Win some, lose some. Because of planned renovations to the Palace Theatre, Spongebob Squarepants has to close Sept. 16; catch it while you can.
One door closes and another opens: Birdland Jazz Club has announced that construction of the Birdland Theater is complete. The new convertible 100-seat venue occupies the lower level of the Birdland Jazz Club at 315 W. 44th St. Birdland Theater will kick off a special preview season. Find a calendar of headliners for the Birdland Theater preview season starting Tuesday, Aug. 21, at www.birdlandjazz.com/calendar/
And another door stays open. Broadway's longest-running comedy, The Play That Goes Wrong, announced that the Tony Award-winning production has extended its run past Sunday, Aug. 26. Tickets are now on sale until Sunday, Jan. 6. This one is beyond hilarious, but remember to check your brain at the door.
And speaking of funny, tickets go on sale this month for the New York Comedy Festival (NYCF) to be held Nov. 5-11 at various theaters. Headliners: Tracy Morgan, Jim Jefferies, Desus & Mero, Conan O'Brien, Bill Burr, and Jo Koy. Check out more at www.nycomedyfestival.com.
And the new theater season begins.
Bernhardt/Hamlet (American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St.): Sarah Bernhardt, the legendary actress whose Hamlet became the stuff of, well, legend, lives again in this new Theresa Rebeck (Seminar) play, starring the almost-as-legendary Janet McTeer, beginning previews Friday, Aug. 31. Likely to be both funny and highly theatrical as the 1899 production of Hamlet vies with the drama backstage. As Mark Twain wrote: "There are five kinds of actresses: bad actresses, fair actresses, good actresses, great actresses. And then there is Sarah Bernhardt."
The Nap (Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St.): Snooker? Really? This British version of what we call pool is the subject of a new play by Richard Bean (One Man, Two Guvnors), beginning previews Tuesday, Sept. 4. Billed as a "comedy thriller," the show will feature a snooker tournament on stage, white gloves and all. Remember that "snooker" can turn from noun to verb—you can snooker (cheat, fool) somebody or be snookered (as in, how much did you pay for those Hamilton tickets?).
And, while we're on the subject of tickets, the Manhattan Theater Club, presenting The Nap, has expanded its $30 ticketing program to include members up to age 35
Folklore. Long ago — I am speaking Jurassically here — before the internet and cellphones, theater people anxiously awaited reviews on opening night. That's why critics sat on the aisle (and still traditionally do), so they could dash out to phone in their reviews to their newspaper editors as soon as the curtain fell. Actors and directors and producers all hung around until about 4 a.m. for the first editions. They waited in Sardi's, the storied Broadway restaurant on 44th Street, famous for its walls of caricatures of Broadway stars.
Nearly a hundred years ago, Alex Gard was the first artist to draw the Broadway celebrities. The deal with Mr. Sardi was that Gard would make the caricatures in exchange for one meal a day at the restaurant. When Sardi's son took over restaurant operations in 1947, he offered to change the terms of Gard's agreement and actually pay him. Gard refused and continued to draw the caricatures in exchange for meals until his death.
Brooklyn-born Richard Baratz, a banknote and certificate engraver by profession , took over the job and, 40-plus years later, he continues to the present day as Sardi's caricaturist. He doesn't get paid until the caricature has been signed by the star.
All the caricatures on display are laser copies, because some were stolen. When a new picture is made, the actor gets a copy, another goes on the wall, and the original is placed in the vault.
There are four floors with two bars, all with caricature-covered walls.
And, as it's a restaurant, it also has food, and a special inexpensive Actor's Menu: if you have an Equity or SAG card, you can order from it.
Free stuff. The Bryant Park shows, mentioned in July's "Broadway Beat," continue with one more at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16, featuring musical numbers from hit shows: Once on this Island, Gettin' the Band Back Together, School of Rock and Wicked.