Fair warning: muggles with Dursley-ish qualities should sit this one out. If that sentence made no sense, that means you. If, however, you have fantasized about receiving your Hogwarts acceptance letter, and gallivanting off to a life filled with magic, then Puffs: Or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic is going to feel like exactly what you’ve been waiting for.
From the moment you step into the theater, you are transported, and while the set itself wasn’t like any part of Hogwarts I had ever imagined (the patches of floral wallpaper seem entirely out of place, even if Herbology is the Hufflepuffs’ best subject, and the hanging burlap doesn’t make any sense at all), its many doors and openings gave ample space for the actors to play, which they utilized more and more as the show went on, culminating finally in the meticulously choreographed final battle. The set dressing of the audience space added extra ambiance, particularly if you were lucky enough to arrive a little early and could admire the portrait frames (and wonder where their subjects had gotten off to!), as well as enjoy the various school announcements regarding Charms Club and other magical extracurriculars coming over the magical loudspeaker (although sometimes these were lost amid the audience chatter). These little touches to a pre-show experience tend to make all the difference, and as long as you didn’t think too hard about why there were muggle Christmas lights and other distinctly non-magical fixtures adorning the set walls, the moments before the narrator’s appearance were spent in giddy anticipation for whatever was to come.
As it turns out, we would spend the next 100 minutes re-living Harry’s seven years at Hogwarts, but from the fresh perspectives of the hitherto unknown Hufflepuffs of his year, mainly the newly imagined characters of Wayne, Oliver and Megan. This new trio is supported by a large cast of others playing multiple roles as Hufflepuffs and old beloveds alike, and throughout the course of the show we watch them struggle with spells, hormones, personal identity, and the question of what it was really like for everyone else while all these terrible, scary things were happening at school, and that pesky Potter kid was hogging all the spotlight. There’s something inherently comedic about that premise, embodied perfectly in the scene where we experience what it was like for on-lookers of the second task of the Triwizard Tournament while Harry and the other champions were underwater: literally everyone was just staring at a lake for an hour with no insight as to what was happening underneath the surface. After that, additional amusement stemming from the new storylines seemed like an added bonus. And while some bits went a little long (Voldemort using the megaphone), or could be cut entirely (Cedric transfiguring the birds), and while a disproportionate number of the girls speak in annoying high-pitched registers, Matt Cox’s script is overflowing with jokes and allusions that will leave you laughing until you cry.
But even the most expertly crafted script will fail if it is not placed in capable hands, and for this, credit must go to Zac Moon. Perfectly cast as Wayne, he delivers huge chunks of dialogue at a breakneck pace with expert comedic timing, and functions as a trusted, steady guide (a patronus, if you will) through this whirlwind of a show. His skill, combined with Kristin McCarthy Parker’s direction, creates an atmosphere that allows the audience to get lost in this world. Other favorite performances included Eleanor Philips’ portrayals of Professors McGonnagal and Sprout, Madeleine Bundy’s portrayal of Harry Potter, and Jessie Cannizzaro’s brief but memorable portrayal of Draco Malfoy.
However, outside of those featured moments, they, along with the rest of the cast, struggled to find their individual voices when playing the actual Hufflepuffs, and this resulted in disappointingly homogenous performances in those ensemble scenes. Between Leanne (played by Andy Miller) continually reminding us that they are in fact all wizards (as if we could have forgotten), Hannah (played by Eleanor Philips) repeatedly being surprised that she is being bullied, and J. Finch (played by Nick Carillo) prancing around the stage, the Hufflepuffs are not so much united by traits of loyalty and strong work ethic as they are by obliviousness and bumbling stupidity. Even the main supporting characters of Megan (played by Julie Ann Earls) and Oliver (played by Langston Belton) who have more lines and stage time to showcase complexity and evolution missed the opportunity to do so. Their character arcs, which begin with her as a girl who is determined not to be a Puff and a boy who can’t make peace with the fact that his propensity for math is not relevant to magic, and end with her as the puffiest Puff and him being happier as a wizard than a mathematician, are predictable and reduce them more to caricatures than redeemers of their house. This effect trickles down to the smaller roles, and while every cast member gets a multitude of laughs throughout the show, I wished for more diversity and dimensionality among them.
Madeleine Bundy also deserves a special mention because not only was her portrayal of Harry inspired, but she was also responsible for the set, costume and prop design. No small feat, but to top it all off, the props were marvelously inventive, particularly the dementors, the spiders, the dragon egg (was it made out of spoons??), and my personal favorite, the set and puppets used during the Founding Story. Bundy’s aesthetic imbued the rest of the show with a whimsical spirit that was contagious.
All in all, it’s hard to imagine a better way to spend an evening at the theater. Puffs reminds you that even in the humdrum and drudgery of the muggle world we live in, our favorite magic school will always be there, and it might behoove us to return more often.
New World Stages,340 W. 50th Street. Now through January 14th, 2018. Runtime: 100 Minutes
Asi Wind’s Inner Circle Where Cards Are Magical and Slight of Hand is Astounding
My guest absolutely loved Asi Wind’s Inner Circle pre, but if you have been to Speakeasy Magick at The McKittrick Hotel, much of what is here will seem repetitive, though still amazing.
Asi, is good looking, charming, amusing and has a wonderful slight of hand. The Gym at the Judson has been designed and lit by Adam Blumenthal to make the space warm and inviting. The space only has 100 seats so you are up-close and personal.
Before the show starts audience members are asked to write their names and initial on a blank card with red or black sharpie’s. These are the cards he uses as his deck, so that each night the show is personalize.
Wind is a wonderful storyteller and loves his craft. He is infectious about his passion and in so brings his audience in. Each trick is celebrated as he builds his momentum. You will have seen most of these tricks before, if you have been to The McKittrick, but Asi makes it fun and exciting.
My guest could not wait to bring her grandson and throughly enjoyed the show. That alone made the performance special.
Asi Wind’s Inner Circle: Gym at Judson, 243 Thompson Street, until May 28th.
Theatre News: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Bad Cinderella, John Kander, KPOP and The Rewards of Being Frank
A Statement From Andrew Lloyd Webber
I am absolutely devastated to say that my eldest son Nick is critically ill.
As my friends and family know, he has been fighting gastric cancer for the last 18 months and Nick is now hospitalised.
I therefore have not been able to attend the recent previews of Bad Cinderella and as things stand, I will not be able to cheer on its wonderful cast, crew and orchestra on Opening Night this Thursday.
We are all praying that Nick will turn the corner. He is bravely fighting with his indomitable humour, but at the moment my place is with him and the family.
Opening Night Performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical Bad Cinderella is Thursday, March 23, 2023 at Imperial Theatre, 249 W 45th Street.
Red Carpet arrivals of celebrity guests including Afyia Bennett, Senator Barbara Boxer, Alex Brightman, Tory Burch, Kandi Burruss, Jordan E. Cooper, Erin Dana Lichy, Lamar Dawson, Machine Dazzle, Bethenny Frankel, Mandy Gonzalez, Amber Gray, Jae Gurley, Amber Iman, Ashley Longshore, Carson Kressley, Judy Kuhn, Loosey LaDuca, Luann de Lesseps, Marcia Marcia Marcia, Martyna Majok, Ingrid Michaelson, Andy Mientus, Minnie Mills, Pablo Montalban, Justin Peck, Wendell Pierce, Zac Posen, T. Oliver Reid, Krysta Rodriguez, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Sylvester Stallone, Elizabeth Stanley, Alex Timbers, Tommy Tune, Tanairi Sade Vasquez, Ana Villafane, Anna Wintour and the cast and creative team of Bad Cinderella including Andrew Lloyd Webber, Linedy Genao, Carolee Carmello, Grace McLean, Jordan Dobson, Sami Gayle, Morgan Higgins, Cameron Loyal, Christina Acosta Robinson, Savy Jackson, Mike Baerga, Raymond Baynard, Lauren Boyd, Tristen Buettel, Alyssa Carol, Gary Cooper, Kaleigh Cronin, Josh Drake, Ben Lanham, Angel Lozada, Mariah Lyttle, Robin Masella, Sarah Meahl, Michael Milkanin, Chloe Nadon-Enriquez, Christian Probst, Larkin Reilly, Julio Rey, Lily Rose, J Savage, Dave Schoonover, Tregony Shepherd, Paige Smallwood, Lucas Thompson, Alena Watters and more.
John Kander celebrates his 96th birthday on Saturday, March 18, six days before New York, New York, his 16th original Broadway musical begins performances at the St. James Theatre., giving him the distinction of being the oldest composer to open a new musical on Broadway. To honor the legendary composer Susan Stroman, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Colton Ryan, Anna Uzele and the cast and creative team of New York, New York surprised John Kander with a Big-Apple-sized rendition of “Happy Birthday.” You can watch the video here.
A titan of the American Theatre, John Kander made his Broadway debut as the rehearsal pianist for the original production of Gypsy starring Ethel Merman in 1951. The first Kander & Ebb musical, Flora The Red Menace, debuted in 1965 and starred Liza Minnelli in a Tony-winning performance. What followed was a string of legendary musicals including Chicago, Cabaret, Steel Pier, Curtains, The Visit and The Scottsboro Boys, all culminating in this new musical set in post-war New York, inspired by the 1977 Martin Scorsese film of the same name, which features the iconic song “New York, New York.” New York, New York marks the 15th Kander & Ebb musical to open on Broadway.
New York, New York marks the first new John Kander & Fred Ebb musical to open on Broadway since 2015’s The Visit, which was nominated for 5 Tony Awards including Best Musical. The legendary duo is also currently represented on Broadway with Chicago, which holds the distinction of being the longest-running American musical in Broadway history.
New York, New York stars Colton Ryan (Girl From The North Country, Hulu’s “The Girl From Plainville”) as Jimmy Doyle, Anna Uzele (Six, Apple TV+’s “Dear Edward”) as Francine Evans, Clyde Alves (On The Town) as Tommy Caggiano, John Clay III (Choir Boy) as Jesse Webb, Janet Dacal (In The Heights) as Sofia Diaz, Ben Davis (Dear Evan Hansen) as Gordon Kendrick, Oliver Prose as Alex Mann (Broadway Debut), Angel Sigala (Broadway Debut) as Mateo Diaz, and Tony Award nominee Emily Skinner (Side Show) as Madame Veltri. The ensemble includes Wendi Bergamini, Allison Blackwell, Giovanni Bonaventura, Jim Borstelmann, Lauren Carr, Mike Cefalo, Bryan J. Cortés, Kristine Covillo, Gabriella Enriquez, Haley Fish, Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, Richard Gatta, Stephen Hanna, Naomi Kakuk, Akina Kitazawa, Ian Liberto, Kevin Ligon, Leo Moctezuma, Aaron Nicholas Patterson, Dayna Marie Quincy, Julian Ramos, Drew Redington, Benjamin Rivera, Vanessa Sears, Davis Wayne, Jeff Williams, Darius Wright. New York, New York begins performances Friday, March 24, 2023 and officially opens Wednesday, April 26, 2023 at Broadway’s St. James Theatre (246 West 44th Street).
Featuring music and lyrics by Tony, Emmy & Grammy Award winners and Academy Award nominees John Kander & Fred Ebb (Chicago, Cabaret), written by Tony Award nominee David Thompson (The Scottsboro Boys, Steel Pier), co-written by Sharon Washington (Audible’s Feeding The Dragon) and featuring additional lyrics by Pulitzer, Tony, Emmy & Grammy Award winner and Academy Award nominee Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, In The Heights), New York, New York will be directed and choreographed by five-time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman (The Producers, The Scottsboro Boys).
It is 1946, the war is over, and a resurgent New York is beginning to rebuild. As steel beams swing overhead, a collection of artists has dreams as big and diverse as the city itself.
Among them is New York native Jimmy Doyle, a brilliant but disillusioned musician looking for his “major chord” in life: music, money, love. The odds are against him getting all three until he meets Francine Evans, a young singer just off the bus from Philly, who is destined for greatness. If they can make it there, they can make it anywhere.
Tickets for New York, New York are now on-sale at www.NewYorkNewYorkBroadway.com. Tickets start at $59.
This new musical is inspired by the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Motion Picture New York, New York written by Earl M. Rauch.
Sony Masterworks Broadway, along with producers Tim Forbes and Joey Parnes, share new track “Super Star” from KPOP – Original Broadway Cast Recording – listen here. Featuring vocals from chart-topping Korean songstress and show lead Luna as well as the show’s talented cast of performers, “Superstar” is the second track to debut from the album, which arrives digitally on Monday, May 8 and on CD Friday, May 12. “Super Star” premieres today alongside an accompanying video featuring Luna – watch here.
Available for preorder and presave now, KPOP – Original Broadway Cast Recording was produced by Helen Park, Matt Stein, and Harvey Mason jr.(NCT 127, Red Velvet), and features music, lyrics, music production and arrangements by Park and music and lyrics by Max Vernon. The first-ever Broadway musical to celebrate Korean culture with Korean, Korean-American, and API representation on and off-stage, the album features a star-studded cast of performers from the world of K-pop, including chart-topping superstar and lead Luna, BoHyung (from the K-pop group SPICA and half of the duo KEEMBO), Min (from the K-pop group Miss A), Kevin Woo (from the K-pop group U-KISS), and more.
The Rewards of Being Frank, currently running through March 26, 2023 at the Mezzanine Theatre at ART/New York Theatres (502 West 53rd Street), is now available for streaming, also through March 26 only. The World Premiere play, written by Alice Scovell, is a sequel to Oscar Wilde’s immortal 1895 comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest. https://ci.ovationtix.com/35099/store/donations/49755 The cast for The Rewards of Being Frank feature Moboluwaji Ademide Akintilo (New York Classical’s The Importance of Being Earnest (Two Ways), Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream) as Frank, James Evans (The McKittrick Hotel’s The Woman in Black) as Algernon, Kelly Mengelkoch (Cincinnati Shakespeare Company) as Gwendolyn, Tora Nogami Alexander (The Acting Company’s Twelfth Night) as Cecily, Jeremy Dubin (Cincinnati Shakespeare Company) as Ernest, and Christine Pedi(Broadway’s Chicago, Talk Radio, Off-Broadway’s Forbidden Broadway) as Lady Bracknell. Oscar Wilde’s much-loved The Importance of Being Earnest receives a hilarious sequel in this world premiere. Set seven years after Wilde’s play, see what happens to our characters when they meet Frank. After all, the only thing more Important than being Earnest, is being Frank! Performances are Tuesday-Sunday at 7:00 PM with matinees on Wednesdays at 2:00 PM. Running time is two hours including intermission. Tickets are available on the NY Classical website. Advance reservations are $35 per seat. These reservations are refundable—in cash, at the theatre—following each regular performance.* All NY Classical programs are free and open to the public. Pending seating availability, FREE admission will be available beginning one hour before curtain, on a first-come, first-served basis.The Rewards of Being Frank is a co-production of New York Classical Theatre (Stephen Burdman, Founding Artistic Director, Matthieu Chapman, Literary Director) and Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (Brian Isaac Phillips, Producing Artistic Director). Mr. Burdman directs. The streaming version of The Rewards of Being Frank is available for a donation of $10 or higher. You can watch the recording as often as you wish and at any time. The link will expire at 10:00 pm on Sunday, March 26, 2023. To order, or for more information, please visit:
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