Photo by Rose Billings
Last night was a night to remember. Jacob Langfelder in partnership with Arts-For-All, Jill Bernard and Rashad Chambers presented a one night only concert featuring Tony and Grammy Award winner and the original Dreamgirl Jennifer Holliday along with the Tony Winning star of the upcoming Roundabout Theatre production of She Loves Me, Laura Benanti, two time Tony Winner for Assassins and Fun Home‘s Michael Cerveris’ and The Color Purple‘s Rema Webb. Julie James, host of SiriusXM’s Broadway Names with Julie James hosted the perfect night at 42West located at 514 West 42nd Street between 10th and 11th avenues.
Tony Award-winner Laura Benanti who recently joined CBS’s “Supergirl,” showed her comedic side. This is one funny woman. Then she flawlessly sang “Vanilla Ice Cream,” as those resent were the first to hear this thrilling soprano take flight.
Michael Cerveris followed singing “Unusual Eyes” a tribute to David Bowie.
Rema Webb who is currently in the Broadway Revival of The Color Purple sang from her show prior. I always knew “Let Them Sing,” from Violet, should be sung by a woman. Then she brought the audience to tears with Oleta Adams “I Just Had To Hear Your Voice.” She recently starred in You’re Standing In My Way: A New Song Cycle by William Finn and Deborah Abramson at Barrington Stage Company as well as A New Brain at Encores! William Finn was in the audience to hear Rema watch and hear “Change,” bring down the house. The casts from The Lion King, The Book of Mormon and The Color Purple all cheered with delight. I have now discovered a talent I need to keep my eyes open for. I am sure the rest of the audience felt the same way.
And then there was Jennifer Holliday. She talked about battling MS, depression about how young she was when she started and she was disarming. Then she sang. “Blues in the Night,” “The Look of Love,” “The Song is You” and “At Last” were all flawless. This is a women who sings with all her heart and her soul. She embodies the song’s lyric’s and melds into the music. If that weren’t sang “One Night Only” from the 1981 smash hit, Dreamgirls. Taking a break, she did not disappoint as she embodied her show-stopping, heart-wrenching performance of the torch ballad “And I am Telling You, I’m Not Going.” There was not a cell phone that was not recording and not a dry eye in the house. Jennifer Holliday has the best voice of this century and anyone who was at The Out Hotel at 42West last night knew this was one special evening. What made this even more remarkable is Ms. Holliday was not feeling her best, yet she gave her all so others could have art.
Please if you like this performance donate to Arts For All to offer accessible artistic opportunities to children in the New York City area who face socio-economic, physical, or emotional barriers to exploring the arts. Arts For All, has professional artists work with youth organizations to build self-confidence, self-expression, teamwork, resilience, and creativity in children.
Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ Is Looking For Bob Fosse
Where are the Sandahl Bergman, René Ceballos, Christopher Chadman, Vicki Frederick, John Mineo and Ann Reinking’s? They are not in Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ now playing on Broadway right now. Only Wayne Cilento, who was in the original, has become the director and Musical stager of the show on Broadway now.
Dancin‘ originally was created, directed, and choreographed by Bob Fosse and originally produced on Broadway in 1978. This new version holds very little of what Fosse stood for or represented.
I went to show score and someone wrote: Lots of dancin. very little Fosse. See it if You’ve never seen real Fosse. Don’t see it if You’ve seen real Fosse.
This is so true. I came to New York in 1978 and I knew most of the cast of Dancin. If you auditioned for a Fosse show, you did what was known as “Tea For Two” routine. It was the first in a round of cuts. Everyone knew the routine. It was about placement. Your arms and hands had to be a certain way, your fingers, head, legs, Fosse was about precision. This is what Casey Nicholaw, does in spades in Some Like it Hot and it is a joy to behold! Somehow Wayne Cilento has forgotten his training, because what is on stage at the Music Box is a sloppy, over indulgent mess. Only Peter John Chursin who is fabulous, Dylis Croman, Manuel Herrera and Kolton Krouse have an understanding of how a Fosse dancer moved and kept it so easily under control. For that matter why is it called Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ when this reviewer didn’t see a lot of Bob Fosse’s dancing.
Except for the costumes for “Sing, Sing Sing” they are seriously unflattering and ugly. The set list, though a lot is taken from the original is disappointing and unrecognizable. We have music supervision, orchestrations, incidental music, and vocal arrangements by Jim Abbott, music direction by Darryl Archibald and dance arrangements and additional music by David Dabbon to thank. Kirsten Childs has given the show a script that is banal. Robert Brill’s set design, Finn Ross’s projection design, go from utilitarian to stark reality.
In Act 1 we are “treated” to “Big City Mime”, that seemed more sleazy than steamy. When you watch Fosse’s “Take Off With Us” number from “All That Jazz” its erotic, not like moves in a strip joint in the 70’s 42nd Street. Also notice the precise placement of all body parts.
In this piece they did add elements of the “Snake in The Grass” number from “The Little Prince”, and the Pippin “Glory ” ‘ Manson Trio .’Also the choreography of Bob Fosse and Tommy Rall’s “Duet from My Sister Eileen” one of my favorite pieces of dance to watch. That was extremely well done by Peter John Chursin and Manuel Herrera.
Ending the first act is the crowd pleaser “Dancin Man,” but again sloppy.
The second-act opener “Sing, Sing, Sing,” is performed very close to the original, except the female solo goes to the excellent Kolton Krouse who is a they/their. As a matter a fact most of the female solo’s are given to others. Why? During the number the marvelous Gary Seligson is on drums.
Selections from Sweet Charity‘s “The Rich Man’s Frug”, “Hey Big Spender” and “I’m a Brass Band,” “From This Moment On” from the film version of “Kiss Me Kate” are included.
It was wonderful to see Fosse’s Big Deal back on the stage.
The cast also includes; Ioana Alfonso, Yeman Brown, Tony d’Alelio, Jōvan Dansberry, Karli Dinardo, Jacob Guzman, Mattie Love, Yani Marin, Nando Morland, Khori Michelle Petinaud, Ida Saki and Ron Todorowski.
I am a huge fan of choreography. My go to video’s to wind down are “Whose Got The Pain” from Damn Yankee’s, “Sing, Sing, Sing” from the original Dancin’, “Duet from My Sister Eileen,” “Lets Take a Glass Together” from Grand Hotel and “Turkey Lurkey Time” from Promises, Promises. When Dancing is done well, it is euphoric, but it seems lately on Broadway dancing is going freestyle and technique no longer counts. I miss the days of Bob Fosse.
Bob Fosse’s Dancin: The Music Box Theatre, 239 W 45th Street.
Broadway’s Life of Pi Sails Strong and Magically Over From the West End
“Will you join us?” This is the compelling question asked within the new Broadway adaptation of Life of Pi by an engaging young man who has just survived a trauma more intense than any of us, most likely, could imagine, let alone survive. He has wound up in a Mexican hospital room and is being asked, most insistently, to tell his story to two interested parties; a representative of the Canadian Embassy, Lulu Chen, played strongly by Kirstin Louie (PBS’s “Endeavour“), and a representative of the shipping company, Mr. Okamoto, captivatingly portrayed by Daisuke Tsuji (“Invasion“), who are not exactly on the same exact page. Or share the same interest.
Crawling out from underneath, the boy, exceptionally well played by Hiran Abeysekera (RSC’s Hamlet), tells them that his name is Pi and that he has “had a terrible trip,” which is the understatement of the Broadway season. All this, just before the stage swells and crashes forward most majestically into a world that draws us in most completely. The transformations, and I definitely mean each and everyone, are utterly magnificent and awe-inspiring, but that first one tells us so much, but not all, about the voyage we have all signed up for, pretty much in the same way that The Lion King found its way to overwhelm our senses back in the day. But this play and this production are just so much more than all that. It delivers in a way that must be seen to be believed, as the stage moves, flows, opens, and emotes in the most astounding of ways, leaving you tantalized at almost every turn.
T2C Talks With Rajesh Bose on Life Of Pi’s Opening Night and More
Lolita Chakrabarti’s Life Of Pi, the new drama is adapted from the novel by Yann Martel makes its Broadway debut tonight at the Gerald Schoenfeld theatre. T2C talked with Rajesh Bose who plays Pi’s father.
Rajesh is an actor who has worked regional and Off-Broadway. He performed with The Bedlam Theatre Company in The Crucible and Pygmalion, Henry VI forNAATCO), Against The Hillside for the Ensemble Studio Theatre, Indian Ink at the Roundabout, Oslo at St. Louis Rep, Mary Stuart at the Folger Theatre, Guards at the Taj for Capital Stage, Disgraced at Playmakers Rep, Huntington Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre winning the Connecticut Critics Circle Award and an IRNE Nomination. The Who & The What at Gulfshore Playhouse and The Invisible Hand at the Westport Country Playhouse and Hartford TheaterWorks.
Rajesh’s film and television roles include “Quantico”, “Blue Bloods”, “Elementary”, “Blacklist”, “Damages”, “Nurse Jackie”, “Madame Secretary”, “The Good Wife”, “Law & Order: SVU”, “Criminal Minds”, the series finale of “The Sopranos”, and the Academy Award nominated film Frozen River.
T2C wish the Life of Pi and very happy opening.
Video by Magda Katz
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