On February 11th and 12th, 50 Years of Broadway at the Kennedy Center dazzles. This once-in-a-lifetime concert event pays homage to the legacy of Broadway musicals that played at the Kennedy Center, including a special tribute to the late Stephen Sondheim.
Annie, Pippin and Les Miserables debuted at the Kennedy Center. Andrea McArdle, the original Annie, and Frances Ruffelle, the original Eponine each brought a mature wisdom to their iconic songs. Vanessa Williams wowed with “Hit Me with a Hot Note” from Sophisticated Ladies. Betsey Wolfe delivered an emotionally layered “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret. Norm Lewis’s glorious voice soared as he recreated “The Music of the Night” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera and “Stars” from Les Miserables. His pairing with LaChanze on “Wheels of a Dream” from Ragtime was enchanting. Gavin Creel knocked it out of the park with smooth styling on “Corner of the Sky” from Pippin’ and “Luck Be a Lady” from Guys and Dolls. On of my favorite performances was was Stephanie J Block on “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” from Funny Girl showing Benie how the song should be done. She also revisited the role of Elphaba, which she originated at the Kennedy Center, soaring on “Defying Gravity.” Andrew Rannells, recreated his role of Elder Price in The Book of Mormon with “I Believe” and then showed up with Wolfe for “Suddenly, Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors. Could these two play the roles Off Broadway?
A five-song tribute to the late Stephen Sondheim made the evening magical. Williams and Sierra Boggess mashed up “Losing My Mind” from Follies and “Not a Day Goes By” from Merrily We Roll Along. Rannells and Block longing and passion to “Move On” from Sunday in the Park with George.
On-stage the 40-piece Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, marvelously played the music we love for two hours
Directed by Marc Bruni (Beautiful, the Kennedy Center’s The Music Man and How to Succeed…), musical direction by Emmy Award® winner Rob Berman (Bright Star, Finnian’s Rainbow), choreography by JoAnn M. Hunter (School of Rock, Disaster!), set and projection design by Paul Tate DePoo III (the Kennedy Center’s The Who’s Tommy, The Music Man, Footloose), lighting design by Cory Pattak (the Kennedy Center’s The Music Man, Next to Normal, Little Shop of Horrors), sound design by Dan Moses Schreier (Flying Over Sunset, Trouble in Mind) and costume design by Alejo Vietti (Holiday Inn, Beautiful). This was a well done and exceptional tribute to Broadway and the Kennedy Center.
How To Dance In Ohio Shows How Broadway Musicals Should Be Done
The show starts as the seven autistic kids, playing the seven autistic kids in the show introduce themselves. They are Desmond Edwards, Amelia Fei, Marc J. Franklin, Madison Kopec, Liam Pearce, Imani Russell, Conor Tague and Ashley Wool. Their enthusiasm, has us and our hearts in the palm of their hands. This new musical How to Dance in Ohio – inspired by Alexandra Shiva’s Peabody Award-winning documentary of the same name is breaking ground, as it opened last night at the Belasco Theatre.
What makes this show remarkable is that the book and lyrics by Rebekah Greer Melocik, music by Jacob Yandura, choreography by Mayte Natalio and direction by Sammi Cannold are all making their Broadway debuts. These newcomers are showing Broadway how it is done, when it is done well.
How to Dance in Ohio is endearing, heartfelt and shows us how much we all have the desire to connect and need courage to put ourself out into the world. As a group of seven autistic young adults prepare for their first ever formal dance they face challenges that breaks open their routines as they experience love, stress, excitement, and independence. How to Dance in Ohio is a story about people on the cusp of the next phase of their lives, facing down hopes and fears, ready to take a momentous first step…and dance.
Based on actual events, these youngsters are in a support group for autistic young adults in Columbus, Ohio. The group is run by the supportive Dr. Amigo (Caesar Samayoa), who also over steps the boundaries and doesn’t know when to stop pushing. While trying to help his clients make college plans, the doctor decides that the group should plan a spring formal to celebrate their milestones. The idea causes considerable anxiety for these people who for the most part have never even had a date, dressed up or even danced.
The show leads up to this event with each dealing with their own deep seated anxiety and getting over it and expanding their horizons. There’s Drew (a winning Pearce), who is bright and has college’s wanting him, but he’s not ready or willing to live home. He likes the new girl Marideth (Kopec), who is socially withdrawn and retreats into her books that give her facts and a stability. Tommy (Tague), wants his his drivers license, so he can drive his brothers car. Remy (The fabulously funny Edwards), whose gender inclusive costumes he is uploading. Caroline (Fei), has her first boyfriend who is abusive and her friendship with Jessica (Wool), is suffering because of it. Jessica dreams of leaving home, no longer wanting to take the bus and is crushing on Tommy and Mel (Russell), works at a pet store, reads self-help books and wants to get to the next level.
In the meantime the doctor betrays his clients by meddling in Drew’s college plans behind his back and when a newspaper reporter (Melina Kalomas), and a local blogger (Carlos L Encinias) wants the story, it is only his needs that matter. For a doctor, this one is flawed in more ways than one way. He also cares more about his own feeling than that of his daughter Ashley (Cristina Sastre), who has returns home due to a dance injury from Juilliard and is now re-thinking her path.
Another added plot is the mothers (Haven Burton and Darlesia Cearcy) of Caroline and Jessica, are so excited that their autistic daughters are “Getting Ready For The Dance,” and are finally being able to live their lives they way they wished for them.
The score makes Pearce shine with “Waves and Wires” and “Building Momentum.” Edwards also has a chance to take over in “Nothing At All.”
Robert Brill’s set design, Bradley King’s lighting design and Sarafina Bush’s costume’s make this show take flight.
Mayte Natalio’s choreography services the show, after all these are not dancers, nor should they be made to look like it, but it is infectious and joyous. The book is a little overstuffed, but the direction grabs your heart and utilizes these terrific kids who are having the time of their lives. I left loving life and thrilled to be attending.
How To Dance In Ohio: Belasco Theatre, 111 W. 44th Street.
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Sarah Paulson
Broadway’s newest show Appropriate starring Sarah Paulson, at Second Stage’s Hayes Theatre nearly sold out their first week. The play, written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and co-starring Elle Fanning and Corey Stoll, opens December 18th.
Paulson has received an Emmy, Golden Globe, and SAG Awards in her three-decade career. She made her Broadway debut in 1994 as an understudy in Wendy Wasserstein’s The Sisters Rosensweig. She later took on the role of Tess Goode in the production. She returned to the stage in two other Broadway productions: 2005’s The Glass Menagerie (as Amanda Wingfield) and 2010’s Collected Stories (originating the role of Lisa Morrison). She also appeared in six Off-Broadway productions between 1994 and 2013, including Crimes of the Heart, Still Life,Colder Than Hereat the Lucille Lortel Theatre, Killer Joeat SoHo Playhouse, Talking Picturesat Signature Theatre andthe Pulitzer-nominated Talley’s Folly with Roundabout Theatre Company.
Paulson is perhaps best known for starring in nine seasons of Murphy’s American Horror Story, first appearing on the show in 2011. Her performances collectively earned nine Emmy Award nominations.
In 2023, after 10 years away from the New York stage, Paulson returns to Broadway as Toni in Appropriate, the Broadway-debut play of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins.
Head To The The Algonquin Hotel For Some Holiday Cheer
As we head into the holiday season, The Algonquin Hotel’s December event lineup is open to both hotel guests and New York City locals. The hotel will spread holiday cheer with a variety of festive performances, cocktails, and experiences including:
- Cocoa and Carols Happy Hour: Daily, 5-8PM, Every evening this December, all are invited to enjoy Specialty Cocoa while Christmas carols chime at the Blue Bar. Drinks will include Mexican Hot Chocolate spiked with mezcal
- KT Sullivan Cabaret: December 5th, 12th and 19th, Sullivan will perform her iconic Christmas Cabaret. As noted by The New York Times, Sullivan is a thrilling Off-Broadway performer with over eight published albums
- Rocco Dellaneve’s Rat Pack Christmas: December 7th, 14th and 21st, Rocco Dellaneve will perform iconic songs from the Rat Pack Christmas album with special inclusions of Santa with Sinatra, Rocco of the Snow, Rudolph and the Rat pack
- The Serafina’s and Broadway Vocalists: December 8th, 15th and 22nd, enjoy the high kicking – precision line dancing Christmas tradition around The Algonquin tree. The Serafina’s will be available for pictures and autographs from 6pm to 7pm, followed by special Broadway vocalists
A portion of proceeds from all events will be donated to Toys for Tots.
Beyond the December events, The Algonquin Hotel is located in a prime position nestled in the heart of Times Square and Fifth Avenue, making it the perfect launchpad for a New York City holiday experience. The hotel is a historical jewel that emphasizes the importance of making unique, storied experiences. Since its opening in 1902, The Algonquin Hotel is famous for its timeless style and desire to honor the literary and cultural elite. The distinguished Round Table Restaurant and Blue Bar offer tasteful dining inclusions and curated cocktails that are sure to excite everyone.
Photo credit: The Algonquin Hotel, Autograph Collection
Countdown to Christmas: For The Dancer and Theatre Lover Chita Rivera
2o days to go! Every year people panic to find the perfect gift. We at T2C have been collecting idea’s all year long to bring you the perfect gift guide at all price levels. When you’re at the end of your rope trying to find the perfect Christmas present this year, come to this guide for some great suggestions.
There are a lot of books out there this year but we highly recommend Chita: A Memoir , the critically-acclaimed book is written by the legendary Broadway icon Chita Rivera with arts journalist Patrick Pacheco. Chita takes fans behind-the-scenes of all her shows and cabaret acts, she shares candid stories of her many colleagues, friends, and lovers. She speaks with empathy and hindsight of her deep associations with complicated geniuses like Fosse and Robbins, as well as with the mega-talent Liza Minnelli, with whom she co-starred in The Rink. She openly discusses her affair with Sammy Davis, Jr. as well as her marriage to Tony Mordente and her subsequent off-the-radar relationships. Chita revisits the terrible car accident that threatened to end her career as a dancer forever. Center stage to Chita’s story are John Kander and Fred Ebb, the songwriters and dear friends indelibly tied to her career through some of her most enduring work: Chicago, The Rink, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and The Visit.
Chita’s love of performing began as a child in Washington, D.C., when her mother enrolled her in a local ballet school to channel her boundless energy. Still a teenager, she moved to New York to attend the School of American Ballet after an audition for George Balanchine himself and winning a scholarship. But Broadway beckoned, and by twenty she was appearing in the choruses of Golden Age shows like Guys and Dolls and Can-Can. In the latter, she received special encouragement from its star Gwen Verdon, forging a personal and professional friendship that would help shape her career. The groundbreaking West Side Story brought her into the orbit of Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents, Hal Prince, and Stephen Sondheim. After Bye Bye Birdie further burnished her rising star, she reunited with Verdon and her then-husband Bob Fosse to work on the film version of Sweet Charity and the celebrated original Broadway production of Chicago.
Chita: A Memoir was published in English and Spanish and the English audio version of the Memoir was recorded by Chita. A Spanish audio version is also available.
“Chita Rivera blazed a trail where none existed so the rest of us could see a path forward. She has been part of some of the greatest musicals in the history of the form, from Anita in the trailblazing West Side Story through Claire Zachanassian in the underrated masterpiece The Visit, over 60 years later. She is a Puerto Rican Broadway icon and the original ‘triple threat.’ We’re so lucky to be alive in the same timeline as Chita Rivera.” — Lin-Manuel Miranda.
“A frank and fascinating memoir from one of the truly great artists of the American Theater. Lots of stories … Lots of insight … and quite a few caustic statements from Chita’s alter ego, Dolores. An illuminating history and a guaranteed pleasure!” — John Kander
Broadway legend and national treasure Chita Rivera, multi-Tony Award winner, Kennedy Center honoree, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom – has taken no prisoners on stage or screen for seven decades. From her trailblazing performance as the original Anita in West Side Story—for which she tapped her own Puerto Rican roots—to her haunting 2015 star turn in The Visit. Chita has proven to be much more than just a captivating dancer, singer, and actress beloved by audiences and casts alike. In her equally captivating and one-of-a-kind memoir, Written with Patrick Pacheco, the woman born Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero shares an incomparable life, both on stage and behind the curtain.
By the way this Memoir has won a Gold Medal for “Best Autobiography – English” at the 2023 International Latino Book Awards. https://www.latinobookawards.org/
Click here to buy your copy.
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Spamalot
Here is the amazing cast of Spamalot. Christopher Fitzgerald as Patsy, James Monroe Iglehart as King Arthur, Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer as The Lady of the Lake, Ethan Slater as The Historian/Prince Herbert, Jimmy Smagula as Sir Bedevere, Michael Urie as Sir Robin, Nik Walker as Sir Galahad and Taran Killam as Lancelot.
I was so inspired I drew the whole cast.
To read T2C’s review click here.
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