Friday, April 21, 2023

Spotlight On...Maggie Lalley

Maggie Lalley 

Hometown: New York City

Education: Catholic schools in NYC

Favorite Credits: Edinburgh Fringe Festival, New York Comedy Festival

Why theater?: There's something very special about creating a connection with a live audience. Nothing beats it.

Tell us about Sex Witch the Musical: Sex Witch The Musical is a solo musical comedy show about my time in a teen witch sex cult. 

What inspired you to write Sex Witch the Musical?: I wanted to tell my story. I've been performing comedy for a while, so I decided to write a kooky, funny musical about my creepy teen witchery. 

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I like hilarious, vulnerable storytelling. I look up to Jessica Kirson, Mike Birbiglia and Chris Gethard. 

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Ilana Glazer. 

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Solo, A Show About Friendship, by Gabe Mollica. 

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: "Sex Witch, The Movie", of course. I'm gonna go with Jessica Chastain, because why not? 

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?:  I wish I could've seen Carol Burnett in Once Upon a Mattress

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Martha's country bakery Nutella Cheesecake

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: An interior designer. I love decorating apartments!

What’s up next?: Sex Witch the Musical is running at Soho Playhouse for three weeks. April 19, 20, 21, 22 at 7 pm; April 26, 27, 28, 29 at 7 pm; May 3, 4, 5, 6 at 7 pm. 

For tickets on Sex Witch the Musical, visit and use promo code MAGIC. 

For more on Maggie, vist @magslals on Instagram, TikTok and Twitter

Friday, April 14, 2023

Spotlight On...Sammy Jungwith

Sammy Jungwirth

Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland

Education: George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology 

Favorite Credits: Stage Manager- Disaster; Director- Zelda

Why theater?: Theatre is the most collaborative art form in the world. There are so many aspects of it that I feel make it unlike anything else. I get so inspired by every production I see and every artist I meet. As a director/designer, I love working with my fellow creative team members on crafting the world of the show and making the characters come to life. Whether if it’s with shows I’m directing or designing, I try to come up with something unique that the audience hasn’t seen before. 

Tell us about Zelda: In the summer of 2020, I came across the pro-shot of a forgotten west-end musical from the early 2000’s called “The Beautiful and Damned” on YouTube. It was a biographical musical that took you through the tragic story of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. The video had under 100 views, but at the time, I had set a goal for myself to discover as many musicals I was unfamiliar with as I possibly could, so I clicked on it. By the end of the night, I had found a new favorite musical. The next day I contacted one of the show’s producers and asked why no one had done the show since this initial production. To my surprise he emailed me back and told me that though the audience response was very enthusiastic, London critics disliked the show so it closed after only 3 months. After a few email exchanges, I nervously emailed him and asked him if I could single-handedly bring the show to America through a staged concert. After checking with the writers, he agreed. After that I spent a year assembling 14 of Baltimore’s most talented actors and a wonderful creative team full of my frequent collaborators and put together Zelda. The production will be in Concert at 54 Below on August 22nd. 

What inspired you to direct Zelda?: When you think about the Jazz Age, you think F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. They were the model of glamor, beauty, and sophistication. But underneath all that, was a romance that was doomed to fail. I believe their tragic story still fascinates to us today because it is a major example of how things aren’t always what they seem, and there can be two sides of the same coin.

What kind of theatre speaks to you? Who inspires you as an artist?: My favorite type of theatre is when people take risks or try out a new avant-garde concept. I have always been inspired by Julie Taymor, Ivo Van Hove, and Diane Paulus just to name a few. 

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with who would it be?: One of the designers I look up to the most is Beowulf Boritt, who won a Tony for his set for the Broadway play “Act One” and has been nominated several times since then. We met a while back and he has become somewhat of a mentor to me and I would love to work with him in some capacity. 

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Broadway: Some Like it Hot at the Shubert Theatre (seen 4 times), Off-Broadway: Michael R. Jackson’s White Girl in Danger at Second Stage (seen 3 times).

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: That’s a good question, I’ve always like the title “In the Limelight”. I used it for an early screenplay I wrote back at the height of the pandemic. I think it sounds very theatrical. As to who would play be, I think (or at least I like to think) I have the same sense of humor as Jason Bateman, he’s one of my favorite actors and I would love to be portrayed by him. 

If you could go back and time and see any play or musical that you missed, what would it be?: I would love to see Glenn Close in the original Broadway production of Sunset Boulevard, as well as Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria. Those are two of my favorite musicals that I’ve only ever seen through bootlegs on YouTube (though I recently saw Stephanie J. Block portray Norma Desmond brilliantly at the Kennedy Center). 

What is your favorite guilty pleasure: Watching TV all hours of the night. Not sure if that counts! 

What’s up next?: I will be directing Grey Gardens this fall through my brand new theatre company I started with local actor Xander Conte called CJ Productions. 

For more on Sammy, visit and follow @sammyjungwirth@zeldamusical 

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Review: Fosse for the Modern Age

by Michael Block

Let me preface this review with a story. When I was in sixth grade, my English teacher Mrs. Marokovich asked us to do a biography report and create a puppet for our presentation. In sixth grade, I chose to do a book report on Bob Fosse. And the puppet? A marionette. With a little cigarette of course. I chose a marionette because no other puppet could embody and emulate the movement that Fosse could do. I can’t remember what grade I received on this project. That part doesn’t matter. What matters is the impact that man had on my life. I saw that Tony winning musical that bears his name multiple times. And I knew the numbers lifted from this show for that one. I’m not a dancer. But I have an appreciation for the art form. Especially for the work of Bob Fosse. So when those formations hit the stage of the Music Box Theatre, a smile filled my face. I sincerely do not remember when a Broadway show achieved that. I’m here to say that DANCIN’ is the breath of life we need right now. 

photo by Sara Krulwich
photo by Sara Krulwich
DANCIN' is a celebration of the human form through song, dance, and the legacy of Bob Fosse.  Directed by Wayne Cilento, the revival of the 1978 production takes the skeleton of Fosse’s choreography and gives it a new skin with modern touch, proving Fosse’s body of work is simply timeless and effortlessly beautiful. Broken up into acts and further into movements, the revue celebrates Fosse’s love for theater, film, and television. Sprinkling in mini monologues and voice overs, the piece may not have a through line, yet the heart is how the show moves from moment to moment. The plotless musical doesn’t need a story as the dance speaks for itself. And what makes the dance speak? The fantastic figures that fill every inch of that space.   

There unquestionably is an explosion of talent on that stage. They all might not be the strongest triple threats, but damn can they dance! Sure, those mini monologues may not be what you’ll use in an audition for the likes of Ibsen or Shakespeare, they are simply there to move forward and fill the air before the next segment of astounding choreography. Cilento has allowed each member of his extraordinary company to master the Fosse compositions while permitting their individuality to shine through while still maintaining uniformity. All you need to do is keep your eye on a single dancer and watch their interpretation of the choreography and how it fits their body. Zoom out a moment and the formations are synchronistic and flawless. The shapes and silhouettes are a visual victory. 

There are some exceptional solos throughout the show but a special shout-out goes to the magnetizing Kolton Krause. Between “Spring Chicken” and the “Trumpet Solo” in “Sing, Sing, Sing”, they proved how beautiful Fosse’s choreography truly is. Krause is simply arresting. Other performers that caatch your eye and struck a major chord came from Dylis Croman, Yani Marin, Nando Morland, Khori Michelle Petinaud, and Ron Todorowski. But seriously, this cast is one of the best on the Great White Way. 

DANCIN’ was a piece where Fosse got to create his work of art that showcased a series of individual artists rather than a collaborative team. This allowed him to create dances to music that range from big band to Americana to rock and roll and pop. With that, the musical selection has been adjusted since it’s 1978 premiere and has continued to be triumphant. Who would have thought we’d live in a time where Neil Diamond’s “Crunchy Granola Suite” existed on Broadway in two separate shows at the same time? It’s the perfect opener as it set the tone with energy and Fosse moves that get you dancing in your seats. Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing” takes a well-renowned song and gives it the Fosse treatment. One of the numbers that truly celebrates the marriage of song and dance is “I Wanna Be a Dancin’ Man.” The synchronicity of the hand movements, increasing in tempo and adding in dancers, is nothing short of a visual spectacle. For those true theater lovers and Fosse fanatics, it’s the moments that Cilento’s musical staging inserts some of Fosse’s most iconic choreography, that the audience is in for a true treat. We should all be thankful that the Big City Mime sequence was brought back for the revival from its original out of town tryouts as we were gifted appearances from “Big Spender”, “Mein Herr”, and “Rich Man’s Frug.” For a bit of a deeper cut, knowing Pippin’s “Glory” and “Manson Trio” are about to make a quick cameo ascertains just how impactful Fosse’s work is. Truly, an ode to the classics. Whether you are familiar with the music prior to attending DANCIN’, music supervisor and orchestrator Jim Abbott should be recognized as the unsung hero of the show. Abbott curated mind-blowing orchestrations that were authentic yet fresh. These are the songs you know with a contemporary flair. 

To make this show tick, the production brought together an exceptional creative team that highlighted Cilento’s musical staging. Cilento staging presented the musicality of the production elements’ choreography. The symbiosis of the choreography of dance and the choreography of the production through the synchronicity of movement does not go unnoticed. Every element was intricately carried through expertly allowing the synergy and inertia of each beat to thrive. From the speed of Robert Brill’s scenic elements to the cast of the lights by David Grill to the video visuals of the projections from Finn Ross, each element’s relationship amplified the choreography of the artists on the stage. There may be a misconception that ties black dance clothing to the work of Bob Fosse but costume designers Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung showcased how fabric and textiles strengthen the storytelling. The modernization of the production highlights how fashion and clothing can help express gender expression while muting the conversation instantaneously through a genderless uniform. Once again, no matter the body, Fosse’s work speaks for itself.    

I urge you to attempt to sit in your seat and not feel the desire to move your body as the music dips and swells as the dancers do what they do best: dance. This production of DANCIN’ is important to the artform of dance. This modern realization has proven that music and dance can and will bring harmony despite the world outside the doors of the theater. We deserve a moment to release from reality and simply enjoy art. DANCIN’ is that production. Go.

Monday, March 6, 2023

Spotlight On...Joseph Hayward

Joseph Hayward

Hometown: Wolverhampton, U.K.

Education: The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. 

Favorite Credits: This past summer I directed Desperate Measures at Saint Michael’s Playhouse in Vermont. Thanks to the pandemic, we were forced to postpone twice.  Believe me, delayed gratification isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. So, to finally get to work on the show--with some of the most wonderful actors and creatives I know--was a gift I’ll cherish always. 

Why theater?: It’s clichĂ©, but from an early age, it’s all I’ve wanted. I started putting on plays for my parents at age 3, and performing professionally by the time I was 9 (I made my debut as an orphan boy in Scrooge at The Wolverhampton Grand.) I was hooked. Now it’s in my blood and, despite “the headaches, the heartaches, the backaches, the flops,” I’m incredibly lucky to be doing what I love. What makes the theater so singular and irresistible to me is that it’s a hand-made, living work of art. It has the power to change people’s lives. I’ve had countless moments inside the theater, both as a director and an audience member, where the experience has been transformative and life-affirming. 

Tell us about Julie Sings Jule: I am over the moon about this. On April 10th, I’ll be directing Julie Benko, the wonderstudy from Broadway’s Funny Girl, in The York’s Spring Gala concert celebrating composer Jule Styne. Many of us have seen Julie’s sensational performance as Fanny Brice, and I can’t wait for the gala audience at the Theatre at St. Jean’s to experience her vast range and versatility. Tickets for the concert, which is followed by a VIP reception and dinner, are on sale now: I hope you’ll come and enjoy the extraordinary Julie--and Jule--and help The York continue “bringing musicals to life!” 

Tell us about your work at The York Theatre Company: I am the Associate Producing Director. My favorite part of the job is overseeing the Developmental Reading Series, where I help facilitate 29-Hour Readings and showcase new work. A core part of The York’s mission is to develop new musicals, and it’s deeply gratifying to play a part in it. 

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Musical comedy. If I could, that’s what I’d always do. I love watching how a room of strangers can suddenly find themselves in another world, transported by the emotional power of the story, the songs and dances. And, of course, I love the delicious sound of laughter. When that all comes together, it’s electrifying. Having said that, I just directed And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie and had an absolute ball, so I think it all boils down to the book, and the opportunity to give an audience a compelling experience. If it’s a great script, I’m excited to work on it. 

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Marianne Elliott. She’s an endlessly creative director – a visionary -- and I’d love to observe her process. 

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Life of Pi. My BFF in the U.K. built the life-sized puppets -- and watching them come to life is pure theater magic. It’s a spectacular experience. 

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I can’t imagine anyone would go see this movie (not even me), so we’d need some serious star power to sell tickets. Meryl Streep? And the movie can be called whatever she wants! 

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Ethel Merman in Gypsy

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Andrew Lloyd Webber. 

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be?: A veterinarian.  

What’s up next?: This summer I’m directing A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder at the beautiful South Orange Performing Arts Center. I’ve loved the show ever since I saw it on Broadway, and we’ve assembled a dream team of designers to bring it to life. We open in July, and tickets are available on:

For more on Joseph, visit and follow on Instagram at @jcwhayward

Friday, May 6, 2022

Block Talk Guide to DragCon LA 2022!

By Michael Block

After a two year break while the world was in a pandemic, DragCon is making its triumphant return to Los Angeles in 2022! Queens and fans from all around the globe are coming together to celebrate Drag Race and the art of drag! There will be so much to see and do so here’s my guide to help you through the weekend! 

Facts are Facts, Los Angeles! 

DragCon LA 2022 will span May 13th-15th at the Los Angeles Convention Center in the South Hall. The convention runs from 10:00am-6:00pm on Friday and Saturday and 10:00am-5:00pm on Sunday. If you’re one of the lucky VIP All Star Attendees, you get an extra hour of fun starting at 9:00am! 

Before you can hit the show floor, you will need to go to registration in the South Hall lobby. Show your ticket to get scanned and you’ll be given a badge! Don’t lose it! If you’re joining us all weekend, you’ll need your badge for entry. AND please bring your vax card or proof of negative COVID test. You WILL need them. Safety first!  

For all the up-to-date FAQs about the convention, visit

Meet the Stars! 

Stars from RuPaul’s Drag Race and beyond all  across the globe unite at the Los Angeles Convention Center for DragCon 2022! Meet and greet, see them perform on the MainStage, and of course add to your merch collection! The list of attending talent is HUGE so make sure you make a list of who you want to see so you don’t miss out meeting your favs! As I cover ALL of the international seasons, I’m stoked to see the International queens! As a die hard Frock Destroyer Fan, you can bet I’ll be watching Baga, Blu, and Divina hit the mainstage. And I can’t wait to chat with the winners! Those international winners include The Vivienne, Lawrence Chaney, Krystal Versace, and Blu Hydrangea from the UK, Envy Peru and Vanessa Van Cartier from Holland, Carmen Farala from Espana, and Kita Mean from Down Under! And don’t worry, stars from the US will be there like Aquaria, Alaska, Symone, Willow Pill and many many more! 

Shop Til Your Drop! 

If it’s not at DragCon, it doesn’t exist! Stock up your drag collection with wigs, jewels, makeup, and heels! There are over 200 vendors ready to help you splurge all weekend long. I am so excited to see so many of my favorite friends share their goods. Be sure to visit my friends at Amped Accessories, the designers of both Canada’s Drag Race crowns and scepters, Crimsyn’s Creations for all things fashion from Painted with Raven winner Crimsyn, Daftboy for the BEST clack fans out there, Forgot’s Locks, one of NYC’s award nominated wig designers, ISLYNYC, extraordinary accessories from my home away from home, and Loschy Designs for some of the most unique crowns and tiaras you’ll ever see. 

See the Panels!

Stars from your favorite seasons like Drag Race UK vs the World, Drag Race Down Under, and Canada’s Drag Race are reuniting for panels! This is your chance to ask the queens those burning questions! There are so many panels so don’t miss out. Many of your favorite WOW podcasts and shows will be live in the panel rooms like Binge Queens, Fashion Photo Review, and You Brita Vote! Bring Back My Girls will be a new WOWPresents show which will be recorded live featuring the casts from around the world hosted by TS Madison! 


And don’t forget to ask for consent from the queens and fans alike before taking photos! And be nice and be kind. A smile goes a very long way. 

Important Tips

  • Bring a charger! If your phone dies, you’ll miss out on that priceless photo with your favorite queens! 
  • Eat! If you’re planning to stay all day long, make sure you eat! Visit the Compass CafĂ© in the South Hall Lobby or the outdoor food court in the back left of the showroom. 
  • Carry a bag! If you plan on buying merch and goodies, bring a bag with you so you can carry your haul home! 

I am so excited to be reuniting with some of my favorite friends and colleagues and sharing my experience with you on Block Talk! If you’ll be attending the event, please let me know and please be sure to come find me and say hi! I'll be sharing all the fun on my Instagram (@michaelblocktalk)

See you at DragCon LA! 

Monday, January 17, 2022

Drag Race UK vs The World Officially Releases Cast

by Michael Block

courtesy of World of Wonder

The real Olympics of drag is about to begin! World of Wonder has officially announced the nine competitors from across the globe who will be competing in the inaugural season of RuPaul's Drag Race UK vs the World! Nine queens will enter but only one will take home the global crown

Of the nine vying for the title, we have three queens from the UK, two from the USA, two from Canada, one from the Netherlands, and one from Thailand. They are Baga Chipz (Drag Race UK 1), Blu Hydrangea (Drag Race UK 1), Cheryl Hole (Drag Race UK 1), Janey Jacke (Drag Race Holland 1), Jimbo (Canada's Drag Race 1), Jujubee (Drag Race, All Stars 1, All Stars 5, Queen of the Universe), Lemon (Canada's Drag Race 1), Mo Heart (Drag Race 10, All Stars 4), and Pangina Heals (Drag Race Thailand judge).

Judging the international All Stars will be the usual panel from Drag Race UK- RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Alan Carr, and Graham Norton. Guest judges that have been announced include Little Mix's Jade Thirwall, Spice Girls' Mel C, Daisy May Cooper, and Jonathan Bailey, among others. 

RuPaul's Drag Race UK vs The World premieres February 1st at 4pm ET on WOWPresents+ in the USA. 

Be sure to download and subscribe to Block Talk on your favorite podcast platform where we will cover RuPaul's Drag Race UK vs The World, as well as all other international seasons all year long! 


Baga Chipz 
Drag Race UK 1

courtesy of World of Wonder

Blu Hydrangea
Drag Race UK 1

courtesy of World of Wonder

Cheryl Hole
Drag Race UK 1

courtesy of World of Wonder

Janey Jacke
Drag Race Holland 1

courtesy of World of Wonder

Canada's Drag Race 1

courtesy of World of Wonder

Drag Race 2, All Stars 1, All Stars 5, Queen of the Universe

courtesy of World of Wonder

Canada's Drag Race 1

courtesy of World of Wonder

Mo Heart 
Drag Race 10, All Stars 4

courtesy of World of Wonder

Pangina Heals 
Drag Race Thailand Judge

courtesy of World of Wonder