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Top 20 Theatrical Moments of 2018 – On and Off Broadway, London, and Beyond

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Amanda Lawrence. Angels in America. Photo by Helen Maybanks.
“A once in a lifetime kind of production that will move you beyond anything that you’ve seen before, shattering your senses and tearing your heart to pieces…This current revival is as solidly majestic and complete as one could wish for…Words can barely describe its wonder…Magnificent cast…The heart-breaking and powerful 7 1/2 hours flew by, carried on the energy and excitement of the audience and the intensity of the wings of an angel.” Full Review 
The FerrymanBy Jez Butterworth Directed By Sam Mendes
Paddy Considine (center, standing) and company. The Ferryman. Credit: © 2018 Joan Marcus .Ferryman
This is storytelling at its most intricate and expansive. There isn’t a moment that should be sliced away, nor a visual you’d want to miss. It’s a delicate creation…’The Ferryman’ has so many levels…each enhancing the other like flavors in a Jameson Irish whiskey, blending aromatically for all to savor…As powerful as anything you have seen in years…All of the cast and design crew is perfection, literally filling the stage with authenticity and dimension that can’t be ignored.” Full Review 
Encores!A Chorus Line
The cast of Encores! A Chorus Line. Photo by Joan Marcus.
“Michael Bennett’s conceptual piece, drafted together by a group of frustrated dancers, led by Tony Stevens and Michon Peacock, is beautifully realized once again on the NYC stage, and it hasn’t lost any of its power or appeal. With a cast of spectacularly talented dancers and singers, ‘A Chorus Line’ resonates just as it did for me 28 years ago…The glorious wonder of the piece remains solid and everlasting.” Full Review 
Photo Credit Matthew Murphy
The company of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Photo Credit Matthew Murphy
“This play and production is theatrical genius with layers upon layers of cape-tastic excitement and wand-elishous magic that just keep out-doing itself, raising the bar from one moment to the next…The true beauty of ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ is that everyone can enjoy and take great pleasure in Moaning Myrtle, and this story. As meticulously directed by co-creator Tiffany, no one is left behind; everyone is invited to this wondrous party as this production flies up high.” Full Review 
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The cast of COMPANY
West End’s Company
“The main reason my November trip occurred in the first place began with the announcement that Sondheim’s Company was being revived in the West End and one of my all time favorites, Patti LuPone (Gypsy, Sweeney Todd) was going to play Joanne, a part made famous by Elaine Stritch back on Broadway in 1970. I’ve seen LuPone perform the famous, “The Ladies Who Lunch” when she sang as part of a red-dressed ladies giving celebration to Sondheim’s 80th birthday. LuPone wondrously sang the song with a sweet nod directly to Stritch’s red hat stating,  “I’ll drink to that!” LuPone was also seen in the role opposite Neil Patrick Harris at the 2011 New York Philharmonic concert version, one I missed live but watched a live recording streamed from somewhere into my living room while cursing the world for allowing me to miss it. But here in London, directed with a wise and creative twist by Marianne Elliott (National’s Rules for Living, West End/Broadway’s Curious Incident…Angels in America), I get a second chance. And boy, am I drinking to that (and sitting in my apartment in NYC, I hope one day to get a second round)…” Full Review
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Karen Olivo, Aaron Tveit. Moulin Rouge. Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2018.
Moulin Rouge Boston
“Logan has found a way to take the perfect and precious, and make it better, deeper, darker, and surprising…It’s highly stylized and dramatic…This is not going to be a carbon copy of the masterful film, but a reimagining…The additions are seamless and perfectly mixed…There are still some awkward staging moments that need attention before it can-can’s its way onto the Broadway stage, but they are all fixable and minor.” Full Review 
YERMA
John MacMillan, Billie Piper. Photo Credit: Stephanie Berger.
“Simon Stone’s adaptation bares the weight of its history but drives it forward into the modern world of British culture and liberalism…It’s a sad and horrendous journey to watch, especially as enlivened by Piper and as coaxed through by director Stone into a journey riddled with complications and reactions that will be forever etched into my brain…If Piper doesn’t rip your heart in two, I’d wonder if you left it at home with your babysitter.” Full Review 
Noah Robbins and Edmund Donovan in CLARKSTON, part of LEWISTON _ CLARKSTON at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater - Photo by Jeremy Daniel (2)
Edmund Donovan (standing) and Noah Robbins  in Clarkston. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.
“I might not have gone, and then much to my horror, I would have missed out on something pretty damn special and astonishing. Because what playwright Samuel D. Hunter has done with his new two play evening, ‘Lewiston/Clarkston’ is dynamically astounding…The writing by Hunter is profound and exceedingly real, showcasing an interpersonal desire for connection and understanding…The acting is across the board magnificently moving and heart-breaking.” Full Review 
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The cast of The Inheritance. Photo by Marc Brenner.
“It’s no wonder that the ambitious playwright Matthew Lopez (The Legend of Georgia McBride, The Whipping Man) was struck by the layers of Howards End and saw within the story a construct that could fit somewhere inside the psyche of a new generation of gay men, especially taking into account Edward Morgan Forster’s own personal battle with his own visibility and sexuality. Paying a certain homage to the fore-bearers of gay culture, The Inheritance tackles a tremendous amount, pushing its place onto the mantle somewhere beside Kushner’s far more ethereal Angels in America with a slightly aggressive and pompous stance of an overly confident pretty boy, daring us to look away from its imperfect but devastatingly emotional six acts and seven hours. It is most decidedly a masterpiece, almost measuring up to Kushner’s triumphant Angels as it dives head first into 21st Century queer politics and the economic discrepancies within modern culture. It owes itself more to the closeted E. M. Foster than Kushner though, yielding a monumental piece about the turbulent lives of a group of young, ambitious gay New Yorkers floundering and excelling sometime after the peak of the AIDs crisis and strutting proudly into the gay frontier of love relationships, won marriage equality, and the loss of souls to addiction and community abandonment. Spanning generations of attachments and the entanglement of lives, The Inheritance bridges the themes of E. M. Forster’s novel to the past and present New York City, trying to understand the legacy that threads the two together, and what the two worlds owe to one another. ” Full Review
The Prom
The Prom proudly and easily surpassing its deceivingly stale title, reinventing the musical comedy wheel with stupendous charm, humor and a whole wagon full of heart and cleverness…Hilariously spot on lyrics overflows the punch bowl with smart and sassy songs one after the other, glorified by magnificent performances, and a heartfelt message of love, connection, and inclusion…A full throttle joy to behold.” Full Review 
Jackson Pill Metcalf Three Tall Women (c) Brigitte Lacombe 4092
Glenda Jackson, Alison Pill, Laurie Metcalf in Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women. Photo credit: Brigitte Lacombe.
“A cast made in acting heaven…The phenomenal Jackson…The magnificent Metcalf…The wonderful Pill…Beautifully resurrected play, directed with perfection by Mantello…Metcalf’s facial expressions and body language deserve an award unto itself, telling us stories that go far beyond what is said…Pill does wonders with what she is given, but it is in the second half where her true effervescence exists…But it is Jackson who you can barely take your eyes off. She is superb.” Full Review 
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Andrew R. Butler & Stacey Sargeant. Photo by Ben Arons Photography.
“Provocative and devastatingly smart…You will no doubt be blown away. And I mean that in the best possible way as I attempt within this review to reveal nothing except an idea of the electric magnificence that explodes from that cramped stage…It’s a deeply immersive weaving of rebel politics and simple passion for existence sung from a futuristic time. It’s drenched in old American folk music directed with style and emotional connectivity.” Full Review 
0793_Bryan Cranston and the cast in NETWORK, Photo by Jan Versweyveld, 2018
“It’s devilishly brilliant in construct and design, formulating the studio wind up energy with a blood pumping authenticity…The play falters a bit midway through, loosing some of its time clock countdown adrenaline…The out front dramatics beamed in from outside slice us a bit too far from the emotional core, distracting us from the true cause, but as a piece of modern theater, Ivo Van Hove, and the brilliant craftsmanship of video designer Tal Yarden rises magnificently center stage.” Full Review 
I Was Most Alive with YouWritten by Craig Lucas Directed by Tyne Rafaeli Director of Artistic Sign Language, Sabrina Dennison
(L to R) Marianna Bassham (Astrid), Michael Gaston (Ash), Russell Harvard (Knox), Tad Cooley (Farhad). I Was Most Alive With You. Photo by Joan Marcus.
“The level of conceptual thought and emotional storytelling align perfectly in Lucas’s new devastatingly good play…It leads you down a twisting and emotional road attempting to make sense out of chaos, holding your hand tightly but keeping the upcoming vista out of sight just enough that the ending remains unknown…This vehicle, that is so well constructed that it drives as smooth as one could hope…The only thing one can say when the lights come on…is ‘Wow’.” Full Review 
picturedLtoRTomSouhradaandAdamheller
Tom Souhrada, Adam Heller. Popcorn Falls. All photos by Monique Carboni.
Popcorn Falls, wildly and most wonderfully directed with brilliance and bravado by Christian Borle had me right where the show wants me, because its smarts exist in that very opening messiness, and that hook is precisely what makes this play by James Hindman such a tremendous joy and surprise…For a hilarious comedy, it truly is wonderfully detailed and drenched in emotion while never losing its wink and wet nod to the theatre audience.” Full Review 
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Mark Addy, Sally Rogers. Hangmen. Photo by Ahron R. Foster.
“The first scene throws us quite quickly into the dark world…It’s a tense and electric scene, layered in twisted humor…’Hangmen’ packs a powerful and dark humored punch that keeps you dangling on the edge of your seat…McDonagh’s writing shines as bright as the gallows is dark and deadly…Surprising us with a few unexpected, dynamic, and sometimes hard to swallow orchestrations and twists, all the while engaging us completely with a breathless and ferocious relish.” Full Review 
Anna Holbrook, Matthew Montelongo and Ryan Spahn. Photo by Carol Rosegg (2)
Lou Liberatore, Ryan Spahn (seated), Matthew Montelongo, Leland Wheeler. Daniel’s Husband. Photo: Carol Rosegg.
“On second viewing, the knowledge of where this piece is heading did alter the experience, but I wouldn’t say for the worse. It gave me insight into the shimmers of what was coming, weaved most delicately into the upholstery…’Daniel’s Husband’ expertly walks us through the complicated world where some hard fought human equality rights were won, but not desired by all…The writing is clearly defined, although moments feel a tad scripted.” Full Review 
Heidi Schreck and Mike Iveson in WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME at New York Theatre Workshop, Photo by Joan Marcus
Heidi Schreck, Mike Iveson. What the Constitution Means to Me.Photo by Joan Marcus.
“Powerful evocative new play…As directed with a free-flowing and creative hand…it hits us deep and sharp, almost as complicated as the ripples of distrust and pain that strike through Schreck…The effortless grace of Schreck, pulling hard from her past experiences and history, solidifies the experience in such a compelling and moving way that one can’t help but be moved…I applaud Schreck for giving us a debate that feels so pure and required.”Full Review 
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Will Roland and George Salazar. BE MORE CHILL.
photo by MARIA BARANOVA.
“It deserves every bit of the hyper hype it has accumulated…It’s a young and feisty ‘Mean Girls’ musical, mixed with the Sci-Fi out of this world ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, with a light outsider touch of a humorous ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ layered on top of its catchy soundtrack. With super strong and festive music and lyrics…and a compelling and comical book…This amazingly funny and charming show delivers the goods.” Full Review 
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Gary Marachek, Peter Saide, Lauren Molina, Nick Wyman, Connor Ryan, Sarah Parnicky. Desperate Measures. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
“Hilariously silly but fun new musical…Opens with a surprisingly smart and funny bang…With solid music direction and orchestrations by David Hancock Turner and a smartly directed and choreographed good time by Bill Castellino the musical production giddily gallops forward, taking a convoluted Shakespearian text and improving on it. I never thought I’d say that, but ‘Measure for Measure’ mixed with Mel Brooks and a melodic musical score creates one great time at the dance hall.” Full Review 
TST0155r_Michael Urie in TORCH SONG
Honorable Mention: Torch SongBroadway
As I didn’t get to see it on Broadway this year, but reviewed it when it played on the off-Broadway Second Stage Theatre.  Back in November of 2017, I wrote: “Ruehl matches Urie’s Arnold as if they were truly related. Their entanglement is beyond explanation…The play’s true vulnerability lies in the honest depiction of its characters and their struggles with those others that hold that special place in their heart, courtesy of the exacting direction by Moisés Kaufman…It remains, most definitely and defiantly, a profound, hilarious, and deeply affecting experience. One that will be remembered for a lifetime.” Full Review 
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

Move Over Daisy Jones & The Six Stereophonic Has Taken Up The Gauntlet

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Daisy Jones & the Six is a hit series on Amazon Prime that follows a rock band in the 1970s from their rise in the LA music scene to becoming one of the most famous bands in the world. This was based on Taylor Jenkins Reid’s book of the same name and was partly inspired by Fleetwood Mac. Stereophonic is like binge watching episodes of this TV series, live on stage for three hours. 


Opening tonight, David Adjmi’s high drama play is set in a recording studio in Sausalito, California in 1976, until the last act when they record in LA. The set by David Zinn, has us inside the control room where we can see inside the sound booth. In the beginning, it is hard to hear the words as everyone is talking over each other. Sex, drugs especially coke, alcohol, cigarettes, joints, infidelity and music are what’s at stake and we are eavesdropping in.

Andrew R. Butler and Eli Gelb Photo by Julieta Cervantes

We first meet Grover (Eli Gelb), an untested producer who has lied to everyone about his credentials and his nerdy assistant Charlie (Andrew R. Butler), who are trying to keep the band who are very much like Fleetwood Mac on track. On lead guitar and vocals, Peter (Tom Pecinka) a control freak, perfectionist, lead songwriter and vocalist who is emotionally abusive. He is in a nine year relationship with Diana (Sarah Pidgeon), also the lead singer who is insecure, neurotic, an up and coming songwriter, who very much like Riley Keough in Daisy Jones & the Six. From England are keyboardist and singer Holly (Juliana Canfield) who is stable, warm and going through a terrible marriage to bassist Reg (Will Brill), who is an addict in every sense of the word. And finally Simon (Chris Stack), a drummer who parties to the hilt, as his marriage falls apart due to the recording of the album going way over the time frame given.

Photo by Julieta Cervantes

The question becomes; can this group of talented performers complete this album without killing each other or themselves? In the course of the 3+ hours, we start to really care about the outcome.

Sarah Pidgeon Photo by Julieta Cervantes

In the meantime, we hear fragments and whole songs that are really well done. Tender, yearning ballads of hope and despair written by Will Butler highlight this slice of life. The songs become the feelings that are unexpressed.

Chris Stack and Will Brill Photo by Julieta Cervantes

The cast is incredible, with each one giving us a complete profile. Gelb and Butler give us comedic dazed and confused nerds, whose chemistry is infectious. Gelb’s character is so out of his depth, as he is forced to be the one to keep this gang together despite Pecinka egocentric narcissistic personality. Pidgeon and Pecinka are perfect as lovers tearing each other apart. Stack gives us loss that is heartbreaking. Canfield gives us layers in a role that could be lost but it is Brill who steals the show with his brilliant portrayal as a rock star who lives his life to access.

Juliana Canfield Photo by Julieta Cervantes

Juliana Canfield Photo by Julieta Cervantes

Enver Chakartash’s costumes, Tommy Kurzman’s wigs and hairstyling, Jiyoun Chang’s  lighting, and Ryan Rumery’s multidirectional sound are groovy and out a sight.

Tom Pecinka and Sarah Pidgeon Photo by Julieta Cervantes

Director Daniel Aukin keeps this chaos intact, as the music exacts its reward.

Tom Pecinka, Juliana Canfield and Sarah Pidgeon by Julieta Cervantes

The music is so good that Sony Masterworks Broadway will release an original cast recording produced by Playwrights Horizons where the show originally played and features the original songs by Academy Award® nominee and Grammy Award® winner Will Butler, formerly of Arcade Fire wrote. The digital album arrives May 10, 2024, with the physical CD release set for June 14. The Album is available for preorder now.

Stereophonic: Broadway’s Golden Theatre, 252 W. 45th Street.

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Chip Zien Is Honored at Sardi’s and The Original Cast of Falsettos Unite

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The iconic Chip Zien was honored with his portrait at Sardi’s. Sierra Boggess roasted him to the hilt

Zien has spent almost 50 years on Broadway.


Zien was the Baker in the original 1987 production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods filmed by the PBS.

The Baker’s Wife Joanna Gleason

In the 90’s he replaced Michael Jeter is Grand Hotel.

Stephen Bogardus, Chip Zien, Alison Fraser, Mary Testa

In 1992 he was Mendel in the groundbreaking William Finn and James Lapine musical Falsettos. He appeared in all of the “Marvin Trilogy” musicals by Finn: In Trousers (1979), March of the Falsettos (1981), Falsettoland (1990) and Falsettos (1992).

Carolee Carmella

Alison Fraser

Gregg Edelman, Barbara Walsh, Stephen Bogardus, Chip Zien,  Carolee Carmello, Mary Testa, Alison Fraser

Gregg Edelman, Barbara Walsh, Stephen Bogardus, Chip Zien, Carolee Carmella, Mary Testa, Alison Fraser

In 1998 Zien was featured in another Finn musical A New Brain. He received a 1999 Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical for this role.

Anne Nathan and Mary Testa

He appeared in the Off-Broadway play Isn’t It Romantic by Wendy Wasserstein and was nominated for the 1984 Drama Desk Award, Featured Actor in a Play.

Gregg Edelman, Carolee Carmella, Christine Pedi

In 2005, Zien played the part of Goran in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on Broadway.

In 2007, Zien was a replacement in the Broadway revival of Les Misérables in the role of Monsieur Thénardier.

Richard Kind

From April 1 to June 19, 2011, Zien appeared in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of The People in the Picture, which played at Studio 54 on Broadway.

Sierra Boggess

Zien appeared in the Broadway musical It Shoulda Been You at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

Chip signing his portrait

In 1973, Zien made his television debut on an episode of Love, American Style. More guest roles followed. In 1981, he appeared on Ryan’s Hope and began a two-year run in Love, Sidney, then Reggie. He provided the voice of the title character in Marvel Comics’ Howard the Duck. Zien later starred on the short-lived CBS drama Shell Game in 1987.

Carolee Carmello, Joanna Gleason, CHip Zien

In the 1990s, Zien was part of the ensemble cast of the CBS sitcom Almost Perfect and had regular roles in the daytime soaps Guiding Light and All My Children, until 2001.

Stefano Da Frè, Chip Zien, Sierra Boggess

From 1999 to 2000, Zien had a recurring guest role on the CBS primetime drama Now and Again and  appeared repeatedly as Attorney Cromwell on Law & Order.

During the 2002–03 season, Zien was the announcer on daytime’s The Caroline Rhea Show, and in 2006, he appeared in the critically acclaimed film United 93 was in the vampire comedy film Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead.

Joy Hermalyn

He was also in Caroline or Change on Broadway.

Bruce Sussman

Sierra Boggess, Chip Zien, Danny Kornfeld

Blake Roman, Steven Telsey,Sean Bell, Chip Zien, Danny Kornfeld, Eric Peters, Zal Owen

His last show was Harmony, the musical by Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman. His role as the adult Rabbi, the last surviving Harmonist was hailed by the critic’s and audiences alike. He was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for his portrayal.

It was so fitting that this prolific performer hang on these hallowed walls. Congregations this was well deserved.

Up Next for Chip Zien is Titanic at City Centers Encore series.

 

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Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman for Hamony at The Museum of Broadway

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On Thursday, April 18th, The Museum of Broadway located at 145 W. 45th Street, just east of Times Square, presented a brief A Cappella performance by The Comedian Harmonists played by Steven Telsey, Blake Roman, Danny Kornfeld, Eric Peters, Sean Bell and Zal Owen, welcoming remarks were made by Julie Boardman, Co-Founder Museum of Broadway, Chip Zien the lead in Harmony was in attendance, as were Barry Manilow & Bruce Sussman.

The reason for this event was the unveiling of the Museum of Broadway’s Harmony-inspired window dedicated to The Comedian Harmonists.


In Berlin, 1927, The Comedian Harmonists were six remarkably talented young men form a singing group who become international sensations: They sold millions of records, starred in major motion pictures, and played the biggest theaters around the world. By 1935, they were never heard from again. What happened? That’s the extraordinary true story of Harmony that played on Broadway. Now The Museum of Broadway is keeping their memory alive.

Bruce Sussman and Barry Manilow

Barry Manilow

The Comedian Harmonists and Bruce Sussman and Barry Manilow

Julie Boardman, Co-Founder Museum of Broadway

Steven Telsey, Blake Roman, Danny Kornfeld, Eric Peters, Sean Bell and Zal Owen, and Chip Zien

 

 

 

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The Wiz Eases Back Onto Broadway

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There is much to love about the Broadway revival of The Wiz, which opened tonight at the Marquis Theatre. This beloved musical originally opened on Broadway in 1975, was made into film in 1978 and is back with a score by Charlie Smalls, that sparkles due to the orchestrations by Joseph Joubert and vocal arrangements by Allen René Louise. I love the Lalo Schifrin sound.

Nichelle Lewis, Melody A. Betts Photo By Jeremy Daniel

Directed by Schele Williams and an updated book by Amber Ruffin, what this revival has is heart, what it is missing is style.

Deborah Cox


Now Dorothy (a terrific Nichelle Lewis, a newcomer making her Broadway debut) has moved to Kansas to live with her Aunt Em (Melody A. Betts, who shines as  the beloved Aunt, but isn’t evil enough as the wicked witch Evillene, due in part to the sound designer Jon Weston and costume designer Sharen Davis). Dorothy has lost her parents and apparently her dog (no Toto), is being bullied, feels lost and alone, until a tornado sends her hurling to Oz. Her house still kills the wicked witch of the East, but Dorothy is introduced to golden glittery Glinda (Deborah Cox), by Addaperle ( a vocal glorious Allyson Kaye Daniel). She is sent to meet the powerful Wizard (a phenomenally grounded Wayne Brady) to get back home. Along the way meets the scarecrow (Avery Wilson) in need of a brain, the tinman (Phillip Johnson Richardson) wanting a heart and a lion (Kyle Ramar Freeman) in need os some courage.

Avery Wilson, Nichelle Lewis, Phillip Johnson Richardson Photo By Jeremy Daniel

All shine in their performances and vocals though the sound design threatens to derails them. Ms. Cox who is gloriously in voice, is not well mic’d, nor is anyone else. I was in the sixth row and it was hard to hear and I really did want to as the vocals were terrific.

Wayne Brady and Emerald City Photo By Jeremy Daniel

The choreography, by JaQuel Knight, is clunky with numbers seeming not to gel with each other. Each number looks like it belongs in a different show. However the individual performances take the movement to levels that work. Mr. Wison’s scarecrow, is all limbs and displays his flexibility and acrobatic tricks to the nth degree. Mr. Richardson gives the tinman a heart with his soulful “What Would I Do If I Could Feel”. Freeman’s lion, is an amusing scaredy cat who breaks though.

Kyle Ramar Freeman, Nichelle Lewis, Wayne Brady, Phillip Johnson Richardson, Avery Wilson wanting a heart and a lion Photo By Jeremy Daniel

Wayne Brady is a standout as The Wiz and I was wow’d by him.
Lewis is a find as the teenager trying to find herself. “Home”, is now the final song and she nails it making us fall in love with this revival despite it’s designer flaws.

The Oscar-winning production designer Hannah Beachler and costume’s look like they were designed on acid with no filter and no funding. The color choices and styles all look tacky. I really wanted to rip the tablecloth looking skirt off the lion and still do.

I have such fond memories of this show and I left with them intact. Sometimes things do not have to be perfect in order to shine.

The Wiz: Marquis Theatre, 210 W 46th Street, until April 18th.

 

 

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Barry Manilow, Bruce Sussman and More At The Museum of Broadway As Harmony Is Honored

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On Thursday, April 18th Barry Manilow, Bruce Sussman, The Comedian Harmonists Sean Bell, Danny Kornfeld, Zal Owen, Eric Peters, Blake Roman and Steven Telsey, as well as Company members including Chip Zien, Kate Wesler, Kyla Stone, Matthew Mucha, Stuart Zagnit, Zak Edwards, and more TBA will be at The Museum of Broadway to unveil a brand-new window display dedicated to the Broadway musical Harmony. Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman brought the long-forgotten story of The Comedian Harmonists, a German singing group of six young men whose fame was abruptly cut short by the rise of Nazism, to life in the 2023 hit Broadway musical Harmony.

The Museum of Broadway will honor their story with a dedicated window featuring exclusive items donated by Manilow and Sussman, and historical items dating back to the 1920s.

The program will include a special a cappella performance by the OBC Comedian Harmonists.

Harmony, featured an original new score by legendary Tony, Grammy, and Emmy Award® winner Barry Manilow with lyrics and book by Drama Desk Award Winner, Bruce Sussman. Directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Warren Carlyle (The Music Man, Hello Dolly!), this timely and captivating rags-to-riches story lost to history came to dazzling life with a sensational cast of Broadway favorites.

Based on an unbelievable true story, the musical told the tale of the most successful entertainers you’ve never heard of. . . until Harmony. In the 1920s and 30s, The Comedian Harmonists sold millions of records, made dozens of films, and sold-out the biggest theaters around the world. Their heavenly harmonies and musical comedy antics catapulted these six talented young men from singing in the subway tunnels of Berlin to international superstardom.  What happened next was the story of Harmony.

The female-founded award-winning Museum of Broadway is the world’s first-ever permanent museum dedicated to the storied history and legendary artists, creators and stars of Broadway musicals and plays, past and present. Offering unrivaled “backstage” access, the Museum of Broadway goes behind-the-scenes to show guests of all ages how a Broadway show is made from conception to curtain call.  A one-of-its-kind entertaining and educational celebration of Broadway for the theatre enthusiast and insider alike, the Museum of Broadway transports visitors visually through centuries of time.  Experience a stunning, ever-evolving curation from the 1700s-present day one dazzling, unforgettable exhibit, costume, prop, rendering and rarity at a time. Through each piece, the Museum of Broadway honors the legacies of those who paved the way for today’s Broadway and the next generation of theatregoers and creators.

Founded in November 2022, the Museum of Broadway highlights more than 500 showstopping and hidden gem productions across three floors of exhibits.  Open seven days a week and welcoming thousands of guests weekly from all over the world, the museum also offers free educational programming, special events with your favorite Broadway casts and creatives, a membership program, merchandise from your favorite shows, and so much more. A portion of proceeds from every ticket sold is donated to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Be sure to follow @MuseumofBroadway on all social channels for the latest artifact drops, special offers, events and happenings and visit themuseumofbroadway.com to complete your perfect day on Broadway.

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