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 Bye Bye Birdie

Bye Bye “Birdie,” Hello New Work and New Horizons

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

Wildhorn’s Wonderland

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.

New Horizons

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.

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

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

Closing soon

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

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

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

Opening soon

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

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

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

Cast albums

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

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

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

Broadway casting announcements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grammy-nominated cast albums

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

Wicked sets a new record

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

Musicals on the Silver Screen

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

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

Amateur rights available

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

Musicals on Time’s Top Ten of Everything list

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

New equity leadership

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

Touring soon

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


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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Mamma Mia, Bye Bye Birdie and South Pacific In the News

The Good

Mamma Mia, the 13th longest running show in Broadway history, celebrated 8 years on Broadway yesterday, Oct 18!

The musical currently stars Beth Leavel, John Dossett, Judy McLane, Allison Briner, Halle Morse, Michael Mindlin, Patrick Boll, Alyse Alan Louis, David Andrew Macdonald and Eric William Morris.

The Bad

Bye Bye Birdie, which opened on Oct 15, was panned by reviewers in almost every media publication:

The consensus – the bulk of the cast can’t sing, dance or act. Ouch!

The Ugly

The New York Post reported that the stage manager for Broadway’s South Pacific, Michael Brunner, has been arraigned for recording video of one of the actresses in her dressing room. Lincoln Center Theater has terminated his contract due to the incident.


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Bye Bye Birdie opens on Broadway tonight after a very rough final dress rehearsal

They say bad dress means a good opening. If that’s true, tonight’s performance of Bye Bye Birdie will tear down the house.

Bye Bye Birdie had a LOT of trouble at last night’s dress rehearsal when the electronically controlled set wouldn’t move off the stage for a full 20 min.

John Stamos, who’s playing Albert in the production, filled the time by calling out to audience members Don Rickles and Bob Saget. The former came up on stage and spoke through the mic rigged to Stamos’ forehead, saying, “I’m really glad your crotch is not miked.” Gina Gershon also came out and obliged the request to “do something from Showgirls” by performing the staple “jazz hands to the face” move.

Gotta love when things go wrong in live theater.

Be sure to send your love and “break a leg” wishes to the cast and crew!


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Rejoice – you can see Bye Bye Birdie on the cheap!

Broadway’s Bye Bye Birdie is offering lots of ways for folks to get tickets on the cheap. They’ve got the standard student rush tickets at half price, available 1 hour before the show, but they are also offering “general rush” tickets that can be bought by anyone on the day of the performance for $26.50, and those between the ages of 18 and 35 can become members of Roundabout’s “hiptix” program and get tickets for only $21.50!


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Catch your favorite Broadway stars on TV

Lots of Broadway stars are making television appearances this week:

John Stamos (Bye Bye Birdie, Cabaret, Nine) will appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on September 29.

Kristin Chenoweth (The Apple Tree, Wicked, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown) will appear on the “Late Show with David Letterman” on Thursday September 24.

New Yorkers can catch Constantine Maroulis (Rock of Ages, The Wedding Singer) at 5pm on WNBC.

Did you miss the recent Broadway cast appearances on television? Streaming video to the rescue…

The cast of Broadway’s The Lion King performing on Dancing with the Stars yesterday, September 23:

The cast of Chicago’s Jersey Boys performing on Oprah last weekend:


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Video performances from Broadway on Broadway 2009

If you missed the fabulous performances at yesterday’s Broadway on Broadway concert, check out these video clips (NOTE: Some of the fan footage is better than others):

Next to Normal


Rock of Ages


Hair


Bye Bye Birdie


In the Heights


Burn the Floor


Chicago


Finian’s Rainbow


Shrek


Wicked


The Lion King


Jersey Boys


Mamma Mia


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A whole lot of gossip and news

Nolan Gerard Funk #5914 photo credit David Giesbrecht
Curtain up on Bye Bye Birdie!

The Broadway revival of Bye Bye Birdie starts previews this evening. The production, which stars Gina Gershon, John Stamos and Nolan Gerard Funk will officially open on October 15 at the brand new Henry Miller’s Theatre.

O’Hara returns to South Pacific!
Another exciting bit of news: Kelli O’Hara, who took a leave of absence to welcome her first child back in March, returns to Broadway’s South Pacific on Oct. 13.

A new Woodstock musical is in the works
Michael Lang, one of the producers of the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, is working on a Broadway musical based on his memoir, “The Road to Woodstock.” He’s reaching out some of the surviving artists from Woodstock for possible contributions to the production. No information about a cast or creative team has yet been announced.


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West Side Story no longer bilingual; Fez hat dance scene cut from Bye Bye Birdie

The bilingual West Side Story revival, which incorporated “the unprecedented element of selectively weaving Spanish throughout both the book and songs,” is reverting back to English.

This week, two songs that had previously been performed in Spanish – “A Boy Like That” (“Un Hombre Asi”) and “I Feel Pretty” (“Siento Hermosa”) are now being delivered mostly in English. The Spanish sung by the Sharks in the “Tonight” quintet is now some of the only Spanish that remains in the show.

Arthur Laurents who wrote and directed the musical said that “from the outset, the Spanish in West Side Story was an experiment. It’s been an ongoing process of finding what worked and what didn’t, and it still continues.”


Another big change is in store for a classic Broadway musical according to Gina Gershon, the actress playing Rose in Broadway’s upcoming production of Bye Bye Birdie. One of the big dance numbers in the show, in which Rose is traditionally chased by a number of men wearing fez hats, has been cut from the production because producers thought it “a little too gang rape-y.” Read the full article here.

I was pretty taken aback by these drastic (and in my opinion, unnecessary) changes. How about you?


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Get in Line for Broadway’s Bye Bye Birdie, right now.

Tickets go on sale for Broadway’s Bye Bye Birdie today at noon. If you’re in NYC, get over to the box office now. Those who line up today can:

Purchase $10 tickets for the first preview of Bye Bye Birdie; limit of two tickets per person.

Meet the star who will play Conrad Birdie — Nolan Gerard Funk — and composer Charles Strouse and lyricist Lee Adams.

Win prizes: the first 50 fans in line will receive a Bye Bye Birdie lunchbox, and one lucky lunchbox will contain two tickets to the opening-night performance and after party with the cast; One person will alsowin an original Bye Bye Birdie Playbill from 1960 and have it autographed by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams.


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