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Great Shucked Bests Bad Bad Cinderella on Broadway



Well, sometimes a new musical comes along and sounds like it should be a great thing, or at least a success of some sort, led by a well-known big name and backed by a solid P.R. machine. And then, sometimes, another comes along based on the idea of Corn. Yes, you heard me right, a musical about corn, or so it appears. And one would feel foolish placing their bet on the corn (ier) contender, but in this case, Corn comes out on top. Way on top, making the other appear even more foolish than any bet would have been.

Ashley D. Kelley and Grey Henson in Shucked by Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman.

Shucked is that winning musical, growing high and towering above that big-named Bad musical. No doubt about it, and with that hilariously written book by Robert Horn (Disney’s Hercules; Tootsie) and those sharply grown music/lyrics by Brandy Clark (“Follow Your Arrow“) and Shane McAnally (NBC’s “Songland“), this musical finds an award-winning balance of smart and silly, sung strong, and delivered with a confidence by a cast that astounds. It’s complete and utterly joyful and ridiculous, springing up from the stage as quite the different growth, with two storytellers strutting stupendously onto that barnyard stage to lead us through their tall “farm to fable” tale of a cob county in peril. Grinning from ear to ear (of corn), the Storytellers, named 1 and 2, hilariously well played by Ashley D. Kelley (Public’s Eve’s Song) and Grey Henson (Broadway’s Mean Girls), show “RANGE!” and rhythm, roaring a corn line dance to the heavens and pulling us most wonderfully into their warm comical embrace. The two are magnificently charming and engaging, never failing to drop a ridiculous line just when you thought they couldn’t find one, and making you laugh, sometimes in awe of what they all just pulled off.

Alex Newell by Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman.

The corny center has its eye on Maizy, gloriously played by the big-eyed Caroline Innerbichler (Park Square’s Ragtime) who unearths a certain style of wisdom found somewhere deep inside her optimistic naivete, that can only be matched by her beau, Beau, portrayed dimly and brightly by Andrew Durand (Broadway’s Head Over Heels). As a pair grown to be together, they sparkle inside their sweet simplicity, but it is the trusty brother, Peanut, that somehow steals the stupid right from under their feet, and delivers the ridiculous and wisely crafted thoughts up for our surprised consideration. Played brilliantly dumb by Kevin Cahoon (Broadway’s Tommy), the corndog jokes keep flying forth, giving us all the impression that Peanut might just be wiser than we could ever imagine.

But if we are looking for showstoppers, we don’t have to look any farther than cousin Lulu, triumphantly portrayed by Alex Newell (Broadway’s Once on This Island), with special thanks to music supervisor, orchestrator, arranger, and conductor Jason Howland (Broadway’s Paradise Square). Newell is given the “Independently Owned” moment to shine so bright, one can barely stay in their seat when that number flies high above the corn fields. It’s no wonder that the handsome foreigner, Gordy, devilishly well-played by John Behlmann (Broadway’s Tootsie), who has been brought in from Tampa, yes, Tampa, to save the corn and the county from dying, sees Lulu as something so powerful that one Lu would not be enough.

The story sprouts up and out of almost nowhere, shooting out zingers at almost every turn and growing strong in the Broadway light. It’s unapologetically corny and stupid, but with brilliance and flavor in every nugget. And as directed with swift sharp cleverness by Jack O’Brien, who brought that same wit to Broadway’s Hairspray, this show shines ever so bright and strong. With playful choreography by Sarah O’Gleby (Broadway’s Almost Famous), a fun sundrenched scenic design by Scott Pask (Broadway’s Some Like it Hot), playfully country costuming by Tilly Brimes (West End’s Mad House), sharply crafted lighting by Japhy Weideman (Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen), and a stellar sound design by John Shivers (Broadway’s Pretty Woman), this is an unstoppable joy ride, with Maizy looking with such hope for a window, not a wall, to deliver some of the wittiest songs and funniest lines forward for us to chew on. Grap an ear, and enjoy this blessed crop.

The cast of Shucked by Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman.
Linedy Genao in Bad Cinderella. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman.

But in a big Broadway theatre a few blocks north, the name of the show certainly does say it all, and not in the way I’m guessing composer Andrew Lloyd Webber (School of Rock) intended. With a ridiculous, and not in a good Shucked way, book by Emerald Fennell (“Killing Eve“) and book adaptation by Alexis Scheer, with lyrics written by David Zippel (City of Angels), Bad Cinderella delivers as the title suggests. It’s not terrible, nor is it horrible. No, just sorta Bad in the simplistic way that something that could have been sorta sweet has turned, and now leaves a taste in your mouth that you’d rather wish you hadn’t bitten into.

As directed with some energy and fluidity by Laurence Connor (London Palladium/Toronto’s Joseph…), the true problem lies in a number of different bad apples. The main premise, that beauty, as presented in the story, should not be as valued in the same high way as the Queen, played with over-the-top glee by Grace McLean (Broadway’s Natasha, Pierre,…), demands, is one right out of the fairytale books, but everything about this production, including its scenic and costume design by Gabriela Tylesova (Love Never Dies US tour)(which is gorgeous), and its own storybook, showcases quite the opposite. The cast and all the humor of Bad Cinderella are formulated on the Prince Charming aesthetic, and that, in the end, is not all that satisfying. The musical feels like it’s trying to trick us into hearing and applauding one moral story, while embracing another, one that goes against the first.

Grace McLean and Carolee Carmello in Bad Cinderella. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman.

The bodies, particularly the male ones, are showcased and elevated at every turn, bare-chested and exercising as the crowd roars with delight. For some unknown reason. Maybe we should ask choreographer JoAnn M. Hunter (Broadway’s School of Rock), who leads this crew through their steps. But “The Hunks“, as they are referred to in the Playbill, all chest-bounce their pecs to applause (not mine), without any irony, right up to the point when Charming, embodied by Cameron Loyal (An Officer and a Gentleman tour), finally does arrive, bouncing onto the stage in full muscle-bound glory slaying the competition for moral high ground. It is all but lost, even if the marriage is some sort of great correction.

Even its main character, Cinderella, played problematically by Linedy Genao (Broadway’s On Your Feet!), throws her own set of values and morals under the bus as fast as can be. She diligently stands for one thing, but when a ball is thrown, she quickly tosses aside all that she has states she holds true, and runs off to see the unexplained Godmother, sharply portrayed by an underused Christina Acosta Robinson (Broadway’s Summer…). Don’t ask me what the formulation in all that “Beauty Has a Price” song and dance is all about. It doesn’t really add up, just like the motivation. But the Cinderella character, as written, never really makes a whole lot of sense. She’s mad, she’s hurt, she’s angry, she’s in love, she wants to be pretty, but soon after, she’s running away, and then she’s not. It’s like she doesn’t know which shoe goes on which foot, even though we all see that Prince Sebastian, as played adorably by Jordan Dobson (Broadway’s West Side Story), just wants to be with her, and vice versa.

Linedy Genao and Jordan Dobson in Bad Cinderella. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman.

The two leads are compelling, in a way, looking cute and well-matched, even sadly, in their vocal weakness. They are given songs, like “So Long“, “Only You, Lonely You”, and “Far Too Late“, which are meant to stir up an emotionally heightened connection and make us wish hard for their dreams to come true. “I Wish” (different musical), but yet, we sit and feel tense, wondering if they are going to hit that high note strong enough. But their energy, although all over the place – thanks to that book and to the songs they have been given to sing, is somewhat charming. More charming than Prince Charming and his pecs a-bouncing again and again. That act got so tired, as tired as the show itself.

Carolee Carmello (Broadway’s Finding Neverland) as the evil Stepmother, alongside her two self-obsessed daughters, Adele, dutifully portrayed by Sami Gayle (Netlifx’s “Candy Jar“) and Marie, played well by Morgan Higgins (Nickelodeon’s “Lost in the West“), do find their way through, with Carmello and Higgins relishing their roles and the twists that come with a delightfully strong presence. The Stepmother at least knows who she is and what she wants, unlike that Bad Cinderella character who loses herself and us as she runs into the woods in search of a coherent reason. Speaking of Into the Woods, I’d gladly stick with Sondheim’s Cinderella than this confused byproduct of Andrew Lloyd Webber and his bland attempt to be relevant once again. At least the shoe part fits, and makes sense.

Bad Cinderella. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman.

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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 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


Head To The The Algonquin Hotel For Some Holiday Cheer



As we head into the holiday season, The Algonquin Hotel’s December event lineup is open to both hotel guests and New York City locals. The hotel will spread holiday cheer with a variety of festive performances, cocktails, and experiences including:

  • Cocoa and Carols Happy Hour: Daily, 5-8PM, Every evening this December, all are invited to enjoy Specialty Cocoa while Christmas carols chime at the Blue Bar. Drinks will include Mexican Hot Chocolate spiked with mezcal
  • KT Sullivan Cabaret:  December 5th, 12th and 19th, Sullivan will perform her iconic Christmas Cabaret. As noted by The New York Times, Sullivan is a thrilling Off-Broadway performer with over eight published albums
  • Rocco Dellaneve’s Rat Pack Christmas: December 7th, 14th and 21st, Rocco Dellaneve will perform iconic songs from the Rat Pack Christmas album with special inclusions of Santa with Sinatra, Rocco of the Snow, Rudolph and the Rat pack
  • The Serafina’s and Broadway Vocalists: December 8th, 15th and 22nd, enjoy the high kicking – precision line dancing Christmas tradition around The Algonquin tree. The Serafina’s will be available for pictures and autographs from 6pm to 7pm, followed by special Broadway vocalists

A portion of proceeds from all events will be donated to Toys for Tots.

Beyond the December events, The Algonquin Hotel is located in a prime position nestled in the heart of Times Square and Fifth Avenue, making it the perfect launchpad for a New York City holiday experience. The hotel is a historical jewel that emphasizes the importance of making unique, storied experiences. Since its opening in 1902, The Algonquin Hotel is famous for its timeless style and desire to honor the literary and cultural elite. The distinguished Round Table Restaurant and Blue Bar offer tasteful dining inclusions and curated cocktails that are sure to excite everyone.

Photo credit: The Algonquin Hotel, Autograph Collection


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Book Reviews

Countdown to Christmas: For The Dancer and Theatre Lover Chita Rivera



2o days to go! Every year people panic to find the perfect gift. We at T2C have been collecting idea’s all year long to bring you the perfect gift guide at all price levels. When you’re at the end of your rope trying to find the perfect Christmas present this year, come to this guide for some great suggestions.

Chita & Patrick Pacheco at Drama Book Shop event May 15, 2023 Photo by Merle Frimark

There are a lot of books out there this year but we highly recommend Chita: A Memoir , the critically-acclaimed book is written by the legendary Broadway icon Chita Rivera with arts journalist Patrick Pacheco. Chita takes fans behind-the-scenes of all her shows and cabaret acts, she shares candid stories of her many colleagues, friends, and lovers. She speaks with empathy and hindsight of her deep associations with complicated geniuses like Fosse and Robbins, as well as with the mega-talent Liza Minnelli, with whom she co-starred in The Rink. She openly discusses her affair with Sammy Davis, Jr. as well as her marriage to Tony Mordente and her subsequent off-the-radar relationships. Chita revisits the terrible car accident that threatened to end her career as a dancer forever. Center stage to Chita’s story are John Kander and Fred Ebb, the songwriters and dear friends indelibly tied to her career through some of her most enduring work: Chicago, The Rink, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and The Visit.

Chita’s love of performing began as a child in Washington, D.C., when her mother enrolled her in a local ballet school to channel her boundless energy. Still a teenager, she moved to New York to attend the School of American Ballet after an audition for George Balanchine himself and winning a scholarship. But Broadway beckoned, and by twenty she was appearing in the choruses of Golden Age shows like Guys and Dolls and Can-Can. In the latter, she received special encouragement from its star Gwen Verdon, forging a personal and professional friendship that would help shape her career. The groundbreaking West Side Story brought her into the orbit of Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents, Hal Prince, and Stephen Sondheim.  After Bye Bye Birdie further burnished her rising star, she reunited with Verdon and her then-husband Bob Fosse to work on the film version of Sweet Charity and the celebrated original Broadway production of Chicago.

Chita: A Memoir was published in English and Spanish and the English audio version of the Memoir was recorded by Chita.  A Spanish audio version is also available. 

“Chita Rivera blazed a trail where none existed so the rest of us could see a path forward. She has been part of some of the greatest musicals in the history of the form, from Anita in the trailblazing West Side Story through Claire Zachanassian in the underrated masterpiece The Visit, over 60 years later. She is a Puerto Rican Broadway icon and the original ‘triple threat.’ We’re so lucky to be alive in the same timeline as Chita Rivera.” — Lin-Manuel Miranda.

“A frank and fascinating memoir from one of the truly great artists of the American Theater. Lots of stories … Lots of insight … and quite a few caustic statements from Chita’s alter ego, Dolores. An illuminating history and a guaranteed pleasure!” John Kander

Broadway legend and national treasure Chita Rivera, multi-Tony Award winner, Kennedy Center honoree, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom – has taken no prisoners on stage or screen for seven decades. From her trailblazing performance as the original Anita in West Side Story—for which she tapped her own Puerto Rican roots—to her haunting 2015 star turn in The Visit. Chita has proven to be much more than just a captivating dancer, singer, and actress beloved by audiences and casts alike. In her equally captivating and one-of-a-kind memoir, Written with Patrick Pacheco, the woman born Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero shares an incomparable life, both on stage and behind the curtain.

By the way this Memoir has won a Gold Medal for “Best Autobiography – English” at the 2023 International Latino Book Awards.

Click here to buy your copy.

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Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Spamalot



Here is the amazing cast of Spamalot. Christopher Fitzgerald as Patsy, James Monroe Iglehart as King Arthur, Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer as The Lady of the Lake, Ethan Slater as The Historian/Prince Herbert, Jimmy Smagula as Sir Bedevere, Michael Urie as Sir Robin, Nik Walker as Sir Galahad andTaran Killam as Lancelot.

I was so inspired I drew the whole cast.

To read T2C’s review click here.

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Ahead of the Broadway Opening of Lempicka The Longacre Theatre Is Showcasing Art Work By Tamara de Lempicka



The Longacre Theatre (220 W 48th St.), soon-to-be home of the sweeping new musical, Lempicka, is showcasing a curated selection of renowned artist Tamara de Lempicka’s most famous works. Eschewing traditional theatrical front-of-house advertising, the Longacre’s façade now boasts prints, creating a museum-quality exhibition right in the heart of Times Square. The musical opens on Broadway on April 14, 2024 at the same venue.

The Longacre’s outdoor exhibition includes works of Self Portrait (Tamara in a Green Bugatti) (1929), Young Girl in Green (1927), Nu Adossé I (1925), The Red Tunic (1927), The Blue Scarf (1930), The Green Turban (1930), Portrait of Marjorie Ferry (1932), Portrait of Ira P. (1930), Portrait of Romana de la Salle (1928), and Adam and Eve (1932).

Starring Eden Espinosa and directed by Tony Award winner Rachel Chavkin, Lempicka features book, lyrics, and original concept by Carson Kreitzer, book and music by Matt Gould, and choreography by Raja Feather Kelly.

Spanning decades of political and personal turmoil and told through a thrilling, pop-infused score, Lempicka boldly explores the contradictions of a world in crisis, a woman ahead of her era, and an artist whose time has finally come.

Young Girl in Green painted by Tamara de Lempicka (1927). Oil on plywood.