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 Rock of Ages

Closings, castings, previews and the chance to become a producer

There’s been lots of news this last week. Here are the big items:

Closing Soon

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.

Casting Announcements

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.

Show Previews

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

Elf

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.

Video performances from Broadway on Broadway 2009

If you missed the fabulous performances at yesterday’s Broadway on Broadway concert, check out these video clips (NOTE: Some of the fan footage is better than others):

Next to Normal


Rock of Ages


Hair


Bye Bye Birdie


In the Heights


Burn the Floor


Chicago


Finian’s Rainbow


Shrek


Wicked


The Lion King


Jersey Boys


Mamma Mia


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Soon starring actors “stolen” from other Broadway shows, the west end and the silver screen

It’s common for actors to drop out and rotate around as new things start up, but there’s an awful lot of moving around right now. Below is a consolidation of where Broadway is now “stealing” its talent from:

Stolen from other Broadway shows

Actors Savannah Wise and Wesley Taylor are leaving Rock of Ages on September 13 to start preparing for Ragtime and The Addams Family respectively. It’s not all bad though, as Kerry Butler and Tom Lenk will step in to play their first performances in the production on September 18.

Stolen from the West End

Broadway is also borrowing from the West End. Laura Michelle Kelly, who won a 2005 Olivier Award for her title role in Mary Poppins will be crossing the Atlantic to play Mary on Broadway starting on Oct 12.

Stolen from the Silver Screen

Big screen star Antonio Banderas, who stars in the upcoming movie version of Nine, claims he will star in Trevor Nunn’s upcoming production of Zorba, though no official information has been released about the show.

Stolen by a touring show

But one actor, 14-year-old Tommy Batchelor, one of the rotating Billys in Billy Elliot, will be actually leaving the Broadway production on Dec 11 to join the touring version of the show. The tour opens in Chicago on March 18. His Broadway replacement has not yet been announced. Who knows where they’ll steal him from?!

Tom Lenk of Buffy the Vampire Slayer will join the cast of Rock of Ages

Tom Lenk, who played Andrew on Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, will make his Broadway debut as Franz in Rock of Ages beginning September 14. He originated the role in the LA & Vegas productions and went to UCLA with the show’s Tony-nominated director Kristin Hanggi.

“I’m a little nervous,” Lenk admitted about performing the song Hit Me With Your Best Shot, “The way I performed it in LA and Vegas is not nearly as exhaustive as the version that’s happening now on stage. I would stand and sing, and then do some dancing. But now it’s dancing while I’m singing, so I have two weeks to become Beyoncé.” He has promised that he will “try to get some biceps and pectoral muscles by Sept. 14″ so that he looks “funny and arousing” in Franz’s “bedazzled onesie.”


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Kerry Butler (Xanadu, Little Shop of Horrors, Hairspray) to step in as Rock of Ages’ new Sherrie

Kerry Butler (Xanadu, Little Shop of Horrors, Hairspray, Beauty and the Beast, Les Miserables, Blood Brothers) will be taking over as Sherrie in Broadway’s Rock of Ages beginning September 21.

She’ll be performing six days a week, with her understudy stepping in on Sundays during her six-month engagement (she will most likely be leaving to play the role she originated in the Seattle version of Catch Me if You Can in its Broadway appearance).

If you’ve never seen this gorgeous powerhouse of an actress, you’ll have nothin’ but a good time seeing her in this entertaining show. Congrats to Rock of Ages! I predict you’ll sell out a few more shows now.


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Casting changes for Shrek, Rock of Ages, Burn the Floor, Wicked, Chicago and Billy Elliot

There have been lots of casting changes announced in recent weeks, so rather than making you read multiple entries, I thought I would do a lovely roundup of all of them for you!

STARTING AUGUST 17

Rock of Ages
Don Stephenson (The Producers, Dracula, By Jeeves, Titanic, Private Lives, Parade, Wonderful Town) temporarily steps in for Paul Schoeffler in the role of Hertz in Rock of Ages. Schoeffler is on leave to play Lawrence in the Walnut Street Theatre’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and will return to the show on Oct. 26.

STARTING AUGUST 18

Burn the Floor
Anya Garnis and Pasha Kovalev (“So You Think You Can Dance”) take over for Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Karina Smirnoff (“Dancing with the Stars”) in the new musical Burn the Floor.

Wicked
Michelle Federer, who originated the role of Nessarose in the Broadway production of Wicked, returns to the role, taking over for Cristy Candler.

Chicago
Talk show host Jerry Springer is stepping into the role of Billy Flynn in Broadway’s Chicago. He will play the role through September 6.

Shrek
Ben Crawford (Les Miserables), the current standby for Brian d’Arcy James, will take over the title role in Shrek on November 10 and Robb Sapp (Wicked) will temporarily step into the role of Pinocchio, replacing John Tartaglia during his leave of absence (Tartaglia will return mid December).

STARTING AUGUST 22

Billy Elliot
Trevor Braun (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid) will join the cast of Broadway’s Billy Elliot a couple days later than originally announced (the 22nd, rather than the 18th). He and Tony nominee David Bologna will alternate in the role of Michael.


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Maroulis extends his Rock of Ages run

Constantine Maroulis, the American Idol finalist who originated the role of Drew in the Off-Broadway production of Rock of Ages, has extended his contract with the Tony-nominated musical through the summer of 2010. Maroulis says he’s thrilled to continue with Rock of Ages and that “to be able to create a role on Broadway and get nominated for a Tony has been a dream come true.” And it’s a dream come true for you lucky folks who haven’t yet seen the show as well – as you’ll now have many more opportunities to catch him.


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