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Raise a Glass to the 2019/20 Broadway Musical Opening Night Schedule

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So first, at least for me, it’s all about the new musicals, although they seems oddly pre-recorded this season, if you know what I mean. There is excitement galore. That goes without saying, with some thrilling new additions to the stage scene as of late, expanding the experience beyond what was starting to look like a year of musicals with pre-written music and lyrics. That particular Tony Award category was starting to look pretty slim, maybe even nonexistent as the season started getting scheduled. Many of the earlier announced new musicals are in one form or another, a jukebox musical, starting with the glamorously glorious Moulin Rouge!  That movie to stage adaptation has elevated the art form to dizzying new heights and gifted Broadway with a celebration that is surprising and captivating.  It’s a joy to behold, with excellent conceptualizations that doesn’t feel like a cut-out figurine of a much loved movie – yes, I’m giving side eye to Pretty Woman: The Musical – but through artful manipulations keep the audience on its excited toes from beginning to end.

TINA
• Theatre: Lunt-Fontanne
• Previews Begin: October 12
• Opening Night: November 7
• Written by Katori Hall
• Director: Phyllida Lloyd

In the more traditional category of biographical jukebox musicals, like the wonderfully fun The Cher Show, the musically adept Temptations musical Ain’t Too Proud, and the not so wonderfully fun Donna Summer‘s musical, Tina roars onto Broadway giving it all up for the one and only. Fresh from a dynamo run in the West End, the spectacular Adrienne Warren (Broadway’s Shuffle Along) reprises her energetic “Simply the Best” portrayal of Tina Turner, alongside Daniel J. Watts as Ike, Dawnn Lewis as Zelma, and Myra Lucretia Taylor as Gran Georgeanna. And from what I have seen, she’s done the “Private Dancer” justice.

I personally loved the movie version, “What’s Love Got to Do With It” chronicling Tina’s steady rise from humble beginnings in Nutbush, Tennessee to the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll. When Angela Bassett did Turner proud on film, I didn’t think anyone could approach this story, but Warren certainly has the chops and the attitude of Tina by not merely just breaking the rules, but rewriting them to suit her. This new stage musical reveals the ‘Proud Mary‘ story of a woman who dared to defy the bounds of her age, gender and race.

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JAGGED LITTLE PILL
• Theatre: Broadhurst
• Previews Begin: November 3
• Opening Night: December 5
• Written by Diablo Cody
• Director: Diane Paulus
• Cast: Elizabeth Stanley, Kathryn Gallagher, Celia Rose Gooding, Derek Klena, Sean Allan Krill, and Lauren Patten

Much like the idea behind the festive and under-rated Head Over Heels that entwined the music of The Go-Go’s in and around Sir Philip Sidney’s 16th century prose poem, the epic first album (and other new and old material) by Alanis Morissette is the songbook that brings Jagged Little Pill  to Broadway after premiering last summer at A.R.T. Boston. It’s no hard pill to swallow either, with the iconic music and lyrics sliding out a story that connects and embraces. It maneuvers us inside a multiracial suburban family struggling to understand and dissect the modern world and the distressing tragedies that can cut them into pieces. I saw it in Boston (click on the highlighted names of the shows to get to the reviews), and I’m very much looking forward to revisiting the piece with hopes that it has solidified itself instead of feeling Jagged and Little. I hope to be able to pay more attention to the book by Diablo Cody, as my Alanis brain was more stuck inside an anticipatory excitement, wondering what iconic song was coming next, and would it sound as good as the memory of that song and the singer. In Boston, “it is really in the powerful “You Oughta Know” sung to power-house perfection by the incredible Lauren Patten (Broadway’s Fun Home, Off-Broadway’s The Wolves) that tears the roof off the theatre and causing the audience to leap to its feet in a dazzling state of wonder.  It’s truly worth the wait.” The rest rarely disappointed, but the story didn’t solidify enough behind a solid plot or character, feeling somehow scattered and unfocused. My fingers are crossed.

DAVID BYRNE’S AMERICAN UTOPIA
• Theatre: Hudson
• First Preview: October 4
• Opening night: October 20
• Director: Alex Timbers

This is one I don’t know much about. I recognize the music but only casually, nothing like Alanis’s Jagged Little Pill.  The music of David Byrne’s 2018 album and its subsequent stage adaptation is basically news to me, surprising me each time I see a notice about it coming. I am curious what it plans to be in its construct, and what framework it will attempt to illuminate. I’m guessing it will be more meditation on the world, rather than a biography, finding its own dynamic within the music in order to escalate the cause. The Production Consultant Alex Timbers (alongside Annie-B Parson who is responsible for Choreography and Musical Staging), who was at the helm of Broadway’s Beetlejuice and Moulin Rouge! , seems to know how to bring wise wit and a wink to every diamond he touches, so I shouldn’t worry. Maybe I need to brush up on my David Byrne while the show is still working out its kinks during its out-of-town tryout at Boston’s Colonial Theatre September 11–28.

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GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY
• Theatre: Belasco
• First Preview: February 7, 2020
• Opening Night: March 5, 2020
• Written and directed by Conor McPherson
• Music and lyrics by Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan is also one ultimate artist that I am not so well acquainted with. I blush to say that, but it didn’t stop me from loving The Public Theater‘s production of Girl From the North Country when it first premiered. An eclectic construction of Dylan’s music and lyrics, the surprising transfer to Broadway sets the scene in a 1934 guesthouse in the heartland of America. The astonishingly gifted Conor McPherson (The Weir, The Seafarer) along with the phenomenal Bob Dylan (Nobel Prize Winner for Literature, 2016) brings the achingly beautiful story of a band of frustrated and down-trodden souls struggling to make sense of their rooming house misery. The group of travelers float in and out of the perfectly formulated space and share stories that awaken our hearts while giving us a glimpse inside these magnificently drawn souls. I am looking forward to a repeat viewing.

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The cast of “Girl From the North Country” at the Public Theater
(Photo: Joan Marcus)

With all the surprising off-Broadway transfers proudly sauntering onto the big stage (Congrats Slave Play, I’ll be talking about you in my next blog posting about all the plays coming to Broadway this season), there has happily been a late rush of new musicals that gratefully come with original books firmly attached to their spines. Jumping almost out of nowhere, they have grabbed hold of some fine Broadway theaters and fired up the race to the Tonys.

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SIX
• Theatre: Brooks Atkinson
• First Preview: February 13, 2020
• Opening Night: March 12, 2020
• Composed by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss (who also directs)

Running with the excited fury of a gang of impatient teenage girls, the concert-esque musical is flying high from the Edinburgh Fringe as a student production to London to Chicago to Boston to Broadway. It joyfully hands the microphone over to the six ill-fated wives of Henry VIII, shining the spotlight on each of their stories bejeweled wisely inside a high-energy pop score that will surely please those same teenage girls, and then some, but it might also leave a few theatrejunkies only mildly entertained. On my last day of my London Theatre Tour of 2019 last fall, I caught the Six deceased sing and chant their order, “Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived” with Britney abandonment. As I stated in my review, “the lively entertaining show has amassed a following that fills the Arts Theatre most days and nights. It’s sassy and fun, and one wisely executed (excuse the pun) thesis on girl power, strutting forward, demanding to be taken seriously to the sound of harpsichord remixes.” It’s not Sondheim, but it does overflow with pop-elicious and delirious fun leaving me very curious how it will translate state-side on Broadway.

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DIANA
• Theatre: Longacre
• First Preview: March 2, 2020
• Opening Night: March 31, 2020
• Book, music, and lyrics by Joe DiPietro and David Bryan
• Directed by Tony winner Christopher Ashley

This one arrives out of nowhere, delivered by DiPietro and Bryan, who also surprised Broadway with Memphis which won the 2010 Tony Award for Best Musical. Jeanna de Waal and Roe Hartrampf musically embody the famously tragic husband and wife, as the late Princess Diana and her future King of a husband, Prince Charles. After the pre-Broadway tryout at La Jolla Playhouse in the spring of 2019, it graces the Longacre stage like royalty. With Christopher Ashley (Broadway’s Come From Away) driving this vehicle through the treacherous roads of history, it’s sure to be of interest, but will it be heart-breaking and/or emotionally engaging? I haven’t read a thing about the out of town try, but I will be curious and hopeful come March of next year.

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THE LIGHTNING THIEF: THE PERCY JACKSON MUSICAL
• Theatre: Longacre
• First Preview: September 20
• Opening Night: October 16
• Book by Joe Tracz with original music and lyrics by Rob Rokicki. Based on Rick Riordan’s best-selling novel of the same name.
• Directed by Stephen Brackett

I did have the pleasure of seeing the off-Broadway production of The Lightning Thief in the spring of 2017 at the Lucille Lortel Theater in Greenwich Village. It felt cute and right in the small space, so it’s exciting to hear it has been worked on and developed further into a full Broadway musical. The entire tour cast will reprise their roles, including Chris McCarrell as Percy Jackson, inside a company of seven that will play more than 47 characters in the action-packed theatrical adventure. Based on the celebrated book series by Rick Riordan, the musical about accepting that we all carry some superpowers inside of us has hopefully gotten an upgrade since I last saw it, as I wrote in my review back then: “There is a good show hidden amongst the scaffolding and high school production-level kitsch on stage, and although the teens didn’t seem to be bothered, it will take some work to raise this show from pedestrian to God-like“. Fingers crossed.

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FLYING OVER SUNSET
• Theatre: Vivian Beaumont
• First Preview: March 12, 2020
• Opening Night: April 16, 2020
• Music by Tom Kitt and lyrics by Michael Korie
• With a book and direction by James Lapine

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Ok, this musical sounds like a hoot, and a wild one at that. With music by Tom Kitt (Next to Normal, Dave), lyrics by Michael Korie (Grey Gardens, Far From Heaven), and a book by the wise James Lapine (Sunday in the Park…) who also directs, the new musical follows three artists, Carmen Cusack (Broadway’s Bright Star) as playwright and diplomat Clare Booth Luce; Harry Hadden-Paton (LCT/Broadway’s My Fair Lady) as writer Aldous Huxley; and Tony Yazbeck (Encores’ A Chorus Line) as movie star Cary Grant during the 1950s as they experiment with the drug LSD. Yeah, that’s right. A musical about famous people doing LSD. Go figure, but I’m intrigued by the set up of bringing these three together at a crossroads in their lives, and under the influence of the drug. They all take a wild trip that we are invited to without the need of an illegal substance. The three confront the mysteries of their lives and their world and I’m game to ride along, as long as I don’t have to take a Jagged Little Pill to join them.

FREESTYLE LOVE SUPREME
• Theatre: Booth
• Previews: September 13
• Opening: October 2
• Created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, and Anthony Veneziale
• Directed by Thomas Kail

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This hip-hop improv musical show, Freestyle Love Supreme, coming from Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, and Anthony Veneziale, stomps its way onto Broadway for a limited 16-week engagement after a sold-out run Off-Broadway earlier this year. I know nothing about this show, and I’m curious how it will fit into the season, but it’s sure to be an audience favorite, and I’m curious to experience what Freestyle Love Supreme truly feels like (No LSD required).

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CAROLINE, OR CHANGE 
• Theatre: Studio 54
• First Preview: March 13, 2020
• Opening Night: April 7, 2020
• Written by Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori
• Director: Michael Longhurst

The musical revival grouping is strong this season, not like the dual pairing as it was last season with Kiss Me, Kate and Oklahoma! battling it out for the awards without any other contenders.  But with Caroline, or Change returning to Broadway after a solid run in the West End, the other revivals now have a critically acclaimed smart show and performance to worry about. Sharon D Clarke makes her Broadway debut with an Olivier Award-winning performance as Caroline, an African-American maid whose has to deal with the changing world of Louisiana in the 1960s. It charges forward with an eclectic heart beat in soul-stirring ways and rhythms. I saw this powerful musical at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre back in 2004 starring Tonya Pinkins and Anika Noni Rose, and when I was in London I was hoping to squeeze this show into my busy schedule.  Thankfully I don’t have to worry about that decision anymore, in the same way I don’t have to chastise myself for trying to see Company once again with my travel buddy when I was in the West End last time. Both are coming, so I can stop holding my breath.

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Katrina Lenk

COMPANY
• Theatre: Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
• Previews Begin: March 2, 2020
• Opening Night: March 22 (Stephen Sondheim’s birthday)
• Director: Marianne Elliott

The acclaimed West End production of the Stephen Sondheim/George Furth musical, Company is returning to Broadway in all its ground-breaking glory as directed by Marianne Elliott (National’s Rules for Living, West End/Broadway’s Curious Incident…Angels in America), but unlike the previous Broadway revival in 2007 that starred the phenomenal Raul Esparza, this time around the wise and witty exploration of partnership has a gender-twisting dynamic with Tony winner Katrina Lenk (Broadway’s The Band’s Visit) at the birthday helm. Like Rosalie Craig (National Theatre’s The Threepenny Opera) did to acclaim in London, the stunning Lenk plays the reconstructed central character, “Bobbie”, struggling to celebrate her 35th birthday surrounded by her loving friends and complicated lovers. Joining her will be the equally astounding two-time Tony Award winner Patti LuPone (Broadway’s Evita, Gypsy) as the acerbic Joanne, one of Bobbie’s married friends. She just won the Olivier for this performance, and I’m guessing we will all be just as wow’d this spring and at the Tony Awards in 2020. I can not wait.

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From left: Shereen Pimentel, Isaac Powell, Yesenia Ayala, Amar Ramasar, Ben Cook. Photo Courtesy of OMDKC.

WEST SIDE STORY
• Theatre: Broadway
• Previews Begin: December 10
• Opening Night: February 6, 2020
• Director: Ivo van Hove

Giving that classic show some Company, “Something’s Coming” with a pedigree and a title that lives on in musical theatre history. Once again, West Side Story storms and rumbles its way onto Broadway, reimagined by director Ivo Van Hove (Broadway’s Network, Park Ave Armory’s The Damned) and choreographer, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Best known for publicly accused the R&B singer Beyoncé in 2011 of plagiarizing her choreography from two of her well known Rosas pieces, “Rosas Danst Rosas” and “Achterland“, in the music video for the single Countdownshe’s a fascinating creator, and I’m very curious and excited to see what a new pair of choreography eyes, ears, arms and legs will do with something so legendary. It’s about time, I would say to Ivo and all. And even with the much talked about new movie version being directed by Steven Spielberg (set for release on December 18, 2020), this Broadway stage revival, with the legendary book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics  by a young Stephen Sondheim, will captivate. It is the first major New York revival to deviate from Jerome Robbins’ iconic choreography and Ivo, like he did with All About Eve, has rarely disappointed even when he misfires a bit here and there. Starring a young Isaac Powell (Broadway’s Once On This Island) as Tony and Shereen Pimentel (Broadway’s The Lion King) as Maria, West Side Story will surely be an event, and one I can not wait to attend.

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As always, there are all these other special events and holiday season spectaculars like Cirque du Soliel’s Twas the Night Before… at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden coming to town. Some family friendly, and others just plain celebratory, while others may mystify on a number of different levels.

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A CHRISTMAS CAROL
• Theatre: Lyceum
• Previews Begin: November 7
• Opening Night: November 20
• Closing: January 5, 2020
• Adapted by Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child)
• Director: Matthew Warchus (Matilda)

There’s the Old Vic’s new adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, starring House of Card‘s Campbell Scott as Ebeneezer Scrooge weaving immersive storytelling and Christmas carols into a festive treat that even I can’t deny.

SLAVA’S SNOWSHOW
• Theatre: Stephen Sondheim
• Previews Begin: November 11
• Opening Night: November 13
• Closing: January 5, 2020
• Created and staged by Slava Polunin

This Olivier-winning show takes audiences through a wintry landscape where wordless clowns roam about in a climactic blizzard. A festive treat that I’m sure will bring out our Cirque wonder and amazement, something that we all might need this holiday season.

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THE ILLUSIONISTS–MAGIC OF THE HOLIDAYS
• Theatre: Neil Simon
• Begins: November 19
• Closing: January 5, 2020
• Director: Neil Dorward

With a cast made up of The Illusionists: Chris Cox (as The Mentalist), Paul Dabek (The Trickster), Kevin James (The Inventor), Hyun Joon Kim (The Manipulator), Enzo Weyne (The Unforgettable), and SOS and Victoria Petroysan (The Transformationalists), the mystifying act returns to Broadway for the fifth year in a row. The Illusionists perform a series of magical acts that hopefully will delight audiences with a dash of holiday cheer, in what ever way these disappearing “Jingle Bells” mean to the holiday spirit. I can’t really fathom the connection.

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HARRY CONNICK, JR. — A CELEBRATION OF COLE PORTER
• Theatre: Nederlander
• Begins: December 2019
• Starring and directed by Harry Connick, Jr.

Be still my beating heart. Harry Connick Jr. will share his “True Love‘ of Cole Porter with a Broadway audience, bringing his magical repetoire to life in a unique and exciting way for audiences of all kinds. Thanks Harry, that’s quite the Christmas Day present.

DERREN BROWN: SECRET
• Theatre: Cort
• First Preview: September 6
• Opening: September 15
• Written by Derren Brown
• Co-written and directed by Andy Nyman and Andrew O’Connor

F*&k me sideways“, that’s all she can say about Derren Brown: Secret show that, following its 2017 sold-out Off-Broadway run at Atlantic Theatre Company, comes to Broadway to blend mind control, suggestion, showmanship, and illusion right before our very eyes. I’ll say the same, if he can do something about my eyes in the same ways he does to hers.

It sounds like a good time will be had by all on Broadway, as the 2019/20 theatrical season musically unfolds before our eyes.  I’m sure there will be some others sliding in. “And I Am Telling You” that Dreamgirls, starring Olivier Award winner Amber Riley can’t be too far away, as the producers ponder about bringing a bit more drama to the season. Maybe even a few other new musicals will sneak in, finding an unoccupied theatre just waiting to be taken over, surprising us with more creativity, and hopefully some originality.

I am an artist, you should quake at that!” and I hope this season makes me quake. Over and over again, with wonder and amazement, because it should, and it surely “Can, Can, Can” if done wisely.

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And let’s not forget about this revival coming in next fall.  I am not allowed to forget, actually as I’ve already been reminded by a certain young man that he has to be my +1, if I have a +1, or else I’ll never be forgiven. Thanks Outer Critics Circle, you’ve made this all possible.

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THE MUSIC MAN
• Theatre: TBA
• First Preview: September 9, 2020
• Opening Night: October 22, 2020
• Director: Jerry Zaks

Much of the creative team behind the Tony-winning revival of Hello, Dolly! will reunite for this revival of Meredith Willson’s The Music Man, starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster.

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my last...so far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

Broadway

Sunday’s Broadway Forever Concert Postponed Until October 15

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Today, Broadway Forever announced that the Sunday, September 24th concert will be postponed to Sunday, October 15th at 11:00AM due to expected severe weather in New York City. The Sunday, October 15th concert will take place at Lou Gehrig Plaza in the Bronx (East 161st Street, Grandview Place).

A complete line up of appearances and performances will be announced soon.

For the second consecutive year, NY Forever, in partnership with City National Bank, the New York City Department of Transportation and 161st Street Business Improvement District presents Broadway Forever,empowering New Yorkers across the city to build a better city for all.

Fans will have the opportunity to sign up for future community service opportunities in all five boroughs, which will be coordinated by New York Cares and their partner organizations.

Broadway stars performing throughout New York City celebrate the creativity and resilience that is intrinsic to the city – and provide an opportunity to recognize the volunteers and community organizers who work hard to make New York a better place. The concerts will bring Broadway entertainment to DOT’s Public Space Programming, a city initiative that brings free activities to public spaces.

The events are produced and staged by 6W Entertainment, with additional support from New York Cares and the Times Square Alliance.

For more information about City National, visit the company’s website at cnb.com.

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Theatre News: Wicked, The Wiz, Hypnotique, Female Troubles and Love In The Time Of Crazy

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Broadway’s blockbuster Wicked, in partnership with National Day Calendar, has announced that October 30 will officially become National Wicked Day, in honor of the hit Broadway musical’s debut at the Gershwin Theatre (245 West 51st Street) on October 30, 2003.

This marks the first time that a Broadway show will have its own official day in the National Day Calendar. With this inclusion, Wicked joins some of the most recognizable National Day celebrations, including National Barbie Day, National Star Trek Day, National Scrabble Day, National Winnie the Pooh Day, and National Teacher Appreciate Day, among others.

Read the official announcement HERE.

Currently Wicked 4th longest-running show in Broadway history, and will celebrate its 20th Anniversary on Broadway this October 30th.

The Broadway production of Wicked currently features Alyssa Fox as Elphaba, McKenzie Kurtz as Glinda, John Dossett as The Wizard, Michele Pawk as Madame Morrible, Jordan Litz as Fiyero, Jake Pedersen as Boq, Kimber Elayne Sprawl as Nessarose, and William Youmans as Doctor Dillamond.

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Emmy Award®-winning music director and Grammy Award®-winning writer, Adam Blackstone, joins the creative team as Dance Music Arranger for the revival of The Wiz. The Wiz will launch a national tour on September 23, 2023 in Baltimore, MD before returning to Broadway for a limited engagement in the 2023/24 season.

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“Joining The Wiz’s creative team has been a very surreal moment. I remember watching the film on VHS daily for years, wondering how it sounded so incredible, how MJ transformed into the Scarecrow, and the score and orchestrations truly told a story all of its own. Fast forward to today, I get to musically partner with Terence Vaughn and reunite with my brother, super choreographer and creative director JaQuel Knight, and explore our own interpretation for a revival of this masterpiece. I am excited and look forward to this body of work changing lives, just like it did for me in the 80’s!” stated Adam Blackstone.

The cast will include previously announced Wayne Brady to lead the production as the Wiz on Broadway in Spring of 2024, San Francisco (January 16 – February 11, 2024) at the Golden Gate Theatre, and Los Angeles (February 13 – March 3, 2024) at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre. Alan Mingo Jr. will star in the role of the Wiz in the following cities of The Wiz National Tour this fall, kicking off with the tour launch in Baltimore, including Cleveland, OH, Washington, DC, Pittsburgh, PA, Charlotte, NC, Atlanta, GA, Greenville, SC, Chicago, IL, Des Moines, IA, Tempe, AZ and San Diego, CA.

The cast will also feature Nichelle Lewis as Dorothy, Deborah Cox as Glinda and Melody A. Betts as Aunt Em and Evillene, Kyle Ramar Freeman as the Lion, Phillip Johnson Richardson as the Tinman, and Avery Wilson as the Scarecrow. The Wiz ensemble includes Maya Bowles, Shayla Alayre Caldwell, Jay Copeland, Allyson Kaye Daniel, Judith Franklin, George, Collin Heyward, Amber Jackson, Jackson, Jones, Jones, Kindle, Mariah Lyttle, Kareem Marsh, Anthony Murphy, Rae, Matthew Sims Jr, Avilon Trust Tate, Keenan D. Washington, and Timothy Wilson.

The production will include ‘Everybody Rejoice’ music and lyrics by Luther Vandross, as well as the ‘Emerald City Ballet’ with music by Timothy Graphenreed.

The McKittrick Hotel (530 West 27th Street, NYC), home of Sleep No More, announced the opening of Hypnotique – A Late Night Sultry Spectacle. Performances have been extended on Friday and Saturday nights through October 14, 2023. The all-new Hypnotique revue offers a unique after-dark experience that envelops you. Audiences are captivated by spontaneous performances and mesmerizing dancers, accompanied by daring sonic soundscapes in a surreal ambiance in The Club Car.

The cast features Chloé Lexia Worthington, Courtney Sauls, Fabricio Seraphin, Haley Bjorn, Jacob Nahor, Jesseca Scott, Maurice Ivy, Maya Kitayama, Samantha Greenlund, Victoria Edwards, and swings Alex Sturtevant, Cameron Arnold, Kennedy Adams, and Stacey Badgett Jr..

Cocktails inspired by the experience, including the signature Hypnotonique (an electrifying punch made with cucumber-infused vodka, elderflower liqueur, and grapefruit juice), are available from The Club Car’s bar.

Performances are offered on Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30PM. General Admission tickets with standing room are currently priced from $65 per person.

Kevin Del Aguila and the cast Photos by Marc J. Franklin

Two industry readings for Female Troubles, an original musical comedy, will happen next week at Open Jar Studios. Female Troubles is a completely original musical comedy featuring lyrics by two-time Tony Award nominated and Grammy Award nominated songwriter Amanda Green (Mr. Saturday Night, Hands On A Hardbody, Bring It On), music by three-time Emmy Award nominee Curtis Moore (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), book by Emmy Award-winning writers Gabrielle Allan and Jennifer Crittenden (“Veep,” “Arrested Development,” “Seinfeld,” “The Simpsons,” “HouseBroken”) and directed by Tony Award winner Christopher Gattelli (Disney’s Newsies, My Fair Lady, “Schmigadoon,” “Schmicago”).

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Lesli Margherita

The cast for the readings will includeKrystina Alabado, Kevin Del Aguila, Amanda Green, Lilli Cooper, Lillias White, Lesli Margherita, Ryann Redmond, Kate Rockwell, Matt Saldivar, Alanna Saunders, Trent Saunders, Jake Swain, Sav Souza, Rachel Stern and Frank Viveros. In Female Troubles, Elinor Benton finds herself surprisingly and undeniably “knocked up” — and, since she’s unmarried and this is 19th century England, she has a very big dilemma. Facing ruin, she and her girlfriends embark on a raucous  journey to find the one notorious woman who can help them with their “female troubles.” Their misadventures change the course of each of their lives. This uproarious musical comedy asks the trenchant question “Can you believe this sh*t is still happening in 1810?”

I attended the reading of Love In The Time Of Crazy withbook and lyrics by Peter Kellogg (Outer Critics Winner for Desperate Measures)music by Stephen Weiner (two-time Richard Rodgers Award winner) and David Hancock Turner (orchestrator for Desperate Measures and Penelope), directed by Lauren Molina (Desperate Measures ). The cast stared Philippe Arroyo, Stephen DeRosa, Robin Dunavant, David Merino, Josh Lamon, Roe Hartrampf and Alexis Cofield .

Look for more from this tuneful musical that actually has you leaving humming the songs. The cast was terrific, the direction sublime and the show ready to move.

Love in the Time of Crazy is a riot, but, you know, in a good way.

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G.H. Harding

WENNER TAKES A DOWN —Jann Wenner always speaks his mind and this week he may have overstepped just a bit. In an interview that ran in the New York Times about his new book called Masters, he quite openly said that there were no black or R&B artists in it, because they were not able to articulate properly. I know, I felt the same way reading that. Minutes later, he was let go by the board of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which he helped start with Ahmet Ertegun way back in 1983.

Ahmet Ertegun

His Like A Rolling Stone autobiography book was quite an indulgent read last year, but Wenner has in the last several years suffered several health set backs and it was pointed out that he may not be in his right mind. Still, he should have spoken way more carefully. I’ve known Wenner for decades and trust me, he feels he’s way entitled, and that said, you can rest assured that there were dozens and dozens of people (and former employees) waiting to take him down.

The sad fact is that most of the accusations are true. That said, let’s face it Rolling Stone magazine in it’s heyday was a miraculous outlet for so much music and terrific journalism – from Ben Fong-Torres to Hunter Thompson and Jann himself .. it was distinguished. Now, he may have killed it all.

Rolling Stine magazine Monday posted this – essentially disowning his from the magazine: “Jann Wenner’s recent statements to the New York Times do not represent the values and practices of today’s Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner has not been directly involved in our operations since 2019. Our purpose, especially since his departure, has been to tell stories that reflect the diversity of voices and experiences that shape our world. At Rolling Stone’s core is the understanding that music above all can bring us together, not divide us.”

Here’s the report from Deadline: https://deadline.com/2023/09/jann-wenner-removed-rock-and-roll-hall-fame-foundation-board-1235548690/comment-page-1/#comment-3858649

FILE – Drew Barrymore attends the Time100 Gala, celebrating the 100 most influential people in the world, at Frederick P. Rose Hall, April 26, 2023, in New York. The National Book Awards dropped Barrymore as the host for this year’s ceremony, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023, a day after her talk show taped its first episode since the Hollywood writers strike began. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

DREW’S BLUES — Boy, what did Drew Barrymore ever do to deserve the treatment she’s been through with the media. Sure, her ideas to bring back her daily-chat fest was a good one, for the right reasons, but everyone from Rosie O;’Donnell to the trade papers have bounced on her like madmen. I never met her, don’t hate her, but really … let’s get back to something real, like these Russell Brand-accusations!

SHORT TAKES — We finally caught David Bryne and Fatboy Slim’s Here Lies Love and absolutely loved it. I remember it well when it premiered at the Public Theater way back when and knew they were trying to get it to Broadway. Honestly, I never thought twice about the Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos story, but the play was riveting then and it remains now. They’ve outfitted NYC’s magnificent Broadway Theater with disco-balls galore and club-lighting and the immersive experience is terrific. Here’s a great re-cap of the play’s evolution from Theatre Guide: https://www.newyorktheatreguide.com/theatre-news/news/how-the-music-of-here-lies-love-evolved-on-the-way-to-broadway

Chris Carter and Micky Dolenz – Breakfast With The Beatles

Micky Dolenz appeared on Sunday’s Breakfast With The Beatles with Chris Carter (on KLOS) and talked about his new Dolenz Sings R.E.M. on Glenn Gretlund’s 7a Records. He also talked about his time with The Beatles and John Lennon. Carter also played a mash-up of Monkees and Beatle-songs which was done in England and it was superb. Here’s a shot from the event at LA’s Hard Rock Cafe on Highland and Hollywood Blvd. … SIGHTING: PR-pasha David Salidor and Benny Harrison at Monday’s Cutting Room tribute to Burt Bacharach … RIP Sammy Ash …

Jimmy Buffet

I’ve been thinking the best way to describe Jimmy Buffet and I saw this headline in LA Magazine: leisure evangelist– and it fits perfectly …

Happy Bday Donnie Kehr and Richard Branciforte.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Dan Mapp; Brad Auerbach; James Clash: Robbie Robertson; Carol Ruth Weber; Randy Alexander; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Andrew Gans; Kathy Brown; Roger Clark; Chris Boneau; Tricia Daniels; Dan Zelinski; Benny Harrison; Steve Walter; Gil Friesen; Donna Dolenz; Dan Mapp; Brad Auerbach; James Clash; and ZIGGY!

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Inside the 2023 American Theatre Wing Gala

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The American Theatre Wing 2023 Gala Celebration was held last night, September 11, 2023 at Cipriani 42nd Street. Performers incldued Oscar nominee & Tony Award winner Leslie Odom Jr., Grammy Award-winning rock icon Melissa Etheridge, Emmy nominee Tituss Burgess, “American Idol” star and Broadway favorite Justin Guarini, Tony Award winner LaChanze, Tony Award winner Chuck Cooper, and Tony Award nominees Shoshana Bean, Brandon Victor Dixon, Judy Kuhn, Lilli Cooper, and Eddie Cooper.

LaChanze and Norm Lewis

LaChanze and Norm Lewis

La Chanze and Dr. Michael J. Pitman

La Chanze

Felix Cisneros and Heather A. Hitchens

LaChanze, Heather A. Hitchens

Chuck Cooper, Lilli Cooper, Sara Jayne Darneille and Eddie Cooper

The Gala honored “Unsung Heroes of the Theatre Industry.” From dressers who execute seamless quick changes between scenes, to understudies and swings who go into a show with little to no notice and don’t miss a beat, to makeup artists responsible for the flawless faces seen on stage, and so many more vital contributors to the theatrical art form, the 2023 Gala celebrates members of the theatrical community who don’t often get the recognition they deserve.

Stewart F, Lane and Bonnie Comley

Bonnie Comley

Heather A. Hitchens and Bill Berlin

J, Harrion Ghee and Kenny Nunez

L. Morgan Lee

Julie White

Norm Lewis

Adriane Lenox and Zane Mark

Adriane Lenox

Jason Michael Webb

Ruben Santiago-Hudson

Norm Lewis and Zane Mark

Norm Lewis, Adriane Lenox and Zane Mark

CeCe Black

Julie Halston and Richard Hester

Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Justin Mikita

Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Kate Wilson, Jane Krakowski

Julie Halston and David Rockwell

Jane Krakowski

David Rockwell

Ruben Santiago-Hudson and James Latus

Kenny Leon

Jack Waddell and Brandon Victor Dixon

Justin Guarini

Justin David Sullivan

LaTanya Richardson Jackson

LaTanya Richardson Jackson

LaTanya Richardson Jackson and Beverly Jenkins

Frank DiLella

Robyn Coles, Beverly Jenkins, LaTanya Richardson Jackson and John Kristiansen

Binta Niambi and David Henry Hwang

Danielle Brooks

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Kate Wilson and Danielle Brooks

Kate Wilson and Danielle Brooks

Ariana DeBose

Melissa Etheridge and Rebecca McBee

Melissa Etheridge

Melissa Etheridge and Linda Wallem

Ariana DeBose, Kenny Nunez

Shoshana Bean and Jey Moore

Adrienne Warren

Patti LuPone

Leigh Silverman

Justin Guarini and Salisha Thomas

Kelli O’Hara and Erica Tuchman

Tituss Burgess

LaTanya Richardson Jackson and J. Harrison Ghee

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Luz Towns-Miranda and Luis A. Miranda, Jr.

Danielle Brooks,Thomas Kail, LaTanya Richardson

 

 

 

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STRIKE UPDATE— (Via TV Line) “9-1-1, what’s your TV emergency?” The dual WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes need to be resolved by the end of this month if scripted primetime fare such as 9-1-1: Lone Star and The Cleaning Lady are to return with new episodes in the 2023-24 TV season, says Fox entertainment president Michael Thorn.

When last we tuned in, 29 days ago, the WGA had countered the AMPTP’s latest offer; no next meeting has been scheduled. Things are proceeding even slower on the SAG-AFTRA front. Sources tell TVLine that it will take scripted shows roughly eight weeks to get back into production once the strikes are resolved.

 “You’re going get to a point in the fall, in the late fall, where it’s going to be very hard to launch [scripted shows] within the traditional TV viewing season,” Thorn told our sister site Deadline.

If the strikes are resolved later than October 1, that’s where difficult scheduling decisions will have to be made.

“If that means the [delayed scripted] show could work and succeed in the summer [of 2024], great,” Thorn said. Or, “If it’s better to wait for the fall and use football and sports” to promote/launch scripted seasons, “we’ll do that.

“You could use October 1 as the date” by which the writer and actor strikes need to be settled,” Thorn added. “Every show is different but sometimes when you’re staring at a May launch date, you always wonder, ‘Is that the best time?’” to premiere a season/series

Fox’s fall TV slate features one full night of scripted animated fare (on Sundays), while the rest of the week is rife with multiple Gordon Ramsay cooking competitions, new seasons of Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test, Name That Tune and The Masked Singer, 9-1-1: Lone Star reruns, the new, David Spade-hosted Snake Oil game show, and, of course, Friday Night SmackDown.

But whenever the magical day comes for live-action scripted fare to return to our screens, “we’re going to return those shows with vigor,” Thorn avowed. “We really pride ourselves on ‘less is more’ and we were fortunate to be able to really put our money where our mouth is in that regard. When we return, Animal Control is going to get the full backing of this far-reaching platform [as will] John Wells’ new show, Rescue: Hi-Surf, when we launch it.”

Several columns back we posited that the strike might just be settled by Labor Day .. and we were lambasted with emails from a scattering of actors, writers and below-the-line talent that it would not be. They were right. As Gordon Gekko said, greed is good. Is it? Let’s all make nice and good back to work.

SHORT TAKES — As you may know the Toronto Film Festival has been going on and the two films that have received the most buzz are the Paul-Simon/Alex Gibey doc,

Michael Keaton

In Restless Dreams and Knox Goes Away starring Michael Keaton, who also directs, with Al Pacino, can’t wait to see both. Bravo! …The latest episode of Hulu’s Only Murders In The Building was just OK. So far, this third season has totally underwhelmed us. We said a few columns back it was most likely due to the fact that Martin hasn’t written any of the episodes so far. Why? I have no idea. Matthew Broderick played himself, but with a little more anxiety than usual, but the real highlight of this episode was a video-phone call between Martin Short and Mel Brooks. Irresistibly funny … Hard to believe that it’s the 25th anniversary of MTV’s ground-breaking TRL Live (Total Request Live).

Carson Daly

Carson Daly did a nice remembrance on Thursday’s Today Show, even citing John Norris and Kurt Loder, who were key correspondents. They taped many of the shows at NYC’s long-gone Palladium (now an NYU dorm), but many, many memories come to mind; Hall & Oates rehearsing in their dressing room

Debbie Gibson at Z100 on The Morning Zoo

and running into Debbie Gibson is one. Daly pointed out -and rightly so- TRL was a fan-driven show, where viewers had to request what to hear. These days I guess it’s just a download. Much missed for sure …

Carrie Underwood

Funny watching Carrie Underwood this morning; as she she reminded me so much of Shania Twain. from the music, to her visuals. As always, her “Before He Cheats” is tremendous and a big crowd pleaser … It’s a funny world for sure.

RL Stine

When RL Stine’s Goosebumpsfirst debuted in 1992, it was heralded as refreshingly new, both for the kid-demo and its brilliance. There were a few attempts at a series (even with Stine introducing them) and even a movie in 2015 that did just so-so. Now, with Netflix’s Stranger Things having hit a home run, Disney+ is starting a series, with Justin Long, that appears to veer dangerously close to Stranger Things. Also, oddly enough, Stine does not appear to be involved with it. He says: “I wish I knew something about it. I’m not in the loop. It looked to me like they weren’t going to do an anthology show. They were going to do something different that was some kind of continuing story. That’s what it appeared. But I have no information about it.” It begins on October 31. Have a look at the trailer:


Seeing Here Lies Love Saturday night, can’t wait …

Mary Wilson and Bernie Taupin

Great Bernie Taupin interview on NY Live with Sara Gore. They’re friends, so the interview as sensational. Check it out:


Love Bernie and Sara! …Happy Bday Randy Jones and Amy Billings!

NAMES IN THE NEWS —Andrew Sandoval; Jacqueline Boyd; Alison Martino; Robert Funaro; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Roy Trakin; Daryl Estrea; Glenn Gretlund; Jane Blunkell; Roger Friedman; Felix Cavaliere; Dan Mapp; Jim Kerr; Sam Rubin; Liz White; Grace Mendoza; Roy Trakin; and ZIGGY!

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