Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Public Theater's New Slate on Good Footing

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Public Theater's New Slate on Good Footing

Article excerpt

Last June, "Fun Home" won the Tony Award for best new Broadway musical. Next Sunday night, at this year's ceremonies, "Hamilton" will win the same prize.

That's not all the two shows have in common. Both originated at the off-Broadway Public Theater, which has had an uncommon streak in recent years of remarkable work.

That judgment isn't simply based on how many of its shows have transferred to Broadway, or the number of awards they've captured. Listing Tony wins is just a shorthand way of indicating success.

What's really impressive is the way the company, which was founded by Joseph Papp 62 years ago, has prospered artistically, doing fresh, challenging and entertaining work, while staying faithful to a mission to reflect the multicultural fabric of society.

It should also be mentioned that the theater keeps a shrewd eye on the box office. Capitalizing on its ability to attract name performers, it features established stars in many of its productions.

With its record of success, the Public's announcement of a new season of shows invariably attracts attention. And the recent release of the 2016-17 lineup suggests a year that will be typically diverse and loaded with possibilities for theatrical excitement.

(Since it has five theaters, plus a cabaret space, in its East Village building, the Public does more shows a season than the city's other leading off-Broadway companies.)

The first attention-grabber is a new musical, "Saint Joan," from composer David Byrne, the legendary lead performer of the band Talking Heads. In 2013 at the Public, he created "Here Lies Love," a disco biography of former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos that was thoroughly irresistible. The new show is described as a rock concert centering on Joan of Arc.

Another show with a prior link to the Public is David Hare's "Plenty," one of the most stimulating plays of the 1980s, which is being revived with Rachel Weisz. …

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