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Posts Tagged ‘new musicals’

“The Bodyguard” Opens in London (and Eyes Broadway)

December 10th, 2012 Comments off

Heather Headley in "The Bodyguard". Photo by Paul Coltas.

Tony-winner Heather Headley made her long-awaited return to the stage in London’s The Bodyguard last week and reviews suggest that, while the book might be rough around the edges, the star and direction are showstoppers. The adaptation of the Kevin Costner/Whitney Houston thriller stuffed with a jukebox full of Houston songs is now eyeing a Broadway run in Spring of 2014, according to the New York Post.

Want a sneak peek at what we might be getting stateside?  Here’s Headley at a London charity concert doing her own spin on “I Will Always Love You”.

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

December 7th, 2012 Comments off

Hugh Jackman in "Les Miserables". Image via lesmiserablesfilm.com.

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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“Giant” Sings, “The Performers” Swings & More Theater News

November 16th, 2012 Comments off

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

The circle of life isn’t just a lyric sung while Julie Taymor puppets circle The Lion King; it’s the natural progression on Broadway. In this theater news round-up, we celebrate the eternal constants of birth, death and taxing reviews…

  • Daniel Breaker & Cheyenne Jackson in "The Performers". Photo by Carol Rosegg.

    You can’t have a sunrise without a sunset (don’t believe me, go see Fiddler on the Roof). And we can’t have openings without closings.  The Broadway porn/romantic comedy The Performers opened this week to less than vociferous reviews and already announced it will close Sunday.  Those wishing to see Cheyenne Jackson in a loin cloth had best hurry.

  • And some shows are just a twinkle in their parents’ eyes. Producers announced this week that they are in early stages of developing a juke box musical based on the songs of pop hit-maker Diane Warren (“How Do I Live” “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”) and an adaptation of the Savannah-set bestseller Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil with book by Alfred Uhry (Driving Miss Daisy) and music from the catalog of Johnny Mercer.  Celine Dion ballads vs. murderous society gays…not as antithetical as one would think.
  • Finally, Broadway’s hottest married duo Audra McDonald and Will Swenson are kicking off a kickstarter campaign for Facing Eastan independent film to be directed by Swenson based on an off-Broadway play by author Carol Lynn Pearson. The story sounds moving and topical (a mormon couple deals with the suicide of their gay son) and the incentives to donate are amazing (McDonald singing to you on your birthday!). Watch the teaser video after the jump…

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OUR ROAD TO NAMT FEST: A Conversation with Gaby Alter and Harris Doran

October 9th, 2012 Comments off

On October 11 & 12, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (a service organization made up of some of the top producers, presenters and theatrical educators in the nation) will present its 24th annual Festival of New Musicals. Eight new works will receive readings for industry professionals in hopes of finding assistance with further development and ultimately productions. In the second of a series of personal blogs, I will take you behind-the-scenes of the festival as my collaborators and I prepare our show Triangle for its presentation.

William Ryall, Robin de Jesus, Sarah Stiles, Damon Daunno, Nancy Opel & Nicolette Hart rehearsing "Bleeding Love". Photo by Jason Schafer.

Writing musicals can be a lonely business. Most of the time it’s just you and a collaborator in a room together. So when I was presented with the chance to talk with a few of my fellow writers presenting shows at NAMT this year, I jumped at the chance. If nothing else, it would be like group therapy. But rhymed.

Just over a week ago, I sat down with two amazing writers: Gaby Alter, composer and co-lyricist of the recent Old Globe hit Nobody Loves You; and Harris Doran, lyricist for the post-apocalyptic fairy tale Bleeding Love. With presentation preparations hitting high gear, we took a brief moment to breathe, talk about our inspirations and discuss the best part of writing versus acting in a musical (hint: booze).

Gaby Alter. Photo by Stephen Mallon.

When did you get the bug to write music theater because…how old are you?

GABY: Old.

(laughter)

HARRIS: I’m younger.

GABY: Usually people are younger than me.

HARRIS: You look younger.

GABY: Well, thank you.

And I’m the oldest one in the room so shut up.

(laughter)

HARRIS: But you look younger than me.

That’s staying in the final interview.

(laughter)

My point is that when I look back and think about when I was in high school and college, music theater was not popular. There’s a renaissance right now…

HARRIS: Is there? Because of Glee?

When I talk to an 18 year-old or a 22 year-old, within a certain segment, they think music theater is cool.

HARRIS: True. There are musical movies now and Glee and something else…

And Smash. There are certainly now people wanting to get into the field. An excitement. And that wasn’t so much the case when I was that age. So how did you start?

GABY: It was sort of an accidental thing, a convergence of stuff that I did. It was after high school and I had a friend who wrote plays. He was like, “Want to write a musical?” It was over the summer. Neither of us were musical fans. It’s not like I hated musicals, I just knew very little about them except what I knew as kid. I knew the Rogers and Hammerstein stuff. He said, “Do you want to write a rock musical?” And I said, “Yeah, sure.” But I thought it was a ridiculous idea.

(laughter)

GABY: I also didn’t think we were going to do it. Especially when you’re 17 or 18, you say so but…actually he had a whole plan and he was very organized. He came over the next day and had some lyrics.

HARRIS: Oh wow.

GABY: So we ended up doing it over that summer. And it was the high of doing it. “Let’s get our friends who were actors in high school and involve everybody.” And you invite your family and you feel really cool because you’re all of a sudden on stage. I hadn’t had that experience except in a band. But it was easier for me to write stuff in that format. I was writing with him. “You do this and I’ll do that.” There are clear guidelines. Like fun homework. I really responded to collaborating and working as a group… Later I came to appreciate musicals and how difficult writing the really good ones is.

(laughter)

We can all second that.

HARRIS: I had no idea.

(laughter)

GABY: What about you guys?

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“Rebecca” Crashes, Audra Mashes, Kong “Smashes” & More Theater News

October 8th, 2012 Comments off

The Set for "King Kong". Image via kingkongliveonstage.com.

It’s not often theater news makes it on to the front page of major papers, but some recent Broadway stories have been seriously buzz-worthy. So let’s catch up by taking a quick scan of the headlines with links to the full story…

  • Broadway’s Rebecca Flames Out:   The New York Times’ Patrick Healey has been doing extensive investigative work into the mysterious disappearing investor that hastened the collapse of the Broadway bound show — on the eve of its first rehearsal.
  • Star-Studded Cast Reads Into the Woods Film for Investors:  Nathaniel at The Film Experience has a picture of the program from last week’s invite only reading of the Sondheim masterpiece’s film adaptation, including info on which Oscar-laden lady is being circled as a possible “Witch”.
  • King Kong Stomps Into Melbourne Theater:  Over the weekend, producers of the mega-musical, Australian adaptation of King Kong took over the internet for an unprecedented live-streaming, global introduction to the show, its cast and some of its songs.
  • Bleep Magazine Goes Broadway:  The internet magazine released a full issue devoted to the stars of New York theater including Broadway Blog favorites Nick Adams, Julia Murney and more.

Cheyenne Thrusts, Headley Returns and More Theater News

September 14th, 2012 Comments off

Picture > 1000 words. Or so they say.

Well, we’re going to put that little maxim to the test today with a theater news round-up that’s all about the image. And what nice images they are…

Cheyenne Jackson in "The Performers". Photo by Matt Hoyle.

The first images are out from the new Broadway romantic comedy The Performers, featuring Cheyenne Jackson as adult film star “Mandrew”. Is it just me or does that man have the proportions of a G.I. Joe doll? Not that I’m complaining.

 

Heather Headley & Laura Osnes. Images via Google.

Diva-lovers rejoice; we’ve got two new albums from some of Broadway’s brightest talents. Tony-winner Ms. Heather Headley returns with Only One in the World featuring a sneak track from the upcoming musical The Bodyguard. And Tony-nominee and future Cinderella Laura Osnes delivers a music theater set on Dream a Little Dream: Live at the Cafe Carlyle.

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OUR ROAD TO NAMT FEST: Musical Theater Bytes

September 13th, 2012 Comments off

Rehearsing 2011 NAMT Festival "Bloodsong of Love". Image via namt.org.

On October 11 & 12, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (a service organization made up of some of the top producers, presenters and theatrical educators in the nation) will present its 24th annual Festival of New Musicals. Eight new works will receive readings for industry professionals in hopes of finding assistance with further development and ultimately productions. In a series of personal blogs over the next month, I will take you behind-the-scenes of the festival as my collaborators and I prepare our show Triangle for its presentation.

If anyone asked me what to look for in a great composing partner, I’d tell them to seek out many of the qualities of my own long-time collaborator Curtis Moore. Find someone who is talented (clearly), fun to be around (long hours together in small rooms), committed (to the theater, not a mental institution) – and, most importantly, someone who has a degree in electrical engineering. Seriously, skip Juilliard and start trolling MIT.

Kooman & Dimond prep 2011 NAMT Festival's "Dani Girl". Image via namt.org.

As we dive into preparations for our NAMT Festival presentation, I have realized that this is a highly technical operation. Just gathering our team for a prep meeting is like tasking a bunch of liberal arts students with landing the Rover on Mars. I’m in Brooklyn; Curtis is music directing a show in Kansas City; our music director was in Pittsfield, MA; our festival consultants (NAMT members assigned to shepherd us through the process) are based in Chicago and Princeton; and our fearless director was in transit somewhere in the American Southwest (though, at times, even she wasn’t sure exactly where). We have to use scheduling programs to find overlapping minutes across time zones and rehearsals. We must turn to web chat, skype and conference call technology to simulate round table discussions.

To cast the show, we don’t need a casting director; we need an I.T. expert. Headshots are emailed. Song files are downloaded. YouTube videos are shared. (A free bit of advice to any actors reading this; type your name into YouTube and clean house. This is how you “audition” now. If there is a seemingly drunk karaoke version of “Love is a Battlefield” anywhere near the top of your page, remove it…unless you are interested in being seen for Rock of Ages.) In fact, we will likely have not met nor even seen in person some of our actors until the first day of rehearsal.

Even the act of writing is a tech game. The NAMT presentations are 45-minute cuttings so we are currently trying out different versions of a script that will give a flavor of the show and still feel like a coherent event. This requires a lot of trial and error. We use online drop boxes and “versioning” software to keep track of and give everyone on the team access to different drafts. (Do I sound like I know what I mean in the last sentence? I don’t. Ask Curtis.) We are also prepping some new song demos which Curtis will capture and mix remotely on a laptop recording studio far from a sound proof booth and an orchestra.

And I haven’t even touched on the need for publicity through social networking, reminding the industry to come, and so much more. It’s a brave new world. To be in music theatre today, the genius bar you need to reach is less Sondheim and more Apple Store.

For more from authors of NAMT Festival of New Musicals Works, check out the official NAMT blog, Musical Notes.

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

September 11th, 2012 Comments off

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

CHAPLIN: THE MUSICAL

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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A Free Broadway Concert, A Cate Blanchett Return and More Theater News

September 7th, 2012 Comments off

It might be nice if they eased us into a new theater season but, no, it’s full speed ahead! So today’s news roundup is going to be a light speed round the world tour…

  • New York: The 20th Broadway on Broadway Concert is this Sunday at 11:30 am in Times Square. A right of passage for all Broadway fans (like your Mandy Patinkin phase), the event is free and set to feature musical performances from Bring It On, Newsies, Once, a sneak peek at Season 2 of Smash and more.
  • Jennifer Coolidge. Image via PlaybillVault.com.

    Los Angeles: What I wouldn’t give to be in the City of Angels this Sunday to see the 25th anniversary reading of Steel Magnolias. A benefit for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the cast includes Alexis Bledel, Frances Conroy, Elizabeth Perkins, Annie Potts and…wait for it…Jennifer Coolidge. Seriously, get me on a Virgin (flight, that is) to LAX stat ’cause Coolidge is divine.

  • Chicago: According to Playbill.com, my Tony-winning talent-crush Norbert Leo Butz is officially headlining the musical adaptation of Big Fish in the Windy City spring of 2013. The world premiere based on the 2003 Ewan McGregor (speaking of crushes) fantasy will be directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and a book by the original screenwriter John August.
  • Detroit & Pittsburgh: Producers announced impending Broadway runs for two new musicals. Motown: The Musical, written by and based on the life of record label founder Berry Gordy, will jukebox its way into the Lunt-Fontanne on April 14, 2013. A few months later in August, that gritty film expose of steelworkers with ballet dreams Flashdance is hauling its welding tools and leg warmers onto the Great White Way. This follows a separate tour that will begin in its setting, Pittsburgh, January 2013. What a feeling, indeed
  • Richard Roxburgh & Cate Blanchett in "Uncle Vanya". Photo by Lisa Tomasetti.

  • Sydney: Speaking of hopping a Virgin, the 2013 season announcement for the Sydney Theater Company contains two flight-worthy productions. First up, an adaptation of Kate Grenville’s beautiful novel The Secret River by playwright Andrew Bovell (of Lincoln Center’s acclaimed When the Rain Stops Falling). And, building on the exquisite Uncle Vanya that came through New York a few weeks back, Cate Blanchett will be starring in Jean Genet’s The Maids opposite French icon Isabelle Huppert. Be still my film goddess-loving heart.
  • London-ish: The British smash War Horse posted a closing notice for its stateside run at Lincoln Center following a summer dip in ticket sales. You’ve got plenty of time to cry yourself silly, though; the final performance is scheduled for January 6, 2013
  • Heaven: The new Theresa Rebeck (Seminar, Smash) play Dead Accounts revealed its complete cast and I am on cloud nine. Seriously, this just shot to the top of my must see list for fall. Joining the previously announced Norbert Leo Butz (him again) and Katie Holmes (work that divorce) will be the deliriously good Jayne Houdyshell (Follies, Well), the handsome and charming Josh Hamilton (The Coast of Utopia) and, I’m giddy here, the film scene stealer Judy Greer (The Descendants).

Finally, if you’d like to make sure new and original music theater finds its way to the stage, here’s a simple and inexpensive way to play your part. This year’s NAMT Festival of New Musicals is raising money to support demo recordings for the eight new shows being presented (full disclosure: I co-wrote one of them). There’s only a day left to contribute at Rocket Hub but as little as $5 will help artists focus on the writing and allow fresh songs to be heard.

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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