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‘Sousatzka’ Scheduled to Open in Toronto in Pre-Broadway Run

September 29th, 2016 Comments off
Sousatzka

Sousatzka

Teatro Proscenium Limited Partnership (Richard Stursberg, CEO) have announced the world premiere of the Garth Drabinsky production of Sousatzka, the new musical by three-time Tony Award-nominated book writer Craig Lucas and the legendary composing team of Tony Award winner Richard Maltby, Jr. (Lyrics) and Academy Award winner David Shire (Music).

Choreographed by ten-time Tony Award nominee Graciela Daniele and directed by Adrian Noble, Sousatzka will begin performances on February 25, 2017 at Toronto’s historic Elgin Theatre (189 Yonge Street), and officially open on Thursday, March 23. Tickets will go on sale, via Ticketmaster, on October 17. Sousatzka’s pre-Broadway strictly limited engagement is scheduled to run through April 9, 2017.

Tony Award winner Victoria Clark.

Tony Award winner Victoria Clark.

Sousatzka stars Tony Award winner Victoria Clark, Tony Award nominee Montego Glover, Tony Award winner Judy Kaye, and features the Broadway debut of Jordan Barrow.

“To be able to present this remarkable creative team, and cast, and the musical work of one of the best creative producers of our age, is a gift,” Mr. Stursberg said in a statement.  “My association with Garth has proven itself to be one of the most satisfying and enduring creative relationships I’ve ever had, and I look forward to ensuring that he has every resource available to get this inspired show to Broadway, and beyond.”

Based on the original novel Madame Sousatzka by Bernice Rubens, Sousatzka, set in London, England in 1982, tells the story of a young musical prodigy torn between two powerful women from vastly different worlds: his mother, a political refugee and his piano teacher, a brilliant eccentric with a shattered past. These two proud, iconoclastic women must ultimately cross cultural and racial divides to find common ground, or else put the boy’s destiny in jeopardy.

Sousatzka’s creative and design dream team includes Tony Award winner Anthony Ward (Scenic Design), Tony Award winner Paul Tazwell (Costume Design), two-time Tony Award winner Howell Binkley (Lighting Design), Jonathan Driscoll (Projection Design), Grammy Award winner Martin Levan (Sound Design), Tony Award winner Jonathan Tunick (Orchestrations), David Caddick (Music Supervision), Brad Haak (Music Director), Lebo M. (Additional Music and Vocal Arrangements), and Marius de Vries (Additional Music Arrangements).

 

Review: “Gigi” on Broadway

April 8th, 2015 Comments off

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The cast of "Gigi" (photo: Margot Schulman via The Broadway Blog.)

The cast of “Gigi” (photo: Margot Schulman via The Broadway Blog.)

Oh, Gigi. I’m not sure there’s enough champagne in all of France to keep me buzzed through two-and-a-half hours of your romping through Paris and a side trip to Trouville. That’s not to be said a relatively jovial evening can’t be had in your company, but it’s more like sipping from a cup of sparkling cider than a bottle of Veuve Clicquot.

The latest version of Gigi, which opened tonight at the Neil Simon Theatre, is a revival of the 1973 Lerner and Loewe musical, based on the 1958 Academy Award-winning film, based on the 1945 novel by Colette. You get the picture. Young Gigi (a charming Vanessa Hudgens of Disney’s High School Musical franchise) comes of age in the world of Belle Époque Paris—beautifully captured in a soaring scenic design by Derek McLane. She is under the loving watch of her grandmother Mamita (Victoria Clark) and worldly aunt Alicia (Dee Hoty). The elders, who have very different takes on what it means to be a woman, prepare young Gigi for society life as she falls under the spell of a well-appointed suitor, Gaston Lachaille (Corey Cott). Throw into the mix Honoré Lachaille (Howard McGillin), whose past indiscretions come back to haunt him as he revisits his decades-old feelings for Mamita, and you’ve got a recipe for a perfectly fine—if not totally memorable—evening of theater.

The cast of "Gigi" (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

The cast of “Gigi” (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Gigi’s extraordinary film success (it won nine Oscars) might be attributed to the Golden Age of Hollywood or the keen eye of its director, Vincente Minnelli. Unfortunately, we’re living in different times and the book, adapted by Heidi Thomas, doesn’t resonate in today’s world, where songs like “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” and “The Contract” either feel creepy or stale. Director Eric Schaeffer squeezes every last bit of emotional gravitas out of the cast, sometimes pushing them to forced highs and lows, particularly in the case of Cott, who writhes through the show’s title number in the second act. Stilted material aside (including a score that never comes close to the writing team’s hits that include My Fair Lady, Camelot, and Brigadoon), there is much to find entertaining in the production, thanks mostly to the grounded and emotionally resonant performances by Clark and Hoty.

Vanessa Hudgens in "Gigi" (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Vanessa Hudgens in “Gigi” (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Clark, who’s into the double digits when it comes to Broadway credits, is simply divine. At times maternal and at others flirtatious, her clear-toned soprano is as strong as ever and she plays the material as if her life depended on it. Hoty, tasked with a role that teeters on nemesis but ultimately comes from a place of love and protection, is just as brilliant, delivering dead pan humor and sweeping gesticulations in decadent costumes by Catherine Zuber.

And then, of course, there’s Gigi herself. Hudgens takes on a role immortalized by Leslie Caron but manages to put her own stamp on it. She is ebullient and delightful. Youthful and seductive. She is a girl on the brink of womanhood… a spring flower about to blossom. But perhaps director Schaeffer and choreographer Joshua Bergasse have over-watered the pot, leaving very little room for physical spontaneity, which the character (and actress) seems so desperate to embrace.

Will audiences respond to this nostalgic look at what it was like to come into womanhood amid turn-of-the-century France? With plenty of joie de vivre and not much else, only time will tell.

Gigi
The Neil Simon Theatre
250 West 52nd Street
Open-ended run.

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

Shattered Glass or Perfect Fit? “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” on Broadway

March 6th, 2013 Comments off

Santino Fontana and Laura Osnes (photo: Carol Rosegg)

I’m taking a sidestep from Chicago Theater Week to offer you a review round-up of  Rodger’s + Hammerstein’s Cinderella. I’m guessing the nomenclature has something to do with the influx of Disney on Broadway or some stiff-lipped estate managers over at the R+H office wanting to preserve the integrity of this 1957 made-for-television special.

While I can’t offer up my personal opinion, there are plenty of juicy bites from my fellow reviewers around town. Here’s what they had to say…

“Like the reinvented cartoon fairy-tale heroines of the past several decades, from Disney’s Little Mermaid onward, this Cinderella is no passive damsel waiting for a rescuing knight. She takes charge of her destiny, so much so that she doesn’t lose that glass slipper; she hands it to the prince. It’s a conscious choice, see; she controls her narrative. And, by the way, the prince must undergo a similar process of re-education, which will allow him to conquer his self-doubts and introduce democracy to his kingdom.” The New York Times

“Watch out, Wicked witches, here comes Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, a heavyweight contender for those precious audiences of little girls who attend the theater in princess gowns and glittery tiaras – faithful theatergoers who make regular pilgrimages to their beloved shows and get their mothers to buy them lotsa stuff at intermission.” Variety

“The kids in the audience may not be swayed by this stuff, or by the clunky plot about the quest for democracy — a bore for older folks, too. What does work for everybody is the eye candy of Anna Louizos’ oversize sets, which nicely fill the Broadway Theatre’s vast stage, and William Ivey Long’s sensational costumes — a couple of sleight-of-hand changes literally stop the show. And of course there’s the unimpeachable score, which features several songs that had 56 years to turn into earworms, like “Stepsister’s Lament,” revived with hilarious verve by Harada (the quiet stage manager in “Smash”).” New York Post

“The fundamental problem with Douglas Carter Beane’s perplexing, wholly unromantic and mostly laugh-free new book for this Broadway Cinderella — which turns the heroine into a social reformer like a better-looking Jane Addams, the stepsisters (Marla Mindelle and Ann Harada) into sympathetic, wounded creatures of thwarted desire, and Prince Charming (Santino Fontana) into a myopic dunce who needs his eyes opened to the poverty of his people — is that it denies the audience the pleasure of instant reversals of fortune. Sure, these matters are tricky. We no longer define great fortune by whom one manages to marry, and rightly so. But if nobody wanted to see Cinderella as it’s generally and vaguely understood, nobody would have been in the house at the opening Sunday night, and this show would not have been grossing more than $1 million a week during previews.” Chicago Tribune