Tina Landau is one of the artists in residence at Little Amp at Little Park on the Hudson. Tina’s credits include conceiver, writer and director of?Spongebob Squarepants?on Broadway, Tracy Letts’?Superior Donuts, and the revival of?Bells Are Ringing. Her Off-Broadway productions include Bill Irwin and David Shiner’s?Old Hats, Chuck Mee’s?Big Love?and?Iphigenia 2.0, all at the Signature Theatre, Tarell McCraney’s?Head of Passes,?In the Red and Brown Water?(both at The Public) and?Wig Out!?(Vineyard), Paula Vogel’s?A Civil War Christmas?(NYTW), and her original musical?Floyd Collins?(with Adam Guettel, Playwrights Horizons), which was one of my favorite shows of all time.?
Tina’s an ensemble member at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, with over 20 productions. Tina’s work has been recognized by the Tonys, Drama Desks, Drama League, Outer Critics, Lucille Lortel, Obies, and many more, and she’s a recipient of a United States Artist Fellowship, Princess Grace Statuette, NEA/TCG Directing Fellowship, and Rockefeller and Pew grants. She’s the author, with Anne Bogart, of The Viewpoints Book.
Opening the evening was a pre-show with Allen K. Washington, Kelvin Moon Loh telling us no camera’s or video in song. Tina then welcomed us, stating that after 15 months we are back tonight celebrating the opening of Little Island, a new park full of art, Pride rather than shame. It has been 52 years since Stonewall. We are strong after the trials and fights we won. Freedom and equality are us. Tonight we are celebrating what is beautiful. Everyone performing tonight are her friends.
First up Tina’s oldest friend Jessica Molaskey, her daughter Maddie and husband John Pizzarelli, singing “Sunday” from Sunday in the Park With George combined with Paul Simon’s “Gone At Last” in perfect harmony. Maddie and John did the accompaniment on guitars. Fabulous scatting and a country, New Orleans feel started the evening off perfectly as the background of the sun setting over the Hudson was amazing.
Kelvin Moon Loh of Spongebob Squarepants sang Masha P Johnsons version of “The Impossible Dream”. He chose the song from Ms. Johnsons one brave act. Beautifully and emotionally sung Loh, got a standing ovation.
Stephanie Hsu, Nate Luckenbaugh and Allen K. Washington sang Nate’s original song “Fear This Falling” with Nate on Banjo and a fabulous trumpet solo by Tony Kathrick.
From the 2015 production of Big Love original cast members Libby Winters, Stacey Sargeant and Rebecca Naomi Jones recreated Leslie Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me”.
27 years ago Jason Danieley met Tina in the original production of?Floyd Collins. Jason who lost his wife Marin Mazzie, has found love again. In “All The Tings You Are” he danced with his new love as others joined him.?
Jon Michael Hill worked with Tina as Ariel in The Tempest, Franco in Superior Donuts and at Steppenwolf. He will soon be starring in Pass On on Broadway. He performed his original Rap “Chosen”.
With a harp played by Kirsten Koplay, Jo Lampert recreated a haunting, fabulous version of Chris Isaak – Wicked Game.
Tina’s nephew Jodie Landau, flew in from LA with his friends. This talented and animated 28-year-old sang Reggie Watts “A Song About Apples”.
One of the best performers of the night was Bill Irwin’s Rhythm of the Body and Rhymes of the Soul, that showed how nimble and flexible this multi-gifted performer was and is.
Through out the night the American Sign Language gave everyone an experience of inclusion.
Amber Iman sang a powerful and heartfelt “Imagine”, but the most exciting portion of the night was Tony Yazbeck and Jared Grimes,?tapping, singing and FABULOUS “Me and My Shadow” BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!
Shakina Nayfack, actress and transgender activist is most notable for her series regular role as Lola, a “trans-truther”, on the second and third seasons of the?Hulu?television program?Difficult People, on which she was also a writing consultant.?In 2020, she became the first trans person to have a starring role on a major network comedy show,?Connecting. I was there for the dress rehearsal and that is what you are seeing. Shakina sang “The Rainbow Connection,” along with Rebecca Naomi Jones who read a Maya Angelou’s poem about rainbows.
The musical director was Broadway’s Kimberly Grisby with Ann Klein on Guitar. Denna Torello on Drums, George Farmer on Bass, Tony Kathrick on Trumpet and a name I did not catch on violin. (Note to anyone in this article if I misspelled your name I am sorry as there was no program.)
For the final number the casts of the Broadway and National Touring company’s of Spongebob Squarepants with Stephanie Hsu leading the company.
This was an exciting and powerful night that gave so much back to the community.
I look forward to seeing more from Ms. Landau and Little Amp.