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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 Katie Finneran

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

The reviews for Promises, Promises are in …

Promises, Promises opened on Broadway to some mixed reviews. It’s not the worst thing to hit the Great White Way this month, but the show feels listless, measured, dated and a little boring. Critics applaud Sean Hayes’ timing and a standout performance by Katie Finneran, but feel that Kristin Chenoweth is miscast, the choreography uninspired and the set inappropriate. Though no one was expecting a Burt Bacharach/Neil Simon revival to blow the top off of Broadway, critics were disappointed that Rob Ashford didn’t create something a little more exciting and cohesive from the source material and talent on hand.

The New York Times

Even that singing sparkplug Kristin Chenoweth, who stars opposite a charming Sean Hayes in his Broadway debut, seems to feel the prevailing lassitude. Promises, Promises, which features a book by Neil Simon and songs by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, comes fully to life only briefly, at the beginning of its second act, when a comic volcano named Katie Finneran erupts into molten hilarity. Otherwise the white-hot charms this musical is said to have once possessed are left sleeping. Read the full review.

Variety

Most of today’s audience, admittedly, is unfamiliar with the show and won’t carp at the changes. But they might well notice that something is off; “Promises” is like a well-calibrated watch that has been pulled apart and reassembled with a spring missing (or in this case, with a couple of extra parts) … Director / choreographer Rob Ashford is less resourceful than usual and only intermittently effective; his big idea here seems to be to add dancers doing the frug in the background. It is not Ashford’s fault that Michael Bennett’s original staging of “Turkey Lurkey Time,” the big first-act production number, is easily viewable on the Internet; but it is that energy and humor that is altogether missing from the current staging. Neither is the physical production especially helpful. Read the full review.

New York Post

Indeed, the “Will & Grace” star is a revelation. Chuck is a paradox — a self-effacing lead — but the actor handles the transitions between the character’s passive bearing and his active imagination with dexterity. Hayes, Chenoweth and the excellent supporting cast — including Dick Latessa — benefit from Ashford’s direction: The staging of pop songs has rarely been as sharp as it is in this show. On the other hand, Ashford underwhelms as choreographer, which is odd considering the bang-up dances he created for “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Cry-Baby.” The biggest letdown is “Turkey Lurkey Time,” an ensemble number with a single purpose: to kill. Here, it delivers only a flesh wound. But this isn’t enough to spoil the fun. “Promises, Promises” is a candy-flavored ride that more than delivers on its title. Read the full review.

Backstage

For this story to work, both Chuck and Fran must be young and dewy-eyed, just like the movie’s radiant Shirley MacLaine (25 at the time) and charmingly vulnerable Jack Lemmon (34 but seeming years younger). If the characters are older and thus more experienced, their actions become off-putting. Neither Hayes nor Chenoweth can conjure such youth believably … Rob Ashford’s direction prizes yuks over truth, symbolized by a period chair in Sheldrake’s office that exists solely for a visual joke requiring utterly unbelievable behavior from Sheldrake, while Ashford’s busy choreography can’t erase memories of Michael Bennett’s delightfully simple “She Likes Basketball” or orgiastic “Turkey Lurkey Time.” Set designer Scott Pask imprisons the show in a wraparound cyclorama reminiscent of the Berlin Wall. Read the full review.

Associated Press

For much of the time, the production, which opened Sunday, coasts amiably on the considerable appeal of its leading man, Sean Hayes, who is making an impressive Broadway debut … Chenoweth naturally exudes peppiness, a sunny quality that for much of the time has to remain hidden here under Fran’s morose, other-woman persona. Yet she and Hayes score in a quietly effective rendition of “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” the best-known of the songs written specifically for the musical. Ashford’s choreography is efficient if not exactly joyous, even for the show’s biggest dance number, “Turkey Lurkey Time,” a frantic Christmas office party revelry. Read the full review.

Time Out New York

The endearing Hayes excels at his nebbishy physical comedy and zany confidences with the audience, but still seems nervous in the wrong ways when he sings. More problematic is the talented but miscast Chenoweth, who tries to work against her patented micro-Valkyrie persona but remains too strong and mature for Fran. Two famous songs—“I Say a Little Prayer” and “A House Is Not a Home”—have been added for her; although the second one actively contradicts the plot, in a way it is this production’s theme song. Read the full review.

Talkin’ Broadway

Under Ashford’s hand, what should be machine-oil slick comes dangerously close to sleazy, what ought to be buoyant often feels bloated, and more often than not craft bears more than a passing resemblance to cruft … This is a serious-minded musical comedy, then, that requires everyone work in the same high rise. Ashford’s uneven work with the actors, all-over-the-map choreography, and uncertainty about whether the show should be one- or three-dimensional keep the doors firmly locked. The same indecision can be seen in Scott Pask’s set, which sometimes look like a Laugh In leftover and at other times like it belongs in, well, any other Neil Simon play; Bruce Pask’s costumes also alternate rockily between subdued and zany. Only Donald Holder’s lights paint a consistent picture throughout. Read the full review.

Brooks Ashmanskas, Katie Finneran and Tony Goldwyn are joining Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes in Promises, Promises

Producers announced today that Brooks Ashmanskas, Katie Finneran and Tony Goldwyn will join Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes in the cast of the first Broadway revival of Promises, Promises.

The musical is based on Billy Wilder’s film “The Apartment,” with a book by Neil Simon, music by Burt Bacharach and lyrics by Hal David. The show will mark the Broadway directorial debut for Tony award winning choreographer Rob Ashford (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Cry-Baby).

Previews at the Broadway Theatre begin on March 27, 2010, with an opening set for April 25.

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