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Theatre News: Parade Performed at The White House, Sweeney Todd, Shucked and Funny Girl

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President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden welcomed Parade composer Jason Robert Brown and stars Ben Platt and Micaela Diamond to a White House event celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month, as they perform songs from the musical currently playing on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (242 West 45th Street).

The story follows Leo and Lucille Frank (Platt and Diamond) are a newlywed Jewish couple struggling to make a life in the old red hills of Georgia. When Leo is accused of an unspeakable crime, it propels them into an unimaginable test of faith, humanity, justice, and devotion. Riveting and gloriously hopeful, Paradereminds us that to love, we must truly see one another.

Parade is directed by Michael Arden, with book by Alfred Uhry, music and lyrics by Brown, and co-conceived by Harold Prince.  Platt and Diamond lead a 33-person cast that features Alex Joseph Grayson as ‘Jim Conley,’ Sean Allan Krill as ‘Governor Slaton,’ Howard McGillin as ‘Old Soldier/Judge Roan,’ and Paul Alexander Nolan as ‘Hugh Dorsey.’ They will be joined by Jay Armstrong Johnson as ‘Britt Craig,’ Kelli Barrett as ‘Mrs. Phagan,’ Courtnee Carteras ‘Angela,’ Eddie Cooper as ‘Newt Lee,’ Erin Rose Doyleas ‘Mary Phagan,’ Tony Award nominee Manoel Felciano as ‘Tom Watson,’ Danielle Lee Greaves as ‘Minnie McKnight,’ Douglas Lyons as ‘Riley,’ and Jake Pedersen as ‘Frankie Epps.’

Parade is playing at Broadway’s Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (242 West 45th Street) in a strictly limited engagement through Sunday, August 6 only. Previews started Tuesday, February 21 ahead of a Thursday, March 16 official opening night. This production first premiered at New York City Center where it was instantly sold out, playing November 1-6, 2022.


Warner Music Group’s Arts Music and Reprise Records have released the first track from the new Broadway cast album of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd.” 

Directed by Thomas Kail, the revival began performances on February 26, and opened on March 26, at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. It is nominated for eight Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical.

Sweeney Todd features music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Hugh Wheeler, from an adaptation by Christopher Bond. The current production stars Tony nominee Josh Groban in the title role and Tony winner Annaleigh Ashford as Mrs. Lovett. The cast also features Jordan Fisher as Anthony, Gaten Matarazzo as Tobias, Tony winner Ruthie Ann Miles as Beggar Woman, Maria Bilbao as Johanna, Jamie Jackson as Judge Turpin, John Rapson as Beadle Bamford, Nicholas Christopher as Pirelli / Standby for Sweeney Todd, and Jeanna de Waal as Standby for Mrs. Lovett and Beggar Woman.

Alex Newell by Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman.

NBC’s “The Voice” announcedtoday that Tony Award® nominee Alex Newell who is starring in Shucked, Broadway’s homegrown musical comedy nominated for nine Tony Awards including Best Musical, will perform “Independently Owned,” on the four-time Emmy Award-winning competition series’ Season 23 finale Monday, May 22 (8:00 – 10:00 PM ET/PT). Newell’s performance will mark the first time a Broadway musical has been featured on “The Voice.”

Newell said, “I’m super excited to bring Broadway to ‘The Voice!’ As a fan of the show, I love that it’s about embracing and celebrating big, captivating voices. And to be singing my big number for the first time on television is the cherry on top.”

In addition to their Tony Award nomination, Newell, has also been nominated for the Drama Desk®, Outer Critics Circle®, and Drama League Awards® for his “show-stopping” (Entertainment Weekly) performance which “soars to stratospheric vocal heights” (Time Out New York).

In addition to the nine Tony Award nominations, Shucked has also been honored with 12 Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical, seven Outer Critics Circle Awards including Best Musical, and three Drama League Awards including Best Musical.

With a book by 2023 Tony Award nominee Robert Horn, music and lyrics by 2023 Tony Award nominees Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, and direction by 2023 Tony Award nominee and three-time Tony Award winner Jack O’Brien, Shucked also stars the award-winning ensemble of (in alphabetical order) Outer Critics Circle Award nominee John Behlmann, Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominee Kevin Cahoon, Drama Desk Award nominee Andrew Durand, Tony Award nominee Grey Henson, Theatre World Award winner and Drama Desk Award nominee Caroline Innerbichler, and Theatre World Award winner Ashley D. Kelley.

What do you get when you pair a semi-neurotic, New York comedy writer with two music superstars from Nashville? A hilarious and audacious farm-to-fable musical about the one thing Americans everywhere can’t get enough of: corn. Shucked is the new musical comedy that proves sometimes tearing down a few walls, rather than growing them, is the only way to preserve our way of life. Shucked is turning Broadway on its ear and offer a kernel of hope for our divided nation.

Lea Michele will miss a week and will return on Tuesday, May 23rd to Funny Girl performances after testing positive for COVID. Filling in as Fanny Brice will be Julie Benko, except for the show on Friday, May 19, when Ephie Aardema will take on the role.

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

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Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Jeremy Jordan

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It has been announced that Tony and Grammy Award nominee Jeremy Jordan will return to Skid Row in Little Shop of Horrors and resume the lead role of Seymour. Jordan joins Joy Woods (Six) as Audrey, beginning Tuesday, July 25, 2023 for a strictly limited 8 week engagement through Sunday, September 17, 2023 at The Westside Theatre (407 West 43rd Street). As previously announced, Tony Award Winner Matt Doyle (Company) will play his final performance on July 16, 2023.
This drawing features Jeremy in his Tony and Grammy nominated performance as performance as Jack Kelly in Newsies.
In 2011, prior to Newsies, Jeremy originated the role  of Clyde Barrow in Bonnie & Clyde. This earned him the Theatre World. T2C’s Suzanna Bowling caught up with him at the Theatre World Awards this Monday.
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Countdown to The Tony Awards: Who Will and Who Should Win Best Direction of a Musical, Best Choreography and More

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The countdown is on and the winners of the 2022/2023 season will be announced in a live televised ceremony on Sunday, June 11. 

Here is who we think will win and who should.

Michael Arden

Direction of a Musical

The Nominees

Michael Arden, Parade
Lear deBessonet, Into the Woods
Casey Nicholaw, Some Like It Hot
Jack O’Brien, Shucked
Jessica Stone, Kimberly Akimbo

Parade is another of the theatre communities darlings and it is well deserved. Arden is Tony nominated and never won. Nicholaw has been nominated 6 times as a director, won for Book of Mormon. As much as I think he deserves this award, I just don’t see it happening,

Will win: Michael Arden
Should win: Casey Nicholaw

Casey Nicholaw

Casey Nicholaw Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

Best Choreography

The Nominees

Steven Hoggett, Sweeney Todd
Casey Nicholaw, Some Like It Hot
Susan Stroman, New York, New York
Jennifer Weber, & Juliet
Jennifer Weber, KPOP

There really is no beating Casey Nicholaw’s choreography in this show. It is powerful, joyous, in perfect harmony as they dance and move as one.

Will win: Casey Nicholaw
Should win: Casey Nicholaw

Outstanding Book of a Musical David Lindsay-Abaire, Kimberly Akimbo

Best Book of a Musical 

The Nominees
David West Read, & Juliet
David Lindsay-Abaire, Kimberly Akimbo
David Thompson and Sharon Washington, New York, New York
Robert Horn, Shucked
Matthew López & Amber Ruffin, Some Like It Hot 

The theater community loves Kimberly Akimbo and they love David Lindsay-Abaire. Robert Horn won for Tootsie and now with Shucked, you laugh at his pure and corny entertainment, but this is a tough category this year and even Matthew López & Amber Ruffin for Some Like It Hot deserve the prize. 

Will win: David Lindsay-Abaire
Should win: Robert Horn

Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre  

The Nominees
Tom Kitt (music & lyrics) and Cameron Crowe (lyrics), Almost Famous
Jeanine Tesori (music) and David Lindsay-Abaire (lyrics), Kimberly Akimbo
Helen Park and Max Vernon, KPOP
Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, Shucked
Marc Shaiman (music & lyrics) and Scott Wittman (lyrics), Some Like It Hot 

Shaiman and Wittman’s score knocks you over with a feather, while you wish to be bad. They will ride out the storm and kick out those darker shades of blue to Zee Bap to take it up a step!

Will win: Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman
Should win: Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman 

Best Orchestrations

The Nominees

Bill Sherman and Dominic Fallacaro, & Juliet
John Clancy, Kimberly Akimbo
Jason Howland, Shucked
Charlie Rosen & Bryan Carter, Some Like It Hot
Daryl Waters & Sam Davis, New York, New York

These two make Shaiman and Wittman’s score sound hotter than hot.

Will win: Charlie Rosen & Bryan Carter
Should win: Charlie Rosen & Bryan Carter

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Theatre News: Doubt: A Parable, Here Lies Love, Prayer for the French Republic, Eisenhower and Hell’s Kitchen

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Tyne Daily

Tyne Daly and Liev Schreiber will star in a revival of Doubt: A Parable on Broadway. The production is to begin performances next February at the American Airlines Theater.

The new production is produced by the Roundabout Theater Company, and will be directed by Scott Ellis, who has been serving as the nonprofit’s interim artistic director since the death of artistic director Todd Haimes in April.

The play, by John Patrick Shanley, is about a nun who suspects a priest has sexually abused a student at a Catholic school. In 2005, the year it first opened on Broadway, it won both the Pulitzer Prize for drama and the Tony Award for best play; it was later adapted into a film and an opera.

Daly, who will play the nun who serves as the school principal, and Schreiber, who will play the parish priest, are both Tony winners. Daly, is known for her role in  “Cagney & Lacey”. She won the 1990 Tony Award for her portrayal as Mama Rose in the revival of Gypsy. Schreiber, is the star of Showtime’s “Ray Donovan.” He won a Tony Award in 2005 for a revival of Glengarry Glen Ross.

Doubt is one of three plays to be staged by Roundabout this coming season. The others are I Need That, a new play  by Theresa Rebek starring Danny DeVito alongside his daughter, Lucy, and Home, a 1979 revival, directed by Kenny Leon, by Samm-Art Williams.

David Byrne, Fatboy Slim and Here Lies Love are causing controversy with their July Broadway debut. The show’s extensive use of prerecorded music has the American Federation of Musicians’ Local 802, up in arms. The Local’s Broadway musical contract stipulate that productions employ 19 live musicians.

In response to the union’s concerns, Byrne and the show’s PR team released a statement on Instagram to lay out the production’s revolutionary format and genre-bending originality. Here Lies Love is not a traditional Broadway musical. The music is drawn outside of the traditional music genre. The performance of the live vocals to pre-recorded, artificial tracks is paramount to its artistic concept. Production has ripped out the seats in the theater and built a dance floor. There is no longer a proscenium stage. The Broadway Theater has been transformed into a nightclub, with every theatergoer immersed in the experience.

Here Lies Love is on Broadway because Broadway must support boundary-pushing creative work. Broadway is also the venue for a well conceived, high-quality show that highlights the valued traditions of specific cultures whose stories have never been on its stages. Here Lies Love does not believe in artistic gatekeepers. Here Lies Love believes in a Broadway for everyone, where new creative forms push the medium and create new traditions and audiences.

I saw Here Lies Love at The Public and not sure what kind of fast talking this is, but this statement rings false and full of how can we cut the costs while sticking it to the audience.

Photo by Murphymade

Prayer for the French Republic, by Joshua Harmon is coming to Broadway this season.This award-winning Off Broadway production played to rave reviews at The Manhattan Theatre Club. The production was the winner of the 2022 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play and Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play. Broadway performances will begin previews on Tuesday, December 19, at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, with an official opening night on Tuesday, January 9, 2024. David Cromer directs.

Off Broadway: Tony winner John Rubinstein starts previews June 13 at St. Clement’s in one-man show Eisenhower.

Alicia Keys’ musical Hell’s Kitchen will run at The Public Theater from October 24 – December 10, starring Shoshana Bean. Inspired by Keys’ own life, the new musical features an original score by the 15-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, with a book by Kristoffer Diaz. Hell’s Kitchen will be directed by Michael Greif and choreographed by Camille A. Brown.

Leading the cast will be Maleah Joi Moon as Ali, opposite Bean as Ali’s mother Jersey, with Brandon Victor Dixon as Ali’s father Davis, Chad Carstarphen as Ray, Vanessa Ferguson as Tiny, Crystal Monee Hall as Crystal, Chris Lee as Knuck, Jackie Leon as Jessica, Kecia Lewis as Ali’s piano teacher Miss Liza Jane, Mariand Torres as Maria, and Lamont Walker II as Riq.

Completing the cast are Reid Clarke, Chloe Davis, Nico DeJesus, Timothy L. Edwards, Raechelle Manalo, Sarah Parker, and Niki Saludez, with understudies Badia Farha, Gianna Harris, Onyxx Noel, William Roberson, and Donna Vivino.

The musical is described as a coming-of-age story set in a cramped apartment in the neighborhood of the title near Times Square, where 17-year-old Ali is desperate to get her piece of the New York dream. Ali’s mother is just as determined to protect her daughter from the same mistakes she made. When Ali falls for a talented young drummer, both mother and daughter must face hard truths about race, defiance, and growing up.

The production has set design by Robert Brill, costumes by Dede Ayite, lighting by Natasha Katz, sound by Gareth Owens, and projection design by Peter Nigrini.

 

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Countdown to The Tony Awards: Who Will and Who Should Win in Best Performance in a Musical

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The countdown is on and the winners of the 2022/2023 season will be announced in a live televised ceremony on Sunday, June 11. 

Here is who we think will win and who should.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical 

The Nominees

Annaleigh Ashford, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Sara Bareilles, Into the Woods
Victoria Clark, Kimberly Akimbo
Lorna Courtney, & Juliet
Micaela Diamond, Parade 

This to us is a no brainer … Victoria Clark performance has stood out since she brought Kimberly Akimbo to life off-Broadway in 2021. Though Annaleigh is a terrific performer this is Victoria’s year.

Will Win: Victoria Clark
Should Win: Victoria Clark 

J. Harrison Ghee photo by Marc J. Franklin)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical 

The Nominees

Christian Borle, Some Like It Hot
J. Harrison Ghee, Some Like It Hot
Josh Groban, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Brian d’Arcy James, Into the Woods
Ben Platt, Parade
Colton Ryan, New York, New York 

This is another no brainer J. Harrison Ghee gives a textured layered performance. Ben Platt and Josh Groban cancel each other out, though both are riveting performances.

Will win: J. Harrison Ghee
Should win: J. Harrison Ghee 

Bonnie Milligan photo by Joan Marcus

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical 

The Nominees

Julia Lester, Into the Woods
Ruthie Ann Miles, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Bonnie Milligan, Kimberly Akimbo
NaTasha Yvette Williams, Some Like It Hot
Betsy Wolfe, & Juliet 

Bonnie Milligan took the theatre community by storm in Head Over Heels, but it was not her time. This year Milligan commands the stage and you definitely remember her performance.

Will win: Bonnie Milligan
Should win: Bonnie Milligan 

Alex Newell photo by Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical 

The Nominees

Kevin Cahoon, Shucked
Justin Cooley, Kimberly Akimbo
Kevin Del Aguila, Some Like It Hot
Jordan Donica, Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot
Alex Newell, Shucked 

Many think Alex Newell was snubbed in 2018 for his performance in Once on This Island. Newell gets standing ovations over at Shucked for “Independently Owned” and they are well deserved. Kevin Del Aguila to me was a breath of fresh air and made me love his performance not once, but twice.

Will win: Alex Newell
Should win:Kevin Del Aguila

 

 

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National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene Summer Soirée With Barry Manilow, Julie Benko, Adam B. Shapiro, Michael Zegen and More

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On June 19 the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene Summer Soirée at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers is set to impress. Adam B. Shapiro (from the cast of the award winning Fiddler on The Roof in Yiddish), will be the Master of Ceremonies The celebrity address will be by Michael Zegen, co-star of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” with a special performance by Julie Benko, the sensational breakout star of Broadway’s Funny Girl. Benko has joined the cast of Harmony coming to Broadway this fall.

Musical Moments from NYTF’s Upcoming Season including a performance by Danny Kornfeld from Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman’s Broadway Bound New Musical ‘Harmony

The evening will also feature performances from artists who have been part of  NYTF’s stellar productions, including a special appearance by The Mameles, whose singing trio – Maya Jacobson, Raquel Nobile and Jodi Snyder – met while starring in Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish.

Throughout the night, attendees also will be treated to performances by: Dani Apple, Joanne H. Borts, Aaron Diskin, Brian Glassman, Sophie Knapp, Annette Ezekiel Kogan, Yosef Kogan, Frank London, Avram Mlotek, Jenny Romaine, Rachel Yucht, Avi Fox-Rosen, Ilya Shneyveys, Dmitri Zisl Slepovitch, and Matt Temkin and the Schechter Bergen Children’s Chorus

Indulge in a delightful cocktail reception followed by an exquisite dinner as you prepare to be dazzled with exclusive previews of musical moments from NYTF’s upcoming 2023-2024 Season.

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