Kellie O’Hara sings Cole Porter’s score gloriously, especially in “I Hate Men”. Her vocals are unsurpassed. She also brings comedic timing and a sophistication to the role of the hell cat with a temper, but we never see her as anything but lovely and a little miffed. Even when she plays the shrew Kate and she is kicking Petruchio, she is not somebody who is out of control. We never see the unleashed diva who is so furious that her ex is courting another. There is no I hate you/I love you to play off of, which is what this show is about, and I blame this on Amanda Green’s rewrites and Scott Ellis’s direction. Originally, Lilli leaves without Howell, she then comes back to sing “I Am Ashamed That Women Are So Simple”, but the song has been changed so the ending falls flat.
Before it was the words of Shakespeare set to music:
I am ashamed the women are so simple
To offer war where they should kneel for peace,
Or seek for rule, supremacy, and sway
When they are bound to serve, love and obey.
but that has been turned into universal love and it makes no sense why Kate or Lili would return:
I am ashamed that people are so simple
To offer war when we should kneel for peace
Or seek for rule, supremacy and sway
When everything but love must die away.
I understand that times are changing, but really must we rewrite Shakespeare? Kiss Me Kateis one of my favorite musicals with a strong score and a timeless story, and though there is much to like here, the second act after “Too Darn Hot” seems to fall apart.
The choreography by Warren Carlyle is top notch with tap, gymnastics, and the sweat inducing “Too Darn Hot” and “Bianca”. Corbin Bleu jumps and taps his way into our hearts reminding me of a young Gene Nelson. Coupled with the phenomenal vocals of Ms. O’Hara makes this why you should see this production. Also, a shout out to James T. Lane who understands hot!
For those who do not know this story, the show is about two former lovers who are doing a musical version of Taming of The Shrew. The “real life actors” roles mirror their real life. Lili is to marry another, and this is her farewell to showbiz, though she still harbors strong feelings for her ex. Unfortunately, her ex is into Lois Lane (Stephanie Styles), but Lois loves the gambling Bill Calhoun (Corbin Bleu) who has lost 10g’s and signed Fred’s name to the IOU. Wise Guys (John Pankow and Lance Coadie Williams) show up and all hell breaks loose.
Stephanie Styles, though adorable, has no chemistry with Bleu, but maybe it’s because unlike the Lois’s before her, she doesn’t exactly dance as she does get lifted. She does have a killer belt. During the normally subtle “Tom, Dick, or Harry” where it is a play on words left to your imagination, now everything is sexually spelled out and it seems misplaced for the era.
It is hard to understand why Lili would ever fall for Gen. Harrison Howell (Terence Archie). Also, John Pankow and Lance Coadie Williams as the mobsters who find a love of theatre in “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” seem uneven and the song misses its one-two-punch, which is normally a highlight of the show.
Even the orchestrations here seem to pale to other productions, yet this score is timeless and oh so “Wunderbar.” I miss this kind of lush melody with witty lyrics, that are oh so naughty and oh so right.
Jeff Mahshie’s costumes look beautiful on Ms. O’Hara. The set by David Rockwell, lighting by Donald Holder, sound design by Brian Ronan make this a lavish production to watch.
“So In love”….no, but so In Like.
Kiss Me Kate: Studio 54, 254 W 54th Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, through June 30.
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Sarah Paulson
Broadway’s newest show Appropriate starring Sarah Paulson, at Second Stage’s Hayes Theatre nearly sold out their first week. The play, written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and co-starring Elle Fanning and Corey Stoll, opens December 18th.
Paulson has received an Emmy, Golden Globe, and SAG Awards in her three-decade career. She made her Broadway debut in 1994 as an understudy in Wendy Wasserstein’s The Sisters Rosensweig. She later took on the role of Tess Goode in the production. She returned to the stage in two other Broadway productions: 2005’s The Glass Menagerie (as Amanda Wingfield) and 2010’s Collected Stories (originating the role of Lisa Morrison). She also appeared in six Off-Broadway productions between 1994 and 2013, including Crimes of the Heart, Still Life,Colder Than Hereat the Lucille Lortel Theatre, Killer Joeat SoHo Playhouse, Talking Picturesat Signature Theatre andthe Pulitzer-nominated Talley’s Folly with Roundabout Theatre Company.
Paulson is perhaps best known for starring in nine seasons of Murphy’s American Horror Story, first appearing on the show in 2011. Her performances collectively earned nine Emmy Award nominations.
In 2023, after 10 years away from the New York stage, Paulson returns to Broadway as Toni in Appropriate, the Broadway-debut play of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins.
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
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.
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. https://www.latinobookawards.org/
Click here to buy your copy.
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 and Taran Killam as Lancelot.
I was so inspired I drew the whole cast.
To read T2C’s review click here.
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.