Posts Tagged ‘Tony Awards’

Review: “Spandex, a new musical for all SIZES”

May 25th, 2013 Comments off

Guest contributor Scott Redman puts on his scrunchy socks and heads to a new off Broadway show that leaves him in a sweat for all the wrong reasons. 

(l to r) Will Boyajian, Jerielle Morwitz and Zachary Karon are among the synthetically clad cast members of "Spandex, a new musical for all SIZES." (photos:

Where would the world be without spandex? Spandex, a new musical for ALL SIZES is finishing up its run at the 777 Theatre in Midtown West. I caught the show last Friday and sat through the 80s inspired show trying to figure out what this was all about. I still have no idea.

The show stretches and lunges itself into two full acts — a bit overdone for this skimpy premise involving a house wife, Linda, who is determined to reclaim her youth where she once ruled the football field as head cheerleader. Her husband is an oaf who fails to realize his wife has needs and dreams, instead focusing on fixing his car and watching TV. Enter a pair of sassy aerobics instructors who inspire the timid housewife into jumping into a spandex exercise suit and away we go! And that’s not all — one of the instructors has an addiction to caffeine pills (very reminiscent to the famous Jessie Spano freak out on “Saved by the Bell” – see clip below) but must keep up her energy if she has any hope of making it to the Crystal Light National Aerobics Championship, hosted by Alan Thicke (see video below).

The large ensemble delivers bright and energetic performances as they pounce out the aerobic exercise numbers. There are a few catchy tunes including, “My Body Is My Temple” and “Whatever Happened to Caring?” catching wind from the 80s rock we all miss dancing to at The Pyramid Club. Liz Piccoli’s choreography does a good job utilizing the talents of the cast. Daniel F. Levine and Annie Grunow’s book, peppered with political jokes and nods to Michael Dukakis, thinks it’s smarter than it is and is overwrought.

Overall Spandex is underwhelming as a musical and an evening of theater. It’s not cheeky or fun enough to be a guilty pleasure and not tempered with enough realism to be heartfelt or leave with any takeaway. Unfortunately, this musical proves to be as synthetic as its inspiration.

Spandex, a new musical for all SIZES
777 Theatre (Eighth Avenue at 47th Street)
Through May 26.

Take the jump for that famous “Saved by the Bell” clip as well as the Crystal Light National Aerobics Championship, which insipred Spandex, a new musical for all SIZES.

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Gayfest NYC Gives Voice to LGBT-Themed Plays

May 24th, 2013 Comments off
The original BASiC Theatre Project cast of “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde.” (photo: Catherine Bell)

Now in its fifth season Gayfest NYC 2013 presents “new plays for our times,” offering playwrights a unique opportunity to submit LGBT-themed plays for full production in New York City. Presented by veteran Broadway producers Bruce Robert Harris and Jack Batman, this year’s festival opened last night and runs through June 16.

The three productions on the docket for this year include:

Moonlight & Love Songs by Scott C. Sickles — A 45-year-old man’s romantic dreams come true when he falls in love with a young college student. Their romance seems motion picture-perfect until a staggering revelation causes it to implode.

The Loves of Mr. Lincoln — A historically inspired piece by Pulitzer Prize nominated poet David Brendan Hopes that explores the many facets of one of our most famous presidents.

Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde — The critically acclaimed BASiC Theatre Project production of Moisés Kaufman’s play.

The Broadway Blog had a chance to chat with Bruce and Jack about their inspiration for the festival and their special connection to its beneficiary, The Harvey Milk High School.

What was your inspiration for creating Gayfest NYC?
Bruce: It was a real creation of both Jack’s and mine. I was producing a gay pride series but it had really become too much. Jack was on my literary board. He called me one day and said why aren’t you doing this anymore?

It took us about 18 months to find an identity, create a logo, etc. Seven years ago there weren’t festivals calling attention these issues. It’s not always easy. We know it’s become very mainstream now. But it wasn’t 7 years ago. We give the plays lots of love and raise a lot of money – but we want the audiences to know everything we do goes toward our beneficiary, the Harvey Milk High School. These kids don’t have much. We’re helping them get a dorm room, a meal card, and provide funding for scholarships and educational programming.

Gerald McCullouch (l) and Nick Bailey (r) in “Moonlight & Love Songs.” (photo: Carlos Gustavo Monroy)

Given how LGBT roles have become more prominent in both theater and mainstream media, why do you feel Gayfest NYC is still relevant?

Jack: Even though playwrights like Terrence McNally, Charles Bush and Douglas Carter Beane can get their plays produced, there is still a huge pool of untapped talent where their plays aren’t even looked at. I feel like Gayfest is almost like a playwright’s festival. At least these authors have a place to send their play and know that somebody is reading it.

Our first year we received more than 200 submissions – plays from around the world. They all address our issues. I also think that as far along as we are, there is still a big fight to be fought for equal rights and civil rights. These are our causes, our issues and our history.

There is also a difference in how we approach the festival. Others festivals may provide theater space, some marketing, a bit of help for the playwrights, but the shows have to come in with a producer – production needs to be brought to them whole. We start from scratch. It’s as if we’re producing a mini-Broadway show with a high production value.

Gayfest NYC co-producers and founders Jack W. Batman (l) and Bruce Robert Harris (r).

How did the relationship with the Harvey Milk School come to fruition?

Bruce: We read an article about the school in the newspaper and were intrigued by what was going on there and investigated further. What the school truly was – was a safe haven – this was way before bullying was in the media. Here were these kids – gay, transgender, thrown out of their families – they need an education – and Harvey Milk was creating a safe haven. We gravitated toward that and the principals care so much for those kids.

Upon visiting the school – we looked at each other and said ‘We have to do this – this message has to get out.’ It’s the same feeling we had as commercial Broadway theater producers when we’d see a show that we knew we wanted to be a part of. That’s how we roll – we’re very passionate, Jack and I, and this is what propels me.

Jack: The school didn’t have a library or gym and we saw the passion that those teachers had as well as a lack of resources. It was going on love alone, and that we could add some. We thought there might be a way to support them in some way.

As a partner of the Hetrik-Martin Institute, they have programming everyday and we stepped in to help the school directly. At first we offered acting classes as a way for the kids to have an outlet but we found they were hesitant to get on their feet and tell their story. But they were willing to put their stories on paper. It became the most successful elective class and was put into the curriculum. We hire professional actors and present a reading of the students’ work. It’s a wonderful occasion to see what has been accomplished by making this class available to them. We can also offer students school credit by interning with us at the festival as well as a mentoring program and scholarship fund.

We get back a hundredfold in love – to go to graduation and see these kids who a few years ago were down and out. And now they are graduating at a rate of approximately 95%.

Gayfest NYC runs through June 16.
Click Here for tickets.

Broadway Beauty Pageant Raises $50,000 for Ali Forney Center

May 22nd, 2013 Comments off
Orion Griffiths (Mr. “Pippin), winner of the Broadway Beauty Pageant. (photo: Jonathan Tichler)

The competition was stiff in more ways than one. Orion Griffiths, Mr. Pippin, was crowned as the winner of the sold out, seventh annual Broadway Beauty Pageant held Monday evening at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.

The event raised over $50,000 to benefit the Ali Forney Center, which provides shelter to homeless LGBT youth in New York City.

The evening featured Callan Bergmann (Silence! The Musical), Julius C. Carter (SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark), Yurel Echezarreta (Matilda), Matthew Goodrich (The Nance), Orion Griffiths (Pippin), and Paul HeeSang Miller (Mamma Mia!). Nathan Lee Graham (Priscilla Queen of the Desert) also performed.

Each of the contestants went head to head in front of a panel of celebrity judges, but ultimately, the final vote was the hands of the audience.

Judges Andrea Martin (Pippin), Billy Porter (Kinky Boots), and Michael Urie (Buyer and Cellar) kept the laughs coming but it was four-time Tony nominated and Drama Desk Award-winning actress Tovah Feldshuh that truly shined as the evening’s host. With a deep passion for the Ali Forney Center, appreciation for all of the performers hard work and a slew of foul-mouthed jokes, Felshuh deserved a crown of her own by the end of the night.

Host Tovah Feldshuh (photo: Jonathan Tichler)

The Ali Forney Center (AFC) was started in June 2002 in response to the lack of safe shelter for LGBT youth in New York City. The Center is committed to providing these young people with safe, dignified, nurturing environments where their needs can be met, and where they can begin to put their lives back together.

Given the alarming number of gay-related hate crimes plaguing New York City over the past weeks, it is more evident than ever that LGBT youth need a safe place to call home. Click Here to see how you can get involved.

The contestants of the Seventh Annual Broadway Beauty Pageant. (photo: Jonathan Tichler)

Judges (l to r) Michael Urie, Andrea Martin and Billy Porter. (photo: Jonathan Tichler)

Sneak Peek: Original Cast Recording of “Kinky Boots”

May 16th, 2013 Comments off

The cast of "Kinky Boots." (photo: Matt Murphy)

Can’t wait to hear the original Broadway cast recording of Kinky Boots, with music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper? The Broadway Blog snagged this behind-the-scenes video of the cast in the recording studio. Our prediction: Ms. Lauper better make room on her mantle for a Tony award… and maybe even a Grammy.

Click Here for our review of Kinky Boots.

Breaking News: “Kinky Boots” Leads With 13 Tony Nominations; Tom Hanks Nominated for “Lucky Guy”

April 30th, 2013 Comments off
Left: Billy Porter in “Kinky Boots.” (photo: Matthew Murphy) / Right: Bailey Ryon, Milly Shapiro, Sophia Gennusa and Oona Laurence, who share the title role in “Matilda The Musical.” (photo: Joan Marcus)

What’s it gonna be, Broadway? This season’s Tony Award nominations are all about girl power. Kinky Boots sweeps with 13 nominations while Matilda The Musical is on her very high heels with 12. Will the American Theatre Wing go for a little girl with a big imagination or a big girl with even bigger dreams?
Tune in on June 9 to find out.

Best Play
The Assembled Parties
Lucky Guy
The Testament of Mary 

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike 

Best Musical
Bring It On: The Musical
A Christmas Story, The Musical
Kinky Boots
Matilda The Musical

Best Revival of a Play
Golden Boy
The Trip to Bountiful
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Best Revival of a Musical
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Best Book of a Musical
A Christmas Story, The Musical
Joseph Robinette
Kinky Boots
Harvey Fierstein
Matilda The Musical
Dennis Kelly
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
Douglas Carter Beane

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
A Christmas Story, The Musical
Music and Lyrics: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Hands on a Hardbody
Music: Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green
Lyrics: Amanda Green
Kinky Boots
Music & Lyrics: Cyndi Lauper
Matilda The Musical
Music & Lyrics: Tim Minchin

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Tom Hanks, Lucky Guy
Nathan Lane, The Nance
Tracy Letts, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
David Hyde Pierce, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Tom Sturridge, Orphans

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Laurie Metcalf, The Other Place
Amy Morton, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Kristine Nielsen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Holland Taylor, Ann
Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Bertie Carvel, Matilda The Musical
Santino Fontana, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
Rob McClure, Chaplin
Billy Porter, Kinky Boots
Stark Sands, Kinky Boots

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Stephanie J. Block, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Carolee Carmello, Scandalous
Valisia LeKae, Motown The Musical
Patina Miller, Pippin
Laura Osnes, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Danny Burstein, Golden Boy
Richard Kind, The Big Knife
Billy Magnussen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Tony Shalhoub, Golden Boy
Courtney B. Vance, Lucky Guy

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Carrie Coon, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Shalita Grant, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Judith Ivey, The Heiress
Judith Light, The Assembled Parties
Condola Rashad, The Trip to Bountiful

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Charl Brown, Motown The Musical
Keith Carradine, Hands on a Hardbody
Will Chase, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Gabriel Ebert, Matilda The Musical
Terrence Mann, Pippin

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Annaleigh Ashford, Kinky Boots
Victoria Clark, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella
Andrea Martin, Pippin
Keala Settle, Hands on a Hardbody
Lauren Ward, Matilda The Musical

Take the leap for the rest of the nominations…

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Tony! Tony! Watch Nominations Live…

April 29th, 2013 Comments off

2012 Tony Award-winners James Corden, Audra McDonald, Nina Arianda, and Steve Kazee. (photo: Anita and Steve Shevett/Shevett Studios)

I’m having a flashback.
It’s my high school senior play (The Wizard of Oz… of course) and we all scramble out of homeroom to see the cast list. I was a shoe-in for the Scarecrow, or so I thought. We trampled each other toward the cast list that was posted during morning announcements. The anticipation… did I get it? Uh, no.

While I may have been relegated to a monkey (and not even a flying one at that), Broadway’s brightest talent had a bit more luck this season, and tomorrow morning – with the help of Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Sutton Foster, The American Theatre Wing announces this year’s nominations for the coveted Tony Award.

You can catch all the action, live! Click the link below and relive all of those memories in a live stream and be the first to know who has been nominated. Help us predict this year’s winners by posting your comments on our Facebook page or our Twitter account, @thebroadwayblog.
And remember… everybody’s a winner. Not really.

Tune in Tuesday, May 1, 8:15 a.m. by clicking link below:

Launch the 2013 Tony Awards Live
Video Console!

Let’s Make a Deal: New York Theater on the Cheap

January 21st, 2013 Comments off

Your wish for discount theater tickets really can come true. (Kristin Chenoweth in the original Broadway production of "Wicked." Photo: Joan Marcus)

Even the most die-hard theatergoer cannot afford to see a show as often as he or she would like. With the top ticket price clocking in at $135.50, and premium seats soaring even higher, being a Broadway fan may be the best fad diet in town. Nobody should have to choose between a classic New York pizza and slice of cheesecake and a chorus of svelte dancers spinning triple pirouettes.

Fortunately, has come to the rescue, offering 2-for-1 Broadway seats from Jan. 22 – Feb. 7. While not every show is available (those boys at Book of Mormon are still at capacity,) there are a surprising number of great shows participating, including “Wicked”, “Jersey Boys” and the much talked about production of “Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella”.

You can also upgrade your ticket for an additional $20 per person, which will get you out of the rear balcony and into orchestra or mezzanine.

The Great White Way isn’t the only place where bargains can be found. Off Broadway is offering the same 2-for-1 deal from Jan. 28 – Feb. 10. Seeing an Off Broadway show is a great way to have a more intimate theatrical experience. And these days, some productions that originated on Broadway, like the Tony award-winning “Avenue Q,” are now in Off Broadway theaters. You can also catch edgier works like “BARE: The Musical,” “My Name is Asher Lev,” and the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Water by the Spoonful.”

The cast of "Water by the Spoonful." (Photo: Richard Termine)

If you can’t make up your mind or pull it together in time to order tickets in advance, I’ve got one more option for you: 20at20. From Jan. 22 – Feb. 10, simply show up at the box office 20 minutes before curtain at a participating Off Broadway theater and request a “20at20” ticket. If available (yes, these shows will sell out so there is a risk factor to save a few bucks) you’ll have a good chance of snagging a $20 seat.

Whichever option you choose, winter can be the best time to enjoy live theater in New York City. And I want to know what you’re seeing! Visit The Broadway Blog’s Facebook page and tell us if the show you saw belongs on the discount rack or if you’ve discovered a hidden gem.


Curtain Up! The Broadway Blog Act II

January 2nd, 2013 Comments off

Happy New Year and greetings from The Broadway Blog! We hope your holiday season was packed with show tunes. The curtain rises on some exciting changes as our founding editor, Tom Mizer, graciously passes the torch to pursue his own theatrical endeavors. Have no fear, though — we’ll be hearing more from Tom as he continues to contribute reviews and commentary on the New York theater scene as well as discover the sexiest guys on Broadway for our Theater Buff column.

So what will become of us? Will we be like Charles Dickens’ The Mystery of Edwin Drood — damned to an unfinished eternity? Uh… no. Enter Peggy Sawyer (aka Matthew Wexler). I’ll be stepping into Tom’s character shoes as The Broadway Blog’s new editor to bring you the latest dish on what’s happening on Broadway (and off). I’ll be raiding dressing rooms, going global to discover the best international theater, and revealing some real-life drama with guest contributors from the entertainment industry.

As a special throwback, I thought I’d offer up a clip from the year I moved to New York City to make my own way on the Great White Way. I pounded the pavement for a few years and trust me kids, it ain’t easy. I didn’t resort to “The Life,” but after seeing this gritty musicalization of New York City in the 80s, I was ready to don fishnets and hit Times Square. Lillias White and Chuck Cooper snagged Tony Awards for their performances and I filed away the  first of many playbills to come. Stay tuned… 2013 is going to be filled with high drama!

“My Body” from The Life, performed at the 51st Annual Tony Awards.

Big Broadway Casting Including LaBeouf, Hanks & More

December 21st, 2012 Comments off

Bertie Carvel & Lauren Ward in "Matilda: The Musical". Photo by Tristram Kenton.

Announcements about famous faces coming to Broadway have been coming fast and furious over the last few weeks, so let’s try to catch up by playing a little six-degrees of the casting couch…

  • Shia LaBeouf (Transformers, Wall Street 2), whose name loosely translates as “The Beefy Gift of God,” will be making his Broadway debut in a revival of Orphans opposite Alec Baldwin.  Mr. Baldwin appeared in the 1990 Woody Allen film Alice, which also featured…
  • Blythe Danner. Image via

    Blythe Danner, who this weekend began a 12-week run as the deus ex machina Mother in Nice Work If You Can Get It. The Tony and Emmy-winning Danner last appeared on Broadway in the cast of the 2001 revival of Follies as Phyllis, which also included…

  • Lauren Ward, who will be making the transfer to Broadway from the West End production of Matilda  alongside the Olivier-winning Bertie Carvel. Familiar to New York audiences for her acclaimed work in the revival of 1776 and off-Broadway’s Violet, Ms. Ward had a small role in the film comedy In and Out featuring Bob Newhart, whose self-titled sitcom also starred…
  • George Wendt (Cheers), who will be joining the wonderful Cory Michael Smith (C*ck) and Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) in the upcoming adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  No word on how Kevin Bacon fits into any of this.

Applause, Applause: Judy Kuhn, Just Around The Record Label?

November 19th, 2012 Comments off

In his continuing series, Andrew Glaszek pays tribute to music theater greats deserving of diva status. Today, he looks at an actress who has been in some of the biggest hits of the last few decades but still isn’t a household name…

Judy Kuhn "Just in Time". Image via Amazon.

To some, life would just be bland and banal without The Broadway Album, It’s Better with a Band, Way Back To Paradise, or Matters of The Heart. And though I respect Barbra, love Barbara, Audra, and worship at the altar of Patti, my life (and repertoire) wouldn’t be the same without the album Just In Time: Judy Kuhn Sings Jule Styne. It’s a recording that is, start to finishfantastic.

This should be no surprise to anyone who fell in love with Ms. Kuhn in the revival of She Loves Me  (TONY Nom), was blown away by her “Just Around The Riverbend” as Disney’s Pocahontas, or found her Betty Schaefer better than the leading actress in the Broadway Sunset Boulevard. Choosing a favorite song or performance by her is a tough task since this is the same wonder woman who leaves people obsessed with her soprano in Les Miserables (TONY Nom) and her belt in Chess (Tony Nom)! This season, Judy hit the NY stage and filled the house in the Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron’s Fun Home at The Public and is sure to tear up the town as Fosca in Classic Stage Company’s upcoming revival of Sondheim’s Passion.

It’s also great to have the prospect of a new solo album on the horizon that should include songs by Sondheim and Porter amongst others. Without a record label backing this project, she’s taken to kickstarter for financing of this, her third solo recording after Just In Time… in ’95 and Serious Playground – The Songs of Laura Nyro from ’07. Check out her campaign for a video and incentives.

So while you get your tix for Passion and help kickstart her new album, get your Judy Kuhn fix with these clips (and go buy Just In Time: Judy Kuhn Sings Jule Styne on iTunes!)…

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