Serenaded by a handsome cowboy with a guitar. I don’t know about you, but it’s a pretty special thing and just like the glorious Ali Stroker’s Ado Annie, it’s somethin’ I don’t know if I could ever say no to. Especially when the bright golden haze casts its spell over the Circle in the Square meadow, sung to twangy high heaven by the absolutely spectacular Damon Daunno (The Bengsons’ The Lucky Ones) as cowboy Curly McLain. It floats and sails with country jamboree-style through this inventive and daring revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! cowboy boot stomping its way into our heart. When that first song, “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” shifts into a duet with the perfectly delectable Mary Testa (PR’s Government Inspector) as Aunt Eller, the cowboy, walkin’ and strummin’ his guitar with ease guides us up to the rafters on the lilt of his delicious delivery. It could “stop a pig on the road“, one might say, but just don’t go touchin’ his hat… Oh, no, she didn’t….
We all know a love song when we see it, and Daunno’s Curly certainly isn’t foolin’ anyone with whom he has his eyes clearly focused on. The lovely Laurey Williams, portrayed with a fascinating actorly touch by Rebecca Naomi Jones (ATC’s Describe the Night), gives it all away with that comic flair of the face and the Sam/Diane glare we all know too well. It’s a shame that her voice isn’t up to the level this piece requires, as it tends to sound good and rough, until the song asks for soft and sweet, and for this lady to hit those notes, she has to belt it out, rattling the edges sharply, when the feeling should be smooth. It’s like she’s singing in a different more rock n roll version of this musical taking place up in the northeast, rather than the Nashville-tinged Oklahoma! we have so beautifully and eccentrically laid out before us.
But the song we all remember, besides that grand title song, sung to perfection by this talented and energized cast in the finale, is the iconic “I Cain’t Say No“, gloriously sung to hilarity by the magnificent Ali Stroker (Broadway/Deaf West’s Spring Awakening). She knocks over the original from the film (sung by the perfect Gloria Grahame, who is wonderful in her own right), riding over her timing with her own delicious take. Saddled into the popular song is Ado Annie trying to figure out how to stick to just one man, or at least try to stay true to the one she picks. Will it be the perfectly slick and scheming Ali Hakim, uniquely played by the very funny Will Brill (Public’s Illyria) or the spectacularly simple and sweet Will Parker, goofily played by the talented James Davis (The Pearl’s Hamlet) who can’t seem to do math or hold onto his much-needed fifty dollars for the life of him, no matter what’s at stake. Will Mann (Broadway’s Memphis) as Mike, Anthony Cason (Soho Rep’s Is God Is) as Cord Elam, and Mitch Tebo (Gallery Players’ Plaza Suite) as Andrew Carnes are left to the sidelines for the most part, but their presence, when needed, work well, especially during the chilly auctioning off of the young girls’ lunch-boxes and pies. And yes, if you think that sounds awfully and uncomfortably sexualized, all I can say is #MeToo.
Slap happy and funny in general, but not as wickedly funny as Gertie Cummings’ perfectly pitched laugh, hilariously portrayed by the fun Mallory Portnoy (Public’s Privacy), this Oklahoma! also knows how to show its dark and dangerous side, much more than that iconic film from 1955 starring Gordon MacRae (Curly), Shirley Jones (Laurey), Eddie Albert (Ali), and Rod Steiger as Jud Fry. In this Broadway transfer from a sold out St. Ann’s Warehouse earlier this year, Patrick Vaill (Bedlam’s Peter Pan) gives his Jud a creepy and sinewy edge that seeps out, vanquishing the smell of chili and corn bread, and making us all want to lean back from his dangerous snarl. Darkening his anger into blackness and projecting his close contact with Curly in the smoke house does elevate the dialogue into something that has a far more treacherous and menacing edge, but it also, oddly enough, gives an outrageous homoerotic quality to their close proximity. It’s uncomfortably strange for strange sake, and leaves us blind to the purpose. The words ring dangerously true, but the presentation throws us off.
Something similar could be said with the dream ballet originally choreographed by the legendary Agnes De Mille at the beginning of Act Two. The dance always struck me as beautiful but unnecessary, and as choreographed with an athletic chop by John Heginbotham (Dance for PD), the lead dancer, Gabrielle Hamilton (Point Park graduate, 2018) soars and moves throughout the space with a strength and glaring vision of power and force, but in the end, the creation doesn’t add up or even add to the procession, feeling like an ingredient from another era and a different state, clumsily taking up time in this twangy and true Oklahoma! when we’d rather be hanging out with the cowboys, or even those farmers, whether they be friendly or not.
Designed without a single nod to the original by Laura Jellinek (2ST’s Mary Page Marlowe), this Oklahoma! is from a whole different time-frame and cow country. It saunters out with such a unique style and vision, courtesy of director Daniel Fish (Chocolate Factory’s Don’t Look Back), basking itself against the painted back-walled landscape courtesy of projection designer Joshua Thorson (A.R.T.’s Paradise Lost). The revival soars as high as a bird in the sky, that is until it catches its wings on the electrical wires of lighting designer Scott Zielinski’s (Signature’s Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train). Together with director Fish, the two get tangled up in their troublesome eccentricities, trying to be too clever and different for the sake of being just that. Those choices leave us in the dark during certain confusing constructions, giving us time ponder the questions of ‘why now’ and ‘for what purpose’. It uses her own words against her, in a way, livening up the proceedings of a good Polka Ten Step dance, but tripping over its own feet for trying too hard to be different.
The cast, though, rises this iconic tale back up, finding the honesty and play within the dynamo dynamics, each one waiting their turn to shine, shaking it big from horn to hoof. They gently play and connect with the band (Joe Brent, Brett Parnell, Hilary Hawke, Sarah Goldfeather, Leah Coloff, and Eleonore Oppenheim) with a sweetness that is just so darn intoxicating, much like the majority of this pleasurable show. The Rodgers and Hammerstein music, book, and lyrics sound perfectly lovely emanating out of that orchestra pit center stage, gettin’ me all worked up with the powerful and clever orchestrations by Daniel Kulger (PH’s I Was Most Alive With You), solid sound design by Drew Levy (Broadway’s Chaplin), and strong musical direction by Nathan Koci (Arena’s Mother Courage…). It’s a great revisit to the wide open plains of the state of Oklahoma!. Giving us a chance to bask in the warm summer glow of Curly’s serenade and Aunt Eller’s warm laugh. I could listen to that country guitar picking until the sun sets over that golden meadow. It’s as pretty as a picture, and going Curly’s way.
Theatre News: Wicked, The Wiz, Hypnotique, Female Troubles and Love In The Time Of Crazy
Broadway’s blockbuster Wicked, in partnership with National Day Calendar, has announced that October 30 will officially become National Wicked Day, in honor of the hit Broadway musical’s debut at the Gershwin Theatre (245 West 51st Street) on October 30, 2003.
This marks the first time that a Broadway show will have its own official day in the National Day Calendar. With this inclusion, Wicked joins some of the most recognizable National Day celebrations, including National Barbie Day, National Star Trek Day, National Scrabble Day, National Winnie the Pooh Day, and National Teacher Appreciate Day, among others.
Read the official announcement HERE.
Currently Wicked 4th longest-running show in Broadway history, and will celebrate its 20th Anniversary on Broadway this October 30th.
The Broadway production of Wicked currently features Alyssa Fox as Elphaba, McKenzie Kurtz as Glinda, John Dossett as The Wizard, Michele Pawk as Madame Morrible, Jordan Litz as Fiyero, Jake Pedersen as Boq, Kimber Elayne Sprawl as Nessarose, and William Youmans as Doctor Dillamond.
Emmy Award®-winning music director and Grammy Award®-winning writer, Adam Blackstone, joins the creative team as Dance Music Arranger for the revival of The Wiz. The Wiz will launch a national tour on September 23, 2023 in Baltimore, MD before returning to Broadway for a limited engagement in the 2023/24 season.
“Joining The Wiz’s creative team has been a very surreal moment. I remember watching the film on VHS daily for years, wondering how it sounded so incredible, how MJ transformed into the Scarecrow, and the score and orchestrations truly told a story all of its own. Fast forward to today, I get to musically partner with Terence Vaughn and reunite with my brother, super choreographer and creative director JaQuel Knight, and explore our own interpretation for a revival of this masterpiece. I am excited and look forward to this body of work changing lives, just like it did for me in the 80’s!” stated Adam Blackstone.
The cast will include previously announced Wayne Brady to lead the production as the Wiz on Broadway in Spring of 2024, San Francisco (January 16 – February 11, 2024) at the Golden Gate Theatre, and Los Angeles (February 13 – March 3, 2024) at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre. Alan Mingo Jr. will star in the role of the Wiz in the following cities of The Wiz National Tour this fall, kicking off with the tour launch in Baltimore, including Cleveland, OH, Washington, DC, Pittsburgh, PA, Charlotte, NC, Atlanta, GA, Greenville, SC, Chicago, IL, Des Moines, IA, Tempe, AZ and San Diego, CA.
The cast will also feature Nichelle Lewis as Dorothy, Deborah Cox as Glinda and Melody A. Betts as Aunt Em and Evillene, Kyle Ramar Freeman as the Lion, Phillip Johnson Richardson as the Tinman, and Avery Wilson as the Scarecrow. The Wiz ensemble includes Maya Bowles, Shayla Alayre Caldwell, Jay Copeland, Allyson Kaye Daniel, Judith Franklin, George, Collin Heyward, Amber Jackson, Jackson, Jones, Jones, Kindle, Mariah Lyttle, Kareem Marsh, Anthony Murphy, Rae, Matthew Sims Jr, Avilon Trust Tate, Keenan D. Washington, and Timothy Wilson.
The production will include ‘Everybody Rejoice’ music and lyrics by Luther Vandross, as well as the ‘Emerald City Ballet’ with music by Timothy Graphenreed.
The McKittrick Hotel (530 West 27th Street, NYC), home of Sleep No More, announced the opening of Hypnotique – A Late Night Sultry Spectacle. Performances have been extended on Friday and Saturday nights through October 14, 2023. The all-new Hypnotique revue offers a unique after-dark experience that envelops you. Audiences are captivated by spontaneous performances and mesmerizing dancers, accompanied by daring sonic soundscapes in a surreal ambiance in The Club Car.
The cast features Chloé Lexia Worthington, Courtney Sauls, Fabricio Seraphin, Haley Bjorn, Jacob Nahor, Jesseca Scott, Maurice Ivy, Maya Kitayama, Samantha Greenlund, Victoria Edwards, and swings Alex Sturtevant, Cameron Arnold, Kennedy Adams, and Stacey Badgett Jr..
Cocktails inspired by the experience, including the signature Hypnotonique (an electrifying punch made with cucumber-infused vodka, elderflower liqueur, and grapefruit juice), are available from The Club Car’s bar.
Performances are offered on Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30PM. General Admission tickets with standing room are currently priced from $65 per person.
Two industry readings for Female Troubles, an original musical comedy, will happen next week at Open Jar Studios. Female Troubles is a completely original musical comedy featuring lyrics by two-time Tony Award nominated and Grammy Award nominated songwriter Amanda Green (Mr. Saturday Night, Hands On A Hardbody, Bring It On), music by three-time Emmy Award nominee Curtis Moore (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), book by Emmy Award-winning writers Gabrielle Allan and Jennifer Crittenden (“Veep,” “Arrested Development,” “Seinfeld,” “The Simpsons,” “HouseBroken”) and directed by Tony Award winner Christopher Gattelli (Disney’s Newsies, My Fair Lady, “Schmigadoon,” “Schmicago”).
The cast for the readings will includeKrystina Alabado, Kevin Del Aguila, Amanda Green, Lilli Cooper, Lillias White, Lesli Margherita, Ryann Redmond, Kate Rockwell, Matt Saldivar, Alanna Saunders, Trent Saunders, Jake Swain, Sav Souza, Rachel Stern and Frank Viveros.In Female Troubles, Elinor Benton finds herself surprisingly and undeniably “knocked up” — and, since she’s unmarried and this is 19th century England, she has a very big dilemma. Facing ruin, she and her girlfriends embark on a raucous journey to find the one notorious woman who can help them with their “female troubles.” Their misadventures change the course of each of their lives. This uproarious musical comedy asks the trenchant question “Can you believe this sh*t is still happening in 1810?”
I attended the reading of Love In The Time Of Crazy withbook and lyrics by Peter Kellogg (Outer Critics Winner for Desperate Measures), music by Stephen Weiner (two-time Richard Rodgers Award winner) and David Hancock Turner (orchestrator for Desperate Measures and Penelope), directed by Lauren Molina (Desperate Measures ). The cast stared Philippe Arroyo, Stephen DeRosa, Robin Dunavant, David Merino, Josh Lamon, Roe Hartrampf and Alexis Cofield .
Love in the Time of Crazy is a riot, but, you know, in a good way.
The Glorious Corner
WENNER TAKES A DOWN —Jann Wenner always speaks his mind and this week he may have overstepped just a bit. In an interview that ran in the New York Times about his new book called Masters, he quite openly said that there were no black or R&B artists in it, because they were not able to articulate properly. I know, I felt the same way reading that. Minutes later, he was let go by the board of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which he helped start with Ahmet Ertegun way back in 1983.
His Like A Rolling Stone autobiography book was quite an indulgent read last year, but Wenner has in the last several years suffered several health set backs and it was pointed out that he may not be in his right mind. Still, he should have spoken way more carefully. I’ve known Wenner for decades and trust me, he feels he’s way entitled, and that said, you can rest assured that there were dozens and dozens of people (and former employees) waiting to take him down.
The sad fact is that most of the accusations are true. That said, let’s face it Rolling Stone magazine in it’s heyday was a miraculous outlet for so much music and terrific journalism – from Ben Fong-Torres to Hunter Thompson and Jann himself .. it was distinguished. Now, he may have killed it all.
Rolling Stine magazine Monday posted this – essentially disowning his from the magazine: “Jann Wenner’s recent statements to the New York Times do not represent the values and practices of today’s Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner has not been directly involved in our operations since 2019. Our purpose, especially since his departure, has been to tell stories that reflect the diversity of voices and experiences that shape our world. At Rolling Stone’s core is the understanding that music above all can bring us together, not divide us.”
Here’s the report from Deadline: https://deadline.com/2023/09/jann-wenner-removed-rock-and-roll-hall-fame-foundation-board-1235548690/comment-page-1/#comment-3858649
DREW’S BLUES — Boy, what did Drew Barrymore ever do to deserve the treatment she’s been through with the media. Sure, her ideas to bring back her daily-chat fest was a good one, for the right reasons, but everyone from Rosie O;’Donnell to the trade papers have bounced on her like madmen. I never met her, don’t hate her, but really … let’s get back to something real, like these Russell Brand-accusations!
SHORT TAKES — We finally caught David Bryne and Fatboy Slim’s Here Lies Love and absolutely loved it. I remember it well when it premiered at the Public Theater way back when and knew they were trying to get it to Broadway. Honestly, I never thought twice about the Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos story, but the play was riveting then and it remains now. They’ve outfitted NYC’s magnificent Broadway Theater with disco-balls galore and club-lighting and the immersive experience is terrific. Here’s a great re-cap of the play’s evolution from Theatre Guide: https://www.newyorktheatreguide.com/theatre-news/news/how-the-music-of-here-lies-love-evolved-on-the-way-to-broadway …
Micky Dolenz appeared on Sunday’s Breakfast With The Beatles with Chris Carter (on KLOS) and talked about his new Dolenz Sings R.E.M. on Glenn Gretlund’s 7a Records. He also talked about his time with The Beatles and John Lennon. Carter also played a mash-up of Monkees and Beatle-songs which was done in England and it was superb. Here’s a shot from the event at LA’s Hard Rock Cafe on Highland and Hollywood Blvd. … SIGHTING: PR-pasha David Salidor and Benny Harrison at Monday’s Cutting Room tribute to Burt Bacharach … RIP Sammy Ash …
I’ve been thinking the best way to describe Jimmy Buffet and I saw this headline in LA Magazine: leisure evangelist– and it fits perfectly …
Happy Bday Donnie Kehr and Richard Branciforte.
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Dan Mapp; Brad Auerbach; James Clash: Robbie Robertson; Carol Ruth Weber; Randy Alexander; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Andrew Gans; Kathy Brown; Roger Clark; Chris Boneau; Tricia Daniels; Dan Zelinski; Benny Harrison; Steve Walter; Gil Friesen; Donna Dolenz; Dan Mapp; Brad Auerbach; James Clash; and ZIGGY!
Inside the 2023 American Theatre Wing Gala
The American Theatre Wing 2023 Gala Celebration was held last night, September 11, 2023 at Cipriani 42nd Street. Performers incldued Oscar nominee & Tony Award winner Leslie Odom Jr., Grammy Award-winning rock icon Melissa Etheridge, Emmy nominee Tituss Burgess, “American Idol” star and Broadway favorite Justin Guarini, Tony Award winner LaChanze, Tony Award winner Chuck Cooper, and Tony Award nominees Shoshana Bean, Brandon Victor Dixon, Judy Kuhn, Lilli Cooper, and Eddie Cooper.
The Gala honored “Unsung Heroes of the Theatre Industry.” From dressers who execute seamless quick changes between scenes, to understudies and swings who go into a show with little to no notice and don’t miss a beat, to makeup artists responsible for the flawless faces seen on stage, and so many more vital contributors to the theatrical art form, the 2023 Gala celebrates members of the theatrical community who don’t often get the recognition they deserve.
The Glorious Corner
STRIKE UPDATE— (Via TV Line) “9-1-1, what’s your TV emergency?” The dual WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes need to be resolved by the end of this month if scripted primetime fare such as 9-1-1: Lone Star and The Cleaning Lady are to return with new episodes in the 2023-24 TV season, says Fox entertainment president Michael Thorn.
When last we tuned in, 29 days ago, the WGA had countered the AMPTP’s latest offer; no next meeting has been scheduled. Things are proceeding even slower on the SAG-AFTRA front. Sources tell TVLine that it will take scripted shows roughly eight weeks to get back into production once the strikes are resolved.
“You’re going get to a point in the fall, in the late fall, where it’s going to be very hard to launch [scripted shows] within the traditional TV viewing season,” Thorn told our sister site Deadline.
If the strikes are resolved later than October 1, that’s where difficult scheduling decisions will have to be made.
“If that means the [delayed scripted] show could work and succeed in the summer [of 2024], great,” Thorn said. Or, “If it’s better to wait for the fall and use football and sports” to promote/launch scripted seasons, “we’ll do that.
“You could use October 1 as the date” by which the writer and actor strikes need to be settled,” Thorn added. “Every show is different but sometimes when you’re staring at a May launch date, you always wonder, ‘Is that the best time?’” to premiere a season/series
Fox’s fall TV slate features one full night of scripted animated fare (on Sundays), while the rest of the week is rife with multiple Gordon Ramsay cooking competitions, new seasons of Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test, Name That Tune and The Masked Singer, 9-1-1: Lone Star reruns, the new, David Spade-hosted Snake Oil game show, and, of course, Friday Night SmackDown.
But whenever the magical day comes for live-action scripted fare to return to our screens, “we’re going to return those shows with vigor,” Thorn avowed. “We really pride ourselves on ‘less is more’ and we were fortunate to be able to really put our money where our mouth is in that regard. When we return, Animal Control is going to get the full backing of this far-reaching platform [as will] John Wells’ new show, Rescue: Hi-Surf, when we launch it.”
Several columns back we posited that the strike might just be settled by Labor Day .. and we were lambasted with emails from a scattering of actors, writers and below-the-line talent that it would not be. They were right. As Gordon Gekko said, greed is good. Is it? Let’s all make nice and good back to work.
SHORT TAKES — As you may know the Toronto Film Festival has been going on and the two films that have received the most buzz are the Paul-Simon/Alex Gibey doc,
In Restless Dreams and Knox Goes Away starring Michael Keaton, who also directs, with Al Pacino, can’t wait to see both. Bravo! …The latest episode of Hulu’s Only Murders In The Building was just OK. So far, this third season has totally underwhelmed us. We said a few columns back it was most likely due to the fact that Martin hasn’t written any of the episodes so far. Why? I have no idea. Matthew Broderick played himself, but with a little more anxiety than usual, but the real highlight of this episode was a video-phone call between Martin Short and Mel Brooks. Irresistibly funny … Hard to believe that it’s the 25th anniversary of MTV’s ground-breaking TRL Live (Total Request Live).
Carson Daly did a nice remembrance on Thursday’s Today Show, even citing John Norris and Kurt Loder, who were key correspondents. They taped many of the shows at NYC’s long-gone Palladium (now an NYU dorm), but many, many memories come to mind; Hall & Oates rehearsing in their dressing room
and running into Debbie Gibson is one. Daly pointed out -and rightly so- TRL was a fan-driven show, where viewers had to request what to hear. These days I guess it’s just a download. Much missed for sure …
Funny watching Carrie Underwood this morning; as she she reminded me so much of Shania Twain. from the music, to her visuals. As always, her “Before He Cheats” is tremendous and a big crowd pleaser … It’s a funny world for sure.
When RL Stine’s Goosebumpsfirst debuted in 1992, it was heralded as refreshingly new, both for the kid-demo and its brilliance. There were a few attempts at a series (even with Stine introducing them) and even a movie in 2015 that did just so-so. Now, with Netflix’s Stranger Things having hit a home run, Disney+ is starting a series, with Justin Long, that appears to veer dangerously close to Stranger Things. Also, oddly enough, Stine does not appear to be involved with it. He says: “I wish I knew something about it. I’m not in the loop. It looked to me like they weren’t going to do an anthology show. They were going to do something different that was some kind of continuing story. That’s what it appeared. But I have no information about it.” It begins on October 31. Have a look at the trailer:
Great Bernie Taupin interview on NY Live with Sara Gore. They’re friends, so the interview as sensational. Check it out:
NAMES IN THE NEWS —Andrew Sandoval; Jacqueline Boyd; Alison Martino; Robert Funaro; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Roy Trakin; Daryl Estrea; Glenn Gretlund; Jane Blunkell; Roger Friedman; Felix Cavaliere; Dan Mapp; Jim Kerr; Sam Rubin; Liz White; Grace Mendoza; Roy Trakin; and ZIGGY!
Voices: Stars for Foster Kids
On September 18th at 7:00 PM at The Town Hall, 123 West 43rd Street, Voices: Stars for Foster Kids a musical benefit for You Gotta Believe, a NYC organization specializing in helping older foster youth find permanent, loving families will take place. Hosted by SiriusXM’s Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley, expect a plethora of Broadway stars and performers, who will come together to celebrate the power of love and family.
Performers include; Rosie Perez, Bellamy Young, Ta’ Nika Gibson, Charlotte d’Amboise and Terrence Mann, Sharon Catherine Brown, Griffin Matthews and Matt Gould, Krysta Rodriguez, Anika Larsen, Norm Lewis, Gracie McGraw, Patina Miller, Brenda Braxton
The Glorious Corner
White Wine for Summer Send Off
How to Get Your Fall Fabulous Face with Masktini
Romantic and Meaningful Love Quotes For Her To Help Win Her Heart
How to Take Advantage of Virtual Numbers for SMS
Entre Institute Review – Is Jeff Lerner’s Program a Scam?
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