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:
Be More Chill - Opens: 3.10.19 Kiss Me, Kate - Opens: 3.14.19 Ain't Too Proud - Previews: 2.28.19, Opens: 3.21.19 What the Constitution Means to Me - Previews: 3.14.19, Opens: 3.28.19 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 Hillary and Clinton - Previews: 3.16.19, Opens: 4.18.19 All My Sons - Previews: 4.4.19, Opens: 4.22.19 Tootsie - Previews: 3.29.19, Opens: 4.23.19 Ink - Previews: 4.2.19, Opens: 4.24.19 Beetlejuice - Previews: 3.28.19, Opens: 4.25.19

COMING UP ON THE BLOG: 2/25: Broadway Heat Kiss Me, Kate Edition: Elimination Round - 2/26: LOGOS: Be More Chill - 2/27: BOOK REVIEW: Hamilton: The Revolution - 2/28: #TBT - 3/1: Looking Forward to Spring: March - May 2019

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

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Friday 5: The Broadway...How Many? Quiz

A few weeks ago, we had a Friday 5 Broadway Quiz, and the response was a bit of a pleasant surprise. Seems you liked it, so we'll do it again. Maybe we'll make it a regular thing, once a month. If you have a topic for a theater/Broadway-related quiz, let us know at the email and/or Twitter address above.


The Friday 5:
The Broadway...How Many? Quiz

1. How many currently running Broadway productions won the Best Musical Tony Award? 

2. How many currently running Broadway shows have played in more than one theater? 

3. How many currently running Broadway shows are directed by Casey Nicholaw? 

4. How many currently running Broadway shows that did not win the Best Musical Tony the season they opened have run longer than the show that did?

5. How many Broadway theaters have escalators to the seating area? 

(Look for the answers at the bottom of next Friday's blog!)

#2013

Thursday, February 21, 2019

#TBT: 2011 OBCR: The Book of Mormon

Mike will tell you that after we saw an early performance in the now legendary run of The Book of Mormon, I predicted a 3 year run, max, and that after all the South Park fans were depleted, it would close. "If ever there was a niche market musical," I speechified, "this is it!" Well, I'm about 5 years off and counting. As the show approaches its 8th anniversary (the 1st preview was on February 24, 2011), what better a throwback could there be?

The show is one that I hope to see again some day, though, frankly, it will be on my list of "glad I saw it, I appreciate it, and it will never be a favorite of mine" shows. It is funny, yes, and even touching. Giving credit where it is due, the show knows what it is and gives 100% to being that - something I wish more shows did.

Speaking of giving 100%, the Original Broadway Cast Recording is a treat for fans. The CD version (you know me) really is something else. The booklet that comes in the tri-fold case is a souvenir all by itself. Within its whopping 76 pages, there are dozens of full color photos, a full synopsis, all of the lyrics and an essay by Frank Rich. It really is nice.


I'm glad I got to see the original cast, and all these years later I remember their performances pretty well. With the CD (which I only got this past Christmas), those memories came flooding back. And as I listen to it (over and over), I find more and more to laugh at, though as in the theater, listening to the score makes me have favorites.

The opening number, "Hello!" is just simply awesome, and those harmonies are unbelievable. And the big group numbers are still very good, even without the visuals. I'm speaking of "All-American Prophet" and "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" specifically. Rory O'Malley is so awesome, one wishes he had more than the "Turn It Off" showstopper to do. Tony winner Nikki M. James is utterly charming in "Sal Tlay Ka Siti," as is Josh Gad in "Baptize Me." As charming as those are are, they are still funny. I'm a huge Andrew Rannells fan, so maybe I'm biased, but everything he does here is golden, particularly "I Believe" and that tribute to ego, "You and Me (But Mostly Me)."

As funny as it all is, the laughs, for me, offer diminishing returns with each listen. After I get tired of it, and I'm sure I will, I'll put it away. Then I'll pull it out again after a year or so and laugh again.

Grade: A-


Fun Facts About The Book of Mormon...

  • The show premiered and opened on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. Previews began on February 24, 2011, with Opening Night on March 24, 2011. To date, it has played 28 previews and 3, 309 performances.
  • The show was nominated for 14 Tony Awards, winning 9, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score.
  • Six original cast members are currently in the Broadway company: Graham Bowen, Lewis Cleale, Tyson Jennette, John Eric Parker, Chase Ramsey, and Maia Nkenge Wilson.
  • Famous alumna of the show include: Tony winners Gavin Creel and Ben Platt, Mean Girls guys Grey Henson and Kyle Selig, The Prom's Michael Potts and Broadway fan favorites Nikki Renee Daniels, Daniel Breaker, Nic Rouleau, Carly Hughes and Matt Doyle.



#2012

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

REVIEW: Fun Home @ Baltimore's Center Stage

Review of the Sunday, February 17, 2019 matinee performance at Center Stage in Baltimore, Maryland. Starring Laura Darrell, Michelle Dawson, Jeffry Denman, Liam Hamilton, Justin Gregory Lopez, Molly Lyons, Jon Martens, Andrea Prestinario and Shannon Tyo. Music by Jeanine Tesori. Book and lyrics by Lisa Kron. Based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel. Scenic design by Scott Bradley. Costume design by Karen Perry. Lighting design by Xavier Pierce. Sound design by Charles Coes and Nathan A. Roberts. Projection design by Hana S. Kim. Choreography by Jaclyn Miller. Direction by Hana S. Sharif. 1 hour, 40 minutes, with no intermission. This production will close on Sunday, February 24, 2019.

Grade: A+


Fun Home at Baltimore's Center Stage is wonderful in every respect. It's just that simple. Under Hana S. Sharif's poignant direction, this trip to Pennsylvania is decidedly more robust and intense than any version I've seen before. Think hybrid of the Public Theater premiere and the Broadway version, plus an urgency heretofore un-mined. There were also some nice new laughs and some new heartbreaking moments as well. Sharif's use of juxtaposition not only makes excellent use of the large thrust stage, but in adding visual meaning to the themes of the show.

The scenic and lighting design, by Scott Bradley and Xavier Pierce respectively, features sliding set pieces, props that come out of the floor, and a back wall covered with giant picture frames around projection screens, along with focused pools of light. The combination suits the space well, and goes miles toward showing us Alison's memories that are both crystal clear in detail and fuzzy glimmers. Karen Perry's costumes get the job done, and Charles Coes and Nathan A. Roberts' sound design was vibrant. The real technical star of the show, however, is the projection design of Hana S. Kim. It is beautifully evocative, and the use of color and black and white is interesting, and the animation of the letters reveals a lot about the writer's state of mind at the time. But there are two times where it is truly superlative. During "Maps," as Alison is drawing and later describing the map, it appears on the wall behind her and on the floor, and it interacts with her. Very cool! And at the end, during the finale, Bechdel's actual drawings appear on the screens, with final "airplane" image not just appearing, but being drawn on the wall. It was terrific to see.

The cast is just as terrific. In multiple small roles, Justin Gregory Lopez makes a great impression, particularly in "Raincoat of Love," where he nails that 70's/Partridge Family kitschy vibe. Important to the story (and one of the show's key songs) is Joan, here played with low-key confidence by Shannon Tyo. It is clear from Tyo's performance what makes Joan such a key figure in Alison's life. And the boys who play Alison's brothers, Liam Hamilton and Jon Martens, are charming - their rendition of "Come to the Fun Home" was a delight, made all the better by their clear enunciation.

Every actress who takes on the role of Helen Bechdel does it differently, of course, but Michelle Dawson's take is really different in its level of attack. As her hurt and rage (and fear and pain, for that matter) grow, you can really see it, especially in her eyes. Everything builds to an explosive and harsh "Days and Days," which comes off like an aria. It works. And it makes her line to Medium Alison about not coming back even more meaningful.


Jeffry Denman is the third person I've seen play Brice Bechdel, and he may be the scariest of all. The conflict Alison feels about how she sees her father parallels my reaction to Mr. Denman: I wanted to like him, to see he good qualities, and I wanted to understand why he does what he does. I think that's key to understanding the show. But this portrayal is somehow more graphic in its insidiousness, and sexuality. The lust in his face toward his gardener and his former student is chilling. And his cruel manipulation of his family is frightening. Yet, somehow, impossibly, he makes us feel almost sorry for him, right up to the last moments when he shares a last car ride with his grown daughter. Bravo.

Since the the trio of actresses playing Alison make or break Fun Home, it is indeed great news that this production has three amazing women more than up to the task. Andrea Prestinario is a wonderful singer, and even better observer. Watching her watch the action was a master class in being present - particularly as she was watching "Changing My Major." Speaking of that number, I have to say that Laura Darrell's rendition of this crowd-pleaser was easily the funniest I've ever seen, funniest, sweetest and most satisfying. While I doubt I'll ever be as taken by Young Alison as i was with Sydney Lucas, Molly Lyons sure gives the Tony nominee a run for her money. There is a droll adult air to her that is utterly charming, and a sweet childlike innocence that makes you ache when you watch her desperation for her father's affections. "Ring of Keys" is a showstopper in her hands.

I wish I had seen this earlier in its run, because this is one Fun Home I'd like to visit again.

(Photos by B. Geenen)

#2011

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Standing at Zero: Hamilton's Ryan Vasquez

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. This month's honoree is a true utility player for that little founding fathers musical... he's played several roles as a swing/understudy, including the one he played when he caught our eye, George Washington. He's also gone on as both Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. We're talking about the super-talented (and so sexy!) Ryan Vasquez!

Standing @ Zero:
Hamilton's
Ryan Vasquez




Ryan's credits include regional productions of Cabaret (Cliff), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Pharoah), West Side Story (Tony) and South Pacific (Lt. Cable). Broadway audiences have seen him in Wicked (debut), Waitress (original cast), and, currently Hamilton.

Cabaret

South Pacific
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
West Side Story (left)
Waitress (far left)
Hamilton

George Washington
Aaron Burr

Alexander Hamilton

Bonus Video:


We would love to hear who you'd like to see in future months - the only guidelines are that he must be in a show currently on Broadway, and he must be in the ensemble. Leave us a comment below, send us an email at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com, or Tweet us (@jkstheatrescene).

#2010

Monday, February 18, 2019

Broadway Heat: Be More Chill Edition: The Championship!

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

BROADWAY HEAT: BE MORE CHILL EDITION

THIS IT IT! After weeks of voting, we are down to your 2 favorite "Hot" cast members from Be More Chill!  BUT there can only be ONE "Hottest!"

Pick your favorite from the pair below, then BE SURE YOU CLICK "FINISH SURVEY" under the question. If you don't click that button, your vote will not count.

Who will be the Champion? Will or Katlyn? VOTE NOW! Thanks for playing along!

YOUR BE MORE CHILL FINALISTS!
(THE POLL IS AFTER THE PICTURES!)


WILL ROLAND AND KATLYN CARLSON

THIS POLL WILL CLOSE AT 5PM ON FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22!


#2009

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Friday 5: 5 Takeaways from Sitting Near Kids at a Broadway Show

During my most recent Broadway trip, I had the opportunity to sit next to and around kids of a fair age range. Normally, I don't even notice such things, except that just prior to that weekend, there was a flap on Twitter over an article that blamed/shamed millennials for poor behavior at the theater. Full-disclosure, I am a 50-something Gen Xer, and know what it is to be blamed for society's ills by the generations before me.

So, here's how my seating worked out: at Puffs, I was surrounded by millennials. At Hamilton, I sat next to an 11 year-old celebrating his birthday with his self-professed "cool aunt," and behind two teenage boys and their parents. And at Harry Potter, I was seated next to a 10 year-old girl and her dad for 5+ hours. The results are the subject of this week's...

The Friday 5:
5 Takeaways from Sitting Near
Kids at a Broadway Show

1.  Kids are no different than any aged audience member... when they are thoroughly entertained. My neighbor at Harry Potter was so into it, she barely moved. And her reactions were so genuine it only added to the experience. Unfortunately, her dad was less fun. He asked her several times during the performance, "Do you like this, honey?" Needy for feeling you got your money's worth, Dad? 

2. Kids follow the rules... The second the lights started dimming before the start of each act of Hamilton, the young man next to me turned off his device and put it away. Unfortunately, his aunt, who skewed closer to my age, was the one texting during the show. Put the cell phone away, lady.

3. Teenagers know what's cool, not their parents... I gather from their body language that the teenager in front of us weren't really into Hamilton. They never sat still, leaning forward, leaning on each other, and generally annoying everyone around them. When their mom excitedly asked then if they liked it at intermission, you could see the disappointment on her face when one of them mumbled, "It's okay, I guess." "Well, your father and I think it's cool." I couldn't see their faces, but I'm pretty sure I heard an eye roll.  Even if I had loved it at that age, I wouldn't have let my parents have the satisfaction of knowing they picked a cool show. 

4. It doesn't matter where they sit, adults are just as likely to misbehave... we sat in the second row at the very small Stage 5 of New World Stages for Puffs. There were two "grown-ups" directly in front of me and small groups of millennials all around us. Guess who talked throughout the play, and spent the better part of the hour and a half folding and refolding their premium seat complimentary t-shirt in the front row? Hint: it wasn't anyone born in the 90's. The thing is, they were about 3 feet away from the actors at all times.

5. Kids are quiet... when they are entertained. Much like number one on this list, when the show is good, their lips are sealed. (This was true, too, at a matinee for Frozen last year.) Remember the girl and her dad at Potter? Not only was he looking for validation, but he was covering his own confusion. My favorite part was when she shushed him for asking her questions about the story during the performance.

Of course, this is anecdotal, and your mileage may vary. But, contrary to that article, my experience with annoying audience members is most often with people my age or older. We've all sat next to one of those...

#2008

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Broadway Valentines

Move over, Romeo and Juliet! Love is in the air on Broadway this season! There's a little something for everyone - Cupid's arrow is a liberal one. Straight, gay, bi - every couple has their obstacles to mow over, and each couple has some of the strongest women the stage has seen in some time to make it happen. Ah, love...

Here are 5 of our favorite couples, in order of their opening night:


Pamela + Mopsa and Philoclea + Musidorus - Head Over Heels
Like so many couples, this pair of pairs went through a lot to be together - self-discovery, breaking the norm, a quest, and a prophecy by no less than the Oracle of Delphi. Thankfully, all four found The Beat and love was restored to the kingdom queendom. All in a day's work for the citizens of Arcadia!


Vivian and Edward - Pretty Woman: The Musical
It's your typical boy-meets-hooker story, really. But if you ask me, she saves him. Sure, she gets a Cinderella style makeover, but he's the one who's made better. She found an uptight, self-involved, greedy businessman and saw right through it. Faster than you can say "quid pro quo," she teaches him to love and find the fun side of life.


Ann and Kong - King Kong
Don't tell me for a second that there's not a love story up there. Find me anyone willing to risk their life and livelihood for me because it's the right thing to do, and I am there. Find me a guy willing to climb the Empire State Building, and I'm his forever. And let's face it, that is some major chemistry between a puppet an ape and his beloved.


Emma and Alyssa - The Prom
They shared the kiss heard round the world at the parade, but their romance comes to life eight times a week at the Longacre. Today's teens live in a much different world than I grew up in. This is about one seriously brave and mature young woman, fighting the status quo for the one she loves. Lives and attitudes are changed, the audience squirms in their seats with delight, and confetti flies. Life just as it should be when love wins the day.

#2007

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two

Review of the Sunday, February 3, 2019 matinee (Part One) and evening (Part Two) performances at the Lyric Theatre in New York City. Starring Anthony Boyle, Sam Clemmett, Noma Dumezweni, Jessie Fisher, Poppy Miller, Jamie Parker, Alex Price, and Paul Thornley. Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. A new play by Jack Thorne. Set design by Christine Jones. Lighting design by Neil Austin. Costume design by Katrina Lindsay. Sound design by Gareth Fry. Illusions and magic by Jamie Harrison. Composer and arranger Imogen Heap. Movement direction by Steven Hoggett. Direction by by John Tiffany. 2 hours 40 minutes, including a 20 minute intermission (Part One); 2 hours 35 minutes, including a 20 minute intermission (Part Two)

Grade: A+

"Are all Broadway plays like this?" That was the question a co-worker of mine asked about a month go, when she saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two. It practically drove her crazy not getting an answer from me for weeks, and even more so, not being able to discuss it until after I finally saw it. Yes, I made her #KeepTheSecrets. Here, I will endeavor to do the same for you.

The Cursed Child Company
If I am completely honest with myself, I went into it all being prepared for a let down.  It has happened to me many times before with highly acclaimed and popular shows. Though I was very very careful not to read anything about the show itself, I did allow myself to read a few articles about the transformation of the Lyric Theatre. Well, I can happily report that the theater, particularly the house itself, is stunning. The pictures they've allowed of it don't even come close to the experience of seeing it in person. The seats are nice and wide, and there is plenty of leg room - crucial considering how much time one will spend there. (Side note: The seating chart on the ticket site is pretty misleading. We were in Orchestra Row M, 3 seats in from the side aisle. I worried, based on the chart that we might miss a lot on the house left side. What a waste of worry! The view was perfect - far enough back to see the whole stage at once, close enough to see faces very clearly, and the entire stage was in view.) I will say no more about the theater so as not to give any more away about the space; you need to experience it for yourself.

What I loved best about all of the design elements is that they recognized both the films and the book illustrations while still being creative and new for the stage. Christine Jones' set design is remarkable for both its scale and minimalism; the characters don't get lost (unless they are supposed to) in the constant motion of the set pieces, but there's no lack of magic to the design, either. And that "magic" isn't a pun, it's figurative and liberal. The same can be said for Katrina Lindsay's elaborately simple costumes and Neil Austin's evocative lighting, which is notable as much for its color pallet as its striking use of darkness.


Movement by Steven Hoggett
Gareth Fry should write a book (if he hasn't already) on sound design, it was impeccable, and practically a character all by itself. It probably isn't too much of a shock that the actual magic was first-rate, and while the sheer quantity of it is remarkable, Jamie Harrison's illusions are jaw-dropping no matter if they are old-school theatrical parlor tricks, clever stage craft, or "how did they do that?" moments. Amazing.

This show marked a first for me. I actually purchased the play's score by Imogen Heap. The music is beautiful, thrilling and a ton of fun, too. Her work here really adds to moments where there is only action and no dialogue. It also adds so much to the direction and movement, which, in a word, is flawless. I'd be hard pressed most of the time to explain where Steven Hoggett's movement ends and John Tiffany's direction starts, and vice versa. I adored their work together on Once, The Glass Menagerie and Hoggett's work on The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. But here, they are at a whole new level. They have managed to make the production breathtaking in both epic and intimate ways. And this is one tight play. Not once did it feel its length; when it was over, I wanted more. I've seen 90 minute shows I couldn't wait to leave. Much of that credit goes to Jack Thorne's script, which fits nearly seamlessly with the rest of the canon, with its plot twists and turns, surprising character revelations, and battles between good and evil.

Hermione, Harry and Ron
This is a show where I'd love to be in the ensemble. They all play multiple characters, and get to do really cool things during scene changes. This show - both parts - is the embodiment of the old stage adage "there are no small parts...". There are several supporting roles, and those played by Jessie Fisher, Geraldine Hughes, Edward James Hyland, Byron Jennings, and Kathryn Meisle really stood out. (I really want to tell you why, but I won't!)

Every member of the main cast is sensational, too, giving us so much to chew on. And they are outstanding - funny, tough, enigmatic. Here, we have adult versions of the kids we grew to love: Draco Malfoy (Alex Price), Ginny Weasley-Potter (Poppy Miller), Ron Weasley (Paul Thornley), Hermione Granger (Noma Dumezweni), and, of course, Harry Potter (Jamie Parker). And adulting for these people hasn't been easy. They now have kids, who come with their own set of problems. It isn't an easy life when you are a part of the wizarding world. While I wish the incoming class of Cursed Child all the best (and I really hope to see them), I can't imagine a better cast.

Sam Clemmett and Anthony Boyle
Just as Cursed Child hands off the mantle to the next generation in the Potterverse, with the two really main characters, the sons of Harry and Draco, so, too, are audiences seeing the next generation of fine British actors, Sam Clemmett (Albus Potter) and Anthony Boyle (Scorpius Malfoy). They were both brilliant. Gentlemen, you have a new lifelong fan in me. Bravo to you both.

So, I answered my co-worker, "No. Not all Broadway plays are like Cursed Child." There are so many things I want to write about this extraordinary production and vastly entertaining play. The themes, the portrayals, the surprises...but I won't ruin it for you. Just see it to believe it.

And when you do, please #KeepTheSecrets.

(Photos by J. Kyler, M. Hanlan)

#2006

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

REVIEW: Puffs

Review of the Friday, February 1, 2019 performance at New World Stages Stage 5 in New York City. Featuring Madeleine Bundy, Jessie Cannizzaro, Anna Dart, Kullan Edberg, Alex Haynes, Reginald Keith Jackson, Andy Miller, Zac Moon, Keith Rubin, Stephen Stout and Harry Waller. A play by Matt Cox. Original music by Brian Hoes. Set, costume and prop design by Madeleine Bundy.  Lighting design by Herrick Goldman. Sound design by Matt Cox. Direction by Kristin McCarthy Parker. 1 hour 45 minutes, with no intermission.

Grade: B-

For our long-awaited visit to Hogwarts, Mike and reacquainted ourselves with the books and movies. As a treat, we thought it might be fun to see the long-running off-Broadway parody Puffs: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic to sort of cleanse our Potter pallets.

Turns out, it was a nice way to start our weekend of epic theater-going.

As you might guess, the show is largely a send-up of the epic seven novel series, and, I would imagine anyone in the audience unfamiliar with it would be pretty bored and maybe uncomfortable. Fortunately, the audience we attended with was fully into it, and the cast responded in kind. The play, by Matt Cox, crams most of the story into just over 100 intermissionless minutes, but with a twist - we see it all from the "behind-the-scenes" point of view of the Puffs, the magic school's misfit outcasts. This is a smart parody, never too mean, and a wonderful tribute to the books that changed literature forever.


This show proves that one doesn't need high tech gadgets and effects to create stage magic. The show's designer, Madeleine Bundy, has an endless supply of creativity. The set offers a backstage-y point of view, perfect for this "other point of view" tale, with multiple doors lending plenty of door-slamming farce to the proceedings. The props, which range from sock puppets to stuffed birds and everything in between, and the clever costumes (Moody and McGonagall are especially fun) allow for instant recognition and immediate laughs.

Puffs  features a solid, all-on-the-same-page troupe of actors, all of whom handle the demands of split-second timing and quick-change costumes and characters with remarkable energy and precision. Everyone gets multiple chances to shine here. Stand outs include Stephen Stout, who nails a send up of both Snape and Dumbledore, Anna Dart, who gets to play both good and evil with glee and Andy Miller, whose long red hair is practically a cast member all by itself, and her gift for facial expressions is generously shared. I also really enjoyed the narrator, a sly Harry Waller, who is especially fun in the final plot twist moments of the play.

Three Puffs: Andy Miller, Zac Moon, Stephen Stout
The four main characters are wonderful. Geeky charm and endearing awkwardness are central to Reginald Keith Jackson's sweet turn, and Kullan Edberg is a riot as the moody, dissatisfied Slytherin wannabe. She takes snark and ambivalence to a new level, making her character arc all the more satisfying. Matinee idol looks, a smoking hot body, and a toothy grin combine to make Keith Rubin's romp one heck of a rock star Puff. He's just as funny as he-who-shall-not-be-named. Finally, Zac Moon as the Puffs own Potter-esque house member is spot-on as the ultra-nerd unwittingly thrust into the world of wizardry. A hang-dog face, dry delivery, and a knack for underplaying combine to make him the perfect foil for all the more bombastic characters that fill the stage around him.

Like many a parody before it, Puffs suffers from not knowing when to let up. Even at under two hours, it drags quite a bit in places, and grinds to a halt during a mid-show ad-lib section (on February 1, a just-short-of-uncomfortable ode to Black History Month) that got less and less funny as it went on and on, with the actor doing it more focused on breaking up his fellow cast mates than paying attention to the diminishing returns of audience laughter. Mr. Cox's script would benefit from an outside editor and a trimming of maybe 15 minutes in running time.

Still, it is a lot of fun, and I'm glad I saw it. Potter fans won't be disappointed. For the most part, I wasn't.

(Photos by J. Kyler, H. Canning)

#2005

Monday, February 11, 2019

Broadway Heat: Be More Chill Edition: The Final 4

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

BROADWAY HEAT: BE MORE CHILL EDITION

And then there were four! Last week's voting was remarkably close! Less than 5 votes separated one of the pairs, and less than 15 votes separated two of the others.

Your job this week is to narrow The Final 4 down to the TWO HOTTEST cast members of Be More Chill. Pick your favorite from each pair below, then BE SURE YOU CLICK "FINISH SURVEY" under the last question. If you don't click that button, your vote will not count.

The stakes are high - your votes will determine who goes on to next week's Championship Round! Thanks for playing along!

THIS POLL IS CLOSED!

Here's who you eliminated this week:

Morgan Siobhan Green
Stephanie Hsu

BE SURE TO VOTE IN NEXT WEEK'S CHAMPIONSHIP!


#2004

Friday, February 8, 2019

The Friday 5: 5 Title Songs: 2003 - 2008

Today's Friday 5 returns to a reader favorite - title songs from Broadway musicals. This batch includes a huge pop hit, a cartoon, and operatic masterpiece, the first musical from a master and a big dose of 80's kitsch. I hope you enjoy these - soon, we'll be all caught up. Just 11 years to go!

THE FRIDAY 5:
5 Broadway Title Songs
2002 - 2008

MOVIN' OUT (Opened October 24, 2002 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre)



A fan of Billy Joel, it was hard to resist seeing this show, but Twyla Tharp's mega-dance musical had it all. I didn't expect the emotional roller coaster.

AVENUE Q (Opened July 31, 2003 at the Golden Theatre)



Subversive Sesame Street, yes. But heart-felt, sweet and brazen all at once. And it all started with the infectious Avenue Q Theme.

THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA (Opened April 18, 2005 at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre)



The entire score and show are so ravishing and beautiful. Thank goodness PBS thought to capture this 21st Century masterpiece. As promised, Mike. 😉

XANADU (Opened July 27, 2007 at the Helen Hayes Theatre)



This show brought me so much joy. As a kid, I wore out the Xanadu movie soundtrack. As an adult, I loved the musical's irreverence and loving tribute/parody. It was nice to just laugh.

IN THE HEIGHTS (Opened March 9, 2008 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre)



The one that started it all for Lin-Manuel Miranda. A show I enjoyed much more than Hamilton because it has warmth and heart, In the Heights deserved all of its accolades and an even longer run than it had. Watching this, makes me realize how much the phenomenon is a derivative of the older show.

#2003
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