Archive for Promises Promises
A guest blog by Ken Davenport
It’s the time of year for the ol’ look back. What memorable moments have the last 12 months brought us that could help define the next 12 months?
Here are my top 10 Broadway moments for 2010 . . . in no particular order.
1. It’s a bird, it’s a plane! No, it’s actually a performance of Spiderman!
Will it? Won’t it? Everyone in the biz has been asking this question about Spiderman for years. And, well, a new era of musical theatre began when the curtain (finally) went up after the first (long) preview. Obviously, the drama isn’t over yet . . . but come on, 2 years ago when work halted at the Hilton, did you think we’d ever see Spidey on stage?
2. 39 Steps transfers again, but this time, from Broadway to Off.
When one show does it (Avenue Q), some might call it a fluke. When two shows do it, it’s officially a trend. And rumor has it that a third recently shuttered Broadway show is headed for the 499 that 39 Steps is vacating. My prediction? When Chicago finally loses its steam at the Ambassador, it’ll transfer to the Little Shubert and run for another 10 years.
3. Billie Joe Armstrong puts his guitar where his mouth is.
Getting your creative team behind your production is important. But when your creative team is a humongo rock star, it’s essential. Billie Joe stepped into the spotlight when asked and played 8 performances [of American Idiot] and literally stopped traffic on 44th Street in the process. He’s on his way back to the St. James this winter to boost the box office again.
4. Did you see who took that photo?
In a related story, check out this article in the New York Times about the Billie Joe appearance. What’s so memorable about it? Well, the photo was taken by someone in the audience, and the Times used it, which shows you where journalism is headed over the next 10 years. And the audience member who took it? It was Jordan Roth, owner of Jujamcyn Theaters. And that shows you where theater is headed over the next 10 years.
5. Sean Hayes is gay?
Newsweek caused quite a fuss over its article that questioned whether Sean Hayes could convincingly play a heterosexual man [in Promises, Promises]. It got everyone fired up, from his costar Kristin Chenoweth, to Aaron Sorkin, to just about every single poster on All That Chat. Sean got the last word when he hosted the Tonys and did a fantastic job.
6. La Cage Aux Folles is back. Too soon?
Last year’s production of Ragtime had everyone saying that there is a minimum number a years a show needs to be off the boards in order for a revival to work. Then in struts La Cage, less than five years after its last revival, proving to everyone that it’s not always about the . . . timing. It’s about excellence.
7. Scarlett Johansson debuts A View From The Bridge . . . and she’s good!
Alright, alright, I’ve got a soft spot for Scar (as I call her), but after her performance in Bridge and her acceptance speech on Tony night, who didn’t fall in love? Crushes aside, her performance was exactly what we hope for when an A-lister hangs out with us for a while. I guarantee that other Hollywood hotties were saying, “I wanna try that.” And that is good for all of us. Because like it or not, stars have the ability to bring new audiences to the theater.
8. Glee makes singing cool again.
Matt Morrison was on the cover of Details last month. Lea Michele is in US Weekly almost every week. Who knew we’d have some Broadway hotties making a splash out West and serving as singing and dancing role models.
9. One agency goes, and another one comes.
2010 saw the end of the Eliran Murphy Group, an ad agency which serviced the majority of the Off-Broadway shows in town. But it also saw the arrival of a bigger dog on the block. AKA, an advertising force from the UK, arrived on our shores over the summer, and snatched up bunch of high profile players at competing firms. We all knew there was room for another agency in town. But no one knew it would be something with the experience of AKA. Things just got real, yo. With three major players on the street (Serino, Spot and AKA), there’s actually some real competition and a choice for Producers.
10. The NFL puts a play in its playbook.
Who says big business won’t back Broadway? Here comes the NFL, one of the biggest businesses of all, with more eyeballs every Sunday than we could dream about in a year, sponsoring Lombardi. The odds were on Lombardi not making it to the playoffs, but thanks to the NFL, the show looks destined to run past Super Bowl Sunday and beyond.
So I’ve shown you mine, now you show me yours. What were your most memorably moments on or off Broadway in 2010?
Ken Davenport is a Broadway and Off-Broadway producer who helped bring 13 and Altar Boyz to New York and is now working towards mounting a revival of Godspell. For more like this, you can follow his blog at theproducersperspective.com or find him on Twitter or Facebook.
January usually marks the ending of many a Broadway show, but this season has more than the usual number of closings. Some have celebrated long runs but a few literally just opened; either way, if you were hoping to catch any of these, get moving!
And if you’re looking for gift suggestions for the Broadway musical lover in your life, be sure to check out our holiday gift guide. Happy holidays everyone!
There’s been lots of news this last week. Here are the big items:
West Side Story and Promises, Promises have just announced that they will close on Broadway on January 2, after playing 748 and 291 performances, respectively. West Side Story has had quite the run – an admirable revival that played to positive reviews and celebrated great attendance throughout. Promises, Promises, which opened to very poor reviews, ended up pulling in many more patrons than anyone thought after Sean Penn’s Tony Award appearance (and on-screen heterosexual kiss with his co-star, Kristin Chenoweth). The closing comes soon after announcements that Kate Finneran, who received much critical acclaim and a Tony Award for her performance in the show, would be departing the production.
Fela! will also be closing its doors on January 2, after a bit of celebrity casting in the role of Fela’s mother, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti. Pop star Patti LaBelle has stepped into the role created by Lillias White and will continue until the show’s final performance in January.
Elf has now been fully cast and will star Sebastian Arcelus (Jersey Boys, Wicked, Rent) opposite Amy Spanger (Rock of Ages, The Wedding Singer) alongside an ensemble of big name stars, including: Beth Leavel (The Drowsy Chaperone, Mamma Mia!), Mark Jacoby (Sweeney Todd, Show Boat), George Wendt (“Cheers,” Hairspray), Matthew Gumley (Addams Family), Valerie Wright (Steel Pier), Michael McCormick (Curtains) and Michael Mandell (Big River).
The biggest casting excitement is over that of the star-studded Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, which includes the likes of de’Adre Aziza, Laura Benanti, Danny Burstein, Nikka Graff Lanzarone, Patti LuPone, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Mary Beth Peil, Sherie Rene Scott and now Justin Guarini. If star power is worth anything, this show will bring in the crowds. Whether they’ll recoup with the size of the checks they’ve got to be writing for this cast is another question altogether…
As to casting changes, American Idol winner Jordan Sparks has joined the cast of In the Heights and gave a stunning rendition of “Breathe” at this year’s Broadway on Broadway. Constantine Maroulis left Broadway’s Rock of Ages to tour with the production, and has been replaced with Broadway newcomer Joey Taranto. Ryan Jesse will be stepping into the role Sebastian Arcelus is vacating in Jersey Boys on October 12, but most everyone else appears to be staying put.
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Elf and Priscilla Queen of the Desert all had premiere performances this last week, the first on Good Morning America and the other two at this year’s Broadway on Broadway. Check out the songs below. What do you think?
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
Priscilla: Queen of the Desert
Become a Producer
And then there’s a new category of news – Ken Davenport is producing Godspell on Broadway and is inviting anyone with $1,000 to help him do so. It’s what he’s calling “the first ever community produced Broadway musical.” Shares are available at $100 a pop, with a minimum purchase of 10. For more information or to become a producer, go to www.peopleofgodspell.com.
The Tony Awards are the only awards ceremony to be telecast nationally, which converts to free publicity for the out-of-town audience that makes up the bulk of Broadway ticket sales, and thus becomes a huge predictor of future success for the nominated shows. Tony wins often allow shows to run on for years – with audiences streaming in to catch this year’s Best Musical and performances by the best actors, while the losing shows sometimes fold the next day.
But the most exciting piece for me is that viewers get a chance to see performances of the big nominated musicals (with no expenses spared) plus all of the stars we’ve come to love (with tons of Hollywood celebrities thrown in this year!) all in one night. Sean Hayes, the star of the nominated Promises, Promises, will host the ceremony, which will feature the following performances:
- A big opening number which will include Sherie Rene Scott’s “Up the Ladder” from her show Everyday Rapture and the cast of Memphis performing “Blue Suede Shoes,” among other bits of fun
- Catherine Zeta-Jones’ rendition of “Send in the Clowns” from A Little Night Music
- Performances from “Glee” stars Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele
- A medley from Million Dollar Quartet
- The title song from American Idiot, performed by the cast (and possibly Green Day)
- Performance from the cast of Promises, Promises
- Christiane Noll’s rendition of “Back to Before” from Ragtime
- A medley from Memphis
- A dance performance by the cast of Come Fly Away
- Kelsey Grammer and Douglas Hodge performing “The Best of Times” from La Cage aux Folles
- A montage of songs from Fela!
Presenters for the 64th Annual Tony Awards include many stars from Hollywood, television and the stage. They are (in alphabetical order): Paula Abdul, Antonio Banderas, Justin Bartha, Patrick Breen, Laura Benanti, Cate Blanchett, Laura Bell Bundy, Michael Cerveris, Kristin Chenoweth, Barbara Cook, Viola Davis, Michael Douglas, Kelsey Grammer, Rosemary Harris, Patrick Heusinger, Katie Holmes, Brian d’Arcy James, Scarlett Johansson, Angela Lansbury, Anthony LaPaglia, Laura Linney, Lucy Liu, Jane Maxwell, Idina Menzel, Lea Michele, Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Matthew Morrison, Chris Noth, Bernadette Peters, David Hyde Pierce, Daniel Radcliffe, Eddie Redmayne, Mark Sanchez, Liev Schreiber, Tony Shaloub, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, Stanley Tucci, Denzel Washington and Racquel Welch.
I’ll be covering the ceremony live here on the blog, Twitter and Facebook. My coverage will start at 7 pm ET with the creative arts awards and continue until it ends late at night. Exasperated by or elated at the winners or losers? I wanna hear about it so don’t be shy about joining the conversation!
I don’t know about you, but I’m very much looking forward to this year’s Tony Awards!
The 2010 Drama Desk Award ceremony took place tonight. Thanks for joining us for the live-update. This year’s winners for the categories whose nominees included musicals are below:
Outstanding Revival of a Musical
La Cage Aux Folles
Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Douglas Hodge, La Cage Aux Folles
Outstanding Musical Revue
Sondheim on Sondheim
Outstanding Set Design
Phelim McDermott, Julian Crouch, Basil Twist, The Addams Family
Outstanding Sound Design
Acme Sound Partners, Ragtime
Outstanding Lighting Design
Neil Austin, Red
Outstanding Costume Design
Matthew Wright, La Cage aux Folles
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Katie Finneran, Promises, Promises
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Christopher Fitzgerald, Finian’s Rainbow
Special Drama Desk Award
Jerry Herman (for more than half a century of exuberant music and heartfelt lyrics)
Outstanding Director of a Musical
Michael Mayer, American Idiot
Twyla Tharp, Come Fly Away
Daryl Waters & David Bryan, Memphis
Outstanding Book of a Musical
Alex Timbers, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
John Kander & Fred Ebb, The Scottsboro Boys
Oustanding Musical Score
David Bryan, Memphis