Archive for January, 2010
I got my hands on a song sample from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new sequel to Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies:
What do you think?
Cast for the Broadway Mounting of Green Day’s American Idiot Will Include John Gallagher Jr., Stark Sands and Michael Esper
Producers just announced that John Gallagher Jr. (Spring Awakening), Stark Sands and Michael Esper will star in Broadway’s American Idiot, the new Green Day musical opening April 20 at the St. James Theatre.
Director Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening) co-wrote the book with Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong. Music and lyrics are all by Green Day, with songs taken from their albums “American Idiot” and “21st Century Breakdown.”
The other creative team members include two-time Tony Award-winning composer and orchestrator Tom Kitt (Next to Normal), Olivier Award-winning choreographer Steven Hoggett, Tony nominated scenic designer Christine Jones (Spring Awakening), costume designer Andrea Lauer, two-time Tony Award-winning lighting designer Kevin Adams (Hair), Obie Award-winning sound designer Brian Ronan (Cabaret), video designer Darrel Maloney and music director Carmel Dean.
Gallagher Jr., Sands and Esper are joined by Rebecca Naomi Jones (Passing Strange), Christina Sajous (The Wild Party), Mary Faber (Avenue Q) and Tony Vincent (Jesus Christ Superstar) as well as an ensemble that includes: Declan Bennett (Rent), Andrew Call (Cry-Baby), Gerard Canonico (Spring Awakening), Miguel Cervantes (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Joshua Henry (In the Heights), Van Hughes (Hairspray), Brian Charles Johnson (Spring Awakening), Joshua Kobak (Rent), Lorin Latarro (Movin’ Out), Omar Lopez-Cepero, Leslie McDonel (Hairspray), Chase Peacock, Theo Stockman (Hair), Ben Thompson, Alysha Umphress, Aspen Vincent and Libby Winters.
The cast will be appearing with Green Day at the Grammy Awards, singing “21 Guns.” (The Grammys will air on CBS on Jan 31 at 8-11:30 PM).
Can’t wait for this one to hit the Great White Way! Apparently, it’s turning musical theater on its head.
Bye Bye “Birdie”
The universally panned production of Bye Bye Birdie, starring John Stamos and Gina Gershon, closed on Broadway on Jan 24 after playing 117 performances. Though selling at 90% capacity, producers decided the show’s success would dwindle upon the departure of its stars and so closed as planned, rather than extending its run.
Hello New Work
An exciting new musical that’s been getting lots of buzz in the social media sphere Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlett Pimpernel, The Civil War) and Jack Murphy’s (The Civil War) Wonderland, a new take on Lewis Carol’s “Alice in Wonderland.” The show opened on Jan 20 at the Alley Theatre in Houston.
The cast includes a lot of Broadway names, including Janet Dacal (In the Heights, Good Vibrations), Jose Llana (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Karen Mason (Sunset Boulevard, Mamma Mia!), Darren Ritchie (Dracula: The Musical), Nikki Snelson (Legally Blonde), Ed Staudenmayer (Forbidden Broadway) and Tad Wilson (Rock of Ages).
This show definitely has Broadway aspirations, though no dates or official plans have yet been announced. Cross your fingers that its sooner rather than later.
Duncan Sheik’s The Whisper House
Spring Awakening‘s Dunkan Sheik celebrated the world premiere of Whisper House, which opened Jan. 21 at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. The show, which features a hauntingly beautiful score, has hopes of making it to Broadway sometime in the next couple of years.
The Pee Wee Herman Show
Another show with Broadway aims is the Pee Wee Herman Show, which opened on Jan 20 at the Los Angeles’ Club Nokia @ L.A. LIVE. Paul Reubens stars the title role he created back in the 1980s and looks to be having just as much fun today as he did back then. Though more a show with music than a musical, I couldn’t not include it on the blog here. I mean, it’s Pee Wee Herman!
A Spice Girls Musical?
Yep. Pee Wee Herman isn’t the only pop-culture icon to be brought to the stage. Mamma Mia! producer Judy Craymer is turning her attention to a jukebox musical that will use the songs (and we can only hope, the personalities) of that crazy English girl-group of the 90s – the Spice Girls.
Original Foursome will Make their Broadway Debuts with Million Dollar Quartet
The original foursome from the Chicago production of the musical Million Dollar Quartet, Eddie Clendening, Lance Guest, Levi Kreis and Rob Lyons, will reprise their roles in the show’s Broadway premiere, all making their Broadway premieres. They will be joined by two Broadway veterans: Hunter Foster (Urinetown, Little Shop of Horrors) and Elizabeth Stanley (Cry-Baby, Company).
Showtime to Document the Process of Taking a Musical from Concept to Broadway
If you’ve kept up with the blog here, you know that Speilberg is producing a new Showtime series tracing the evolution of a new musical.
Composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray, Catch Me If You Can) were previously announced as being on board, and now a writer has surfaced – Theresa Rebeck – the author who penned the recent off-Broadway hit the Understudy and has a fair number of TV shows under her belt.
I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see this show get off the ground, and if the success of Glee and the long string of casting shows series, I’m not the only one that’ll be eating it up.
Norbert Leo Butz on TV
Norbert Leo Butz (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Wicked, The Last Five Years) is starring as Rowdy Kaiser on ABC’s “The Deep End,” a new drama series about five first-year lawyers starting out at a top firm. If you missed last week’s premiere – check it out on ABC’s website.
Every Broadway show is a crapshoot. No one knows for sure what audiences will like and what they won’t. Still, the odds seemed higher than usual against the new musical Fela! Its score—a throbbing mix of jazz, funk and traditional African rhythms known as Afrobeat—is as far away from the show tune as Lagos is from Long Island. Its book—the life story of the controversial Nigerian musician and political activist Fela Anikulapo-Kuti—isn’t the usual Broadway fare either. And there are no celebrity names in the cast. But Fela! has turned out to be a winner.
You can tell that by the fact that it’s selling out about 95% of its seats while shows that seemed surer bets have been closing left and right. Or by the way the audience members literally dance in the aisles at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, where the show seems likely to enjoy a good run. Or by the smile that spread across the face of my niece Jennifer, who is only 30 but has been going to Broadway shows for over 25 years and is as jaded as they come. As the show ended, Jennifer turned to me with a grin. “Yeah, yeah,” she said, nodding her head and pumping her fists in time to the music as she echoed Fela’s trademark exclamation of approval.
For despite its potentially downer subject matter (Fela is jailed, his wives—he was married to as many as 12 of them at a time in real life—tortured, his mom, their country’s leading feminist, is killed) Fela! may be the feel-good show of the season. The music, performed by the Brooklyn-based Afrobeat band Antibalas, is infectiously joyous, the dancing is amazing (a BIG shoutout to the tireless troupe of hip-shaking dancers), many of the jokes provoke belly laughs and the show plays into the fascination with Africa that is currently influencing fashion and art (click here to read a New York Times story about the trend).
I first saw Fela! when it played at the 37 Arts Theatre in the fall of 2008 and was wowed by it even though, at three hours, the show was waaaaay too long and its story more than a bit confusing. The credit for its now streamlined success has to go to Bill T. Jones, the Tony-winning choreographer for Spring Awakening, who not only conceived, directed and choreographed Fela! but hired Lillias White to sing the hell out of the songs given to Fela’s mother and persuaded the rapper-mogul Jay-Z and the movie star-moguls Will and Jada Pinkett Smith to invest in the show and lend their names to it as over-the-title producers. Jones has also promoted the show relentlessly (click just about anywhere on the internet, TV or radio to read or hear him give his spiel or click here ).
What I most loved when I saw the show at 37 Arts was the star-making performance by Sahr Ngaujah as Fela. As I said in my review back then (click here to read what I said) I couldn’t imagine anyone else in the role. Fela sings, dances and narrates the entire show (no one else even speaks). It’s an exhausting job. So Ngaujah now shares the role with Kevin Mambo. My heart sank when I saw the insert announcing that Mambo was playing the part the night Jennifer and I attended the show. But while it’s true that Mambo may not have Ngaujah’s charisma, he’s no slouch either.
The man sitting across the aisle from me rushed in just before the show began. He carried an expensive-looking brief case and wore an expensive-looking suit. I took him to be a lawyer or a lower-level, not-getting-quite-a-billion-dollars-bonus investment banker. He boogied at every opportunity (there are moments when the audience is invited to stand up and dance along) and even snuck in a few extra wiggles while in his seat. I wager that if you could find him and ask him, he’d say that Fela! offers as good a bet as they come, a fine return on your ticket-price investment.
Broadway & Me: news and reviews from a theater lover with a point of view.
Next to Normal Looking to Launch a National Tour
Brian Yorkey, the book writer and lyricist for Broadway’s Next to Normal, told Playbill.com, “A tour is in the works. David Stone’s at work putting it together. I think it will launch later this year, in the fall or winter.” In addition to a national tour here in the US, there is also apparently a group working on translating the show for a Scandinavian production.
Chicago Now Broadway’s 6th Longest Running Show
On Jan. 12, the Tony Award-winning revival of John Kander and Fred Ebb’s Chicago played its 5,462nd performance and became the sixth longest-running production in Broadway history, surpassing Beauty and the Beast, which previously held that position.
Finian’s Rainbow Cast Album Available Feb 2
The critically acclaimed revival of Finian’s Rainbow that just closed its doors on Broadway did have the chance to visit a recording studio before the death knells rang – capturing the beautiful voices of Kate Baldwin and Cheyenne Jackson singing some of the best songs in the Broadway musical cannon. Listen to a sample. The album is available for pre-order now.
Hair holding open casting
With nearly all of the original Broadway cast of Hair off to perform in the west-end transfer, producers are looking to cast a new group of Broadway hopefuls. Open auditions will take place from 10 AM-6 PM at the Public Theater on January 21. Actors are asked to prepare 16 bars of an up-tempo pop or rock song (with sheet music), and to bring a headshot and a resume.
Billy Elliot has Recouped its Investment
Producers of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Billy Elliot have announced that it has recouped its $18 million investment. The national tour of the show is set to launch in Chicago on March 18.
La Cage Aux Folles Artwork Revealed
An Obama Musical?
Yes. A company in Germany has created a show based on Obama’s rise to the Presidency. The title: HOPE. The video speaks for itself:
In the Heights
Janet Dacal (who originated Carla) and newcomer David Del Rio will be replacing Mandy Gonzalez (the current Nina) and Robin De Jesus (the current Sonny) when they leave Broadway’s In The Heights next month.
Andy Karl (9 to 5, Legally Blonde) will join the Broadway cast of Wicked beginning Feb. 2, succeeding Kevin Kern in the role of Fiyero. Katie Rose Clarke and Jenny Fellner stepped into the roles of Glinda and Nessarose, respectively, on Jan. 14.
Former Destiny’s Child member Michelle Williams (Aida) will replace Ashlee Simpson as Roxie Hart in Broadway’s Chicago beginning February 8.
On January 5, Laura Osnes (Grease, Bonnie & Clyde) returned to Broadway’s South Pacific taking over the role of Nellie Forbush from Kelli O’Hara.
The New York Post is reporting that Antonio Banderas (Nine) will be playing the title role in a Broadway production of the John Kander & Fred Ebb musical Zorba, to be directed by Gary Griffin (The Color Purple) and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys).
Mira Nair is working on a stage version of her film Monsoon Wedding hoping to make its Broadway debut a year from now. The show, co-written by Mira Nair and Sabrina Dhawan with music by Vishal Bharadwaj and choreography by Bill T. Jones, will combine circus acrobatics, aerial acting, theatre, music and dance.
Glee – Golden Globe, 2nd Season, Open Casting
The TV show Glee , which has featured show tunes and many Broadway actors, including Matthew Morrison (Hairspray, Light in the Piazza) and Lea Michele (Spring Awakening), took home the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series (Comedy or Musical) and was picked up for a second season on Fox. Fans will be excited to hear that producers have announced casting for both professionals and amateurs ranging from ages 16-26. Are you enough of a gleek to make the show?
All About Me
Previews for All About Me, the Michael Feinstein and Dame Edna show, will begin Feb. 22, three days later than originally announced.
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
Also delayed, not so surprisingly, was Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. The show, which producers had vehemently assured patrons would begin previews on Feb 25, will now be open sometime in 2010 – no specific dates have yet been announced.
Broadway on TV!
John Tartaglia (Shrek, Avenue Q) will appear on the February 3rd episode of Ugly Betty.
Catherine Zeta-Jones (A Little Night Music) will guest on “The Late Show with David Letterman” on Jan. 22.
Opening/Closing on Broadway: Shrek, White Christmas, Finian’s Rainbow, Ragtime, Come Fly Away, American Idiot, Altar Boyz, Ragtime
As previously announced, Shrek closed on Broadway on Sunday after an admirable run of 441 performances at the Broadway Theatre. Also closing Sunday was the holiday favorite White Christmas, which played out its limited engagement at the Marquis.
And last week a shocker of an announcement hit Broadway audiences that another of the critically acclaimed productions that just opened – Finian’s Rainbow – will be playing its last performance on Jan 17. Coming on the heels of the Ragtime closing announcement, a number of big names like Matthew Broderick are doubting the lasting power of anything that’s not a “sure bet” in this economy…
But, along with the closings and bemoaning came some happier news: Producer James L. Nederlander announced that Come Fly Away, Twyla Tharp’s Frank Sinatra inspired musical, will open March 25. The musical, originally titled Come Fly With Me, played a sold-out engagement last year at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta.
And it’s official: another out-of-town favorite, American Idiot, is taking over at the St. James on April 10. If you haven’t yet heard of this show, you soon will – the creative team is an incredible assembly of Broadway big-hitters, and if the reviews from its Berkely Rep run are any indication – this show may be a contender for many of those looking for one of Broderick’s “sure bet[s].”
If we’ve learned anything from 2009 it’s this: if there’s anything on Broadway you’ve been dying to see, see it now! Unless it’s Phantom of the Opera or Wicked, there’s no guarantee it’ll be around beyond next week.