Deal: “Hamilton” for a Hamilton

Do you want to see Hamiltonone of the hottest shows of the season, but didn’t score a ticket to the now sold-out run? TodayTix, the mobile app for securing discount and hard-to-get seats, has partnered with the Public Theater to offer a limited number of $10 seats.

Click here to download the app and catch this brilliant new musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda before it makes the jump to Broadway this summer.

Lin-Manuel Miranda (center) and the cast of "Hamilton" (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Lin-Manuel Miranda (center) and the cast of “Hamilton” (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

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Categories: The Buzz, VIP Access

Don’t Miss: RSC’s Wolf Hall

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"Wolf Hall, Part 2: Bring Up the Bodies" (photo: Johan Persson via The Broadway Blog.)

“Wolf Hall, Part 2: Bring Up the Bodies” (photo: Johan Persson via The Broadway Blog.)

It seems like only yesterday (well… 15 years ago) that CATS played its last epic performance at the Winter Garden Theatre. Sure, there have been other tenants like Mamma Mia! and the short-lived, sucker punch of a musical, ROCKY. But the last time the theater saw a legitimate play was the 1982 production of Othello, starring James Earl Jones, Christopher Plummer and Dianne Wiest. Good things come to those who wait.

Wolf Hall: Parts 1 & 2, the epic historical drama based on the best selling novels by Dame Hilary Mantel (Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies) about the deceit, betrayal, and intrigue of the court of Henry VIII, arrives this spring. Adapted for the stage by Mike Poulton, this special event invites theatergoers to be part of a unique theatrical experience, similar to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s award winning production of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.

"Wolf Hall" (photo: Johan Persson via The Broadway Blog.)

“Wolf Hall” (photo: Johan Persson via The Broadway Blog.)

Wolf Hall: Parts 1 & 2 features a company of more than twenty actors, headed by Ben Miles as Thomas Cromwell, Lydia Leonard as Anne Boleyn, and Nathaniel Parker as King Henry VIII, all under the direction of Olivier Award nominee Jeremy Herrin, who makes his New York City directing début.

For those willing to bunker down for both parts, package tickets are available, but if budget or limited brain capacity inhibit the full-throttle experience, producers have announced that patrons can also purchase each part of the theatrical event individually.

In addition, a limited number of student tickets will be available for $27 per part, and will be available online at www.Tix4Students.com.

Will Wolf Hall be as successful as last season repertory productions of Twelfth Night and Richard III? Time will tell…

 

Wolf Hall, Parts 1 & 2
Winter Garden Theatre
1634 Broadway
March 20 – July 5 in repertory.

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Categories: The Buzz

Three to See: March

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Helen Mirren and Elizabeth Teeter in "The Audience." (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog)

Helen Mirren and Elizabeth Teeter in “The Audience.” (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog)

The Audience
Calling all Anglophiles. Academy Award winner Helen Mirren will return to Broadway this spring as Elizabeth II in Peter Morgan’s The Audience, directed by two-time Tony Award winner Stephen Daldry.

For sixty years Elizabeth II has met each of her twelve Prime Ministers in a weekly audience at Buckingham Palace. Both parties have an unspoken agreement never to repeat what is said, not even to their spouses. The Audience imagines a series of pivotal meetings between the Downing Street incumbents and their Queen.

From Churchill to Cameron, each Prime Minister uses these private conversations as a sounding board and a confessional—sometimes intimate, sometimes explosive. In turn, the Queen can’t help but reveal her own self as she advises, consoles and, on occasion, teases. These private audiences chart the arc of the second Elizabethan Age, from the beginning of Elizabeth II’s reign to today. Politicians come and go through the revolving door of electoral politics, while she remains constant, waiting to welcome her next Prime Minister.

Helen Mirren received the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Play for her role as Queen Elizabeth II in The Audience, reprising her Academy Award winning role from the film The Queen, also written by Peter Morgan.

The Audience
Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
236 West 45th Street
Opening night: March 8 (through June 28)

 

ebd8e9_d60838f03bd34711a9360a9955f6ba5d.jpg_srz_394_590_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srzOn the Twentieth Century
It’s been more than 35 years since this madcap musical was seen on Broadway (save a one-night only performance in 2005). The original featured the hilarities of Madeline Kahn, John Cullum and Imogene Coca. This revival, presented by the Roundabout, will feature Kristin Chenoweth, Peter Gallagher and Mary Louise Wilson respectively.

It’s nonstop laughs aboard the Twentieth Century, a luxury train traveling from Chicago to New York City. Luck, love and mischief collide when a bankrupt theater producer embarks on a madcap mission to cajole a glamorous Hollywood starlet into playing the lead in his new, non-existent epic drama. But is the train ride long enough to reignite the spark between these former lovers, create a play from scratch, and find the money to get it all the way to Broadway?

On the Twentieth Century
American Airlines Theatre
227 West 42nd Street
Opening night: March 12 (through July 5)

 

(l to r) Bryce Pinkham, Elisabeth Moss and Jason Biggs in "The Heidi Chronicles." (photo: Jason Bell via The Broadway Blog)

(l to r) Bryce Pinkham, Elisabeth Moss and Jason Biggs in “The Heidi Chronicles.” (photo: Jason Bell via The Broadway Blog)

The Heidi Chronicles
Wendy Wasserstein’s play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1989 (along with the Tony award for Best New Play) and director du jour Pam MacKinnon (A Delicate Balance, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) hopes to put her stamp on its much-anticipated Broadway revival.

The play is the poignant coming-of-age story of three iconic decades of American culture: the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Through Heidi Holland, now a successful art historian, Wasserstein looked back on the promises of a generation in a work that established her voice in the canon of quintessential theater forever. Starring Golden Globe winner Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men), along with Jason Biggs (Orange is the New Black, The Good Wife) and Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder), the sweeping and poignant play charts 19 characters through 13 scenes in 3 decades and 4 cities, as three unlikely friends come to realize that the fight for what you believe in can bring you a long way… maybe.

The Heidi Chronicles
Music Box Theatre
239 West 45th Street
Opening night: March 19

We’ve got a March Madness bonus pick! Take the leap to find out what show is worth heading to Philadelphia for…

Read more…

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Categories: The Buzz, Three to See

Review: “Hamilton” at The Public Theater

February 27th, 2015 View Comment(s)

by Samuel Leiter

The cast of "Hamilton" (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

The cast of “Hamilton” (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

As anyone who’s been following the theater season lately is undoubtedly aware, Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s new musical at the Public Theatre, based on the life of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, is the hottest ticket of the new year. Visitors to the Public’s website seeking tickets, even at the Broadway-level price of $120 a pop, will discover that nary a seat is to be found for the duration of the run. But savvy readers also know that the show will be moving to Broadway later in the year.

Lin-Manuel Miranda (center) and the cast of "Hamilton" (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Lin-Manuel Miranda (center) and the cast of “Hamilton” (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

This will be a risky move, given the current climate for Broadway musicals, what with the revival of Side Show having disappeared shortly after opening, and the box offices of two other critics’ favorites, On the Town and Honeymoon in Vegas, gasping for oxygen. Can Hamilton, a sung-through show, much of it performed in rhyming hip-hop verse, draw the tourist trade that supports the Great White Way? Remember, for all the imaginative contemporary vibes the show produces, this is a two hours and forty-five minute endeavor based on an 800-page doorstopper by Ron Chernow about the abundantly active life of Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), America’s first Secretary of the Treasury, and the face on the ten-dollar bill.

There’s no disputing the show’s brilliance. Despite his extensive use of hip-hop rhythms, Miranda (In the Heights)—who’s responsible for the book, lyrics, and music, and also plays the title role—infuses his 34 songs with a large number of musical styles, including jazz, pop, R&B, conventional Broadway, and even the Beatles, all terrifically orchestrated by Alex Lacamoire. But, with no spoken dialogue, per se, conversations are necessarily cast as rap routines (including occasional profanity), which are used for biographical, historical, political, military, personal, and romantic communication. It’s a tribute to Miranda’s genius that his imagination never runs dry and that he’s capable of continual surprises in how well he uses his original approach to convey an incident-laden narrative with humor, passion, and historical accuracy (Chernow served as an advisor).

And history is definitely the big takeaway, since Hamilton covers so much ground concerning the man’s role in the American Revolution and the subsequent political turmoil surrounding the new nation’s birth. The action focuses on Hamilton and his friend and nemesis, Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom, Jr.), while also covering the wide sweep of events in late eighteenth century America, with a number of characters getting their moment to shine. It’s fascinating to see how effectively actors of varying ethnicities and skin colors embody such white leaders as Thomas Jefferson (Daveed Diggs), Lafayette (also Diggs), George Washington (Christopher Jackson), Hercules Mulligan (Okieriete Onaodowan), James Madison (also Onaodowan), and others. And then there are the women in Hamilton’s life, notably the Schuyler sisters, Angelica (Renée Elise Goldsberry), Peggy (Jasmine Cephas Jones), and Eliza (Phillipa Soo), whom Hamilton weds. The diversity of Hamilton’s America is made deliciously palpable during the several sequences devoted to the sneeringly self-satisfied King George, played with hilarious arrogance by the whiter than white Brian D’Arcy James (soon to be replaced by Glee and Looking star Jonathan Groff).

Read more…

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Review: John and Jen

February 26th, 2015 View Comment(s)

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Kate Baldwin and Conor Ryan in "John & Jen" (Photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)

Kate Baldwin and Conor Ryan in “John & Jen” (Photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)

It’s been 20 years since the original production of John & Jen, a song cycle musical by Andrew Lippa and Tom Greenwald. A lot can happen in two decades. Lippa has gone on to write the theatrical oratorio I Am Harvey Milk (in which he has also appeared), The Addams Family, and a retrospective of his work, Life of the Party, was presented at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory last summer. Greenwald is the author of the young adult book series, Charlie Joe Jackson. People grow up and move on—and occasionally bear the weight of life on life’s terms. Such is the subject matter of their endearing, if sometimes saccharine riff on sibling/parent relations and letting go, now receiving a respectable revival by Keen Company.

Conor Ryan and Kate Baldwin in "John & Jen" (Photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)

Conor Ryan and Kate Baldwin in “John & Jen” (Photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)

Starring Conor Ryan as John (The Fortress of Solitude, Cinderella), and Tony Award nominee Kate Baldwin as Jen (Big Fish, Finian’s Rainbow), the musical’s first act follows the course of brother and sister respectively as they find coping mechanisms for an abusive father. Jen as the older sibling makes a promise she can’t keep: to protect her little brother and always be there for him. But as they grow older and transition from 1950s America to the Vietnam Era, Jen’s tolerance for violence informs her decision to stay away from the family and ultimately move to Canada, leaving her brother at home to fend for himself. He joins the military and prior to deployment, the pair has an uncomfortable reunion. It’s the last time they’ll ever see each other.

The second act picks up years later and there is a new John in Jen’s life: her namesake son. As a single mom, Jen smothers (albeit with love) her son, desperately trying to keep the memory of her brother alive. You can imagine how that goes. Through some innovative theatrics, including a talk show sequence where the actors have a brief reprieve from their main characters, the mother-son relation finds resolution and the bird—so to speak—is set free to fly.

Kate Baldwin and Conor Ryan in "John & Jen" (Photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)

Kate Baldwin and Conor Ryan in “John & Jen” (Photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)

Baldwin and Ryan do their best to navigate the material. As sister then mother, Baldwin is tasked with a vast range of age and emotion. While less believable in the first act, she hits her stride in Act 2, where the maternal instincts (and age range) feel like a more natural fit. Ryan, who has skyrocketed onto the New York theater scene since his graduation from the University of Michigan last year, displays an adept physicality as well as restraint when appropriate. Each has his or her shining moments, though the physical production doesn’t do them any favors.

Steven C. Kemp’s oppressive set feels more suited to a futurist production of King Lear, with gloomy and foreboding geometrical shapes jutting in all directions in the Clurman Theatre’s wide proscenium. Josh Bradford’s lighting feels misplaced and over saturated. Combined, these elements exude an unnecessary weight on a production that would be better served by more fluidity and space.

Directed by Keen Company’s Artistic Director Jonathan Silverstein and featuring musical direction by Lily Ling, John & Jen reaches for emotional summits and occasionally finds them. For musical theater fans, the show offers insight into the Lippa cannon, offering early glimpses of his current status as one of the more prominent theater composers of this generation. And while the musical may not always soar to new heights, it is an endearing exploration of the human spirit.

John and Jen
Presented by Keen Company
Clurman Theatre, Theatre Row
410 West 42nd Street
Through April 4

Matthew Wexler is the editor of The Broadway Blog as well as the national style and travel editor for EDGE Media Network. Follow him on Twitter at @roodeloo.

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Review: “The Nether” at MCC Theatre

February 25th, 2015 View Comment(s)

by Samuel Leiter

Ben Rosenfield, Sophia Anne Caruso and Merritt Wever in MCC Theater’s “The Nether” (Photo by Jenny Anderson via The Broadway Blog.)

Ben Rosenfield, Sophia Anne Caruso and Merritt Wever in MCC Theater’s “The Nether” (Photo by Jenny Anderson via The Broadway Blog.)

It’s a long way from the 1982 film Tron to Jennifer Haley’s play, The Nether, now being produced by the MCC Theater at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, but both do concern a world where it’s possible for human beings to enter computer systems and interact there with others. Tron deals with the world of video games and Haley’s play with virtual reality as experienced in a dystopian future via the Nether, the next step in the development of what we call the Internet. This dark, murky, and sometimes uncomfortable exploration of pedophiliac obsession—which premiered in Los Angeles in 2013, and is now playing on the West End—raises as many questions as it answers, but it has a mesmeric fascination that grabs you during its 80 intermissionless minutes and rarely lets you go.

According to the script’s citation of urbandictionary.com, the Nether is a world of mythical creatures, a demon world, or a dimension of evil or imagination. We’re introduced to it via an interrogation, held in a grim, black-bricked room by a young female investigator, Detective Morris (Merritt Wever of Nurse Jackie), who is questioning a gray-haired businessman, Sims (Frank Wood). Sims is tired and wants to go home to his wife. He insists, though, that he has no kids, lives in a brownstone, and that his wife is sterile, while Morris declares he lives in a Victorian country home, has four quaintly named children, one of them a girl named Iris, and that he faces charges of “Solicitation. Rape. Sodomy. Murder,” from which he’s made a lot of money. Still, Morris, who identifies herself as “an in-world representative” of a Nether investigative unit, says Sims is free to go, except that if he does he’ll never be able to use a computer terminal again. Since Sims’s business is tied up in the Nether, this is unacceptable. Making him even more worried is Morris’s threat to locate and detain his children, the ones he says he doesn’t have.

Ben Rosenfield and Sophia Anne Caruso in MCC Theater’s “The Nether” (Photo by Jenny Anderson via The Broadway Blog.)

Ben Rosenfield and Sophia Anne Caruso in MCC Theater’s “The Nether” (Photo by Jenny Anderson via The Broadway Blog.)

Somewhere in the Nether, you see, Sims, known there as “Papa,” has established an online realm of virtual reality roleplaying, complete with physical sensations, called the Hideaway where members enter and engage in pedophiliac relationships with children. Morris’s mission is to find Sims’s server and delete his realm. The children, who never grow old, are personas adopted by adult men, just as the members who visit them do so in the guise of Victorian-era men, their appearance chosen from “a set of prescribed looks.” The person who, in the guise of a handsome young man named Woodnut (Ben Rosenfield), enters Sims’s realm to investigate its activities establishes a friendship with a child named Iris (Sophia Anne Caruso), an Alice in Wonderland lookalike; before long we discover who Woodnut actually is.

Guests, we learn, are free even to murder their young friends multiple times with an ax, and sweet little Iris—the thought makes me shiver—has no compunctions about offering herself to Woodnut for this purpose. Some patrons find life in the Hideaway so compelling (“Real children are hard to come by these days,” says Sims) they “cross over” and dwell there permanently, which they do by becoming “shades,” sitting before their terminals while hooked up to life support systems.

Laura Jellinek’s brooding set, abetted by the spookily shifting lighting of Ben Stanton, allows for the intrusion of dream-world beauty when its upstage corners open to reveal Iris’s pink Victorian bedroom at one side or a gorgeous garden at the other. Jessica Pabst’s lovely Victorian costumes clash appropriately with the drab garments of the contemporary scenes. Veterans Wood and Friedman make their odd roles totally plausible, as does Rosenfield as the romantic lead, so to speak. Thirteen-year-old Caruso could not be better as the picture of tempting nine-year-old innocence, but Wever offers little depth to the curious detective.

Frank Wood and Merritt Wever in MCC Theater’s “The Nether” (Photo by Jenny Anderson via The Broadway Blog.)

Frank Wood and Merritt Wever in MCC Theater’s “The Nether” (Photo by Jenny Anderson via The Broadway Blog.)

Haley has crafted a nightmarish, sci-fi hall of mirrors; at the end, a scene we’ve observed in the Nether is repeated with the adorable sweetheart whose persona has been adopted by a balding, bearded man named Doyle (Peter Friedman)—a distinguished middle-school science teacher under investigation—played out with Doyle himself saying the words. It’s hard not to squirm at the vision.

The play, tightly directed by Anne Kauffman, raises some challenging questions touching on issues of reality versus non-reality, our preoccupation with online activity, the value of online censorship, the positive effects of acting out perversions via digital means, and the criminality of virtual behavior where no one is physically harmed. There are various wormholes of logic and plausibility to ponder; some may find they make the drama too far-fetched. Others, though, will surely consider The Nether intriguing enough to log on and see for themselves.

The Nether
Lucille Lortel Theatre
121 Christopher Street, NYC
Through March 15 

Samuel L. Leiter is Distinguished Professor Emeritus (Theater) of Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, CUNY. He has written and/or edited 27 books on Japanese theater, New York theater, Shakespeare, and the great stage directors. For more of his reviews, visit Theatre’s Leiter Side (www.slleiter.blogspot.com).

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Categories: To See or Not To See

Broadway by the Year: The Broadway Musicals of 1916-1940

February 25th, 2015 View Comment(s)

by Samuel Leiter

Aleka Emerson and Danny Gardner (Photo: Maryann Lopinto via The Broadway Blog.)

Aleka Emerson and Danny Gardner (Photo: Maryann Lopinto via The Broadway Blog.)

The wind-chill factor may have been zero degrees outside on Monday night, but numerous dyed-in-the-wool Broadway musical theater fans, who may that morning have complained, “Oh, How I Hate to Get up in the Morning,” nonetheless thought it worth their while to “Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag” and “Charleston” over to the Town Hall to hear two dozen singers “Say It with Music” in the latest edition of the popular Broadway by the Year series.

Chuck Cooper (Photo: Maryann Lopinto via The Broadway Blog.)

Chuck Cooper (Photo: Maryann Lopinto via The Broadway Blog.)

To paraphrase one of the evening’s songs, Porgy and Bess’s “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” brilliantly performed by Chuck Cooper, “Little Scott was small, but oh my,” by which I mean Scott Siegel, the bantam-sized impresario who has been creating, producing, and hosting these one-off musical revues at the Town Hall for 15 years. For his latest edition, the indefatigable Siegel once more rounded up a stellar company of established and rising theater and cabaret stars, supplemented by a well-drilled, nine-member chorus singing in perfect harmony under the musical direction of Ross Patterson at the piano, with Randy Landau on bass and Jamie Eblen on drums. Mindy Cooper provided the spot-on direction and choreography.

Instead of devoting the evening to the outstanding Broadway songs of a single year, this edition offered a cornucopia of a single song from every year between 1916 and 1940, most of them familiar gems, but some less well known, like “No, You Can’t Have My Heart,” from 1938’s You Never Know, scintillatingly sung by Emily Skinner, to which was added a “bonus” number featuring Skinner and powerful baritone William Michals performing “It Never Was” from 1938’s Knickerbocker Holiday.

The year-by-year agenda means that some great shows aren’t represented, so when 1927 rolled around, the audience rejoiced to “The Varsity Drag,” from Good News, superbly sung and danced by Danny Gardner and Aleka Emerson, but Show Boat was nowhere to be found. This was a tiny price to pay for an evening that packed in 27 songs, presented chronologically, with Siegel at a podium linking one to the other with brief and witty historical commentary.

Emily Skinner (Photo: Maryann Lopinto via The Broadway Blog.)

Emily Skinner (Photo: Maryann Lopinto via The Broadway Blog.)

Very few show tunes become part of the popular music environment anymore. It’s hard to conceive of a year-by-year compilation revue covering 1991 to 2015 in which the average audience would be as familiar with the selections as the (admittedly senior) audience at the Town Hall was with these numbers by George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and so many others. Here, for example, were “Somebody Loves You” from George White’s Scandals of 1924, sung by Liz Larsen ; “The St. Louis Blues” from Blackbirds of 1928, sung by Lumiri Tubo; “More Than You Know” from Great Day (1929), sung by Nancy Anderson; “Body and Soul” from Three’s a Crowd (1930), sung by Carole J. Bufford; “The Thrill Is Gone” from George White’s Scandals of 1931, sung by Tonya Pinkins; “Night and Day” from The Gay Divorce (1932), sung by Stephen Bogardus; “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” from Roberta (1933), sung by Maxine Linehan; “Anything Goes” from Anything Goes (1934), sung by Karen Mason; and on and on.

This is a straightforward show, with few frills, in which one singer after the other enters, sings their heart out, and demonstrates not only the richness of our musical theater past but the enormous depth of our musical performing talent today. Broadway by the Year will follow up with its next edition on March 30, when the musical highlights of 1941-1965 will be featured. I’m already wondering what shows will be represented: Lady in the Dark? Oklahoma!? One Touch of Venus? Carousel? Annie Get Your Gun? And that takes us only to 1946!

Samuel L. Leiter is Distinguished Professor Emeritus (Theater) of Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, CUNY. He has written and/or edited 27 books on Japanese theater, New York theater, Shakespeare, and the great stage directors. For more of his reviews, visit Theatre’s Leiter Side (www.slleiter.blogspot.com).

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Categories: The Buzz

Weston Playhouse Offers Sneak Peek of “Resident Alien”

February 24th, 2015 View Comment(s)
(Photo provided by Weston Playhouse.)

(Photo provided by Weston Playhouse.)

 

Beyond Broadway’s bright lights and the concrete jungle of New York City, there are plenty of theater companies who are developing new works. If you’re headed to Vermont this weekend for a ski weekend, perhaps take a side trail to the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company, which will light up a winter night with a free concert of songs from an exciting new musical performed by top Broadway talent. On Saturday, February 28 at 8 p.m., a cast of five will sing selections from Katya Stanislavskaya’s new musical Resident Alien. The event has been designated a VT Arts 2015 event by the Vermont Arts Council.

On stage will be Sarah Uriarte Berry and David Bonanno of Broadway and Weston’s The Light in the Piazza, Caitlin Kinnunen of Weston’s Pregnancy Pact and Broadway’s The Bridges of Madison County, Marissa McGowan of Broadway and Weston’s Les Miserables, and A.J. Shively of Broadway’s La Cage Aux Folles.  The musical director for the event is Charity Wicks of Broadway’s Spring Awakening.

Resident Alien is the winner of Weston’s 9th annual New Musical Award. Each year, the unique award supports one new work by a writer or writers of notable promise, chosen from a group of national nominations. The winner, along with a music director and cast, will be in Weston to rehearse and perform selections from the piece prior to a concert and recording session in New York City.

Resident Alien is an original story of the Berdichevsky family, who emigrate to New York from the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s. The musical explores the theme of the main characters’ ability—or inability—to adapt to a new set of rules. The musical has been developed at the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop, the Dramatists Guild Fellowship, and New York Theatre Barn.

Weston’s New Works Programs are supported by the Anton Family Foundation, Dramatists Play Service, the Frederick Loewe Foundation, Stacey Mindich Productions, Music Theatre International, the Rodgers and Hammerstein Foundation, Tams-Witmark Music Library, and many generous individual donors.

The February 28 concert will be held at the Weston Playhouse, 12 Park Street, just off Route 100 S in Weston, Vermont. There is ample parking around the Village Green and in the adjacent Weston Mill Yard. The hour-long concert begins at 8pm and will be followed by a wine and cheese reception with the writer and performers. No reservations are necessary. For more information, call 802-824-8167 x110.
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Categories: The Buzz, Way Off Broadway

Review: Rocket to the Moon

February 23rd, 2015 View Comment(s)

by Samuel L. Leiter

Katie McClellan, Ned Eisenberg and Larry Bull in "Rocket to the Moon" (Photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)

Katie McClellan, Ned Eisenberg and Larry Bull in “Rocket to the Moon” (Photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)

Seeing the Peccadillo Theater Company’s production of Clifford Odets’s rarely revived 1938 dramedy Rocket to the Moon, directed by Dan Wackerman, makes one wonder why it hasn’t been produced more often. Not that this respectable revival is without its serious drawbacks; still, it’s good enough to demonstrate the play’s continued stage-worthiness. Even lesser Odets is better than many of the new plays that fill local stages season in and season out. And even the word “lesser” may be inappropriate for those who believe this to be Odets’s overlooked masterpiece.

Jonathan Hadary and Katie McClellan in a "Rocket to the Moon." (Photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)

Jonathan Hadary and Katie McClellan in a “Rocket to the Moon.” (Photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)

Originally produced by the Group Theatre in that fabled company’s troubled later days, Rocket to the Moon takes place during a steaming New York summer in the office of a forty-year-old dentist, Ben Stark (Ned Eisenberg, who hasn’t seen forty since 1997). Business is slow and the phone isn’t exactly jumping off the hook. Ben’s scolding wife of ten years, Belle (Marilyn Matarrese), who lost their only child at birth three years earlier, opposes his accepting the offer of her wealthy, theatrically flamboyant father, Mr. Prince (Jonathan Hadary), who thinks Ben should move to a fancier address where he can become a high-paid specialist. The too-cautious Belle is for holding Ben back, but her father, to whom she will not speak, urges Ben to take risks, to “Take a rocket to the moon. Explode!” or even have an affair, if he’s ever going to be liberated and grow.

Ben finds the charms of his desperately lonely, naïve, self-dramatizing, love-starved, and inefficient nineteen-year-old dental assistant, Cleo Singer (Katie McClellan), irresistible. This sets up a triangle: husband, wife, and lover. But another triangle materializes when Ben must compete for Cleo’s affections with the grandiose aspirations of his Mephistophelian father-in-law, a rivalry complicated by the desires of smooth operator Willy Wax (Lou Liberatore, ineffective), a dance director. Until she gets wise to him, Cleo, who has artistic aspirations, thinks Willy can help her become a dancer. Although Ben’s the one Cleo really loves, he is, to Cleo’s chagrin, unable to leave his wife. As the summer nears its end, Cleo, having grown up quickly, and seeing nothing for her in Ben or Mr. Prince, departs to find what she’s really looking for, “a whole full world, with all the trimmings!” Meanwhile the dejected Ben tries to convince himself that his life is just “beginning.”

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Categories: The Buzz, Three to See

SYTYCD’s Ricky Ubeda Joins “On the Town”

February 21st, 2015 View Comment(s)
Ricky Ubeda (photo provided by Matt Ross PR.)

Ricky Ubeda (photo provided by Matt Ross PR.)

The new Broadway revival of On The Town will welcome So You Think You Can Dance winner and “America’s Favorite Dancer” Ricky Ubeda to the cast beginning February 27, 2015 for a limited engagement through April 26, 2015. Ubeda received the opportunity to join the cast as part of his prize for winning SYTYCD in September 2014. Directed by John Rando (Tony Award® for Urinetown) and choreographed by Joshua Bergasse (Emmy Award winner for “Smash”) On The Town began previews on Saturday, September 20, 2014 and officially opened on Thursday, October 16, 2014 at Broadway’s Lyric Theatre (213 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036). Tickets for the new Broadway revival of On The Town are available at Ticketmaster.com.

Ricky Ubeda is originally from Miami, Florida where he began dancing at a young age. The majority of his dance training was done at Stars Dance Studio under the direction of Victor Smalley and Angel Armas. While attending Coral Reef Senior High School in 2014, Ricky auditioned for Season 11 of So You Think You Can Dance and was eventually crowned the winner as “America’s Favorite Dancer.” Immediately following SYTYCD, Ricky participated in a 77-city nation wide tour. His accomplishments have been featured in Dance Spirit Magazine and he has been a live guest on LIVE! with Kelly and Michael and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, to name a few. Ricky is also an emerging choreographer who brings his passionate and inspiring classes to young dancers across the nation.

On The Town is on more Top 10 lists than any other musical this year.  It’s an “explosion of pure joy” (David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter) with “the best dancing on Broadway” (Ben Brantley of The New York Times on NPR). Featuring eye popping sets and gorgeous costumes, On The Town has “a rapturous and red blooded score” (Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News) by Leonard Bernstein, one of America’s greatest composers, brilliantly played by a 28 piece orchestra – the biggest on Broadway.  This hit musical comedy is “everything a great show should be!” (Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal).  Join three sailors with only 24-hour shore leave in New York as three beautiful New York women sweep them off their feet for one amazing night On The Town!

'On The Town' (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

‘On The Town’ (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

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Categories: Show Folk, The Buzz