Our Fearless Leader Talks About Musicals at Keen! by Keen Admin

We just began rehearsals for our FOURTH musical at Keen!


When I began at Keen 6 years ago, the first thing I did was to produce our first ever musical – Stephen Sondheim’s Marry Me A Little. Keen’s work always tugged at the heart strings – and what more natural way to speak to “emotional connection” in our mission than with a musical?

Often when one thinks of a musical, the first thing that comes to mind is a big ol’ splashy Broadway style musical with chorus of dancers and big sets. We specialize in intimate stories that are told simply, perhaps the opposite of what you may think when you hear the word “musical.”

So what is a “Keen musical”?

  • A Keen musical is modest. Ordinary Days will be our largest cast with four performers. Both Marry Me A Little and John & Jen had two performers each, giving you the opportunity to truly get to know the actors and characters.

  • A Keen musical is generally about something relatively minor and its big emotional impact. Tick, Tick…BOOM! is about the week leading up to a composer’s birthday and the workshop of one of his musicals. While the ending packs a huge emotional punch – as Jonathan sits alone at a piano, recommitting to his art – nothing overly dramatic or groundbreaking occurs. No helicopters, no record deals, no cats ascending to the heavens.

  • A Keen musical is intimate. Both Marry Me and John and Jen were performed in our 99 seat theatre at Theatre Row, without amplification and up close. Where else can you see Kate Baldwin sing her heart our just a few feet in front of you without anything getting between you and her voice?

  • A Keen musical is often reimagined. Marry Me a Little was a completely different show than the original. With the assistance of Craig Lucas (who originally conceived and developed the musical) and Mr. Sondheim, we substituted new songs and re-shaped the narrative, adding a whole new arc for the characters. Ordinary Days will feature some changes to the material written by Adam Gwon, as well as new orchestrations by Tony Award Winning orchestrator Bruce Coughlin.

Of course, a Keen musical is not unlike a Keen play: a story that we hope our audiences identify with and relate to. I am confident anyone who has experienced New York City will be able to relate to Ordinary Days!

Back With An Old Friend by Keen Admin

A.R. "Pete" Gurney & Jonathan Silverstein 2013. Photo credit: Carol Rosegg

A.R. "Pete" Gurney & Jonathan Silverstein 2013. Photo credit: Carol Rosegg

Peter Rini, Laura Esterman, and Marsha Dietlein Bennett in The Old Boy 2013 Photo: Carol Rosegg

Peter Rini, Laura Esterman, and Marsha Dietlein Bennett in The Old Boy 2013 Photo: Carol Rosegg

Last week we went into rehearsal with the third play written by our friend, A.R. “Pete” Gurney, his 1993 comedy Later Life. We first produced The Dining Room in 2007 and The Old Boy in 2013. If you don’t count short plays bundled together (we’ve done 2 evenings of Thornton Wilder’s one acts - 7 works in all - but none full lengths), we’ve produced more evenings of Pete's plays than any playwright in our history. 

Why is that?

At Keen, we tell stories about the decisive moments in life that change us. These moments can be small, yet change us in profound ways. Pete wrote about those instances. Whether a child not wanting to take dancing lessons or two acquaintances meeting at a party, Pete had a rare gift to turn the commonplace into the extraordinary. And do so with a healthy sense of humor.

The cast of Later Life. Top: Barbara Garrick, Laurence Lau. Bottom: Liam Craig, Jodie Markell

The cast of Later Life. Top: Barbara Garrick, Laurence Lau. Bottom: Liam Craig, Jodie Markell

In Later Life, he does so not only with our main protagonists, Austin and Ruth, but in a host of characters (all played by the same two actors) who we meet for just a few minutes of stage time each. What always amazes me is the economical and empathetic way Pete paints these characters. In only a few minutes, we get to know them as if we’d spent hours with them — and want to get to know them more. Pete presents them fairly as they’re all trying to do their best in this crazy world we live in.

When Pete would come to theatre on a given night, he’d always ask me “How’s it selling?” In the early days I wondered if that was his ego asking, but as I got to know him better, I knew he asked because he cared for the health of our company. He cared for the theatre the way he cared for his characters - wanting everyone to succeed.

Pete passed away this summer. While we miss him terribly, it is so nice to be back in the room with his characters. Like him, they are true mensches. Even if we can’t have him with us in the flesh, he is certainly with us in spirit every day.

By Jonathan Silverstein


On the eve of first rehearsal... by Keen Admin

FULL DISCLOSURE: It's the night before our first rehearsal. As the director of said show I am on edge. Like many directors, I am always nervous as we approach that first day. So, as I tell my collaborators, think of me with my “Artistic Director hat” on for this post!

A few words of praise from our production of Tick, Tick...BOOM!

It’s an exciting time at Keen as we get ready to start on the second play in our season, Courtney Baron’s When It’s You.

If it feels like yesterday we closed our first show, Jonathan Larson’s Tick, Tick…BOOM!, well, it almost was. TTB extended and ran for 11 weeks total -- and closed before Christmas. Most Keen shows run 7 weeks and close a week or so before Thanksgiving. Tick, Tick…BOOM! also played in a house twice the size of our regular theatre. 100% more seats and almost 50% more of a run? All of us in the office felt like we were running a huge commercial venture. It was thrilling to bring Larson’s story to so many people for such a long time.

Now we’re back to our regularly sized theatre and there are other things we’re excited about: the first new play developed at home, going from our Playwright’s Lab to stage; our first one-woman play; and the first Keen play to deal with a truly up to the minute issue that is effecting our country, gun violence.

There have already been 5,349 incidents of gun vioelnce since January 1st.

There have already been 5,349 incidents of gun vioelnce since January 1st.

Like Tick, Tick…BOOM!, When It’s You is a deeply personal play. While Jonathan in Tick,
delved into issues so many artists (and, indeed, anyone who has had a dream)
face, Ginnifer in When It’s You faces another challenge many of us can relate to: how do events
that hit close to home affect us – and are we able to change because of them?

So many of us are grappling with the change that is roiling our country. While of course we’re rightly concerned about the practical changes in politics and our world, how will these monumental times affect our make up? Will we find meaning? Can we change?

As I wear my “Artistic Director" hat, I look forward to exploring these important questions with you come February. As I prepare to put on my “Director hat” for tomorrow I feel privileged and humbled to be able to explore these truly human questions.

-Jonathan Silverstein

TODAY IS OUR SWEET 16! by Keen Admin

What better way to celebrate our Sweet 16, then a social media party?!

Today, as you know, we are asking all of you amazing fans and supporters to help us commemorate this amazing season by making a small donation of $16.

Remember, each time you give, you are automatically entered for a chance to win 1 of 8 Keen prizes:

  • 2 Subscriptions for the 2016-2017 Season
  • 2 tickets to either Keen production in the 2016-2017 Season
  • John & Jen Cast Album
  • Marry Me A Little Cast Album
  • Keen Teens Volume 1 & 2
  • Gift certificate to Chez Josephine, across the street from Theater Row
  • An exclusive champagne toast for two on the stage with a Keen artist!


Thank you again for all of your support and love over the past 16 years. We would not be here now, if it weren't for all of you. Here's to the next 16 seasons!

Sweet 16 Countdown: Day 15 by Keen Admin

We love our donors so much that we want to give back to those that will be giving $16 on 16 to us. So we are offering a raffle prizes to anyone who donates. At the end of the day we will randomly choose one person to win each of these prizes. Will you be a lucky winner? Find out Friday if you are a lucky winner.

1. A season subscription to Keen Company

2. Two tickets to any 17th season Keen show

3. John & Jen cast recording

4. Marry Me A Little cast recording

5. A signed John & Jen poster

6. Keen Teen Volume 1 & 2

7. A gift certificate to Chez Josephine

8. A champagne toast on the stage with a Keen artist

Donate $16 on 6/16/16 and help us celebrate our #KeenSweet16!

Sweet 16 Countdown: Day 14 by Keen Admin

What $16 means to us.

We know we've been asking you to give $16 on the 16th, but just what can $16 get us, you might have asked yourself? Well here are just a few of the things that we could get with your donation.

Poster that was displayed in our lobby last season

Poster that was displayed in our lobby last season

1. Reams of paper so we can print out scripts for our Keen Play Club.

2. Clamp lights so musicians so see their sheet music during a show.

3. Poster board so we can print more posters and signs to showcase in the lobby.

4. Pens so that we can write lists of everything that needs to get done in a season.

5. Spike tape for rehearsals and so that actors can get used to knowing where furniture will be.

6. Stamps so that we can mail out thank you cards to everyone who has helped us in a season.

7. Binders to to place scripts in for our Playwrights Lab.

8. Laundry detergent so our actors smell and look nice an clean every show.

9. Coffee for our meet & greet with cast and designers at our first rehearsal.

10. Sodas for a pizza party for our Keen Teens.

Post-It notes we leave each other in the office

Post-It notes we leave each other in the office

11. Post-It notes so we don't forget to e-mail donors and so we can leave notes to each other in the office.

12. Cab fare to transfer all of our auction items from the office to the location of our annual Benefit.

13. Cups and utensils for our Opening Night party.

14. A case of water for our panelists at one of our Talkbacks.

15. An hour of rehearsal space for a Committee Meeting.

16. A big smile from all of us here in the office knowing we have such amazing supporters.

The smiles you can induce when you donate $16 on the 16th

The smiles you can induce when you donate $16 on the 16th

Donate $16 on 6/16/16 and help us celebrate our #KeenSweet16!

Sweet 16 Countdown: Day 13 by Keen Admin

A Day of Rest and Reflection

In light of recent news about the Pulse Orlando massacre, we would like to dedicate today as a day of recuperation and silence in solidarity with those who are directly affected by this tragedy. Sometimes you have to regain your strength in order to go full force and celebrate again. Hearing about this news took the wind out of our sales, but just briefly, causing this respite. We will return tomorrow with our countdown and continue to show our love, excitement, and joy. Our hearts are with all those affected.

Sweet 16 Countdown: Day 12 by Keen Admin

In honor of the Tony's tonight we decided to share 16 Tony nominated and award winners that we have worked with.

1. Kate Baldwin, who was in our production of John & Jen, was nominated for Big Fish

2. Kathleen Chalfant, who starred in A Walk In the Woods, was nominated for Angels In America: Millennium Approaches

3. Bobby Steggert, who starred in Boy, was nominated for Ragtime

4. Brian d'Arcy James, who starred in The Good Thief, was recently nominated for Something Rotten

5. Lanford Wilson whose play Lemon Sky we revived, was nominated for Talley's Folly

6. Euan Morton who starred in our revival of The Film Society, was nominated for Taboo

7. Jon Robin Baitz, who wrote The Film Society, was nominated for Other Desert Cities

8. Daniel Jenkins who starred in our production of Travels With My Aunt, was nominated for Big River

9. Lee Blessing, whose play A Walk In the Woods which we revived, was nominated when it originally premiered

10. Jonathan Hadary, who starred in our production of Middle of the Night, was nominated for Gypsy.

11. John Cullum, who starred in Heroes, was nominated for 110 in the Shade

11. Beowulf Boritt, who scenic designed Heroes, is nominted this year for Therese Raquin

12. Stephen Sondheim, whose Marry Me A Little we revived, has been nominated countless times

13. Andrew Lippa, whose Jphn & Jen we revived last year, was nominated for The Addams Family

14. Paddy Chayefsky, who wrote Middle of the Night, was nominated for his previous plays Gideon and The Tenth Man

15. Tina Howe, who wrote Painting Churches which we revived, was nominated for her play Coastal Disturbances

16. Mark Medoff, won the Tony for his plat Children Of A Lesser God, which we revived in our 6th season.

Donate $16 on 6/16/16 and help us celebrate our #KeenSweet16!

Sweet 16 Countdown: Day 11 by Keen Admin

16 Popular Sweet 16 Gifts

1. A car

2. Laptop

3. Cash

4. Customized Jewelry

5. A Fancy Dress

5. Designer Purse

6. A Trip (International or not)

7. Art Supplies

8. DSLR Camera

9. Guitar

10. Spa Day

11. A Photo Collage

12. Journal

13. Beats Headphones

14. Designer Shoes

15. Skateboard/Bike

16. Newest Gaming Console/Video Games

Donate $16 on 6/16/16 and help us celebrate our #KeenSweet16!

Sweet 16 Countdown: Day 10 by Keen Admin

Keen Company staff at 16 years old

If you can believe it, this is Jonathan when he was just a teen. He still makes this face all the time. Some things never change.

Jonathan Silverstein, Artistic Director

Jonathan Silverstein, Artistic Director

Ashley can't kick this high anymore but she is still a firecracker full of energy. Still a joy to work with.

Ashley DiGiorgi, Development & Communications Manager

Ashley DiGiorgi, Development & Communications Manager

Alejandro has since learned how to properly style his hair but has not learned to stop himself from taking silly selfies.

Alejandro La Rosa, Marketing Associate

Alejandro La Rosa, Marketing Associate

Grace still makes her own Halloween costumes from scratch and still has a baller sense of style.

Grace Esmonde, Summer Intern

Grace Esmonde, Summer Intern

Not featured is Lamont Morales, our finance manager, we can only imagine just how suave he must have been as a teen. He's still as cool and funny as ever though.

L to R: Ashley DiGiorgi, Grace Esmonde, Jonathan Silverstein, Lamont Morales, Alejandro La Rosa  Celebrating Keen office mascot, Crsipy T. Dino's birthday

L to R: Ashley DiGiorgi, Grace Esmonde, Jonathan Silverstein, Lamont Morales, Alejandro La Rosa

Celebrating Keen office mascot, Crsipy T. Dino's birthday

From all of us at Keen we hope your Sweet 16 isn't as awkward as ours were.

Donate $16 on 6/16/16 and help us celebrate our #KeenSweet16!