THIS WEEK @ JK's TheatreScene

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Well, my "little vacation" ended up lasting two and a half years... funny how life steers your life in directions you weren't planning on. I'll start off with occasional posts, but I fully plan to resume this blog to full speed by the new year.

I hope you'll come back for frequent visits, to see new reviews, to share opinions, to take a survey (or two), and to celebrate the shows and show people that have made the TheatreScene!

Jeff

Monday, January 31, 2011

POLL RESULTS: Saying Goodbye to January

At last the Great Broadway Bloodbath of 2011 is over!  So many shows gone in just 30 short days...  and so we bid them a fond farewell and look forward to seeing them in regional, touring and community theatre productions for years to come.

These polls were certainly popular!  Here are the shows you wish you had seen (or seen again)... and thanks to those of you who wrote in to explain your votes!

January Poll Question #1: Which play closing in January do you most regret missing?


4.  A Free Man of Color - 7.7%

Several of you, who didn't vote for this one, said you wished you had seen it, but not the MOST.  And all of you said the reviews put it down on your list, but that the cast made it still something you wished you had seen.


3.  Time Stands Still - 23%

This is the one I would have voted for.  I almost saw it.  But the Sunday I was in line for tickets, they announced Laura Linney was out.  So I used my discount to see Lombardi, and I am glad I did.  Still, I wanted to see this play.  Jack M. from Sag Harbor wrote that he saw the original at MTC, but wanted to see it again with Christina Ricci.


2.  Brief Encounter - 30.8%

Having seen this unbelievably wonderful play, I can say that those of you who missed it really missed something special!  Tim McC of Chelsea, Sara L. of Brooklyn and Tara P. of Secaucus all wrote in to say that they were really sorry they missed it, especially since it kept getting extended at Studio 54.


1.  La Bete - 38.5%

My other top choice.  Several of you wrote to say that you HAD seen it and that people really missed out on all three leads, Mark Rylance's monologue, and the really cool staging.


January Poll Question #2: Which musical closing in January do you most regret missing?


5.  West Side Story - 5.7%

This is one I'm so thrilled I got to see more than once!  Jack M. from Sag Harbor says, "I would kick myself every time I'd get to Times Square and see their big billboard.  But I always had tickets for something else."


4.  (tie) Elf: The Musical and Promises, Promises - 8.6% each

It is funny that I got basically the same emails for each of these shows!  Everyone that took time to email about Elf: The Musical said the same thing:  I hate holiday musicals, but everyone I know loved it.  Everyone that took time to email about Promises, Promises said the same thing: I shouldn't have listened to the critics.  I couldn't agree more with either group.  You really did miss something with both.


3.  (tie) A Little Night Music and In the Heights - 11.4% each

Everyone that wrote about Night Music regretted not going back to see Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch.  Apparently, of those who wrote, they didn't like it enough the first time to see it again.  And I think Bethany R. from Newark, NJ says it best about In the Heights: "I always meant to go.  There was always another show I wanted to see more, and I figured it wouldn't close for another year or more!"


2.  Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown - 14.3%

I got the most email about this one, and nearly every one said the same thing: "I can't believe I listened to all the negative stuff before it opened.  It can't really have been that bad!"  You were all right, too.  You shouldn't have, and it was much better than you think.  Much.


1.  (tie) Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and next to normal - 20% each

Jill S. of Teaneck wrote that she finally got the cast recording of next to normal the week it closed, and loved it so much.  Apparently, she just couldn't believe a musical with that subject matter could be any good, no matter what everyone was saying about it.  Catch it on tour, Jill!  And from Liz H. of The Bronx wrote in to tell me that her son wanted to see BBAJ because the pictures on my blog were really cool looking.  She got him the CD for Christmas, but now she won't let him listen to it because of the language!  (She did tell me that Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was his favorite musical of all time!  Is this kid cool or what?)

BE SURE TO VOTE IN FEBRUARY'S POLL COMING TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 1!

Comments?  An idea for a poll question?  Leave it here, email me at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com or Tweet me!
Jeff
2.153

Sunday, January 30, 2011

TheatreScene: January 24 - 30

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?  BECOME A "FOLLOWER"!

DON'T FORGET TO VOTE IN THIS MONTH'S POLL!  A NEW ONE ALSO STARTS TUESDAY!

BE A PART OF JKTS!  Try the crossword puzzle... Submit your list of the 6 greatest musicals of all time... Tell us about shows you've seen more than once... Check out the chorus boys and girls of 2011!  (Use the links below to see the blogs and respond!)

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THIS WEEK:
Back in Time: 2002: Into the Woods: Revival, Part II: The Creative Team
Broadway Crossword by Blog #5: Original vs Revival, Clue Set #1
LEGEND: Bob Fosse
The Greatest...Ever?
Ask Jeff: A Really Good Question
2011 Chorus Boys and Girls, Part I

January 24

HISTORY:
  • 2010: A View from the Bridge opened at the Cort Theatre, starring Liev Schreiber and eventual Tony winner Scarlett Johansson.  The universally praised revival played 81 performances (a limited engagement).
NEWS:

  • The final (I hope - what'll be left for next season?) musical of the 2010/2011 season was announced today.  The story of the woman behind the Shirelles and many other 60's groups, Baby It's You! will open at the Broadhurst Theatre, starring Beth Leavel and American Idiot's Cristina Sajous, with previews starting March 26 and opening April 27.  Dear theatre gods, Please not another Million Dollar Quartet.  PLEASE.



  • The PR machine for Wonderland is cranking up big time!  Here are a couple of pictures.  At least we can see that the tech aspects are pretty to notch! (Kate Shindle...ouch!)
TOPS AND BOTTOMS (January 17 - 23)
  • Top Gross: Wicked ($1.4M)
  • Top Attendance: Wicked (96.5%)
  • Bottom Gross: Colin Quinn: Long Story Short ($169K)
  • Bottom Attendance: Chicago (53%)
  • SRO Club: No shows were at 100% capacity.
  • $1M Club: Wicked, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Neil Diamond, Lyricist/Composer (Dancin', Fosse)



January 25

HISTORY:
  • 1982: The Curse of an Aching Heart played the Little Theatre (today we call it the Helen Hayes) for 32 performances.  It starred film legend Faye Dunaway, who played 4 different characters named Frances.  A whole 32 performances?
NEWS:


  • My boyfriend Kyle Dean Massey returns to Wicked tonight.
  • Good news never makes the National News: Spider-Man tickets are on sale now through May 8.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Ruth Williamson, Actor (The Music Man, La Cage aux Folles (2004), Smile)



January 26

HISTORY:
  • 23 years ago...1988: The Phantom of the Opera began its record-breaking run at the Majestic Theatre.  The original cast included Rebecca Luker, who played a Princess in Hannibal.  She went on to play Christine, one of 23 actresses to do so, so far.  As of today, the chandelier has dropped 9,567 times!
NEWS:
  • Though I often knock it, and it will never be my favorite show, I have to give credit where it is due:  The Phantom of the Opera turned 23 today!  Wait, didn't I already say that?  I was 21 when it opened... OH MY GOD! I AM OLD!

  • I am pretty certain it won't run 23 years, but The Importance of Being Earnest got a 17 week extension.  This despite duping the public by not announcing which shows were previews, like its neighbor up the street.  This extension also moves The People in the Picture to Studio 54.  Looks like it'll be at least a year before I finally get to see a show at the American Airlines Theatre - the only one I have never been in.  (I have zero interest in Earnest.)
  • Is this the last show to be announced for the season?  The Jim Belushi revival of Born Yesterday confirmed that it would be opening this season at the Cort Theatre.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Jules Feiffer, Playwright (The Apple Tree, Oh! Calcutta!)



January 27

HISTORY:

  • 1982:  Just 6 years before Phantom, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat opened on Broadway (for the first time) at the Royale Theatre, starring the late, great Laurie Beechman as the Narrator.  David Cassidy and Andy Gibb both played the title role during the run of 747 performances.
NEWS:
  • My boyfriend Kyle Dean Massey must not be in Wicked too long.  He will be headlining the new off-Broadway musical Lucky Guy at the New Little Shubert Theatre.  Previews: April 28. Runs through: July 24.  It co-stars three of my favorites: Jim Newman, Jenn Colella and Savanah Wise.  All three could use a big fat hit; they deserve  it!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Alan Cumming, Actor (Cabaret, ThreePenny Opera)


January 28

HISTORY:
  • The Oldest Opening of the Week: Romeo and Juliet opened in 1754 at the New Theatre, starring Mr. Rigby and Mrs. Hallam in the title roles.
  • 2010: Time Stands Still opened at MTC's Samuel Friedman Theatre.  It re-opened this season at the Cort Theatre, where it will have played 192 performances total, as of January 30, when it closes.
NEWS:

  • Bring It On: The Musical opens tonight in Atlanta. Look for my blog on that very show next week!
  • Spring Awakening goes international!  The Melbourne Australia production opens tonight.
  • Mini-Rant: Linda Eder has announced a new tour and album.  Great for her.  But why do people continue to refer to her as a Broadway diva?  She's played exactly one role on Broadway for a very un-diva like 6 months (maybe a bit more), and with a pretty spotty attendance record, I might add.  Patti LuPone had years in shows before she was ever considered a diva.  Don't you have to play a leading female role, tearing down the walls with your arias night after night before you are a diva?
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Luther Creek, Actor (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Hair, RENT)



January 29

HISTORY:
  • 1966: Broadway first heard those beats that open the show that would later be the song "Hey, Big Spender," on this date when Sweet Charity opened at the Palace Theatre.  Gwen starred, Bob directed and choreographed.  One of the greatest scores ever written was supplied by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields, and the hilarious book was by an at-his-best Neil Simon.  It closed after 608 performances.
NEWS:

  • Matthew Morrison gave a free concert in LA today to benefit music education.  The concert featured songs from his upcoming solo CD.  Gleeks rejoice!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Terry Kenney, Actor/Director (The Grapes of Wrath, Reasons to Be Pretty)



January 30

HISTORY:
  • The Longest Time Since a Show Opened: 25 years ago, in 1986 The Caretaker opened at the Circle in the Square Theatre, lasting only 45 performances.  The Pinter revival was notable for Gary Sinise's Broadway debut, and the direction of one John Malkovitch.
NEWS:

  • Time Stands Still closed today at the Cort Theatre, after a total of 192 performances.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Norbert Leo Butz, Actor (Wicked, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Catch Me If You Can)



(Photos from Playbill Online, Broadway.com, show websites, Getty Images.  Kyle Dean Massey picture from Twitter, by Mr. Massey)

Comments?  Leave one here, email me at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com or Tweet me!
Jeff
2.152

Saturday, January 29, 2011

2011 Chorus Boys and Girls: Part I

In A Chorus Line Sheila asks Zach, "How many people do you need?"  His response: "Four boys, four girls."  She answers, "Need any women?"  Yes, the world of the chorus dancer was immortalized in that musical.  Today, maybe the "boys and girls" should become "men and women" considering just how much they have to do these days.  Long gone are the days (thanks in large part to the cast of A Chorus Line) when there was a dance chorus and a singing chorus.  Today, you have to sing, dance AND act (and fly, sometimes) when you are in the ensemble.  And still, by and large, they are background to a lot of theatregoers.

I go to a lot of theatre, and I know people who go to a lot of theatre, and it is nice to go enough to see people in these shows over and over.  When I talk shows with certain friends, we spend as much time talking about  ensemble work as we do the primary show and the leads.  For me, there is a certain comfort in seeing competent people supporting the action, story and lead actors.  Just like when I see certain "stars" and I know I am in good hands and can just enjoy the artistry of their performance, when I see certain names in the ensemble, I know the supporting dancing and singing and acting will be top notch, too.

Well, we have 10 musicals or musical revivals opening before the end of the 2010 - 2011 season, and I thought it might be interesting to select a "chorus boy" and a "chorus girl" from each ensemble of an upcoming show to follow, find out about and report on when their show opens. (And I would love your input, too!)

Here are my selections for the first five shows on order of their beginning of previews (schedule may change as may casting):



Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
Previews: November 28, 2010     Opening Night: March 15, 2011


Chorus Boy: Collin Baja (Carnage, Ensemble)
Credits: Equus, the film version of The Producers and Across the Universe


Chorus Girl: Dana Marie Ingraham (Ensemble)
Credits: Hot Feet, National Tours: The Color Purple, The Lion King

Why Them: Limited, but substantial credits, experience with director Julie Taymor

Collin and Dana Marie in action: Equus and a dance program




The Book of Mormon
Previews: February 24     Opening Night: March 24


Chorus Boy: Benjamin Schrader (Ensemble)
Credits: Ragtime, Avenue Q


Chorus Girl: Asmeret Ghebremichael (Ensemble)
Credits: Elf: The Musical, Spamalot, Wicked, Legally Blonde

Why Them: Both have connections to creative team, wide variety of credits.  I have noticed and enjoyed Ms. Ghebremichael in several things; she was a hoot in Elf.

Benjamin and Asmeret in action: Ragtime and Legally Blonde




How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying
Previews: February 26     Opening Night: March 27


Chorus Boy: Cleve Asbury (Ensemble)
Credits: Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life, Jerome Robbins' Broadway


Chorus Girl: Sarah O'Gleby (Ensemble)
Credits: Promises, Promises

Why Them:  He's the ultimate chorus boy, with credits in every decade from the 1980's to today; she's new and connected to director Rob Ashford.

Perks of the Business:  Asbury (with wife Donna Marie) at the opening of Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life, and O'Gleby with the chorus boys of Promises, Promises, at the cast recording launch party




Priscilla: Queen of the Desert
Previews: February 28    Opening Night: March 20


Chorus Boy:  Gavin Lodge (Ensemble, u/s Bernadette, Tick/Mitzy, Frank)
Credits: Spamalot, 42nd Street


Chorus Girl: J. Elaine Marcos (Cynthia)
Credits: A Chorus Line, The Wedding Singer, Flower Drum Song

Why Them: Their credits show a wide variety of dance and acting skills.

The Backstage Life: Lodge at Priscilla in Toronto;
Marcos (front, left) with Daniel Radclifffe at A Chorus Line




Catch Me If You Can
Previews: March 7     Opening Night: April 10


Chorus Boy: Nick Kenkel (Ensemble)
Credits: Legally Blonde (including assistant choreographer)


Chorus Girl: Rachelle Rak (Ensemble)
Credits: Fosse, Oklahoma!, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Why Them: He's a relative newbie, she's a dynamite dancer who I have loved since Fosse.  They both have worked with this creative team.

Kenkel and Rak in Action: He during is hip-hop dancer days,
she as Velma in a regional Chicago (with Catch Me co-star, Angie Schworer, as Roxie)


In Part II, I'll be selecting ensemble members from Anything Goes, Wonderland, Sister Act, Baby, Its You!, and The People in the Picture.


PLEASE!  If you have thoughts, experiences seeing, or if you know any of my selections, please write in and share!  And if you have other ensemble suggestions for part I or II, send those in, too!

(Photos from show websites, actors websites, Broadway.com, and Getty Images)
Leave your ideas here, email me at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com or Tweet me!
Jeff
2.151
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