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 Sondheim on Sondheim

Post-Tony Broadway News Recap

Whew … still recovering from the Tony Awards. Everyone thought Sean Hayes did a wonderful job as host (some ranking him higher than NPH), but overall found the ceremony to be a bit soul-less and not as much about Broadway as about celebrity (Hunter Foster has even created a Facebook group called GIVE THE TONYS BACK TO BROADWAY).

And word is out that next year the awards will be booted from the Radio City Music Hall, which they’ve called home for the past 13 years. Back when the Tony Awards were first televised in 1967 (and on through 1996) they were held in actual Broadway houses, rotating through to a different one each year. I’d personally love to see the Tonys return to this system, and the much less elaborate stagings of the musical numbers. Perhaps being kicked to the curb is a good thing and will require producers to rethink the whole event.

The Tonys did feature appearances by a number of the headliners who’ll appear in musicals slated to open next season, including Daniel Radcliff who’ll be starring as Finch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Ricky Martin who’ll play Che in the West-End transfer of Evita and Antonio Bandares in the title role in Zorba. Here’s the full list of the musicals on the docket to open soon:

  • The Scottsboro Boys – October 31
  • Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown – November 4
  • Unchain My Heart – November 7
  • The Pee-Wee Herman Show – November 11
  • Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark – November 2011
  • Elf – November 2011
  • Zorba – Fall 2011
  • Anything Goes – February 2011
  • The Book of Mormon – March 2011
  • Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – March 2011
  • Phantom: Love Never Dies – April 2011
  • How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying – Spring 2011
  • Catch Me If You Can – Spring 2011
  • Sister Act – Spring 2011
  • Annie – Fall 2012
  • Evita – Spring 2012
  • Yank! – TBA
  • Funny Girl – TBA
  • Godspell – TBA
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – TBA

Meanwhile, Hair and Sondheim on Sondheim both closed their doors on June 27th. Everyday Rapture will be bowing out on July 11 and South Pacific on August 22. Surprisingly no shows have announced closings after suffering losses at the Tonys. Promises, Promises, which was trashed by the critics, got an unexpected boost from Sean’s emceeing and the big on-screen kiss with costar Kristin Chenoweth on the Tony Awards. And Addams Family, which didn’t even get to perform a number at the awards, is also doing very well in the box office. Seems the Tony Awards are no longer the predictor of audiences they used to be…

A number of big casting changes will be taking place next month. The biggest excitement is over the replacements for CZJ and Angela Lansbury in A Little Night Music. Rather than petering out after the stars’ departures, many are now predicting an increase in ticket sales, as their successors will be Broadway favorites Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch. Also exciting is that the real life married couple of Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley will take over the roles of Diana Goodman and Dan in Broadway’s Next to Normal when Alice Ripley departs to join the show on its US Tour and Brian D’Arcy James to perform in Time Stands Still and a new HBO series. Kristin Chenoweth will be leaving Promises, Promises this September (don’t worry, they made sure to record a cast album first). Her replacement has not yet been announced.

2010 Drama Desk Award Winners – Memphis and La Cage Aux Folles Take Home the Big Prizes

The 2010 Drama Desk Award ceremony took place tonight. Thanks for joining us for the live-update. This year’s winners for the categories whose nominees included musicals are below:

Outstanding Musical
Memphis

Outstanding Revival of a Musical
La Cage Aux Folles

Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Montego Glover, Memphis
AND
Catherine Zeta-Jones, A Little Night Music

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Douglas Hodge, La Cage Aux Folles

Outstanding Musical Revue
Sondheim on Sondheim

Outstanding Set Design
Phelim McDermott, Julian Crouch, Basil Twist, The Addams Family

Outstanding Sound Design
Acme Sound Partners, Ragtime

Outstanding Lighting Design
Neil Austin, Red

Outstanding Costume Design
Matthew Wright, La Cage aux Folles

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Katie Finneran, Promises, Promises

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Christopher Fitzgerald, Finian’s Rainbow

Special Drama Desk Award
Jerry Herman (for more than half a century of exuberant music and heartfelt lyrics)

Outstanding Director of a Musical
Michael Mayer, American Idiot

Outstanding Choreography
Twyla Tharp, Come Fly Away

Outstanding Orchestrations
Daryl Waters & David Bryan, Memphis

Outstanding Book of a Musical
Alex Timbers, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Outstanding Lyrics
John Kander & Fred Ebb, The Scottsboro Boys

Oustanding Musical Score
David Bryan, Memphis

The Drama League names Sondheim on Sondheim and La Cage Aux Folles as this season’s top musicals

The 2010 Drama League Awards took place today – and the winners were:

Distinguished Production of a Musical
Sondheim on Sondheim

Distinguished Revival of a Musical
La Cage aux Folles

Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre Award
Nathan Lane

And Finally…The 2010 Tony Award Nominees

The nominees for the big one – the Tony Awards – were announced this morning. The only telecast ceremony of the bunch, these are the awards the average person on the street has heard of and oftentimes have a lot to do with whether a show continues its run for years or closes the next week. We will be announcing the winners live on Twitter and Facebook during the ceremony on Sunday, June 13, so be sure to follow or like us to stay posted and join the conversation. Here are the nominated musicals:

Best Musical
American Idiot
Fela!
Memphis
Million Dollar Quartet

Best Book of a Musical
Dick Scanlan and Sherie Rene Scott, Everyday Rapture
Jim Lewis & Bill T. Jones, Fela!
Joe DiPietro, Memphis
Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux, Million Dollar Quartet

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Andrew Lippa, The Addams Family
Adam Cork and Lucy Prebble, Enron
Branford Marsalis, Fences
Joe DiPietro and David Bryan, Memphis

Best Revival of a Musical
Finian’s Rainbow
La Cage aux Folles
A Little Night Music
Ragtime

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
Kelsey Grammer, La Cage aux Folles
Sean Hayes, Promises, Promises
Douglas Hodge, La Cage aux Folles
Chad Kimball, Memphis
Sahr Ngaujah, Fela!

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Kate Baldwin, Finian’s Rainbow
Sherie Rene Scott, Everyday Rapture
Montego Glover, Memphis
Christiane Noll, Ragtime
Catherine Zeta-Jones, A Little Night Music

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
Kevin Chamberlin, The Addams Family
Robin De Jesús, La Cage aux Folles
Christopher Fitzgerald, Finian’s Rainbow
Levi Kreis, Million Dollar Quartet
Bobby Steggert, Ragtime

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
Barbara Cook, Sondheim on Sondheim
Katie Finneran, Promises, Promises
Angela Lansbury, A Little Night Music
Karine Plantadit, Come Fly Away
Lillias White, Fela!

Best Direction of a Musical
Christopher Ashley, Memphis
Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Ragtime
Terry Johnson, La Cage aux Folles
Bill T. Jones, Fela!

Best Choreography
Rob Ashford, Promises, Promises
Bill T. Jones, Fela!
Lynne Page, La Cage aux Folles
Twyla Tharp, Come Fly Away

Best Orchestrations
Jason Carr, La Cage aux Folles
Aaron Johnson, Fela!
Jonathan Tunick, Promises, Promises
Daryl Waters & David Bryan, Memphis

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Marina Draghici, Fela!
Christine Jones, American Idiot
Derek McLane, Ragtime
Tim Shortall, La Cage aux Folles

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Marina Draghici, Fela!
Paul Tazewell, Memphis
Matthew Wright, La Cage aux Folles
Santo Loquasto, Ragtime (Why was this nominee removed?)

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kevin Adams, American Idiot
Donald Holder, Ragtime
Nick Richings, La Cage aux Folles
Robert Wierzel, Fela!

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Jonathan Deans, La Cage aux Folles
Robert Kaplowitz, Fela!
Dan Moses Schreier and Gareth Owen, A Little Night Music
Dan Moses Schreier, Sondheim on Sondheim

2010 Drama Desk Award Nominations

As award season continues, another round of announcements are out – these for the coveted Drama Desk Awards, which include Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway productions. Without further ado, here are the nominees for the categories that include musicals:

Special Award
Jerry Herman

Outstanding Musical
American Idiot
Everyday Rapture
Memphis
The Addams Family
The Scottsboro Boys
Yank!

Outstanding Revival of a Musical
A Little Night Music
Finian’s Rainbow
La Cage Aux Folles
Promises, Promises
Ragtime

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Brandon Victor Dixon, The Scottsboro Boys
Douglas Hodge, La Cage Aux Folles
Cheyenne Jackson, Finian’s Rainbow
Chad Kimball, Memphis
Nathan Lane, The Addams Family
Bobby Steggert, Yank!

Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Kate Baldwin, Finian’s Rainbow
Montego Glover, Memphis
Jayne Houdyshell, Coraline
Christiane Noll, Ragtime
Sherie Rene Scott, Everyday Rapture
Catherine Zeta-Jones, A Little Night Music

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Kevin Chamberlin, The Addams Family
Robin De Jesus, La Cage Aux Folles
Jeffry Denman, Yank!
Christopher Fitzgerald, Finian’s Rainbow
Jeremy Morse, Bloodsong of Love
Bobby Steggert, Ragtime

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Carolee Carmello, The Addams Family
Carrie Cimma, Lizzie Borden
Katie Finneran, Promises, Promises
Angela Lansbury, A Little Night Music
Kenita Miller, Langston in Harlem
Terri White, Finian’s Rainbow

Outstanding Choreography
Warren Carlyle, Finian’s Rainbow
Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Ragtime
Lynne Page, La Cage Aux Folles
Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys
Twyla Tharp, Come Fly Away
Sergio Trujillo, Memphis

Outstanding Music
David Bryan, Memphis
Michael Friedman, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Joe Iconis, Bloodsong of Love
John Kander & Fred Ebb, The Scottsboro Boys
Andrew Lippa, The Addams Family
Joseph Zellnik, Yank!

Outstanding Lyrics
Rick Crom, Newsical The Musical
Kevin Del Aguila, Click, Clack, Moo
John Kander & Fred Ebb, The Scottsboro Boys
Dillie Keane and Adèle Anderson, Fascinating Aïda Absolutely Miraculous!
Andrew Lippa, The Addams Family
David Zellnik, Yank!

Outstanding Book of a Musical
Joe DiPietro, Memphis
Joe Iconis, Bloodsong of Love
Dick Scanlan & Sherie Rene Scott, Everyday Rapture
David Thompson, The Scottsboro Boys
Alex Timbers, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
David Zellnik, Yank!

Outstanding Orchestrations
William David Brohn, Ragtime
Larry Hochman, The Scottsboro Boys
Tom Kitt, American Idiot
Tom Kitt, Everyday Rapture
John Oddo, All About Me
Daryl Waters & David Bryan, Memphis

Outstanding Musical Revue
Fascinating Aïda Absolutely Miraculous!
Million Dollar Quartet
Newsical The Musical
Simon Green: Traveling Light
Sondheim on Sondheim

Outstanding Set Design
Sandra Goldmark, The Boys in the Band
Phelim McDermott, Julian Crouch & Basil Twist, The Addams Family
Derek McLane, Ragtime
Christopher Oram, Red
Jay Rohloff, Underground
Karen Tennent, Hansel and Gretel

Outstanding Costume Design
Antonia Ford-Roberts & Bob Flanagan, The Emperor Jones
Santo Loquasto, Ragtime
Clint Ramos, So Help Me God!
Bobby Frederick Tilley II, Lizzie Borden
Matthew Wright, La Cage Aux Folles
David Zinn, In the Next Room or the vibrator play

Outstanding Lighting Design in a Play
Neil Austin, Hamlet
Neil Austin, Red
Christian M. DeAngelis, Lizzie Borden
Maruti Evans, John Ball’s In the Heat of the Night
Natasha Katz, The Addams Family
Dane Laffrey, The Boys in the Band

Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical
Acme Sound Partners, Ragtime
Jonathan Deans, La Cage Aux Folles
Ashley Hanson, Kurt Eric Fischer & Brian Ronan, Everyday Rapture
Peter Hylenski, The Scottsboro Boys
Scott Lehrer, Finian’s Rainbow
Brian Ronan, Promises, Promises

April News Roundup

An awful lot has happened this month on the Great White Way – numerous shows have opened, squeezing in just in time for award consideration, and there’s been lots of exciting announcements and good old controversy. If you’ve been hiding under a rock, here’s what you’ve missed:

The Addams Family opened to dismal reviews, while the critics ate up the La Cage Aux Folles revival and had mixed things to say about American Idiot, Million Dollar Quartet, Sondheim on Sondheim and Promises, Promises.

Everyday Rapture, the last minute Sherie Rene Scott showcase, opens tomorrow night and released a very fun cast recording pre-opening. The buzz so far is that those who love the woman will adore the production, while others may be left scratching their heads. We’ll see what the critics have to say tomorrow.

There’s quite a break before the next round of shows look to make their way to Broadway. The big official announcements are that Catch Me If You Can, which had an out-of-town-tryout last year in Seattle, is looking at a spring 2011 Broadway opening. However, Jack O’Brien and Jerry Mitchell, who were involved in the Seattle mounting are already tied up in Phantom: Love Never Dies, which was pushed back to the spring in response to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s health problems, so everyone’s wondering which production they’ll stick with.

The other exciting spring openings are How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, which will feature Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, The Book of Mormon, from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Avenue Q composer and co-creator Robert Lopez and the Australian/West End transfer of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, whose producers are reportedly talking to Matthew Cavanaugh (West Side Story) and Will Swenson (Hair) about joining Tony Sheldon in the production.

The doomed Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark ran into another hiccup, when it’s only remaining headliner, Alan Cumming, bailed on the production. Originally slotted to open in the fall of last year, then in February of this year, the show now has no official start date or stars, save for the newcomer, Reeve Carney, who Taymor selected to play Spidey…

Plenty of rumors have popped up this month too. Rumor is that Gwyneth Paltrow and her mother Blythe Danner may be taking over for Catherine Zeta Jones and Angela Lansbury in A Little Night Music, when they depart the production in June. And Disney acquired the domain names DumboOnBroadway.com and NewsiesOnBroadway.com. The Post already told us about a potential Dumbo mounting on Broadway, but the Newsies purchase has sparked some positive buzz among our Twitter and Facebook followers.

Another adaptation of film to the stage is officially in the works – as producer Matt Murphy has acquired the stage rights for a musical adaptation of Dances With Wolves. Murphy, who is pulling together a creative team now, is looking to team the composer “with a Native American musical expert to lend authenticity to the score.” And the NFL has invested in their first Broadway show, Lombardi, which will star Dan Lauria (“The Wonder Years”) and is slated to open at Circle in the Square on Oct. 21, 2010.

The biggest controversy this month was that Next to Normal took home the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, even though it was not among the nominees. The board members are reputed to have attended the show the night before making their decision and Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times cried foul while others sat wondering “what’s with all the N2N hate?” The show did just recoup its investment – a very exciting achievement that many hope will help producers see they don’t have to rely on Hollywood stars and spectacle to make a success – a good show will get “butts in seats.”

In other award news, nominees for the Outer Critics Circle Awards and Drama League Awards have been announced. The Drama Desk nominees will be out on May 3rd and the Tony Award nominees on May 4th. Here’s when all of the award ceremonies will take place:

Drama League Awards: May 21, 2010
Drama Desk Awards: May 23, 2010
Outer Critics Circle Awards: May 27, 2010
Theatre World Awards: June 8, 2010
Tony Awards: June 13, 2010

Cast albums are out for Everyday Rapture, American Idiot and A Little Night Music and The Addams Family, Fela! and Memphis all recently went into the studio to record their own. The Off-Broadway (and suspected soon-to-transfer-to-Broadway) production of The Scottsboro Boys also ducked into the studio to record an album.

In casting news, Brian d’Arcy James, who originated the role of Dan in Next to Normal‘s original Off-Broadway run, will be rejoining the cast, this time on Broadway.  J. Robert Spencer leaves the show on May 16 and James will start his run in the show the following day.

And the final bit of excitement I’ll leave with you is official confirmation that shooting for the In the Heights movie, directed by Kenny Ortega and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda,  begins this August.

2010 Outer Critics Circle Nominations

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 Broadway Musical
American Idiot
Come Fly Away
Fela!
Memphis
Sondheim on Sondheim

Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
The Scottsboro Boys
Tin Pan Alley Rag
Yank!

Outstanding New Score (Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Memphis
The Scottsboro Boys
Yank!

Outstanding Revival of a Musical (Broadway or Off-Broadway)
La Cage aux Folles
Finian’s Rainbow
A Little Night Music
Promises, Promises

Outstanding Director of a Musical
Christopher Ashley, Memphis
Terry Johnson, La Cage aux Folles
Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys
Alex Timbers, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Outstanding Choreographer
Rob Ashford, Promises, Promises
Bill T. Jones, Fela!
Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys
Sergio Trujillo, Memphis

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 Lighting Design (Play or Musical)
Kevin Adams, American Idiot
Kevin Adams, The Scottsboro Boys
Ken Billington, Sondheim on Sondheim
Justin Townsend, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Brandon Victor Dixon, The Scottsboro Boys
Sean Hayes, Promises, Promises
Douglas Hodge, La Cage aux Folles
Chad Kimball, Memphis
Nathan Lane, The Addams Family

Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Kate Baldwin, Finian’s Rainbow
Barbara Cook, Sondheim on Sondheim
Montego Glover, Memphis
Bebe Neuwirth, The Addams Family
Catherine Zeta-Jones, A Little Night Music

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 …

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.

TheaterMania

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.

Backstage

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.

2010 Drama League Nominations

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

The Addams Family
American Idiot
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Brief Encounter

Come Fly Away
Memphis
Million Dollar Quartet
The Scottsboro Boys
Sondheim on Sondheim

Distinguished Revival of a Musical

A Little Night Music
Finian’s Rainbow
La Cage aux Folles
Promises, Promises
Ragtime

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

Nathan Lane

Opening soon on Broadway…

A huge collection of shows are opening on Broadway in March and April. A lot of them have been covered on the blog here, but a quick round-up of what to look for in the coming months seemed in order.

All About Me – March 18

This Dame Edna and Michael Feinstein spectacle got a lot of buzz when the two stars originally claimed to be mounting similarly titled solo shows, but since then buzz about the show has died down. Written by Christopher Durang and directed by Casey Nicholaw, the show seems to be testing what happens when you put four big personalities in a room together. Having seen each of their creations in the past,  hopes are high that together they’ll pull off something wonderfully fun.

Get All About Me Tickets
The Latest All About Me News and Gossip

Come Fly Away – March 25

There’s been next to no buzz about Twyla Tharp’s Frank Sinatra inspired musical, which will feature a lot of dancing and a 19-piece band. Burn the Floor, which just closed on Broadway, proved that there is an audience for ballroom dance, and Mamma Mia has shown that audiences love a good jukebox musical, so maybe it’ll work; it’ll either flop hard and fast, or go on to become the next Contact. Let’s hope its the latter.

Get Come Fly Away Tickets
The Latest Come Fly Away News and Gossip

Addams Family

The Addams Family – April 8

Featuring Broadway vets Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, writers of this new show penned an original storyline, rather than attempting to adapt the movie or TV show – a very smart move considering the limited successes of some recent adaptations. The musical will likely need to enjoy a long run in order to recoup its investment and from what they’ve shown so far – it looks like they may have a shot.

Get The Addams Family Tickets
The Latest The Addams Family News and Gossip

Million

Million Dollar Quartet – April 11

This Chicago transfer is hoping to capitalize on the jukebox musical phenomenon. Starring the four Broadway newcomers who originated their roles in Chicago, this musical tells the tale of a jam session that included Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Audiences and critics in Chicago adored this production  largely due to the performances of the four leads – so Broadway theater-goers can count themselves lucky that producers are willing to take a risk on four unknowns.

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La Cage Aux Folles – April 18

Douglas Hodge will recreate his Oliver Award-winning performance in this UK transfer alongside Kelsey Grammer. Many were startled to see the show is returning to Broadway so soon (the last production  of La Cage aux Folles closed in June of 2005), but the Mernier Chocolate Factory has only sent over great productions in the past, so there’s little doubt this will be anything but a wonderful treat.

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American Idiot

American Idiot – April 20

After playing to packed houses in Berkley, this show, created by a phenomenal production team of Broadway big hitters, has developed a devoted following and earned a reputation for being something entirely new. With music from the Grammy Award-winning album, a fantastic, youthful cast and an audience among the Next to Normal and Spring Awakening crowd, this show has only to live up to half of the hype to become a success.

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Sondheim on Sondheim

Sondheim on Sondheim – April 22

A collection of fantastic actors (Barbara Cook, Vanessa Williams, Michael ARden, Leslie Kritzer and more) will be singing some of Sondheim’s best songs in this tribute to the man. Yes, Sondheim has had lots of musical reviews over the years, but this one may be worth it – if only to see some of these performers live again.

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Promises, Promises

Promises, Promises – April 25

Finally Kristin Chenoweth is making her way back to Broadway! Joining her is another star of the small screen, Sean Hayes. This show isn’t likely to change the course of musical theater, but it is nice to know there will be some lighthearted old-fashioned fare on Broadway.

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