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 American Idiot

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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The Latest Sondheim on Sondheim News and Gossip

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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The Latest Promises, Promises News and Gossip

Video: American Idiot cast performing Green Day’s “21 Guns” on the Grammy Awards

Cast for the Broadway Mounting of Green Day’s American Idiot Will Include John Gallagher Jr., Stark Sands and Michael Esper

Producers just announced that John Gallagher Jr. (Spring Awakening), Stark Sands and Michael Esper will star in Broadway’s American Idiot, the new Green Day musical opening April 20 at the St. James Theatre.

Director Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening) co-wrote the book with Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong. Music and lyrics are all by Green Day, with songs taken from their albums “American Idiot” and “21st Century Breakdown.”

The other creative team members include two-time Tony Award-winning composer and orchestrator Tom Kitt (Next to Normal), Olivier Award-winning choreographer Steven Hoggett, Tony nominated scenic designer Christine Jones (Spring Awakening), costume designer Andrea Lauer, two-time Tony Award-winning lighting designer Kevin Adams (Hair), Obie Award-winning sound designer Brian Ronan (Cabaret), video designer Darrel Maloney and music director Carmel Dean.

Gallagher Jr., Sands and Esper are joined by Rebecca Naomi Jones (Passing Strange), Christina Sajous (The Wild Party), Mary Faber (Avenue Q) and Tony Vincent (Jesus Christ Superstar) as well as an ensemble that includes: Declan Bennett (Rent), Andrew Call (Cry-Baby), Gerard Canonico (Spring Awakening), Miguel Cervantes (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Joshua Henry (In the Heights), Van Hughes (Hairspray), Brian Charles Johnson (Spring Awakening), Joshua Kobak (Rent), Lorin Latarro (Movin’ Out), Omar Lopez-Cepero, Leslie McDonel (Hairspray), Chase Peacock, Theo Stockman (Hair), Ben Thompson, Alysha Umphress, Aspen Vincent and Libby Winters.

The cast will be appearing with Green Day at the Grammy Awards, singing “21 Guns.” (The Grammys will air on CBS on Jan 31 at 8-11:30 PM).

Can’t wait for this one to hit the Great White Way! Apparently, it’s turning musical theater on its head.

Opening/Closing on Broadway: Shrek, White Christmas, Finian’s Rainbow, Ragtime, Come Fly Away, American Idiot, Altar Boyz, Ragtime

As previously announced, Shrek closed on Broadway on Sunday after an admirable run of 441 performances at the Broadway Theatre. Also closing Sunday was the holiday favorite White Christmas, which played out its limited engagement at the Marquis.

And last week a shocker of an announcement hit Broadway audiences that another of the critically acclaimed productions that just opened – Finian’s Rainbow – will be playing its last performance on Jan 17. Coming on the heels of the Ragtime closing announcement, a number of big names like Matthew Broderick are doubting the lasting power of anything that’s not a “sure bet” in this economy…

But, along with the closings and bemoaning came some happier news: Producer James L. Nederlander announced that Come Fly Away, Twyla Tharp’s Frank Sinatra inspired musical, will open March 25. The musical, originally titled Come Fly With Me, played a sold-out engagement last year at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta.

And it’s official: another out-of-town favorite, American Idiot, is taking over at the St. James on April 10. If you haven’t yet heard of this show, you soon will – the creative team is an incredible assembly of Broadway big-hitters, and if the reviews from its Berkely Rep run are any indication – this show may be a contender for many of those looking for one of Broderick’s “sure bet[s].”

Closing this week are Off-Broadway’s Altar Boyz and the extended run of Broadway’s Ragtime.

If we’ve learned anything from 2009 it’s this: if there’s anything on Broadway you’ve been dying to see, see it now! Unless it’s Phantom of the Opera or Wicked, there’s no guarantee it’ll be around beyond next week.

American Idiot: Rock Music Video, Theatricalized (A guest review by BroadwayGirlNYC)

As I write this, I’m blasting Green Day’s 2004 “American Idiot” CD only because the cast album of their theatrical adaptation hasn’t yet been recorded.

In both incarnations, the music is at once hummable and subversive, driving and spellbinding.

I’m thrilled from the very start of Michael Mayer’s collaboration with Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, Friday night at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. The opening notes of the show’s eponymous song – accompanied by aggressive headbanging from leading man John Gallagher Jr. as Johnny, aka “Jesus of Suburbia” – rip through the 600-seat Roda Theatre, and everyone sits up a little straighter.

Much, but not all, of this audience – nine weeks into the run, as the show enters the final days of its final extension in Berkeley – have come because they’re either fans of the band or have heard the buzz about how great this show is (the San Jose Mercury News calls it “the hottest show of a searing fall theater season”). There are teenagers in fingerless gloves sitting next to early-60’s couples who are there as part of their subscriber packages, but the latter are the minority; this is a young crowd. So when those first notes blast out across the theatre, we know what we’re in for.

The music is loud. Berkeley Rep offers earplugs in the lobby – a concession, I suppose, to subscribers who might be used to a more traditional brand of theatre – but I eschew them. There is no question that this music – on stage or through headphones – is meant to be heard at maximum decibels.

Because I know the “American Idiot” album so well (in addition to Green Day’s newer “21st Century Breakdown,” from which an additional four songs are culled for the show), I expect it to take some getting used to to hear voices other than Billie Joe’s on these particular melodies and lyrics. But Gallagher has a similar grittiness to his voice, and his delivery is so perfectly rebellious, that it proves easy to put Billie Joe’s image on the back burner, and buy into these as our protagonist’s original and mutinous thoughts.

American Idiot is a sung-through musical – very little dialogue is used outside the songs. At first, I don’t love the effect; it makes the few spoken lines seem somewhat awkward, as if they have been added only to fill in gaps in the exposition of the music. In addition, I worry that patrons who are not already familiar with Green Day might miss a lot of the context; the lyrics come fast and furious, and without previous knowledge of the words, I can imagine that a lot could go over an audience member’s head.

But then I have a little revelation about this show.

American Idiot is not like other musicals. In fact, the more I think about it, the more it doesn’t really strike me as “musical theatre” at all.

I’m going to venture to say that American Idiot is a brand new form of theatre: the long-form, live-staged Rock Music Video.

Not a jukebox musical; not even an adaptation (any more than Lady Gaga’s new video is an adaptation of her hit single “Bad Romance”). This is the artists’ own fleshing out of their vision – but instead of being done on-screen, it’s brought to us live in-person: loud and unapologetic, completely impossible to tune out or otherwise ignore (even if you don’t catch every word.)

I’m watching Gallagher and his castmates, but I am also taking in a remarkable set, soaring up stories into the theatre’s fly system. A huge, flat back wall is papered with newspaper headlines, advertisements and propaganda all in black and white; nearly 30 televisions are scattered at random on all levels, showing animation, commercials, old TV-show clips, Bush-era news items, and violent explosions. The band (not Green Day themselves, kids) is onstage amongst the actors, with musicians on several levels of a fire-escape-ish scaffolding reminiscent of Collins’ Christmas tree in Rent. Half a car, one actor, and later a shopping cart, hang from the rafters. There is so much to look at that I’m at once overwhelmed and mesmerized, which I suspect is exactly the intention of the designers.

From the breathtaking set and lighting design, to an exhaustingly full-body commitment from Gallagher, to a strong supporting cast (it’s a pleasure to see Spring Awakening alums Gerard Canonico and a hardly recognizable Brian Charles Johnson in the ensemble, plus the bewitching Rebecca Naomi Jones from Passing Strange as the leading lady “Whatshername”), there is little I’d have changed. I was rapt from start to finish, wishing from the first number that I’d be in Berkeley long enough to see the show again.

In addition to Gallagher and Jones, I must single out Tony Vincent as St. Jimmy, a striking and unusual actor who brings Jimmy to life as one part Vampire, three parts Hypnotist, and altogether scary/beautiful. Jimmy is Johnny’s bad influence, the devil on his shoulder, who introduces him to heroin; it’s not entirely clear if he actually exists or if he’s a kind of “Brad-Pitt-in-Fight-Club” manifestation of Johnny’s battle with his own dark side. In any case, I find it impossible to tear my eyes away from Vincent, with his half-shaved head and alienesque ultra-long arms; not to mention a voice that peels through the Roda Theatre with a clarity that would enthrall even the most skeptical gray-haired matinee lady.

There is some tweaking to be done before the show comes to Broadway. I’m thinking specifically of a high-wire hospital dance in which Johnny’s buddy Tunny (Matt Caplan), injured at war, hallucinates an “Extraordinary Girl” in Middle Eastern dress (the flying struck me as just a little too “Princess Jasmine on a Magic Carpet”).

But overall, American Idiot is a force – exhilerating, thought-provoking, and powerful. As Passing Strange (also a Berkeley Rep original) brought us Broadway’s first Live Concert/ Storytelling hybrid, American Idiot breaks ground as the first live-action, album-length Music Video to hit the Great White Way.

There’s no date announced yet for the Broadway incarnation of the show, and its New York home has not yet been revealed (although I’m hearing buzz that Jujamcyn Theaters is interested, which means it will likely end up at the St. James, the Walter Kerr, or the Eugene O’Neill). But the show is coming to Broadway, which means you’ll have no excuse to miss it.

Trust me, you’ll want to see American Idiot. And just think – someday, you can tell your kids you were there when Green Day broke theatrical ground.

BroadwayGirlNYC: A fan’s perspective on all things theatre in NYC & beyond. Show reviews, actor sightings, gossip & more. Follow her updates at @BroadwayGirlNYC.

Mid-November Broadway Musical News Roundup

Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark is gearing up again this time with a lead actor and producer

It’s official – Reeve Carney, the lead singer of the band Carney, will be playing Peter Parker (ie. Spideman) in the upcoming Broadway mega-spender Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark.

Why cast such an unknown in the lead role? Director Julie Taymor said they wanted a “Peter Parker who could really act and sing, but who still brings a kind of performance that could be new to Broadway audiences. We wanted something a little more authentically rock and roll.”

And to help with that rock and roll vibe, Michael Cohl, a rock concert promoter with ties to the Rolling Stones and U2, is stepping in as lead producer, hoping to stop all the speculation that the show would never make it to opening night.

The show, which is reputed to have spent $52 million to date, will open in 2010 at the Hilton Theatre in New York.

American Idiot will be making its way to Broadway

On November 9, the producers for American Idiot announced Equity Principal Auditions for a Broadway run of the nearly sold-out Berkley Rep production. According to spokesman Michael Hartman, “there is a Broadway future for the show, but at this time no dates or theatre are confirmed.”

RUMOR: Ashlee Simpson may star in Chicago on Broadway

Multiple sources are reporting that Ashlee Simpon-Wentz, the former Melrose Place star, will be playing Roxie Hart in Chicago on Broadway for a six week run this December. Though she did play the role on the West End, her Broadway appearance has not been confirmed by any official sources.

A bittersweet anniversary on Broadway for Shrek

On November 8, the cast of Broadway’s Shrek celebrated one year on Broadway, but the festivities were somewhat bittersweet. The show, which was nominated for 8 Tony Awards, will be closing January 3 after playing 441 performances and 37 previews. The national tour will launch at Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre for a limited engagement, running from July 13 – September 5, 2010.

Title battle – Dame Edna’s It’s All About Me vs. Michael Feinstein’s All About Me

I don’t know if you’ve been tracking the hilarious banter between Dame Edna and Michael Feinstein, who have very similarly named shows headed to Broadway this fall. Of the mishap, Edna said “It’s All About Me is my title. While I was saddened to hear that Mr. Feinstein did not heed my sage advice to change the title of his show, I’m overjoyed to hear that he at least took my suggestion to open his show after mine. I’m sure Mrs. Feinstein is very proud of her son.”

Broadway Stars on TV this month

A number of big tars will be appearing on television in the next few months. Check out the list below:

“The View” ABC, daytime

  • Wednesday, Nov. 11: Finian’s Rainbow
  • Thursday, Nov. 19: John Stamos

“Jimmy Kimmel Live” ABC, late night

  • Tuesday, Nov. 17: John Stamos

“The Today Show” NBC, 7AM ET

  • Wednesday, Nov. 18: Liza Minnelli

American Idiot needs to come to Broadway … please? (Check out the video trailer!)

There is so much buzz about the production of Green Day’s American Idiot at Berkley Rep, a production boasting a Broadway-studded creative team and cast.

They’ve already extended their run and are nearly sold out for the new dates … I can only hope they’re headed to the Great White Way soon. Check out the trailer video:

How can you not be excited about this show!?


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Lots of Broadway buzz …

West Side Story recoups investment after 30 weeks

West Side Story has officially recouped its $14 million initial investment after running 30 weeks (247 performances)! A national tour of this production will begin in the fall of 2010 though it is likely the Broadway version will stick around for a good while longer.

American Idiot extends run at Berkley Rep

American Idiot has been extended at Berkely Rep through Nov 15! The show is now the top-grossing show in the Rep’s 41-year history with the biggest advance sale, the biggest day at the box office, and 17 of the top 20 days ever. Extended for three weeks even before it had its first performance, American Idiot now adds another two weeks. We can only hope it will next move straight on to NYC.

The Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction was a great success

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The Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction that took place this past Sunday raised $403,929 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS! Since its debut in 1987, the event has raised a staggering grand total of $8,161,752!

Shrek the Musical adds the song “I’m a Believer”

And … due to popular demand, the song “I’m a Believer” will now be sung in Shrek the Musical beginning Friday, October 2. Not sure what I think of this. They must be doing well-enough to pay those royalties …

Michael Mayer to Direct and Tom Kitt to Arrange Green Day’s American Idiot for the Stage

Okay, okay so they may not have announced plans to take the show to Broadway just yet, but I just have to share this one:

Berkley Repertory Theatre is premiering a stage adaptation of Green Day’s Grammy-winning multi-platinum album American Idiot. Yes – album concept to stage a la The Who’s Tommy. I personally adore this album and think it has the right tone for a musical, but who am I? Some blogger. True, it could fall on its face, but you might not think that when you hear who’s involved:

Tony Award-winner Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening, Thoroughly Modern Millie, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Triumph of Love) will direct. Tony Award-winning orchestrator and composer Tom Kitt (Next to Normal, 13, High Fidelity) will be arranging, orchestrating and music supervising. Others on the creative time include Olivier Award-winning choreographer Steven Hoggett, Tony nominee Christine Jones (sets), two-time Tony winner Kevin Adams (lights), Baryshnikov fellow Andrea Lauer (costumes) and Obie Award winner Brian Ronan (sound). And it’s being co-produced by the people who brought Spring Awakening to Broadway. I’m jumping up and down and they haven’t even announced the cast yet!

I broke my own rule of only talking Broadway musicals to share this with you. Here’s hoping they don’t make a complete lier of me and actually take this one to Broadway!

EDITED 8/3/09

It just keeps getting better!

They just announced the cast for the Berkley Rep’s American Idiot and it’s just as fabulous as the creative team: John Gallagher Jr. (Spring Awakening), Matt Caplan (Rent, South Pacific), Michael Esper (A Man for All Seasons), Mary Faber (Avenue Q), Rebecca Naomi Jones, Christina Sajous and Tony Vincent! (Jesus Christ Superstar).

The rest of the ensemble includes Declan Bennet (Rent, London’s Taboo), Andrew Call (Cry-Baby, Glory Days, High Fidelity), Gerard Canonico (Spring Awakening), Miguel Cervantes (Happiness), Joshua Henry (In the Heights), Brian Charles Johnson (Spring Awakening), Chase Peacock, Theo Stockman (Hair), Ben Thompson, Alysha Umphress, Morgan Weed and Libby Winters.

May need to make a trip to SF to see this show…

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