Since I can remember, Hal Prince was not only a prince but a king and a God. To me, he could do no wrong. I idolized the man and what he had accomplished in musical theatre. I was enamored and thought he was the epitome of Broadway. Sometimes, our idols have to fall off their pedestals. The Prince of Broadway, which opened two nights ago, doesn’t highlight the best of his career. The song choices are strange and the performances not always stellar. Who does come across as a star is Tony Yazbeck, who monopolizes the stage with his superb singing and excellent dance skills, but more on that later.
The show starts with Brandon Uranowitz stating “My name is Hal Prince, I’ve been directing on Broadway for seven decades.” Then the rest of the cast states one-liners of being Mr. Prince and you’re thinking why didn’t they just use a film of the real Hal Prince talking? The first song in the program is a muffled recording of Michael Xavier singing “Hey There” from Pajama Game.
The first live musical number is “Heart” from Damn Yankees. When it starts you think, oh I get it, Mr. Prince wants you to know it is heart that drives him. This is the first time Mr. Yazbeck stands out. Immediately he is Tony singing “Something’s Coming” into a romantic “Tonight” with Kaley Ann Voorheees to honor West Side Story. Suddenly, I am thinking, wait, why not “Steam Heat,” “What Ever Lola Wants,” “A Little Brains a Little Talent,”“These Were the Good Old Days,” “Dance at the Gym,” the quartet of “Tonight” or “A Boy Like That;” these are the numbers we want to see.
Uranowitz comes back with an adorable “Tonight at Eight,” followed by a vocally inconsistent “Will He Like Me” sung by Beyonaha Marie Parham.
Michael Xavier and Janet Ducal do a lively “You’ve Got Possibilities” from It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman.
Beowulf Boritt’s set designs place you into that moment in time, as do William Ivey Long’s costumes, and there is that air of nostalgia as selections from Follies include “Beautiful Girls,” “Waiting for the Girls Upstairs” and “The Right Girl.” As much as I love “Waiting for the Girls Upstairs,” it really doesn’t work out of context. Again, why not “Lucy and Jessie” or “I’m Still Here”? But for me, this show is completely worth Tony Yazbeck’s brilliant rendition of “The Right Girl,” complete with musings of the original tap choreography by Michael Bennett. I saw Gene Nelson do this and still have that memory seared into my brain even though I was only 10.
I saw A Little Night Music the same day I saw No No Nanette. Now 13, it was Sondheim’s score that won my heart. Here Michael Xavier and the elegant Emily Skinner brought to life “Night Waltz” and “You Must Meet My Wife.” Ms. Skinner sang the piece as a vocally endowed Glynis Johns, and now we see the brilliance of Hal Prince’s direction.
Chuck Cooper brought a jig to “If I Were A Rich Man” from Fiddler on the Roof…different.
Then the piece that really put Hal Prince on the map, Cabaret, brought Uranowitz channeling Joel Grey with “Willkommen,” and “If You Could See Her.” A searing “So What” was embodied by Karen Ziemba. Ms. Parham redeemed herself stepping through that mylar curtain to belt out the title number.
Act Two brought back Company, Evita, Showboat, Merrily We Roll Along, Parade, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Sweeney Todd and Phantom of The Opera. The overture to Company thrills, as Ms. Skinner electrified with the “The Ladies Who Lunch,” but Mr. Xavier pales in comparison to Aaron Tveit, now playing the role at Barrington Stage.
Janet Dacal sizzles in “Buenos Aires,” but is no Patti LuPone in “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.”
Chuck Cooper nails “Ol Man River” and Ms. Parham brings “Can’t Help Lovin the Man” to life.
A strange arrangement of “Now You Know” from Merrily had Ms. Skinner back.
Mr. Yazbeck gave a strong rendition of “This Is Not Over Yet” from Parade that melted into Uranowitz version of “Dressing Them Up” and Ms. Dacal on the theme from Kiss of the Spider Woman.
Sweeney Todd brought Ms. Ziemba and Mr. Cooper back with “The Worst Pies in London,” “My Friends,” and “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd,” – “By the Sea” or “Have a Little Priest” would have been more entertaining.
With The Phantom of the Opera still playing just down the street the theme song, “Wishing You Were Here Again” and “The Music of the Night” sung by Mr. Xavier and Ms. Voorheese just seemed redundant.
The show ended with a new composition by orchestrator Jason Robert Brown which was lackluster. Susan Stroman helped co-directed this piece. With such talent, one wonders why they didn’t choose better material considering what was available.
It may seem like I am being hard on Prince of Broadway, but I still recommend it. My guest, who is not a musical theatre aficionado, now wants to see these shows and in all honesty, so do I. As a matter of fact, Mr. Prince please come back with a new show. I still believe you are a Prince.
Prince of Broadway: Manhattan Theatre Club at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St. Until October 27th.
Head To The The Algonquin Hotel For Some Holiday Cheer
As we head into the holiday season, The Algonquin Hotel’s December event lineup is open to both hotel guests and New York City locals. The hotel will spread holiday cheer with a variety of festive performances, cocktails, and experiences including:
- Cocoa and Carols Happy Hour: Daily, 5-8PM, Every evening this December, all are invited to enjoy Specialty Cocoa while Christmas carols chime at the Blue Bar. Drinks will include Mexican Hot Chocolate spiked with mezcal
- KT Sullivan Cabaret: December 5th, 12th and 19th, Sullivan will perform her iconic Christmas Cabaret. As noted by The New York Times, Sullivan is a thrilling Off-Broadway performer with over eight published albums
- Rocco Dellaneve’s Rat Pack Christmas: December 7th, 14th and 21st, Rocco Dellaneve will perform iconic songs from the Rat Pack Christmas album with special inclusions of Santa with Sinatra, Rocco of the Snow, Rudolph and the Rat pack
- The Serafina’s and Broadway Vocalists: December 8th, 15th and 22nd, enjoy the high kicking – precision line dancing Christmas tradition around The Algonquin tree. The Serafina’s will be available for pictures and autographs from 6pm to 7pm, followed by special Broadway vocalists
A portion of proceeds from all events will be donated to Toys for Tots.
Beyond the December events, The Algonquin Hotel is located in a prime position nestled in the heart of Times Square and Fifth Avenue, making it the perfect launchpad for a New York City holiday experience. The hotel is a historical jewel that emphasizes the importance of making unique, storied experiences. Since its opening in 1902, The Algonquin Hotel is famous for its timeless style and desire to honor the literary and cultural elite. The distinguished Round Table Restaurant and Blue Bar offer tasteful dining inclusions and curated cocktails that are sure to excite everyone.
Photo credit: The Algonquin Hotel, Autograph Collection
Countdown to Christmas: For The Dancer and Theatre Lover Chita Rivera
2o days to go! Every year people panic to find the perfect gift. We at T2C have been collecting idea’s all year long to bring you the perfect gift guide at all price levels. When you’re at the end of your rope trying to find the perfect Christmas present this year, come to this guide for some great suggestions.
There are a lot of books out there this year but we highly recommend Chita: A Memoir , the critically-acclaimed book is written by the legendary Broadway icon Chita Rivera with arts journalist Patrick Pacheco. Chita takes fans behind-the-scenes of all her shows and cabaret acts, she shares candid stories of her many colleagues, friends, and lovers. She speaks with empathy and hindsight of her deep associations with complicated geniuses like Fosse and Robbins, as well as with the mega-talent Liza Minnelli, with whom she co-starred in The Rink. She openly discusses her affair with Sammy Davis, Jr. as well as her marriage to Tony Mordente and her subsequent off-the-radar relationships. Chita revisits the terrible car accident that threatened to end her career as a dancer forever. Center stage to Chita’s story are John Kander and Fred Ebb, the songwriters and dear friends indelibly tied to her career through some of her most enduring work: Chicago, The Rink, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and The Visit.
Chita’s love of performing began as a child in Washington, D.C., when her mother enrolled her in a local ballet school to channel her boundless energy. Still a teenager, she moved to New York to attend the School of American Ballet after an audition for George Balanchine himself and winning a scholarship. But Broadway beckoned, and by twenty she was appearing in the choruses of Golden Age shows like Guys and Dolls and Can-Can. In the latter, she received special encouragement from its star Gwen Verdon, forging a personal and professional friendship that would help shape her career. The groundbreaking West Side Story brought her into the orbit of Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents, Hal Prince, and Stephen Sondheim. After Bye Bye Birdie further burnished her rising star, she reunited with Verdon and her then-husband Bob Fosse to work on the film version of Sweet Charity and the celebrated original Broadway production of Chicago.
Chita: A Memoir was published in English and Spanish and the English audio version of the Memoir was recorded by Chita. A Spanish audio version is also available.
“Chita Rivera blazed a trail where none existed so the rest of us could see a path forward. She has been part of some of the greatest musicals in the history of the form, from Anita in the trailblazing West Side Story through Claire Zachanassian in the underrated masterpiece The Visit, over 60 years later. She is a Puerto Rican Broadway icon and the original ‘triple threat.’ We’re so lucky to be alive in the same timeline as Chita Rivera.” — Lin-Manuel Miranda.
“A frank and fascinating memoir from one of the truly great artists of the American Theater. Lots of stories … Lots of insight … and quite a few caustic statements from Chita’s alter ego, Dolores. An illuminating history and a guaranteed pleasure!” — John Kander
Broadway legend and national treasure Chita Rivera, multi-Tony Award winner, Kennedy Center honoree, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom – has taken no prisoners on stage or screen for seven decades. From her trailblazing performance as the original Anita in West Side Story—for which she tapped her own Puerto Rican roots—to her haunting 2015 star turn in The Visit. Chita has proven to be much more than just a captivating dancer, singer, and actress beloved by audiences and casts alike. In her equally captivating and one-of-a-kind memoir, Written with Patrick Pacheco, the woman born Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero shares an incomparable life, both on stage and behind the curtain.
By the way this Memoir has won a Gold Medal for “Best Autobiography – English” at the 2023 International Latino Book Awards. https://www.latinobookawards.org/
Click here to buy your copy.
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Spamalot
Here is the amazing cast of Spamalot. Christopher Fitzgerald as Patsy, James Monroe Iglehart as King Arthur, Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer as The Lady of the Lake, Ethan Slater as The Historian/Prince Herbert, Jimmy Smagula as Sir Bedevere, Michael Urie as Sir Robin, Nik Walker as Sir Galahad and Taran Killam as Lancelot.
I was so inspired I drew the whole cast.
To read T2C’s review click here.
Ahead of the Broadway Opening of Lempicka The Longacre Theatre Is Showcasing Art Work By Tamara de Lempicka
The Longacre Theatre (220 W 48th St.), soon-to-be home of the sweeping new musical, Lempicka, is showcasing a curated selection of renowned artist Tamara de Lempicka’s most famous works. Eschewing traditional theatrical front-of-house advertising, the Longacre’s façade now boasts prints, creating a museum-quality exhibition right in the heart of Times Square. The musical opens on Broadway on April 14, 2024 at the same venue.
The Longacre’s outdoor exhibition includes works of Self Portrait (Tamara in a Green Bugatti) (1929), Young Girl in Green (1927), Nu Adossé I (1925), The Red Tunic (1927), The Blue Scarf (1930), The Green Turban (1930), Portrait of Marjorie Ferry (1932), Portrait of Ira P. (1930), Portrait of Romana de la Salle (1928), and Adam and Eve (1932).
Starring Eden Espinosa and directed by Tony Award winner Rachel Chavkin, Lempicka features book, lyrics, and original concept by Carson Kreitzer, book and music by Matt Gould, and choreography by Raja Feather Kelly.
Spanning decades of political and personal turmoil and told through a thrilling, pop-infused score, Lempicka boldly explores the contradictions of a world in crisis, a woman ahead of her era, and an artist whose time has finally come.
Young Girl in Green painted by Tamara de Lempicka (1927). Oil on plywood.