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Jonathan Larson’s tour de force musical Rent celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, as it continues to offer an inspiring message of hope and friendship. Rent won the Pulitzer Prize, 4 Tony Awards and 6 Drama Desk Awards. This rock musical loosely based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Bohème, tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive and create a life in New York City’s East Village in the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.

Fox has announced the official air date for Rent Live! would be Sunday, January 27, 2019. Marc Platt (“Grease: Live,” “La La Land,” “Wicked”) is set to serve as executive producer along with the estate of Jonathan Larson. Now the role that won Adam Pascal a Theatre World award is being sought.

“Rent” originally was produced in New York by New York Theatre Workshop and on Broadway by Jeffrey Seller, Kevin McCollum, Allan S. Gordon and New York Theatre Workshop.

Besides Marc Platt producing Adam Siegel, Julie Larson (sister of the late composer), and her father Al, as well as Vince Totino, Scott Hemming, and Marla Levin of Revolution Studios join in.

“So You Think You Can Dance” winner of the show’s fifteenth season will also receive a spot in Fox’s upcoming production of Rent Live!

 

 

 

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

Out of Town

Inside Bucks County Playhouse World Premiere Musical Last of the Red Hot Mamas

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From serving up jokes with a side of blintzes in a Hartford Jewish deli to performing for adoring crowds at Broadway’s Palace Theater in seven short years, the unexpected rise of Sophie Tucker to the rank of comic superstar is the subject of the new world premiere musical, Last of the Red Hot Mamas, making its debut at Bucks County Playhouse, June 28 through July 27. Last of the Red Hot Mamas will begin previews on Friday, June 28 with an official press opening on Thursday, July 11 at 7:30 pm.
T2C was there at the press meet and greet.
The Playhouse’s Producing Director Alexander Fraser, Executive Producer Robyn Goodman, and Producer Joshua Fiedler announced casting and details for this new musical, which features direction and choreography by Shea Sullivan, and a book by Susan Ecker, Harrison David Rivers and Lloyd Ecker.
Last of the Red Hot Mamas is the 11th world premiere production at the New Hope theater since it reopened in 2012 and is part of Playhouse’s commitment to developing new work.
“The big surprise for me was seeing how Sophie Tucker’s wild, racy and very funny take on life changed show business forever,” says Alexander Fraser, Producing Director. “Sophie Tucker made the world accept her for who she was . . . a full-figured Jewish girl with a voice as loud as a steam whistle. We’re proud to help shed light how she paved the way for all those to follow who felt like they didn’t fit in.”
In 1973, while they were students at Ithaca College, Susan Denner (now Ecker) and Lloyd Ecker went on a first date to a Bette Midler concert. The couple quickly fell in love—with both each other and the “Divine Miss M.” Midler’s hilarious ‘Soph’ jokes piqued their curiosity about their origin — the pioneering vaudeville performer Sophie Tucker — leading the duo to publish a fictional memoir, “I Am Sophie Tucker,” and create a well-regarded documentary, “The Outrageous Sophie Tucker.”  A big new musical is the next step in the Eckers’ 50-plus year fascination with the saucy, sassy comedienne — Sophie Tucker. To bring their dream to life, they joined forces with Sullivan, and award-winning playwright, Harrison David Rivers.
“Picture a groundbreaking, occasionally arrested for sexual innuendo, jazz-singing, 25-year-old very plump ‘Taylor Swift’ of 1913. Sophie Tucker was on the front pages every day, with men craving her and women copying her hair and fashion styles. We’re confident our must-see world premiere musical is going to make Tucker an international icon… again,” says Lloyd Ecker.
“We’re equally sure the innovative and exciting Bucks County Playhouse is about to become the place to be this July,” added Susan Ecker.
Before Mae West, Bette Midler or Queen Latifah, there was Sophie Tucker. With the help of two former Harlem headliners, Tucker rose from the deli counter to become a full-fledged star in her own right. Tucker was known for performing songs, including “After You’re Gone”, “There’ll Be Some Changes Made” and “Some of These Days.” The musical will feature these songs, along with other classics of their time — delivered with lots of tap dancing, and a big dose of Sophie’s groundbreaking, sassy humor.
Ryann Redmond (Broadway’s first female Olaf in Disney’s Frozen and most recently Once Upon a One More Time) will perform the role of Sophie Tucker alongside Rheaume Crenshaw (Broadway’s Shucked, Groundhog Day, Caroline or Change) as Mollie Elkins, DeWitt Fleming Jr. (Tour of A Wonderful World, and Encore’s The Tap Dance Kid) as Bojangles Robinson and Stephanie Gibson (BCP’s The Rocky Horror Show and National Pastime and Broadway’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) as Nora Bayes.
The cast also includes Willie Clyde Beaton II (Walnut Street’s Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), Lincoln Belford (National Tour of Chicago), Natalie Bellamy (Playhouse debut), Kelly Bolick (Public Theater’s Southern Comfort), Jonathan Hadley (Broadway’s Jersey Boys), Jenny Kay Hoffman (National Tour: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer), Hannah Hubbard (Fulton Theater’s Something Rotten), Daniel Lopez (Into the Woods at the Hollywood Bowl), Bobby MacDonnell (currently in Boy Band Evolution), Michael Persson (National Tour: 42nd Street), Danny Rutigliano (Broadway’s I Need That and Beetlejuice) and Rachel Stern (Broadway’s Girl from North Country and Shrek).
The creative team for the production consists of Nate Bertone (Scenic Design), Jeanette Christensen (Costume Design), J. Jared Janas (Hair, Wig and Makeup Design), Kirk Bookman (Lighting Design), and Jeff Sherwood (Sound Design). Merrick A.B. Williams is production stage manager. Musical arrangements by Sam Davis with orchestrations and additional arrangements by Greg Jarrett. Casting is by Paul Hardt.
Last of the Red Hot Mamas will begin previews on Friday, June 28 with an official press opening on Thursday, July 11 at 7:30 pm. Starting with the 2024 season, the show times have changed – with performances beginning 30 minutes earlier than in 2023. All evening performances now all begin at 7:30 pm, with all matinees now performed at 1:30 pm. Last of the Red Hot Mamas will play Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 pm with matinees on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 pm. Tickets start at $39. Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Patrons are invited to a special “Pay-What-You-Can Preview Performance” on Friday, June 28 at 7:30 pm. Suggested minimum is $10. Student rush tickets are also available at all performances, based on availability.
For full details, and to purchase tickets, please visit buckscountyplayhouse.org, call 215-862-2121, or visit the box office at 70 South Main Street, New Hope, PA.
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Broadway

Music For A Summer Night With The Connector, Here We Are, The Heart of Rock and Roll, Hell’s Kitchen, Fangirls and Parting Gift: The Songs of Gerald Ginsburg

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One of my favorite musical last year was Jason Robert Brown’s The Connector. Concord Theatricals Recordings has released the original cast recording of MCC Theater’s acclaimed world premiere production. The album is now available on digital platforms worldwide. Digital sheet music for the songs, published by Concord Music Publishing and released by Hal Leonard, is also available today.

Stream or download the album, as well as purchase digital sheet music, Here.

Watch Hannah Cruz, Scott Bakula and the cast record “The Whole World Changed” Here.

Watch Ben Levi Ross sing “See Yourself” Here.

The album is produced by four-time Emmy® Award-winner Jeffrey Lesser and three-time Tony Award-winner Brown (Parade, The Bridges of Madison County), who also serves as arranger, orchestrator and pianist. Three-time GRAMMY® Award-winner Sean Patrick Flahaven, Chief Theatricals Executive for Concord, is the album’s co-producer. The album was recorded by Isaiah Abolinand mastered by Oscar Zambrano with art direction by Derek Bishop.

With a book by Jonathan Marc Sherman and conceived and directed by Daisy Prince, this timely new musical tells the story of two talented young journalists: a fast-rising writer who must confront how far he’ll go for the ultimate scoop, and an editor who must decide how far she’ll go to stop him. The Connector’s world premiere production from MCC Theater ran in a limited engagement from January 12 through March 17, 2024.

The album features original cast members Scott Bakula, Max Crumm, Hannah Cruz, Ashley Pérez Flanagan, Danielle Lee Greaves, Mylinda Hull, Daniel Jenkins, Jessica Molaskey, Fergie Philippe, Eliseo Román, Ben Levi Ross, Ann Sanders and Michael Winther.

Tom Murray is the album’s music director and Kristy Norter is music coordinator. The band includes Brown, Jamie Eblen, Hidayat Honari, Adam Kaufman, Randy Landau, Todd Reynolds and Alison Shearer.

Complete production credits can be found in the album booklet HERE.

The company of Here We Are. Photo by Emilio Madrid.

I don’t know how this happened but the original cast recording Here We Are the last musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim featuring Francois Battitse, Tracie Bennett, Bobby Cannavale, Micaela Diamond, Amber Gray, Jin Ha, Rachel Bay Jones, Denis O’Hare, Steven Pasquale, David Hyde Pierce, and Jeremy Shamos is on YouTube. Click here to listen. What a great summer treat.

The The Heart of Rock and Roll may be closing but the Original Broadway Cast Recording of the Broadway musical The Heart of Rock and Roll is out and available on all music streaming services.

The album is produced by Huey Lewis, Brian Usifer and Will Van Dyke with Hunter Arnold, Tyler Mitchell and Kayla Greenspan serving as Executive Producers.

Joy Machine Records is a new venture from Ian Kagey, Sonny Paladino, Brian Usifer and Will Van Dyke. The record label was formed in 2023 to bring an artist-driven approach to the recorded music industry by using the theatrical principles of collaboration and community. Their focus is on providing services that amplify the voices of new artists within the field of musical theater, releasing cast albums for Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, as well as collaborating on solo albums with established theater performers. The label’s services seek to support a developing musical from inception to its Broadway cast album.

The album will include the original cast of The Heart of Rock and Roll including Corey Cott, McKenzie Kurtz, Josh Breckenridge, F. Michael Haynie, Zoe Jensen, Tamika Lawrence, Raymond J. Lee, John-Michael Lyles, Orville Mendoza, Billy Harrigan Tighe and John Dossett.

The Heart of Rock and Roll, the new musical inspired by the iconic songs of Huey Lewis and The News, opened on Broadway on April 22, 2024 at The James Earl Jones Theatre (138 W 48th St, New York, NY)

The Original Broadway Cast Recording for critically acclaimed new Broadway musical, currently nominated for 13 Tony Awards, the most of any new musical this season, Hell’s Kitchen is available now via Alicia Keys Records/Interscope Records on streaming and digital platforms worldwide with a physical release to follow. Additionally, the official music video for “If I Ain’t Got You” featuring Brandon Victor Dixon and Maleah Joi Moon is out now and can be found here.

Ghostlight Records has announced the release of the new single “Learning to Be Lonely” from Fangirls the multi-award-winning, smash-hit musical with book, musical and lyrics by wunderkind Yve Blake. The song is available in both vocal and instrumental versions. Following unprecedented sell-out success across Australia, a brand-new production of FANGIRLS is being mounted in London as a co-production between Sonia Friedman Productions and the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, premiering on July 13. Tickets are available Here.

Shereen Ahmed, Mikaela Bennett, Philip Chaffin, Will Chase, Victoria Clark, Jason Danieley, Adrienne Danrich, Jordan Donica, Colin Donnell, Telly Leung, Paul Lincoln, Patti Murin, Kelli O’Hara, Elena Shaddow, Nathaniel Stampley, Elizabeth Stanley, and Lauren Worsham come together to record some of the most beautiful music never before heard on disc. The collection highlights the composer’s lifelong work, a style he dubbed “theater lieder.” Two dozen musical settings of poetry by such luminaries as W. B. Yeats, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and E. E. Cummings are being unveiled for the first time. The songs are orchestrated by Jonathan Tunick, Doug Besterman, Larry Hochman, Michael Starobin, Chris Jahnke, and John Baxindine, among others, and performed by an orchestra of 17 under the baton of Richard Carsey. The album is produced by Tommy Kraskerand Bart Migal.

Gerald Ginsburg — born in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1932 — attended Oberlin College and the Manhattan School of Music before embarking on a career as a composer. But after a lauded debut at Carnegie Hall in 1974, self-doubt led Ginsburg to keep much of his music to himself, although he continued to compose for the remainder of his life. When he died in 2019, the full evidence of his years of solitary work was revealed: an archive of highly lyrical, emotionally moving and entertaining songs. PS Classics is proud to present Parting Gift: The Songs of Gerald Ginsburg, the legacy of an under-recognized composer who channeled his emotions into the intersection of poetry and music — and left behind something glorious.

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Off Broadway

The Welkin Is A Play About The Cruelty Of Women

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Lucy Kirkwood’s The Welkin asks several questions about right and wrong, the violence women deal/dealt with, power between wealth and not, the belief that men are the better species, even to women and why and how women do not defend or truly help each other.

Stepped in 1759, Suffolk, England, the story centers around Sally Poppy (Haley Wong), who’s sentenced to hang for helping her lover murder a little girl, except she herself is with child, so she claims. It is up to twelve women to decide her fate. Is Sally telling the truth or lying to save her skin. Under English law “pleading the belly” could commute the sentence saving Sally’s and her child’s life.

Midwife Lizzy Luke (Sandra Oh) believes in life, but these women have issues that effect the outcome. One has miscarried 12 times (Emily Cass McDonnell) in eight years and delivered a stillborn son, one is going through menopause and is overheating (Ann Harada), Sarah Hollis (Hannah Cabell) lost her voice in childbirth and has not spoken since, one is not who she says she is (Mary McCann). These women’s circumstances and beliefs often blur their choices and we are like peeping Tom’s looking in.

Wong, as the complex Sally, is a rebellious teen, who is over life as it was dictated for her. She wants to live by her own rules and when the puzzle has been exposed this plays leaves more questions than answers, which is impossible to ask or state here without giving the whole play away. Lets say, who her mother is, who her father is, who the child is and who the women who ultimately decides her fate was never really explored and that is the fascinating psychology that would have made this play soar.

Sandra Oh last seen on Broadway in 2006, is best known for TV’s Killing Eve and Grey’s Anatomy. She is the heart and soul until she is not. Once her secrets are out the play seems a little like Mother’s Play.

Emily Cass McDonnell makes us hate women whose own self centered needs and wants take no prisoners. Hannah Cabell makes us wish women who are like her would stay silent. Ann Harada and Dale Soules as Sarah Smith bring humor to challanging aspects of a women’s journey.

There are two men in the play Mr. Coombes (Glenn Fitzgerald), the bailiff who is a special friend to Oh’s character, until he is not and Danny Wolohan as the doctor that the women choose over a midwife, because he is a man. In The Welkin women eventually choose a man over their own. This man’s opinions of women, is beyond tragic.

Hanging over the play is the arrival of Halley’s Comet, why really is this play called The Welkin and an odd section where The Bangles “Manic Monday is sung ala an ode to Bridgerton. In a show that is over 2 hours, that could have been cut.

Director Sarah Benson’s direction at times seems odd and leaves more questions than answers. What is extremely well done \s the casting, as this cast all shine in their respected roles.

The Welkin is disturbing on so many levels. What it is saying seems unpalatable, but we do need to take it’s message to heart for at some point for the sake of humanity we need to connect and be on each other’s side.

The Welkin: The Atlantic Theatre Company at the Linda Gross Theatre, 336 West 20th Street until July 7th.

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Events

Josh Groban Hosts The 2024 Jimmy Awards

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The Broadway League Foundation is pleased to announce the team of theatre professionals and industry experts who will serve as coaches and judges during the 15th annual Jimmy Awards®. Several Broadway stars will also make special guest appearances as presenters throughout the evening. Acclaimed EMMY®, two-time TONY®, and five-time GRAMMY® Award-nominated singer, songwriter, actor, and philanthropist Josh Groban will host the ceremony taking place on Monday, June 24th at the Minskoff Theatre.

Live Streaming Will Be Available on YouTube and Facebook Starting at 7:30pm Eastern JIMMYAWARDS.COM 

The 15th annual Jimmy Awards welcomes 12 coaches who will mentor the 102 high school students from across America who have come to New York City for a chance to win the Jimmy Award for Best Performance by an Actor and Actress. The coaches include: English Bernhardt, Janet Dacal, Colin Hanlon, MaryAnn Hu, Leonard Joseph, Adam Kantor, Telly Leung, Adam J. Levy, Desi Oakley, Eliseo Román, Steven Telsey, and EJ Zimmerman.

The panel of judges for the 2024 Jimmy Awards is comprised of notable theatre professionals including Tony Award®-winning producers, award-winning casting experts, and industry leaders.Winners and finalists will be selected by Montego Glover, Kenny Leon, Joe Machota, Marc Platt, T. Oliver Reid, Tara Rubin, Nick Scandalios, Bernard Telsey, and Lia Vollack. This year, special guest judges include James Monroe Iglehart, Alan Menken, and Thomas Schumacher. Preliminary judges who evaluated and cast the nominees in the Character and Feature Groups included Gabriel Barre, Kristian Charbonier, Stephanie Klapper, Sammy Lopez, Kevin Metzger-Timson, and Dale Mott.

Throughout the evening, Victoria Clark, Justin Cooley, Andrew Barth Feldman, and Ayana Jackson will be special guest presenters introducing various awards, musical numbers, and tributes. 

The 2024 Jimmy Awards will stream for free online beginning at 7:30pm (Eastern) on Monday, June 24th via the Jimmy Awards Facebook and YouTube channels. The ceremony will remain available online for three days afterwards, through Thursday evening, June 27th. WABC’s Live Intermission Show will also stream live from the theatre and include exclusive interviews.

American Sign Language interpretation will be provided during the Jimmy Awards. For those interested in ASL interpretation, you can watch a live interpreter via an alternate YouTube stream. Live closed captions will be available through the “CC” feature on the primary YouTube stream. Additionally, closed captions will be available via an alternate link which will be a pinned comment. Accessibility services secured by Invest in Access.

Apples and Oranges Arts is the streaming and video production partner of the Jimmy Awards. The official media partner of the Jimmy Awards is WABC-TV.

The National High School Musical Theatre Awards®, better known as the Jimmy Awards®, is a coast-to-coast celebration of outstanding student achievement, recognizing individual talent in vocal, dance, and acting performance. The program impacts approximately 130,000 students who participate in regional high school musical theatre competitions sponsored by presenters of Touring Broadway productions throughout the United States. The 2024 Jimmy Awards anticipates welcoming more than 100 nominees from over 50 cities across the country as they make their debuts on a Broadway stage. During this exhilarating talent showcase, a panel of judges will select two students to receive the coveted awards of Best Performance by an Actor and Best Performance by an Actress. Named for Broadway impresario James M. Nederlander, the Jimmy Awards has been the catalyst for more than $6,000,000 in educational scholarships.

Founded in 2009 by Nederlander Alliances LLC, Pittsburgh CLO, and Broadway Education Alliance (BEA), the mission of the NHSMTA is to raise the profile of musical theatre in schools, honor dedicated teachers, and inspire the next generation of performers and enthusiasts. Numerous participants have already been cast in Broadway, Touring, and West End productions. As of this spring, 67 Jimmys alumni have performed on Broadway or on Tour.
Presented by The Broadway League Foundation Inc., the NHSMTA invites two nominees from each local regional ceremony to New York City for a 10-day theatre intensive that includes coaching sessions, training, and rehearsals led by some of Broadway’s most accomplished professionals. All their combined efforts will lead to one extraordinary talent showcase performed live in front of an audience on a Broadway stage. For more information, please visit JimmyAwards.com.

The Broadway League conducts the program through The Broadway League Foundation Inc., its philanthropic division. Part of the Foundation’s mission is to enlighten and increase the public’s knowledge, appreciation, and awareness of the theatrical arts, and since its founding in 1993, has supported several projects to help preserve Broadway’s heritage and introduce new audiences to Broadway theatre. The Foundation is a corporation organized under the Not-for-Profit Corporation Law of the State of New York, the purposes of which are exclusively charitable as defined in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. Donations to support the program can be made at www.JimmyAwards.com.

Follow the Jimmy Awards on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok & YouTube!

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Off Broadway

Yada, Yada 

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What’s better than a 90-minute sitdown with old friends? Nothing, of course, and that’s exactly what Singfeld, A Musical Parody About Nothing is all about. An energetic and highly talented cast take on the proposition that Jerry and George are going to write a musical about–what else?–nothing. Chiming in with comments and suggestions are Elaine and Cosmo, with occasional drop-ins from Mr. and Mrs. Costanza, Mr. Peterman and Susan. Other familiar names, situations, phrases and even subtle musical homages (I counted at least five) are jammed into this fun-filled and highly enjoyable show. 

So the rhymes aren’t always perfect, who cares? You’ll be trying to stifle your laughter so you don’t miss the next reference which will have you guffawing even harder. Another tribute to the cast: on this hot afternoon, they performed under hot lights and gave it their all. This show is a must for any Seinfeld fan—bring your friends and, well, yada yada. 

Singfeld, A Musical Parody About Nothing: The Jerry Orbach Theater the Theater Center 210 West 50th Street

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