I must admit something. Well, actually two things. One of them was a confession that was hard for my friend to believe. But I had to come clean as we sat down in one of the two different Broadway theatres to watch two very different Broadway shows; one a big loud musical and the other a simple boat of a play. But both had their mechanical roots firmly tied to two old classic movies that are still as widely known today as they were back in their time. My time, basically. And both are somehow inexplicably linked, oddly enough, to the one and only Steven Spielberg. One of these, I had never seen before, except for snippets here and there, but never from start to finish, and the other I did see once, and only once, cause I could not, and would not, watch it again, or I would not, could not, ever go back into the ocean water again. Can you guess which films I talking about?
The first is “Back to the Future“, a 1985 American science fiction film directed by Robert Zemeckis, written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale, presented by Spielberg, and starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, and Lea Thompson. Now, the movie has been turned into a big-budget Broadway musical, transferring over from London’s West End, with music and lyrics by Alan Silvestri & Glen Ballard, book by the same Bob Gale, and starring Roger Bart and Casey Likes. I’m not sure why I never saw this movie when it first came out, or on television years after. Nothing against it, but somehow it bypassed me.
The other floats its wobbly ship around the infamous and troubled making of Steven Spielberg’s 1975 horror classic “Jaws” and the film’s difficult mechanical beast of a star; a bunch of malfunctioning ocean-not-so-worthy sharks that continually fail to do the job being asked of them, basically almost sinking the project alongside them. This new play, based on those days at sea on hold, is a Waiting for Godot-like creation, obviously titled The Shark is Broken, written by Joseph Nixon and one of the star’s actual son, Ian Shaw, directed by Guy Masterson, and starring the same Ian Shaw, alongside Alex Brightman and Colin Donnell. And I’m not overstating the chilling effect it had on me.
Yet, these two staged productions are a crazy pairing, seen one night after the other during the summer of 2023, and I wish I could say that they are both blockbuster hits like their legendary cinematic counterparts, but unfortunately, I can not. And although both are pretty spectacularly presented and somewhat entertaining in some very different and unique mannerisms, both left me wandering out into the streets of Broadway hungry for a much bigger fish to fry in the future and wishing for a whole lot more than what was being served up in these Broadway houses.
It’s no surprise that The Shark is Broken begins with that ominous and epic threat of a soundtrack sound. Even if it is only a vague tip of the hat to that iconic soundtrack. Those notes are well known to anyone who has seen the movie, and they could (and probably have) mimicked them at one point in time or another. Most likely when a friend or younger sibling has entered the ocean for a nice refreshing swim. Or, I must admit, heard in my head whenever I go for an ocean swim. When played here at Broadway’s Golden Theatre, they make the audience rapturously happy, clapping and laughing because of the connective strings being pulled. This, it turns out, is the theme of both shows; giving you that familiar thread and making everyone pretty reminiscently happy to play along. That is if you have a strong good connection to the source material. But what if you don’t?
On a miraculously well crafted and designed floating ship-slash-waiting room, courtesy of set and costume designer Duncan Henderson (The Roundhouse’s Bloodlines), with devilishly good lighting by Jon Clark (Broadway’s A Doll’s House), solid sound and original music by Adam Cork (Almeida/MTC’s Ink), and the most impressive video design one could imagine by Nina Dunn for Pixellux (West End’s Bonnie & Clyde) – so good it almost made me sea-sick, The Shark is Broken delivers forth a backdrop and location the excels on all fronts. It’s the perfect playground for the film’s three stars to wile away their time in between shots, embodied by three very fine actors giving us uncanny and definitive portrayals, drinking, arguing, gambling, and attacking one another’s egos with glee.
And that’s about it, in a nutshell. The movie stars are instantly recognizable to anyone who knows the film well and extremely well performed by the trio of stage actors here, with the most obvious being the hilariously neurotic and sea-sick Richard Dreyfus, played perfectly by Alex Brightman (Broadway’s Beetlejuice), alongside the cool intellect of black turtleneck-wearing Roy Scheider, played beautifully by Colin Donnell (NYCC Encores’ Merrily We Roll Along). The third is an actor I recognized, but can’t say I knew much about; Robert Shaw, an English actor, novelist, playwright, and screenwriter who dutifully portrayed shark hunter Quint in the film, and is played on stage here by his dead-ringer-of-a-son, and co-playwright Ian Shaw (NT’s War Horse), growling the time away with his co-stars in between nips from the bottle as they wait for the mechanical shark to get its act together. It’s a great set-up for a confined interaction, worthy of the artists that have come together for this piece.
The three actors deliver the goods stupendously, finding authenticity and humor with every wave and rock of the boat, and as directed with a clever wit by Gus Masterson (Edinburgh Fringe Festival/West End’s Morecambe), The Shark Is Broken tries to find some fucked up familiarity in the Godot-like framework. The play gives the three movie stars-played-by-actors plenty of space to unload baggage and take out their frustrations on each other and the sea. And they dive right into the rough waters with glee, but will it be enough? That is the question.
The filming off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard is legendary for its troubled sea shoots, managed and orchestrated by a young unproven director, Spielberg, for a worried movie studio, on location with some pretty fussy mechanical sharks who are almost the most difficult things on that ship and in the film. But it’s Brightman’s Dreyfus who takes center stage after the star shark, even with his third-billing poster status. He struggles to keep his fragile sanity and food down while tossing and turning on that ship constantly being provoked by his fellow actor, Shaw, drinking his unknown sorrows down regardless of the time of day. Shaw, as beautifully embodied by the actor’s son, can’t seem to help himself, finding fault and poking at the insecure actor, Dreyfus, every chance he gets. It’s a comedy show of sorts, with Dreyfus’ desperation for stardom, and Shaw, the pretentious artist, writer, and famed stage actor, ridiculing the man for his obvious ambition. Scheider is the calmer force, reading and sunning his slim (most excellent) body in the sun, patiently doing his time as well as he can, until the moment he can’t hold it in anymore.
At one point, after endless rounds of storytelling regarding fathers and fame; drinking and debauchery, the question of the day is finally asked from one actor to another; “What is this film about?” It’s a question asked for pure curiosity-sake, and I couldn’t have wished for a better one. Dreyfus responds metaphorically, Donnell’s Scheider answers symbolically, but it’s Shaw, the perpetual artist, who answers simply and directly. “It’s about a shark!” he exclaims, impatiently. But I wish we could ask the same of this play. For us all to be more certain what the actual play that we are watching is all about. Because, to be honest, the more it went on and on, and the more these three wrangled and drank the days away, the less energy I spent trying to figure it all out. And the less I cared.
I guess the on-set difficulties of this film, detailed in Carl Gottlieb’s memoir, The Jaws Log, are widely known and heralded, but does that, in essence, make this unpacking and unloading more, or less interesting? It certainly explains the title, but even at a brisk 95mins, The Shark is Broken fails to make me want to lean in and make sense of the wild sea laid out before us. The known fact that the filming would finally make it to the last day and wrap, only makes the meanderings and the recreations of that one infamous scene more meaningless to me. I know it was meant to delight and drive the ship forward, but I couldn’t get on board. I must admit that every joke made about the future of film making; dinosaurs and extra-terrestrials et al., is well received and amusing, making me chuckle a bit here and there, but the play is not as funny as how loud and big the guy behind us was laughing. Obviously, it didn’t bite me as hilariously as it did him. Maybe this slight sea-worthy ship should have docked at a smaller, more intimate off-Broadway port. It might have made more sense tied to a smaller dock.
But it’s all about nostalgia, right? Especially when we examine the parts and pieces that make up the film-to-stage show, Back to the Future: The Musical. The new and original musical, based solidly on the much-loved 1985 Robert Zemeckis film, drives fast and furious into Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre after a very successful world premiere in the West End of London. The fanfare and excitement of the project, as it counts down to acceleration inside the theatre, is truly astounding, making me wonder about what I missed out on. This is the famed movie I had never seen, beyond snippets here and there, and my theatre buddy wondered out loud, as he excitedly informed me of its iconic puffy red vest and attacking Libyans (sadly cut), if I would be as into it as everyone else around me seemed to be. And I must admit, I did too.
From the man who wrote the screenplay of that iconic film, book writer Bob Gale doesn’t, I am told, stray too far from the source, driving in the well-known numbers, like “The Power of Love” and “Back in Time” as scheduled to the delight of all. With absolutely forgettable new music and lyrics by Glen Ballard (Jagged Little Pill) and Alan Silvestri, who also happened to be the person behind the film’s original theme. The musical attempts to shift itself into high gear with every trick in the visual book (as it certainly won’t be the music you remember), and in a way, it works. Under the hyper-direction of John Rando (Broadway’s Urinetown), Back to the Future: The Musical finds the decadent DeLorean dynamic in its radioactive construction and awesome visual effects, thanks to scenic and costume designer Tim Hatley (Broadway/West End’s Life of Pi), lighting designers Tim Lutkin (Old Vic’s Lungs) and Hugh Vanstone (Broadway’s The Boys in the Band), video designer Finn Ross (Almeida’s Tammy Faye), sound designer Gareth Oen (Broadway’s & Juliet), and illusions by Chris Fisher (Broadway’s Company). The spectacle is all there, delivering at every turn of the wheel. And the crowd eats it up. Just like The Shark…, every known element is greeted with cheers and applause, and even though those nostalgic bits were not hitting my gears in the same way, I can’t say I was ever not entertained. Did I care about the outcome in the end? Not really, as it was clear everything was going to turn out just swell, and the journey from beginning to swell ending just wasn’t musically or emotionally compelling enough to lean in, but I wasn’t exactly bored by it all either. No seat belts are required here, though, as nothing dangerous (or new) is going to happen.
From the first revving of its engine, the musical makes it clear that the McFly family of Hill Valley is destined for not great things. But it is also clear that lead actor, Casey Likes is on a pretty impressive film-to-stage roll having just closed out Broadway’s Almost Famous in a quick flash of rockstar light. In that new musical, just like this one, he is (and was) the perfect formulation for the part, playing out his need for connection and coolness with equal affability. He seems to be the perfect foil for adaptations, and in the BTTF universe, his girlfriend, Jennifer Parker, played to period perfection by Mikaela Secada (TheLex’s West Side Story), delivers one of the more engagingly simple moments in this loud and revved up musical, “Wherever We’re Going” to the “Got No Future” Marty McFly (Likes).
And I must admit, that early on in this musical, I was filled with hope. But it didn’t last long. Cause in walks the overdone dead-ender dad McFly, George, played by Hugh Coles (the original Marty in West End’s Back to the Future). The performance starts out big with a long-legged capital B, flinging himself around the stage in a way, I am told, was reminiscent of the movie. So I guess it works, especially when being bullied by his current work boss/high school nemesis, Biff, played in a strong kinda expected way by Nathaniel Hackmann (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast). George’s wife, Lorraine, portrayed by Liana Hunt (Broadway’s Newsies) isn’t faring any better, pouring vodka down her throat in big gulps, while trying to guide her children in a manner that is sad in its avoidance. It’s over-the-top disastrous, but I guess nostalgia wins again, even if I didn’t quite join that bandwagon.
All seems sad and awkward in that family unit, even if Marty never really gives off the same overdone vibe that is coming big from the other members of his family. That is until he rushes to the assistance of his mad scientist friend and father figure, Dr. Emmett Brown, played strong and wild by the very game Roger Bart (Broadway’s The Producers). In a radiating flash of an eye, Marty finds himself in the driver’s seat, zooming his way from 1985 to 1955 in Dr. Brown’s time machine. Barned up in the DeLorean car, the invention and Marty find themselves stranded in the 1950s with no way back (I’d give you more info, but I’m sure you know the deal). So Marty must find the much younger Dr., convince him of his predicament, and find a way to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity to power himself Back to the Future, musically, all the while trying to avoid inadvertently changing the course of history by meddling in the past. Which, to no one’s surprise, he has already done just that before he even finds the Doctor. Without realizing it, Marty has become the love object for his young and beautiful teenage mom, supplanting the affections she was going to have with his own father, and possibly erasing his entire future, one sibling at a time.
It’s a playground for time frames and period play, this new musical, playing with both the 80s and the 50s with not exactly equal pleasure, but with similar frames and fun. It’s America, and isn’t it great to be alive in the 1950s? Or so sings the ensemble. “It just feels right when / All of these white men / Get to have their cake / So let the women bake / We get to have our cake and eat it too.” There are smoking and drinking pregnant ladies and more, once we fly back in time, and opportunities and predictable outcomes between bullies and their prey, but Back to the Future: The Musical isn’t really here to reinvent anything, especially those wheels that are a wonder to watch.
I wasn’t in the position to notice the slight revisions in Gale’s book, but most seemed to work after being informed by my buddy, and maybe a few of them even fixed some cultural insensitivities or superficial plot points. What I do know is that in general, the musical does succeed in entertaining those in the know and those few of us who are not so in the know. The actors, even those that start out oversized and awkward, find their footing and their emotionality, driving their personas towards an ending that registers on more than just a familiar level. Likes, once again, inhabits a part made famous by someone else, giving us just the right amount of breathy vocal cracking to never let us forget the wonderful Michael J. Fox, yet never being so overdone that we are ourselves sent back in time to the film. Coles as his father, George, annoying at first, finds himself just in the nick of time in the well-formed, “Put Your Mind to It“. Sadly he has to also sing earlier on the ridiculously incoherent “My Myopia” while hiding in a tree. I might hide too if I was burdened with that number.
Roger Bart, on the other hand, is instantly unique, barely giving us any Christopher Lloydisms, which is a blessing, although I could really do without his “21st Century” number that made no sense at the top of Act 2, and is only memorable because of its utter stupidity. But “For the Dreamers” is who he is playing this for, and his performance is completely embraced by all, including me. Hunt, as both messy adult Lorraine and young wide-eyed teenager Lorraine is a delight at every libido-raised turn, and Jelani Remy (Broadway’s Ain’t Too Proud) expands the part of Goldie Wilson every chance he gets, giving it his all when he “Gotta Start Somewhere“. It’s a show-stopping moment, even if it doesn’t really drive this musical all that forward. It’s more of an amazingly magnificent park and play moment, rather than a fourth gear acceleration.
Back to the Future: The Musical only really kicks itself into fifth when that magnificently designed car does its duty, riding fast and flying high, in the opposite yet similar way that the mechanical “Jaws” shark continually slammed on the brakes in the movie, but inspired The Shark is Broken. The visuals are what ultimately drive both of these vehicles, as well as America’s obsession with nostalgia and the known and already loved commodity. If it isn’t a sequel, it’s a remake. Or a remake of a sequel, or a prequel to a remade sequel. The list goes on, as Ian Shaw’s Robert Shaw, while waiting for the mechanical shark to take his place on set, states on that Golden Theatre stage, ironically, as Ian is, in a way, a sequel embodiment of his father, the great drunken British actor. I’m just happy to have a few originals lined up for the following few days of theatre, because that is where “Here Lies Love” lives somewhere on Broadway at “The Cottage” and beyond.
Sunday’s Broadway Forever Concert Postponed Until October 15
Today, Broadway Forever announced that the Sunday, September 24th concert will be postponed to Sunday, October 15th at 11:00AM due to expected severe weather in New York City. The Sunday, October 15th concert will take place at Lou Gehrig Plaza in the Bronx (East 161st Street, Grandview Place).
A complete line up of appearances and performances will be announced soon.
For the second consecutive year, NY Forever, in partnership with City National Bank, the New York City Department of Transportation and 161st Street Business Improvement District presents Broadway Forever,empowering New Yorkers across the city to build a better city for all.
Fans will have the opportunity to sign up for future community service opportunities in all five boroughs, which will be coordinated by New York Cares and their partner organizations.
Broadway stars performing throughout New York City celebrate the creativity and resilience that is intrinsic to the city – and provide an opportunity to recognize the volunteers and community organizers who work hard to make New York a better place. The concerts will bring Broadway entertainment to DOT’s Public Space Programming, a city initiative that brings free activities to public spaces.
The events are produced and staged by 6W Entertainment, with additional support from New York Cares and the Times Square Alliance.
For more information about City National, visit the company’s website at cnb.com.
Theatre News: Wicked, The Wiz, Hypnotique, Female Troubles and Love In The Time Of Crazy
Broadway’s blockbuster Wicked, in partnership with National Day Calendar, has announced that October 30 will officially become National Wicked Day, in honor of the hit Broadway musical’s debut at the Gershwin Theatre (245 West 51st Street) on October 30, 2003.
This marks the first time that a Broadway show will have its own official day in the National Day Calendar. With this inclusion, Wicked joins some of the most recognizable National Day celebrations, including National Barbie Day, National Star Trek Day, National Scrabble Day, National Winnie the Pooh Day, and National Teacher Appreciate Day, among others.
Read the official announcement HERE.
Currently Wicked 4th longest-running show in Broadway history, and will celebrate its 20th Anniversary on Broadway this October 30th.
The Broadway production of Wicked currently features Alyssa Fox as Elphaba, McKenzie Kurtz as Glinda, John Dossett as The Wizard, Michele Pawk as Madame Morrible, Jordan Litz as Fiyero, Jake Pedersen as Boq, Kimber Elayne Sprawl as Nessarose, and William Youmans as Doctor Dillamond.
Emmy Award®-winning music director and Grammy Award®-winning writer, Adam Blackstone, joins the creative team as Dance Music Arranger for the revival of The Wiz. The Wiz will launch a national tour on September 23, 2023 in Baltimore, MD before returning to Broadway for a limited engagement in the 2023/24 season.
“Joining The Wiz’s creative team has been a very surreal moment. I remember watching the film on VHS daily for years, wondering how it sounded so incredible, how MJ transformed into the Scarecrow, and the score and orchestrations truly told a story all of its own. Fast forward to today, I get to musically partner with Terence Vaughn and reunite with my brother, super choreographer and creative director JaQuel Knight, and explore our own interpretation for a revival of this masterpiece. I am excited and look forward to this body of work changing lives, just like it did for me in the 80’s!” stated Adam Blackstone.
The cast will include previously announced Wayne Brady to lead the production as the Wiz on Broadway in Spring of 2024, San Francisco (January 16 – February 11, 2024) at the Golden Gate Theatre, and Los Angeles (February 13 – March 3, 2024) at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre. Alan Mingo Jr. will star in the role of the Wiz in the following cities of The Wiz National Tour this fall, kicking off with the tour launch in Baltimore, including Cleveland, OH, Washington, DC, Pittsburgh, PA, Charlotte, NC, Atlanta, GA, Greenville, SC, Chicago, IL, Des Moines, IA, Tempe, AZ and San Diego, CA.
The cast will also feature Nichelle Lewis as Dorothy, Deborah Cox as Glinda and Melody A. Betts as Aunt Em and Evillene, Kyle Ramar Freeman as the Lion, Phillip Johnson Richardson as the Tinman, and Avery Wilson as the Scarecrow. The Wiz ensemble includes Maya Bowles, Shayla Alayre Caldwell, Jay Copeland, Allyson Kaye Daniel, Judith Franklin, George, Collin Heyward, Amber Jackson, Jackson, Jones, Jones, Kindle, Mariah Lyttle, Kareem Marsh, Anthony Murphy, Rae, Matthew Sims Jr, Avilon Trust Tate, Keenan D. Washington, and Timothy Wilson.
The production will include ‘Everybody Rejoice’ music and lyrics by Luther Vandross, as well as the ‘Emerald City Ballet’ with music by Timothy Graphenreed.
The McKittrick Hotel (530 West 27th Street, NYC), home of Sleep No More, announced the opening of Hypnotique – A Late Night Sultry Spectacle. Performances have been extended on Friday and Saturday nights through October 14, 2023. The all-new Hypnotique revue offers a unique after-dark experience that envelops you. Audiences are captivated by spontaneous performances and mesmerizing dancers, accompanied by daring sonic soundscapes in a surreal ambiance in The Club Car.
The cast features Chloé Lexia Worthington, Courtney Sauls, Fabricio Seraphin, Haley Bjorn, Jacob Nahor, Jesseca Scott, Maurice Ivy, Maya Kitayama, Samantha Greenlund, Victoria Edwards, and swings Alex Sturtevant, Cameron Arnold, Kennedy Adams, and Stacey Badgett Jr..
Cocktails inspired by the experience, including the signature Hypnotonique (an electrifying punch made with cucumber-infused vodka, elderflower liqueur, and grapefruit juice), are available from The Club Car’s bar.
Performances are offered on Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30PM. General Admission tickets with standing room are currently priced from $65 per person.
Two industry readings for Female Troubles, an original musical comedy, will happen next week at Open Jar Studios. Female Troubles is a completely original musical comedy featuring lyrics by two-time Tony Award nominated and Grammy Award nominated songwriter Amanda Green (Mr. Saturday Night, Hands On A Hardbody, Bring It On), music by three-time Emmy Award nominee Curtis Moore (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), book by Emmy Award-winning writers Gabrielle Allan and Jennifer Crittenden (“Veep,” “Arrested Development,” “Seinfeld,” “The Simpsons,” “HouseBroken”) and directed by Tony Award winner Christopher Gattelli (Disney’s Newsies, My Fair Lady, “Schmigadoon,” “Schmicago”).
The cast for the readings will includeKrystina Alabado, Kevin Del Aguila, Amanda Green, Lilli Cooper, Lillias White, Lesli Margherita, Ryann Redmond, Kate Rockwell, Matt Saldivar, Alanna Saunders, Trent Saunders, Jake Swain, Sav Souza, Rachel Stern and Frank Viveros.In Female Troubles, Elinor Benton finds herself surprisingly and undeniably “knocked up” — and, since she’s unmarried and this is 19th century England, she has a very big dilemma. Facing ruin, she and her girlfriends embark on a raucous journey to find the one notorious woman who can help them with their “female troubles.” Their misadventures change the course of each of their lives. This uproarious musical comedy asks the trenchant question “Can you believe this sh*t is still happening in 1810?”
I attended the reading of Love In The Time Of Crazy withbook and lyrics by Peter Kellogg (Outer Critics Winner for Desperate Measures), music by Stephen Weiner (two-time Richard Rodgers Award winner) and David Hancock Turner (orchestrator for Desperate Measures and Penelope), directed by Lauren Molina (Desperate Measures ). The cast stared Philippe Arroyo, Stephen DeRosa, Robin Dunavant, David Merino, Josh Lamon, Roe Hartrampf and Alexis Cofield .
Love in the Time of Crazy is a riot, but, you know, in a good way.
The Glorious Corner
WENNER TAKES A DOWN —Jann Wenner always speaks his mind and this week he may have overstepped just a bit. In an interview that ran in the New York Times about his new book called Masters, he quite openly said that there were no black or R&B artists in it, because they were not able to articulate properly. I know, I felt the same way reading that. Minutes later, he was let go by the board of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which he helped start with Ahmet Ertegun way back in 1983.
His Like A Rolling Stone autobiography book was quite an indulgent read last year, but Wenner has in the last several years suffered several health set backs and it was pointed out that he may not be in his right mind. Still, he should have spoken way more carefully. I’ve known Wenner for decades and trust me, he feels he’s way entitled, and that said, you can rest assured that there were dozens and dozens of people (and former employees) waiting to take him down.
The sad fact is that most of the accusations are true. That said, let’s face it Rolling Stone magazine in it’s heyday was a miraculous outlet for so much music and terrific journalism – from Ben Fong-Torres to Hunter Thompson and Jann himself .. it was distinguished. Now, he may have killed it all.
Rolling Stine magazine Monday posted this – essentially disowning his from the magazine: “Jann Wenner’s recent statements to the New York Times do not represent the values and practices of today’s Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner has not been directly involved in our operations since 2019. Our purpose, especially since his departure, has been to tell stories that reflect the diversity of voices and experiences that shape our world. At Rolling Stone’s core is the understanding that music above all can bring us together, not divide us.”
Here’s the report from Deadline: https://deadline.com/2023/09/jann-wenner-removed-rock-and-roll-hall-fame-foundation-board-1235548690/comment-page-1/#comment-3858649
DREW’S BLUES — Boy, what did Drew Barrymore ever do to deserve the treatment she’s been through with the media. Sure, her ideas to bring back her daily-chat fest was a good one, for the right reasons, but everyone from Rosie O;’Donnell to the trade papers have bounced on her like madmen. I never met her, don’t hate her, but really … let’s get back to something real, like these Russell Brand-accusations!
SHORT TAKES — We finally caught David Bryne and Fatboy Slim’s Here Lies Love and absolutely loved it. I remember it well when it premiered at the Public Theater way back when and knew they were trying to get it to Broadway. Honestly, I never thought twice about the Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos story, but the play was riveting then and it remains now. They’ve outfitted NYC’s magnificent Broadway Theater with disco-balls galore and club-lighting and the immersive experience is terrific. Here’s a great re-cap of the play’s evolution from Theatre Guide: https://www.newyorktheatreguide.com/theatre-news/news/how-the-music-of-here-lies-love-evolved-on-the-way-to-broadway …
Micky Dolenz appeared on Sunday’s Breakfast With The Beatles with Chris Carter (on KLOS) and talked about his new Dolenz Sings R.E.M. on Glenn Gretlund’s 7a Records. He also talked about his time with The Beatles and John Lennon. Carter also played a mash-up of Monkees and Beatle-songs which was done in England and it was superb. Here’s a shot from the event at LA’s Hard Rock Cafe on Highland and Hollywood Blvd. … SIGHTING: PR-pasha David Salidor and Benny Harrison at Monday’s Cutting Room tribute to Burt Bacharach … RIP Sammy Ash …
I’ve been thinking the best way to describe Jimmy Buffet and I saw this headline in LA Magazine: leisure evangelist– and it fits perfectly …
Happy Bday Donnie Kehr and Richard Branciforte.
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Dan Mapp; Brad Auerbach; James Clash: Robbie Robertson; Carol Ruth Weber; Randy Alexander; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Andrew Gans; Kathy Brown; Roger Clark; Chris Boneau; Tricia Daniels; Dan Zelinski; Benny Harrison; Steve Walter; Gil Friesen; Donna Dolenz; Dan Mapp; Brad Auerbach; James Clash; and ZIGGY!
Inside the 2023 American Theatre Wing Gala
The American Theatre Wing 2023 Gala Celebration was held last night, September 11, 2023 at Cipriani 42nd Street. Performers incldued Oscar nominee & Tony Award winner Leslie Odom Jr., Grammy Award-winning rock icon Melissa Etheridge, Emmy nominee Tituss Burgess, “American Idol” star and Broadway favorite Justin Guarini, Tony Award winner LaChanze, Tony Award winner Chuck Cooper, and Tony Award nominees Shoshana Bean, Brandon Victor Dixon, Judy Kuhn, Lilli Cooper, and Eddie Cooper.
The Gala honored “Unsung Heroes of the Theatre Industry.” From dressers who execute seamless quick changes between scenes, to understudies and swings who go into a show with little to no notice and don’t miss a beat, to makeup artists responsible for the flawless faces seen on stage, and so many more vital contributors to the theatrical art form, the 2023 Gala celebrates members of the theatrical community who don’t often get the recognition they deserve.
The Glorious Corner
STRIKE UPDATE— (Via TV Line) “9-1-1, what’s your TV emergency?” The dual WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes need to be resolved by the end of this month if scripted primetime fare such as 9-1-1: Lone Star and The Cleaning Lady are to return with new episodes in the 2023-24 TV season, says Fox entertainment president Michael Thorn.
When last we tuned in, 29 days ago, the WGA had countered the AMPTP’s latest offer; no next meeting has been scheduled. Things are proceeding even slower on the SAG-AFTRA front. Sources tell TVLine that it will take scripted shows roughly eight weeks to get back into production once the strikes are resolved.
“You’re going get to a point in the fall, in the late fall, where it’s going to be very hard to launch [scripted shows] within the traditional TV viewing season,” Thorn told our sister site Deadline.
If the strikes are resolved later than October 1, that’s where difficult scheduling decisions will have to be made.
“If that means the [delayed scripted] show could work and succeed in the summer [of 2024], great,” Thorn said. Or, “If it’s better to wait for the fall and use football and sports” to promote/launch scripted seasons, “we’ll do that.
“You could use October 1 as the date” by which the writer and actor strikes need to be settled,” Thorn added. “Every show is different but sometimes when you’re staring at a May launch date, you always wonder, ‘Is that the best time?’” to premiere a season/series
Fox’s fall TV slate features one full night of scripted animated fare (on Sundays), while the rest of the week is rife with multiple Gordon Ramsay cooking competitions, new seasons of Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test, Name That Tune and The Masked Singer, 9-1-1: Lone Star reruns, the new, David Spade-hosted Snake Oil game show, and, of course, Friday Night SmackDown.
But whenever the magical day comes for live-action scripted fare to return to our screens, “we’re going to return those shows with vigor,” Thorn avowed. “We really pride ourselves on ‘less is more’ and we were fortunate to be able to really put our money where our mouth is in that regard. When we return, Animal Control is going to get the full backing of this far-reaching platform [as will] John Wells’ new show, Rescue: Hi-Surf, when we launch it.”
Several columns back we posited that the strike might just be settled by Labor Day .. and we were lambasted with emails from a scattering of actors, writers and below-the-line talent that it would not be. They were right. As Gordon Gekko said, greed is good. Is it? Let’s all make nice and good back to work.
SHORT TAKES — As you may know the Toronto Film Festival has been going on and the two films that have received the most buzz are the Paul-Simon/Alex Gibey doc,
In Restless Dreams and Knox Goes Away starring Michael Keaton, who also directs, with Al Pacino, can’t wait to see both. Bravo! …The latest episode of Hulu’s Only Murders In The Building was just OK. So far, this third season has totally underwhelmed us. We said a few columns back it was most likely due to the fact that Martin hasn’t written any of the episodes so far. Why? I have no idea. Matthew Broderick played himself, but with a little more anxiety than usual, but the real highlight of this episode was a video-phone call between Martin Short and Mel Brooks. Irresistibly funny … Hard to believe that it’s the 25th anniversary of MTV’s ground-breaking TRL Live (Total Request Live).
Carson Daly did a nice remembrance on Thursday’s Today Show, even citing John Norris and Kurt Loder, who were key correspondents. They taped many of the shows at NYC’s long-gone Palladium (now an NYU dorm), but many, many memories come to mind; Hall & Oates rehearsing in their dressing room
and running into Debbie Gibson is one. Daly pointed out -and rightly so- TRL was a fan-driven show, where viewers had to request what to hear. These days I guess it’s just a download. Much missed for sure …
Funny watching Carrie Underwood this morning; as she she reminded me so much of Shania Twain. from the music, to her visuals. As always, her “Before He Cheats” is tremendous and a big crowd pleaser … It’s a funny world for sure.
When RL Stine’s Goosebumpsfirst debuted in 1992, it was heralded as refreshingly new, both for the kid-demo and its brilliance. There were a few attempts at a series (even with Stine introducing them) and even a movie in 2015 that did just so-so. Now, with Netflix’s Stranger Things having hit a home run, Disney+ is starting a series, with Justin Long, that appears to veer dangerously close to Stranger Things. Also, oddly enough, Stine does not appear to be involved with it. He says: “I wish I knew something about it. I’m not in the loop. It looked to me like they weren’t going to do an anthology show. They were going to do something different that was some kind of continuing story. That’s what it appeared. But I have no information about it.” It begins on October 31. Have a look at the trailer:
Great Bernie Taupin interview on NY Live with Sara Gore. They’re friends, so the interview as sensational. Check it out:
NAMES IN THE NEWS —Andrew Sandoval; Jacqueline Boyd; Alison Martino; Robert Funaro; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Roy Trakin; Daryl Estrea; Glenn Gretlund; Jane Blunkell; Roger Friedman; Felix Cavaliere; Dan Mapp; Jim Kerr; Sam Rubin; Liz White; Grace Mendoza; Roy Trakin; and ZIGGY!
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