A Soldier's Play - Previews: 12.27.19, Opens: 1.21.20 Grand Horizons - Previews: 12.20.19, Opens: 1.23.20 My Name is Lucy Barton - Previews: 1.6.20, Opens: 1.15.20 West Side Story - Opens: 2.6.20 Girl From the North Country - Previews: 2.7.20, Opens: 3.5.20 Six - Previews: 2.13.20, Opens: 3.12.20 The Minutes - Previews: 2.25.20, Opens: 3.15.20 Hangmen - Previews: 2.28.20, Opens: 3.19.20 Company - Previews: 3.2.20, Opens: 3.22.20 Diana - Previews: 3.2.20, Opens: 3.26.20 The Lehman Trilogy - Previews: 3.7.20, Opens: 3.31.20 Caroline, or Change - Previews: 3.13.20, Opens: 4.4.20 Mrs. Doubtfire - Previews 3.9.20, Opens 4.5.20 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - Previews: 3.3.20, Opens: 4.9.20 Plaza Suite - Previews: 3.13.20, Opens: 4.13.20 American Buffalo - Previews: 3.24.20, Opens: 4.14.20 Flying Over Sunset - Previews: 3.12.20, Opens: 4.16.20 Birthday Candles - Previews: 4.2.20, Opens: 4.21.20 How I Learned To Drive - Previews: 3.27.20, Opens: 4.22.20 Take Me Out - Previews: 3.31.20, Opens: 4.23.20 Tony Awards Cut Off - 4.23.20 Tony Awards Nominations - 4.28.20 Tony Awards - 6.7.20 MJ: The Musical - Previews: 7.6.20, Opens: 8.13.20

COMING UP ON THE SITE: 12/16: 2019 in Review: The Best in Technical Theater - 12/17: Standing @ Zero - 12/18: 2019 in Review: Off-Broadway & Regional Theater - 12/19: 2019 in Review: The Best in Performance - 12/20: The Friday 5 Quiz: Broadway 2019

CONTACT US: (Email) (Twitter) @jkstheatrescene (Instagram) jkstheatrescene

Friday, December 13, 2019

The Friday 5: 5 Things About 13

Being that it is Friday the 13th, I felt it only appropriate that this week's Friday 5 is dedicated to the 2008 Broadway musical 13. When I started looking into it, I was really interested in what became of the cast. I mean, it was the Broadway debut of one of pop culture's biggest stars, after all. So, here are five things I found out about the people in and behind the scenes of 13. You may know some (or all) of them. Either way, enjoy and have a nice weekend!

The Friday 5:
5 Things About
13: The Musical

Eamon Foley, Henry Hodges, Brynn Williams

Only 3 cast members were not making their Broadway debuts in 13.
  • Eamon Foley (Richie), Henry Hodges (understudy) and Brynn Williams (Cassie) were already Broadway veterans when the show opened on October 5, 2008.

Out of the entire cast of 13, only 3 are currently involved in a Broadway show.
  • Riley Costello (understudy) is currently playing Boq in Wicked, Corey J. Snide (Evan alternate) is currently in West Side Story and Eric Nelsen (Brett) is a producer of The Inheritance.

There are 9 cast members who have 13 as their only Broadway credit.
  • Among those nine are the lead actor Graham Phillips (Evan) and pop princess Ariana Grande (Charlotte). I'm guessing she's been pretty busy. Even after they dated!

The cast and musicians of 13 were famously all teenagers.
  • One of those musicians has made quite a name for himself in theater circles. In 13 Charlie Rosen played swing bass, guitar and percussion. These days, he's played, orchestrated and music supervised such shows as Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, American Psycho, Honeymoon in Vegas, Be More Chill and Moulin Rouge!

The star of 13 has had a successful and very varied career.
  • Though Graham Phillips (Evan) has yet to return to Broadway, he's done a lot. Among his credits, he's had a co-starring role in TV's The Good Wife, and a featured role on Riverdale, been a soloist at The Metropolitan Opera House, sang the national anthem at a Dodgers game, sang on Meatloaf's Bat Out of Hell III album, and most recently co-wrote and co-directed a film with his brother. Oh, yes... he was also Prince Eric in Disney's The Little Mermaid Live.

*****     *****     *****
The Answers to Last Week's Friday 5 Quiz
The Broadway Costumes of Sutton Foster

1. Millie Dillmount  Thoroughly Modern Millie

2. Princess Fiona  Shrek: The Musical

3. Reno Sweeney  Anything Goes

4. Janet Van De Graaff  The Drowsy Chaperone

5. Jo March  Little Women: The Musical


Thursday, December 12, 2019

#TBT: OBCR: Bonnie and Clyde

Long time readers may be feeling a sense of deja vu with today's column. Yes, we reviewed the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Bonnie and Clyde before, way back in 2012. (You can read that HERE.) There, we talked about 5 of the reasons you really need to add this to your show tune collection.

So why the re-do? Well, lately we've been talking about composers and writing teams, and inevitably Frank Wildhorn's name came up. I've said before that I have a love it or hate it thing about his scores, but I also have never understood why he seems to always get the blame for his shows that flop. I mean, except for The Civil War (where he wrote the book) and additional lyrics for a few songs in Jekyll and Hyde, he's only just focused on the music. So why does he get the "ugh, a Wildhorn musical" treatment? Do people really hate his music that much? But I digress...

As we talked about him, I got to thinking that I haven't listened to Bonnie and Clyde lately. I took it out, and I've been listening to it pretty much non-stop since. I think it is so beautiful, and Don Black's lyrics are just as good as the music they go with. I can honestly say that I enjoy the entire thing - every single track. But what are my favorites among favorites? Here are my 5 tops!

(l to r) Melissa Van Der Schyff, Claybourne Elder, Jeremy Jordan and Laura Osnes

5. "You're Goin' Back to Jail" - It is catchy as hell, and funny, too. But the clever part of it is the underpinning of resignation and heartbreak matched with the recurring conflict of doing what's right. It also spotlights two of my favorite performers, Claybourne Elder and Melissa Van Der Schyff who were both terrific as Clyde's brother and sister-in-law (and partners in crime).

4. "Picture Show" - I'm a sucker for an exciting opening number, and this is one! I love how the song builds, how the young kids (Kelsey Fowler and Talon Ackerman) transition into the adults, and how it really tells you where Bonnie and Clyde's heads were. Their aspirations are very telling, but also mirror American society so well. Everyone wants wealth and fame, right?

3. "Bonnie" - Jeremy Jordan gave a passionate, intense performance full of self-loathing, ego and violence, but it was the intimate moments where his Clyde was allowed to feel happy and caring about someone other than himself that really brought fullness to his role. He sings this beautifully.

2. "Dyin' Ain't So Bad" - This is my second favorite solo for Bonnie (the extraordinary Laura Osnes). There is resignation and sorrow here, of course, as she contemplates her certain impending death, but that feeling of hope that she conveys is absolutely heartbreaking.

1. "How 'Bout a Dance?" - Not only my favorite Bonnie solo, but also my favorite Wildhorn tune. Ms. Osnes nails it, of course, but it a relatively quiet, sensual song.  It is not like the power ballads Wildhorn usually creates, and I love that about it.  I also adore the way it is arranged and orchestrated (by John McDaniel)

There is something so American about this score. Stylistically, there's country, honky tonk, gospel and jazz, and each fits the moment and the song perfectly. Its sheer ballsy American-ness fits the subject matter so perfectly, too. Where else can two nobodies dream of being a movie star and a gangster, and end up even more famous for being criminals?


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

2019 in Review: The Best of Broadway (and Off-Broadway) Media

Next up in our 2019 in Review series is a look at what we think were the best in Broadway-related media. From logos to marquees to recordings and online presence, we weigh in on 21 categories. We considered shows that opened in 2019 (and late 2018), or that we saw in 2019, and those elements developed/released in 2019. As always, pleas feel free to share your thoughts, disagreements and your own favorites! (Contact us via the addresses above.) Be sure to check out the other columns in this year-end review by tapping the tab above, too!

2019 in Review:
The Best of Broadway (and Off-Broadway)

Best Show Website: Moulin Rouge! (HERE)
Best Twitter Account: @LTMusical The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical

  • As an online media presence becomes more and more crucial to a show's success, these shows have shown how to do it right. Moulin Rouge!'s website is ever evolving, with consistently gorgeous images (plus, it is super easy to navigate). 
  • The Lightning Thief's Twitter account is funny, knows its audience, never panders to the lowest common denominator, and, above all else, is kind.



Best Theater Book: Come From Away: Welcome to the Rock
Best Cast Recording: Hadestown - Original Broadway Cast Recording
Best Trend in Traditional Media: Issuing cast recordings on vinyl

  • That book takes Broadway coffee table books to a new level - crammed with fan-centric material, production history and context, and tons of production photos. But it also is sharply focused, well-organized, and doesn't try to do too much.
  • This cast recording succeeds in any platform, and not just because of its superior content (one of the best scores of the decade). It's the quality of its digital release, the wonderful CD booklet, and the amazing box set quality of its vinyl release.
  • Love the cool things they are doing with vinyl recordings. It is both retro and modern. More, please.


Best Window Card - Musical (TIE): The Cher Show and Moulin Rouge!

  • Not only is their show art exceptional, but there are two posters to choose from... or you get both....


Best Window Card - Play: To Kill a Mockingbird
Best Window Card - Off-Broadway: Little Shop of Horrors
Best Window Card - Digital: Moulin Rouge! Opening Night Poster
Best Playbill: Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

  • The poster for TKAM conveys the gravity of the piece, while the striking colors make it an instant, if understated, classic. These days, being less bombastic really makes you rise above the din.
  • Little Shop of Horrors' window card offers a modern take on its original poster. Here again, the clean presentation makes the important message stand out. But what takes the cake is the subtle shadow of the plant. Look closer.
  • I would love it if this digital opening night poster was actually printed. It is beautiful!
  • A classy, glamorous and exciting lady inspires this show and its logo. And it looks wonderful under the classic Playbill yellow banner.

Best Broadway Commercial: Moulin Rouge!

Best Special Broadway Video: Hadestown - "From Hadestown, with Love"



Best Logo - Long-Running Show: The Phantom of the Opera
Best Logo - Broadway Event: Broadway Bares: Take Off
Best Logo - Off-Broadway: Scotland, PA
Best Logo - Musical: Moulin Rouge!
Best Tagline: Hadestown  - "Come See How the World Could Be"

  • The longest running show in Broadway history never rests on its laurels. They've freshened their classic logo, and it is as vibrant as the production it represents.
  • No one does on the nose themeing better than the folks at Broadway Bares.
  • Macbeth set in a fast-food place. Perfect image. I'll never look at a ketchup packet the same way again.
  • If there was ever a time when a tagline that can inspire was needed, it is now. It's optimism is heartwarming. And the show delivers on that promise.

Best Theatre Marquee: The Al Hirschfeld Theatre - Moulin Rouge!
Best Merchandise Item: Moulin Rouge! - Set of 4 shot glasses
Mike's Magnet of the Year Award: Dear Evan Hansen - Acrylic Shirt Shape

  • Let's face it, when it comes to visuals, Moulin Rouge! has raised the bar in every way, and that includes the theatre itself. And it looks even better in the dark. How about that post-show bus??!!
  • Lots of shows have shot glasses, but this set of four is perfect for those absinthe shots.
  • Mike is our resident magnet connoisseur. He has a massive collection, and if a show has one, he has one. His favorite of 2019 is the very cool Dear Evan Hansen shirt shaped one. 

Best Overall Campaign: Beetlejuice: The Musical

  • It really seems to be working, despite its recent closing announcement. Heck, I didn't really care for the show, but its is all visually appealing and perfect in its cleverness. And you have to appreciate a cast who is willing to learn new lyrics for every situation. I'll miss it.

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