There’s a hush that’s fallen upon Broadway this summer as a number of this year’s musicals have shuttered (so long, Tuck Everlasting, American Psycho, and the soon-to-close Finding Neverland). But there’s still plenty to see this month and we’re casting our net beyond the Great White Way to showcase new and noteworthy productions worth seeking out.
The Taming of the Shrew Shakespeare in the Park is back, this time with an all-female production of one of the Bard’s classics. Tony nominated director Phyllida Lloyd directs Cush Jumbo, Janet McTeer in a cast of 15 as they reimagine Shakespeare’s original screwball comedy.
New York Spectacular There’s nothing quite as iconic in New York City than Radio City Music Hall, and within that legendary venue you’ll find the Radio City Rockettes. This summer’s limited-run production features direction and choreography by Emmy Award winner Mia Michaels and book by Drama Desk Award winner Douglas Carter Beane and promises to showcase the Rockettes as never before.
Broadway Bares XXVI It’s hard to believe that this sexy fundraiser is already in its mid-twenties. This year’s theme, “On Demand,” promises to deliver the best of Broadway stripped down to, well… practically nothing. Proceeds benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Carleigh Bettiol, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., and Anthony Ramos in The Public Theatre’s production of “Hamilton” (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)
Touted as the greatest theatrical endeavor to hit Broadway since A Chorus Line, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop retelling of Alexander Hamilton’s life and times has raked in a whopping $30 million advance sale. Is it worth it? Absolutely. History never looked so good.
Hamilton Richard Rogers Theatre
226 West 46th Street
Opening night: August 6
Patrick Page, Kate Burton, Hamish Linklater, and Teagle F. Bougere in ‘Cymbeline’ (photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)
CYMBELINE A Shakespearean fairytale, Cymbeline is the story of Princess Imogen’s fidelity that is put to the royal test when her disapproving father banishes her soul mate. Cross-dressing girls and boys, poisons and swordfights, and dastardly villains all take the stage in this enchanting romp about the conquering power of love. Plus, who can resist a free evening of theater under the stars in Central Park?
Cymbeline The Delacorte Theatre in Central Park
Opening night: August 10
Waitress If you’re looking for a reason to take a theatrical road trip, head to American Repertory Theatre to catch Tony Award winner Jessie Mueller in the new musical, Waitress. With a book by Jessie Nelson and music and lyrics by Grammy-nominated Sara Bareilles, the story follows a down-on-her-luck, small town waitress as she pursues big dreams when a pie contest (and the town’s new doctor) offers her a chance at her dreams. Directed by Pippin’s Diane Paulus, we’re expecting compelling musical drama but without the circus tricks.
Waitress American Repertory Theatre
64 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA
Opening night: August 19
Matthew Wexler is the Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @roodeloo.
The Broadway Blog’s editor Matthew Wexler rounds up three of our favorite picks for August.
The dog days of summer are here so what better time to ensconce yourself in a cool, dark theater where someone else is paying the electricity bill? And if you’re entertained, all the better. Our picks for the month run the gamut from star concerts to new works and a few classics for good measure. Take your pick!
Megan Hilty (Photo provided by Provincetown Art House.)
Megan Hilty at the Provincetown Art House August 13 -17
Megan Hilty was a breakout star of NBC’s Smash and starred on Broadway in Wicked and 9 to 5: The Musical. She most recently starred as Liz on NBC’s Sean Saves The World with Sean Hayes of Will & Grace fame. She returns to the original Broadway @ The Art House series this month by popular demand after her sold-out debut run at the theater last summer. She will be joined by husband and fellow Broadway star Brian Gallagher on guitar August 13, 14, 15 and 18, and will be joined by series host and SiriusXM star Seth Rudetsky at piano on August 16 and 17. For tickets, visit The Art House website, or call 508-487-9222.
A native of Seattle, Hilty made her Broadway debut as Glinda in Wicked shortly after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University and went on to perform the role in both the national tour and in Los Angeles. She has also appeared on New York stages as Lorelei Lee in the Encores! production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, for which she earned rave reviews. For her critically acclaimed portrayal of Doralee Rhodes in Broadway’s 9 to 5: The Musical she received nominations for the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League Awards, as well as the L.A. Stage Alliance Ovation Award. She has previously performed with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center and with the Cincinnati Symphony. Hilty was recently signed to Sony Music in a partnership between Sony Masterworks and Columbia Records. Her new album, It Happens All The Time, was released last spring, including fresh interpretations of compositions by contemporary songwriters and producers.
Seth Rudetsky is the afternoon Broadway host on Sirius XM satellite radio and has played for more than a dozen Broadway shows as well as performing stand-up comedy and appearing on Broadway in The Ritz. As an author, he wrote the books The Q Guide to Broadway, Broadway Nights, and just released his new novel My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan on Random House, and as an audio book on audible.com. This past summer he co-produced of the critically acclaimed play Unbroken Circle by James Wesley, and is co-playwright and star of the hit new Off-Broadway ‘disaster movie musical’ Disaster!, which ran this past season at St. Luke’s Theatre in New York.
About the Series: This Broadway concert series was inaugurated in 2011 by Mark Cortale at The Art House in Provincetown featuring Seth Rudetsky as pianist and host. This 2013-14 series began in Los Angeles @ The Broad Stage, Fort Lauderdale @ The Parker Playhouse, The Poconos @ The Stroudsmoor, Woodstock, NY @ The Woodstock Playhouse, Hartford @ The Bushnell, Detroit @ The Berman Center for the Performing Arts… and next at a city near you soon!
CLICK HERE for tickets. Can’t make the show, consider Kristen Chenoweth (Aug. 10), Bryan Batt (Aug. 24) or Cheyenne Jackson (Aug. 29-31).
The New York International Fringe Festival August 8-24
FringeNYC returns for another year, presenting the largest multi-arts festival in North America. Take your pick from more than 200 companies from around the world. The 16-day festival is presented in more than 20 venues with a staggering 1,200 performances.
A few highlights include:
<50% (Photo by Hunter Canning via The Broadway Blog.)
Annie Hall meets Inception in the new unromantic comedy <50%, which reunites Gianmarco and his ex-girlfriend-of-five-years to reenact the creation of an autobiographical show that may never have happened. With shifting fourth-walls, stand-up comedy confessionals, and an extraordinarily unreliable narrator, the audience is left to uncover the truth for themselves. Directed by Helen Hayes Award-nominated Max Freedman (son of Tony Award Winner Robert L. Freedman, book writer for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder).
Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street
Friday 8/8 @ 7:45pm
Monday 8/11 @ 2:30pm
Friday 8/15 @ 5:30pm
Thursday 8/21 @ 5pm
Saturday 8/23 @ 1pm CLICK HERE for tickets.
tangleplay boom! theater company
Abrazo Interno at the Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street
Glenda Strong enters a place called The Maze where she is commissioned to lose her identity with the help of the people she meets including the audience. Prequel to “boxplay”, awarded Excellence in Overall Production at FringeNYC 2012.
The 8th Fold Sheen Center – The Loretto, 18 Bleecker Street Two planes, two towers and four boys forced into manhood, searching for a path towards a brave new beginning. Direct from London, this new musical celebrates the power of friendship, hope and the courage to start again.
Guest contributor Lindsay B. Davis falls in love with the latest Public Theater production in Central Park.
Bryce Pinkham, Colin Donnell, and Lucas Near-Verbrugghe in The Public Theater’s free Shakespeare in the Park production of “Love’s Labour’s Lost.” (photo: Joan Marcus)
It is rare to go to the theater and experience having your brain stimulated and heart melted, but that is exactly what happened to me while watching The Public Theater’s Love’s Labour’s Lost at The Delacorte Theater. This musical mash up of the Bard’s romantic comedy with original pop-rock songs, contemporary dialogue, movie one-liners and the occasional Sonnet excerpt was devised by Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson’s dynamic duo, Michael Friedman (songs) and Alex Timbers (book adaptation/direction). Brought to life by an ensemble cast led by Daniel Breaker (Shrek) and Colin Donnell (Anything Goes), the collective charm, energy and talent do more than justice to Timber’s lively vision. I suspect this production, only the second musical adaptation of a Shakespeare play to emerge from The Public and premiere at the Delacorte since 1971, will rightly make the transfer to Broadway. Cue the celebratory big brass marching band!
The story begins with a challenge. Can King Ferdinand of Navarre and his three friends keep their self-imposed oath to swear off women (not to mention pot and their Xboxes) for three years to focus on philosophy and learning? This adaptation places the aristocratic men in 2008 at their five-year elite, liberal arts college reunion. “Young men,” they sing in the show’s opening number of the same name, “Are supposed to have sex…sleep in on Sunday for brunch. Don’t make me be 30 already.” (Fear of 30 being one of the many liberties taken in this interpretation of the source material. In the 16th century when this play was written, 30 years was actually the average life span.)
But what you resist persists and when the Princess of France (the very sparkly and vocally adept Patti Murin, of Xanadu and Lysistrata) arrives with her entourage of snappy and attractive girlfriends, the boys have more than their fair share of temptation on their hands. Every character becomes consumed with love in one way or another – there is a tuxedo-jacketed barista who emerges from the Cantina (where a small band sits onstage surrounded by a stacked bar) to perform “I Love Cats” in an ode to “the other white meat” while Don Armado (Ceasar Samayoa) sings his passion song, “Jaquenetta,” and does for a cherry-red, boy-short bathing suit and cape what Madonna did for the cone bra. Samoyoa’s transition from an interpretative Sir Mix A Lot rap into Sonnet 29 (“Trouble deaf heart of my bootless cries, curse my fate…”) when the former was “just not clicking” is a show stealer.
Rebecca Naomi Jones and Kevin Del Aguila in The Public Theater’s free Shakespeare in the Park production of “Love’s Labour’s Lost.” (photo: Joan Marcus)
Antics aside, potent themes emerge that speak to questions of how masculinity looks when the identity of a straight suitor is temporarily thwarted. Colin Donnell as Berowne exposes a deep vulnerability during both “Change of Heart” and “Are You a Man.” Bryce Pinkham’s rendition of the soliloquy “Longaville’s Sonnet” morphs into an unabashed homage to A Chorus Line— complete with a silver, sparkly tank and skivvies and a chorus of hoofers. It is pure joy and a very smart, funny and honest display of the many sides of masculinity.
The female characters, however, feel somewhat underserved by the material. “It’s Not a Good Idea” is, in fact, not a good idea—written with an odd rhythm and in a key that doesn’t serve these very talented songstresses. The women are cast in what could be considered a subversive take on the world of Walt Disney: a blonde princess (Murin), fiery red head (Maria Thayer), a droll yet quirky brunette (Audrey Lynn Weston, who interjects iambic pentameter with “Wow” and “God” to wonderful effect), a chirpy Asian (Kimiko Glenn) and a sultry black woman (the gorgeous Rebecca Naomi Jones of American Idiot). While probably intentional, I wasn’t quite sure of the message. Whether subversive or not, these characters still felt a little hung out to try by their simplified choreography and bits… damsels overshadowed by the entertainment from the dudes. Saturday Night Live‘s Rachel Dratch’s appearance as the scholar Holfernes is satisfying but too brief.
Underneath the fun and games, this loose adaptation of Love’s Labour’s Lost is ultimately about “the need to express, to communicate” (to quote another memorable rock musical, Rent) whether through verse, poetry, prose, music, dancing or a quick splash in the pool. It is about overlooking the worlds that divide us (including class and race) in favor of a common language, one that encourages you to love and not take life so seriously. So, if you can handle your Shakespeare with a side of East German performance art, a musical tribute to the 90s group Mr. Big, a few chords from Kenny Login’s “Danger Zone” and countless other surprises on a charming little set (designed by John Lee Beattty) in the middle of the city’s perfect pleasure, Central Park, skip don’t walk to Shakespeare in the Park for “Love’s Labour’s Lost.”
James Corden in "One Man, Two Guvnors". Photo by Joan Marcus.
This week’s news round-up is brought to you by the number “2”, as in hot theatrical duos taking the stage:
Like some kamikaze European vacation (if it’s Thursday, it must be a musical), the unrelenting stream of show openings to make the Tony cutoff continued as the British farce One Man, Two Guvnors and the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Clybourne Park both bowed to ravereviews. [I’m seeing Clybourne tonight so I’ll have a report next week.]
Another dynamic duo is taking the stage up at the Williamstown Theatre Festival this summer. Bradley Cooper (always of Alias to me) and the divine Patricia Clarkson will star in a revival of The Elephant Man. A musical version of Far From Heaven will also be in the festival — so the actress who gets to play Clarkson’s role from that film will be feeling no extra pressure, right?
Caissie Levy & Richard Fleeshman in "Ghost". Photo by Joan Marcus.
Jake Gyllenhaal is not a duo. But he certainly has a nice pair of something (eyes, yes, we’ll go with eyes) — so he can be a part of this round-up. He also belongs here because he’s making his New York stage debut in Roundabout Theatre Company’s If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet. He and his nice eyes will open September 20.
Molly, you in trouble, girl. At least, that’s how I felt for the talented and likable leading lady Caissie Levy last night when I caught a preview of Ghost The Musical (review thoughts will wait until it officially opens). During her big, character arch defining 11 o’clock number, the extraordinarily complicated video wall set seemed to be off its tracking and the curtain was brought down. Tech problems happen in previews and are usually no big deal; the show was up and running again in 20 minutes, right from the middle of Levy’s last verse. The tough break here is that last night was a big reviewer night. Playbill reports that many of the majors including the New York Times were there last night (they somehow do not include my name). Kudos to Levy and company for jumping back in and giving it their all but one couldn’t help but detect a note of bittersweet disappointment in Levy’s curtain call — standing ovation notwithstanding. I wanted to give her a big hug and tell her it didn’t affect my feelings about her work at all. Oh, and the name of the song she was singing — “Nothing Stops Another Day”. Indeed.
Talk about money in the bank, the casting for the Central Park Into the Woods gets better and better. Hot on the heals of Amy Adams’s addition to the cast, producers revealed that Donna Murphy (Passion) will be playing the Witch. If you’ve seen her sublime work in the animated film Tangled, you know Murphy will be one mother of an overprotective mother.
I still can’t get the songs from Newsies out of my head and I saw it weeks ago. Just to be sure I never forget a single “bruddah,” the cast album is now available for digital download. (PS. My favorite New Yawk rhyme in the show pairs “twirl it” with a very Flushing “terlet”.)
Molly Ranson in "Carrie". Photo by Joan Marcus.
Speaking of cast albums that will get inside your head (literally), the recent Off-Broadway production of Carrie is officially going into the studio to preserve it for all time on April 17. The CD will be released by and available for preorder from Ghostlight Records. Ghostlight and Carrie. Of course.
In, I assume, an attempt to cash in on men who don’t want to see a musicalwith their wives, the guys-night-at-the-theater niche got its next entry (following the warm welcome for last year’s Lombardi) as Magic/Birdopened on Broadway Wednesday night. The reviewssuggest that this tale of basketball greats is well-acted but a little lacking in big game drama.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there are a LOT of shows opening on Broadway this month. That’s because they are all going for the gold, aka Tony nominations, and they’ve got to hit before the end of the month to be eligible. Tony nominations will be announced on a live webcast at 8:30am, May 1 by Kristin Chenoweth and Jim Parsons. Join me, broadwayblogtom, on twitter that morning for some immediate reactions/analysis/grousing.
And finally, in seriously green news, Bloomberg published an amazing article about the way profits are split on the blockbuster hit Wicked—including almost $90 million for the writers. Like my agent always says, ” In music theater, you either make nothing or millions.” And the mailman won the lottery, indeed…
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.