HERE'S WHAT'S NEW:

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:
Jagged Little Pill - Opens: 12.5.19 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 - Previews: 12.10.19, 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: 11/25: REVIEW: Little Shop of Horrors - 11/26: REVIEW: The Lightning Thief - 11/27: REVIEW: Tina - 11/28: Giving Broadway Thanks - 11/29: Looking Forward to Winter: December 2019 - February 2020

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

Thursday, November 21, 2019

#TBT: The "New" Broadway Cast Recording of Kiss of the Spider Woman

When I really love a show, I tend to go all in. I see it many times, with as many casts as possible. On Broadway, off-Broadway, on tour, regional and local. Kiss of the Spider Woman is one of those shows. After seeing the great Chita Rivera four times on Broadway (and later on national tour), I was definitely excited to see the next Aurora/Spider Woman. That happened when Vanessa Williams took over the role. And, as much as I loved Chita, I must admit I loved Ms. Williams even more. Sacrilege? Maybe, but it is true nonetheless.

The full truth is that I enjoyed her co-stars even more than their original, Tony-winning counterparts. At the time, I had long been a fan of Howard McGillin, going back to his Drood days. And I only knew Brian (pre-Stokes) Mitchell from TV (Trapper John, M.D.). Why I preferred this trio is multi-faceted. With Chita (and this isn't really a negative), I never felt like I wasn't seeing Chita Rivera. I mean, she's so awesome it doesn't matter. But with Vanessa, I saw a silver screen siren and a menacing harbinger of death. She was sexy, funny and dangerous. With Howard, I preferred his more grounded performance which was considerably less flamboyant, with his effeminate qualities more of a defense shield against the horrors of his life. Brian proved to be the yin to Howard's yang, making their initial division understandable and their eventual dependence on each other more inevitable.

Similarly, I prefer all three of their performances on their version of the cast recording. What a treat that a second recording was even made, let alone with this marvelous company! There are better sounding arrangements here, though it may just be the quality of the recording. There are little bits of extra music here and there, too.


While there isn't a song in the Kander and Ebb score that I don't love (how many scores can you say that about?), there are several tracks in this New Broadway Cast Recording that really stand out for me. From act one, the dramatic tension between McGillin and Mitchell is palpable in the counterpoint of "Dressing Them Up" and "I Draw the Line." And Williams' sassy, confident "There You Are" elevates an already great number. Then there's "Dear One," which features both gentlemen and a perfectly matched Kirsti Carnahan and Mimi Turque. What surprises me most about the whole album is how much I enjoy all four tracks of "Over the Wall."


Act two is just as good here, with a funny turn by Williams in the opener "Russian Movie/Good Times," and later, her brilliantly building rendition of the title number. Mitchell delivers the best version of one of the best anthem songs in the Broadway canon, "The Day After That." But the absolute pinnacle of this recording is the entire finale sequence, where the acting is as superb as the singing. McGillin is simply riveting and inspiring as he face death with such defiance. I swear I can close my eyes and "see" the entire thing play out.

If you haven't heard this version of the score, I highly recommend it. And how about a revival? Soon.

Grade: A+

#2214

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Opinions: West Side Story Part One

I'm not sure why it surprises me that cancel culture has come to Broadway, but it does. Theater has always had its harshest critics and most vehement fans. History has the shown that the Great White Way isn't immune to scandal; it has endured shifty gangster connections, thieving producers, and even the casting couch. But with the benefits of the Internet and social media allowing us to share our thoughts - reviews and otherwise, the thrill of talking about rubbing elbows with the stars, and seeing first previews, so, too, come the ugly side - name calling, lies, "stanning" and the nearly insatiable need to be the first to absolutely skewer everything that comes along. Like somehow it makes one the top of the heap to get in the very first barb.

But what is going on with the forthcoming revival of West Side Story is a new low.

Let me preface the rest of this by saying I truly believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion, and entitled to have their say. If we don't agree, so be it. Hear me out, and I'm glad to hear you out. I'd like to address a few things I've heard and read about this over the next couple of weeks.

"It's too soon for a revival." 

Okay. No one complains when a new production of Hamlet or Macbeth is announced, or anything by Shakespeare for that matter. Heck, not too long ago, there a single Broadway season that had two productions of Macbeth. Whenever there's a revival of the bard, Miller, Williams, Albee and others, the outcry that "it's too soon!" isn't heard. In fact, it is often welcomed.

It will have been more than 10 years since the last revival of West Side Story opened on Broadway. A show that is so integral to the modern American musical canon, and a decade is too soon?

"You don't mess with a classic."

Only after it has been at least seen do people decide if the classic in question has been "messed with." (The recent King Lear would be an example of many not liking a take on that tragedy.) Sometimes people love an interpretation, sometimes they don't. And that includes classics - again, Shakespeare is a good example - that have been heavily edited and/or conceptualized differently.

Why are musicals different? Why isn't this revival not given the same chance? Cuts and changes have long been par for the course for "revisals." The minute director Ivo van Hove was announced, it should not have been a surprise that a radical re-interpretation was coming our way. And new choreography? Crazy! But let's rewind to 2009, when the show opened last. I seem to recall vehement opinions that it was old and tired and needed to be revitalized... maybe a new take on the direction? Maybe update the book, choreography, etc.? (The same things are said about another classic, A Chorus Line.) Well, here we are. Just what the fan base asked for, and it seems many aren't happy about it. van Hove is looking to create a piece that emphasizes the desperation and race toward inevitable violent doom that these teens face. So, other productions emphasize the romance and the racism of the story. Just because "that's always how it has been done" doesn't mean that's the only way it can be done. Truly classic works like WSS have enough depth to carry multiple themes. Desperation and gang and gun violence sounds both pertinent to the show and today. Why not take that slant this time around?



To make things even more urgent, this director has announced some controversial cuts to the score, including the suddenly very popular " I Feel Pretty." Before this was announced, I'd be willing to bet a large sum of money that if asked for a list of their five favorite songs from WSS, even the most ardent fan would not list "I Feel Pretty." Perhaps more problematic is the announced cut of the "Somewhere" ballet, which I'll admit is a personal favorite of mine. But that's not why it is problematic. Really, it is because it could potentially mean that the song "Somewhere" might be cut altogether. On the other hand, maybe the song will be a duet for Tony and Maria, as it is in the film version, where the ballet has also been cut. van Hove himself has created this possibility, since the film version of "America" will be used this time around. These cuts are reportedly to make the piece a single, intense act.

Will these things make a more vibrant West Side Story? Or will it turn out the naysayers are right and it will be ruined? Who knows? All I'm saying is that since no one except the company has seen, read or heard the changes, maybe laying off all the judgement until it is out there, finished and in the world would be the right thing to do.

There are, however, some things from this production that are out in the world already and worthy of discussion. I hope you'll hear me out when I go on about those things in two weeks.

In the meantime, feel free to comment on what I've said so far! Use the email and Twitter info above!
Jeff

#2213

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

One That Got Away: The Rink

My first exposure to The Rink was, as I look back on it, indicative of my naivete and ignorance of Broadway theater back in early 1985. We were driving home after an evening show, and traffic, as always in the evening, was at a standstill on 8th Avenue. As we paused at the intersection of 45th and 8th, I looked to my right and took one last look at all the marquees still lit, even as pedestrian traffic was dwindling. Then I looked to my left. There was the darkened Martin Beck Theatre, its marquee lit only by the light pollution of the area. Chita Rivera Stockard Channing The Rink A New Musical. Wait. Stockard Channing did Broadway shows?? Rizzo from Grease did Broadway and I missed it?? 




The next day, I got myself to the local record shop and scanned the bins for a cast recording. There it was! Chita Rivera Liza Minnelli The Rink A New Musical. Ugh. Even then I was not a fan of Ms. Minnelli, and, truth be told, I only knew the name Chita Rivera. (Remember, I was naive and ignorant back then.) Well, I bought the record anyway, even without Stockard.




So, why was this a "one that got away" show for me? Looking back on it, that chance glance at the marquee was a milestone in my Broadway education and fandom. You see, from that, I started to love Ms. Rivera, the Kander and Ebb score, and learned about replacements.  Chita's performance on that recording led me to buying the OBCR of Chicago. From that, I realized that both shows were by Kander and Ebb, which got me looking into their other works like their masterpiece Cabaret (imagine my relief that Minnelli wasn't on that cast recording!). I also became very aware of replacements; I was now keeping close track of current shows and the comings and goings of cast members. This was no easy feat - this was decades before the internet. But you know what? I learned a lot by doing all of that manual research, and I really fed my new passion.




The Rink was nominated for 5 Tonys, including Best Score and a pair of Best Actress nods. Chita Rivera finally won her first Tony for her efforts.

I think of The Rink as my gateway to musical theater education. It's also a sort of "six degrees of separation"/"The House that Jack Built" thing. In the years since that chance look at a darkened marquee, I finally got to see a local production of the show, and I really enjoyed it. But missing the Broadway version is truly a regret. Its run was brief - just 29 previews and 204 performances. I guess it makes sense that I missed it. How about a revival?

#2212

Monday, November 18, 2019

Broadway Heat: Jagged Little Pill Edition: The Finals!

We are head over feet about Jagged Little Pill , and it looks like you are, too! Last week, you voted in a new record number! This week, your vote will determine THE WINNER! Who do you think it'll be? A leading lady? An ensemblist? Or maybe a swing? This week, you can vote for up to 3 of the remaining cast members. When this round is over, you'll have named the cast member who will compete at the end of the season to be THE HOTTEST BROADWAY MUSICAL CAST MEMBER OF 2019-2020!

The poll starts after the instructions!

🔥🔥BROADWAY HEAT🔥🔥
Jagged Little Pill Edition: 
The Finals!




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

REMEMBER:
  • You may vote for UP TO 3 cast members 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!
🔥🔥THIS POLL WILL CLOSE AT 5 PM ON FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22!🔥🔥


Create your own user feedback survey

#2211

Friday, November 15, 2019

The Friday 5: 5 Favorite Jane Krakowski Roles

While reminiscing about Grand Hotel's 30th anniversary, I of course got to thinking about one of its great stars, Jane Krakowski. Whenever I hear her name attached to any project, my ears perk up and I hope it'll mean her return to the stage. Here's hoping it'll be sooner rather than later! In the meantime, this week's Friday 5 is all about her best Broadway roles.




THE FRIDAY 5:
5 Great Broadway Roles of
Jane Krakowski

Dinah the Dining Car - Starlight Express (Broadway debut)


Flaemmchen - Grand Hotel: The Musical (Tony nominee)


April - Company


Carla - Nine (Tony Award winner)


Ilona Ritter - She Loves Me (Tony nominee)



*****     *****     *****
ANSWERS TO LAST WEEK'S
FRIDAY 5 QUIZ: BROADWAY COSTUMES
CATS EDITION

1. Rum Tum Tugger


2. Jennyanydots


3. Mr. Mistoffeles


4. Victoria


5. Munkustrap


#2210

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Standing @ Zero: Frozen's Adam Perry (NSFW)

This month we give thanks for an ensemblist with seven Broadway shows (and three national tours) under his dance belt. His career spans classic shows, both revivals and modern, and he's worked with some of theater's best and brightest directors and choreographers. Dancing for charity also plays a major role in Adam Perry's resume; he has appeared in several Broadway Bares events. We are sure you'll be able to see why he's a fan favorite there! These days, he's a citizen of Arendelle, having been with Disney's Frozen since its beginning - a real Standing @ Zero hero!

CONTENT WARNING: Some of the photos below may be NSFW.


Standing @ Zero
Frozen's
Adam Perry





On Broadway, Adam has appeared in Wicked, A Chorus Line, Promises, Promises, Anything Goes, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Rocky and Disney's Frozen. His national tour credits include Wicked, Cats and Sweet Charity. He also appeared on TV's Smash.

with his A Chorus Line co-star, Tony Yazbeck


(above) rehearsing and performing Anything Goes

with his fellow ensemblists from Promises, Promises

The men of Nice Work If You Can Get It

Round 1! Rocky


 Broadway Bares and other NSFW pics






#2209
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