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Friday, September 12, 2014

Haven't I Seen This Before? J Lo Channels Fosse

Did any of you catch Fashion Rocks the other night?  I saw maybe six minutes or so, and all of it by pure coincidence.  I was flipping channels, and all of a sudden... there was Jennifer Lopez with a pair of tuxedo-clad, smoking (literally and figuratively) guys! Something about it sure looked familiar...

I'm thinking it's a whole lotta "The Aloof," with a nice touch of "The Heavyweight."  You may know those better as "The Rich Man's Frug" from Sweet Charity as choreographed by one of my heroes, Bob Fosse.

What a nice reminder that Bob and Booty are timeless.  :-)


Thursday, September 11, 2014

TBT: Sally Marr...and Her Escorts

It seems appropriate with the passing and laying to rest of Joan Rivers to take a minute or two to remember her biggest Broadway achievement - her Tony-nominated turn in a play she also co-wrote, Sally Marr...and Her Escorts.  Despite its somewhat short run, I actually saw it, which was practically by mistake.  I took the place of an ailing co-worker in a long-planned weekend in the city.

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.  I went into it knowing two things: Lenny Bruce was in a Bob Fosse film, All That Jazz, and that Ms. Rivers was playing Bruce's mother.  I came away laughing with friends about how funny the play was, and agreeing with the whole group of us that as funny as she was, Joan was even more compelling in the dramatic moments.

That was the one and only time I got to see the comic genius in person.  And I am all the better for it.

Side rant: Better late than never, Broadway League.  What a shame that it took a vigorous Twitter campaign and public outrage to make you do the right thing.  Somehow, I think she'd have loved all the craziness, and turned her hurt into a scalding hot and very funny bit for her act.

Take a bow, Joan


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Broadway on TV: This Is Our Youth

The ad campaign for the play This Is Our Youth, which opens tomorrow, reminds me a lot of the ad campaign for RENT, from the street ad motif (right down to the duct tape and irreverent "placement") to the angst-filled moodiness of the characters they depict. The production photos also support this similarity.  Now, I haven't seen the play, but from the look of everything that has come out about it, I'll assume it is going for the same audience - 20-somethings, full of self-importance and a sad disenchantment with life that love to see themselves and laugh.

The biggest selling point of this production has to be its star, Michael Cera (and to a lesser extent Kieran Culkin, whose older brother is more famous).  Mr. Cera's career to date is largely made up of late teen/early 20's angst-ridden, plain-guy-is-awkward-and-therefore-cute roles.  The TV spot for the play in which he and his cast mates will be making their Broadway debuts plays up this forlorn and goofy quality throughout.  A very wise move - fans of Cera and his type of films (read college students and recent grads) will flock to the Cort Theatre.  I'm guessing that they are throwing in the critical acclaim quotes to legitimize the decidedly un-just-out-of-college ticket prices (money is tight for a lot of this group, after all.)

For those of you who this show is being marketed to that can afford it, this looks like it could be pretty good.  If the show is a well presented as the ad, it'll be a winner.  Of course, they're struggling to get bigger houses and the gross potential percentage is low so far, so maybe the target audience isn't coming.  And maybe their parents, who can afford it, aren't interested.

(I hope my pseudo-negative sarcasm, with a tinge of angst and a disheartening dose of reality comes across.  Get it?)

Grade: A


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

LOGOS: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Tomorrow marks the first preview of the New York incarnation of the London smash hit play, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.  So today seems the logical time to look at the show's logo.  I suppose I should start by admitting two things: I know almost nothing about this play, and I am stoked to be seeing it. (And none of this takes into account fans of the internationally acclaimed novel by Mark Haddon.)

Since I don't know a whole lot about the play - or the novel upon which it is based, for that matter - why am I so excited to see this?  Well, the title says it all.  I am curious.  And isn't there something intriguing about the word "incident"?  Something ominous, polite, but foreboding.  Then I get to "dog," and I'm thinking, "wait.  What?  Dog?"  More intrigue.  And what is more mysterious than "night-time?"  (Side note: I'm also an absolute Anglophile, and, go figure, the whole thing is a British enterprise: author, playwright, production company.  Even the title is a quote from Sherlock Holmes!)

Interestingly, the logo plays directly into what interests me.  It is mostly title.  And I think it works.  First, the background is a brighter blue color, which should draw the eye to it, no small achievement considering the visual cacophony that is the theatre district.  Once the eye is drawn, you see that the most emphasized words are also the most interesting.  "Curious Incident" are the two biggest words and also stand out with a yellow-orange color, glowing like fire maybe, or is it something else?  The next biggest words, all in white, are "dog" and "night-time."  It adds to the intrigue - "am I reading that right?" passers-by should be thinking.  And it makes you re-read the whole thing and then you notice all the words, and maybe the star-filled sky, too.  Bingo! You have stopped long enough to think about what you are seeing, a very good thing for a show logo. The font is also a good choice - sleek and modern means no stodgy drama here.  And you gotta love the pointy "n"s.  Are they fangs? Knives? Something curious, for sure.

Then there's the image - a black and white photo (makes it stand out and has a sort of documentation-like feel) of a young man staring up at the sky, oblivious to the fact that he's standing on an outline of a dog - an outline like at murder scene.  Notice, too, that the glow from above shines down in a yellow pool like a blood stain on that outline.  Talk about an incident! It makes my mind - and hopefully ticket buyers' minds, too - ask a ton of questions.  In short, it makes me curious about Curious.

Will it get people in the seats?  I hope so.  The logo alone makes me glad I'm seeing the show!

Grade: A+


Monday, September 8, 2014

2014 - 2015 (Mini) Trends: Curiosities

Broadway may have its odd-balls off stage, from chat-worthy misfits (uhh...Shia, anyone?) to the freakishly talented (I'm looking at you, Audra!).  But the real oddities will be appearing onstage this season.  This fall, three shows will put a variety of unusual "curiosities" front and center.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The word is even in the title!  The play, based upon the novel by Mark Haddon and adapted by Simon Stephens, tells the story of a teenage savant and his involvement in the mysterious murder of a dog.  The fantastical staging takes us into the boy's unique mind so that we may see what he sees.  Broadway newcomer Alexander Sharp and Matilda's Taylor Trensch alternate in the role of the savant.  It sounds - and looks - amazing.

The Elephant Man

This highly anticipated revival centers around the true story of John Merrick, a severely disfigured man, shunned by society, studied by science, and forced onto the freak show circuit.  told largely from Merrick's point of view, Bradley Cooper stars in the title tour-de-force role.  The central conceit of the staging is that a physically attractive man, nearly naked, transforms into physically deformed man before our eyes without the aid of make up or prosthetic attachments.  It's a beautiful story that forces the audience to use its imagination and to take a hard look at itself.

Side Show

The beloved cult favorite musical is getting its first Broadway revisal, and unlike The Elephant Man, Side Show employs some stunning make up, costume and visual effects to bring a large menagerie of "attractions" (I love that play on words!) to life.  The story of the real-life Siamese twins, Daisy and Violet Hilton, the show takes its audience on an emotional journey about what makes all of us different and, ultimately, what makes all of us one.  Erin Davie and Emily Padgett star as the twins.

The opening number, "Come Look at the Freaks," implores us to "come inside, curiosity satisfied."  These three shows look like the perfect triptych to spark our imaginations and open our hearts and mind.  In interesting trend, to say the least.


Friday, September 5, 2014

On the Radio: Isn't That Song in a Broadway Show?

Depending upon which radio stations you listen to, you can probably hear at least one song that is also in a Broadway show.  Everything from ABBA to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons to Billy Joel and songs from Grease, Saturday Night Fever and Footloose show up regularly on the channels my car is tuned to. Maybe I'm hearing things, but I've noticed that more and more, current songs also sound Broadway-worthy.  A few years ago, a number of songs sounded like they belonged on the cast recording for Once.  I wrote about that very thing a while back (HERE), in fact.

These days, there's a song out by The Madden Brothers called "We Are Done."  Maybe you've heard it?

The very first time I heard it, I thought, "Wow, this is the song that was born when Promises, Promises and Hair had a baby!"  Now, seeing the concept of the video, I'm thinking maybe it could be in Violet or as an epilogue to Side Show (just imagine what "the attractions" might sing to Tod Browning as the cameras start rolling on Freaks?)... What do you think?


Thursday, September 4, 2014

TBT: The Last 5 Years

I'll bet that the title of this Throwback Thursday made most (if not all) of you think this was about a certain musical.  It isn't.  Sorry if I disappointed any of you.  But I have a great reason for not talking about it, though.  You see, my blog has been around now for a full five years!  Thank you all so much for joining me and sharing my our love for the theatre.

Here are some cool, interesting facts about our time together, as of August 30th...

  • There have been 1,299,953 hits (and counting)! 
  • There have been 1,650 posts
  • If posts were Broadway performances, JKTS has run longer longer than any Sondheim show, and would rank between The Wiz and Born Yesterday on the longest-running show list!

Jeremy Jordan is the most visited
Broadway Boy - 300K+ hits
Not counting the United States, which has had the most visitors to the blog, the top 10 countries with visitors to this blog come from 6 continents!
In order, they are:

  • The United Kingdom 
  • Germany
  • Canada
  • France (ooh la la!)
  • Australia, (I am intrigued by the last 5...) 
  • Russia, Brazil, China, Ukraine and Egypt

Dame Angela is my favorite topic!

Amy Spanger is the most visited of the whole blog by far...
My first blog was about whether or not Spider-Man would even start
performances.  We all know how that turned out!

Over the last 5 years:

  • I've written 147 show reviews, 79 media reviews
  • We've celebrated 87 Broadway Boys (65 monthly/yearly choices, plus 2 "sports teams," 1 gang and even 2 super heroes)
  • and 56 Broadway Ladies (49 monthly/yearly choices, plus one entire chorus line of leggy beauties!)

I've written the most blogs about: (Shows) Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Next to Normal, and American Idiot, and (Individual) Dame Angela Lansbury (I love her...)

And the most read blog of them all - thank you, Reefer Madness fans - Ms. Broadway November 2010 - Amy Spanger (HERE)

Here's to many more blogs in our future, and to lifetimes full of thrilling shows!

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