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Bette Midler, Hello Dolly!

Bette Midler, David Hyde Pierce

What do we need another review of Hello, Dolly! for? To tell you that the shows a classic? Hardly. To describe the score? Not so much. To talk about it culturally, as an icon of its era, the mid 60s, and as the perhaps archetypal Jerry Herman-Michael Stewart musical?  You know that already.

Beanie  Feldstein, Taylor Trensch, Kate Baldwin, Gavin Creel

Beanie Feldstein, Taylor Trensch, Kate Baldwin, Gavin Creel

No, the reason for a new review of Hello, Dolly! from a source such as myself, who won’t tell you anything historical or analytical that you could possibly need to know, much as I could deliver that, is because the current revival is destined to go down in theatrical history as one of those Holy Grail moments that grand legitimate bragging rights to anyone who has seen it. Like the original Follies or Laurette Taylor’s portrayal of Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie.  And that’s because it is the ideal synthesis of pitch-perfect sensibility infusing an inspired production surrounding a superstar performer giving 110% of herself in a legendary performance.

I’ve had very mixed feelings about the work of director Jerry Zaks, whose musical theater revivals of the last two decades have usually seemed to me of high technical proficiency and cool bloodlessness. But here he breaks the cold streak, having found the beating heart and emotional center of the material,  without sacrificing any of his high octane craftsmanship. Tacitly taking permission from the monologues that break the fourth wall and address the audience directly (a stylistic conceit borne of the original source play, Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker),  Zaks  frames the evening in a storybook  ambience (abetted by brilliant sets and costumes by Santo Loquasto), full of stage accoutrements such as curtains acknowledged as curtains, and scenery that acts  transparently, shamelessly and extravagantly like scenery.  Pacing, comedy timing, and choreography (Warren Carlyle) are razor sharp, yet  not delivered so relentlessly that the emotional beats aren’t given their proper  room  to really breathe.  There are even new orchestrations by Larry Hochman that  subtly replicate the period charge of the originals by Philip J Lang,  while bringing to bear the more contemporary techniques  of the last several decades. The best way to describe the experience is as  a venerable classic that has been taken back to the shop, not to be  altered in any way that would compromise or make less pure the entity which has always worked, but for a stem to stern refurbishing—all the old elements re-oiled,  replacement parts swapped in to do the same work with fresher energy,  shined and polished and repainted—that brings it back  as the ultimate iteration of what it already is.
Bette Midler, Hello Dolly!

David Hyde Pierce, Bette Midler

Bette Midler is the perfect Dolly. With what deceptively seems like ease,  she molds of the Midler persona to the character such that she’s naughty but never salacious, sexy but never explicit, adorable but never…no, she’s just always adorable.  Her interplay with the audience is as delightful as her interplay with her fellow actors  and always perfectly proportionate to the stylistic permissions of the event. As to her fellow actors,  they are all not only extraordinary,  but extraordinarily onboard as foils for Midler. And holding his own as a costar who manages the miracle of both being an ideal romantic foil as well as a fully defined presence of equal comic prowess is David Hyde Pierce as the stuffy skinflint Horace Vandergelder. However versatile Mr. Pierce may have seemed in previous roles  in the theater or on television, virtually nothing he has done before prepares you for the extreme leap away from the familiar or even the vaguely related, that he demonstrates here.  What marks his Vandergelder as different from those of his famous predecessors, such as David Burns and Eddie Bracken and Max Showalter, is that they we’re playing extensions of themselves as old timey veterans of burlesque and vaudeville style. Pierce, on the other hand, puts forth that sensibility not as an amplification of the Pierce persona, but as a brilliantly structured and wholly conceived character construct. Special mention should also go to those playing the younger comic romantic couples, Gavin Creel and Kate Baldwin (who might well have been cast as the expected usual suspects in their roles) plus newcomers Taylor Trensch  and Beanie  Feldstein.

One last observation about all this: while Hello, Dolly! has always been a revered classic that delivers a good time at the theater with a lot of laughs, classic show tune vigor, and good old-fashioned showmanship, it has never previously  been a show you think of being moved by. Yet my experience, and that of dozens of others I’ve spoken to, has been, at this revival, a profound  emotional response. It may be the show’s honesty in a climate of political degeneracy; it may be  the combination of generational  discovery and rediscovery of  a particular classic style delivered so lovingly and unapologetically; it may be the greater sophistication of audiences these days, who can put all that in a wider context that never previously existed.  All I know for sure is that the joy of the show elicits generates as many  happy tears as laughs.

David Spencer is an award-winning composer-lyricist, lyricist-librettist, author and musical theatre teacher. He has written music and lyrics for the Richard Rodgers Development Award-winning musical The Fabulist, which also contributed to his winning a Kleban lyrics award and several Gilman & Gonzalez-Falla Theatre Foundation grants. He is also lyricist-librettist for two musicals with composer Alan Menken: Weird Romance (WPA 1992, York 2004) and The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, which had its sold out, extended world premiere in Montreal in Summer 2015; cast album release soon. He made his professional debut in 1984 with the English Adaptation of La Bohéme at the Public Theatre; and he has since written music and lyrics for Theatreworks/USA’s all-new, award-winning Young Audience versions of The Phantom of the Opera (1996) and Les Misérables (1999) (book and direction for both by Rob Barron). Currently he is writing book, music and lyrics for a musical based on the iconic Russian novel The Golden Calf. Spencer’s published books are the Alien Nation novel Passing Fancy (Pocket, 1994), The Musical Theatre Writer’s Survival Guide (Heinemann, 2005, a regularly reprinted industry standard) and the script of Weird Romance (Samuel French, 1993). He is on faculty and teaches at the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop and has taught at HB Studio, the Workshop Studio Theater and Goldsmith’s College in London. His primary professional affiliations are BMI, The Dramatists Guild and The International Association of Media Tie-in Writers.

Broadway

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents John Patrick Shanley

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We are so pleased to announce our guest this week John Patrick Shanley is an American playwright, screenwriter, and director. He won the 1988 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the film Moonstruck. His play, Doubt: A Parable, won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama Drama Desk Award and the 2005 Tony Award for Best Play; he wrote and directed the film adaptation and earned a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Shanley is the author of more than 23 plays, which have been translated and performed around the world, including 80 productions a year in North America. He has often directed his own productions. In 1990, Shanley directed his script of Joe Versus the Volcano. Shanley also wrote two songs for the movie: Marooned Without You and The Cowboy Song. He wrote the screenplay for the film Congo (1995), which was based on the Michael Crichton book.

Shanley’s journey in playwriting began in the early 1980s, with his first play, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, which premiered in 1984. This powerful drama showcased Shanley’s talent for creating deeply flawed, yet sympathetic characters.

In 2012, Shanley wrote the libretto for an opera version of Doubt: A Parable, which premiered at the Minnesota Opera in January 2013, with music by Douglas J. Cuomo. In 2012, his play Storefront Church ran Off-Broadway in a production by the Atlantic Theater Company. His play, Outside Mullingar, opened on Broadway at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, produced by the Manhattan starring Debra Messing and Brían F. O’Byrne.

Prodigal Son, which he directed, was produced Off-Broadway by the Manhattan Theatre Club. It starred Timothée Chalamet and Robert Sean Leonard. His play The Portuguese Kid opened on October 24, 2017, at the New York City Center Stage I. Directed by Shanley, the cast featured Jason Alexander, Sherie Rene Scott and Mary Testa. His new play Brooklyn Laundry opened on February 6, 2024, at the Manhattan Theatre Club. Shanley directed, with a cast featuring Cecily Strong and David Zayas.

The New York premiere of his new mystical comedy Banshee, starring Elizabeth Bays (Simpatico) and Erick Betancourt (Cost of Living), with David Zayas Jr. (Simpatico) directing for the Chain Theatre’s 2024 Summer One-Act Festival August 8 – September 1.

We are so proud and thrilled that Variety Entertainment News named us one of Summer’s Best Picks in the category of Best Television, Radio, Podcasts.

Host Suzanna Bowling was also just named Most Engaging Hosts on TV, Radio and Podcasts on “The Daily Geek Report.” We are so grateful.

“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents ”, is a show filmed at the iconic Hotel Edison, before a live audience. To see our past episodes; First episode click here second episode click here,  third episode click here, fourth episode click here, fifth episode click here, sixth episode here, seventh episode here, eighth episode here, ninth episode here, tenth episode here, eleventh episode here, our twelfth episode here, thirteenth episode here, fourteenth here, fifteenth here , 16th here, 17th here, 18th here, 19th here, 20th here, 21st here and 22nd here.

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Broadway

Theatre News: Cast Albums, Queen of the Mist, Kimberly Akimbo and The Oyster Radio Hour

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The new Broadway cast recordings for The Great Gatsby, The Outsiders and Suffs are out. However Here We Are, the final Original Cast Recording from legendary composer Stephen Sondheim and Jason Robert Brown’s The Connector are out on YouTube and these are the best scores of the year.

Another CD out is My Favorite Things: The Rodgers & Hammerstein 80th Anniversary Concert: featuring a 40-piece orchestra and stars, including Michael Ball, Maria Friedman, Daniel Dae Kim, Audra McDonald, Aaron Tveit, and Patrick Wilson, the Concert was recorded live at London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane. The celebration showcases original arrangements of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s iconic songs from Oklahoma!, South Pacific, Cinderella, The Sound of Music and more.

Mary Testa return to Queen of the Mist in New Jersey Concert Performances at New Jersey’s Montclair State University. The concert performances of Michael John LaChiusa’s Queen of the Mist featuring the work’s original star, Broadway favorite Mary Testa.

Adam Gwon and Sarah Hammond’s Richard Rodgers Award-winning musical String has joined BroadwayLicensing Global’s catalogue and is now available for professional and non-professional productions. The company also dropped a studio cast recording of the show July 16, which is now available on Spotify, Apple Music, and all digital platforms.

Carolee Carmello

Carolee Carmello

Three-Time Tony Nominee Carolee Carmello to Star in Kimberly Akimbo National Tour” by Broadway.com’s Darryn King – “Three-time Tony nominee Carolee Carmello will play Kimberly in the national tour of Kimberly Akimbo.

Little Island is bringing Tony Award® nominees Amber Gray (Hadestown) and Amber Iman (Lempicka) to perform in The Oyster Radio Hour, which begins performances on Wednesday, July 31 and will run through Sunday, August 4 as part of Little Island’s blockbuster summer season.

The Oyster Radio Hour is a live, three-act family-friendly radio show combining science, story and song that celebrates the resilience of oysters and their crucial ecological roles. Beginning at 8PM each evening, the show blends hope and interconnectedness, spotlighting the humble oyster’s journey of revival, including special Broadway guests Amber Gray and Amber Iman.

During The Oyster Radio Hour’s run in the Amph through August 4, the Island’s central plaza, known as the Play Ground, will transform from 6:30-10PM daily into a one-of-a-kind Oyster Market, with food and beverages curated and overseen by New Amsterdam Market founder and world-famous market designer Robert LaValva.

Alongside live oyster shucking, the market will feature 10 local vendors selling their unique culinary creations, which pair perfectly with the live performance. The local vendors include Real Mothershuckers, Oyster Party, Lobster Place, Houseman, Dayboat Blue, Cervo’s, Té Company, La Newyorkina, Chomps Elysées, and Pamina Dolce Gelato. Danny Childs, author of Slow Drinks, will make summer bespoke cocktails during a bar takeover on Friday, August 3.  

The Oyster Radio Hour is a collaboration between RR Sigel, who was the Associate Artistic Director of NY PopsUp in 2021; WNYC podcast producer Ana González, previously of Radiolab: For Kids; composer Angélica Negrón who has performed at Opera Philadelphia, the LA Philharmonic, NY Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and more; and Emmy® and Drama Desk Award®-nominated songwriter Mark Sonnenblick.

Keenan Tyler Oliphant (Hadestown) serves as director with Miller & Harlow as writers; Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew (Kimberly Akimbo) as lighting/video designer; Beth Lake(Camelot) as sound designer; Dr. Matthew Hare, Elliott Ma, Ayasha Guerin, Moody Harney, and Alan Michelson as audio interviewees; and Beatrice Perez-Arche as stage manager.

Little Island’s first annual, four-month-long summer season of world premieres, which kicked off on June 1, features a total of nine newly commissioned pieces. Little Island’s new arts program moves towards the future with a commitment to a multi-year roster of original work, all commissioned by and developed at Little Island. Bookended by the premiere of choreographer Twyla Tharp’s newest work How Long Blues and a 90-minute remix of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in which outré opera diva Anthony Roth Costanzo sings every leading role, the season offers premieres of varying scales across all areas of performance – including music, dance, theater, opera, comedy, jazz, pop, and funk, all outdoors and directly sited on the Hudson River at 14th Street in New York City. The Amph, the park’s 700-seat amphitheater, will house larger scale performances at a $25 ticket price, while The Glade, the park’s

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Broadway

Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Patti LuPone: A Life in Notes

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Patti Lupone is on a roll. Patti LuPone: A Life in Notes will be released digitally on July 19, and on CD on August 30, from Center Stage Records. Her first new studio album since 2006, the Grammy Award winner’s new double album can be pre-ordered now at Amazon and www.CenterStageRecords.com, and the digital album can be pre-saved at https://orcd.co/lifeinnotes.

Never say never, LuPone also returns to Broadway in The Roommate  this fall. It’s been more than two years since LuPone tweeted “Quite a week on Broadway, seeing my name being bandied about. Gave up my Equity card; no longer part of that circus. Figure it out.”

The three-time Tony Award winner will star opposite none other than Mia Farrow in Jen Silverman’s new play “The Roommate,” directed by Jack O’Brien (“Shucked”). The Roommate will begin previews at the Booth Theatre on 45th Street in late August and then open in mid-September.

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Broadway

Disney Broadway In Bryant Park Part Two

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106.7 LITE FM’s brought Disney to Broadway in Bryant Park. We brought you the video and now the pictures so you are there.

Tshidi Manye

Jackie Rene

Jackie Rene and Gilbert Domally

Jackie Rene and Gilbert Domally

Jackie Rene and Gilbert Domally

Jackie Rene and Tshidi Manye

Jackie Rene and Tshidi Manye

Tshidi Manye and Gilbert Domally

Tshidi Manye and Gilbert Domally

Jim Ferris, Gilbert Domally and Ben Jeffrey

Jim Ferris, Gilbert Domally and Ben Jeffrey

Jim Ferris, Gilbert Domally and Ben Jeffrey

Ben Jeffrey, Jackie Rene, Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris and Gilbert Domally

Gilbert Domally, Jackie Rene, Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris and Ben Jeffrey

The Lion King’s Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris, Jackie René, Ben Jeffrey and Gilbert Domally

Charissa Hogeland

Charissa Hogeland

Chad Burris

Frozen’s Charissa Hogeland and Chad Burris

Michael James Scott

Adi Roy

Adi Roy

Michael James Scott, Adi Roy

Michael James Scott, Adi Roy

Sonya Balsara

Sonya Balsara

Adi Roy, Sonya Balsara

Sonya Balsara, Adi Roy

Adi Roy, Sonya Balsara

from Aladdin‘s Michael James Scott, Sonya Balsara and Adi Roy

106.7 Lite FM’s Hosts-Paul Cubby Bryant and Christine Nagy

Paul Cubby Bryant and Christine Nagy

The hosts were Paul ‘Cubby’ Bryant and Christine Nagy.

Chad Burris, Charissa Hogeland, Ben Jeffrey, Jackie Rene, Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris and Gilbert Domally

Chad Burris, Gilbert Domally, Jackie Rene. Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris, Charissa Hogeland, Ben Jeffrey, Sonya Balsara, Adi Roy and Michael James Scott

Chad Burris, Gilbert Domally, Jackie Rene. Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris, Charissa Hogeland, Ben Jeffrey, Sonya Balsara, Adi Roy and Michael James Scott

Chad Burris, Gilbert Domally, Jackie Rene. Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris, Charissa Hogeland, Ben Jeffrey, Sonya Balsara, Adi Roy and Michael James Scott

 

 

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Broadway

Disney Broadway In Bryant Park

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106.7 LITE FM’s Broadway in Bryant Park brought Disney to its 2024 program. The Bryant Park stage is located at 6th Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets. Lawn seating is first come, first serve.

This weeks performances came from Aladdin‘s Michael James Scott, Sonya Balsara and Adi Roy

Frozen’s Charissa Hogeland and Chad Burris

And The Lion King’s Tshidi Manye, Jim Ferris, Jackie René, Ben Jeffrey and Gilbert Domally

The hosts were Paul ‘Cubby’ Bryant and Christine Nagy.

 

 

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