Connect with us

Broadway

“The Who’s Tommy” on Broadway Blasts Forward With an Unexpected Tone

Published

on

With a sharp u-turn from the future to the past, The Who’s Tommy roars into the Nederlander Theatre with every fantastical visually projected trick in the book, paraded out into war and beyond. It’s the strongest of beginnings, amped up to oblivion with the volume turned up as high as the corresponding visuals. It’s passionate, hyperactive, and jaw-dropping as it parachutes its way into our senses, demanding us to take in the neon frameworks and wicked constructions that fiddle about. Directed with a flair for the intense by Des McAnuff (Broadway’s Ain’t Too Proud), the revival, with music, lyrics, and book by The Who’s Pete Townshend (McAnuff shared book credit), never shifts out of the high gear that it quickly shifts into, roaring forward with a force to be reckoned with, and it won’t back down until we submit to its abstractionisms and complicated storytelling.

Alison Luff (Mrs. Walker), Olive Ross-Kline (Tommy, Age 4), and Adam Jacobs (Captain
Walker) in The Who’s Tommy on Broadway. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

Ushered around the stage, designed with intensity by David Korins (Broadway’s Here Lies Love), with pulsating lighting by Amanda Zieve (Old Globe’s Hair), captivating projections by Peter Nigrini (Broadway’s Beetlejuice), and an almost numbing sound design by Gareth Owen (Broadway’s & Juliet), several faceless bodies construct vivid scenarios with a forceful energy worthy of the abstractionisms on display here. Costumed by designer Sarafina Bush (Broadway’s How to Dance…), the robotic units keep the formula moving at a sharp pace, giving off a creepy Squid Game vibe that never lets up. The story flies forward inside the clarifying complication that exists in the brain of young Tommy, the son of a couple thrown apart and together again by war and tragedy.

(Center) Ali Louis Bourzgui (Tommy) and the ensemble of The Who’s Tommy Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

The unpacking is miraculously filled to the edges with disturbing abuse and violent energy inflicted on the innocent. The boy goes blank after witnessing the murder of his mother’s new lover by an unknown father who was thought killed in World War II. The incident sends poor young Tommy into some sort of damaged shock that all the doctors in the world, it seems, can’t nudge him out of. Coined and rubbed together by the music that, to be honest, is somewhat distancing and superficially embodied, in between moments of catchy repetition, the boy is fiddled with and abused, giving the rendering a complicated stance of casual indifference to horrific encounters.

But when the music and performances soar, thanks to the phenomenally gifted cast that never is given a moment of peace and rest inside the frenetic and visually captivating choreography of Lorin Latarro (Broadway’s Mrs. Doubtfire), The Who’s Tommy completely takes you on a journey filled with emotional empathy and complicated connection. It is dutifully delivered most energetically by a cast of pros, particularly the magnificent Alison Luff (Broadway’s Escape to Margaritaville) as the mother, Mrs. Walker; a gifted Adam Jacobs (Broadway’s Aladdin) as the army father, Captain Walker; a sharp John Ambrosino (Las Vegas’ Jersey Boys) as the creepy Uncle Ernie; and a menacing Bobby Conte (Broadway’s Company) as the sadistic Cousin Kevin. Each finds their authentically crafted space within the visually hypnotic chaos to unpack their personal trauma and complications for us all to see (although I must admit I wanted a more punishing ending for the two relatives that inflicted the disturbing abuses on the young, “deaf, dumb, and blind” kid. A sharp look and a downcast shamed eye just wasn’t enough).

But the revival is really all about that kid, Tommy, and the trauma he experiences that first sends him into that self-isolated blank space. And the idolatry he experiences once the mirror is shattered. It’s a darkness that even the well-voiced Acid Queen, played with a fair Tina Turner energy by Christina Sajous (Broadway’s SpongeBob…), can’t turn around. It’s a bit prolonged, this journey filled with repetitive reimaginings, all before he is shattered out by an overwhelmed mother who can’t take it anymore. Played by a trio of fine and determined actors; Olive Ross-Kline (Off-Broadway’s The Waiting Room) as Age 4 Tommy; Reese Levine (Ahmanson’s The Secret Garden) as Age 10 Tommy [alternative performances: Cecilia Ann Popp (CAA’s Willie Wonka) and Quinten Kusheba (School of Rock/Regional) respectfully]; and most impressively, Ali Louis Bourzgui (Goodman’s Layalina) making his Broadway debut as the young adult Tommy; the evolution of the Pinball Wizard stares out at us blankly with a surprising amount of emotional connection and empathy. We feel him, see him, and most definitely want him to be healed by the warmth of maternal touch (and not the touch of that disturbed Uncle). And in that connection, we find the fullness of The Who’s Tommy.

Ali Louis Bourzgui (Tommy) Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

In the hands and body of Bourzgui, Tommy projects himself into our racing hearts, even with the overwhelming reverberating sound that sometimes overwhelms a story that meanders about more than half of the time. The sound echoes throughout, courtesy of music supervisor and arranger Ron Melrose (Broadway’s A Bronx Tale) and music director, Rick Fox (Broadway’s Dr. Zhivago), sharing orchestration credit with Steve Margoshes (Studio 42’s Smokey Joe’s Cafe), and Bourzgui, in a star-making flip of the pinball paddle, fills the theatre with his equal edgy charm and fascinating charisma in a manner that is hard to ignore. He has a voice that surprises and alters our expectations each and every time he is given the opportunity. He doesn’t sound like the others; all expert Broadway singers and dancers who deliver solidly at every turn. But in a way, that is exactly what makes this production of The Who’s Tommy something to lean into. His voice carries the piece to an alternative plane, giving it an expected velvety projection that separates his soul from everyone else clamoring for his attention. It’s compelling theatre, even when blasted by the overwhelming volume and vibrations of the music and sound when taken down a windy road that doesn’t always register. Yet, it takes that meandering, sometimes disconnecting, musical and gifts it into our laps, to either love or to hate. I can honestly understand both reactions, although I mostly leaned towards a “Feel me. See me, Touch me. Heal me.” kinda love. Even if it is surrounded by loud and frenetic chaos and distractions.

Adam Jacobs (Captain Walker), Daniel Quadrino (Ensemble), Alison Luff (Mrs. Walker), Olive
Ross-Kline (Tommy, Age 4), and the ensemble Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman.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