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Tyne Daly Joins York Theatre Company’s ‘Dear World’

January 12th, 2017 Comments off

Tyne Daly (Photo: s_bukley / Shutterstock, Inc)

Tyne Daly (Photo: s_bukley / Shutterstock, Inc)

The York Theatre Company, dedicated to the development of new musicals and the preservation of musical gems from the past, has announced 6-time Emmy Award-winner and Tony Award-winner Tyne Daly will star in the 1969 musical Dear World, when she joins the company in celebrating Broadway composers, Jerry Herman and Kurt Weill, with the Winter 2017 Musicals in Mufti Series, January 28 – March 5, 2017.

In conjunction with the series, The York will present Hello, Jerry, a multimedia presentation by renowned musical theater historian Charles Troy for one-night only Tuesday, January 24, 2017 at 7:30pm.

The 3-show Musicals in Mufti series launches with Milk and Honey, book by Don Appel, music and lyrics by Jerry Herman. Marking the Broadway debut of the incomparable Jerry Herman, Milk and Honey centers on the romance between two Americans in Israel—a lonely widow on tour and an unhappily married man visiting his daughter. Set against the backdrop of Israel’s struggle for recognition as an independent nation, Milk and Honey is a tale of love, optimism, and second chances.

With his first Broadway score, Mr. Herman showed the promise of the wealth of hummable, memorable songs he would compose in the future. Milk and Honey will be directed by York’s Associate Artistic Director Michael Unger, with music direction by Jeffrey Saver. Performances are set to begin Saturday, January 28, 2017 for a limited engagement through February 5, 2017.

It is followed by Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill: A Musical Voyage, music by Kurt Weill, text and format by Gene Lerner, lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, Marc Blitzstein, Bertolt Brecht, Jacques Deval, Michael Feingold, Ira Gershwin, Paul Green, Langston Hughes, Alan Jay Lerner, Ogden Nash, George Tabori, and Arnold Weinstein. Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill: A Musical Voyage is a joyous and moving celebration of Kurt Weill, a cantor’s son and one of the most extraordinary composers of the twentieth century.

Weill’s greatest theatre songs are presented in a fluid blend of music and story, spanning twenty eventful years, from Von Hindenburg and Hitler in Germany to Roosevelt and Truman in the U.S.  Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill: A Musical Voyage will be directed by Pamela Hunt, with music direction by Eric Svejcar. Performances begin Saturday, February 11, 2017 for a limited engagement through February 19, 2017.

The Winter 2017 Series concludes with Dear World, book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, new version by David Thompson (based on an adaptation by Maurice Valency of the play The Madwoman of Chaillot by Jean Giraudoux), music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, starring 6-time Emmy Award and Tony Award-winner Tyne Daly as the Countess Aurelia, the Madwoman of Chaillot.

When a group of businessmen scheme to drill for oil in Paris, there is only one force in the world that can stop them: Countess Aurelia, the Madwoman of Chaillot. With the help of idealism, love, and poetry—not to mention two other madwomen, a local sewerman, and a pair of young lovers—the Countess fights to save Paris and the world from greed.

With Dear World‘s opening on Broadway in 1969, Mr. Herman became the first composer-lyricist to have three productions simultaneously running on Broadway, and for her performance 2015 Oscar Hammerstein Honoree Angela Lansbury received the second of her five Tony Awards.  Michael Montel directs, with music direction by Christopher McGovern.  Performances begin Saturday, February 25, 2017 for a limited engagement through March 5, 2017.

Review: It Shoulda Been You

April 14th, 2015 Comments off
"It Shoulda Been You" (photo: Andrew Eccles via The Broadway Blog.)

“It Shoulda Been You” (photo: Andrew Eccles via The Broadway Blog.)

Marriage is a funny thing. Some last. Many don’t. And others aren’t ever meant to be. It Shoulda Been You, the new Broadway musical with book and lyrics by Brian Hargrove and music and concept by Barbara Anselmi, takes a lighthearted look at the evolving institution of marriage from just about every angle. But like most wedding gowns, some perspectives are more becoming than others.

Lisa Howard (l) and Tyne Daly (r) in "It Shoulda Been You" (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Lisa Howard (l) and Tyne Daly (r) in “It Shoulda Been You” (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Anchored by protagonist Jenny Steinberg (Lisa Howard), It Shoulda Been You follows the day’s proceedings as Jenny’s younger sister Rebecca (Sierra Boggess) prepares for her wedding to handsome fiancée Brian (David Burtka). Jenny’s parents, Judy (Tyne Daly) and Murray (Chip Zien), are none to thrilled with the prospects of a “goy” son-in-law. But Brian’s parents Georgette (Harriet Harris) and George (Michael X. Martin) aren’t exactly jumping for joy either.

Little do any of the parents realize that secret loves lie lurking around every corner, including the timely arrival of Jenny’s ex-boyfriend Marty (Josh Grisetti). By the end of Act I, an unexpected plot bomb drops that would have members of the Supreme Court in a tizzy, and the unlikely reduces to inane as the antics continue.

The production benefits by some of Broadway’s best, including a humorously deadpan performance by Tyne Daly, who spins gold from hay with her Long Island accent and cliché-but-true Jewish mother tendencies. (Trust me, I know from experience.) Equally as droll as the groom’s mother, Harris swigs gin and relishes in her Oedipal relationship with her son. Unfortunately, Burtka is like a dish of melted vanilla ice cream—there’s something sweet there, but no substance. Montego Glover and Nick Spangler are saddled with cardboard cut out characterizations of the maid of honor and best man, respectively.

Lisa Howard in "It Shoulda Been You" (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Lisa Howard in “It Shoulda Been You” (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

As the two unconventional ingénues, Howard and Boggess must drive the implausible story forward and make a valiant effort. Howard’s voice soars and it’s refreshing to see a full-figured woman take center stage in a role that addresses society’s obsession with weight and body image. Boggess has to play straight (pun intended) to most of the comedic action, and her 11 o’clock number, “What They Never Tell You,” feels like it belongs in another show.

It Shoulda Been You has the good fortune of direction by funny man David Hyde Pierce, who pulls out all of his sitcom expertise to make the most of the thin material. Unfortunately, at its core It Shoulda Been You is ridiculously unbelievable, and the major shift in action sets the show on a course from which it can never recover. Just like in a real marriage, one commits for better and for worse. Be prepared for both and you might get a good chuckle, but I’m not sure these wedding bells will ring for long.

It Shoulda Been You
Brooks Atkinson Theatre
256 West 47th Street
Open-ended run.

Matthew Wexler is The Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on TwitterFacebook and Instagram at roodeloo

What a Deal! $14 Tickets to Broadway’s “It Shoulda Been You”

February 10th, 2015 Comments off

120248.ISBY.MiscArt_5x7.inddLove is in the air… and for Broadway fans it comes a lot cheaper than a ring from Tiffinay & Co. Producers of It Shoulda Been You have announced a special one-day-only offer for one-of-a-kind ticket prices. Visit the Brooks Atkinson Theatre (256 West 47th St) starting at 10 a.m. on Valentine’s Day, February 14, for the opportunity to purchase $14 tickets for the first 14 preview performances of the new musical. This special offer will end at 2:00 pm and is limited to the 114 tickets per performance.

Directed by David Hyde Pierce and featuring an original book & lyrics by Brian Hargrove and music by Barbara Anselmi, It Shoulda Been You begins previews on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre (256 West 47th St) on March 17, 2015, with an opening night date set for Tuesday, April 14, 2015.

Between the hours of 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. patrons will have the ability to purchase 1 or 2 tickets at the special $14 Valentine’s Day rate while also enjoying ‘wedding-themed’ activities, including a photo booth and complimentary lattes designed by coffee artist Michael Breach.

In the hilarious and heartwarming new musical It Shoulda Been You, it’s a culture clash for the ages when two families from wildly different backgrounds come together to celebrate a wedding. As if the union wasn’t complicated enough, the bride’s ex-boyfriend arrives, bringing the wedding to a screeching halt and throwing both families into hysterical chaos. Plots are hatched, promises broken, secrets exposed—and the bride’s resourceful sister is left to turn an unmitigated disaster into happily ever after. It Shoulda Been You puts a refreshingly modern spin on the traditional wedding comedy, proving that when it comes to wedding day insanity, it’s all relative.

The cast of It Shoulda Been You includes Tony Award-winner Tyne Daly, Tony Award-winner Harriet Harris, Sierra Boggess, Lisa Howard, David Burtka, Tony Award nominee Montego Glover, Chip Zien, Josh Grisetti, Adam Heller, Michael X. Martin, Anne L. Nathan, Nick Spangler, and Edward Hibbert, along with Farah Alvin, Gina Farrell, Aaron Finley, and Mitch Greenberg.

The creative team for It Shoulda Been You includes Josh Rhodes (Choreography) Anna Louizos (Set Design), William Ivey Long (Costume Design), Ken Billington (Lighting Design), and Nevin Steinberg (Sound Design), with additional lyrics by Jill Abramovitz, Carla Rose Fisher, Michael Cooper, Ernie Lijoi and Will Randall.

Review: Terrence McNally’s “Mothers and Sons” on Broadway

March 25th, 2014 Comments off

Broadway Blog editor Matthew Wexler gets a taste of family drama with Terrence McNally’s new play, Mothers and Sons.

The cast of "Mothers and Sons" with playwright Terrence McNally. (photo: Joan Marcus) via The Broadway Blog.

The cast of “Mothers and Sons” with playwright Terrence McNally. (photo: Joan Marcus) via The Broadway Blog.

If there is one living playwright who has understood the gay vernacular, it is Terrence McNally. The four-time Tony Award winner brings his latest effort, Mothers and Sons, to Broadway starring Tony and Emmy Award winner Tyne Daly as a hardened mother still grieving the loss of her son. But McNally’s woven tale of love lost and love found lacks the emotional truth of his earlier works such as Love! Valor! Compassion! and The Lisbon Traviata.

Bobby Steggert (l) and Frederick Weller in "Mothers and Sons" (photo: Joan Marcus) via The Broadway Blog.

Bobby Steggert (l) and Frederick Weller in “Mothers and Sons” (photo: Joan Marcus) via The Broadway Blog.

Set against the backdrop of a very expensive Upper West Side apartment, the plot follows Katherine Gerard (Tyne Daly), who pays an unexpected visit to her late son’s former partner Cal (Frederick Weller), who is now married to Will (Bobby Steggert). The couple now have their own child, Bud (Grayson Taylor). Challenged to face how society has changed around her, generations collide as Katherine revisits the past and discovers a new connection she never expected.

McNally has said that he wanted to write a play that addressed the changing issues now affecting gay men and women—particularly marriage and parenthood. And while that subject matter is addressed, it is delivered with a heavy hand. Katherine has appeared in the doorway of Cal and Will’s happy home with the burden of loss, attempting to reconcile feelings regarding her son’s death from AIDS. The two banter back and forth, drudging up memories of their loved one.

The first of several derailments happens as the two are chatting about Katherine’s recently deceased husband, when Cal emphatically states that he didn’t give her son AIDS. These spurts of anger appear throughout the play, cracking the thin plaster of politeness. Will enters with six-year-old Bud and some obligatory child acting takes place before he’s whisked off for a bath and the adults can continue to lament and argue with one another.

Cal drags out a box of photos and it’s clear that we’re all headed down memory lane, but one that doesn’t necessarily propel the action forward. The two continue to alternately comfort and needle each other. On the subject of marriage and AIDS, Cal rages, “Of course we’d never taken marriage vows. We weren’t allowed to. It wasn’t even a possibility. Relationships like mine and Andre’s weren’t supposed to last. We didn’t deserve the dignity of marriage. Maybe that’s why AIDS happened.” Then it’s back to the photo albums as if he had just offered her a hot tea.

Former lover and grieving mother flip through Andre’s journal as they continue to break down the walls of the past. Long-winded monologues ensue. “If that were my son wasting, writhing, incoherent, incontinent in that bed in St. Vincent’s, I would want him to know how much I loved him, how much I would always love him. I did what I could for Andre. I hope to this day it was enough,” says Cal, as he recalls his former lover’s painful death.

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.

As Katherine, Tyne Daly delivers an icy performance that eventually melts throughout the 90-minute play. It’s as if the character has left the window barely cracked for her to breath, but Daly manages to finds moments of humanity, humor and gravitas. Frederick Weller as Cal is less successful. At times whiny and at other times rageful, Weller never seems to fit into the pocket of the play, but rather appears as the actor layering on fabrications of bourgeois gay. Bobby Steggert (who managed to land his second Broadway role of the season, appearing last fall in the now closed Big Fish) is tasked with a character shaded with entitlement and vulnerability. He fares best with McNally’s dialogue, and captures the complexities of a new generation of gay men facing marriage and parenthood.

John Lee Beatty’s set is perhaps symbolic of the play’s idiosyncrasies. McNally description in the script says that Cal and Will’s apartment  “doesn’t look “decorated” but someone at Architectural Digest would love to get their hands on it. The possibilities are boundless; they just haven’t been realized yet.”

Such is the demise of Mothers and Sons. Though the play chugs along due to McNally’s decades worth of experience, its voice misses the mark, leaving one to wonder what yet unknown writers may be on the verge of portraying the LGBT experience for the 21st century theater.

Mothers and Sons
John Golden Theatre
252 West 45th Street
Open-ended run.