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Billy Porter: The Soul of Richard Rodgers

March 15th, 2017 Comments off

Billy Porter Soul of Richard Rodgers Album CoverTony and Grammy Award-Winner Billy Porter’s new studio album, Billy Porter Presents The Soul of Richard Rodgers, will be released April 14, 2017 and is now available for pre-order. The album, which features new, soulful takes on classic Richard Rodgers songs, includes solos and duets from the following artists (in addition to Porter himself): Tony and Grammy Award winners Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple), Renée Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton) and Leslie Odom Jr. (Hamilton), Tony Award-winner Patina Miller (Pippin), Grammy Award winners Pentatonix and India.Arie, Tony Award nominees Brandon Victor Dixon (Shuffle Along), Joshua Henry (Violet), and Christopher Jackson (Hamilton), alongside YouTube sensation and Kinky Boots star Todrick Hall and multiple Grammy Award nominees Deborah Cox and Ledisi.

Billy Porter is a Tony and Grammy Award-winning singer, composer, actor, playwright and director from Pittsburgh, PA. As a recording artist, Porter’s solo albums include his first CD, Untitled, on A&M records, At the Corner of Broadway + Soul – LIVE on Sh-K-Boom Records, and Billy’s Back on Broadway, on Concord Records. He originated the role of ‘Lola’ in the Broadway hit Kinky Boots, which won him 2013 Tony, Grammy, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards.

As a director, Porter’s credits include Topdog/Underdog and The Colored Museum (both for Huntington Theatre Company); Film/TV: “Law & Order: SVU,” “So You Think You Can Dance” (as a guest judge), “The Broken Hearts Club,” “Shake Rattle & Roll,” “The Big C,” The Humbling, starring Al Pacino, Baz Luhrmann’s The Get Down.

Porter’s concerts credits include opening act for Rosie O’Donnell and Aretha Franklin, Carnegie Hall, John McDaniel and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, as well as The Buffalo Philharmonic, Peter Nero and The Philly Pops, soloist for President Bill Clinton and various benefits throughout the United States.

The complete track listing for Billy Porter Presents The Soul of Richard Rodgers is as follows:

  1. Oh, What a Beautiful Morning (Pentatonix & Billy Porter)
  2. My Romance (Leslie Odom Jr.)
  3. If I Loved You (Renée Elise Goldsberry & Christopher Jackson)
  4. With a Song in My Heart (Brandon Victor Dixon & Joshua Henry)
  5. I Have Dreamed (Patina Miller)
  6. My Funny Valentine (Cynthia Erivo)
  7. I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair (Todrick Hall & Billy Porter)
  8. This Nearly was Mine (Deborah Cox)
  9. Bewitched (Ledisi featuring Zaire Park)
  10. Carefully Taught (India.Arie & Billy Porter)
  11. Lady is a Tramp (Billy Porter featuring Zaire Park)
  12. Edelweiss (Billy Porter)

“I like to think of this as the Richard Rodgers version of the Hamilton Mixtapes,” Porter said.  “These are classic songs that everybody knows and loves, and I’m so excited for people to hear them in a brand new way.”

Billy Porter Presents The Soul of Richard Rodgers marks Porter’s fourth studio album, and his first as producer and content curator, with collaborators James Sampliner and Michael “Lofey” Sandlofer.

This month, Porter launches a national tour that kicks off in Bayside, NY on March 19. Full tour schedule below:

March 19 – Queensborough PAC – Bayside, NY
March 29 – Embassy Theater – Fort Wayne, Indiana
March 31 – Ocean Reef Cultural Center – Key Largo, FL
April 2 – Aventura Arts – Aventura, FL
April 3 & 4 – Crest Theater – Delray Beach, FL
April 6 – Nugent-Custer Performance Hall – Columbus, IN
April 7 & 8 – The Columbia Club – Indianapolis, IN
April 21 – Adelphi – Garden City, NY
April 22 – Kean University – Union, NJ
May 5 – Emelin Theater – Westchester, NY
May 14 – Venetian Room – San Francisco, CA
May 20 –Goodman Theatre Gala, Fairmont Hotel – Chicago, IL
June 17 – Playhouse Square Gala –Cleveland, Ohio
July 15 – Willow Valley Communities Cultural Center Theater – Lancaster, PA
August 14 – Bay Street Playhouse – Sag Harbor, NY
August 19 & 20 – Paramount Theater – Provincetown, MA

Review: “HAM: A Musical Memoir” Starring Sam Harris

January 12th, 2015 Comments off
Sam Harris in "HAM: A Musical Memoir" (photo: Timmy Blupe via The Broadway Blog.)

Sam Harris in “HAM: A Musical Memoir” (photo: Timmy Blupe via The Broadway Blog.)

Even within the arts, very often the powers that be like to box us in. An ingénue plays her fair share of Lauries in Oklahoma! and Marias in The Sound of Music. The character actor travels the dinner theater circuit reprising his version of Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls then dons a fat suit (or gains the weight) for Sancho Panza in Man of La Mancha. The idea of “type” sticks to an actor’s resume like fly paper. It takes a certain fortitude to crack the mold. . . or cast a new one. Sam Harris, who premieres tonight at Theater 511 at Ars Nova in his show HAM: A Musical Memoir, has taken a sledgehammer that ideology.

HAM_RV_FINAL.jpgHarris proves that invention and reinvention is the very essence of the creative process as he recounts his early days growing up in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, to winning the Grand Champion title in the very first season of Star Search, and finally welcoming a little star of his own into the world with the adoption of his son Cooper with husband Danny Jacobsen.

The premise of the 80-minute performance is Harris’s recent collection of essays, Ham: Slices of a Life, which was published by Simon & Schuster last year. Setting out to promote the book, Harris convinced the publishers to allow him to present a more theatrical presentation of his work than a typical bookstore reading. Producers Susan Dietz and Elaine Krauss saw a reading at 54 Below and thought there was enough there to craft a standalone musical memoir. They were right.

Harris, with the help of deft direction by Billy Porter, pummels through his life’s stories at breakneck pace. He recounts his first foray onto the stage as “one of the two mixed-raced Polynesian bastard children in the Charles Page High School production of South Pacific,” his first exposure to the rousing hymnals of the Southern Baptist church, his mentorship by producer/director Jerry Blatt, his star turn on Star Search, a suicide attempt only to be waylaid by a sibling’s unfortunate encounter with a darning needle, coming out as homosexual, and expectedly, a tribute to his son. It’s a lot.

Sam Harris in "HAM: A Musical Memoir" (photo: Timmy Blupe via The Broadway Blog.)

Sam Harris in “HAM: A Musical Memoir” (photo: Timmy Blupe via The Broadway Blog.)

But Sam Harris is a lot. Self-described as an “extreme singer,” he shies away from nothing. Some characterizations are more successful than others and some of those extraordinary high notes occasionally crackle and fade. It doesn’t matter though because through it all he approaches the material with unabashed honesty. Much of the narrative is lifted directly from the book, though, and the past tense, dense narrative sometimes feels like prose rather than dialogue intended for the stage.

The book’s structure features a non-linear collection of stories, while this performance follows a more traditional trajectory with a few key backward hiccups, including a compelling scene where Harris plays both his teenage self and his psychology teacher, Mr. McDowell, who comforts him by saying, “You can’t pick and choose and snatch away pieces of who you are and expect to be the same person. It’s all one thing. There is nothing wrong with you. Either you accept and like yourself as a complete picture or you don’t. If I were you, I wouldn’t trade the person you are or any of what got you here. What a loss that would be.” The scene leads into the evening’s 11 o’clock number, “Broken Wing,” co-written by Harris and musical director Todd Schroeder.

HAM: A Musical Memoir may inherently draw a niche audience based on Harris’s cult following and unique discography but it is a solo work worth seeing for anyone who has dared—or dreamed—to color outside the lines.

HAM: A Musical Memoir
Theater 511 at Ars Nova
Through January 24

Broadway’s Leading Men & More…

September 15th, 2014 Comments off
Kyle Dean Massey (photo: Ezequiel De La Rosa via Passport Magazine and The Broadway Blog).

Kyle Dean Massey (photo: Ezequiel De La Rosa via Passport Magazine and The Broadway Blog).

Fall is officially here, and so is the launch of another Broadway season. To celebrate, Passport Magazine commissioned photographer Ezequiel De La Rosa to capture some of the hottest men on the Great White Way. While they’d look good wearing nothing at all, we wanted to leave something to your imagination.

Get up close and personal with (among others) Alan Cumming, Kyle Dean Massey, Christopher Sieber and Josh Tower. They look terrific in the latest fall fashions and you can discover what they like to do (and wear) to the theater and for a night on the town.

You can also get to know Tony Award-winner Billy Porter (Kinky Boots) in our VIP Lounge, where he talks about high heels, travel and a whole lot more.

These stories and more are available online now.
www.passportmagazine.com

Take the jump for some video clips of our favorite stars in action…

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Gotta Dance! Astaire Award Nominees

May 30th, 2013 Comments off
Billy Porter in “Kinky Boots.” (photo: Matt Murphy)

After seeing A Chorus Line from the last row of the balcony on my very first trip to New York City, I spent about a week trying to replicate the opening dance sequence in my college apartment. Without the ability to touch my toes or do a single pirouette, it was a futile effort, but it did give me a great appreciation for the art form of dance.

This year’s Fred & Adele Astaire Awards will honor those masters of movement whose skill set is more developed than my own. The Astaire Awards is the only awards show to honor excellence in dance and choreography on Broadway and in film and were first started in 1982 by the late Fred Astaire and the late Douglas Watt (a critic and writer for the NY Daily News and The New Yorker).

Tony Award-winners Susan Stroman, Bebe Neuwirth, Cady Huffman, Kathleen Marshall and Karen Ziemba are set to present at the awards, taking place on Monday, June 3 at 7:30pm at New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. Also set to present at the awards are Mary Testa, Christiane Noll, Harry Belafonte, Rex Reed, Michael Riedel, Anna Bergman, Lee Roy Reams, Dancing with the Stars’ Tony Dovolani, Carson Kressley and Countess Lu Ann de Lesseps.

This year, The Astaire Awards will also honor dance legend Marge Champion with its Douglas Watt Lifetime Achievement Award and special presentation by Harry Belafonte. Ted Chapin will be presented with a brand new award, Outstanding Achievement in the Preservation of Musical Theatre. Choreographer Warren Carlyle will present the pas de Deux from The New York Philharmonic’s performance of CAROUSEL with New York City Ballet’s Robert Fairchild and Tiler Peck as part of this tribute.

Taylor Trensch, Lesli Margherita and Gabriel Ebert in "Matilda The Musical." (photo: Joan Marcus)

This year’s nominees include:

Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Show
Charlotte d’Amboise (PIPPIN)
Taylor Louderman (BRING IT ON)
Laura Osnes (CINDERELLA)
Patina Miller (PIPPIN)
Andrea Martin (PIPPIN)
Lesli Margherita (MATILDA)
Stephanie Pope (PIPPIN)

Outstanding Male Dancer in a Broadway Show
Eric LaJuan Summers (MOTOWN)
Rob McClure (CHAPLIN)
Andy Mills (CINDERELLA)
Billy Porter (KINKY BOOTS)
Charlie Sutton (KINKY BOOTS)

Outstanding Choreographer of a Broadway Show
Andy Blankenbuehler (BRING IT ON)
Warren Carlyle (CHAPLIN)
Peter Darling (MATILDA)
Jerry Mitchell (KINKY BOOTS)
Josh Rhodes (CINDERELLA)
Sergio Trujillo (HANDS ON A HARD BODY)
Chet Walker (PIPPIN)
Patricia Wilcox & Warren Adams (MOTOWN)

Outstanding Choreographer in a Feature Film
Sidi Larbi Cherkaouit (Anna Karenina)
Alison Faulk (Magic Mike)
Mia Michaels (Rock Of Ages)
Mandy Moore (Silver Linings Playbook)
Poonam Shyam (Trishna)
Jamal Sims, Christopher Scott, Chuck Maldonado & Travis Wall (Step Up Revolution).

The Details:
The 31st Annual Fred & Adele Astaire Awards
Monday, June 3
7:30pm
Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University (566 LaGuardia Place).
Select tickets are available to the public priced at $425, $200 & $75
www.FredandAdeleAstaireAwards.com

Broadway Beauty Pageant Raises $50,000 for Ali Forney Center

May 22nd, 2013 Comments off
Orion Griffiths (Mr. “Pippin), winner of the Broadway Beauty Pageant. (photo: Jonathan Tichler)

The competition was stiff in more ways than one. Orion Griffiths, Mr. Pippin, was crowned as the winner of the sold out, seventh annual Broadway Beauty Pageant held Monday evening at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.

The event raised over $50,000 to benefit the Ali Forney Center, which provides shelter to homeless LGBT youth in New York City.

The evening featured Callan Bergmann (Silence! The Musical), Julius C. Carter (SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark), Yurel Echezarreta (Matilda), Matthew Goodrich (The Nance), Orion Griffiths (Pippin), and Paul HeeSang Miller (Mamma Mia!). Nathan Lee Graham (Priscilla Queen of the Desert) also performed.

Each of the contestants went head to head in front of a panel of celebrity judges, but ultimately, the final vote was the hands of the audience.

Judges Andrea Martin (Pippin), Billy Porter (Kinky Boots), and Michael Urie (Buyer and Cellar) kept the laughs coming but it was four-time Tony nominated and Drama Desk Award-winning actress Tovah Feldshuh that truly shined as the evening’s host. With a deep passion for the Ali Forney Center, appreciation for all of the performers hard work and a slew of foul-mouthed jokes, Felshuh deserved a crown of her own by the end of the night.

Host Tovah Feldshuh (photo: Jonathan Tichler)

The Ali Forney Center (AFC) was started in June 2002 in response to the lack of safe shelter for LGBT youth in New York City. The Center is committed to providing these young people with safe, dignified, nurturing environments where their needs can be met, and where they can begin to put their lives back together.

Given the alarming number of gay-related hate crimes plaguing New York City over the past weeks, it is more evident than ever that LGBT youth need a safe place to call home. Click Here to see how you can get involved.

The contestants of the Seventh Annual Broadway Beauty Pageant. (photo: Jonathan Tichler)

Judges (l to r) Michael Urie, Andrea Martin and Billy Porter. (photo: Jonathan Tichler)

Sneak Peek: Original Cast Recording of “Kinky Boots”

May 16th, 2013 Comments off

The cast of "Kinky Boots." (photo: Matt Murphy)

Can’t wait to hear the original Broadway cast recording of Kinky Boots, with music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper? The Broadway Blog snagged this behind-the-scenes video of the cast in the recording studio. Our prediction: Ms. Lauper better make room on her mantle for a Tony award… and maybe even a Grammy.

Click Here for our review of Kinky Boots.

Review: “Kinky Boots” Delivers Soles with Soul

April 4th, 2013 Comments off

The cast of "Kinky Boots." (photo: Matt Murphy)

I suppose it’s easier to win a battle when you feel the world is on your side. Such is the case inside the Al Hirschfeld Theatre where Kinky Boots, a new musical by Harvey Fierstein (book) and Cyndi Lauper (music and lyrics) has recently set up shop.

The show’s opening number, “The Most Beautiful Thing,” begins with a flashback of the show’s two lead characters as children, discovering their own relationship to shoes — Charlie is the son of a shoe factory owner; Lola is a drag queen in the making. As little Lola (played by Marquise Neal) struts around the stage in red heels, the audience goes wild as if it’s populated with the kind of progressive young parents who show off their sons on YouTube dressing up like Disney princesses for Halloween. This audience wants to see the underdog succeed, and in Kinky Boots it’s a win-win as both Charlie and Lola have mountains to climb (albeit one in sensible shoes and the other in stilettos).

Inspired by the 2005 film of the same name, Kinky Boots follows the adult Charlie (played by Stark Sands) and Lola (played by Billy Porter) as the unconventional pair take on the task of saving Charlie’s failing family shoe factory by converting it into a manufacturing facility for high heel boots for drag queens. At first glance, the antagonists are clear-cut. Charlie’s fiancée (Celina Carvajal) would rather be living in cosmopolitan London instead of Northampton. The factory worker (Daniel Stewart Sherman) wants to keep making men’s loafers rather than be bossed around by someone light in them. But their foils (or lack thereof, as neither character takes any substantial action to shake up the plot) pale compared to the deeper constructs of Fierstein’s book.

Both men’s battles are with their past. Charlie struggles to reconcile the death of his father and his new role as the leader in a business that he never wanted to be a part of. Lola, outside of the comfort of cosmopolitan London, is thrust back into a world that he escaped many years ago, bringing back memories of a father who could not accept him.

take the jump for the complete review and video from Kinky Boots

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