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The Tony Awards by the Numbers

June 6th, 2014 Comments off
Neil Patrick Harris and the cast of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" (photo: Joan Marcus) via The Broadway Blog.

Neil Patrick Harris and the cast of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” (photo: Joan Marcus) via The Broadway Blog.

Before Broadway’s biggest night on Sunday, June 8th, 44 productions will have opened on Broadway in the 2013-14 season. Of those productions, 12 were eligible for Best New Musical and 10 were eligible for Best New Play at the 68th Annual Tony Awards.

Ramin Karimloo in "Les Misérables" (photo: Matthew Murphy) via The Broadway Blog.

Ramin Karimloo in “Les Misérables” (photo: Matthew Murphy) via The Broadway Blog.

Before the Awards ceremony begins, the 110 Tony Award Nominees will walk down 210 feet of red carpet. The Nominees will join an expected 5,500 guests in Radio City Music Hall, which spans a full New York City block wide.

During the Tony Awards broadcast, the winners from 26 categories will be announced. These winners will each receive a Tony Award with its signature 3-inch-diameter Tony Medallion that spins atop a 9-inch-tall Tony Statue.

By the time they hit the stage at the 68th-Annual Tony Awards, many of the performers and productions appearing at this year’s Awards show will have accomplished the following:

  • 908: Number of total costumes made this year by the eight Tony-nominated costume designers from Bullets Over Broadway, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Act One, Casa Valentina, AfterMidnight, Machinal and Twelfth Night
  • 478.5: Number of performances Alan Cumming has portrayed the Emcee in Cabaret on Broadway
  • 337: Number of costumes in each performance of Aladdin
  • 300: Number of raw eggs Tony Nominee Andy Karl has consumed on stage in Rocky
  • 67: Number of votes Lyndon B. Johnson, played by Tony Nominee Bryan Cranston, gets to pass his proposed bill inAll the Way
  • 26: Number of Carole King’s hit songs featured in Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
  • 16: Carole King’s age when she wrote her first song, as told in Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
  • 5: Number of Tony Awards Nominee Audra McDonald has won in her career
  • 4: The height (in inches) of Tony Nominee Neil Patrick Harris’ highest pair of heels worn in Hedwig and the Angry Inch
  • 1: Number of inches Hedwig is angry about

 

The Tony Awards will be broadcast in a live three-hour ceremony from Radio City Music Hall, on the CBS television network on Sunday, June 8, 2014, at 8pm ET. For more information on the Tony Awards, please visitwww.TonyAwards.com.

Terence Archie and Andy Karl in "Rocky" (photo: Matthew Murphy) via The Broadway Blog.

Terence Archie and Andy Karl in “Rocky” (photo: Matthew Murphy) via The Broadway Blog.

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Breaking News: Guess Who’s Peforming at the Tonys?

May 29th, 2014 Comments off
The Tony Award. Image via Google.

The Tony Award. Image via Google.

The Tony Awards have announced the line-up of performances for the 68th Annual Tony Awards, which will broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City, on CBS, on Sunday, June 8th 8:00 – 11:00 p.m. (ET/PT time delay).

The entertainment-packed evening will feature performances by 2014 Tony Nominee Neil Patrick Harris and the cast of Hedwig and the Angry Inch; 2014 Tony nominee Sutton Foster with the cast of Violet; Alan Cumming reprising his Tony Award winning role in a performance from the revival of Cabaret and 2014 Tony Nominee Idina Menzel performing from the new musical If/Then.   

The evening will also feature not-to-be missed performances by the casts of this year’s Best Musical and Best Musical Revival Nominees, as well as other new musicals: Aladdin, Les Misérables, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Bullets Over Broadway and Rocky.

Idina Menzel in the original cast of "Wicked" (photo: wickedthemusical.com) via The Broadway Blog.

Idina Menzel in the original cast of “Wicked” (photo: wickedthemusical.com) via The Broadway Blog.

The cast of Wicked will return to Radio City Music Hall for the first time since 2004, when they won three Tony Awards. The cast will take the stage once again in what is sure to be a very special performance to celebrate Wicked’s 10th Anniversary. Also not to be missed: music legends Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight and Fantasia, who will take the stage for an unforgettable performance with the cast of After Midnight.Sting will also perform a song from his upcoming musical, The Last Ship.

Hosted by Tony Award winner, Emmy Award-winning, Academy Award®-nominated and Golden Globe-winning actor Hugh Jackman, Broadway’s biggest night will feature appearances by Bradley Cooper, Kevin Bacon, Carole King, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Will Ferrell, Liev Schreiber, Emmy Rossum, Kate Mara, Zachary Quinto, Zachary Levi, Lucy Liu, Clint Eastwood, Patricia Clarkson, Leighton Meester, Ethan Hawke, Zach Braff, Matt Bomer, Anna Gunn, Gloria & Emilio Estefan, Tony nominee Audra McDonald, Fran Drescher, Wayne Brady, Kenneth Branagh, Tony Goldwyn, Vera Farmiga and Alessandro Nivola.

The Tony Awards will be broadcast in a live three-hour ceremony from Radio City Music Hall, on the CBS television network on Sunday, June 8, 2014. For more information on the Tony Awards, visit www.TonyAwards.com.

A scene from "Les Misérables" (photo: Matthew Murphy) via The Broadway Blog.

A scene from “Les Misérables” (photo: Matthew Murphy) via The Broadway Blog.

Tony Award Nominations Announced!

April 29th, 2014 Comments off

tonyNominations in 26 competitive categories for the American Theatre Wing’s 68th Annual Antoinette Perry “Tony” Awards® were announced today by actress of stage and screen Lucy Liu and Tony-nominee Jonathan Groff, at the Tony Award Nominations ceremony sponsored by IBM.  The nominees were selected by an independent committee of 33 theatre professionals appointed by the Tony Awards Administration Committee.  The 2014 Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.  (The list of nominations follows.)

Marking 68 years of excellence on Broadway, The Tony Awards will be broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall on CBS, on Sunday, June 8th, 8:00 – 11:00 p.m. (ET/PT time delay).

 

As previously announced, the 2014 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre will be presented to costume designer Jane Greenwood and the Isabelle Stevenson Award will be presented to Rosie O’Donnell.  The 2014 Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre will be presented to President and CEO of The Actor’s Fund Joseph P. Benincasa, photographer Joan Marcus and General Manager Charlotte Wilcox.

Each year, the Tony Awards Administration Committee presents a Tony Award to a regional theatre on the recommendation of the American Theatre Critics Association. The 2014 Regional Theatre Award will be presented to the Signature Theatre of New York.

                                                            

The Antoinette Perry “Tony” Awards are bestowed annually on theatre professionals for distinguished achievement. The Tony is one of the most coveted awards in the entertainment industry and the annual telecast is considered one of the most prestigious programs on television.

IBM, the official information technology partner of the Tony Awards, develops, designs, and hosts the official Tony Awards website, www.TonyAwards.com across digital platforms.  Audemars Piguet is the presenting sponsor of the Tony Awards Red Carpet. United Airlines is the official airline of the Tony Awards. The New York Times is the official and exclusive print media partner of the Tony Awards. Nexxus Salon Hair Care is the official beauty partner of the Tony Awards. Paramount Hotel is the official hotel partner of the Tonys. PEOPLE is the official magazine partner of the Tony Awards. City National Bank is the official bank of the Tony Awards. Carnegie Mellon University is the first-ever, exclusive higher education partner of the Tony Awards.

The cast of "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" (photo: Joan Marcus) via The Broadway Blog.

The cast of “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” (photo: Joan Marcus) via The Broadway Blog.

Nominations for the 2014 American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards®
Presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing


Best Play

Act One
Author:  James Lapine

All The Way
Author:  Robert Schenkkan 

Casa Valentina
Author:  Harvey Fierstein

Mothers and Sons
Author:  Terrence McNally 

Outside Mullingar
Author:  John Patrick Shanley

Jessie Mueller in "Beautiful—The Carole King Musical." (photo: Joan Marcus)

Jessie Mueller in “Beautiful—The Carole King Musical.”
(photo: Joan Marcus)

Best Musical
After Midnight
Aladdin
Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

Best Revival of a Play
The Cripple of Inishmaan
The Glass Menagerie
A Raisin in the Sun
Twelfth Night

Best Revival of a Musical
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Les Misérables
Violet 

Best Book of a Musical
Aladdin
Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
Bullets Over Broadway
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

"The Bridges of Madison County"

“The Bridges of Madison County”

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

Aladdin
Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin

The Bridges of Madison County
Music & Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Music: Steven Lutvak
Lyrics: Robert L. Freedman & Steven Lutvak

If/Then
Music: Tom Kitt
Lyrics: Brian Yorkey

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

Samuel Barnett, Twelfth Night
Bryan Cranston, All The Way
Chris O’Dowd, Of Mice and Men
Mark Rylance, Richard III
Tony Shalhoub, Act One

 

Tyne Daly in "Mothers and Sons" (photo: Joan Marcus) via The Broadway Blog.

Tyne Daly in “Mothers and Sons” (photo: Joan Marcus) via The Broadway Blog.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

Tyne Daly, Mothers and Sons
LaTanya Richardson Jackson, A Raisin in the Sun
Cherry Jones, The Glass Menagerie
Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill
Estelle Parsons, The Velocity of Autumn


Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Ramin Karimloo, Les Misérables
Andy Karl, Rocky
Jefferson Mays, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Bryce Pinkham, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder


Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

Mary Bridget Davies, A Night with Janis Joplin
Sutton Foster, Violet
Idina Menzel, If/Then
Jessie Mueller, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
Kelli O’Hara, The Bridges of Madison County


Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

Reed Birney, Casa Valentina
Paul Chahidi, Twelfth Night
Stephen Fry, Twelfth Night
Mark Rylance, Twelfth Night
Brian J. Smith, The Glass Menagerie


Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

Sarah Greene, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Celia Keenan-Bolger, The Glass Menagerie
Sophie Okonedo, A Raisin in the Sun
Anika Noni Rose, A Raisin in the Sun
Mare Winningham, Casa Valentina

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

Danny Burstein, Cabaret
Nick Cordero, Bullets Over Broadway
Joshua Henry, Violet
James Monroe Iglehart, Aladdin
Jarrod Spector, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical


Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

Linda Emond, Cabaret
Lena Hall, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Anika Larsen, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
Adriane Lenox, After Midnight
Lauren Worsham, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder


Best Scenic Design of a Play

Beowulf Boritt, Act One
Bob Crowley, The Glass Menagerie
Es Devlin, Machinal
Christopher Oram, The Cripple of Inishmaan

"Bullets Over Broadway," set design by Santo Loquasto. (photo: Paul Kolnik via The Broadway Blog)

“Bullets Over Broadway,” set design by Santo Loquasto. (photo: Paul Kolnik via The Broadway Blog)


Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Christopher Barreca, Rocky
Julian Crouch, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Alexander Dodge, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Santo Loquasto, Bullets Over Broadway


Best Costume Design of a Play

Jane Greenwood, Act One
Michael Krass, Machinal
Rita Ryack, Casa Valentina
Jenny Tiramani, Twelfth Night


Best Costume Design of a Musical

Linda Cho, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
William Ivey Long, Bullets Over Broadway
Arianne Phillips, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Isabel Toledo, After Midnight


Best Lighting Design of a Play

Paule Constable, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Jane Cox, Machinal
Natasha Katz, The Glass Menagerie
Japhy Weideman, Of Mice and Men

 

Margo Seibert and Andy Karl in "Rocky." Photo by Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.

Margo Seibert and Andy Karl in “Rocky.” Photo by Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Kevin Adams, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Christopher Akerlind, Rocky
Howell Binkley, After Midnight
Donald Holder, The Bridges of Madison County


Best Sound Design of a Play

Alex Baranowski, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Steve Canyon Kennedy, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill
Dan Moses Schreier, Act One
Matt Tierney, Machinal


Best Sound Design of a Musical

Peter Hylenski, After Midnight
Tim O’Heir, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Mick Potter, Les Misérables
Brian Ronan, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical

Best Direction of a Play

Tim Carroll, Twelfth Night
Michael Grandage, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Kenny Leon, A Raisin in the Sun
John Tiffany, The Glass Menagerie


Best Direction of a Musical

Warren Carlyle, After Midnight
Michael Mayer, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Leigh Silverman, Violet
Darko Tresnjak, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder


Best Choreography

Warren Carlyle, After Midnight
Steven Hoggett & Kelly Devine, Rocky
Casey Nicholaw, Aladdin
Susan Stroman, Bullets Over Broadway

Best Orchestrations

Doug Besterman, Bullets Over Broadway
Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County
Steve Sidwell, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
Jonathan Tunick, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

There’s more! Take the leap!

Read more…

Tony Awards Recap: Let’s Get Kinky!

June 10th, 2013 Comments off

"Kinky Boots" live at the Tony Awards. (photo: tonyawards.com)

High heels and high theatrics seemed to be a theme for this year’s Tony Awards, which bestowed six awards on Kinky Boots and four for the revival of Pippin and the same number for Matilda The Musical. Neil Patrick Harris brought down the house with an electric opening number (featuring Mike Tyson) and “rapped” it up in a perfect bow for a finale that featured Audra McDonald.

Equally as entertaining was the mid-show riff featuring celebrated theater actors whose TV shows were recently cancelled. The all-star casualty list included Megan Hilty, Andrew Rannells and Laura Benanti. What fell awkwardly flat were the introductions and award presentations by actors in costume — and character — from currently running shows. It was especially painful to watch those standing around who didn’t have any lines to deliver.

Cyndi Lauper performing live at the Tony Awards. (photo: tonyawards.com)

The award speeches ran the gamut from Cyndi Lauper’s heartfelt ode to a lifetime appreciation of Broadway to Cecily Tyson’s… deliberate… final… ode… to… a… life… in… the… theater. And then there was Tom Hanks’ speech — oh, wait. He didn’t win.

Here’s the official winner’s list. But as so many of those making speeches indicated, it’s all about celebrating the community and artistry of live theater.

Best Musical – Kinky Boots

Best Revival of a Musical – Pippin

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical – Patina Miller, Pippin

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play – Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play – Tracy Letts, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical – Billy Porter, Kinky Boots

Best Lighting Design of a Play – Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer, Lucky Guy

Best Revival of a Play – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Best Lighting Design of a Musical – Hugh Vanstone, Matilda The Musical

Best Play – Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical – Andrea Martin, Pippin

Best Scenic Design of a Musical – Rob Howell, Matilda The Musical

 Best Scenic Design of a Play – John Lee Beatty, The Nance

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre – Music & Lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, Kinky Boots

Best Choreography – Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots

Best Direction of a Play – Pam MacKinnon, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Best Direction of a Musical – Diane Paulus, Pippin

Best Book of a Musical – Dennis Kelly, Matilda The Musical

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical – Gabriel Ebert, Matilda The Musical

Best Sound Design of a Play – Leon Rothenberg, The Nance

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play – Judith Light, The Assembled Parties

Best Sound Design of a Musical – John Shivers, Kinky Boots

Best Orchestrations – Stephen Oremus, Kinky Boots

Best Costume Design of a Musical – William Ivey Long, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Best Costume Design of a Play – Anne Roth, The Nance

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play – Courtney B. Vance, Lucky Guy

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre:
Bernard Gersten
Paul Libin
Ming Cho Lee

Regional Theatre Award:
Huntington Theatre Company, Boston, MA

Isabelle Stevenson Award:
Larry Kramer

Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre:
Career Transition For Dancers
William Craver
Peter Lawrence
The Lost Colony

The four actresses who created the title role of Matilda The Musical on Broadway – Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon and Milly Shapiro

The Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and The American Theater Wing.

We asked the Broadway Blog’s Facebook fans which acceptance speech was most inspiring – congratulations, Patina Miller! (We want to know – who is going to write you a Tina Turner musical? Look at those arms!)

When You Wish Upon a Star: Tony Award Picks

June 9th, 2013 Comments off

2013 Tony Awards-nominees pose for a picture atop the Empire State Building. (photo: www.tonyawards.com)

The stars of Broadway are dusting off their patent leather shoes (do they really reflect up?) and breaking out the costume jewelry for the most celebrated night of the year: The Tony Awards. While we’re not going to give you a rundown of every category and projected winner, we do have a few favorites that we’re rooting for and a recap of some zingers from past reviews of our favorite performances.

From contributor Scott Redman:

The cast of "Pippin," directed by Diane Paulus. (photo: Joan Marcus)

Diane Paulus without a doubt is the most deserving of the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical. Paulus should win on her ability to put Pippin into a modern context that is relevant and theatrical. She has bonded a cast and creative team into a unified vision.

Using the circus as a setting isn’t just a clever excuse to have acrobats doing tricks, its supports the theme and characters in the show. The show feels fresh and is invigorating to watch: stellar cast, beautiful design and finally a show that sounds clear and vibrant.

Pippin also signifies the importance of a well done revival – a remount of an existing show that tells us something new about the material or sheds light on new ideas. Paulus has found her “corner of the sky” and I can’t wait to see what she does next. Good Luck Diane!

Lindsay B. Davis’s recap on two of the nominees for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play:
Holland Taylor [in ANN] almost dances across the stage as she entertains and tells jokes, some dirty, which she learned from her warm-hearted dad (Did you hear the one about the Terrier and Great Dane?). She speaks with the delight and skill of a seasoned cabaret artist or vaudevillian comedian. One can’t help but wonder if the real governor Richards was this entertaining but it doesn’t really matter. You’re too busy laughing to care.

I don’t know the last time you watched a radically entertaining, 70-year-old woman perform on stage, uninterrupted, for close to two hours. It commands respect and wins your love. So too, does this production.

Flexing her masterful storytelling muscles and using her real ones (there is a good deal of physical work involved to establish and advance the story), Fiona Shaw in The Testament of Mary delivers a performance that is so visceral, skillful and raw that the 85 minutes performed without an intermission sprint by in a flash. It is a journey marked by incidents in the life of her son, some based on actual Biblical stories — such as when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, healed the sick or turned water into wine, plus the crucifixion itself — and others completely imagined by the author. All manage to illuminate the mother not the messiah. She speaks not to advance the narrative of Christianity but to deeply reveal herself and come to terms with traumatic experience. As an audience it is impossible not to feel her deep torment and fight for survival.

Take the leap for thoughts from The Broadway Blog’s editor Matthew Wexler, including choreography from Matilda The Musical and our pick for “should have been nominated!”
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Inside the Casting of Broadway’s “Pippin”

June 6th, 2013 Comments off

Duncan Stewart (l) and Benton Whitley (r).

A handful of very fortunate (and talented) theater artisans are going to walk away with Tony Awards on Sunday night. But one category that does not receive nominations is that of Casting Director. With a keen eye for talent and social skills on par with a highly trained psychologist (have you ever been around theater people?), casting directors are responsible for helping to create the artistic vision for a show.

From A-list celebrities to chorus kids plucked right out of school, casting directors are a critical — and often overlooked — part of the creative process. The Broadway Blog sat down for an exclusive interview with Benton Whitley, Casting Director (CSA) and Partner at Duncan Stewart and Company. Known for their connections with high profile agents and managers, Duncan Stewart and Benton Whitley have been responsible for putting numerous stars, celebrities and international pop stars into theatrical productions including: Mary-Louise Parker, Kelsey Grammer, Christie Brinkley, Sofia Vergara, Harvey Fierstein and Liev Schreiber to name a few.

Their latest project is Pippin, the most nominated show of the year, including 10 Tony Award nominations, 11 Outer Critics nominations, 3 Drama League Nominations and 6 Drama Desk Nominations. We asked Whitley to share the company’s thoughts about casting its three nominated actors and here’s what he had to say:

The Broadway Blog:

Patina Miller as The Leading Player. (photo: Joan Marcus)

Patina Miller
Nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical.
Patina Miller as the Leading Player is, hands down, spectacular. Was it your concept from the beginning to cast a female or were you looking at all different types? She also has a captivating way of engaging the audience – almost as if they are another character in the show. Was this something you were specifically looking for?

Duncan Stewart and Company:
It was a huge priority in the casting of the role that the actor could break through that fourth wall and engage with the audience. Director Diane Paulus said, “I’m looking for an actor to ingratiate with the audience.”

Somehow this ringleader has the ability to reel you in, from a five-year-old to an 80-year-old man — and not be scared! We saw many actors that had a dominating presence, but didn’t have the heart. It was pivotal in our search.

[Diane] was open to the idea of a female. It was written for a male, the keys, the script, everything was geared toward a man. In auditions we saw men and women, ranging in age from 20- to 60-years-old. It’s our understanding that they’re not sold that Leading Players in the future needs to be an African American female.

By casting Patina, the role has become a showcase for her skill set. She had the edge over people. She’s sexy. She’s young. She’s gorgeous. And (which most people didn’t know) she’s a phenomenal dancer. If she had said no, the dancing would have been a lot more minimal. When it’s time to recast, it’s the bar that we’ll be try reach for, but we believe directors should not try to have actors fit into cookie cutter molds of the originating actors.

The Broadway Blog:

Andrea Martin at Berthe and Matthew James Thomas as Pippin. (photo: Joan Marcus)

Andrea Martin, nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical.

Andrea Martin as Berthe — come on! She received a standing ovation in the middle of the show the night that I saw it. Without giving too much away to readers who haven’t see it yet, how did you know that she would be able to ‘rise to the occasion’?

Duncan Stewart and Company:
It’s the beauty of creating an original cast and the time in the rehearsal room. Andrea was hired “offer only,” which means she didn’t have to audition. We knew that she was the right type and fit for the role and this production. She did have one stipulation. She said, “I’m only going to do this if you’re not going to make me the old granny that sits on the stool where everybody dances around me. I want to be shot out of a cannon.” Well, we got pretty damn close.

Now it’s a huge challenge for us moving forward. She’s contracted for a year but we’re already thinking about who could do what she does. There are few women in that age bracket who can do that, but the number has been shaped and we’ll do our best to maintain it.

The Broadway Blog:

Terrence Mann as Charles and Charlotte d'Amboise as Fastrada. (photo: Joan Marcus)

Terrence Mann, nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical.
As King Charles, Terrence brings both gravitas and humor (along with his real-life wife, Charlotte d’Amboise, who recently one an Astaire Award for her performance) to the production. How did that all come about?

Duncan Stewart and Company:
He tackles it like Shakespeare. Terry is a classically trained actor and it shows onstage. He also understands the comedy of the show. So many guys came in and played it like a puppet, but he also instilled a sense of realness. When we were pulling the lists together the lightbulb came on. Charlotte was on the list for Fastrada (King Charles’ wife) and we thought the two of them together onstage would be a great combination. They have different representation and were clear that they were both interested in the project independent of one another.

Diane said — and we agree — that Pippin is the definition of musical theater: glorious music, glorious acting and glorious dancing.

Review: American Conservatory Theater’s “Arcadia”

May 27th, 2013 Comments off

Our new west coast correspondent Gabriella West dives into Tom Stoppard’s complex play about… well, we’ll let her explain it.  

Jack Cutmore-Scott (Septimus Hodge) and Nicholas Pelczar (Ezra Chater) in A.C.T.’s “Arcadia.” (photo: Kevin Berne)

Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia was a huge hit when it opened in London in 1993. American Conservatory Theater’s then-newish artistic director Carey Perloff staged it at the nearby Stage Door Theatre in 1995, after a lengthy struggle to acquire the production rights. Perloff was still proving herself as artistic director back then, with punchy productions that included Pinter’s Celebration. She has always had a light hand with heavy, intellectual material, and she nurtured a warm friendship with Stoppard that continues to this day.

Now in her twentieth season as artistic director, Perloff has brought Arcadia back, this time to the much-grander Geary Theater, A.C.T.’s home base. She clearly wanted to do the play justice in a bigger, more beautiful venue.

The set of Arcadia is visually stunning. The play begins in a Palladian country house in England in 1809, a light-filled room with big windows looking out onto the garden. Young Thomasina (Rebekah Brockman) is being instructed in higher mathematics by her tutor, Septimus Hodge (Jack Cutmore-Scott). Hodge is a handsome fellow in his early twenties, a contemporary and friend of Byron.

The material turns risqué almost immediately, as Thomasina demands to know what is a “carnal embrace.” The wife of a visiting poet, Ezra Chater, has been spotted in a compromising position in the garden gazebo with—we soon find out—none other than Septimus Hodge himself. Thomasina is innocent enough to be entirely ignorant of sex, yet is clearly drawn to Septimus. Brockman plays her as sweet and precocious but lacks the pathos for a fully realized character.

Cutmore-Scott has a tricky role here—he has to be both a believable seducer and a believable intellectual. He clearly cares about Thomasina and, unlike Byron, is not a scoundrel, but he’s constantly preoccupied by his own sexual life and seems not to grasp that his charge is a budding genius. The wry comedy of the first act continues, with the angry but cowardly Ezra Chater constantly intruding on Thomasina’s lesson to demand satisfaction from Hodge. Finally, Hodge agrees to a duel. The furious notes that Chater sends Hodge are slipped into Hodge’s copy of Chater’s latest book of poems, The Couch of Eros—which will eventually end up in his friend Lord Byron’s hands.

Think that’s it? Take the jump for Act II….
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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: www.spandexmusical.com)

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)