THIS WEEK @ JK's TheatreScene

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

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

Jeff

Saturday, June 30, 2012

#SIP Broadway Cuts Up During Two Show Saturdays

DON'T FORGET TO VOTE FOR THE NEXT TWO BROADWAY BOYS 
TO MAKE THE "HOT/HOTTER" ELITE 8!  
PLUS! THERE'S A NEW MONTHLY BROADWAY POLL!
BOTH ARE TO YOUR LEFT!

UPDATE: This article has been modified since its original posting. The modification is underlined below.

One of the nominees for this year's JKTS Awards in the Social Media category was #SIP and a few of you wrote to ask what the heck that is!  Well, it is a Twitter hash tag that means "Saturday Intermission Pics."  It is added to the end of any Tweets sent by cast members of shows on Broadway, off-Broadway and on tour who send attached pictures of they are doing during the Saturday intermissions of their shows.

Not too surprisingly, this was the brainchild of one Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Mr. April 20112, Crutchie in Disney's Newsies), Broadway's resident social media guru, Max von Essen (Mr. July 2012, Magaldi in Evita) and a mutual friend, Darryl, while all three were appearing in shows on the road about three years ago.  Now that both von Essen and Keenan-Bolger are back on Broadway at the same time, they decided to start it back up again.  It spread like wild fire, and now Broadway fans who follow them and others in the community (or you can follow me, @jkstheatrescene), and look up #SIP on Twitter, can see these pictures twice a day each weekend.  I know I look forward to them!

As you'll see from some of the samples I've included, these people have as much fun off stage as they do on. I think it is cool to see backstage - dressing rooms, behind the curtain, and in other areas of the theatre audiences don't get to go.  I also appreciate the feeling of fun and camaraderie between the cast members.  Broadway really is like family.  And with that, not all of the #SIPs are funny.  Some are tributes to departing company members, and, entire shows that are closing.

The following are pictures from the past few weeks, including this afternoon.  Enjoy:

ANDREW KEENAN-BOLGER AND
THE CAST OF DISNEY'S NEWSIES


Switching roles! (A K-B and dressing roommate, Ben Fankhauser)

The Newsies, uh, give themselves a hand?

Ryan Steele can afford a slice of cake, guilt-free!
Have you seen him dance?
Kara Lindsay and Capathia Jenkins fight over the last piece!

If Newsies were KISS...
BACKSTAGE ANTICS ALL OVER 
AMERICA'S STAGES

As you can probably guess, the National Tour of Mamma Mia
is in Hershey, Pennsylvania
Even without an intermission, the National Tour of
American Idiot managed to take an #SIP!
Pittsburgh is where Sally Struthers
and the cast of Annie took their #SIP!
THOSE WACKY BROADWAY KIDS CUTTING UP BACKSTAGE

She's practically perfect, but he's...um...
Amra-Faye Wright plays dress up at Chicago
Space must be REALLY tight backstage at
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
Anything Goes' sexy Brandon Rubendall
and his little friend look forward to an after show drink
There was bound to be
a little potty humor, right?
The Phantom of the Opera ballerinas
catch up on some reading
Sometimes intermission means working:
Nice Work If You Can Get It rehearses a swing for her Broadway debut!!

A LITTLE BACKSTAGE BEEFCAKE
(OF COURSE!)

God, those Book of Mormon boys are hot!
Mamma Mia! Here we go again... my my...
Even with their shirts on, those Ghost guys are SMOKIN' HOT!

EVITA'S MAX VON ESSEN IS A ONE-MAN
CUT UP BACKSTAGE





AND, FINALLY, GOODBYE #SIPS


ABOVE
Andrew Rannells' last day at The Book of Mormon


The little girls of Evita bid the Perons, "Adios" today!

The Cast of Godspell says, "Goodbye, Broadway!
Until we meet again!"

Even on its last day, Priscilla was all glitter, tons of make up, and a ton of heart!
Come back soon, Will and Nick!


A fitting farewell from  Jesus Christ Superstar

And just today... saying good bye to Peter and the Starcatcher's
Tony-winning Christian Borle, who plays his final show
tonight, Saturday, June 30, 2012.
Don't do Twitter??  Starting next week, I'll be pinning my favorite #SIPs at Pinterest.
(Click on the Pinterest logo to your right and see!)


Jeff
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Friday, June 29, 2012

HOT/HOTTER: The Semi-Finals: Round 3


BE SURE TO TAKE THIS MONTH'S THEATRE POLL - TO YOUR LEFT!

Well, we are half way there picking The Elite 8!  To see who has made the cut so far, click on the "Hot/Hotter" tab at the top o the page.

The HOT/HOTTER "tournament" is back!  Over the winter and spring, we selected the "Sweet 16" on our way to finding Broadway's most uniquely good-looking guy, and over the next two weeks we will narrow it down to"The Elite 8".  Each Friday, there will be 2 pairs of Broadway Boys, and you will pick the hottest guy of EACH pair. (You will pick TWO guys each week.)  This week is Mark Aldrich vs Matthew Risch and Adam Chanler-Berat vs Bobby Steggert!  I think there is someone here for any type you could ask for!  Good luck!

To see who won last week and to check out the entire "The Sweet 16" click HERE.

NOTE: Your participation in this or any survey on this blog is anonymous.

THE HOT/HOTTER TOURNAMENT 
SEMI-FINALS: ROUND 3
(Be sure to scroll down and vote for BOTH pairs!)

PAIR #1: Which guy is the hottest? 
Peter and the Starcatcher's Adam Chanler-Berat or 
Ragtime's Bobby Steggert?



ADAM CHANLER-BERAT (LEFT) AND BOBBY STEGGERT (RIGHT)




ADAM CHANLER-BERAT (TOP, RIGHT) AND BOBBY STEGGERT (BOTTOM)

PAIR #2: Which guy is the hottest?
Newsies' Mark Aldrich or 
Other Desert Cities' Matthew Risch?




MARK ALDRICH (LEFT) AND MATTHEW RISCH (RIGHT)





MARK ALDRICH (TOP, 2ND FROM LEFT) AND MATTHEW RISCH (BOTTOM)

Be sure to scroll down and complete BOTH polls.  
Hit "Submit" each time.






THANKS FOR VOTING!  LOOK FOR ROUND 4 NEXT FRIDAY!
AND WHILE YOU ARE HERE, VOTE IN THIS MONTH'S THEATRE POLL 
(TO YOUR LEFT)



Jeff
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@jkstheatrescene (Twitter); jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com (email); Comment below (Blogger)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

...Another New Trend Gets Started: Adorable Urchins


PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO VOTE IN THIS WEEK'S SEMI-FINAL ROUND OF "HOT/HOTTER" AND THIS MONTH'S THEATRE POLL 
- BOTH TO YOUR LEFT!

As I wrote earlier, Broadway appears to be riding a couple of trends that are just getting started, but by this time in the next two years or so, the New York theatre scene should be teeming with high school teen angst and enough street urchins to make Fagin want to split and run screaming for the hills.  They are closely related, at least demographically, and may even morph into to one "Super Trend," but for now I'll separate the two.  The other day, I talked about 3 musicals dealing with the growing pains of high school. (Click HERE for that blog, and HERE for a blog about the waning trend of religion on Broadway.) Today, let's look at shows that deal with those adorable urchins.

GETTING STARTED





Urchins Change the World: Disney's Newsies

  • Fits the Mold: They sing.  They dance (boy, do they!). And they are parent-less boys trying to make a living on the mean streets of 1899 New York City.
  • Their Endearing Qualities: They are sexy 20-somethings playing teenage kids. They are charming, street-wise kids who will stop at nothing to sell the public a "pape" or two.  When you throw in the alternatives: starvation or being sent off to a workhouse to abused, even the less cute ones become cuddly.
  • Fighting the Good Fight: These guys are up "the Man" aka Joseph Pulitzer, who tries to screw them in the name of profits.  The boys try to play fair, then organize a union, and Pulitzer still tries to screw them.  They sill manage to overcome by doing the right thing.  You gotta love a street urchin who can do that, right?
  • Trend Setter: Themes common with today (a flagging economy, big business, Wall Street and the government screwing us) makes us all Newsies in a way.  Come November, we better get our stuff together and "Seize the Day" or we are in for a rougher time, I bet.



COMING VERY SOON




Urchins Change the World: Annie

  • Fits the Mold: The curly-haired kid with the red dress and the mangy mutt doesn't just fit the mold, she and Oliver Twist created it decades ago.  This little orphan and her legion of cloying, too cute for their own good bratty orphan friends are back.  Again.  To remind us that tomorrow, is indeed, only a day away.
  • Their Endearing Qualities: Well, Annie herself is so damned cute and charming, she melts the heart of an iceberg millionaire.  Her orphan co-conspirators - with cute names like Pepper - are adorable even if they over do it with cheesy smiles and faux battle ready moves.  Of course, they get to battle one of Broadway's favorite villains while doing it - the pickled Miss Hannigan.
  • Fighting the Good Fight: Annie is an orphan.  Check.  Along the way, the plight of the homeless and disenfranchised is brought up.  Check.  And dropped like a campaign promise.  Check.  And a rich guy gets his away. Again. Check.
  • Trend Setter: Another timely show - the economy sucks, the good guys are being beaten down by big business, the headlines are full of child abuse cases.  Nothing screams Broadway musical like poverty and neglect, right?  But bring in some 13 year-olds who look 8 years old and a dog, and you have acceptable mismanagement of a public orphanage, the glorification of alcoholism and a rude stereotype of a Middle Eastern male a family-friendly musical to bring your little girls to!


IN THE PIPELINE





Urchins Change the World: Matilda

  • Fits the Mold: On the surface of it, this show sounds like the British version of Annie: its central character is an endearing, down-on-her-luck child, who wins over the good guys with her pluck and determination.  But leave it to the late, great children's author, Roald Dahl, to make this young lady so much more.
  • Their Endearing Qualities: Matilda is despised by her parents, who wanted a boy, anyway.  She is despised by the evil school headmistress for being too smart and too creative, and her classmates hate her for that and more.  But her teacher recognizes her smarts and beauty and adores the child.
  • Fighting the Good Fight: Matilda is a neglected child.  She escapes from her existence by exploiting her gifts: smarts and imagination.  She does it all by... READING!
  • Trend Setter: Dahl specialized in neglected children with vivid imaginations who do extraordinary things in every day circumstances (he also wrote, among other things, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Danny: Champion of the World  and James and the Giant Peach, and Matildacertainly joins those ranks.  It has also won more Olivier Awards than any other show in London Theatre history - including Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables and Miss Saigon.  There is the added bonus that this show should delight audiences of children AND the adults that take them to see it.


Coming soon:  a third trend coming to the New York TheatreScene this season and next: fairy tales.

Jeff
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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

TheatreScene Chat: An Interview with Claybourne Elder, Part I

I am so thrilled and honored to bring you this latest interview with one of Broadway's brightest up and coming stars, Claybourne Elder.  After making a name for himself in regional theatre (which he continues to do), he came to New York and landed a dream role in the off-Broadway production of Stephen Sondheim's Road Show, and has partnered with director Moises Kaufman in productions of Into the Woods and Tennessee Williams' One Arm.  He was honored with a Drama Desk Award nomination for his role in the latter.  For Broadway audiences, he is probably best known for playing Buck Barrow, brother to Clyde Barrow (Jeremy Jordan) in the musical Bonnie and Clyde.  In part one of this interview, Elder talks about that show, the fan support and taking to social media.  He also talks about what he considers his greatest theatrical experience to date, playing a boxer in One Arm.


Jeff Kyler (JK): Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me, Clay.  First of all, congratulations on making your Broadway debut in Bonnie & Clyde.  Despite its short run, was your debut everything you dreamed it would be?  What about opening night?  

Claybourne Elder (CE):  Thank you so much! It was a huge thrill to work on Bonnie and Clyde, not only because I loved the show and my character, but [because] the company was amazing. Many of us had been working on the show for 2 or 3 years together and had gone out of town twice. And because both of our out of town runs happened in the fall over the holidays we had spent 3 Thanksgivings and Christmases (and Channukahs) together. So by the time our Broadway opening came, it was a little like graduation and a birthday and a wedding. I’ve never had so many flowers in my entire life, haha.  

JK: You played Buck Barrow in the out of town try out in Florida.  From what I’ve read, the show was a critical and popular success there.  Were you (and the rest of the company) surprised at the somewhat colder critical response in New York?  When I saw the show, right after it opened, the place was packed and the audience was very into the whole show.  Were those weeks after opening difficult or was the audience response motivational?

CE: You know, the strange thing about our little run of Bonnie and Clyde was that we were never really that empty. Critics have their opinions, but the public support of our show was really strong. But because we had all been working so long and hard on it together, we were all just happy it happened. It was really sad to see it close, I won’t lie, but better to have loved and lost…right?

"The Barrow Gang": Blanche, Buck, Clyde and Bonnie
(Melissa Van Der Schyff, Claybourne Elder, Jeremy Jordan, Laura Osnes)

"When I Drive" - Claybourne Elder and Jeremy Jordan

Claybourne Elder and Melissa Van Der Schyff

JK: Were you aware of the mostly positive fan response in social media circles?  Surely you know that theatre bloggers and message board posters are the most critical, hard to please, and yet those same people (myself included) still talk about Bonnie and Clyde as being one of the better experiences of last season.  Why do you think there is such a disparity in the reactions of the critics vs. the public?

CE:  That’s such great news!! I don’t think I was really aware of that!! I try to stay far away from response to the show when its going on. Some people like to read everything written about the show, but I’m just not one of those people. So its great to know that fan and social media response was so great! I did have a BLAST Tweeting during the show with fans. I love it when people Tweet at me with questions and stuff; it's fun to know people care about what's going on in the theatre world and I like providing info!

JK: Speaking of social media, how much of a role do you think it really plays in promoting shows, actors and creative types?  Some producers seem to really embrace it, while others seem to remain firmly in the old school ways.  As an actor, how does having people’s opinions being so “in your face” effect you?  How important do you think social media is in getting yourself out there and recognized?  Is it all about self-promotion for career advancement or an exercise in ego?  Or both?

CE: Well, I never had used my Twitter account much until Bonnie and Clyde, when my cast mate Tad Wilson told me how much fun he has with it and told me that I should really start out. I started Tweeting funny things that had happened backstage, etc., and started getting more followers. I don’t like to think of it as a promotional tool, really. That seems a little cold, perhaps. I mean, I always Tweet about concerts I’m doing etc… but the difference is that people who choose to follow my Tweets want (hopefully) to hear that info. I also Tweet a lot of really stupid stuff about my garden or silly things that happen in the city.

Twitter pic: Elder collects his Buck Barrow blood
in a jar after each show!

JK:  Before we leave the subject of Bonnie and Clyde, here are a couple of questions for you, submitted by readers of this blog.  First up, is BnCBwayFan, who asks:  [What was your] favorite “Buck” moment in B and C? 

CE: Getting baptized. In each of the three productions they tried their best to make this moment happen. First in La Jolla they used a hose, which a stage hand would spray me down with as I laid down to be baptized. A chilling surprise every night. Then at the Asolo they used buckets of water which several stage hands would throw at me simultaneously. The first time we did it in tech we had to stop because everyone on stage looking down into the hole busted out in uncontrollable laughter, but the audience never knew and it got the job done! When I finally got Buck’s Jacuzzi, as I called it, in the Broadway production it felt like we’d made it. During the tech I swam around in the warm water, it was lovely.

Elder and his "bestie" at the Opening Night Party
for Bonnie and Clyde

JK:  And Jackie F. wants to know: Just how amazing was it to work with Jeremy Jordan?  Laura Osnes?  Melissa Van Der Schyff?

CE: I love those guys. Jeremy just asked me to be a groomsman in his wedding, Laura brings over her dog for play dates, and I can’t say enough about Melissa. She is my best friend. We’re constantly scheming up ways we can work together. We just did a reading of a new play across from each other J cross those fingers. We like to think of ourselves as one of those old time comedy duos.


ABOVE: As Lindbergh in First Flight
BELOW: with Bobby Daye in First Flight



JK: Throughout your career so far, you’ve gotten to play several “real-life” people - Charles Lindbergh (First Flight), Buck Barrow - and characters based on real life people - the one armed boxer, your role in Road Show.  How do you prepare for these roles?  Lots of research?  Working with a dramaturg?  Is it much different than preparing for completely fictional roles?  How so?



CE: These are my dream roles! My degree is actually in Dramaturgy, and so whenever I get cast in roles based on reality I start to drool a little at the thought of all the reading I’ll get to do. (Wow, I just geeked out A LOT). I love diving into the history behind characters and what could have influenced them. Everyone comes at their character creation process from a different angle, and mine is of the Actor/Dramaturg. So, as I’ve sought out experiences that I feel I can bring the most to, those are usually the ones that I end up working on.







JK: You made quite an impression with critics and audiences alike in the Tennessee Williams play One Arm where you played a one-armed boxer.  Congratulations on all of the accolades.  Even describing it sounds exciting and challenging.  How difficult was the role?  What were the challenges of playing a one armed guy, especially a boxer? 



CE: One Arm is by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever put myself through and definitely the most rewarding personally. I trained for 2 hours a day to get in shape, I worked with a boxing instructor and a dialect coach, I, of course, read up on the period and boxing…it was a mountain of work. I became a monk for the show for several months. But I loved the work so fiercely that it wasn’t a chore. The story was so beautiful and redemptive. There are many times I have wished for just one more performance of that show. Most people know me from my work in Bonnie and Clyde, a show that I’m also incredibly proud of, but this little show that only ran for a few months is so dear to my heart.


Part II of this interview will post next Thursday, July 5.  Come back to find out:
  • Clay's Book of Mormon "confession"
  • How he views being an openly gay actor and such groups as Broadway Impact and the It Gets Better campaign
  • And his most embarrassing moment working with Stephen Sondheim
  • PLUS: he answers more of YOUR questions!
READ PART 2 NOW!  CLICK HERE!

(Photos of Bonnie and Clyde by Nathan Johnson. Other photos provided by Mr. Elder: TOP: by Andrew Parsons; BOTTOM: photos from One Arm and First Flight)

Jeff
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