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Tveit and Foster Unite Masterfully in Broadway’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street



How it shines in the light,” one might say, or sing out once again as those glorious performers take to the stage for my second-time viewing of the gloriously sounding, extremely entertaining, and supremely well-delivered revival of one of Stephen Sondheim’s all-time best musicals, Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. It remains in my mind one of his finest, and is most assuredly one of my favorite musicals of all, just below Sunday in the Park with George, and just above the recently revived to glorious perfection; Company and Into The Woods. And as played out big and strong on the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre stage, with that gloriously large and full orchestra sound under the command of music supervisor/conductor Alex LaCamoire (Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen) with original orchestrations by the illustrious Jonathan Tunick (Broadway’s The Music Man) and music coordination by David Lai (Broadway’s Hadestown), this show continues to be as gorgeous as one could hope for, and, much to my surprise, even better than the first round casting. Surprise, surprise, I might add, as it continues to be basically unstoppable and epically engaging. The crowd deafeningly roars its approval to an almost mind-blowing level after each song, making it almost impossible for this esteemed group of actors to move the performance forward. But who can complain about that, as I was happily one of those also roaring.

As directed with a wise witty slant by Thomas Kail (Broadway’s Hamilton), Sweeney happily remains, flinging itself deep into the dirt and grime of Fleet Street, London, finding dark humor and revenge in every corner of that wide dark stage. With a solidly astounding book by Hugh Wheeler (A Little Night Music) adapted beautifully by Christopher Bond (Dracula), this full-scale rendering underneath the hanging ominous crane, encapsulates dread and danger, while also laughing alongside the bloody mess. The dark energy of instability engages, enhanced by the off-kilter dynamic choreographer of Steven Hoggett (Broadway’s Harry Potter…) that occasionally gets in the way of itself by becoming distracting and unrequited at odd moments, like the parade of women in the background and the silhouetted tableau storytelling that dances forth when Mrs. Lovett, downstairs, is weaving her sad tale of Benjamin Barker’s wife and their daughter, Joanna. Once again, I didn’t know where to look, so I just ignored them, and focused my attention on the singer and their performance of the song.

Sutton Foster and Aaron Tveit. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Yet, at the pivotal moment, the staging shifts and slants the diabolical proposition so exceedingly beautifully and abstractly. Sitting up in the front mezz. this time around, I was really able to take in the full expanse, ushering and flinging forward the man we are all waiting breathlessly for; the incomparable Aaron Tveit (Broadway’s Moulin Rouge; Catch Me If You Can) as the murderous (and this time, extremely sexy) Sweeney Todd. Tveit completely captivates and astonishes, in a part that I wasn’t, once again, convinced he could pull off. We all knew, like Groban, that his tenor voice would deliver beautifully, and it does, but I had no idea that it would feel so suited for the part. His entry vocals defy the odds, sounding as gloriously delicious as one could ever hope for. But it is in his menacing glare that we find a Sweeney that we can both desire and be completely afraid of, like the psychopath Sweeney truly is.

His muscular slicing and dicing is as cold and cruel as can be, and he is magnificently matched most perfectly by the gloriously delirious presence of Sutton Foster (Broadway’s The Music Man; Anything Goes) who crafts a Mrs. Lovett who is as funny as she is desperate in love. It is inside that manic imbalance where her performance becomes completely invigorated to unquestionably exciting levels of comic intensity. Foster is one of those performers who always sounds delicious and glorious of voice, while also finding the joke and the idiosyncracies inside a role. But here, in her solidly hilarious performance, she has mixed and baked this woman to the perfect boiling point, so much so that we just want to bite into her and savor her performance forever.

The rest of the crew most beautifully demands to be seen and utterly valued. Joe Locke (“Heartstopper“; Donmar’s The Trials) shines strong, giving a tender meaningful performance as Tobias, once again surprising us all with his musical ability and tenderly crafted performance. Ruthie Ann Miles (Broadway’s The King and I) continues to put forth a Beggar Woman that is compellingly impossible to ignore. She folds in flavors of remembrance most wisely, unearthing glimpses of sadness and memory beneath the dirty facade of insanity. Jamie Jackson (Broadway’s Dr. Zhivago) as Judge Turpin, John Rapson (Barrow St’s Sweeney Todd…) as Beadle Bamford, and fight captain Michael Kuhn (City Opera’s Stonewall) as Pirelli, all find the diabolical intensity required, while singing gloriously throughout. Costumed perfectly by Emilio Sosa (Broadway’s Trouble in Mind) with a meandering sound design by Nevin Steinberg (Broadway’s Tina), the cast, including all in the ensemble, brings vocal expertise to the forefront, elevating the chorus to sharp and cutting heights throughout this well-mapped out production.

Joe Locke in Broadway’s Sweeney Todd. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman.

With the stage designed by Mimi Lien (RTC’s True West), the cast ascends into the darkness, expertly lit by Natasha Katz (Broadway’s Some Like it Hot), bringing that big thick sound forward and engulfing us in its menace. The second level playing field, which floats up and down as the story gets going, tends to distance itself a bit too much during some precious moments of engagement, particularly the scenes that focus on Johanna, played to nervous edgy perfection by Maria Bilbao (Bay Street’s Anna in the Tropics) and Anthony, played tenderly by Daniel Yearwood (Broadway’s Hamilton). We feel far removed from their intimacy, although not as much from the front mezzanine this time around (although as staged, I did miss a few bits, here and there, when they stepped a bit too far to one side). Bilbao’s delectable and impeccable Johanna and her twitchy bird-like nervousness continue to save the day, pulling us in, even as we struggle to stay attached behind the railing so far back in the recesses of the balcony.

But it’s Tveit, his love song to his precious barber blades, and Foster’s clingy and desperate needy desire for Sweeney’s kiss that sells the meat pies (and those tickets). Their expert renderings and their perfect alignment make a delicious meal out of this captivatingly entertaining revival of Sweeney Todd. Now, I will say that it doesn’t exactly erase my extreme love of the pared-down revival back in 2005 that starred Michael Cerveris and Patti LuPone; those two still remain my all-time favorite diabolical duo. Their deep dive into madness is unparalleled, but inside this fully fleshed-out production, with that tasty-sounding big orchestra and these two magnificent leads, this is a Sweeney Todd that should be devoured, and definitely not missed. “More pies, please,” is all I can say as I couldn’t stop cheering this production on, just like that ever so-enthusiastic audience that was in the theatre the night I was so lucky to “attend the tale” of Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. “It’s too good, at least.

Aaron Tveit and Sutton Foster in Broadway’s Sweeney Todd. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman.

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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 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


Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Richard M. Sherman Songwriter for Mary Poppins and Jungle Book Passes On



Richard M. Sherman, was a nine-time Academy Award nominee along with his brother Robert. The Sherman Brothers wrote more than 200 songs for some 27 films and 24 television productions. Their film credits include Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, The Absent-Minded Professor, The Parent Trap, Summer Magic tv, The Sword in the Stone, That Darn Cat!, Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, The Happiest Millionaire, The Aristocats, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

The won two Academy Awards for Mary Poppins, taking home the trophies for Best Score – Substantially Original and Best Original Song (for “Chim Chim Cher-ee”). They won three Grammy awards and received 24 gold and platinum albums and were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005 and received the US National Medal of the Arts in 2008.

They also wrote the score on Broadway for Over Here.

The brothers were portrayed in the 2013 film Saving Mr. Banks, which told the story behind the making of Mary Poppins.

Sherman died of age-related illness at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills. His brother Robert died in 2012.



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The Outer Critics Circle (OCC) Awards And You Are There Part 2



Yesterday we gave you part 1 of The Outer Critics Circle (OCC), awards ceremony held at the Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center’s New York Public Library for The Performing Arts 111 Amsterdam Avenue, NYC).

In this part Steve Guttenberg gives the award to Outstanding Featured Performer in an Off-Broadway Play: Jay O. Sanders – Primary Trust

Outstanding Lead Performer in an Off-Broadway Musical:
 Andrew Durand  Dead Outlaw

Current President David Gordon introduced Andrea Martin who gave away the awards for Outstanding Direction of a Musical: Jessica Stone – Water for Elephants

A special award was given to Harry Haun longtime OCC member who served on the board as well.

Outstanding Choreography (Broadway or Off-Broadway):Justin Peck —Illinoise

And the tie for Outstanding Lead Performer in an Off-Broadway Play: William Jackson Harper, Primary Trust

Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play: Primary Trust

Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical: Dead Outlaw

Kelechi Watson presented the awards for Outstanding Featured Performer in a Broadway Musical: Kecia Lewis  Hell’s Kitchen

Outstanding Direction of a Play: Daniel Aukin – Stereophonic

Outstanding Lead Performer in a Broadway Musical: Kelli O’Hara  Days of Wine and Roses

Outstanding New Broadway Play:

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Outstanding New Broadway Musical: Suffs

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.

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The Stars Showed Up Michael Greif at The New Dramatists Luncheon



The New Dramatists Annual Spring Luncheon at the New York Marriott Marquis honored Michael Greif, the acclaimed director of not one but three shows playing on Broadway, Days of Wine and Roses, The Notebook and Hell’s Kitchen. Tony Award-winning producers Kevin McCollum and Stacey Mindich served as honorary co-chairs.

Michael Greif

Michael Greif

Christie Brown, Michael Greif, Brian d’Arcy James and Emily Morse

Michael Greif, Brian d’Arcy James

Michael Greif, Brian d’Arcy James

New Dramatists also presented the inagural Konecky Award, named for New Dramatists’ beloved Board President Isobel Konecky and her husband, renowned entertainment attorney Ron Konecky, recognizes those in the theatre and entertainment industry, who serve the field with passion, dedication, excellence, and leadership. The inaugural Konecky Award will be presented to Concord Theatricals.

Attending were:

Ali Louis Bourzgui

Joy Woods

Jordan Tyson

John Cardoza

Betsy Aidem

Will Brill

Rick Elice

Brian d’Arcy James

Michael Greif, Hannah Greif and David Greif

Adam Pascal, Michael Greif and Daphne Rubin-Vega

Members and Creatives of Hell’s Kitchen that includes-Susan Oliveras, Lily Ling, Tom Kitt, Camille A. Brown, Michael Greif, Kecia Lewis, Desmond Sean Ellington, Badia Farha, Kristoffer Diaz, Aaron Nicholas Patterson and Oscar Whitney Jr.

Ryan Vasquez

Kecia Lewis

Camille A. Brown

Kristoffer Diaz

Schele Williams, John Cardoza, Victoria Navarro, Geoffrey Ko, Dorian Harewood, Michael Greif, Maryann Plunkett, Jordan Tyson, Bekah Brunstetter, Katie Spelman and Kurt Deutsch

Schele Williams and Michael Greif

Priscilla Lopez

Jennifer Whyte, Steven Skybell, Tom Scutt, Rebecca Frecknall, Julia Cheng and Henry Gottfried

Priscilla Lopez and Michael Greif

Henry Gottfried

Tom Scuttt

Christine Ebersole and Michael Greif

Francis Benhamou

Steven Skybell

Jennifer Whyte

Julia Cheng

Michael Greif, Christine Ebersole, Priscilla Lopez and Doug Wright

Rebecca Frecknall

Eli Gelb

David Adjmi

Corey Stoll

Alison Luff

Isabelle McCalla

Amy Ryan

Amanda Green

Eden Espinosa

Sarah Pidgeon

Shoshana Bean

Quincy Tyler Bernstine

Michael Greif and Shoshana Bean

Justin Peck

Paula Vogel and Celia Keenan-Bolger

Juliana Margulies

Daryl Roth and Juliana Margulies

Jim Dale and Daryl Roth

Jim Dale, Daryl Roth and Juliana Margulies

Brody Grant

Lea Salonga

Lea Salonga

Sarah Paulson

Leslie Kritzer

Shaina Taub and Leigh Silverman

Amber Iman

Nikki M. James

John Weidner

Jessica Hecht

Andrew R. Butler

Casey Likes

Grant Gustin

Sean Patrick Flahaven

Doug Wright

Bradley King

Jamie deRoy

New Dramatists


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



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.

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



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!

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