Posts Tagged ‘Chaplin Musical’

Who You Calling a Little Tramp?

January 8th, 2013 Comments off

The Broadway Blog welcomes contributor Scott Redman, who offers his take on the Original Broadway Cast Recording of “Chaplin, the Musical.”

“Chaplin,” the bio tuner based on the iconic silent film star Charlie Chaplin, closed its Broadway run Jan. 6 but the show lives on via a cast recording produced by Masterworks Broadway, a division of Sony Records.

The musical colors Charlie Chaplin, a respectable Rob McClure in the title role, from black and white beginnings in dreary London into a Technicolor Hollywood where he searches for happiness and success in the pictures. The laborious musical attempts to tell his entire life story from boyhood to senior. Chaplin’s life is great material for a musical — humble beginning turned to fame, fortune, exile, etc. Unfortunately the show’s recording mirrors the same problems it had at the Barrymore Theatre — a lack of focus and style. “Chaplin” delivers a pastiche and often-generic sounding score that doesn’t sound like anything new or unique.

The opening number, “Look at All the People” performed by Charlie’s mum, a clear voiced Christiane Noll, sets up the mother–child relationship but doesn’t launch the show or create an energy to frame the musical. The second number continues with a vaudeville drinking song also performed by the mother. Listening to the first few tracks I found myself waiting for the show to start and asking, “Who is this show even about?” Its not until Charlie arrives in Tinseltown does the action of the play really get going.

Once Chaplin moves to Hollywood the score becomes predictable with tracks “Just Another Day in Hollywood” and “Life Can be Like the Movies.” These numbers are bouncy and resemble the period but lacks content to drive the plot forward or develop the characters into something the audience can empathize.

At the end of the second act Charlie meets Oona O’Neil played by Erin Mackey who delivers an emotionally robust ballad, “What Only Love Can See.” Its here where you imagine the potential of what this show could have been with stronger lyrics and song spotting.

“Chaplin,” released by Masterworks Broadway, is available on iTunes or Amazon.
A national tour is scheduled for 2014 as well as a production in São Paolo, Brazil.
Visit for the latest updates.

Video Sneak Peeks at “Kinky”, New “Les Miz” Song and More

December 7th, 2012 Comments off

Hugh Jackman in "Les Miserables". Image via

The Broadway news this week was particularly brutal with three tough closing announcements — Chaplin, hanging in there against the odds for a number of months, Scandalous, quickly closing after tough reviews and The Anarchist, a shockingly brief run given combo of Mamet, LuPone and Winger.  But it’s the holiday season and I refuse to let any of this get me down.  Instead, let’s look ahead with some delicious preview footage from three musicals.

First up, the film version of Les Miserables has been getting generally very good reviews  (except for those who seem to want it not to be a musical) after opening in London.  There’s a lot of footage on the internet and I’ve been trying to stay away from it so I go into the theater fresh.  However, I couldn’t resist watching this snippet about a NEW SONG written just for the film:

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Holiday Shows, Broadway “Blows” and More Theater News

November 30th, 2012 Comments off

The cast of "Elf". Photo by Joan Marcus.

The holiday season is in full swing so let’s unwrap some shiny theater news — just be sure to save the ribbon:

  • Thanksgiving week is traditionally a boffo box office week on Broadway and this year was no exception. Twelve shows topped the million dollar mark in receipts. Of particular interest, the holiday themed musicals Elf and A Christmas Story had very healthy totals ($997,145 and $1,104,312) aided by an additional performance per week.  With The Radio City Christmas Spectacular and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas running elsewhere in town, it would seem that the surest way to success on stage is a torrent of fake snow.
  • Broadway Bares. Photo by Andrew Eccles.

    Speaking of stocking stuffers…wait for it…Broadway Bares, the annual burlesque extravaganza benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, officially announced it is set for Sunday, June 23, 2013. Tickets are on sale now. No word on a theme yet but something tells me it will involve a saucy pun.  Yeah, I’m psychic like that.

  • The holidays are a time for giving…and Broadway is no exception. On December 10, a big name roster of stage talent (including David Hyde Pierce, Patrick Wilson, Julia Murney, Eden Esipinosa and many more) will be singing to support the folks affected by Hurricane Sandy at Broadway Blows Back. (Maybe that was the saucy pun I was seeing in my crystal ball?)
  • Two shows that opened this season got some early presents this week.  Our fine fettle friends at The Mystery of Edwin Drood will be recording an album for the acclaimed revival and the little show that could (about the little tramp that did) Chaplin is getting a national tour launching in the fall of 2014.
  • Fans of Beth Henley’s southern fried comedy/dramas (Crimes of the Heart) or devotees of early aught teen dramas can pop the champagne for an early New Year’s celebration. Producers announced that Amber Tamblyn (star of Joan of Arcadia as well as a genius prank pulled on Tyrese…go look it up) will be making her Broadway debut in Henley’s The Miss Firecracker Contest in the spring of 2013. I’ve got my sash and crown already…


TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE: “Chaplin: The Musical”

September 11th, 2012 Comments off

Zachary Unger & Rob McClure in “Chaplin”. Photo by Joan Marcus.


Silent film’s beloved “Little Tramp” gets the full Funny Guy treatment in a new bio-musical directed by Warren Carlyle (Follies) and written by Thomas Meehan (Hairspray) and Christopher Curtis.

“The lens through which we see most of Chaplin, though, is blurred, as if with Vaseline.” New York Times

“As a musical, Chaplin is squarely in the middle of the middle of the pack; as the canny redeployment of an icon, it sometimes flirts with excellence.” New York Magazine

“The producers of Chaplin…have passed that difficult test, with relative newcomer Rob McClure proving a small wonder as the Little Tramp.” Variety

“…a curiously flat affair.” Entertainment Weekly

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TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE: Fall Preview 2012, The Musicals

September 5th, 2012 Comments off

The Cast of "Chaplin". Photo by Joan Marcus.

Buckle up, boys and girls! The theater season is about to get up and rolling so we’ve got a two part preview of the tunes and tears the Great White Way has to offer through the end of the year. Since the first show out of the gate post-Labor Day is a musical, let’s start with a closer look at the originals and revivals singing and dancing onto Broadway during the rest of 2012.

On a quick glance, the slate is…well…a bit like the island of misfit toys; a curiosity chest of pieces with unusual histories from less than name brand writers. But one never knows until the curtain goes up what we truly have in store; the oddest ducks (or Cats) can sometimes turn out to be blockbusters.

Chaplin (September 10): One of Hollywood’s first mega-stars gets the first slot of the season in what promises to be a splashy theatrical biography. The biggest news is that the lead is being played by a relative unknown (almost unheard of in these marquee driven times), Rob McClure. Also in the plus column, a book co-written by musical vet Thomas Meehan (Hairspray) and supporting turns from the recent Closer than Ever dynamic duo Jenn Colella and Christiane Noll…as well as our very own Theater Buff, Wayne Wilcox.

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Tom Hanks In, Nick Jonas Out & More Theater News

May 11th, 2012 Comments off

Nick Jonas & Rob Bartlett in "How to Succeed...". Photo by Joan Marcus.

What’s that smell in the Broadway air? Dance belt and shattered dreams? Well, yes. But I’m talking about the delightfully floral scent of a theater news potpourri..

  • Michael Riedel at the New York Post broke the news this week that Tom Hanks (Bosom Buddies) will make his Broadway debut in a new play by Nora Ephron. He’ll play famed tabloid columnist Mike McAlary in Lucky Guy, January 2013. Sleepless in the Newsroom?
  • Movie stars are coming up like weeds, it would seem, because Hanks isn’t the only film favorite coming to the Great White Way—although he is a bit more alive than the other arrival. The New York Times reports that a bio-musical about Chaplin (as in Charlie Chaplin) will begin previews August 10.
  • Lay wreathes at two more Broadway theaters this week as the season ending culling continues. The new musical Leap of Faith, with only a single Tony nomination and disappointing sales, will shutter this Sunday, and the teen friendly reboot of How to Succeed… (currently starring Nick Jonas) will cash it’s last (investment recouped) check on May 20 after 473 regular performances. Expect the death toll to increase in the coming weeks.
  • Reeve Carney & Rebecca Faulkenberry in "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark". Photo by Jacob Cohl.

    Turning the proverbial lemons into lemonade (Is there a lemon flower? Have I lost the thread of my organizing theme already?), the producers of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark have cheekily and quite delightfully decided to acknowledge their underrepresentation at the Tony Nominations by celebrating “Tonys”. People named “Tony” or variations thereof will be eligible for free tickets to see the musical at the matinee on Tony Sunday. The rules and regulations are here; there may still be time for a legal name change should you so desire.

  • Feeling like a bud vase of theater instead of a whole bouquet? Scrappy Milk Can Theatre Company is offering an evening of seven ten minute plays, The Snap Shot Plays, this weekend at Shetler Studios. The twist: each play was inspired by a local photographer’s work. Sounds interesting and worth a peak.
  • Isn’t one supposed to throw roses at a diva? Well, get your dozen ready to toss at your TV because Christine (and her beloved Phantom) are making their way to PBS. A filmed performance of the much-discussed sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies, will be presented in June. As they say, check your local listings.
  • In the world of grand laurels, I have once again received the honor of being a guest on the radio show This Show is So Gay to discuss all things Broadway. As usual, I embarrass myself at least twice. How I suffer for my art.