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FOX has announced the full cast for the upcoming live musical event RENT, airing Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019 (7:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed).

Brandon Victor Dixon

Brandon Victor Dixon

Actress Kiersey Clemons (“Hearts Beat Loud”), Emmy nominee and Tony Award winner Brandon Victor Dixon (“Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert”), singer/songwriter Jordan Fisher (“Hamilton,” 2017 winner of “Dancing with the Stars”), actress and singer Vanessa Hudgens (“Second Act,” “Grease: Live”), newcomer and singer/songwriter Brennin Hunt (“Nashville”), R&B/Pop superstar Mario (EMPIRE), recording artist Tinashe (“Dancing with the Stars”) and performer Valentina (“RuPaul’s Drag Race”) are set to star in the highly anticipated live musical event. Additionally, Keala Settle will perform the iconic solo from “Seasons of Love” and join the ensemble in the live musical.

Valentina

Valentina

The groundbreaking, Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical is a re-imagining of Puccini’s “La Bohème,” and set in New York City’s gritty East Village. “Rent” tells the unforgettable story of seven artists struggling to follow their dreams during a time of great social and political turmoil. Winner of four Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize, writer/composer Jonathan Larson’s tour de force continues to offer an inspiring message of hope and friendship.

The most interesting part of this casting is Vanessa Hudgens played Mimi Marquez in the Hollywood Bowl production of Rent. See video, now she takes on Maureen Johnson

Below is a cast breakdown:

Kiersey Clemons

Kiersey Clemons

  • Kiersey Clemons as Joanne Jefferson, Maureen’s girlfriend and an Ivy League-educated lawyer.
  • Brandon Victor Dixon as Tom Collins, the computer scientist who returns to New York after being expelled from MIT.
  • Jordan Fisher as Mark Cohen, an aspiring filmmaker, who serves as the show’s narrator, while filming the lives of his friends.
  • Vanessa Hudgens as Maureen Johnson, the outgoing performance artist who’s not afraid to take on the establishment.
  • Brennin Hunt as Roger Davis, a struggling musician and Mark’s roommate and best friend.
  • Mario as Benjamin Coffin III, Mark and Roger’s former roommate-turned-landlord, who is after their rent.
  • Tinashe as Mimi Marquez, the dancer who struggles with addiction.
  • Valentina as Angel Dumont Schunard, a young drag queen and street percussionist who embraces life and lives it to its fullest.
Vanessa Hudgens

Vanessa Hudgens

The television adaptation will be broadcast from the historic Fox Studios in Los Angeles. Acclaimed film, television and theater producer Marc Platt (“Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,” “Grease: Live,” “La La Land,” “Wicked”), along with the estate of writer/composer Jonathan Larson, will executive-produce the event. Tony Award-nominated director Michael Greif (“Dear Evan Hansen,” “Rent”), who directed the original New York Theatre Workshop and Broadway productions of “Rent,” is the director overseeing the stage direction; and Alex Rudzinski (“Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,” “Grease: Live,” “Dancing with the Stars”) will serve as the live television director.

Keala Settle

Keala Settle will sing Seasons of Love

In addition to Greif, creative team members from the original Broadway production of “Rent” returning for the television adaptation include Emmy Award-winning casting director Bernie Telsey and costume designer Angela Wendt. Additional creative team members include Obie Award winner Kristoffer Diaz writing the adaptation for television, Emmy Award winner Al Gurdon as lighting designer, Tony Award and Grammy Award winner Stephen Oremus as music director and producer, Jason Sherwood as set designer and two-time Emmy Award nominee Sonya Tayeh as choreographer.

Jordan Fisher

Jordan Fisher

“Rent” originally was produced in New York by New York Theatre Workshop and on Broadway by Jeffrey Seller, Kevin McCollum, Allan S. Gordon and New York Theatre Workshop.

RENT is produced by 20th Century Fox Television. Marc Platt, Adam Siegel, Julie Larson, Allan Larson and Revolution Studios’ Vince Totino, Scott Hemming and Marla Levine will serve as executive producers.  “Like” RENT on Facebook at RENTonFOX. Follow the series on Twitter @RENTonFOX and join the conversation using #RENT. See photos and videos on Instragram by following RENTonFOX.

Actress and musician Kiersey Clemons recently was cast in the upcoming feature installment of “The Flash” franchise as the iconic “Iris West.” Her other credits include the hit Sundance film “Hearts Beat Loud,” “Dope,” “Transparent,” “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,” “Flatliners” and “Easy.”  Additionally, she is currently shooting the starring role of “Darling” in the upcoming live-action feature “Lady and the Tramp,” and will join the cast on the upcoming season of “Angie Tribeca.”

Brandon Victor Dixon most recently starred in “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert” for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award and he can currently be seen on the series “Power.” On Broadway, he most recently starred in “Hamilton.”  Previous Broadway credits include “Shuffle Along” (Tony Award nomination), “Motown The Musical” (Grammy nomination), and “The Color Purple” (Tony Award nomination), the national tour of “The Lion King,” off-Broadway productions of “F**king A,” “Rent” and “The Scottsboro Boys.” Television credits include “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “One Life to Live,” “The Good Wife,” “Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular” and Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It.” Dixon’s debut single, “#WeAre” is currently available for download on iTunes, with all proceeds benefitting YoungNewYorkers.org. Dixon was raised in Maryland, and is a graduate of Columbia University.

Jordan Fisher recently won the 25th season of “Dancing with the Stars.” He also has starred in “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” “Liv and Maddie,” “Teen Wolf,” “Teen Beach Movie” and its sequel, before co-starring in FOX’s Emmy-winning “Grease: Live.” In 2016, Fisher released his self-titled EP, which debuted at No. 18 on the Billboard Heatseekers album chart. He collaborated with Lin-Manuel Miranda on “You’re Welcome” from “Moana,” and also joined the cast of the Tony Award-winning musical “Hamilton.” Fisher is in the upcoming reboot of “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.” He currently co-hosts “Dancing with the Stars: Juniors,” alongside Frankie Muniz.

Vanessa Hudgens began her work in musical theater at a young age, in shows such as “The Wizard of Oz,” “The King & I,” “The Music Man” and “Cinderella.” In 2016, she starred in FOX’s “Grease: Live,” which was nominated for 10 Emmys and won five, the most ever for a Special Class program. In 2015, she made her Broadway debut, starring in the title role of the beloved Academy Award- and Tony Award-winning film and stage musical “Gigi.” Her film credits include “Thirteen” and “Spring Breakers,” and the upcoming “Second Act.” Her television credits include “High School Musical” and the action comedy “Powerless,” set in the DC universe. In 2010, Hudgens won the ShoWest Award for “Female Star of Tomorrow.”

Brennin Hunt

Brennin Hunt

Brennin Hunt is currently filming his first movie role in “Walking With Herb.” The movie is set for release in 2019, and will feature Hunt’s original song, “Can’t Hold a Candle.” Hunt began his songwriting career with “I Can’t Do This,” which was recorded and co-written by Vince Gill. In 2016, he was featured in Rolling Stone Country as one of the 10 Artists You Need To Know. In 2017, he partnered with YWCA for his single, “Rip off the Rearview,” featuring Gill.

Mario

Mario

Mario is a Grammy Award-nominated, multi-Platinum-selling singer, songwriter, producer and actor.  He was discovered at the age of 11 and, three years later, signed a recording contract with music legend Clive Davis. Mario’s eponymous debut studio album rolled out in 2002, featuring his first Top Five R&B/pop hit, “Just a Friend 2002.” Two years later, Mario revisited the Billboard charts with “Turning Point.” The Platinum-selling album spun off the melodic double-Platinum Hot 100 chart-topper “Let Me Love You,” and placed Mario on Billboard magazine’s Artist of the Decade list. Rounding out Mario’s album catalog are 2007’s “Go,” featuring the Gold-certified single “Crying Out for Me”; and 2009’s “D.N.A.,” for which the lead single, “Break Up,” with guests Sean Garrett and Gucci Mane, also went Gold and peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart/No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. Now, Mario is back with the release of his eagerly awaited fifth studio album, “Dancing Shadows,” which debuted at No. 1 on the iTunes R&B/Soul chart. He also currently has a recurring role on FOX’s EMPIRE.

Tinashe

Tinashe

Music artist Tinashe broke into the R&B spotlight in 2014 with her double-Platinum hit, “2 On,” which landed in the Top 20 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. She has toured with Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj and Maroon 5. She also has an established career in fashion, where she has worked with brands such as Alexander Wang, Ralph Lauren, Chanel and Juicy Couture. Tinashe recently released her sophomore album, “Joyride.”

Valentina is known for competing on the ninth season of Emmy winning “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and will return to “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.” He was awarded the Miss Congeniality award, voted by the fans. Valentina has appeared in Elle magazine Mexico, Paper magazine and Vogue.com, as well as on Andy Cohen’s “Watch What Happens Live” and “Access Hollywood.” He currently is the face of Mexican fashion designer Benito Santos’ latest collection.

Keala Settle most recently portrayed bearded woman “Lettie Lutz” in the feature musical “The Greatest Showman.” The film’s song, “This Is Me,” won the 2018 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Settle made her Broadway debut in 2011 in “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.” She originated the role of “Norma Valverde” in “Hands on a Hardbody” and was nominated for the Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama Desk Award and Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. Settle originated the role of “Becky” in the musical “Waitress,” and played the roles of “Madame Thenardier” in the revival of “Les Misérables” and “Tracy Turnblad” in the national tour of “Hairspray.”

Jonathan Larson received the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for “Rent” (Book, Music, Lyrics). He also won the 1996 Tony Award for Best Musical and the 1994 Richard Rodgers Award for “Rent” and twice received The Gilman & Gonzales-Falla Theatre Foundation’s Commendation Award. In 1989, he was granted the Stephen Sondheim Award from American Music Theatre Festival, where he contributed to the musical “Sitting on the Edge of the Future.” In 1988, he won the Richard Rodgers Development Grant for his rock musical, “Superbia,” which was staged at Playwrights Horizons. He composed the score for the musical “J.P. Morgan Saves the Nation,” which was presented by En Garde Arts in 1995. Larson performed his rock monologue, “tick, tick. . . BOOM!,” at Second Stage Theatre, The Village Gate and New York Theatre Workshop. In addition to scoring and song writing for “Sesame Street,” he created music for a number of children’s book-cassettes, including Steven Spielberg’s “An American Tail” and “Land Before Time.” Other film scores include work for Rolling Stone magazine publisher Jann Wenner. He conceived, directed and wrote four original songs for “Away We Go!,” a musical video for children. “Rent,” his rock opera based on “La Boheme,” had its world premiere on February 13, 1996, at New York Theatre Workshop. Larson died unexpectedly of an aortic aneurysm on January 25, 1996, ten days before his 36th birthday.

Marc Platt is the Emmy Award-winning producer of FOX’s “Grease: Live” and “A Christmas Story Live!.” Most recently, he produced “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,” which earned 13 Emmy Award nominations. He is an Academy Award-nominated producer, known for director Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land” and Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies.” Platt has developed some of the most successful film, theater and television projects of the last 30 years. His film resume includes such titles as “Legally Blonde,” “Into the Woods,” “Drive,” “Rachel Getting Married,” “Scott Pilgrim” and “Wanted.” He is also the producer of the Broadway mega-hit “Wicked,” which has been seen by more than 50 million fans worldwide and globally has racked up $4 billion. A former film executive, Platt served as president of production for three movie studios, where he oversaw box office and critical successes, including “Philadelphia,” “Rudy,” “As Good As It Gets,” “Legends of the Fall” and “The Silence of the Lambs.”

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Out of Town

Standing at the Sky’s Edge in the West End Soars Three Times Higher Than Expected

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As the dawn breaks” over the houses, a songbird’s tender melody flies this new musical forward over the three mornings, decades apart. As three households are revealed, dated and notated above as 1960, 1989, and 2015, we are welcomed most harmoniously to the brutalist iconic housing development in Sheffield, and the emotionally clever and connecting musical, Standing at the Sky’s Edge. Sitting forcibly on top of the world, with a forever fussy neon sign giving us a glimpse into some form of engagement ahead, the musical, as written by the wonderfully talented Richard Hawley (“Soldier On“), digs into the personal ramifications of the nation’s political upheavals that bubble up into the lives of these families from the 1960s through Thatcherism, immigration, Brexit, and beyond. With a strongly layered book by Chris Bush (The Changing Room), Sky’s Edge unearths deeply felt, intertwined connections in the three families of three generations over six decades. The opening feels almost Shakespearian, with subtle flavors that remind us of that opening monologue from Romeo & Juliet (a show we were seeing hours after this show), with these somewhat stereotypical family dynamics moving steadily forward in life and love. Planted inside this boxy structure of many layers, these characters find greater depth with each passing emotional moment as they move forward through a classic gentrification dynamic all within one concrete iconic housing estate.

Laura Pitt-Pulford as Poppy, Elizabeth Ayodele as Joy. and Rachael Wooding as Rose in Standing at the Sky’s Edge in the West End. Photo Credit: Brinkhoff Moegenburg

All adventures are scary,” we are told pretty straight up in this fascinating creation, and we lean into the melodic unveiling before us. The three stories of differing social situations are riveting, engaging us in ways that resemble more of a play with fantastic deliverable songs sung in a more performative fashion rather than sung from within the storytelling. Delivered like rockstars standing at their microphone stand (sometimes), and arranged and orchestrated by Tom Deering (Almeida’s Tammy Faye) with musical direction by associate music supervisor Alex Beetschen (RADA’s Spring Awakening), this midnight train is a clever layering filled with many little treasures that add energy and emotional clarity to the piece. As the characters open up their doors to us, they keep deepening their directive, revealing their dilemmas and dynamics with sharp contrast and emotional compassion.


Elizabeth Ayodele as Joy and Samuel Jordan as Jimmy in Standing at the Sky’s Edge in the West End. Photo Credit: Brinkhoff Moegenburg.

The cast is completely fantastic across the board, giving us chills in their unity of action, striking forward the distress and pain of the world they live in while struggling to hold on to the few crumbs of gratitude and humble acceptance. They find harmony in their collective, drawing us in, even as they stand together in a more choral arrangement. The leads are particularly good, with Samuel Jordan (“Sex Education“) in the pivotal role of Jimmy giving us an anchor to hold onto, with his counterpoint, Elizabeth Ayodele (NT’s Small Island) as Joy, the one who catches his eye (or is it the other way around). The circumstances that plant her here are complicated and emotionally stirring, delivered well by the family of actors that surround her, including Sharlene Hector (Barbican’s Strange Loop) as her Aunt Grace and Baker Mukasa (RSC’s The Winter’s Tale) as cousin George. Also tugging hard on our heartstrings are the young married couple who move into the flat with the view in the 1960s, played strongly by Rachael Wooding (Dominion’s We Will Rock You) as Rose and Joel Harper-Jackson (West End’s Cock) as Harry. Their heartbreaking unraveling is the key to the Sky’s Edge puzzle that slowly comes together with grace and dignity. But they are just part of the formulations.The whole is what makes this musical sing and stride forward so effectively.

The most modern entry into that flat is the compelling story of Poppy, played strong and true by Laura Pitt-Pulford (NT’s The Light Princess), and the complexities that surround Nikki, played engagingly well by Lauryn Redding (Vaudeville’s The Worst Witch). Redding delivers the song, “Open Up Your Door” with a force that knocks us off-center, mainly because we see it one way, until we are thrown a curve ball to look at it in a different framing of light. Poppy’s story is the looser connective tissue, keeping itself one knot removed, unlike the other two tales. But it somehow stays tied in, even if the grief and the sense of loss are played out in reverse. They still register, and give us a new doorway to walk through.

Lauryn Redding as Nikki, Laura Pitt-Pulford as Poppy, and the cast of Standing at the Sky’s Edge in the West End. Photo Credit: Brinkhoff Moegenburg

Tonight, the streets are hot,” and the show unpacks a wealth of interactive complications and connections in a series of tender boxes that have been dutifully crafted to keep the tumultuous rain out, laid out with style by set and costume designer Ben Stones (Leeds’ Hedwig and the Angry Inch), with sharply tuned in lighting by Mark Henderson (Chichester’s Flowers for Mrs. Harris) and a strong sound design by Bobby Aitken (West End’s Ghost). As directed with care and focus by Robert Hastie (Sheffield/Donamr’s She Loves Me), the framing embraces our curiosity continuously, and engages our attention throughout, leading us through fireworks, love, despair, and grief that touch our collective heart and soul in abundance.

This magnificently moving three-layered story, with stunningly searing songs and sharply tuned-in choreography by Lynne Page (Broadway’s American Psycho) is billed as a musical, but carries the heavy weight of a play that is unpacking modern Britain and its politics. Delivered and unpacked through the stories of the landmark Park Hill estate. this view from the sky’s edge is a powerfully performed and sung exploration of the connective tissues of community and family, and what it means to take shelter in a brutialist box that will keep out the rain.

Rachael Wooding as Rose and Joel Harper-Jackson as Harry in Standing at the Sky’s Edge in the West End. Photo Credit: Brinkhoff Moegenburg.

The musical engages, pulling us gently into a dramatic tension that surprises and enlightens. Standing at the Sky’s Edge gives us a stunning view to take in, three times stronger than anything I could have imagined, and one that we won’t easily forget. Winner of the 2023 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, UK Theatre Award for Best Musical Production, and the South Bank Sky Arts Award, Standing at the Sky’s Edge soars to the highest of heights and holds us tight. Now playing until August 3rd at the Gillian Lynne Theatre, London.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com
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Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents David Zayas Jr.

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“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents”, is filmed live every Wednesday from the Hotel Edison.

In this episode T2C’s publisher and owner Suzanna Bowling talks with David Zayas Jr. who is making his Off-Broadway directorial debut with Simpatico at The Chain Theatre, 312 West 36th Street 3rd Fl. Simpatico plays until June 29th. David most recently directed the Jesus Hopped the A Train staged reading starring Common, John Ortiz, and David Zayas. David also directed LABs 30th Anniversary and the Barn Series, which included three New Works in progress by Stephen Adly Gurgis. A Bronx Native, theater and film Director, Actor, and Photographer, David is a member of The Actors Studio’s Playwright/Directors Unit and LAByrinth Theater Company. He has directed with Planet Connections, Actors Theatre of NY, NY Theater Festival, Samuel French OOB Festival, and Chain Theatre along with award winning films in over 20 festivals.

We are so proud because the show and our guests are now featured on the TV screens in the lobby and the hotel rooms. We were also gifted a poster in the lobby.

I am so grateful to my guest David Zayas Jr.

Suzanna Bowling, David Zaya’s Jr., Rommel Gopez

Thank-you Magda Katz for videoing and creating the content to go live, Rommel Gopez and The Hotel Edison for their kindness and hospitality.

We are so proud and thrilled that Variety Entertainment News just named us one of Summer’s Best Picks in the category of Best Television, Radio, PodcastsThe company we are in, has made us so humbled, grateful and motivated to continue.

You can catch us on the following platforms:

Pandora:

https://www.pandora.com/podcast/live-from-the-edison-hotel-times-square-chronicles-presents/PC:1001084740

Stitcher:

https://www.stitcher.com/show/1084740

Spotify:

Amazon:

https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/e3ac5922-ada8-4868-b531-12d06e0576d3

Apple Podcasts:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/live-from-the-edison-hotel-times-square-chronicles-presents/id1731059092

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Out of Town

Jamie Lloyd’s “Romeo & Juliet” in the West End Finds Unparalleled Amplification in its Microphoned Words and Limited Movements

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Behind a large industrial gate, Verona stands hard and dominant in the stark white light. It’s 1597, as projected, but the energy is utterly contemporary and fascinatingly modern. Designed to shock and startle from the get-go, this Romeo, as directed with a sharp focus by Jamie Lloyd (Broadway/West End’s Betrayal), strides in through the backstage hallways in dynamic fashion, destined to illicit a guttural response. “See where he comes,” we are told, and as movie star Tom Holland (West End’s  Billy Elliot the Musical) makes his way confidently forward, we must come to amplified terms with Lloyd’s very distinct version of this famed tale, one that will either excite or disappoint, but it will never be a bore.

Maybe because I came into West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre just days after seeing a more traditional (and somewhat lackluster) Romeo and Juliet at the Stratford Festival in Canada, I was game for some changing of the rules, and inside the editing of the iconic text, fascinatingly created in layers by Nima Taleghani (“Heartstopper“), this radical reappraisal by the Jamie Lloyd Company unpacks more emotional layers while barely moving a muscle than many a traditional staging does. Delivered with clarity and an extreme understanding of what’s at stake in the storyline, it simmers with taunt muscular sexuality, anchored in their tight formulations and delivery, and held together by the star-powered force that is Holland and company.

Francesca Amewudah-Rivers and Tom Holland, starring in Romeo & Juliet, a Jamie Lloyd Company production at West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre. Photo by Marc Brenner.

More importantly, Francesca Amewudah-Rivers (“Bad Education“), as his ill-fated Juliet, unmasks layers of unapologetic strength and passion giving the delivery and the play’s text its captifying edge. She is a hopeless romantic, but more of a determined woman than a cowering child. The power dynamics are reframed and realigned with this more stripped-away staging, giving Amewudah-Rivers’ Juliet more room to engage with that overpowering chemistry that exists between her and Holland’s Romeo, even when she almost ridicules the young man when he attempts to swear by the moon. That isn’t going to fly with this engaging creation.

This Juliet is a powerfully profound unpacking, supported most brilliantly by Freema Agyeman (Trafalgar Studieo’s Apologia) as her confidently embodied confidant; the multilayered Nurse. Her in-tune performance adds weight, connection, and energy, humorously stroking Holland’s impressive biceps, while proclaiming Juliet “will be a joyful woman.” But she also masterfully delivers despair and angst, possibly because the sharp edit has cut down the external paternal voices to only one per household. Juliet’s mother is nonexistent, giving all matters to her father, Capulet, masterfully maneuvered by Tomiwa Edun (NT’s Macbeth). This sliced-down rendering elevates the positioning that the maternal Nurse must take. The actor must balance both the emotional engagement and the hierarchy at play within the household. The mother-subtraction ultimately adds a jolt of energy into the whole, especially the pivotal scene between Juliet, her father, and the maternal Nurse, when the marriage to Paris, played engagingly by fresh-faced newcomer, Daniel Quinn-Toye, making his professional debut, is being forced upon the young already married daughter. It’s a captivating unraveling that lives and breathes inside a construct that completely makes sense.

The same is true for Romeo’s parental force. His mother, already barely a presence in the text of the play, especially at the end, has been given full command and sole ownership of the Montague household. Played well and true by Mia Jerome (Punchdruck’s Lost Leading Library), she delivers the required emotional force but leaves a special space for the paternal Friar, normally portrayed by Michael Balogun (Gillian Lynne’s The Lehman Trilogy), but was delivered with intensity by Phillip Olagoke (Old Vic’s A Number), to step in and engage with Romeo as if he is the son he never had. It’s a spectacularly astute repackaging that really shows its full worth when two scenes of the young married lovers’ angst are played on top of each other with the four: Nurse, Romeo, Juliet, and the Friar, lined up intersecting their lines straight into microphones on the stand.

Tom Holland (center) and cast in Romeo & Juliet, a Jamie Lloyd Company production at West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre. Photo by Marc Brenner.

When I tried to explain this to someone, their reaction was, with all those microphones and cameras on stage, projecting images that overlay one another, that it must feel stalled and somewhat boring. But in many ways, Lloyd’s creative engagement in stillness and striped-away engagement elevates the dynamic, creating a telling of this tale that is sexy, intense, and completely haunting. It’s filled with suspense and understanding, played true and confident by a cast that is completely engaged with the text. The electricity lives and breaths within these assured performances, and I was enraptured from beginning to end.

The editing pen also solidly pulls out all the excess in the play’s denouement, leaving the two to deliver their hopelessness without a soul in sight to get in the way and muddy the water. Played out on that bare cavernous stage, crafted with intent by set and costume designer Soutra Gilmour (West End/Broadway’s A Doll’s House), with meticulous lighting by Jon Clark (West End/Broadway’s The Lehman Trilogy), a solid sound design by Ben & Max Ringham (West End’s An Enemy of the People), composition by Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante (NT/The Shed’s The Effect), and assisted by the tender and captivating video design and cinematography by Nathan Amzi & Joe Ransom (Savoy’s Sunset Boulevard), this unpacking is as dark and engaging as one could possibly hope for. There is no Paris to do battle with, and the Friar doesn’t run in and out attempting to, and failing, to save the two from their breaking hearts. It’s just the two broken souls, overcome with grief, unable to move forward without their other.

Casting stares into the audience, the two leads deliver the goods in spectacular fashion, given that violence and hate are hovering behind them in the smokey darkness. The force is as exacting as the expert mashing and cutting of truth, side by side. There is more authentic emotion than many other pairings (and foursomes) that I have seen over the years, giving this tragic love story the undeniable edge and intensity that electrifies Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Even when it flies sometimes a bit too far from the stage, Lloyd’s distinctive directorial style lands hard and true.

Francesca Amewudah-Rivers, Tom Holland (center), and the cast of Romeo & Juliet, a Jamie Lloyd Company production at West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre. Photo by Marc Brenner.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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Events

Baccarat and Basil Hayden Host Glorious Speakeasy at Tony Awards

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Talk about a glorious night!

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 16: (L-R) Taraji P. Henson and Anna Wintour attend Baccarat x Basil Hayden Speakeasy at the 77th Annual Tony Awards at David Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center on June 16, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)

Baccarat x Basil Hayden VIP speakeasy room at the Tony Awards this year kicked things off in a lavish way.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 16: (L-R) Adrienne Warren, Nick Jonas, Billy Porter and Elle Fanning attend Baccarat x Basil Hayden Speakeasy at the 77th Annual Tony Awards at David Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center on June 16, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)

It was where celebrities from Anna Wintour to Julianne Hough to Daniel Radcliffe to Ekin-Su Cülcülogu relaxed, sipped a Basil Hayden 75 cocktail, mingled and took selfies.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 16: Ashley Park attends Baccarat x Basil Hayden Speakeasy at the 77th Annual Tony Awards at David Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center on June 16, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)

Inside the exclusive speakeasy, Anna Wintour donned her signature oversized onyx sunglasses but this time with a smile as she giggled with Taraji P Hensen – perhaps it’s Taraji’s contagious personality shining through, her mesmerizing Oscar De La Renta gown or maybe the result of a few Basil Hayden 75’s but either way, the queen of fashion was beaming.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 16: (L-R) Jeremy Strong, Jessica Lange, Andrew Rannells and Eddie Redmayne attend Baccarat x Basil Hayden Speakeasy at the 77th Annual Tony Awards at David Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center on June 16, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)

Elle Fanning, Billy Porter, Nick Jonas and Adrian Wallen dazzled as they posed for pictures while Ben Platt and partner Noah Galvin received some ‘awwws’ from the elite crowd as they embraced each other.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 16: Shaina Taub attends Baccarat x Basil Hayden Speakeasy at the 77th Annual Tony Awards at David Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center on June 16, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)

Ashley Park was ready to rock in a mind blowing Harris Reed floor length gown and Pandora jewelry as she toasted the camera while Daniel Radcliffe quietly made his way around the room chatting with other nominees before winning his Tony later on that night.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 16: Ariana DeBose attends Baccarat x Basil Hayden Speakeasy At The 77th Annual Tony Awards at David Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center on June 16, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)

Three cheers for this very Tony-licious moment!

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Broadway

And The Winners Of The 77th Tony Awards Are: The Outsiders, Merrily We Roll Along, Stereophonic and Appropriate

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Hillary Clinton did show and the Tony’s gave her a standing ovation, but against all odds the best musical of the year The Outsiders won. I have never been so happy to be wrong in my predictions as The Outsiders was my favorite show this year. I am so proud of this industry for honoring this amazing production.

Merrily We Roll Along, Stereophonic, Sarah Paulson, Appropriate, Maleah Joi Moon and so many other predicted choices took home the coveted award.

Ariana DeBose hosted the night, where the surprises were Jeremy Strong, Danya Taymor for The Outsiders, Kecia Lewis for Hell’s Kitchen.…yeah! 

The playbill for the night and the 77th Tony Awards, had speeches that were powerful. Especially in Act One. The theatre before the event.

In the show a tribute to Chita Rivera, Chita you will be missed.

Here is the list of the winning shows and performers:

BEST MUSICAL: The Outsiders

Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Groff, and Lindsay Mendez in NYTW’s Merrily We Roll Along. Photo: Joan Marcus.

BEST MUSICAL REVIVAL: *Merrily We Roll Along

BEST ACTRESS (MUSICAL): *Maleah Joi Moon, Hell’s Kitchen

BEST ACTOR (MUSICAL): *Jonathan Groff, Merrily We Roll Along. 

BEST FEATURED ACTRESS (MUSICAL):***Kecia Lewis — Hell’s Kitchen

BEST FEATURED ACTOR (MUSICAL): *Daniel Radcliffe, Merrily We Roll Along

BEST DIRECTOR (MUSICAL): ***Danya Taymor — The Outsiders. This win gives me such hope as Danya Taymor directs with heart. Her directorial performance in Jonah also was a tour de force. Taymor makes you feel.

BEST BOOK Of A MUSICAL: *Shaina Taub for Suffs

BEST MUSICAL SCORE: * Shaina Taub for Suffs

BEST ORCHESTRATIONS: *Jonathan Tunick, Merrily We Roll Along

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY: *Justin Peck, IIinoise

SCENIC DESIGN (MUSICAL): Tom Scutt — Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

COSTUME DESIGN (MUSICAL): *Linda Cho, The Great Gatsby 

LIGHTING DESIGN (MUSICAL): ***Brian MacDevitt and Hana S. Kim — The Outsiders

SOUND DESIGN (MUSICAL): ***Cody Spencer — The Outsiders

PLAYS

Tom Pecinka and Sarah Pidgeon Photo by Julieta Cervantes

BEST PLAY: * Stereophonic

Sarah Paulson and Elle Fanning in 2ST’s Appropriate. Photo by Joan Marcus.

BEST PLAY REVIVAL: *Appropriate 

BEST ACTRESS (PLAY): *Sarah Paulson, Appropriate

BEST ACTOR (PLAY): Jeremy Strong — An Enemy of the People

BEST FEATURED ACTRESS (PLAY): *Kara Young, Purlie Victorious

BEST FEATURED ACTOR (PLAY): **Will Brill, Stereophonic. Thrilled for this win. One of my favorite performances of the year.

BEST DIRECTOR (PLAY): *Daniel Aukin, Stereophonic

BEST SCENIC DESIGN (PLAY): David Zinn, Stereophonic

BEST COSTUME DESIGN (PLAY): *Dede Ayite, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding 

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN (PLAY): Jane Cox — Appropriate

BEST SOUND DESIGN (PLAY): *Ryan Rumery, Stereophonic

Audra McDonald

Given special awards were: The Wilma Theatre Outstanding Regional Theatre,

lifetime Achievement to George C. Wolfe, Excellence in Theatre Education to CJay Philip

Harvey Fierstien

lifetime Achievement to Jack O’Brien

Brian Stokes Mitchell and Billy Porter

Isabelle Stevenson Award Billy Porter

*our prediction to win.

** our prediction to what should win

*** our prediction for Best but we did not think would win

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