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Ben Platt, Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen

Ben Platt, Rachel Bay Jones

I know everyone is all excited about all the Broadway ladies that are on their way to the stage this Spring. I certainly am, maybe more then some of the shows themselves (yes, I’m talking to you, Bette Midler!). We had a lack of big named lady belters on the Broadway stage this fall. Don’t get me wrong, come wonderful performances by the likes of Stephanie J. Block, cracking us up in Falsettos. Rachel Bay Jones, Laura Dreyfuss, and Jennifer Laura Thompson all breaking our hearts in Dear Evan Hansen, and even Lara Lee Gayer from the sweet and charming Holiday Inn [closing Jan.15] at Roundabout’s Studio 54. But those roles are generally seen as supporting roles, not leads. Magnificent supporting roles, done exceedingly well, but not leads.

But those roles are generally seen as supporting roles, not leads. Magnificent supporting roles, done exceedingly well, but not leads.

 

Bette Midler, Hello Dolly!

Bette Midler in Hello Dolly!

The big name ladies of the Broadway musical stage are all waiting for the months running up to the Tonys to start their singing. Like many, we already have our tickets for Bette Midler in Hello Dolly! [opening Apr. 20], breaking box office records with first day sales. I probably should get my act together and secure some tickets for Glenn Close’s returning to the role that gave her a Tony back in 1994, Sunset Boulevard [opening Feb. 9] (come to think of it, I should do the same for Miss Saigon opening Mar 23 with Eva Noblezada and Jon Jon Briones, but I’m just not all that excited it, it holds no nostalgic charm for me). Then there are the battling superstars in War Paint [Apr. 6], my all-time favorite, Patti LuPone facing off against Christine Ebersole. I saw it in Chicago, and liked it, but I hear they have been working hard to take it from good to great so keep your fingers crossed. It has all the ingredients for a smash hit, so let’s hope the doctor is doing his or her job.

 

War Paint, Patti LuPone ,Christine Ebersole

 Phillipa Soo, Amelie

Phillipa Soo, Amelie

Annaleigh Ashford with Jake Gyllenhall at her side, has recently joined in on this years competitive Tony race when the City Center Encore gala production of Sunday in the Park with George [opening Feb 23] is remounted at the newly renovated Hudson Theater. Will it carry the same exciting spark when it opens for a longer run? I’m thinking that the answer will no doubt be, YES! Also hoping that lightning strikes twice is the Hamilton star, Phillipa Soo headlining Amelie [opening Apr. 3], and over at the Broadhurst Theater, the female centered Anastasia [opening Apr. 24] stars Christy Altomare (for me, more importantly, costarring the dreamy Ramin Karimloo). The remaining question is, will there be any other late additions? Sutton Foster perhaps? Bringing her New Group off-Broadway hit, the delicious Sweet Charity to Broadway? Who knows, but cross your fingers, cause I’d love to see that happen!

 

Cate Blanchett, Richard Roxburgh

Cate Blanchett, Richard Roxburgh

And that’s just the singing ladies, we haven’t even got to the dramatic non-singing/non-dancing stars leading a slew of exciting plays opening on (and off) Broadway. We have the Broadway debut of the great Cate Blanchett in the first show of 2017 opening on January 8th, The Present with Richard Roxburgh already in previews. Another revival of The Glass Menagerie [opening Mar.9] has everyone all atwitter because it stars Sally Field (and co-star Joe Mantello), although Cherry Jones’s brilliant performance in the 2013 revival with Zachary Quinto is still haunting my memory. I’m more thrilled about Laurie Metcalf, returning to Broadway with a very interesting sounding new play called The Doll’s House, Part 2 [opening Apr. 27]. Her Misery on Broadway was just that so I’m crossing my fingers she’s returning with something as great as she is.

The Doll’s House, Part 2

Cynthia Nixon, Laura Linney,Little Foxes

Cynthia Nixon and Laura Linney the MTC Friedman stage in Little Foxes

Cynthia Nixon and Laura Linney don’t have to worry about the quality of the material when they return to the MTC Friedman stage in Little Foxes [opening Apr.19]. We know they are in a quality play, so I can’t wait to see what they do with it. Same with Jennifer Ehle in Lincoln Center Theater’s Oslo [opening Apr. 13], transferring from their off-Broadway house to the Broadway stage of the Vivian Beaumont. Will that be a snoozefest? or not? I can’t wait to find out (I’m guessing it’s the later but I am hesitant). And last but not least, well- in terms of Broadway houses, I can’t wait to see Allison Janney with John Benjamin Hickey in the 1990 drama revival, Six Degrees of Separation [opening apr. 25]. That’s some exciting stuff coming our way.

 

And then, rounding out my list are all the malecentric musicals both on and off Broadway. One of the shows I am most excited about is the environmental London transfer of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd [opening Mar. 1] at the Barrow Street Theater. I bought my tickets the moment they went on sale, not wanting to risk missing it. I can’t wait to eat a meat pie, drink some beer, and watch the Demon Barber of Fleet Street do his nasty deeds. I also bought some tickets for Come From Away, although I bought them for the Toronto pre-Broadway production (I’ll be posting my review of that in early January). This Canadian musical opens at the Schoenfeld Theater on Mar. 12th and I think the show sounds so fascinating. I couldn’t wait to see it.

 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Christian Borle

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Christian Borle

After being in awe of him in Rocky and On the Twentieth Century, I’ll be very happy to witness the gorgeous Andy Karl starring in the hit London 90-2transfer, Groundhog Day [opening Apr. 17], coming from the Old Vic to the August Wilson Theater. Speaking of handsome leading men that I love to see on stage, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory [opening Apr. 23] with the delicious Christian Borle as Willy Wonka. I’m not convinced that this will win me over, the buzz surrounding the hit in London is mediocre, but I’m optimistic, with my fingers crossed. Over at the New York City Center Encore series, I’ll be lining up to see the production of Big River starting a short run on Feb. 8th. I have never seen this show before, nor ever heard the music, so I’m eager to see and hear it on stage with that magnificent orchestra City Center has, and the Encores series rarely ever let me down.

In terms of plays opening this spring, the comedy, Present Laughter [opening Apr. 5] starring Kevin Kline and Kate Burton sounds like a great bet, as does the hilarious London transfer, The Play That Goes Wrong [opening Apr 2] which I was fortunate to see in the summer of 2015

Indecent

Off Broadway, we have a whole lot to be excited for. David Byrne, fresh from his successful Here Lies Love, is bringing his new musical, Saint Joan [opening Mar. 15] to the Pubic Theater downtown, along with John Leguizamo’s new one man show, Latin History for Morons [opening Mar.27] and Martin Sherman’s new play, Gentle Down the Stream [opening Apr. 5] starring Harvey Fierstein. The Public has had a really good season so far with hits like Plenty and Tiny Beautiful Things, but with news of Sweat [opening Mar. 26] transferring to Roundabout’s Studio 54 theater, they have even more to celebrate. Over at the Vineyard Theater, it looks like they are going to have a very good spring as well, with the NYC premier of John Kander and Greg Pierce’s Kid Victory [opening Feb. 22] and the transfer to Broadway of Paula Vogal’s first Broadway bound play, Indecent [opening Apr. 18] at the Cort Theater. I saw Kid Victory a few years ago at Washington DC’s Signature Theatre and was struck with its edgy and intense storyline and music, so I can’t wait to see how it’s been advanced over the past few years.

That takes us up to the Tony deadline, but there is theatrical life after the deadline on April 27th. There are a slew of other great things coming our way: The Golden Apple at NYCC’s Encores, The Band’s Visit possibly transferring to Broadway and Animal starring the incredible Rebecca Hall in May/June, both from the Atlantic Theater Company, Matthew Perry’s The End of Longing at MCC Theater, Prince of Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club, Napoli, Brooklyn and the phenomenal heart breaker, Marvin’s Room at the Roundabout. That’s one I don’t want to miss.

All that being said, I am told that everyone likes a list, so beyond my list of the top theatrical events of 2016, this is my list of the shows to get your tickets for in the spring of 2017. There are a few talked about earlier that I am actually more excited about but these shows are the ones that, if all goes well, might be the difficult ticket to get if you wait too long:

1/ The Present

 

2/ Hello Dolly

 

3/ Sunset Boulevard

 

4/ Sunday in the Park with George

 

5/ Sweeney Todd

 

6/ Groundhog Day

 

7/ The Doll’s House, Part 2

 

8/ Six Degrees of Separation

 

9/ The Glass Menagerie

 

10/ Present Laughter

 

11/ Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

 

12/ The Play That Goes Wrong

 

13/ War Paint

 

14/ Saint Joan

 

15/ Miss Saigon

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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

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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The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

GIAMATTI’S TREK — (via DEADLINE) Paul Giamatti has joined the cast of the upcoming Paramount+ original series Star Trek: Starfleet Academy in a recurring role. He will play the Season 1 villain, a man with an ominous past connected to one of our cadets.

“Sometimes you’re lucky enough to discover that one of the greatest actors alive is also a huge Star Trek fan, and meeting Paul was one of those miraculous moments for us. The sheer delight with which he dove in on Starfleet Academy is only surpassed by the gratitude we feel about him joining our incredible cast,” shared co-showrunners and executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Noga Landau in a joint statement.

He joins previously announced Holly Hunter, who will star in the series as the captain and chancellor of Starfleet Academy. The series will begin production later this summer.

Star Trek: Starfleet Academy follows a young group of cadets who come together to pursue a common dream of hope and optimism. Under the watchful and demanding eyes of their instructors, they discover what it takes to become Starfleet officers as they navigate blossoming friendships, explosive rivalries, first loves and a new enemy that threatens both the Academy and the Federation itself.

Alex Kurtzman and Noga Landau serve as co-showrunners and executive producers of the series alongside executive producers Gaia Violo, Aaron Baiers, Olatunde Osunsanmi, Jenny Lumet, Rod Roddenberry, Trevor Roth, Frank Siracusa and John Weber. The series premiere episode is written by Gaia Violo.

Star Trek: Starfleet Academy is produced by CBS Studios in association with Secret Hideout and Roddenberry Entertainment and is distributed by Paramount Global Content Distribution.

HEART STOPPED — (Via Deadline) The Heart of Rock and Roll, the struggling musical built around the hits of Huey Lewis, will play its final performance at a matinee on Sunday, June 23. The show will have played 24 previews and 72 performances.

In a statement, producer Hunter Arnold said, “It was pure joy working on the show with the team of creatives headed by writer Jonathan A. Abrams, director Gordon Greenberg, choreographer Lorin Latarro, music arranger and orchestrator Brian Usifer and special gratitude to the support and participation of the iconic music legend Huey Lewis.

The musical began previews on March 29 and opened on April 22.

“We were honored,” he continued, “to have an amazing cast and crew who brought their immense enthusiasm, commitment and talent to each and every performance. With our original cast album just released and talks underway for a national tour and international productions, the musical will continue to delight audiences for years to come.”

The musical, received by critics with lukewarm reviews, did not received any Tony Award nominations and has been struggling at the box office, sometimes with the James Earl Jones Theatre just more than half-full with audience members. For the week ending June 9, the show grossed a tiny $272,051.

SHORT TAKES — Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis will be released through Lionsgate. Tepid reviews? Not really. Face it, Coppola’s a genius. Check out Roger Friedman’s (SHOWBIZ 411) take: https://www.showbiz411.com/2024/06/17/coppola-leases-megalopolis-to-lions-gate-for-september-release-in-distribution-only-deal

Darius Rucker said that the bandmates in Hootie and the Blowfish tried to outparty each other? Interesting. Check this out here: https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/darius-rucker-says-hootie–the-blowfish-bandmates-tried-to-outparty-each-other-that-was-just-how-we-lived-214135068.html

Add one more Jon Bon Jovi-intervene to the list. NBC’s Sunday With Willie Geist. Was good, but nothing on Richie Sambora and nothing new. He’s not going to tour; he wants to tour; a surprise gig in Nashville ….

Micky Dolenz and Michael Stip (R.E.M.)

what’s going on? More kudos for his PR-man Brad Cafarelli … Congrats to R.E.M. on their Songwriters Hall of Fameinduction … HAPPY BDAY Michelle Toscas!

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Mark Adelman; Christine Nagy; Race Taylor; Anthony Noto; Robert Funaro; Al Roker; Tony LoBianco; Les Moonves; Les Schwartz; Marion Perkins; Mary Wilson; Tony Seidel; Bob Schartoff; Julie Laufer; Liza Lillien; Richie Ridge; William Schill; Dan Zelinski; Carol Ross; Gary Gershoff; David Adelson; Roy Trakin; Lee Jeske; Anthony Mason; and BELLA!

Images on this page have been licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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And The Winners Of The 77th Tony Awards Are: The Outsiders, Merrily We Roll Along, Stereophonic and Appropriate

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Hillary Clinton did show and the Tony’s gave her a standing ovation, but against all odds the best musical of the year The Outsiders won. I have never been so happy to be wrong in my predictions as The Outsiders was my favorite show this year. I am so proud of this industry for honoring this amazing production.

Merrily We Roll Along, Stereophonic, Sarah Paulson, Appropriate, Maleah Joi Moon and so many other predicted choices took home the coveted award.

Ariana DeBose hosted the night, where the surprises were Jeremy Strong, Danya Taymor for The Outsiders, Kecia Lewis for Hell’s Kitchen.…yeah! 

The playbill for the night and the 77th Tony Awards, had speeches that were powerful. Especially in Act One. The theatre before the event.

In the show a tribute to Chita Rivera, Chita you will be missed.

Here is the list of the winning shows and performers:

BEST MUSICAL: The Outsiders

Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Groff, and Lindsay Mendez in NYTW’s Merrily We Roll Along. Photo: Joan Marcus.

BEST MUSICAL REVIVAL: *Merrily We Roll Along

BEST ACTRESS (MUSICAL): *Maleah Joi Moon, Hell’s Kitchen

BEST ACTOR (MUSICAL): *Jonathan Groff, Merrily We Roll Along. 

BEST FEATURED ACTRESS (MUSICAL):***Kecia Lewis — Hell’s Kitchen

BEST FEATURED ACTOR (MUSICAL): *Daniel Radcliffe, Merrily We Roll Along

BEST DIRECTOR (MUSICAL): ***Danya Taymor — The Outsiders. This win gives me such hope as Danya Taymor directs with heart. Her directorial performance in Jonah also was a tour de force. Taymor makes you feel.

BEST BOOK Of A MUSICAL: *Shaina Taub for Suffs

BEST MUSICAL SCORE: * Shaina Taub for Suffs

BEST ORCHESTRATIONS: *Jonathan Tunick, Merrily We Roll Along

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY: *Justin Peck, IIinoise

SCENIC DESIGN (MUSICAL): Tom Scutt — Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

COSTUME DESIGN (MUSICAL): *Linda Cho, The Great Gatsby 

LIGHTING DESIGN (MUSICAL): ***Brian MacDevitt and Hana S. Kim — The Outsiders

SOUND DESIGN (MUSICAL): ***Cody Spencer — The Outsiders

PLAYS

Tom Pecinka and Sarah Pidgeon Photo by Julieta Cervantes

BEST PLAY: * Stereophonic

Sarah Paulson and Elle Fanning in 2ST’s Appropriate. Photo by Joan Marcus.

BEST PLAY REVIVAL: *Appropriate 

BEST ACTRESS (PLAY): *Sarah Paulson, Appropriate

BEST ACTOR (PLAY): Jeremy Strong — An Enemy of the People

BEST FEATURED ACTRESS (PLAY): *Kara Young, Purlie Victorious

BEST FEATURED ACTOR (PLAY): **Will Brill, Stereophonic. Thrilled for this win. One of my favorite performances of the year.

BEST DIRECTOR (PLAY): *Daniel Aukin, Stereophonic

BEST SCENIC DESIGN (PLAY): David Zinn, Stereophonic

BEST COSTUME DESIGN (PLAY): *Dede Ayite, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding 

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN (PLAY): Jane Cox — Appropriate

BEST SOUND DESIGN (PLAY): *Ryan Rumery, Stereophonic

Audra McDonald

Given special awards were: The Wilma Theatre Outstanding Regional Theatre,

lifetime Achievement to George C. Wolfe, Excellence in Theatre Education to CJay Philip

Harvey Fierstien

lifetime Achievement to Jack O’Brien

Brian Stokes Mitchell and Billy Porter

Isabelle Stevenson Award Billy Porter

*our prediction to win.

** our prediction to what should win

*** our prediction for Best but we did not think would win

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James Monroe Iglehart At The Drama Desk and A Rap For A Wonderful World: The Louis Armstrong Musical

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T2C was at the Drama Desk Awards and talked to our friend James Monroe Iglehart. Years ago I learned that James could make up raps instantaneously, so I had him do one at the Hamilton opening night for Lin Manuel Miranda. Since James is opening up in October in A Wonderful World: The Louis Armstrong Musical, I ask him to do a rap to plug his show. This is the result.

James’s new musical is about the life and loves of Louis Armstrong and Tony Award® winner James Monroe Iglehart is the legendary American icon. A Wonderful World charts Armstrong’s incredible journey from the birth of jazz in his native New Orleans through his international stardom. It features beloved songs recorded and made popular by Armstrong, including favorites like “What a Wonderful World” and “When You’re Smiling,” among many other standard favorites.

The show is conceived by Tony Award® nominee and Drama Desk Award winner Christopher Renshaw (Broadway’s The King and I, Taboo), and novelist Andrew Delaplaine. Book by Aurin Squire (“This is Us,” “The Good Fight”). Directed by Renshaw, with choreography by Rickey Tripp (Associate Choreographer for Broadway’s Hell’s Kitchen, Once on This Island, and Choir Boy). Featuring classic songs from Armstrong’s catalogue.

We look forward to seeing James and this new musical.

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Who Should/Will/Did Win a 2024 Tony Award? Predictions and Actual Winners.

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Here’s my list of who I think will win, who I think should win, and who ended up winning on June 11th, Tony night, as I like to call it. There are a number of obvious choices, but a few races that are difficult to call. Like the Jessica Vs Sarah American Horror alumn battle, or the emotional contest of Best New Musical. Here are mine.

Below is the full list of winners (🏆), my predictions (⭐️), who I think should win (👍), and all of the nominations:

Here goes nothing.

⭐️= Who I think Will Win

👍= Who I Think Should Win

🏆= Who Did in the End Win (stay tuned Sunday, June 11th, 2023 from the United Palace Theatre in NYC)

Best Book of a Musical

Hell’s Kitchen – Kristoffer Diaz

The Notebook – Bekah Brunstetter

The Outsiders– Adam Rapp and Justin Levine

👍 ⭐️ Suffs – Shaina Taub

Water for Elephants – Rick Elice

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

Days of Wine and Roses – Music & Lyrics: Adam Guettel

Here Lies Love – Music: David Byrne and Fatboy Slim – Lyrics: David Byrne

👍 The Outsiders – Music & Lyrics: Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance) and Justin Levine

Stereophonic – Music & Lyrics: Will Butler

⭐️ Suffs – Music & Lyrics: Shaina Taub

Jeremy Strong in An Enemy of the People – Photo by Emilio Madrid.

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

William Jackson Harper, Uncle Vanya
Leslie Odom, Jr., Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
Liev Schreiber, Doubt: A Parable
👍 ⭐️ Jeremy Strong, An Enemy of the People
Michael Stuhlbarg, Patriots

This is a hard one, but I’m leaning on the overall effect of the riveting An Enemy of the People leading Strong to a Tony victory. Stuhlbarg was excellent in the lesser excellent Patriots. Odom and Harper are two good actors who I believe underperformed, and I’m hoping their star-power doesn’t push them over the winning line.

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

Betsy Aidem, Prayer for the French Republic
Jessica Lange, Mother Play
Rachel McAdams, Mary Jane
👍 ⭐️ Sarah Paulson, Appropriate
Amy Ryan, Doubt: A Parable

Although everyone here excelled, particularly Aidem and Ryan, I do believe Paulson delivered something more profound and detailed than Lange, probably because the play gave her so many more complex opportunities which she gobbled up fantastically for our pleasure.

Sarah Paulson and Elle Fanning in 2ST’s Appropriate. Photo by Joan Marcus.

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

Brody Grant, The Outsiders
👍 ⭐️ Jonathan Groff, Merrily We Roll Along
Dorian Harewood, The Notebook
Brian d’Arcy James, Days of Wine and Roses
Eddie Redmayne, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

No shocker here. This is Groff’s moment, even though I loved Grant and Redmayne in their lesser received shows. James was also good, vocally, in a musical that I just didn’t connect to, so I wasn’t as connected to him or his performance. The same can be said of O’Hara. I just didn’t care, even within the dramatic ending.

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

👍 Eden Espinosa, Lempicka
⭐️ Maleah Joi Moon, Hell’s Kitchen
Kelli O’Hara, Days of Wine and Roses
👍 Maryann Plunkett, The Notebook
Gayle Rankin, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

I think the new kid on the block might take home the prize, although I would not be disappointed if either Espinosa or Plunkett jumped to the front of the Hell’s Kitchen train.

Eden Espinosa in Lempicka. Photo: MATTHEW MURPHY AND EVAN ZIMMERMAN

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

👍 Will Brill, Stereophonic
⭐️ Eli Gelb, Stereophonic
Jim Parsons, Mother Play
Tom Pecinka, Stereophonic
Corey Stoll, Appropriate

Such a hard call, but I fully believe that, as in many categories including this one, it will be a winning Stereophonic night. Some say Stoll might snatch it up, but I’d be very surprised.

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

Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Doubt: A Parable
👍 Juliana Canfield, Stereophonic
Celia Keenan-Bolger, Mother Play
👍 Sarah Pidgeon, Stereophonic
⭐️ Kara Young, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch

Gosh. Young was, for me, by far the best thing in this revival elevating it spectacularly leaving everyone, including the bland Odem, Jr. At the bottom of the hill.

Leslie Odom, Jr. and Kara Young in PURLIE VICTORIOUS – Photo by Marc J. Franklin.

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

Roger Bart, Back To The Future: The Musical
👍 Joshua Boone, The Outsiders
Brandon Victor Dixon, Hell’s Kitchen
Sky Lakota-Lynch, The Outsiders
👍 ⭐️ Daniel Radcliffe, Merrily We Roll Along
Steven Skybell, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

I’ll be cheering for Radcliffe when he wins the Tony for his performance in this stellar production, but I did love The Outsiders maybe more than most, and Boone really gave the new musical its solid emotional heart.

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

Shoshana Bean, Hell’s Kitchen
Amber Iman, Lempicka
Nikki M. James, Suffs
Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer, Monty Python’s Spamalot
👍 ⭐️ Kecia Lewis, Hell’s Kitchen
Lindsay Mendez, Merrily We Roll Along
👍 Bebe Neuwirth, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

What an amazing group, and I’d really be happy anyway this one went, but Neuwirth feels so damn perfect in the part, and Lewis made me cry, so there’s that….

Steven Skybell and Bebe Neuwirth in CABARET at the Kit Kat Club at the August Wilson Theatre. Photo by Marc Brenner.

Best Scenic Design of a Play

dots, Appropriate
dots, An Enemy of the People
Derek McLane, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
David Zinn, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding
👍 ⭐️ David Zinn, Stereophonic

Conrad Ricamora (Ninoy Aquino – left), Arielle Jacobs (Imelda Marcos – right), and the cast of Here Lies Love in the Broadway Theatre.
Photo Credit: Billy Bustamante, Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman (2023)

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

AMP featuring Tatiana Kahvegian, The Outsiders
Robert Brill and Peter Nigrini, Hell’s Kitchen
Takeshi Kata, Water for Elephants
David Korins, Here Lies Love
Riccardo Hernández and Peter Nigrini, Lempicka
Tim Hatley and Finn Ross, Back To The Future: The Musical
👍 ⭐️ Tom Scutt, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Costume Design of a Play

Dede Ayite, Appropriate
⭐️ Dede Ayite, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding
👍 Enver Chakartash, Stereophonic
Emilio Sosa, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
David Zinn, An Enemy of the People


Eddie Redmayne (center) and the cast of CABARET at the Kit Kat Club at the August Wilson Theatre. Photo by Marc Brenner.

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Dede Ayite, Hell’s Kitchen
Linda Cho, The Great Gatsby
David Israel Reynoso, Water for Elephants
👍 Tom Scutt, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
⭐️ Paul Tazewell, Suffs

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Isabella Byrd, An Enemy of the People
Amith Chandrashaker, Prayer for the French Republic
👍 ⭐️ Jiyoun Chang, Stereophonic
Jane Cox, Appropriate
👍 Natasha Katz, Grey House

The cast of The Outsiders. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Brandon Stirling Baker, Illinoise
⭐️ Isabella Byrd, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
Natasha Katz, Hell’s Kitchen
Bradley King and David Bengali, Water for Elephants
👍 Brian MacDevitt and Hana S. Kim, The Outsiders

Best Sound Design of a Play

Justin Ellington and Stefania Bulbarella, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding
Leah Gelpe, Mary Jane
Tom Gibbons, Grey House
Bray Poor and Will Pickens, Appropriate
👍 ⭐️ Ryan Rumery, Stereophonic

The cast of Stereophonic on Broadway. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

Best Sound Design of a Musical

M.L. Dogg and Cody Spencer, Here Lies Love
👍 Kai Harada, Merrily We Roll Along
Nick Lidster for Autograph, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
⭐️ Gareth Owen, Hell’s Kitchen
Cody Spencer, The Outsiders

Best Direction of a Play

👍 ⭐️ Daniel Aukin, Stereophonic
Anne Kauffman, Mary Jane
Kenny Leon, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
Lila Neugebauer, Appropriate
Whitney White, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding

Gabriel Olivera de Paula Costa and Wade McCollum in WATER FOR ELEPHANTS – Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Best Direction of a Musical

👍 ⭐️ Maria Friedman, Merrily We Roll Along
Michael Greif, Hell’s Kitchen
Leigh Silverman, Suffs
👍 Jessica Stone, Water for Elephants
Danya Taymor, The Outsiders

Friedman, in a way, did the impossible with this formerly problematic musical so her win is well deserved. But Stone also delivered a spectacular worthy of the Water for Elephants story it told.

Best Choreography

Annie-B Parson, Here Lies Love
Camille A. Brown, Hell’s Kitchen
👍 Rick Kuperman and Jeff Kuperman, The Outsiders
⭐️ Justin Peck, Illinoise
Jesse Robb and Shana Carroll, Water for Elephants

Ricky Ubeda and Ben Cook of Broadway’s Illinoise. Photo by Liz Lauren.

Best Orchestrations

Timo Andres, Illinoise
👍 Will Butler and Justin Craig, Stereophonic
Justin Levine, Matt Hinkley and Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance), The Outsiders
Tom Kitt and Adam Blackstone, Hell’s Kitchen
⭐️ Jonathan Tunick, Merrily We Roll Along

Best Play

Jaja’s African Hair Braiding – Author: Jocelyn Bioh

Mary Jane – Author: Amy Herzog

Mother Play – Author: Paula Vogel

Prayer for the French Republic – Author: Joshua Harmon

👍 ⭐️ Stereophonic – Author: David Adjmi

No contest. Really. And that’s no slight to the other wonderfully written plays in this group.

Kecia Lewis and Maleah Joi Moon in Hell’s Kitchen on Broadway. Photo by Marc J. Franklin.

Best Musical

⭐️ Hell’s Kitchen

Illinoise

👍 The Outsiders

Suffs

👍 Water for Elephants

This is a hard call cause none of them are perfect yet all deliver something pretty special. And unique. I loved The Outsiders, more than I imagined I would. Its heart beats the strongest for me, but I think Keys will triumph for expanding the genre and the audience up so many floors.

Natalie Gold, Alyssa Emily Marvin, Michael Esper, Sarah Paulson, and Corey Stoll in 2ST’s Appropriate. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Best Revival of a Play

⭐️ Appropriate – Author: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

👍 An Enemy of the People – Author: Amy Herzog

Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch

An Enemy of the People is solid and as strong as its Strong star, but Appropriatedelivers in so many unexpected ways it’s impossible not to be taken in completely, laughing in its uncomfortableness and its tense emotional turmoil.

Best Revival of a Musical

Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Gutenberg! The Musical!

👍 ⭐️ Merrily We Roll Along

The Who’s Tommy

Another no-contest win. But I also loved Cabaret far more than your average critic. And I’m still a little surprised by that.

Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Groff, and Natalie Wachen in Merrily We Roll Along. Photo by Mathew Murphy.

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