Selected Articles

Arts and Activism

November 02, 2020

For Maestra: Sometimes a spark of hope can come from the most unexpected of places. While anxiously scrolling through Instagram, in the dark, turbulent days shortly after Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death, I noticed a post from composer Madeline Myers that revealed the voter registration and census work she was doing at Central Synagogue’s homeless breakfast program. I was incredibly moved by her actions and her assertion that “every voice deserves to be heard and that change is possible.” 

After Myers’ post, I began paying closer attention to what my musically-minded colleagues were writing on social media.... It was clear these women were not giving in to quarantine fatigue, even after months of staying at home, with the theatre industry still shut down and the socio-political condition of the country more fraught than ever. These women were using their spare time for activism, their anger and devastation at current events fueling their motivation to fight back... 

Describing How Art Feels and Checking Bias: My Week at Virtual Critics Camp

July 28, 2020

For American Theatre: I never thought of myself as a critic until I attended the National Critics Institute (NCI) this summer as a 2020 fellow... But, with the COVID-19 pandemic as an inescapable backdrop, NCI revealed to me the nuances of arts criticism and, especially, the importance of empathy and engagement with the world as essential elements of criticism. NCI director Chris Jones, associate director Naveen Kumar, and their special guests conveyed this lesson in five all-too-brief, thrillingly overstuffed days that took place entirely via Zoom...

Celebrating Maestras in the Time of COVID

June 30, 2020

For Maestra: What was it like to achieve a longtime career goal only to find the entire industry (and the world at large) grinding to a halt? This year, especially, how can we highlight the accomplishments of the women breaking into music positions in the theatre, positions that often go unacknowledged even during the traditional awards season of a normal year? 

Over the past few weeks, I’ve spoken (by phone and email) with more than a dozen women in the Maestra community and beyond who accomplished significant career goals in musical theatre this season, pandemic notwithstanding. These women represent many facets of the music side of the theatre industry, including music assistants and associates, music directors, conductors, songwriters, piano players, percussionists, and music coordinators. The achievements and experiences of the women provide an insightful account into how members of the musical theatre community have been impacted by the pandemic and the changes they hope to see in the industry if/when their shows reopen.

Why Do We Reduce “Little Women’s” March Sisters to Types?

February 07, 2020

For Women and Hollywood:   Which March sister are you? The Internet is full of online quizzes asking that question, and promising to tell you whether you’re more of a reliable Meg or a headstrong Jo or an angelic Beth or a spoiled Amy, based upon your favorite ice cream flavor topping or your ideal travel destination. Buzzfeed has multiple quizzes, but so do more literary minded websites, ranging from the Oxford University Press to The Guardian to PBS. These quizzes promise to label the quiz-taker in the same simplistic way that they have labeled, and accordingly diminished, the four nuanced sisters from Louisa May Alcott’s novel “Little Women.”

“Little Women” frenzy has recently reached new heights in pop culture, thanks to Greta Gerwig’s 2019 adaptation of the classic story. The film is nominated for six awards at Sunday’s Oscars, including Best Picture. But the woman who conceived this film was not recognized with a nomination for Best Director. How can the Academy continually ignore the women behind the “Little Women” adaptations, particularly when they create lucrative and critically acclaimed films? This stance reflects a larger social ambivalence towards successful women; it’s easier for society to label women than to praise them for their ambition and achievements....

Jayne Houdyshell and Elizabeth Marvel in Conversation

May 28, 2019

For The Interval: Jayne Houdyshell and Elizabeth Marvel are both currently starring on Broadway in a genderbending adaptation of King Lear, in which the title role is played by Glenda Jackson. Elizabeth plays Lear’s eldest daughter, the conniving and ambitious Goneril, who dispenses with all pretense of love and respect for her father once she has inherited her share of the kingdom. Jayne portrays the Earl of Gloucester, who is tricked by his illegitimate son Edmund into believing that his legitimate heir, Edgar, is plotting his murder. Edmund’s betrayal kicks off a series of events that ultimately leads to the gauging out of Gloucester’s eyes. I recently sat down with Jayne and Elizabeth for a conversation about asserting oneself in a man’s world, the nihilism of King Lear, why Shakespeare defies time, space, and gender, and more...

Stephanie Hsu on Be More Chill and More

April 23, 2019

For The Interval: Stephanie Hsu trained as an experimental theatre artist and never expected to be on Broadway. But after making her Broadway debut last year as Karen the Computer in SpongeBob SquarePants, she is now starring as Christine Canigula in Be More Chill, a role she helped create at Two River Theater in 2015 and at the Signature Theatre this past summer. I recently spoke with Stephanie about the similarities and differences between experimental and commercial theatre, what playing Christine has taught her, why she enjoys originating roles, and more...

Kate Baldwin on Superhero, Developing New Musicals, and More

March 25, 2019

For The Interval:  I recently sat down with two time Tony Award nominee Kate Baldwin for a conversation about her research and approach to the character of Charlotte, why working on new musicals is a deep emotional investment, what ambition means to her, and more...

Season of the Female Music Director

December 17, 2018

For The Interval: Over the past three months, I’ve interviewed and researched female music directors, ranging from well-established to early career, including two making their Broadway debuts this season. Many spoke of the challenges they’ve faced, including gender bias in hiring practices and in the rehearsal room, but they were also fairly optimistic about the direction in which the industry is headed, and many are interested in attempts to right the systemic wrongs of gender bias within theatre...

An Interview with Set Designer Christine Jones

May 31, 2018

For The Interval: Eight times a week, there is magic happening at Broadway’s Lyric Theatre. I am referring not to the wizards and wands and spells, which, after all, are fantasy, but rather to the imaginative, elegant set, full of secrets and illusions, upon which the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child occurs. This set is the work of designer Christine Jones, who has been nominated for a 2018 Tony Award for her creation.  I, along with 2018 FIT design graduate and aspiring set designer Maria Resavage, recently sat down with Christine, in a room right off the spectacularly renovated Victorian gothic lobby of the Lyric, to discuss Christine’s approach to designing the set for the well-known and beloved wizarding world, how her kids have impacted and shared in her experience of Harry Potter, her impressions of the ways in which the field of set design has changed for young women who are just starting out, and more...

An Interview with Lauren Ridloff

May 02, 2018

For The Interval: The title of the play Children of a Lesser God was inspired by Lord Tennyson’s narrative poem cycle Idylls of the King, which describes the death of the mythical King Arthur. A cynical, defeated Arthur wonders whether a “lesser god” made his imperfect world, filled with fallible human beings, or if we are simply too “dense and dim” to see the true magnificence of the world as it is. In Children of a Lesser God, Sarah, the play’s female lead, is seldom recognized for who she is, nor is she properly appreciated for her talents and her agency.  I recently sat down with Lauren Ridloff, currently making her Broadway debut as Sarah, as well as with her interpreter, Candace Broecker-Penn, for a conversation on the ways in which Lauren relates to Sarah, how the play helps her empower her own children, the importance of people truly listening to one another, and more...

Kenita Miller on “Once on This Island”

March 14, 2018

​For The Interval: Kenita Miller is a musical theatre performer known for her impressive vocal chops. She has an equally impressive pattern of appearing in musicals by contemporary female songwriters. From her Broadway debut understudying LaChanze and Renée Elise Goldsberry in The Color Purple to her current featured turn as Mama Euralie in Once on This Island, Kenita has appeared in a vast array of shows depicting strong, empowered women. This critically-acclaimed production of Once on This Island is a particularly tactile, visceral telling of orphaned islander Ti Moune falling in love with the wealthy Daniel, in a test set forth by four gods trying to prove whether love is more powerful than death. I recently spoke with Kenita about how her own mom’s missionary work in hurricane-ravaged Haiti inspired her current portrayal of Ti Moune’s adopted mother Mama Euralie, and why she thinks art can be a conversation starter about rebuilding community, as well as a reflection of life....

From Anatevka to “Rags”: Judy Kuhn and Samantha Massell

November 27, 2017

​For The Interval:  This time last year, Judy Kuhn and Samantha Massell were “backstage at Anatevka,” as Samantha referred to the recent Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof, playing mother Golde and daughter Hodel respectively. Judy had just joined the cast, replacing Jessica Hecht for the final weeks of the run.

On a recent fall afternoon, at a downtown cafe not too far from the tenement neighborhood where Rags takes place, Samantha told her former show mother how she “grew up listening to [her] sing that song” on the original cast album, deeming Judy’s rendition to be “an iconic performance of, truly, such an amazing song.” When Samantha suggested that she had “big shoes to fill,” Judy disagreed: “Your shoes are plenty big.” “Thanks, Mom,” Samantha replied....

Theatre Without Borders: Teaching Artists in 2017

September 28, 2017

​For The Interval: This past August, as the country sizzled with intolerance and fear in the wake of Charlottesville, I spoke with eleven women about their experiences working as theatrical teaching artists and why providing arts education opportunities to students who might not have it otherwise on a local, national, and global level, is even more crucial in our current turbulent times. Some of these women have been on Broadway as performers, musicians, or writers. Others were so moved by their experiences in the classroom that they have chosen to become full-time education professionals. Some have worked for well-known non-profits, like Roundabout and the Metropolitan Opera Guild, bringing much needed arts programming to New York’s public school students. And some have volunteered their time as teaching artists on different continents, motivated by the desire to permeate cultural, global, and linguistic boundaries in service of children who were often overlooked or forgotten by their own societies....

Lillian Hellman’s Regina Giddens: The Theatre’s Original “Nasty Woman”

June 09, 2017

For The Interval: When I set out to write a piece on The Little Foxes, I headed right to the Drama Book Shop in New York City, to browse and research all things Lillian Hellman. Shockingly, there were no biographies of her in stock or on order. She was not even included in the Drama Book Shop’s most basic book series outlining the lives of accomplished American playwrights. I perused Barnes and Noble and independent bookstores with large theatre sections, but all to no avail....

V-Day in TrumpLand: Exploring the Relevance of “The Vagina Monologues”

February 13, 2017

For The Interval: In recent years, many colleges have questioned the relevancy of The Vagina Monologues, but with the election of Donald Trump those conversations have shifted. We talk to writer and activist Eve Ensler and college students in red states and swing states about their views on The Vagina Monologues and their experiences with the show in 2017....

Elizabeth Swados: A Legacy

June 27, 2016

For The Interval: Elizabeth Swados was a pioneering woman of the theatre. Perhaps best known for her 1978 Broadway musical Runaways, Liz was a writer, composer, director, choreographer, and so much more. When she passed away from esophageal cancer in January 2016, she left behind an impressive theatrical legacy not only in terms of her shows, but also in how profoundly she impacted young people, and notably, the young women with whom she had worked....

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