Connect with us

Broadway

The Big Band Swing Streaming of Broadway’s Bandstand

Published

on

There is no way that this show, even when streaming, is going to let you not pay attention. It has too much going on to let you look away. It’s loud and fun, very reminiscent of the old MGM ‘lets-put-on-a-show’ type of musical that it references throughout, It begins with an intense crack and never lets up, volume-wise. Which is, in a way, its fun and its tiny flaw. There is a lovely love story implanted in this musical, about a man who survives a war, returns home to find that things can’t just return to what it once was and that he is not the same young man that he once was either. His love of big band swing music hasn’t disappeared, thankfully, and his devotion to his best buddy who died by his side still sits strong and sure within his sense of duty. His commitment to his word ends up being his saving grace from the weight many of the returning soldiers carry on their backs day after day, and we can’t help but engage fully with his pain and suffering. There is great music, spectacular singing, a healthy lively pulse, and an amazing level of athletic and creative dancing to marvel at, courtesy of director/choreographer, Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton). The only problem in this show, as I first mentioned when I saw it many years ago on Broadway, is that the creators barely give the piece a moment to catch its breath, constantly driving forward without a pause. It throws everything at us with a full force, energetic music along with anguish and post-WW2 pain. All served at the same loud driving speed.  It’s like they don’t trust us to stay tuned in unless they are always feeding us something powerful and visually stimulating.

5024

The first five minutes of Bandstand bombard us with details and drama from World War II and the soldier’s return. It’s visual and emotionally strong, and I must say, it is even better or easier to take in with this filmed version. It throws a lot at us; almost too much, but for some reason the close-ups and editing within the film format work in its favor, giving us intimacy and space that somehow got lost on the wide stage. It might be the timing and the world we find ourselves in as we all are a little shell shocked from the isolation and fear of our current day situation. The energy of the filming works its magic a tad better, thanks to film director Lorenzo Thione, and it doesn’t hurt that this is also a fundraiser for The Actors Fund, which fits the piece more than I realized when I first read about it.Later, during a needed pause in the initial dramatics, the handsome and incredibly talented, Corey Cott (Newsies, Gigi) is allowed to be still, just him and the piano. And it is in that moment that we find ourselves able to really engage with the young man’s pain and circumstance. The magnetic Cott, as the leader of the soon-to-be-assembled band, finds a perfect attunement when he sings a smart and catchy song titled “Danny Novitski“, his character’s name.  In a flash, we finally see the vulnerability inside and settle ourselves down into our virtual seats. We needed that vantage point to take a much-needed breath after what was just witnessed. You know what many say about wind instruments, breathing is what makes the music sing. So slowing the beat down and taking a deep breath will let us savor the talent being given to us.

5018

Danny finds the salvation he so desperately needs in the smoke-filled night clubs of 1945 Cleveland. His return brings back the feeling of being truly alive and humming with the sound of swing. The band that Nick gathers together in hopes to win a National song-writing contest are a perfect ensemble of hand-picked ingredients, played impressively by the on-stage talent of James Nathan Hopkins as Jimmy Campbell, Brandon J. Ellis (Once) as Davy Zlatic, Alex Bender as Nick Radel, Geoff Packard (Matilda) as Wayne Wright, and my favorite of the bunch, Joe Carroll (Cinderella) as drummer boy Johnny Simpson. Each one of these mismatched fellow WWII vet band-mates transports us with their magnificence and keeps the music thumping and flowing unapologetically.  There is no doubt of their talent, but it is in the calmer moments, sometimes too few and far between, that we can really feel attached to these tortured souls. Figuratively, and sometimes literally, these band members drag along their PTSD souls for us all to see, clinging to their bodies in desperation and need. It’s a powerful image, these demons, hanging onto their counterparts, and even pushing our piano-playing leading man forward. It’s dynamic, and smart, beautifully illustrating the heaviness that lives, most tragically, within.

5021

The other major talent lies in the home of the beautiful young war widow, Julia Trojan, portrayed with a lively spark by the incredibly gifted Laura Osnes (Rogers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella).  This woman can do it all, from singing a glorious church number to sliding right into a big band rocking “Right This Way“. Not to be sidelined by this woman playing her daughter, Beth Leavel (Broadway’s The Prom) as mother Mrs. June Adams, has little to do, but some of the best and funniest deliveries in the whole show. “You can’t put the genie back in the bottle!”  which is so true in the case of Leavel. The character is written with such wit and delivered up to us with such a unique strength that I was captivated, waiting for what was sure to be her “pull-it-together, daughter” moment that was sure to come somewhere in Act II.  And I wasn’t wrong, it did come, but the song, “Everything Happens” was a let-down. In my head, I thought we were going to be given a ‘Virginia Clark-ActII-Gigi‘ show stopper that would lift us up and soar through the skies, but Rob Taylor and Richard Oberacker (Broadway debut) who wrote the book and lyrics for Bandstand dropped the ball when it came to Leavel’s moment center-stage.  They had gifted her character endlessly with a great persona and wonderful lines, but at the crucial moment, her song barely did more than the minimum required. An opportunity wasted.

5026

But the swing music in Bandstand is the real deal and the main reason to tune in and stream.  Written by Oberacker, the overall sound of the show is spectacular. Big Band all the way around is all one can say about it, thanks to music director: Fred Lassen, Co-orchestrations: Bill Elliott, Greg Antony Rassen; music supervisor/arranger: Rassen; and music coordinator: Howard Joines.  While many of the narrative songs fade to the background, the big showpieces fly. “I Got a Theory“, “Love Will Come and Find Me Again“, and the final song, “Welcome Home” work their magic, just as beautifully as the set design by David Korins (HamiltonWar Paint), surprising us in Act II by giving so much more than expected. It opens up like a smalltown boy who finally arrives in the big city.  The same could be said of the electric work done by lighting designer, Jeff Croiter (FalsettosHoliday Inn), costume designer Paloma Young (Peter and the Starcatcher), and sound designer Nevin Steinberg (Dear Evan HansenHamilton).

5022

Bandstand tries hard to give us all that there is to say about the attempt to return to normality after WW2. It feels like a good time for this feel-good musical to come our way. It sings and dances into our soul, almost better than when I saw it in person. The interwoven dance movements that lead us from one scene to the next work amazingly well, especially when filmed. The talented dance crew and Blankenbuehler, as director and choreographer, discover an essence in the intervals that deliver a feeling that is artistic and authentic. The cinematic close-ups pull us into the drama and center our hearts on what the stage director really wants us to pay attention to.  And it works most wonderfully, and surprisingly on film. So grab hold of the chance, and take it all in. The clock is ticking on this streaming pleasure. You only have until 11:59pm ET, April 17th to stream it into your lives, so click here, and dive in, while you still are able. And please find the time to donate to The Actors Fund, it’s really what this musical and this moment are all about.

5025

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

The Outer Critics Circle (OCC) Awards And You Are There Part 1

Published

on

The Outer Critics Circle (OCC), awards ceremony for the winners was held on Thursday, May 23, 2024, in the Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center’s New York Public Library for The Performing Arts (111 Amsterdam Avenue, NYC).

Current President David Gordon and  Vice President Richard Ridge welcomed everyone. There were celebrity presenters and Tony Danza proved why he is a comedy star. The first award given out was to Outstanding Video/Projections: Peter Nigrini – The Who’s Tommy.

Danza also gave out the awards to Outstanding Orchestrations Marco Paguia – Buena Vista Social Club.

Outstanding Costume Design: Linda Cho – The Great Gatsby

Outstanding Lead Performer in a Broadway Play: Jessica Lange – Mother Play

Receiving the John Gassner Award for New American Play (preferably by a new playwright): Oh, Mary! and a tie for Outstanding Lead Performer in an Off-Broadway Play (tie): Cole Escola left a video message.


Next to present was Montego Glover who gave Outstanding Featured Performer in an Off-Broadway Musical (tie) Judy Kuhn – I Can Get It For You Wholesale

and to Thom Sesma – Dead Outlaw

Outstanding Book of a Musical and Outstanding Score Shaina Taub – Suffs

Outstanding Scenic Design (tie): Paul Tate dePoo III – The Great Gatsby

Outstanding Lighting Design: Brian MacDevitt  The Outsiders

Outstanding Featured Performer in a Broadway Play: Kara Young – Purlie Victorious

Next up Steve Gutenberg gave awards to Outstanding Revival of a Play: Appropriate

Outstanding Sound DesignRyan Rumery – Stereophonic

Outstanding Solo Performance: Patrick Page – All the Devils are Here

Founded during the 1949-50 Broadway season by respected theater journalist John Gassner, The Outer Critics Circle is an esteemed association with members affiliated with more than ninety newspapers, magazines, broadcast stations, and online news organizations, in America and abroad. Led by its current President David Gordon, the OCC Board of Directors also includes Vice President Richard Ridge, Recording Secretary Joseph Cervelli, Corresponding Secretary Patrick Hoffman, Treasurer David Roberts, Cynthia Allen, Harry Haun, Dan Rubins, Janice Simpson and Doug Strassler. Simon Saltzman is President Emeritus & Board Member (Non-nominating) and Stanley L. Cohen serves as Financial Consultant & Board Member (Non-nominating). Lauren Yarger serves as the Outer Critics Circle Awards ceremony executive producer.

Tomorrow Part 2.

Continue Reading

Broadway

Ken Fallin’s Broadway: On The Town For Fleet Week

Published

on

Fleet Week is upon us, so, attached is a drawing I did of Channing Tatum a few years ago for The Los Angeles Times. This was done for Hail Caesar! choreographed by Christopher Gattelli.

Hail Caesar!  is by Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men, Fargo), starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Channing Tatum, Hail, Caesar! follows a single day in the life of a studio fixer who is presented with plenty of problems to fix.

Here is a video with Channing and the rest of the cast. Talk about a great Happy Memorial Day!

Continue Reading

Broadway

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet Times Three

Published

on

By

It’s going to be some Shakespeare-heavy months ahead, especially around those famously doomed lovers named Romeo and Juliet, as I fly into the Stratford Festival (formally called the Stratford Shakespeare Festival) here in Ontario, Canada for their first big opening week of six shows. The week will start with Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night followed by the musical comedy about Shakespeare, Something Rotten, and then Shakespeare’s Cymbeline on night three. The fourth night will be the opening of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler; the fifth, La Cage Aux Folles, followed by, lastly (at least for this coming week) the final opening of this particular opening week, show number six, Shakespeare’s ultimate romantic tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. (Much more follows over the summer of Canada’s fantastic Stratford Festival.)

As directed by Sam White, the founding Artistic & Executive Director at Shakespeare in Detroit, Shakespeare’s great romance Romeo and Juliet slides in at the Festival Theatre on Saturday, June 1st, 2024, starring Jonathan Mason (Stratford’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Vanessa Sears  (CS/Obsidian/Necessary Angel’s Is God Is) as those starcrossed titular characters and lovers. As with the whole season, I’m hoping this production, and all the others, will live up to the festival’s high standards, and be just the beginning of a spectacular year of Shakespeare. And of these two young lovers.

Kit Connor and Rachel Zegler. Photo by Sam Levy.

After that jam-packed week in Stratford, Canada, it doesn’t end for this theatre junkie and his faithful companion. Jetting off soon after to London, England, we have another week of theatre planned. As scheduled, the two of us will see an onslaught of plays, including Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard at Donmar, two National Theatreproductions; Hills of California and the Olivier-winning Standing at the Sky’s Edge, as well as Ian McKellen in Player Kings (Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1 & 2), the Royal Court Theatre’s Bluets, and (of course) the much-talked-about production of Romeo & Juliet, directed and produced by Jamie Lloyd. It just opened this week at the Duke of York’s Theatre, running from Saturday, May 11 through Saturday, August 3, starring Tom Holland as Romeo and Francesca Amewudah-Rivers as Juliet.

#RomeoJulietLDN production photography by Marc Brenner

From the photos popping up on Facebook, Lloyd’s pulsating new vision of Shakespeare’s immortal tale of wordsmiths, rhymers, lovers, and fighters is sure to be something to see. It will definitely be talked about all over the world, yet it was truly disheartening to read about all the hateful postings around the casting choice of Lloyd’s Juliet. It says, sadly, so much about our world right now, but it seems to have quieted down some (although the sting and stink must still be lingering in the air for us all), and although the reviews of this West End production came out today, I will try to stay away from them until long after. Whether the production will follow the successful path of other Lloyd hits, including the pared-down stagings of A Doll’s House that starred the incredible Jessica Chastain or the phenomenal Betrayal with Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Cox, and Zawe Ashton, remains to be seen, but I am curious if it will also find its way across the pond to Broadway.

If it does, it will have some pretty fierce competition, as another Romeo & Juliet, this one starring Heartstopper‘s Kit Connor and West Side Story‘s Rachel Zegler will begin Broadway performances on Thursday, September 26, at Circle in the Square Theatre, with an official opening night set for Thursday, October 24. The run, directed by Sam Gold, is a strictly limited, 16-week engagement, and I can not wait to get in to see it as well. All three really. And I won’t have to ask the forever question, “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” I’ll just have to ask which Romeo are we looking for? And which Juliet.

See video here. 

Often called the greatest love story of all time, Romeo + Juliet has captivated audiences and artists for centuries and provided the inspiration for hundreds of films, ballets, operas, novels, including the iconic Broadway musical West Side Story.

Stratford Festival’s production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet officially opens on June 1 and runs until October 26 at the Festival Theatre. Tickets are available at stratfordfestival.ca

The West End’s Romeo & Juliet officially opened on May 23rd at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London, and runs until Saturday, August 3. Tickets are available (although probably sold out) at https://www.thedukeofyorks.com/romeo-and-juliet

The Broadway production of Romeo + Juliet at Circle in the Square Theatre, with an official opening night set for Thursday, October 24, and running for a limited engagement of 16 weeks. Tickets will be available at https://romeoandjulietnyc.com/

For tickets and more information, click here.

 

Continue Reading

Broadway

League of Professional Theatre Women Invite the Public to Oral History Interview Of Broadway Playwright Theresa Rebeck

Published

on

Stage, film, television and novel writer Theresa Rebeck will be interviewed about her long and brilliant career at 6p.m., Monday, June 3, at the Bruno Walter Auditorium, at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center (111 Amsterdam Avenue at 65th Street), New York.
This event, which is FREE and open to the public, is part of the League of Professional Theatre Women’s (LPTW) Oral History Project in partnership with the Library and is a highlight of LPTW’s 41st season.
Theresa Rebeck is a widely produced writer for stage, film, television and novels, whose work can be seen and read throughout the United States and internationally. With five plays produced on Broadway, Rebeck is the most Broadway-produced female playwright of our time.
Rebeck’s Broadway credits include I Need That (starring Danny DeVito), Bernhardt/Hamlet (starring Janet McTeer), Dead Accounts (starring Norbert Leo Butz); Seminar (starring Alan Rickman); Mauritius (starring F. Murray Abraham). Other New York productions of her work include Dig (Outer Critic’s Circle nomination), Seared (starring Raul Esparza, DramaLeague Award) at MCC Theater, Downstairs (starring Tim Daly and Tyne Daly); The Scene (starring Tony Shalhoub), The Water’s Edge, Loose Knit, The Family of Mann and Spike Heels at Second Stage; Bad Dates, The Butterfly Collection and Our House at Playwrights Horizons; The Understudy at Roundabout Theatre Company; and View of the Dome at New York Theatre Workshop. Other notable plays include Poor Behavior, What We’re Up Against, and Omnium Gatherum (co-written), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2013.
As an author, Rebeck has written three novels: Three Girls and Their Brother (Random House/Shaye Areheart Books, 2008), Twelve Rooms with A View (Random House/Shaye Areheart Books, 2010) and I’m Glad About You (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2016), along with Free Fire Zone, a book of comedic essays about writing and show business.
Rebeck made her NYC Directorial debut with Rob Ackerman’s play Dropping Gumballs on Luke Wilson at The Working Theatre and directed the World Premiere of her new play Dig at Primary Stages in NY and Dorset Theatre Festival in Vermont. Her new podcast play, “Nightwatch” (starring Norbert Leo Butz), was released in 2023.
In television, Rebeck created the NBC showbiz drama “Smash,” and has written for “Canterbury’s Law,” “LA Law,” NYPD Blue,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “Dream On,” Brooklyn Bridge,” and many more.
Her produced feature films include the big-budget all-female spy thriller 355 (co-written with Simon Kinberg for Jessica Chastain’s production company); Trouble (writer/director), starring Angelica Huston and Bill Pullman; Harriet the Spy; Gossip and the independent features Sunday on the Rocks and Seducing Charlie Barker, an adaptation of her play, The Scene.
Theresa lives in Brooklyn with her husband Jess Lynn.
To attend this event, please RSVP HERE.
To view past oral history interviews, visit the Library’s Theatre on Film and Tape Archive, or visit the LPTW’s archive.
Women working in the theatre industry are eligible to join LPTW.  For more information on upcoming events and to join LPTW, visit: www.theatrewomen.org.
Continue Reading

Broadway

Museum of Broadway Launches ‘Moulin Rouge! The Musical: Spectacular, Spectacular’ Exhibit

Published

on

By

Sparkle this summer with the most dazzling exhibit at The Museum of Broadway.

This week the beloved museum hosted the launch for the opening of Moulin Rouge! The Musical: Spectacular, Spectacular, presented in partnership with Chase Freedom.

Cast members and friends were on hand at the Big Apple opening nigh including Courtney Reed (Satine), Ashley Loren (OBC Satine), Jacqueline B. Arnold (La Chocolat), Jeigh Madjus (Baby Doll), Jessica Lee Goldyn (Nini), Krystal Joy Brown (Merrily, We Roll Along), Jay Armstrong Johnson (Parade), Charl Brown (Motown the Musical), and more gathered to raise a glass to the glitter.

The exhibit will run through September 8, 2024. Marking the fourth dedicated installation created exclusively for The Museum of Broadway, the new exhibit follows SIX: The Royal GalleryALL THAT JAZZ: The Legacy of Chicago The Musical, and The American Theatre As Seen by Hirschfeld. Entrance to the special exhibit is included in any ticket purchased to the Museum of Broadway and for museum members. The Museum of Broadway is open seven days a week – tickets start at $34.

FOR MORE INFO, CLICK HERE.

 

Photos by David Troncoso for The Museum of Broadway

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2023 Times Square Chronicles

Times Square Chronicles