HERE'S WHAT'S NEW ON THE SITE:

CHECK OUT THE TABS ABOVE FOR PREVIOUS ARTICLES, INCLUDING STANDING @ ZERO, ONE THAT GOT AWAY, #TBT, THE FRIDAY 5! CHECK IT OUT!
AND DON'T FORGET TO SCROLL DOWN THE WHOLE PAGE FOR LINKS TO FEATURED ARTICLES, REVIEWS, SHOW SITES, AND THEATER-RELATED STUFF!

COMING UP ON BROADWAY:
West Side Story - Opens: 2.20.20 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 Sing Street - Previews: 3.26.20, Opens: 4.19.20 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: 1/28: REVIEW: Jagged Little Pill - 1/29: REVIEW: Emojiland - 1/30: Musical of the Month: Applause: The Creatives - 1/31: The Friday 5 - 2/3: REVIEW: Mean Girls (Re-visit)

CONTACT US: (Email) jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com (Twitter) @jkstheatrescene (Instagram) jkstheatrescene

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

REVIEW: Jagged Little Pill

Review of the Friday, January 24, 2020 performance at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York City. Starring Elizabeth Stanley, Sean Allan Krill, Derek Klena, Celia Rose Gooding, Lauren Patten, Kathryn Gallagher, Lauren Patten, Logan Hart and John Cardoza. Book by Diablo Cody. Music by Alanis Morissette and Glen Ballard. Lyrics by Alanis Morissette. Scenic design by Riccardo Hernandez. Costume design by Emily Rebholz. Lighting design by Justin Townsend. Sound Design by Jonathan Deaks. Video design by Lucy MacKinnon. Music Supervision, orchestration and arrangements by Tom Kitt. Movement direction and choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Direction by Diane Paulus.  2 hours, 40 minutes, including intermission. 

Grade: A+

"Ooh, this could be messy..." intones the omnipresent chorus at the start of Act Two from Alanis Morisette's song "Hands Clean." And, indeed the world of Jagged Little Pill (as told by the words and music from Morisette's seminal album as well as Academy Award-winner Diablo Cody's book) is messy. Life is a shit storm these days, let's face it. Social media, gender-identity, climate crisis, quiet rage that simmers until the pressure builds - you can't get through a day in the 21st century without being touched by any one of a hundred issues that have bombarded our day-to-day existence. And that chorus, alternately writhing as a mass playing a characters' demons/conscience and then representing society at large serves as a constant reminder of the mess.

The Healy Family of Jagged Little Pill

While I've read that some theater-goers take issue with the sheer quantity of subjects Cody's book touches upon, I think each issue is entirely necessary. Adding to the intensity of the very real problems the Healy family faces in the show, no one lives in a one-problem vacuum. Instead, the jumble of subject matter brings an uncomfortable reality to this surprisingly brave piece. As the cast ebbed and flowed physically and tonally, I thought more than once that watching it all unfold wasn't unlike a quick spin through our individual timelines on InstaTwitBook. In spite of a wide variety of subjects, the whole thing is rather tight and fat-free; each moment is important to the next and to the whole. Ms. Cody's book is that rare and often illusive example of a strong book that supports a strong score.

Make no mistake, either, that this is just your run of the mill jukebox musical. Believe me, I, too, have had my fill of the genre, and frankly, I may go in to each with a chip on my shoulder against them. But I am pretty sure I was sold on JLP before the sung overture was even over. Morissette is a gifted songwriter who never settles for the "easy." Rather, her lyrics are layered in such a beautiful way that they can be enjoyed on the most basic level, but hook you so deeply that you feel everything in a swirling mass of emotion. While the words themselves don't always seem on the surface like a sure thing for a theatrical treatment, they are so rich, so human, so raw...watching them take life on the Broadway stage makes so much sense it is unbelievable that it has taken this long for it to happen. It was worth the wait.

Elizabeth Stanley and Heather Lang - "Uninvited"
And how about how that album-turned-score translates to the stage? Tom Kitt supplies his usual genius to the evening seamlessly bridging the gap between pop/rock and Broadway with his gorgeous orchestrations and vocal arrangements, as with his work on American Idiot, one could argue that he has improved upon the original given the context of the piece. It is largely because of his work that the way the music is integrated with the book and its care for character is hugely successful. Like I said, it is almost as if the music was always meant to be part of a musical.

Where director Diane Paulus' work ends and choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's work begins is often anyone's guess, so intertwined is the staging with the movement. Both are in top form here, with Paulus' pacing at a perfectly urgent pace, rarely pausing for us to catch our collective breath. These are desperate, breathless times. Perhaps because Cody's genre is usually film writing, Paulus has taken her from cues a need to frequently stage sequences like film scenes. Notable among many, the scene where everything we have just witnessed is done in reverse is breathtaking in its detail and skilled performance - you would swear you were watching a film played in reverse. Cherkaoui's sometimes jarring, always thrilling movement is a pleasing blend of contemporary and jazz, and is striking in its simultaneously general world view and character-driven specificity. The sheer theatricality of the movement during Mary Jane's overdose ("Uninvited") makes an already sad moment terrifying and deeply moving. Often featured dancers Ebony Williams and Heather Lang are truly brilliant; their future is bright, and I'm sure their careers will be lengthy.

Lauren Patten and Company - "You Oughta Know"

The look of the show enhances the action without overwhelming it. Riccardo Hernandez's scenic design is constantly in motion, featuring sliding panels which change the shape of things in the blink of an eye, while the videos projected on them in a disorienting blur (designed by Lucy MacKinnon) allow us to experience the increasing disorientation of the characters. Emily Rebholz's costumes wordlessly give us insight to every person on the stage. The real design stars here, though, are sound designer Jonathan Deaks and lighting designer Justin Townsend, who combine to create a glorious rock musical while never forgetting the story at its heart. In short, the show is thrilling to look at.

   

The cast. Oh, the cast! Lead by a career-defining turn by Elizabeth Stanley, this company has no weak link. She is fearless, intense, and profound in her portrayal of the perfect-on-the-outside-dying-on-the-inside Connecticut housewife. Hers is a performance that builds and builds until its tragic explosion. But she is also so careful to dole out the emotions so as not to overwhelm or overplay her hand; no, she is economical with every movement, every rise of voice, every tear. As her perfectly molded son, Derek Klena is, well, perfection (I wish he had more to sing), looking Ken doll perfect while betraying his self-doubt (and later self-loathing) with blink-and-you-miss-it changes in his face, eyes and posture. Sean Allan Krill finally in a role worthy of his talents, plays the frustrated husband who hides behind his work but wants desperately to fix his marriage quite well. It is in act two, when his character faces some harsh realities and very tough choices that Krill really takes off. His "Mary Jane" is a highlight of the show.

Elizabeth Stanley (left) Kathryn Gallagher (center) and Company

There is a trio of supporting characters that standout, not just because of the plot, but because the actors playing them are really doing marvelous work here. As privileged bad boy Andrew, Logan Hart handles the demands of being an all too recognizable villain (and a very disturbing depiction of a rape) in all the right ways, more often wordlessly than by any other means. John Cardoza (an understudy!) was smashing as Pheonix, the new kid/love interest, with a set of his own problems. He has a wonderful voice and was a perfect match for his frequent scene partner - his contributions to "Ironic" and "Head Over Feet" were beautiful to hear. And as Bella, a rape victim struggling to find her voice and regain her sense of self, Kathryn Gallagher provides a grounded, but giant portrayal. Her face and the way she held her body spoke volumes without benefit of words. Her work here is brave and unflinching. Brava.

Celia Rose Gooding and Lauren Patten and Compant

For me, though, aside from Ms. Stanley, the two standouts from a company filled with them are Celia Rose Gooding in her brilliant Broadway debut, and Lauren Patten who I loved in Fun Home, but who I now add to my must-see list, no matter the project.  As Frankie, the adopted daughter, Ms. Gooding makes full advantage of this opportunity to represent. Frankie, an African-American, lives white privilege 24/7, and confronts that reality on a daily basis. Gooding effortlessly depicts the inherent contradictions of her situation, from anger to resignation to rage and back again. And what a voice! Every time she opened her mouth to sing was an edge of your seat thrill ride. I'm not sure hyperbole is even possible when talking about the tornado of emotion that is Ms. Patten. Her time on stage feels short, and every time she stepped into the light, you could feel the audience leaning forward in anticipation. Funny, outrageous, troubling, she is bliss, giving one of the greatest single performances I've ever witnessed. Everything you've heard about her showstopping (literally) "You Oughta Know" is true, but to experience it live is a true gift. People will be talking about it for years.

If there is any justice, people will be talking about Jagged Little Pill for years. It raises the jukebox musical to an art form.



📸: J. Kyler, M. Murphy

#2260

Monday, January 27, 2020

BROADWAY HEAT: West Side Story Edition: Run-off!

Well, this was a first in all of the years we've been having polls like this. Last week, your votes were supposed to select a winner (and 2 runners up). Instead, the vote ended up with a statistical 4 way tie! So... Now it is really up to you! That's right, you will vote for the ONE cast member that you think is most deserving of the title of THE HOTTEST BROADWAY MUSICAL CAST MEMBER OF 2019-2020! Will it be a lead? Or how about a featured cast member? An ensemblist? A Swing? Vote today! The person with the most votes wins!

The poll starts after the instructions!


🔥🔥BROADWAY HEAT🔥🔥
West Side Story Edition: 
The Run-Off!

HOT on Broadway (adj): fierce, talented, big potential; 
has "buzz"; has "it" factor.

REMEMBER:
  • You may vote for ONLY 1 cast member in this round. There is a photo and check box for each person. You may tap or click to make each selection.
  • You will need to scroll down the ballot box to see all of them.
  • When you have made all of your selections, scroll to the bottom of the ballot and tap/click the "CLICK HERE TO MAKE YOUR VOTE COUNT" button. You MUST tap/click this button or your vote WILL NOT count(The little "OK" button does NOT complete your ballot.)
  • Your vote/device information is completely anonymous. The ballot is secure and is NOT collecting any data other than votes.
  • You may vote more than once!

Create your own user feedback survey

🔥🔥THIS POLL WILL CLOSE ON🔥🔥
🔥🔥FRIDAY, JANUARY 31 AT 5 PM!🔥🔥

#2259

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Friday 5 Quiz: Broadway Debut True or False

There will be many Broadway debuts this season (most of them in West Side Story!). Of course, even Broadway icons had to start somewhere. That's what this week's quiz is all about.  Read carefully! This quiz is tricky... Good luck! The answers will appear at the bottom of next week's Friday 5.


The Friday 5 Quiz:
5 Broadway Debut
True or False








1. TRUE or FALSE: Angela Lansbury made her Broadway debut in Anyone Can Whistle.



2. TRUE or FALSE: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat marked the Broadway debut of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.



3. TRUE or FALSE: Sutton Foster's Broadway debut was in the role of Sandy in Grease.



4. TRUE or FALSE: Aaron Tveit made his Broadway debut in the original cast of Hairspray.



5. TRUE or FALSE: Hamilton's scenic designer, David Korins, made his Broadway debut designing the set for Bridge and Tunnel, a one-woman play.

#22

Thursday, January 23, 2020

MUSICAL OF THE MONTH: Applause: The Cast

This week, let's take a look at the people who were in the Musical of the Month - the multiple Tony nominated company of Applause. Among them are once and future TV and movie stars, legends of the Broadway stage, and even an original cast member of Sesame Street!

Musical of the Month:
Applause
The Cast







The Principals
There was plenty of star power in the main cast of the show, that is for sure!

Lauren Bacall in Applause

Lauren Bacall (Margo Channing): Wife of both Humphrey Bogart and Jason Robards, Jr., Bacall was a Hollywood legend. But she was no stranger to the stage, either. In addition to her Tony-winning turn in Applause, she won another for Woman of the Year - both for Lead Actress in a Musical.

Len Cariou in Sweeney Todd

Len Cariou (Bill Sampson): The future Sweeney Todd made his Broadway musical debut in Applause, for which he was Tony nominated. His decades long career includes the original company of A Little Night Music, and the short-lived Teddy & Alice. For the past ten years, he's been featured on CBS's Blue Bloods.

Bonnie Franklin (left) in One Day at a Time

Bonnie Franklin (Bonnie): Franklin became a household name when she starred in the classic TV series One Day at a Time. Applause was her one and only Broadway role, and it earned her a Theatre World Award and a Tony Award nomination.

Penny Fuller (left)

Penny Fuller (Eve Harrington): She was Tony nominated for her portrayal of bad girl Eve, a role she got when she replaced the original actress out of town. She's been a Broadway baby for decades including a stint as Sally Bowles in the original production of Cabaret, the most recent revival of Sunday in the Park with George, and most recently as the Dowager Empress in Anastasia.

Brandon Maggart (left) in Sesame Street

Brandon Maggart (Buzz Richards): Applause brought him a Tony nod for Featured Actor in a Musical. With dozens of film, television and stage credits, he is definitely a working career actor. Fun fact #1: he was in the original cast of Sesame Street. Fun Fact #2: he is the father of Fiona Apple.

Robert Mandan (right) in Soap

Robert Mandan (Howard Benedict): Though he had five Broadway credits, he was best known for his TV role as Chester Tate in Soap, and later as Jack Tripper's father-in-law in Three's a Crowd.

Lee Roy Reams in 42nd Street
Lee Roy Reams (Duane Fox): After Applause, Reams went on to play Cornelius in the 1978 revival of Hello, Dolly!, a show he would later direct and choreograph (Carol Channing's final Broadway Dolly). He also created the role of Billy Lawlor in 42nd Street, and took over roles in such shows as Beauty and the Beast and The Producers.

Ann Williams (left) in Applause

Ann Williams (Karen Richards): Williams only appeared on Broadway twice, first in The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore (1963) and in Applause (1970).




The Ensemble:
Notable members of the 30 member ensemble included:

Alan King in The Golden Girls

Alan King (Tony Host): He had 9 Broadway credits, including two stints in the Judy Garland show. He was perhaps even better known for various television and film appearances, including playing Blanche's on-again off-again lover, Mel Bushman on The Golden Girls.

Patti D'Beck

Patti D'Beck (Dancer): Applause marked her Broadway debut. She has gone on to be an associate choreographer for Tommy Tune and his protege, Jeff Calhoun. Credits include Grease!, My One and Only, The Will Rogers Follies, and the Bernadette Peters revival of Annie Get Your Gun.

Renee Baughman (center) in A Chorus Line
Renee Baughman (Dancer): Applause marked her Broadway debut. She originated the role of Kristine ("Sing!") in A Chorus Line.

Nicholas Dante (far right) with the
creative team of A Chorus Line

Nicholas Dante (Dancer): He co-wrote the book for A Chorus Line.

Sammy Williams (right) in
A Chorus Line

Sammy Williams (Dancer): A Tony winner for A Chorus Line, it is said that his role of Paul was based on the life of Nicholas Dante.

#2257

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

LOGOS: Jagged Little Pill

It prominently features an open palm. Open palms facing out symbolize honesty and openness. In this case, given that the content of Alanis Morissette's album is the basis of Jagged Little Pill, I'm pretty sure that honesty will be brutal. This is just one major aspect of this logo that I love. In short, the logo is pretty brilliant.

In terms of eye-catching advertising, this logo is aces. A vibrant light blue background behind a practically ember-glowing orange hand certainly grabs one's attention. And, depending on which iteration of the logo you are looking at, the hand has either the title of the show or other lyrics written on it, as if done in haste by sharpie. Edgy and interesting.

And just to confirm it all for fans of the album, the title and tagline are in that same typewriter font found on the cover of Ms. Morissette's magnum opus. Speaking of the tagline - "Our New Musical" - I love the play on the traditional "a new musical."  But even more so, I like the implication. "Our" implies a community, a family. Well, I haven't seen the show yet, but I do know that Pill is about a family. And "our" also implies the inclusion of everyone - the audience, the world. We are all one family, perhaps.


The final element of the logo that impresses me is the halo of lyrics from the album behind the open hand. Not only does it signal for fans what is included, but they are also carefully selected so as to provoke thought. They are hitting you with themes and ideas before you even enter the building.


Is this the next step in the evolution of the jukebox musical? I'll let you know after I see it, but this logo certainly has me open to the possibility.

Grade: A+

#2257

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Standing @ Zero: West Side Story's Jarred Manista

Happy New Year, Ensemblist fans everywhere! We are so thrilled by your overwhelming response to these pictorial tributes to the men who stand at 0 every night when they bring their hard work (and stellar dance moves) to the musicals we love. Hard to believe this monthly feature is starting its second year already!

Standing @ Zero
West Side Story's
Jarred Manista

We start off 2020 with our youngest honoree to date, who is a swing in the first musical to open this year, West Side Story. A recent high school graduate, Jarred Manista is making his Broadway debut, but he's no stranger to the spotlight. In school, he played leading roles in such shows as Big Fish and Newsies (what a cool drama program, his alma mater must have). Most recently, he played Fender in Hairspray at the Skylight Music Theatre and Baby John in West Side Story at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. He is also an accomplished dancer, belonging to several companies.


     

     

Newsies

Big Fish

West Side Story - Lyric Opera of Chicago (right)

West Side Story - Lyric Opera of Chicago (right)

West Side Story - Lyric Opera of Chicago (center)

     
Congratulations on your Broadway debut, Jarred!





#2256

Monday, January 20, 2020

Broadway Heat: West Side Story Edition: The Finals


There's no doubting that West Side Story has been one of the buzziest shows of the season. Between script and cast changes, injuries and controversial staging choices, it is no wonder everyone is talking! Last week, your votes eliminated half of the cast. Now it is really up to you! That's right, you will vote for up to 6 cast members that you think are deserving of the title of THE HOTTEST BROADWAY MUSICAL CAST MEMBER OF 2019-2020! Will it be a lead? Or how about a featured cast member? An ensemblist? A Swing? Vote today! The person with the most votes wins!




🔥🔥BROADWAY HEAT🔥🔥
West Side Story Edition: 
The Finals!

HOT on Broadway (adj): fierce, talented, big potential; 
has "buzz"; has "it" factor.

🔥🔥THIS POLL HAS CLOSED! BE SURE TO VOTE IN THE RUN-OFF!🔥🔥

#2255
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