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Princess Cruises and Oscar, Grammy and Tony award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz (WickedPippin, Godspell) today announced the creative team for the third show in its exclusive partnership, The Silk Crane.  Created and directed by John Tartaglia (Avenue QImaginOcean), The Silk Crane is a remarkable tale of adventure, romance, and enchantment that features familiar music and brings together some of Broadway’s best creatives to transport audiences on board.  Told entirely through music, dance, puppetry, and visuals, acclaimed puppeteer, actor, comedian, and director John Tartaglia brings a contemporary spin to a classic ancient folktale exclusively for Princess Cruises.  The Silk Crane will debut in late 2017 onboard Diamond Princess and follows Magic to Do and Born to Dance, the first two shows in the collaboration.

 Auditions for The Silk Crane will be in Honolulu on April 4 and 5, Los Angeles on April 26 and 27, and in New York May 1 through 4.

The Silk Crane will feature original puppet creations by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, with choreography by Shannon Lewis (Jacob’s Pillow Dance FestivalA Dog Story), scenic design by Tony Award-nominee Anna Louizos (Broadway’s School of Rock, In the Heights), costume design by Tony Award-winner Clint Ramos (EclipsedHere Lies Love), lighting design by Kelly Easterling (Uprising of Love with Sting, Forever Cunard), and media design by Aaron Rhyne (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Broadway’s Anastasia). With lyrics by Adam Gwon (Ordinary DaysOld Jews Telling Jokes), compositions by Jihwan Kim (CupidCinderella After the Ball), music direction and vocal arrangements by Brad Ellis (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, “Glee”), and music production and orchestrations by Andrew Christie (Rush, “Survivor”), Jayson Raitt(“Dancing with the Stars,” Rock of Ages) serves as consulting producer.

“John’s creativity and Stephen’s guidance and vision are a winning team, and we are very much looking forward to bringing this timeless, ancient fable to our passengers,” said Denise Saviss, vice president, entertainment, Princess Cruises.

In 2015, Princess Cruises and the three-time Oscar-winning composer Stephen Schwartz created a first-of-its-kind cruise industry partnership.  Schwartz oversees the creative development for four shows exclusive to the Princess fleet, bringing together a cadre of Broadway talent to support the productions through direction and design.

Stephen Schwartz wrote the music and lyrics for the Broadway hits WickedPippin, Godspell and The Magic Show. For film, he wrote the songs for the DreamWorks animated feature The Prince of Egypt, and collaborated with composer Alan Menken on the songs for Disney’s Enchanted, as well as the animated features Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He collaborated with Leonard Bernstein on the English texts for Bernstein’s Mass, and his first opera, Séance on a Wet Afternoon, was produced at Opera Santa Barbara and New York City Opera. Schwartz has won three Oscars, four Grammys and a Tony. He has been inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and has been given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

John Tartaglia (Creator and Director).  Directing credits include The Wizard of Oz, Shrek the Musical and Tarzan (The MUNY), Claudio Quest (New York Musical Theatre Festival, winner Outstanding Direction, Best of the NYMF), Lord Tom (York Theater), Jim Henson’s Sid the Science Kid and Dinosaur Train Live! (national tour), Elmo the Musical, Live!(Sesame Place), Avenue Q (off-Broadway, Resident Director). Theatre performance credits include a Tony Award nominated Broadway debut in Avenue Q creating the roles of Princeton and Rod, Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast, and Pinocchio in Shrek The Musical.  Best known to parents and kids as “Johnny” from Disney’s Johnny and the Sprites (Daytime Emmy award nomination) on Disney Junior Worldwide, additional performing credits include 13 seasons on “Sesame Street,” Disney’s “Bear in the Big Blue House,” “Ugly Betty,” “Animal Jam,” “Dog City,” “The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss,” “Play with Me Sesame,” “Sesame English,” “Blue’s Room,” and “JoJo’s Circus.” His acclaimed off-Broadway, national and international touring show ImaginOcean will premiere in November as a new Jim Henson Company series on PBS entitled Splash and Bubbles with John serving as an executive producer and performer of “Splash.” John is also the host of SiriusXM On Broadway’s Sunday Funday.

Adam Gwon (Lyricist) is a composer and lyricist whose musicals have enjoyed more than 150 productions worldwide. Off-Broadway credits include Ordinary Days (Roundabout Theatre) and Old Jews Telling Jokes (Westside Theatre). Regional credits include Cake Off (Signature Theatre, Helen Hayes Award nomination), Cloudlands (South Coast Rep), The Boy Detective Fails (Signature Theatre), Bernice Bobs Her Hair (Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma) and the West End’s Ordinary Days (Trafalgar Studios). His songs have been performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, among others, by such luminaries as Audra McDonald, Kelli O’Hara and Brian d’Arcy James. Honors include the Kleban Award, Ebb Award, Richard Rodgers Award, Loewe Award, Second Stage Theatre’s Donna Perret Rosen Award, Weston Playhouse New Musical Award, ASCAP Harold Adamson Award, and the MAC John Wallowitch Award. Recordings include Ordinary Days (Ghostlight Records), Audra McDonald’s Go Back Home (Nonesuch), The Essential Liz Callaway (Working Girl Records) and Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Album.  Gwon has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony and the Dramatists Guild.

Jihwan Kim (Composer) is a New York-based composer and pianist.  He is currently the pianist for the upcoming Broadway show Sousatzka by Maltby and Shire and has been pianist for An American In Paris on Broadway and the first national tour of A Chorus Line.  Kim has also played in the Broadway orchestra pits of Mary Poppins and Evita.  With lyricist/bookwriter Sean Hartley, he wrote Cupid and Psyche, which was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Best Lyrics and has been produced Off-Broadway at the John Houseman Theatre and in regional theatres across the country.  With lyricist/bookwriter Eddie Sugarman, he wrote The Nutcracker Sings and Cinderella After the Ball which recently ran at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, NE. He orchestrated The Moon and The Son, which won an Oscar in 2006 for Best Short Film, Animated. Other works include One World Symphony, Ureuk Symphony Orchestra, and a film score played live-to-picture at the Tribeca Film Festival. Kim holds a B.A. from Harvard University, M.A. in Film Scoring from NYU, and a J.D. from Rutgers Law School.

Brad Ellis (Music Director and Vocal Arranger) is a composer, musical director, orchestrator, and jazz pianist. Credits include the quiet teacher/pianist on “Glee,” where he also served as a music director, arranger, pianist and composer.  He was the music director for Fox’s recent The Rocky Horror Picture Show and contributed music and orchestrations for Netflix’s “The Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.” Other television credits include “Gilmore Girls,” “Bunheads,” “2009 Academy Awards” (co-creating Hugh Jackman’s opening number), “The Glee Project,” and “The Middle.” Film credits include ChicagoDe-Lovely, and Beauty and the Beast. Ellis has conducted and performed in over 6,000 performances of more than 400 different concerts and musicals, and orchestrates for the LA Phil, Boston Pops, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, National Symphony, BBC Concert Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony and Philadelphia Orchestra. He’s led 35 albums for RCA, DRG, and Varese Sarabande, and has worked closely with Billy Joel, Christoph Eschenbach, Kristin Chenoweth, Ariana Grande, and Tim Curry, and is Matthew Morrison’s music director.  Ellis received an Emmy certificate for his work on the Oscars, and in 2011 Donate Life Hollywood honored him as their Person of the Year for his work promoting organ transplant awareness.

 One of the best-known names in cruising, Princess Cruises is a global cruise line and tour company operating a fleet of 18 modern cruise ships renowned for their innovative design and wide array of choices in dining, entertainment and amenities, all provided with the experience of exceptional customer service. As world’s largest international premium cruise brand, Princess carries two million guests each year to more than 360 destinations around the globe on more than 150 itineraries ranging in length from three to 114 days. The company is part of Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE:CUK).

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS (1-800-774-6237), or by visiting the company’s website at princess.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

Days of Wine and Roses” the Musical Ages Like Cut Flowers, Rather Than Wine in its Transfer Uptown to Broadway

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This is my second shot of The Days of Wine and Roses, after seeing it at the smaller Atlantic Theatre off-Broadway stage, and unlike the wine mentioned in the title, time played with it like the roses. The musical, about a doomed couple destroyed by alcoholism, did not thrive, like fine wine, but wilted like cut flowers in a bigger vase. The larger stage of Studio 54, as hoped, did not make this drink taste any better for me, but it did make me notice some of the sharper tones that I must have overlooked before, leaving a slightly bad taste that still lingers in the back of my throat after swallowing.

With a book by Craig Lucas (I Was Most Alive with You) and distancingly complex music, lyrics, and orchestrations by Adam Guettel (The Light in the Piazza), Days of Wine and Roses does continue to deliver musical “magic time” in an effort to give us some abundance. It flows forward, trying to make us drunk with its intricate chocolate flavors of a Brandy Alexander, but left me cold outside in the murky waters that it tries to overlook. “What’s your tragic story?” he asks, as the two soon-to-be lovers drift forward, far too abruptly, into the choppy suburban sea of coupledom, isolation, and cocktail hours, shaken and stirred with complicated textured notes of sadness and need.

The music is soaring, in an operatic repetitive way, melodramatically hitting high, without giving much depth, much like what lives at the core of the 1958 teleplay and 1963 movie “Days of Wine and Roses” on which this new musical is based. Although the film, starring the magnificent Lee Remick and Jack Lemmon, never gives these two characters a moment to sing, even as the two fall madly in love, the premise is ripe for some introspection and investigation. These are their days of wine and roses, we are told, but here, in this sometimes compelling, but surprisingly distancing musical, the songs fling themselves out like a distress call for help from an isolated island, heaving with the intense feelings of being stranded, desperate, and seemingly on their own, but flailing in the choppy waters trying to connect. Even during the more enjoyable drunk song numbers, which are more fun and entertaining than some of the other more ‘meaningful’ songs.

Brian d’Arcy James and Kelli O’Hara in Broadway’s Days of Wine and Roses. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The musical’s ideas have depth and courage, and are delivered pitch perfectly by the two magnificent leads who carry most of the vocal weight and baggage. Brian D’Arcy James (Broadway’s ShrekInto the Woods) vocally ushers forth a Joe Clay that swings wide and true, sounding, quite possibly almost as brilliant as Kelli O’Hara (Broadway’s Kiss Me, Kate) in her role as the beautifully kind Kirsten Arnesen, the young secretary (that’s what they called them back then) who had not found the flavor of alcohol appealing until that fateful night. We watch with nervous anticipation as the drink is lifted to her lips, knowing what is in store. We hope that she doesn’t drink the Kool-Aid that Joe keeps pushing. And then they are off to the races, finding melancholy melodies in both the drunken pleasures and pain of addiction.

It’s a quick dive into the dark and dirty waters of this quicksand river. It jumps forward with wild drunken abandonment, never really feeling authentic this time around, but somehow forced and perplexing. Each song, particularly the more dramatic ones, seems to stop the story in its tracks, like a drunk trying to regain its balance as it walks down the street. The moments feel somehow true and isolated from us all at the same time, keeping us at a distance and never really engaging with us enough to want to join in with the emotional story. When the Kirsten character asks Joe if they can go somewhere other than that first scene party, it struck me as odd, as the book up to that moment has painted Joe in pretty negative annoying tones. Why she was the one who suggested that an intimate outing would be something she wanted at that exact moment didn’t really make sense. But if he had been the one asking, I could have believed, that after a little thought, she might have agreed to it, but this way around? It didn’t sit authentically true for me.

The music hangs big and bold between them, delivering the depth of their destructive ways, while keeping them isolated from the outside world (including us) that keeps shining a light on the problems that are approaching. The voices of the two leads are really the best part of this construction, with the other characters, under the direction of Michael Greif (2ST’s A Parallelogram), doing their best to step into that light, especially David Jennings (Broadway’s Tina) as Joe’s AA sponsor, Jim Hungerford, who wisely underplays this pivotal role rather than presenting a sermon. There is also the troubled father of Kirsten, played intently by Byron Jennings (Broadway’s Harry Potter…), who flounders a bit in the foreground, worried and angry about the road his daughter is taking, yet seeing clear that he has little power to challenge her path.

Brian d’Arcy James and Kelli O’Hara in Broadway’s Days of Wine and Roses. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Guettel pours out song after jagged song, exposing the twisted engagements that are taking over their lives. It’s troubling and upsetting to watch, and sometimes very difficult to follow along with the lyrics, even when so beautifully sung. The songs teeter on melodrama and mayhem, and the two leads strive forward, wobbly, leading us through the tangled path they are taking. The ideas and formulations don’t exactly mesh and blend in with each other, separating songs from the action, and the heart from the formula, all on an awkwardly complicated set designed by Lizzie Clachan (National Theatre’s The Witches). The piece somewhat stays far too close to the expanse of the film version, struggling to keep up, and crowding the stage more and more as it gets closer to the final blackout. I went in hoping that with the larger Broadway stage, a sharpening of its visual could have settled the piece, simplifying the locations and finding other ways to tell this tale without bringing a room full of plants, coffeeshop counters, and a motel room into the already crowded picture.

With determined costumes by Dede Ayite (Broadway’s Topdog/Underdog), simple lighting by Ben Stanton (Broadway’s Good Night, Oscar), and a solid sound design by Kai Harada (Broadway’s Kimberly Akimbo), the piece never shuffles with ease. This isn’t a hummable show, more akin to an opera led by two, at least in the beginning, before their daughter, Lila, dutifully portrayed by Tabitha Lawing (Atlanta Opera/Alliance’s The Shining), begins to join them in their vocal union, expanding what is at stake, from a pair to something more. Lila and her mother’s correspondence is one of the few moments that actually registered on the emotional spectrum inside, while the rest blurred together like a movie viewing after one too many martinis.

Under the watchful eye of choreographers Sergio Trujillo (Broadway’s Next to Normal) and Karla Puno Garcia (Netflix’s tick, tick…BOOM!), and backed most gorgeously by the score courtesy of music director Kimberly Grigsby (Broadway’s Camelot), The Days of Wine and Roses rolls forward drunkenly playing a tender but blurry game of hide and seek, teasing us with highend music and magnificent performances, but leaving us, somewhat unsettled and distant from this fragmented and choppy musical melodrama.

Kelli O’Hara and Brian d’Arcy James in Broadway’s Days of Wine and Roses. Photo by Joan Marcus.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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Off Broadway

Jonah Off-Broadway at Roundabout Cracks Wide Open Trauma and Repair

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The story that is being told is a complete page-turner. Back and forth, up and around, and deep within, flipping from now to back then in a light flash of repeated verbal moment and some lightning cracks in the time continuum. It’s a fantastically compelling unpacking, these articulate moments of disturbing wonder, playing with frameworks and fantasies that gnaw at our stressful hearts and imagination. We are pulled, sweetly, at first, into the world of Ana, played to perfection by the magnificently detailed Gabby Beans (LCT’s The Skin of Our Teeth), completely and within an instant, wanting and waiting for this tender kind of interaction to blossom, but also realizing she walks too fast and too forward. We want to hold on to this cautious, overly emotional tingling, and gigantically charming awkward fumbling. It can make a young man cry. Or a young woman lean in with hope and faith.

Roundabout Theatre Company‘s Jonah, a new play most vitally and inquisitively written by Rachel Bonds (Goodnight Noboby; The Lonely Few), asks us to follow in the quick footsteps of Ana, begging us to keep up, but falling through doorways with abstract oblivion at a moment’s notice. It’s the tenderest of beginnings, with a crack that opens up a world of problematic trauma and complex formulations. Those trapped constructs, and those “deep deep sick” feelings, sneak inside our senses and leave us wondering where we are moment to moment, and what should we believe.

As directed with clarity and vision by Danya Taymor (Broadway’s Pass Over), the effect is deliberately destabilizing, giving you tenderness and discomfort within moments of each other, with the changing of the guard brought upon by sharp cracks and seizures in the universe. The titular character, Jonah, delicately and dynamically portrayed by the sweetest of creatures, Hagan Oliveras (“American Horror Stories“; Players Theatre’s The Trouble with Dead Boyfriends), runs in pursuit of the electric energy of Ana, trying hard to keep up with this fantastical creature. What is she running to? Or from? It’s the most engaging of beginnings, drawing us forward with awkward longing and a supersonic unseared outreach. We couldn’t want this union more as we say “yeah, yeah, yeah” to their cross-legged flirtation with love and understanding, but there is something that just doesn’t feel real, or maybe right, in their outreach. And an uneasiness starts to sink in.

I like you,” he says, with utter sincerity, and our hearts shimmer open a wee bit more. Jonah plays with our sensibilities and our own longing for this kind of thoughtful spring awakening, until that lighting crack and skipping occurs. Much like on an old-fashioned record player, courtesy of the stellar work of set designer Wilson Chin (MTC’s Cost of Living), lighting by Amith Chandrashaker (MTC’s Prayer for the French Republic), and sound design by Kate Marvin (MCC’s Wolf Play), a fracture comes into play, and we are thrown. Or is it he that is thrown? We are no longer in her dorm room, cozy and awkward, retelling our intricate fantasizes to a wide-eyed young man in love, but somewhere else, trying to survive the brutal hard world of before alongside her stepbrother Danny, played powerfully by Samuel H. Levine (Broadway’s The Inheritance). It doesn’t carry with it that same sense of authentic innocence and safety. It’s dangerous, and uncomfortable, even in the care and protective stance of her stepbrother.

Gabby Beans and Samuel H. Levine in RTC’s Jonah. Photo by Joan Marcus.

I do what I want,” is a refrain the young Ana keeps repeating to the lovestruck Jonah, and at first we believe in the bravado, until we see a different aspect of Ana’s existence, a parallel universe, in a way, where the trap has been set, not by her, but by the world of ‘have and have not’; ‘need and hunger’. “She just got trapped,” she says of her mother, “afraid of what he might do.” She knows this caged framework in a way that few of us can understand, yet maybe the third man that comes knocking on that door, later, in a different place and time, can ask the right question from the correct category of topics; the one that is now fixated on the flame of Ana; the very tall Steven, played to itchy delight by John Zdrojeski (Broadway’s Good Night, Oscar).

It is there in the third where something shifts, where protection and need come together, collide, and shatter on the floor. Ana is working hard to find something that resembles her fantasy, or push the thought away behind her writing and a closed door. But also, maybe she can discover at least a pathway for the opening up and the healing to begin. It’s the cleverest of constructs, looking at trauma and pain from a number of angles and vantage points, all at once, from up above, back and forward, and within such a detailed and unique lyrical unwrapping. Beans is absolutely ingenious in her complicated approach to the parallels, giving us a character worthy of the fixation. Jonah is the key, the ointment to stop the itch, and the pathway to healing.

John Zdrojeski and Gabby Beans in Roundabout Theatre Company’s .Jonah. Photo by Joan Marcus.

For more info and tickets, click here.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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Broadway

Museum of Broadway Celebrates Black History Month

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Museum of Broadway, 145 W. 45th Street, upcoming February Events

Saturday, February 24th | 12:00 PM

The Museum of Broadway Presents: A History of Minstrelsy with Ben West 

Join musical theatre artist and historian Ben West, author of the upcoming book The American Musical, for a journey into the history of minstrelsy, including its legacy of blackface on Broadway, its trailblazing Black artists, and its impact on the development of the American musical. Note: This talk will involve mature content.

– Event link here

Monday, February 26th | 11:00 AM

The Museum of Broadway Presents: A Conversation with Black Broadway Creatives

Join in celebrating and honoring the lives, careers, and experiences of Black Broadway creatives in the American theater.  Panelists include Ken Hanson, Dante Harrell, Destiny Lilly, Zane Mark, Thelma Pollard and Virginia Woodruff, in-conversation with Erich McMillian-McCall of Project 1 Voice.

– Event link here

Wednesday, February 28th | 12:00 PM

The Museum of Broadway Presents: Mary & Ethel…And Mikey Who? 

Talkback and Book Signing with award-winning author Stephen Cole joined by famed cabaret star Klea Blackhurst and special guest Anita Gillette

– Event link here 

Thursday, February 29th |10:30 AM

The Museum of Broadway Presents: Spotlight on Black Broadway Producers

Join acclaimed award-winning producers Rashad Chambers, Sade Lythcott & Brian Anthony Moreland in-conversation with Merrily We Roll Along’s Krystal Joy Brown

– Event link here

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Music

Jason Robert Brown’s The Connector Is Intelligent, Thought Provoking and Musically Seamless

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“The truth is not about the facts – forgive me. The facts can always be manipulated, arranged, massaged – We are not purveyors of facts, we are tellers of truths.” …..Or are we?

The Connector now playing at at MCC’s Newman Mills Theater space, has twice been extended and in all honesty should move to Broadway this season. If it did it would stands a massive chance of being nominated or winning Best Musical, Best Score, Best Orchestration, Best Direction, Best Lead Actor and many of the technical awards. I wouldn’t be surprised if it sweeps the Drama Desk and The Outer Critics Circle Awards come award season.

Set in 1996 at a newspaper called “The Connector”, this unrivaled purveyor of “the truth and nothing but the truth,” is about to be put to the test. Enter Ethan Dobson (the remarkable Ben Levi Ross), fresh out of Princeton who’s arrived with talent, guts and a smarmy style.

Scott Bakula, Ben Levi Ross By Joan Marcus

Ethan has long admired and longs to work for the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Conrad O’Brien (welcome back to the fabulous Scott Bakula), who is being over run by new owners, who care more about circulation and the color turquoise, than facts.

Jessica Molaskey By Joan Marcus

The first person Ethan meets and the voice of a collective conscience is Robin Martinez (normally played by Hannah Cruz, but at my performance Ashley Pérez Flanagan). At first attracted to Ethan, Robin starts to see the cracks, as does fact checker, Muriel (a layered performance by Jessica Molaskey). Right from the start, she does not like or trust Ethan. Nor do we. In a strange way, this almost seems like a musicalized version of “The Talented Mr. Ripley”.

As Conrad takes Ethan under his wing, we see three of his stories, each done in a different musical style. The first is about an eccentric West Village scrabble player (the terrific Max Crumm). With a “Rhythm of Life” feel, Ethan becomes an over night success with circulation increasing and a fan by the name of Mona Bland (a memorable Mylinda Hull) who will end up being his downfall.

Fergie Philippe, Hannah Cruz, and Ben Levi Ross Photo: Joan Marcus

The next story is about the take down of the mayor of Jersey City, done in rap/ gangland style that gets him a nomination for the prestigious National Magazine Award. As his source Willis, Fergie Philippe gives his all, but the problem we soon find out, is that though the story is sensational, there are gaping holes in the facts, which Muriel, Robin and Mona glaringly see. 

In the end who is Ethan really? What is truth and what is fact? Does the public really care or do they just want sensationalism? Has the world really gotten over its sexism? It’s racialism? Sadly, I don’t think so. Everything becomes the movie of the week and then goes away until the next big scandal.

The Connector was conceived and directed by Daisy Prince, who does a remarkable job and asks some really intelligent questions. She has also gathered a fabulous cast, who makes this show seem real, relevant and up to date.

Ben Levi Ross By Joan Marcus

Ben Levi Ross will remind you of Jessie Einsenburg. He is loaded with talent. Not only does he posses a vocal prowess that is unmatched, his nuances and phenomenal acting choices make him so watchable. He is like an onion slowly peeling away each delicate layer. He is seriously brilliant.


As Robin, I saw the understudy who is about to take over the role, Ashley Pérez Flanagan. She sings and acts well, but lacks some of the nuances that originally made me want to see this show. I fell in love with the song “Cassandra” in 2017 and either Jason Robert Brown rewrote some of the notes or they were different in the production I saw. This song is pivotal to the show, as the lyrics talk about how women writers are written off.

“Half the stories of the world are left unwritten, half the stories have been lost along the way. And so the people of the world will not encounter, anything but one perspective, one reflection, one directive, male and white and unenlightened, every day. It’s easy for you, it’s easy for you and I’m missing it”

These are the lyrics by Jason Robert Brown for “Cassandra”. Not only is his music rich in rhythm and style, but it reaches into your soul to take capture. His lyrics hit at the heart of pain, truth, anger and honesty. Each song is a playlet with character-driven narratives and stand on their own. Smartly his band is electric and musically I could sit through this show every night of the week and hear new emotional tugs. I am so excited to announce the album will be released in late spring by Concord Theatricals Recording, because I want to listen to these songs again and again. A plus is JRB is on the piano playing with his band.

Jonathan Marc Sherman’s book is funny, terrifying and taps on timely issues, however I did want more as to the why’s and psychology of Ethan, but maybe that’s the point, we don’t understand the why’s and never will.

Not only is the show wonderfully done, but the raw masterful set by Beowulf Boritt, lighting by and projection design by Janette Oi-Suk Yew and choreography by Karla Puno Garcia are shear perfection.

You will not be able to stop thinking about this show, that is full of thought provoking ideas on journalistic integrity and the difference between fact and truth. This is a show not to be missed and that’s a fact.

The Connector: MCC Theater Space, 511 W 52nd Street, through March 17th.

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Broadway

The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

MORE MURDER — (Via Deadline) Sophie Ellis-Bextor is gearing up to tour around North America for the first time and adding more cities for fans to see her perform “Murder on the Dance Floor” live.

The British singer’s song is featured in the final scene of Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn, where Barry Keoghan’s Oliver dances naked around the manor. After the scene went viral, the song, co-written by Ellis-Bextor and Gregg Alexander, also went viral on social media. “Murder on the Dance Floor” was originally released in 2001, but it never charted on the Billboard Hot 100 until now, peaking at 51 recently.

Ellis-Bextor recently made an appearance on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon where she performed the viral hit and the star is now embarking on a North America tour.

The artist announced her first-ever live show in NYC, set to take place on June 6 at Webster Hall, and the date quickly sold out. Ellis-Bextor has now announced more dates across the U.S. and Canada that will take her to San Francisco, San Diego, Boston, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.

“Oh my… the New York show sold out in a day! Thank you thank you thank you,” Ellis-Bextor said in her newsletter announcing the additional tour dates. “So – how about some more shows in some more cities?! My band and I are coming for you! Super excited. Come and dance with me….”

May 30: August Hall (San Francisco, CA)May 31: The Observatory North Park (San Diego, CA)June 3: 9:30 Club (Washington D.C.)June 4: Royale Boston (Boston, MA)June 5: Union Transfer (Philadelphia, PA)June 6: Webster Hall (New York City, NY)June 8: Danforth Music Hall (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

I love this record, because its an actual song. Sure, they repeat the title about three-dozen times, but its a great track.

Neil Diamond and Micky Dolenz

NOISE CLOSES — (Via Deadline) Broadway’s A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical will play its final performance on Sunday, June 30, before launching a national tour this fall, producers announced today.

The musical, which began previews on November 2, 2022, at the Broadhurst Theatre and opened that year on December 4, will have played 35 preview performances and 657 regular performances when it closes.

As I’ve said, early reviews of the show, kind of stopped me from going to this. An artist who is even referenced in the play said to me ‘why would I go to a play that got bad reviews.’ Understood.

But, I did see it and absolutely loved it. Of course, I’m somewhat on the business side and loved all the insider-nuances. And, I saw it with the original performers in it.

There will be a national tour and I predict it will be a huge hit as Diamond’s music is multi-generational. As I’ve said, I preferred Diamond’s “Solitary Man”-period more than “America” and “I Am, I Said.” Although, “Turn On Your Heart Light” (written with Carole Bayer Sager and Burt Bacharach) was a great record.

An icon for certain.

SHORT TAKES — Warner’s second Aquaman movie; Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will stream on MAX on February 27. The first Aquaman movie, out in 2018, remains the highest-grossing DC film of all time. The sequel, after a plethora of media, mostly about Amber Heard, disappeared in a matter of weeks … Broadway-journeyman and Rockers On Broadway-creator Donnie Kehr recupping. Get well soon brother! … Keith Girard’s New York Independent featured an interview with 17-old wunderkind Kjersti Long. Check it out: https://www.thenyindependent.com/music/1704991/kjersti-long-17-explores-her-jersey-roots-by-way-of-utah-with-power-pop-style-video/

Pet Shop Boys

Just listened to the Pet Shop Boys “West End Girls.” What a tremendous record that hold up amazingly well all these years later. It came out in 1984 and produced by Bobby Orlando … Amazon shuttering Freevee? First off, as an offshoot of Amazon, this has got to be one of the worst monikers ever! I mean, FreeVee ... always sounded like frisbee!  Adios … Thursday’s Law & Order was the ode to Sam Waterston’s Jack McCoy-character (Last Dance).

Sam Waterston

After 404 episodes, we had to say goodbye. It wasn’t the greatest episode, but when McCoy took over the case and presented it to the jury, Waterston shone brightly. When McCoy said to Hugh Dancy (Nolan Ryan), it was a hell of a ride, it resonated terrifically. Thanks Jack! …

True Detective

I loved the finale on HBO of True Detective with Jodie Foster and Kali Reis. I didn’t understand it all, but the look and direction (by Issa Lopez) and Jodie Foster was just superb. I had forgotten just how good an actress Foster was. Sure, she was good in Nyad, but it was a supporting role. Here, she was just stellar. I’d like to see more of her …

Micky Jones

It was a grim week medically speaking as talk-show hostess Wendy Williams was diagnosed with aphasia and dementia and Mick Jones of Foreigner, with Parkinson’s. Sending prayers to both … And finally, news surfaced Thursday that an “inebriated” Andy Cohen harassed Brandi Glanville. I don’t know Andy at all, but his bad-boy antics of the last several years were clearly leading to something like this. Glanville’s lawyers even invoked NBC’s Matt Lauer in their brief. Expect a huge media brouhaha over this one. Sad for sure … Happy Bday Lou Christie; Niki Avers and Chloe Gaier.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Steve Walter; Obi Steinman; Felix Cavaliere; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Kent Kotal; Ace Frehley; Alex Saltzman; Lush Ice; Tony King; Barry Zelman; Justin Ridener; Kent & Laura Denmark; Mark Bego; Mark Scheerer; Barbara Shelley; and SADIE!

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