Sunday, January 9, 2011

TheatreScene: January 1 - 9

Mr. Broadway January 2011: Kyle Dean Massey
Goodbye, Old Friends: Part I
FAREWELL: Marcia Lewis
THEATRE BOOK REVIEW: The Playbill Broadway Yearbook, Volume 6
Spider-Man: The Christopher Tierney Interviews
Back in Time: 2002: Into the Woods (Revival): Part I: The Show
CD REVIEW: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Goodbye Old Friends: Part II


  • There hasn't been a New Year's Day opening on Broadway since 1977's Something Old, Something New and it wasn't something successful, either.  It closed the same day.
  • In 1906 Weber's Music Hall  had a musical revue called Twiddle-Twaddle open.  It ran exactly 6 months and had 159 performances.

  • It's a return!  The first of 50:  Billie Joe Armstrong started his 50 show stint in American Idiot as St. Jimmy today.  With a winter that has been brutal on Broadway so far, let's hope he works some more box office magic this time around!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Louise Pitre, Actress (Mamma Mia!)


  • In 1985, Home Front opened at the Royale Theatre.  More notable for its cast - Carroll O'Connor, Frances Sternhagen and a very young Steven Weber, the show closed after a mere 13 performances.

Brief Encounter (TOP) and Promises, Promises (BOTTOM)
  • Eight Broadway shows took their final bows today - Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Brief Encounter, Elf: The Musical, Fela!, The Pee-Wee Herman Show, Promises, Promises, West Side Story and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.  For a fuller report, click on the link to my blog "Goodbye Old Friends, Part I" above.
  • In much better news: Disney's Beauty and the Beast is now only Broadway's eighth longest running show in history.  That's because after today's 5,462nd performance, Disney's The Lion King became the seventh longest running Broadway show.  Hakuna Matata!
  • Speaking of long runs, Chicago, should it keep running, will surpass the long run of A Chorus Line sometime during the last week in August with performance 6,138.  Sweet revenge, considering the first time around, ACL left the original Chicago in the perverbial dust, when the latter lost all 14 of its Tony nods to the former, and ran a decent, but paltry in comparison, 898 performances.  Look for The Phantom of the Opera to hit 10,000 performances in 2012.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Taye Diggs, Actor (RENT, Wicked)


  • In 1952, a revival of Pal Joey opened at the Broadhurst.  It starred Helen Gallagher, Harold Lang and Elaine Stritch in a cast of over 50.  After 540 performances, the show closed, but it remains the longest running Broadway production of the classic to date.
  • Flop or not, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown will be preserved in an Original Cast Recording!  I am serously thrilled about this since I didn't get to go back and see this little gem - a cubic zirconia in the rough, if you will.  Personally, I can't wait to do a comparison of the lyrics/songs "Lovesick" from Breakdown  and either "Great Big Stuff" or "All About Ruprecht" from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.  Why is it sexist and degrading to talk about the moisture level of lady parts, but all in good fun to talk ball sweat?

Verge vs Scoundrels: Which is more "inappropriate"?
  • Note to Internet Rats: Christoper Tierney is making the rounds on TV - and good for him, who wouldn't escape the open arms of death and use it to further his career?  I don't blame him.  Plus, he wears that Spider-Man knit cap like a crown, so it is a win-win for everyone.  If I cut my finger off at the paper cutter at work, can I parlay that into a move up the corporate ladder?  His Interview on CBS-2 happened tonight, and it's GMA tomorrow morning!  Rehab - even physical therapy rehab - seems much more lax than I always pictured it.  Silly me.  I thought you were on a strict rest/exercise/no TV time regimen, especially after life and death 30 foot falls, skull fractures, internal bleeding and back surgery.  Hell, when I had my appendix out, I had to ask permission to take a pee.  All true, but SERIOUSLY people!  Who are you to take the guy to task for being a part of news story?  The difference is that he is handling the whole thing with more class than we are used to these days.  He wants nothing from it, clealy.  He is just getting out there, telling us he survived and holds no ill will.  I guess that's the problem for some people.  Still, I would have loved to have his rehab people after my appendectomy!  (Absolutely no offense is intended toward Mr. Tierney, who is a hero in my book, truly.  I get snippy about the people that take advantage of guys when they are down, with no rope to hold onto, so to speak.)
TOPS AND BOTTOMS (December 27 - January 2)
  • Highest Gross: Wicked ($2.2M)
  • Highest Attendance: The Merchant of Venice (102.5%); Fela! came close - 102.4%
  • Lowest Gross: The Importance of Being Earnest ($234K)
  • Lowest Attendance: La Bete (49%)
  • SRO Club: 100% or more: The Merchant of Venice, Fela!, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (who great to see that!),  Jersey Boys, The Lion King, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, and Wicked.  Happy New Year!
  • Record Setters: The Phantom of the Opera set a new house record at the Majestic Theatre with over $1.3M this week.  And Wicked now holds the all-time, all-Broadway record for a single week's B.O.  You go, girls!
  • $1M Club: (A nice year-end boost after last week's blizzard!) American Idiot, Billy Elliot, Elf: The Musical, In the Heights, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia!, Mary Poppins, Memphis, The Merchant of Venice, Promises, Promises, Rain, The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story and Wicked.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Josephine Hull, Late Actress (original casts of Arsenic and Old Lace, Harvey, and You Can't Take It with You, among many others)


  • 1966 was the year and the old Helen Hayes Theatre was the place for the 7 performance flop, UTBU, which opened on this date.  The cast was better than the material, apparently: Tony Randall, Tom Aldredge, Thelma Ritter and The Wizard of Oz's Margaret Hamilton starred.

  • Finally, some good news from Spider-Man.  The Arachne issue - casting, not the horrible book issues as of yet - has been solved.  T.V. Carpio has taken over the role from Natalie Mendoza.  Having seen the other choice, America Olivo, I think the choice was a good one.  Now, dump the lady spiders, Julie!
  • Also from the land of Spidey: his creator, Stan Lee has publicly decreed that he fins the show's current shape to be "encouraging."  I'll take the master's word for it if he feels they are moving in the right direction.
  • Casting:  Wilson Jemaine Heredia, Tony winning Angel from RENT, will take over the role of Jacob from Tony nominee Robin de Jesus, over at La Cage.  This new cast gets better and better.  I might just have to go back... and Julia Stiles will be joing the cast of Fat Pig this spring.  If you haven't seen or heard of this play, trust me.  Put it on your "to see" list.  It is sharp, funny and really REALLY makes you think about how you see others.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Patrick Cassidy, Actor (42nd Street, The Pirates of Penzance, AIDA)


  • Member of the Wedding opened in 1950 at the Empire Theatre, where it played 501 performances.  Ethel Waters was the star, but a very young Julie Harris stole the show.

  • The Majestic Theatre was the place to be in 1975.  On this date, The Wiz opened.  It would go on to with the Tony for Best Musical, run 1,672 performances and make stars out of Stephanie Mills, Ted Ross, Hinton Battle and Andre de Shields.  It would also mark the Broadway debut of Phylicia Ayers-Allen, better known today as Phylicia Rashad.
  • In 1984, Tom Stoppard's play The Real Thing opened at the Plymouth Theatre.  It played 566 performances and won a bunch of Tonys, including Best Play.  But the cast was really newsworthy: Glenn Close, Jeremy Irons, Peter Gallagher, Christine Baranski and Cynthia Nixon!

  • So long, chum.  The original Sally Bowles of Cabaret, Jill Haworth passed away today at the age of 65.  That show was her sole Broadway credit.
  • Chistopher Tierney was released from rehab today.  He left the facility walking on his own two feet.  Take that Gossip Monger!  (Gossip Monger is my new Super Villain...)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Bradley Cooper, Actor (Three Days of Rain)


  • The Imperial Theatre in 1963 was where and when Oliver! made its Broadway debut.  It ran 774 performances, and starred Georgia Brown as Nancy and Clive Revill as Fagin.  Little Bruce Prochnik had his one and only Broadway role as Oliver Twist, and the Artful Dodger was played by future Monkee David Jones.  In a small, but pivotal role, Barry Humphries made his Broadway debut.  He would never again appear as himself on Broadway, but he has been back several times as Dame Edna.

  • It is a good news day, Broadway lovers!  Two shows - The Merchant of Venice and A Little Night Music announced that they both recouped their initial investments!  That is great news these days! 
  • And Colon Quin: Long Story Short announced another extension, through March 5.  Am I the only one who feels the re-opening of Rock of Ages is less a sure thing than we've been led to believe?
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Bonnie Franklin, Actress/Singer (Applause)


  • John Cullum won a Tony Award for his performance in Shenandoah, which opened in 1975 at the Alvin Theatre.  The racially charged, deceptively old-fashioned Civil War musical played 1,050 performances.
  • Once again, it is all Spidey News: "Public Advocate" Bill de Blasio as thrown his hat into the anti-Spider-Man ring with this gem: he wants the advertising of shows to be investigated and fined if it isn't crystal clear to ticket buyers that a show is in previews, subject to stop and to make changes not listed in the Playbill.  I'm sure he means that this will be across the board, yet he only mentions the outrageous circumstances of ticket buyers for Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.  Of course, I hope that Roundabout Theatre Company is ready to fined for charging full price for the yet to open The Importance of Being Earnest to an unsuspecting subscription audience.  And that American Idiot gets fined for adding a new curtain call number that isn't listed in the Playbill.  And I want my money back from Legally Blonde, The Goodbye Girl, and two separate performances of Blood Brothers, all of which had to be stopped mid-show due to technical difficulties.  Oh, wait.  They were officially open at the time.  I guess I got screwed.
  • Happier news, if it really is news:  Apparently, Christopher Tierney will be attending the show tonight!  Great for him.  Really!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Vincent Gardenia, Late Actor (Glengarry Glen Ross, Ballroom)


  • The Oldest Opening of the Week: In 1768, William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew opened at the John Street Theatre.

  • Arguably the most famous production of The Pirates of Penzance opened on Broadway on this date in 1981.  Starring a heavy-hitting cast including Kevin Kline, George Rose, Rex Smith, Linda Ronstadt and Estelle Parsons, the show won the Tony for Best Revival and played an impressive 787 performances.
  • Apparently Christopher Tierney stayed home to recuperate today.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Tharon Musser, Late Lighting Designer (A Chorus Line, Follies, Dreamgirls)



  • In 1961, Eugene Ionesco's play, Rhinoceros, opened at the Longacre Theatre, starring Zero Mostel, Eli Wallach, Anne Jackson and Jean Stapleton.  Mostel would win a Best Actor Tony, and the show would close after just 240 performances.
  • Four more shows closed on Broadway today: La Bete, In the Heights, A Free Man of Color and A Little Night Music.  (See list of blogs above for more info!)
  • Two shows went on hiatus: The Merchant of Venice, which returns on February 1, and Rock of Ages which is supposed to re-open at the Helen Hayes Theatre in March.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: J.K. Simmons, Actor (Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Peter Pan, Guys and Dolls)

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