HERE'S WHAT'S NEW:

CHECK OUT THE TABS ABOVE FOR PREVIOUS ARTICLES, INCLUDING #TBT, THE FRIDAY 5, AND THERE'S AN ALL-NEW BWAY REVIEWS PAGE! CHECK IT OUT!
AND DON'T FORGET TO SCROLL DOWN THE WHOLE PAGE FOR LINKS TO FEATURED ARTICLES, REVIEWS, SHOW SITES, AND THEATER-RELATED STUFF!

COMING UP ON BROADWAY:
Be More Chill - Previews: 2.13.19, Opens: 3.10.19 Kiss Me, Kate - Previews: 2.14.19, Opens: 3.14.19 Ain't Too Proud - Previews: 2.28.19, Opens: 3.21.19 King Lear - Previews: 2.28.19, Opens: 4.4.19 Oklahoma! - Previews: 3.19.19, Opens: 4.7.19 Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus - Previews: 3.5.19, Opens: 4.11.19 Burn This - Previews: 3.15.19, Opens: 4,16.19 Hadestown - Previews: 3.22.19, Opens: 4.17.19

COMING UP ON THE BLOG: 1/25: The Friday 5: Broadway Quiz - 1/28: BROADWAY HEAT: Be More Chill Edition Round 1!

CONTACT US: (Email) jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com (Twitter) @jkstheatrescene (Instagram) jkstheatrescene

Thursday, January 24, 2019

#TBT: 1964 OBCR: Anyone Can Whistle

Haven't talked much about the great Stephen Sondheim in awhile, and I've really missed his work. I've seen productions of all but four of his shows; only Saturday Night, The Frogs, Do I Hear a Waltz?, and Anyone Can Whistle stand between me and the "complete Sondheim Collection." But any true Sondheim fan will tell you, you don't have to have seen the show to appreciate his work.  That is certainly the case with Whistle, which has one of my favorite scores, and contains a few of my favorite songs from his entire catalog. So, today, I turn back the clock and share my thoughts about the Original Broadway Cast Recording from 1964.

Seven years after West Side Story, just two seasons post-Forum (his first solo effort), and six years before his golden age began with Company, this show looked great on paper - Sondheim was fresh off a hit show, the book and direction were by the legendary Arthur Laurents, and the design team had William and Jean Eckart (sets), Theoni V. Aldredge (costumes) and Jules Fisher (lighting), all masters in their fields. The amazing orchestrations are by one of the greatest of all time, Don Walker. (Look up his credits - you will be in awe!) On the other hand, the three leads, Harry Guardino, Lee Remick and Angela Lansbury, were already established Broadway actors, but all three were making their musical debuts with this show. History, of course, shows that all three went on to big careers on stage and screen. But in 1964, it was a fair gamble to have their names above the title.

Angela Lansbury as Cora Hoover Hooper
Turns out the biggest gamble was the show itself. An odd story, that included a scene where the lights went out and came up on the cast sitting in theater seats watching the audience, probably didn't cause great word of mouth. And the score, which today we'd say is typical Sondheim, was probably hard for audiences who were in love with Hello, Dolly!, which opened directly across the street a few months earlier. Today, we say things like, "it was ahead of its time."

Harry Guardino as J. Bowden Hapgood
Lee Remick as Nurse Fay Apple
My favorite songs include the great overture, the sharp "Me and My Town," the sweet, sad "Anyone Can Whistle," the rueful "Parade in Town," and the catchy, reflective "Everybody Says Don't." And I would kill to see "Simple" fully staged. It goes without saying that I love every single second that Ms. Lansbury is heard, and Ms. Remick offers a dramatic turn throughout. Aside from Lansbury, only Mr. Guardino appeared in another musical (Kander and Ebb's Woman of the Year), and here shows why it is a shame he didn't do more musicals.

Revisiting the CD for this column has put Anyone Can Whistle back in my show tunes rotation. Sometimes, I also play the more complete concert version. Both are terrific, but there is something to be said about the original. Here's hoping a good show doctor and/or director can put this tale of fake news, hypocritical religion, corrupt government, and mass insanity on the stage. Sounds remarkably relevant to me.




A FEW FUN FACTS ABOUT ANYONE CAN WHISTLE...

  • It is Sondheim's shortest running Broadway shows with just 12 previews and 9 performances.
  • Aside from special presentations, it is the shortest running musical to ever play the Majestic Theatre.
  • The show opened April 4, 1964 and closed April 11, 1964.
  • The show did receive 1 Tony Award nomination - for Herbert Ross' choreography.
  • The show was performed in three acts.
  • The cast included some of Broadway's greatest ensemblists, including Harvey Evans, Arnold Soboloff, Peg Murray, Barbara Lang and Patricia "Pat" Kelly. Collectively, they have appeared in just about every golden age musical.

More pictures from the 1964 production:








#1991

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Around the World in 80 Musicals: Part V: The Middle East and Africa

Today our world tour continues to the Dark Continent and the desert region, with stops in 7 countries. This week's adventure covers 10 more musicals - some are blockbusters, others critically acclaimed award-winning shows. On this leg of our journey, we'll discover the wonders of genies, pharaohs, dream coats, and the single most influential person in the history of mankind. Rub that magic lamp, and hop aboard your flying carpet - off we go!

The data comes from The Playbill Vault and Internet Broadway Database, and details the original Broadway production. Many of the shows take place in multiple countries, but (for the most part) we include them under their primary setting. In limiting it to 80 shows, obviously some favorites are going to be left out. We'd love to hear from you with your favorites that we missed.

Around the World in 80 Musicals
Stop Five: Africa and the Middle East: 
Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Egypt, Israel, Iraq

AFRICA

NIGERIA


Fela!
1. Fela! - Setting: Lagos, Nigeria (2009, 463 performances, Eugene O'Neill Theatre)

UGANDA


The Book of Mormon
2. The Book of Mormon - Setting: Uganda (2011, 3,280 performances*, Eugene O'Neill Theatre)

KENYA


The Lion King
3. The Lion King - Setting: Kenya (1997, 8,828 performances*, New Amsterdam Theatre)

SOUTH AFRICA


Sarafina!
4. Sarafina! - Setting: Soweto, South Africa, 1976 (1988, 597 performances, Cort Theatre)


THE MIDDLE EAST

EGYPT


Aida

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
5. Aida - Setting: Egypt (2000, 1,852 performances, Palace Theatre)
6. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - Setting: Egypt (1982, 747 performances, Royale Theatre)

ISRAEL

 

Jesus Christ Superstar
The Band's Visit
7. Jesus Christ Superstar - Setting: Bethany, Jerusalem, Gethsemane, Gologtha (1971, 711 performances, Mark Hellinger Theatre)
8. The Band's Visit - Setting: Bet Hatikva, Israel (2017, 504 performances*, Ethel Barrymore Theatre)


IRAQ


Kismet

Aladdin
9. Kismet - Setting: Baghdad, Iraq (1953, 583 performances, Ziegfeld Theatre)
10. Aladdin - Setting: Iraq, The Arabian Peninsula (2014, 2,033 performances, New Amsterdam Theatre)

* - as of 1/23/19

Visit the rest of this world tour:
Part I - The United Kingdom and Ireland HERE
Part II - France, Spain, Portugal HERE
Part III - The Rest of Europe HERE
Part IV - Asia and Oceania HERE

#1990

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Standing at Zero: Pretty Woman's Alex Michael Stoll (Possibly NSFW)


Over the past year, we've been taking note of your requests and suggestions for improving this site, and we are listening. The two biggest requests have been to highlight ensemble members and to bring back the beefcake. So we figured why not combine them both!? Each month in 2019, we will feature an ensemble member from a currently running show.  So, why "Standing at Zero"? You know the numbers across the front of the stage? Zero is center, and we are putting one performer front and center. 

Standing at Zero
Pretty Woman's 
Alex Michael Stoll

For our first feature, we picked Alex Michael Stoll.  His credits include: West Side Story, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Evita, If/Then, American Psycho (Legacy Robe recipient), and, now, Pretty Woman.


Pretty Woman

West Side Story (right)


Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

American Psycho Hamptons beach party (orange trunks) 

 American Psycho workout (far left)


Broadway Style GuideAmerican Psycho photo shoot


We would love to hear who you'd like to see in future months - the only guidelines are that he must be in a show currently on Broadway, and he must be in the ensemble. Leave us a comment below, send us an email at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com, or Tweet us (@jkstheatrescene).

#1989
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