The Broadway Musical Blog – Musical theater news and gossip from the Great White Way

Dishing out daily (or almost daily) Broadway musical news and gossip. The companion site to The Broadway Musical Home (broadwaymusicalhome.com), a directory of Broadway musicals with the story, songs, merchandise, video clips, lyrics, tickets, rights & awards for almost 200 shows.

Archive for October, 2009

The reviews for Finian’s Rainbow are in …

Finian’s Rainbow opened on Broadway to universal critical acclaim. The consensus: featuring a brilliant cast and score and a sweet, simple staging – this production embodies everything a Broadway musical should be.

Here’s what the critics had to say, in their own words:

NEW YORK TIMES

Here is where you should head this fall to warm your soul amid the diversions of that ever-great and ever-endangered American art form, musical comedy. All the comforting pleasures of the genre — infectious song, exuberant dancing, jokes both lovably corny and unexpectedly fresh, and of course the satisfying pairing of a him and a her — are on abundant display in this thoroughly winning production, a welcome picker-upper in an uneven Broadway season. Read the full review

ASSOCIATED PRESS

That delectable bit of musical-theater blarney called “Finian’s Rainbow” has found its way back to Broadway for the first time in nearly half a century, its charms undiminished, particularly its buoyant score. Read the full review

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Things are great in Glocca Morra. A theatrical pot of gold awaits anyone who enters the St. James Theatre, where the magical revival of “Finian’s Rainbow” has opened. The classic musical, receiving its first Broadway revival in nearly half a century, has the kind of score, written by Burton Lane (music) and Yip Harburg (lyrics), that can still make any theatergoer swoon. Read the full review

VARIETY

What better time for a show that makes gentle mockery of that incurable habit of building the illusion of wealth on nothing more than a dream and a credit line, while also offering the rose-tinted consolation that such folly will turn out fine in the end? But it’s not so much the uncanny appropriateness of its pixified fairy tale as the enveloping warmth of Burton Lane’s melodies and the spry wit of Yip Harburg’s lyrics that make “Finian’s Rainbow” such an infectious charmer. Rather than try to get around the 1947 musical’s daffy story by hammering the social satire, director-choreographer Warren Carlyle and his winning cast simply embrace its quaint idiosyncrasies. Read the full review

WALL STREET JOURNAL

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more musically satisfying Broadway show than “Finian’s Rainbow.” Not only is the Yip Harburg-Burton Lane score a string of flawlessly cut gems, but everyone involved with the production takes the songs seriously, performing them with love and sensitivity. Best of all is Kate Baldwin, whose memorable appearances in such regional-theater productions as Huntington Theatre Company’s 2008 revival of “She Loves Me” have made me wonder why she doesn’t work regularly on Broadway. Ms. Baldwin is the real deal, a rich-voiced soprano who can also act. The way that she and Cheyenne Jackson sing “Old Devil Moon” is the stuff best-selling cast albums are made of. Read the full review

BACK STAGE

Lightning has struck twice at the St. James Theatre. First Arthur Laurents took his perfectly fine production of “Gypsy” in the Encores! Summer Series and elevated it into a stunning work of art. Now the folks behind Encores! concert version of “Finian’s Rainbow” have taken that pleasant if problematic presentation and transformed it into a magical production that should enchant both lovers of the Golden Age musical and those who favor more-contemporary fare. Personally, I would have called such a thing impossible. But this “Finian’s Rainbow” is for everybody, and I hope it runs forever. Read the full review

THE FASTER TIMES

The new production of “Finian’s Rainbow,” which has just opened at the St. James Theater half a century after its last try at a full-bore Broadway revival, tries hard to turn a dated show with a problematic book into an extraordinary theatrical experience. It succeeds in doing so, magnificently, thanks to an unusually talented cast of comic actors, singers and dancers, and 13 songs that are either evergreen favorites or rousing revelations; not a dog among them. Read the full review


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A casting, gossip and news round-up for October

Finian’s Rainbow opens tonight on Broadway

The Broadway revival of Finian’s Rainbow opens on Broadway tonight, October 29, 2009. Starring Jim Norton (The Seafarer) as Finian, Kate Baldwin (Wonderful Town) as Sharon, Cheyenne Jackson (Xanadu) as Woody,  and Christopher Fitzgerald (Young Frankenstein) as Og, we’re looking to see how the public responds to the show.

For years it was thought to be an unrevivable show due to its racist content, but with a reworking of the book and songs like “Old Devil Moon,” “If This isn’t Love” and “How are Things in Glocca Morra?,” we think it more than deserves a another run on the Great White Way.

Going to see it? Interested in writing a review for the blog here? Contact me!

Promises, Promises to star Chenoweth and Hayes; opens March 25

Producers have announced that Promises, Promises will officially star Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth. This will be the first ever revival of the musical, will open at the Broadway Theater on March 25.

With a book by Neil Simon, music by Burt Bacharah and lyrics by Hal David, the show will mark Hayes first appearance on Broadway and Chenoweth’s happy return. The original 1968 production played 1,268 performances on Broadway, was nominated for 8 Tony awards and awarded a Grammy.

Run DMC musical eyeing Broadway

Hollywood producer Paula Wagner is working with the rappers Joseph Simmons (Run) and Darryl McDaniels (DMC) and the estate of Jason Mizell (Jam Master Jay) about creating a stage musical about Run DMC’s road to fame.

No dates, casting or other collaborators have yet been announced.

Mary Murphy to make guest appearance in Burn the Floor

Mary Murphy from Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” will make a one-night-only guest star appearance in Broadway’s Burn the Floor on December 22, partnering with ballroom champion Vaidas Skimelis.

Katie Holmes may star in the stage musical version of Cocktail

Rumors are flying that Katie Holmes may be under consideration for a starring role in the Broadway musical version of the 80s movie, Cocktail, that is being penned for the stage by Heywood Gould – the original author and screenwriter. Producer Marty Richards is on board and though Gould said “it’s far too early to talk about casting,” he did mention he “like[s] Katie Holmes.”

Little Miss Sunshine musical workshop stars Bierko, Latessa and Rene Scott

The stage musical version of Little Miss Sunshine is workshopping with stars Craig Bierko (Guys and Dolls, The Music Man), Dick Latessa (Hairspray, Damn Yankees), and Sherie Rene Scott (The Little Mermaid, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Aida) in Florida right now.

The adaptation of the 2006 film features a score by William Finn with book and direction by James Lapine.

We can only hope it’s good-enough to take to Broadway with those names on board.

Judy and Sayle to star in the Broadway-aimed A Christmas Story, The Musical!

Later this month, another production eyeing Broadway, A Christmas Story, The Musical!, will open out-of-town. The cast features talent with many Broadway shows under their belts, including James Judy (The Scarlet Pimpernel), Zachary Carter Sayle (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), John Bolton (Curtains, Spamalot) and Anne L. Nathan (Assassins, Sunday in the Park with George).

More Broadway showtunes and stars are in store for Glee!

Glee

If you follow this blog and somehow haven’t become a Gleek yet, I can’t understand why not.

The show, which stars Broadway favorites Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison, has already featured Broadway big-shots Victor Garber (Sweeney Todd, Assassins, Damn Yankees), Kristin Chenoweth (Wicked) and Debra Monk (Curtains, Chicago, Company) and  showtunes like “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret and “I Could Have Danced All Night” from My Fair Lady.

Broadway Gleeks can continue to get more excited: Lea’s Spring Awakening co-star, Jonathan Groff, has signed on to perform in at least 5 episodes of the show, and rumor has it that Cheyenne Jackson, the star of Finian’s Rainbow on Broadway, is scheduled to make a guest appearance in one of the upcoming episodes.

The show’s tunes are hidden a little better than its stars, but thanks to YouTube, we do know that we’ll be hearing Lea Michele and Chris Colfer singing “Defying Gravity” from Wicked. Check out a clip of the song:

Glee just keeps getting better and better for lovers of Broadway musical theater!


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Broadway’s Green Ogre to Say Farewell: Shrek Will Officially Close on January 3

Shrek the Musical will play its final performance at the Broadway Theatre on January 3, 2010, following 441 performances and 37 previews.

The national tour of the musical based on the DreamWorks film will launch at Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre for a limited engagement, July 13–September 5, 2010.

Get your tickets for the end of the Broadway run or the upcoming tour.


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101 Dalmatians: A Light-Hearted, Family-Friendly Musical (A guest review by Amanda Blake)

dalmations

If you are looking for a family friendly new show, The 101 Dalmatians Musical may be the show for you.

101 Dalmatians, which had its world premiere at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, MN on October 13th, takes Dodie Smith’s 1956 novel from the page to the stage.

This new adaptation of Dalmatians is from the dog’s point of view. Humans are seen as pets, not owners. The dogs walk on two feet, not four. And the actors playing humans are on well-disguised stilts, which cause problems throughout the show (some of the actors walked around clumsily and there were a few who actually fell).

The Dalmatians, led by Pongo (James Ludwig) and Missus (Catia Ojeda), are the primary heroes of the story. Pongo and Missus suffer the agony of Missus’ pregnancy, then enjoy family life until their pups are stolen by Cruella De Vil (Rachel York).

Usually you wouldn’t root for a villainess who plans to murder and skin dozens of puppies for her fall fashion line, but when you see how much fun Rachel York is having in the role of De Vil, you come close. York steals the show with her loud screeching entrances, very glamorous and outrageous costumes and fun numbers.

The show also features 15 furry cast members who carry two scenes during the show, one at the end of each act. The Dalmatians add a much-needed boost to the show by performing “tricks.”

Beyond that, there really isn’t really much of anything that makes the audience go “wow.”

Former Styx member, Dennis DeYoung, wrote the music for the show and was co-lyricist with B.T. McNicholl. Dalmatians has some fun numbers and a few heartfelt ballads, but the music, though light and nice, leaves you with the feeling that you’ve heard all of it before.

When you see Dalmatians, you can leave the theatre with a light-hearted feeling – knowing that the good guys won and the bad guys got punished.

Amanda Blake is an avid theatre-goer and self-proclaimed “theatre dork” who regularly sees touring productions in Chicago, IL and Minneapolis, MN. Follow her on Twitter @th3heights.

Interested in guest reviewing a Broadway musical for the blog? Shoot me an email. I’m looking to assemble a great group of reviewers.

The Memphis reviews are in …

You read what our guest reviewer thought of Memphis, the newest musical to open on Broadway, but what do the critics think?

Unlike Bye Bye Birdie, which was universally panned, reviews for Memphis were mixed. Here’s what the big media outlets had to say:

NEW YORK TIMES

Sex and race and rock ’n’ roll made for a potent, at times inflammatory, combination in the 1950s, when the new musical “Memphis” is set. But there’s no need to fear that a conflagration will soon consume the Shubert Theater, where the show opened on Monday night. This slick but formulaic entertainment, written by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro, barely generates enough heat to warp a vinyl record, despite the vigorous efforts of a talented, hard-charging cast. While the all-important music, by Mr. Bryan of Bon Jovi, competently simulates a wide range of period rock, gospel and rhythm and blues, the crucial ingredient — authentic soul — is missing in action. Read the full review.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The sensuous, soulful sound of rhythm ‘n’ blues hits the audience right from the start of “Memphis,” the exhilarating new musical now shaking Broadway’s Shubert Theatre. Take a deep breath as the curtain rises because the exuberance doesn’t stop. Read the full review.

USA TODAY

You might expect a show called Memphis, with a score by rock keyboardist David Bryan and a book by Joe DiPietro, whose last Broadway outing was the jukebox musical “All Shook Up,” to be an homage to Elvis Presley. It isn’t — and for that, the Presley estate owes Bryan and DiPietro a debt of gratitude. Read the full review.

VARIETY

A talented cast, stirring vocals, athletic dance numbers and vigorous direction supply crowd-pleasing elements in the lively new musical, “Memphis,” as evidenced by the waves of appreciation coming off the audience. But there’s also a nagging predictability to this story of a white DJ who brings rockin’ rhythm and blues from black Beale Street to the mainstream in 1950s Tennessee. The show is entertaining but synthetic, its telepic plotting restitching familiar threads from “Hairspray” and “Dreamgirls,” while covering fictitious ground adjacent to that of recent biopic “Cadillac Records. Read the full review.

AM NEW YORK

Contrary to popular belief, rock and roll did not start with Elvis Presley. The new Broadway musical “Memphis” depicts its birth among black singers in underground nightclubs on the now fabled Beale Street – and how the art form was soon pirated by white businessmen as a form of mass entertainment. Read the full review.


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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Mamma Mia, Bye Bye Birdie and South Pacific In the News

The Good

Mamma Mia, the 13th longest running show in Broadway history, celebrated 8 years on Broadway yesterday, Oct 18!

The musical currently stars Beth Leavel, John Dossett, Judy McLane, Allison Briner, Halle Morse, Michael Mindlin, Patrick Boll, Alyse Alan Louis, David Andrew Macdonald and Eric William Morris.

The Bad

Bye Bye Birdie, which opened on Oct 15, was panned by reviewers in almost every media publication:

The consensus – the bulk of the cast can’t sing, dance or act. Ouch!

The Ugly

The New York Post reported that the stage manager for Broadway’s South Pacific, Michael Brunner, has been arraigned for recording video of one of the actresses in her dressing room. Lincoln Center Theater has terminated his contract due to the incident.


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More Promises, Promises rumors – this time, the woman in question is Kristin Chenoweth

The New York Post is reporting that Tony Award winner Kristin Chenoweth is in negotiations to play Fran Kubelik in the upcoming Broadway revival of the musical Promises, Promises.

The Rob Ashford directed/choreographed revival, which will star Sean Hayes (Will & Grace) as Chuck Baxter, is produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. The show features music is by Burt Bacharach, lyrics by Hal David and book by Neil Simon

The original version of Promises, Promises ran 1,281 performances and was one of the first mainstream Broadway musicals to offer a commercial pop sound in its score.

The new West Side Story commercial (and some other great Broadway commercials)

West Side Story

Rent

Dreamgirls

Mamma Mia

Fiddler on the Roof

Victor Victoria

Damn Yankees

Cabaret

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

The King and I

My Fair Lady

Guys and Dolls

Into the Woods

Phantom of the Opera

Spring Awakening

The Producers


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A massive Twitter #followfriday from @broadwaymusical

Because @broadwaymusical has almost 3,800 followers on Twitter, I’ve found that I really can’t follow everyone’s tweets unless I’m watching the stream 24-7, so I’ve set up some keyword notifications, keep close tabs on my @replies and DMs and watch a group of folks whose tweets are always relevant and worth reading – this is that group.

As you can see, it would take many more than 140 characters to share them all, so I’ve decided to present this #followfriday via the blog:

@9to5themusical
@aaronmeier
@allisoncase
@amybpr
@b3onbroadway
@bam_brooklyn
@bbbway
@bcefa
@broadwaycom
@broadwaydeals
@broadwaygirlnyc
@broadwaygreen
@broadwayimpact
@broadwaymindy
@broadwaypulse
@broadwayspotted
@broadwayworld
@broadway_buzz
@bwayamerica
@bubbles2828
@catherineblades
@chestergregory
@columbiajames
@constantinem
@dailyshowtune
@dannyquad91
@erinwilson5
@edenespinosa
@felamusical
@finiansrainbow
@gavincreel
@gleeks
@gracenotesstage
@hairtribe
@happentolikeny
@heathshvatz
@johngallagherjr
@johnstamos
@kchenoweth
@kendavenport
@lacagebroadway
@mammamiamusical
@melorahardin
@memphisbroadway
@musicalreviewer
@musicaltheatret
@mrubinoff
@n2nbroadway
@newyorkology
@ninarosario
@officialbtf
@papatola
@paulpilcz
@randall14
@rockofages
@sardisnewyork
@shreksteronline
@situationonbway
@speakout26
@spideyonbway
@springtour
@stephaniejblock
@steveonbroadway
@studentrushnyc
@survivorqueen
@tadwilson
@tdfnyc
@th3heights
@thebwayleague
@theaterleague
@theatrestory
@thetonyawards
@the_phantom
@thtrbob
@wicked_musical

To all of you – thanks for keeping me on my toes, singing, smiling, laughing and informed about all that’s going on on- and off-stage in the land of Broadway musical theater!

(If there’s someone not on this list that you think should be, please please please leave the handle in the notes and I’ll be sure to add them to the group and start following!)


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