THIS WEEK @ JK's TheatreScene

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HERE'S WHAT'S NEW:

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

Monday, October 31, 2011

NEW CONTEST! Win Tickets to Broadway's LYSISTRATA JONES!

When I saw Lysistrata Jones off-Broadway last summer, I hoped that it would go on to a longer life.  I didn't dare dream that it would go all they way from the tiny Gym at Judson to Broadway, but I should have had faith!  Just like the sassy title character, this little show is going large and taking charge! 


And you could win tickets to see Lyssie J., her girls and the poor guys at Athens U. who aren't "getting any."  That's right!  Follow the contest all week right here at JK's TheatreScene, and send in your entry.  You could be one of two lucky winners of a pair tickets to see LYSISTRATA JONES ON BROADWAY!  (Don't like contests, but want to see the show for a special blogger rate?  Scroll to the bottom of this post for details and a discount code!)

Here is everything you need to know:

HOW TO PLAY:
  • Starting TODAY ( and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) there will be a trivia question at the end of my blog for the day. Each multiple-choice question will be somehow related to the musical Lysistrata Jones.
  • Collect each answer, and submit all 5 to me via email at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com.

Lysistrata Jones (Patti Murin, center) and the girls of Athens U.
HOW TO ENTER THE CONTEST:
Complete, acceptable entries will:
  • Put LYSISTRATA JONES CONTEST in the Subject Line
  • Include your name, city and state.
  • List the answers in order, with the correct letter or letters AND the answers (Ex. 1. B. Playbill Magazine)
  • I will collect entries between 4PM on Friday, November 4 and NOON on Sunday, November 6. No entries will be accepted after NOON (Eastern) on Sunday, November 6.
  • Any entry that does not meet the guidelines will be disqualified.
  • ONE ENTRY PER EMAIL ADDRESS. ONE WINNER PER HOUSEHOLD.
  • The winners will be selected at random from all entries that have all the correct answers. You will be notified via email if you have won by 6:30 PM Eastern on Sunday, November 6.


The Men's Basketball Team of Athens University
GO SPARTANS!
 THE PRIZE:
  • Two winners will receive one voucher, good for two complimentary tickets to Lysistrata Jones on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre. The vouchers are good for scheduled performances on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday from November 14 through December 8. (Availability of tickets is subject to prior sale and there may be blackout dates.)
  • You will need to be able to email or fax your voucher to the company, and provide both the voucher AND a photo ID in order to pick up tickets which will be held for you at the Box Office. You will need to send in your ticket request AT LEAST 96 hours in advance.

THE FINE PRINT:
  • JK's TheatreScene is NOT responsible for unreceived or returned emails. It is also not responsible for the rules/guidelines for redeeming winning vouchers, ticket availability or seat location, or who appears in any given performance or not.
  • Entries that do not meet the guidelines, or multiple entries from the same email or household will all be disqualified.

HOW TO GET SPECIAL DISCOUNT TICKETS:

Get special $50 tickets to LYSISTRATA JONES for 12 performances only! Performances begin on November 12!

  • Visit BroadwayOffers.com (http://www.broadwayoffers.com/go.aspx?MD=2001&MC=LJPVW50) and enter code LJPVW50
  • Call: 212.947.8844
  • Go to the Walter Kerr Theatre box office, 219 W. 48th St. between Broadway and 8th Ave., with this coupon and mention code LJPVW50

*Offer valid on all performances November 11 – November 23, 2011. Certain other blackout dates may apply. Subject to availability and prior. Not valid on previously purchased tickets and may not be combined with other offers. Applicable only to specified performance dates and times. All sales are final; no refunds or exchanges. Valid on select locations only. Seating restrictions may apply. Telephone/internet orders subject to standard Telecharge.com service fees. When purchasing at box office, present offer prior to ticket inquiry. Offer may be revoked at any time. Limit 19 tickets per person per week. Offer expires Nov. 23, 2011.


LYSISTRATA JONES TICKET CONTEST QUESTION #1:
1.  Lysistrata Jones is all about the Athens University Spartans Men's Basketball Team.   Which Broadway-bound play is also about basketball?

A.  Lombardi
B.  No Bull: The Michael Jordan Story
C.  Magic/Bird
D.  The Full Monty


Look for contest question #2 at the end of tomorrow's blog!
For more information on the show, go to: http://www.lysistratajones.com/ or www.Facebook.com/LyssieJones.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

TheatreScene: October 24 - 30

BE SURE TO COME BACK TOMORROW!  I'LL BE ANNOUNCING A NEW CONTEST FOR TICKETS TO ONE OF THIS FALL'S HOTTEST NEW MUSICALS!

 

 
BROADWAY VIDEO OF THE WEEK:

 


 
Which is how I got the...

 
BROADWAY PHOTO OF THE WEEK:

 
(Phioto: AP/Frank Ockenfels)
 
The 2012 revival cast of Evita: Ricky Martin, Michael Cerveris and Elena Roger.  The production begins previews on March 12, 2012 and will open on April 5 at the Marquis Theatre.  Michael Grandage directs and Rob Ashford choreographs.
 
NOW IN PREVIEWS ON BROADWAY:
 

 

 
  • Other Desert Cities: Previews: October 12; Opens November 3
  • Godspell: Previews: October 13; Opens November 7
  • Venus in Fur: Previews: October 13; Opens November 8
  • Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway: Previews: October 25; Opens November 10
  • Seminar: Previews: October 27; Opens November 20

 
Ch'ing.lish as seen by Squigs
 
Opened This Week:
  • Ch'ing.lish opened at the Longacre Theatre on October 27.  Its StageGrade.com average review grade is B+.

THE BIGGEST BROADWAY NEWS OF THE WEEK:

October 24:

  • Off-Broadway's The Fantasticks announced that Aaron Carter (Seussical, Dancing with the Stars) will take over the role of Matt on November 7.
  • And super congratulations to two of my favorite Broadway people - Marc Kudisch (Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Wild Party) and Shannon Lewis (How to Succeed..., Fosse) - who got married today!
October 25:

  • Adam Pascal began his run as Huey in Memphis today.
October 26:

  • The National Tour of Green Day's American Idiot, which starts officially in Toronto on December 28, will be headed by Van Hughes (he played Johnny on Broadway, too), Jake Epstein as Will and Scott J. Campbell as Tunny.  The soft launch of the tour will be December 21 and 22 in Utica, New York.
October 27:

  • The Tony Award competition just got two possible shows smaller.  Neither Hugh Jackman:Back on Broadway nor An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin will be eligible for the 2012 Tony Awards, unless the Tony Committe bestows special honors on them.
October 28:

  • The Mountaintop's Samuel L. Jackson has been officially named the highest-grossing film actor of all time by The Guinness Book of World Records.
  • There are some big changes coming to the Foxwoods Theatre in the coming weeks.  Peter Parker will have new Mary Jane Watson to love when Rebecca Faulkenberry (Rock of Ages) replaces Jennifer Damiano on November 6.  And Peter Parker will have a new spiritual guide when Christina Sajous (American Idiot, Baby, It's You) becomes Arachne after T.V. Carpio exits Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark on November 13.
October 30:


They even celebrate Wicked Day in London!

  • Today is Wicked Day.  Just in time for Halloween (the last eight, anyway), it is time to once again celebrate Broadway's biggest hit, Wicked, which opened 8 years ago today at the Gershwin Theatre.

Rate this blog below and leave your comments here, or by email at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com, or Tweet me!
Jeff
3.062

Saturday, October 29, 2011

LOGOS: Ch'ing.lish

Over the past week, one show about language opened and another began previews in Broadway.  Of course, they are both about much more, really.  But at their roots, words and the use of them play heavily in the themes, humor and ideas of both. 

The logos of both shows are similar in that both use the language angle centrally, and still both convey the differences of both productions.  Today, I'll take a look at David Henry Hwang's Ch'ing.lish.



The first show, which opened this week at the Longacre Theatre.  The main logo is simply the title, which tells us a lot.  It is in bright red (Chinese flag red?  Red China?) which is in a simple typeface.  How it is written tells us we must pay attention to the word itself.  That is it is written in the style of how words are printed in a dictionary.  Nothing signals "look at this word carefully" like a dictionary word!  But more subtly, and just as important, the background is a light grey closeup of rice paper, which, in combination with the title, suggests a juxtaposition of different cultures.


Click on the image to see it larger!


That same logo appears on the marquee of the theatre.  Instead of the rice paper, the light grey now is words and terms common in modern English.  These terms are not directly translatable from English to Chinese.  And smaller logo displays further highlight this clash of cultures.  Below is just one example of the "Chinglish" which is so important to the play.  And all of the examples on these displays also point out a certain sense of humor, also so important to the play.


Just how successful the play is in commenting on the culture clash of words between Chinese and English remains for me to see (next weekend!).  The critics seem divided on that, but all of them agree that the play is funny.  And these days, funny can be a very good thing.  As someone who loves language and clever word play, this logo makes me look forward to the show.



I don't think I'd be as excited had they stuck with the Chicago logo... aside from the photos and knowing the playwright, little about the play is revealed, and it sure is an unattractive blend of colors - yellow-orange, red, pink and blue?  Wow...

Grade: A



Rate this blog below and leave your comments here, or by email at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com, or Tweet me!
Jeff
3.061

Friday, October 28, 2011

And the Lloyd Webber Award Goes to...

Yesterday, I left off recounting my discussion with Mike about who we thought might be future recipients of Signature Theatre's Stephen Sondheim Award.  When we got to Harold Prince, we got back to Patti LuPone, the 2012 award winner.

It was then that we wondered, "If there was a similar award given in the name of Andrew Lloyd Webber, who would be so honored?"





Here are a few that we came up with (and some of their ALW credits):

Tim Rice
  • Lyricist Tim Rice - Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita
  • Actor Michael Crawford - The Phantom of the Opera, The Woman in White, The Wizard of Oz
  • Actress Sarah Brightman - Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Requiem
  • Actress Elaine Paige - Cats, Evita, Sunset Boulevard
  • Actress Betty Buckley - Cats, Song and Dance, Sunset Boulevard
Elaine Paige


Michael Crawford

  • Lyricist Charles Hart - The Phantom of the Opera, Aspects of Love
  • Lyricist Don Black - Tell Me on a Sunday, Starlight Express, Aspects of Love, Sunset Boulevard
  • Choreographer Gillian Lynne  - Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Aspects of Love
Gillian Lynne
  • Producer Cameron Mackintosh - Song and Dance, Cats, The Phantom of the Opera
  • Director Harold Prince - Evita, The Phantom of the Opera, Whistle Down the Wind

Which brings us back to Patti LuPone.  Do you think she'd even be considered?  On the plus side, Evita.  On the downside, Sunset Boulevard...

Who else do you think should considered for an Andrew Lloyd Webber Award?  Write in and let us know what you think!



Rate this blog below and leave your comments there or by email at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com, or Tweet me!
Jeff
3.060

Thursday, October 27, 2011

And the Sondheim Award Goes to...

A few days ago, the Tony Award-winning regional theatre, The Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia announced that the 2012 recipient of its Stephen Sondheim Award would be Patti LuPone.  The third winner of this prestigious honor, Ms. LuPone follows in the footsteps of Angela Lansbury (2010) and Bernadette Peters (2011).

A pretty clear choice, Ms. LuPone has played many of the principal female roles in the Sondheim canon, including Fosca from Passion, Joanne from Company, Mrs. Lovett from Sweeney Todd, and her Tony-winning turn as Rose in Gypsy.

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon and I am in Mike's car and we are returning from Philadelphia after seeing Aspects of Love.  The conversation topic: who else will likely receive the Sondheim Award?  At the time, we speculated that the award may or may not go only to actors who have made several appearances in Sondheim shows.  Since then, I found out, according to the blog D.C. Theatre Scene (no relation to this blog), "Signature Theatre gives the Sondheim Award annually to an individual for his or her career contributions to interpreting, supporting, and collaborating on Sondheim’s works."  So, Mike, it seems we were right to go beyond just actors in our speculation.


2011: Stephen Sondheim, Bernadette Peters (with her award),
and Signature Theatre (and Follies director) Eric Schaeffer
 Here are some of the names we came up with as potential future recipients (and a few of their Sondheim credits):

  • Actress Elaine Stritch - Company, A Little Night Music and renowned Sondheim interpreter.
  • Actor Victor Garber - Sweeney Todd, Assassins, several Sondheim tributes.
  • Actor Len Cariou - Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, several Sondheim tributes.

The OBC of Sweeney Todd with Sondheim Award winner
Angela Lansbury and potential winners Len Cariou and Victor Garber

  • Actor/Writer Nathan Lane - A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, book re-write of The Frogs.
  • Director/Writer James Lapine - Sunday in the Park with George, Passion, Into the Woods.
  • Director/Producer Harold Prince - West Side Story, Sweeney Todd, Company, Follies, Merrily We Roll Along.

When we got to Mr. Prince, it brought us back to Ms. LuPone, as he directed her in her Broadway triumph, Evita.  And that got us to thinking...

Harold Prince
What if there was an Andrew Lloyd Webber Award; who would receive that honor?  And we came up with quite a list!

Did Patti make that list, too?  Find out soon... in my next blog!

Who else might you give a Stephen Sondheim Award to?  Write in and let us know your thoughts!

(Photos by: Ari Mintz (LuPone); Russell Hirshon (Bernadette Peters 2011 Award Winner); LIFE Magazine (Sweeney Todd ); Elizabeth Hovic (Prince))


Rate this blog below and leave your comments here, or by email at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com , or Tweet me!
Jeff
3.059

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Broadway on TV: Dancing With The Stars

Well, I'm not full of myself enough to think that anyone from TV reads my little slice of the blogosphere, but I am glad that something I hoped for came true this week on Dancing with the Stars, with their tribute to Broadway. 

When I wrote my last rant, more than a few of you were quick to remind me that this very show has hosted performances from several musicals, including West Side Story, The Lion King and Mary Poppins.  Very true.  And several of you mentioned that relatively frequently the dances are done to show tunes and/or show tunes by way of jukebox musicals.  Again, very true.  And many of you reminded me that they try very hard to have "stars" without formal dance training.  Good point.  I'm guessing that would leave out a very large number of Broadway folks right off the bat.  OK, you win.

So, let's celebrate (with a couple small quibbles) what we've been given!

First!  How awesome that there was a great representation of what Broadway is - a mixture of classics, contemporary modern, and jukebox/tribute musicals.  We got everything from Guys and Dolls to Grease to The Phantom of the Opera to please those who love the classics.  We got Jersey Boys to appeal to the guys watching with their dolls at home, not to mention some cheeky Spamalot.  And we even got some RENT and Chicago.



Second!  There was also a nice compliment of Broadway "extras."  The opening came courtesy of the OBC of Sister Act, andthe rousing "Raise Your Voice." My girl and friend of this blog Kristin Chenoweth, with a really terrific mini-medley of "Maybe This Time" and "I Could Have Danced All Night" (Cabaret and My Fair Lady, respectively).  Aside from her typically terrific vocals, she also danced with the pros, something you don't see very often from the guests on the show.  Then there was the first group dance to another mini-medley of "Hey, Big Spender" and "The Money Song" from Sweet Charity and Cabaret, respectively.



Third!  The little things count in big ways.  How nice after 13 seasons to recognize musical director Harold Wheeler's 6 Tony nominations (including for orchestrating Hairspray, The Life, The Full Monty and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels)!  How about pretend awarding the two best dances with Tony Awards!?  Or Carrie Ann Inaba's tribute to Bob Fosse?

And the fun continued on the results show last night, too!  Kristin got to promote her new album and her upcoming ABC series.  And she still managed to promote the Great White Way!  Then there was the very well-danced (if vocally challenged) performance of "42nd Street," "Cool" and "In the Heights" (from, respectively, 42nd Street, West Side Story and In the Heights) starring Corbin Bleu and a great troupe of dancers, choreographed by Kenny Ortega.

That's 15 numbers from 14 musicals represent the very best of decades of the American musical.



Imagine that all of that and not a single jazz hand, despite several references to just that in the pre-dance packages.  And of course the gay stereotyping -  asking Carson Kressley to come back and "supervise" because it was such a shame that he got cut one week shy of Broadway week.  Would that "courtesy" have been extended to soccer player Hope Solo or conservative hard ass Nancy Grace? I doubt it.  But why Carson?  He has zero connection to Broadway.  He's gay and we all love musicals don't we?  Or how about when the hosts asked if dancing to Broadway show tunes made Rob Kardashian feel like more like the man his mother thinks he's becoming.  An uneasy giggle and then reference to the song he did dance to.  The only song not really written for a show, "Walk Like a Man" from Jersey Boys.

Like I've said before... Steps forward, steps backward.  I know.  At least there were steps.  Believe me, I'm grateful.

(Images from ABC Television.  The copyright is held by the network and producers of Dancing With the Stars.  No copyright infringement intended.)

Rate this blog below and leave your comments here, or by email at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com, or Tweet me!
Jeff
3.058

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Broadway Box Office Top 10: 10.17 - 10.23.11

The Broadway Box Office Top Ten for the Week of October 17 - 23: (26 productions)


The Book of Mormon: Number 1 again!

1. The Book of Mormon (Musical) Eugene O'Neill Theatre (1)
2. (tie) Disney's The Lion King (Musical) Minskoff Theatre (2)
2. (tie) War Horse (Play) Vivian Beaumont (3)
2. (tie) Wicked (Musical) Gershwin Theatre (4)
5. Jersey Boys (Musical) August Wilson Theatre (5)
6. Anything Goes (Musical Revival) Stephen Sondheim Theatre (7)
7. (tie) Relatively Speaking (Play) Brooks Atkinson Theatre (9)
7. (tie) Rock of Ages (Musical) Helen Hayes Theatre (-)
7. (tie) The Mountaintop (Play) Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (8)
10. Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (Musical) The Foxwoods Theatre (6)

The Mountaintop: Back in the Top Ten!

  • Biggest Increase in Attendance: Godspell (+9.1%)
  • Biggest Decrease in Attendance: Man and Boy (-6.6%)
  • Biggest Increase in Gross Receipts: The Mountaintop (+$130,047)
  • Biggest Decrease in Gross Receipts: The Lion King (-$108,174)
  • Highest Average Paid Admission: The Book of Mormon ($153.89)
  • Lowest Average Paid Admission: Chi' ng.lish ($52.31)

Despite a drop in revenue, Disney's The Lion King
is still one of Broadway's top shows.

( - ) : Last Week's Position in Top Ten


The Broadway Box Office Top 10 calculated it as follows:
  • Each show's percentage of capacity for the week is ranked from highest (#1) to lowest (#26).
  • Each show is ranked by average ticket price from highest (#1) to lowest (#26).
  • Any production that showed an improved capacity is deducted 1 point.
  • Any production that lost capacity had a point added to their total.
  • Any show with the same capacity as the prior week received a zero.
  • Any show that increased its total B.O. cash total is deducted 1 point.
  • Any show that lost total B.O. cash from the prior week had a point added.
  • The production with the biggest loss of capacity overall got an additional point added.
  • The production with the greatest gain in capacity got an additional point deducted.
  • The show with the lowest total points is number 1, second lowest is number 2, all the way 26.


 3.057
Jeff

Monday, October 24, 2011

REVIEW: Aspects of Love

Review of the matinee performance on Sunday, October 23, 2011.  At The Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, PA.  Starring Jennifer Hope Wills, Charles Hagerty, Paul Schoeffler, Danielle G. Herbert, Arin Edelstein, Jenna Brooke Scannelli and Laurent Giroux.  Musical direction by Douglass G. Lutz.  Choreography by Michelle Gaudette.  Direction by Bruce Lumpkin.  2 hours 25 minutes, including intermission.  Closed October 23.

Grade: A-

For the second time in as many months, I have managed to see shows that I did not really like, and ended up finding a new respect for both.  OK, so how I now feel about Aspects of Love isn't quite the euphoric transformation I felt after seeing the mesmerizing Follies, but I found out that it can be/is actually a fun, interesting two and half hour escape.  Unfortunately, I saw the final performance of the production at Philadelphia's historic Walnut Street Theatre - and I really mean HISTORIC!  This was the first production of its 203rd season.  Yes.  203rd season.  Since 1809, they have been producing seasons of shows.  But more about that in another blog...

I actually came to this production because my buddy Mike loves the score (not the lyrics as much).  He kept insisting that I really must have missed something when I saw it on Broadway in 1990.  I'll be completely honest.  I remembered 5 things about the original Broadway production.  I remember thinking, "there are about six characters and I'm not sure I could tell you who was who when it was all over."  I remember that the back wall looked like bricks until it inexplicably broke apart to look like a far off mountain range.  I remember a ton of scenery that got in the way more than it added to the show.  I remember giggling at the repetitive lyrics and completely motionless Marcus Lovett singing "Love Changes Everything."  And I remember being terribly bored until "Hand Me the Wine and the Dice," which is bad since it is in the 15th scene of the second act.


Note the spare scenery, gand projections and specific lighting

What a difference 21 years and considerably less leaden direction makes.  Director Bruce Lumpkin, whose credits include a resident directorship at Theatre Under the Stars, and working on several productions with the great Tommy Tune, has had his design team strip away any memory of its New York predecessor.  Gone are the heavy bricks, chunky scenery pieces and overly moody lighting.  In its place, beautifully realized panoramic projections, scenery pieces that suggest rather than tell us where we are, and an airy, yet sexy and mysterious series of gauzy sheer curtains hide, titillate and flow around the characters as they explore all (and I mean all) of the titular aspects of love. (Scenic design by John Farrell; costume design by Colleen Grady; lighting design by Jack Jacobs.) 

There was a refreshing and enlightening effortlessness about the entire production.  At its very core, this show is a romantic melodrama.  Hmm.  No.  At its core the show is an extreme melodrama, with a confident sexuality all wrapped up in a pretense of romance.  And Mr. Lumpkin has assembled a cast of actors that understand the complexity of it and also the simple silliness.  Let's face it.  If it is taken too seriously, you get eye-rolling boredom or uncomfortably slutty sexuality.  Instead, with a sense of humor and an understanding of the very operatic style of extreme emotions changing within a matter of minutes, the show is a lot of fun.  It asks a lot of the audience to believe it, but is made all the easier when the cast believes it.  And this cast of Broadway and regional veterans believes and delivers on all levels.


Alex with older Jenny
(Charles Hagerty and Jenna Brooke Scannelli)

Arin Edelstein makes the most of her limited act two stage time as Young Jenny.  In that short time, the actress manages to convey a young girl's love for her father, a respect for her oft-absent mother, and a maturity born of a childhood spent amongst constantly trysting adults.  Mid-scene (through some smooth, charming choreography by Michelle Gaudette) young Jenny morphs into more grown up Jenny.  And just as smoothly, Jenna Brooke Scannelli picks up right where her predecessor left off, this time growing into the kind of woman she has learned to be from her mother - exuding a smooth sexuality and an intense need to feel love and be loved.  Both young actresses are to be commended for such maturity and realism.  Meanwhile, saddled with the character the might represent both the love of friendship and that of unrequited love, but not fully realized in either way, Broadway veteran Laurent Giroux still manages to make a comfortable impression as Rose's manager and lifelong confidante.

Alex loves Rose...
(Charles Hagerty and Jennifer Hope Wills)

Rose loves George...
(Paul Schoeffler and Jennifer Hope Wills)

Although the plot takes us shakily into a love pentagon (if you add Jenny to the mix), there is, primarily, a central love quadrangle.  Alternately interesting, always sexy, and sometimes even laughable (thank God Don Black and Charles Hart have both improved their lyrics in subsequent shows) the four lead actors not only make it believable, but interesting and admirably honest.  As the earthy lover of both George and Rose (and eventually Alex), Danielle G. Herbert brings a bold sexuality and coy tease to the artist Giulietta.  Just as she seduces each of her lovers, so, too, does she seduce the audience, who was so clearly smitten with her that they probably never gave thought to all of the sex she was having with virtually everyone.  Her impassioned "Hand Me the Wine and the Dice" did not disappoint.  Broadway's Paul Schoeffler really delivered as knockoff artist George, a man with the ironically weak heart, who loves and accepts everyone - his nephew, his wife, his daughter, his lover.  Representing both the passionate lover of art and the passionate love of a father and husband, Mr. Schoeffler sings beautifully and is a tower of strength and a sweet puddle of lovesick mush, too.

...and Giulietta loves George and Rose!
(Danielle G. Herbert, Pauls Schoeffler and Jennifer Hope Wills)

Charles Hagerty does some very nice work with the somewhat complex character of Alex who ages some 17 years over the course of the play.  From lovesick and horny 17 year old who feels EVERYTHING to the adult Alex, who reaches out to everything to feel ANYTHING, Hagerty has the biggest journey to take.  He is a charming, good looking young man with a great voice.  He holds his own against the other three very strong types.  He is mostly successful, less so in the opening scenes, but fully engaging right to the very end.  I suppose that for any production of Aspects of Love to work, one must have a strong Rose, one capable of believable emotionally extreme mood swings, believable sexual fluidity, and also a strong inner core of loyalty over passion.  This production certainly had that in Jennifer Hope Wills, one of today's most appealing actresses, who can play a wide range from broad comedy to overwrought melodrama to sincere gravitas.  If she doesn't believe in the material, we can't believe in Rose's wild actions and ever-changing sexual tastes.  Ms, Wills' voice is stunning for its range - from operatic to Broadway belt to tender balladeer - and her charisma fairly fills up the enormous Walnut Street Theatre.

I should note that this production wisely uses the arrangement of "Love Changes Everything" that Andrew Lloyd Webber created for the Tony Awards to frame the show.  It is a wise move and sets up instantly the relationship between all of the principals, and makes the repetitive and often banal lyrics much less obvious and infinitely more interesting. 

Funny, that's just how I found this production to be: less obvious and infinitely more interesting than ever before.

(Production photos from Walnut Street Theatre, by Mark Garvin)

Rate this blog below and leave your comments there, or by email at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com, or Tweet me!
Jeff
3.056

Sunday, October 23, 2011

TheatreScene: The Week in Pictures: October 17 - 23

BROADWAY PHOTO OF THE WEEK:

Those "Beautiful Girls" are ghosts haunting the Marquis Theatre!
Photo by Christian Delcroix
The Follies ghosts - just in time for Halloween!  I love this feature at Playbill.com.  Every week, thay have a photo collection taken by a cast member of a Broadway show.  It is called "A Two Show Day with..." and the cast member chronivles his or her day from getting up at home, through morning rituals, to pre-matinee backstage goings on and during show backstage views.  Then it's all about the prep for the evening show, the show and saying, "good night!"  This photo comes from this week's "A Two Show Day with Christian Delcroix."  Check it out!  http://www.playbill.com/multimedia/gallery/3141

NEW AT THE BROADWAY BOX OFFICE:


Now In Previews:
  • Ch'ing.lish: Previews: October 11; Opens October 27
  • Other Desert Cities: Previews: October 12; Opens November 3
  • Godspell: Previews: October 13; Opens November 7
  • Venus in Fur: Previews: October 13; November 8

Relatively Speaking as seen by Squigs (left) and Ken Fallin (right)
Opened This Week:
  • Relatively Speaking opened at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on October 20.  The StageGrade.com median grade: C-.

THE BIGGEST BROADWAY NEWS OF THE WEEK:

October 18:

  • The 10th longest-running show in Broadway history celebrated its 10th anniversary today.  Thank you for the music, Mamma Mia!
  • Today, Broadway regulars Mary Testa, Julia Murney and Andrew Samonsky began performances off-Broadway of 5-time Tony nominee Michael John LaChuisa's new musical Queen of the Mist at Transport Group's space at The Gym at Judson.  That space was home to the Broadway-bound musical, Lysistrata Jones
October 19:

  • Memphis, the Tony-winning Best Musical of 2010, celebrated its 2nd Anniversary on Broadway today.
  • Patti LuPone will join the ranks of Angela Lansbury and Bernadette Peters as the 2012 recipient of the Stephen Sondheim Award given by Arlington, Virginia's Signature Theatre. She will receive the award at a gala in April 2012.
  • It was announced today that Peter and the Starcatcher would, in fact, be transferring to Broadway this spring.
  • Stephanie J. Block will be replacing Tony winner Sutton Foster in Anything Goes while Ms. Foster films a television pilot.
October 23:
  • Chad Kimball plays his final Tony-nominated performance in Memphis today.  Tony nominee Adam Pascal begins performances as Huey Calhoun on Tuesday, October 25.

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Jeff
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