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Melissa Etheridge on Board For Mystic Pizza The Musical

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Melissa Etheridge

Lively McCabe Entertainment announces that it is currently developing an all new musical stage adaptation of the 1988 Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) motion picture Mystic Pizza, with story and characters by Amy Holden Jones. With a book by Gordon Greenberg (Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn) and Sas Goldberg (Significant Other), Mystic Pizza will feature songs from iconic Academy Award and Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge. Greenberg will also direct.

Mystic Pizza will be published and licensed by Concord Theatricals. Production plans and the remainder of the creative team for the musical, currently in development, will be announced shortly.

Mystic Pizza, the 1988 MGM cult classic romantic comedy that launched the careers of Julia Roberts and Matt Damon, follows the coming of age of three young women working as waitresses at a local pizza parlor in Mystic, Connecticut. Struggling within a local class structure that segregates the immigrant working class from the country club set, the women strive to define themselves beyond the shadow of their families and the men who pursue them.

According to co-writer and director Gordon Greenberg, “MGM’s Mystic Pizza is a seminal film for an entire generation of young people looking to distinguish themselves in a rapidly changing world. Adapting Amy Holden Jones’ original screenplay for the stage with rock icon Melissa Etheridge, a beacon of strength and raw musical energy, and the brilliantly hilarious Sas Goldberg, is a dream collaboration on a story that is as relevant today as it was when we all first experienced it. Featuring three strong young women at its core, and set in a community of immigrants dealing with traditionally limited expectations amid shifting class dynamics, it provides us with sparkly characters and a highly compelling world.”

Melissa Etheridge, one of rock music’s great female icons, has received 15 GRAMMY Award nominations throughout her career, winning two. Her critically acclaimed eponymous debut album, released in 1988, was certified double platinum. Her other studio albums include 1989’s Brave and Crazy, 1992’s Never Enough (featuring the GRAMMY winning single “Ain’t it Heavy”), 1993’s Yes I Am (a six times platinum album featuring the massive hits “I’m the Only One” and “Come to My Window,” which earned her a second GRAMMY Award), 1995’s Your Little Secret, 1999’s Breakdown, 2001’s Skin, 2004’s Lucky, 2007’s The Awakening, 2010’s Fearless Love, 2012’s 4th Street Feeling, 2014’s This is M.E., and 2016’s Memphis Rock and Soul. Etheridge also received an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2007 for “I Need to Wake Up” from the documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Melissa made her Broadway debut in 2011 as St. Jimmy in Green Day’s rock opera, American Idiot, when she temporarily replaced Billie Joe Armstrong. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, also in 2011.

Gordon Greenberg has written and directed on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in London’s West End, and for television. His acclaimed West End revival of Guys and Dolls was nominated for six Olivier Awards at the Savoy and then the Phoenix Theatre, starring Rebel Wilson. Greenberg co-wrote and directed the Broadway stage adaptation of Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn at Studio 54 for Roundabout, Universal Pictures Stage Productions, and PBS Television’s Great Performances. He directed and adapted (with Stephen Schwartz and Lin-Manuel Miranda) the Drama Desk Award winning production of Working at 59 E 59 in New York, Broadway Playhouse in Chicago, and the Old Globe in San Diego. He directed and adapted the acclaimed New York revival of Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well… (Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critics Award nominations). Recent work includes the world premiere of The Heart of Rock and Roll, the new Huey Lewis musical, at The Old Globe, the gala reading of Terms of Endearment at the Geffen Theatre (starring Alfred Molina, Calista Flockhart, Constance Wu, Kate Burton and Kumail Nanjiani), the London revival of Barnum for the Menier Chocolate Factory, and writing the new book of Meet Me In St. Louis for the St. Louis MUNY’s 100th Anniversary. He is currently co-writing/directing the stage adaptation of The Secret of My Success for Universal, directing Piaf/Dietrich for Mirvish in Toronto, and co-writing/directing The Curious Case of the Curse of Count Dracula for the Maltz. For television, he co-wrote “Emerald City Music Hall,” an original movie musical for Nickelodeon Television and “Scramble Band,” an original movie musical for the Disney Channel.

Sas Goldberg has sold and developed television scripts and pilots at NBC, Fox, Sony, Warner Brothers and Bravo. She most recently wrote a pilot for NBC with Jeffrey Seller (Hamilton, Rent) and Flody Suarez (The Cher Show) producing. In 2017, Sas made her Broadway debut, as an actress, playing Kiki in Joshua Harmon’s Significant Other, a role she had originated in the Off-Broadway production (Roundabout). Her other stage credits include Stunning (LCT). She co-wrote, produced and starred in the film Are You Joking?, and the musical series The Battery’s Down. She also appeared in the films Ocean’s 8 and Becks, and on television in “You’re the Worst” (FX), “Search Party” (TBS), “Odd Mom Out” (Bravo), and “Happyish” (Showtime). She will next be seen recurring on the upcoming Jenji Kohan produced series “American Princess” (Lifetime).

Amy Holden Jones got her start in the film business when her documentary, “A Weekend Home”, won the AFI National Student Film festival.   One of the judges was Martin Scorsese who gave her a job as his assistant on “Taxi Driver”.   She subsequently became one of the youngest film editors in Hollywood, cutting for Hal Ashby, Joe Dante and Scorsese while still in her early 20’s.  At the age of 27 she directed her first feature, for Roger Corman, the cult classic “Slumber Party Massacre”.  She then wrote and directed the only art film Roger Corman ever produced, “Love Letters,” starring Jaimie Lee Curtis.  Her next feature, which she co-wrote and directed, was “Maid to Order,” a family comedy with Ally Sheedy.  The screenplay for “Mystic Pizza” was inspired by the actual restaurant in Mystic, Connecticut where Amy had a home.  It was the first all-female buddy film of the 80’s and plays regularly on television to this day.  After the success of “Mystic Pizza,” Amy’s career as a screenwriter took off.  Her screenplay credits include “Beethoven”, “Indecent Proposal”, “The Getaway”, and “The Relic,” among many others.  Amy returned to directing with “The Rich Man’s Wife”, a thriller starring Halle Berry and Clive Owen. In recent years she’s worked exclusively in television, and in 2014 she created the series “Black Box” which was on ABC. Currently she is the executive producer and co-creator of her show, “The Resident,” on Fox TV.

Concord Theatricals is comprised of the professional and amateur theatrical licensing catalogs of Samuel French, R&H Theatricals, Tams-Witmark and Concord Music’s joint venture with Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s Really Useful Group, The Musical Company. Concord Theatricals, led by Sean Patrick Flahaven, is the most substantial licensing house in the world and the only one providing comprehensive services to creators and producers of musical theatre, including theatrical licensing, music publishing and cast recordings. In addition, Concord Theatricals develops, licenses, produces and invests in new musicals and plays for first-class production.

Metro Goldwyn Mayer is a leading entertainment company focused on the production and global distribution of film and television content across all platforms. The company owns one of the deepest libraries of premium film and television content as well as the premium pay television network EPIX, which is available throughout the U.S. via cable, satellite, telco and digital distributors. In addition, MGM has investments in numerous other television channels, digital platforms and interactive ventures and is producing premium short-form content for distribution. For more information, visit www.mgm.com.

Lively McCabe Entertainment is led by producer Michael Barra and co-founder Katie Dietz. The company specializes in packaging and adapting iconic intellectual property into new stories for theater, film/TV, and book publishing; and is represented by Max Grossman and Brad Rosenfeld at Abrams Artists Agency and Adam Cooper at Jackoway Austen Tyerman (TV/film), Jason Aylesworth at Sendroff & Baruch (theater) and Conrad Rippy at Levine Plotkin & Menin (corporate and publishing). Visit www.livelymccabe.com.

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Broadway

The Wiz’s Eases Back Onto Broadway

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There is much to love about the Broadway revival of The Wiz, which opened tonight at the Marquis Theatre. This beloved musical originally opened on Broadway in 1975, was made into film in 1978 and is back with a score by Charlie Smalls, that sparkles due to the orchestrations by Joseph Joubert and vocal arrangements by Allen René Louise. I love the Lalo Schifrin sound.

Nichelle Lewis, Melody A. Betts Photo By Jeremy Daniel

Directed by Schele Williams and an updated book by Amber Ruffin, what this revival has is heart, what it is missing is style.

Deborah Cox


Now Dorothy (a terrific Nichelle Lewis, a newcomer making her Broadway debut) has moved to Kansas to live with her Aunt Em (Melody A. Betts, who shines as  the beloved Aunt, but isn’t evil enough as the wicked witch Evillene, due in part to the sound designer Jon Weston and costume designer Sharen Davis). Dorothy has lost her parents and apparently her dog (no Toto), is being bullied, feels lost and alone, until a tornado sends her hurling to Oz. Her house still kills the wicked witch of the East, but Dorothy is introduced to golden glittery Glinda (Deborah Cox), by Addaperle ( a vocal glorious Allyson Kaye Daniel). She is sent to meet the powerful Wizard (a phenomenally grounded Wayne Brady) to get back home. Along the way meets the scarecrow (Avery Wilson) in need of a brain, the tinman (Phillip Johnson Richardson) wanting a heart and a lion (Kyle Ramar Freeman) in need os some courage.

Avery Wilson, Nichelle Lewis, Phillip Johnson Richardson Photo By Jeremy Daniel

All shine in their performances and vocals though the sound design threatens to derails them. Ms. Cox who is gloriously in voice, is not well mic’d, nor is anyone else. I was in the sixth row and it was hard to hear and I really did want to as the vocals were terrific.

Wayne Brady and Emerald City Photo By Jeremy Daniel

The choreography, by JaQuel Knight, is clunky with numbers seeming not to gel with each other. Each number looks like it belongs in a different show. However the individual performances take the movement to levels that work. Mr. Wison’s scarecrow, is all limbs and displays his flexibility and acrobatic tricks to the nth degree. Mr. Richardson gives the tinman a heart with his soulful “What Would I Do If I Could Feel”. Freeman’s lion, is an amusing scaredy cat who breaks though.

Kyle Ramar Freeman, Nichelle Lewis, Wayne Brady, Phillip Johnson Richardson, Avery Wilson wanting a heart and a lion Photo By Jeremy Daniel

Wayne Brady is a standout as The Wiz and I was wow’d by him.
Lewis is a find as the teenager trying to find herself. “Home”, is now the final song and she nails it making us fall in love with this revival despite it’s designer flaws.

The Oscar-winning production designer Hannah Beachler and costume’s look like they were designed on acid with no filter and no funding. The color choices and styles all look tacky. I really wanted to rip the tablecloth looking skirt off the lion and still do.

I have such fond memories of this show and I left with them intact. Sometimes things do not have to be perfect in order to shine.

The Wiz: Marquis Theatre, 210 W 46th Street, until April 18th.

 

 

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Barry Manilow, Bruce Sussman and More At The Museum of Broadway As Harmony Is Honored

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On Thursday, April 18th Barry Manilow, Bruce Sussman, The Comedian Harmonists Sean Bell, Danny Kornfeld, Zal Owen, Eric Peters, Blake Roman and Steven Telsey, as well as Company members including Chip Zien, Kate Wesler, Kyla Stone, Matthew Mucha, Stuart Zagnit, Zak Edwards, and more TBA will be at The Museum of Broadway to unveil a brand-new window display dedicated to the Broadway musical Harmony. Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman brought the long-forgotten story of The Comedian Harmonists, a German singing group of six young men whose fame was abruptly cut short by the rise of Nazism, to life in the 2023 hit Broadway musical Harmony.

The Museum of Broadway will honor their story with a dedicated window featuring exclusive items donated by Manilow and Sussman, and historical items dating back to the 1920s.

The program will include a special a cappella performance by the OBC Comedian Harmonists.

Harmony, featured an original new score by legendary Tony, Grammy, and Emmy Award® winner Barry Manilow with lyrics and book by Drama Desk Award Winner, Bruce Sussman. Directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Warren Carlyle (The Music Man, Hello Dolly!), this timely and captivating rags-to-riches story lost to history came to dazzling life with a sensational cast of Broadway favorites.

Based on an unbelievable true story, the musical told the tale of the most successful entertainers you’ve never heard of. . . until Harmony. In the 1920s and 30s, The Comedian Harmonists sold millions of records, made dozens of films, and sold-out the biggest theaters around the world. Their heavenly harmonies and musical comedy antics catapulted these six talented young men from singing in the subway tunnels of Berlin to international superstardom.  What happened next was the story of Harmony.

The female-founded award-winning Museum of Broadway is the world’s first-ever permanent museum dedicated to the storied history and legendary artists, creators and stars of Broadway musicals and plays, past and present. Offering unrivaled “backstage” access, the Museum of Broadway goes behind-the-scenes to show guests of all ages how a Broadway show is made from conception to curtain call.  A one-of-its-kind entertaining and educational celebration of Broadway for the theatre enthusiast and insider alike, the Museum of Broadway transports visitors visually through centuries of time.  Experience a stunning, ever-evolving curation from the 1700s-present day one dazzling, unforgettable exhibit, costume, prop, rendering and rarity at a time. Through each piece, the Museum of Broadway honors the legacies of those who paved the way for today’s Broadway and the next generation of theatregoers and creators.

Founded in November 2022, the Museum of Broadway highlights more than 500 showstopping and hidden gem productions across three floors of exhibits.  Open seven days a week and welcoming thousands of guests weekly from all over the world, the museum also offers free educational programming, special events with your favorite Broadway casts and creatives, a membership program, merchandise from your favorite shows, and so much more. A portion of proceeds from every ticket sold is donated to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Be sure to follow @MuseumofBroadway on all social channels for the latest artifact drops, special offers, events and happenings and visit themuseumofbroadway.com to complete your perfect day on Broadway.

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Lempicka Brings An Artist Work Back To Life

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In 1984, I saw the interactive show Tamara based on the life of the artist Tamara de Lempicka in LA and fell in love with it, so much so that it has stayed one of my favorites to this day. Lempicka is a new musical based more on her sexual choices than her stylized Art Deco portraits that changed and inspired generations. She was one of the first feminists, as Tamara choose art, sexual freedom and a lifestyle in a time of war and destruction.


The musical starts out on a park bench in LA as an older Tamara (Eden Espinosa) reflects on her life. Flash back to Warsaw, Poland as Tamara is to be wed to Lempicka (Andrew Samonsky) an aristocrat and is to live a life of luxury. Then the Bolshevik’s in prison her husband, she uses sexual favors to free him and they flee to Paris with their daughter. When her husband is unwilling to work she becomes a painter and uses the name Lempicka. There she is befriended by a wealthy art patron (Nathaniel Stampley) and his wife (Beth Leavel), is influenced by Marinetti (George Abu), the founder of the Futurist art movement, and is inspired and in love with Rafaela (Amber Iman). Both Lempicka and the musical come alive at this point. Tamara finds friendship and solace with a nightclub owner, Suzy (Natalie Joy Johnson), who gives her and others like her a refuge, until the Nazi’s invade. In the end, while breaking ground Lempicka’s life style becomes rather self centered or should I say one of self preservation as she loses her husband, her daughter and her lover.

Amber Iman, Eden Espinosa Photo by Matthew Murphy/Evan Zimmerman

Matt Gould’s music and Carson Kreitzer’s lyrics are well sung and the show sounds glorious. This is a new take on pop music. The problem here is the minor characters get the songs that make the show come alive. Iman, Abu and Johnson almost steal the show with their numbers. Level gets the 11 O’Clock number and breaks our hearts. Though Espinoza has some good numbers and sells them, none of them really stand out.

George Abud photo by Matthew Murphy/Evan Zimmerman)

Kreitzer also conceived the book and wrote it with Gould. Again the show does and doesn’t work. Instead of focusing on Lempicka’s art, the changing world around her and the fact that she was one of the first feminists, the story is more focused on lesbian repression. The show is billed as a triangle of love, but her husband once they get to Paris is in his own world until she gets together with Rafaela a prostitute. Rachel Chavkin’s direction makes the scenes between Rafaela and Lempicka beautiful and in a strange sense if feels a little like Indecent, however the show as a whole doesn’t jell.

Photo by Matthew Murphy/Evan Zimmerman

I did like Raja Feather Kelly’s choreography that seemed to evoke the changing world around.

Riccardo Hernández’s set of steel, seems like the world is on the verge of collapse and rebuilding. The lighting by Bradley King and projections by Peter Hylenski and Justin Stasi added to that effect. Paloma Young’s costumes missed the mark and seemed like they were in two different stories.

The reason to see Lempicka is it is sung and acted gloriously.

Once you see Lempicka, you will realize how much Tamara de Lempicka’s art change and influenced the world of art. This was a woman who survived at all costs and that should always be admired.

Lempicka: Longacre Theatre, 220 West 48th Street.
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Ken Fallin’s Broadway: The Outsiders

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These boys are taking Broadway by storm Jason Schmidt, Sky Lakota-Lynch, and Brody Grant. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1967, the hardened hearts and aching souls of Ponyboy Curtis, Johnny Cade and their chosen family of “outsiders” are in a fight for survival and a quest for purpose in a world that may never accept them. A story of the bonds that brothers share and the hopes we all hold on to, this gripping new musical reinvigorates the timeless tale of “haves and have nots”, of protecting what’s yours and fighting for what could be.

The Outsiders opened on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 W 45th Street.

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We Say Good Bye To Costume Designer Extraordinaire Carrie Robbins

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I met Carrie Robbins at an art gallery with Louis St Louis, Baayork Lee and Judy Jacksina. The four of us stayed well into the morning talking, laughing and having a fabulous time. Carrie and I bonded after that as she turned to playwriting. It broke my heart to learn that on the evening of April 12, 2024 Costume Designer extraordinaire Carrie Robbins passed away.

Carrie’s work has been featured in over 30+ Broadway shows, including Class Act, Grease (original), Agnes of God, Yentl, Octette Bridge Club, Sweet Bird of Youth (Lauren Bacall), Frankenstein, Happy End (Mary Streep), Boys of Winter, Cyrano (Frank Langella), & Shadow Box (Mercedes Ruehl).

Her awards and nominations included: 2012 recipient of the Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Theatre Development Fund & the tdf/Costume Collection with the support of the Tobin Theatre Arts Fund. 2 Tony (Noms.), 5 Drama Desks, Maharam, USITT/Prague International, L.A. Dramalogue, Henry Hughes, F.I.T-Surface Design, & Audelco, among others.

Robbins’ costumes for the Irving Berlin musical White Christmas played major cities in the USA, Broadway, and Great Britain. Her regional work included M. Butterfly and On the Verge, for director Tazewell Thompson (Arena Stage) and the Gershwin musical American in Paris by Ken Ludwig for director Gregory Boyd (Alley Theatre, Houston) as well as The Tempest (Anthony Hopkins as Prospero) & Flea in Her Ear (director Tom Moore at Mark Taper Forum), many productions for the Guthrie (MN), Williamstown, and many others from Alaska to Buffalo.


Locally, in NYC, Robbins designed for many productions for The Lincoln Center Repertory Theatre, Chelsea Theatre at BAM, Acting Company at Juilliard and NY Shakespeare Festival.

She also designed for the Opera and they included Death in Venice for Glimmerglass (’08 Prague International Design Exhibit), Samson et Dalila (San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand, more), and many productions for Sarah Caldwell’s Opera Company of Boston. Her work has also been seen at the Hamburg StatsOper.

For film Robbins designed the movie “In The Spirit” (Elaine May, Peter Falk, Marlo Thomas); TV design included: Saturday Nite Live, PBS Arts in America, & several unseen pilots.

Robbins has designed clothes for several seasons of Queen Esther Marrow and The Harlem Gospel Singers’ European Tour. She also did the designs for The Cincinnati Ballet’s new Nutcracker, in December of 2011

Robbins was an MFA grad from the Yale School of Drama and was Master Teacher of Costume Design at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts for many years. She is extremely proud of the extraordinary number of award-winning, successful young costume designers and costume teachers across the country who came out of her classes.

Besides being a costume designer Carrie also was a playwright. In August 2010, her play, The Death & Life of Dr. Cutter, a Vaudeville, based on the true stories told by her husband Dr. R.D.Robbins, had its 4th reading at the Snapple Theatre Center; it was chosen by Abingdon Theatre Co, NYC, to be part of its First Readings Series in Fall, 2009. In 2011-12 the  League of Professional Theatre Women chose The Dragon Quartet as part of its 30th year anniversary celebration. In 2012-13, La MaMa (oldest off-off-Broadway theater in NYC at 51 years) chose The Diamond Eater for its “Concert Reading Series”. In 2013: TACT (The Actors Company Theatre, chose Sawbones for part of its newTACTics New Play Festival. In 2014 both The Diamond Eater and Sawbones  received 6 Nominations from N.Y. Innovative Theatre Awards (the most nominations given out in the 2014 season). In 2015, Le Wedding Dress, was a semi-finalist in NYNewWorks Theatre Festival. In 2016: Obsessions Of An Art Student chosen by NYNewWorks Theatre Festival. In 2016, The Actress, was a finalist in NY Thespis Summer Festival. In 2017, My Swollen Feet, chosen by NY Summerfest Theatre Festival/ Hudson Guild Theatre. In 2018 The Diamond Eater , semi-finalist at the 14th St. Y competition War + Peace/2018/19 season and The Dragon Griswynd, was chosen by Theater for the New City for its “Dream-Up Festival” In 2019 Pie Lessons, was invited by Crystal Field, Exec. Artistic Director of Theater for the New City, to be part of “Scratch Night at TNC”.

The last thing Carrie was working on was For The Lost Children Of Paris. This play was about how the Nazis, with help from the Vichy Government, collected French-Jewish schoolchildren and delivered them to Auschwitz. Excellent German record-keeping revealed 11,400 children were taken. At the liberation, only 200 were found alive. This is the story of one classroom’s collection day and its aftermath.

She did this play using puppets as the children.

Carrie had a voice that she used in a multiple of ways. She was a caring friend, a dedicated teacher, a prolific writer and costume designer, who always cared about others first. Carrie you will be missed.

 





 

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