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Barbra’s Back! Tony Awards Appearance Confirmed

June 1st, 2016 Comments off
Barbra Streisand (Joe Seer / Shutterstock.com via The Broadway Blog.)

Barbra Streisand (Joe Seer / Shutterstock.com via The Broadway Blog.)

Returning to the Tony Awards stage for the first time since 1970, legendary EGOT and show business icon Barbra Streisand will present at the 2016 Tony Awards. Hosted by Tony Award-winner James Corden, the telecast will broadcast live from the Beacon Theatre in New York City, on the CBS television network, Sunday, June 12th, 8:00 – 11:00 p.m. (ET/PT time delay). The Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.

As previously announced, Broadway’s biggest night will feature appearances by Oprah Winfrey, Cate Blanchett, 2016 Tony Nominees Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Carole King, Audra McDonald, Saoirse Ronan, Patina Miller and Nathan Lane, among others. Additional presenters will be announced soon.

While Streisand hasn’t appeared on the Tony Awards since 1970, Broadway has never left her. Streisand next releases “ENCORE: Movie Partners Sing Broadway,” her third and long-awaited Broadway album, later in 2016. Streisand’s “The Broadway Album” and “Back to Broadway” released in 1985 and 1993, respectfully, both went multi-platinum.

Streisand’s appearance at the Tony Awards precedes the legendary recording artist’s nine-city August North American concert tour: THE MUSIC…THE MEM’RIES…THE MAGIC!

Barbra’s Back!

May 16th, 2016 Comments off
Barbra Streisand (Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com via The Broadway Blog).

Barbra Streisand (Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com via The Broadway Blog).

Guess who’s hitting the road (or more likely, private jet)? Barbra Streisand returns to the stage for a nine-city tour followed by the release of her next album, ENCORE: Movie Partners Sing Broadway.

Last year Streisand became the only recording artist or group to achieve #1 albums in each of six decades. She will perform her hits from each decade plus songs from her new album, celebrating a career of unparalleled creative achievement. Every ticket purchased online includes a CD of Streisand’s new album, which will be released later this year.

The tour is presented by Live Nation Global Touring and S2BN Entertainment.

The tour dates include:

August 2 — Los Angeles, Staples Center

August 4 — San Jose, SAP Center at San Jose

August 6 — Las Vegas, T-Mobile Arena

August 9 — Chicago, United Center

August 11, 13 — Brooklyn, Barclays Center

August 16 — Boston, TD Garden

August 18 — Washington D.C.,Verizon Center

August 20 —Philadelphia, Wells Fargo Center

August 23 — Toronto, Air Canada Centre

Categories: Show Folk, The Buzz Tags:

Happy Birthday, Barbra! “Buyer and Cellar”‘s Christopher J. Hanke Dishes on the Diva and More

April 24th, 2014 Comments off

Today is Barbra Streisands 72nd birthday! To celebrate, contributor Marcus Scott interviews Buyer & Cellar star, Christopher J. Hanke and dishes about the diva and other theater favorites. 

 

Christopher J. Hanke in "Buyer & Cellar" (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog).

Christopher J. Hanke in “Buyer & Cellar” (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog).

In an episode of Will & Grace, Will gives some helpful advice to Karen’s recently outed cousin Barry: “Liza, Judy, Barbara, Bette, these are names I shan’t forget.” There’s a reason and Barbra, with her volcanic vibrato, always stood out. Just ask anyone who saw her star turns in I Can Get It for You Wholesale and Funny Girl. Five decades later, she returns to the New York stage (well, sort of) in Jonathan Tolins’ crowd-pleaser Buyer & Cellar at the Barrow Street Theatre. Taking over for “Ugly Betty” actor Michael Urie, Christopher J. Hanke jumps into the role of Alex, the out of work L.A. actor who lands a gig working in Barbra Streisand’s basement mall, with total abandon. Hanke dished between shows about his career, the challenge of a one-man show, typecasting and his journey with Babs.

Christopher J. Hanke: Sorry, I’m in the lobby of a hotel in Manhattan trying to find a charger and a outlet, like you do when you’re running around Manhattan. I look like a homeless person… So, did you see the show?

Marcus Scott: Yes, I did. You were terrific.

CJH: Thank you. Jonathan Tolins is a comedic genius and I am just so honored to say his words.

MS: Were you familiar with Jonathan’s work before taking on the role?

CJH: I knew he was a TV writer from his work on the sitcom “Partners” that Michael Urie was on because I tested for it. I was down to the very last wire for the part that Brandon Routh ended up playing.

MS: You and Michael Urie have mingled various times professionally. Not long ago, he took over a role you originated—Bud Frump in the recent Broadway revival of How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying—and now you’re taking over for a role he originated Off-Broadway.

CJH: I know, we can’t get rid of each other. We joked that we should probably join forces, [drop] our manager and save money on the commission.

MS: You’re hilarious. Do you consider yourself a comedic actor?

CJH: I always joked that New York City thinks I’m funny and L.A. thinks I’m serious because all my TV credits [are] all drama. All of my comic work is in theater. But it’s fun to do the comedy.

MS: Before taking over, did you have any on-the-spot trivia knowledge of Barbra Streisand?

Christpher J. Hanke (photo: Polk PR) via The Broadway Blog.

Christopher J. Hanke (photo: Polk PR) via The Broadway Blog.

CJH: None. But when I [did research], I discovered this, like, American treasure that was sitting in front of me and I had no idea. It’s been lovely to unearth her archives. I am obsessed with Barbra under 30-years-old!

MS: Now that you do—favorite desert island Barbra Streisand song?

CJH: There is a song that she sings—it was released on this album, Just for the Record. On that album, there is this song called “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most,” and she’s talking about how depressing love is and it’s tragic and it’s beautiful.

MS: And your favorite film?

CJH: Funny Girl, without a doubt. It was her first film; she won the Oscar for it. But it’s how she’s captured. She’s so quirky and so self-conscious and just a free spirit. There’s a line in Buyer & Cellar where they are rehearsing Gypsy in the basement: That she was spontaneous, warm, and hilarious and I was the only person seeing it, and I feel like her performance in Funny Girl was like that. Free. It was before everything, she was just [using] the gift that God gave her.

MS: If you were trapped in an elevator with any Broadway diva for two hours, who would it be?

CJH: I was trapped in an elevator with Kathy Lee Gifford once. I was trapped in an elevator; I kid you not, in her house! I was doing a presentation of a musical reading that she was hosting out of her sprawling home in Connecticut and I got stuck in it with her between floors. But if I were trapped in a fictitious elevator with any Broadway diva… I’m gonna say Elaine Stritch. Talk about raw. That woman splatters the blood on the stage from her heart to her vocal cords. I’d love to pick her brain about her body of work, her years in the city and living out of the Carlyle Hotel, her battle with alcoholism, all of it…

MS: With that, what is the part of the show, Buyer & Cellar that you connect with the most?

CJH: I really love the end of the play. Alex goes through this trajectory of growing up and understanding what’s important: The circle that you make when you spin around is more important than all the stuff you put around it and I love that moment in the play. It also means I’m 10 minutes away from a margarita, as well.

MS: So, if you could choose your next role, what would it be?

CJH: Hmmm… I would love to do The Book Of Mormon on Broadway. It’s just a great show, so fun. But I think that my dream role would be Amadeus Mozart in Amadeus.

MS: Ooh. That’s a good one!

CJH: I mean, he’s so many things: He’s a child, he’s an adult, he’s a lover, he’s a fighter, he’s charming, he’s hilarious, he’s devastating. He’s so many colors and I would love-love-love to play that part. If I had a dream, I would like to do it opposite Tom Hanks.

Buyer & Cellar
Barrow Street Theatre
27 Barrow Street
Through August 31.

Marcus Scott, an MFA graduate of NYU Tisch, is a playwright, musical theater writer and journalist whose work has appeared in Elle, Out, Essence, Uptown, Trace, Giant, Hello Beautiful and Edge Media Network.

“Buyer and Cellar” Star Michael Urie Talks Babs & Betty

July 22nd, 2013 Comments off
Michael Urie in "Buyer and Cellar". Photo by Sandra Coudert.

Michael Urie in “Buyer and Cellar”. Photo by Sandra Coudert.

Michael Urie is a diva. Or at least he plays a diva, among many other characters, in the critically-acclaimed one-man show Buyer and Cellar.

Though perhaps best known for his slyly camp work on television’s Ugly Betty, Urie is a Julliard-trained actor who has sought out complex work on the New York stage like The Temperamentals and Angels in America. He’s got another theatrical hit on his hands with Buyer and Cellar, now settling into an extended run at the Barrow Street Theatre after premiering at the Rattlestick in April.

Hilarious, inventive and surprisingly touching, Jonathan Tolins’ play follows out-of-work actor Alex as he takes on his latest, only-in-LA temp job: a “shopkeeper” at the faux mall in Barbra Streisand’s basement. The play is fiction; Streisand’s Main Street USA cellar of shoppes to showcase her collectables is not. Tolins manages to mine this nugget of real absurdity to find something insightful to say about celebrity, perfection and loneliness. He’s helped immeasurably by the warmth and skill of Urie’s performance, as he toggles between multiple characters, including Ms. Streisand herself.

I recently had the chance to catch up with Urie in his makeshift dressing room beneath the Barrow Street stage, who is as crush-worthy in person as he is on stage.

Take the leap for Urie’s tales of Babs, being an out gay actor and the unmistakeable scent of Vanessa Williams.

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“Annie” Returns to Broadway

November 9th, 2012 Comments off

Lilla Crawford & Sunny in "Annie". Photo by Joan Marcus.

The bitch is back.

OK, technically speaking “Sandy” in Annie is a boy dog but…you get the point. And with a spanking new Broadway revival — which opened last night to solid and at times glowing reviews — the tail wagging charmer and the belting moppet are back to incite more girlish sighs and cynical eye rolls.  I mean, has there ever been a musical more beloved and simultaneously maligned (as everything horrible about relentlessly cheery, vocal chord popping musical theater) than this show? And yet…and yet the songs are damn solid — “Easy Street” is a truly dynamite number — and undeniably a part of our cultural fabric.

Who hasn’t sung “Tomorrow”–either in earnest or in jest? I’ll admit it, there are cassette tapes that exist of an eleven year old me belting out my boy soprano version in my bedroom. These recordings will remain under lock and key until 25 years after my death so don’t bother looking for them…and instead check out these amazing renditions:

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Streisand Says “Hello Gorgeous” to Brooklyn

October 11th, 2012 Comments off

Barbra Streisand. Image via Google.

I was raised on Barbra Streisand albums.

I mean, not literally on a crib made out of them (imagine being an infant and seeing that “Guilty” cover every day) but on a constant sonic bed of “The Way We Were” and “Evergreen” and “Second Hand Rose” playing in the house. My mother, who couldn’t carry a tune in a Vuitton roll-aboard, played Babs albums and warbled along to them round the clock.

So, besides making me gay, this resulted in me feeling an enormous, almost primal affection for Streisand. Starting tonight, she returns to her home town of Brooklyn for a series of concerts at the new Barclays Center. I, not having a trust fund, will not be attending but it got me thinking: although she quickly left Broadway after her first two shows, never to return again, she will always be associated with the Great White Way thanks to her devotion to the showtune songbook.

Let’s sit back and watch/listen to a few rare Streisand Broadway moments including a very early interview, a live stage performance and an album outtake…

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Gyllenhaal Is All Yours, Johannson Slips In & More Theater News

September 21st, 2012 Comments off

Annie Funke & Jake Gyllenhaal in "If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet". Photo by Joan Marcus.

You’ve heard of friends with benefits? Well, this is a post with benefits so pucker up and get ready for this week’s theater news round-up…

  • Part theater geek garage sale and part outdoor fan convention, the annual Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction takes over Shubert Alley & Times Square this Sunday from 10am – 7pm. In addition to the popular autograph table (this year featuring the likes of Cheyenne Jackson, Bebe Neuwirth, Steve Kazee, Bernadette Peters, Jeremy Jordan and more), the marquee event is an auction of priceless memorabilia and events including lunch with Angela Lansbury…with all proceeds going to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Start bidding now!
  • Still jonesing for a big ticket reward? The Drama League is sponsoring an online auction of their own with some amazing items including tickets to see If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet including a VIP backstage photo with star Jake Gyllenhaal. Just keep your hands to yourself when you get that picture taken with my boyfriend.
  • David Schwimmer in "Detroit". Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

    There are lots of benefits (ouch, that transition gave me whiplash) to seeing shows beyond Broadway. Check out the glowing reviews for two big, starry Off-Broadway openings this week. First, David Schwimmer and Amy Ryan headline “the superb” new play about downward mobility Detroit at Playwrights Horizons. Then the transcript-based, wrongly accused prisoners docudrama The Exonerated, returns in a revival that “still has the power to unsettle” with its rotating cast including Stockard Channing and Brian Dennehy.

  • Broadway Cares isn’t done yet; they’ve got a benefit — that’s like butter — planned for October 12 titled Hello Gorgeous: A Salute to the Streisand Songbook. Performers scheduled to belt their tuches off include Lorna Luft (Grease 2 again!), Ann Hampton Callaway, Daisy Eagan (The Secret Garden), Nick Adams (Priscilla: Queen of the Desert) and Jim Caruso (“Cast Party” at Birdland).
  • The New York Times is reporting that Scarlett Johansson will slip out of her superhero leather and into a slip when she returns to Broadway as Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof this winter. Her equally fetching, though perhaps not in a slip, co-stars will be Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson himself Benjamin Walker, Ciaran Hinds and Debra Monk.
  • Finally, start planning your Christmas Day trip to movie theaters now because the big budget adaption of Les Miserables has been moved back two weeks to December 25. Not sure if it will be goodies or coal in your stocking? After the jump, check out a juicy behind-the-scenes preview that made the rounds yesterday. Color me very, very impressed with how some of the singing, recorded live on the set, sounds…

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Broadway Belters Hit Your B Spot

July 23rd, 2012 Comments off

Sutton Foster in "Anything Goes". Photo by Joan Marcus.

“Belting (or vocal belting) is a specific technique of singing by which a singer produces a loud sound in the upper middle of the pitch range.” Wikipedia

Sure, that’s the technical definition. But theater types know belting as that spine tingling, vocal chord busting, earsplitting, sometimes heartbreaking sound that makes grown men weep and every little girl wish she were Annie. Love it or hate it, belting is the sound of modern Broadway and the holy miracle that creates diva worshippers as devoted as any Delphic priestess. (Personally, I’m a mix man but that’s for another day…)

Need a little belt booster shot? Watch this hysterical/awe-inspiring video compilation of some of the best belters ever, followed by some choice quotes from the diva’s themselves about their voices…

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