Archive for April, 2010
The 2010 Drama League nominees have been announced. Chosen by a group of theater professionals and patrons, these include both On and Off-Broadway New York productions. Winners will be announced on May 21. Without further ado, here are the musical theater nominees:
Distinguished Production of a Musical
Distinguished Revival of a Musical
Distinguished Performance Award
Barbara Cook, Sondheim on Sondheim
Brandon Victor Dixon, The Scottsboro Boys
Katie Finneran, Promises, Promises
John Gallagher Jr., American Idiot
Montego Glover, Memphis
Kelsey Grammer, La Cage aux Folles
Lance Guest, Million Dollar Quartet
Dean Hayes, Promises, Promises
The Ensemble of Brief Encounter
Douglas Hodge, La Cage aux Folles
Levi Kreis, Million Dollar Quartet
Nathan Lane, The Addams Family
Angela Lansbury, A Little Night Music
Jim Norton, Finian’s Rainbow
Karine Plantadit, Come Fly Away
Bobby Steggert, Ragtime, Yank!
Tony Vincent, American Idiot
Benjamin Walker, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Vanessa Williams, Sondheim on Sondheim
Catherine Zeta-Jones, A Little Night Music
Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre
The verdict is unanimous: This scaled-down mounting of La Cage Aux Folles, a transfer from London’s Mernier Chocolate Factory, is a lovely, fun and nuanced take on the campy original. Doglass Hodge lived up to all expectations – blowing away every reviewer, particularly in his performance of “I Am What I Am” – and Kelsey Grammer exceeded what had been expected from him – using his voice (which is far better than anyone had supposed) and subtlety to balance Hodge’s (appropriately) over-the-top performance. And the two stars are backed up by a solid ensemble and hilarious supporting cast. As one reviewer said, this show leaves you feeling that “the best of times IS now.”
New York Times
“The ladies of the chorus from “La Cage aux Folles” have never looked more appealing than they do in the warm, winning production that opened Sunday night at the Longacre Theater… This deliberately disheveled show…is a far cry from the high-gloss original production of 1983 or the glamorous, soulless revival that opened less than six years ago… That’s partly because of the stylish yin and yang of its stars… Mr. Hodge, who originated the part [of Albin] in the London revival, brings a fluttery hyperintensity to the role that recharges it… You don’t realize how much pain and anger have gone into this self-construction until you hear him do “I Am What I Am,” the show’s signature anthem, at the end of the first act. Mr. Hodge breathes fire here, his hitherto scratchy, campy voice growing into a white-hot blaze. It is — and who’d a thunk it? — the most electric interpretation of a song on Broadway right now. Mr. Grammer provides the ideal counterpoint to this hysterical creature, in a cool, modest performance that has its own sneaky charm. That his singing voice is correspondingly quiet, with no muscle-flexing baritone bravado, makes Georges’s over-ripe sentimental ballads (“Look Over There,” “Song on the Sand”) palatable and even touching in their unaffected sincerity.” Read the full La Cage Aux Folles review.
“[Douglas Hodge] is giving the most exuberant musical-comedy performance of the season. Hodge is the primary reason this riotously funny and, yes, emotionally affecting revival of the Jerry Herman-Harvey Fierstein musical has returned to Broadway only five years after its last New York appearance. Yet there is more to the show than Hodge’s star-making performance. “La Cage,” which opened Sunday at Broadway’s Longacre Theatre, has been imaginatively reconceived by director Terry Johnson… Grammer has a surprisingly sturdy singing voice and an ingratiating stage manner, just right for the calm — well, relatively calm — voice of reason in the chorus of quirky, high-spirited characters who populate Fierstein’s plot of filial devotion.” Read the full La Cage Aux Folles review.
“Why bring back “La Cage aux Folles” — a major hit musical of the 1983-84 Broadway season, but certainly not a classic like “Gypsy” or “Fiddler on the Roof” — only five years after its first Broadway revival? Especially when that 2004-05 stint proved a tired and unnecessary affair, suggesting that the original production (with its six Tony Awards) was stronger than the material. The producers of this new edition, which premiered at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory in 2007, have a convincing answer: It’s funny, heartwarming and terrific.” Read the full La Cage Aux Folles review.
“Attending a performance of this La Cage, which opened Sunday at the Longacre Theatre, is a bit like spending an afternoon with an overactive but thoroughly charming child. An import of London’s Menier Chocolate Factory, the production retains one of its original stars: the British trouper Douglas Hodge, who won an Olivier Award for his portrayal of Albi… But if Hodge has some beautifully nuanced moments, he can also milk Zaza’s camp value, and that of the show, to distraction… Fortunately, Grammer settles into a more natural, endearing interpretation, and he and Hodge, for all their winking gestures, capably illustrate the affection and devotion binding this couple. They’re abetted, under Terry Johnson’s giddy direction, by a number of entertaining supporting performances… They all seem to be having a swell time, as will you — so long as you can keep up with them.” Read the full La Cage Aux Folles review.
“The show, newly revived on Broadway under the thoughtful direction of Terry Johnson, proves to be surprisingly sturdy… Hodge is practically perfect as the fey Albin, a tricky role in which an actor could easily slip into caricature or sentimentality. Hodge manages a careful balance, delivering a performance that is both hilarious and heartfelt; his character is admittedly over the top, but he always feels real. As his partner, the La Cage manager Georges, Kelsey Grammer proves to be an equal partner in carrying the show… Hodge and Grammer provide a solid grounding for the show, but the rest of the cast offers all the flourishes you’d expect from a show rooted in drag performance.” Read the full La Cage Aux Folles review.
“The chorus of six long-limbed drag queens in the latest Broadway revival of Jerry Herman’s “La Cage aux Folles” is half that of two earlier outings… Yet unlike the shrunken revivals of other big Broadway musicals, this one makes sense. Terry Johnson’s smart, tight, rough-edged and slightly tacky production gets closer to the sort of scene one might actually find in a transvestite club on the French Riviera… The box-office draw is Kelsey Grammer, of TV’s “Frasier,” as Georges, the soigne master of ceremonies. The main reason for seeing the show is Douglas Hodge as Albin, the aging headliner and Georges’s partner of 20 years.” Read the full La Cage Aux Folles review.
Next to Normal has officially won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, lauded by the jury for “expand[ing] the scope of subject matter for musicals.”
The musical joins the ranks of Of Thee I Sing, South Pacific, Fiorello, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, A Chorus Line, Sunday in the Park with George and Rent as one of the few musicals to earn the esteemed award.
Nominated finalists in the category were the plays The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo by Rajiv Joseph and In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play, but “after a three-fourths vote, the prize went to a musical that had not been nominated by the jury.”
Exciting stuff, no? Congrats to Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey!
Million Dollar Quartet, the Chicago transfer about a recording session featuring Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, opened on Broadway last night and the critics were slightly split, but generally positive. Yes, they admit, the show does have elements of past jukebox musicals, but an amazing score and the fantastic musical skills of the actors portraying these personalities set it apart from the fray and will keep audiences coming for a good long time.
The New York Times
The prime asset of “Million Dollar Quartet,” written by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux and directed by Eric Schaeffer, is the explosive vitality of the music making…. Gifted musicians and likable performers, they tackle with no apparent discomfort the unenviable chore of impersonating some of the most revered names in pop music, from their slick pompadours right down to their frisky, agile fingertips. Read the full review.
The Hollywood Reporter
Bottom Line: Good rockin’ tonight, indeed…. This wildly entertaining show wonderfully captures the spirit of these seminal figures who would go on to change the course of popular music…. The four actor-musicians deliver rousing versions of nearly two dozen classic songs. Yes, the evening occasionally borders on becoming another “Legends in Concert,” but the terrific musicianship and incisive characterizations on display offset the Vegas-style atmosphere of the proceedings. Read the full review.
When the curtain call is the most exciting part of a show, it’s definitely a problem. Such is the case with “Million Dollar Quartet,” the latest attempt to turn pop nostalgia into Broadway box-office gold…. This jukebox musical attempts to spin a showbiz anecdote about larger-than-life figures at a recording session into a full-blown theatrical experience…. Judging by the show’s success in Chicago, where it has been playing for over a year, the audience for “Million Dollar Quartet” is probably more interested in hearing the hits of their youth than in experiencing a solid dramatic arc, so look for it to make at least the title sum from the Broadway and inevitable touring productions. Read the full review.
The big question about this latest jukebox musical concerns whether it is really a Broadway show in any real dramatic sense, or just a way to squeeze money from the back catalogs of four rock superstars…. The vocal performances are mostly impressive, particularly as the four instrument-playing impersonators act as their own on-stage orchestra…. The trouble begins when the singing stops. Read the full review.
That’s right, it’s time for another massive news roundup. There’s a lot to catch up on, so without any further ado, here we go…
The Broadway premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies will open at the Neil Simon Theater in the spring of 2011 due to some health complications of ALW’s part. The show, which was to open on Broadway in November of 2011, has been playing to somewhat mixed reviews on the West End. The big buzz about the delay is in regards to Jack O’Brien (director) and Jerry Mitchell (choreographer) because…
Catch Me If You Can is officially opening on Broadway in the spring of 2011! Producers Hal Luftig and Margo Lion have confirmed that rehearsals for the show that premiered at Seattle’s 5th Avenue will begin in January. A theatre and the exact dates of production have not yet been announced, but O’Brien and Mitchell are on board, and it is assumed that the big names associated with the production (Aaron Tveit, Tom Wopat, Norbert Leo Butz) will be headliners.
Another exciting transfer is that of Yank!, the Off-Broadway hit that just closed at the York Theater Company. Producers Pamela Koslow and Karl Held have announced plans to bring the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ G.I. musical to the Great White Way during the 2010-11 season. No news as to whether Bobby Steggert and Ivan Hernandez will repeat the roles they originated on Broadway.
Another Off-Broadway hit, Sherie Rene Scott’s Everyday Rapture is headed to Broadway thanks to Megan Mullally’s sudden and late departure from Lips Together, Teeth Apart. Everyday Rapture will open on April 29, 2010, so it will be in the running for this year’s Tony Awards.
The other sudden departure was that of the show All About Me, which, after being panned harshly by critics, ended its Broadway run after only 20 performances. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call a flop.
But enough depressing news…here’s some happy news:
- Next to Normal officially recouped its investment!
- Henry Miller’s Theatre was renamed in Stephen Sondheim’s honor!
- John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch may be headed to Broadway in the fall!
And yes, it’s not technically Broadway, but since so many Off-Broadway shows are transferring these days, I thought it worth mentioning that Bloody Bloddy Andrew Jackson, a new musical about the guy you talked about in history class is generating nothing but great buzz. If you want to see it while the price is right, get over to the Public Theatre ASAP.
The reviews for The Addams Family are in…and the critics were nonplussed that a production starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth could fail so completely. Lacking memorable songs and containing humorless jokes, buzz about the show was slightly on the negative side before opening, but ouch! Just read what they had to say:
New York Times Review
Imagine, if you dare, the agonies of the talented people trapped inside the collapsing tomb called “The Addams Family.” Being in this genuinely ghastly musical — which opened Thursday night at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater and stars a shamefully squandered Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth — must feel like going to a Halloween party in a strait-jacket or a suit of armor. Sure, you make a flashy (if obvious) first impression. But then you’re stuck in the darn thing for the rest of the night, and it’s really, really uncomfortable. Why, you can barely move, and a strangled voice inside you keeps gasping, “He-e-e-lp! Get me out of here!”… A tepid goulash of vaudeville song-and-dance routines, Borscht Belt jokes, stingless sitcom zingers and homey romantic plotlines that were mossy in the age of “Father Knows Best,” “The Addams Family” is most distinctive for its wholesale inability to hold on to a consistent tone or an internal logic. Read the full review.
Wall Street Journal Review
If you’re a New Yorker with children, or if you’re bringing the family to Manhattan this summer, you’ll have to go to “The Addams Family.” It won’t kill you. You’ll laugh a lot, though never during the unmemorable songs, which are supposed to be funny but aren’t. You’re more than likely to spend a considerable part of the evening wondering how much the set cost. And as you depart the theater, you’ll probably catch yourself wondering whether it was really, truly worth it to take your kids to a goodish musical whose tickets are so expensive that you can buy an iPad for less than the price of four orchestra seats. Read the full review.
“The Addams Family” — the 1960s sitcom, that is — was famously kooky, spooky and altogether ooky. The new Broadway musical, based not on the sitcom but on assorted one-panel cartoons drawn over the years by the New Yorker’s Charles Addams, is kooky but not spooky or ooky; nor is it neat, sweet or petite (as the song goes). What this “Addams Family” has is the gloweringly perfect Nathan Lane, who gamely thrusts Gomez’s rapier at anything — or any joke — that moves. But $16.5 million has brought forth an ill-formed one-dimensional cartoon with lines and shading not quite inked in. Read the full review.
Hollywood Reporter Review
Bottom Line: Even the talents of Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth can’t make this musical adaptation of the familiar property more than just ho-hum. Read the full review.
The Faster Times Review
Everything about the beginning of “The Addams Family: A New Musical”…promises a familiar, funny, even exciting night at the theater. Why, I wondered, did this terrific show get such terrible word-of-mouth? As “The Addams Family” progressed, however, my reaction changed. I experienced what might be called the six stages of musical mortification: excitement, expectation, impatience, disbelief, distraction, disappointment. When, shortly after the beginning of Act II, Uncle Fester asks the audience directly “What happens now? Can this be repaired? Or do you all leave in an hour feeling vaguely depressed?” he was not just talking about the complications in the story up to that point. Unintentionally or as an inside joke, he was also referring to the musical itself. Read the full review.
Do you think the show deserved to get so exhaustively panned?