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Broadway’s The Notebook: The Musical Failed to Move Me 2 out of the 3 Paired Times From Standing in the Rain

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Girls like that dry their hands with dollar bills,” Noah is told by his best friend (a very fun Carson Stewart) one summer. On the opposing side, Allie is also dutifully warned by her gal pal (Hillary Fisher) that the handsome young man she is smiling at will not be welcomed into her home by her well-off parents. But you and I know that those warnings of societal inappropriateness will not be heard by those two who smile lovingly at one another in the musical remake of that beloved Nicholas Sparks bestselling 1996 debut novel, The Notebook, and that even more loved 2004 hit film with the same name. We are a sucker for those types of romantic tales involving love triumphing over all obstacles, especially class, money, and meddling mothers, lovingly played in this one by Andrea Burns (LCT’s The Gardens of Anuncia).

Yet, the triangle of love that exists in The Notebook: The Musical is not of a traditional nature. There is a classic one, eventually, involving Noah, Allie, and a handsome young lawyer named Lon, played by the beautifully voiced and dashing Chase Del Ray (“King Richard“). But it is not the most important triangular one created in the latest Broadway movie-to-stage musical. Nor is it the focal point, mainly because this musical, written with a loyalty to the surface by book writer Bekah Brunstetter (The Cake) with music and lyrics by Ingrid Michaelson (“The Way I Am“), creates three unique versions of the two lovestruck leads, crowding the stage, even when not required. All to tell the tale that we already know, with little suspense, nor emotional connectivity – at least for this fan of the movie and the four movie stars who made it all work so beautifully well.

From left: John Cardoza, Dorian Harewood, and Ryan Vasquez in Broadway’s The Notebook: The Musical. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

On a set designed solidly and efficiently by David Zinn (The Shed’s Here We Are) and Brett J. Banakis (ATC’s Sunday), with nursing home vibes pushed up to the edge, tender lighting by Ben Stanton (Broadway’s Good Night, Oscar), and a solid sound design by Nevin Steinberg (Broadway’s Sweeney Todd), time is played out in threes, with love, hope, and dreams coordinated in colored parallels of brown and blue, courtesy of costumes by Paloma Young (Broadway’s & Juliet). With their raw histories overlapping, sometimes with power and sometimes by force, “one might say” the engagement is there, but not to the degree I had hoped. The three versions continually circle around one another, singing as one, again and again, when one might have been enough sometime. I wanted so much to be drawn into the approaching dilemma, pulled with emotional tenderness into the tale of Noah and Allie. But it never found its way, like we are told it did between the young Noah, played carefully by John Cardoza (Broadway/ART’s Jagged Little Pill), and the young Allie, portrayed by the fair Jordan Tyson (PCLO’s Into the Woods) as she summers by the shore with her protective and single-minded parents (Burns, Charles E. Wallace).

The way those two youngins look at one another elevates the situation, and makes us want to swim into the turbulent waters of love with them, and dance in the (obviously coming) iconic rain storm, even if it feels more like a requirement than an authentic event. But the curiosity of one another doesn’t really seem etched in very much beyond rebellion and casual appreciation. Engagingly portrayed by the medium-aged middle Noah, handsomely embodied by the charming Ryan Vasquez (MCC’s The Wrong Man) with his young adult middle Allie, played stoically and compassionately by Joy Woods (CSC’s I Can Get It For You Wholesale), the visual works, but there isn’t much substance underneath those wet clothes. These two pairs are not the ones to be fully engaged with. They lack understanding and a reason for being, beyond attraction and superficial lust. The four do work hard creating the energy of a love blooming, but the feeling ultimately remains elusive, with the music and lyrics being too simple and superficial to really hold tight to.

Jordan Tyson and John Cardoza in Broadway’s The Notebook: The Musical. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

These four are not the ones we care about. Our connectivity lies solely with the older Allie, played wonderfully complex by the captivating Maryann Plunkett (Broadway’s Agnes of God; ArsNova’s The Lucky Ones), as we rally around her struggle with dementia and that sad feeling of being lost and alone. And to a slightly lesser degree, her thoughtful momentarily-forgotten husband, Noah, played with tenderness and care by Dorian Harewood (Broadway’s The Mighty Gents). And like the older Allie, we just want to skip forward, basically to the end. Because that’s where we feel this musical has placed its emotional emphasis on, and it is in those elderly moments of tender remembrance when the lump gets stuck in our collective hearts. And not before.

Directed with a solid force by Michael Greif (Broadway’s War Paint) and Schele Williams (the upcoming Broadway revival of The Wiz), with musical supervision and arrangements by Carmel Dean (Broadway’s Funny Girl) and straightforward but circular choreography by Katie Spelman (Barrington’s Cabaret), The Notebook: The Musical tries to dramatize the layers but the repetitive music doesn’t feel authentic to the characters and the lyrics create simplistic metaphors that don’t have the weight of the true dilemma in its outstretched hands.

The journey is non-linear, telling us more than we need to know, too soon, and too fast. Maybe there is no way around this, as we are so aware of the secret subtext that is slowly revealed in the film – at least that is how I remember it. Changing the period and the background doesn’t even really register, mainly because I was never fully invested. It’s pretty, and everyone looks good and sounds good, but the whole thing feels forced and reconstructed for optimal effect. That is except for those two veteran actors who float in and out connecting us to the material and to their passion for one another. There’s some magic to be found there in The Notebook: The Musical.

Joy Woods in Broadway’s The Notebook: The Musical. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.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

Suffs We Still Have A Long Way To Go

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“There never was a young woman who did not think that if she had had the management of the work from the beginning, the cause would have been carried out long ago,” Susan B. Anthony.

Shaina Taub

The new musical by Shaina Taub Suffs, has completely rewritten itself from when it played at The Public Theatre. What was an overstuffed story about the women’s movement, has become a polished version of how far and how little we have come. This is an uplifting tale and you will leave the theatre satisfied.


When Suffs begin,s we meet Carrie Chapman Catt (a terrific and staunch Jenn Colella) asking men to “Let Mother Vote.” Enter the young newcomer Alice Paul (Taub). Alice wants to do a protest march on Washington, to further the cause along, Catt wants women to be refined in their approach. Needless to say the two do not see eye to eye.

Hannah Cruz and Cast

Alice recruits Lucy (Ally Bonino) her friend from college, Inez Milholland (A star turn by Hannah Cruz, who commands the stage), “the it girl of her time,” who then recruits Ruza Wenclawska (another standout performance by Kim Blank), a militant labor organizer and Doris Stevens (Nadia Dandashi), who chronicles the movement.

Anastacia McCapaguy, Laila Erica, Nikki M.James

Enter Ida B. Wells (a fabulous Nikki M. James) and other Black suffragists such as Mary Church Terrell (Anastacia McCapaguy), the first president of the NAACP, to a march on Washington, however the Southern women and backers do not want them there and they are told to march in the back. Wells refuses singing the powerful ballad “Wait My Turn”. It is their story that pacts a punch.

Tsilala Brock, Grace McLean

The President at the time is Woodrow Wilson (the phenomenal Grace McLean), who “loves the ladies, with all his heart, until they start to speak,” He plays games with Alice and her cohorts, as well as with Ms. Catt. However Ms. Catt concedes to help the President, where Ms. Paul does not.

The new Suffs start their own organization The National Women’s Party (NOW) with the help of a rich socialite (a terrific Emily Skinner). They take their grievances public, get arrested, stage hunger strikes and finally win the vote.

The cast is entirely made of women, non-binary performers and musicians who are extremely talented. Ms. Taub does extremely well as Alice. I loved and hated Grace McLean’s outstanding portrayals. Nikki M. James almost steals the show, but it is Jenn Colella who really makes us understand the power play between women.

Leigh Silverman’s staging, keeps the show moving at 2 hours and 45 minutes. Riccardo Hernadez’s set keeps The White House always in play, and Paul Tazewell’s lighting warms it up. Mayte Natalio’s choreography is subtle, yet effective.

There are 33 songs by Ms Taub which are very musical theatre with hints of pop. Ms. Taub’s lyrics are smart, almost Hamilton esq. Especially clever are the lyrics to “If We Were Married.” Musically however, some of the songs bring to mind Beyonce’s “I’m A Survivor” and in “Ladies” “The Ballad of Guiteau” from Assassins. The stand outs are “Finish the Fight,” “This Girl,” “Wait My Turn,”  “Find a Way” and the anthem “Keep Marchin”. Musical director Andrea Grody and her orchestra should be commended. The underscoring is fabulous.

Ms Taub also penned the book, which sometimes misses the mark.

In the end the cycle between the established suffragettes and the newer, younger models will always be at odds.

Ironically what was cut was it was Mrs Woodrow Wilson who refused to sign for women to vote. After her husband had a stroke she states; “Now the presidential vote belongs to me. Support for Suffrage? Absolutely NO!” It was a women who turned the vote down.

Suffs: The Music Box Theatre, 239 W 45th Street.

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Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents at Addiss and Dan Lauria

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I am so pleased to announce our guests for next Wednesday’s show on April 24th are Producer Pat Addiss and Dan Lauria.

Pat Flicker Addiss has been a producer on the following shows: Little Women​, Chita Rivera: A Dancer’s Life, Bridge & Tunnel, Spring Awakening, Passing Strange, 39 Steps, Vanya, Sonia, Masha & Spike, Promises, Promises, Gigi, Love Letters, Eclipsed, War Horse, A Christmas Story ​and Harmony on Broadway. Off-Broadway she produced Jane Anger and Buyer and Cellar starring Michael Urieher show, Dinner With The Boys with Dan Lauria and Desperate Measures, is currently playing around the country. A native New Yorker. She was a child model and actress. Went to Finch College where she majored and graduated in honors in Costume Design and Merchandising. She started her own Company Pat Addiss Enterprises which designed and manufactured all items and widgets with Corporate names and logos. For her work she was honored by the LPTW Oral History that was filmed for the archives of Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library. She was also given the Woman of Purpose Award by the “Three Tomatoes.”. With colleague, Magda Katz, she has initiated a formula to connect women through YaYa lunches, dinners and now the addition of upscale tea. She loves to speak to women over 50 “How to Reinvent Yourself.”

Dan Lauria is best known for playing the dad Jack Arnold on the TV series The Wonder Years. He also played NASA Administrator James Webb in the 1998 TV miniseries From the Earth to the Moon and Commanding Officer, USA in 1996’s Independence Day. More recently he has appeared as Police Commissioner Eustace Dolan in The Spirit. He appeared as Coach Hamstrung in The Three Stooges N.Y.U.K. on AMC in 2000. Lauria appeared on stage in New York in the summer of 2006 in an off-Broadway production of A Stone Carver by William Mastrosimone with Jim Iorio and Elizabeth Rossa. Lauria also had a small role in a season two episode of Army Wives, as well as a season one episode of The Mentalist. In 2009, Lauria has appeared as General Lee Whitworth, M.D. in Criminal Minds season 4. He has also appeared in an episode of Boy Meets World. In late 2009, Lauria returned to the off-Broadway stage, appearing as Jimmy Hoffa in Brian Lee Franklin’s Good Bobby, a fictionalized account of Robert F. Kennedy’s rise.

Dan is also a very familiar face to the off-off, off and regional theatre scene having performed, written or directed over 50 professional stage productions.  He has appeared as a guest star in over seventy television episodic programs and more than twenty ‘Movie Of The Week’ productions plus a score of motion picture credits.  

In 2010-11 Dan was seen on Broadway in the long running production of Lombardi as the legendary coach Vince Lombardi with the beautiful and talented Judith Light, directed by Thomas Kail of Hamilton fame and returned again in the 2013-14 productions of the Tony nominated A Christmas Story: The Musical, directed by John Rando. 

Dan and dear friend, the lovely and talented Ms. Wendie Malick have performed the play The Guys by Anne Nelson (about our first responders) for numerous theatre and fire departments, around the country. Wendie and Dan also perform Love Letters as a fundraiser for regional theatres, for the development of new plays.  

Dan has now wrote and starred in the off Broadway production of Dinner With The Boys produced by the one and only Pat Addis and the NJ Rep. This was followed by a off Broadway production of The Stone Witch  and the upcoming Regional production of Lee Blessings new play; Tea With The Boss with Gwenn and Wendie Malick.  

He is about to star inJust Another Day written by Lauria. The show will run May 3-June 30 at Theater555 and also stars Patty McCormack (The Bad Seed). Between them, Lauria and McCormack have over 100 years of live theatrical experience, as well as over 150 television shows and films.

“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents ”, is a new show filmed in the lobby of the iconic Hotel Edison, before a live audience. To see our first episode click here second episode click here,  third episode click here, fourth episode click here, fifth episode here, six episode here, seventh episode here, eight episode here and ninth episode here.

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Move Over Daisy Jones & The Six Stereophonic Has Taken Up The Gauntlet

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Daisy Jones & the Six is a hit series on Amazon Prime that follows a rock band in the 1970s from their rise in the LA music scene to becoming one of the most famous bands in the world. This was based on Taylor Jenkins Reid’s book of the same name and was partly inspired by Fleetwood Mac. Stereophonic is like binge watching episodes of this TV series, live on stage for three hours. 


Opening tonight, David Adjmi’s high drama play is set in a recording studio in Sausalito, California in 1976, until the last act when they record in LA. The set by David Zinn, has us inside the control room where we can see inside the sound booth. In the beginning, it is hard to hear the words as everyone is talking over each other. Sex, drugs especially coke, alcohol, cigarettes, joints, infidelity and music are what’s at stake and we are eavesdropping in.

Andrew R. Butler and Eli Gelb Photo by Julieta Cervantes

We first meet Grover (Eli Gelb), an untested producer who has lied to everyone about his credentials and his nerdy assistant Charlie (Andrew R. Butler), who are trying to keep the band who are very much like Fleetwood Mac on track. On lead guitar and vocals, Peter (Tom Pecinka) a control freak, perfectionist, lead songwriter and vocalist who is emotionally abusive. He is in a nine year relationship with Diana (Sarah Pidgeon), also the lead singer who is insecure, neurotic, an up and coming songwriter, who very much like Riley Keough in Daisy Jones & the Six. From England are keyboardist and singer Holly (Juliana Canfield) who is stable, warm and going through a terrible marriage to bassist Reg (Will Brill), who is an addict in every sense of the word. And finally Simon (Chris Stack), a drummer who parties to the hilt, as his marriage falls apart due to the recording of the album going way over the time frame given.

Photo by Julieta Cervantes

The question becomes; can this group of talented performers complete this album without killing each other or themselves? In the course of the 3+ hours, we start to really care about the outcome.

Sarah Pidgeon Photo by Julieta Cervantes

In the meantime, we hear fragments and whole songs that are really well done. Tender, yearning ballads of hope and despair written by Will Butler highlight this slice of life. The songs become the feelings that are unexpressed.

Chris Stack and Will Brill Photo by Julieta Cervantes

The cast is incredible, with each one giving us a complete profile. Gelb and Butler give us comedic dazed and confused nerds, whose chemistry is infectious. Gelb’s character is so out of his depth, as he is forced to be the one to keep this gang together despite Pecinka egocentric narcissistic personality. Pidgeon and Pecinka are perfect as lovers tearing each other apart. Stack gives us loss that is heartbreaking. Canfield gives us layers in a role that could be lost but it is Brill who steals the show with his brilliant portrayal as a rock star who lives his life to access.

Juliana Canfield Photo by Julieta Cervantes

Juliana Canfield Photo by Julieta Cervantes

Enver Chakartash’s costumes, Tommy Kurzman’s wigs and hairstyling, Jiyoun Chang’s  lighting, and Ryan Rumery’s multidirectional sound are groovy and out a sight.

Tom Pecinka and Sarah Pidgeon Photo by Julieta Cervantes

Director Daniel Aukin keeps this chaos intact, as the music exacts its reward.

Tom Pecinka, Juliana Canfield and Sarah Pidgeon by Julieta Cervantes

The music is so good that Sony Masterworks Broadway will release an original cast recording produced by Playwrights Horizons where the show originally played and features the original songs by Academy Award® nominee and Grammy Award® winner Will Butler, formerly of Arcade Fire wrote. The digital album arrives May 10, 2024, with the physical CD release set for June 14. The Album is available for preorder now.

Stereophonic: Broadway’s Golden Theatre, 252 W. 45th Street.

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Chip Zien Is Honored at Sardi’s and The Original Cast of Falsettos Unite

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The iconic Chip Zien was honored with his portrait at Sardi’s. Sierra Boggess roasted him to the hilt

Zien has spent almost 50 years on Broadway.


Zien was the Baker in the original 1987 production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods filmed by the PBS.

The Baker’s Wife Joanna Gleason

In the 90’s he replaced Michael Jeter is Grand Hotel.

Stephen Bogardus, Chip Zien, Alison Fraser, Mary Testa

In 1992 he was Mendel in the groundbreaking William Finn and James Lapine musical Falsettos. He appeared in all of the “Marvin Trilogy” musicals by Finn: In Trousers (1979), March of the Falsettos (1981), Falsettoland (1990) and Falsettos (1992).

Carolee Carmella

Alison Fraser

Gregg Edelman, Barbara Walsh, Stephen Bogardus, Chip Zien,  Carolee Carmello, Mary Testa, Alison Fraser

Gregg Edelman, Barbara Walsh, Stephen Bogardus, Chip Zien, Carolee Carmella, Mary Testa, Alison Fraser

In 1998 Zien was featured in another Finn musical A New Brain. He received a 1999 Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical for this role.

Anne Nathan and Mary Testa

He appeared in the Off-Broadway play Isn’t It Romantic by Wendy Wasserstein and was nominated for the 1984 Drama Desk Award, Featured Actor in a Play.

Gregg Edelman, Carolee Carmella, Christine Pedi

In 2005, Zien played the part of Goran in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on Broadway.

In 2007, Zien was a replacement in the Broadway revival of Les Misérables in the role of Monsieur Thénardier.

Richard Kind

From April 1 to June 19, 2011, Zien appeared in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of The People in the Picture, which played at Studio 54 on Broadway.

Sierra Boggess

Zien appeared in the Broadway musical It Shoulda Been You at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

Chip signing his portrait

In 1973, Zien made his television debut on an episode of Love, American Style. More guest roles followed. In 1981, he appeared on Ryan’s Hope and began a two-year run in Love, Sidney, then Reggie. He provided the voice of the title character in Marvel Comics’ Howard the Duck. Zien later starred on the short-lived CBS drama Shell Game in 1987.

Carolee Carmello, Joanna Gleason, CHip Zien

In the 1990s, Zien was part of the ensemble cast of the CBS sitcom Almost Perfect and had regular roles in the daytime soaps Guiding Light and All My Children, until 2001.

Stefano Da Frè, Chip Zien, Sierra Boggess

From 1999 to 2000, Zien had a recurring guest role on the CBS primetime drama Now and Again and  appeared repeatedly as Attorney Cromwell on Law & Order.

During the 2002–03 season, Zien was the announcer on daytime’s The Caroline Rhea Show, and in 2006, he appeared in the critically acclaimed film United 93 was in the vampire comedy film Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead.

Joy Hermalyn

He was also in Caroline or Change on Broadway.

Bruce Sussman

Sierra Boggess, Chip Zien, Danny Kornfeld

Blake Roman, Steven Telsey,Sean Bell, Chip Zien, Danny Kornfeld, Eric Peters, Zal Owen

His last show was Harmony, the musical by Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman. His role as the adult Rabbi, the last surviving Harmonist was hailed by the critic’s and audiences alike. He was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for his portrayal.

It was so fitting that this prolific performer hang on these hallowed walls. Congregations this was well deserved.

Up Next for Chip Zien is Titanic at City Centers Encore series.

 

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Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman for Hamony at The Museum of Broadway

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On Thursday, April 18th, The Museum of Broadway located at 145 W. 45th Street, just east of Times Square, presented a brief A Cappella performance by The Comedian Harmonists played by Steven Telsey, Blake Roman, Danny Kornfeld, Eric Peters, Sean Bell and Zal Owen, welcoming remarks were made by Julie Boardman, Co-Founder Museum of Broadway, Chip Zien the lead in Harmony was in attendance, as were Barry Manilow & Bruce Sussman.

The reason for this event was the unveiling of the Museum of Broadway’s Harmony-inspired window dedicated to The Comedian Harmonists.


In Berlin, 1927, The Comedian Harmonists were six remarkably talented young men form a singing group who become international sensations: They sold millions of records, starred in major motion pictures, and played the biggest theaters around the world. By 1935, they were never heard from again. What happened? That’s the extraordinary true story of Harmony that played on Broadway. Now The Museum of Broadway is keeping their memory alive.

Bruce Sussman and Barry Manilow

Barry Manilow

The Comedian Harmonists and Bruce Sussman and Barry Manilow

Julie Boardman, Co-Founder Museum of Broadway

Steven Telsey, Blake Roman, Danny Kornfeld, Eric Peters, Sean Bell and Zal Owen, and Chip Zien

 

 

 

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