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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

Thursday, November 17, 2011

On the Web: Legends of Broadway, Submissions Only and Hustling

I am always looking for a Broadway fix between visits to the Big Apple.  I've come across three sources of material on the Internet to satisfy (to varying degrees) that need.

Submissions Only


First, BroadwayWorld.com is now host to the Broadway-centric web series Submissions Only, which was created in 2010 by Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Newsies, Mary Poppins) and Kate Wetherhead (Legally Blonde).  It centers of the ins and outs of the Broadway casting process and the people caught up in it - actors, directors and casting offices.  It stars a quirky Wetherehead as out of work actress Penny, the adorable Colin Hanlon (Wicked Tour, RENT) as troubled casting director Tim and Asmeret Ghebremichael (Elf, The Book of Mormon) as Raina, actress and friend of Penny, and Jared Gertner (The Book of Mormon, Spelling Bee) and Lindsay Nicole Chambers (Lysistrata Jones) as Tim's assistants Randall and Gail in the casting office.



The show manages to walk the fine line between satire and sit com, with the Gotham-ish tone that made Sex and the City so urbane.  Early episodes of season one are, as you might expect a hodge podge of quality, always erring on the side of decent.  But by about episode four of the six season one episodes, it really hits its stride - becoming less in-joke, self-satisfying, and more relatable for fans of Broadway and fans of the myriad of guest appearances and cameos the show thrives on (and makes it more realistic).  Among the first season cameos are no less than theatre legend Chita Rivera, Tony winners Kristin Chenoweth and Cady Huffman, Ann Harada, Barrett Foa, Steve Rosen and Tyler Maynard to name drop but a few.  And the supporting cast is pretty stellar, too!  Regulars include Max Von Essen, Santino Fontana, Annaleigh Ashford, and Ann L. Nathan.

Season Two is off to a great start with appearances by Brad Oscar, Hunter Bell and a shirtless Charlie Williams!  And the story is a riot and production values are quite high, with that mini cam feel, which makes you feel like "you are there" and some great cinematic style shots as well.  New episodes pots roughly once a month.  And with only 8 episodes that are roughly 20-25 minutes (or less), you can catch up on the whole series fast.

Go to: www.submissionsonly.com for full information.  The website is as slick and professional as the the series is starting to be.  And for more on creator Andrew Keenan-Bolger, click here: http://www.thisisandrewsblog.com/

Grade: A- (and on the rise!)



Hustling


Just yesterday, a new web series written, produced by and starring Sebastian LaCause (Fosse, Rocky Horror) debuted its first episode.  It has nothing to do with Broadway, but stars some favorites, including RENT's Daphne Rubin-Vega and Chicago's Brent Barrett among others.  What it does have to do with is a hustler and former gay porn star who, at 40, is realizing that his career is in a down turn.  The first episode is reportedly the longest, probably to fit in the exposition scene which opens the series.  While not totally necessary, it is humorous and sets up the hustler's first hurdle to a new life, a trick who wants to recreate a nasty scene from the first porn film the hustler ever made.  The upside? $300 to pay his back rent.  The downside? The trick is an obese middle aged guy.

So far, the show isn't too explicit - some shirtlessness from LaCause - but the themes and situations are clearly not for kids and are definitely not work safe.  Except for some surprisingly bad editing of the credits (spell check please!), the quality of the filming is superb, mixing the feel of gritty indie movies and the clean, sharp camera work of mainstream film.

The premise is interesting, but with only 8 episodes planned at 10-12 minutes each and spread out until February, it might be difficult to sustain interest or even remember to look for new episodes - two a month?  (Of course, Submissions Only only comes out once a month, but it is backed by a major theatre site to keep it on our radar.)  Still, the high quality of the pilot and the casting is enough for me to try to remember.  If you want something Broadway, but not, and more grown up, give Hustling a try!

See it here: http://www.blip.tv/HustlingTheWebSeries 


Grade: B+


Masterworks Broadway: Legends of Broadway


Masterworks Broadway, the website that is all about the record label that has some of Broadway's greatest cast recordings in its catalog.  The site has reviews, music downloads, feature articles about the stars we love, the composers of the shows we love, and an EXCELLENT blog written by Peter Filichia, who was recently unceremoniously dumped by Theatre Mania. com.  It also has a new webseries that began just yesterday.


The series, Legends of Broadway, has short (the first is two and a half minutes) interviews with the composers and stars of some of the most influential musicals of all time.  The debut video has Stephen Sondheim talking about the recording of the Original Broadway Cast  of West Side Story and why Leonard Bernstein was "distressed" by the tempos and why  "Gee, Officer Krupke" ends with "Krup you!" instead of "Fuck you!"  It is very interesting, and bodes well for future webisodes.

Among the upcoming interviews in this first bunch of videos is Angela Lansbury talking about Mame, Ahrens and Flaherty talking about Ragtime, and Joel Grey talking about Cabaret. New clips will be added every Wednesday.


The site is a must add for fans of show tunes.  The drawback is that you must sign up for the site's newsletter to see these interviews for free (apparently they will be available for a price at some point).  I say it is a drawback because you'll need to keep a long text string of a code to access it each week.  Still, this is a small price to pay.  I mean, surely, if you go there, it is because you love musicals, so what is a newsletter but a nice reminder to return to the site regularly?

Go to the site here: http://www.masterworksbroadway.com/

So far so great!

Grade: A


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Jeff
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