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 John Rando

The Reviews for On the Town are in…

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The reviews for On the Town are in, and the critics agree that this is one helluva revival!  Director John Rando has created a fresh, fun, and bouncy New York that only appears in the eyes of excited newcomers and the dreams of long-time citizens — it’s the American capital of opportunity.  Choreography by Joshua Bergasse matches the aesthetic, creating a wholesome, exciting magic that spreads to every seat in the Lyric Theater.  Of course it doesn’t hurt that the stars of the show deliver serious star performances – Tony Yazbeck is a dazzling lead sailor and Megan Fairchild, of the New York City Ballet, is captivating as the owner of his heart.  On the Town offers a night of delightful (and harmless) skirt-chasing and takes you to the New York you dreamed about as a child.

NEW YORK TIMES

“And now, a show about sex that you can take the whole family to: the kids, the grandparents, even your sister the nun. That idea may sound kind of creepy, or (worse) dreary. But I assure you that the jubilant revival of On the Town, which opened Thursday night at the Lyric Theater, is anything but. On the cont…”

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NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

“Three footloose sailors aren’t the only ones who get lucky in On the Town. The audience does, too. Director John Rando has assembled a great cast for this fizzy and frisky revival of the 1944 musical by Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Leonard Bernstein. Tracing a tale of World War II tars on leave in the bi…”

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

“The webs have been swept away, the comic book villains are long gone and even the name of the theater has changed. So what better way to bid farewell to the doomed Spider-Man musical at the re-christened Lyric Theatre than with a pure American classic? An exuberant, dazzling revival of On the Town…”

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“A glorious 28-piece orchestra playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in front of a giant American flag safety curtain has the audience on its feet before On the Town gets started. But it’s the jagged blasts of brass, the languorously bluesy romantic ballads and the exuberant comedy numbers of Leonard Bernstein’s jazzy…”

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NBC NEW YORK

“Living in New York City, day in and day out, it’s easy to forget the fun of experiencing it all for the first time. The wonder of looking up at the skyscrapers from the streets below. The excitement of being among the diversity of its residents. It’s the sort of childlike discovery that makes even a crowded subway seem…”

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The Reviews for A Christmas Story are In…

The critics were all pleasantly surprised to actually enjoy themselves at a Christmas show. Indeed, when all the best elements from the movie were transformed into silliness like kick lines with leg lamps, huge tap numbers involving a bedlam of 9-year-olds and a child who’s tongue is stuck to a flag pole, attempting not only to talk, but to sing, they couldn’t help but get carried away in the fun. Scored perfectly, directed tightly and choreographed brilliantly, even the most critical movie-aficionado and crankiest anti-Christmas Scrooge found “A Christmas Story” an absolute delight.

NEW YORK TIMES

“You’d have to have a Grinch-size heart not to feel a smile spreading across your face when Luke Spring, a 9-year-old dynamo with feathers for feet, starts tapping his little heart out in “A Christmas Story” … Clad in a sleek black suit, his high-wattage grin beaming into the auditorium, this energetic little charmer raises such a merry clatter with his nimble dancing that it all but brings down the house….“A Christmas Story,” based onthe popular 1983 movie adapted from the writings of the radio personality Jean Shepherd, wins points for being less glitzy and more soft-spoken than the garish, overbearing musical versions of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Elf.”…Shepherd narrates the stage version in the likable person of Dan Lauria, former star of the similarly nostalgic television series “The Wonder Years.” I found the heavy doses of voice-over in the rather clunky movie to be obtrusive and irritating. Happily, the stage version lightens up a little on the cute, smart-alecky asides…making room for the music and allowing the story mostly to speak for itself. Not that there’s much story to speak of….Mr. Pasek and Mr. Paul have provided a likable, perky score that duly translates all of the major episodes in the story into appropriate musical numbers…But the sequences that make the children in the audience perk up and stop fidgeting are naturally the big dance numbers led by the smaller fry in the cast…They are wonderfully showcased in a couple of fantasy numbers that are the highlights of each act, and are choreographed with invention by Warren Carlyle.”

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HUFFINGTON POST

“The show that opened Monday at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre is a charming triumph of imagination that director John Rando has infused with utter joy. It’s also a snappy piece of mature songwriting from a pair of guys barely as old as the original 1983 film. The duo, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, are making their Broadway debuts with a score that is funny, nostalgic, warm and tender…The book by Joseph Robinette honors the film…The cast is led by a multi-talented Johnny Rabe as Ralphie – some performances star Joe West in the role – and a cast of skillful children, who can give the kids over at “Annie” a run for their money. One from the ensemble – 9-year-old tap dancing prodigy Luke Spring – brings the house down during a fantasy scene in a children’s speakeasy. Warren Carlyle’s inspired choreography manages to cut the sweetness with funny tart moments, such as the use of slow motion as a nod to the musical’s roots, or pyramids of people slightly off-kilter or manic elves at a department store…Purists may be upset to miss some film elements – such as Ralphie’s decoder ring – but few will walk away thinking “A Christmas Story” has been dishonored, itself a little Christmas miracle.”

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HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“No coal in the Christmas stocking for this entertaining family show, which sticks close to its source material while establishing an engaging personality of its own….A cut above the pack, it’s cute, corny, wholesome and sentimental – all basic requirements for family-friendly seasonal stage entertainment. But it also packs ample heart into its wistful glance back to a time when rewards were simpler, communities were closer-knit, and both parental and filial roles were less polluted by the infinite distractions and anxieties of contemporary life….Sturdily adapted by Joseph Robinette, it features a peppy, period-flavored score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. With their catchy lyrics and robust melodies, the songs strengthen the characters and situations, dropped in at just the right time to enhance and propel the story….Director John Rando and choreographer Warren Carlyle’s clever use of the dozen talented triple-threat kids in the cast is a winning ingredient. On the surface, Robinette’s work as book writer might appear elementary, but it takes skill to cover every vignette from a movie without merely checking obligatory references off a list…This is an ensemble show rather than a vehicle for star turns, but Lauria’s warmly authoritative presence provides a binding element, and Rabe gives Ralphie irrepressible spirit. Bolton deserves special mention, making Ralphie’s dad a gangly human cartoon, both gruff and affectionate….Unexpectedly, the show pulses with genuine feeling, which should guarantee return engagements.”

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ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

“Don’t expect an exact replica of the movie….The film evokes a certain screwball nature that has become as synonymous with the holiday season as candy canes. But the stage adaptation plays like a heart-tugging, best-of version of the movie, with a saccharine score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and a book by Joseph Robinette that desperately panders for laughs….The most iconic moments from the original story have been morphed into entire scenes or songs or running gags…Some of it works beautifully…Odd[ly] yes, but somehow it works. In fact, most of the songs are solid, although there are no real new Christmas classics in the mix…[but] one of the classroom kids — the tiniest, cutest one, Luke Spring — breaks into a tap routine that would draw applause from the likes of Sammy Davis Jr….The musicals’ pleasures are far and wide: Dan Lauria is steady as an older version of Ralphie, who narrates the story. Johnny Rabe, who played Ralphie at my performance (Joe West plays some performances), did a nice job of wrangling the curmudgeonly, hopeful nature of his character…The show feels too long…And Ralphie’s mom (Erin Dilly) feels like a too-sugary shell of the kookily frazzled character…on screen. And of course, the whole production is super-duper schmaltzy….For the most part, A Christmas Story: The Musical is exactly what you expect.”

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