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Ghostlight Records Releases The Jonathan Larson Project

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Ghostlight Records has announced that The Jonathan Larson Project is available as a limited edition CD package with a collectible 40-page hardbound book today, Friday, July 26. The album was released for digital download and streaming earlier this year, and a jewel case CD is due on Friday, August 23. The album features the music of the late Jonathan Larson, the generation-defining writer of Rentand tick, tick… BOOM!, the former an iconic Broadway landmark and the latter a beloved musical gem. The Jonathan Larson Project is an evening of Jonathan’s unheard work featuring songs from never-produced shows like 1984 and Superbia; songs that were cut from Rent and tick, tick… BOOM!; songs written for both theatrical revues and for the radio; songs about politics, love and New York City; including many never before publicly performed or recorded. To download or stream the album, or to order the CD, please visit ghostlightrecords.lnk.to/jonathanlarsonproject

In addition, Ghostlight Records will celebrate the CD release with an exclusive in-store signing and performance at Barnes & Noble on Monday, July 29 at 7:00 PM. The event – which will include performers Nick Blaemire, Lauren Marcus, and George Salazar, in addition to Jennifer Ashley Tepper, who directed and conceived the show, and Charlie Rosen, who provided music supervision, orchestrations, and arrangements – will feature a performance of musical selections and a CD signing. The store is located at 150 East 86th Street, between Lexington and Third Avenues on the Upper East Side. This is a wristbanded event. Priority seating will be offered to fans with CD purchase from the B&N Upper East Side store. Wristbands will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis (with purchase or proof-of-purchase) beginning at 9:00 AM the day of the event. Please call (212) 369-2180 for details.

The limited edition CD package features a collectible 40-page hardbound book containing previously unreleased artist archival materials, including photos and images of original lyric and music sheets, scripts, notebook pages, and much more. Also included are song lyrics, song annotations, and production and recording studio photos, along with liner notes from directorJennifer Ashley Tepper, who conceived the project, and Jonathan Larson Grant-winning writer Joe Iconis (Be More ChillBroadway Bounty Hunter, NBC’s “Smash”). 

The cast features some of this generation’s greatest musical theater talent, including Nick Blaemire (tick, tick… BOOM!FoundGodspell), Lauren Marcus (Be More ChillBeatsvilleCompany), Andy Mientus (NBC’s “Smash,” Spring AwakeningLes Misérables), Krysta Rodriguez (Spring AwakeningFirst DateThe Addams Family), and George Salazar (Be More ChillThe Lightning Thief, tick, tick… BOOM!). 

The Jonathan Larson Project is based on a concert originally presented at Feinstein’s/54 Below, directed and conceived by Jennifer Ashley Tepper (Be More Chill), and featuring music supervision, orchestrations, and arrangements by Charlie Rosen (Be More ChillPrince of BroadwayHoneymoon in Vegas, Charlie Rosen’s Broadway Big Band). The five-piece band includes musical director Natalie Tenenbaum, Charlie Rosen, Cody Owen Stine, Megan Talay, and Marques Walls,with Danielle Gimbal as copyist. The album is produced by Jennifer Ashley Tepper, Charlie Rosen, and Kurt Deutsch.

Jonathan Larson was a brilliant, groundbreaking creator of musical theater who died tragically at the age of 35, before seeing the worldwide acclaim his work would receive. He posthumously received Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize, and his songs have come to be treasured and performed in 25 languages, from Mexico to Japan to Italy, from summer camps to the silver screen to Broadway.

“Larson’s work has always spoken to me deeply,” says Jennifer Ashley Tepper. “It was a theater historian’s dream to spend several years researching his lesser-known songs at the Library of Congress in order to create a new song cycle. We presented The Jonathan Larson Project at Feinstein’s/54 Below last year and the energy of both the collaboration and of the audiences at the 12 performances was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Jonathan’s lost songs, which had been sitting in boxes for decades, are relevant and fascinating and personal and political and fun and heartbreaking. Rehearsing them with some of the greatest theater artists of our new generation and then watching the way they influenced new audience members made me feel his legacy in a powerful way.”

“Now we get to share that legacy with the world by recording it as an album,” she continues. “A few years ago, most of these songs only existed as demo tapes in a library vault from the 1980s and 1990s, featuring Jonathan and his piano. Now they comprise a brand-new theater piece that has been fully realized musically and will be available for everyone to listen to. I could not be more excited for a wider audience to experience The Jonathan Larson Project.”

“Jonathan Larson’s Rent was a game changer for musical theater,” adds label founder Kurt Deutsch. “It revolutionized a new breed of musical theater artists and the audience that loves musicals. Jonathan left us too soon. However, we are fortunate that Jen Tepper through her years of research and dedication has given us all the gift of unearthing songs that were left behind. It is my honor to preserve this recording so that Jonathan’s legacy continues to live and sing on.”

Jonathan Larson received the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Rent. He also won the 1996 Tony Award for Best Musical and the 1994 Richard Rodgers Awards for Rent, and twice received The Gilman & Gonzales-Falls Theatre Foundation’s Commendation Award. In 1989 he was granted the Stephen Sondheim Award from American Music Theatre Festival, where he contributed to the musical Sitting on the Edge of the Future. In 1988 he won the Richard Rodgers Development Grant for his rock musical Superbia, which was staged at Playwrights Horizons. He composed the score for the musical J.P. Morgan Saves the Nation, which was presented by En Garde Arts in 1995. Mr. Larson performed his rock monologue tick, tick… BOOM! at Second Stage Theater, The Village Gate, and New York Theatre Workshop. In addition to scoring and songwriting for “Sesame Street,” he created music for a number of children’s book-cassettes, including Steven Spielberg’s An American Tail and The Land Before Time. Other film scores include work for Rolling Stone magazine publisher Jann Wenner. He conceived, directed and wrote four original songs for Away We Go!, a musical video for children. Rent, his rock opera based on La Bohème, had its world premiere on February 13, 1996 at New York Theatre Workshop. Mr. Larson died unexpectedly of an aortic aneurysm on January 25, 1996, ten days before his 36th birthday.

Ghostlight Records  has become the leading independent force in Original Broadway Cast Recordings – building a library of over 200 records over the past 19 years, featuring some of the most successful Broadway musicals and solo albums by Broadway’s brightest stars. Founded by Grammy Award winner Kurt Deutsch, Ghostlight has won Grammy Awards for The Band’s Visit, The Book of MormonIn the Heights and Beautiful – The Carole King Musical. Ghostlight has also released solo albums from Patti LuPone, Kelli O’Hara, Sutton Foster, Billy Porter, and more. The label continues to support the new generation of musical theater composers and has developed extensive relationships with Jason Robert Brown, Michael John LaChiusa, and David Yazbek, as well as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Pasek & Paul, Tom Kitt, Joe Iconis, and Shaina Taub. Ghostlight Records is part of the Arts Music division at Warner Music Group. ghostlightrecords.com

“THE JONATHAN LARSON PROJECT” TRACK LIST

1. Greene Street

2. One of These Days

3. Break Out the Booze

4. Out of My Dreams

5. Valentine’s Day

6. White Male World

7. La Di Da Rap

8. Iron Mike

9. Find the Key

10. Hosing the Furniture

11. Pura Vida

12. The Truth Is a Lie

13. Rhapsody

14. SOS

15. Love Heals

16. Piano

17. Bonus Track: Greene Street (Jonathan Larson 1983 Demo)

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Broadway

Backstage with Richie Ridge Presents

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Drama Desk and OCC member Richie Ridge, of Broadway World’s Backstage with Richie Ridge, will moderate a discussion with Kelli O’Hara and Brian d’Arcy James, both Drama Desk nominees for Lead Performance in a Musical for Days of Wine and Roses, at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 29 at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Robin Williams Center (247 West 54th St., opposite Studio 54). Drama Desk members are invited. The doors will open at 1:30 p.m., and attendance is first come, first served. Latecomers may not be admitted.

Based on the 1964 movie about a couple falling in love in 1950s New York and struggling to maintain a family in the face of alcohol addiction, Days of Wine and Roses, with music and lyrics by Adam Guettel and a book by Craig Lucas, opened at Studio 54 on Jan. 28, 2024. O’Hara and d’Arcy James are both Tony nominees as well.

SAG-AFTRA Foundation and BroadwayWorld have partnered for a filmed Conversations Q&A series to recognize and celebrate the vibrant theater community in New York City and the actors who aspire to have a career on the stage and screen.

If you would like to attend, please fill out the form here. Be sure to select the Non-member option.

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Off Broadway

Winesday The Wine Tasting Musical Opening Night

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Winesday: The Wine Tasting Musical, written by Jenne Wason (book and lyrics) and Joseph Benoit (music) and directed by Jamibeth Margolis with musical direction by Alec Bart, celebrated their opening night.

Shannen Hofheimer

Dawn Cantwell

Amanda Lea LaVergne

Debra Thais Evans

Michael Valvo

Jennifer Diamond

When these five wine-loving women get together every Wednesday night, they’re theoretically meeting for a book club or a yoga class, but really, they just want to indulge in wine and talk about their lives. It’s like Sex and the City meets the vineyard – including a friendly wine steward to guide the audience through the wine paired with each upcoming scene. Get ready for an intoxicating blend of friendship, wit, and wine that will leave your spirits lifted and your palate inspired.

Peter Breger

Christopher Devlin (Props Designer) and Grace Curley

Kimberly O’Loughlin (Sound Design)

Rob Diamond and Jennifer Diamond

Jamibeth Margolis (Director/Casting Director)

Jenne Wason (Book & Lyrics) and Jamibeth Margolis

Jenne Wason (Book & Lyrics)

Joseoh Benoit (Music) and Jenne Wason

Joseoh Benoit (Music)

The Band-Britton Matthews, Rick Snell and Alec Bart

Daniel Stanton

Michael Valvo, Daniel Stanton

Kathryn Eader (Lighting Designer) and Jenne Wason

Daniel Stanton and Merete Muenter (Associate Director/Movement Coordinator)

Performances will run through July 2024 at The Jerry Orbach Theater at The Theater Center (210 West 50 Street).

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Events

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents Ashley Griffin and Danny Gardner

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We are so pleased to announce our guests this week are Director/ performer Ashley Griffin and Broadway’s Danny Gardner Join us Wednesday May 22nd at 5pm.

Ashley Griffin

Ashley Griffin is a Broadway writer/performer most well known as the first person in history to be nominated for a major award (New York Innovative Theater Award) for both playing and directing Hamlet (for a theatrical production.) As a writer Ashley’s work has been produced/developed at New World Stages, Manhattan Theater Club, Playwrights Horizons and more. Ashley received the WellLife Network Award and a county commendation for her Off-Broadway play Trial (directed by Lori Petty and heralded as “If this show were on Broadway it would win the Pulitzer” – Stagescore) which is currently in talks for a transfer. She has written extensively for film and T.V. and is the author of two bestselling novels, Blank Paige and The Spindle. As a performer, Ashley has appeared extensively on and Off-Broadway as well as in T.V. and film. Highlights include work at The Gershwin Theater, Lincoln Center, Playwrights Horizons, MTC and The Public Theater, as well as on The Greatest Showman and “Homeland.” She holds a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and has trained at RADA, the National Theater and the Boston Conservatory. www.ashleygriffinofficial.com

Danny Gardner

Danny Gardner starred io Broadway Flying Over Sunset, A Christmas Carol and Dames At Sea. City Center Encores!: Dick Trevor in Lady, Be Good! (Subsequent Album). Radio City Music Hall: Dad / George M. Cohan in The NY Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes. His national tours include Here to Stay – The Gershwin Experience!, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and 42nd Street. Off-Broadway: Cheek To Cheek (The York Theater), Time Step (New Victory Theater), Room 17B and Everybody Gets Cake(59E59th Street Theaters). His regional theatre experience includes; Dial M For Murder (Geva Theater Center & Dallas Theatre Center), Bach At Leipzig (People’s Light and Theatre Company), Crazy For You (Signature Theatre), Singin’ in the Rain (Chicago’s Marriott Lincolnshire), Mary Poppins (Houston’s Theatre Under The Stars), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (John W. Engeman Theater). @dannyjgnyc, www.danny-gardner.com

These two are staring in a limited three-week engagement of The Opposite of Love presented by NewYorkRep May 28 through June 15 at Royal Family Performing Arts Space (145 W. 46th Street, NYC). The Opposite of Love is an intimate story about a down on his luck hustler and a trust fund baby who form an unlikely bond when she hires him to help overcome her sexual trauma. Can this unexpected connection transcend their darker inclinations in a world where love is a commodity? Directed by Rachel Klein (The Gospel According to Heather). Opening night is Thursday May 30 at 7PM. Tickets are now on sale at EventBrite.com.

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

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Out of Town

The Wrong Bashir Fits Right at Crow’s Theatre Toronto

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All this play needs is a few doors to go in and out of, or slam, for The Wrong Bashir, the new play at the Crow’s Theatre, to become a full-fledged farce. It’s hilariously and wickedly fast-paced and original, flying forth on speedy laugh-out-loud wings, and as directed by Paolo Santalucia (Soulpepper’s The Seagull) and written with wit and intelligence by Zahida Rahemtulla (The Frontliners), The Wrong Bashir gets it perfectly and lovingly right.

Sugith Varughese, Nimet Kanji, and Sharjil Rasool in Crow’s The Wrong Bashir. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

With a cast of sure-footed professionals leading the charge, The Wrong Bashir whips its way through a farcical family drama of high comedic proportions that quickly starts rolling forward in urgency when Bashir Ladha, the wildly unfocused son played well and true by Sharjil Rasool (FX’s” What We Do in the Shadows“), is chosen by their immigrant community to a distinguished religious position that does not fit him like a glove. That is clear. His parents; Sultan Ladha and Najma Ladha, deliciously played in all the right tones by Sugith Varughese (Soulpepper’s Animal Farm) and Nimet Kanji (Northern Light’s Contractions), are completely over the moon in excitement, early accepting the role before they even inform their wandering bohemian Bashir. Bashir’s sister, Nafisa, played wonderfully by the engaging Bren Eastcott (Tarragon’s Orestes) is privy to the celebratory news, knowing both that this is of the greatest importance to her parents and (soon-to-be informed) extended family, and also a role so unimportant and ill-fitting to her lost philosophizing brother. It is etched within her role that we can see and understand all sides to this wrong choice, and she becomes the simple subtle connective tissue that holds the framework together, all the while sitting on the sidelines helping out on both sides of the aisle.

Sugith Varughese, Nimet Kanji, Sharjil Rasool, Zaittun Esmail, Bren Eastcott, Vijay Mehta, and Parm Soor in Crow’s The Wrong Bashir. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

Selected by a pair of pseudo-elders; Al-Nashir Manji, portrayed solidly by Vijay Mehta (Repercussion’s Macbeth), and Mansour, hilariously over-played by Parm Soor (Walt Disney’s “Prom Pact“), the two mosque committee members quickly arrive at the door to share the news, followed soon after by the sari-wearing grandmother and cognitively-challenged grandfather; played by Zaittun Esmail and Salim Rahemtulla (Western Gold’s 90 Days); and their meddling sly family friend, Gulzar, ingeniously portrayed by Pamela Sinha (Soulpepper’s Happy Place). It’s a madcap recipe for family tension and complications as it becomes increasingly obvious that there has been a mistake. But the jubilant energy in the main room is something that the two mosque committee members, bumbling and ridiculously loveable, can’t bring themselves to destroy.

Running interference between generations and ideals, the play manically runs full speed ahead, almost getting away from us before a few surprising twists pull us back into the spotlight of what is actually important. The ultra-realistic set, beautifully created by set and lighting designer Ken Mackenzie (Shaw’s Sherlock Holmes…), with strong costuming by Ming Wong (Soulpepper’s The Guide to Being Fabulous) and a clear sound design by Jacob Lin 林鴻恩 (Tarragon’s Withrow Park), lends itself well to the manic energy being thrown out into the audience bringing full-on laughs with increasing regularity, even though a few more walls and doors could have been utilized to really give the idea of farcical conversations happening out of earshot to the others. But this is a small slight situation in a play that gets it over the top right. Rahemtulla’s writing gives you family, compassion, love, and so many laughs that you’ll walk out smiling at the insanity of it all, while also feeling the love that family brings to one another. Even when pushed too hard one way or another.

Salim Rahemtulla and Sharjil Rasool in Crow’s The Wrong Bashir. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

There’s cleverness in the care that lives in this community, with family values and ties to one another floating down the stream from generation to generation, and even when rocks get in the way of this flow, the love and honor bubble in and around. There is so many moments of people running about, escaping to the kitchen, over-spiced, smoky beverages served, side glances, eye-rolling, and faulty attempts to leave, that we struggle to stay up, yet the play never boils over into complete, disrupted, disconnecting chaos. It is clear early on that Bashir is not their man; to us, to them, and to himself, but there is another level of immigrant understanding, particularly between father and son, that also floats lovingly through the piece. It prompts questions around purpose and personal dreams, fulfilled or not, and in those more humane moments, we can only see what is most right about The Wrong Bashir, and more importantly, whether Bashir may fit the role better than even he can imagine.

Sharjil Rasool and Bren Eastcott in Crow’s The Wrong Bashir. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

For more information and tickets, click here.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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Out of Town

Comedy On in Noises Off

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Opening their 2024 Season at the Bucks County Playhouse is Noises Off, a farce by the English playwright, Michael Frayn. Definition of “farce” – a comedic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay and typically including ludicrously improbable situations. Yes, yes and yes. Synonym: slapstick comedy.
To be in this production, directed by Hunter Foster, you must either be an olympic gymnast or have the stamina of a race horse for there is much hopping up and down stairs, pratfalling, back flipping, slow splits and general rolling about.

Ah, but I digress. Let us get to the plot. The what? Well, actually there really isn’t much of a plot. You see, the play is a play within a play. It is a troupe of second rate actors in a second rate tour of a second rate play, a sex farce entitled, “Nothing On”. It begins at midnight the night before the cast’s first performance and they are ill prepared. Many things go awry. Missing props, missing cues, missing lines, etc. etc. etc. And to top it all off, there are relationship problems amidst the members which become exacerbated as the tour progresses. Act One is the rehearsal. Act Two is a performance viewed from behind the scenes and Act Three is the disastrous results at the end of the tour.

The play premiered in London in 1982 directed by Michael Blakemore. The 1983 Broadway production again directed by Blakemore earned four Tony nominations and a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play and Outstanding Ensemble. Since then it has had seven revivals between Broadway and the West End and has become a staple of both professional and community theaters alike. Standout performances are in order for the entire ensemble.

Amanda Kristin Nichols

Amanda Kristin Nichols (as Brooke Ashton) is hysterical in her skimpy underwear preening and posing in the most ridiculous positions, thinking she’s looking sexy.

Jen Cody

Jen Cody is appropriately dotty as the sympathetic Dotty Otley, whether she’s doing a split or hanging upside down.

John Bolton

John Bolton is simply super as Frederick Fellowes, the sensitive actor who always needs to know “why” he must complete an action on stage no matter how nonsensical it is.

John Patrick Hayden

John Patrick Hayden is marvelous as the director we sympathize with for having to deal with these screwball actors even though he turns out to be a cad. Though Roe Hartrampf is hard pressed to express himself with words as Garry Lejeune, he goes ballistic when he mistakenly thinks that Dotty is seeing Frederick.

Marilu Henner

Marilu Henner is the proverbial peacemaker always trying to smooth things over even when they are inextricably fouled up. Barrett Riggins as Tim Allgood, the Assistant Stage Manager, has greatness thrust upon him through no fault of his own.

Folami Williams

Folami Williams as Poppy Norton-Taylor, the Stage Manager is adorable as she reveals her secret at the end of the play.

Richard Kline

And Richard Kline as Selsdon Mowbray, the man with a drinking habit is quite lovable. They say the director’s hand should be invisible in a play, but I’m afraid that Mr. Hunter’s hands are all over this one for this production is choreographed to a “T”. Credit must be given to this director because usually there aren’t many laughs in Act One as it’s all just a set up for Act Two and Three. However, there are a lot of laughs in the first act. And needless to say, it’s a non-stop laugh fest for the next two acts. So if you need a good laugh – and who doesn’t with fire, floods, tornadoes and earthquakes all around us – this show is a very good panacea.

For tickets visit buckscountyplayhouse.org or call 215-862-2121.

Noises Off by Michael Frayn Directed by Hunter Foster
Running now through June 10, 2024 70 South Main Street

New Hope, PA 18938

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