Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Broadway on TV: Channel 7's Broadway Backstage Fall Preview

Those of us who don't live in New York City now at least have options when it comes to seeing things about Broadway on TV.  Thanks to YouTube, show websites and even TV channel websites, all of us can catch a glimpse of ads (which I frequently blog about) and various specials that highlight shows and performers of out favorite entertainment, live theatre.

Recently, New York Channel 7 broadcast a seasonal special called Broadway Backstage: Fall Preview, hosted by anchor Michelle Charlesworth and none other than Bernadette Peters!  Basically. the program amounts to an infomercial, and makes every show look equally dazzling (B Roll and well placed interviews work magic).  Perhaps the only misstep of the program comes at the very beginning when Charlesworth refers to Peters as "the first lady of the Broadway theatre."  She is one of the greats, but even Ms. Peters had the good sense to laugh it off while looking mildly embarrassed and uncomfortable.  But things settle quickly and business is taken care of in a rapid pace.

Channel 7's online site has broken down the program into 4 segments, breaking, one assumes, where commercials would have been placed.  For your viewing pleasure, fellow non-New Yorkers (and any New Yorker reading who loves the theatre) here are those four segments:

Part I:
The Scottsboro Boys in rehearsal, plus an interview with Joshua Henry.
A Life in the Theatre with show footage and commentary by both stars, TR Knight and Patrick Stewart.
Footage of Al Pacino in The Merchant of Venice.
Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark is represented by a montage of photos and an interview with villain Patrick Page.  (This show is really being tight-lipped, isn't it?  But does that help or hurt?)
The first segment ends with a review of shows from past seasons that have had high profile replacements: A Little Night Music (Peters and Stritch), In the Heights (Jordin Sparks), Promises, Promises (Molly Shannon), and Fela! (Patti LaBelle).

Part II:
The second segment focuses on shows with a heritage in film:
Driving Miss Daisy, including show footage and an interview with James Earl Jones.  I was surprised to see scenery.  The original production had almost nothing on stage.
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, including show footage (I can see they've made some improvements already), and interviews with Patti LuPone and Danny Burstein.
Elf: The Musical, which features the unveiling of Broadway's Elf, Sebastian Arcelus and the ominous statement: "They are really keeping this one under tight wraps."
The Pee Wee Herman Show features footage from Live! with Regis and Kelly.  Philbin and Paul Reubens, both dressed as Pee Wee stroll down the street to the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.
This part ends with a fun segment about a Wii game that has participants doing Broadway choreography.

Part III:
La Bete features B roll footage and an interview with David Hyde Pierce.
An interview with Cherry Jones and a funny clip highlights Mrs. Warren's Profession.  Jones loves her "hooker boots"...
The Pitmen Painters  includes a brief scene and a chat with Christopher Connel.
RAIN is represented with a segment of the cast doing "Hard Day's Night."  They look pretty authentic!
Lombardi is up next, featuring footage and interviews with Dan Lauria and Judith Light.
Everything gets kicked up a notch with footage from Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, complete with commentary from star, Benjamin Walker.
The final segment is really interesting, focusing on the tattoos of American IdiotStark Sands explains how he and costume designer Andrea Lauer selected the images to tell his character's story and to reflect the actor himself.  The temporary tattoos are explained by a representative of Temptus, the company that creates them, and make up designer Amy WrightMichael Esper ads he two cents worth at the end with a funny quip.

Part IV:
Plays are the thing in this last segment:
Time Stands Still includes a brief scene and interviews with Laura Linney and newcomer Christina Ricci.
Lots of B roll footage highlights Brief Encounter, while an interview with Jeffrey Wright and a rehearsal scene show off A Free Man of Color.
The unusual comedy Elling is represented by some astute observations by co-star Denis O'Hare.
Colin Quinn: Long Story Short  is last up and features a CNN segment with Anderson Cooper, Colin Quinn and director Jerry Seinfeld.  Here's hoping the show is funnier than these comedians trying to be funny about themselves...

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