HERE'S WHAT'S NEW:

CHECK OUT THE TABS ABOVE FOR PREVIOUS ARTICLES, INCLUDING #TBT, THE FRIDAY 5, AND THERE'S AN ALL-NEW BWAY REVIEWS PAGE! CHECK IT OUT!
AND DON'T FORGET TO SCROLL DOWN THE WHOLE PAGE FOR LINKS TO FEATURED ARTICLES, REVIEWS, SHOW SITES, AND THEATER-RELATED STUFF!

COMING UP ON BROADWAY:
The 73rd Annual Tony Awards - 6.9.19 Frankie and Johnny in the Clare de Lune - Opens 5.30.19 Moulin Rouge! - Previews: 6.28.19, Opens: 7.25.19 Sea Wall/A Life - Previews: 7.26.19, Opens: 8.8.19 The Height of the Storm - Previews: 9.10.19, Opens: 9.24.19 Linda Vista - Previews: 9.19.19, Opens: 10.10.19 Tina - Previews: 10.12.19, Opens: 11.7.19 Jagged Little Pill - Previews: 11.3.19, Opens: 12.5.19 Grand Horizons - Previews: 12.20.19, Opens: 1.23.20 My Name is Lucy Barton - Previews: 1.6.20, Opens: 1.15.20 Take Me Out - Previews: 3.31.20, Opens: 4.23.20

COMING UP ON THE BLOG: 5/20: Broadway Heat x2: Oklahoma! and Hadestown Edition: The Final 4 - 5/21: REVIEW: Beetlejuice - 5/22: REVIEW: Hadestown - 5/23: REVIEW: Tootsie - 5/24: REVIEW: Oklahoma!

CONTACT US: (Email) jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com (Twitter) @jkstheatrescene (Instagram) jkstheatrescene

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Standing @ Zero: Tootsie's Harris Milgrim

So, why "Standing at Zero"? You know the numbers across the front of the stage? Zero is center, and we are putting one performer front and center.

At the end of April, this month's honoree opened in his second Broadway show, Tootsie. His previous outing was of the feline kind. In the recent revival of Cats, he understudied both Munkustrap and The Rum Tum Tugger. Before that, Harris Milgrim toured the country as a Jet in the national tour of West Side Story. We have a feeling that many more exciting opportunities to dazzle on the Great White Way are coming his way. Can't wait to see!

Standing @ Zero:
Tootsie's
Harris Milgrim










In addition to his Broadway/national tour appearances in Tootsie, Cats and West Side Story. his off-Broadway and regional credits include Encores! Paint Your Wagon, Call Me Madame and Grand Hotel, The Kennedy Center's How to Succeed..., Piece of My Heart, The Honeymooners, Hello, Dolly! and RENT.

RENT

Hello, Dolly!

The Honeymooners

Call Me Madame


Paint Your Wagon

Grand Hotel (far left)


How to Succeed... (far right)

Piece of My Heart

West Side Story



Cats

Tootsie

Possibly NSFW


#2079

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

FOSSE/VERDON: Episodes 4 - 6

Bob Fosse, Nicole Fosse and Gwen Verdon
As the FX miniseries Fosse/Verdon continues, I admire the show more and more, and I am completely smitten with the brilliant Michelle Williams. I've always been a big fan of Bob Fosse - I think of him in the same terms as Stephen Sondheim, which is to say I think he was a genius who was way ahead of his time. Challenging expectations, boundaries and decency was his stock in trade. All one needs to do is look at the revival of Chicago to see that he did all that before anyone else did, and his work (and that of his protege, Ann Reinking) is as relevant today as ever, if not more so.

These next three episodes are definitely more Fosse-centric. SPOILERS AHEAD.


EPISODE 4: "Glory"
So far, this is my favorite episode. Both the story's drama and theatrical presentation are exciting, as life parallels art. The art is the making of one of my favorite shows, Pippin, with an emphasis on the creation of the signature "Manson Trio" section of "Glory." It is also our first glimpse of Ann Reinking (a striking Margaret Qualley), and a pretty blunt examination of Bob's womanizing, drinking, drugging and fornicating. All of this is set against the pinnacle of his career - 1973, year of 1 Oscar, 2 Tonys and 3 Emmys. Talk about glory... But, as is often the case, all of the accolades aren't enough, and depression and thoughts of suicide ensue.

The best sequence of the episode is the end, when Pippin's grand finale turns into Fosse's. It is thrilling and chilling. And I'll never look at Pippin the same way again.


EPISODE 5: "Where Am I Going?"
Fresh out of the psych ward and putting up a massive front, Fosse has gathered friends and family to the Hamptons for a getaway weekend. Under the guise of a healing vacation for a mourning Neil Simon (the terrific and underused Nick Corddry), it soon turns into an intervention, with Bob's wife and mistress arguing for him to slow down, and his best friends, Simon and Paddy Chayefsky (a wonderful turn by Norbert Leo Butz) resigned to the fact that Bobby will do what Bobby wants regardless of the consequences.

Best sequence of the episode... there are actually three: Gwen's soliloquy about why making a movie is bad for his health, but doing her project, Chicago, is just what the doctor ordered. Then there's the delicious exchange between Gwen and Ann who make up and join forces to keep an eye on their guy. And finally, when Williams delivers a beautiful "Where Am I Going?' from Sweet Charity. I love how these songs are inserted throughout to inform the story and characters, fitting in pretty perfectly without changing a word.


EPISODE 6: "All I Care About Is Love"
This time around, the story is told through the concept of the film "Lenny." (It also reminds me a lot of All That Jazz, which makes sense.) Several sequences of time-jumping fast film cuts reveal a lot about what makes Fosse the mess of a man that he was. With child sex abuse, a rotten father and ridiculous mother, and many people in his life telling him "no" and that he's not good enough all far outweighing the positives, it is really no wonder. We also get to see the complexity of the Fosse-Verdon-Reinking relationship - confusing for the child caught in the middle, and both women, especially Reinking, who is realizing she's the one offering a get well lay, and still has to sit out in the hallway waiting.

Best sequence of the episode - the saga of Chicago's first rehearsal, including "All That Jazz" choreography and Chita Rivera (Bianca Marroquin), all leading up to Bob's showstopping heart attack. You read about it, but seeing it plated out is something different altogether!

#2078

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

REVIEW: Grand Hotel: The Musical

Review of the Sunday, May 12, 2019 matinee at Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia. Book by Luther Davis. Music and lyrics by Robert Wright and George Forrest. Additional music and lyrics by Maury Yeston. Based on Vicki Baum's Grand Hotel. Starring Christopher Bloch, Ian Anthony Coleman, Natascia Diaz, Nicki Elledge, Nkruhma Gatling, Nicholas McDonough, Crystal Mosser, Solomon Parker III, Lawrence Redmond and Bobby Smith. Scenic design by Paul Tate Depoo III. Costume design by Robert Perdziola. Lighting design by Colin K. Bills. Sound design by Ryan Hickey. Music direction by Jon Kalbfleisch. Choreography by Kelly Crandall d'Amboise. Directed by Eric Schaeffer. 1 hour 50 minutes, no intermission. Production closes May 19.

Grade: A

I'm sure that many of you have been in this predicament: you have a favorite Broadway show that you love so much that you saw it many times during its original run and national tour. That version is seared into your mind. Then the years pass, and you finally get the chance to see it again in a new, professional production. And you are excited. But also scared, fearful that it couldn't possibly live up to your memory.

Such was the case when I entered Signature Theatre's Max space to see their Grand Hotel: The Musical. Was it as thrilling as the Tommy Tune classic? No. But it was nearly as wonderful, proving that different doesn't have to be bad  or "less than." The fact is, this Eric Schaeffer-led revival goes a long way towards showing that this musical stands up to time, and can more than stand on its own sans Tune.

As the lyrics go, "round and round, music constantly playing..." and the show does just that, between the vibrant, constant motion of Kelly Crandall d'Amboise's jazzy, snazzy and really sexy choreography, and the truly exceptional orchestrations of Paul McKibbons (he made seven instruments sound so full!) and superb musical direction of Jon Kalbfleisch. Add in solid, varied staging by Schaeffer, and this seamless production sizzles and flies by. Just as exciting is the visual feast the physical production provides. Colin K. Bills' moody, often sensual lighting signals mood, while Paul Tate Depoo III's immersive, luxurious set surrounds and draws you in (the floor is practically a character in and of itself). There is an elegance about the whole thing - lovely, crystal sconces line the walls, gorgeous wallpaper soars from floor to ceiling, and tall staircases reach to high, arched alcoves, while scenes change with subtle shifts of bronzed panels. And that floor! In an ingenious take on the original film and in stunning contrast to scenery, Robert Perdziola's opulent costumes are all in shades of black, white, grey, and, occasionally, silver. The characters are in black and white. Brilliant.


Grand Hotel is a truly ensemble piece, and its success hinges on that. As for the ensemble-within-the-ensemble, the eight cast members who play multiple roles - scullery, hotel staff, guests - sing and dance their way through life with a cool intensity bordering on desperation. They are compelling. The main core of ten characters, of course, each get their moment to propel the story, and each are successful. As all of them say (several times each), "time is running out," and each gives a performance tinged with varying levels of the aforementioned desperation. It thrills, motivates and gives the whole thing an edge of your seat excitement.

"Maybe My Baby Loves Me"
As the naive, scared to breathe bell hop, Erik, Nicholas McDonough is sweet, and the two baristas, Jimmy 1 and 2 are played with panache and haughty flair by Ian Anthony Coleman and Solomon Parker III. Their "Maybe My Baby Loves Me" sizzles.

As the above board turned morally compromised American business man, Christopher Bloch is by turns fatherly and predatory, and made the hair on the back of my neck go up as he sexually assaults his secretary. A tough assignment well played. The devoted companion to an aging ballerina is another difficult role - balancing duty with forbidden love is tricky - and Crystal Mosser really delivers, particularly in the final moments, and her "How Can I Tell Her?" is a highlight that stands out like never before. The narrator of the piece has always been an enigma, and, as played by Lawrence Redmond, that mystery is a sharp as ever, making his final compromise, "I'll stay...one more day" gives the whole show an air of frightening inevitability that has uncomfortable echos in today's political climate.

Grushinskaya (Natascia Diaz), The Baron (Nkruhma Gatling) (left)
Kringelein (Bobby Smith), Erik (Nicholas McDonough) (right)

The central four characters really propel the action are in great hands. Nicki Elledge is a compelling, frustrating and sympathetic mix of worldly-wise and woefully naive as Flaemmchen, the near poverty typist with Hollywood dreams, and her chemistry with every man she deals with is palpable.  Meanwhile, the always reliable Natascia Diaz is alternately pathetic, warm and sensual as the past her prime ballerina. The last we see of her - face full of hope as she rushes to meet a lover that won't be there - is heartbreaking. With the suave, debonair moves of a young Denzel Washington, Nkruhma Gatling captivates as the Baron, carefully navigating the tricky role of a thief who wants to do the right thing - and his vocals are wonderful, especially "Love Can't Happen." The star of the evening, though, is the utterly charming Bobby Smith as the dying bookkeeper. He had us eating out of the frail palm of his hand from start to finish. The hopeful optimism he exudes filled my heart and brought tears to my eyes.

Unfortunately, you only have this week to check-in and check out this splendid Grand Hotel. The show closes Sunday, but if you can get to the D.C. area by then, I highly recommend this one!

📸: C. Stanley Photography

#2077

Monday, May 13, 2019

BROADWAY HEAT: Oklahoma! and Hadestown Edition: The Elite 8!

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


BROADWAY HEAT X 2: Oklahoma! / Hadestown Edition




Like we said last week, in order to get through the rest of the season's shows before next season, we decided to double up! It's just the same as always, only you are voting for two shows at a time. The shows are NOT competing against each other! This time around, you are choosing next week's Final 4 for both Oklahoma! and Hadestown, two of the hottest shows of the season.

Below, you'll see the names and pictures of each cast member. Question 1 is the cast of Oklahoma!, and question 2 is the cast of Hadestown. For EACH question, you may select between 1 and 4 (but no more than 4) of your favorites. You do have to pick at least one for each question. NOTE: You will need to scroll down the survey box to see it all.

REMEMBER: You must click/tap the "CLICK/TAP TO MAKE YOUR VOTE COUNT" button at the bottom!


THIS POLL WILL CLOSE AT 5 PM ON FRIDAY, MAY 17TH.

Thanks for playing along!

Create your own user feedback survey

#2076

Friday, May 10, 2019

The Friday 5: 5 Favorite Show Logos of the 2018 -2019 Season

With the 2018-2019 Broadway season now in the history books, it's time to take a look back at the year in logos. It's one of my favorite topics, so it makes sense to start there! So, this week's Friday 5 is dedicated to our favorite signage on the Great White Way.


Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Bloody and irreverent. Just like the play. It reminds me of a cross between two of my all-time favorite logos, Sweeney Todd and Something Rotten! I also love it that it resembles the actual production. Great logo. (The title, not so much...)



***********



Hadestown
Love the mystery and romanticism. Haven't seen the show (yet), but this logo alone - and its clever, telling tagline - intrigues me enough to want to see it based on that alone. Of course, I've seen the press photos, and I know the red flower figures prominently in the story. Can't wait to see it!





Head Over Heels
Loved the show, loved the logo - both versions! Our full logo review: HERE.






Oklahoma!
Another show I can't wait to see. The dark side of Rodgers and Hammerstein excites and intrigues, as does this logo. Our review of this artwork HERE.




The Cher Show
Like its subject, this logo is so stylish. And it nails the three faces of Cher, the three eras... Best tagline of the year. Our review of the logo HERE.





#2075
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