Jenifer Foote, Danny Burstein & Kiira Schmidt. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Calling all Broadway Babies!
If you’re in New York City tomorrow, you can buy the newly released two-disc recording of the current Broadway Follies and get it signed by Bernadette Peters, Jan Maxwell, Danny Burstein, Ron Raines, Elaine Paige and–drumroll, please–the usually personal-appearance-shy Stephen Sondheim! Members of the critically-acclaimed cast and the legendary composer will be at the Barnes and Noble store at 86th & Lexington for one-on-one time with their fans from 4pm until 5:30pm, on December 1st only.
Now, an event as unusual as this one has some very strict rules which I will copy directly from the press release [followed by my commentary] because…well…they are serious about this thing. I mean, after reading the announcement, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are FBI background checks and full body scans going on in the “Home and Garden” aisle. Let me quote:
First National Tour Cast of "Next to Normal". Photo by Craig Schwartz.
In our continuing series, we’re taking a look at songs cut from Broadway musicals to see what happens in the making of a show. Next up–Next to Normal.
Did you know that the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical about a family dealing with a mother’s bipolar disorder started as a 10 minute piece called Feeling Electric? I can actually vouch for the wiki info because I was there ,a decade before the show hit Broadway, in the BMI music theater workshop as a fellow student with Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey when they presented their very arresting piece to “graduate” from the initial two-year program. Unlike the finished product, this original incarnation focused more on electro-shock therapy than the family’s dilemma, but its visceral, rock sound was already in place.
The show’s success (after a roller coaster of regional and Off-Broadway presentations) is a testament to the belief of the writers and producers as well as a stark example of the years it takes to make a musical work. Most shows you see, no matter how simple or effervescent they may appear, have similar stories of long, hard development behind them.
So let’s explore the show that was by listening to the original title song, “Feeling Electric”. An almost parodic, swaggering rocker song sung by the doctor performing the shock therapy, it was ultimately cut as the show shifted focus to the family dynamic and as it refined its sensibility to be less comedic and surreal. Take a listen to this version from a 2002 workshop sung by (I believe) Greg Naugton…
Hugh Dancy & Nina Arianda in "Venus in Fur". Photo by Joan Marcus.
Breathtaking. You know what it means (I mean, it’s kind of right there in all its Germanic word combining glory) but how often does it actually happen? When was the last time something made you forget to take in air and then grapple for it in an awed gasp, so surprised or moved or delighted that your body reacts involuntarily?
During this last week at the theater in New York, three performers actually took my breath away–and for that I am more thankful than for any turkey and stuffing (though that turned out pretty good, too…my gravy, not so much.) All three honest-to-goodness gasps were caused by whisper-thin, barely perceptible transitions, almost as fleeting as the limited-engagement runs of the shows they reside in. So, if you want to catch these moments for yourself, hurry up and see:
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. This month, we’re going to prepare you for the holiday season…
"Turkey Lurkey Time". Image via YouTube.
It’s Loosey Goosey time…at least when it comes to finding when your favorite Broadway shows are actually running. With the holiday season upon us, each show goes its own way with whether to have performances on Thanksgiving (like Godspell and Private Lives) or skip New Year’s Day and let their casts nurse hangovers (like The Book of Mormon or Lysistrata Jones).
Thankfully, the kind folks at the Broadway League have put together comprehensive schedules for the weeks ahead. Just click for Thanksgiving Week, Christmas Week, New Year’s Week and enjoy!
Want a side of awesome sauce with your Turkey, here’s video of the original Broadway cast of Promises, Promises performing one of the most exuberant and sixties-rific dance numbers in music theater history, “The Turkey Lurkey”. (Hint: Get past the silliness of the song and go right to the hip-swivelling, head snapping perfection of the dance.)
Image via Serino Coyne.
The Broadway Blog has a voucher for two free tickets to see An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin, a once-in-a-lifetime limited engagement, running through January 13th. Instead of keeping it for ourselves, we’re offering the tickets to our readers and fellow theater lovers. Now you can join the two Broadway legends as they embark on “an entirely original evening: a musical love story, rendered through the songs of Sondheim, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Kander & Ebb, Loesser and more.”
How do you enter for the chance to win? Go to The Broadway Blog’s facebook page and click “like” before November 30. We’ll select a winner at random from that list and announce the results here on the blog. If you’ve already clicked “like”, thank you and you’re eligible, too!
And just to get you more excited, find out what the critics are saying (and our own two cents about the show) by reading the review round-up.
Get caught up with what’s on stage with our review round-up. And that vaguely hollow, clinking sound you hear at the end of each segment? That’s me tossing in my two cents.
Patti LuPone & Mandy Patinkin. Photo by Joan Marcus.
AN EVENING WITH PATTI LUPONE AND MANDY PATINKIN
Reunited for the first time on Broadway since their legendary debuts in Evita, the music theater powerhouses join forces for a “musical love story told entirely through a masterful selection of some of the greatest songs ever written for the stage.”
“I found myself as riveted by the sometimes deliriously odd selection of material as I was thrilled by the vocal luster that both performers have retained after more than three decades on the theater and concert stages.” New York Times
“LuPone and Patinkin have such an easy, comfortable rapport that it’s hard to believe they haven’t shared a show since Evita.” New York Post
“Pleasant and sweet are not words you might ordinarily associate with these two, but their Broadway concert is both.” Variety
“It’s just two hours of good old-fashioned musical theater.” Entertainment Weekly
2010 Gypsy of the Year Competition. Photo by Tomas Vrzala.
Adrienne Barbeau. Say it out loud. Adrienne Barbeau. Has there ever been a better name in show business? I think not.
And then there's Maude...and Adrienne Barbeau. Image via abarbeau.com.
And now the divine Ms. Barbeau (Escape from New York, Maude, for goodness sake!) and much of the rest of the original cast of Broadway’s Grease will be reunited for the annual Gypsy of the Year competition. Dedicated to celebrating the hard working ensemble members and dancers who are the backbone of Broadway, Gypsy is one of the signature fundraising events for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, featuring wildly original musical performances from the casts of your favorite Broadway and Off-Broadway shows.
For this, the 23rd annual edition, they’re pulling out all the stops with an opening number featuring a once-in-a-lifetime 40th anniversary reunion of the Rydell High gang including the aforementioned Ms. Barbeau (“Rizzo”), Barry Bostwick (“Danny”…and our dance belt hall of fame) and Walter Bobbie (“Roger” and Tony winning director, including the current smash Venus in Fur). Hosted by Seth Rudetsky, the show has two performances only: 4:30 PM on Monday, December 5 and at 2 PM on Tuesday, December 6. Tickets are available now.
Hungry for a little taste of what the party might look like? Here are two clips from last year’s edition, which raised $3,776,720 for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States. First up, watch the opening number featuring a tear-elliciting performance from the legendary actress (and Broadway Blog prophetess) Carol Channing, then catch an intricate dance featuring the famous Gypsy Robe, a technicolor dreamcoat passed from show to show…
Paul Gross & Kim Cattrall in "Private Lives". Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.
Fresh from acclaimed runs in London and Toronto, Noel Coward’s masterful comedy of a “can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em…so I’ll smack ‘em” couple returns to Broadway directed by Richard Eyre and starring Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City) and Paul Gross.
“…Mr. Eyre’s production convincingly stakes a claim not only for Ms. Cattrall as a skillfully pliable actress but also for the bubbly pleasures forever on tap in Private Lives.” New York Times
“Those critical of star-casting on Broadway should catch Kim Cattrall — the single best thing in the humdrum new revival…” New York Post
“It helps that esteemed director Richard Eyre applies a light, sure hand, and the actors show a similar ease and dexterity.” USA Today
“…this zesty production of Private Lives is a reminder that some people were writing about sex in the city decades before Candace Bushnell was even born.” Entertainment Weekly
Jerry O'Connell in "Seminar". Photo by Jeremy Daniel.
Jerry O’Connell (Crossing Jordan, Stand by Me and more) is a charmer. He shakes your hand with a 10,000 watt grin on his face. He tells self-deprecating stories with a tumbling ease. And now, with wide-eyed eagerness and well-honed comedic chops, he’s making his Broadway debut in Seminar, a new play by Theresa Rubeck about four writers getting more than lessons in fiction from a sharp tongued and ethically challenged novelist (played by Alan Rickman).
After a recent preview performance, he sat down on the lip of the Golden Theatre stage and shared his thoughts about working with a master like Rickman, being home again and getting his clothes torn off every night.
On the chemistry between he and the other actors playing students: “I think it’s just natural. That group has to have it. The four us do tend to go out after rehearsal and talk about what Alan did that day, talk about the play. Then get a little drunker and have fights over the jukebox.”
On the advantages of knowing Serverus Snape (Alan Rickman): “I know he has that Harry Potter money but he keeps picking up checks. And you wouldn’t want to pick up the check with this cast. Trust me, you’d want to split it as many ways as you can.”
On director Sam Gold: “He’s such a young guy and so talented. …I obviously have a deep respect for him but it’s amazing to see Alan Rickman intently listening to a thirty-three year old director and hanging on his every word. It’s great. I was, like, out of college when he was born. [pause] That’s an exaggeration.”
On being in New York: “I was born and raised in New York, in Manhattan and I went to NYU. …I moved out to Los Angeles and you wake up and you have a tan. It’s fifteen years later and I sort of lost my edge. I have kids now and a wife and all that stuff. And we live in the suburbs of Los Angeles. I commute to work every day in a car and some days I can’t believe this is the way it is. It’s so great for me to come back to New York. My wife and kids are here. My [three year old] daughters are on the subway. They’re getting an edge.”
Every third Wednesday, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer will fill out my nosey little questionnaire and offer a glimpse of what they look like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. For November, not only do we have an interview and pictures but we’ve also got a video clip of our talented man of the month!
Photo by Dirty Sugar Photography.
Name: Adam Perry
Hometown: Speedwell, TN
Current Show/Role: Sailor on the S.S. American in Anything Goes; Soldier 2/Interrogator in the Yank! workshop; the film My Week With Marilyn [scroll down to watch a scene from the movie featuring Adam in a musical number with star Michelle Williams!]
The best part of the show I’m in now is: The end of Act I. When we finish the title number, the audience goes crazy. It’s thrilling!
The most challenging job in show business I ever had was: The Lost Colony, an outdoor drama in North Carolina. No matter how hot it got, we still painted our entire bodies like Native Americans and danced in sand. However, I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.
If I wasn’t an actor, I would be: Florist…LOL. My favorite florist in the city is either Spruce in Chelsea or Seasons in Hell’s Kitchen. Both are great spots to just window shop.
Places, Intermission or Curtain Call? Places. The energy that’s coming from the audience is palpable. You can feel it through the curtain.