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Posts Tagged ‘Revivals’

Tony Award Time Machine: 1972

May 10th, 2012 Comments off

In the build-up to this year’s Tony Awards, let’s step into our handy time machine (I imagine it looks something like Greased Lightning crossed with the spare tire lift from Cats) and take a look at years past. Our destination today: 1972.

Taking a look at the winners and nominees, one thing is clear: the more things change, the more they stay the same. Two of this year’s best revival of a musical candidates, Follies and Jesus Christ Superstar were fighting it out in many of the musical categories (alongside Grease and surprising Best Musical winner Two Gentleman of Verona). Mike Nichols was the Best Director for Prisoner of Second Avenue (a possible repeat this year for Death of a Salesman). And Bernadette Peters, like this year, was up for…oh, wait. Sore spot for some. At least forty years ago (Was she 10? Holy Moly, how old is Bernadette Peters and where is the aging painting of her), she was nominated for featured actress in On the Town alongside my secret favorite Adrienne Barbeau (Grease) — both losing to Linda Hopkins (Inner City).

And what would you have seen performing on the stage that night? Oh, my friend, wonders. True wonders. Just look up at the stage (via YouTube clips)…

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TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE: “Ghost” & “A Streetcar Named Desire”

April 24th, 2012 Comments off

The mad rush to make Tony eligibility becomes a full on avalanche this week. Let’s ride the wave of openings with multiple review round-ups today and tomorrow. First up, two shows that earn gasps from the audience — when their leading men take off their shirts. (I’m not kidding.)

Caissie Levy & Richard Fleeshman in "Ghost". Photo by Sean Ebsworth Barnes.

GHOST

The teary-eyed “classic” film about romance in the afterlife, sexy pottery throwing and sassy mediums, makes it to Broadway as a visually spectacular musical with songs by pop heavyweights Glen Ballard and Dave Stewart.

…thrill-free singing theme-park ride.” New York Times

“Overall, it’s an ambitious, carefully orchestrated work that raises the bar on technological innovation.” Associated Press

“…a lumbering megatuner with little to offer beyond a limitless array of dazzling effects.” Variety

“Much of Ghost is loud and tacky enough to wake the dead, yet there are undeniable signs of vitality from the machine side of this Broadway cyborg.” New York Magazine

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“Losing My Mind” Over Follies

August 16th, 2011 3 comments

Ron Raines & Bernadette Peters. Photo by Joan Marcus.

A co-worker of mine (who just happens to be a very tough critic and the most delightful cranky-pants I know) motioned for me to duck into his office the other day. Fearing the worst, he stared at me and said, “I saw that new Follies last night. Best thing I’ve seen in years.” As I walked dazed back to my cubicle, I officially began to regret pre-ordering tickets to see the Broadway revival (currently in previews) for some time in September . Mid-September?! Why am I not going now? Why am I standing in the middle of the floor, not going left, not going right…and all that jazz?

Yes, it’s official, I’m losing my mind. But for those, like me, who have a long wait ahead before seeing the show and deciding for themselves if Bernadette Peters and company have hit the bulls-eye, let’s wallow in a trough of bizarre and wonderful versions of that torch song of all torch songs.  (Cut to the video after the jump…)

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New “Rent” is Due Off-Broadway

August 11th, 2011 3 comments

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

Jonathan Larson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Rent, the La Boheme inspired look at artists in an AIDS-plagued East Village, returns to New York tonight in an Off-Broadway revival at the New World Stages. The production, while not a radical re-imagining by original director Michael Greif, features new design elements (including an evocatively cramped, jungle gym of a set), a necessarily more intimate feeling and a fresh cast of “unknowns” (though there are some heavyweight resumes in the bunch).

Arianda Fernandez. Photo by Joan Marcus.

That seems only right because, beyond Larsen’s still kicky, hooky score and his deeply-felt empathy, the show for me was always about those young performers, grabbing hold of their big chance with a brashness that was hard to replicate when others stepped into their thrifts store duds. They were idiosyncratic performers encouraged to break free of Broadway cookie cutter types: nerd-chic audience surrogate Anthony Rapp, wailing sensitive frontman Adam Pascal, raspy survivor Daphne Rubin-Vega, squeaky/soulful sexpot Idina Menzel. When you saw that original cast, as I was lucky enough to see most of (yeah, get me my walker), you felt you were watching a tribe, lost boys (and girls) joyfully celebrating each other and their differences. Plus, Adam Pascal looked good in tight pants.

So, how does the new cast compare? It’s not really a fair question (nor do I want to jump the gun with a full review before the official opening), but I will say that there are flashes of personality that reminded me of the original’s “star-in-the-making” quality — while also making me forget that someone else ever played the part. Who might be that next Rent discovery? Whip-smart and big-voiced pro Annaleigh Ashford as Maureen deftly upends expectations (underplaying “Over the Moon” then sashaying away with huge laughs elsewhere) and blows the roof off “Take Me, Or Leave Me” (with equal vocal firepower from Corbin Reid). Where Ashford is a controlled vet (Wicked, Hair), Arianda Fernandez tears into “Out Tonight” with an eager recklessness that seems right (and a little scary) for the barely-adult, addict Mimi. Also, keep an eye out for Michael Wartella, who uses his lovely voice and commitment to detail to make rounded people out of several smaller characters (I actually wanted to follow a whole play about his waiter!)

And, in a way, isn’t that the underlying point of Rent? Grab hold of the moment, however fleeting, and make the most of it.

So, in the spirit Rent now and then, let’s watch video of one original cast member still reeling from his new stardom and one new cast member whom I think is about to follow on that path.

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TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE: “Master Class” Review Round-Up

July 8th, 2011 Comments off

Get caught up on what’s new on stage with a 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. Today, in a special “opening-night” edition, we’re up bright and early with pencils sharpened for our Master Class:

Photo by Joan Marcus.

MASTER CLASS

In Terrence McNally’s dramatic aria of a play, Tyne Daly channels Maria Callas guiding young opera students and getting lost in her own past.

“Yet Ms. Daly transforms that script into one of the most haunting portraits I’ve seen of life after stardom.” New York Times

“Stephen Wadsworth’s uneven production mostly succeeds in exposing the weaknesses in McNally’s script.” New York Post

“…Daly bears perhaps the least physical resemblance to the legendary opera singer. Yet her Callas is nothing less than compelling.” Entertainment Weekly

“Something electrifying happens onstage here whenever Callas is instructing these kids in how to listen to the music, interpret a lyric, feel a character, and act the hell out of a scene…” Variety

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Theater News Round-Up: Highlights from Broadway and Beyond

July 1st, 2011 Comments off
Hair

Paris Remillard, Steel Burkhardt, and the cast of Hair. Photo by Joan Marcus.

April showers may have brought May flowers, but June brought the Broadway season to an end with plenty of flare; from the Tony Awards to Spider-Man‘s long-awaited arrival, residents of the mezzanine were on the edge of their crimson seats. Even with summer heating up and shows such as Arcadia and Born Yesterday closing, there will be plenty to see (in the safety of an air-conditioned theater) this month and beyond:

  • Hippie nation rejoices as HAIR returns to Broadway for a “Summer of Love” 10-week run. The first hundred at St. James theatre on July 5 will snag some free tickets, and those dressed in their finest hippie garb may even win a role in the show! Get your groove on for the show, running July 13-September 10.
  • Nina Arianda in "Born Yesterday". Photo by Carol Rosegg.

    Broadway meets erotica as Venus in Fur brings seduction, power, love and, most importantly, the return of recent Tony-nominee Nina Arianda to Broadway starting October 13. The New York Times called the off-Broadway production that made Arianda an overnight sensation “90 minutes of good, kinky, fun!” Say no more, we’re in.

  • As usual, star power leads the way on stage and even behind the scenes. Grammy-winning pop star Alicia Keys is promoting the Broadway premiere of Stick Fly, a new play about interracial relationships opening December 8. Sex in the City‘s Kim Cattrall transfers her well-received London performance in Private Lives, starting November 17. Plus, we also get Alan Rickman, Audra McDonald and Harry Connick, Jr. back on the Great White Way this fall.
  • 2460–what!? Hugh Jackman is officially in as Jean Valjean in the film version of Les Miserables. Boy can sing, so this just might be brilliant and Oscar worthy.

And, finally, here’s a look back at our most popular stories from June:

  • Whether you were more excited about Carey or Carrie, there was good news all around.
  • Broadway fans showed they cared by givin’ through Givnik when buying tickets.
  • And don’t forget to follow our editor Tom on twitter for breaking news, posting updates and random Broadway fun @broadwayblogtom.

And the World Goes Round-Up

May 27th, 2011 Comments off

We’re spanning the globe for some quick links and tidbits from the week in theater news:

  • Let’s start it out like a song with the announcement of New York City Center’s Encores! upcoming season, which includes the life-in-reverse Sondheim/Furth musical Merrily We Roll Along. It should be a must-see given that the show’s score is as tuneful and heartbreaking as anything Sondheim has ever produced Indianapolis.
  • Mark Rylance. Photo by Simon Annand.

    You’ve got another chance to see the Holy Land…at least the theatrical kind. Producers announced that they are extending the run for Jerusalem, the invigoratingly epic new British play featuring an astonishing central turn by Mark Rylance. Tickets are now on sale through August 21.

  • Speaking of great performances, do you regret missing out on the divine Cate Blanchett in A Streetcar Named Desire? Learn your lesson and grab tickets for the Sydney Theater Company’s Uncle Vanya, starring the Oscar winner and making its only currently announced U.S. stop at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in August. Tickets go on sale June 1 for members and June 10 for the rest of us.
  • The Drama Desk Awards were handed out and the Book of Mormon, War Horse and Anything Goes juggernauts rolled on. Three surprises worth noting: Norbert Leo Butz took Outstanding Actor in a Musical for Catch Me If You Can, Bobby Cannavale (The Motherf—-er with the Hat) beat out the blockbuster competition for Outstanding Actor in a Play and a limited-run Off-Broadway show, See Rock City, shockingly took the prize for Outstanding Book of a Musical from those seemingly unstoppable Mormon boys.

Hello, Sailor!

May 26th, 2011 1 comment

Photo by Joan Marcus.

It’s Fleet Week in New York City, that special time when the Naval flotilla steams into town, officers in dress whites wander the streets of Manhattan and many a young man’s heart beats faster with a deep, throbbing patriotism. And what better way to celebrate our men in uniform than with music theater.

Yeah, you read that right. Believe me, I took a double take when I saw the news as well. One of the marquee events during this salute to the military is a concert aboard the USS Intrepid featuring performances by the casts of current Broadway hits. It’s billed as being for the visiting sailors (and the general public) and what red blooded American hero doesn’t want to see a little Anything Goes and Priscilla Queen of the Desert? It would seem that “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” is truly dead in the water.

Actually, my Dad, a Navy man through and through, still talks about pulling into New York and seeing the original Camelot with some of his friends from the ship, so it’s not as odd as it sounds. And one of the great musical comedy scores of all time, On the Town, follows the adventures of three guys on shore leave. So get your tickets to tour the Intrepid and, tomorrow at noon, join the men of the fleet for a little song and dance from Broadway’s best. Just don’t forget to salute your superiors.

After the jump, let’s get in the mood with some Navy-themed musical numbers:

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THEATER BUFF: Andrew Cao

May 18th, 2011 Comments off

Every third Wednesday (hump day of the hump week), a fabulous actor/singer/dancer currently on Broadway will fill out my nosey little questionnaire and offer a glimpse of what they look like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. And Mr. May is…

Photo by Sophie Cao.

Name: Andrew Cao

Hometown: De Pere, Wisconsin

Current Show/Role: “Luke” in Anything Goes

The best part of the show I’m in now is… the tap number.  Peering out into a sea of bouncing-around-in-their-seats audience members and watching them erupt at the end is exactly how I have always imagined performing on Broadway would be. … the backstage antics.  I definitely spend more time offstage in this show than I do onstage, which gives me and my partner in crime, Mr. Raymond J. Lee, ample opportunity to run around like idiots. … the company.  What a blessing it is to love coming to “work” every night.  Everyone involved in this show is awesome.

The worst job in show business I ever had was…a non-equity, educational Shakespeare tour in some of the most underprivileged schools in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.  A typical day might have happened like this:  1. Wake up at 5am and load a smelly, 15-passenger van full of set pieces and costumes in 8-degree February weather.  2. Travel to venue, unload, and set up to do Romeo & Juliet by 8:00am. (no actor should be required to perform a tragedy until, at the very least, The Price Is Right has aired.  That should be a rule.  Seriously.)  3. Barrel through the show, despite the 300 teenagers who would much rather be at home watching The Hills or Flavor of Love with Flavor Flav.  4.  Ignore a fifteen-year-old and his equally distracting cohorts who yell, “Rape The Bitch!” as you enter for the final emotional scene where Romeo discovers Juliet’s lifeless body.  (No kidding.  This really happened.)  5.  Do a post-show discussion where you field such riveting questions as “I didn’t get it?” and “Are you guys gay?”  6.  Pack the set and costumes back into the van, travel to the next venue, unload, and do it all over again.  7.  Finally arrive back home 12 hours after you left and figure out what you’re going to do with the $15 you made that day.

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Stage Hits on the Big Screen? Why I Never!

May 16th, 2011 Comments off

"The Importance of Being Earnest". Photo by Joan Marcus.

In the olden days (you know, like maybe five years ago), the only way you could see the latest Broadway hit at the movies was in a high class adaptation, opened up to make it feel less stage-bound and cast with big stars on an Oscar hunt. Now, thanks to the Metropolitan Opera’s innovative and highly successful The Met: Live in HD program, theater producers are packaging special screenings of plays and musicals, filmed live and then shown for very limited engagements at movie theaters. Tickets cost a fraction of Broadway seats and the quality of the filming is highly accomplished; a friend of mine actually called a recent screening of Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein, “live” from the National Theatre in London, his favorite theater experience of the year so far. So, ignore that slightly dubious feeling and grab your tickets now for these three blockbuster “stage to screen” engagements, currently scheduled for June:

  • The Tony-nominated revival of The Importance of Being Earnest, starring the glorious Brian Bedford as Lady Bracknell, quips its way into digital movie theaters beginning June 2. Tossing in a little added value with the bon mots, the screenings will feature behind-the-scenes footage hosted by David Hyde Pierce and an expert’s take on Oscar Wilde during intermission.
  • "The Cherry Orchard". Photo by Jim Naughten.

    Did you get tickets to the star-crammed concert version of Company at the New York Philharmonic this spring? Neither did I. But now you can see Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Colbert, Patti LuPone and more on the big screen and feel sorry/grateful for yourself. Sondheim’s boundary-pushing look at marriage and “being alive” beams into select movie theaters starting June 15.

  • London’s calling again with screenings of the National Theatre’s The Cherry Orchard beginning June 30. Starring Zoe Wanamaker in a new adaptation by Andrew Upton (that’s Mr. Cate Blanchett to cinema buffs), this production is sure to be worth a look.