HERE'S WHAT'S NEW:
"I want any kid who is watching to know that your biggest may turn into your purpose."
- Ari'el Stachel, Best Featured Actor in a Musical - The Band's Visit
"Just because you are a minority doesn't mean you're only meant to play roles that are a minority."
-Lindsay Mendez, Best Featured Actress in a Musical - Carousel
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Question #1: Which Broadway "issue" needs to be addressed in the theatre community?
Not unlike this year's mid-term elections, voter turn out for this poll was substantially lower than for other polls...
5. No uniform rush ticket policy - 0%
Considering how much griping goes on in the theatre chat rooms and message boards about this topic - is there one? what is it? is it student only or can anyone do it? - I am surprised no one voted for this issue. On the other hand, most of us grown ups probably agree: let the producers of each show decide. In other words, keep it the way it is!
4. Injuries sustained by actors - 14.3%
Ahhh the spectre of Spider-Man rears its ugly head again. But at least we can take a bit of comfort in knowing that each and every stunt and special effect in all Broadway shows is tested, retested, secured and approved by a workplace safety commission. Does that guarantee 100% safety? Of course not. But it goes a long way in giving the actors who take those risks daily some security. I hope. If it were me, I'd trip and fall on a flat stage...
4. Limited runs of shows - 14.3%
If only the theatre were run by the people who see it regularly, right? But an interesting thing has happened over the last month. Last season there were high profile limited runs that no one could see without being a millionaire. This season there are even more, but there is a huge difference: they are dropping like flies! Whether the reviews are good (La Bete) or bad (Elling), the limited run is being cut short all over the place. Turns out the public does have a say... don't show and away they go!
4. Movie stars "stealing" plumb roles from "stage" stars - 14.3%
Closely related to the "issue" above, last year the movie star came and went, taking a Tony with them. This year, so far, it seems their chances are slim - Sorry Brendan, TR, Joanna and Jennifer. Your Hollywood cred isn't getting anyone too excited this year (OK Al is doing well enough). But stage stars aren't faring any better, despite Vanessa and James Earl's success. Just ask Patrick, Denis, Mark and David...
1. Ticket Prices - 57.1%
We want cheaper tickets! We want the best seats! Sure ticket prices have gone up faster than the inflation rate. But never before have there been more price points and substantial discounts. Except for the really hard to get blockbusters, you can get great orchestra seats most nights for half price or less, really. Look at the average ticket price for any given show... almost all are well below the top ticket price, and many are substantially lower than half price. And isn't it fun to sit in center orchestra for $80.00 when the snooty guy next to you paid $250? Ticket prices will inevitably go up, but you can still see a Broadway show for comparatively less than you could a few years ago.
And lest we forget this time of Thanksgiving, the other poll this month addressed the annual theatre rite of passage" performing at the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade.
Question #2: Which show are you most looking forward to seeing at the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade?
I found most to be a boring disappointment. See my thoughts HERE. Otherwise, your votes say it all:
4. Million Dollar Quartet - 9%
They performed a medley that included "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On."
3. Memphis -16%
They performed "Steal Your Rock 'n' Roll."
2. Elf: The Musical - 33%
They performed "Sparklejollytwinklejingley."
1. American Idiot - 42%
They performed "Good Riddance."
I hope you and yours had the time of your life!
There will be only one poll in December, so please take a minute to vote!
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Monday, November 29, 2010
In case you missed it, here's the 60 Minutes segment:
What I will talk about is the all-out media blitz surrounding the show - not including the above. And it is really about time, right? Of course, considering how much press the show has gotten for NOT happening, why waste good money promoting the show when you can get it for free? Now that they have something to show, they are really putting it out there! And they really have gone first class: Annie Liebovitz photos in Vogue! A 60 Minutes segment! And TWO TV commercials!!
First, let's take a look at the logo:
Sunday, November 28, 2010
REVIEW: Elf: The Musical
Ever Since Phantom Opened on Broadway: The Last Years
Theatrical Thanksgiving 2010
Black Friday: My Broadway Gift List
Broadway on 34th Street: 2010 Edition
- 1965: The world was introduced to "The Quest," better known as "The Impossible Dream," when Man of La Mancha opened on this date at the ANTA Washington Square Theatre. 2,328 performances, 5 Tony Awards (including Best Musical 1966), and 4 theatre transfers later, the show closed. It has since been revived several times.
- Roundabout Theater Company's production of Mrs. Warren's Profession announces that it will close on November 28. It is still a week longer than originally scheduled. See you back here soon, Cherry!
- Top Gross: Wicked ($1.5M)
- Top Attendance: The Merchant of Venice (102.4%)
- Bottom Gross: Colin Quinn: Long Story Short ($143K)
- Bottom Attendance: A Life in the Theatre (45.1%)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Scarlett Johansson, Actor (A View from the Bridge)
- 1959: Fiorello! notable for being a musical that won the Pulitzer Prize and for TYING for the Tony for Best Musical (the other was a little show called The Sound of Music), opened at the Broadhurst Theatre and played 795 performances.
- 1993: The second part of the epic play Angels in America: Perestroika opened at the Walter Kerr Theatre, winning Best Play and playing in rep with part one, Millennium Approaches, for 217 performances.
- 2009: Fela! said, "Yeah Yeah" for the first time on Broadway, one year ago at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. As of today, it has played 423 performances.
- The National Tour of next to normal with original star Alice Ripley begins tonight in L.A.
- Cathy Rigby announces that she will once again take to the skies as Peter Pan in a National Tour starting in 2011. In 1999, she announced that she would be retiring from the role. Today, at age 60, she must have realized you can't grow old as Peter Pan.
- Here's something you don't hear very often: Sean Hayes, who missed the November 21 and 23 performances of Promises, Promises issued a statement that he was sorry he had to miss. Considering he did 271 in a row, I think we can forgive him. His understudy, Peter Benson, who was terrific in Cabaret, went on in Hayes' place.
- Jennifer Grey, movie star and daughter to theatre legend Joel Grey won season 11 of TV's Dancing with the Stars.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Maxwell Caulfield, Actor (Chicago, An Inspector Calls)
- 1950: The Broadway classic Guys and Dolls opened on this date at the 46th Street Theatre. It won all 5 Tonys it was nominated for, including Best Musical, and ran 1,200 performances. Isn't it hard to imagine a time when Nathan Detroit and Miss Adelaide weren't a part of theatre?
- 1986: The Marvin Hamlisch-Howard Ashman-Alan Menken musical Smile debuted at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. It ran only 48 performances, but remains a cult favorite. A recent reading for a possible future production was held.
- Tony winner Tyne Daly is in talks to return to Broadway in a revival of Master Class. The play by Terrence MacNally originally starred Zoe Caldwell, who was replaced later in the run by Patti LuPone!
- Broadway Bares XXI has set a date. Performances will be Sunday, June 19, 2011 at the Roseland Ballroom.
- One of my "On the Radar" shows, Bonnie and Clyde confirmed that it is aiming for Broadway in August 2011! A new production is coming to Florida starring Laura Osnes and Jeremy Jordan. Osnes and American Idiot star Stark Sands starred in the World Premiere earlier this year. Read about that HERE. I am already looking forward to next season!
- 1975: The Longest Time Since a Show Opened on This Date: 35 years ago, Habeas Corpus, a comedy, opened at the Martin Beck Theatre. You may not know anything about the play (I sure don't), but the cast sure is memorable: Celeste Holm, June Havoc (aka the real Dainty June), and Richard Gere co-starred.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Kevin Chamberlin, Actor (The Addams Family, Seussical the Musical)
- 1761: The Oldest Opening of the Week: Years before this was even a country, Hamlet opened on Broadway at the Chapel Street Theatre for an unknown number of performances. Lewis Hallam, one of the most renowned actors of the late 18th century played the melancholy Dane. The theatre belonged to his step-father, theatre impresario David Douglass, who owned two New York theatres. The Chapel Street Theatre was destroyed during the Stamp Act Riots, and would have been where Beekman Place is today.
- The date is also notable for having 4 different productions of Hamlet open on this date throughout Broadway history.
- The producers of the new play Elling announce that it will close on November 28th. Are movie stars on the marquee less of a draw this season? It looks that way... of course, in this case, quality probably also comes into play.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Marian Mercer, Actor (the original Marge MacDougal in the original Promises, Promises)
November 27 - HAPPY THANKSGIVING
- 2006: The Coast of Utopia, Part I: Voyage opened at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. The play, first of three parts, by Tom Stoppard went on to win the Tony Award for Best Play. All three parts (Part II: Shipwreck and Part III: Salvage) were counted as one, nearly 8-hour production.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Alison Pill, Actor (The Miracle Worker, The Lieutenant of Inishmore)
- 1951: Musical theatre lovers know this story better as Cabaret, but the original play is known as I Am a Camera and it opened on this date at the Empire Theatre. It played 214 performances and starred Julie Harris as Sally Bowles.
- 1957: The Pulitzer Prize winning play, Look Homeward, Angel opened, playing 564 performances at the Barrymore Theatre.
- 60 Minutes runs an exclusive segment on the creation of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
- AT LAST!!! Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark begins previews at the Foxwoods Theatre!
- A Life in the Theatre closes today at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre after 24 previews and 56 performances.
- Elling closes today at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre after 22 previews and 9 performances.
- Mrs. Warren's Profession closes today at the American Airlines Theatre after 35 previews and 65 performances.
- The First National Tour of Billy Elliot: The Musical closes today at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago after 288 performances.
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Saturday, November 27, 2010
The first Broadway show represented on the telecast was Memphis with the song "Steal Your Rock and Roll," a show-stopper in the theatre, and a song that played well in the parade. Chad Kimball and Montego Glover have wonderful chemistry that says at much with a glance that less compatible actors sometimes never get. And the dancing was terrific, too. All that energy! A great way to start the show. Still, as appropriate as the costumes are to the show, the overall look of the number was kind of lackluster. High energy, medium impact. B+
Elf: The Musical was last up, and, again, they picked a great number to do for the parade, "Sparklejollytwinklejingley" - high energy, fun choreography, and an energetic lead performance by Sebastian Arcelus. But that was in the theatre. On screen, the dancing still looked great and the fun props usage played well, too. But Arcelus' performance got pretty much lost in the widescreen filming of the segment, thus half the magic was missing, too. B+
In between, we got one cop out and one"signature moment," both of which were flat as a pancake, and out of context not really a help in selling the shows they represented. At least both of the above numbers were representative of what the shows are really about.
The cop out came in the form of "Good Riddance" from Green Day's American Idiot. I say cop out because it is still, arguably, the most well-known song of the band's nationwide. But does it represent the show? Not in the least. Just like in the theatre, it is just a song - one that has NOTHING to do with the show itself - that isn't done in a particularly memorable arrangement, even. Instead of a showy, hard-rocking number, like, say "Holiday" done with ever so slightly tweaked lyrics and creatively staged would have really sold this struggling-at-the-box-office show. It didn't even showcase the talents of its two greatest assets, John Gallagher, Jr. and Rebecca Naomi Jones. Instead we were treated to camera/stage hog Gerard Canonico who was buried amongst the crowd like E.T. in a room of stuffed animals doing nearly one entire verse of the song. And let's face it... 20 people playing guitars in unison while standing in a straight line is hardly exciting compared to 200 high school kids playing instruments and doing complicated formations in the same space. Zzzzz D
Finally, the "signature moment" (if a relative flop show can have one) this is on their ads and photos outside the theatre is when the Million Dollar Quartet jams together while one is standing on a string base, another wails on the piano, and still another is literally bent over backwards playing the guitar. A medley of marginal hits, capped by "A Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" works in the context of the show, but since none of the actors does an impression but rather "an approximation" who in middle America recognizes anyone in the show? Interestingly, my sister (a semi-regular theatre goer) did notice Elizabeth Stanley and the guys on the bass and drums. "The pretty woman sure can move!" said she. And it is true. The problem with MDQ on a telecast like this one is that it never moves. And is, therefore, not all that fun to watch. C-
This year, I asked straight out, after apologizing for forcing them to watch this year, "which of these shows do you want to see?" My brother-in-law answered with his own question, "Is there anything original coming to Broadway this year?" I had to think about it, going down the list in my head mentally. "Spider-Man, with songs by U2 is an original story, based on the comic books, and Wonderland is an original story based on Alice in Wonderland... wait! The Book of Mormon is completely original, and it is by the guys who write South Park."
"That is the show I want to see this year."
Again, that really says it all, doesn't it?
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Friday, November 26, 2010
I've been a good boy this year, Santa. Really I have... and so here are a few things I'd like to see under my tree. And I also made a list of suggestions for your elves to makes for other theatre loving fans!
Cast Recordings/DVDs: I am WAY behind on my collection...
Jeff's Wish List
- The New Broadway Cast Recording of La Cage aux Folles
- Sondheim on Sondheim
- Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
- The Scottsboro Boys
- Sondheim! The Birthday Celebration
For Others' Enjoyment
- The New Broadway Cast Recording of Promises, Promises: Great orchestrations and awesome vocals from Kristin and Sean!
- The New Broadway Cast Recording of A Little Night Music: Complete as can be for Sondheim fans, and nearly every word Angela Lansbury said or sang is included.
- Memphis: This year's Tony winner has a fun score that you can learn quickly and sing your heart out to...
- The Broadway Cast Recording of American Idiot: Not to be confused with the Green Day album (also good)...one of the best sounding OBCR's in years!
- Were the World Mine: An AWESOME movie
- The Complete First Season of Glee: Do I really need to say why I recommend this? OK...the extras are really great...almost as as great as the show!
Jeff's Wish List
- Finishing the Hat by Stephen Sondheim
- The 6th Annual Playbill Broadway Yearbook
- Broadway Musicals: The Biggest Hit and the Biggest Flop of the Season 1959 - 2009 by Peter Filichia
- A Memoir by Patti LuPone (I also wouldn't mind the book on cd version, read by Ms. LuPone hereself!)
For Others' Enjoyment
- The 1st - 5th Annual Playbill Broadway Yearbook: An absolute must for Broadway fans... great organization, details, pictures and fun behind the scenes stuff! And they are all on clearance at the Playbill Store...all 5 together cost LESS than 1 full priced book!
- Spring Awakening: In the Flesh: a great read, plus the complete script! Fans of the show NEED this book!
Jeff's Wish List
- An archival quality Playbill binder for modern Playbills
- Window Cards: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Scottsboro Boys (Broadway versions), Broadway Bares XX: Strip-opoply
- An Addams Family deck of cards and/or a Lurch water bottle
- A program from Million Dollar Quartet
For Others' Enjoyment
- An archival quality Playbill binder for modern Playbills
- Window Cards: Finian's Rainbow (Broadway revival) - so pretty!, A Playbill Poster for the 2009-2010 season (4th in the Series) (Shown: 3rd in the Series)
- The Pop-up Wicked book
- A program from American Idiot and/or La Cage aux Folles
Have any gift ideas? Books, cds or dvds to recommend? PLEASE share! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a comment here or Tweet me!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Of course, it goes without saying (but I will anyway) that I am thankful for the opportunity and ability to see many shows a year. And I am thankful for this blog, which has given me hours of personal pleasure and the distinct honor of having "met" so many people with the same passion and interests that I have. And extra special thanks to my (as of today) 13 followers! On a more personal note, I'd like to express my thanks for my best friend, frequent theatre companion, and my tireless editor and thought-provoker, Mike. This blog wouldn't be what it is without him.
But in the grander scheme of things, here are the 10 Theatrical Things I Am Thankful For:
10. The Broadway Gift Shops: As frequently as I get to NYC, I never tire of making the rounds to the "Big Three": The Broadway New York Gift Shop at the Marriott Marquis, One Shubert Alley and Theatre Circle. Sure they all carry the same stuff, and it changes so rarely, but I never miss hitting all three. I mean how can anyone who loves Broadway NOT take the chance to see the cashier (he's a tall guy with a goatee and small glasses) who sings along with every CD they play and offers unsolicited comments constantly, sometimes to the air in front of him! Or the poor guy on the weekend crammed behind a little counter in the closet space known as One Shubert Alley. Or the claustrophobic tunnel between the gift shop and the "library" section of Theatre Circle; not to mention they have the best and classiest windows in the theatre district!
9. The Playbill Binder: They have something in every price range, for the passing Broadway fan to the serious collector. I love these books that hold my prized Playbills. When I started out, they only had the vinyl covered kind with the metal rods. Now they have archival quality books, and while they are a bit pricey, they are invaluable. As my collection ages and browns, it is nice to replace the old with the new and save my priceless memories.
8. Telecharge: OK, I am NOT thankful for their still outrageous fees, and I resent all of those companies for charging me to print my own tickets, with my own ink, on my own paper - which is why I always demand an ACTUAL ticket. But I am thankful to this company for its ease of use, convenience, and the ability with EVERY show they sell, to fish around for the seats I want. Their competition is even pricier and difficult to navigate - PLUS if you don't like the seats they offer, you have to wait til someone buys them to get different ones offered to you for the same performance! But the best thing about Telecharge is that if you want to talk to a human being, you can do so with only a few buttons pressed on the phone!
7. Broadway Box/Seasons of Savings/All Theatre Discount Programs: How great that you don't have to live in the city anymore to get a discount! Broadway Box and Seasons of Savings offer a clearing house style to their discount offers, which are very easy to navigate and have very clearly stated exceptions and rules. Playbill Online and Theatermania also offer great discounts all in one place. This has really made paying full price for all but the most popular shows a thing of the past. And it allows people with varying amounts of cash flow to still attend the theatre.
6. The News: For years, Broadway was the forgotten stepchild of the entertainment business as far as being in the news and on TV in general. But as Broadway once again becomes more mainstream, the networks are again covering openings, the entertainment news shows are doing all out stories, and Broadway continues to proliferate talk shows morning, noon and night. Not too long ago, the Tonys were te only time you ever heard about a show. Now, shows like Spider-Man, The Lion King and Women on the Verge make actual headlines,. not just the gossip columns.
5. Television: Since I, like most theatre lovers, can't get to a show every day or even every week, it is nice to see the Broadway stars on TV, and see that musicals in particular are no longer the taboo they once were. It seems like every long-running show eventually gets around to a musical episode (this week, Grey's Anatomy through its hat into the ring!). And shows like The Good Wife and Law and Order (any version) not only feature Broadway actors in their main casts, but their guest lists read like a who's who of the Great White Way. And then there is the crown jewel of musical television, Glee, which has made the production number hip, being a geek chic, and being different the new normal.
4. Peter Filichia: This amazing columnist/critic offers me three rays of sunshine a week, via his blog on Theatermania.com. If you are unfamiliar with his stuff, I'd suggest becoming a regular reader of his. He's been in the biz for decades and literally travels the world to see anything and everything theatre! His Monday column gets me jazzed for the new work week, Wednesday gets me over the hump, and each Friday he starts my day off with a smile and gets me even closer to the weekend. He is smart, funny and not even a little snarky. You leave each column better off than when you got there.
3. Stars of Tomorrow: I am so thankful to see a new and great crop of talent really coming into their own. People like Jennifer Damiano, Lea Michele, John Gallagher, Jr., Jonathan Groff, Cody Green, Elizabeth Stanley, Aaron Tveit, Kyle Dean Massey, Wesley Taylor, Benjamin Walker, Joshua Henry, Montego Glover and Chad Kimball are just a few relative new comers who are really starting to make a name for themselves in this business. They represent a vibrant and exciting future.
2. So many new shows despite the recession: Did you ever think that so many new shows would be opening this year, given how bad money is these days? The number of new musicals alone is newsworthy, don't you think?
1. Broadway making a difference: Every year there seems to be a new cause to get behind, and every single time, the Broadway community ponies up. Be it the annual fundraising events like the Broadway Flea Market, The Easter Bonnet Competition, the Gypsy of the Year or Broadway Bares, or the of the moment causes like Broadway Responds to Katrina or most recently, the "It Gets Better" Campaign, if there is a need people from the ushers to the fly guys to the stars of the show give up their time and often offer their personal lives in the name of whatever cause needs them at any moment. Their generosity is inspiring and offers me so much hope for humanity. And that is worth giving thanks for!
Here's hope the holiday brings you good times with family and friends, and that, in between turkey and football, you take a moment to look around you and be thankful for all of the blessings you have.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
In 2004, gas averages $2.10 a gallon.
Prisoner abuse is uncovered at Abu Ghraib prison.
The US returns sovereignty of Iraq to the people of Iraq.
Lance Armstrong wins 6th consecutive Tour de France.
The Statue of Liberty is reopened to the public.
George W. Bush is re-elected.
The 1st same-sex marriage is performed in Massachusetts.
Janet Jackson suffers a "wardrobe malfunction" at the hands of Justin Timberlake during the Super Bowl halftime show.
Ken Jennings wins $2.5M on Jeopardy!
Avenue Q wins the Best Musical Tony over Wicked.
Hurricane Katrina devastates New Orleans and much of the US Gulf Coast.
Pope John Paul II dies; Pope Benedict XVI is elected.
Disneyland celebrates 50 years as the happiest place on Earth.
Lance Armstrong does it again! 7 in a row at the Tour de France.
The XBox 360 is introduced.
Jersey Boys opens on Broadway.
Saddam Hussein is found guilty of crimes against humanity and is sentenced to death by hanging.
Google purchaces YouTube for $1.65B in stocks.
The Wii is introduced.
Pluto is no longer considered a planet.
The off-Broadway smash Spring Awakening opens on Broadway. So does Mary Poppins, which will outrun the former show, and continues to run today.
Cracks really begin to show in the Global Economy.
Both the iPhone and the iTouch are introduced by Apple.
The Summer Olympics are held in Beijing, China. US swimmer Michael Phelps makes medal history.
Sony Blu-Ray HD technology wins the battle and becomes the standard HD format.
The MacBook Air is introduced.
Gasoline peaks at a year average of $3.43 a gallon.
In the Heights opens on Broadway and wins the Tony for Best Musical.
Barack Obama is sworn in as US President.
Michael Jackson passes away, days before his farewill tour, This Is It, is to begin.
The longest solar eclipse of the century occurs over Asia, clocking in at 6 minutes, 38.8 seconds.
H1N1 becomes an epidemic in the US and all over the world.
Billy Elliot opens on Broadway and wins 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
The Winter Olympics are held in Vancouver, Canada. Men's Figure Skating gold is won by American Evan Lysacek.
The BP oil disaster cripples the Gulf of Mexico.
The Tea Party movement gains strength and has an effect on November mid-term elections
Apple introduces the iPad.
Justin Bieber goe from YouTube sensation to international popstar by utilizing social networking platforms to gain fans, friends and a record label.
A gallon of gas now costs an average of $2.73.
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