Every first Wednesday of the month, 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. This month, we look at two very different holiday musicals…
The cast of "A Civil War Christmas". Photo by Carol Rosegg.
A CIVIL WAR CHRISTMAS
Pulitzer-winning playwright Paula Vogel weaves together multiple stories and classic carols in her vision of Washington, D.C. on Christmas Eve, 1864.
“Written with an embracing expansiveness by Ms. Vogel…and featuring handsomely sung hymns and carols of the period, this unusual holiday pageant represents an illuminating alternative to the often garish or sentimental holiday fare foisted on theater audiences.” New York Times
“…endearing, occasionally trying play…” New York Post
“…Landau’s staging is mostly taut and uncluttered. It’s amazing what she can do with a handful of chairs and a bunch of stovepipe hats…” Entertainment Weekly
Mizer’s Two Cents: Intelligent, respectful and a bit overstuffed, this pageant — or better yet panorama — provides a serious-minded and ultimately moving antidote to the silvery tinsel of much holiday fare. With so many characters and styles to introduce, the play takes time to gain forward momentum (it is not for those with itchy attention spans), but once the multiple strands begin to intersect there are many lovely pleasures to be found. Chief among these tastefully wrapped gifts are a “wow, did that really happen” sense of history (Lincoln on a midnight ride for a Christmas gift facing assassins!?), sweetly sung traditionals, inventive story-theater staging and a talented ensemble of actors skillfully playing multiple roles as well as musical instruments (including a commanding Sean Allan Krill, a vibrant Jonathan-David and a clarion-voiced Amber Iman.)
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…
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.
Categories: To See or Not To See a christmas story musical, annie revival, carolee carmello, Chaplin Musical, chita rivera, christiane noll, elf musical, george hearn, jenn colella, kathie lee gifford, katie finneran, mystery of edwin drood, new musicals, pasek and paul, rebecca musical, Revivals, rob mcclure, roundabout theatre, scandalous musical, thomas meehan, Tony Awards, wayne wilcox