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He Says: Public’s Soft Power Deserves More Than What The Lightning Thief Won in Battle.

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The world of musicals in New York City is a wonderful hodgepodge of delight and creativity. It flies forward with abandonment, giving you all sorts of angles and visions into scenarios and personal stories of adventure and grand quests. One such grand quest opened on Broadway after a mediocre but successful run downtown and a National tour, and I had great hopes that they could have upped the ante filling out the beast and the mythology to match the Broadway stage. The other was a very small personal and political story playing downtown at the Public Theater that has eyes, I hear, on transferring to the Broadway stage. One is a complete utter failure, while the other is so meta-fantastic that I am sending it all the energy in the world to find its way.

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I guess you can tell what shows I’m talking about from the title and picture headlining this duo review, and although they don’t feel like they belong in the same paragraph, , let alone the same review, they, The Lightning Thief and the Public Theater’s Soft Power. do only because they are polar opposites in more ways than one. One is thoughtfully created and enhanced with passion and precision, and the other….well, not so much.

Photo: Jeremy Daniel
Kristin Stokes, Chris McCarrell, and Jorrel Javier. Photo Credit: © Jeremy Daniel.

Broadway’s The Lightning Thief could have been something magical. It has all the Harry Potter elements, but the producers and director Stephen Brackett (PH’s much better A Strange Loop) decided, for some unknown reason, to not do an upgrade like Be More Chill did when it bowed on Broadway, and that didn’t even help with its success. The Lightning Thief will probably get slayed rather more quickly than the stronger Chill, at least from what I could see when I went to see the show last Friday night at the Longacre Theatre. From the looks of the half-blood house, a closing notice should be arriving soon, and that gives me no level of satisfaction. Only sadness, because a closing is never a good thing. Love and energy gets put in to any show, and you can tell from this very game cast that they are determined at every stage of the game to give this crowd, small as it is, a good time. It’s just unfortunate that the creative team didn’t learn from their mistakes. Set designer Lee Savage (Primary Stage’s Rx) and costume designer Sydney Maresca (Broadway’s Hand to God) dug their heels in harder and more firmly than they should have been allowed, counting on the cluttered low tech production, underwhelming puppetry designs by Achesonwalsh Studios, and over the top jokie delivery to win the Broadway flag. But they were sadly mistaken.

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Chris McCarrell. Photo Credit: © Jeremy Daniel.

So with a flash and a bang, this rock musical of Greek God mythology aspirations without the proportions roars in. It’s a blast-full beginning, full of feisty energy and excitement that made the young eager crowd scream with delight. Based on the best-selling novel by Rick Riordan (which also was made into a movie a few years ago), The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical loudly stomps forward the story of a young modern teenage boy on a quest of self-discovery.  The show, as most of these do, centers on a misfit desperate to find his place in the world, curious about his heritage, and eager to discover his worth in the eyes of himself and his peers. Within the clunky book by Joe Tracz (Williamstown’s Poster Boy), the journey towards en-Lightning-ment is a typical high school outcast story layered with an action-packed Greek mythological story. For the most part, it’s innocent enough, although too many moments border on the ridiculous and silly. The story is told by a mostly determined cast performing a high voltage soundtrack, with music, lyrics, and orchestrations by Rob Rokicki (Ars Nova’s Strange Tails) lead by music director Wiley Deweese (Public’s Girl from the North Country) delivered with a much too loud wink and smirk. The teenage girls and prepubescent kids lapped up this over the top musical, fully leaning in with wide eyed glee, while the adults seemed to enjoy themselves well enough, but I can’t quite say I joined them. Maybe I needed my Hazel, my young theaterjunkie companion, to have that same level of fun (but I think she herself would see through the ham, and be wary of the cheese).

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Chris McCarrell. Photo Credit: © Jeremy Daniel.

Percy Jackson, played with a big grinned boy band angst by Chris McCarrell (Les Miserables Broadway revival) has quite the unique voice.  At times, he sings with a rock star greatness, while other times it hovers somewhere on the side of a thin and annoying whine, yet he commands the stage with his teenage discomfort coupled with an somewhat appealing blend of fun and energy.  I think I recall liking him more when the show first played at the Lucille Lortel Theater in Greenwich Village. Back then, in the smaller house, we happily got on board with him and his crew as they venture out on a killer quest to try to stop an epic war between the Gods. But this go round on that bigger stage, it felt more forced and more hollow all at the same time. I don’t lay this on the young actor, but I think the director is pushing the ridiculousness of the show harder and stronger than before, as it seems to appeal to the younger audience members, but for this adult, it pushed me further away from the adventure, leading me to a place of resignment as he slowly learns that the weaknesses he once viewed as a burden, might actually be the clues to his strengths; a nod to positivity and embracing weirdness as not equating to weakness.  To feel a sense of friendship and acceptance is what Percy longs for and finds he has with Grover, who off-Broadway was played by the always appealing George Salazar  (tick, tick,…BOOM!), but now played by the serviceable Jorrel Javier (Barrington’s Fall Springs) and Annabeth, a wonderful perky but overdone Kristin Stokes (Two River’s The Ballad of Little Jo) at the ramshackle camp for half bloods.

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Kristin Stokes, Chris McCarrell, and Jorrel Javier. Photo Credit: © Jeremy Daniel.

The rest of the cast, including a very game but over directed Javier, play numerous other characters, monsters, gods, and mortals.  All to various degrees of over-the-top abstractionism.  Most characterizations are played primarily for laughs and the results are sloppy and juvenile, probably making the kids in the audience very happy. Javier’s portrayal of Mr. D, a frustrated God and camp counselor/administrator, as it was with Salazar, is turned up high and beyond, losing its possible hilariousness. Somewhere in that performance, and a number of the others, a real person would have been a great thing to see. The direction seems to swing wildly from extreme clowning to a mediocre attempt for something more sincere.  While not all the over-acting rings false, it doesn’t always ring true either. Ryan Knowles (the We Will Rock You tour) as Chiron (and others) and James Hayden Rodriguez (Public’s The Visitor) as Luke (and others, namely his own hunky God father), are saddled with distracting physical characteristics (Chiron’s gait), broadly constructed characters, and ridiculously sophomoric choreography by Patrick McCollum, who did much better work in The Band’s Visit and Broadway’s Angels in America). The standout of the group, without a doubt, is the incredibly gifted Jalynn Steele (the Fosse tour) who lovingly balances playing Percy’s mother (the beautiful empowering song, ‘Strong‘), an Oracle (a campy fun piece of stage craft magic), and the elevator operator/guide into Hades (a marvelous, ‘D.O.A.‘), all with warmth, grace, humor, and a killer voice. She nearly steals the show every time she opens her mouth.

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Chris McCarrell and Jalynn Steele. Photo Credit: © Jeremy Daniel.

The overall themes of community and acceptance are wonderful to behold, and dished out with intent to this mostly young audience.  The dysfunctional family of God and their half blood children finding community and salvation, without the hiding and the shame illustrates the inventiveness and power this story has entwined somewhere within its DNA. I just wish it came in a better styled package. There is a good show hidden amongst the scaffolding and low key production-level kitsch on stage, and although the teens didn’t seem to be bothered, it did not find its way on tour from pedestrian to God-like. All I can say in the end, is that The Lightning Thief is a really good High School musical production, that somehow snuck its way onto a Broadway stage, and it should probably head back on the road to high school auditoriums across the country.

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That is definitely not the case with the engaging Soft Power at the Public. Taking root downtown on the main Martinson Theater stage, Tony Award winners David Henry Hwang (Broadway’s M. Butterfly, Yellow Face) and Jeanine Tesori (Broadway’s Fun Home; Caroline, or Change) have found glory and dimension together in their groundbreaking new musical-within-a-play that meta-mashes political commentary with the dreamy hallucinatory magic of every Broadway style musical you can imagine, all inside the direct exploration of racism and immigrant hate in modern day America. It’s both thoroughly exciting and freshly hypnotic, dissecting and interrogating America’s clashing of cultures before and just after the disastrous presidential election of 2016.  Told through an East-West musical-blended lens conjured up inside the dream-like state of the energetic narrator and writer stand-in, DHH, lovingly portrayed by the endearing Francis Jue (Public’s Wild Goose Dreams), China’s point of view of America is on full display. 

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Francis Jue and the company of Soft Power. Photo credit: Joan Marcus.

The themes all play out whimsically through the wonderfully detailed depiction of a Shanghai theater producer, Xüe Xíng – a part normally played by Conrad Ricamora (Broadway’s The King and I), but in the production I saw the other weekend, the role was most diligently portrayed by the wonderful Billy Bustamante (Public’s Here Lies Love) – who forges a powerful bond with an effervescent and dance-crazed Hillary Clinton, perfectly played by the incredibly talented Alyse Alan Louis (Broadway’s Amélie, Disaster!). She’s completelydelicious and delightful in her dual fantasy/reality role, as the fever dream of Soft Power unfolds with knowing wise nods and salutes to almost every Broadwaymusical style you can imagine starting at Dreamgirls, through The Music Man, and landing somewhere close to Hamilton, courtesy of the fine orchestrations of Danny Troob (Hercules at the Delacorte) and the music supervision and music direction of Chris Fenwick (Broadway’s Once On This Island). “I’m with her“, is all I can say about this and Louis, as I watch, astounded and amazed, as they dance The King and I waltz underneath a sky filled with love and chandeliers. It’s just deliriously odd, ridiculous, and perfect.

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Conrad Ricamora and Alyse Alan Louis. Photo credit: Joan Marcus.

The cast shines in the dual dimensional worlds, breathing life and liberty into fear and attack. One can’t help thinking that it’s a massive praise-worthy sublimation of Hwang’s, turning trauma into meaningful art, song, and dance, with a special acrobatic thanks to the magnificent choreography of Sam Pinkleton (Broadway’s Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812). Under the snappy direction of Leigh Silverman (Broadway’s The Lifespan of a FactViolet), Soft Power exhilaratingly sparkles with professionalism, thanks to the solid wonderful work of set designer Clint Ramos (Public’s White Noise), costuming by Anita Yavich (Broadway’s Fool for Love), lighting by Mark Barton (Public’s Hamlet), and sound by Kai Harada (Broadway’s Head Over Heels) that take us in and out of parallel universes with detailed ease. The whole unique world passes before our eyes when the attack on our collective morality presents itself, courtesy of the hate fostered by the #OrangeMonster (I still can’t bring myself to name him). From that kinda violence, we can’t even count on the wonderfully depicted Bobby Bob, beautifully played by Austin Ku (CSC’s Pacific Overtures) to save us, particularly against the prejudices that reside in the Randy Rays, diabolically well played by Raymond J. Lee (Broadway’s Groundhog Day), of the post-election American landscape. “I know, I know, I know“. Lay down my fear, and “smile more, Hillary“, and all should be okay in the end. But this kind of freedom within America can make life so hard to rectify and understand, even for those unaccented Americas we should all embrace.

It’s a big wild show, smart enough for The Public Theater, and maybe just big and wise enough for Broadway, or China. These are the shows, like Slave Play, that deserve the space uptown. The Lightning Thief should not have stuck with their mistake, but restructured itself if it was going to try. Soft Power, hopefully, has a brave enough hero that one can dream and hope. I believe, somehow, that this crazy meta-magnificent piece of musical theatre can find its place and survive on the Great (shouldn’t be so) White Way.

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Alyse Alan Louis and the company of Soft Power, with play and lyrics by David Henry Hwang, music and additional lyrics by Jeanine Tesori, choreography by Sam Pinkleton, and direction by Leigh Silverman, running at The Public Theater. Photo credit: 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

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet Times Three

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It’s going to be some Shakespeare-heavy months ahead, especially around those famously doomed lovers named Romeo and Juliet, as I fly into the Stratford Festival (formally called the Stratford Shakespeare Festival) here in Ontario, Canada for their first big opening week of six shows. The week will start with Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night followed by the musical comedy about Shakespeare, Something Rotten, and then Shakespeare’s Cymbeline on night three. The fourth night will be the opening of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler; the fifth, La Cage Aux Folles, followed by, lastly (at least for this coming week) the final opening of this particular opening week, show number six, Shakespeare’s ultimate romantic tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. (Much more follows over the summer of Canada’s fantastic Stratford Festival.)

As directed by Sam White, the founding Artistic & Executive Director at Shakespeare in Detroit, Shakespeare’s great romance Romeo and Juliet slides in at the Festival Theatre on Saturday, June 1st, 2024, starring Jonathan Mason (Stratford’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Vanessa Sears  (CS/Obsidian/Necessary Angel’s Is God Is) as those starcrossed titular characters and lovers. As with the whole season, I’m hoping this production, and all the others, will live up to the festival’s high standards, and be just the beginning of a spectacular year of Shakespeare. And of these two young lovers.

Kit Connor and Rachel Zegler. Photo by Sam Levy.

After that jam-packed week in Stratford, Canada, it doesn’t end for this theatre junkie and his faithful companion. Jetting off soon after to London, England, we have another week of theatre planned. As scheduled, the two of us will see an onslaught of plays, including Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard at Donmar, two National Theatreproductions; Hills of California and the Olivier-winning Standing at the Sky’s Edge, as well as Ian McKellen in Player Kings (Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1 & 2), the Royal Court Theatre’s Bluets, and (of course) the much-talked-about production of Romeo & Juliet, directed and produced by Jamie Lloyd. It just opened this week at the Duke of York’s Theatre, running from Saturday, May 11 through Saturday, August 3, starring Tom Holland as Romeo and Francesca Amewudah-Rivers as Juliet.

#RomeoJulietLDN production photography by Marc Brenner

From the photos popping up on Facebook, Lloyd’s pulsating new vision of Shakespeare’s immortal tale of wordsmiths, rhymers, lovers, and fighters is sure to be something to see. It will definitely be talked about all over the world, yet it was truly disheartening to read about all the hateful postings around the casting choice of Lloyd’s Juliet. It says, sadly, so much about our world right now, but it seems to have quieted down some (although the sting and stink must still be lingering in the air for us all), and although the reviews of this West End production came out today, I will try to stay away from them until long after. Whether the production will follow the successful path of other Lloyd hits, including the pared-down stagings of A Doll’s House that starred the incredible Jessica Chastain or the phenomenal Betrayal with Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Cox, and Zawe Ashton, remains to be seen, but I am curious if it will also find its way across the pond to Broadway.

If it does, it will have some pretty fierce competition, as another Romeo & Juliet, this one starring Heartstopper‘s Kit Connor and West Side Story‘s Rachel Zegler will begin Broadway performances on Thursday, September 26, at Circle in the Square Theatre, with an official opening night set for Thursday, October 24. The run, directed by Sam Gold, is a strictly limited, 16-week engagement, and I can not wait to get in to see it as well. All three really. And I won’t have to ask the forever question, “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” I’ll just have to ask which Romeo are we looking for? And which Juliet.

See video here. 

Often called the greatest love story of all time, Romeo + Juliet has captivated audiences and artists for centuries and provided the inspiration for hundreds of films, ballets, operas, novels, including the iconic Broadway musical West Side Story.

Stratford Festival’s production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet officially opens on June 1 and runs until October 26 at the Festival Theatre. Tickets are available at stratfordfestival.ca

The West End’s Romeo & Juliet officially opened on May 23rd at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London, and runs until Saturday, August 3. Tickets are available (although probably sold out) at https://www.thedukeofyorks.com/romeo-and-juliet

The Broadway production of Romeo + Juliet at Circle in the Square Theatre, with an official opening night set for Thursday, October 24, and running for a limited engagement of 16 weeks. Tickets will be available at https://romeoandjulietnyc.com/

For tickets and more information, click here.

 

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League of Professional Theatre Women Invite the Public to Oral History Interview Of Broadway Playwright Theresa Rebeck

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Stage, film, television and novel writer Theresa Rebeck will be interviewed about her long and brilliant career at 6p.m., Monday, June 3, at the Bruno Walter Auditorium, at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center (111 Amsterdam Avenue at 65th Street), New York.
This event, which is FREE and open to the public, is part of the League of Professional Theatre Women’s (LPTW) Oral History Project in partnership with the Library and is a highlight of LPTW’s 41st season.
Theresa Rebeck is a widely produced writer for stage, film, television and novels, whose work can be seen and read throughout the United States and internationally. With five plays produced on Broadway, Rebeck is the most Broadway-produced female playwright of our time.
Rebeck’s Broadway credits include I Need That (starring Danny DeVito), Bernhardt/Hamlet (starring Janet McTeer), Dead Accounts (starring Norbert Leo Butz); Seminar (starring Alan Rickman); Mauritius (starring F. Murray Abraham). Other New York productions of her work include Dig (Outer Critic’s Circle nomination), Seared (starring Raul Esparza, DramaLeague Award) at MCC Theater, Downstairs (starring Tim Daly and Tyne Daly); The Scene (starring Tony Shalhoub), The Water’s Edge, Loose Knit, The Family of Mann and Spike Heels at Second Stage; Bad Dates, The Butterfly Collection and Our House at Playwrights Horizons; The Understudy at Roundabout Theatre Company; and View of the Dome at New York Theatre Workshop. Other notable plays include Poor Behavior, What We’re Up Against, and Omnium Gatherum (co-written), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2013.
As an author, Rebeck has written three novels: Three Girls and Their Brother (Random House/Shaye Areheart Books, 2008), Twelve Rooms with A View (Random House/Shaye Areheart Books, 2010) and I’m Glad About You (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2016), along with Free Fire Zone, a book of comedic essays about writing and show business.
Rebeck made her NYC Directorial debut with Rob Ackerman’s play Dropping Gumballs on Luke Wilson at The Working Theatre and directed the World Premiere of her new play Dig at Primary Stages in NY and Dorset Theatre Festival in Vermont. Her new podcast play, “Nightwatch” (starring Norbert Leo Butz), was released in 2023.
In television, Rebeck created the NBC showbiz drama “Smash,” and has written for “Canterbury’s Law,” “LA Law,” NYPD Blue,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “Dream On,” Brooklyn Bridge,” and many more.
Her produced feature films include the big-budget all-female spy thriller 355 (co-written with Simon Kinberg for Jessica Chastain’s production company); Trouble (writer/director), starring Angelica Huston and Bill Pullman; Harriet the Spy; Gossip and the independent features Sunday on the Rocks and Seducing Charlie Barker, an adaptation of her play, The Scene.
Theresa lives in Brooklyn with her husband Jess Lynn.
To attend this event, please RSVP HERE.
To view past oral history interviews, visit the Library’s Theatre on Film and Tape Archive, or visit the LPTW’s archive.
Women working in the theatre industry are eligible to join LPTW.  For more information on upcoming events and to join LPTW, visit: www.theatrewomen.org.
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Museum of Broadway Launches ‘Moulin Rouge! The Musical: Spectacular, Spectacular’ Exhibit

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Sparkle this summer with the most dazzling exhibit at The Museum of Broadway.

This week the beloved museum hosted the launch for the opening of Moulin Rouge! The Musical: Spectacular, Spectacular, presented in partnership with Chase Freedom.

Cast members and friends were on hand at the Big Apple opening nigh including Courtney Reed (Satine), Ashley Loren (OBC Satine), Jacqueline B. Arnold (La Chocolat), Jeigh Madjus (Baby Doll), Jessica Lee Goldyn (Nini), Krystal Joy Brown (Merrily, We Roll Along), Jay Armstrong Johnson (Parade), Charl Brown (Motown the Musical), and more gathered to raise a glass to the glitter.

The exhibit will run through September 8, 2024. Marking the fourth dedicated installation created exclusively for The Museum of Broadway, the new exhibit follows SIX: The Royal GalleryALL THAT JAZZ: The Legacy of Chicago The Musical, and The American Theatre As Seen by Hirschfeld. Entrance to the special exhibit is included in any ticket purchased to the Museum of Broadway and for museum members. The Museum of Broadway is open seven days a week – tickets start at $34.

FOR MORE INFO, CLICK HERE.

 

Photos by David Troncoso for The Museum of Broadway

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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 Bourzgui, 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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Theatre News: The Drama League, Once Upon A Mattress , Swept Away, Chita Rivera Awards and Moulin Rouge!

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The Drama League announced the winners of the 2024 Drama League Awards. The event hosted by NY1 reporter Frank DiLella, was held at The Ziegfeld Ballroom (141 W 54th St, New York, NY). Sarah Paulson wins Distinguished Performance Award. Hell’s Kitchen wins Outstanding Production of a Musical. Stereophonic wins Outstanding Production of a Play. Merrily We Roll Along wins Outstanding Revival of a Musical. Appropriate wins Outstanding Revival of a Play. In the directing categories, Daniel Aukin took home the Outstanding Direction of a Play award for Stereophonic and Maria Friedman took home Outstanding Direction of a Musical for Merrily We Roll Along.

The competitive awards were presented by Lear DeBessonet, Alfred Molina, Bebe Neuwirth and Ben Platt.  LaTanya Richardson Jackson presented The Gratitude Award to Kandi Burress; Thomas Schumacher presented The Founders Award for Excellence in Directing to Schele Williams; Daniel Radcliffe and Lindsay Mendez presented The Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theater Award to Jonathan Groff; and Jim Parsons presented the Contribution to Theatre Award to Jessica Lange.

Tony Award-winning producers Seaview and Creative Partners Productions have announced that, on the heels of its record-breaking, sold-out run at New York City Center’s Encores! earlier this year, Once Upon A Mattress will open on Broadway this summer at The Hudson Theatre (141 W 44th St). Tony Award winner Sutton Foster (Anything Goes, The Music Man) will lead the Broadway cast, reprising her acclaimed performance as Winnifred the Woebegone, hailed by The New York Times as “perfectly goofy, and imprinted with an ebullient, joyful relish in the very act of performance.” The beloved musical returns to Broadway in a new adaptation by Emmy Award winner Amy Sherman-Palladino (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”, “Gilmore Girls”), directed by Tony Award nominee and Drama League Award winner Lear deBessonet (Into The Woods). Previews begin Wednesday, July 31, 2024, with an Opening Night set for Monday, August 12, 2024, for the limited engagement through November 30, 2024.

Following its Broadway engagement, Foster will headline the production in Los Angeles for a four-week engagement at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre from December 10, 2024 – January 5, 2025.

An uproarious update of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Princess and the Pea,” Once Upon A Mattress sets an unapologetic free spirit loose in a repressed kingdom, reveling in Winnifred’s ability to charm and transform with willpower, honesty, and a little bit of help from her friends.  Full of gloriously catchy melodies like “Shy” and “In a Little While,” the musical first premiered in 1959, with music by Mary Rodgers, lyrics by Marshall Barer, and book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller, and Marshall Barer.

The Broadway production will feature Choreography by Drama Desk Award nominee Lorin Latarro (The Who’s Tommy), Scenic Design by Tony Award winner David Zinn (Fun Home, SpongeBob SquarePants), Lighting Design by Tony Award winner Justin Townsend (Moulin Rouge! The Musical), Costume Design by Andrea Hood (Into the Woods), Sound Design by Tony Award winner Kai Harada (Days of Wine and RosesMerrily We Roll Along), and Hair and Wig Design by J. Jared Janas (Sweeney Todd, &Juliet). General Management is by Wagner Johnson Productions. Casting is by The Telsey Office (Bernard Telsey, CSA; Craig Burns, CSA). Orchestrations are by Tony Award winner Bruce Coughlin (The Light in the Piazza), and Drama Desk Award winner Mary-Mitchell Campbell (Company) will serve as Music Supervisor, Annbritt duChateau as Music Director, and Cody Renard Richard as Production Stage Manager.

A special fan pre-sale will begin on Tuesday, May 28, at 10:00AM ET – sign up atOnceUponAMattress.com for early access to tickets. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Wednesday, May 29 at 10:00AM ET.

Further casting and creative team will be announced at a later date.

The Avett Brothers announced that their new musical Swept Away will begin previews on Broadway this fall at a Shubert theater to-be-announced. An odyssey of “mythic proportions” (San Francisco Chronicle), Swept Away features a book by Tony Award winner John Logan (Red, Moulin Rouge! The Musical), direction by Tony Award winner Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening, American Idiot) and choreography by Tony Award nominee David Neumann (Hadestown).

After sold out runs from coast to coast, Swept Away storms Broadway this fall.

The Swept Away creative team includes music arranger & orchestrator Chris Miller, music arranger & orchestrator/music supervisor Brian Usifer, music director Will Van Dyke, Tony Award-winning set designer Rachel Hauck, Tony Award-winning costume designer Susan Hilferty, four-time Tony Award-winning lighting designer Kevin Adams and Tony Award-winning sound designer John Shivers.For ticketing updates and more information, visit SweptAwayMusical.com.

Jared Grimes (Funny Girl) will host the Chita Rivera Awards, it was announced today. The 2024 Chita Rivera Awards will be presented on May 20 at 7:30pm at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts (566 LaGuardia Place off Washington Square Park), and are produced by Joe Lanteri, Founder and Executive Director of the New York City Dance Alliance Foundation, Inc. in conjunction with Patricia Watt.

Presenters include: Debbie Allen (Fame), Shoshana Bean (Hell’s Kitchen), Corbin Bleu (High School Musical, Little Shop…), Anthony Crivello (Kiss of the Spider Woman), Joel Grey(Cabaret), Huey Lewis (The Heart of Rock and Roll), and Joe Morton (Scandal, ART), Bebe Neuwirth (Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club, Chicago), Kenny Ortega (High School Musical), David Hyde Pierce (Here We Are, Spamalot), Brooke Shields (Suddenly Susan; The Adams Family), Ben Vereen (Pippin), and more.

The evening will feature performances by: Wayne Brady (The Wiz), Kristin Chenoweth (Wicked), Norm Lewis (Phantom of the Opera; Porgy and Bess), and Lea Salonga (Miss Saigon; Old Friends).

There will also be performances from the casts of Suffs, The Heart of Rock and Roll, and The Who’s Tommy.

At the May 20 Awards, Bernadette Peters will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, Phil LaDuca will receive the Vanguard Award, for his outstanding contribution to the international dance community, and Mayte Natalio (Suffs; How to Dance in Ohio) will receive the Douglas and Ethel Watt Critics’ Choice Award.

The Douglas and Ethel Watt Critics’ Choice Award is bestowed by the journalists of the Chita Rivera Awards’ Broadway judging committee, to recognize outstanding work that falls outside the framework of the original categories. It is named for the longtime Daily News theater critic Douglas Watt and his wife Ethel, an original cast member of Carousel and Kiss Me, Kate who later became a producer.

Tickets to the Chita Rivera Awards are available to the general public atwww.ChitaRiveraAwards.com.

Pop the champagne! The Museum of Broadway will celebrate its newest special exhibit celebrating the 10-time Tony Award®-winning Best Musical Moulin Rouge! The Musical, presented in partnership with Chase Freedom and created exclusively for The Museum of Broadway. The exhibit, Moulin Rouge! The Musical: Spectacular, Spectacular, invites fans to step into the world of Belle Époque Paris and experience the splendor, eye-popping excess, and glittering extravagance of the hit show.

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