on what they saw [Sunday] night, maybe they’ll see in Hadestown an experience they’d really like to have.
When you set out to make a piece of theatrical art that doesn’t look like other pieces of theatrical art, and it gets recognized and validated this way, in
Rebecca Wright, director of Indecent, running through June 23 at the Arden Theatre Company, says, “This play is a love letter to theater.” It concerns God of Vengeance, a play by Sholem Asch that ran in 1923 at the Apollo Theater in New York, after which cast and crew were indicted and convicted of obscenity.
“The play is really the star of the play,” Wright says.
Wright is part of a company called Applied Mechanics, where they do what’s known as “devised” theater: “You get a company together and you start making a play with the people in the room rather than working to interpret a script.”
Paula Vogel wrote the script for the Tony-winning Indecent, but to Wright “the script reads like it came from a devising process.” So she and an ensemble are working to keep that feel: “We’re inviting you into that, showing you all the seams, the costume changes, what a play looks like from the wings.”
Rehearsals have really been live, she says, “with ideas about what makes us all do what we do and commit to a life in theater again and again. It seems, right now, more important than ever to cultivate creativity and imagination in a social space.”
On the Boardwalk. If you’re a local indie producer, it’s not every day that the folks at the Showboat Atlantic City call and say, “Please will you produce a summer series at our place?”
But that’s what happened to Sonya Aronowitz, proprietor of Cocktail Plays: short, locally originated works performed in a pub or other alcohol-adjacent space.
The result is the Friday Night Off-Boardwalk Cabaret Series, July 5-Aug. 30, curated by Aronowitz and featuring Philly talent every Friday in July and August. Acts include Joilet Harris (July 5, 12, 19, and 26), drag performer Eric Jaffe (Aug. 2), and the great Bearded Ladies Cabaret ensemble with special guests (Aug. 9, 16, 23, and 30). “The ambition is if this goes well, then we will launch a full program of theater and cabaret under the Off-Boardwalk brand,” Aronowitz says,
Connor Price, an associate of developer Bart Blatstein’s, who is refurbing the Showboat, made the call. Aronowitz visited the Showboat and landed on the space right by the spirit bar, where the casino used to be. “It already has a red velvet curtain,” Aronowitz says, “and all the electric outlets you need. I immediately thought, ‘This would be great for some of our Philly cabaret artists.’ ”
And it’s all within 100 feet of the Boardwalk. “We definitely are going to be out before each performance,” she says, “handing out flyers and bringing people in. We’re at a moment where Atlantic City casinos and hotels are looking to reinvent themselves, and kudos to Showboat for realizing that.”