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Almost Famous Strikes an Off-Key Chord on Broadway

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People love this film. As do I, although maybe not as much as some of the mega-fans that surrounded me the night I went to see Almost Famous: The Musical which made its Broadway debut at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre last week. The new musical, with music and lyrics by Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) and book and lyrics by Cameron Crowe, the man who wrote and directed the 2000 film that this show is based, tries its solid best to pull us into the intoxicating glitter world of those 1973 Rock and Roll days and have us run with it. Which, it seems, if you want to listen to the legendary critic Lester Bangs, dynamically portrayed in this musical stage adaptation by Rob Colletti (Chicago’s The Book of Mormon) who phones in a lot of funny quips from the sidelines, believes that the art of music is dangerously teetering on the verge of spiritual collapse. All due to corporate consumption and mainstream acceptance, and he ain’t kidding. “It’s over,” he says with wild dismay, as only a jaded music critic can, and if this musical is any indication of its status on Broadway, he might be right, unfortunately.

Casey Likes and Rob Colletti in Broadway’s Almost Famous: The Musical. Photo by Matt Murphy.

Based on Crowe’s personal experience as a music writer, the stage musical follows, like the film, a rock band, the generic-sounding Stillwater, through the landscape of music and the country, finding himself along the way. Fronted by lead singer Jeff Bebe, and played to the max by Drew Gehling (Broadway’s Waitress), the band rocks and rolls over on tour, infighting like every great band we know, all while being watched and notated by a young Crowe-inspired soul falling hard for those bandmate feelings. The story has a solid base material, one that should have made it easy to rock and roll a stage musical out hard and strong, and it’s sorta strange that it doesn’t. There is little in the sound and feeling that equates to the originality or drive of the source material, sadly, and that’s the most disappointing bit. There is so much possibility there, especially because, like the movie, the emotional spotlight is on a young endearing eighteen, no, sixteen, no, actually fifteen-year-old boy, William Miller, played enthusiastically by Casey Likes (MGM’s “Dark Harvest“), who sits in a suburban home with his overprotective mother and rebellious sister, listening to all the great bands of the time and dreaming of getting out and making it big in the music industry as a writer for a magazine like Rolling Stone. And like the movie, we embrace that dream, wanting to cheer him on for his leaving that life behind, and arriving at his dream, even if he doesn’t have the pass he needs to get there. And we do, throughout this staged musical, but not because of the musical itself.

Emily Schultheis, Anika Larsen, and Casey Likes in Broadway’s Almost Famous: The Musical. Photo by Matt Murphy.

We feel the honest naive rebellion in Likes’ bones as he stands before us, loving but forever being embarrassed by his overprotective mother, played determinately by Anika Larsen (Broadway’s Beautiful). Those moments with her made me miss the wise sharpness of Frances McDormand’s killer delivery, but Larsen manages well, even if that arc is as stereotypically structured as the flat work done by scenic and video designer Derek McLane (Broadway’s Moulin Rouge!) with stadium lighting designed by Natasha Katz (Broadway’s The Prom) and sound by Peter Hylenski (Broadway’s Beetlejuice). Yet, when that opportunity comes a knocking, or a ringing I should say, the future looks and sounds bright, like an electric guitar being played hard for Rolling Stone, filled with excited juvenile hope and the rush of hormonal desire. And like the movie, William’s dream is just the kinda stuff we can all gather behind and cheer for, mainly because we can see a little bit of our own self in that wide-eyed persona trying his best to be more mature, sound older, and radiate a stronger confidence than he has developed deep down inside that boyish charm.

Likes is, well, totally likable and endearing, exuding just the right amount of insecure fear and youthful determination that we can’t help but love and believe in his naive engagement with all that steps forward on this journey. “One day you’ll be cool,” he is told. But the musical chairs that are running rampant around him, courtesy of the wild unfocused direction by Jeremy Herrin (NT/West End’s People, Places, and Things) and the somewhat chaotic choreography of Sarah O’Gleby (Broadway’s upcoming Shucked), wanting desperately for us to see its unfocused delivery as something akin to bohemian and to Rock and Roll Joplin-style, but it comes off as sloppy and convoluted. The crew looks sorta great, thanks to costuming David Zinn (Broadway’s SpongeBob SquarePants), but sadly, the overall effect just makes the journey of this young man seem less intellectually compelling and far less emotionally engaging.

The Kitt-Crowe musical fails, not for a lack of trying and talent amassed. It’s not terrible, but it’s also not as great as it should be in the task of pulling us inside William’s fever dream, leaving us hanging outside like groupies, not band-aids, hoping to get in through the backstage door. The songs generally lack a memorable voice and sound, crashing themselves together with very little wit or charm. The band rocks out generic-sounding material, void of any of the beautiful lyric poetry we are holding our breath for, unless they are well-known musical moments inserted to drive forward the key emotional twists and turns on the road. I mean, how can you go wrong with David Bowie’s “It Ain’t Easy“, Joni Mitchell’s “River“, and Elton John’sTiny Dancer that exist within the show only to get us across the emotional finishing line? It’s a telling truth that they have to rely on classic and epic Bowie, Joni, and Elton to drive us to that emotional next stop on the Stillwater tour. The original music and lyrics don’t stand a chance when placed up against these three.

The songs do work some sort of magic on us, in a sad kinda way, giving us a surprising and connecting end to the journey, but up until that bittersweet point, I would have a hard time finding any depth or meaning in any of the bland lyrics or numbers that drive forward this talented cast, lead by the music supervision and direction of Bryan Perri (Broadway’s Jagged Little Pill). It’s a shame, as some of the talent onstage have the pipes and presence to deliver so much more had they had more unique or fresh material to inhale. One of the standouts is Solea Pfeiffer (Audible’s You Are Here) who organically finds the heart inside Penny Lane’s damaged soul. Her portrayal hangs true, as perfectly as that iconic coat on her band-aided frame. It’s the role that solidified and elevated Kate Hudson, from just being Goldie’s daughter to something akin to a movie star, and most likely, this performance will do the same for the talented Pfeiffer. Time will tell.

Chris Wood and Casey Likes in Broadway’s Almost Famous: The Musical. Photo by Matt Murphy.

With the solid partnership of Likes and Pfeiffer’s Lane, Crowe’s musical takes us along that bumpy tour road across America, unpacking the difficulty of staying true to self while being surrounded by all those hypnotic musical artists that we elevate to unnatural heights. That world rocks and rolls in such a charismatic way, pulling in innocents like William, and making it difficult, as he and we were warned about from the beginning; the plan and ideal to stay neutral. But in all honesty, the heart of this story resides in Penny Lane and her constructed and emotionally charged triangle with Likes’ wonderfully desperate William and Stillwater’s guitarist, Russell Hammond, smoothly portrayed by Chris Wood (Paper Mill’s Damn Yankees), the only member of the band that is actually intoxicating in any real manner. The three deliver a geometric connection that radiants, finding a way to pull us through all those numerous EXIT doors without ever losing us in the muddled process. It’s a bit overly busy for my liking, but the energy has a way of catching on. Yet, beyond that one “1973” opening number with those iconic covers, Almost Famous: The Musical remains steadfast in that stadium-filled realm of dulled-down film-to-musical-stage transfers that don’t have strong enough moves to give us any compelling reason to step out of our streaming Netflix world and enter into the Broadway theatre. Once again (yeah, I’m looking at you, Pretty Woman: The Musical), I’m sorry to say, I’d rather stay home. For every emotionally superior Band’s Visit, I guess there has to be a polar opposite, and this is that show, or at least one of a growing group of shows that pale in their comparison.

Amongst the lure and fun of those standardized stereotypical musical Rock and Roll artists and the year 1973, the rebellion of William and his sister makes perfect sense, and will probably sit well with those who already love this iconic film. But for those who just like or don’t really have a connection to Crowe’s film, all bets are off if they will find something to cheer about. The lackluster screen-to-stage new musical pushes forward without much for us to hold tight to and remember, and for a show that should be basking in nostalgia for a different time in musical history, when Rock stars reigned supreme, Almost Famous: The Musical plays off-key, paling in the harsh Broadway light of comparison. Save your dollars, and watch the film at home. You might miss some lovely performances, but this is just the launching pad for a few of these artists. More will come their way, and like the title, this musical will make them Almost Famous.

Casey Likes (center) and the cast of Broadway’s Almost Famous: The Musical. Photo by Matt Murphy.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my last...so far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

Broadway

Chita Rivera Awards Part 2 The Interviews

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T2C was at the 2024 Chita Rivera Awards at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. We got to interview some of the best in dance and look forward to sharing this with you.

On this video watch Michael-Demby Cain, Joe Lanteri, Bernadette Peters, Debbie Allen, Justin Peck, Norm Lewis, Rick and Jeff Kuperman, Chita’s daughter Lisa Mordente, Kenny Ortega, Serge Trujillo,  winners for Water For Elephants Jesse Robb and Shana Carroll, winner Camille A Brown Hell’s Kitchen, Marina Tamayo, Lorin Latarro, David Petersen, Bruce Robert Harris, Ali Louis Bourgzgui, Huey Lewis, Phil LaDuca, Riki Kane Larimer, Grant Plotkin and highlights from the show with Ali Louis Bourgzgui, Kristin ZChenoweth, Norm Lewis, Wayne Brady and more.

This was one spectacular night.

Video by Magda Katz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Theatre News: The Drama League, Once Upon A Mattress , Swept Away, Chita Rivera Awards and Moulin Rouge!

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The Drama League announced the winners of the 2024 Drama League Awards. The event hosted by NY1 reporter Frank DiLella, was held at The Ziegfeld Ballroom (141 W 54th St, New York, NY). Sarah Paulson wins Distinguished Performance Award. Hell’s Kitchen wins Outstanding Production of a Musical. Stereophonic wins Outstanding Production of a Play. Merrily We Roll Along wins Outstanding Revival of a Musical. Appropriate wins Outstanding Revival of a Play. In the directing categories, Daniel Aukin took home the Outstanding Direction of a Play award for Stereophonic and Maria Friedman took home Outstanding Direction of a Musical for Merrily We Roll Along.

The competitive awards were presented by Lear DeBessonet, Alfred Molina, Bebe Neuwirth and Ben Platt.  LaTanya Richardson Jackson presented The Gratitude Award to Kandi Burress; Thomas Schumacher presented The Founders Award for Excellence in Directing to Schele Williams; Daniel Radcliffe and Lindsay Mendez presented The Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theater Award to Jonathan Groff; and Jim Parsons presented the Contribution to Theatre Award to Jessica Lange.

Tony Award-winning producers Seaview and Creative Partners Productions have announced that, on the heels of its record-breaking, sold-out run at New York City Center’s Encores! earlier this year, Once Upon A Mattress will open on Broadway this summer at The Hudson Theatre (141 W 44th St). Tony Award winner Sutton Foster (Anything Goes, The Music Man) will lead the Broadway cast, reprising her acclaimed performance as Winnifred the Woebegone, hailed by The New York Times as “perfectly goofy, and imprinted with an ebullient, joyful relish in the very act of performance.” The beloved musical returns to Broadway in a new adaptation by Emmy Award winner Amy Sherman-Palladino (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”, “Gilmore Girls”), directed by Tony Award nominee and Drama League Award winner Lear deBessonet (Into The Woods). Previews begin Wednesday, July 31, 2024, with an Opening Night set for Monday, August 12, 2024, for the limited engagement through November 30, 2024.

Following its Broadway engagement, Foster will headline the production in Los Angeles for a four-week engagement at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre from December 10, 2024 – January 5, 2025.

An uproarious update of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Princess and the Pea,” Once Upon A Mattress sets an unapologetic free spirit loose in a repressed kingdom, reveling in Winnifred’s ability to charm and transform with willpower, honesty, and a little bit of help from her friends.  Full of gloriously catchy melodies like “Shy” and “In a Little While,” the musical first premiered in 1959, with music by Mary Rodgers, lyrics by Marshall Barer, and book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller, and Marshall Barer.

The Broadway production will feature Choreography by Drama Desk Award nominee Lorin Latarro (The Who’s Tommy), Scenic Design by Tony Award winner David Zinn (Fun Home, SpongeBob SquarePants), Lighting Design by Tony Award winner Justin Townsend (Moulin Rouge! The Musical), Costume Design by Andrea Hood (Into the Woods), Sound Design by Tony Award winner Kai Harada (Days of Wine and RosesMerrily We Roll Along), and Hair and Wig Design by J. Jared Janas (Sweeney Todd, &Juliet). General Management is by Wagner Johnson Productions. Casting is by The Telsey Office (Bernard Telsey, CSA; Craig Burns, CSA). Orchestrations are by Tony Award winner Bruce Coughlin (The Light in the Piazza), and Drama Desk Award winner Mary-Mitchell Campbell (Company) will serve as Music Supervisor, Annbritt duChateau as Music Director, and Cody Renard Richard as Production Stage Manager.

A special fan pre-sale will begin on Tuesday, May 28, at 10:00AM ET – sign up atOnceUponAMattress.com for early access to tickets. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Wednesday, May 29 at 10:00AM ET.

Further casting and creative team will be announced at a later date.

The Avett Brothers announced that their new musical Swept Away will begin previews on Broadway this fall at a Shubert theater to-be-announced. An odyssey of “mythic proportions” (San Francisco Chronicle), Swept Away features a book by Tony Award winner John Logan (Red, Moulin Rouge! The Musical), direction by Tony Award winner Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening, American Idiot) and choreography by Tony Award nominee David Neumann (Hadestown).

After sold out runs from coast to coast, Swept Away storms Broadway this fall.

The Swept Away creative team includes music arranger & orchestrator Chris Miller, music arranger & orchestrator/music supervisor Brian Usifer, music director Will Van Dyke, Tony Award-winning set designer Rachel Hauck, Tony Award-winning costume designer Susan Hilferty, four-time Tony Award-winning lighting designer Kevin Adams and Tony Award-winning sound designer John Shivers.For ticketing updates and more information, visit SweptAwayMusical.com.

Jared Grimes (Funny Girl) will host the Chita Rivera Awards, it was announced today. The 2024 Chita Rivera Awards will be presented on May 20 at 7:30pm at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts (566 LaGuardia Place off Washington Square Park), and are produced by Joe Lanteri, Founder and Executive Director of the New York City Dance Alliance Foundation, Inc. in conjunction with Patricia Watt.

Presenters include: Debbie Allen (Fame), Shoshana Bean (Hell’s Kitchen), Corbin Bleu (High School Musical, Little Shop…), Anthony Crivello (Kiss of the Spider Woman), Joel Grey(Cabaret), Huey Lewis (The Heart of Rock and Roll), and Joe Morton (Scandal, ART), Bebe Neuwirth (Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club, Chicago), Kenny Ortega (High School Musical), David Hyde Pierce (Here We Are, Spamalot), Brooke Shields (Suddenly Susan; The Adams Family), Ben Vereen (Pippin), and more.

The evening will feature performances by: Wayne Brady (The Wiz), Kristin Chenoweth (Wicked), Norm Lewis (Phantom of the Opera; Porgy and Bess), and Lea Salonga (Miss Saigon; Old Friends).

There will also be performances from the casts of Suffs, The Heart of Rock and Roll, and The Who’s Tommy.

At the May 20 Awards, Bernadette Peters will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, Phil LaDuca will receive the Vanguard Award, for his outstanding contribution to the international dance community, and Mayte Natalio (Suffs; How to Dance in Ohio) will receive the Douglas and Ethel Watt Critics’ Choice Award.

The Douglas and Ethel Watt Critics’ Choice Award is bestowed by the journalists of the Chita Rivera Awards’ Broadway judging committee, to recognize outstanding work that falls outside the framework of the original categories. It is named for the longtime Daily News theater critic Douglas Watt and his wife Ethel, an original cast member of Carousel and Kiss Me, Kate who later became a producer.

Tickets to the Chita Rivera Awards are available to the general public atwww.ChitaRiveraAwards.com.

Pop the champagne! The Museum of Broadway will celebrate its newest special exhibit celebrating the 10-time Tony Award®-winning Best Musical Moulin Rouge! The Musical, presented in partnership with Chase Freedom and created exclusively for The Museum of Broadway. The exhibit, Moulin Rouge! The Musical: Spectacular, Spectacular, invites fans to step into the world of Belle Époque Paris and experience the splendor, eye-popping excess, and glittering extravagance of the hit show.

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TDF partnership sends 1400 service members to Broadway and Off Broadway during Fleet Week

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For the second year in a row, TDF, the not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts, has partnered with the Community Foundation of New Jersey to help obtain and distribute 1400 tickets to 11 Broadway and two Off-Broadway shows. These tickets will be given at no cost to members of the United States Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Blue Star Families, who will be in New York City during this year’s Fleet Week, May 22 to May 28, 2024.

The 13 shows that service members will see for free are Back to the Future: The Musical, The Book of Mormon, The Great Gatsby, Hamilton, Hell’s Kitchen, The Lion King, MJ, Moulin Rouge! The Musical, The Outsiders, The Play That Goes Wrong, SIX, Titanique, and Water for Elephants.

“This is the second year of our partnership with the Community Foundation of New Jersey, and we are honored once again to facilitate tickets to Broadway and Off Broadway for our service members during Fleet Week,” said TDF Executive Director Deeksha Gaur. “We know from our companion program for veterans that attending the theatre can support healing and help build community.  But most of all, we are thrilled that service members will get to experience the magic and joy of New York theatre at no cost to them.”

The Community Foundation of New Jersey serves approximately 1,160 fundholders—individuals, families, and businesses with philanthropic funds, which they use to recommend grants to worthy causes and communities.

“Funds at the Community Foundation of New Jersey may be used to directly improve people’s lives beyond the usual grantmaking, and this is a great example of that,” said Madeline Rivera, Program Officer at the Community Foundation. “Unique philanthropic ideas like these enable us to have broad impact in areas important to our fundholders.”

Those wishing to donate so that service members can attend future performances should contact Madeline Rivera at the Community Foundation of New Jersey atmrivera@cfnj.org or (973) 267-5533.

The Community Foundation of New Jersey creates and scales custom solutions for purpose-driven individuals, families, and businesses. From creative projects that tackle critical societal or policy issues, to scholarship funds, corporate philanthropy, legacy funds, and donor-advised funds, CFNJ manages nearly every kind of giving vehicle and tailors solutions to meet critical needs. CFNJ’s specialists understand the unique contours of communities and manage the scope of CFNJ investment and grantmaking capabilities with precision. With $790 million in assets, the CFNJ grants tens of millions of dollars each year through its more than 1,100 funds. In 2023, CFNJ granted more than $70 million to nonprofits in New Jersey and beyond.

Founded in 1968, TDF (formerly known as Theatre Development Fund) is a not-for-profit service organization dedicated to bringing the power of the performing arts to everyone. TDF’s mission is to sustain live theatre and dance by engaging a broad and diverse audience and eliminating barriers to attendance. We fulfill our mission with a variety of programs that expand access, cultivate communities, and support the makers of the performing arts.

We are known for our theatregoing programs, including the TKTS by TDF Discount Booths (which celebrated 50 years in Times Square in 2023) and the TDF Membership Program; TDF Accessibility Programs (including open captioning, audio description, Autism Friendly Performances and the Veterans Theatregoing Program); Education programs (serving more than 10,000 NYC public school students annually), and Community programs (serving 18,000 people in the tristate area); as well as the TDF Costume Collection Rental and Research Programs. TDF envisions a world where the transformative experience of attending live theatre and dance is essential, relevant, accessible, and inspirational. To learn more about TDF, go to tdf.org; Facebook/Instagram/Threads: @tdfnyc.

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Summer Listening: Here We Are, Water for Elephants, Days of Wine and Roses, Harmony, How to Dance in Ohio, The Great Gatsby, Lempicka, The Outsiders, Stereophonic and Suffs  

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Today Concord Theatricals Recordings released the original cast recording of Here We Are, on CD and digital platforms worldwide. The album will be available on 2-LP, 180g baby blue vinyl on Friday, September 6. Here We Are (Original Cast Recording) has music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, and music supervision and additional arrangements by Alexander Gemignani, conducting a 14-piece orchestra. The album was recorded and mixed by Ian Kagey and mastered by Oscar Zambrano. The album packaging was designed by Derek Bishop. Complete production credits can be found in the album booklet available for free download HERE.

Stream, download or purchase the album HERE.

The album features the cast of Joe Mantello’s celebrated world premiere production: Francois Battiste, Tracie Bennett, Bobby Cannaval

Ghostlight Records has announced that Water for Elephants: Original Broadway Cast Recording, which preserves the show’s soaring score by the acclaimed PigPen Theatre Co., is available in streaming and digital formats today, Friday, May 17. A CD is being planned for this summer. The show has been nominated for seven 2024 Tony Awards, including “Best Musical.” Produced by Peter Schneider, Jennifer Costello, Grove Entertainment, Frank Marshall, Isaac Robert Hurwitz, and Seth A. Goldstein, Water for Elephants is currently running at the Imperial Theatre (249 West 45th Street). Water for Elephants is based on the critically acclaimed and New York Times-bestselling novel by Sara Gruen. The new musical has a book by four-time Tony Award nominee Rick Elice (Jersey Boys, Peter and the Starcatcher) and is directed by two-time Tony Award nominee Jessica Stone (Kimberly Akimbo). The album is produced by Mary-Mitchell Campbell and Ian Kagey. Stream or download the album at ghostlightrecords.lnk.to/WaterForElephants

Water for Elephants is currently running at the Imperial Theatre (249 West 45th Street). The cast stars Grant Gustin (“The Flash,” “Glee”) in his Broadway debut, Isabelle McCalla (The Prom, Shucked), four-time Tony Award nominee Gregg Edelman (City of Angels), Drama Desk and Outer Critic Circle Award nominee Paul Alexander Nolan (Slave Play), Stan Brown (“Homicide: Life in the Streets”), Joe De Paul (Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion), Sara Gettelfinger (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), and Wade McCollum (Wicked), and features Brandon Block, Antoine Boissereau, Rachael Boyd, Paul Castree, Ken Wulf Clark, Taylor Colleton, Gabriel Olivera de Paula Costa, Isabella Luisa Diaz, Samantha Gershman, Keaton Hentoff-Killian, Nicolas Jelmoni, Caroline Kane, Harley McLeish, Michael Mendez, Samuel Renaud, Marissa Rosen, Alexandra Gaelle Royer, Asa Somers, Charles South, Sean Stack, Matthew Varvar, and Michelle West.

Days of Wine and Roses written by Adam Guettel, features powerful songs like “Forgiveness” and “There Go I”, performed by Kelli O’Hara and Brian d’Arcy James. Stream the Tony Award-nominated score here.

Harmony has a score by Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman. The cast recording was released last August. You can still stream the cast recording here.

How to Dance in Ohio released an original Broadway cast recording on January 19, 2024. To stream the album, which features “Building Momentum,” click here.

The Great Gatsby has a new score by Jason Howland and Nathan Tysen, they will release a cast album digitally on June 21, 2024. Ahead of the album’s release, hear a sneak preview of tunes “For Her” and “My Green Light”performed by Jeremy Jordan and Eva Noblezada.

Lempicka has songs that were fabulously sung by Eden Espinosa, Amber Iman, Andrew Samonsky, George Abud, Natalie Joy Johnson and Beth Leavel. The new score from Matt Gould and Carson Kreitzer will be available to stream on May 29, 2024.

The Outsiders new score by Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay & Zach Chance) and Justin Levine will be available to stream on May 22, 2024. The songs were written by Academy Award nominee and Grammy Award winner Will Butler. You can get a sneak preview of the song “Masquerade” here.


Well Suffs is the show that will win the Tony for Best Musical and Score. The book, composer, lyricist, and star is Broadway darling Shaina Taub. The cast recording, produced by Atlantic Records, will be available to stream on June 14, 2024.

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“The Heart of Rock and Roll” Does Exactly What It Needs To Do Joyfully 80s Style on Broadway

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Hey, Bobby!” she calls to snap him out of his constant, adorable daydreaming. But it’s a different Bobby than the one who’s having a birthday over at Company, and it’s a whole different beast of a show, to be honest, as The Heart of Rock and Roll, the new jukebox musical comedy, inspired by the iconic songs of Huey Lewis and The News, drives forward with appealing delight. It’s a feast of fun and frivolity, setting itself up in 1987, as this Bobby, played charmingly by the wonderfully gifted Corey Cott (Broadway’s Bandstand), has his musical mind wandering all over the place about the future. He’s forever daydreaming of a way to climb that corporate ladder and make a name for himself after giving up his nighttime dreams of being a rock and roll star.

The man has traded in his family heirloom, an electric guitar, for a seat at the corporate table. But first, he has to navigate himself off of the conveyor belt line, working for a cardboard box company struggling to make ends meet. Bobby has some big ideas that he wants to deliver to his boss, the “Hip to Be Square” Stone, playing lovingly by John Dossett (Broadway’s War Paint), and his tense corporate daughter, Cassandra, who’s as tightly wound as one could be. Played adoringly by the wonderful and talented McKenzie Kurtz (Broadway’s Wicked; Frozen), Cassandra is one unique creation. She has given up her independent dreams of making it big on her own in the big city to return home after the death of her mother and help out her grieving father and the family business. And to no audience members’ surprise, these two opposites are as blindly attracted to each other as two souls can be, and they can’t seem to fight “The Power of Love.” And we know right from the get-go that we don’t want them to.

Corey Cott, McKenzie Kurtz, and the Company of Broadway’s The Heart of Rock and Roll. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

The Heart of Rock and Roll is exactly what you would imagine a musical comedy inspired by the songs of Huey Lewis and The News would be. It’s not breaking any new ground here, nor is it reformating or reinventing jukebox musicals. Many have called it the ‘first AI-invented musical’ as it checks all the boxes, moving like a well-timed machine through the framework of a well-intentioned musical. And I get why they say that, but as tenderly directed by Gordon Greenberg (RTC’s Holiday Inn) and inventively choreographed by profoundly good Lorin Latarro (Broadway’s Tommy), the show is definitely a whole lot more fun and enjoyable than many others who have tried and failed in the same format. It has a tender heart and a great comic backbone that never disappoints. The songs are as engagingly head-bopping as you remember, and performed with enthusiasm and love by a cast of pros that never let the piece falter or stall. The story is a rom-com joyride, fulfilling all the requirements of a feel-good jukebox show, but dressed up in the 80s, with costumes designed perfectly by Jen Caprio (Broadway’s Spamalot), a solidly functional set by Derek McLane (Broadway’s Purlie Victorious), well-formated lighting by Japhy Weideman (Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen), a solid sound design by John Shivers (Broadway’s Shucked), and layered with a few other popular themes around dreams, fulfillment, and family. That’s what gives it the Heart that they all keep singing about.

It’s a magnificent cardboard dance and ride on a well-tuned conveyor belt that soars into your heart and soul like your favorite soda pop, thanks to the music supervision, arrangements, and orchestrations by Brian Usifer (Broadway’s Book of Mormon) led by musical director Will Van Dyke (Off-Broadway’s Little Shop of Horrors). The book and story by Jonathan A. Abrams (“Juror No. 2“) with an assist from producer Tyler Mitchell (“Lucky Number Slevin“) is as charming as it is fun, filled with so many musical moments that make you sit up and take notice, especially when Bobby’s best gal pal, Roz, played to the heavens by the miraculous Tamika Lawrence (TNG’s Black No More), strides onto the stage. She’s one of the best things in this show filled with many best things.

Corey Cott, Raymond J. Lee, John Michael Lyles, and F. Michael Haynie in Broadway’s The Heart of Rock and Roll. Photo by Matthew Murphy

The Heart of Rock and Roll isn’t reinventing any kinda wheel, but there is enough playful energy flying forward from the cast that even though we see the ending pretty early on, we also want to enjoy the ride like that roller coaster we keep going on over and over again. Cause it’s just a whole heap of fun. The side kicks; Bobby’s former band mates: F. Michael Haynie (Broadway’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) as Glenn, Raymond J. Lee (Public’s Soft Power) as JJ, John-Michael Lyles (Broadway’s A Strange Loop) as Eli; and Casandra’s old school friends: Zoe Jensen (Broadway’s Six) as Paige and Josh Breckenridge (Broadway’s Come From Away) as Wyatt, all perform fabulously playing their parts with a wink and smile as they systematically deliver all the goods required. Orville Mendoza (CSC’s Pacific Overtures) as businessman Fjord, is a riot and delivers the ridiculous with the biggest Swedish wink you could give, and Billy Harrington Tighe (Broadway’s Pippin) as Tucker does a fantastic job playing the old boyfriend from Cassandra’s past who represents everything we don’t want for her. As written, it’s the perfect balance of sleaze and charm that makes us understand why she would have dated him before when she was at school, but also makes us want her to forget all about him and focus her eyes on Cott’s Bobby, cause that the ending we truly want.

The Heart of Rock and Roll does not disappoint, not in the slightest. It’s warm-hearted, well-played, beautifully performed, fantastically charming, and full of fun, without ever trying to be of a higher frame than it needs to be. I’m not surprised it didn’t garner a ton of nominations this award season. It’s not that kind of show, but don’t be fooled by this. It’s pretty much one of the funniest fun musical rides on Broadway. It doesn’t pretend to be ‘high art’ but doesn’t really need to be for us to laugh and cheer for these two to finally give it all up for Love.

Corey Cott, McKenzie Kurtz, and the Company of Broadway’s The Heart of Rock and Roll. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

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