We’re spanning the globe for some quick links and tidbits from the week in theater news:
Let’s start it out like a song with the announcement of New York City Center’s Encores! upcoming season, which includes the life-in-reverse Sondheim/Furth musical Merrily We Roll Along. It should be a must-see given that the show’s score is as tuneful and heartbreaking as anything Sondheim has ever produced.
Mark Rylance. Photo by Simon Annand.
You’ve got another chance to see the Holy Land…at least the theatrical kind. Producers announced that they are extending the run for Jerusalem, the invigoratingly epic new British play featuring an astonishing central turn by Mark Rylance. Tickets are now on sale through August 21.
Speaking of great performances, do you regret missing out on the divine Cate Blanchett in A Streetcar Named Desire? Learn your lesson and grab tickets for the Sydney Theater Company’s Uncle Vanya, starring the Oscar winner and making its only currently announced U.S. stop at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in August. Tickets go on sale June 1 for members and June 10 for the rest of us.
The Drama Desk Awards were handed out and the Book of Mormon, War Horse and Anything Goes juggernauts rolled on. Three surprises worth noting: Norbert Leo Butz took Outstanding Actor in a Musical for Catch Me If You Can, Bobby Cannavale (The Motherf—-er with the Hat) beat out the blockbuster competition for Outstanding Actor in a Play and a limited-run Off-Broadway show, See Rock City, shockingly took the prize for Outstanding Book of a Musical from those seemingly unstoppable Mormon boys.
It’s Fleet Week in New York City, that special time when the Naval flotilla steams into town, officers in dress whites wander the streets of Manhattan and many a young man’s heart beats faster with a deep, throbbing patriotism. And what better way to celebrate our men in uniform than with music theater.
Yeah, you read that right. Believe me, I took a double take when I saw the news as well. One of the marquee events during this salute to the military is a concert aboard the USS Intrepid featuring performances by the casts of current Broadway hits. It’s billed as being for the visiting sailors (and the general public) and what red blooded American hero doesn’t want to see a little Anything Goesand Priscilla Queen of the Desert? It would seem that “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” is truly dead in the water.
Actually, my Dad, a Navy man through and through, still talks about pulling into New York and seeing the original Camelot with some of his friends from the ship, so it’s not as odd as it sounds. And one of the great musical comedy scores of all time, On the Town, follows the adventures of three guys on shore leave. So get your tickets to tour the Intrepid and, tomorrow at noon, join the men of the fleet for a little song and dance from Broadway’s best. Just don’t forget to salute your superiors.
After the jump, let’s get in the mood with some Navy-themed musical numbers:
Every fourth Wednesday of the month, the “VIP Access” column will serve up advice on how to make your theater-going experiences cheaper, easier and more fulfilling with inside scoop from the experts.
Photo by Vadim Kolobanov.
You know that silly old cliche about Broadway actors heading out after their shows for food and drinks, not heading home until the wee hours of the morning? It’s all true. You try doing three hours of singing/dancing aerobics, getting a heroin-like shot of applause, and then going right to bed. It ain’t gonna happen no matter how much Ambien you’ve got. So if you want to do as the Romans do (if the Romans in question are from a revival of Julius Caesar), prepare to reset your clock and hit one of these four popular post-show, theater-district hangouts:
Joe Allen: This is the classic and still popular Broadway bistro of all Broadway bistros. With posters from notorious flops on the walls (a mentor of mine cheekily likes to be sat at the table under one for a show he wrote) and air kisses being proffered from table to table, it feels like Margo Channing could walk in any minute. Years ago, a friend and I once followed Liza Minnelli into Joe Allen off the street, sat at the bar, told the bartender to just keep filling our Cosmos and surreptitiously watched a birthday celebration for Sam Harris (you know, from Star Search) during which Miss Minnelli sang Happy Birthday while Jeckyl/Hyde clapped along. Seriously. And I’m sure it could happen again today.
A tip: I’m going to contradict myself already. Sue me. If you really want to hang with stars at Joe Allen, go around 5pm on a two show day. There will be actresses checking their blackberries and picking at the bounteous La Scala salad after their matinee. Personally, I’d order the awesomely filling, Mom-approved meatloaf and chase it with a scotch from the bar, but I don’t have to get up on stage later that night.
Unless you grew up in New York City, the annual Tony Awards show was your gateway drug to theater bliss. Before Glee made showtunes safe again for prime time, a burgeoning musical lover had to make due with the three show albums in his parents’ collection (in my case, a reel to reel of Camelot, an 8-track of Godspell and a vinyl copy of the Paint Your Wagon motion picture soundtrack–I could have turned my parents’ into child services for that one alone) and wait it out until that one night a year when the world was shiny and bright.
With this year’s Tony Awards fast approaching (Sunday, June 12 on CBS), let’s take a look at video from some of my favorite Tony moments. They may not be the best of all time, but these are the ones that came to mind today:
The producers of the acclaimed revival of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart are offering a special, one-night-only discount to younger audience members for this Thursday night’s performance. Theatergoers born in 1980 or after can purchase tickets from the box office for just $30. In addition, there will be an exclusive talk-back after the show featuring cast members (hosted by NY1’s theatre producer and reporter Frank DiLellaand Playbill Magazine editor-in-chief Blake Ross), focusing on the impact of the AIDS crisis and those who may not be as aware of the history.
The offer follows a volatile give and take between the always-incendiary Larry Kramer and young gay rights activists over comments Kramer has made about the apathy of subsequent generations of gay men. At times, the response has been just as fiery but it is exactly Kramer’s ability to incite people into action that makes him and his play indispensable. This evening promises to be an amazing chance for constructive dialogue and, just as importantly, a way to engage younger patrons who may not be able to afford Broadway prices but would love the chance to see one of the best productions of the year.
How do you know when your dream has come true? Our heart’s desire often comes in unexpected forms or is sandwiched between two big slices of unintended consequences–with a heaping side of over-inflated expectations. So how do you know when what you’ve been wishing for has arrived?
Don’t worry, this is still a theater blog; you’ve not stumbled into Goop or some self-help Gobbledygook. My philosophical ramblings are a result of last night’s opening of the new Off-Broadway musical, Lucky Guy.
What got me asking these questions wasn’t the sweetly generic dreams (you know, the ones that rhyme with “seems”) that are found in the world of the show, a tumbleweed light lark about a country boy trying to get a hit record and the nefarious Nashville duo hoping to steal his song for themselves. No, the dream that fascinated me was Willard Beckham’s three-decade long odyssey to get his musical up on a stage in the Big Apple. Mr. Beckham has workshopped it and shopped it and written it and rewritten it for thirty years. He wrote the book, music and lyrics; he directed this production and, I’m told, he’s the understudy for the villainous country diva. It’s all Beckham, for richer or for poorer.
There are times when the news from the stage gets so exciting, I want to jump up and sing. Like I’m built out of Legos. And performing Mamma Mia. With Czech subtitles. If I did, it might look something like this:
I told you. Wow. (And, somehow, you still get the nuances of the story.) Well, that’s exactly how I feel about this quick news round-up:
The Atlantic Theater Company isn’t playing around as it celebrates it’s 25th Anniversary; it’s pulling out the big guns and loading them with super high caliber talent. (Ouch, that metaphor even hurt me.) 10×25 features a rotating set of ten-minute plays by the iconic likes of John Guare (Six Degrees of Separation), Ethan Coen (No Country For Old Men), Jez Butterworth (Jerusalem), Tina Howe (Coastal Disturbances), Craig Lucas (Reckless), David Auburn (Proof), Sam Shepard (Buried Child) and, of course, Atlantic leading light David Mamet (do I really have to?). As Mamet might say, this big f—ing deal runs through June 26.
Every third Wednesday (hump day of the hump week), a fabulous actor/singer/dancer currently on Broadway will fill out my nosey little questionnaire and offer a glimpse of what they look like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. And Mr. May is…
The best part of the show I’m in now is… the tap number. Peering out into a sea of bouncing-around-in-their-seats audience members and watching them erupt at the end is exactly how I have always imagined performing on Broadway would be. … the backstage antics. I definitely spend more time offstage in this show than I do onstage, which gives me and my partner in crime, Mr. Raymond J. Lee, ample opportunity to run around like idiots. … the company. What a blessing it is to love coming to “work” every night. Everyone involved in this show is awesome.
The worst job in show business I ever had was…a non-equity, educational Shakespeare tour in some of the most underprivileged schools in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. A typical day might have happened like this: 1. Wake up at 5am and load a smelly, 15-passenger van full of set pieces and costumes in 8-degree February weather. 2. Travel to venue, unload, and set up to do Romeo & Juliet by 8:00am. (no actor should be required to perform a tragedy until, at the very least, The Price Is Right has aired. That should be a rule. Seriously.) 3. Barrel through the show, despite the 300 teenagers who would much rather be at home watching The Hills or Flavor of Love with Flavor Flav. 4. Ignore a fifteen-year-old and his equally distracting cohorts who yell, “Rape The Bitch!” as you enter for the final emotional scene where Romeo discovers Juliet’s lifeless body. (No kidding. This really happened.) 5. Do a post-show discussion where you field such riveting questions as “I didn’t get it?” and “Are you guys gay?” 6. Pack the set and costumes back into the van, travel to the next venue, unload, and do it all over again. 7. Finally arrive back home 12 hours after you left and figure out what you’re going to do with the $15 you made that day.
If I were a betting man (and I am if you get me near a church-picnic bingo table), I’d say the Outer Critics Circle just laid out a rock solid slate to mark off on your Tony pool ballot. Announced yesterday, the organization’s awards in major categories went to War Horse (Best Play), The Book of Mormon (Best Musical), Mark Rylance (Best Actor in a Play), Josh Gad (Best Actor in a Musical) and Sutton Foster (Best Actress in a Musical). The only wrinkle for us prediction junkies was their choice for Best Actress in a Play: a tie between Nina Arianda and Frances McDormand. It’s hard to guess which number will be called when you’ve got two great draws in the irresistible “star is born” newcomer and the beloved Hollywood star-power vet. My favorite win, though, was Laura Benanti’s well-deserved trophy for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for the much-maligned Women on the Verge of a Nervouse Breakdown; just thinking back to her hysterical turn makes me want to climb up on my folding chair and shout, “Bingo!”
Continue reading after the jump for the Obie Award winners and video of a surprise Broadway wedding proposal…