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

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 American Idiot are in…

The reviews for the Green Day album-turned-musical, American Idiot, have come out and  critics were quite pleased with the production, with a few reservations. Some called it the best musical of the season (and even of the 21st century), while others were a bit more discerning – pointing to a thin plot covered up by spectacle, lights and sound. They do all agree on one thing – this musical, following in the footsteps of Hair and Spring Awakening, is a rock-opera unlike anything Broadway audiences have seen before.

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The New York Times

In any case the music is thrilling: charged with urgency, rich in memorable melody and propulsive rhythms that sometimes evolve midsong. The orchestrations by Tom Kitt… move from lean and mean to lush, befitting the tone of each number. Even if you are unfamiliar with Green Day’s music, you are more likely to emerge from this show humming one of the guitar riffs than you are to find a tune from The Addams Family tickling your memory. But the emotion charge that the show generates is as memorable as the music. American Idiot jolts you right back to the dizzying roller coaster of young adulthood, that turbulent time when ecstasy and misery almost seem interchangeable states, flip sides of the coin of exaltation. It captures with a piercing intensity that moment in life when everything seems possible, and nothing seems worth doing, or maybe it’s the other way around. Read Full Review

TheaterMania

Undoubtedly the best new musical of the season…Green Day’s songs are what propel the narrative, and they are ingeniously employed, sometimes in rather unexpected ways…American Idiot perhaps most resembles Hair, insomuch as it showcases one stunning song after another with just a loose narrative frame to hold it together, and a clear emotional throughline…But while Armstrong’s lyrics are laced with pessimism, the music is often buoyantly exuberant, which is one of the main reasons it succeeds as an amazing theatrical experience. Read Full Review

Chicago Tribune

American Idiot, the show, delivers a thick, gorgeous head rush of a musical soundscape without current Broadway parallel. It turns out to offer the kind of sensual lushness that a lot more traditional musicals would kill to emulate. That’s mostly due to the brilliance of Tom Kitt’s orchestrations, adding violin, cello, weight and gravitas to the Green Day sound without blunting its aggressive edge. With the gifted director Michael Mayer spreading his eight-member band out across a beautifully cacophonous setting — more a video-filled installation, really — from Christine Jones that evokes a constant blaring of Fox News in an endless sea of 7-Eleven parking lots and crappy urban apartments, you get a stunning musical wash of all corners of human emotion. Read Full Review

Financial Times

Doris Lessing once said that every generation thinks that it discovered sex. The same could be said for drugs and rock ’n’ roll. The new Broadway musical American Idiot can have nothing especially new to reveal about any of these subjects but it does reinvent them in such a way as to make them once again feel a little more dangerous and a lot more alive. Read Full Review

Backstage

The book fails to develop these characters beyond their initial conflicts, and it wouldn’t hurt to have more than a few diary entries from Johnny to guide us. Nevertheless, the dynamic score—the jagged lyrics are by Armstrong, who also composed the driving music, with Mike Dirnt and Trè Cool—leads us into the frazzled psyches of an aimless portion of America’s Generation Y. Tom Kitt, credited with musical supervision, arrangements, and orchestrations, builds a bridge between the worlds of rock and Broadway by making the songs accessible to general audiences without losing the chest-slamming intensity. Read Full Review

Newsday

If Spring Awakening was the birth of genuine rock musicals on Broadway, then American Idiot is its worthy son. Not as groundbreaking or original as its precocious papa in 2006, the punk-pop opera based on Green Day’s multiplatinum album is an exuberant assault – a slick and tough 95-minute package of alienated suburban youth, media overstimulation and seamless, high-concept theatricality. Read Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

Although the original concept album is reasonably cohesive, it’s a thin premise on which to base a musical, and the show’s book, by the band’s Billie Joe Armstrong and director Michael Mayer, doesn’t manage to flesh it out sufficiently. Telling its story largely through music and movement with only a smattering of dialogue, “Idiot” never manages to make us care about the fate of its thinly drawn characters. Still, there’s a lot of passion onstage, and Mayer has provided the sort of propulsive staging that helps put the material over. Read Full Review

Toronto Star

The first great musical of the 21st century… it’s not just one more trendy flash-in-the-pan, but the climax of a journey towards a rock Parnassus that the American musical theatre has been on for these past 40 years. Read Full Review

Talkin’ Broadway

Even with Gallagher thrashing around at its center, American Idiot satisfies in spite of all that’s working against it — including the passage of time (and a presidency) that’s rendered much of its discontent obsolete. Yet the establishment of a new government and its new outlook on America and its future has not been a universal salve, so the young’s quest for absolution and understanding continues. Whether this will be their musical remains to be seen. That it otherwise seems to be everyone’s, in spite of being no real musical at all, is the kind of maddening, exciting contradiction only the theatre can engender. Read Full Review

Associated Press

The musical, which opened Tuesday at the St. James Theatre, is short, some 95 minutes. Just right for an MTV generation weaned on YouTube clips and music videos. “American Idiot,” in fact, plays like one. Wildly diverting to look it, the show has the barest wisp of a story and minimal character development. At best, its slacker guys are sketchy portraits, prototypes rather than real people. Fortunately, there are compensations, most notably the show’s highly theatrical, punk-rock score, sung by a high-energy cast, headed by John Gallagher Jr. The gifted actor, a Tony winner for Spring Awakening, portrays Johnny, the show’s petulant antihero who flees a deadening suburbia and descends into sex, drugs and fierce guitar playing in his quest to find himself in the big city. Read Full Review

Washington Post

American Idiot — a new musical built around the songbook of the popular alternative-rock trio, which opened Tuesday night at the St. James Theatre — suggests that as the foundation of melodic drama, the rebellious-youth thing is getting old. Presented in a visually dazzling package, with coolly aggressive dance steps and the group’s exhilarating songs, the show qualifies as a pulsating album in three dimensions, a gallery of zestfully choreographed music videos. The 90 minutes make for such stimulating spectacle, I would happily sit through them again. And yet, in its attempt to knit a story out of a band’s discography, American Idiot comes across as ordinary. Too many other productions of recent vintage have taken us over this same rocky terrain, the landscape of youthful alienation. It’s surprising how a show with enough imaginative candlepower to light a stadium can appear to have invested so little energy in illuminating its characters, or devising an involving narrative. Read Full Review

Village Voice

The result, though vivid and lurid and imaginatively depraved, is also somewhat inarticulate, spraying its boilerplate discontent at no one in particular, with a lotta standard-issue bitching about The Media and The Man. At least the Spring Awakening crew had onstage clueless grown-ups to rebel against. Of the two dudes who actually get off the couch (seriously, the third one spends the whole rest of the show there, literally drinking bong water, his girl and their newborn baby eventually fleeing in disgust), Johnny (played by breakout SA star John Gallagher Jr.) gets hooked on drugs and does the usual hooked-on-drugs stuff, while Tunny (the excellently named Stark Sands) is enraptured by a charismatic, all-American, media-saturating beefcake dude into joining the Armed Forces and heading off to the Middle East, where he immediately loses his leg and does not-at-all-usual lost-my-leg-in-the-Middle-East stuff—namely, a Peter Pan–style, cable-assisted midair ballet tangle with a nurse who strips off her burka to reveal Princess Jasmine’s outfit from Disney’s Aladdin. To the tune of “Extraordinary Girl.” Read Full Review

NY Daily News

If you’re content to just let the pop-rock and color and lights sweep you up, you’re going to have a good time. But don’t go expecting a plot with any edge or richness… You won’t get any of that. So while it misses at being a breakthrough musical, Idiot could be called a breakneck event – if just for the insistent beat that turns audiences into noggin-nodding bobbleheads. You don’t see that at South Pacific. Read Full Review

New York

Remember the aughts? Or naughts? Or whatever we finally decided to call those crappy Bush years? No? Then you, my friend, are the target audience for American Idiot, Michael Mayer’s dizzyingly miscalculated adaptation of the excellent 2004 concept album by the pop-punk band Green Day. But this musical—a half-exploitative, half-lobotomized attempt to fake a youthgasm—has none of the power of that album, coming as it does from a now-middle-aged rocker (composer, book writer, and Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong) and director (Mayer, who proposed and co-conceived this embarrassing feedback loop in the afterglow of Spring Awakening’s success). It’s a self-described “rock opera” set in a self-created “Recent Past,” and it purports to evoke, with a single tear and a power chord, the confusing days of the terror-stricken early 21st century, when we yo-yoed from cowed powerlessness to inchoate fury. Well, confusing and inchoate this show most definitely is: Its version of youthful anomie is so far off the mark, and such a muddled conflation of vague Gen-X nostalgia and generic rebellion sample tracks, that the effect is almost comical. But mostly just irritating. Read Full Review

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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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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.

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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.

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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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The Latest Million Dollar Quartet News and Gossip

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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The Latest American Idiot News and Gossip

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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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.

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