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 Reviews

The Reviews for On the Town are in…

17ONTOWN-master675

The reviews for On the Town are in, and the critics agree that this is one helluva revival!  Director John Rando has created a fresh, fun, and bouncy New York that only appears in the eyes of excited newcomers and the dreams of long-time citizens — it’s the American capital of opportunity.  Choreography by Joshua Bergasse matches the aesthetic, creating a wholesome, exciting magic that spreads to every seat in the Lyric Theater.  Of course it doesn’t hurt that the stars of the show deliver serious star performances – Tony Yazbeck is a dazzling lead sailor and Megan Fairchild, of the New York City Ballet, is captivating as the owner of his heart.  On the Town offers a night of delightful (and harmless) skirt-chasing and takes you to the New York you dreamed about as a child.

NEW YORK TIMES

“And now, a show about sex that you can take the whole family to: the kids, the grandparents, even your sister the nun. That idea may sound kind of creepy, or (worse) dreary. But I assure you that the jubilant revival of On the Town, which opened Thursday night at the Lyric Theater, is anything but. On the cont…”

Read the Full Review

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

“Three footloose sailors aren’t the only ones who get lucky in On the Town. The audience does, too. Director John Rando has assembled a great cast for this fizzy and frisky revival of the 1944 musical by Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Leonard Bernstein. Tracing a tale of World War II tars on leave in the bi…”

Read the Full Review

ASSOCIATED PRESS

“The webs have been swept away, the comic book villains are long gone and even the name of the theater has changed. So what better way to bid farewell to the doomed Spider-Man musical at the re-christened Lyric Theatre than with a pure American classic? An exuberant, dazzling revival of On the Town…”

Read the Full Review

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“A glorious 28-piece orchestra playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in front of a giant American flag safety curtain has the audience on its feet before On the Town gets started. But it’s the jagged blasts of brass, the languorously bluesy romantic ballads and the exuberant comedy numbers of Leonard Bernstein’s jazzy…”

Read the Full Review

NBC NEW YORK

“Living in New York City, day in and day out, it’s easy to forget the fun of experiencing it all for the first time. The wonder of looking up at the skyscrapers from the streets below. The excitement of being among the diversity of its residents. It’s the sort of childlike discovery that makes even a crowded subway seem…”

Read the Full Review

The Reviews for Holler If You Hear Me are In…

20HOLLER-master675

The reviews for Holler If You Hear Me are in, and unfortunately the critics don’t think anyone will holler for this new jukebox musical based on songs of the late rapper Tupac Shakur.  The critics almost universally recognize the power of Tupac’s lyrics and the strength of the song performances, but they can’t get past the poor story and over-emphasized presentation.  Recent Tony-winning director Kenny Leon leads the charge and seemingly isn’t confident that the public can pick up on the themes of the story.  The result is an “overwrought” and “well-intentioned but toothless” musical about life on the streets, violence, hard knocks, and second chances.  Critics believe that it may leave fans of Tupac unsatisfied and fans of Broadway wondering “…why?”.  It’s true that Broadway is due for a hip-hop musical that will set the industry ablaze, but unfortunately Holler If You Hear Me doesn’t seem to be the one.

NEW YORK TIMES

“The beats are sweet, and the words often have an electric charge in Holler if Ya Hear Me, a new Broadway musical inspired by the lyrics of the popular but troubled rapper Tupac Shakur, who was shot and killed at 25 in Las Vegas in 1996. Unfortunately, much else about this ambitious show, which opened on Thursday at the Palace Theater, feels heartfelt but heavy-handed, as it punches home its message with a relentlessness that may soon leave you numb to the tragic story it’s trying to tell. Written by Todd Kreidler and directed by Kenny Leon, a Tony winner this year for the revival of A Raisin in the Sun, the show admirably yanks the jukebox musical, which has mostly been mired in the hit parade of the baby-boomer years, into the last decade of the 20th century. It was then that Shakur’s raw, propulsive music struck a powerful chord, especially among disaffected black (and white) youth living in poverty amid explosive violence, while America was supposedly firing on all economic cylinders.”

Read the Full Review

NBC NEW YORK

“It’s a safe bet that a swath of theatergoers has steered clear of hip-hop—at least, the kind not scripted by In the Heights composer Lin-Manuel Miranda—because it’s gritty, racy and has a perception problem in some quarters. If that’s you, then Holler If Ya Hear Me, the Broadway musical “inspired by” the lyrics of Tupac Shakur, is a chance to correct a grave omission. If, however, you’ve been on the Tupac train all along, then Holler, which has just opened at The Palace Theatre, is a banner opportunity to stand in awe of a rich canon that, it’s difficult to grasp, originated with a man who died at only 25.”

Read the Full Review

TIME OUT NEW YORK

“In theory, hip-hop ought to have a bigger presence in mainstream music-theater by now: Broadway showstoppers have never been short on rhyme, syncopation or populist sentiment. Practice is a different matter. While there have been rap-rich musicals (In the Heights), the fusion of hip-hop and razzle-dazzle has been tricky at best, tacky at worst. The latest attempt is Holler if Ya Hear Me, a ghetto-not-so-fabulous repurposing of songs by Tupac Shakur (1971–96) for a ramshackle morality tale about revenge and second chances.”

Read the Full Review

ASSOCIATED PRESS

“Broadway has had a punk jukebox musical with Green Day songs and one featuring harmonies by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. There’s a jukebox show with Abba songs and a new Carole King one. Now it’s time for rap. Holler If Ya Hear Me is the intriguing musical inspired by songs by Tupac Shakur, one of hip-hop’s greatest artists who wrote about the ugly life in the drug-fueled mean streets before dying of gunshot wounds in 1996. The high-energy, deeply felt but ultimately overwrought production opened Thursday in a blaze of N-words at the Palace Theatre, proving both that rap deserves its moment to shine on a Broadway stage and that some 20 Shakur songs can somehow survive the transformation — barely.”

Read the Full Review

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“John Singleton can relax. Any danger of his long-in-development Tupac Shakur biopic being beaten to the punch by Holler If Ya Hear Me is quickly dispelled by the deflating experience of this well-intentioned but toothless Broadway rap musical. The show is not a biographical drama but a story of friendship and family, gun violence, racism and redemption in an inner-city black neighborhood, inspired by Shakur’s lyrics and poetry. However, therein lies the problem. The music is often powerful and the performers uniformly capable, but the songs are a poor fit for narrative presentation, at least in writer Todd Kreidler’s cut-and-paste of cliched situations and stock characters.”

Read the Full Review

AWARDS SEASON 2014: Drama Desk Award Nominees

drama

Nominations for the 2014 Annual Drama Desk Awards were announced April 25 at 54 Below by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Fran Drescher.

Awards Announced: June 1, Hosted by Laura Benanti

Follow all of the awards coverage as we live blog, tweet, facebook or view a summary of all things awards at The Broadway Musical Home.

Here are all the nominees:

Outstanding Play
Nell Benjamin, The Explorers Club
Steven Levenson, Core Values
Conor McPherson, The Night Alive
Richard Nelson, Regular Singing
Bruce Norris, Domesticated
Robert Schenkkan, All The Way
John Patrick Shanley, Outside Mullingar

Outstanding Musical
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Aladdin
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Fun Home
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Rocky
The Bridges of Madison County

Outstanding Revival of a Play
I Remember Mama
London Wall
No Man’s Land
Of Mice and Men
The Cripple of Inishmaan
The Model Apartment
Twelfth Night (Shakespeare’s Globe Production)

Outstanding Revival of a Musical
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Les Misérables
Violet

Outstanding Actor in a Play
Bryan Cranston, All The Way
Hamish Linklater, The Comedy of Errors
Ian McKellen, No Man’s Land
David Morse, The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin
Chris O’Dowd, Of Mice and Men
Daniel Radcliffe, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Denzel Washington, A Raisin in the Sun

Outstanding Actress in a Play
Barbara Andres, I Remember Mama
Tyne Daly, Mothers and Sons
Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
Laurie Metcalf, Domesticated
J. Smith-Cameron, Juno and the Paycock
Harriet Walter, Julius Caesar

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Adam Jacobs, Aladdin
Andy Karl, Rocky
Jefferson Mays, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Steven Pasquale, The Bridges of Madison County
Bryce Pinkham, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Sutton Foster, Violet
Idina Menzel, If/Then
Jessie Mueller, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Kelli O’Hara, The Bridges of Madison County
Margo Seibert, Tamar of the River
Barrett Wilbert Weed, Heathers: The Musical

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play
Reed Birney, Casa Valentina
Chuck Cooper, Choir Boy
Peter Maloney, Outside Mullingar
Bobby Moreno, Year of the Rooster
Bill Pullman, The Jacksonian
Brian J. Smith, The Glass Menagerie

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
Betty Buckley, The Old Friends
Julia Coffey, London Wall
Diane Davis, The Model Apartment
Celia Keenan-Bolger, The Glass Menagerie
Jan Maxwell, The Castle
Sophie Okonedo, A Raisin in the Sun

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Danny Burstein, Cabaret
Nick Cordero, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Joshua Henry, Violet
James Monroe Iglehart, Aladdin
Rory O’Malley, Nobody Loves You
Bobby Steggert, Big Fish

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Stephanie J. Block, Little Miss Sunshine
Anika Larsen, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Adriane Lenox, After Midnight
Sydney Lucas, Fun Home
Laura Osnes, The Threepenny Opera
Jennifer Simard, Disaster!
Lauren Worsham, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

Outstanding Director of a Play
Joe Calarco, A Christmas Carol
Tim Carroll, Twelfth Night
Thomas Kail, Family Furniture
Bill Rauch, All The Way
Anna D. Shapiro, Domesticated
Julie Taymor, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Outstanding Director of a Musical
Sam Gold, Fun Home
Michael Mayer, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Bartlett Sher, The Bridges of Madison County
Susan Stroman, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Alex Timbers, Rocky
Darko Tresnjak, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

Outstanding Choreography
Warren Carlyle, After Midnight
Steven Hoggett, Kelly Devine, Rocky
Danny Mefford, Love’s Labour’s Lost
Casey Nicholaw, Aladdin
Susan Stroman, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Sonya Tayeh, Kung Fu

Outstanding Music
Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County
Andrew Lippa, Big Fish
Steven Lutvak, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Alan Menken, Aladdin
Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe, Heathers: The Musical
Jeanine Tesori, Fun Home

Outstanding Lyrics
Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, and Chad Beguelin, Aladdin
Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County
Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Michael Friedman, Love’s Labour’s Lost
Michael Korie, Far from Heaven
Lisa Kron, Fun Home

Outstanding Book of a Musical
Chad Beguelin, Aladdin
Robert L. Freedman, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, Murder for Two
Lisa Kron, Fun Home
Douglas McGrath, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Marsha Norman, The Bridges of Madison County

Outstanding Orchestrations
Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County
John Clancy, Fun Home
Larry Hochman, Big Fish
Steve Sidwell, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Michael Starobin, If/Then
Jonathan Tunick, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

Outstanding Music in a Play
Lewis Flinn, The Tribute Artist
Elliot Goldenthal, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Rob Kearns, The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle
Tom Kochan, Almost, Maine
Nico Muhly, The Glass Menagerie
Duncan Sheik, A Man’s a Man

Outstanding Revue
After Midnight
I’m a Stranger Here Myself: Musik from the Weimar and Beyond
Le Jazz Hot: How the French Saved Jazz
Til Divorce Do Us Part
What’s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined

Outstanding Set Design
Christopher Barreca, Rocky
Alexander Dodge, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Richard Hoover, Small Engine Repair
Santo Loquasto, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Ian MacNeil, A Doll’s House
Donyale Werle, The Explorers Club

Outstanding Costume Design
Constance Hoffman, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
William Ivey Long, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Zane Pihlstrom, Nutcracker Rouge
Loren Shaw, The Mysteries
Jenny Tiramani, Twelfth Night
David C. Woolard, The Heir Apparent

Outstanding Lighting Design
Christopher Akerlind, Rocky
Jane Cox, Machinal
David Lander, The Civil War
Peter Mumford, King Lear
Brian Tovar, Tamar of the River
Japhy Weideman, Macbeth

Outstanding Projection Design
Robert Massicotte and Alexis Laurence, Cirkopolis
Sven Ortel, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Aaron Rhyne, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Shawn Sagady, All The Way
Austin Switser, Sontag: Reborn Ben Rubin, Arguendo

Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical
Kai Harada, Fun Home
Peter Hylenski, Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical
Peter Hylenski, Rocky
Brian Ronan, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Dan Moses Schreier, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Jon Weston, The Bridges of Madison County

Outstanding Sound Design in a Play
M.L. Dogg, The Open House
Katie Down, The Golden Dragon
Paul James Prendergast, All The Way
Dan Moses Schreier, Act One
Christopher Shutt, Love and Information
Matt Tierney, Machinal

Outstanding Solo Performance
David Barlow, This is My Office
Jim Brochu, Character Man
Hannah Cabell, Grounded
Debra Jo Rupp, Becoming Dr. Ruth
Ruben Santiago-Hudson, August Wilson’s How I Learned What I Learned
John Douglas Thompson, Satchmo at the Waldorf

Unique Theatrical Experience
Charlatan Cirkopolis
Mother Africa
Nothing to Hide
Nutcracker Rouge
The Complete and Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill Vol. 2

Special Awards:

Soho Rep: For nearly four decades of artistic distinction, innovative production, and provocative play selection.

Veanne Cox: For her ability to express the eccentricities, strengths, and vulnerabilities of a range of characters, and notably for her comedic flair as evidenced in this season’s The Old Friends and The Most Deserving.

Ed Sylvanus Iskandar, the Sam Norkin Off-Broadway Award: For his visionary directorial excellence. This season’s The Golden Dragon and The Mysteries exemplify his bold and strikingly original imagination.

To the ensembles of Off-Broadway’s The Open House and Broadway’s The Realistic Joneses and to the creator of both plays, Will Eno: For two extraordinary casts and one impressively inventive playwright.

The Open House: Hannah Bos, Michael Countryman, Peter Friedman Danny McCarthy, and Carolyn McCormick

The Realistic Joneses: Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts and Marisa Tomei

A few notes from the Drama Desk: As the current revival of Cabaret replicates the 1998 production, the Board deemed the show ineligible in the Outstanding Revival of a Musical category, as were performers, creative team members, and technical personnel associated with the earlier incarnation in their respective categories. Soul Doctor was considered for its Off-Broadway production in the 2012-13 season. Under Drama Desk rules, only new elements in its transfer to Broadway were eligible this season. Finally, Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays was deemed ineligible because it was a return engagement of the 2005 Drama Desk winning show.

The Reviews for Cabaret are In…

cabaret

Cabaret has opened in Studio 54, and while the decadent, pre-World War II, night club musical is enjoyed highly by all, most critics needed to pinch themselves to make sure they hadn’t traveled back in time to 1998.  The Roundabout Theater Company production that won such praise the first time around is back and almost entirely unchanged — if you missed it in then, now is your chance to see what all the fuss is/was about!  Alan Cumming returns to play the Emcee, a role for which he won a Tony in 1998, and his performance is every bit as delicious this go around.  Other highlights include the awesome onstage band and the 360-degree design of the Kit Kat Klub setting.  If you didn’t see this production over a decade ago, head to Studio 54. Even if you did see this production over a decade ago, head to Studio 54 — ten years is a long time and you could always use more Cabaret.

NEW YORK TIMES

“Hot diggity dachshund, it’s old home week on the campus at Weimar Berlin, otherwise known as the Kit Kat Klub. And if we take off our glasses and squint, we can pretend that life is just as divinely, dangerously decadent as it was when we were all 16 years younger. Why, here’s that adorably creepy M.C., a little softer around the jaw, maybe (aren’t we all?), but still such a cutup. Look at him pretending to have sex with the school slut. (Or one of them; there were so many.) And isn’t that Sally Bowles over there in the pink boa? Looking good, Sal; love the platinum bob. But why so uptight? Don’t forget what you always said: “Life is … .” Uh, what was it you said again? A little more than 16 years after it first opened, and only a decade after it closed, it feels as if the popular Roundabout Theater Company production of Cabaret never left Studio 54, where it reopened on Thursday night.”

Read the Full Review

TIME OUT NEW YORK

Cabaret is on Broadway again: Willkommen home, you magnificent beast. Originally staged in 1966, then brought to a sordid cinematic life in Bob Fosse’s (heavily adapted) 1972 film, the Kander and Ebb classic was revived and reconfigured anew in Roundabout Theatre Company’s triumphant 1998 account. Now that version has returned with its original star: the supreme Alan Cumming as the Emcee of the Kit Kat Klub, a decadent nightclub in Berlin’s Weimar period. Why so soon? A better question might be: Why not? This Cabaret is a superb production of one of the great Broadway musicals of all time—an exhilarating, harrowing masterpiece.”

Read the Full Review

NBC NEW YORK

“Theatergoers walking into Studio 54 for the now-opened revival of Cabaret might be struck with a case of déjà vu. That’s because the Roundabout Theatre Company has produced an exact restaging of Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall’s 1998 Tony-winning production. From the Playbill cover design to the fringe on the lamps of the tables of the Kit Kat Klub, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a time machine. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s a reason the ‘98 revival was such a big hit, after all. Mendes and Marshall had reimagined John Kander and Fred Ebb’s classic musical, stripping away any glitz and glamor leftover from the 1972 film. Together with book writer Joe Masteroff, they gave us a dark, gritty take on Cabaret that amped up the asexual undertones in John Van Druten’s original play and Christopher Isherwood’s stories, forcing us to see the material in a whole new light.”

Read the Full Review

VARIETY

“Alan Cumming must have sold his soul to the devil to acquire his divinely debauched persona as the Emcee of the Kit Kat Klub in Cabaret. It seemed nuts, but proved shrewd of Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall to retool their dazzling 1998 revival of the Kander and Ebb masterpiece, fit Cumming with a new trenchcoat for his triumphant return, and bring the decadent netherworld of 1920s Berlin back to Studio 54, the revival’s ideal venue. Inspiration flagged, however, in casting Michelle Williams, so soft and vulnerable in My Week With Marilyn, as wild and reckless party girl Sally Bowles. Smoking is verboten at Studio 54. The wait staff is not as scantily clad as the louche boys and girls at the Kit Kat Klub. The patrons aren’t even doing lines on the tables. But other aspects of this infamous club’s setting — the glitzy design of the house, the cabaret seating and drinks service, and the superb audio system for the fantastic onstage band — contribute to the show’s illusion that going out clubbing can still mean living dangerously.”

Read the Full Review

ASSOCIATED PRESS

“Barely sneaking in under the Tony Award nomination deadline this season is a dear old friend to Broadway, the decadent Cabaret. The only appropriate salutation is: willkommen. Not a revival so much as a revival of a revival, this Cabaret — again produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company — opened Thursday night, with only hours to spare before its eligibility expired. Whatever it’s called, it’s as thrilling as ever, a marvel of staging that hasn’t lost its punch. If it looks a lot like the version that ran from 1998-2004, that’s understandable: Alan Cumming is back in his Tony Award-winning role as Emcee and director Sam Mendes and co-director and choreographer Rob Marshall are again pulling the strings on this show about life in pre-World War II Berlin. Orchestrations and costumes — what little there are — also are the same.”

Read the Full Review

HUFFINGTON POST

“Sometimes the melancholy metaphor that claims “You can’t go home again” comes to mind unexpectedly. I’m sorry to say it has too recently occurred to me. It happened at the Studio 54 revival of the 1998 Cabaret so beautifully engineered then by Sam Mendes, Rob Marshall and Cynthia Onrubia. That’s the one that introduced the extraordinary Alan Cumming (also currently Eli Gold on The Good Wife) to Broadway. Let me quickly specify that Cumming, repeating the role that brought him a Tony 16 years ago, is every juicy leer as good now as he was then in his role of the deliciously decadent compere at the Third Reich’s Kit Kat Klub in Berlin, where, we’re assured, life is beautiful and the girls are beautiful. A decade and a half later, he uses the intervening years to supply the slinky fellow with a hint of the weariness that descends after cajoling too many patrons to cheer up over too many cheerless nights.”

Read the Full Review

The Reviews for Hedwig and the Angry Inch are In…

hedwig

And now for something completely different!  The reviewers give the Broadway premier of Hedwig and the Angry Inch two emphatic rock ‘n roll horns and one long, outstretched Gene Simmons tongue.  Neil Patrick Harris owns the central role in this hard rock musical about the gender-mysterious lead singer of a German rock band.  His charisma, confidence, and showmanship match the energy of the ultra-crazy tech effects and his adept handling of struggles balances a personality to which almost no one is similar but everyone can relate.  The John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask musical plays at the Belasco Theatre and is nirvana for those seeking a Broadway night out of a totally different (and much more hard rockin’ and glitter-laden) variety.

NEW YORK TIMES

“Do not be alarmed by recent reports that Neil Patrick Harris, an irresistibly wholesome television presence, has fallen deeply and helplessly into the gap that separates men from women, East from West, and celebrity from notoriety. There’s no need to fear for his safety, much less his identity. Quite the contrary. Playing an “internationally ignored song stylist” of undefinable gender in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Mr. Harris is in full command of who he is and, most excitingly, what he has become with this performance. That’s a bona fide Broadway star, the kind who can rule an audience with the blink of a sequined eyelid.”

Read the Full Review

TIME OUT NEW YORK

“The omnitalented Neil Patrick Harris plays the titular crotch-botched German rock singer in the first Broadway production of John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s genre-bending 1998 rock musical. Transitioning from child star to adult gay icon, sitcom prince and social-media wizard, Neil Patrick Harris always seemed to be a cultural rock star. But in his latest reinvention, it turns out that the actor is, y’know, an actual rock star. As the imperious, spurned, fright-bewigged, sweaty glitterbomb at the heart of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Harris makes Broadway rock harder than it ever has before.”

Read the Full Review

NBC NEW YORK

“If David Belasco’s ghost really does haunt the balcony of his namesake theater off Sixth Avenue, as Neil Patrick Harris declares at the start of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, he is, by now, both deaf and blind. That’s not such a bad thing. If you’ve gotta lose two key senses, I can think of no more auspicious way to bid them auf wiedersehen than via the 95-minute stretch of ear-splitting rock and aggressive strobe-lighting that is the new take on Hedwig, the John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask musical about a rock-and-roll band fronted by an East German singer disfigured in a botched sex change operation.”

Read the Full Review

VARIETY

“The screaming starts when a bespangled Neil Patrick Harris parachutes onstage in Hedwig and the Angry Inch and doesn’t stop until he’s back in his dressing room. That’s the kind of rock-star performance he gives in this spectacular revival — helmed with fabulous flash by Michael Mayer — of the 1998 musical (and later movie) by John Cameron Mitchell (book) and Stephen Trask (music & lyrics). Harris’ Hedwig is an imperfectly transformed transvestite who grew up in East Berlin before the wall came down, resplendent in the punk drag of a nihilistic rocker but still concealing a heap of hurt under her wig.”

Read the Full Review

AM NEW YORK

“Neil Patrick Harris, who appeared on Broadway three times before being scooped up by How I Met Your Mother for nine years, still managed to maintain a regular presence in the theater by hosting the Tony Awards no less than four times. Now that his long-running sitcom has ended, not only is Harris back onstage, he is tackling one of the most outsized, flamboyant and intense musical theater roles ever created in the first Broadway staging of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”

Read the Full Review

ASSOCIATED PRESS

“It’s obvious from the first moments of Hedwig and the Angry Inch that star Neil Patrick Harris is doing something special. And it’s not just trying on a new role. He is lowered to the stage in a jumpsuit and ferociously feathered blond wig and immediately begins the show’s first rock-punk song, getting down on all fours, grinding into the microphone stand or licking the guitarist’s strings. The crowd inside of the Belasco Theatre, where the show opened Tuesday, loses its mind, and why not? “Thank you! Thank you, you’re so sweet,” Harris says. “I do love a warm hand on my entrance.””

Read the Full Review

The Reviews for Violet are in…

violet

The reviews are in, and the critics love Violet and Sutton Foster, version 2.0.  In many ways, Violet and Ms. Foster is an unlikely pair — a deeply emotional musical about a farm girl with a disfigured face doesn’t typically call for a twirling, big-grin, big-Broadway star.  In this story, though, Ms. Foster reveals an ability to capture her character from all angles, revealing hope, vulnerability, despair, defensiveness, and what most critics call prickliness. By all accounts she’s captivating.  The Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley musical is only made more special by the touching story and songs (influenced by the setting of the American South in 1964).  It’s not glitzy or glamorous, and it certainly doesn’t showcase the Sutton Foster you know, but Violet is unique on Broadway and not a show to be missed without good reason.

NEW YORK TIMES

“When Sutton Foster appears on Broadway, she’s usually boasting a sunbeam smile, flapping away in tap shoes, clowning around amiably and generally behaving like a girl determined to nail the talent competition in a beauty pageant, and maybe take home the Miss Congeniality award, too. But pep-allergic people will not need to steel themselves to see the terrific, heart-stirring revival of Violet, the musical by Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley that opened at the American Airlines Theater on Sunday night, starring Ms. Foster in a career-redefining performance. Portraying a young woman from North Carolina desperately hoping an evangelist can pray away the deep scar on her face, Ms. Foster moves into thornier territory than she has occupied before in frothy musicals like Thoroughly Modern MillieThe Drowsy Chaperone and the recent revival of Anything Goes. By the show’s conclusion, her familiar megawatt grin has been unfurled, but the journey to sunrise on this occasion allows Ms. Foster to reveal the full range of her expressive gifts as a musical theater performer. She dazzles with the bright sheen of her voice, yes, and slings wry jokes with the ease of a diner waitress slapping down plates of eggs and grits. But she also brings a prickly emotional intensity to the moving story of a woman grappling with shame, self-delusion and the fear that a deformity will forever leave her standing alone outside the circle of humanity. “

Read the Full Review

TIME OUT NEW YORK

“It took 17 years, but Jeanine Tesori’s beloved musical about a woman with a facial deformity journeying through the 1960s South has made it to Broadway. Featuring the formidable talents of Sutton Foster and Colin Donnell (Anything Goes) and Joshua Henry (The Scottsboro Boys), this bittersweet period piece is directed by Leigh Silverman (Kung Fu). Adapted from Doris Betts’s short story The Ugliest Pilgrim, Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley’s 1997 musical follows the spiky title character on her trek to an Oklahoma faith healer who, she hopes, will remove the grotesque facial scar (invisible to us) that she received from an ax wound years before. It’s the darkest and richest role Foster has played, and she swings with marvelous speed from defensive prickliness to poignant hope.”

Read the Full Review

NBC NEW YORK

“Those expecting to see Sutton Foster belting and tap-dancing her way through her latest Broadway leading-role should be warned: the 39-year-old actress, who won Tonys for her turns in Thoroughly Modern Millie and Anything Goes, provides a restrained, intricate performance inViolet, the Jeanine Tesori-Brian Crawley musical now open at the American Airlines Theatre. It’s a startling turn from the Foster we’re used to seeing, but one that will transfix you all the same. Stripped of any glitzy costumes, wigs or makeup, Foster stands on stage in a plain sundress, her hair uncombed and pushed behind her ears, and breaths life into a complicated, flawed, hopeful character. You’ll feel as though you’re witnessing a star being reborn, 18 years into her career.”

Read the Full Review

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“Broad strokes and big effects often appear to be the default setting for Broadway musicals, so it’s always refreshing to see a modestly scaled show in which the cast and creative team trust in the value of emotional intimacy. Driven by a performance of incandescent yearning from Sutton Foster that’s all the more moving for its restraint, Violet is a delicate wildflower, craning toward the sun. Director Leigh Silverman’s spirited yet sensitive production of Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley’s country, bluegrass and gospel-flavored 1997 musical makes this poignant story of a facially disfigured farm girl’s journey to self-acceptance genuinely uplifting. The revival was hatched out of a one-night-only concert event last summer that drew love-letter reviews for Foster, a triple-threat Broadway baby seen here in a subdued mode. While the production retains a stripped-down feel, Roundabout Theatre Company has given it dimensions that are a perfect fit for the material, set in September 1964 in the American South.”

Read the Full Review

ASSOCIATED PRESS

“Some musicals are big and brassy, calling out for attention with their razzle-dazzle and sassy sets. Others are more demure, letting their simple beauty shine. How appropriate then that a show about inner loveliness chose the latter path. Violet, which opened Sunday at the American Airlines Theatre, makes a Broadway debut with just a few chairs, a simple bed, no big costume changes and a score so rich and sublime that you’ll hardly notice anything is missing.”

Read the Full Review

The Reviews for Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill are In…

LADYDAY-master675

Few shows garner overwhelming critical applause like Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, and few performers command undeniable respect and admiration like Audra McDonald.  The musical, now playing at Circle in the Square, shows Billie Holiday (McDonald) in a fictional final concert near the end of her hard-fought, tiresome life.  The glory of this production rests in Audra McDonald’s performance; it’s not only that she completely captures Holiday’s late-life sound and spirit, it’s also that some critics admit to once questioning her casting in the piece!  Rest easy, those critics eat their words in the very same sentence.  McDonald is, without a doubt, one of the most revered and captivating Broadway stars, and any doubters need only snatch tickets to this thoughtfully-staged and unforgettably-performed musical to experience the majesty for themselves.

NEW YORK TIMES

“When Billie Holiday sang, history attests, her audiences tended to clam up. Even in the bustling nightclubs where she mostly performed, Holiday often insisted on total quiet before she would open her mouth. The quiet usually held, as one of the great singers of the last century turned jazz songs and standards into searching, and searing, portraits of life and love gone wrong that cast a shimmering spell. When Audra McDonald takes to the stage and pours her heart into her voice in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, a similar sustained hush settles over the Circle in the Square, where the show opened on Broadway on Sunday night for a limited run. With her plush, classically trained soprano scaled down to jazz-soloist size, Ms. McDonald sings selections from Holiday’s repertoire with sensitive musicianship and rich seams of feeling that command rapt admiration.”

Read the Full Review

VARIETY

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, Lanie Robertson’s elegiac lament for the jazz singer Billie Holiday at the end of her broken-down life, has been knocking around forever in regional theaters. But in all those years, this intimate bio-musical was waiting for a great singer like Audra McDonald to reach out and bring this tragic figure back from the grave. There’s an uncanny immediacy to this production, which helmer Lonny Price has shrewdly staged in the round, with theater patrons sitting and sipping drinks at little club tables while bearing witness to the final days of a lost Lady. The ungainly stage at Broadway’s Circle in the Square has proved an inspiration for set designer James Noone to recreate Emerson’s Bar & Grill, the seedy joint in North Philadelphia where Billie Holiday played one of her last club dates in 1959, three months before she died.”

Read the Full Review

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

“Audra McDonald has done it again. In Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, a new Broadway drama imagining a late-in-life concert by the great jazz diva Billie Holiday, McDonald delivers a mesmerizing performance that is not so much an act of mimicry or even impersonation as it is a transformation. A record-breaking sixth Tony Award seems like a foregone conclusion. While McDonald’s vocal inflections can seem a tad overstudied in the show’s opening number, ”I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone,” as she spits out breaths at the end of each musical phrase, the actress quickly settles into the role and erases all memory of her operatic belter’s soprano and her naturally bubbly personality. In their place: a voice both smoky and breathy, and a demeanor that suggests a hard-lived life in the first half of the 20th century. “

Read the Full Review

LA TIMES

“Only a fool would second-guess the transformative power of Audra McDonald, but when it was announced that this five-time Tony Award-winner was going to portray Billie Holiday in the Broadway production of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, I must confess that I had my qualms. When one recalls Holiday’s sublimely ruined sound at the end of her career, the period in which Lanie Robertson’s concert drama is set, one doesn’t think of McDonald’s soaring, Juilliard-burnished soprano, a gold medal voice still in its athletic prime.”

Read the Full Review

NBC NEW YORK

“It’s Audra McDonald’s world—we’re all still just living in it. For proof, swing by the Circle in the Square, where the reigning Queen of the Rialto holds court in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, a late addition to this season’s Broadway calendar that showcases McDonald as jazz singer Billie Holiday. Over 90 minutes, McDonald interprets more than a dozen of the combustible artist’s recordings, among them “God Bless the Child” and “Strange Fruit.” The setting, a theatrical conceit, is a small bar in South Philly during spring 1959, a few months before Holiday will succumb to cirrhosis and heart failure.”

Read the Full Review

BROADWAY WORLD

“Audra McDonald’s luxurious soprano with thoughtful lyric phrasing may not be the first voice that comes to mind when drawing comparisons to the emotionally thick, laconic blues of Billie Holiday. But then, Lanie Robertson’s 1986 theatre piece, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, despite its inclusion of over a dozen Holiday-recorded standards in a 90-minute performance, is not merely a re-creation concert. It’s a drama about how a great artist’s self-destruction permeates into her art, and for that, an actor of McDonald’s high caliber is certainly required. Robertson’s inspiration for the play came when a boyfriend described for her a 1959 Holiday performance he attended in a little North Philadelphia dive, roughly three months before her death. It had been twelve years since she served jail time for drug possession and though she had sung at Carnegie Hall and appeared on Broadway since then, New York City’s refusal to grant her a new cabaret license prevented her from doing what she loved best, singing in Manhattan nightclubs.”

Read the Full Review

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 26,022 other followers