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 December, 2009

Make that Jan 10th…

Due to what Ragtime‘s marketers are calling a “miracle on 54th Street” – enough angry and saddened patrons hammered at the Neil Simon box office windows to allow producers to extend the dying show’s Broadway run by a week. Instead of closing on January 3 as previously announced, the production will now run through January 10.

It’s official: Ragtime is closing January 3rd

Ragtime, the Kennedy Center transfer that opened on Broadway on November 15 to very positive reviews, just hasn’t been able to pull in the numbers and has officially announced it will close on Broadway on January 3rd.

Producer Kevin McCollum said: “While we’re saddened and disappointed to announce that RAGTIME must close, bringing this beautiful and powerful production to Broadway has been a joyous experience. We couldn’t have asked for a more talented and dedicated company and creative team or a more passionate team of producers.”

It’s sad to see such a solid production departing Broadway so soon, but to anyone following the box office numbers, it didn’t come as much of a surprise (even though the New York Times tried to defend the show against the online rumors).

We can only hope the next show to play the Neil Simon Theater (whatever show that might be) will fare better.

A video preview of the Broadway aimed A Christmas Story

Happy holidays to everyone on Broadway and around the world. Hope you’re staying warm, traveling safe and ending your year in high spirits.

Here’s a video clip from a show aiming to be next season’s holiday favorite, A Christmas Story: The Musical!

Enjoy :)

Brooks Ashmanskas, Katie Finneran and Tony Goldwyn are joining Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes in Promises, Promises

Producers announced today that Brooks Ashmanskas, Katie Finneran and Tony Goldwyn will join Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes in the cast of the first Broadway revival of Promises, Promises.

The musical is based on Billy Wilder’s film “The Apartment,” with a book by Neil Simon, music by Burt Bacharach and lyrics by Hal David. The show will mark the Broadway directorial debut for Tony award winning choreographer Rob Ashford (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Cry-Baby).

Previews at the Broadway Theatre begin on March 27, 2010, with an opening set for April 25.

The reading of the Broadway musical version of the film Elf got some pretty good buzz

As you may or may not know, Warner Brothers has been looking to back a Broadway musical version of Elf, the Will Ferrell movie, and gave it a staged reading last week that got a lot more decent buzz than had been expected.

The reading was directed by Casey Nicholaw (Spamalot) and featured George Wendt as Santa Claus, Christian Anderson as Buddy, Mark Jacoby as Buddy’s father and Beth Leavel as his mother.

Attendees liked the script by Thomas Meehan (The Producers, Hairspray) and Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone) and the “tuneful” score by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer).

Elf: The Musical is eying a Broadway run next holiday season.

Tveit leaving N2N, Wicked Bway’s 20th longest running show, Nine and In the Heights news, cleaners strike possible

It’s official: Tveit is leaving Next to Normal, Massey stepping in

Kyle Dean Massey (Xanadu, Wicked, Altar Boyz), who played Gabe in the Tony-winning musical Next to Normal while Aaron Tveit took a leave of absenc, will assume the part of Gabe permanently beginning on Jan. 4. Tveit will play his final performance Jan. 3 at 7:30 PM.

Wicked sets yet another record – becoming Broadway’s 20th longest running show of all time

On Dec 15, Wicked played its 2,535th performance, surpassing Avenue Q‘s admirable run and becoming the 20th longest running show in Broadway’s history. And as the Thanksgiving weekend records showed, this musical is still more than holding its own on Broadway. Here’s hoping the wonderful show will continue running for years to come!

A digital soundtrack release and five Golden Globe nominations for Nine

The soundtrack for the Rob Marshall film version of Nine is now available for digital download on iTunes. Buzz about the movie is big – it was just nominated for five Golden Globes, including those for Best Motion Picture and Best Actor in a Motion Picture for Daniel Day-Lewis. The film opens to the general public on Christmas day.

Kenny Ortega will direct the In the Heights film; Lin-Manuel Miranda will star as Usnavy

Variety is reporting that Kenny Ortega, the man who helmed Newsies, High School Musical, This is It and Dirty Dancing, will direct Universal’s film version of In the Heights, starring Tony Award-winning songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda in the role he originated on Broadway, Usnavy. The Tony-nominated librettist Quiara Alegria Hudes is adapting the screenplay. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for this film!!!

Broadway could have another strike in the works

According to the New York Times, members of the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ — which includes porters, cleaners and bathroom attendants at over two-dozen Broadway theatres — unanimously gave its “union bargaining committee the authority to settle or strike.” Back in 2007, the stagehands union strike shut down Broadway for a full 18 days. A strike of even half that length in this economic landscape could mean the end for a number of struggling Broadway shows…

Closing, opening, cast albums, casting and more in a huge Broadway news round-up

A lot has been happening on Broadway these last few weeks. Here are the biggest of the announcements:

Closing soon

Bye Bye Birdie has offically announced that it will play its final performance on Jan 24. Though technically an extension of its limited run, many had expected this expensive production to run much longer, and producers are definitely walking away with losses.

RUMOR: Michael Riedel of the New York Post is saying things aren’t looking good for Broadway’s Ragtime: “Officially, the producers say, ‘there are no plans to close at this time.’ Unofficially, it’s likely to close Jan. 3 at a total loss, several production sources say.”

Though not Broadway, this one is a big blow for NYC theatre. Altar Boyz, the longest running Off-Broadway musical to open in more than a decade (the 9th longest of all time), will play its final performance at New World Stages on Sunday, January 10th at 7:30 PM.

Opening soon

Million Dollar Quartet will officially begin previews at the Nederlander Theatre on March 13, 2010 and open on April 11, 2010. The Broadway production will be independent of the Chicago company, which will continue there. Broadway casting has not yet been announced.

All About Me, which had announced an opening in a few months at the John Golden Theatre, will instead take over Henry Miller’s Theatre now that Bye Bye Birdie is vacating.

Producer Ken Davenport has announced that Stephen Schwartz’s Godspell, which had been scheduled to begin previews at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in September 2008, is now aiming for a Broadway bow during the 2010-11 season. The revival will be directed by Daniel Goldstein. No casting has yet been announced.

Cast albums

PS Classics and Nonesuch will team to release the new Broadway cast album of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. The cast of the Trevor Nunn-directed revival will record the album Jan. 4, 2010. No release date has yet been announced.

The cast album for the Broadway revival of Finian’s Rainbow will be available on Feb. 2, 2010 (though the disc will be at the St. James Theatre three weeks before that). The new Broadway cast album will be produced by PS Classics.

Broadway’s Memphis has recorded a cast album with Delray Records. The national release will be announced shortly, but in the meantime fans may purchase it at the Shubert Theatre where the musical opened in October.

Broadway casting announcements

Corbin Bleu of High School Musical fame is going to play the role of Usnavi in In the Heights starting January 25th. Regarding the casting (which has met with a lot of nay-saying online), Lin-Manuel Miranda had this to say:

Javi is amazing. Jon Rua is too.
Michael Balderrama makes the drama ring true.
They’re big footsteps; I wrote a really big shoe.
This one is Lin-approved: Mr. Corbin Bleu.

Producers have announced that the Broadway production of Sondheim on Sondheim, opening April 22, will star Barbara Cook, Vanessa Williams, Tom Wopat, Leslie Kritzer, Norm Lewis, Euan Morton and Matthew Scott.

Kelsey Grammer has signed on to star in the Broadway musical La Cage Aux Folles, as Georges. He will star alongside Douglas Hodge, who will continue in the role of Albin, the drag queen star, which he played to critical acclaim in London. The revival opens on April 18, 2010 at the Longacre Theatre.

Matt Cavenaugh will play his last performance as Tony in West Side Story on Dec. 13. His understudy Matthew Hydzik will resume the role on Dec. 15.

Broadway’s Mary Poppins welcomes Valerie Boyle to the role of household cook Mrs. Brill Dec. 4 and Tony nominee Jonathan Freeman to the company on Dec. 12 at the New Amsterdam Theatre.

Destiny’s Child member Michelle Williams will join the musical Chicago on Broadway starting Feb. 8. Williams is slated to star as Roxie Hart in the production until mid-April.

Grammy-nominated cast albums

The Grammy Award nominations were announced, and the Best Musical Show Album contained nominations for Ain’t Misbehavin’, Hair, 9 to 5, Shrek and West Side Story.

Wicked sets a new record

Wicked hit a major milestone Thanksgiving weekend, becoming the first Broadway production to report sales of more than $2 million for a single week.

Musicals on the Silver Screen

Variety is reporting that “Shakespeare in Love” director John Madden is in talks to direct the film version of My Fair Lady with a screenplay by Emma Thompson. Keira Knightly and Daniel Craig have been rumored to star in the Cameron Mackintosh and Duncan Kenworthy produced movie musical.

Tony Award-winning actress Donna Murphy (Passion, The King and I) has joined the cast of the new Disney animated musical Rapunzel. Murphy will voice the role of the witch, alongside Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi. Academy Award-winning composer Alan Menken will compose and Byron Howard and Nathan Greno will direct.

Amateur rights available

Rights for the 2008 Tony Award winner for best musical, In the Heights, are now available through R&H Theatricals. For more information or to license the show, click here.

Musicals on Time’s Top Ten of Everything list

Time Magazine unveiled its “The Top 10 Everything of 2009,” rating news, entertainment, pop culture and more. Ragtime, Finian’s Rainbow and Fela! all appeared on the “Top 10 Plays and Musicals” list and Marion Cotillard on the “Top 10 Movie Performances” list for her turn in the film version of Nine.

New equity leadership

Actors’ Equity Association announced Dec. 11 that Mark S. Zimmerman has resigned as president, effective immediately. Equity’s vice president Paige Price will now carry out the duties of the president until a new president is elected.

Touring soon

Dreamgirls concludes its Harlem run Dec. 12 prior to embarking on a national tour. The production, starring Moya Angela, Syesha Mercado, Adrienne Warren, Margaret Hoffman, Chaz Lamar Shepherd, Chester Gregory, Trevon Davis and Milton Craig Nealy was directed by Robert Longbottom (Side Show, Flower Drum Song, Bye Bye Birdie), who co-choreographed with Emmy-nominated hip-hop artist Shane Sparks.


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The reviews for A Little Night Music are in …

A Little Night Music, the Sondheim musical starring Catherine Zeta Jones and Angela Lansbury, opened to mixed reviews. The verdict – the show is largely heavy-handed, with stand out performances by the two headliners. Here’s what the major publications had to say:

Variety

The most atypical of Ingmar Bergman’s celebrated films, “Smiles of a Summer Night” brought ripe carnality and a delicious sense of irony to its fin-de-siecle gathering of romantically muddled Swedes. Those same intoxicating elements were translated to “A Little Night Music,” Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s exquisite waltz-musical inspired by the film. Reviving the 1973 show, director Trevor Nunn brings a blunt, heavy hand where a glissando touch is required, but the wit and sophistication of the material are sufficient to withstand even this phlegmatic staging. A handful of magnetic leads provides further insurance against the uneven production. Read the full review

USA Today

Lansbury created roles in two Sondheim shows, the short-lived cult classic Anyone Can Whistle (undone by a messy libretto) and the enduring masterpiece Sweeney Todd. Now, at 84, she is gloriously reviving the part of Madame Armfeldt in director Trevor Nunn’s new production of A Little Night Music (*** out of four), which opened Sunday at the Walter Kerr Theatre. Read the full review

Backstage.com

I have always felt that director Trevor Nunn approaches musicals and plays with different palettes: broad and bold for the former, detailed and nuanced for the latter. In this chamber version of “A Little Night Music,” however, he seems to have applied his play palette to a musical. While it’s hard not to miss the romantic sweep and orchestral lushness of Harold Prince’s glorious original production, which I saw on national tour multiple times, what Nunn delivers is a persuasive and entertaining account of a great American musical. Read the full review

Associated Press

The first Broadway revival of “A Little Night Music,” the enchanting, moonstruck musical based on the Ingmar Bergman film “Smiles of a Summer Night,” is a curious affair. There are some lovely moments, most of them supplied by Angela Lansbury, but too much of this adult, sophisticated show, which opened Sunday at the Walter Kerr Theatre, seems forced, boisterous and a little crude. Read the full review

Hollywood Reporter

Bottom Line: This uneven but welcome revival of Sondheim’s classic musical features a triumphant Broadway debut by Catherine Zeta-Jones. Read the full review

The New York Times

Nunn’s “Little Night Music,” the first full Broadway revival of the show, may well be a hit too, though not because of any artistic finesse. It has what is a producer’s favorite form of insurance these days: stars known to the public from movies, television and tabloids, of whom people can later say things like “She’s even more beautiful in person” (as they surely will of the lustrous Zeta-Jones) or “She’s amazing for her age” (in reference to the 84-year-old Lansbury). Read the full review

NewJerseyNewsroom.com

Looking as elegant as the musical she graces, Catherine Zeta-Jones makes a smashing Broadway debut in a wistful revival of “A Little Night Music.” Co-starred with the redoubtable Angela Lansbury as her imperious old mama in a romantic comedy set in early 1900s Sweden, Zeta-Jones portrays Desiree, a middle-aged actress who gets a second chance at true love with a former flame. Read the full review

New York Magazine

ALNM is among Sondheim’s near-perfect creations, but it’s not without its challenges, over and above the complexity of the music: Maunder overmuch and the show’s a drag; shine up the comedy and it risks coming off as a yuppie you-can-have-it-all manifesto. Maintaining that balance is the job of Desiree and Frederik, and Zeta-Jones-a tremendous presence here, in great voice-mates up with Hanson perfectly: They play Desiree and Frederik as extremely magnetic, fabulously charming, utterly empty people. I say this admiringly: Yes, they have feelings, deep and complex; yes, despite their many sins, they deserve love as much as anyone. But neither Zeta-Jones-whose “Send in the Clowns” is a shattering cry from the void-nor Hanson nor Nunn makes any excuses for the pair’s intrinsic emotional vacuity or their confessed inability to transcend themselves in any sort of human union. They’re cool, at best, to their children, genially indifferent to their peers, and they see, in one another, smoked-mirror reflections of themselves. They cancel each other-and, in the half-light, that’s good enough. Read the full review

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