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New Year’s Eve at Feinstein’s/54 Below

December 28th, 2016 Comments off

54 Below

Are you looking for last-minute New Year’s Eve entertainment? Celebrate the arrival of 2017 at Feinstein’s/54 Below as two stars return to usher in the new year! Two-time MAC Award winner, Tony nominee, and drag legend Charles Busch will bring laughs and glamour to the 7 p.m. show. After a sold out New Year’s Eve show last year, Tony Award winner Annaleigh Ashford, once again accompanied by Will Van Dyke and the Whiskey 5,will conjure New Year’s Magic! at11p.m. A dance party to celebrate the New Year will follow the performance.

Charles Busch brings to Feinstein’s/54 Below an eclectic program of songs both contemporary and from the past. New York Times critic Stephen Holden wrote, “He has the gift of comic gab like few other entertainers. Innately funny, endearing and acutely intelligent, he also has claws. For an audience, the possibility of being scratched, although remote, lends his humor a bracing edge.” Accompanied by his dashing longtime musical director Tom Judson, Busch combines hilarious personal reminiscence, character sketches and superb storytelling through song into one glittering and glamorous evening in cabaret.

Come ring in 2017 with an eclectic mix of songs, stories, some sort-of impressive magic tricks, and an appearance made by a rainbow. Tony Award winner Annaleigh Ashford (Sylvia, You Can’t Take It With You, Kinky Boots, Showtime’s Masters of Sex) and music director Will Van Dyke reprise some of their Lost In The Stars favorites as well as debut some new tunes to celebrate this past year. Get your midnight kiss in one of the swankiest rooms in New York during a night that’s sure to be one of laughter, love, looking back, and looking forward.

Cover charges for the 7pm show range from $75-$140 with a $45 food and beverage minimum. Cover charges for the 11pm show range from $325-$495 which includes a two-course prix fixe dinner, dessert buffet, open bar, tax, and gratuity. Premium and Ringside seats include a half bottle of Laurent Perrier Brut Champagne for each party of two and an individual dessert platter during the dance party.

www.54below.com

 

Don’t Miss: ‘Piaf! The Show’ at Carnegie Hall

December 27th, 2016 Comments off
Anne Carrere in 'Piaf! The Show.' (Photo: G. Marsalla via The Broadway Blog.)

Anne Carrere in ‘Piaf! The Show.’ (Photo: G. Marsalla via The Broadway Blog.)

Her voice was legendary. Now, the music comes to life once again for one night only at Carnegie Hall.

With over half a million tickets sold in more than 30 countries and worldwide critical acclaim, Piaf! The Showa musical celebration of the life and music of the legendary French chanteuse—returns to the U.S. as part of the extended world tour. The highlight of the American leg of a 400-performance global tour is the special presentation at Carnegie Hall on January 6, 2017, celebrating the 60th anniversary of Edith Piaf’s final performance at the famous venue.

Inspired by the award-winning movie La Vie en Rose, Piaf! The Show is a tribute to  Edith Piaf. Conceived and directed by the Nice-based theatrical maverick Gil Marsalla and starring Anne Carrere, a young French performer hailed as “Edith Piaf’s legitimate musical heiress,” Piaf! The Show premiered in 2015 as a tribute to “The Little Sparrow” on the centennial of her birthday. In two 45-minute acts, the show narrates the rags-to-riches story of the Parisian singer’s career through her unforgettable songs, complemented by a visual tapestry of previously unreleased photographs and images of famous locations from Piaf’s era.

Gil Marsalla, producer and director of Piaf! The Show, first met star Anne Carrere in 2014, when she auditioned for another of his productions, Paris! Le Spectacle. Captivated by her skills and natural charisma, Marsalla offered her the role of Edith Piaf in his new production.

“I have worked in show business – on and off stage – for 25 years and mounted shows around the world. But to this day, Anne Carrere is my greatest artistic discovery yet. Don’t you dare touch or polish her, she is a ‘diamond in the rough’, such is the nature of her pure and natural talent,” says Marsalla of his leading lady.

Tickets for this concert are $20-$125 and can be purchased through Carnegie Hall’s website or by calling CarnegieCharge at 212.247.7800.

Interview: ‘The Untold Stories of Broadway”s Jennifer Ashley Tepper

December 15th, 2016 Comments off

by Ryan Leeds

The Untold Stories of BroadwayFor a true theater lover, there is simply no one else who has captured the rich history that lies between the walls of Broadway’s cherished structures better than Jennifer Ashley Tepper, author of The Untold Stories of Broadway. Tepper’s third volume has just been released, and for any theater geek, it’s a must read.

Tepper spent an extensive amount of time interviewing an array of individuals who had not only stepped into the spotlight, but she thoughtfully sought out the “unsung heroes” that make Broadway hum: stage hands, music arrangers, directors, company managers, and box office personnel.

In this volume, she highlights the Broadhurst, the Belasco, the Edison, the Lyric, the Majestic, the Schoenfeld, the St. James and the Walter Kerr. In between interviews, she sprinkles some interesting tidbits about the theaters and infuses her own experiences and memories.

In addition to writing, Tepper has also worn many hats including directing, producing, and marketing of many Broadway shows and is the director of Programming at Feinstein’s/54 Below. As an industry insider, Tepper knows how to gather the “dish,” but she serves it back to theater lovers in a compelling, gracious, and reverent manner. Think of her as Michael Riedel minus the snark and with better lipstick.

From ghost stories to opening night tales, backstage rituals, secret rooms, PR pranks, and auditions, Tepper’s book is as thoroughly entertaining as a Broadway show itself and can either be enjoyed from beginning to end, or by casually leafing through. With the holidays approaching, it’s the perfect gift for the person who already owns original cast recordings or previously published coffee table books.

Jennifer Ashley Tepper (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Jennifer Ashley Tepper (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

The Broadway Blog: So many people love the “razzle dazzle” of Broadway, but your interest goes much deeper than that. What is it about these physical spaces that fascinates you?

Jennifer Ashley Tepper: I’ve always loved the idea that when you’re sitting in a theatre, you are where so many other people have been: people who have created hit shows, people you admire, and all of those things that are so unique to Broadway.

You might love a particular movie, but there’s not really a chance to visit the soundstage and pinpoint exactly where the actors stood. These theaters are so specific in the sense of their history. Many of them have been here for at least 100 years. It connects us to the past. Plus, every theatre has secret passageways and weird nondescript rooms. They help chart what Broadway used to be and what it is now.

BB: You reference a secret tunnel between the Broadhurst and Schoenfeld. Tell us about that.

JAT: People don’t really know about it if they aren’t working in either of those theaters, which are on two different blocks. Two of these secret passageways lie in the inner alley that connects the two theaters. Street passerby on 45th Street can look to the left of the Schoenfeld to find a locked alleyway. The stage door is to the right of the Schoenfeld, but the alley on the left also provides an exit, used by audiences and show folk alike. At the very back of the alley, one door leads directly to the Broadhurst stage and another door leads to house left in the Broadhurst auditorium.

(Photo: Daniel Douglas / Shutterstock.com via The Broadway Blog.)

(Photo: Daniel Douglas / Shutterstock.com via The Broadway Blog.)

BB: Most of your stories are warm and nostalgic or bittersweet. You also tell stories of people who have had ghost experiences. I’m wondering if there were any that were too bleak, gossipy, or just downright depressing to share?

JAT: There totally were and I have a file marked as “Off the record.” People have instructions to destroy it (laughs). But actually, Fritz Weaver was a Broadway actor who just passed away. He was an amazing man. I had the pleasure of interviewing him and he told me a very sad dark story. He played a Tony Award winning role in a show called Child’s Play and it was about an incredibly dark, violent, suicidal teacher.

Fritz was a method actor and he told me that the biggest regret of his career was the year he did that play because he took the show home to his young kids. He admitted that although it was critically acclaimed, he spent so much time trying to make it up to his children who were terrified by his presence while doing the show. I thought that it was so moving that he focused not on winning the Tony, but what toll it took on his family. That really stuck with me.

BB: Any stories of all out brawls between creative teams or All About Eve type stories?

JAT: There is a lot of that and sometimes you get the true stories of what you’ve heard through gossip, but you get to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. One the best examples in this book is the real story behind Taboo, the Boy George musical. Raul Esparza talked about quitting, working with Rosie O’Donnell, and why the show failed. People tend to be honest as long as—say—ten years have passed.

Rosie O'Donnell and Boy George at the opening on 'Taboo' on Broadway, November 13, 2003. (Photo: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com via The Broadway Blog.)

Rosie O’Donnell and Boy George at the opening on ‘Taboo’ on Broadway, November 13, 2003. (Photo: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com via The Broadway Blog.)

BB: You mention in the preface that you wanted to focus on people of color and women whose theatrical contributions were either not applauded or remembered. Who were some of those people?

JAT: One of the things that I ran into is that I tried to find female playwrights who had worked at a particular theatre and there either weren’t any or they were deceased. Some other influential artists of color were hard to pin down for an interview. It’s hard to get people you’ve never met before to answer a phone call or email regarding an unfamiliar project. I tried to get as many as I could, but I filled in the blanks quite a bit in this volume.

The Schoenfeld has a cool history of women writers so I charted that in the book and I also found women who worked behind the scenes at that theatre.

George C. Wolfe, who is one of my heroes, has a lot of incredible material in the book. Baayork Lee talked about being in The King and I with white actors who were made-up to appear Asian. People either didn’t care or didn’t protest. So there were some markers that I found with regards to race and gender.

BB: What are your most vivid memories of theaters that you reference in this third volume?

JAT: A Chorus Line revival at the Schoenfeld really sticks out. I saw it 11 times and can recall skipping class on my birthday to go to a matinee. I was working on title of show at the time, directed by Michael Berresse. Michael was also playing Zach in A Chorus Line and took me backstage following the show.

I had the launch of my book at the Lyric Theatre and have such a vivid memory of my first time being there. I came to the city as a teenager with my parents and we were planning to see Aida, but learned that Adam Pascal was out of the show that day. I cried so much that the box office exchanged our tickets for later in the week and instead, we rushed down to Broadway and ran to our seats for 42nd Street. Whenever I walk into a Broadway theatre, I immediately think of the last few times I’ve been there. Those memories are powerful.

(Photo: Shubert Organization)

(Photo: Shubert Organization)

BB: Did you happen to find any research on the size of seats and the limited leg room?

JAT: I found a lot of fascinating information. I interviewed Bob Wankel, President of the Shubert Organization, who talked about how, when all of the theaters were first built that women didn’t go to the bathroom that often in public. They didn’t want to remove their corsets or petticoats.

So now, if you’ve ever heard complaints about the lines at ladies’ room it’s because the bathroom was probably built into what was once an office. Things like that definitely affect the physical space. Plus, people used to be smaller so there is less leg room. It’s interesting to learn that the actual life of people go into how these buildings were built.

BB: Coming from someone who is 6’1 and fuller framed, if you have any clout on the design and leg room in newer theaters, I’d appreciate that!

You have a few other volumes coming out after this, right?

JAT: I do. There are 40 Broadway theaters—soon to be 41 with the Hudson—so I’m looking at about six volumes in total. I don’t know how long that will take but I plan to get to all of them.

All three volumes of The Untold Stories of Broadway can be purchased on Amazon.com.

Ryan Leeds is a freelance theater journalist who lives in Manhattan. He is the Chief Theater Critic for Manhattan Digest and a frequent contributor to Dramatics Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @Ry_Runner or on Facebook.

 

 

 

Theater Buff: Pilobolus Dance Theater’s Antoine Banks Sullivan

November 16th, 2016 Comments off

Every month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer fills out editor Matthew Wexler’s questionnaire and offers a glimpse of what he looks like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. This month, Theater Buff chassés off The Great White Way and chats with Pilobolus Dance Theater’s Antoine Banks Sullivan.

Renowned for its unique, diverse collaborations that ignore preconceived barriers between creative disciplines, Pilobolus reaches more than 300,000 audiences members each year. Pilobolus Dance Theater plays two programs in repertory at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts from November 16 through December 4.

(Photo provided by Antoine Banks Sullivan.)

(Photo provided by Antoine Banks Sullivan.)

Name:
Antoine Banks Sullivan

Hometown:
Chicago, IL – born and raised!

"Shadowland 2" in rehearsal. (Photo provided by Pilobolus via The Broadway Blog.)

“Shadowland 2” in rehearsal. (Photo provided by Pilobolus via The Broadway Blog.)

How would you personally describe Pilobolus Dance Theater?
Four guys at Dartmouth College founded Pilobolus in 1971. They were non-dancers enrolled in a dance composition class taught by Alison Becker Chase. Over the years it’s grown into the company we are today. Pilobolus doesn’t look for one specific type of mover. My background is in contemporary and ballet, but others come from martial arts, gymnastics, and hip-hop. You end up with different opinions in the room. All the dancers get choreographic credit for the pieces we work on.

Of the pieces that you’ll performing this month at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, which ones resonates with you most and why?
“Rushes” is the closing piece for Program A. It was created in 2007, and when I saw the company perform it some years ago I was blown away. It’s theatrically beautiful—nothing like you’ve ever seen before, balances theater with dance and movement. It’s a peculiar story that I won’t reveal because I want the audience to have an open mind. But I will say that the story was relevant 10 years ago and still relevant today.

“On the Nature of Things” is also a treat to dance. It features three dancers dancing on a two-foot-wide platform above the stage. It’s statuesque, bold and beautiful with heartfelt emotions. It transcends every walk of life. For me as a dancer, it’s also an exercise in living in the moment and staying tuned in—if nothing else than to stay on that platform!

"Day Two," Pilobolus Dance Theater. (Photo: Grant Halverson via The Broadway Blog.)

“Day Two,” Pilobolus Dance Theater. (Photo: Grant Halverson via The Broadway Blog.)

What is the company’s reference point as “theater”?
We want audiences to feel something. A reach in dance—what does it mean? Is it for something or someone? We have to tell stories with our bodies through movement. It’s personal and very special to me. Yet we don’t provide program notes because we want audiences to discover the personal meaning in a piece of work.

(Photo provided by Antoine Banks Sullivan.)

(Photo provided by Antoine Banks Sullivan.)

In addition to being a dancer, you’ve been described as an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights. In what ways have you brought attention to LGBT issues and causes?
So much has happened in the past week and so much has been on my mind. When I came out I was fortunate to have a strong support system. Not every LGBTQ youth has that. I worked with the LGBTQ Task Force in Chicago to get youth off the street, along with HIV awareness and testing, and I had a great mentor there.

As I’ve gotten older, I see how we can reach the masses through social media. This was particularly important to me after the tragedy in Orlando. My first job was at Disney World and we would often go to Pulse Nightclub. I have so many memories and felt the loss quite personally from this senseless act of violence. Through social media, I dedicated each performance to every one of 49 victims of the massacre. Every performance needed to be my best for those who are no longer with us.

I have volunteered with the Human Rights Campaign in my hometown of Las Vegas. It’s important to push through and keep these issues at the forefront. We become so desensitized… one thing happens and it’s in the media for a week then it’s gone. Even the election will be old news in a few months, but its affects on minorities, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community will be felt long after. This is a country for everyone and something that we need to continue to fight for.

Antoine Banks Sullivan (Photo: Pilobolus via the Broadway Blog.)

Antoine Banks Sullivan (Photo: Pilobolus via the Broadway Blog.)

If I wasn’t a performer, I would be:
I’d love to be a travel blogger. Or a stay-at-home dad!

One of my favorite spots in the U.S. is Savannah, Georgia, which is so quaint and full of old-school American culture. Internationally, my husband and I love Thailand—just chilling by the beach and drinking fun cocktails. I also love Hamburg, Germany. I was there on tour this summer and one of those cities that I just immediately fell in love with.

Places, Intermission or Curtain Call? 
Places! I live to be onstage. I live to go in front of the audience. That’s my calling.

Where’s the best place for a cocktail in Vegas?
Being a local, I avoid the Strip. I’d head to Fremont Street, which is going through a great resurgence.

My workout “secret” is:
I lift men for a living! Our work makes us strong, but I also practice Bikram yoga or Pilates.

Ten years from now I’d like to be:
I’d love to have a B&B somewhere near Mt. Charleston, enjoying my family and traveling the world with my children… living the dream!

Pilobolus Dance Theater
NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
566 LaGuardia Place, NYC
November 16 – December 4

 

Broadway Line-Up for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

November 14th, 2016 Comments off

Macy's Thanksgiving Day ParadeA dazzling lineup of Broadway’s best will take part in the milestone 90th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, broadcast live on NBC.

On Thursday, Nov. 24, (9 a.m.-noon in all time zones), Broadway shows will head to the streets of New York for special performances on the telecast of the annual holiday extravaganza, hosted by Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker of NBC’s “Today.”

Performances from “Cats,” “Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical,” “Paramour,” and “Waitress” will highlight this year’s landmark 90th Parade.

In addition, viewers will get a sneak preview performance from NBC’s “Hairspray Live!,” which premieres Wednesday, Dec. 7 (8 p.m. ET/PT).  The world-famous Radio City Rockettes will also lend their star power to kick off the holiday season.

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Don’t Miss: ‘Gypsy’ Telecast on THIRTEEN

November 10th, 2016 Comments off
Imelda Staunton in 'Gypsy.' (Photo: Johan Persson via The Broadway Blog.)

Imelda Staunton in ‘Gypsy.’ (Photo: Johan Persson via The Broadway Blog.)

Jonathan Kent’s award-winning production of the classic musical Gypsy—a record-breaking sellout during its acclaimed London run—comes toTHIRTEEN’s Great Performances, Friday, November 11 at 9 p.m. on PBS on the PBS Arts Fall Festival. (Check local listings.)

The first London production to be seen for 40 years, the musical opened at England’s Chichester Festival Theatre before moving to the West End’s Savoy Theatre. This critically acclaimed West End production featuresImelda Staunton as Rose, as well as acclaimed turns by Lara Pulver as Louise and Peter Davison as Herbie.

Critics were unanimous in their praise of Staunton and the production. “Every facet of the character is caught by Imelda Staunton who gives one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen in musical theatre,” raved The Guardian. And The Times enthused, “If you like musical theatre, I urge you to see this stunning revival of one of the greatest Broadway musicals. If you don’t like musical theatre, see it anyway.”

With a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the show was suggested by the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee. The score features songs that have since become show standards, and helped launch the career of Sondheim. “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” “Some People,” “Let Me Entertain You,” “Together, Wherever We Go” and of course “Rose’s Turn” are among the musical highlights.

Imelda Staunton and Lara Pulver in 'Gypsy.' (Photo: Johan Persson via The Broadway Blog.)

Imelda Staunton and Lara Pulver in ‘Gypsy.’ (Photo: Johan Persson via The Broadway Blog.)

The London production was honored with five Olivier Awards, including Best Musical Revival, Best Actress in a Musical (Imelda Staunton), Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical (Lara Pulver).

The role of Rose is often called the ‘King Lear’ of the musical theatre canon. The show continues to be produced by regional theatre companies around much of the U.S. A London production had not been seen in the West End since 1973.

Imelda Staunton, OBE, is an Academy Award-nominated English actress best known for her performances in the films “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (as Dolores Umbridge) and “Vera Drake.” For the latter, she drew widespread critical acclaim, earning a number of awards including the BAFTA and Venice Film Festival Awards.

She has twice before received an Olivier Award for roles in two 1985 productions: “A Chorus of Disapproval” and “The Corn Is Green” and for the 1991 “Into the Woods.” Films include “Peter’s Friends” (1992), “Much Ado About Nothing” (1993), “Sense and Sensibility” (1995), “Twelfth Night” (1996), “Bright Young Things” (2003), “Shakespeare in Love” (2004) and “Freedom Writers” (2007).

The production was filmed by Emmy Award-winner Lonny Price for Ellen M. Krass Productions with Serpent Productions and Shout! Factory, in association with the BBC.

For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.

Great Performances is produced by THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. Throughout its more than 40-year history on public television,Great Performances has provided viewers across the country with an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural programming.

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Tonight: Unpacking White Dominance in Musical Theater

November 9th, 2016 Comments off

musical theatre factoryIn an effort to move the theater industry toward greater inclusion both on and off stage, Musical Theatre Factory presents PULL TOGETHER, a community salon that will open up the Black Lives Matter conversation. The salon aims to unpack white dominance in the industry in an honest and non-threatening way in order to change the paradigm of representation in musical theater. The salon will take place tonight, November 9, 2016 at the PIT Underground, 123 East 24th St.

“This event is based upon (and titled after) the concept of harambee—an African tradition of cooperative self-help forums that promote unity and constructive ways to solve problems,” says Aaron Salley, MTF’s Outreach Coordinator. “Although PULL TOGETHER is specifically in reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement, we are hoping this will be the start of a series of open discussions on equality in musical theater of all kinds.”

The three-hour structured event is a mix between open mic and town hall and is intended to:

  • Promote systemic change in the theatre industry.
  • Change whose stories are being told—who’s getting access, support, appropriate attention.
  • Expose racism in our community and offer constructive, proactive solutions.
  • Share current events effects on our lives and artistry; how do we feel in the interim between shooting events?
  • Generate ideas how can the larger musical theater community be more supportive.

Tickets for PULL TOGETHER are $10 and can be purchased online at http://mtf.nyc/events/november-factory-salon/

 

‘Neil Simon’s Memoirs’ Hits Shelves Today

November 8th, 2016 Comments off

Neil Simon's MemoirsThe complete memoirs of playwright Neil Simon hit the bookshelves today, featuring a new introduction by Nathan Lane and afterword by Simon’s wife, Elaine Joyce.

The aptly titled Neil Simon’s Memoirs combines Neil Simon’s two bestselling memoirs, Rewrites and The Play Goes On, into one volume that spans his extraordinary five-decade career in theater, TV and film. Rewrites takes Simon through his first love, his first play and his first brush with failure.

There is the humor of growing up in Washington Heights (which inspired his play Brighton Beach Memoirs) where, despite his parents’ rocky marriage and many separations, he learned to see the funny side of family drama as when his mother screamed thinking she saw a body on the floor in their apartment. (It turned out to be the clothes his father discarded in the hallway after a night of carousing.) He describes his marriage to his beloved wife Joan, and writes lucidly about the pain of losing her to cancer. The Play Goes On continues his life’s story, as he wins the Pulitzer Prize and reflects with humor and insight on his tumultuous life and meteoric career.

Now, with the whole story in one place, Neil Simon’s Memoirs traces the history of modern entertainment over the last 50 years through the eyes of a man who started life as the son of a garment salesman and became the greatest, and most successful, American playwright of all time.

Neil Simon has written more than 30 Broadway plays and musicals including Barefoot in the Park; The Odd Couple, Promises, Promises; Sweet Charity; Brighton Beach Memoirs; Plaza Suite; They’re Playing Our Song; Chapter Two; Lost in Yonkers; The Sunshine Boys; The Prisoner of Second Avenue; Broadway Bound; and Biloxi Blues, along with such films as The Goodbye Girl, Murder by Death and The Out-of-Towners. He has won three Tony Awards, a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Kennedy Center Honor, and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

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Don’t Miss: ‘She Loves Me’ Fathom Event 12/1

November 4th, 2016 Comments off
Zachary Levi and Laura Benanti in 'She Loves Me.' (Photo: Joan Marcus the The Broadway Blog.)

Zachary Levi and Laura Benanti in ‘She Loves Me.’ (Photo: Joan Marcus the The Broadway Blog.)

Fathom Events is partnering with theatre streaming service, BroadwayHD, to bring select live and captured-live theatre performances to U.S. movie theaters. The critically-acclaimed Roundabout Theatre Company production of She Loves Me will be the first title offered in cinemas nationwide on Thursday, December 1, 2016 at 7 p.m. local time. In addition to the performance, this one-night cinema event will include exclusive interviews with the cast (Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi and Jane Krakowski) and creative team.

Fathom Events and BroadwayHD will partner to bring select domestic (Broadway/Off-Broadway) and international (London’s West End) theatre performances to U.S. cinemas. The partnership is expected to bring a diverse lineup of productions to cinemas each year, giving moviegoers an up-close and personal front-row experience.

She Loves Me was the first Broadway musical to stream live during a performance at Roundabout Theatre Company’s Studio 54, as part of Roundabout’s 50th Anniversary Season. In the musical, Tony Award-winner Laura Benanti and Tony Award-nominee Zachary Levi star as Amalia and Georg, two parfumerie clerks who aren’t quite the best of friends.

Constantly bumping heads while on the job, the sparring coworkers can’t seem to find common ground. But little do they know, the anonymous romantic pen pals they have both been falling for happen to be each other. Will love continue to blossom once their identities are finally revealed?

Gavin Creel and Jane Krakowski in 'She Loves Me.' (Photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Gavin Creel and Jane Krakowski in ‘She Loves Me.’ (Photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

This performance of She Loves Me was produced and captured by BroadwayHD in June, in association with Ellen M. Krass Productions, Inc. and Thirteen Productions LLC. It was directed for the screen by David Horn. The acclaimed Broadway production was directed by Tony Award-nominee Scott Ellis. In addition to Benanti and Levi, She Loves Me also starred Tony Award-winner Jane Krakowski and Tony Award-nominee Gavin Creel, alongsideByron Jennings, Tom McGowan, Peter Bartlett and Nicholas Barasch.

“We are proud to share this production with audiences nationwide, after making Broadway history with the live stream of She Loves Me, the show that launched Roundabout’s Musical Theatre Program in 1993. As a nonprofit institution, this is an incredible opportunity for us to share Scott Ellis’s new Broadway production beyond our subscribers, donors and students from our limited run at Studio 54,” said Todd Haimes, Roundabout Theatre Company’s Artistic Director / CEO.

“The best part about seeing theatre performances in cinemas is the ability to watch with an audience of fans and experience the energy of the community in the auditorium. The 2016 multi-Tony Award-nominated She Loves Me is the perfect title to debut this big screen experience for Broadway lovers nationwide,” said Fathom Events Vice President of Programming Kymberli Frueh. “Now anyone can see amazing Broadway talent in their local movie theater.”

“We are thrilled to partner with Fathom Events to bring She Loves Me to audiences nationwide,” said BroadwayHD co-founders Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley. “Once again, we are working to preserve and extend the reach of live theatre. Many fans couldn’t make it to NYC before this exhilarating Broadway production shut its doors. We captured ‘She Loves Me’ in June so we could share it with theatre lovers everywhere. This partnership allows us to take it one step further and bring the Broadway stage to cinemas in hometowns across the country.”

Tickets for She Loves Me can be purchased online by visiting www.FathomEvents.com or at participating theater box offices. Fans throughout the U.S. will be able to enjoy the event in nearly 500 select movie theaters. For a complete list of theater locations visit the Fathom Events website (theaters and participants are subject to change).

15 Minutes with Erich Bergen

November 2nd, 2016 Comments off

by Jim Gladstone

(Photo courtesy Erich Bergen via The Broadway Blog.)

(Photo courtesy Erich Bergen via The Broadway Blog.)

On a November night ten years ago, 20-year-old recent college drop-out Erich Bergen flew to San Francisco from his home in New York to start the job he now describes as having “shot me out of a cannon.”

Cast as Bob Gaudio—spring-chicken of the Four Seasons—in the first national tour of the colossally successful Jersey Boys, Bergen spent over six and a half months rehearsing and performing at the Curran Theater in the City by the Bay.

He returns this weekend, bringing his latest cabaret act to Feinstein’s at the Nikko.

“The city has such a mystique for me now,” he said in a recent phone call from Manhattan. “I have amazing, intense memories associated with San Francisco. It seems like the way some friends who traveled around Europe after college feel about Paris. Whenever I go back it’s like this really important time of my life, the people, the music all coming rushing back.”

Once a child-actor—“My parents used to have me imitate all the singers on We Are The World as a party trick”—Bergen made his national debut at 11, playing Dana Carvey’s son on the comedian’s short-lived ABC variety show.

Bergen is only half-joking when he says, “San Francisco is the city where I became a man.”

“My birthday is New Year’s eve. I literally turned 21 there. I remember we had a cast party at a bar around the corner from the theater. I felt so good, like I’d really done something with my life. And I was doing exactly what I wanted to do.”

(Photo courtesy Erich Bergen via The Broadway Blog.)

(Photo courtesy Erich Bergen via The Broadway Blog.)

Playing one of the Four Seasons in Jersey Boys puts a male lead in a slightly perilous situation: The adulation of the band by its fans is mimicked by baby boomer audiences out for a night on the town. It’s not hard for actors who play the roles to feel a bit like rock stars themselves.

“I had a lead role in one of the biggest shows of all time,” recalled Bergen. “I was on the road with it for a year and then opened the resident production in Las Vegas.” As a young, handsome star of that hit production—which went on to become the longest-running Broadway-to-Vegas show ever—Bergen was the toast (or at least one slice of the toast) of the town, buttered up by LA producers and casting agents who caught his act and beckoned him westward.

Not immune to charms and flattery, Bergen missed a few too many Jersey Boys performances for go-sees and screen tests. After two years, he was fired from the Vegas company.

“It was like coming off a big high,” he remembers. “I moved to LA and did that thing that all actors do. Going to audition after audition. Money drying up to the point where you wonder if you’re going to be able to fill the car with gas.”

Bergen picked up occasional small parts on shows in television series including Gossip Girl and Desperate Housewives and also flew back to New York with some frequency, participating in workshops and auditions for Ghost, Wicked and The Book of Mormon, but never landing a lead.

In his Los Angeles downtime, Bergen began to focus on his songwriting, eventually recording a pair of EPs consisting primarily of his original tunes—along with an almost downbeat cover of Madonna’s Open Your Heart.

“In the songs I write and the songs I love, the beat doesn’t come first,” says Bergen, who points to Billy Joel and James Taylor as writing influences. “Melody always wins with me. In twenty years, you’re not going to sit around a campfire and hum a beat. It’s called ‘Name That Tune’ not ‘Name That Beat.’”

The melodies of the great American songbook were attractive enough to Bergen that, in 2012, he did a spell on the road as tap-dancing Billy Crocker in the national tour of Anything Goes. “Bob in Jersey Boys was such a perfect part for me. This didn’t match my strengths as well. And frankly, it didn’t pay as well. I didn’t feel like it was what I should be doing.”

During the Anything Goes tour, Bergen returned to San Francisco, and was delighted to be booked to do his cabaret act on a dark night. Within days of his performance the club abruptly shut down, leaving Bergen with the worst of his San Francisco memories.

Returning to LA from the road and beginning to feel that his career was in a serious downturn, Bergen’s next big break echoed his first: A call from Clint Eastwood, asking him to reprise the role of Bob Gaudio in the movie adaptation of Jersey Boys.

While the film was generally viewed as a flop, the individual performers had a chance to show some star quality. “That film restarted everything for me,” says Bergen.

Erich Bergen plays Blake Moran on 'Madam Secretary' (Courtesy: CBS Broadcasting Inc. via The Broadway Blog)

Erich Bergen plays Blake Moran on ‘Madam Secretary’ (Courtesy: CBS Broadcasting Inc. via The Broadway Blog)

In short order, Bergen won the part of Blake Moran, openly gay assistant to Tea Leoni’s Madam Secretary on the CBS political drama. Rather unexpectedly, the showrunners for the program—which also includes recent Feinstein’s headliner Patina Miller in its cast—have (via karaoke, talent competitions, and the like) come up with opportunities for Bergen to show off his singing chops.

“I did ‘For the Longest Time”’and ‘Fire and Rain,’” he recalls, “And in the Thanksgiving week episode this month I do three separate numbers.”

Bergen’s return to San Francisco takes place during the series’ mid-season hiatus, and he looks forward to visiting some of his local landmarks.

“There’s a little 24-hour diner up the street from the Curran called Café Mason,” he recalls fondly. “It’s a nothing place, but almost every night after Jersey Boys, I went there and had a turkey and avocado sandwich. It was the best sandwich. I’ve never been able to match the joy of it.”

Erich Bergen
Feinstein’s at the Nikko
222 Mason Street, San Francisco
Saturday, November 5, 7 p.m.
Sunday, November 6, 3 p.m.