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City Center Encores! Sings Strong! in an Awkward “Oliver!”

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Young boys are tossed to the front of the stage, like full garbage bags on a New York City street. It’s an apropos beginning, the young thrown away moments before they burst into a magnificently produced song about hunger, malnutrition, child labor, and physical abuse. All at the hands of almost every adult these boys meet in the New York City Center Encores! musically strong revival of Lionel Bart’s Oliver!, the classic award-winning 1960 musical based upon the 1838 novel, Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, a man who loved to write about such things time and time again. With music, lyrics, and a book by Bart, who subsequently penned the respectable 1962 hit, Blitz!, and the universal 1965 flop, Twang!! (note the two !!s this time. I guess they thought one was not enough), Oliver! was the smash hit of Bart’s career, giving him awards upon awards, especially once the show was turned into the Oscar-winning 1968 film of the same name. The cinematic word for Oliver! was “More“, or so says the trailer, yet I have very little memory of the film. It never really connected to me when I was younger, although I have slight memories of a kindly complicated Nancy (Shani Wallis) full of life and suffering for it, and the beautifully voiced young boy (Mark Lester) lost in the cold cruel world, but who knew he wanted more.

The same could be said of the revival at NYCC’s Encores! It’s gloriously performed, sung to the heavens with a spectacularly rich sound emulating from The Encores! Orchestra headed by music director Mary-Mitchell Campbell (Broadway’s The Prom) with stellar orchestrations by William David Brohn (Broadway’s Ragtime) and music coordination by Kimberlee Wertz (Broadway’s Almost Famous). Elevated high above the crowded underbelly of the poor and destitute children that we first encounter tossed to the edge of the stage, all before bursting into the memorable “Food, Glorious Food“, the remounting, by special arrangement with Cameron MacIntosh, sings out loud and clear. The number serves up a musical feast, chock full of songs that take you back, even when they make you a bit uncomfortable when you take a deeper dive into what this musical is all about.

But let’s, for the moment, put aside the awkward layers of child labor, starvation, and abuse, heaped upon these poor young boys by almost every scheming adult character on that stage, as well as Nancy’s problematic song of abuse, “As Long As He Needs Me“, gorgeously performed by a stellar Lilli Cooper (Broadway’s Tootsie) making us almost forget what she is actually singing about. She’s that good in the role. Instead, let us focus on the formula and the feast, that includes one messy complicated book that needs a really good cleansing before this show can have a modern return to Broadway. That and some restructuring all around to make the piece a smoother ride down memory lane.

Rashidra Scott, Benjamin Pajak, and Thom Sesma in NYCC Encores! production of Lionel Bart’s Oliver! Photo by Joan Marcus.

Yet, all of the performers do their unbelievable magic with the material, which is particularly astounding knowing the quick turnaround of Encores! staging and the athleticism and skill needed to perform the choreography created by Lorin Latarro (Broadway’s Into the Woods). The cast uniformly finds all their flips, kicks, and moments to shine bright, even in the smaller parts and the more unfocused bits of traveling and transition. First off, there is the wonderful pairing of the despicable (and hilarious) Mr. Bumble and Widow Carney, played devilishly good by Brad Oscar (Broadway’s Mrs. Doubtfire) and Mary Testa (Broadway’s Oklahoma!), as well as the beautifully matched dasterdly funeral parlor owners, Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry (and Co.), portrayed wisely and wickedly by Thom Sesma (CSC’s A Man of No Importance) and Rashidra Scott (Broadway’s Company), who take over the stage with their delicious debauchery. Perfect work by some expert performers.

But they are no match for the feisty Oliver Twist, who is magnificently well-sung by Benjamin Pajak (Broadway’s The Music Man), as the young boy who never fails to stand up for himself, especially when he, famously, wants some more. He’s a tad stiff in the acting department, I’m sorry to say, but the musical and the book don’t really give him much to do beyond being the center peg for which all else revolves. Even when those wheels are pretty white umbrellas twirling the cast down the lane so beautifully.

Oliver, when not singing, is quite the passive character, for the most part. He responds and reacts, sitting on the sidelines while the adults do their dirty work all around him. That is unless he is standing up for his empty tummy or his dead mother’s honor. Then he becomes something quite proactive and aggressive. This is particularly true in the second act when he basically is haphazardly tossed around like a bag of potatoes from one evil man’s shoulder to another’s table, barely registering as anything rebellious or rambunctious in these wild moments. The book fails to take us through from one moment to another, faltering time and time again to give us a sense of emotional connection or an understanding of why and how bonds this strong are made. We just have to believe, as it goes forward, and accept, even when it doesn’t really add up.

The cast of NYCC Encores! production of Lionel Bart’s Oliver! Photo by Joan Marcus.

The production doesn’t seem to know what to do with Oliver in the second half, nor does it know how to deal with the violent deaths of the lovely Nancy and the demon Bill Sikes, portrayed red and darkly violent by Tam Mutu (Broadway’s Moulin Rouge!), that happens up in the dark shadowy corners somewhat vague and clumsily. It’s here where the set, designed by David Rockwell (Broadway’s A Beautiful Noise), lit by designer Justin Townsend (Broadway’s Jagged Little Pill) under the unfocused direction of Lear deBessonet (Encores’ Big River), with sound designed by Alex Neumann (Encores/Broadway’s Into the Woods), that Oliver! loses its footing and drive. The space seems to swallow up the action, expanding some moments while crowding in others. It’s only when Pajak gets the chance to vocally shine, as he does with his magnificently well-sung “Where Is Love?“, that nothing else seems to matter. And nothing else comes close.

The other highlight of the show, beyond the wonderfully convincing Cooper as the complicated but feisty Nancy, enters casually, strolling out from under the beams juggling a few handkerchiefs around like a traveling magician. In the well-orchestrated guise of Fagin, deliciously and wildly created by Raúl Esparza (Broadway’s Company; Encores! Off-Center’s’ Road Show), the conman feels like a friend and a foe all wrapped up in a bright long jacket, courtesy of some fine work by costume designer Sarafina Bush (Broadway’s Pass Over). His creation is something of a mystery and awkward confusion, and even though brilliantly entertaining, we wonder what all that fuss is about the jewelry box (thrown away so casually later on) or why he takes such an intital shine to the young Oliver, even with his loyal sidekick, the wonderfully delivered Artful Dodger, portrayed strongly by Julian Lerner (“Boys of Summer“), standing nearby and presenting Oliver up so caringly. The two bright jacket pickpockets are the first to give Oliver a sense of familial care, even as it feels quite quick and shady. But so much of this musical has that aspect, with numerous quick uncomfortable jumps to illogical conclusions. We just have to pick a pocket or two and join in the fun, or we will get left in the dust thinking about it all too much.

Julian Lerner, Benjamin Pajak (center, l-r), and the young cast of NYCC Encores! production of Lionel Bart’s Oliver! Photo by Joan Marcus.
Now I’m not sure if I missed something, but all of a sudden Oliver has been grabbed by the police after a failed pickpocket mess, and is now in the rich and warm care of Mr. Brownlow, politely portrayed by Michael Siberry (LCT’s JUNK) with a sturdy Mrs. Bedwin, played by Alma Cuervo (CSC’s A Man of No Importance), by his side ready to give little Oliver a big hug and squeeze. As we are left to wonder, “Who Will Buy” all of this, the book really does seem to lack the narrative drive that we have become used to in more modern musicals, alongside the other part it displays; the disquieting idea that a high-kicking musical jumping over all these horrors is supposed to be (and sorta is) this much fun.

It’s a Fine Life” or is it for Oliver!? The music is pretty divine and gorgeously performed, with joyous dance numbers and sublime comic bits that delight and entertain. Esparza, Cooper, and especially Pajak do their damn best vocalizing and enlivening the material inside every song and dance. Yet, if Encores! was hoping this would become another Parade or, even better yet, something as successful as the Into the Woods Broadway transfer, I think they’ve been conned. Some work needs to be done, restructuring that structure that slowed this production down, and more importantly, some deft rewriting of that complicated book to remake Oliver! into some “food, glorious food“, and a treat that we will have no problem devouring. Hungry or not.

The cast of NYCC Encores! production of Lionel Bart’s Oliver! Photo by Joan Marcus.

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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Events

Memorial Day Events

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The New York Philharmonic is giving a free concert on Monday, May 27th to honor of Memorial Day. Go inside the beautiful Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. Conducted by Jaap van Zweden, the program will include Wagner’s Prelude to Act I of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Copland’s Quiet City and Brahms’ Symphony No. 4. Its free but you can get a limited ticket, which are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. 
See Top Gun: Maverick Friday, May 24 at The Intrepid. Doors open at 7pm and the movie starts at sunset. Make sure to bring some blankets and lawn chairs along. You can also bring your own food and drinks (alcohol is not permitted, though), and light snacks will be sold at the event.

Also at the Intrepid on Saturday, May 25-Sunday, May 26 there will be musical performances and explore a variety of displays, activities, and demos from the military, including the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, Office of Naval Research and many more. OnMonday, May 27The Museum’s annual Memorial Day ceremony.

Tour Naval ships all week long:

Manhattan, Pier 88 South
— Amphibious assault ship, USS Bataan (LHD 5) from Norfolk, Virginia
Public tours only on Saturday, May 25, from 9am-4pm

Manhattan, Pier 90 North
— Baden-Württemberg-class frigate FGS Baden-Württemberg (F-222) from Germany
— Berlin-class replenishment ship FGS Frankfurt am Main (A-1412) from Germany
Public tours only on Saturday, May 25, from 9am-4pm

Manhattan, Intrepid Museum, Pier 86
— Four U.S. Naval Academy YPs, Annapolis, Maryland
Public tours are available May 23-24, from 10am-5pm

— Bay-class cutter USCGC Sturgeon Bay (WTGB-109) from Bayonne, New Jersey
Public tours are available May 23-27, from 10am-5pm

Homeport Pier, Staten Island
— Freedom-class littoral combat ship USS MARINETTE (LCS 25) from Mayport, Florida
— Legend-class cutter USCGC Calhoun (WMSL-759) from Charleston, South Carolina
— Keeper-class coastal buoy tender USCGC Katherine Walker (WLM-552) from Bayonne, New Jersey
Public tours are available May 23-27, from 8am-5pm

Every year, the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Riverside Park is a site for a Memorial Day Observance. Representatives from the New York Council and other military and veterans support organizations participate in this annual ceremony to honor all who have served and sacrificed. The monument is located at Riverside Drive and 89th Street and the event is free and open to the public from 10am to noon.

Ride the wave of creativity at Convergent Waves: NYC, an immersive multimedia dance event aboard the 1885 tall ship Wavertree in the Seaport. Dancers will perform contemporary works on this historic vessel. The performance was conceived by Lenora Lee, of Lenora Lee Dance, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary in this collaboration with South Street Seaport Museum. See the world premiere of Convergent Waves: NYC on Saturday, May 25, with additional performances on Sunday, May 26, and Monday, May 27. It’s free to attend, but guests should reserve tickets online in advance.

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Celebrity

The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

TRUMPED AT CANNES — What with Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis and Kevin Costner’s Horizon garnering most of the pre-Cannes ink, it turns out that The Apprentice; the so-called rise of Donald Trump, has become to must-see attraction there.

Starring Sebastian Stan

Sebastian Stan

and Jeremy Strong -as Roy Cohn-  its received the most attention after its screening this week. Check out this up-to-date spot from The Hollywood Reporter:


The Trump camp has threatened a lawsuit over a somewhat graphic scene between Trump and Ivana in the movie. The filmmaker Ali Abbasi has said that while the lawsuits may fly fast and furious from the Trump-camp, their success rate should be re-examined. A pretty savvy response if you ask me.

MORE TREK — (Via Deadline) Oscar winner  Holly Hunter has been tapped to star in Paramount+’s upcoming series Star Trek: Starfleet Academy. Hunter will play the captain and chancellor of Starfleet Academy in the series which will begin production later this summer.

Produced by CBS Studios, the series will follow the adventures of a new class of Starfleet cadets as they come of age in one of the most legendary places in the galaxy.

Per the logline: Star Trek: Starfleet Academy introduces viewers to 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.

As a Treker-from the 60’s, where the hell is the next proper Star Trek-movie with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto? They both were fantastic in my mind. Into Darkness was sensational? Weird for sure.

Michael Jackson and Ron Alexenburg

SHORT TAKES — Record-industry icon Ron Alexenburg is penning his autobiography to be called From The Warehouse To The Penthouse. Alexenburg, when he ran Epic Records, worked with everyone from Michael Jackson to Meat Loaf, Boston, The Beach Boys, and Charlie Daniels. Here’s a great interview with him:

Oddly, he doesn’t mention his Infinity Records opus, where I worked with him. The opening night party for the label was at the NY Public Library in NYC. It was an awesome event …

Speaking of books, Dave Mason’s Only You Know and I Know is finally out after a massive delay. I saw a video of him opening the first box. Apparently it is only available through his website. Good luck Dave …

We haven’t seen Kevin Costner’s Horizon yet, but a report from Roger Friedman (Showbiz 411), claims Costner doesn’t even appear in the movie for the first hour. Really? …

Christopher Reeve

Great Hamptons Film Festival exclusive by Roger Friedman. Check it out: https://www.showbiz411.com/2024/05/21/hot-ticket-christopher-reeve-super-man-film-to-get-early-look-hamptons-screening-before-release-at-summerdocs … And, great spot on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show on the new book from Michael McDonald with Paul Reiser (What A Fool Believes/DEY Street):

RIP Fred Roos.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Riley Keough; Edwyn Collins; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Tony Seidel; Jason Cooper; Bob Krasnow; Les Schwartz; Pete Sanders; Jeremy Long; Peter Shendell; Randy Alexander; Carson Daly; Pete Best; Cory Robbins; Bill Adler; Roy Trakin; Mark Bego; Nancy Ruth; Teresa Knox; Kent and Laura Denmark; and BELLA!

Images on this page have been licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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Dance

Chita Rivera Awards Part 1 In Pictures

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The wnners for the 2024 Chita Rivera Awards were announced yesterday evening. Presented at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts (566 LaGuardia Place off Washington Square Park), the Chita Rivera Awards are produced by Joe Lanteri, Founder and Executive Director of the New York City Dance Alliance Foundation Inc., in conjunction with Patricia Watt.

Joe Lanteri

Michael-Demby Cain

Joe Lanteri and Michael-Demby Cain

The Rockettes

The mission of the Chita Rivera Awards is to celebrate dance and choreographic excellence, preserve notable dance history, recognize past, present, and future talents, while promoting high standards in dance education and investing in the next generation.

Bernadette Peters

Bebe Neuwirth and Bernadette Peters

Bebe Neuwirth and Bernadette Peters with Joe Lantern

At this year’s Chita Rivera Awards, Bernadette Peters received the Lifetime Achievement Award

Mayte Natalio

and Mayte Natalio (Suffs) received the Douglas and Ethel Watt Critics’ Choice Award.

Phil LaDuca

Phil LaDuca was also awarded.

Presenters and performers at this year’s Awards included

Corbin Bleu, Debbie Allen

Bebe Neuwirth, Debbie Allen and Norm Nixon

Debbie Allen and Norm Nixon

Debbie Allen

Corbin Bleu and Sasha Clements

Corbin Bleu and Sasha Clements

Corbin Bleu (White Christmas)

Wayne Brady (The Wiz)

Ali Louis Bourgzgui

Ali Louis Bourgzgui (Tommy)

Kristin Chenoweth

Kristin Chenoweth (Wicked)

Anthony Crivello

Anthony Crivello (Kiss of the Spider Woman)

Lorin Latarro and Huey Lewis

Huey Lewis (The Heart of Rock and Roll)

Norm Lewis

Norm Lewis (Phantom of the Opera; Porgy and Bess)

Joe Morton

Joe Morton (Scandal, ART)

Bebe Neuwirth

Bebe Neuwirth (Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club, Chicago)

Chita’s daughter Lisa Mordente and Kenny Ortega

Kenny Ortega (High School Musical)

David Hyde Pierce (Here We Are, Spamalot)

Lea Salonga

Lea Salonga (Miss Saigon, Old Friends)

Chloe Davis and Brooke Shields

Brooke Shields

Brooke Shields (Suddenly Susan; The Adams Family)

Ben Vereen (Pippin)

Lorna Luft, Riki Kane Larimer and Grant Plotkin

Lorna Luft, Riki Kane Larimer

Riki Kane Larimer producer and one of the major sponsors of The Chita Awards.

Jack Noseworthy and Sergio Trujillo

Stephanie Pope and Lloyd Culbreath

Marina Tamayo

Bruce Robert Harris

Lorna Luft

Avery Wilson and Phillip Johnson

Tommy Bracco

Tommy Bracco and Ross Lekites

Michael Garnier and Amy Hall Garnier

Leo Moctezuma

Lainie Sakakura and Isa Sanchez

OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHY IN A BROADWAY SHOW

Bebe Neuwirth, Camille A Brown

Bebe Neuwirth

***Camille A Brown, Hell’s Kitchen (tie)

Julia Cheng

Julia Cheng, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Rick and Jeff Kuperman

Rick and Jeff Kuperman and Tilly Evans-Krueger

Rick and Jeff Kuperman, The Outsiders

Lorin Latarro

Lorin Latarro, The Heart of Rock and Roll / The Who’s Tommy (joint nomination)

Justin Peck

Justin Peck, Illinoise

Jesse Robb and Shana Carroll

***Jesse Robb and Shana Carroll, Water for Elephants (tie)

OUTSTANDING DANCER IN A BROADWAY SHOW

***Antoine Boissereau, Water for Elephants

Ben Cook, Illinoise

Chloe Davis

Chloe Davis, Hell’s Kitchen

Gaby Diaz, Illinoise

Tilly Evans-Krueger

***Tilly Evans-Krueger, The Outsiders

Rachel Lockhart, Illinoise

Phillip Johnson Richardson, The Wiz

Byron Tittle, Illinoise

Ricky Ubeda, Illinoise

Avery Wilson, The Wiz

OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE IN A BROADWAY SHOW

The Cast of Cabaret that includes- Kayla Jenerson, Corinne Munsch, MiMi Scardulla, Pedro Garzo, Julia Cheng, Rebecca Frecknall, Loren Lester, Hannah Florence, Colin Cunliffe, David Merino, Spencer James Weidie, Sun Kim, Deja McNair, Karl Skyler Urban

Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

The Cast of Hells kitchen-
Nyseli Vega, Jackie Leon, Raechelle Manalo, Sarah Parker, Susan Oliveras, Michael Greif, Onyxx Noel, Niki Saludez, Timothy L. Edwards

Hell’s Kitchen

***Illinoise

The Heart of Rock and Roll

From The Cast of The Outsiders-Melody Rose, Sarah Grace Mariani, Tilly Evans-Krueger, Kristen Carcone, Henry Julian Gendron, Milena J. Comeau, Rick Kuperman, Barton Cowperthwaite, Victor Carrillo Tracey, Jordan Chin, RJ Higton, Sean Harrison Jones, Kevin Csolak, Jeff Kuperman

The Outsiders

Water for Elephants

FILM & DOCUMENTARY

 

OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHY IN A THEATRICAL RELEASE

***Barbie, Choreographer: Jennifer White

Carmen, Choreographer: Benjamin Millepied / Marina Tamayo

Color Purple, Choreographer: Fatima Robinson

Mean Girls, Choreographer: Kyle Hanagami

Wonka, Choreographer: Christopher Gattelli

OUTSTANDING DIRECTION OF A DANCE DOCUMENTARY

Daughters, Directors: Angela Patton / Natalie Rae

Eldorado: Everything the Nazis Hate, Directors: Benjamin Cantu / Matt Lambert

Diane Byer and David Petersen

***Lift, Director: David Petersen

Marc Saltarelli

Studio One Forever, Director: Marc Saltarelli

Swan Song, Director: Chelsea McMullan

2023-2024 CHITA RIVERA AWARD NOMINATING COMMITTEES

Awarding Committee

Chair: Sylviane Gold, Gary Chryst, Robert LaFosse, Wendy Perron, and Lee Roy Reams

Broadway Nominating Committee

Chair: Wendy Federman, Caitlin Carter, Gary Chryst, Don Correia

Jamie deRoy and Rachel Stange

Jamie deRoy, Sandy Duncan, Peter Filichia, Dr. Louis Galli, Sylviane Gold, Jonathan Herzog, Robert La Fosse, Joe Lanteri, Michael Milton, Mary Beth O’Connor, Wendy Perron, Lee Roy Reams, Andy Sandberg, and Randy Skinner

Film Nominating Committee

Chair: Jonathan C. Herzog, Steven Caras, Wilhelmina Frankfurt, Mary Beth O’Connor, and Andy Sandberg

All proceeds of the Chita Rivera Awards benefit the NYC Dance Alliance Foundation Scholarship Program. The NYCDA Foundation is an IRS approved 501(c)(3) committed to broadening performing arts awareness while advocating education and high standards of excellence in dance.

This year, all funding and proceeds will support the creation of a new Chita Rivera Training Scholarship.

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Events

Shoshana Bean Joins West End Superstar Bradley Jaden At Sony Hall

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West End Superstar Bradley Jaden will make his US debut on Monday June 3rd at Sony Hall along with the iconic, two time Tony Award and Grammy Award nominee Shoshana Bean, currently starring on Broadway in Alicia Keys hit musical Hell’s Kitchen, which is up for 13 Tony Award nominations.

Jaden, fresh from his acclaimed performance in Cameron Mackintosh’s new production of Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends, at the Gielgud Theatre, will bring his own show Live In Concert to New York City for his US debut ahead of two sold out dates at Cadogan Hall in London. Later in the year he will embark on the Les Misérables Arena Spectacular World Tour recreating the role of ‘Javert’.

Bradley has starred in some of the West End’s most enduring productions including his unforgettable performance as ‘Javert’ in Les Misérables, Fiyero in Wicked and ‘Raoul’ in a new production of The Phantom of the Opera in Trieste, Italy. Other West End theatre credits include Shrek The Musical, Side Show in Concert and Treason The Musical.

Jaden will be recreating the role of ‘Javert’ in the Les Misérables Arena Spectacular which embarks on a World Tour from this September with a cast and orchestra of over 65. He will share the role with Michael Ball, playing opposite Killian Donnelly’s ‘Jean Valjean’.

He is not only one of musical theatre’s most successful leading men, but he’s also a star of the small screen, having seamlessly transitioned to the world of soap, taking roles in both EastEnders as Sonia Fowler’s flatmate ‘Jed’ and in Emmerdale where he played ‘Ben’.

Shoshana Bean

Shoshana Bean

Shoshana Bean can be seen starring in Alicia Keys’ new musical Hell’s Kitchen, which has received 13 Tony Nominations since opening on Broadway this spring. Her portrayal of ‘Jersey’ earned Shoshana her second Tony Award nomination for “Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical,” a Drama League

Award nomination in the “Distinguished Performance” category, and a Drama Desk nomination for “Outstanding Featured Performance.” Her performance in the Public Theater’s Hell’s Kitchen earned her a Lucille Lortel Award nomination in the “Outstanding Featured Performer in a Musical” category. In 2022, she received Tony and Grammy nominations for her starring role as Susan Young opposite Billy Crystal in Broadway’s Mr. Saturday Night. She previously starred on Broadway as the first replacement for Elphaba in Wicked and as Jenna in Waitress. Her six independent studio albums and EP’s have landed her on top of the iTunes and Billboard charts, including the peak position of #1 on the Billboard Jazz Chart. She has sold out concerts around the globe and lent her voice to countless films and television shows, including Sing, Sing 2, Enchanted, Jersey Boys, Glee and Galavant. Shoshana made her Broadway debut in the original cast of Hairspray, appeared Off-Broadway in the 2000 revival of Godspell, and in Songs for a New World at City Center Encores. She won an IRNE Award for her performance as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl and earned a Jeff Award nomination for her portrayal of CeeCee Bloom in the pre-Broadway musical production of Beaches. She has appeared in Bloodline, Bill and Ted Face The Music, and recently filmed a solo concert special for PBS.

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