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 Sean Hayes

My Top 10 Broadway Moments in 2010

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.

Post-Tony Broadway News Recap

Whew … still recovering from the Tony Awards. Everyone thought Sean Hayes did a wonderful job as host (some ranking him higher than NPH), but overall found the ceremony to be a bit soul-less and not as much about Broadway as about celebrity (Hunter Foster has even created a Facebook group called GIVE THE TONYS BACK TO BROADWAY).

And word is out that next year the awards will be booted from the Radio City Music Hall, which they’ve called home for the past 13 years. Back when the Tony Awards were first televised in 1967 (and on through 1996) they were held in actual Broadway houses, rotating through to a different one each year. I’d personally love to see the Tonys return to this system, and the much less elaborate stagings of the musical numbers. Perhaps being kicked to the curb is a good thing and will require producers to rethink the whole event.

The Tonys did feature appearances by a number of the headliners who’ll appear in musicals slated to open next season, including Daniel Radcliff who’ll be starring as Finch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Ricky Martin who’ll play Che in the West-End transfer of Evita and Antonio Bandares in the title role in Zorba. Here’s the full list of the musicals on the docket to open soon:

  • The Scottsboro Boys – October 31
  • Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown – November 4
  • Unchain My Heart – November 7
  • The Pee-Wee Herman Show – November 11
  • Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark – November 2011
  • Elf – November 2011
  • Zorba – Fall 2011
  • Anything Goes – February 2011
  • The Book of Mormon – March 2011
  • Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – March 2011
  • Phantom: Love Never Dies – April 2011
  • How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying – Spring 2011
  • Catch Me If You Can – Spring 2011
  • Sister Act – Spring 2011
  • Annie – Fall 2012
  • Evita – Spring 2012
  • Yank! – TBA
  • Funny Girl – TBA
  • Godspell – TBA
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – TBA

Meanwhile, Hair and Sondheim on Sondheim both closed their doors on June 27th. Everyday Rapture will be bowing out on July 11 and South Pacific on August 22. Surprisingly no shows have announced closings after suffering losses at the Tonys. Promises, Promises, which was trashed by the critics, got an unexpected boost from Sean’s emceeing and the big on-screen kiss with costar Kristin Chenoweth on the Tony Awards. And Addams Family, which didn’t even get to perform a number at the awards, is also doing very well in the box office. Seems the Tony Awards are no longer the predictor of audiences they used to be…

A number of big casting changes will be taking place next month. The biggest excitement is over the replacements for CZJ and Angela Lansbury in A Little Night Music. Rather than petering out after the stars’ departures, many are now predicting an increase in ticket sales, as their successors will be Broadway favorites Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch. Also exciting is that the real life married couple of Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley will take over the roles of Diana Goodman and Dan in Broadway’s Next to Normal when Alice Ripley departs to join the show on its US Tour and Brian D’Arcy James to perform in Time Stands Still and a new HBO series. Kristin Chenoweth will be leaving Promises, Promises this September (don’t worry, they made sure to record a cast album first). Her replacement has not yet been announced.

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.

A casting, gossip and news round-up for October

Finian’s Rainbow opens tonight on Broadway

The Broadway revival of Finian’s Rainbow opens on Broadway tonight, October 29, 2009. Starring Jim Norton (The Seafarer) as Finian, Kate Baldwin (Wonderful Town) as Sharon, Cheyenne Jackson (Xanadu) as Woody,  and Christopher Fitzgerald (Young Frankenstein) as Og, we’re looking to see how the public responds to the show.

For years it was thought to be an unrevivable show due to its racist content, but with a reworking of the book and songs like “Old Devil Moon,” “If This isn’t Love” and “How are Things in Glocca Morra?,” we think it more than deserves a another run on the Great White Way.

Going to see it? Interested in writing a review for the blog here? Contact me!

Promises, Promises to star Chenoweth and Hayes; opens March 25

Producers have announced that Promises, Promises will officially star Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth. This will be the first ever revival of the musical, will open at the Broadway Theater on March 25.

With a book by Neil Simon, music by Burt Bacharah and lyrics by Hal David, the show will mark Hayes first appearance on Broadway and Chenoweth’s happy return. The original 1968 production played 1,268 performances on Broadway, was nominated for 8 Tony awards and awarded a Grammy.

Run DMC musical eyeing Broadway

Hollywood producer Paula Wagner is working with the rappers Joseph Simmons (Run) and Darryl McDaniels (DMC) and the estate of Jason Mizell (Jam Master Jay) about creating a stage musical about Run DMC’s road to fame.

No dates, casting or other collaborators have yet been announced.

Mary Murphy to make guest appearance in Burn the Floor

Mary Murphy from Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” will make a one-night-only guest star appearance in Broadway’s Burn the Floor on December 22, partnering with ballroom champion Vaidas Skimelis.

Katie Holmes may star in the stage musical version of Cocktail

Rumors are flying that Katie Holmes may be under consideration for a starring role in the Broadway musical version of the 80s movie, Cocktail, that is being penned for the stage by Heywood Gould – the original author and screenwriter. Producer Marty Richards is on board and though Gould said “it’s far too early to talk about casting,” he did mention he “like[s] Katie Holmes.”

Little Miss Sunshine musical workshop stars Bierko, Latessa and Rene Scott

The stage musical version of Little Miss Sunshine is workshopping with stars Craig Bierko (Guys and Dolls, The Music Man), Dick Latessa (Hairspray, Damn Yankees), and Sherie Rene Scott (The Little Mermaid, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Aida) in Florida right now.

The adaptation of the 2006 film features a score by William Finn with book and direction by James Lapine.

We can only hope it’s good-enough to take to Broadway with those names on board.

Judy and Sayle to star in the Broadway-aimed A Christmas Story, The Musical!

Later this month, another production eyeing Broadway, A Christmas Story, The Musical!, will open out-of-town. The cast features talent with many Broadway shows under their belts, including James Judy (The Scarlet Pimpernel), Zachary Carter Sayle (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), John Bolton (Curtains, Spamalot) and Anne L. Nathan (Assassins, Sunday in the Park with George).

More Promises, Promises rumors – this time, the woman in question is Kristin Chenoweth

The New York Post is reporting that Tony Award winner Kristin Chenoweth is in negotiations to play Fran Kubelik in the upcoming Broadway revival of the musical Promises, Promises.

The Rob Ashford directed/choreographed revival, which will star Sean Hayes (Will & Grace) as Chuck Baxter, is produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. The show features music is by Burt Bacharach, lyrics by Hal David and book by Neil Simon

The original version of Promises, Promises ran 1,281 performances and was one of the first mainstream Broadway musicals to offer a commercial pop sound in its score.

Rumors of musicals in the works

Rumor has it that Scarlett Johansson is heading to Broadway, set to star opposite Will & Grace star Sean Hayes in a revival of the Neil Simon musical Promises, Promises.

Also rumored – directors Harold Prince and Susan Stroman are set to collaborate on an upcoming Broadway musical called Paradise Found, an adaptation of the novel The Tale of the 1002nd Night. Mandy Patinkin is rumored to be under consideration as the Shah’s eunich.


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