Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bits and Pieces for 01.24.10

Last week was almost all about Billy Elliot.  This week is almost all about casting, plus a little more Billy.



I have enjoyed seeing Andy Karl for several years now (above, with his equally awesome wife, Orfeh), having seen them both in Saturday Night Fever and Legally Blonde, and him in Altar Boyz, Disney's On the Record and most recently, 9 to 5.  Sure, he is good-looking and has a smile that would melt ice, but he also is so talented.  He has a natural charm, charisma and warmth that should serve him well in his next role.  Beginning February 2nd, Karl assumes the role of Fiyero in Broadway's mega-hit, Wicked.  It should be fun watching him swagger about the set and warm Elphaba's cold heart.


I have to hand it to the producers of Glee.  They sure know how to keep it in the public's conscience, even though we are still months from the nine new episodes.  Winning all kinds of awards, with only a half season under their belts is newsworthy in and of itself, but the casting rumors are also great fun.  If even half are true, watch out Sue Sylvester!  10 Madonna songs in one episode!?  Cool!  Idina Menzel!  Cool!  Jonathan Groff!  Super cool and cute!  But now comes word that Neil Patrick Harris, Jennifer Lopez and even Bruce Springsteen might be signing up.

And if that wasn't enough, there is the news about the casting of three new roles, including a serious boyfriend for Kurt, and an Eve Harrington-like character to create some havoc for self-absorbed Rachel (Lea Michele).  I CAN NOT WAIT!!


Aside from my constant desire to see every new musical each season, I have to admit that Million Dollar Quartet hasn't really gotten me too excited.  I just can't shake my decades long hatred for Buddy, and my more recent dislike for Jersey Boys.  I guess tell-all musicals about people I really admire outside of theatre just aren't my thing.  And I like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, etc.  BUT now comes news that the quartet will be supported by two of my favorite Broadway folk, Hunter Foster (Grease!, Little Shop - above, with wife Jennifer Cody) and Elizabeth Stanley (Company, Cry-Baby).  Both are so talented, with amazing voices and presence.  And both deserve to be in a big fat hit.  So here's hoping Million Dollar Quartet will bring them that.  And now the show holds much more interest for me.

No sooner did my On the Radar: Yank! post, the rest of the cast for the upcoming off-Broadway production was announced, and I am even more excited than ever about it! Not only will the show star Broadway cutie-pie Bobby Steggert, but it will also boast the talents of Nancy Anderson (A Class Act), Jeffry Denman (White Christmas) and Ivan Hernandez, plus an ensemble that includes: Andrew Durand (Spring Awakening), Zak Edwards, Todd Faulkner, Denis Lambert (A Chorus Line), Joseph Medeiros, David Perlman, Christopher Ruth, and Tally Sessions (South Pacific). The York Theatre Company production begins February 16 and runs through March 21! I can't wait to see this one!


In what smells just a bit too much like a publicity stunt, the producers of Hair held very public non-Equity auditions for the replacement tribe.  I'm sure you saw it on the news or a theatre website.  When was the last time a casting call made the national evening news? Hundreds of hopefuls lined up as early as 1AM for a shot to be heard by casting people.  What they didn't tell you on the news is that an Equity call already happened, and not everyone who signed up that day was heard.  Some folks later on did get the chance to do some singing, but a capella.  To be fair, nearly a third of the original revival tribe was cast from an open audition (at least that's what they say - whether or not THAT open call was Equity or not...).  If it turns out that a token tribe member or two is culled from this, good for them, but still shame on the Hair people.  Are these the same people who engineered a day off to go to a protest rally in DC, not to mention many other similar rallies right in NYC?  I guess when your acclaimed original cast is leaving for London, and your Box Office is slowly starting to diminish, a Tony isn't enough to get you through winter.

If you missed The 39 Steps at any of the three theaters it played on Broadway, like I did, there is still hope!  As reported months ago as rumor has now been confirmed.  The Tony-winning comedy will re-open off-Broadway at New World Stages, joining another post-Broadway gem, Avenue Q.  Casting has not been announced yet, but performances are scheduled to begin March 25.  There is also a National Tour of the show crossing the country.


Tony-winner, and by all accounts the nicest guy on Broadway, Gregory Jbara, will be leaving Billy Elliot for a brief leave of absence.  Beginning January 29 through May 2, Philip Whitchurch, (above) a veteran of the London production, will take Jbara's place.  But have no fear, fans, Greg (below, with Trent Kowalik) will be back on May 4!  Enjoy your break!  You've earned it, for sure.

  • Billy Elliot turns 500 at tonight's 7:30 performance!  That's a lot of "angry" dancing!
  • The troubled but successful revival of Bye Bye Birdie closes today to Henry Miller's Theatre.  The production played 40 previews and 117 performances.
  • Disney's High School Musical film star Corbin Bleu joins the company of In the Heights as Usnavi starting tomorrow (1/25) for a run this winter.
  • Cast members of Memphis have joined the Haitian relief effort.  They will be featured in a concert coming up February 1st.

  • And Happy Birthday to: Denis O'Hare (1/17 - Sweet Charity, Take Me Out), Jesse L. Martin (1/18 - RENT), Dolly Parton (1/19 - 9 to 5: The Musical), Rainn Wilson (1/20 - TV's The Office, Broadway's The Tempest), Davis Gaines (1/21 - The Phantom of the Opera), Katie Finneran (1/22 - Noises Off), and to the great Chita Rivera (1/23 - Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Rink, West Side Story).

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