Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bits and Pieces for 01.17.10

Hello, everyone! Isn't it hard to believe that we are already into week 3 of 2010!? I have lots this week, especially for you Billy Elliot fans, so let's get right to it!



All of this seems so frivolous (and it really is) when you consider the misery and suffering happening down in Haiti. Lives are hanging in the balance, devastation is the rule, not the exception, and here I am blogging about theatre. I need the escape, but it is never really far from my mind. And there are the small and large miracles that are starting to emerge each day as the human spirit is awakened and thrives.

And there is the charity work. Whether you donate to the Red Cross or UNICEF (remember the orange boxes at Halloween? Same cause - children in need) it is a worthy cause. I am not surprised that after such a banner year of fundraising, the Broadway community has also begun pitching in on this effort, with announced initial $100,000.00 donation to Haitian relief. And I understand more is being coordinated. And so, I am even more resolved to keep my New Year's manifesto and donate more to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, because today it is Haiti, tomorrow it could be right here.

Go to a Playbill Online article about this very subject, which includes links to various charities, by clicking here.

And now back to some happier news...


Gleeks rejoice! As more news leaks out about the upcoming second half of the season (I mean we have to wait until April, they have to give us something!) comes word that film musical diva and pop icon Olivia Newton-John (above, at the opening of Broadway's Xanadu)will be on at least one episode of the Glee, reportedly singing her classic, "Let's Get Physical," in duet with none other than Jane Lynch aka Sue Sylvester! The possibilities running through my mind are various and hilarious! I don't know what I'm looking forward to more: this, Idina, Kristin, Jonathon or the Madonna episode!

You may be too young to remember this, but in 1980, Olivia's song (and deliberately cheesy video) was deemed to "dirty" for the airwaves by many radio stations. No matter how much the video tried to convince us the song was about aerobics at the gym, we all knew it was really about S -E - X! And Olivia played it for all it was worth - the song ended up number 1 for 10 weeks, and was the number one song of 1980! Then there was Xanadu...


Santino Fontana, best known for playing Billy's brother in the Original Broadway Company of Billy Elliot, just can't seem to get a break since leaving that monster hit. First he joins the repertory The Neil Simon Plays. He opens in Brighton Beach Memoirs to rave reviews for his performance as Stanley and for his realistic relationship with the kid who played Eugene. Immediately, rumors circulated that if you thought he was good in Brighton, you'd adore his work in Broadway Bound. Then the unthinkable happened - Brighton Beach closed and Broadway Bound never opened. The masses were denied what was surely going to be a breakout performance.

But all looked great as maybe a week later, it was announced that both Santino and his Brighton co-star Jessica Hecht (above) would be joining the starry revival of A View from the Bridge. Then, during either rehearsals or previews (I've read reports that have stated both) Mr. Fontana sustained an injury during a fight scene that left him with a concussion, forcing him out of several performances, and eventually forcing him to leave the show for good on the advice of physicians. You never mess with a head injury, so this was smart, but, man, what bad luck. Santino Fontana, if you read this, I wish you nothing but great things for the rest of the year and can't wait to see what you'll bring to Broadway next!


$18M for Billy Elliot is a lot of money. At least you can see where the money was spent: a huge cast, a large orchestra and scenery that required the lowering of the pit and understage area by several feet, just to accommodate the scenery that com
es out of the floor. Thank goodness it is a smash hit, because that kind of money almost guarantees that a show will never make it to Variety's "Hit" column. And yet, just a year and a few months later, the Elton John opus has announced that it has recouped its entire investment and now the producers can start handing out profit checks! Seriously, considering that every single week since it started previews, Billy Elliot has made between $900,000 and well over $1M each week. The running costs must be staggering. They had to gross over $60M to recoup $18M. Good for them, and here's to a long life and thousands of "Angry Dances."


Get me a ticket to the Windy City! The Chicago Company will star none other than Emily Skinner, Tony nominee for one of my all-time favorites, Side Show, and co-star of another of my all-time favorite, The Full Monty! Ms. Skinner will star as Mrs. Wilkinson. I can only imagine what she will bring to the role. Is it selfish to wish that eventually she will leave the show in Chicago and join the Broadway company? Add that to my wish list. But I see a trip to Chicago more likely for me. Hmm... I'll see her there AND here! (I am trying so hard to be optimistic this year!)


Regular Broadway Boy, Michael C. Hall (Cabaret, Chicago) and TV star (Dexter, Six Feet Under) announced this week that he has been diagnosed with, treated for and is in remission with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The good news is that this form of cancer is very treatable, and apparently the treatment has worked so far as Hall says he is recovered/recovering and in remission. Thank God for that. Here's hoping he remains cancer-free from here on out, and that he returns to Broadway soon!

On a related note, Andrew Lloyd Webber has announced that his treatment for prostate cancer was also a success, despite a small setback earlier in 2009. He's now back at work, getting Love Never Dies ready for opening in London and New York.

Update on the Love Never Dies countdown: 298 days until November 11!


Naysayers would never believe this could have happened, but that little show that no one heard of (or believed the "in trouble" rumors) that opened to awesome reviews, Memphis, celebrated 100 performances at the Shubert Theatre this past week. And the celebration continued elsewhere with cast, crew, producers, and even some lucky fans (plucked at random from their seats at the 100th show) partied afterwards. With huge audiences of the holidays, and terrific word of mouth, I really hope Memphis can make it through the winter slump and really shine this spring. I know I sound like Huey's broken records, but you really need to see this show. It is so great - the songs, the performances, the dancing, the staging - all of it.

Here are some photos of the celebration! TOP: Stars Chad Kimball, Montego Glover and composer David Bryan. BOTTOM: Derrick Baskin, James Monroe Iglehart and J. Bernard Calloway.


A BIG thank you to reader and fellow blogger, Esther, for helping join the 21st century by teaching me how to add links to my articles, so you can look at related material! Esther, you are the best!

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