Choir Boy - Opens: 1.8.19 True West - Previews: 12.27.18, Opens: 1.24.19 Be More Chill - Previews: 2.13.19, Opens: 3.10.19 Kiss Me, Kate - Previews: 2.14.19, Opens: 3.14.19 Ain't Too Proud - Previews: 2.28.19, Opens: 3.21.19 King Lear - Previews: 2.28.19, Opens: 4.4.19 Oklahoma! - Previews: 3.19.19, Opens: 4.7.19 Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus - Previews: 3.5.19, Opens: 4.11.19 Burn This - Previews: 3.15.19, Opens: 4,16.19 Hadestown - Previews: 3.22.19, Opens: 4.17.19

COMING UP ON THE BLOG: 12/17: Broadway Heat: The Cher Show Edition: Sweet 16 Round - 12/18: 2018 JKTS Awards: Naughty Fun, Fun, Fun! - 12/19: 2018 JKTS Awards: The Performances - 12/20: 2018 Broadway Trends and Traditions - 12/21: The Friday 5: The Best Broadway Debuts of 2018

CONTACT US: (Email) (Twitter) @jkstheatrescene (Instagram) jkstheatrescene

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Friday 5: 5 Most Underrated Performances of 2018

Today's Friday 5 continues our celebration of the Best of 2018 with a look at 5 male performers and 5 female performers whose work this season we feel has been underappreciated. They, or the show they are in, may have gotten great reviews, but they just don't seem to be as much a part of the conversation than others. Or maybe we just really liked them and no one else really noticed them. In any case, we want to take this time to recognize these terrific actors and their terrific performances. They made quite an impression!

The 5 Most Underrated Performances 
by an Actor in 2018

CHARLIE CARVER as Cowboy in The Boys in the Band

Considering the star power and intense verbal sparring in the recent revival of The Boys in the Band, it would seem almost impossible to notice a character who doesn't say much and spends a good deal of time with his back to the audience. But notice Charlie Carver we did. And, while his being charmingly adorable helped get him in the door, his complete and total engagement throughout and delightfully vacuous delivery were spot on, and he really stood out.

ANDREW DURAND as Musidorus in Head Over Heels

While Bonnie Milligan and Peppermint have (legitimately) gotten the lion share of media attention with Head Over Heels, Andrew Durand shows off his I'm-out-of-the-Broadway-ensemble chops with triple threat skills. His clear, unadorned vocals blast through the original keys of several Go-Go's numbers, and he's funny as hell as both a man and a woman! And that time when he takes his clothes off...

BRIAN HUTCHISON as Alan in The Boys in the Band

Much like Mr. Carver, Brian Hutchison could have easily gotten lost in the shuffle of huge performances. But he plays the bad-ish guy, who is scared out of his mind, and definitely leaves a different man than when he arrives, with such perfection, we were left feeling all the conflicting emotions he laid bare on the stage.

ADAM KANTOR as Telephone Guy in The Band's Visit

He spends the vast majority of his time on stage at The Band's Visit standing just as he is in the picture above, but that doesn't mean Adam Kantor makes no impression. Far from it. I'd pay again just to see his face fill with relief when that phone rings, and to hear him sing "Answer Me."

LEE PACE as Joe Pitt in Angels in America

Sure he gets the added (and very memorable) bonus of spending several minutes completely naked in Angels in America, but Lee Pace was consistently impressive as conflicted Joe Pitt. There was a ton going on in this revival, and his wasn't the most "showy" role, but he was a perfect foil for Denise Gough, and together, they were explosive!

The 5 Most Underrated Performances 
by an Actress in 2018

JOAN ALLEN as Ellen Fine in The Waverly Gallery

Emotionally raw. Heartbreaking. Quiet anger. And she holds her own against one of the greatest stage performances in years, maybe of all time. I'm talking about the always great Joan Allen in The Waverly Galleries. I dare you not to be moved by her.

ERIKA HENNINGSEN as Cady Heron in Mean Girls

The picture above says it all. The Plastics are crowd-pleasing and deliciously nasty. But the fact that Erika Henningsen makes as much of an impression as all three of the Mean Girls combined says a lot about her. She's really the leading lady here, and I'm already looking forward to seeing her lead a new show!

ALISON PILL as C in Three Tall Women

See above. No, seriously, Laurie Metcalf and the brilliant Glenda Jackson surely deserved every award and accolade they got. But there are Three Tall Women in Edward Albee's masterpiece, and Alison Pill was just as amazing, all the more impressive given that she had the least meaty of the three roles. By the time it was all over, all three had us in tears.

KRISTEN SIEH as Iris in The Band's Visit

Watching her seethe wordlessly during a meal that includes two strangers at the table, and later, and again wordlessly, comforting and connecting with her husband (see above) says all you need to know about Kristen Sieh's brilliantly understated performance in The Band's Visit. I loved her in this show!

ALEXANDRA SOCHA as Philoclea in Head Over Heels

We've been fans of Alexandra Socha since we first saw her in Spring Awakening and later in Fun Home, so we were delighted to see her name on the cast list of Head Over Heels. She did not disappoint. She brought it just as impressively as her co-stars, and her renditions of both "Good Girl" and "Here You Are" were legit showstoppers. And did I mention how funny she is???


Thursday, December 13, 2018

Best of 2018 JKTS Awards: Fun, Fun, Fun!

Good Clean Fun
(9 Awards)

After taking a couple of seasons off, we are super excited to re-start our annual tradition! Up first, our awards for the media and technical aspects of the Broadway theater experience. Occasionally, the shows we saw that weren't on Broadway are included, too. They were: Chess (Kennedy Center), Passion (Virginia's Signature Theatre), Moulin Rouge! (pre-Broadway engagement), and Sweeney Todd (off-Broadway). And the winner is...

Fake News Award: "The 2018-2019 season is weak."

I have to wholeheartedly disagree with this. First of all, there are several great new shows already playing. The Ferryman, The Waverly Gallery and To Kill a Mockingbird are critical and popular hits. The Prom is shaping up to be the same. And despite early closures, both Torch Song and Head Over Heels have very passionate fans and their share of critical huzzahs, too. Even the mostly critically disdained Pretty Woman and King Kong are drawing audiences and have plenty to offer. And the rest of the season is looking good, too. People were writing off this season less that two months in, and that's a shame. If recouping is the only mark of a strong season, how far back to we have to go to find one where more shows recouped than didn't?

It Shouldn't Have Been News Award: The Prom Kiss on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

How sad that a joyous kiss celebrating young love had to result in - at the least - right-wing pearl clutching and invoking Jesus, and - at the absolute worst - death threats against The Prom cast members. Because threatening someone's life is exactly what Jesus would do, right?

Sorry I Missed It Award - Play: Torch Song

I waited and waited for them to extend the discount past December 21. When they finally did, I snatched up 2 front row center seats! The next day, they announced a closing date. One. Week. Before. My. Tickets. I'll catch Michael Urie some day... sigh.

Sorry I Missed It Award - Musical: SpongeBob SquarePants

To be honest, I'm not really a fan of the cartoon, and that's what held me back. But lots of people who I respect said they loved it. And several people who I love were in it (I'm talking about you, Wesley, Lilli, Gavin and Ethan). I am truly sorry I missed it.

Grin and Bear It Award: Head Over Heels

I guess I'm biased, but I just don't understand why audiences stayed away. It git its share of decent reviews, the cast was everywhere, and word of mouth was/is amazing. Well, kudos to all involved for always being positive and giving amazing performances despite small houses. You'll be gone but not forgotten.

Maverick of the Year Award: Peppermint, Head Over Heels

Well, duh. Who else could we have picked? Come back soon!

Best Recovery Award: Casey Nicholaw, The Prom

In the span of one year, he managed to put up the tedious, overblown Mean Girls and the finely tuned laugh riot that is The Prom. Casey's got his groove back. And four popular shows on Broadway at once is nothing to sneeze at!

3 for the Price of 1 Award: A, B and C, Three Tall Women

Not since Fun Home has three ages of the same character worked so gloriously (and yes, I know TTW actually came first). What a theater-goer gift it was to see Glenda Jackson, Laurie Metcalf and Alison Pill making magic together. An experience I'll never forget.

Best Place to See a Diva Award: The John Golden Theatre

This year alone you could see Glenda Jackson, Laurie Metcalf and Alison Pill in Three Tall Women, and Elaine May and Joan Allen in The Waverly Gallery. A who's who, really.

Broadway Craving Award: Applebee's

Surely, we weren't the only ones who made a beeline for Applebee's after seeing The Prom, were we?  I have to say, our meal that night at "Apples and Bees" was really good. The only thing missing was Beth Leavel and Michael Potts!

The 2018 JKTS AWARDS: Best in Tech Theater : HERE


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Best of 2018: JKTS Awards: Broadway Tech

NOTE: We made the decision that 2018 was dark and ugly enough, so this year (at least) we will only celebrate the positive. We will try to be snark-free, and there will be no "worst of." It may result in lower traffic to the blog, and we're okay with that. Enjoy!

Tech Categories
(9 Awards)

After taking a couple of seasons off, we are super excited to re-start our annual tradition! Up first, our awards for the media and technical aspects of the Broadway theater experience. Occasionally, the shows we saw that weren't on Broadway are included, too. They were: Chess (Kennedy Center), Passion (Virginia's Signature Theatre), Moulin Rouge! (pre-Broadway engagement), and Sweeney Todd (off-Broadway). And the winner is...

Best Scenic Jaw-dropper: Three Tall Women

The entire audience gasped when the lights came up on the set after the interval. I'll never forget it. Scenic design by Miriam Buether.

Best Costume Change: Head Over Heels

From this... this!
Andrew Durand's sexy and hilarious strip-tease transformation from Musidorus the shepherd to Cleophila the Amazon Queen was unforgettable. And did I mention sexy? Costume design by Arianne Phillips.

Best Use of Shadow: The Band's Visit

The use of shadow created a mysterious and very sensuous atmosphere as nighttime cools off the desert town of Bet Hatikva and passions ignite. Lighting design by Tyler Micoleau.

Best Projections: TIE: Disney's Frozen and King Kong

We were so glad we had mezzanine seats for Frozen! From there, you got the full effect of Elsa's icy powers. The floor, walls and proscenium transformed spectacularly. Projection design by Finn Ross.

The mezzanine at the Broadway Theatre also offered a spectacular view of the King Kong video screens. Okay, so they gave me motion sickness more than once, but the projections were amazing! Projection design by Peter England and Artists in Motion.

Best Special Effect: Disney's Frozen

When Elsa let it go and changed from head to toe in the blink of an eye, I was speechless. I don't think I took a breath again until the intermission lights came up. Special effects design by Jeremy Chernick, costume design by Christopher Oram.

Best Old School Special Effect: Head Over Heels

The giant sheet back-lit to create sexy shadows during "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" was an absolute riot. Rachel York and Jeremy Kushnier chewed that scenery hard - like the comic pros they are.

Best Re-Vision: Once On This Island

Michael Arden is the king of re-imagination, proving lighting can strike twice - first, Spring Awakening and now this.  It was already a charming little show, but now it's a life-affirming, heart-filling work of art.

Raising the Bar: King Kong

Watch out, Julie Taymor! There's a new puppet master on the scene. The pictures don't do Kong justice. You need to see it to believe it. Creature design by Sonny Tilders.

Unsung Hero: Tech Division: Once On This Island

The entire props/costume/set crew deserved their own Tony Award. I can't even imagine the work that goes on before, during and after each performance. The obvious details are mind-boggling. I can't imagine what we don't see! Scenic design by Dane Laffery.

More JKTS Awards coming soon!


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Favorite Theater of 2018: The Hudson Theatre

We had the great fortune of visiting many different theaters in 2018. The one we enjoyed the most this year is Broadway's newest (and one of its oldest), The Hudson Theatre. From the outside and top to bottom, this place is pretty terrific. It manages to be both classic and modern all at once.

The Outside

In this day and age of constant visual stimulation, it is nice to have a clutter-free theater facade to admire. That beautiful metal and glass awning has been on the place in one form or the other for a century. And how great is it that the double marquee panels are simple light-framed squares? They make for a great picture!

The heavy glass and wooden doors are striking and are so classy looking. Currently adorned with Head Over Heels photo decals, one can only imagine the variety of people who have passed through them. Before you even enter, though, a new brass plaque commemorating its return to legitimate theater use. Clearly, the sense of history attached to this place is important to the current owners.

The Lobby

There is an incredibly spacious (by New York standards) lobby with a stunning marbled walls, with ornate scroll work across the top. The detailed, bright ceiling and the elegantly simple chandeliers add to the spacious feel. You can't really tell from the picture above, but the glass above the doors is really beautiful. On the way to the elevator, another reminder of the history is around the corner - a door still marked from the days when the place was an NBC television studio.

The Dress Circle

The moment you step off the elevator, you are immediately brought into more of the history-meets-modern amenity ambiance that pervades the theater. Here is the Dress Circle bar and lobby, where they serve you drinks in actual glasses! Note the left over neon signs from Sunday in the Park with George (another show we saw here). 

The view from the dress circle seats is terrific (and frankly, so is the upper mezzanine), but the most notable thing about all of the seating at the Hudson is the generous leg room. As a relatively tall person, I really appreciate it.

As sad as I am that Head Over Heels is closing, I am looking forward to visiting this terrific space again soon.


Monday, December 10, 2018

Broadway Heat: The Cher Show (Round 1!)

HOT on Broadway (adj): fierce, talented, big potential; has "buzz"; has "it" factor.


Has there ever been a time when Cher wasn't hot? She is the very definition of the term. So it only stands to reason that the cast of the Broadway show about her life would be just as hot. And, boy, are they! BUT there can only be ONE HOTTEST cast member. Once again who that'll end up being is up to YOU, dear readers. This time around, we are going to start off a little differently. 

Below, pick anywhere between 1 and 8 male cast members and between 1 and 8 female cast members (you have to pick at least one of each). Then, make sure you click "Finish Survey" when you are done! Your vote won't count unless you do!

As they say at The Cher Show, "Let's do this, bitches!"


Friday, December 7, 2018

The Friday 5: 5 Best Broadway Songs and Duets of 2018

It's the end of the year, and it's time to start looking back at the year that was. First up, our Friday 5 Best Broadway Songs of 2018. These are the numbers that stuck out in one way other the other - maybe they are super catchy, or maybe they pack an emotional punch, or maybe both! In any case, each of these five were superbly performed. Here they are, alphabetically by show:

"Beautiful" from Head Over Heels, sung by Bonnie Milligan and the Ensemble

Our first glimpse of Princess Pamela's ferocity (and ego), and the first of many times ahead that we got to bask in the glow of the glorious talent that is Bonnie Milligan.

"Queen of New York" from King Kong, sung by Christiani Pitts and the Company

Say what you want about the show and its mostly background music score, but it certainly starts off like gangbusters with a thrilling opening sequence featuring Broadway's newest leading lady, ending with this big number.

"I'd Rather Be Me" from Mean Girls, sung by Barrett Wilbert Weed and the Ensemble

Easily the best song of the entire score this powerful song is the only thing that would make me go back to see the show, and Ms. Weed sings the hell out of it. Please find this uber-talented young woman a show worthy of her talents.

"Answer Me" from The Band's Visit, sung by Adam Kantor and the Company

In a score that is full of amazing songs, the one stands out for several reasons. The lyrics are so beautiful, it is staged so simply but powerfully, and that moment when all of the company's voices swell in unison gives me chills every time.

"It's Time To Dance" from The Prom, sung by Caitlin Kinnunen, Isabelle McCalla and the Company

Was there a more satisfying, rousing, and happy tears finale in 2018? I want to learn this choreography! And what a fun, tuneful song. Everyone around me was grinning from ear to ear, clapping along, and cheering as the number builds and builds. Proof that you can have a message and have a blast delivering it!

Why stop at just 5 songs? We have a whole year's worth of shows to celebrate! Here are the 5 Best Broadway Duets of 2018, again, alphabetically by show:

"What Do You Know About Love?" from Disney's Frozen, sung by Patti Murin and Jelani Alladin

I know it isn't a popular opinion, but I happen to think the new songs added to the score are, for the most part, just fine! This duet's on the list because Murin and Alladin sing the heck out of it, show great chemistry, and do it while strapped to an ice bridge hanging several feet above the stage!

"Automatic Rainy Day" from Head Over Heels, sung by Bonnie Milligan and Taylor Iman Jones

WOW! The best diva duet on Broadway since RENT's "Take Me or Leave Me." Such passion! Such power! Thrilling. TIP: Get the cast recording and enjoy the bonus acoustic version, which is just as good. Everyone who missed seeing this show really missed something HUGE.

"Long Way Home" from Pretty Woman: The Musical, sung by Samantha Barks and Andy Karl

The only time these two gems sing together in this love story.  It's worth the wait. These two are stars, and they are so good together.

"Something Different" from The Band's Visit, sung by Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk

True, she sings the lion's share of this tune, but it is a pivotal moment in their 24 hour relationship. The lyrical beauty of his Hebrew - one needn't understand a word to grasp the emotion - giving way to the lyrical beauty of her English, and back again, is moving and just simply lovely.

"Dance With You" from The Prom, sung by Caitlin Kinnunen and Isabelle McCalla

Reduced to a simple, tuneful and very heartfelt song, this is the definition of "Love is Love." It's a lovely moment in the show, and a wonderful reminder that being a queer teen isn't really any different than being a straight teen.

Look out for more of our year-end celebration of theater in 2018. Thanks!

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