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.
Categories: The Buzz andrew lippa, big fish musical, bring it on, cate blanchett, dead accounts, flashdance musical, judy greer, katie holmes, motown the musical, NAMT, new musicals, new plays, Newsies, norbert leo butz, Once musical, smash tv, susan stroman, sydney theater company, theresa rebeck, Tony Awards, War Horse
Lauren Molina & Jason Tam. Photo by Win Lubin.
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 Day by 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).
Categories: The Buzz assassins, Denis O'Hare, jason tam, karen allen, keen company, lauren molina, marry me a little, Neil Patrick Harris, Once musical, One Man Two Guvnors, roundabout theatre, Stephen Sondheim
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.
Categories: The Buzz andrew garfield, Audra McDonald, Bernadette Peters, Christopher Gattelli, follies revival, godspell broadway, james corden, judith light, les miserable film, Neil Patrick Harris, newsies broadway, Nick Jonas, Nina Arianda, Once musical, porgy and bess, Steve Kazee, Tony Awards
Steve Kazee & Cristin Milioti in "Once". Photo by Joan Marcus.
And the winners of the 66th Annual Tony Awards are…
Best Actress in a Leading Role, Musical
Audra McDonald - The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
Best Actress in a Leading Role, Play
Nina Arianda - Venus in Fur
Best Actor in a Leading Role, Play
James Corden - One Man, Two Guvnors
Best Actor in a Leading Role, Musical
Steve Kazee - Once
Steve Kazee & Cristin Milioti in "Once". Photo by Joan Marcus.
Get out your crystal ball and start laying odds, the Tony Awards are this Sunday night and, for once (and for Once) it’s a real nail-biter in many categories. Which is my way of saying…don’t blame me if my predictions are off. Nevertheless, I’m diving into the fray for the first time and giving my picks for the winner (in violet) and possible spoiler (in red) in each of the marquee categories; the tech awards are just as important but I leave those to more knowledgeable experts.
And, of course, check back in here on Monday morning for a wrap up of all the Tony surprises, snubs and snafus. Let the game’s begin…
Other Desert Cities
Peter and the Starcatcher
Venus in Fur
[One of the toughest categories of the night with all four shows having legitimate claims to the prize. The snub for Mantello's direction of Desert Cities slightly tips this in favor of Pulitzer-winner Clybourne.]
Leap of Faith
Nice Work If You Can Get It
[It's a two show race though between the low key, artsy show and the Disney crowd-pleaser. I may be being swayed by my love for the music in Once on this one but a tour announcement and growing box office for the show tells me this is the little musical that could. But, again, this one is razor thin...]
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…
Steve Kazee & Company in "Once". Photo by Joan Marcus.
The Oscar-winning indie romance, about a Dublin busker and a Czech immigrant making sweet music together, strums its way onto Broadway in a musical adaptation from edgy theater artists Enda Walsh (Penelope), John Tiffany (Black Watch) and Steven Hoggett (Peter and the Starcatcher).
“…feels as vital and surprising as the early spring that has crept up on Manhattan.” New York Times
“The show wins its standing ovations the old-fashioned way: with a love story, great songs, compelling characters and inventive stagecraft.” New York Post
“Once is a small-scale but warmly affecting show, crafted with profound respect for the power of music.” Hollywood Reporter
“The only major problem with the show…is that it overstretches its material.” Los Angeles Times
“In many ways, in fact, this Once is better than the original Once.” Associated Press
Categories: To See or Not To See Black Watch, Enda Walsh, glen hansard, John Tiffany, marketa irglova, new musical, Once musical, Oscar Winner, Peter and the Starcatcher, Steven Hoggett, Swell Season
Steve Kazee & Cristin Milioti in "Once". Photo by Joan Marcus.
The theatrical adaptation of the Irish indie film Once doesn’t open on Broadway until this Sunday, March 18 (St. Patty’s Day weekend, don’t ya know) but the cast album is available tomorrow. If you’re not sure about laying out the cash, the fine folks at NPR’s First Listen are already streaming the entire recording. Although I wanted to see the show with fresh eyes and ears, I couldn’t resist a listen.
I’m not only a huge fan of the original movie but also of its Oscar-winning stars and songwriting duo, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (recording under the band name, The Swell Season), so hearing those familiar songs sung by new voices is an uncanny experience–like running into an old flame. Something isn’t quite the same; it never can be. Luckily, in this case, the love is still there. In the Broadway versions, the singers nicely evoke the originals without sounding like a slavish cover band and the songs retain their warmth, craft and evocative sense of place. Plus, a few new songs suggest a wider world and a pub-friendly, foot-stomping gaelic touch my Grandpa Barrett would surely have appreciated. It’s hard to shake images from the film but, judging by the recording, this show just might work.
Can’t get enough? Check out this video preview for the musical. Read more…
Categories: The Buzz broadway opening, cast album, glen hansard, irish film, marketa irglova, new musicals, npr first listen, Once Broadway, Once musical, st. patrick's day, the swell season