Archive for April, 2010
Nearly every critic for Everyday Rapture walked away from the show last night with a large smile plastered across his or her face. In this one-woman showcase, which was a last minute replacement for Lips Together, Teeth Apart, Sherie Rene Scott explodes with energy, charisma, humor and spectacular vocals. The last show to open in the 2009-2010 Broadway season, many are predicting that Scott and her cohorts will steal away more than one award from the competition.
New York Times
Just as the Broadway theater season is drawing to its close, a smashing little show has arrived to remind us of why so many of us keep going back to Broadway, even though it’s broken our heart so many times…. Of course there appears to be a significant overlap between the character and the actress…But in telling the story of Sherie, Ms. Scott embellishes, overstates, understates, bends and weaves the complexities and inconsistencies of one life into the whole-making harmonies of a musical fable. In so doing, she has created a beautiful, funny fiction that is both utterly removed from and utterly true to real life. Which is what I, at least, always hope a musical will do. Read the full review.
Scott and “Everyday Rapture,” her deliciously entertaining mini-musical, have arrived on Broadway, an emergency, end-of-season replacement for the Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of “Lips Together, Teeth Apart” which imploded during rehearsals…. the bubbly, blond, multitalented Scott has one of those quirky, expansive theater personalities that can really fill a stage…And her story, concocted by Scott and Dick Scanlan, is funny, touching and more than a little melodic. Read the full review.
Well, we can use one more theatrical autobiography if it’s as funny, quirky, and offbeat as Sherie Rene Scott’s “Everyday Rapture”…. There’s more than one actor in the cast, the witty script by Scott and Dick Scanlan doesn’t follow a clear chronological line, and Scott…employ[s] a dry, ironic tone [and t]he strong, clear voice and off-center sense of humor that informed her standout performances in “Aida,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” and “The Little Mermaid”…. Thanks to Scott’s insightful self-examination, razzle-dazzle showmanship, and dynamite vocals, this is a satisfying and enjoyable way to end the 2009-10 Broadway season. Read the full review.
There’s no denying that the beautiful blonde Scott possesses considerable talent and charm, both of which are on ample display. She delivers her frequently amusing tale with sly, understated humor in a breathy, sexy voice that recalls Marilyn Monroe’s in its disingenuousness…. Scott, accompanied by backup singers Lindsay Menez and Betsy Wolfe, handles the musical and narrative demands of the show in fine fashion. But “Rapture” comes across as overly precious and lacking the thematic heft that would justify its unexpected Broadway berth. Read the full review.
In the opening scene of the charmingly frenetic philosophical/autobiographical rumination-with-songs, Everyday Rapture, Sherie Rene Scott classifies herself as “one of Broadway’s biggest, brightest semi-stars.” Not anymore, lady. Here is Scott. She is not merely carrying this enchanting carnival — coauthored by herself — on her more than capable shoulders; she is the show. Scott is a force to be reckoned with. Everyday Rapture has provided an entertaining jolt to the season’s less-than-stellar lineup of new musicals. Read the full review.
Promises, Promises opened on Broadway to some mixed reviews. It’s not the worst thing to hit the Great White Way this month, but the show feels listless, measured, dated and a little boring. Critics applaud Sean Hayes’ timing and a standout performance by Katie Finneran, but feel that Kristin Chenoweth is miscast, the choreography uninspired and the set inappropriate. Though no one was expecting a Burt Bacharach/Neil Simon revival to blow the top off of Broadway, critics were disappointed that Rob Ashford didn’t create something a little more exciting and cohesive from the source material and talent on hand.
The New York Times
Even that singing sparkplug Kristin Chenoweth, who stars opposite a charming Sean Hayes in his Broadway debut, seems to feel the prevailing lassitude. Promises, Promises, which features a book by Neil Simon and songs by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, comes fully to life only briefly, at the beginning of its second act, when a comic volcano named Katie Finneran erupts into molten hilarity. Otherwise the white-hot charms this musical is said to have once possessed are left sleeping. Read the full review.
Most of today’s audience, admittedly, is unfamiliar with the show and won’t carp at the changes. But they might well notice that something is off; “Promises” is like a well-calibrated watch that has been pulled apart and reassembled with a spring missing (or in this case, with a couple of extra parts) … Director / choreographer Rob Ashford is less resourceful than usual and only intermittently effective; his big idea here seems to be to add dancers doing the frug in the background. It is not Ashford’s fault that Michael Bennett’s original staging of “Turkey Lurkey Time,” the big first-act production number, is easily viewable on the Internet; but it is that energy and humor that is altogether missing from the current staging. Neither is the physical production especially helpful. Read the full review.
New York Post
Indeed, the “Will & Grace” star is a revelation. Chuck is a paradox — a self-effacing lead — but the actor handles the transitions between the character’s passive bearing and his active imagination with dexterity. Hayes, Chenoweth and the excellent supporting cast — including Dick Latessa — benefit from Ashford’s direction: The staging of pop songs has rarely been as sharp as it is in this show. On the other hand, Ashford underwhelms as choreographer, which is odd considering the bang-up dances he created for “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Cry-Baby.” The biggest letdown is “Turkey Lurkey Time,” an ensemble number with a single purpose: to kill. Here, it delivers only a flesh wound. But this isn’t enough to spoil the fun. “Promises, Promises” is a candy-flavored ride that more than delivers on its title. Read the full review.
For this story to work, both Chuck and Fran must be young and dewy-eyed, just like the movie’s radiant Shirley MacLaine (25 at the time) and charmingly vulnerable Jack Lemmon (34 but seeming years younger). If the characters are older and thus more experienced, their actions become off-putting. Neither Hayes nor Chenoweth can conjure such youth believably … Rob Ashford’s direction prizes yuks over truth, symbolized by a period chair in Sheldrake’s office that exists solely for a visual joke requiring utterly unbelievable behavior from Sheldrake, while Ashford’s busy choreography can’t erase memories of Michael Bennett’s delightfully simple “She Likes Basketball” or orgiastic “Turkey Lurkey Time.” Set designer Scott Pask imprisons the show in a wraparound cyclorama reminiscent of the Berlin Wall. Read the full review.
For much of the time, the production, which opened Sunday, coasts amiably on the considerable appeal of its leading man, Sean Hayes, who is making an impressive Broadway debut … Chenoweth naturally exudes peppiness, a sunny quality that for much of the time has to remain hidden here under Fran’s morose, other-woman persona. Yet she and Hayes score in a quietly effective rendition of “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” the best-known of the songs written specifically for the musical. Ashford’s choreography is efficient if not exactly joyous, even for the show’s biggest dance number, “Turkey Lurkey Time,” a frantic Christmas office party revelry. Read the full review.
Time Out New York
The endearing Hayes excels at his nebbishy physical comedy and zany confidences with the audience, but still seems nervous in the wrong ways when he sings. More problematic is the talented but miscast Chenoweth, who tries to work against her patented micro-Valkyrie persona but remains too strong and mature for Fran. Two famous songs—“I Say a Little Prayer” and “A House Is Not a Home”—have been added for her; although the second one actively contradicts the plot, in a way it is this production’s theme song. Read the full review.
Under Ashford’s hand, what should be machine-oil slick comes dangerously close to sleazy, what ought to be buoyant often feels bloated, and more often than not craft bears more than a passing resemblance to cruft … This is a serious-minded musical comedy, then, that requires everyone work in the same high rise. Ashford’s uneven work with the actors, all-over-the-map choreography, and uncertainty about whether the show should be one- or three-dimensional keep the doors firmly locked. The same indecision can be seen in Scott Pask’s set, which sometimes look like a Laugh In leftover and at other times like it belongs in, well, any other Neil Simon play; Bruce Pask’s costumes also alternate rockily between subdued and zany. Only Donald Holder’s lights paint a consistent picture throughout. Read the full review.
Yesterday, Hunter and Sutton Foster announced the nominees for the 60th annual Outer Critics Circle Awards, which honor the best in Broadway and Off-Broadway theatre. Winners will be announced on May 27 here on the blog. Here are this year’s musical theater nominees:
Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
The Scottsboro Boys
Tin Pan Alley Rag
Outstanding New Score (Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
The Scottsboro Boys
Outstanding Set Design (Play or Musical)
John Lee Beatty, The Royal Family
Beowulf Boritt, Sondheim on Sondheim
Phelim McDermott & Julian Crouch, The Addams Family
Donyale Werle, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Outstanding Costume Design (Play or Musical)
Jane Greenwood, Present Laughter
Martin Pakledinaz, Lend Me a Tenor
Matthew Wright, La Cage aux Folles
Catherine Zuber, The Royal Family
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Kevin Chamberlin, The Addams Family
Christopher Fitzgerald, Finian’s Rainbow
Levi Kreis, Million Dollar Quartet
Dick Latessa, Promises, Promises
Bobby Steggert, Ragtime
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Carolee Carmello, The Addams Family
Katie Finneran, Promises, Promises
Angela Lansbury, A Little Night Music
Cass Morgan, Memphis
Terri White, Finian’s Rainbow
The reviews for Sondheim on Sondheim are in and though they adore Barbara Cook and hearing from the man himself, the critics were underwhelmed. It’s a show for folks who worship Sondheim – a crowd that will eat up anything touched by the man – but for those who don’t see him as “God,” the poor arrangements, pacing and heavy-handedness may leave them wanting more.
New York Post
Thank God for Stephen Sondheim. Not just for his songs, but for his running commentary, which punctuates the new revue “Sondheim on Sondheim” at regular intervals. Funny, informative, occasionally self-deprecating and often deeply touching, his insights — shown on moving video screens — have more life than the wan performances onstage. Indeed, even with such skilled interpreters as Barbara Cook and Vanessa Williams on board, the numbers flatline. The visuals are theater, the music is glorified cabaret. Read the full review.
The Wall Street Journal
In addition to being a great songwriter, Stephen Sondheim is the object of a cult, the members of which are gathering nightly at Studio 54 to take part in a religious ceremony disguised as a revue… The handsomely mounted results suggest a cross between a PBS documentary and a lecture-recital and at times are almost as interesting, though the galvanizing presence of Barbara Cook (who is returning to Broadway after a 37-year absence) and the ever-excellent Tom Wopat helps to keep the ball rolling. Read the full review.
New York Times
“Sondheim on Sondheim” … is a chipper, haphazard anthology show that blends live performance of Sondheim songs with archival video footage and taped interviews with Himself. Conceived and directed by James Lapine, Mr. Sondheim’s frequent (and, to me, best) collaborator over the years, this somewhat jittery production never quite finds a sustained tone, a natural rhythm or even a logical sense of sequence. It does, however, have a polished and likable eight-member cast (that includes Tom Wopat, Vanessa Williams and the great Barbara Cook); a savory selection of Sondheim material that never made it to Broadway as well as canonic standards; and heaping spoonfuls of insider dope about the creation of shows like “Company” and “Follies” and the changes they underwent on the road. And then there is Mr. Sondheim, who appears in appropriately larger-than-life form on artistically arranged monitors, typically concealing as much as he reveals in quick takes of self-portraiture. Read the full review.
Unfortunately, much of the show’s first act borders on the offensive in the way it often features annoying too-cute medleys and otherwise ill-reconceived approaches to Sondheim’s work. In the considerably better second act, however, the singers are allowed to warble most of their gorgeous material in a more rewarding fashion. Cook — whose glorious soprano is marked nowadays by tarnished glory — delivers “In Buddy’s Eyes” and “Send in the Clowns” as if giving a master-class in the art of music-comedy interpretation… For many audience members, Sondheim talking about himself — easily and articulately as it happens – is the show’s major selling-point. Read the full review.
Time Out New York
Is it a live PBS documentary about Stephen Sondheim, with vocal illustrations? Or is it a revue of Sondheim’s peerless catalog, with annotations from the author? And if the latter, is it meant to proselytize to neophytes, or to preach to Sondheim’s existing congregation? Some of the show…seems clearly aimed at the cognoscenti… On the other hand, if the show is being pitched to those best equipped to catch it, then what can explain some of the cheesier industrial-style staging and college-singing-group arrangements—or, for that matter, the central casting?… Frustrations notwithstanding, Sondheim on Sondheim remains an enjoyable evening at the theater. Read the full review.
New York Magazine
Have you ever been to an office retirement bash, one of those extravaganzas set up for a company’s beloved founder?… Well, blow that event up to Broadway scale, and you get Sondheim on Sondheim, a celebration of the musical theater’s greatest composer and lyricist. It’s a light revue assembled by his longtime collaborator James Lapine, one in which the composer himself introduces most of the songs, VH1 Storytellers style, in onscreen snippets projected behind the performers. If you are even slightly inclined toward Sondheimianism, you will find yourself comfy and cozy here, but you won’t be challenged much either. If you’re a hater, you will likely find yourself only partway persuaded of his greatness. And if you’re really deep into the cult, you’ve heard all the anecdotes before—but I doubt that you’ll mind one more go-around. Read the full review.
Los Angeles Times
Barbara Cook brings her shimmering timelessness to “Sondheim on Sondheim,” a full-scale (if seldom full-throttle) celebration of our greatest living musical theater songwriter…Conceived and directed by James Lapine…this latest salute is a peculiar hybrid, part video documentary, part elegantly mounted revue. But basically, it’s an entertainment for hard-core Sondheim fanatics who would rather hear the Ethel Merman song that was cut from “Gypsy” than the classic numbers that remain. If you’re a connoisseur of the more obscure reaches of the catalog and thrill at the prospect of getting a behind-the-scenes tour of the music by the master himself, this is the show for you. Read the full review.
The Associated Press
There are a lot of wonderful moments, some intensely personal, in “Sondheim on Sondheim,” the Roundabout Theatre Company’s revelatory revue celebrating Stephen Sondheim’s theatrical career. But nothing quite tops other cast members sitting quietly on stage and listening to Barbara Cook sing “Send in the Clowns.” Cook’s exquisite rendition of Sondheim’s best-known song demonstrates the essence of musical theater: an expert performer capturing the emotional truth found in a perfect blending of words and music. Read the full review.
Musical plays are easy; revues are hard. You still have to satisfy all those pesky Aristotelian needs, but you don’t have story and character to help you out. Fortunately, conceiver-director James Lapine has come up with a fertile premise for “Sondheim on Sondheim”: the great man comes to us. Who wouldn’t want to spend an evening with Broadway’s musical-theater Shakespeare discussing his work and dishing about his experiences? Through the magic of Peter Flaherty’s video design, imaginatively integrated with Beowulf Borritt’s gorgeous abstract set based on rectangular shapes suggestive of Scrabble tiles, “Sondheim” engages and entrances as much through the songwriter’s chatty, intimate patter as through the top-drawer performances of the gifted eight-person cast. The resulting show is wise, warm, witty, and entirely wonderful. Read the full review.
Win a pair of tickets to see Smokey Joe’s Café at The Papermill Playhouse. To enter, simply leave a comment below stating why you love musical theater.
The winner will be chosen using random.org on Friday, April 23. Be sure to include your email address below so we can contact you if you’ve won.
Smokey Joe’s Café is licensed through R&H Theatricals. To put on a production of Smokey Joe’s Café visit www.rnh.com
AND THE WINNER IS … Samantha Coleman!
Not you? Never fear! We’ve got another exciting ticket giveaway coming soon and our Phantom of the Opera CD Giveaway runs through June 1.
The reviews for the Green Day album-turned-musical, American Idiot, have come out and critics were quite pleased with the production, with a few reservations. Some called it the best musical of the season (and even of the 21st century), while others were a bit more discerning – pointing to a thin plot covered up by spectacle, lights and sound. They do all agree on one thing – this musical, following in the footsteps of Hair and Spring Awakening, is a rock-opera unlike anything Broadway audiences have seen before.
The New York Times
In any case the music is thrilling: charged with urgency, rich in memorable melody and propulsive rhythms that sometimes evolve midsong. The orchestrations by Tom Kitt… move from lean and mean to lush, befitting the tone of each number. Even if you are unfamiliar with Green Day’s music, you are more likely to emerge from this show humming one of the guitar riffs than you are to find a tune from The Addams Family tickling your memory. But the emotion charge that the show generates is as memorable as the music. American Idiot jolts you right back to the dizzying roller coaster of young adulthood, that turbulent time when ecstasy and misery almost seem interchangeable states, flip sides of the coin of exaltation. It captures with a piercing intensity that moment in life when everything seems possible, and nothing seems worth doing, or maybe it’s the other way around. Read Full Review
Undoubtedly the best new musical of the season…Green Day’s songs are what propel the narrative, and they are ingeniously employed, sometimes in rather unexpected ways…American Idiot perhaps most resembles Hair, insomuch as it showcases one stunning song after another with just a loose narrative frame to hold it together, and a clear emotional throughline…But while Armstrong’s lyrics are laced with pessimism, the music is often buoyantly exuberant, which is one of the main reasons it succeeds as an amazing theatrical experience. Read Full Review
American Idiot, the show, delivers a thick, gorgeous head rush of a musical soundscape without current Broadway parallel. It turns out to offer the kind of sensual lushness that a lot more traditional musicals would kill to emulate. That’s mostly due to the brilliance of Tom Kitt’s orchestrations, adding violin, cello, weight and gravitas to the Green Day sound without blunting its aggressive edge. With the gifted director Michael Mayer spreading his eight-member band out across a beautifully cacophonous setting — more a video-filled installation, really — from Christine Jones that evokes a constant blaring of Fox News in an endless sea of 7-Eleven parking lots and crappy urban apartments, you get a stunning musical wash of all corners of human emotion. Read Full Review
Doris Lessing once said that every generation thinks that it discovered sex. The same could be said for drugs and rock ’n’ roll. The new Broadway musical American Idiot can have nothing especially new to reveal about any of these subjects but it does reinvent them in such a way as to make them once again feel a little more dangerous and a lot more alive. Read Full Review
The book fails to develop these characters beyond their initial conflicts, and it wouldn’t hurt to have more than a few diary entries from Johnny to guide us. Nevertheless, the dynamic score—the jagged lyrics are by Armstrong, who also composed the driving music, with Mike Dirnt and Trè Cool—leads us into the frazzled psyches of an aimless portion of America’s Generation Y. Tom Kitt, credited with musical supervision, arrangements, and orchestrations, builds a bridge between the worlds of rock and Broadway by making the songs accessible to general audiences without losing the chest-slamming intensity. Read Full Review
If Spring Awakening was the birth of genuine rock musicals on Broadway, then American Idiot is its worthy son. Not as groundbreaking or original as its precocious papa in 2006, the punk-pop opera based on Green Day’s multiplatinum album is an exuberant assault – a slick and tough 95-minute package of alienated suburban youth, media overstimulation and seamless, high-concept theatricality. Read Full Review
The Hollywood Reporter
Although the original concept album is reasonably cohesive, it’s a thin premise on which to base a musical, and the show’s book, by the band’s Billie Joe Armstrong and director Michael Mayer, doesn’t manage to flesh it out sufficiently. Telling its story largely through music and movement with only a smattering of dialogue, “Idiot” never manages to make us care about the fate of its thinly drawn characters. Still, there’s a lot of passion onstage, and Mayer has provided the sort of propulsive staging that helps put the material over. Read Full Review
The first great musical of the 21st century… it’s not just one more trendy flash-in-the-pan, but the climax of a journey towards a rock Parnassus that the American musical theatre has been on for these past 40 years. Read Full Review
Even with Gallagher thrashing around at its center, American Idiot satisfies in spite of all that’s working against it — including the passage of time (and a presidency) that’s rendered much of its discontent obsolete. Yet the establishment of a new government and its new outlook on America and its future has not been a universal salve, so the young’s quest for absolution and understanding continues. Whether this will be their musical remains to be seen. That it otherwise seems to be everyone’s, in spite of being no real musical at all, is the kind of maddening, exciting contradiction only the theatre can engender. Read Full Review
The musical, which opened Tuesday at the St. James Theatre, is short, some 95 minutes. Just right for an MTV generation weaned on YouTube clips and music videos. “American Idiot,” in fact, plays like one. Wildly diverting to look it, the show has the barest wisp of a story and minimal character development. At best, its slacker guys are sketchy portraits, prototypes rather than real people. Fortunately, there are compensations, most notably the show’s highly theatrical, punk-rock score, sung by a high-energy cast, headed by John Gallagher Jr. The gifted actor, a Tony winner for Spring Awakening, portrays Johnny, the show’s petulant antihero who flees a deadening suburbia and descends into sex, drugs and fierce guitar playing in his quest to find himself in the big city. Read Full Review
American Idiot — a new musical built around the songbook of the popular alternative-rock trio, which opened Tuesday night at the St. James Theatre — suggests that as the foundation of melodic drama, the rebellious-youth thing is getting old. Presented in a visually dazzling package, with coolly aggressive dance steps and the group’s exhilarating songs, the show qualifies as a pulsating album in three dimensions, a gallery of zestfully choreographed music videos. The 90 minutes make for such stimulating spectacle, I would happily sit through them again. And yet, in its attempt to knit a story out of a band’s discography, American Idiot comes across as ordinary. Too many other productions of recent vintage have taken us over this same rocky terrain, the landscape of youthful alienation. It’s surprising how a show with enough imaginative candlepower to light a stadium can appear to have invested so little energy in illuminating its characters, or devising an involving narrative. Read Full Review
The result, though vivid and lurid and imaginatively depraved, is also somewhat inarticulate, spraying its boilerplate discontent at no one in particular, with a lotta standard-issue bitching about The Media and The Man. At least the Spring Awakening crew had onstage clueless grown-ups to rebel against. Of the two dudes who actually get off the couch (seriously, the third one spends the whole rest of the show there, literally drinking bong water, his girl and their newborn baby eventually fleeing in disgust), Johnny (played by breakout SA star John Gallagher Jr.) gets hooked on drugs and does the usual hooked-on-drugs stuff, while Tunny (the excellently named Stark Sands) is enraptured by a charismatic, all-American, media-saturating beefcake dude into joining the Armed Forces and heading off to the Middle East, where he immediately loses his leg and does not-at-all-usual lost-my-leg-in-the-Middle-East stuff—namely, a Peter Pan–style, cable-assisted midair ballet tangle with a nurse who strips off her burka to reveal Princess Jasmine’s outfit from Disney’s Aladdin. To the tune of “Extraordinary Girl.” Read Full Review
NY Daily News
If you’re content to just let the pop-rock and color and lights sweep you up, you’re going to have a good time. But don’t go expecting a plot with any edge or richness… You won’t get any of that. So while it misses at being a breakthrough musical, Idiot could be called a breakneck event – if just for the insistent beat that turns audiences into noggin-nodding bobbleheads. You don’t see that at South Pacific. Read Full Review
Remember the aughts? Or naughts? Or whatever we finally decided to call those crappy Bush years? No? Then you, my friend, are the target audience for American Idiot, Michael Mayer’s dizzyingly miscalculated adaptation of the excellent 2004 concept album by the pop-punk band Green Day. But this musical—a half-exploitative, half-lobotomized attempt to fake a youthgasm—has none of the power of that album, coming as it does from a now-middle-aged rocker (composer, book writer, and Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong) and director (Mayer, who proposed and co-conceived this embarrassing feedback loop in the afterglow of Spring Awakening’s success). It’s a self-described “rock opera” set in a self-created “Recent Past,” and it purports to evoke, with a single tear and a power chord, the confusing days of the terror-stricken early 21st century, when we yo-yoed from cowed powerlessness to inchoate fury. Well, confusing and inchoate this show most definitely is: Its version of youthful anomie is so far off the mark, and such a muddled conflation of vague Gen-X nostalgia and generic rebellion sample tracks, that the effect is almost comical. But mostly just irritating. Read Full Review