THIS WEEK @ JK's TheatreScene

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Summertime...Took a little vacation! Three reviews coming soon! Amazing Grace, Hand to God and Mamma Mia!

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

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The 2011 Awards Season: The Outer Critics Circle , Drama Desks and Astaire Awards

I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the major awards and who has been nominated thus far, for comparison purposes.  The awards I'm looking at today are the Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Astaire, plus I'll add in the figures from the Drama League Award nominations earlier this week. 

While no one award seems to be a clear harbinger of what is to come Tony-wise, it is interesting to contemplate the impact of who was nominated for these, and perhaps more importantly, who was NOT nominated.  The Tony Committee has a decades long tradition of bucking the trends, looking instead more toward economic viability and critical response, and less toward public popularity and Box Office.  That is not to say that they are not influenced by the nominations already given - they may cause members to remember long-forgotten fall entries, for example.  And we all know for sure that a proven (though not 100%) way to get your show in the big awards nomination lists is to announce a national tour, whether it happens (Avenue Q eventual Best Musical) or not (Pajama Game eventual Best Musical Revival).  The really big shows will still announce their tours shortly, but with the secure knowledge that a lengthy run ahead is worth much more than a tour announcement.  Priscilla Queen of the Desert isn't taking any chances - they announced yesterday, just as the Tony nominating committee prepares to meet before Tuesday's announcement**.


Don't count Andrew Jackson
or Breif Encounter out!

It is also important to note that all of the awards nominating so far (except the Astaires) include off-Broadway plays and musicals, which the Tonys do not, and therefore leave more openings for Broadway shows to snatch up extra nominations later.  Also, and this year in particular, you need to consider that shows that opened last season off-Broadway - Brief Encounter, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and The Scottsboro Boys were all considered then and not this year.  All three could prove spoilers as they are eligible for Tonys this season, especially since both Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and The Scottsboro Boys won titles as Best off-Broadway musical.

What about Arcadia, Baby It's You! and Wonderland?

And there are the titles that have rarely if ever been on one of these lists: Driving Miss Daisy, Arcadia, La Bete, That Championship Season, Mrs. Warren's Profession, Jerusalem, High, RAIN: The Beatles Experience on Broadway, Baby It's You!, Wonderland.

For your consideration:

SHOW:                              TOTAL NOMS/"BEST" (PLAY/MUSICAL/REVIVAL)
Anything Goes                      25/3
Book of Mormon                  23/3
Sister Act                              19/3
Catch Me If You Can           19/1                               
How to Succeed...                 17/3
Women on the Verge...         13/1
The Merchant of Venice       12/3
Bengal Tiger/Baghdad Zoo  12/3
The Mother... the Hat          12/3
Priscilla Queen/Desert         11/3
Good People                        10/3
The Importance/Earnest       9/3
War Horse                             8/3
The Normal Heart                 7/3
The House of Blue Leaves     6/2
Born Yesterday                      6/2
The People in the Picture      6/1
Lombardi                               5/0




Are Anything Goes, The Book of Mormon
and Catch Me If You Can in the hunt?

If this is any indication of Tony nominations, then the nominees for Best Play should be: Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, The Mother Fucker with the Hat, Good People and War Horse.  Best Revival of a Play: The Merchant of Venice, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Normal Heart and Born Yesterday.  Of course the Best Musical Revival will be Anything Goes and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.    The Best Musical nominees, by these numbers, should be: The Book of Mormon, Sister Act, Catch Me If You Can and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

Something tells me we are in for quite a few surprises.

** Be sure to come to this blog on Tuesday, May 3rd at 8:25AM Eastern to see the Tony Award Nominations LIVE!

Comments?  Leave one here, email me at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com or Tweet me!
Jeff
2.242

Friday, April 29, 2011

The 2010 - 2011 Season: By the Numbers

Today is the first day of the 2011 - 2012 season!

 
From the First (Brief Encounter) to the Last (The People in the Picture)

And what a rough road it has been to get to this new season from the last.  I can't remember a time when Broadway shows were making as much national news as in the 2010 - 2011 season.  Sure, the one show that didn't open made the most news and has become a part of the American Popular Culture dialogue, but Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was far from alone in aking headlines.  Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown might just go down in history as the first show destroyed by the Internet before it even opened.  And then there were the protests surrounding The Scottsboro Boys, and the newsmaking of Broadway returns by such legends as James Earl Jones, Vanessa Redgrave, Patti LuPone and Joel Grey, as well as the Broadway debuts of such folk as Chris Rock, Kieffer Sutherland, Luke McFarlane, Lee Pace, Jim Parsons and others, and most recently, the lawsuit filed against Baby It's You! by Beverly Lee an original "Shirelle," Dionne Warwick and Chuck Jackson, as well as on the behalf of the estates of two of the Shirelles.

Let's take a look back at the season, not by hits and misses, favorites and shows we loathed, but by the shear numbers.

The Tony Awards Committee recognizes that 39 productions opened on Broadway this season, starting with Brief Encounter on September 28, 2010, and ending with The People in the Picture on April 28, 2011.

I have categorized each show into one of five categories: Play, Musical, Play Revival, Musical Revival, and Special Event. The Tony Awards will no longer recognize Special Theatrical Events, and are not a part of that 39 total above.

Special Theatrcal Events (4)
  • Brigadoon - a one night only benefit
  • Harry Connick, Jr. in Concert on Broadway
  • Donny and Marie: A Broadway Christmas
  • Kathy Griffin Wants a Tony

 New Plays (15)
  • Brief Encounter
  • The Pitmen Painters
  • A Life in the Theatre
  • Lombardi
  • Colin Quinn: Long Story Short
  • The Pee-Wee Herman Show
  • A Free Man of Color
  • Elling
  • Good People
  • Ghetto Klown
  • Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
  • The Motherfucker with the Hat
  • War Horse          

 New Musicals (12)
  • Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
  • RAIN: The Beatles Experience on Broadway
  • The Scottsboro Boys
  • Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
  • Elf: The Musical
  • Priscilla Queen of the Desert
  • The Book of Mormon
  • Catch Me If You Can
  • Wonderland
  • Sister Act
  • Baby It's You!
  • The People in the Picture

 Play Revivals (10)
  • Mrs. Warren's Profession
  • La Bete
  • Driving Miss Daisy
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • The Importance of Being Earnest
  • That Championship Season
  • Arcadia
  • Born Yesterday
  • The House of Blue Leaves
  • The Normal Heart

 Musical Revivals (2)
  • How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying!
  • Anything Goes

Like My Opinion Matters...

As I said above, as of today's blog, I still have 4 productions to see before I can make a fully informed opinion as to who or what should receive Tony recognition.  I realize that some are a shoe-in, so I haven't listed them below; it doesn't mean I don't want them or wish them well, I just figure they'll be nominated!  But here is a list of people and shows I really hope get some Tony love come Tuesday, because all of these performances, contributions and productions really stick out in my memory: 

  • Anyone in the cast of Brief Encounter
  • Emma Rice, director of Brief Encounter
  • Malcolm Rippeth and Gemma Carrington, lights and projections, Brief Encounter
  • Brief Encounter for Best Play

  • Lombardi for Best Play
  • Judith Light, Featured Actress in a Play, Lombardi
  • Dan Lauria, Lead Actor in a Play, Lombardi

  • Benjamin Walker, Lead Actor in a Musical, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
  • Alex Timbers, Best Direction of a Musical, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
  • Donyale Werle, Set Design of a Musical, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
  • Justin Townsend, Lighting Design of a Musical, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
  • Bart Fasbender, Sound Design of a Musical, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
  • Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson for Best Musical


  • The Scottsboro Boys for Best Musical
  • Joshua Henry, Lead Actor in a Musical, The Scottsboro Boys
  • Forrest McClendon, Featured Actor in a Musical, The Scottsboro Boys
  • Jeremy Gumbs, Featured Actor in a Musical, The Scottsboro Boys
  • Susan Stroman, Best Direction of a Musical, The Scottsboro Boys
  • Susan Stroman, Best Choreography of a Musical, The Scottsboro Boys
  • Ken Billington, Lighting Design of a Musical, The Scottsboro Boys
  • David Thompson, Best Book of a Musical, The Scottsboro Boys
  • John Kander and Fred Ebb, Best Score of a Musical, The Scottsboro Boys

  • Laura Benanti, Featured Actress in a Musical, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
  • Justin Guarini, Featured Actor in a Musical, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
  • David Yazbek, Best Score of a Musical, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

  • Sebastian Arcelus, Lead Actor in a Musical, Elf: The Musical
  • Bob Martin and Thomas Meehan, Best Book of a Musical, Elf: The Musical
  • Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, Best Score of a Musical, Elf: The Musical
  • David Rockwell, Set Design of a Musical, Elf: The Musical
  • Gregg Barnes, Costume Design of a Musical, Elf: The Musical

  • Priscilla Queen of the Desert for Best Musical
  • Tony Sheldon, Lead Actor in a Musical, Priscilla Queen of the Desert
  • Brian Thomson, Set Design of a Musical, Priscilla Queen of the Desert
  • Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner, Costume Design of a Musical, Priscilla Queen of the Desert
  • Nick Schlieper, Lighting Design of a Musical, Priscilla Queen of the Desert
  • Simon Phillips, Direction of a Musical, Priscilla Queen of the Desert

  • The Book of Mormon for Best Musical
  • Casey Nicholaw, Choreography of a Musical, The Book of Mormon
  • Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker, Direction of a Musical, The Book of Mormon
  • Robert Lopez, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Book of a Musical, The Book of Mormon
  • Robert Lopez, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Score of a Musical, The Book of Mormon
  • Andrew Rannells, Lead Actor in a Musical, The Book of Mormon
  • Nikki M. James, Fatured Actress in a Musical, The Book of Mormon
  • Brian Ronan, Sound Design of a Musical, The Book of Mormon
  • Scott Pask, Set Design of a Musical, The Book of Mormon

  • Catch Me If You Can for Best Musical
  • Jerry Mitchell, Choreography of a Musical, Catch Me If You Can
  • Jack O'Brien, Direction of a Musical, Catch Me If You Can
  • Norbert Leo Butz, Lead Actor in a Musical, Catch Me If You Can
  • Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, Best Score of a Musical, Catch Me If You Can
  • Kenneth Posner, Lighting Design of a Musical, Catch Me If You Can
  • Tom Wopat, Featured Actor in a Musical, Catch Me If You Can

  • Victoria Clark, Lead Actress in a Musical, Sister Act
  • Marla Mindelle, Features Actress in a Musical, Sister Act
  • Cheri and Bill Steinkellner and Douglas Carter Beane, Best Book of a Musical, Sister Act
  • Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, Best Score of a Musical, Sister Act

  • Lizz Wolf, Costume Design of a Musical, Baby It's You!
  • Howell Binkley and Jason H. Thompson, Lighting Design of a Musical, Baby It's You!
  • Carl Casella, Sound Design of a Musical, Baby It's You!

  • Martin Pakledinaz, Costume Design of a Musical, Anything Goes
  • Kathleen Marshall, Choreography of a Musical, Anything Goes
  • Brian Ronan, Sound Design of a Musical, Anything Goes
  • Colin Donnell, Featured Actor in a Musical, Anything Goes
  • Jessica Stone, Featured Actress in a Musical, Anything Goes

  • Daniel Radcliffe, Lead Actor in a Musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
  • John Larroquette, Featured Actor in a Musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
  • Rose Hemingway, Featured Actress in a Musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
  • Rob Ashford, Direction of a Musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
  • Rob Ashford, Choreography of a Musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Quite a list... quite a year!



Comments? Leave one here, email me at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com or Tweet me!
Jeff
2.241

Thursday, April 28, 2011

REVIEW: Baby It's You!


Review of the April 20 matinee preview performance. At the Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway, New York City. 2 hours, 20 minutes, including an intermission. Starring Beth Leavel, Allan Louis, Geno Henderson, Erica Ash, Kelli Barret, Kyra Da Costa, Christina Sajous, Crystal Starr, Barry Pearl and Brandon Uranowitz. Book by Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott. Choreography by Birgitte Mutrux . Direction by Floyd Mutrux and Sheldon Epps.

Grade: C-

Where do I start?  How do I even explain what I saw last week at a preview of the new musical Baby It's You!?  Bear with me, please, for this might not come out right.  Every season, there is one show that seems to bear the brunt of ridicule - not the kind where there is a potentially great cast who isn't up to expectations (like Women on the Verge) or because its problems are huge, but still interesting (like Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark), but rather so shameful it is too easy a target.  Baby It's You! is mostly that last type of "bad" show.  Is it as bad as you've heard in the chat rooms and message boards?  No, but not by much.  Is it the worst musical of the season?  Well, I have yet, as of this writing, to see Wonderland or The People in the Picture, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that at the very least it is one of the worst of the season, by a large margin. (And it isn't as bad as last season's worst, Everyday Rapture.)

That is not to say that there aren't things to applaud about the production; there are a few.  And I'll start with those.  The show curtain, a replica of the fabulous (I really mean it) show logo, is pretty cool, as the logo is on the screen, and roving spotlights shine on it in such a way that the picture looks 3D.  And the pre-show "turn off you electronic devices/unwrap your candy" announcement happens as a film resembling those old drive-in commercials for the snack bar (God, I am dating myself...) which is pretty cool.  The costumes (designed by Lizz Wolf) and the lighting (designed by Howell Binkley) are top-notch, and, along with the pretty nifty projections (designed by Jason H. Thompson) which set the scenes, are evocative of a time gone by while still being 21st century cool.

Florence Greenberg (center) and The Shirelles

A few performances stand out in a good way.  All four of the girls who play the Shirelles are spunky, decent dancers with better voices than their true-life counterparts.  Of the four, Christina Sajous sticks out as the best, as she can SING!  But this could also be because she makes the most of having the best material to work with in the book scenes.  And there is Kelli Barrett, who plays both Lesley Gore (doing a fun "It's My Party") and Greenberg's all but forgotten daughter, Mary Jane.  It is Miss Barrett that ultimately offers the show's single dramatically tense moment - a confrontation between mother and daughter, who finally has the guts to say, "Mom, you treat them more like daughters than you do me."  If that doesn't sound like much, take it for what it is worth that it really is the high point of dramatic tension.

And there is Beth Leavel as Florence Greenberg, the actual subject of the show, despite what the "The Shirelles Musical" moniker might imply.  As you might expect, Ms. Leavel is giving a wonderful performance, emoting her ass off and treating each scene like a command performance of Macbeth before Queen Elizabeth.  She is also in excellent voice, though I can't imagine what singing she actually does is particularly taxing as it is all well within her belty range.  In retrospect, there isn't as much of her singing as I thought there was.  And she works hard to make the unbelievably sophomoric book scenes have a little heft and dramatic tension.  Let's just say she's still in search of her next Drowsy Chaperone that will catapult her into true Broadway divadom.

The rest of my comments are largely uncomplimentary, though I can say, in summary, that the whole cast is very committed to giving a high energy performance.

Now for the hard part: trying to explain what Baby It's You! is as a musical.  I guess I'll go with "hybrid."  It wants desperately to be Jersey Boys, and had the story been told better, it could have been close; old Flo was one feisty gal way ahead of her time.  But doesn't it say something that a late 50's/early 60's love affair between a Jewish business woman (a taboo in and of itself) and a black songwriter/producer comes off like a minor plot point?  The show also resembles one of those Time-Life "Songs of the 60's" Collection info-mercials, complete with cheesy narration like, "It was 1960-whatever and Liz got Oscared, Birdie got Tony-ed and the the kids were dancing to the sounds of blah blah," followed by a longish snippet, but not complete version of a tune by blah blah, reenacted by the narrator/disc jockey character.  Another part of the show owes its existence to one of those "This is Your Life" programs where the subject is "exposed," warts and all, but never really with any depth.  But perhaps worst of all is the dialogue between husband and wife that is so condescending that the audience booed with delight all around me, while I thought, "Who knew Leave It to Beaver was so progressive?"  That the cast gets through any of the book scenes is commendable, but shame on both (yes, it took two people to write this dreck) Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott for thinking that shoving all 4 or 5 different takes on the same subject together would actually work.  And I hope that any significant women in their lives gave them both an earful for even thinking to write a line like, "Most women would be grateful to have a house and a husband to take care of."  Even if this were the 50's/60's that would be unacceptable.  And I won't even discuss the deprecating platitudes hurled about regarding people of color or non-Christian religions. (I give Barry Pearl, the poor shlub who plays Flo's husband and who actually says most of those lines, a lot of credit for getting it out without choking or laughing.)

The Shirelles are finally a hit!

Even more shocking is that it took two people to direct this mess: Floyd Mutrux and Sheldon Epps.  Mr. Mutrux, the same guy who brought us the nearly as bad Million Dollar Quartet, needs to be banned from Broadway for inexcusable mediocrity.  I can describe the blocking in about 3 sentences: 1) Stage left and stage right are "locations" (a kitchen, a recording studio, Florence's office), while center stage is the "performance area." 2) All book scenes will take place on the sides, with literally dozens of entrances and exits completed by the cast who deliver one line and leave, then come back, talk more and then leave.  3)  Occasionally, for the sake of "mixing it up," allow the DJ/narrator or Florence walk all the way across the stage.  I am not exaggerating when I estimate that Ms. Leavel must walk two miles per show, just entering and exiting; should this run for any length of time I bet she will ask her stand-by to do the matinees.

While the singing is uniformly good, because most of the actors play multiple roles (including the gals who play the Shirelles), it is often difficult to recognize who we are seeing.  For example, they announce "Dionne Warwick" as one of the Shirelles (Erica Ash) comes out singing "Walk on By" (I think).  Only after the show, as I thumbed through my Playbill, did I realize she was playing Dionne Warwick, too!  And then it hit me... the Shirelles didn't necessarily have a lot of hits on their own, but also did back up singing and many covers of other people's hits.  Whether or not that is actually the case is not the relevant point here; that would be that the show so muddies the song aspect of the show that unless you really know their career, you don't actually know where the Shirelles stop and the show starts taking license.  I don't know what is worse: that I feel kind of duped or that I don't care enough to look it up on Wikipedia.

Beth Leavel and Allan Louis

We are supposed to, I think, feel the thrill of forbidden love and the pangs of anger when prejudice rears its ugly head concerning the affair between Ms. Greenberg and Luther Dixon.  But there are two huge problems with this.  First and foremost, we are always told ugly things happen - "people are talking Flo," "we should never have come to Atlanta," etc. - but we never experience them.  And second, despite his constant swagger and egotistical talk, Luther (Allan Louis in collaboration with the horrid book and esoteric direction) always gives in too easily to Florence, so that when he finally leaves (inevitably) in a huff and a puff it elicited some giggles!  It was as if the audience was saying, "OK, macho man, now you stand up to the old girl?"  PLEASE.  And when things go sour between Florence and the Shirelles, there is no big crushing argument scene, and in fact there is the most unexciting reunion at the end of the show; it was more like they has spent a weekend apart rather than career changing months and years.  YAWN.

Perhaps most emblematic of the woes of this production, though, is Geno Henderson, who plays Jocko, our DJ/narrator, and no less than three different musical stars.  I'm going to be blunt because there really is no way to sugar coat this: the man is creepy.  Chills-down-your-spine/cringe-and-look-away CREEPY.  He leers at the audience like he is undressing us with his eyes, swivels his hips and every other man part he has that looks like Elvis moves, but is really more like a pimp showing his girls the kind of moves a guy likes for his $20 bucks.  I also had no idea he was playing three different singers in addition to Jocko, either.  If you held a Shirelle to my head and threatened to beat me with her, I wouldn't be able to tell you a single difference between the three characters.  Further, he exemplifies just how hard the show works to get you into it.  He embarrasses us into clapping along, encourages us to sing along from the start (and the audience I was in did just that...during EVERY song, even the ones you clearly are meant to listen to only), and then leaves us hanging, as mid-show the narration stops and we are, without warning, supposed to really pay attention on our own.

Christina Sajous and Geno Henderson

With only about 10 people in the cast, and most of them taking on multiple roles, and a "score" full of hits from yesteryear, Baby It's You! should have an adoring audience for some time, as group sales, bus trips, and seniors emerging from their winter cocoons to venture into the city for 1 show each spring, latch on to this one for all of those wonderful memories.  And watch out Florida, Arizona and budget conscious dinner theatre owners!  You'll want to sign up for the rights to this one early.  Mindless entertainment on the cheap, while still being a crowd-pleaser to the monied senior set, is a hard combination to find.  If your audience is of a certain age, and they haven't already spent their Social Security checks on the Time-Life CD set, Baby It's You! should brighten your box office.  But musical theatre fans will recognize quickly, that, save for Ms. Leavel and some decent singers, Baby It's You! is even less than bad dinner theatre at Broadway prices.

(Photos by Ari Mintz)


Comments? Leave one here, email me at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com or Tweet me!
Jeff
2.240

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

BLOGJACK: Being "Legally Blonded"


Let me give a caveat to everything I am about to say:  I am not completely prepared to make any guesses as to who will or will not be nominated for a Tony Award next week because as of today, I still have two new musicals to see before I can say I've seen all of the new ones, and while I won't even be close to having seen all of the plays, it won't be until mid-May before I feel comfortable weighing in on those nominations without having seen The Normal Heart and War Horse.

That said, one of my favorite blogs out there is "The Producer's Perspective" by Ken Davenport, who is, in fact a theatre producer with quite a bit of first hand knowledge.  His blog yesterday attempts to figure out which plays and musicals would get the Tony blessing, and who would leave wanting.

For his complete blog click HERE.

He makes a couple of very good arguments - I'm assuming he's seen or knows enough about the insider scuttlebutt on The People in the Picture and Baby It's You.  One thing I'm glad he recognized, and that I hope is true is that The Book of Mormon and The Scottsboro Boys are "the two locks in [the Best Musical] category.  I'm not worried about Mormon, but I have said all along that The Scottsboro Boys was the best new musical of this season by a mile, and I think that would be such great vindication for such a pitiful run.  I hope he is right.  I also hope he is right about Catch Me If You Can, my personal favorite of the spring crop.  As for his forth nomination, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, I could definitely live with that, too, as that would make the 4 nominees my 4 favorite shows of the season.  Still, I wouldn't be too upset if Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown snuck in there, either.  Even at its messy 2nd preview, I could see and hear the potential for greatness.  Talk about sweet revenge! (Again, I still haven't seen The People in the Picture or Wonderland; I have seen Baby It's You, but will not reveal any specific opinion on that until it opens tonight, and my review posts tomorrow.

Last Season's "Legally Blonde"

Oddly enough, it is my 5th and 7th favorite shows of the season that really made something Davenport says in his blog stick with me.  He says that each year the nominating committee ignores a commercially successful show by "Legally Blonding" it.  And he is so right!  Flash back a few seasons to the nearly complete snubbing of one of the most fun, interesting musicals in years (and this years Best Musical in London), Legally Blonde.  I remember being so shocked at its lack of nominations.  And Mr. Davenport is right.  Every year it is one show that gets Best Musical snub - a Legally Blonding, if you will.  He cites The Addams Family, AIDA, and Legally Blonde as recent examples.  Bravo!  All three were deserving of the Best Musical not that evaded them.

This year - and isn't it nice that there are SO MANY new musicals to even argue over - I'm afraid my 5th through 7th choices don't stand a chance in filling any spot left vacant by an equally egregious overlooking of a fall show.  If, in fact, The Book of Mormon, The Scottsboro Boys, Catch Me If You Can and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson are the nominees, then I call "Legally Blonde" on both Priscilla Queen of the Desert (my 5th favorite), Elf: The Musical (my 6th favorite) and Sister Act (my 7th favorite).  Not a commercial hit, but still a viable choice is my tied for 6th favorite, the aforementioned Women on the Verge, which was recognized in this category by the Outer Critics Circle Awards nominations.  (That is for another blog late next week...)

Which of these will be "Legally Blonded" this season?

I think that in good years like this one, it wouldn't kill them to nominate 5 musicals and 5 plays for "Best" honors.  Heck, it wouldn't even diminish the impact 5 nominees is still less than half of the possible contenders.

What a great "award"!  I wonder what show will be "Legally Blonded" next week...

Comments? Leave one here, email me at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com or Tweet me!
Jeff
2.239

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The 2011 Awards Season: The Drama League Awards


Well, the 2010-2011 awards season for theatre got its start yesterday when the nominees for the 77th annual award were announced yesterday by Catch Me If You Can star  Norbert Leo Butz and Kathleen Chalfant.  Both are former Drama League Award recipients.  The awards will be handed out at a ceremony on May 20, hosted by Kathleen Turner, a nominee herself for High.

There are only four categories: Distinguished Production of a Play, Distinguished Production of a Musical, Distinguished Revival of a Play, and Distinguished Revival of a Musical.  And there is the dais where this year there are 63 names of performers being recognized for outstanding work this season.  At the awards ceremony, one of those performers will be awarded the Distinguished Performance Award. 

Interestingly, a performer can win this award only once in his or her lifetime, though their name can appear on the dais as many times as deemed appropriate throughout their career.  This year, there are 7 previous winners who will be on the dais, but are ineligible for the ultimate award because they have already won it.  They are: Norbert Leo Butz, Catch Me If You Can, Stockard Channing, Other Desert Cities, Cherry Jones, Mrs. Warren's Profession, James Earl Jones, Driving Miss Daisy, Patti LuPone, Women on the Verge of Nervous Breakdown, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, and Geoffrey Rush, The Diary of a Madman.

CLICK HERE FOR THE COMPLETE LIST OF NOMINEES.

Though hardly considered a precursor to the Tony Awards nominations, it does get names and shows "out there" and starts to remind folks of productions from the entire season - recognizing Laura Benanti, Patti LuPone and Brian Stokes Mitchell for their work in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, for example, certainly signals that that show may be remembered by other awards coming up this season.  Verge was not among the nominees for Distinguished Production of a Musical.  Elf: The Musical, though, was, which is very interesting considering it came and went, albeit quite successfully, as a Christmas Show Special.

It should also be noted that Broadway transfers of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Brief Encounter, The Scottsboro Boys and Time Stands Still were nominated in 2010 for their original productions, and therefore, were not eligible for this year's awards.  The first three on that list were all nominated for Distinguished Production of a Musical, which could come into play for this season for other awards.  The entire ensemble of Brief Encounter was nominated (that show will be eligible in the Play categories of the Tonys this season), as was Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson's Benjamin Walker.

Of course, it is also interesting to see what and who was NOT nominated this year.  No Women on theVerge, Wonderland, Baby It's You, Lombardi, Peter and the Star Catchers or That Championship Season for the production awards.  (Several performers from some of these productions have been recognized.)  No Sherie Rene Scott, Justin Guarini, Beth Leavel, Rose Hemingway, Colin Donnell, Joel Grey, Sebastian Arcelus, Kerry Butler, and perhaps most shocking, no Nick Adams.**

** After a cursory search for the nomination guidelines, all I could verify is that Broadway and off-Broadway productions are eligible.  From the list of performers, it may be only lead performances that are eligible, though some, like Tom Wopat in Catch Me if You Can  will likely be considered a featured actor, for other awards later this season.  So it could be that some of the missing performers are simply ineligible for this honor.  Either way, their lack of inclusion is both interesting and surprising.

Comments?  Leave one here, email me at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com or Tweet me!
Jeff
2.238

Monday, April 25, 2011

REVIEW: Anything Goes

Review of the April 23 matinee performance at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on Broadway in New York City. 2 hours, 45 minutes, including one intermission. Starring Sutton Foster, Joel Grey, Colin Donnell, Laura Osnes, Adam Godley, Jessica Stone, John McMartin and Jessica Walter. Music and lyrics by Cole Porter. Original book by P.G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton, Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse.  New book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman. Choreography and direction by Kathleen Marshall.

Grade: C

 
If any of you ever watch competitive figure skating or, hell, even Dancing with the Stars, you can probably understand what I mean when I say that the revival of Anything Goes recently opened at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre is technically very proficient, but artistically lacking.  Stocked with an abundance of star power and a gazillion dollar budget, this voyage-at-sea romp, a classic 30's style farce/musical comedy manages to leave the dock and get to its next port without incident, which I guess most theatre producers these days would be thrilled to have.  But there is no small irony in the fact that throughout the show, the passengers lament that there is no one exciting on board, and that the cruise is a bust, until they latch onto two criminals (one of whom isn't even a criminal).  We, the audience, are left searching for much of the same during this nearly three hour excursion to nowhere, and so we cling desperately to a bonafide Broadway star and a bonafide Broadway legend, neither of whom is ideally suited to the role he/she is playing.
 
One imagines those first production meetings, when excitement was high.  Broadway's current reigning star and along with the latest Broadway legend making a late in life second career on the boards, have signed on.  A critically respected director-choreographer has also been brought on board along with a multi-award winning design team.  That director-choreographer, Kathleen Marshall, brought the Roundabout Theater Company a critical and Tony-winning success a few years ago with The Pajama Game, with similarly big stars attached.  Surely lighting would strike twice, especially after last season's monstrous failure with star-heavy, poorly conceived Bye Bye Birdie to forget about overcome.  Promises, I'm sure, were made of big splashy dance numbers, eye pleasing sets and costumes and a score that would leave young and (increasingly) old patrons alike humming "It's De-Lovely" as they exit the theatre.  Well, all of those promises were kept, sort of.  But like so many other Broadway promises, many were apparently not kept.

"Anything Goes"
Sutton Foster and Company
 
There is no doubt that Ms. Marshall can choreograph a tap number.  The title number, "Anything Goes," builds to a near orgasmic frenzy as wave after wave of more complicated tap steps and cast formations are achieved and transform into still other tap steps and cast formations, capped off with an impossibly high, long held note by our leading lady, who couldn't possibly still have that much breath in her to still SING!  And yet, she does just that and all 20+ dancers hit their final button, the cast, breathless in their arms-stretched, photo-op poses as they wait for the act curtain to fall so they can collapse, gasping for air.  And Ms. Marshall can choreograph a light number, too, the waltzing, fox-trotting hybrid of tuxedoed manly men twirling their chiffon-clad partners around the ship's deck in "It's De-Lovely." And, to her credit, Ms. Marshall can also do justice to an outright production number that includes ever-changing multitudes of levels, furniture that seems to disappear before your eyes, and a cast firmly committed to the googly-eyed transformation they are under-going during a lounge-act/tent revival on the Lido Deck, in "Blow, Gabriel, Blow."  Three for three in terrific dance numbers, all of them memorable and exciting to watch and worthy of the rapturous applause each gets. 
 
The down side?  Well, for a musical so widely lauded for being a dance extravaganza, this is really pretty much it in the dance department, save for a few odd steps here and there during the shtick-y/vaudeville styled duos, "Friendship" and "You're the Top," and the 6 sailors tossing a mouthy broad around during her perfunctory double-entendre number, which in this show is called, "Buddie, Beware."  And here's the real issue: one must wait an hour and twenty minutes until "It's De-Lovely" which is immediately followed by "Anything Goes," and then intermission, followed immediately by "Blow, Gabriel. Blow."  Tricky, tricky!  So much for dance extravaganza.

"Blow, Gabriel, Blow"
Sutton Foster, center, and the Ensemble
Costumes by Martin Pakledinaz, Lighting by Peter Kaczorowski
 
Ms. Marshall should get high scores for her technical staging of the show.  The pace is consistent - moderation, moderation - and the placement always interesting.  She knows how to use the entire set for staging purposes.  And very rarely does she have anyone in the cast just stand still and sing full front, dead center, instead finding other visually interesting ways to do things.  Yes, she is technically proficient.  But there is a huge problem with that, and with this show in particular.  It is old school, and I mean old school.  It is the vintage musical comedy type that is full of types of the day - an evangelist who is anything but holy, a drunk tycoon who covets a stuffed animal mascot from his rah rah college days, the grand dame who is marrying off her too sweet daughter to the bidder with the highest pedigree and the deepest post-depression pockets, and that very man, inevitably a fish out of water buffoon, and the "celebrity" of public enemy #13 and his sassy, but tired, gun moll/sidekick.  Add some blatantly racially insensitive Chinese guys in ancient Chinese garb who speak in stereotypical broken English - and shock of shocks! one understands it better than anyone ever suspects - and a crew full of Abercrombie Fitch models sea bees straight from South Pacific and a captain who you are almost relieved isn't steering the boat most of the time because he is so freaking stupid - and you there have a 1930's-style cast.
 
As I said, though, this a huge problem here, and I should specify this particular production, because, despite using the same version of the script and score, the 1987 Lincoln Center revival was a delight in every way.  No, this production is problem-plagued to its very roots because Ms. Marshall, for all of her technical proficiency, has left out one crucial component in trying to sell 80 year old goods to an iPad-toting, fast-paced modern audience: coherence.  You see, no one in the cast seems to be in the same show.  Some of them are in a by-the-book community theater style "summer musical classic series" show; others are in a post-vaudeville series of scenes and songs, minus any of the teaching of how to perform in that style; and still others try desperately to hold it all together because they correctly recognize that old-style, in your face comedy (look at the audience with an almost imperceptible shrug and wink as you deliver an eye-rolling punch line, the visual equivalent of a rim shot/cymbal crash) along with a fast-paced, door-slamming, mistaken-identity farce.  Had everyone in the company gotten the memo that the show was an old-fashioned, post-vaudeville musical comedy farce, this show would actually be worthy of the shockingly misplaced praise it has received from many critics.  (I swear I must have seen a different show than Ben Brantley did!)

The Company: "Anything Goes"
Set by Derek McLane

As I said, the show looks terrific, and you can see where every penny of the budget went.  Derek McLane's enormous set, with three playing levels, is of such a scale that you feel like you are looking at a large ocean liner, along with fabulously appointed art deco style staterooms that glide around the stage effortlessly.  The lighting design by Peter Kaczorowski is musical comedy bright and cheery and includes a "spotlight specialty" for the number "Be Like the Bluebird" which is period perfect if modern day clunky.  And Martin Pakledinaz' costume designs are gorgeous, an endless buffet of style, color and beauty.  (Paul Huntley's hair and wig design also merit special kudos for looking so natural.)

One can't really argue with the quality of the songs here, as Cole Porter is was and always will be a genius.  But even he had a few clunkers, many of which are only being heard here because the SIX different book writers (see above; it is too exhausting to type all of their names AGAIN) pillaged his song trunk for any number they could find to shoe horn into the book.  (The folks who wrote Mamma Mia! did a much better job finding songs from the ABBA songbook, and they are hardly on par with Porter!)  Six cooks and one pot of stew... here, a mess.  In the more capable hands of Jerry Zaks in 1987, a feast.  Doesn't it say something about the book when, one, you are relieved to hear the orchestra start a new song just as a groan at a bad joke almost spills from your lips?; and, two, when the single joke that got a genuine, sustained laugh had to do with a dollop of whipping cream in the face and a comment about a giant seagull?  It says plenty, and not much of it good.  Still, all could/would be forgiven with a great performance and tons of dancing.  So much for forgiveness.

Adam Godley, Laura Osnes, Jessica Walter
John McMartin and Colin Donnell

I give the ensemble much credit in this show.  They are great dancers, all, and as each is required to fill in the background, they do terrific job of looking like they belong there in a variety of situations and guises so that you hardly notice it is the same group of people.  And when they sing together, the sound is quite nice, particularly the male quartet who sing the Sailor's Chantey, "There'll Always Be a Lady Fair," Ward Billeisen, Josh Franklin, Daniel J. Edwards and William Ryall.  And the 4 Angels, aka Reno Sweeney's back up girls, Shin Ann Morris, Kimberly Faure, Jennifer Savelli and Joyce Chittick, exude the sassy been-there-done-that sexy thing with style.  Andrew Cao and Raymond J. Lee deserve credit for even being able to play their roles as Luke and John, the Chinese converts.  So steeped in racial stereotypes, I felt embarrassed for them, especially considering that if the characters in question were of say, African-American descent, the roles would have been rewritten or excised completely.  The vastly experienced Walter Charles is totally wasted as the ship's captain, though I'm sure he is thrilled to cashing a check each week, and Robert Creighton as the ship's purser is just plain embarrassing as he wallows in TV sitcom style pratfalls and horrific line readings; thankfully his is a small role.

"It's De-lovely":
Laura Osnes and Colin Donnell

Of the principal roles, some come out terrifically, others not so much.  Laura Osnes has proven herself to be an actual Broadway baby, not reality star winner; here she does what she can with a basically one-note role, the pretty, pouty ingenue with a lovely soprano voice.  What saves her is that she has stage presence to spare and never disappears into the background; as such, too, she is an excellent scene partner, often the straight man to the (lame) funny lines thrown at her.  Jessica Walter still has her Neil Simon-esque timing, a real asset the few times she gets to do anything important. The rest of the time, she seems to be trying to beef up her presence through an odd series of facial contortions that might play better on TV than they do here.  Both actresses are quality stock, and would have benefited greatly from a bit more direction.  Of all of the principal ladies, only Jessica Stone (so great in the 94 revival of Grease!) seems to be in a 30's musical comedy, playing the sassy, slightly naughty worldly gal to the hilt.  With a veritable wink and nudge to our collective ribs, she controls every scene she is in with a sharp delivery and a tired, almost bored lilt.  She knows she is playing a stupid part in a stupid show and makes silk out of a sow's ear without ever resorting to obvious, audience-pleasing acting tricks.  She is the real deal and thank God for her.

As Lord Evelyn Oakley, the aforementioned fish out of water Brit, Adam Godley wisely refrains from obvious shtick and endless mugging, though his rather strange permanent facial expression always looks like he's about to break out a silly face.  But he isn't really convincing with his running gag about not understanding "Americanisms." And he plays it completely straight as if this were a serious drama.  Worst of all, he has zero chemistry with Reno Sweeney, crucial to the proper playing of the final (highly improbable as played here) scene.  On the other hand, there is the always delightful John McMartin, a theatre legend in his own right, as the drunken tycoon.  He is one of just a few actors that understands the style required to put over this kind of role, and, therefore, even in such a supporting role, there is a certain comfort to be had simply because he is onstage.  He plays the thinking on his feet drunk to perfection, sputtering and stuttering and still making hilarious sense.  Heck, he even makes the bizarre bit Marshall has him doing with a stuffed animal throughout the show actually work.

"You're the Top":
Colin Donnell and Sutton Foster

Colin Donnell as Billy Crocker, the central male ingenue and plot point of the show has "BIG BROADWAY STAR" written all over him.  A true triple-threat, he can sing a wide range, play romantic, silly, physical and serious styles of acting, and he dances like a young Astaire (OK maybe not THAT good, but he really sticks out, he is so good).  And, of course, there are his matinee idol looks that play well with the female ingenue, the funny man and the sassy brassy star.  What a shame he isn't in a better show.  I'm sure this won't be last we've seen of him unless some savvy Hollywood type offers him the keys to that kingdom.  Partly because he manages to work in the correct style and because his charisma matches that of his two co-stars, the three of them come across much better in the theatre than they do after some thought about the production some time later.

While there is no doubting that Joel Grey is a major draw here, those going to see their favorite Wicked Wizard may be sorely disappointed.  In this production he is going much farther back in his acting history to draw upon styles of acting no longer generally practiced in the modern musical, but entirely apropos here.  It is when he gives a broader edge and a literal look to the audience that his character, Moonface Martin, Public Enemy #13, truly takes flight.  Why?  Because of his acknowledgement that the upcoming and ongoing silliness is all part of the game he is playing, we can go willingly into that absurdity as co-conspirators, rather than observing something that is just plain ridiculous with someone else playing it straight.  He has the good fortune to have nearly all of his scenes with Ms. Stone who is his perfect foil, and with Mr. Donnell, who slides easily into that frame of mind.  One wishes, though, that amidst all of that knowing wink and nudge play with the audience that occasionally he'd dial back the cutie pie aren't-I-a-cute-old-guy-who-still-has-it thing.  Of course, being a consummate actor for several generations, he can't help himself since he only does the overreaching thing when he's in scenes with his other co-star.  He is trying, it seems, to match her, move for move.

"Friendship":
Joel Grey and Sutton Foster

Let me just say right here that it pains me to say anything negative about Sutton Foster.  She is the kind of actress I'd go to see just to read the phonebook out loud, and I thoroughly enjoyed her every time I've seen her, even in shows I really didn't like.  And it is difficult to explain why I think she is a complete miscast as Reno Sweeney, especially since, as every critic under the sun has said, she is a genuine triple threat Broadway Star.  But it goes back, I think, to my original thought about the whole show: there is a huge difference between technical proficiency and artistry.  Now I haven't had the good fortune to have seen every single show she's done, but what I have seen her do always goes well beyond nailing her lines, dancing her long legs off and singing any score like bird.  She always brings a genuineness and humanity to every part she plays.  That is really saying something when you consider that in Shrek she managed to sell a song about burping and farting like it was tenderest ballad ever written.  But here, well, she seems lost at sea. 

Don't get me wrong.  She is fully committed - an excellent, exciting dancer, and a pretty funny jokester, and Cole Porter would probably love to have written for her.  Yet, everything about her performance seem like she is playing dress up, trying on wigs and costumes, odd occasional accents, and fake Merman-esque line readings for a real part she hopes to play 15 years from now.  The truth is, she can't hide her natural bent toward the wide-eyed but always smart young woman roles (like Jo, Fiona, Millie) that are her forte.  Her Reno is chock full of smarts, quick barbs and sassy back talk, but those are the lines she supposed to say; she makes them very hard to believe.  And her serious pushing to nail things betrays what appears to be a lack of confidence in her ability with this role, because for the first time, I am seeing her mug for the audience and try to divert our attention with some seriously bizarre eye movements and mid-sentence accent changes. 

There are certainly moments where it doesn't matter if this glass slipper doesn't exactly fit her - "Anything Goes" is sure exciting to watch when someone with her skill set is front and center.  And when she's being girlishly charming as when she sings "You're the Top" with Mr. Donnell, it also works because she is abandoning Reno and giving us Sutton.  Only when she is in direct scenes with Mr. Grey, like "Friendship," where she looks like she wants to squeeze his cute cheeks and koochy-coo him, or when they get to do a few over the top nearly vaudevillian scenes together, does Ms. Foster's performance even approach what her character should be.  All three work best together because combined, they are unstoppable; separately they struggle. 

Colin Donnell, Sutton Foster,
Joel Grey and Reno's Angels

Mostly, though, I think Ms. Foster would come off much better had she had a little more direction that made her and everything around her one cohesive show, not groups of people all on the same boat but all getting off at different places.  And that has all to do with the direction.  Any good coach will tell you that you need the basics, the skills, the technical perfection to do well no matter the game.  But an excellent one will tell you that you need to understand that there is more to whatever you are doing than just doing it correctly.  Passion, flare and a respect for what you are working with will make you even better than perfect.

(Photos by Joan Marcus)

Comments?  Leave one here, email me at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com or Tweet me!
Jeff 
2.237

Sunday, April 24, 2011

TheatreScene: April 18 - 24

HAPPY EASTER!

BE SURE TO CAST YOUR VOTE IN THIS MONTH'S POLL (TO YOUR RIGHT)!

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?  BECOME A "FOLLOWER"!

 
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THIS WEEK!:

SPECIAL JK'S THEATRESCENE DISCOUNT FOR THE NORMAL HEART ON BROADWAY:



TOPS AND BOTTOMS (April 11 - 17)
  • Top Gross: Wicked ($1.66M)
  • Bottom Gross: High ($91K)
  • Top Attendance: The Book of Mormon (102.4%)
  • Bottom Attendance: Million Dollar Quartet (43.4%)
  • $1M Club: Mary Poppins, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, The Lion King, Wicked
  • SRO Club: Anything Goes, The Book of Mormon, War Horse

BROADWAY BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK:
  • April 18: Actor Gavin Creel (Hair, Thoroughly Modern Millie)
  • April 19: Actor Betsy Joslyn (Sweeney Todd - original, Into the Woods - original)
  • April 20: Actor Jessica Lange (A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie)
  • April 21: Actor Patti LuPone (Evita, Anything Goes - 1987, Women on the Verge...)
  • April 22: Actor Alan Campbell (Hello, Again - revival, Sunset Boulevard)
  • April 23: Actor David Larsen (American Idiot, Billy Elliot, Good Vibrations)
  • April 24: Actor Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl, I Can Get It for You Wholesale)

OPENING AND IN PREVIEWS THIS WEEK ON BROADWAY:


  • Baby It’s You!: Previews - March 26; Opening - April 27
  • The House of Blue Leaves: Previews - April 4; Opening - April 25
  • The Normal Heart: Previews - April 19; Opening - April 27
  • The People in the Picture: Previews - April 1; Opening - April 28
  • Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark: On Hiatus.  Previews - November 28, 2010; Previews Resume: May 12; Opening – June 14

COMINGS AND GOINGS
Casting
  • Jane Krakowski, Tony winner for Nine, co-star of Grand Hotel: The Musical, and current star of TV's 30 Rock gave birth to her first son on April 13.  Congratulations, Jane!
  • The First Lady of American Theatre, Helen Hayes, will be commemorated on a "Forever" stamp by the United States Postal Service.  The stamp will be unveiled at the 2011 Helen Hayes Awards in Washington, DC on April 25.  Ms. Hayes is the only actor to have two Broadway theatres named after her, and is one of only 12 performers to have won a Tony, an Oscar, an Emmy and a Grammy.
  • Cousin Brucie Morrow, legendary 50's, 60's and 70'd DJ will be a special guest star in Memphis for the week of May 3 - 8.  The stint includes a special scene specifically written for him by Tony winner Joe DiPietro.
  • Christopher Tierney has been cleared by doctors to return to rehearsals for Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.  Finally, some excellent news for that show!
  • Tony winner Catherine Zeta-Jones, fresh from her self-imposed "rest," will be in the Rock of Ages film, in a villainous role created especially for her.  She will be singing "Hit Me with Your Best Shot."
Shows

  • The cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert will be honored by the Family Equality Council on April 25, in recognition of their efforts to help LGBT families.
  • The 25th Annual Easter Bonnet Competition being held on April 25 and 26, will have a veritable who's who of Broadway involved including Sutton Foster, Kathleen Turner, Daniel Radcliffe, Harvey Fierstein, Nick Adams, Robin Williams and Christie Brinkley.  My money is on How to Succeed to win for the most money collected.  Saturday night, they earned $7,200 in about 5 minutes for two bow ties and a meet and greet with Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette!
  • There will be no public tickets on available for this years Tony Awards at the Beacon Theatre.  You can see better at home, anyway!
Milestones
April 18:
  • The play Clybourne Parkwon the Pulitzer Prize for drama 2011.
  • The current revival of La Cage aux Folles celebrated one year on Broadway!
April 19:
  • High, starring Kathleen Turner, opened at the Booth Theatre.
April 20:
  • American Idiot celebrated one year on Broadway!
  • Sister Act opened at the Broadway Theatre.
  • High announced its closing for April 24, 2011.
April 21:
  • Jerusalem opened at the Music Box Theatre.
April 24:
  • The revival of Born Yesterday opened at the Cort Theatre.
  • High closed at the Booth Theatre after 8 performances.
  • American Idiot closed at the St. James Theatre after 422 performances.

BROADWAY HISTORY: IMPORTANT OPENINGS OVER THE YEARS:
April 18:

  • 1994: Disney's Beauty and the Beast opened at the Palace Theatre.  The show changed Broadway forever, and ran 5,461 performances.
  • 2002: Thoroughly Modern Millie opened at the Marquis Theatre, won the Best Musical Tony and ran for 903 performances.
  • 2005: The Light in the Piazza opened at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center.  Victoria Clark (Tony winner), Kelli O'Hara and Matthew Morrison starred.  The show ran 504 performances.
April 19:
  • 1945: Groundbreaking Carousel opened at the Majestic Theatre, bringing spousal abuse and suicide to the musical stage.  It ran 890 performances.
  • 1979: The Elephant Man opened at the Booth Theatre, earning Carole Shelley a Tony and a Best Play award to booth.  It closed after 916 performances, including a stink by David Bowie.
  • 2001: They predicted it would run for decades, but it lasted just under 6 years. It won more Tonys than any show ever, and it brought Premium seating ($425.00 per orchestra seat) to the masses, to "help keep scalpers from bilking too much money out of the audiences' pocketbooks."  Huh?  So we should give too much money to Mel Brooks instead?  The Producers opened at the St. James and closed after 2,502 performances.
April 21:
  • 1977: Annie opened at the Alvin Theatre.  The sun came out for 2,377 performances worth of tomorrows.
April 22:

  • 1993: Another show they said would run for years lasted just over 2 at the St. James Theatre.  The Who's Tommy played 899 performances.
April 23:
  • 1963: She Loves Me, widely considered to be one of Broadway's greatest, most perfect musicals opened at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, where it ran a surprisingly short 301 performances.
  • 1997: Like a certain show this year, this show had huge previews issues, terrible word of mouth and a ship that didn't sink.  But Titanic opened, took Broadway by storm, and sailed 804 times at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

BROADWAY VIDEO OF THE WEEK: 
Broadway Says "It Gets Better" with the November 2010 "You Are Not Alone" Concert benefiting The Trevor Project.  Betty Buckley, Aaron Lazar, Seth Rudetsky and many more Broadway celebrities participated in this event.


Sing For Hope from Kelly Reed on Vimeo.



Jeff 
2.236
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