Sunday, January 3, 2010

Bits and Pieces for 01.03.10

NOTE: This blog has been edited since its original posting. Please see the Comments below to see why. The correction appears at the ** in the Lend Me a Tenor section.


I've decided to move "Bits and Pieces" to Sundays this year.


Over the past couple of weeks...
- Book Reviews: The Playbill Broadway Yearbook, Volume 5 (A+) and I'm the Greatest Star (B+)
- DVD Review: Every Little Step: The Journey of A Chorus Line (A+)
- 2009 in Review: Theatre Trends
- 2009 in Review: The Best and Not So Much
- 2009 in Review: The 1st Annual JK's TheatreScene Awards (in 2 parts!)
- 2009 in Review: Mr. Broadway of 2009
- 2010: Theatre Resolutions
- The Broadway Boys: Mr. January 2010
- Plus, my series on Edwin Drood completed and a blog about replacements going permanent.


(Savannah Wise (left, with ensemble) and Bobby Steggert in Ragtime)

And this time I had tickets, too! It is sad that Ragtime is closing, for sure. And I am glad that they got the boost of an extra week. (My tickets were for the following Wednesday, January 13, argh!). What is it with this show and closing prematurely? The original run, while decent, was not a blockbuster by any means, and this revival, well we blinked and it was gone. Both productions were critically acclaimed - hell, one critic has already dubbed this the Best Revival of the 2009-2010 season. And when ever the show comes up in conversation, I always hear things like, "Oh! I love that show!" or "That show has the best score ever!" and so on. And you always hear people lamenting that they should have gone to see the original or how sorry they were that they just didn't get to it. Maybe people figure it is so good that it'll be around and they'll get to it later. (I admit that I kind of felt that way, and put off my visit. I won't let THAT happen again.) This season, more than ever, it seems that shows can't just depend on critics and a last minute rush of publicity (you have to admit the last few weeks have seen Ragtime everywhere). And maybe it's just me, but a couple of other higher profile shows seem to be skating on the critics' adulation and word of mouth. Both could stand to be more visible on TV, in the papers, and especially online venues. It seems to me, that despite happy audiences, they aren't pulling them in, and their days could be numbered. Of course I'm talking Memphis (hey, I'm doing my part - I mention it every chance I get; you'd think I was on the payroll - I'm not...) and Finian's Rainbow. Oh, wait...


(Kate Baldwin and Cheyenne Jackson in Finian's Rainbow)

Producers announced last week that despite some of the best reviews of the season and audience outpourings of love every night (though not at my matinee), Finian's Rainbow will be closing. Now, I've made it clear on this blog that Finian's Rainbow was not a favorite of mine, and in fact, was a big disappointment. But still I hate to see so many more people out of work. And even more, I hate that people will miss the chance to see the really great things in the show, namely Cheyenne Jackson, who solidifies his position as one of Broadway's current go-to leading men; Kate Baldwin's luminous, sassy and romantic Broadway debut; and the wonderful Jim Norton, who makes a mountain out of a molehill of a leading role. He lights up the stage. They all do. And unless the producers have really taken care of getting the Tony committee there and have packages of stuff ready to mail out to voters that look better than their cheesy ad campaign, come Tony time, they'll get a handful of nods, but no real chance at winning, especially Norton. I'm not worried about their careers, Kate and Jim will be back, I am sure. But how long before Cheyenne leaves us for Hollywood for good?

I guess the one ray of sunshine here is that one of the best parts of the show will be preserved - the score and the huge cast singing it. The Broadway Cast Recording arrives in stores next month, and I'll be right there to get it. At least with the headphones on I can picture some of my favorite stars in a lavish production the better fits their talents.


(Justin Bartha: National Treasure and soon-to-be Broadway Boy!)

Faster than you can say Mr. February 2010, a potentially new Broadway Boy has been rumored to have joined (I'm pretty sure he will be in the cast) the Lend Me a Tenor revival, which starts up soon. That guy is Justin Bartha, who most recently made a big splash in a small part (the groom) in The Hangover, with another hot Broadway Boy, Bradley Cooper (come back soon, Bradley!). You may also know him from both National Treasure movies as the fast-car obsessed techno-geek sidekick of Nicholas Cage. The really good news, aside from just how damned cute he is, is that despite the low-brow style comedy of The Hangover, and the action-thriller style of the National Treasure movies, the acting in all three films is first-rate, and Mr. Bartha should be able to hold his own on the Broadway stage. When T.R. Knight was attached, it was an interesting idea, now I am a little more interested. Still, I have to wonder why Lend Me a Tenor is getting a revival. Back in the mid-eighties, it sported a cast that included Tovah Feldshuh, Jane Connell, Victor Garber and Philip Bosco - not a slouch among them - and it still was only a decent sized hit. Now despite a similarly** experienced cast (Anthony LaPaglia, Tony Shalhoub, Jan Maxwell, Jennifer Laura Thompson) and director (the great actor Stanley Tucci), you still have to ask why? We shall see!


Several weeks ago, I blogged about Matt Cavenaugh leaving West Side Story in mid-December. At the time no replacement was named. Since then, it was announced that for 6 shows a week, Tony would be played by the former understudy, Matthew Hydzik and the remaining two shows (Wednesday evenings and Sunday matinees) would be played by former Rock of Ages minion Jeremy Jordan. Well to end this mini-beefcake extravaganza, here are pictures of them both in action with the lovely Josefina Scaglione as Maria. Enjoy! And get to the Palace Theatre to see West Side Story!

(Left to right: Josefina Scaglione (l) with: Cavenaugh, Hydzik and Jordan)

(Photo of Justin Bartha from Getty Images. All other photos by Joan Marcus.)

Comments? Leave one here or email me at


  1. Not the same calibre cast for Lend Me a Tenor? Quite a slap in the face to Anthony LaPaglia, who has several theater awards including a Tony for A View From the Bridge. And Tony Shaloub is no slouch either. Don't know the rest of the cast, but I think Jan Maxwell has a theater background.

  2. Hi, Diane.

    Thanks for reading, and for your comment!

    You are absolutely right about my comment regarding the revival cast of Lend Me a Tenor! I did not edit myself correctly before I posted this blog. An earlier draft had me going on about how these days, casting names helps much more than reviews, but I decided that had been done to death (even by me), so I deleted and cut and pasted without reviewing the result. I will correct it immediately!

    And you are so fact, if Mr. Bartha joins the cast, I believe he will be the only member without extensive background in theatre. And I am pretty certain he would be the only cast member making his Broadway debut. (I am still ticked that Without a Trace got cancelled!)

    Again, thanks for responding!

  3. I purchased the two most recent Playbill yearbooks, and they're wonderful. They're a great resource and so much fun to get lost it for a while.


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