The Ferryman - Opens: 10.21.18 The Waverly Gallery - Opens: 10.25.18 Torch Song - Opens: 11.1.18 American Son - Opens: 11.4.18 King Kong - Opens: 11.8.18 The Prom - Previews: 10.23.18, Opens: 11.15.18 The Cher Show - Previews: 11.1.18, Opens: 12.3.18 Network - Previews: 11.10.18, Opens: 12.6.18 To Kill a Mockingbird - Previews: 11.1.18, Opens: 12.13.18 Choir Boy - Previews: 12.12.18, Opens: 1.8.19 True West - Previews: 12.27.18, Opens: 1.24.19

COMING UP ON THE BLOG: 10/22: Broadway Heat: King Kong Edition: The Final 4 - 10/23: LOGOS: The Prom - 10/24: At the Stage Door - 10/25: #TBT: Vintage OBCR - 10/26: The Friday 5

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

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Friday 5: 5 Sondheim Shows On Video

One of the best things about being a Sondheim fan is that there is no lack of material to watch or listen to. It seems almost every major show or Stephen-related event is recorded (though I'm still bitter about the lack of cast recording for the recent Pacific Overtures revival...). So this week, here are my top five favorite shows by/about Sondheim that have been preserved to video. I'm sure we won't agree, so feel free to email, Tweet, or send me a pic of your favorite on Instagram - addresses above!

The Friday 5:
The 5 Best Sondheim Shows on Video

5. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street - Original Production
This is my absolute favorite Sondheim show. Angela Lansbury is my favorite actress, and George Hearn is one of my favorite actors. They are great together, and they sing the hell out of the score. So why is this only number 5? Well, the filming is clunky, and there's so much scenery chewing -even for a melodrama - that every time I play it, I see bite marks on my TV.  (I'm looking at you, Betsy Joslyn...) Still, I'm glad it is preserved. I wish they had done the same with the LuPone/Cerveris revival.

4. Passion - Original Broadway Cast
Gorgeously filmed - it's like watching a moving painting, really. And the quality is both cinematic and intimate. It's also great that the original staging (underrated in my opinion) is saved for the ages. That the performances are great is obvious, but a great bonus here is hearing the commentary track featuring Donna Murphy, Jere Shea, Marin Mazzie and Sondheim himself.  It is insightful, honest and really funny.

3. Into the Woods - Original Broadway Cast
The entire original cast, a pretty straight forward filming that captures the sheer theatricality of James Lapine's staging, and Bernadette Peters rapping... what more could you ask for? Well, there's also the absolute perfection of Joanna Gleason as the Baker's Wife. Hers was among the greatest musical performances of all time. And I also appreciate that 99.99% of the time (save for a few minutes of Ben Wright's performance) there's no "extra" acting for the camera.

2. Company - Revival Cast
I loved this show when I saw it (both times), especially from the front center orchestra seats. This was a show that demanded you pay attention to the performers.  And their detailed performances were perfectly captured in this filming. Here, the show played on film just as it did in the theater. It is also proof positive that Broadway needs Raul Esparza and Barbara Walsh back and soon.

1. Sondheim! The Birthday Celebration
I love this soooo much. The ending, when the company fills the stage and the aisles of the Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center to sing "Sunday," brings me to tears, as it did Mr. Sondheim. The all-star cast and the New York Philharmonic are unmatched.  It's hard to pick any one number as a favorite, so here's a few: "Move On" with Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters, the hilarity of Patti LuPone with two Sweeneys, Michael Cerveris and George Hearn, doing "A Little Priest," and "You're Gonna Love Tomorrow," featuring four of my favorite performers: Jenn Colella, Laura Osnes, Matt Cavenaugh and Bobby Steggert. But the absolute highlight of the whole thing has to be when 6 of musical theater's greatest actresses - LuPone, Peters, Donna Murphy, Audra McDonald, Marin Mazzie and Elaine Stritch - dressed in red, take the stage and watch each other perform the greatest hits. And is there any better thing than Stritch giving LuPone a standing ovation after "Ladies Who Lunch"? How great that we have both Stritch and Mazzie at the top of their game preserved forever.

Two giants of Broadway
Sunday in the Park with George didn't make the cut...


Thursday, October 18, 2018

#TBT: Playbill: RENT: May 1996

Sometimes when you see a brand new show you can tell it is going to be a success. Other times - rarely - you can just tell a brand new show will be a game-changing phenomenon. When I saw RENT the first time, it was only a few performances old. It wasn't sold out; there was no stand-by line; there was no lottery line. But I still knew that what I was seeing was going to change musical theater as we knew it.

How could I possibly know that? Well, it was so...different...the sound...the subject matter...the passion of the cast...the staging. All of it felt risky and not a sure thing at all. But i just knew. I think it had something to do with forgetting to blink. Or breathe. It was positively electric. And that cast full of unknowns. I remember distinctly being most impressed the Sarah Jessica Parker's brother was in it.

Of course, hindsight is 20-20. So many cast members became superstars. Musicals moved away from those 80's mega-musicals. Social consciousness as musical subject matter was back in style. Gay content moved beyond drag queens "putting on a show." The low-cost lottery system was born. And the show and score and its creator have become legend.

I am so grateful to have had this amazing experience.

(Click the images below to enlarge.)

May 1996
Nederlander Theatre
16 previews, 5,123 performances
May 1996 Cast: Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Idina Menzel, Fredi Walker, Jesse L. Martin, Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Gwen Stewart
Book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson. Directed by Michael Greif

The original cast title page
(And nothing says "RENT" like an ad for Bermuda, right?)

Wow! They sure look young...

The Song List

Talk about a good time to see shows on Broadway... 3 Andrew Lloyd Webber shows (Cats isn't listed, but it was still playing.), Les Miz and Miss Saigon? And with tickets starting at $15!? Plus a chance to see two Rodgers and Hammerstein shows and Show Boat!? And a Sondheim show!? Plays by Albee, McNally and Wilson... 3 (soon to be 4) Pulitzer Prize winners, and one finalist... Let's not forget the star power, too... Nathan Lane, Elaine Stritch, George C. Scott, Charles Durning, Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zoe Caldwell, Carol Burnett, Philip Bosco, Betty Buckley, Julie Andrews, Tony Roberts, Michael Nouri and Rachel York. Good times!


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Welcome To The Theater! The Broadway Debuts in Plays October/November

Over the next three weeks, five new plays are opening, and with four of them come twenty-five Broadway debuts! The cast of the fifth, The Lifespan of a Fact, is made up entirely of veterans. In any case, today we celebrate these performers.

Here's to great reviews, a terrific run and many more Broadway Opening Nights! Congratulations to all of you.

Opening Night: Sunday, October 21, 2018
Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre

Dean Ashton (Frank Magennis)   Paddy Considine (Quinn Carney)

Charles Dale (Father Horrigan)   Justin Edwards (Tom Kettle)

Fra Fee (Michael Carney)   Tom Glynn-Carney (Shane Corcoran)

Stuart Graham (Muldoon)   Mark Lambert (Uncle Patrick Carney)

Carla Langley (Shena Carney)   Matilda Lawler (Honor Carney)

Rob Malone (Oisin Carney)   Michael Quinton McArthur (Declan Carney)

Genevieve O'Reilly (Mary Carney)   Glenn Speers (Lawrence Malone)

Niall Wright (James Joseph "JJ" Carney)   Gina Costigan (Understudy)

Carly Gold (Understudy)   Holly Gould (Understudy)

Bella May Mordus (Understudy)   Griffin Osborne (Understudy)

Opening Night: Thursday, October 25, 2018
John Golden Theatre

Lucas Hedges (Daniel Reed)

Brian Miskell (Understudy)

Opening Night: Thursday, November 1, 2018
Helen Hayes Theatre 

Ward Horton (Ed)   Rob Morean (Understudy)

Opening Night: Sunday, November 4, 2018
Helen Hayes Theatre 

Amelia Workman (Understudy)


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Around the World in 80 Musicals: Part I: The United Kingdom and Ireland

Today, we begin a new series, Around the World in 80 Musicals. Over the next several weeks, we will take a brief look at 80 different musicals that take place in different parts of the world. The results cover 6 continents and dozens of countries. The data comes from The Playbill Vault and Internet Broadway Database, and details the original Broadway production. Many of the shows take place in multiple countries, but (for the most part) we include them under their primary setting. In limiting it to 80 shows, obviously some favorites are going to be left out. We'd love to hear from you with your favorites that we missed. Get your passports ready!

Around the World in 80 Musicals
Stop One: Europe: The United Kingdom and Ireland


Blood Brothers

1. Billy Elliot: The Musical - Setting: Northern England, 1984 (2008, Imperial Theatre, 1,312 performances)

2. Blood Brothers - Setting: Liverpool, England (1993, The Music Box Theater, 840 performances)

3. Jekyll and Hyde - Setting: East End and West End of London, 19th Century (1997, Plymouth Theatre, 1,543 performances)

The Last Ship

4. Kinky Boots - Setting: Northampton, England (2013, Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 3,006 performances*)

5. The Last Ship - Setting: Wallsend, England (2014, Neil Simon Theatre, 105 performances)

6. Matilda - Setting: England (2013, Shubert Theatre, 1,554 performances)

My Fair Lady

7. My Fair Lady - Setting: London, 1912 (1956, Mark Hellinger Theatre, 2,717 performances)

8. The Mystery of Edwin Drood - Rochester (Cloisterham) and London, 1830s (1985, Imperial Theatre, 608 performances)

9. Oliver! - London, 1830s (1963, Imperial Theatre, 774 performances)


10. The Secret Garden - Yorkshire, early 1900s (1991, St. James Theatre, 709 performances)

11. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street - London, 19th Century (1979, Uris Theatre, 557 performances)

12. Titanic - Southampton, April 1912 (1997, Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, 804 performances)


13. A Time For Singing - Setting: South Wales, 1900 (1966, Broadway Theatre, 41 performances)


14. Brigadoon - Scottish Highlands (1947, Ziegfeld Theatre, 581 performances)



15. Once - Dublin, Ireland
(2012, Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 1,168 performances)

16. The Pirate Queen - Ireland, 16th Century (2007, Hilton Theatre, 85 performances)

* - as of 10/14/18 (still running)

Next stop: France, Spain and Portugal!

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