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Remember the old M-G-M axiom: "More stars than there are in the heavens!" The 2013 Tony Awards, the 67th annual, telecast by CBS live from Radio City Music Hall on Sunday from 8-11 PM, has that beat. There'll be more stars than there are in the galaxy! Minus one, and more about that later.
The stars are aligning! Tony fav, six-time Emmy nominee and two-time winner and four-time Golden Globe nominee Neil Patrick Harris returns as the host with the mostest. Expect humorous barbs and songs.
The original Broadway cast CD of Grammy-winning rock icon Cyndi Lauper and four-time Tony Harvey Fierstein’s richly diverse Kinky Boots,nominated for 13 Tonys, including Best Musical, Score, and Book, is now available (Masterworks Broadway).
Do you know the way to off-Broadway, where this has been one of the best seasons ever? Theaters are easy to find, and off-Broadway has everything Broadway has, including (as a rule, but not always) uncomfortable seats and stages that are (often but not always) smaller. However, OB also offers tickets that are definitely cheaper. Two of the best and most nominated shows are big hits, and two potential hits have just arrived.
What I’ll always remember about Jean Stapleton is her wonderful giggle followed by an uproarious laugh. And when Miss Stapleton laughed, everyone heard. But there was so much more to this terrific lady: her sweetness, kindness, and thoughtfulness.
Of course, being a musicals buff, I knew who Jean Stapleton was when she got the co-starring role in TV’s groundbreaking “All in the Family.” I remembered her from the film adaptations of Bells Are Ringing and Damn Yankees and so regretted that I never got to see her do those roles onstage.
Sue Mengers was a trailblazer as the first female super-agent. She was powerful, revengeful, and witheringly sarcastic, but to those she loved, and vice versa, she was a mensch. Ms. Mengers passed away in 2011 at age 79 after a series of chronic illnesses and tiny strokes. In John Logan's play currently running on Broadway, I'll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers,she is channeled brilliantly by Bette Midler.
Charles Giuliano recently sat down for a conversation with Barrington Stage artistic director Julianne Boyd to discuss the ever-complicated relationship between critics and the artists they cover.
Charles Giuliano recently interviewed Massachusetts’ Barrington Stage Company artistic director Julianne Boyd about the homogenization of regional-theater programming.
Charles Giuliano recently interviewed Massachusetts’ Barrington Stage Company artistic director Julianne Boyd about the theater’s $7 million capital campaign.
Charles Giuliano: What is the current financial status of Barrington Stage Company?
Julianne Boyd We moved in 2006. This is our 8th season in Pittsfield. Last May we acquired the former V.F.W. just a couple of streets over from our theater.
Triple-threat Shonn Wiley has done lots of shows in all sorts of venues, but even if you were to chart his career only in terms of his participation in the City Center Encores! series of staged concert musicals, you'd see clearly that he's a rising star. His first Encores!
Guitar-playing, folk-singing octodynamo, Lu Mitchell is mighty fine at 89. Not one to rest on her laurels, Lu is busy writing new songs, launching her tenth album, and rehearsing for her annual Irish show on March 12, 2013 at Pocket Sandwich Theater where she plays four gigs each year. This is in addition to numerous appearances at corporate functions, private parties, a holiday show at Uncle Calvin's Coffee House, and the annual Senior Follies extravaganza at the Eisemann Center.
When Janie Minick walks onstage and announces: "I'm Elizabeth Taylor Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Burton Warner Fortensky," you would suspend all manner of disbelief if Taylor were still alive. She is, of course, referring to her marriages to hotel heir Nicky Hilton, British actor Michael Wilding, Hollywood film producer Mike Todd, singer Eddie Fisher, Welsh actor Richard Burton (to whom she was wed twice), Virginia senator John Warner, and construction worker Larry Fortensky. She then interweaves the story of her life, romances, and marriages to each of them.
Editor’s Note: Twice each year, members of The American Theater Critics Association (ATCA) visit a city for several days of theatergoing and soaking in the local culture. In March 2013, ATCA held its annual mini-meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, where Charles Giuliano was able to interview Indy theater critic Melissa Hall.
Janis Paige was supposed to play Feinstein's last spring, and I had the pleasure of interviewing her via telephone in advance of that planned appearance. But then she was injured in a fall and couldn't make the trip to New York from her home in L.A., so our interview was never published.
Coming soon to a theatre near you.
In 2010 Barrington Stage Company, in Pittsfield, MA, presented The Whipping Man by Matthew Lopez. It was staged in the smaller of two theaters now known as the Mark St. Germain after its board member and associate playwright.
Last week, as part of a meeting of American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), I saw another production of The Whipping Man at the Indiana Repertory Theatre in Indianapolis. Both productions were excellent, with the Indy one far more elaborate in a larger venue (more like Barrington’s main stage).
The 1,600 seat Palladium in the $125 million Center for the Performing Arts, in Carmel, Indiana (a half hour drive from Indianapolis) opened in 2011 after years of planning. The magnificent, neo-classical structure, which features superb acoustics, gets its name from the Villa La Rotonda (1556) a Renaissance villa just outside Vicenza, northern Italy, designed by Andrea Palladio.
Singer-actress Lorna Luft makes her Birdland cabaret debut in “Lorna's Living Room,” with two different shows, February 11 and 18, 2013, both at 7pm. “It’s like having old friends over,” she says. “We make merry, laugh, and sing. I’m the hostess-with-the-mostest, so to speak. And anything can happen.”
One critic summed up the film adaptation of the 1967 Tony-winning musical, Cabaret, as “a darkly sexy beast.” It’s certainly dark and sexy, while being immensely musically entertaining; and now, thanks to a restoration and remastering by Warner Bros., you might say a lot of light has been shed on Bob Fosse’s version which borders on a masterpiece and which netted him an Oscar.
The 13th season of the Town Hall's “Broadway by the Year” series gets off to a rousing start Monday, Feb. 11, at 8pm saluting 1937. It will be a very romantic line-up of tunes just in time for Valentine’s Day. Headlining will be Nightlife Award winning vocalist Carole J.
“To be, or not to be: that is the question.” “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” These lines from Hamlet and The Tempestare among Shakespeare’s most quoted.
The Phantom of the Opera.The longest-running show in Broadway history. 25 years on Broadway. 1,0399 performances. And all in one theater.
Saturday’s black-tie performance for an invited audience of great fans, celebrities and numerous alumni of the show and festive gala was worthy of the opening night of a landmark musical. One that’s become a worldwide blockbuster for composer Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricists Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe.
Instead of Cats being labeled “Now and Forever,” that catchphrase should have been saved for The Phantom of the Opera.On Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, it will celebrate the unprecedented milestone of playing on Broadway 25 years and counting – and in one theater, the Majestic.
Anyone who loves New York and theater surely had a blast with Season One of “Smash.” In spite of some of its time-bending and asinine aspects, viewers will treasure the DVD set (NBC/Universal Studios Home Entertainment; four discs; widescreen; 650 minutes; SRP $45). The musical series, supposedly reality-based, celebrates the thrill and heartbreak of Broadway by following a motley group of dreamers and schemers and great talent, working in a matter of weeks, creating a bio musical on Marilyn Monroe.
January 26, 1988: It was one of New York’s coldest windiest nights, but outside the Majestic Theater, there was nothing but hot excitement as hundreds of media captured the arrival of celebrities in black tie, elegant evening wear and sparkling jewels emerging from limos onto the red carpet. Audience members and a crowd worthy of a Hollywood premiere shivered to observe and gawk. This was the opening night of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Charles Hart’s The Phantom of the Opera.
Since its premiere at Theater 80 in 2011, Silence! The Musical hasn’t been able to remain silent Off-Broadway at the Elektra Theater (669 Eighth Avenue at 42nd Street) or in its first regional production in Los Angeles and first foreign production in London. In fact, since December 30th, it’s shattered its own previous smash Off-Broadway box-office record.
The bawdy satire has a huge cult following. It was selected by Time magazine as one of the Top Five Musicals of 2011 and won the 2012 Off Broadway Alliance Award for Best Musical.
Unless you’ve been living life on Mars (and, these days, you might be), you are familiar with Mayhem, the character pitching on TV commercials for Allstate Insurance, played by Dean Winters (“30 Rock” and so memorable on HBO’s “Oz” and who, in real life, has had more than his share of mayhem moments).
As you might expect, the much-honored and celebrated Patti LuPone’s concert at the new and quite trendy 54 Below (located, as you might expect, downstairs from the famous former center of New York nightlife, Studio 54) has been recorded. 54 Below is an intimate space that, with its emphasis on red, resembles a very high-end Barbary Coast bordello. From her entrance and throughout her show, LuPone received thunderous applause.
”Far Away Places” (Broadway Records; SRP, $12.88) captures the show with 16 tracks of tunes and reminiscences, met with great enthusiasm by the audience.
In these hard times, who can resist a half-price sale on Broadway tickets? No one. Everybody likes more bang for the buck. So, how about 2-for-1? That’s buy one, get one free!
Broadway Week is January 22-February 7, 2013. If you go to theaters, there are no service charges (except that dastardly "facilities fee"); and no standing in lines in frigid or rainy weather. Just belly up to the box office or, if you prefer, the nearest phone or computer. You'll even be able to afford to eat out before or after the show.
How versatile a performer is Christine Ebersole? Let's count the ways. Many people first became aware of her from her work as a sketch comedian on “Saturday Night Live.” On Broadway, she has played roles as disparate as Ado Annie in Oklahoma!, Guenevere in Camelot, Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street, and Edith Bouvier Beale/Little Edie in Grey Gardens, winning Tony Awards for her performances in the two last-named shows.
On New Year’s Day 2013 night at 9:30 p.m., PBS's Great Performances explores the phenomenon of the contribution of Jewish-American songwriters, actors and creative teams who have helped shape the uniquely American art form of the Broadway musical. Michael Kantor’s 90-minute documentary, “Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy” salutes the composers, (Irving Berlin, the Gershwins, Rodgers and Hammerstein to Stephen Sondheim), stars (from Fanny Brice to Ethel Merman to Barbra Streisand), and the producers, directors and choreographers who’ve kept Broadway vibrant.
The hit musical, Bring it On,now at Broadway's St. James Theater, boasts over 25 actors making their Broadway debuts. But on many nights, all eyes have been on Rialto newcomer Ryann Redmond, who portrays cheerleader wannabe Bridget.
That may be in part because the 23-year-old actress totally relates to her character -- as does Bridget's creator, Tony Award-winning librettist Jeff Whitty. "Jeff told me once, ‘Everybody's a little bit Bridget. I wrote Bridget because I'm Bridget,'" says the Georgia-bred actress.
Brazil-based writers/directors Charles Möeller and Claudio Botelho and Broadway producer Stephen Byrd have announced plans to bring a new version of Marcel Camus' Oscar-winning 1959 film, “Black Orpheus,” to the stage, with a possible premiere in London's West End during the 2013-2014 season, with a Broadway run to follow. No director has been named.
The musical, which is loosely based on the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, is set in Rio de Janiero's favelas [slum cities] against the backdrop of Rio's Carnaval, and will feature a bilingual script.
Cameron Mackintosh’s dreamed a dream of adapting his mega-musical, Les Misérables (Universal), from the Victor Hugo classic, into a film ten years ago. It arrives world-wide on Christmas day 2012. Yes, it was worth the wait.
In a huge departure from the way movie musicals are made, the stars sang Claude-Michel Schönberg’s score and the English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer (from the French by Alain Boublil) on set instead of lip syncing to pre-recorded takes. There was a keyboardist on set, but each also wore ear pieces so they could hear the full symphony tracks.
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ 24th annual “Gypsy of the Year” competition, held Monday and Tuesday afternoon (December 3 & 4, 2012) for two SRO performances at Disney’s historic New Amsterdam Theater, was the culminating celebration of six weeks of fundraising by 51 participating Broadway, Off-Broadway, and national touring companies. This event alone, with local and national campaigns, raised just short of $4-million!
Theater memorabilia collectors, your red letter day is Sunday, September 23, 2012 from 10AM–7PM, when the Broadway community and stars of TV’s daytime dramas come out in force for the 26th Annual Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction benefiting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Shows and organizations will have booths on West 44th and 45th Streets, between Broadway and Eight Avenue. The big event, the celebrity-hosted Grand Auction, takes place in Shubert Alley. There’ll be photo opts galore, so bring your camera.
After a three-year absence, one of New York’s best-loved and longest-running Off -roadway shows, Gerard Alessandrini’s classic series, Forbidden Broadway,has returned with a new edition, “Alive and Kicking,” at the 47th Street Theater. This marks the internationally acclaimed show’s 30th anniversary, as well as its 21st edition.
This Saturday and Sunday (October 27-28, 2012) offers the rare opportunity to see a concert revival of Harold Rome’s witty and critically acclaimed 1937 Pins and Needles, presented by Downtown Music Productions at LaMaMa E.T.C. Club (74A East 4th Street, between Bowery & Second Avenue). The revue is a unique satire with musical skits calling for social justice and equity, with songs and skits that spoof everything from Fascist European dictators to bigots in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).
For the fourth year, the John and Mable Ringling Museum, governed by Florida State University, and the Barishnikov Arts Center of New York partnered to bring to the Sarasota campus -- including all its theaters -- offerings in dance, theater, music and film from Oct. 10 -13, 2012. If there were fewer performers in this year’s program, which had to sustain itself independent of previous state and local government contributions, all the arts were still represented. Although the contemporary and nontraditional mixed, all presentations might be called unusual in some way, usually in mode.
“A Celtic legend.” “A phenomenon and a cause célèbre.”“The most prolific producer of new plays in the U.K.”
These are just a few of the accolades that have been heaped on A Play, a Pie and a Pint, a small theater company working out of a church basement in the West End of Glasgow. Led by the visionary David MacLennan, the company has been specializing in lunch-time theater for the past eight years, offering up hour-long dramas, comedies and musicals, most of which were original works commissioned by MacLennan.
Max von Essen has been duly praised for his performance as Magaldi in the Broadway revival of Evita,but many theatergoers may be unaware that he is also the understudy for the marathon leading male role of Che -- unless they happened to see the show at either the matinee or evening performance on Wednesday, June 13, 2012, when on VERY short notice, von Essen went on as Che in place of star Ricky Martin. Apparently, it went well, and he'll be spelling Ricky when the latter takes a brief vacation, July 2-7. I got to chat with Max about what it was like to be shot out of a cannon.
Frank Loesser's The Most Happy Fellais one of my all-time favorite musicals, but the show has never been tremendously popular with the general public, and I think that's mostly because of bad luck.
The original Broadway production opened in May 1956, less than two months after the opening of My Fair Lady -- with the result that not a whole lot of attention was paid to Happy Fella. (Yes, the show was referenced prominently in an episode of “I Love Lucy,” but even that didn't help it achieve more than a 20-month run.)