HERE'S WHAT'S NEW:

VOTE STARTING TUESDAY FOR YOUR FAVORITES FROM ONCE ON THIS ISLAND IN THE FIRST-EVER BROADWAY OLYMPICS! CLICK THE FLAMING RINGS BELOW, FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS, AND AWARD THOSE MEDALS! DON'T FORGET TO CLICK "SUBMIT" WHEN YOU ARE DONE! THANKS AND SPREAD THE WORD!

IF YOU LIKE WHAT YOU SEE PLEASE TELL YOUR FRIENDS - TWEET USING @JKsTheatreScene!

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, January 22, 2018

Hello, Broadway! Back Where They Belong

If January 14th was a bittersweet (and for some, apparently, "devastating") time on Broadway, the week following was one welcoming and downright celebration!



Over at the Brooks Atkinson, Sara Bareilles returned to serve more pie (and boost sales during the cold months) in her own show, Waitress.  For a few weeks, she and her fellow pop singer friend, Jason Mraz, will share the stage.  Is this a perfect recipe? Cha-ching!

Meanwhile, over at the Richard Rodgers, the cast that revolves almost as much as the set's turntable, welcomed a new title player, Michael Luwoye, who, like Sara in Waitress, returns to Hamilton on Broadway.  This time around, though, he's the principal AHam, not the alternate or understudy.

Of course, the biggest news of the week was the impending arrival of Broadway royalty, Bernadette Peters, the new Dolly at the Shubert. Show queens clung to every little bit of gossip, alleged sightings, rumors of her belting out numbers that could be heard buy ticket buyers lined up at the box office.  Heck, if you scanned Twitter closely enough, you could cobble together a letter by letter installation of her name on the marquee.  THAT's how much people are excited by Broadway's newest matchmaker from Yonkers. Poor Victor Garber (no slouch in the Broadway credits department himself), Charlie Stemp (cute Brit that he is!) and Molly Griggs, who also joined the cast to little fanfare...



Something producer Scott Rudin might want to reconsider going forward, is being so tight on press photos and the like. When the sole production photo hit the Internet, the immediate excitement was almost immediately couched by complaints that it was a rehash of a Bette Midler pic from the title number.  Still better than nothing, though - she looks FABULOUS!


These new arrivals offered a nice bump of excitement should get us through the next few weeks before the temperatures go up and the craziness of spring openings hits us like an annual tidal wave.  I can't wait for that...

(Photos: Getty Images, J. Marcus, J. Cervantes)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

THE BROADWAY OLYMPICS II: Team PRINCE OF BROADWAY

New week, new round!  Thank you to all of you who voted last week in the Team The Band's Visit round.  And thank you for your questions and suggestions.

Answers to FAQ's:

  1. No, you don't have to have seen the show to vote!
  2. Yes, this is like the old "Hot or Not" contests. We are looking for the best of the best of the Broadway musical season
  3. No, you do not have to answer for each cast member.
  4. Yes, I simplified the process for you this time! And the survey is on this page - no link to click! (Scroll down!)
  5. Yes, the survey is secure, and NO, your information is not being collected.
MOST IMPORTANT: YOU HAVE TO CLICK THE SUBMIT BUTTON AT THE END FOR YOUR VOTE COUNT!





TEAM PRINCE OF BROADWAY
Top 3 vote-getters in each of the 2 categories get the gold, silver and bronze medals.

FEATURED ACTRESS 

JANET DACAL, BRYONHA MARIE PARHAM

EMILY SKINNER, KALEY ANN VOOHEES

KAREN ZIEMBA

FEATURED ACTOR

CHUCK COOPER, BRANDON URANOWITZ

MICHAEL XAVIER, TONY YAZBECK

THIS SURVEY HAS CLOSED! 
THANKS FOR VOTING - 
SEE THE BROADWAY OLYMPICS TAB ABOVE 
FOR YOUR WINNERS!
NEW POLL ON TUESDAY!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

#OneLastTime

The Wonka factory is out of candy
Today, January 14, 2018, is a milestone day on Broadway.  There were many goodbyes to be shared.  Two shows are closing, the revival of Miss Saigon and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  With those closings, Broadway (and its legions of fans) bid adieu to two-time Tony winner Christian Borle and newcomer (and Tony nominee) Eva Noblezada. Show closings are always bittersweet, but without closings, there's no room for new shows, right?

The Last Night of the World Show

Other shows lose their original stars today - one very high profile, the others with departures that are not headline makers.  Of course, I'm talking about the final performances of Bette Midler (the headline maker), Tony-winner (and Dolly! Tony nominee) David Hyde Pierce, Beanie Feldstein and soon-to-be Evan Hansen, Taylor Trensch in Hello, Dolly! Pierce is a Broadway regular, and Trensch already has his next role, so we won't be without them for long.  But Midler's departure is likely more epic.  Not just because she's a box office powerhouse, not just because it was hard to get her back on the boards even for this short stay, but because she is a legend who gave a legendary performance. People will talk for years about experiencing The Divine Miss M in Hello, Bette Dolly! Maybe she never really disappeared in the role (I never for a second forgot she was Bette Midler), but who cares? She was still magnificent - maybe Dolly Levi is Bette Midler, not vice versa... So long, dearie...


Goodbye, Dolly!


There is another Broadway exit that didn't get a feature story in the Times, or a moment on The Today Show, but it was no less epic for us true Broadway fans.  I'm talking about original Hamilton cast member Javier Muñoz. Terrific performer, yes.  Leader in the company and the community at large, yes. Outspoken activist, yes. Role model, yes. In short, he's the kind of person who makes the world a better place.  I, for one, can't wait to see what comes next from this remarkable human being.


The Hamilton Twitter account posted this lovely tribute to #javilton:


UPDATE/EDIT:

Another unsung Broadway hero, Tommar Wilson, also leaves a show today - a little skit called The Book of Mormon.  Maybe the most remarkable exit of them all that has gotten no press, Wilson has been with the show from the start - 7 years, over 2,000 performances!  What great thing that Josh Gad wasn't too big to remember his friend and co-star. THAT is a tribute!





Thank you all.

(Photos by J. Cervantes, M. Murray)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Little Things: Of Twitter and Show Sites...

<<<<< Don't forget to vote for The Broadway Olympics! Click the rings and vote now!

"It's the little things you do together," says Sondheim in Company.  Even on Broadway, home of the over sized gesture, it's the little things that sometimes tickle me the most.  Here are a few things that caught my eye this week:

The Band's Visit Website


Not a head shot in sight: Ari'el Stachel, Jonathan Raviv and Kristen Sieh

I love that instead of the typical head shots, the cast biographies include candid shots - some rehearsing, some that look like they might be photos taken during vacation, and even one that is a photo booth strip!  It gives the company a nice "everyman" feeling, I think.

Twitter Finds

Speaking of The Band's Visit, I love this Tweet by Etai Benson.  It is awesome that we have this kind of inclusion on Broadway, and this full embrace of this actor's heritage is happening. How wonderful for him, and for all of us. Thank you, Mr. Benson.




One of this blog's favorite people, Wesley Taylor, also shares a lot on Twitter.  But it's his obvious delight at the phenomenon of fan art that really makes me happy.  Every week he shares pictures that his fans have sent him after seeing him in SpongeBob SquarePants.  Clearly, he appreciates the effort, and how great of him to share with all of us!  Here's a sample:






Let me know what your favorite "Broadway little things" are, and I'll share them next week!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

REVIEW: SpongeBob SquarePants: Original Cast Recording

So, I'm at a distinct disadvantage in reviewing the Original Cast Recording of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical. (Masterworks Broadway) I haven't seen the show yet, and I've never seen a single second of the cartoon on which the show is based.  I even considered not writing about it, but then I thought, well, why not? I mean I can certainly evaluate the quality of the songs and the recording itself.

Grade: B+

To its credit, the CD version (yes, I still get CDs) comes with a pretty comprehensive booklet, that includes a full synopsis, the lyrics and a few production stills.  But one of the things that makes this recording unique and kinda fun for those of us who don't get why Sandy Cheeks is a squirrel underwater, is that each song is written by different people. So for me, part of the fun of listening to this was trying to guess who wrote which songs (I didn't peek the first time I listened!).  It was pretty easy to pick out the songs by David Bowie, the guys from Aerosmith, The Plain White T's, and Lady Antebellum

As I continued to listen, I was struck by three things. First, the score's pastiche (by necessity?) style reminded me of early Lloyd Webber, with songs that range from show tunes to rap to country to gospel. Second, the childlike sound and quality totally fits the material, but is wonderfully subversive in its adult themes and ideology, a la Avenue Q.  And third (and perhaps even most importantly), despite its hodgepodge throw-everything-into-the-pot foundation, it is remarkably as cohesive as it is eclectic.  I think that is thanks in large part to the musical supervision of the always fantastic Tom Kitt.

Given that several of the major roles have been recast in the time between this recording and its Broadway opening (Wesley Taylor, Jon Rua and a few others are missing here), I don't think it fair to judge the recording against what might be happening on the Palace Theatre stage these days.  But I will say that everyone on the recording sounds terrific and in character.


The four main characters remain, and all four do wonderful character work that shines through and makes in impression even on those of us who haven't seen the show. Gavin Lee is acting his legs off in his big number, "I'm Not a Loser," One of my favorite actresses, Lilli Cooper is great in all of her numbers, especially her duet with SpongeBob, "Chop to the Top." Newcomer Danny Skinner does a fine job, and the chemistry he has with Ethan Slater in "BFF" and "(I Guess I) Miss You" is palpable even just listening to the songs. (The latter song is a wonderful tribute to male friendship...) Speaking of Mr. Slater, even based solely on this recording, one has to wonder how he keeps up that energy eight shows a week.  He is going to be a huge star.

At just under an hour, this is a pleasant diversion. It is a fun, enjoyable score ("Bikini Bottom Day" is this season's ear worm, for sure), and one I think I'll enjoy even more once I actually see the show.

(Full disclosure: I received a copy of the CD for free, in exchange for a review, and without any obligation to be positive in my evaluation.)

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Broadway Olympics: The Band's Visit

This year, instead of "HOT or NOT," and in honor of the Winter Games in Pyeong Chang, South Korea, I thought it would be fun to have our own version of the Olympics for each musical of the 2017-2018 season.

Here's how it will work:

  • Each week, a new survey will be posted featuring a musical from this season.
  • Each show will field a team of Olympic medalists in up to 6 categories: Lead Actor/Actress, Featured Actor/Actress, Male/Female Ensemble Member.
  • After all the shows have opened and Medalists have been "awarded," the "Closing Ceremonies" this spring will feature a survey pitting all of the medalists against each other to create the 2018 Broadway Olympic Team!


What YOU do:

  • Check out the pictures of each performer - put the faces to the names!
  • Click on the provided link to the secured survey of the week.
  • Consider each cast member's "Star Quality," presence, performance (current and past). Who are you drawn to from your seat in the audience and/or as a fan of Broadway people?
  • Select up to 3 medalists, any combination of gold, silver or bronze, and select which "athletes" don't make the podium for each event. (Each "athlete" must be marked for each question.)
  • Submit the survey so your vote counts!

CAN'T WAIT TO START? CLICK HERE 
AND AWARD YOUR MEDALS NOW!  



FIRST TEAM: THE COMPANY OF THE BAND'S VISIT 
(Cast photos first. Scroll down to find the link to the survey.)

LEADS

LEAD ACTOR: Tony Shalhoub
LEAD ACTRESS: Katrina Lenk

FEATURED ACTOR

FEATURED ACTOR: George Abud, Etai Benson, John Cariani

FEATURED ACTOR: Adam Kantor, Andrew Polk, Ari'el Stachel

FEMALE ENSEMBLE

FEMALE ENSEMBLE: Rachel Prather, Sharone Sayegh, Kristen Sieh

MALE ENSEMBLE

MALE ENSEMBLE: Bill Army, Jonathan Raviv, Alok Tewari

THE SURVEY
(Click below to open survey, answer each question and submit!)

Friday, January 5, 2018

Mr. Broadway January 2018: Ethan Slater

I think it is awesome that you voted for Broadway's biggest new kid on the block as the very first Mr. Broadway of 2018.  And he's not only making his Main Stem debut, but he's doing it as the lead and a huge, buzzy new musical!  I'm talking, of course, of SpongeBob himself, Ethan Slater.

After counting all the votes, and realizing that this newbie was the winner, I thought I might not have a lot to blog about.  Boy, was I wrong! (Maybe you know all this stuff, but I was pleasantly surprised!) Anyway, without further ado, here's your new Mr. Broadway!


A FEW FACTS:
  • Age: mid-20's (I didn't give away Jenn Colella's age, either...)
  • Birthplace: He's a native New Yorker!
  • Education: Vassar (He attended with his SpongeBob co-star, Lilli Cooper!)
  • Website: http://ethanslater.com/
  • IBDB Credits: 1 (But it's a biggie...)
  • IMDB Credits: 11 (My favorite? See video below)
  • Aha! Moment: Finding out he was a wrestler at Georgetown Day School (Now those amazing arms make sense!)
  • Fun Fact: Those aforementioned guns have their own Twitter account! (@Ethanslatersarm)
Headshots/Candids:



Just as good looking in black and white...and fan art!


Dapper in color...and, sorry, guys and gals, he has a fiancee! Congrats!

Isn't this the way we all feel after the holidays?
Told you he was a wrestler!


College/Regional/Fringe/Off-Broadway:






NYMF's Claudio Quest

NYMF's Claudio Quest

Off-Broadway's Baghdaddy
Film:



Lightning Bugs in a Jar - Official Trailer from Lightning Bugs in a Jar on Vimeo.

Broadway:







DON'T FORGET! VOTE IN THIS WEEK'S POLL (TOP LEFT COLUMN)


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