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Broadway’s A Doll’s House Meticulously Stunning Revival Soars Like a Birdie Above That Clumsy Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

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For a revival to find its footing, it has to have a point of view or a sense of purpose far beyond an actor’s desire to perform a part, whether it suits them or not. It needs to radiate an idea that will make us want to sit up and pay attention. To feel its need to exist. And on one particular day in March, I was blessed with the opportunity to see not just one grande revival, but two. One was a detailed pulled-apart revolutionary revival of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House that astounded. The other, unfortunately, was a clumsy revival of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof that fell lazily from that high-wired peak – not for a lack of trying, but from a formulation that never found its purpose.

Jessica Chastain in A Doll’s House. Courtesy of A Doll’s House.

But over at Broadway’s Hudson Theatre, a reformulation chirps most wisely and wonderfully, bringing depth and focus to a classic Henrik Ibsen (Hedda Gabler) play that I didn’t realize was in such need of an adaptation. With no extravagance at its core, Amy Herzog (Mary Jane) dynamically takes the detailed structure and beautifully adapted it with due purpose. It hypnotizes, dragging in a number of light wooden chairs, Scandinavian in style, I believe, onto the stage, one by one, by their black-clad counterparts in a determined effort to unpack what will unfold. There is no artifice to hide behind in this rendering, as designed most impeccably by scenic and co-costume designer Soutra Gilmour (NT’s My Brilliant Friend; Broadway’s & Juliet) and co-costume designer Enver Chakartash (Broadway’s Is This A Room), only A Doll’s House’s celebrated star, Jessica Chastain (Broadway’s The Heiress; “The Eyes of Tammy Faye“) rotating the expanse of the bare stage before the others join her slowly and deliberately. She sits, arms crossed, staring, daring us to look away, while knowing full well we won’t. Or can’t. And without a word, it feels like she has us exactly where she wants us. Needs us to be. And all that transpires before the play even begins.

They sit on that bare and stark stage, waiting, in a way, to be played with, like dolls patiently wanting some children to come and give them a voice through their imagination. As Nora, Chastain delivers forward a performance that is unparalleled. To witness what transpires across her face during the course of this extra fine adaptation is to engage in a dance so delicately embroidered that we can’t help but be moved and transported. She barely moves from her chair, as others, like the equally wonderful Arian Moayed (Broadway’s The Humans) as Torvald, are rotated in to sit beside her, conversing and delivering magnified lines, thanks to the brilliant work of sound designers Ben & Max Ringham (West End’s Prima Facie), that dig deep into the underbelly of the complicated interactions. This pair of actors find a pathway through the darkness, never letting us come to any conclusions until they are ready to unleash a moment that will leave you breathless. This is particularly true for Moayed’s Torvald, who seems decent enough at the beginning, but once the shift occurs, when the beautiful thing doesn’t happen as it should, his unveiling is as gut-wrenching to us as it is to Nora. Even though we knew it was coming long before the play even began to spin forward.

Arian Moayed, Jesmille Darbouze, Okieriete Onaodowan, Tasha Lawrence, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Patrick Thornton in A Doll’s House. Courtesy of A Doll’s House.

The art of the unfolding is steeped within the whole, refocused inside the brilliant shading, shadowing, and starkness of the cast. As Krogstad, the powerful Okieriete Onaodowan (Broadway’s Hamilton), alongside the deliciously tight Jesmille Darbouze (Broadway’s Kiss Me, Kate) as Kristine, find an engagement that sits perfectly in the structuring. They push the reforming to the edge, approaching and receding away from Chastain’s brilliant centering helping move the piece towards the required conclusion.

The same can be said of the wonderful Tasha Lawrence (LCT’s Pipeline) as Anne-Marie, and the exquisitely emotional turning of Michael Patrick Thornton (Broadway’s Macbeth) as Dr. Rank. Thornton, in particular, finds a telling and emotional space to connect, unearthing an engagement that breaks the circle apart, leaving Chastain’s Nora and all of us observers shattered and broken in its black X’d finality.

As directed with the same magnificently detailed energy and flat-walled framework as the previously seen Betrayal on Broadway and the West End, Jamie Lloyd gives us A Doll’s House that will never be forgotten. The focus is so deliberate, and the formulations are just so strong, pushed forward in black and white by the exacting lighting design of Jon Clark (West End/Broadway’s The Lehman Trilogy). Forced while remaining ever so intimate, the cascading of the statement delivered registers in a precise way, more exacting than I ever remembered, and I’ve seen numerous renditions of this epic play. And even though, from what I hear, many on the left couldn’t see the epic exit of Nora, a moment that typically registers throughout theatre history, the symbol of a woman, steadfast and true, leaving the safe and simple artifice of A Doll’s House for engagement in the hard cruel reality of the world outside is as clear as can be. The delicacies of this birdie trapped inside a cage, poisoned with lies and excuses, and beautifully brought forth by Chastain, registers the reasonings for this revival to exist. It has found a new and deliberate place to sing, and for that, I am truly grateful.

Arian Moayed and Jessica Chastain in A Doll’s House. Courtesy of A Doll’s House
Matt de Rogatis in Ruth Stage’s CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. Photo by Max Bieber.

I wish I could say the same about Ruth Stage‘s modern take on the Tennessee Williams (A Streetcar Named Desire) classic, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, currently being re-delivered at the Theatre at St. Clements. As directed by Joe Rosario (Hemingway and Me; Ruth Stages’ The Exhibition), the play doesn’t find its rationale for existing in the modern day beyond the simplistic sexualization of its boxing-ring corners. Matt de Rogatis (Austin Pendleton’s Wars of the Roses) as the tense athletic Brick stays broken and damaged in his corner, riding out the moment, waiting for the click, while in the other corner is the tense Maggie, played without hesitation by Courtney Henggeler (Netflix’s “Cobra Kai“) poised and ready for the bell to ring.

The battle is only heightened by the presence of two other fighters in the opposing corners, Big Daddy, played with determination by Frederick Weller (Broadway’s To Kill a Mockingbird) in the third, and Big Mama, played with a strong intent by Alison Fraser (Gingold Theatrical’s Heartbreak House), in the fourth. And watching and cheering for their own personal perspective wins are the obnoxious Mae, typically portrayed by Christine Copley (although I believe I saw an understudy), the weasely Gooper, played by Adam Dodway (Theatre Row’s Small Craft Warnings), Rev. Tooker portrayed by Milton Elliott (Ruth Stage’s Hamlet), and Doc Baugh, typically played by Jim Kempner (“The Girlfriend Experience“) (although, once again, I believe I saw an understudy).

Frederick Weller and Alison Fraser in Ruth Stage’s CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. Photo by Max Bieber.

Generally, this is a battle that rages deceptively strong and subtle for the length of the play, swimming cruelly in the hazy heat of its Southern charm. But somewhere in this modernization, the reasonings never get fully realized, leaving the cast to wander in their stereotypical delivery without a sharp focal point in the horizon to zero in on. Hidden behind the bar and the drink, de Rogatis finds a Brick to be engaged with. He’s definitely handsome and desirable, especially in the eyes of the far-too-straightforward Henggeler’s Maggie the Cat, and his occupation of drinking rings more true than most. I’m not sure if the modernization has been created to fit his chest-baring delivery of a broken Brick, but I will say that his artful approach to the part is one of the stronger components of this otherwise clunky reimagining.

Given so much to unpack, Henggeler runs a little too fast and furious, not weaving a pause into her thoughts and actions. It’s all forward flowing, ignoring the laws of silence and deliberation. Big Mama and Big Daddy, ignoring the fact that they don’t seem to fit in with their surroundings or the set-up, find their way into the same cage as the two central figure fighters, giving us something else to contemplate in their constructs, beyond their tight fitting jeans and dress. There’s not much of a father/son connection, nor does their familial energy register, even as it moves and twitches within the pauses well. The details of attachment are lost, as they talk around things, with everyone else playing at high volume, courtesy of a sound design by Tomás Correa (Hudson Street’s Adam & Eve), delivering the Southern drawl with the intensity of an SNL skit. That’s a problem to the whole and one that doesn’t work for this rendering.

Courtney Henggeler in Ruth Stage’s CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. Photo by Max Bieber.

Most of the cast is all hock and no spit, moving around the room with a strange case of physicalized mendacity while never really finding a reason for their existence. The artifice gets in the way of the movement, especially in Matthew Imhoff’s (off-Broadway’s soot and spit) busy and overly clumsy set, with some distracting fading in and out by lighting designer Christian Specht’s (SSTI’s Cabaret). The storm approaching is as false as the formula and the reasoning for this retelling. It showcases some basically good actors embracing the chance to play iconic Big roles that I’m sure they have always wanted to dig their Southern-accented chomps into, possibly because one or two of them might never otherwise get the chance as they don’t exactly fit the literal sashaying of the “fat old” bodies out and around the staging of this play. The idea breeds curiosity, but one that doesn’t save this Cat on a Hot Tin Roof from falling quick and hard from its perch, I’m sad to say. While the birdie in A Doll’s House flies strong out into the cool Broadway air, with solid reasoning on its stark wings, reminding us all what makes for a worthy reimagining of a classic.

Frederick Weller in Ruth Stage’s CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. Photo by Max Bieber.

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

No Break…. Theatre Coming In July And August To Broadway and Off Broadway

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The theatre season has not stopped. Already opening Off Broadway have been Marin Ireland’s Pre-Existing Condition at the Connelly Theater Upstairs. Directed by Maria Dizzia, starring Tatiana Maslany, Tavi Gevinson, Deirdre O’Connell, Maria Dizzia, Julia Chan, Dael Orlandersmith, Sarah Steele, Greg Keller, Raquel Chavez and Gregory Connors. In the aftermath of a life-altering event, Pre-Existing Condition explores the challenges, shared community and everyday indignities of learning to move forward.

Cats: “The Jellicle Ball” A radical reimagining of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic dance musical based on T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Inspired by the Ballroom culture that roared out of New York City over 50 years ago and still rages on runways around the world. Staged as a spectacularly immersive competition by Zhailon Levingston and PAC NYC Artistic Director Bill Rauch, with all new Ballroom and club beats, runway ready choreography, and an edgy eleganza makeover that moves the action from junkyard to runway.  Come one, come all, and celebrate the joyous transformation of self at the heart of Cats and Ballroom culture itself. Now at the Perelman Performing Arts Center with Baby, Jonathan Burke, Emma Sofia Caymares, Tara Lashan Clinkscales, André De Shields, Sydney James Harcourt, Antwayn Hopper, Dava Huesca, Dudney Joseph, Jr., Capital Kaos, Junior LaBeija, Dominique Lee, Robert “Silk” Mason, “Tempress” Chasity Moore, Shereen Pimentel, Primo, Nora Schell, Kendall G. Stroud, Frank Viveros, Garnet Williams and Teddy Wilson, Jr.

At Abrons Arts Center Isabel. Matt is fixing a Cheap Old House in the middle of nowhere; then Harriet and Isabel show up unannounced, bringing news about mysterious abandoned staircases in the forest, a backpack named Loaves, and the uncannily human screams of mountain lions.

N/A starring Holland Taylor, Ana Villafañe and directed by Diane Paulus at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre. Marrio Correa’s
whip-smart play is a battle of wills — and wits — between N, the first woman Speaker of the House, and A, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Inspired by real people and events, this riveting two-hander illuminates the person whom many consider the most powerful woman in American history… and the once-in-a-generation political talent who defied her.

Off Broadway Opening

From Here at Pershing Square Signature Center/Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre. First preview June 27th, opening: June 29th. Book, Music, Lyrics by Donald Rupe, starring Blake Aburn, Becca Southworth, Omar Cardona. Set in 2016, From Here tells the story of Daniel, a 30-something gay man on his journey through life, love, and family when the horrific shooting at Pulse Nightclub changes his hometown, and him, forever.

Clowns Like Me at the DR2 Theatre. First preview June 21st, opening: June 30th. Playwright and director Jason Cannon directs this deeply personal and universally resonant one-man show, seasoned actor and master storyteller Scott Ehrenpreis tells his humorous yet profound story of living with mental illness. Like, lots of mental illness. Clowns Like Me fearlessly confronts the challenges of living with autism spectrum disorder, OCD, bipolar disorder, social anxiety, and depression, weaving a tale that is as heartbreaking as it is inspiring. Through his journey, Scott uncovers a remarkable truth: the stage becomes his sanctuary, a place where, if only for a few hours, he can emerge from the shadows of his struggles into the spotlight of empowerment and self-expression.

Empire The Musical is told through the lens of three generations of dreamers and doers spanning New York City in the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and the Bicentennial Year of 1976, this original story shines new light on one of history’s greatest feats of will and desire. With a desperate city pinning its hopes on this seemingly impossible project, only skyscraper-high levels of grit and determination can keep it climbing. Discover the dramatic tales of derring-do through spectacular choreography, foot-tapping music, and colorful, timeless characters. Take the thrilling ride to the sky with the brave Mohawk Skywalkers, industrialist visionaries, and can-do immigrants, all of whom had the guts to go up when everyone else was down. Witness the extraordinary resilience and optimism that built a landmark that still inspires today.  At New World Stages Stage 1. First Preview July 1st, opening: July 11th. Book, Music, and Lyrics by Caroline Sherman & Robert Hull, directed by Cady Huffman. Starring Danny Iktomi Bevins, Monique Candelaria, Devin Cortez, Morgan Cowling, Kaitlyn Davidson, Joel Douglas, Joseph Fierberg, Alexandra Frohlinger, Matt Gibson, Albert Guerzon, Julia Louise Hosack, Kiana Kabeary, Howard Kaye, TJ Newton, April Ortiz, Kennedy Perez, Paul Salvatoriello, J Savage, Robbie Serrano and Ethan Saviet

The Journals Of Adam And Eve at the Sheen Center starring Hal Linden, Marilu Henner. Inspired by the Biblical characters and the work of John Milton and Mark Twain, The Journals of Adam and Eve follows the famous first couple, allowing them to tell their own story in their own words for the first time. First preview July 10th, opening: July 11th. Playwright Ed. Weinberger and director Anders Corcoran.

On Beckett at the Irish Repertory Theatre. Bill Irwin can’t escape Samuel Beckett. He has spent a lifetime captivated by the Irish writer’s language. In this intimate 90-minute evening, Irwin will explore a performer’s relationship to Beckett, mining the physical and verbal skills acquired in his years as a master clown and Tony Award–winning actor. Irwin’s approach to the comic, the tragic, to every side of Beckett’s work—including Waiting for Godot, Texts for Nothing, and more—will allow audiences to experience the language in compelling new ways. Whether you’re encountering the Nobel Prize winner’s writing for the first time, or building on a body of Beckett knowledge, this dynamic showcase is not to be missed.  First Preview July 10th, opening: July 11th.

Cellino v. Barnes is a darkly comic play following the tumultuous partnership between infamous lawyers Ross Cellino and Steve Barnes, documenting their rise and fall as the top injury attorneys in the country. Through the ’90s, 2000s, and 2010s, we witness our pals navigate the ethical ambiguities of the law, grapple with personal demons (and fax machines), and aspire to world domination. They’re a couple of bros with big dreams and loose morals, trying to make it in the cut throat world of ambulance chasing. At The Asylum Theatre
opening July 23rd. Playwrights Mike B. Breen and David Rafailedes and directors Wesley Taylor and Alex Wyse.

Six Characters at Lincoln Center Theater/Claire Tow Theater. When some trifling citizens storm a renowned cultural center where they’re not meant to be, all hell breaks loose. Wigs go flying. Wounds get opened. An archive explodes. Will the audience make it out alive? Playwright Phillip Howze, director Dustin Willis, starring CG, Will Cobbs, Seven F.B. Duncombe, Claudia Logan, Julia Robertson, Seret Scott. First preview July 13th, opening: July 29th.

Someone Spectacular at The Pershing Square Signature Center/Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre. Once a week, six recently bereaved strangers gather for group therapy. It’s a stable routine — until one day, their grief counselor is inexplicably MIA. The group’s typical session quickly goes off the rails, offering an open-ended meditation on loss, with revelations that are at once beautiful, funny, and heartbreaking. Playwright Domenica Feraud, director Tatiana Pandiani, starring Gamze Ceylan, Alison Cimmet, Delia Cunningham, Marcus Gladney Jr., Ana Cruz Kayne and Damian Young. First preview July 17th, opening July 31st.

Table 17 at The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space/Susan & Ronald Frankel Theater starring Kara Young, Biko Eisen-Martin, Michael Rishawn. If your ex wanted to meet up again, would you? Previously engaged, Jada and Dallas reunite for dinner to hash out the good, the bad, and the ugly from their romantic past. Despite the intrusion of sassy waiters, complicated memories, and their best efforts to keep things casual, the estranged couple find themselves cornered by the truth. Playwright Douglas Lyons, directed by Zhalion Levington. First Preview August 14th.

Forbidden Broadway: Merrily We Stole a Song will parody current Broadway shows, including Hell’s Kitchen, Stereophonic, The Outsiders, The Great Gatsby, Back to the Future, The Wiz, and Merrily We Roll Along. Attendees can also expect sendups of Roger Bart, Patti LuPone, Daniel Radcliffe, Ariana DeBose, Jeremy Jordan, and the the 2024 Tony Awards as well as selections from Alessandrini’s recent Forbidden Sondheim. At Theater 555. Created and directed by Gerard Alessandrini, starring Chris Collins-Pisano, Jenny Lee Stern.
First preview August 23rd, opening September 12th.

Broadway Openings

Oh, Mary! Cole Escola’s hit farce following the life of Mary Todd Lincoln arrives on Broadway for a limited run. Previews begin June 26th, opens July 11th, closes September 15th. At the Lyceum Theatre. Also starring Conrad Ricamora, James Scully, Bianca Leigh, Tony Macht
and directed by Sam Pinkleton.

Job at Hayes Theatre starring Peter Friedman and  Sydney Lemmon. Max Wolf Friedlich’s psychological thriller transfers to Broadway after an acclaimed run downtown. Previews begin July 15th, opens July 30th, closes September 29th.

Once Upon a Mattress Sutton Foster and Michael Urie star in the Broadway revival of this beloved musical fairytale, transferring to Broadway after a successful run at City Center Encores! Previews begin July 31st, opens August 12th, closes November 30th. At the Hudson Theatre, adaptation by Amy Sherman-Palladino and directed by Lear deBessonet

The Roommate Patti LuPone and Mia Farrow return to Broadway in a new comedy by Jen Silverman. Previews begin August 29th, opens September 12th at the Booth Theatre. Directed by Jack O’Brien, Jen Silverman’s comedy about identity, morality, and the promise of reinvention.

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Music For A Summer Night With The Connector, Here We Are, The Heart of Rock and Roll, Hell’s Kitchen, Fangirls and Parting Gift: The Songs of Gerald Ginsburg

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One of my favorite musical last year was Jason Robert Brown’s The Connector. Concord Theatricals Recordings has released the original cast recording of MCC Theater’s acclaimed world premiere production. The album is now available on digital platforms worldwide. Digital sheet music for the songs, published by Concord Music Publishing and released by Hal Leonard, is also available today.

Stream or download the album, as well as purchase digital sheet music, Here.

Watch Hannah Cruz, Scott Bakula and the cast record “The Whole World Changed” Here.

Watch Ben Levi Ross sing “See Yourself” Here.

The album is produced by four-time Emmy® Award-winner Jeffrey Lesser and three-time Tony Award-winner Brown (Parade, The Bridges of Madison County), who also serves as arranger, orchestrator and pianist. Three-time GRAMMY® Award-winner Sean Patrick Flahaven, Chief Theatricals Executive for Concord, is the album’s co-producer. The album was recorded by Isaiah Abolinand mastered by Oscar Zambrano with art direction by Derek Bishop.

With a book by Jonathan Marc Sherman and conceived and directed by Daisy Prince, this timely new musical tells the story of two talented young journalists: a fast-rising writer who must confront how far he’ll go for the ultimate scoop, and an editor who must decide how far she’ll go to stop him. The Connector’s world premiere production from MCC Theater ran in a limited engagement from January 12 through March 17, 2024.

The album features original cast members Scott Bakula, Max Crumm, Hannah Cruz, Ashley Pérez Flanagan, Danielle Lee Greaves, Mylinda Hull, Daniel Jenkins, Jessica Molaskey, Fergie Philippe, Eliseo Román, Ben Levi Ross, Ann Sanders and Michael Winther.

Tom Murray is the album’s music director and Kristy Norter is music coordinator. The band includes Brown, Jamie Eblen, Hidayat Honari, Adam Kaufman, Randy Landau, Todd Reynolds and Alison Shearer.

Complete production credits can be found in the album booklet HERE.

The company of Here We Are. Photo by Emilio Madrid.

I don’t know how this happened but the original cast recording Here We Are the last musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim featuring Francois Battitse, Tracie Bennett, Bobby Cannavale, Micaela Diamond, Amber Gray, Jin Ha, Rachel Bay Jones, Denis O’Hare, Steven Pasquale, David Hyde Pierce, and Jeremy Shamos is on YouTube. Click here to listen. What a great summer treat.

The The Heart of Rock and Roll may be closing but the Original Broadway Cast Recording of the Broadway musical The Heart of Rock and Roll is out and available on all music streaming services.

The album is produced by Huey Lewis, Brian Usifer and Will Van Dyke with Hunter Arnold, Tyler Mitchell and Kayla Greenspan serving as Executive Producers.

Joy Machine Records is a new venture from Ian Kagey, Sonny Paladino, Brian Usifer and Will Van Dyke. The record label was formed in 2023 to bring an artist-driven approach to the recorded music industry by using the theatrical principles of collaboration and community. Their focus is on providing services that amplify the voices of new artists within the field of musical theater, releasing cast albums for Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, as well as collaborating on solo albums with established theater performers. The label’s services seek to support a developing musical from inception to its Broadway cast album.

The album will include the original cast of The Heart of Rock and Roll including Corey Cott, McKenzie Kurtz, Josh Breckenridge, F. Michael Haynie, Zoe Jensen, Tamika Lawrence, Raymond J. Lee, John-Michael Lyles, Orville Mendoza, Billy Harrigan Tighe and John Dossett.

The Heart of Rock and Roll, the new musical inspired by the iconic songs of Huey Lewis and The News, opened on Broadway on April 22, 2024 at The James Earl Jones Theatre (138 W 48th St, New York, NY)

The Original Broadway Cast Recording for critically acclaimed new Broadway musical, currently nominated for 13 Tony Awards, the most of any new musical this season, Hell’s Kitchen is available now via Alicia Keys Records/Interscope Records on streaming and digital platforms worldwide with a physical release to follow. Additionally, the official music video for “If I Ain’t Got You” featuring Brandon Victor Dixon and Maleah Joi Moon is out now and can be found here.

Ghostlight Records has announced the release of the new single “Learning to Be Lonely” from Fangirls the multi-award-winning, smash-hit musical with book, musical and lyrics by wunderkind Yve Blake. The song is available in both vocal and instrumental versions. Following unprecedented sell-out success across Australia, a brand-new production of FANGIRLS is being mounted in London as a co-production between Sonia Friedman Productions and the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, premiering on July 13. Tickets are available Here.

Shereen Ahmed, Mikaela Bennett, Philip Chaffin, Will Chase, Victoria Clark, Jason Danieley, Adrienne Danrich, Jordan Donica, Colin Donnell, Telly Leung, Paul Lincoln, Patti Murin, Kelli O’Hara, Elena Shaddow, Nathaniel Stampley, Elizabeth Stanley, and Lauren Worsham come together to record some of the most beautiful music never before heard on disc. The collection highlights the composer’s lifelong work, a style he dubbed “theater lieder.” Two dozen musical settings of poetry by such luminaries as W. B. Yeats, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and E. E. Cummings are being unveiled for the first time. The songs are orchestrated by Jonathan Tunick, Doug Besterman, Larry Hochman, Michael Starobin, Chris Jahnke, and John Baxindine, among others, and performed by an orchestra of 17 under the baton of Richard Carsey. The album is produced by Tommy Kraskerand Bart Migal.

Gerald Ginsburg — born in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1932 — attended Oberlin College and the Manhattan School of Music before embarking on a career as a composer. But after a lauded debut at Carnegie Hall in 1974, self-doubt led Ginsburg to keep much of his music to himself, although he continued to compose for the remainder of his life. When he died in 2019, the full evidence of his years of solitary work was revealed: an archive of highly lyrical, emotionally moving and entertaining songs. PS Classics is proud to present Parting Gift: The Songs of Gerald Ginsburg, the legacy of an under-recognized composer who channeled his emotions into the intersection of poetry and music — and left behind something glorious.

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The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

GIAMATTI’S TREK — (via DEADLINE) Paul Giamatti has joined the cast of the upcoming Paramount+ original series Star Trek: Starfleet Academy in a recurring role. He will play the Season 1 villain, a man with an ominous past connected to one of our cadets.

“Sometimes you’re lucky enough to discover that one of the greatest actors alive is also a huge Star Trek fan, and meeting Paul was one of those miraculous moments for us. The sheer delight with which he dove in on Starfleet Academy is only surpassed by the gratitude we feel about him joining our incredible cast,” shared co-showrunners and executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Noga Landau in a joint statement.

He joins previously announced Holly Hunter, who will star in the series as the captain and chancellor of Starfleet Academy. The series will begin production later this summer.

Star Trek: Starfleet Academy follows a young group of cadets who come together to pursue a common dream of hope and optimism. Under the watchful and demanding eyes of their instructors, they discover what it takes to become Starfleet officers as they navigate blossoming friendships, explosive rivalries, first loves and a new enemy that threatens both the Academy and the Federation itself.

Alex Kurtzman and Noga Landau serve as co-showrunners and executive producers of the series alongside executive producers Gaia Violo, Aaron Baiers, Olatunde Osunsanmi, Jenny Lumet, Rod Roddenberry, Trevor Roth, Frank Siracusa and John Weber. The series premiere episode is written by Gaia Violo.

Star Trek: Starfleet Academy is produced by CBS Studios in association with Secret Hideout and Roddenberry Entertainment and is distributed by Paramount Global Content Distribution.

HEART STOPPED — (Via Deadline) The Heart of Rock and Roll, the struggling musical built around the hits of Huey Lewis, will play its final performance at a matinee on Sunday, June 23. The show will have played 24 previews and 72 performances.

In a statement, producer Hunter Arnold said, “It was pure joy working on the show with the team of creatives headed by writer Jonathan A. Abrams, director Gordon Greenberg, choreographer Lorin Latarro, music arranger and orchestrator Brian Usifer and special gratitude to the support and participation of the iconic music legend Huey Lewis.

The musical began previews on March 29 and opened on April 22.

“We were honored,” he continued, “to have an amazing cast and crew who brought their immense enthusiasm, commitment and talent to each and every performance. With our original cast album just released and talks underway for a national tour and international productions, the musical will continue to delight audiences for years to come.”

The musical, received by critics with lukewarm reviews, did not received any Tony Award nominations and has been struggling at the box office, sometimes with the James Earl Jones Theatre just more than half-full with audience members. For the week ending June 9, the show grossed a tiny $272,051.

SHORT TAKES — Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis will be released through Lionsgate. Tepid reviews? Not really. Face it, Coppola’s a genius. Check out Roger Friedman’s (SHOWBIZ 411) take: https://www.showbiz411.com/2024/06/17/coppola-leases-megalopolis-to-lions-gate-for-september-release-in-distribution-only-deal

Darius Rucker said that the bandmates in Hootie and the Blowfish tried to outparty each other? Interesting. Check this out here: https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/darius-rucker-says-hootie–the-blowfish-bandmates-tried-to-outparty-each-other-that-was-just-how-we-lived-214135068.html

Add one more Jon Bon Jovi-intervene to the list. NBC’s Sunday With Willie Geist. Was good, but nothing on Richie Sambora and nothing new. He’s not going to tour; he wants to tour; a surprise gig in Nashville ….

Micky Dolenz and Michael Stip (R.E.M.)

what’s going on? More kudos for his PR-man Brad Cafarelli … Congrats to R.E.M. on their Songwriters Hall of Fameinduction … HAPPY BDAY Michelle Toscas!

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Mark Adelman; Christine Nagy; Race Taylor; Anthony Noto; Robert Funaro; Al Roker; Tony LoBianco; Les Moonves; Les Schwartz; Marion Perkins; Mary Wilson; Tony Seidel; Bob Schartoff; Julie Laufer; Liza Lillien; Richie Ridge; William Schill; Dan Zelinski; Carol Ross; Gary Gershoff; David Adelson; Roy Trakin; Lee Jeske; Anthony Mason; and BELLA!

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Broadway

And The Winners Of The 77th Tony Awards Are: The Outsiders, Merrily We Roll Along, Stereophonic and Appropriate

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Hillary Clinton did show and the Tony’s gave her a standing ovation, but against all odds the best musical of the year The Outsiders won. I have never been so happy to be wrong in my predictions as The Outsiders was my favorite show this year. I am so proud of this industry for honoring this amazing production.

Merrily We Roll Along, Stereophonic, Sarah Paulson, Appropriate, Maleah Joi Moon and so many other predicted choices took home the coveted award.

Ariana DeBose hosted the night, where the surprises were Jeremy Strong, Danya Taymor for The Outsiders, Kecia Lewis for Hell’s Kitchen.…yeah! 

The playbill for the night and the 77th Tony Awards, had speeches that were powerful. Especially in Act One. The theatre before the event.

In the show a tribute to Chita Rivera, Chita you will be missed.

Here is the list of the winning shows and performers:

BEST MUSICAL: The Outsiders

Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Groff, and Lindsay Mendez in NYTW’s Merrily We Roll Along. Photo: Joan Marcus.

BEST MUSICAL REVIVAL: *Merrily We Roll Along

BEST ACTRESS (MUSICAL): *Maleah Joi Moon, Hell’s Kitchen

BEST ACTOR (MUSICAL): *Jonathan Groff, Merrily We Roll Along. 

BEST FEATURED ACTRESS (MUSICAL):***Kecia Lewis — Hell’s Kitchen

BEST FEATURED ACTOR (MUSICAL): *Daniel Radcliffe, Merrily We Roll Along

BEST DIRECTOR (MUSICAL): ***Danya Taymor — The Outsiders. This win gives me such hope as Danya Taymor directs with heart. Her directorial performance in Jonah also was a tour de force. Taymor makes you feel.

BEST BOOK Of A MUSICAL: *Shaina Taub for Suffs

BEST MUSICAL SCORE: * Shaina Taub for Suffs

BEST ORCHESTRATIONS: *Jonathan Tunick, Merrily We Roll Along

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY: *Justin Peck, IIinoise

SCENIC DESIGN (MUSICAL): Tom Scutt — Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

COSTUME DESIGN (MUSICAL): *Linda Cho, The Great Gatsby 

LIGHTING DESIGN (MUSICAL): ***Brian MacDevitt and Hana S. Kim — The Outsiders

SOUND DESIGN (MUSICAL): ***Cody Spencer — The Outsiders

PLAYS

Tom Pecinka and Sarah Pidgeon Photo by Julieta Cervantes

BEST PLAY: * Stereophonic

Sarah Paulson and Elle Fanning in 2ST’s Appropriate. Photo by Joan Marcus.

BEST PLAY REVIVAL: *Appropriate 

BEST ACTRESS (PLAY): *Sarah Paulson, Appropriate

BEST ACTOR (PLAY): Jeremy Strong — An Enemy of the People

BEST FEATURED ACTRESS (PLAY): *Kara Young, Purlie Victorious

BEST FEATURED ACTOR (PLAY): **Will Brill, Stereophonic. Thrilled for this win. One of my favorite performances of the year.

BEST DIRECTOR (PLAY): *Daniel Aukin, Stereophonic

BEST SCENIC DESIGN (PLAY): David Zinn, Stereophonic

BEST COSTUME DESIGN (PLAY): *Dede Ayite, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding 

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN (PLAY): Jane Cox — Appropriate

BEST SOUND DESIGN (PLAY): *Ryan Rumery, Stereophonic

Audra McDonald

Given special awards were: The Wilma Theatre Outstanding Regional Theatre,

lifetime Achievement to George C. Wolfe, Excellence in Theatre Education to CJay Philip

Harvey Fierstien

lifetime Achievement to Jack O’Brien

Brian Stokes Mitchell and Billy Porter

Isabelle Stevenson Award Billy Porter

*our prediction to win.

** our prediction to what should win

*** our prediction for Best but we did not think would win

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Broadway

James Monroe Iglehart At The Drama Desk and A Rap For A Wonderful World: The Louis Armstrong Musical

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T2C was at the Drama Desk Awards and talked to our friend James Monroe Iglehart. Years ago I learned that James could make up raps instantaneously, so I had him do one at the Hamilton opening night for Lin Manuel Miranda. Since James is opening up in October in A Wonderful World: The Louis Armstrong Musical, I ask him to do a rap to plug his show. This is the result.

James’s new musical is about the life and loves of Louis Armstrong and Tony Award® winner James Monroe Iglehart is the legendary American icon. A Wonderful World charts Armstrong’s incredible journey from the birth of jazz in his native New Orleans through his international stardom. It features beloved songs recorded and made popular by Armstrong, including favorites like “What a Wonderful World” and “When You’re Smiling,” among many other standard favorites.

The show is conceived by Tony Award® nominee and Drama Desk Award winner Christopher Renshaw (Broadway’s The King and I, Taboo), and novelist Andrew Delaplaine. Book by Aurin Squire (“This is Us,” “The Good Fight”). Directed by Renshaw, with choreography by Rickey Tripp (Associate Choreographer for Broadway’s Hell’s Kitchen, Once on This Island, and Choir Boy). Featuring classic songs from Armstrong’s catalogue.

We look forward to seeing James and this new musical.

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