Broadway is slowing coming out of its summer hibernation, but our eyes are wandering toward Off Broadway and beyond for our top picks of the month.
All the Ways to Say I Love You An unconventional triple threat conspires for one of the most anticipated plays of the fall: Neil LaBute’s All the Ways to Say I Love You.
Starring the formidable Judith Light under the direction of Leigh Silverman, the play follows high school English teacher and guidance counselor Mrs. Johnson. As she recounts her experiences with a favored student from her past, Mrs. Johnson slowly reveals the truth that is hidden just beneath the surface details of her life. The solo play about “love, hard choices, and the cost of fulfilling an all-consuming desire.”
Marie and Rosetta Before there was Aretha Franklin or Tina Turner, there was Sister Rosetta Tharpe. A legend in her time, she brought fierce guitar playing and swing to gospel music. Tharpe was the queen of ‘race records’ in the 30’s and 40’s, performed mornings at churches and evenings at the Cotton Club. She filled a baseball stadium for her (third) wedding yet ended up in an unmarked grave in Philadelphia.
The play chronicles her first rehearsal with a young protégée, Marie Knight, as they prepare to embark on a tour that would establish them as one of the great duet teams in musical history.
Marie and Rosetta Atlantic Theater
Linda Gross Theater
336 West 20th Stret
Opening night: September 12
Verso “We’ve got magic to do just for you…” No, it’s not Pippin. Instead, Neil Patrick Harris directs Helder Guimarães in a contemporary magic show likely to bewilder and amaze audiences. Bear witness as he pushes the very limits of magic, and challenges just how much you’re willing to accept what your eyes assume to be true.
Verso New World Stages
340 West 50th Street
Opening night: September 28
The June 2013 broadcast of the 67th Annual Tony Awards was honored Saturday evening with two Primetime Emmy Awards at the Creative Arts Awards presentation in Los Angeles. The Awards won in the following categories:
Outstanding Special Class Program – Ricky Kirshner, Executive Producer, Glenn Weiss Executive Producer and Neil Patrick Harris, Host/Producer
Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics “Bigger!” – Music by Tom Kitt, Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda
This is the third consecutive year that the Tony Awards have won in these categories.
The Awards are nominated in two additional categories – Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special, directed by Glenn Weiss, and Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special, written by Dave Boone, Special Material by Paul Greenberg – that will be announced at the Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony on Monday, Aug. 25, in Los Angeles.
“This show certainly was ‘bigger’, living up to the lyrics of the opening song,” Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner said. “This could not have happened without the talents of hundreds of theater and television professionals working hand in hand. Our gratitude to everyone on the production and especially Neil Patrick Harris, whose talents helped the Tonys bring home another two Emmys.”
“The 67th Annual Tony Awards was certainly an outstanding production from the spectacular opening number to the moment the lights dimmed at the end of the show,” Heather Hitchens, Executive Director of the American Theater Wing, and Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of The Broadway League, said. “We are incredibly proud of the entire team for their hard work and are honored that the Awards continue to be recognized.”
Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss of White Cherry Entertainment have acted as executive producers of the Tony Awards telecast since 2004. During White Cherry’s tenure, the Tony Awards have been recognized with an unprecedented 34 Emmy nominations and 18 Emmy wins, including the best show in its class for the last five consecutive years, and seven of the last eight outings.
The Antoinette Perry “Tony” Award, which was founded by the American Theatre Wing in 1947, is bestowed annually on theatre professionals for distinguished achievement on Broadway. The Tony is one of the most coveted awards in the entertainment industry and the annual telecast—the night America watches Broadway—is considered one of the most prestigious programs on television.
Hugh Jackman (Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions via The Broadway Blog.)
“Everybody loves a winner, so nobody loves me.”
So sings Sally Bowles in Cabaret, but we didn’t hear Michelle Williams belt it out last night at the 68th Annual Tony Awards. Was she even in the room? Instead, we were treated to Alan Cumming recreating his Tony Award-winning role as the Emcee in the revival of the 1998 revival. How meta. That and other artistic oddities dominated this year’s Tony Award broadcast that aimed to invigorate a relatively anemic season on the Great White Way. We can’t say that we laughed, we cried, or it was better than Cats, but there were a few “a-ha” moments worthy of chuckles and tears.
Idina Menzel (Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions via The Broadway Blog.)
Rant: What’s with the jumping, Hugh? The entire opening sequence had Jackman bouncing past vignettes of nominated performers and shows through the massive hallways of Radio City Music Hall. According to CNN, the bouncing was in reference to Bobby Van’s performance of “Take Me to Broadway” in the 1953 film Small Town Girl. Most (all?) avid theatergoers missed the reference and it ended up coming off like a last-minute fix for an elaborate opening dance sequence that perhaps went awry during rehearsals.
Rave: Audra McDonald won her sixth Tony Award for her performance of Billie Holliday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill. Tricky that it was for the Best Play category, but we won’t squabble. McDonald is Broadway royalty.
Rant: Idina Menzel… let it go. And by that, we mean the crazy eyes and Olympic mouth stretching during your performance from If/Then. We were getting a bit of Elphaba, which also brings us to another rant as we were hoping you’d go green for the 10th anniversary performance from Wicked.
Jefferson Mays (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions via The Broadway Blog.)
Rave: They should give out a Tony for Best Performance by an Actor Introducing a Musical… and when they do, please bestow it on Jefferson Mayes, for his gender-bending, denture-swapping narrative that preceded the best musical excerpt of the evening, which also happened to be from the show that won Best Musical: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.
Rave: Neil Patrick Harris – you rock. Period.
Rant? The jury is out on Jennifer Hudson’s performance from the forthcoming Finding Neverland. According to the New York Daily News, Harvey Weinstein wanted to bring Hollywood cache to create hype for the show, but Broadway purists were pissed that members of the actual cast were kept on the sidelines.
Rave: Could Carole King be any cuter? Yes, when performing with Broadway’s newest A-Lister Jessie Mueller. The pair were all rainbows and free love, and Mueller, who has trudged through less-than-thrilling revivals of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and Into the Woods is a shining star in the Chicago-based Mueller family of actors, who have been on the regional boards for decades.
What will the 2014-15 Broadway season bring? We can’t wait to find out. But in the meantime, we’ll be reveling in the hit shows of the current season.
The Tony Awards have announced the line-up of performances for the 68th Annual Tony Awards, which will broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City, on CBS, on Sunday, June 8th 8:00 – 11:00 p.m. (ET/PT time delay).
The entertainment-packed evening will feature performances by 2014 Tony Nominee Neil Patrick Harris and the cast of Hedwig and the Angry Inch; 2014 Tony nominee Sutton Foster with the cast of Violet; Alan Cumming reprising his Tony Award winning role in a performance from the revival of Cabaret and 2014 Tony Nominee Idina Menzel performing from the new musical If/Then.
The evening will also feature not-to-be missed performances by the casts of this year’s Best Musical and Best Musical Revival Nominees, as well as other new musicals: Aladdin, Les Misérables, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Bullets Over Broadway and Rocky.
Idina Menzel in the original cast of “Wicked” (photo: wickedthemusical.com) via The Broadway Blog.
The cast of Wicked will return to Radio City Music Hall for the first time since 2004, when they won three Tony Awards. The cast will take the stage once again in what is sure to be a very special performance to celebrate Wicked’s 10th Anniversary. Also not to be missed: music legends Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight and Fantasia, who will take the stage for an unforgettable performance with the cast of After Midnight.Sting will also perform a song from his upcoming musical, The Last Ship.
Hosted by Tony Award winner, Emmy Award-winning, Academy Award®-nominated and Golden Globe-winning actor Hugh Jackman, Broadway’s biggest night will feature appearances by Bradley Cooper, Kevin Bacon, Carole King, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Will Ferrell, Liev Schreiber, Emmy Rossum, Kate Mara, Zachary Quinto, Zachary Levi, Lucy Liu, Clint Eastwood, Patricia Clarkson, Leighton Meester, Ethan Hawke, Zach Braff, Matt Bomer, Anna Gunn, Gloria & Emilio Estefan, Tony nominee Audra McDonald, Fran Drescher, Wayne Brady, Kenneth Branagh, Tony Goldwyn, Vera Farmiga and Alessandro Nivola.
The Tony Awards will be broadcast in a live three-hour ceremony from Radio City Music Hall, on the CBS television network on Sunday, June 8, 2014. For more information on the Tony Awards, visit www.TonyAwards.com.
A scene from “Les Misérables” (photo: Matthew Murphy) via The Broadway Blog.
Our top picks for May span the globe, from Neil Patrick Harris’s star turn on Broadway to a sultry new musical revue in Paris. Take your pick and support live theater wherever you are.
Neil Patrick Harris and the cast of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” (photo: Joan Marcus) via The Broadway Blog.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch We gave it a rave and so did most of the critics. One of the hardest tickets to come by this spring is worth chasing down as Neil Partick Harris takes on the title role in this rock concert biopic that follows the fictional tale of an East Berlin performing artist on her rise and demise.
111 West 44th Street
Through August 17
“Mugler Follies” (photo: muglerfollies.com) via The Broadway Blog.
Mugler Follies Described as “touching, shocking, beautiful and disconcerting,” creator Manfred Thierry Mugler is redefing the revue-style genre. And who better to take this on than the creative force behind Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity and artistic director of Beyoncé’s world tour? Mugler combines fashion, technology, music, dance and acrobatics for a multi-sensory experience that will leave you squealing ooh-lah-lah! 4, Boulevard de Strasbourg, Paris
Maggie Chestovich (l) and Sarah Agnew in “Crimes of the Heart” (photo: Joan Marcus) via The Broadway Blog.
Crimes of the Heart The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota presents a revival of Beth Henley’s “Southern Gothic” comedy that follows three young sisters as they reconcile the family’s trials and tribulations. The play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was later made into an Academy award-nominated film.
Wurtele Thrust Stage
Through June 15
Contributor Lindsay B. Davis revisits Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway in its powerful revival starring Neil Patrick Harris.
Neil Patrick Harris and the cast of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” (photo: Joan Marcus) via The Broadway Blog.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch, John Cameron Mitchell and Steven Trask’s glam and punk influenced rock musical that originated in 1994 at a drag club called the Squeeze Box, has reinvented itself on Broadway at the Belasco Theatre. The stunning new production is the recipient of eight Tony nominations, including “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical” for its star, the formidable Neil Patrick Harris. Hedwig is back, and better than ever.
I saw Hedwig off Broadway at the (now closed) Jane Street Theater where it ran from January 1998-April 2000 and earned Obie and Outer Critics Circle awards for Best Musical. John Cameron Mitchell originated the titular role and the show’s concert-like intensity, beauty and grit (with its voraciously ambitious but unlucky in love and life transsexual heroine Hedwig at the epicenter) was a far cry from anything I had seen uptown.
Neil Patrick Harris (photo: Joan Marcus) via The Broadway Blog.
The communist East Berlin-born Hansel’s transformation into Hedwig, an aspiring performing artist diva backed up by a band—the Angry Inch (its name derived from a botched sex change operation that gave Hedwig an inch-long nub)—is what you might’ve called “unconventional” for the late 90s musical theater scene. But what made it transformational was not just that it took a few dares. With an impressive score and realization of character done with such incredible sensitivity and intelligence, it left you with no choice but to fall in love.
Cut to 2014 and Broadway’s Belasco Theatre and I had a few reservations: Would the power of the story’s intimacy that punched the guts of myself and audiences in a 300-person theater transfer well to a theater that seats over 1,000 people? Would Hedwig be whitewashed or Disney-fied or in some way watered down to appeal to Broadway audiences? And most importantly, could Neil Patrick Harris pull off Hedwig? All three questions were answered within minutes of the show’s flashy opening number “Tear Me Down” that kicks off as Hedwig is lowered from the rafters in a white gold glitter jacket and pants ensemble (courtesy of costume designer Arianne Phillips of Madonna fame) like a fusion of Elvis and Gaga.
The girl has been waiting 15 years for this moment.
Based on an uproarious crowd that erupts before Hedwig’s gold platform heels touch the ground, so have Broadway audiences. In the world of Hedwig, a few jigs to the storyline had to happen. Number one, the imagined musical Hurt Locker opened and closed in a day, leaving an empty theater waiting to be filled and two, Bob Wankel of the Shubert Organization was willing to be bribed with fellatio. As embodied by the now sinewy Harris and with lady luck on her side, Hedwig seizes the moment and fills the stage from the get go with presence, pelvic thrusts and other impressive gyrating antics. Her desire is fresh and as she struts amongst the scrap heap of the leftover Hurt Locker set (including a beat up old car and blown out brick walls as conceived by scenic designer, Julian Crouch) you get the feeling Hedwig herself has risen from battle and boy is this bitch back.
"Kinky Boots" live at the Tony Awards. (photo: tonyawards.com)
High heels and high theatrics seemed to be a theme for this year’s Tony Awards, which bestowed six awards on Kinky Boots and four for the revival of Pippin and the same number for Matilda The Musical. Neil Patrick Harris brought down the house with an electric opening number (featuring Mike Tyson) and “rapped” it up in a perfect bow for a finale that featured Audra McDonald.
Equally as entertaining was the mid-show riff featuring celebrated theater actors whose TV shows were recently cancelled. The all-star casualty list included Megan Hilty, Andrew Rannells and Laura Benanti. What fell awkwardly flat were the introductions and award presentations by actors in costume — and character — from currently running shows. It was especially painful to watch those standing around who didn’t have any lines to deliver.
Cyndi Lauper performing live at the Tony Awards. (photo: tonyawards.com)
The award speeches ran the gamut from Cyndi Lauper’s heartfelt ode to a lifetime appreciation of Broadway to Cecily Tyson’s… deliberate… final… ode… to… a… life… in… the… theater. And then there was Tom Hanks’ speech — oh, wait. He didn’t win.
Here’s the official winner’s list. But as so many of those making speeches indicated, it’s all about celebrating the community and artistry of live theater.
Best Musical – Kinky Boots
Best Revival of a Musical – Pippin
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical – Patina Miller, Pippin
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play – Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play – Tracy Letts, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical – Billy Porter, Kinky Boots
Best Lighting Design of a Play – Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer, Lucky Guy
Best Revival of a Play – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Best Lighting Design of a Musical – Hugh Vanstone, Matilda The Musical
Best Play – Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical – Andrea Martin, Pippin
Best Scenic Design of a Musical – Rob Howell, Matilda The Musical
Best Scenic Design of a Play – John Lee Beatty, The Nance
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre – Music & Lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, Kinky Boots
Best Choreography – Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots
Best Direction of a Play – Pam MacKinnon, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Best Direction of a Musical – Diane Paulus, Pippin
Best Book of a Musical – Dennis Kelly, Matilda The Musical
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical – Gabriel Ebert, Matilda The Musical
Best Sound Design of a Play – Leon Rothenberg, The Nance
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play – Judith Light, The Assembled Parties
Best Sound Design of a Musical – John Shivers, Kinky Boots
Best Orchestrations – Stephen Oremus, Kinky Boots
Best Costume Design of a Musical – William Ivey Long, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
Best Costume Design of a Play – Anne Roth, The Nance
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play – Courtney B. Vance, Lucky Guy
Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre:
Ming Cho Lee
Regional Theatre Award:
Huntington Theatre Company, Boston, MA
Isabelle Stevenson Award:
Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre:
Career Transition For Dancers
The Lost Colony
The four actresses who created the title role of Matilda The Musical on Broadway – Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon and Milly Shapiro
The Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and The American Theater Wing.
We asked the Broadway Blog’s Facebook fans which acceptance speech was most inspiring – congratulations, Patina Miller! (We want to know – who is going to write you a Tina Turner musical? Look at those arms!)
I’m back from my hiatus only to discover that the theater world continued on without me. The nerve! So let’s catch up with a few of the biggest stories in a slam bang news round-up…
Certain theater producers better be buying everybody rounds of drinks at Bar Centrale this week, because two Broadway shows announced they have officially recouped their investments. The Tony-winning Best Musical Once and the imported farce One Man, Two Gov’nors are now playing for profit, baby. (Might I suggest that if you see a show with “three” in the title, you invest in it right now.)
Broadway Cast of "Assassins". Photo by Joan Marcus.
Speaking of number one with a bullet, my favorite under-appreciated Sondheim score, Assassins, will be heard again in New York at a one night only benefit performance for the Roundabout Musical Theatre Program. The cast of the acclaimed 2004 revival–including the snoggable Neil Patrick Harris and the divine Denis O’Hare–will reunite on December 3 for a reading of the gorgeously twisted show.
While we’re on a Sondheim binge (“More hot pies!”), the Keen Company announced the cast for their upcoming revival of the revue Marry Me a Little. Starting Septemeber 11, the lovely Lauren Molina and the, well, lovely Jason Tam will be singing a host of Uncle Steve’s best including trunk song rarities like “Rainbows” from the much delayed film version of Into the Woods.
I don’t know about you but I wanted to be Karen Allen (Raiders of the Lost Ark) when I grew up. I mean, seriously, she could handle her whiskey and she got to kiss Harrison Ford. She also happens to be a compelling actress with theatrical credits beyond her 80’s blockbuster film resume. All this is a long-winded way of saying that Ms. Allen will be starring in a new play, A Summer Dayby Jon Fosse, starting October 10 at the Cherry Lane Theater. Don’t let anything (say, huge rolling boulders or a temple full of snakes) get in your way of seeing it.
And while we’re thinking of Indiana Jones (go with me), the opening sequence in the second film in that series not only started with a big musical number but it took place in Shanghai…which, according to the New York Times, is now the proposed home for a multi-billion dollar entertainment complex intended to “to rival the Broadway theater district in New York and the West End in London.” (Yeah, even my head hurts trying to follow that segue.) The project, expected to be completed by 2016, is a joint initiative between Chinese partners and the folks at Dreamworks Animation SKG (Spielberg! See, it’s all connected).
James Corden, Audra McDonald, Nina Arianda & Steve Kazee. Photo by Walter McBride/Retna.
All that’s left of this year’s Tonys is a trail of body glitter left on the 1 train by some hungover chorus boy, but that doesn’t mean we can’t relive them with a look back at the night’s big winners and losers. (Get the full list of Tony winners here.)
Biggest Winner: With a pack leading eight wins, Once, the little show that could proved to be a freight train mowing down the competition. Given that it was based on a small independent film, expect Sundance to be swarmed by music theater writers next year. Pack extra leg warmers.
Best Reason to Watch the Tonys vs. the Oscars…other than dancer butt: The Tonys aren’t afraid of comedy. James Corden’s triumphant, masterclass in low comedy wouldn’t even have been nominated for an Oscar let alone won one. Somewhere, Steve Martin is shaking his fist and thinking, “Why didn’t I do All of Me on Broadway?!”
Best Audition for the Next Spider-Man Villain: When the every-peppy cast of Godspell jumped into the audience, Andrew Garfield was seen recoiling in fear from a swirling apostle attempting to pull him into the aisle. It would seem that all you need to stop Spidey is a tube of greasepaint and a follow spot.
Daniel Clarkson & Jefferson Turner in "Potted Potter". Image via David Gersten & Associates.
The stars, as in big name stars, are aligning on Broadway and we’ve got the scoop in a bite-sized theater news round-up:
Harry Potter is coming back to the New York. Well, not exactly THE Harry Potter but the 2012 Olivier Award nominee Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience. The family friendly parody will play a limited engagment at the Little Shubert Theater starting May 19, promising to squeeze all seven books into seventy minutes…which basically makes the guy from One Man Star Wars Trilogylook like a total slacker.
Oscar-nominee Amy Adams will be The Baker’s Wife in this summer’s Shakespeare in the Park production of Into the Woods. No word yet on the rest of the leads but if this is the first announcement (and it’s pretty great casting, even if she strikes me more as a Cinderella), one has to imagine there are even bigger names to come. The mind boggles…Meryl as the Witch?
"Through a Glass Darkly". Photo by Ari Mintz.
The first award nominations are out for the 2011-2012 season! The Lucille Lortel Awards, given to excellence in Off-Broadway theater, and they feature a strong line-up of worthy works including Broadway Blog favorites director/choreographer Oscar-nominee Carey Mulligan (Through a Glass Darkly), Christopher Gattelli (Silence), An Iliad and Marin Mazzie (Carrie). Of particular note, the musical Once–now on Broadway–received a number of nominations which are likely to be matched at the Tonys.
If the Tony Awards committee could bestow sainthood, you know that the second name on the list (after Audra McDonald, of course) would be Neil Patrick Harris for his telecast-saving turns as host. Look for him to add another miracle to his resume when he returns to lead the 2012 Tony Awards show in June.
And finally, the biggest star of them all (at least in his/her fantasy world of retro-fabulousness) Charles Busch has another hit on his hands even before it opens. His latest vehicle, Judith of Bethulia, has already sold out all tickets for its limited run at Theater for the New City. That’s epic, indeed.