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 West Side Story

Broadway Divas: 5 Pop Music Stars That Could Rock Broadway! (A Guest Blog by Aleksandra Sobic)

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There is no doubt that pop culture powerhouses like Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, and Pink, can sell out a live performance. From jam packed amphitheaters of 20,000 to more intimate venues of a few hundred, fans flock to experience the talented vocals and outrageous fashions of these diva dynamos. What if the likes of Katy Perry and Beyonce were front and center on a different type of stage, however? How would these superstars fare as the leading ladies of some of our favorite Broadway musicals? Here are 5 examples of pop stars who should give it a try, along with the roles and musicals they would be a good fit for!

Taylor Swift as Laurie in Oklahoma!

While most Hollywood songstresses have edgy or provocative personas, Taylor Swift is one of the few who retains a more wholesome all-American vibe that would translate perfectly to Laurie Williams’ character in Oklahoma! Her country music roots would fit in perfectly amongst the waving wheat backdrop of Oklahoma, and she could certainly do justice to “Many a New Day” and “People Will Say We’re in Love.” She would also do a great job exploring the conflict of simultaneously being drawn to the darkness of Jud and the purity of Curly, since she has been romantically linked to bad boys like John Mayer, as well as more innocent beaus like Harry Styles.

Britney Spears as Sandy in Grease

Who better equipped to portray Sandy’s radical change from letter sweater sweetheart to leather clad rebel, than someone who has been through a similar shift in her own personal life? Brittney Spears first found the limelight as a Mickey Mouse Club Mousketeer, and over the years has abandoned her bubbly teen pop ways in favor of a rebellious, unabashedly sexual persona. Who knows- maybe Brit could even use her connections to rally former Mousketeers Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake as members of the Pink Ladies and T-Birds!

Adele as Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray

For many Hollywood starlets, being asked to sport an exaggerated bouffant hairstyle would be an annoyance if not a deal-breaker for accepting the part of Tracy Turnblad. Adele, however, is known and celebrated for her chic retro 1960’s inspired style including, yes, her signature poofed bouffant hairdos! Tracy’s role also calls for someone who is extremely comfortable in their own skin, and Adele fits the bill to a T. In fact, in 2012 it was rumored that Adele was very upset after Jennifer Hudson, a spokesperson for Weight Watchers, approached her to suggest she join the program. Adele reports that she is happy the way she is, and has no intentions of dieting. Lastly, it would be really refreshing to witness the soulful quality that Adele would contribute to traditionally light and frothy numbers like “I can Hear the Bells.”

Pink as Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun

A defiant, gutsy, independent gal with a unique fashion sense and the firmly rooted belief that she can do anything better than any man can? That description is perfectly suited for both Annie Oakley and Pink, making this a great potential Broadway match. Both females have a distinct spunk and sass, so Pink would surely do a bang up job expressing those qualities throughout the show, particularly in the already spirited number, “Anything You Can Do.” Despite brimming with confidence, Annie Oakley’s character is still vulnerable in her search for a meaningful and deep love. After all, you can’t just “get a man with a gun.” Luckily the parallels continue, for just as Annie eventually finds her Frank, headstrong Pink has also found her true match. She and Carey Hart have been married for over 10 years.

Jennifer Lopez as Maria in West Side Story

J.Lo is as much of a shoe-in for this part as there could be! Pop culture’s favorite “Jenny from the Block” was born in New York City to two parents of Puerto Rican descent. Having grown up living and breathing a Puerto Rican heritage in the heart of NYC, she would lend an undeniable authenticity to her portrayal of Maria. Ms. Lopez is also uniquely suited to tackle this dance-intense role because early in her career she held a high profile position as a Fly Girl dancer on In Living Color. On top of that, Maria’s character has to fall deeply, madly, in love, in a short period of time. She daydreams about marrying Tony mere moments after they first meet, afterall! Thankfully, J.Lo is no stranger to falling in deep, quick, love, as evidenced by her three separate marriages and one failed engagement. Wouldn’t it be great to see J.Lo take on the role of Maria “tonight, tonight?”

Aleksandra Sobic is a Broadway musical enthusiast who writes for Halloweencostumes.com. When she isn’t able to perform on an actual stage, she has no shame in prancing around her apartment in various hats belting “I Feel Pretty!” She hasn’t received any noise complaints as of yet…

Hurry Up and See Some Shows…Closing Soon on Broadway…

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!


The Scottsboro Boys

Closes Dec 12
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Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Closes Jan 2
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Fela!

Closes Jan 2
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West Side Story

Closes Jan 2
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Promises, Promises

Closes Jan 2
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Elf

Closes Jan 2
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In the Heights

Closes Jan 9
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A Little Night Music

Closes Jan 9
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Next to Normal

Closes Jan 16
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Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Closes Jan 23
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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!

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.

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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The new West Side Story commercial (and some other great Broadway commercials)

West Side Story

Rent

Dreamgirls

Mamma Mia

Fiddler on the Roof

Victor Victoria

Damn Yankees

Cabaret

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

The King and I

My Fair Lady

Guys and Dolls

Into the Woods

Phantom of the Opera

Spring Awakening

The Producers


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Lots of Broadway buzz …

West Side Story recoups investment after 30 weeks

West Side Story has officially recouped its $14 million initial investment after running 30 weeks (247 performances)! A national tour of this production will begin in the fall of 2010 though it is likely the Broadway version will stick around for a good while longer.

American Idiot extends run at Berkley Rep

American Idiot has been extended at Berkely Rep through Nov 15! The show is now the top-grossing show in the Rep’s 41-year history with the biggest advance sale, the biggest day at the box office, and 17 of the top 20 days ever. Extended for three weeks even before it had its first performance, American Idiot now adds another two weeks. We can only hope it will next move straight on to NYC.

The Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction was a great success

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The Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction that took place this past Sunday raised $403,929 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS! Since its debut in 1987, the event has raised a staggering grand total of $8,161,752!

Shrek the Musical adds the song “I’m a Believer”

And … due to popular demand, the song “I’m a Believer” will now be sung in Shrek the Musical beginning Friday, October 2. Not sure what I think of this. They must be doing well-enough to pay those royalties …

West Side Story no longer bilingual; Fez hat dance scene cut from Bye Bye Birdie

The bilingual West Side Story revival, which incorporated “the unprecedented element of selectively weaving Spanish throughout both the book and songs,” is reverting back to English.

This week, two songs that had previously been performed in Spanish – “A Boy Like That” (“Un Hombre Asi”) and “I Feel Pretty” (“Siento Hermosa”) are now being delivered mostly in English. The Spanish sung by the Sharks in the “Tonight” quintet is now some of the only Spanish that remains in the show.

Arthur Laurents who wrote and directed the musical said that “from the outset, the Spanish in West Side Story was an experiment. It’s been an ongoing process of finding what worked and what didn’t, and it still continues.”


Another big change is in store for a classic Broadway musical according to Gina Gershon, the actress playing Rose in Broadway’s upcoming production of Bye Bye Birdie. One of the big dance numbers in the show, in which Rose is traditionally chased by a number of men wearing fez hats, has been cut from the production because producers thought it “a little too gang rape-y.” Read the full article here.

I was pretty taken aback by these drastic (and in my opinion, unnecessary) changes. How about you?


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