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 Broadway

The Reviews for Holler If You Hear Me are In…

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

NEW YORK TIMES

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

Read the Full Review

NBC NEW YORK

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

Read the Full Review

TIME OUT NEW YORK

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

Read the Full Review

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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

Read the Full Review

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

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

Read the Full Review

A new way to buy Broadway tickets online

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We all know that there are LOTS of ways to buy Broadway tickets (and it’s easy to be skeptical of the new kid on the block), but we recently tested out a new (to us and to Broadway) tickets website called ScoreBig that offers a bit of a different approach to the Broadway ticket-buying process.

It’s almost like an online version of the TKTS booth, where discounted tickets are made available to people hoping to see a show for less.  The twist with ScoreBig is that you have the opportunity to make an offer on tickets and get them for an even lower price.  The other twist with ScoreBig is that the seat selection process is streamlined – instead of looking up actual open seats, ScoreBig outlines different seating areas with similar views and prices (in a theatre there may be 6 or 7 seating areas to choose from).  The guarantee with the seats is that your tickets will “always be together – which means in a row, one next to the other, without any strangers seated in between”.

So…how did ScoreBig do when we tested the system out? Pretty well overall!

The process on the website was easy – we found the show we wanted to see (in this case the hilarious A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder), picked a seating area we liked (and yes, our two seats ended up being right next to each other), and then started making offers.  To really test the system, we started with some low-ball offers, and that’s where the first complication popped up.  You input the amount you’re willing to spend per ticket, and ScoreBig instantly reviews to see if that will work – if your offer is rejected after three attempts, you’ve got to wait 24 hours before making another offer on tickets in that seating area.  They’re clear about the policy, so it’s no surprise (and there’s even a cool colored bar that instantly shows how likely your offer is to be accepted), it just means you’ll want to make serious offers to save the most time.

Where we see this being especially useful is for people who have a specific amount of money set aside to see a Broadway show.  There are no fees or extra charges with ScoreBig, so feel free to make an offer all the way up to the top of your budget.  Having the option to make an offer lets you find your tickets fast and skip the search through all the different sections.

The only other complication we experienced with ScoreBig was the actual acquisition of the tickets.  For us, there was an option to have the tickets waiting at Will Call or to download them for printing at home.  We chose to download and didn’t receive the link to do so until a couple days after purchase.  We assume that logistics were being worked out and seats were being secured behind the scenes during those two days, but it made us a little nervous (because the performance date was coming up soon).  In the end, we got the tickets just fine.  Our recommendation is to give ScoreBig a try if you’ve got at least a few days or maybe even a week before your show…otherwise maybe visit the TKTS booth instead.

Based on our test experience, we would use ScoreBig again.  Like we said before, it’s kind of like buying TKTS discount tickets online (and avoiding that sometimes absurdly long line).  It could be really helpful for people planning a trip to the city or looking for tickets on a specific date or just looking for the cheapest possible tickets!  Give it a try yourself and let us know what you think.  It’s certainly easy to use and offers some cool advantages that you might not find from other Broadway ticket sellers.

The Broadway Musical Home received a discount coupon code for ScoreBig but was not paid to endorse ScoreBig services and/or offerings in any way.

FREE Download of “King of New York” from Newsies!

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For all you Newsies fans out there, we’re thrilled to share a free download of “King of New York!”

After you listen and fall in love, you’ll likely want to purchase the entire album. And we’ve got good news – if you order it through Amazon.com right now, you’ll automatically get a FREE digital copy of the album to tide you over until your CD arrives in the mail.

So…come on and seize the day. Order the cast album now!

How to Become a Broadway Actor or Actress

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We get questions every day from people of all ages who are interested in becoming a Broadway actor or actress, are just getting started and have no idea where to start.

Like those at the top of their game in any profession, it’s easy to be inspired by those on The Great White Way, but like other professions, you don’t start out as the CEO of a company or an olympic athlete. You start at the bottom and with a lot of hard work, determination and luck, might get a shot if you take every opportunity that comes your way.

There are basics that every single person who has made it has taken. Though their paths have all been different, here are the things you can do to begin your path to Broadway:

Train, Train, Train

There is nothing natural about standing in front of large groups of strangers, speaking someone else’s words or singing someone else’s songs, while turning partially away from the person to whom you’re talking.

Whether your training takes place in a high school classroom, in a well-established theatre conservatory, under the tutelage of a great teacher in a weekly class, or in each and every show you can get into, you can learn both from the critique you receive directly, and from watching others and listening to the critique they get.

Take acting classes, dance classes, voice classes (whether you’re looking to do musicals or not), get a voice teacher – and do things that seemingly have nothing to do with theatre…

Those who played an instrument had an upper hand in casting for the recent revival of Sweeney Todd; those who were cheerleaders got a leg up in Lysistrata Jones; ballroom dancers have gotten huge legs up in numerous shows. If you’re passionate about anything – continue to train there as well, you’ll never know if it might help you – and if nothing more, you’ll have something else that gives you joy, make you a healthier, more rounded person and expose you to more of the world and more of the incredible people you might one day play.

Network

Connections are a huge portion of this industry. The biggest legs up happen when someone you’ve worked with before recommends you. As much as the diva personality circulates as the norm in this industry, it’s unlikely to ever help you – divas get cast despite their eccentric nature. If you work hard, are fun to work with and are you – directors, writers, stage managers and producers will want to work with you again and might bring you in for consideration in their next project, or suggest you to a friend who’s looking for X for their next project.

Always Say Yes

If you’re asked to do a reading, to meet with someone for a quick lunch, to sing in a cabaret, to do an interview with Seth Rudetsky, anything – say yes. You’ll never know who will be in the audience, whether that writer may go on to become the next David Mamet, or be meeting with him later that afternoon.

See as Much Theatre as You Can

See as many shows as you can – both directly in your chosen area and outside of it. You can learn by watching others, noting what works and what doesn’t and trying to dig in to discover just what it was that made a performance work so wonderfully. And don’t just see Broadway shows, get Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Off-Off Broadway, see West End productions, dance productions, experimental art pieces, the show your cousin is doing at some summerstock theatre upstate. Then sit back and think about what worked and what didn’t and why.

Take Care of Yourself So You Look and Feel Good

And get to the gym – yes, everyone has as much trouble as you do getting there – but if you’re going to become an actor, your looks are part of your package, so tone it and get into the best shape you can.

Also take care of your skin and learn how to apply makeup, invest in clothing and shoes that look good on you, is comfortable and allows you to move.

As much as everyone would like to believe that looks are only a part of the equation — they are a big part and form your first impression. If you look good, hold yourself well and walk into a room feeling good about yourself, you have a leg up over at least half of your competition.

Show Up and Move On

You will be rejected over and over again. You will spend months preparing for an audition and not get a callback. You will not even be considered for a role you know you are perfect for because they decided they want a veteran actress playing it, or producers think Adele will bring in more ticket sales. You might be an inch taller than the man they want to cast as the male lead and so miss out. Or it may be some reason even more inane – the director just ended a relationship with someone who looks like you or he really wants someone with freckles  Most of the time you’ll never know and you’ll never hear back. You’ll have poured out your heart and soul and will be told “we’ll be in touch” and left in the dark.

But your job if you really want to work in this industry is to grow a thick skin, shake it off, and show up for the next audition. To again pour out your heart and soul – to invest every ounce of your being in the next one, most likely to be rejected once again.

Everyone has different techniques for dealing with this – one actress figured out that she would get a callback for every 18 auditions she did, so she would keep track. For every rejection she got, she would put a big “X” and think – I’m one rejection closer to a callback!

It’s an incredibly hard thing to do but it’s part of the job – no matter how famous, how talented, how successful, every actor faces rejection every time they step into a room or submit themselves for a part. But you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t show up first.

Work Hard

After you’ve celebrated when you do get a callback and the incredible day you get cast, hit the ground running – start your research, learn your lines and throw yourself head-first into the role.

During rehearsals, listen to your director, be nice to your stage manager, learn from and work with your fellow actors and soak it all up. Try to stay away from gossip, stay humble and be kind – hopefully you’ll work with some of these same people again in the future. Don’t make the reason you don’t get cast the next time that you snapped at the stage manager during the run of this show.

It’s a hard life and everyone says that if you can imagine yourself doing anything else you should do that instead. Just keep training, networking, saying yes, seeing theatre, taking care of yourself, showing up and working hard — because you know, like everyone in this industry, it’s worth all the heartache and effort, because there’s nothing like the moment the curtain rises and you open your mouth to say or sing your first word.

Advice Directly from the Pros:

Betty Buckley: Study, study, study. Practice, practice, practice. : )

Constantine Maroulis: Do everything u can…community theater to school plays, work hard respect the craft and be good to all – never know who they become.

Nick Adams: Find a great acting teacher. Take as many classes as you can in all disciplines. Train. See everything!

Natalie Hill: Study & train & take classes from casting directors then go to open calls & nail it!

Diana DeGarmo: Be a sponge & take everything in-educate yourself! Music, shows, directors,  choreographers, dance, etc – all of it! & have FUN! :)

Erin Wilson: Get ready to work like you never have before. Research, be prepared, know your type, be kind, find an outside hobby – sanity!

Howard Sherman: You don’t become a “Broadway actor.” You become an actor and then, perhaps, you get cast in a Broadway show.

Nicole Tori: Lots of hard work, persistence, training, networking and LUCK!

Lexi Lawson: Pray! JK – my advice is to make sure you are fully prepared (though I always have a tendency of always messing up my dialogue) but I go in prepared. And go in loving what it is. The creative team will see if the passion in you pour out if it’s a project you absolutely love and want to be a part of. Good luck to my musical munchkins.

What’s Your Advice?

Do you have advice to share or questions for others who work in the industry? This is such a big question with so many answers — we’d love to hear your thoughts! How do you cope with rejection? What advice would you give someone just starting out? Use the comment form below and help make this post even better!

Broadway Fan Art T-Shirts

We got a new t-shirt featuring our Broadway Musical Home artwork (by the oh-so-talented Mark H. Adams) and just had to share. Doesn’t it look fab?!

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This shirt got me giddy thinking about the idea of featuring fan art on t-shirts!

Just think – you could spread your love for your favorite Broadway show with a t-shirt different from those worn by every the other fan. The site we got ours from (tshirtprinting.org) has no minimum order, so you could get a shirt only for you, for the entire cast of your high school musical, or for your favorite Broadway geek friends.

Can’t you imagine these amazing drawings and paintings on a t-shirt:



Have you created any fan artwork or t-shirts of your own? We’d love to see! Share in the comments below!

The Broadway Musical Home received a complementary copy of a t-shirt, but was not paid to endorse this product in any way.

WEEKLY DEAL ALERT: The Book of Mormon: The Testament of a Broadway Musical

Every week we scour the web to find the best musical theatre deals on cast albums, videos, sheetmusic, tickets, merchandise and more, but many items are available at these great prices for a limited time only, so grab them while you can…

The Book of Mormon: The Testament of a Broadway Musical

Get the deal!

Read the rest of this entry »

The Reviews for Annie are In…

The reviews for Annie are in and critics couldn’t be more pleased with the timing of a dog named Sandy bounding onstage to help heal the woes left by the hurricane of the same name. The show’s big name, Katie Finneran, receives mixed reviews for her performance of Miss Hannigan, but Lilla Crawford as Annie and Anthony Warlow as Daddy Warbucks, both receive huge accolades for their tremendous performances. The critics agree that the show is exactly what New York needs right now, and though a few long for the original production, most are happy to have this revival sounding out: “The sun will come out tomorrow!”

NEW YORK TIMES

“Say what you will about the current version of “Annie,” which is directed with a slightly tremulous hand by James Lapine and features the virtuosic Katie Finneran as the villainous Miss Hannigan, you can’t fault the timing of its return to Broadway…. Even the dewiest, pluckiest ingénue would have a hard time staying fresh once she became an endlessly re-marketable brand name. That’s the challenge faced by Mr. Lapine and company, and it is met a tad uneasily…. It would seem that Mr. Lapine is hoping to introduce at least a tincture of psychological shading to a show that is only, and unapologetically, a singing comic strip…. The delicate-featured but indefatigable Ms. Crawford, who is possessed of both a golden glow and a voice of brass, is pretty close to perfect in the title role.”

Read the full Annie review

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“Could the timing be any better for a Broadway revival of Annie?… While it downplays the comic-strip origins in subtle ways, James Lapine’s production sensibly chooses not to reinvent the 1977 musical, which won seven Tony Awards and ran for close to six years its first time around. Returning to Broadway almost three decades later, this enduring ode to optimism remains a sterling example of expert musical-theater craftsmanship….Hardcore fans may find it lacking in the property’s traditional brash vibrancy, but what makes this revival disarming is that it’s cute without being cutesy and sweet without being saccharine….But the heart of the show, as it should be, is Crawford’s Annie. The 11-year-old actress has the vocal chops necessary to sock the songs across, but also the tough pragmatism to command a roomful of heavyweight politicians without coming off as obnoxious….Overall, this is a winning presentation of an unapologetically sentimental show that tips its hat to an earlier era in musical theater, before the age of cynicism and industrial spectacle redefined the Broadway model.”

Read the full Annie review

NEWSDAY

“For all the freight of timeliness, this remains a sweet spot of a family musical, full of adorable, but not sticky-adorable, waifs punching the air with their teeny fists and belting “Tomorrow” over and over until every cynic within earshot might be a believer. Director James Lapine’s handsome yet lovable vision finds the emotional core without losing the cartoon magic. There is a modesty, a humanity within the spectacle that helps the too-large theater feel embracing….As Annie, Lilla Crawford has a self-possessed intelligence — we’d call it gravitas if that sounded more like fun. She also has lungs to match her big presence, and a cool coiffeur that says Bernadette Peters more than a tot in an orange fright wig. I’ll hear no negative words about Katie Finneran, who, unlike her much-admired campier predecessors, makes Miss Hannigan both a cruel clown and a genuinely erotic creature whose thwarted ambitions seem just the slightest bit sad. Anthony Warlow makes an empathetic Daddy Warbucks, Brynn O’Malley has smarts as his assistant, and Clarke Thorell and J. Elaine Marcos are properly nefarious con artists.”

Read the full Annie review

WASHINGTON POST

“Infused with zip and charm by its sensational Annie, Noo-Yawk-tawkin’ Lilla Crawford, the show, slickly staged by James Lapine, tells you that any city or nation keeping faith with the future will rise again, come hell or high water….So it is with this handsome revival, infinitely superior to the previous Broadway incarnation, a woefully bedraggled 1997 staging…that ran for only 239 performances. One suspects that this kid- and adult-pleasing version, enhanced by Anthony Warlow’s gruff and robustly sung Daddy Warbucks, will be ensconced at the Palace for far longer….Accelerating quickly into shrillness…Finneran doesn’t let the audience fully embrace her joyous malevolence. We never feel enlisted in her quest to rise from the ranks of the losers. Thanks, though, to li’l Lilla and a superbly assembled cast of supporting orphans…the sentimental center of Annie holds, just fine.”

Read the full Annie review

ASSOCIATED PRESS

“The slow-to-start musical features an appealing 11-year-old Lilla Crawford in the title role, an overcooked Katie Finneran as Miss Hannigan and a first-rate Anthony Warlow as Daddy Warbucks…If Finneran is big and brassy and broad, Warlow is the opposite. This Australian actor brings gravitas and a sumptuous voice to Warbucks. His is a performance of subtlety, of small eyebrow movements….While Crawford is excellent, as is usually the case with “Annie,” a younger orphan often steals your heart. In this show, that would be Emily Rosenfeld as Molly, who is cuter than a dump truck of plush teddy bears.”

Read the full Annie review

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