You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Tribeca Film Festival: 5 Titles to Watch for Theater Fans

In late April, theater lovers devote most of their attention to the clutch of Broadway shows rushing to open before the eligibility cutoff for Tony nominations. But this year fans should be keeping an eye on things downtown too: New projects by or about Broadway talent aren’t onstage. They’re at a film festival — the Tribeca Film Festival (running April 18-29), where Terrence McNally, Howard Ashman, Michael Mayer and 
Stephen Karam are all in the mix.

Every Act of Life (pictured top)

Jeff Kaufman and Marcia Ross’ documentary, making its world premiere at the festival, chronicles the life of McNally, the veteran, out-and-proud playwright and four-time Tony winner behind “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” “Ragtime,” “Love! Valour! Compassion!” and more. The biopic — which counts Audra McDonald, Christine Baranski, Angela Lansbury, Meryl Streep and Bryan Cranston among those involved — touches on everything from McNally’s romance with Edward Albee to his alcoholism and the time Lauren Bacall chewed him out for spilling a drink on her.

Kaufman and Ross first met McNally through work on their 2015 documentary about marriage equality, “The State of Marriage,” although the playwright wasn’t much help in the filmmakers’ hunt for archival material. “It’s hard to save things in New York,” McNally joked. “We live in very small apartments!”

CREDIT: Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival


Ashman, the writer-lyricist (“The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin”) who was one of the driving forces of Disney’s resurgence in animation in the late 1980s — and later, the studio’s Broadway dominance — never lived to see how influential he would become: He died of AIDS in 1991 at age 40. Don Hahn, a documentarian who met Ashman working on the animated version of “Beauty and the Beast,” tells Ashman’s life story in his new doc, with the participation of Ashman’s writing partner Alan Menken, former Disney chief Jeffrey Katzenberg and Ashman’s life partner, Bill Lauch. “The biggest thing was that Howard’s story hadn’t been told,” Hahn said. “Nobody had done this, and the story was starting to evaporate.”

Jack: Part One

Tribeca has put a spotlight on interactive works and new media for several fests running, and this year, one of them — “Jack: Part One,” from Baobab Studios — aims to mash up VR and immersive theater. Creator Mathias Chelebourg’s retelling of Jack’s beanstalk adventure features a live actor playing multiple roles and interacting with a viewer/participant hooked to a VR rig. “My idea was that instead of finding algorithms and very clever technological ways to do interactivity, I thought we could just throw another human in there,” Chelebourg says of the tech. It’s easy to imagine immersive theater creators using that strategy in the future.

The seagull
CREDIT: Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

The Seagull

A few years ago, playwright Karam (“The Humans”) and director Mayer (“Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” “Spring Awakening”) collaborated on a movie version of Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” with a starry cast led by Annette Bening, Saoirse Ronan and Elisabeth Moss. The movie, which filmed in the summer of 2015, will premiere at Tribeca ahead of a May 11 release by Sony Pictures Classics.

Bathtubs Over Broadway
CREDIT: Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

Bathtubs Over Broadway

Director-writer Dava Whisenant’s documentary, which she co-wrote with Ozzy Inguanzo, digs deep into the phenomenon of industrial musicals: corporate-sponsored, morale-boosting musical theater performed only for the employees or shareholders of a business. Chita Rivera, Sheldon Harnick, Susan Stroman and Martin Short are among the movie’s talking heads — and the film’s Tribeca premiere will be capped off with a live musical performance inspired by the movie.

More Legit

  • Hugh Jackman'To Kill a Mockingbird' Broadway

    'To Kill a Mockingbird's' Starry Opening: Oprah, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and More

    The Shubert Theatre in New York City last was filled on Thursday night with Oscar winners, media titans, and, of course, Broadway legends who came out for the opening of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The starry guest list included Oprah Winfrey, Barry Diller, “Les Misérables” co-stars Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Gayle King, [...]

  • Pat Gelbart Obit Dead

    Actress Pat Gelbart, Wife of 'MASH' Creator, Dies at 94

    Pat Gelbart, widow of late “MASH” creator Larry Gelbart, died surrounded by family at her home in Westwood, Calif. on Dec. 11. She was 94. Gelbart was born in Minneapolis, Minn. in 1928 as Marriam Patricia Murphy. When she met her husband, Gelbart was an actress, known for the 1947 musical “Good News,” in which [...]

  • To Kill a Mockingbird review

    Broadway Review: 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

    Against all odds, writer Aaron Sorkin and director Bartlett Sher have succeeded in crafting a stage-worthy adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic American novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The ever-likable Daniels, whose casting was genius, gives a strong and searching performance as Atticus Finch, the small-town Southern lawyer who epitomizes the ideal human qualities of goodness, [...]

  • Isabelle HuppertIsabelle Huppert Life Achievement Award,

    Isabelle Huppert, Chris Noth to Appear on Stage in 'The Mother'

    Isabelle Huppert will appear opposite Chris Noth in the Atlantic Theater Company’s production of “The Mother.” It marks the U.S. premiere of the show. “The Mother” was written by French playwright Florian Zeller and translated by Christopher Hampton. Huppert, an icon of European film, was Oscar-nominated for “Elle” and appears in the upcoming Focus Features [...]

  • Could Anyone Follow ‘Springsteen on Broadway’?

    Could Anyone Follow 'Springsteen on Broadway'? Here Are Five Things They'd Need (Guest Column)

    After 235-odd shows, with grosses in excess of $100 million, a Special Tony Award and a hotly anticipated Netflix special debuting Sunday, “Springsteen on Broadway” is an unprecedented Broadway blockbuster. As with any success in entertainment, the rush to replicate The Boss’ one-man show reportedly is under way, with a consortium led by Live Nation, CAA [...]

  • Clueless review

    Off Broadway Review: 'Clueless' the Musical

    How does a musical stage adaptation of Amy Heckerling’s 1995 film comedy of oblivious privileged teens, “Clueless,” play in the era of female empowerment and millennial engagement? True, the principal skills of lead teen Cher Horowitz are the superficial ones of mall shopping and makeovers. But her sweet spirit and independence, plus some added P.C. relevance, [...]

  • Ley Line Unveils Brian Wilson Documentary,

    Ley Line Unveils Brian Wilson Documentary, 'Hugo Cabret' Musical

    Producers Tim Headington and Theresa Steele Page have unveiled Ley Line Entertainment with a Brian Wilson documentary and a “Hugo Cabret” musical in the works. Ley Line said it’s a content development, production, and financing company with projects spanning film, television, stage, and music. Headington financed and produced “The Young Victoria,” “Argo,” “Hugo,” and “World [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content