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Celebrating the Gift of The New York Pops

December 22nd, 2014 Comments off
(l to r) Kelli O'Hara, Steven Reineke, and Matthew Morrison, "The New York Pops: Home for the Holidays." (photo: Richard Termine)

(l to r) Kelli O’Hara, Steven Reineke, and Matthew Morrison, “The New York Pops: Home for the Holidays.” (photo: Richard Termine)

The New York Pops, led by music director and conductor Steven Reineke, offered a sleigh full of musical riches this weekend at the legendary Carnegie Hall. Featuring guest vocalists Kelli O’Hara, Matthew Morrison and Arlo Hill, along with the Essential Voices USA choir, the concert hall chimed with familiar tunes as well as a few unexpected ones.

The New York Pops is the largest independent pops orchestra in the United States and its season at Carnegie Hall is one of the venue’s highlights. This particular concert reunited for the first time O’Hara and Morrison since they appeared in the Lincoln Center revival of South Pacific. Both were in terrific vocal form and are preparing to return to Broadway this season—O’Hara in The King and I and Morrison in Finding Neverland.

In addition to the principals’ performances, the evening’s program also featured an original composition, “Wishes and Candles,” composed by Stephen Paulus and Aland and Marilyn Bergman for the 1998 Lincoln Center Tree Lighting. There was also a rousing Judaic medley, “Songs of Freedom: A Celebration of Chanukah.” But the highlight of the evening was undoubtedly O’Hara’s moving performance of “O Holy Night” (arranged by David T. Clydesdale), which brought the audience to its feet. The evening concluded with a traditional Christmas sing-along and a meditative a cappella “Silent Night.”

Whether you are visiting or live in New York City, be sure to try to coordinate your plans to sync with one of the remaining Pops performances of the season:

March 13
One Night Only: Sutton Foster
Join the two-time Tony Award-winning star of Thoroughly Modern Millie and Anything Goes in her solo debut at Carnegie Hall.

April 10
Let’s Be Frank
In Frank Sinatra’s centennial year, four of today’s finest entertainers pay tribute to America’s original idol. Featuring Tony DeSare, Storm Large, Frankie Moreno and Ryan Silverman.

 

 

Don’t Miss: Kelli O’Hara and Matthew Morrison at Carnegie Hall

December 11th, 2014 Comments off
Kelli O'Hara (photo: Laura Marie Duncan.)

Kelli O’Hara (photo: Laura Marie Duncan.)

Are you looking for some holiday cheer in the form of Broadway talent and a visit to New York City’s iconic Carnegie Hall? Mark your calendar for December 19 and 20, when the New York Pops will present a concert at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage featuring Tony, Emmy and two-time Golden Globe nominee, Matthew Morrison, and five-time Tony nominee Kelli O’Hara. The orchestra will also be joined by Judith Clurman’s Essential Voices USA. Music Director and Conductor Steven Reineke will lead the concert, which will include festive classics like “Carol of the Bells,” “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” and “Winter Wonderland,” plus some of the Broadway’s most beloved musical numbers.

O’Hara recently appeared as Mrs. Darling in NBC’s live telecast of Peter Pan. She received her fifth Tony nomination—along with Drama Desk, Drama League and Outer Critics award nominations—for her portrayal of Francesca in the musical adaptation of The Bridges of Madison County. On New Year’s Eve 2014, O’Hara will make her Metropolitan Opera debut in a production of The Merry Widow with Renée Fleming. This spring, she will return to Broadway in the Lincoln Center revival of The King and I opposite Ken Watanabe.

Matthew Morrison (photo provided by New York Pops.)

Matthew Morrison (photo provided by New York Pops.)

The Emmy, Tony, and Golden Globe-nominated star Matthew Morrison may have come to national prominence through his role as the perpetually optimistic high school teacher Will Schuester on Fox TV’s “Glee,” but the Southern California native was turning heads years earlier on the Great White Way.

After studying musical theater, vocal performance and dance at Tisch School of the Arts in New York, Morrison made his Broadway debut in Footloose, followed by The Rocky Horror Picture Show. However, it was his role as Link Larkin in the original cast of the Broadway production of Hairspray that served as his breakthrough and led to Morrison being cast in the critically acclaimed The Light in the Piazza. He return to Broadway this spring in the much-anticipated Finding Neverland.

“Our annual holiday program is one of our favorite traditions. It’s a time for loved ones to come together and celebrate the season through music,” says Reineke. “This year, we’re thrilled to be joined by two immensely talented friends—Kelli O’Hara and Matthew Morrison—who will have their long-awaited reunion on one of New York’s most beloved stages. We couldn’t ask for a greater gift!”

The New York Pops will also perform a special holiday Family Concert on Sunday, December 22. Based on the iconic television special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” this staged concert performance brings Rudolph, Santa and their friends to life through original choreography by director/choreographer Liza Gennaro, as performed by dancers from New York Theatre Ballet. In his debut with The New York Pops, Broadway actor John Bolton (Spamalot, Contact, Titanic) will narrate the classic Christmas tale, with additional characters voiced by Scot Cahoon, Rory Kulz, Bobby Underwood and students from TADA! Youth Theater. Judith Clurman’s Essential Voices USA will join The New York Pops to perform Johnny Marks’ beloved score.

The orchestra’s 32nd season continues on Friday, March 13, 2015, 8:00PM with One Night Only: Sutton Foster, with the two-time Tony Award-winning star of Thoroughly Modern Millie and Anything Goes in her solo debut at Carnegie Hall.

For more information about The New York Pops, click here.

Review: The Bridges of Madison County

March 19th, 2014 Comments off

Broadway Blog editor Matthew Wexler soars across the Midwestern plains of Iowa, courtesy of The Bridges of Madison County.

Kelli O'Hara and Steven Pasquale in "The Bridges of Madison County" (photo: Joan Marcus) via The Broadway Blog.

Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale in “The Bridges of Madison County” (photo: Joan Marcus) via The Broadway Blog.

The flat plains of Winterset, Iowa are the backdrop for The Bridges of Madison County, a sweeping yet subtle new musical new playing at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on Broadway. Adapted for the stage by Jason Robert Brown (music and lyrics) and Marsha Norman (book) from the best-selling novel by Robert James Waller, it is a tale of love lost, love found, and love released.

Robert (played by Steven Pasquale), a photographer for National Geographic, finds himself lost trying to find a specific covered bridge for the magazine’s photo shoot and stumbles across Francesca (played by Kelli O’Hara)—a disenchanted housewife whose family has traveled to the Indiana State Fair. While it may not be love at first sight, it arrives shortly thereafter and the two find themselves enraptured in a four-day love affair that changes their lives forever.

Kelli O'Hara and Steven Pasquale in "The Bridges of Madison County" (via The Broadway Blog).

Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale in “The Bridges of Madison County” (via The Broadway Blog).

While not heavy on external plot or conflict, Marsha Norman’s lean book drives the story forward while Jason Robert Brown delivers an emotionally resonant score with sweeping melodies, flecks of Francesca’s Italian roots, and subtle musical references of the era. But it is director Bartlett Sher, (South Pacific, The Light in the Piazza, and this season’s Two Boys at the Met) who gently cradles the material and creates a seamlessly shifting world that transcends time and locale.

In the spirit of Our Town and the Lars von Trier film Dogville, the ensemble is all hands on deck, shifting furniture, fences, doorways, tables, and even the kitchen sink… literally. Their watchful eyes observe Francesca and Robert’s love affair unfold. There is undoubtedly judgment in those stares, but that is left to the audience’s imagination.

At the epicenter of the action, O’Hara and Pasquale conjure up a believable attraction, but what each of them is attracted to is unclear. Beyond the physical lust, it’s hard to say what draws these two together. As Francesca, O’Hara emits a melancholy sadness as well as a self-knowing dark humor. While her vocal quality feels foggy at times set against Jason Robert Brown’s pop-melodic score, her journey tugs at anyone who has questioned their own happiness. Steven Pasquale, making his Broadway musical debut as Robert, delivers a performance of subtle humility yet aching desire. His bari-tenor voice fits snuggly in the pocket of Brown’s music as he richly delivers the 11 o’clock number, “It All Fades Away.”

Hunter Foster as Francesca’s husband, Bud, is dealt a short hand both in terms of storytelling and music, but he makes the most of it and finds humanity and humor in the man who can’t seem to retain Francesca’s love. And in a beautifully staged sequence, Whitney Bashor (Broadway debut) as Robert’s ex-wife Marian, channels Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez in flashback scene that, while not necessarily plot-driving, is a splash of watercolor on an evolving canvas.

Jason Robert Brown continues to establish himself as one of the great Broadway composers and orchestrators of the 21st century. The Bridges of Madison County is a testament to his evolution as an artist. Keep an eye out for the film version of his off Broadway hit, The Last Five Years, and his next Broadway show, Honeymoon in Vegas, arriving on Broadway this fall.

The Bridges of Madison County
Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
236 West 45th Street
Open-ended run

Three to See: February

February 3rd, 2014 Comments off

 

"The Bridges of Madison County"

“The Bridges of Madison County”

The Bridges of Madison County
If you’re looking for a lush, romantic Broadway musical, the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning team of Marsha Norman and Jason Robert Brown hope to score big with The Bridges of Madison County. Directed by Barltett Sher (South Pacific) and starring

Four-time Tony nominee Kelli O’Hara (Nice Work If You Can Get It, The Light in the Piazza) and Steven Pasquale (“Rescue Me”, reasons to be pretty), star in the soaring tale of romance and lost love takes place on the plains of the Iowa landscape circa 1965.

The Bridges of Madison County
Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
236 West 45th Street
www.bridgesofmadisoncountymusical.com

Take a sneak peek…

Kung Fu

Cole Horibe stars in David Henry Hwang's new play, "Kung Fu." (photo: Gregory Costanzo)

Cole Horibe stars in David Henry Hwang’s new play, “Kung Fu.”
(photo: Gregory Costanzo)

Incorporating dance and music into an exciting new form, Cole Horibe (“So You Think You Can Dance”) takes on the iconic role of real-life Bruce Lee, a young martial artist who comes to America from Hong Kong in the 1960’s with a dream as audacious as his talent: to become the biggest movie star in the world. To do so, he must struggle to overcome the West’s view of China as weak and backwards, and of Asian men as less than truly masculine.

The world premiere play by David Henry Hwang and directed by Leigh Silverman has created so much buzz that the production has already been extended. Also keep your eye out for choreography by Sonya Tayeh. 

Kung Fu
The Irene Diamond Stage at The Pershing Square Signature Center 480 West 42nd Street
Through March 30.
www.signaturetheatre.org

 

pageantPageant – The Musical Comedy Beauty Contest
Returning for the first time to the New York stage in more than twenty years, Pageant features contestants desperately vying for a glittering tiara. With swimsuit, talent, and evening gown competitions – the show includes both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat! Unlike some beauty pageants you’ve seen before, the female contestants are all played by men. And the audience gets to select the winner each night.

Fifty percent of ticket sales benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. By drawing upon the talents, resources and generosity of the American theatre community, since 1988 BC/EFA has raised more than $250 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States.

Pageant
The Red Lacquer Club
240 West 52nd Street
Monday nights; February 3, 10, 17, 24

Take a peek at Pageant in rehearsal…

TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE: “Nice Work” & “Clybourne Park”

April 24th, 2012 Comments off

I hope you’ve been pacing yourself because the tsunami of Broadway openings continues through the end of the week. (Maybe I’m crazy but wouldn’t a show get a lot more free publicity and buzz if it opened in a less packed couple weeks? Just saying…) Today, we’re looking at two new shows inspired by old material.

Kelli O'Hara & Matthew Broderick in "Nice Work If You Can Get It". Photo by Joan Marcus.

NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET

Acclaimed director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall (Anything Goes) whips up a Gershwin confection about a boozy playboy and a tough gal bootlegger starring Matthew Broderick and Kelli O’Hara.

“…a shiny, dutiful trickle of jokes and dance numbers performed by talented people who don’t entirely connect with the whimsy of a bygone genre.” New York Times

“…the primo supporting cast is talented enough to sell it all.” New York Post

“A bulging box of musical-theater candy.” Hollywood Reporter

“But director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall and a stellar cast ensure that the show is as charming in execution as it is disheartening in theory.” USA Today

Read more…