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 Kelsey Grammer

The reviews for La Cage Aux Folles are in…and they adored it!

The verdict is unanimous: This scaled-down mounting of La Cage Aux Folles, a transfer from London’s Mernier Chocolate Factory, is a lovely, fun and nuanced take on the campy original. Doglass Hodge lived up to all expectations – blowing away every reviewer, particularly in his performance of “I Am What I Am” – and Kelsey Grammer exceeded what had been expected from him – using his voice (which is far better than anyone had supposed) and subtlety to balance Hodge’s (appropriately) over-the-top performance. And the two stars are backed up by a solid ensemble and hilarious supporting cast. As one reviewer said, this show leaves you feeling that “the best of times IS now.”

New York Times

“The ladies of the chorus from “La Cage aux Folles” have never looked more appealing than they do in the warm, winning production that opened Sunday night at the Longacre Theater… This deliberately disheveled show…is a far cry from the high-gloss original production of 1983 or the glamorous, soulless revival that opened less than six years ago… That’s partly because of the stylish yin and yang of its stars… Mr. Hodge, who originated the part [of Albin] in the London revival, brings a fluttery hyperintensity to the role that recharges it… You don’t realize how much pain and anger have gone into this self-construction until you hear him do “I Am What I Am,” the show’s signature anthem, at the end of the first act. Mr. Hodge breathes fire here, his hitherto scratchy, campy voice growing into a white-hot blaze. It is — and who’d a thunk it? — the most electric interpretation of a song on Broadway right now. Mr. Grammer provides the ideal counterpoint to this hysterical creature, in a cool, modest performance that has its own sneaky charm. That his singing voice is correspondingly quiet, with no muscle-flexing baritone bravado, makes Georges’s over-ripe sentimental ballads (“Look Over There,” “Song on the Sand”) palatable and even touching in their unaffected sincerity.” Read the full La Cage Aux Folles review.

Associated Press

“[Douglas Hodge] is giving the most exuberant musical-comedy performance of the season. Hodge is the primary reason this riotously funny and, yes, emotionally affecting revival of the Jerry Herman-Harvey Fierstein musical has returned to Broadway only five years after its last New York appearance. Yet there is more to the show than Hodge’s star-making performance. “La Cage,” which opened Sunday at Broadway’s Longacre Theatre, has been imaginatively reconceived by director Terry Johnson… Grammer has a surprisingly sturdy singing voice and an ingratiating stage manner, just right for the calm — well, relatively calm — voice of reason in the chorus of quirky, high-spirited characters who populate Fierstein’s plot of filial devotion.” Read the full La Cage Aux Folles review.

Variety

“Why bring back “La Cage aux Folles” — a major hit musical of the 1983-84 Broadway season, but certainly not a classic like “Gypsy” or “Fiddler on the Roof” — only five years after its first Broadway revival? Especially when that 2004-05 stint proved a tired and unnecessary affair, suggesting that the original production (with its six Tony Awards) was stronger than the material. The producers of this new edition, which premiered at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory in 2007, have a convincing answer: It’s funny, heartwarming and terrific.” Read the full La Cage Aux Folles review.

USA Today

“Attending a performance of this La Cage, which opened Sunday at the Longacre Theatre, is a bit like spending an afternoon with an overactive but thoroughly charming child. An import of London’s Menier Chocolate Factory, the production retains one of its original stars: the British trouper Douglas Hodge, who won an Olivier Award for his portrayal of Albi… But if Hodge has some beautifully nuanced moments, he can also milk Zaza’s camp value, and that of the show, to distraction… Fortunately, Grammer settles into a more natural, endearing interpretation, and he and Hodge, for all their winking gestures, capably illustrate the affection and devotion binding this couple. They’re abetted, under Terry Johnson’s giddy direction, by a number of entertaining supporting performances… They all seem to be having a swell time, as will you — so long as you can keep up with them.” Read the full La Cage Aux Folles review.

Entertainment Weekly

“The show, newly revived on Broadway under the thoughtful direction of Terry Johnson, proves to be surprisingly sturdy… Hodge is practically perfect as the fey Albin, a tricky role in which an actor could easily slip into caricature or sentimentality. Hodge manages a careful balance, delivering a performance that is both hilarious and heartfelt; his character is admittedly over the top, but he always feels real. As his partner, the La Cage manager Georges, Kelsey Grammer proves to be an equal partner in carrying the show… Hodge and Grammer provide a solid grounding for the show, but the rest of the cast offers all the flourishes you’d expect from a show rooted in drag performance.” Read the full La Cage Aux Folles review.

Bloomberg

“The chorus of six long-limbed drag queens in the latest Broadway revival of Jerry Herman’s “La Cage aux Folles” is half that of two earlier outings… Yet unlike the shrunken revivals of other big Broadway musicals, this one makes sense. Terry Johnson’s smart, tight, rough-edged and slightly tacky production gets closer to the sort of scene one might actually find in a transvestite club on the French Riviera… The box-office draw is Kelsey Grammer, of TV’s “Frasier,” as Georges, the soigne master of ceremonies. The main reason for seeing the show is Douglas Hodge as Albin, the aging headliner and Georges’s partner of 20 years.” Read the full La Cage Aux Folles review.

New Musicals, News, Casting, Cast Albums, TV Appearances and More

New Musicals and Transfers

The Michael Grandage-directed production of Evita, which opened at London’s Adelphi Theatre in June 2006 is officially heading to Broadway next year. Elena Roger, who starred in the West End production, will repeat her performance in the Broadway remount. Rumor has it that Ricky Martin is in talks to play Che, though this has not been confirmed.

Disney was apparently in talks with Billy Elliot‘s Stephen Daldry to direct a stage adaptation of Dumbo. Though he turned down the job, they’re still on the hunt for a new director for the musical. We can only hope Dumbo will fare better than some of Disney’s recent attempts to adapt their animated films for the stage (ie. The Little Mermaid, Tarzan). No names have yet been attached to this project.

A new jukebox musical called Unchain My Heart will be heading to Broadway on Nov. 7 this year. Featuring the music of Ray Charles and a book by Suzan-Lori Parks, casting for the production has not yet been announced.

The Canadian Press is reporting that Mel Brooks is working on a musical adaptation of his  film, Blazing Saddles. Brooks has apparently already written two songs for the show though he’ll be taking his time bringing it to Broadway due to the “lukewarm” reception Young Frankenstein received.

Producer David Shor announced the creative team for the Broadway aimed Sleepless in Seattle – The Musical. Michelle Citrin, Michael Garin and Josh Nelson will serve as composers/lyricists, Jeff Arch (who co-wrote the movie’s screenplay) will be the show’s librettist and Joel Zwick will direct. The musical adaptation is hoping to make a Broadway bow on Valentine’s Day 2011.

News About Shows Opening Soon

Kristin Chenoweth will be singing the song “I Say a Little Prayer” in the revival of Promises, Promises. Though by the show’s composer, Burt Bacharach, the song was not included in the original production. Not exactly sure where they’re gonna put it, but I’m guessing it’s gonna be one of those where the guy behind you starts singing along…

Kelsey Grammer who is returning to Broadway in the role of Georges in La Cage Aux Folles, shared that he will take on the role of Albin six months into the musical’s run. In other casting news, the musical’s producers announced that Fred Applegate (The Producers, Young Frankenstein) will take on the roles of Edouard Dindon and M. Renaud in La Cage Aux Folles.

It may not even fit under this category anymore (though Julie Taymor is adamant that it will open this fall), but the big news is that Evan Rachel Wood, who was to play Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, has left the production due to “scheduling conflicts.”

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies, opened to mixed reviews in London. The show is likely to undergo changes before heading to the Great White Way, so who knows what it will look like when it comes our way. Anyone here seen it on the West End?

Casting Announcements

Rumor is that Alice Ripley will be touring with the Next to Normal cast, which is exciting news for those who haven’t been able to make the trip to NYC! As to the Broadway replacement, producers are holding open Equity auditions. Wonder who they’ll find to replace her…

The new tribe for Broadway’s Hair has taken over and the OBC headed to the West End. Led by Diana DeGarmo, Ace Young, and Kyle Riabko, this American-Idol heavy group seems to be just as energetic and excited as their predecessors.

Mandy Gonzalez, who originated the role of Nina in In the Heights, will assume that of Elphaba in the Broadway production of Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre on March 23.

Emily Padgett (Grease, Legally Blonde) has succeeded Tony nominee Kerry Butler as Sherrie in the Broadway production of Rock of Ages. Derek St. Pierre and Katie Webber (Memphis) will join the cast on March 22.

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury are leaving A Little Night Music on June 20 but the show will run through through Aug 29. It will be interesting to see who ends up stepping in for the last couple of months and if the show will last after its stars’ departure.

Karl Kenzler and Megan Osterhaus joined the Broadway company of Mary Poppins on March 1 in the roles of George Banks and Winifred Banks, succeeding Jeff Binder and Rebecca Luker.

Cast Album and DVD Releases

The album for the current revival of A Little Night Music, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury, will be available on April 6. It is now available for pre-order.

The cast album for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies is now out in stores.

And the cast recording for The Addams Family, which opens on Broadway on April 8, will be available in June 2010.

The DVD and Blue-Ray version of Nine will be available in stores on May 4. It is now available for pre-order.

Television Appearances

“Glee” – Air dates TBA – Neil Patrick Harris, Idina Menzel

“Ugly Betty” – Wed, Mar 17 – Aaron Tveit and Carol Kane

“The View” – Thur, March 25 – Michael Feinstein and Dame Edna

“The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” – Tues, March 16 – Hugh Jackman

“The Today Show” – Wed, March 17 – Riverdance performance


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Broadway’s La Cage Aux Folles announces additional casting

The West End transfer of La Cage Aux Folles, which opens April 18 at the Longacre Theater, previously announced its headliners Kelsey Grammer and Douglas Hodge.

Today, producers have added some additional names to the cast list, including: Tony Award nominees Veanne Cox (Company) and Robin de Jesus (In the Heights), Christine Andreas (Oklahoma!), A.J. Shively, Elena Shaddow (Nine), Chris Hoch (Shrek), Heather Lindell (Hairspray), Bill Nolte (The Secret Garden, Joseph, 1776), David Nathan Perlow, and Nick Adams (Guys and Dolls, A Chorus Line).

You’ve seen the artwork. How do you think the show is going to be received by theater-goers?

Closing, opening, cast albums, casting and more in a huge Broadway news round-up

A lot has been happening on Broadway these last few weeks. Here are the biggest of the announcements:

Closing soon

Bye Bye Birdie has offically announced that it will play its final performance on Jan 24. Though technically an extension of its limited run, many had expected this expensive production to run much longer, and producers are definitely walking away with losses.

RUMOR: Michael Riedel of the New York Post is saying things aren’t looking good for Broadway’s Ragtime: “Officially, the producers say, ‘there are no plans to close at this time.’ Unofficially, it’s likely to close Jan. 3 at a total loss, several production sources say.”

Though not Broadway, this one is a big blow for NYC theatre. Altar Boyz, the longest running Off-Broadway musical to open in more than a decade (the 9th longest of all time), will play its final performance at New World Stages on Sunday, January 10th at 7:30 PM.

Opening soon

Million Dollar Quartet will officially begin previews at the Nederlander Theatre on March 13, 2010 and open on April 11, 2010. The Broadway production will be independent of the Chicago company, which will continue there. Broadway casting has not yet been announced.

All About Me, which had announced an opening in a few months at the John Golden Theatre, will instead take over Henry Miller’s Theatre now that Bye Bye Birdie is vacating.

Producer Ken Davenport has announced that Stephen Schwartz’s Godspell, which had been scheduled to begin previews at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in September 2008, is now aiming for a Broadway bow during the 2010-11 season. The revival will be directed by Daniel Goldstein. No casting has yet been announced.

Cast albums

PS Classics and Nonesuch will team to release the new Broadway cast album of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. The cast of the Trevor Nunn-directed revival will record the album Jan. 4, 2010. No release date has yet been announced.

The cast album for the Broadway revival of Finian’s Rainbow will be available on Feb. 2, 2010 (though the disc will be at the St. James Theatre three weeks before that). The new Broadway cast album will be produced by PS Classics.

Broadway’s Memphis has recorded a cast album with Delray Records. The national release will be announced shortly, but in the meantime fans may purchase it at the Shubert Theatre where the musical opened in October.

Broadway casting announcements

Corbin Bleu of High School Musical fame is going to play the role of Usnavi in In the Heights starting January 25th. Regarding the casting (which has met with a lot of nay-saying online), Lin-Manuel Miranda had this to say:

Javi is amazing. Jon Rua is too.
Michael Balderrama makes the drama ring true.
They’re big footsteps; I wrote a really big shoe.
This one is Lin-approved: Mr. Corbin Bleu.

Producers have announced that the Broadway production of Sondheim on Sondheim, opening April 22, will star Barbara Cook, Vanessa Williams, Tom Wopat, Leslie Kritzer, Norm Lewis, Euan Morton and Matthew Scott.

Kelsey Grammer has signed on to star in the Broadway musical La Cage Aux Folles, as Georges. He will star alongside Douglas Hodge, who will continue in the role of Albin, the drag queen star, which he played to critical acclaim in London. The revival opens on April 18, 2010 at the Longacre Theatre.

Matt Cavenaugh will play his last performance as Tony in West Side Story on Dec. 13. His understudy Matthew Hydzik will resume the role on Dec. 15.

Broadway’s Mary Poppins welcomes Valerie Boyle to the role of household cook Mrs. Brill Dec. 4 and Tony nominee Jonathan Freeman to the company on Dec. 12 at the New Amsterdam Theatre.

Destiny’s Child member Michelle Williams will join the musical Chicago on Broadway starting Feb. 8. Williams is slated to star as Roxie Hart in the production until mid-April.

Grammy-nominated cast albums

The Grammy Award nominations were announced, and the Best Musical Show Album contained nominations for Ain’t Misbehavin’, Hair, 9 to 5, Shrek and West Side Story.

Wicked sets a new record

Wicked hit a major milestone Thanksgiving weekend, becoming the first Broadway production to report sales of more than $2 million for a single week.

Musicals on the Silver Screen

Variety is reporting that “Shakespeare in Love” director John Madden is in talks to direct the film version of My Fair Lady with a screenplay by Emma Thompson. Keira Knightly and Daniel Craig have been rumored to star in the Cameron Mackintosh and Duncan Kenworthy produced movie musical.

Tony Award-winning actress Donna Murphy (Passion, The King and I) has joined the cast of the new Disney animated musical Rapunzel. Murphy will voice the role of the witch, alongside Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi. Academy Award-winning composer Alan Menken will compose and Byron Howard and Nathan Greno will direct.

Amateur rights available

Rights for the 2008 Tony Award winner for best musical, In the Heights, are now available through R&H Theatricals. For more information or to license the show, click here.

Musicals on Time’s Top Ten of Everything list

Time Magazine unveiled its “The Top 10 Everything of 2009,” rating news, entertainment, pop culture and more. Ragtime, Finian’s Rainbow and Fela! all appeared on the “Top 10 Plays and Musicals” list and Marion Cotillard on the “Top 10 Movie Performances” list for her turn in the film version of Nine.

New equity leadership

Actors’ Equity Association announced Dec. 11 that Mark S. Zimmerman has resigned as president, effective immediately. Equity’s vice president Paige Price will now carry out the duties of the president until a new president is elected.

Touring soon

Dreamgirls concludes its Harlem run Dec. 12 prior to embarking on a national tour. The production, starring Moya Angela, Syesha Mercado, Adrienne Warren, Margaret Hoffman, Chaz Lamar Shepherd, Chester Gregory, Trevon Davis and Milton Craig Nealy was directed by Robert Longbottom (Side Show, Flower Drum Song, Bye Bye Birdie), who co-choreographed with Emmy-nominated hip-hop artist Shane Sparks.


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