Sunday, July 31, 2011

TheatreScene: July 25 - 31




  • Have a question, comment or observation about the theatre and/or this blog?  Please send them to me at  Put "ASK JEFF" in the subject heading.
  • Find a "vocabulary word" in your favorite Broadway song?  Send the word, the line from the song it is in, along with the song and show title to  Put "Broadway Vocabulary" in the subject heading.
  • How about a clever lyric or words of wisdom from your favorite shows?  Send those in, too!  Put "Words of Wisdom' in the subject heading when you email it to!  (Upcoming blogs will be devoted to Andrew Lloyd Webber, Kander and Ebb and Stephen Sondheim!)

TOPS AND BOTTOMS (July 18 - 24):
  • Top Gross: Wicked ($1.88M)
  • Top Attendance: The Book of Mormon (102.4%)
  • Bottom Gross: RAIN ($280K)
  • Bottom Attendance: Hair (49.2%)
  • $1M Club: The Lion King, The Book of Mormon, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Wicked, Mary Poppins, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, The Phantom of the Opera 
  • SRO Club: War Horse, The Lion King, The Book of Mormon, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Anything Goes, Wicked 
  • Jessica Walter left Anything Goes after today's performance to fulfill prior commitments.  In the coming weeks, Tony winner Kelly Bishop will replace her in the revival at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.
  • On July 26, pop star Tiffany sang her 80's hits after the show at Rock of Ages.

  • Evita is a definite go!  The Michael Grandage - Rob Ashford (director and choreographer) revival begins rehearsals in February toward a spring 2012 opening.  The show will star Ricky Martin (Che) and Elena Roger (Eva Peron).
  • The Tony Award Committee announced that it has reached a multi-year agreement with the Beacon Theatre to present the Tony Awards Ceremony.
  • Edgar Lansbury (brother of Angela) has joined the producing team of the revival of Godspell.  He was also a lead producer on the original production in the 1970's.
  • The new Broadway play StickFly has a new home.  Instead of the Lyceum, the show will now play the Cort Theatre.
  • RAIN: The Beatles Experience on Broadway closed today after 8 previews and 300 performances.  The show played the Neil Simon Theatre and later transferred to the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

  1. i, E
  2. e, B
  3. d, A
  4. j, C
  5. h, D
  6. a, H
  7. f, I
  8. b, G
  9. g, F
  10. c, J

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Musical Words of Wisdom

The cast recording of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is once again responsible for some serious thought.  If you are reading this, I'll assume that you have more than a passing interest in musical theatre.  If you are at all like me, you find the lyrics of Broadway shows to be a treasure trove of clever turns of phrase, witty witticisms, and poignant words to live by.

If you have listened to the score of WOTV at all, you know it is full of the aforementioned wit and poignancy.  It was one time when I was enjoying the ever so catchy "On the Verge" that I got my Broadway Vocabulary Quiz blog idea (the word was "ululating") and the idea for this blog came to  mind as I laughed out loud at a certain line in the song that struck me as funny, true, and as a clever turn of phrase.  (See below)  And I asked all of you to send me your favorite lines from Broadway musical numbers.  

Please note that there were several repeats, so I might not attribute the line to you.  Understand that appreciate all of your contributions!  And so, here are some of my favorites along with some of yours.

  • "It's murder on a hairdo when your head is underwater." - "On the Verge" from Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
  • "You've got pain in your stomach like a long-neglected tooth, dilated pupils that refuse to see the truth..." - "Lovesick" from Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
  • "The price of love is loss, but still we pay.  We love anyway." - "Light" from next to normal
  • "Because happy is what happens when all your dreams come true." - "Thank Goodness" from Wicked (GalindaU89 from NYC)
  • "Christmas bells, ringing out goodwill to men, and peace on Earth; Ev'rything they taught you when you were a child - the things a child once taught the world." - "Christmas Day" from Promises, Promises (Sherilyn F. from Newark, NJ)
  • "Life is what you do 'til the moment you die." - "Life Is" from Zorba (Barb P. from Manhattan)
  • "I'd walk through the quad, and think, 'Oh My God!  These kids are so much younger than me!'" - "I Wish I Could Go Back to College" from Avenue Q (Tim Z from Geneva, NY)

I could probably do a whole blog just from the entries sent in from AChorusLineFREEK from Long island, NY!  Thanks! (He or she didn't leave a name, but DID leave words of wisdom and clever wording from almost every song in that show's score!

From A Chorus Line:
  • "Who am I anyway?  Am I my resume?  That is a picture of a person I don't know." - "I Hope I Get It"
  • "All thanks to Sis (Now married and fat)" - "I Can Do That!"
  • "'Diff'rent' is nice, but it sure isn't pretty.  'Pretty' is what it's about.  I never met anyone who was 'diff'rent'.  Who couldn't figure that out?" - "At the Ballet"
  • "Too young to take over, too old to ignore." - "Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen"
  • "Six months later I heard that Karp had died.  And I dug right down to the bottom of my soul... and cried.  'Cause I felt... nothing." - "Nothing"
  • "Tits and ass won't get you jobs, unless they're yours.  Didn't cost a fortune, neither.  Didn't hurt my sex life, either." - "Dance: Ten; Looks: Three"
  • "Give me a job and you instantly get me involved.  If you give me a job, then the rest of the crap will get solved." - "The Music and the Mirror"
  • "Kiss today goodbye, and point me t'ward tomorrow.  We did what we had to do.  Won't forget, can't regret what I did for love." - "What I Did For Love"
  • "One smile and suddenly nobody else will do." - "One"

Next week, I'll do another blog entirely made up of quotes from the musicals of Stephen Sondheim - thanks to contributions from Tyler, Catherine and SteFANSondheim13!

And keep sending in your favorite lyrics and vocabulary words for future blogs!  Lloyd Webber fans - send me your quotes, too!  I'll do a whole blog on those if I get enough!

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Broadway Vocabulary Quiz #2

"Ululating" is the word that started it all.  That little gem of a word always makes me smile, as does a smart lyric in a Broadway musical.  Apparently, a lot of you enjoyed the first of this type of blog - thanks for all of the interest.  Seems you all like a quick mind-bender during a break at work or at the beach!
Well, Mike and I put our heads together and came up with 10 more Broadway lyric vocabulary words.  Some are relatively easy, others a little more challenging.  Your job is to match the word with the definition, and then with the song and show it comes from.

Example: "Shut up! Or Not. Let go, and pretty soon you're ululating like a banshee..."  Ululating - howling, wailing.   "On the Verge" - Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

  1. "I'm filling up the room, our secret room, with every flower in bloom.  I'll have the fire lit, the table set, I'll wear the blue chemise."
  2. "We've got a lot to thank you for - Geordie you're a corker - a nice extension on the house and a fortnight in Majorca!"
  3. "Overthrow the effigy!  The vast majority burning down the foreman of control!"
  4. "Reports of my fame are greatly exaggerated, exacerbated by the fact that my syntax is highly complicated."
  5. "If we're not one, but two, are we evil or good?  Do we walk the fine line that we'd cross if we could?  Are we waiting to break through the fa├žade?"
  6. "It's loosey goosey time! She was a gadabout, but she's back again!"
  7. "But her single most disturbing feature was the coarse black hair on her face. Maybe she was menopausal. Lack of estrogen will cause a lot of odd conditions, some acute! The irony would never faze her namesake of a famous razor. And to be so facially hirsute!"
  8. "But! What I've left behind looks trifling. What's ahead... looks black! Am I doomed to spend my life a-lingering on...Lingering on! Just lingering on...malingering on?"
  9. "Raoul and the soubrette, entwined in loves' duet.  Although he may demur, he must have been with her."
  10. "Soon learned power of the truncheon, organize a function king to pawn!  So if peace is what you're after, Urinetown's the rafter to hang it on!"


a.  someone who flits about in social activity
b.  to pretend or exaggerate incapacity or illness (as to avoid duty or work)
c.  a police officer's billy club
d.  a crude figure representing a hated person
e.  one that is excellent or remarkable
f.   hairy
g.  a soprano who sings roles in comic operas; an actress playing a coquettish maid
h.  a false, superficial or artificial appearance or effect
i.   a woman's one-piece undergarment
j.   to make more severe, more intense

A.  "Know Your Enemy" - American Idiot
B.  "Solidarity" - Billy Elliot
C.  "In the Heights" - In the Heights
D.  "Facade" - Jekyll and Hyde
E.  "Forty Days" - Passion
F.  "Prima Donna" - The Phantom of the Opera
G.  "On the Right Track" - Pippin
H.  "Turkey Lurkey Time" - Promises, Promises
I.   "Mrs. Remington" - The Story of My Life
J.  "The Cop Song" - Urinetown: The Musical

Look for the answers on Sunday!  

(Please send in your vocabulary words!)
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Thursday, July 28, 2011

CASTING: Follies

Last week, the full Broadway company of the revival of  Follies was announced just as the cast went into rehearsals.  The Sondheim musical, last revived in 2001, is scheduled to begin previews at the Marquis Theatre on August 7, with opening night set for September 12.  Currently, the show is a limited engagement through December 30, 2011.  The revival comes from the Kennedy Center, whose last Broadway outing, Ragtime, was acclaimed, but short-lived.

Two-time Tony Award winner Bernadette Peters (Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods) stars as Sally Durant Plummer, along with four-time Tony nominee Jan Maxwell (Lend Me a Tenor, The Royal Family, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) as Phyllis Rogers Stone, two-time Tony nominee Danny Burstein (South Pacific, Women on the Verge...) as Buddy Plummer and three-time Emmy Award nominee Ron Raines (Chicago, Teddy and Alice) as Benjamin Stone.

Don Correia (Singin' in the Rain, My One and Only), who was a stand-by in the 2001 Broadway revival of Follies, will play song-and-dance man Theodore Whitman opposite previously announced Tony Award nominee Susan Watson (the original Broadway Kim McAfee in Bye Bye Birdie) as Emily Whitman.
Bernadette Peters

Rounding out the Follies cast of showgirls and their stage door Johnnys are Olivier Award winner Elaine Paige (Sunset Boulevard) as Carlotta Campion, Rosalind Elias (Broadway debut!) as Heidi Schiller, Colleen Fitzpatrick (Passion, Sunday in the Park with George - revival) as Dee Dee West, Michael Hayes (A Midsummer Night's Dream) as Roscoe, Tony nominee Jayne Houdyshell (Wicked, Well, The Importance of Being Earnest) as Hattie Walker, Florence Lacey (Hello, Dolly! -78 and 95, Evita) as Sandra Crane, Tony nominee Mary Beth Peil (The King and I, Women on the Verge...) as Solange LaFitte, David Sabin (The Yearling, Celebration) as Dimitri Weismann, Frederick Strother (Broadway debut!) as Max Deems, Terri White (Chicago, Finian's Rainbow, Barnum) as Stella Deems, Christian Delcroix (South Pacific) as Young Buddy, Nick Verina (Broadway debut!) as Young Ben, Lora Lee Gayer (Broadway debut!) as Young Sally, Kirsten Scott (Broadway debut!) as Young Phyllis and Leah Horowitz (White Christmas, Les Miserables - revival) as Young Heidi.

The ensemble includes Lawrence Alexander (Broadway debut), Brandon Bieber (Mary Poppins), John Carroll (Women on the Verge), Mathew deGuzman (Broadway debut), Sara Edwards (White Christmas), Leslie Donna Flesner (Finian's Rainbow), Jenifer Foote (Rock of Ages, A Chorus Line), Suzanne Hylenski (Mary Poppins), Danielle Jordan (Broadway debut!), Joseph Kolinski (Titanic, Les Miserables - original production) Amanda Kloots-Larsen (Broadway debut!), Brittany Marcin (Curtains), Erin N. Moore (Broadway debut), Pamela Otterson (West Side Story), Clifton Samuels (Broadway debut!), Kiira Schmidt (White Christmas), Brian Shepard (Young Frankenstein, Spamalot), Jessica Sheridan (Broadway debut!), Amos Wolff (Broadway debut) and Ashley Yeater (The Producers).
Danny Burstein (center)

Considering the generational themes of the show, isn't it interesting that generations of Broadway talent are represented in this 41 member cast?  13 cast members are making their Broadway debuts with this production, while several more have only a few recent shows to their credit. 
Broadway debutantes Lora Lee Gayer and Nick Verina

Then there are those cast members with decades of experience likt Terri White, who starred in the original company of Barnum.  Or Susan Watson, who originated the role of Kim in the original 1961 production of Bye Bye Birdie. Or London theatre legend Elaine Paige, the very first Eva Peron, Grizabella, and one of Broadway's Norma Desmonds.  And of course, there is leading lady Bernadette Peters' storied career, filled with originating roles in Sondheim shows, and working with all the great composers including Sondheim, Webber, Herman and Hamlisch.  She made her Broadway debut in a revival of The Most Happy Fella in 1959.  But nothing compares to Michael Hayes, who made his debut in A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1954!  And get this - he hasn't been back until now.  57 years between Broadway openings!  Welcome back, Mr. Hayes!

(Photos of the Kennedy Center production by Joan Marcus.)

REMINDER:  Be sure to check this blog on Monday, August 1 for details on my latest contest!  The prize?  TICKETS TO FOLLIES ON BROADWAY!

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rod and Ricky's Wedding Album

Sunday, July 24 was the first day same-sex couples could be legally married in the state of New York.  Broadway's first couple to take full advantage of the new law was Avenue Q's Rod and Ricky.  They were married just prior to last Sunday's matinee.  Here, courtesy of Playbill Online and photographer Peter James Zielinski is a "wedding album" to commemorate the historic, joyous occasion.

July 24, 2011

(TOP) Rod and his right-hand man, Howie Michael Smith
(BOTTOM) Ricky and his best man, Jed Resnick

The Wedding Party waits for their turn at City Hall!
Kate Monster and her best friend, Jennifer Barnhart.
Jed Resnick, Groom-to-Be Ricky,
Howie Michael Smith and Groom-to-Be Rod

It's almost time!  All those performances of
Avenue Q together must help the pre-wedding jitters.
They all look so happy and calm!

Best Men Jed Resnick and Howie Michael Smith and
bridesmaids Jennifer Barnhart and Kate Monster
look on as Officiant Amy Hausman performs
Rod and Ricky's marriage ceremony.

As Rod and Ricky move one step closer to wedded bliss,
Kate Monster daydreams that one day
it will be her and Princeton at the altar.

Officiant Hausman presents the newlyweds
with their Certificate of Marriage.

Will Kate Monster catch the bouquet?

Rod must be pleased - a conservative blue sash marks
the special day for NY's very first same-sex puppet
married couple.  Their best men are all smiles, too!

Those AQ boys never turn down a photo op.

Rod, Ricky and Kate Monster discuss
equality for all citizens - be they human,
puppet or monster - live on CNN.

The happy couple poses for one last shot.  Look at those rings!

Rod and Ricky share a quiet moment together
before they start their new lives as husbands.
And what better way to start than a performance
of the show that brought them together -
Avenue Q!

And who doesn't record their wedding these days?  Here is the whole ceremony!


Avenue Q continues its record-breaking run at New World Stages.  Congratulations to all of NY's newest married couples!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

FAREWELL: Tom Aldredge

On July 22, the world lost a great talent and a really nice man.  Last Friday, Broadway, film and TV veteran Tom Aldredge passed away.  TV and film fans know him from The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, What About Bob?, Cold Mountain and more than a dozen other titles.  He was that guy who played cranky old men, weathered guys with a backbone and kindly gentlemen.  Probably, he was that guy who's show up on screen and you'd think, "I've seen him in so many things!"

But Broadway fans know him as a first class actor whose stage career spanned over five decades.  Equally at home in plays and musicals, Aldredge began his career in the new musical The Nervous Set.  He went on to star in revivals of The Iceman Cometh, Where's Charley?, and The Little Foxes.  He also originated roles, most notably in On Golden Pond, and musicals like Into the Woods and Passion.  In his most recent stage appearances, Mr. Aldredge mostly worked for the Roundabout Theatre Company, appearing in such works as Twelve Angry Men, 1776, The Crucible, and Twentieth Century.  With nearly 30 Broadway credits to his name, Aldredge was nominated for a Tony Award five times, including for his work in Sticks and Bones, On Golden Pond, The Little Foxes, Where's Charley, Passion and most recently, Twentieth Century.

He shared the stage with such luminaries as Bernadette Peters, Donna Murphy, Elizabeth Taylor, Frances Sternhagen, Alec Baldwin, Anne Heche, Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Boyd Gaines, Phillip Bosco, George C. Scott and Charles Durning.  And he shared his life with another Broadway legend, costume designer, Theoni V. Aldredge (a blog about her can be found HERE)  Sadly, his wife passed away just 7 months ago, on January 21, 2011.

On Golden Pond with Frances Sternhagen

Mimi le Duck with Eartha Kitt

Twentieth Century with Alec Baldwin and Anne Heche

Into the Woods with Bernadette Peters,
Joanna Gleason, Chip Zien, Robert Westenberg,
and composer Stephen Sondheim

I had the privilege of seeing Mr. Aldredge in both Into the Woods and Passion.  One of the times I saw the latter show in previews, he graciously signed dozens of autographs and pose for pictures.  But he also took the time to look at each fan, patiently answer questions, and even asked what we thought of the then-struggling show.  He listened intently to each and every one of us.  He was the very epitome of the working stage actor - abounding with talent, a sincerity that audiences could relate to, and an abundance of grace.  He was a true class act.  Broadway will miss him.  This fan will, too.

Thank you and God bless, Mr. Aldredge.

Here is a sample of his Tony-nominated work.  In Passion, he played Dr. Tambouri.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Broadway Celebrates Same-Sex Marriage

When one considers the vast impact of gay and lesbian people on the theatre community, it should be no surprise to anyone that the community has been and will continue to be a loud and proud voice in the continuing fight for equal rights for all LGBT citizens in this country.  The history of theatre across the globe is full of writers, designers and actors that are homosexuals.  It wasn't all that long ago that people, even people of relative fame and in the relatively safe environment like the theatre community, could publicly declare themselves gay or lesbian.  It has been even more recently that the same people could publicly recognize their partners. 
Thankfully, for members of the theatre family in New York, at least, another barrier to full equality has been torn down, and just yesterday, same-sex marriage became legal in the state.  The Broadway community - as it does with so many national issues of concern like the AIDS epidemic and natural disaster relief  - has taken the lead on the front lines of the issue of gay rights.  One major group, Broadway Impact, had much to do with getting this legislation passed.  And they will continue to fight any and all issues of equality.

Broadway also knows how to celebrate and commemorate.  Four-time Tony-winner Audra McDonald will be singing at the very first ceremony, officiated by Mayor Bloomberg.  Then there is the always irreverent, timely and inspiring Avenue QRod and his rent boy lover, Ricky, announced their engagement and marriage on July 24.  They wanted to be among the very first to tie the know, and all before the 3PM matinee!

How fitting that Hair is back at the St. James Theatre and what has truly become a summer of love.  The cast, crew and Public Theatre (the producers of the show), along with Jujamcyn Theatres (which runs the St. James, and its leader, Jordan Roth, a gay man himself) will be sponsoring the marriage ceremony several same-sex couples following this evening's performance of Hair.

Here is a partial timeline of events leading up to tonight's celebration:

  • 2009: Broadway Impact is formed in celebration of President Obama's inauguration and in response to the defeat of Proposition 8 in California by Broadway's Gavin Creel (Hair), Jenny Kanelos and Rory O'Malley (The Book of Mormon).  Since its inception, it has held many large scale rallies and has been in the forefront on distributing information throughout the theatre community.
  • October 11, 2009: The National March for Equality in Washington, D.C. is held.  More than two dozen buses transported over 1,400 Broadway actors, technicians, crew, fans and supporters to the rally.  Producers of the Broadway show Hair cancelled performances to allow the entire production company to attend this historic event.
  • May 10, 2011: NY Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell introduces the same-sex marriage bill.
  • June 15, 2011: The NY Assembly passes same-sex marriage bill for the fourth time, voting 80 - 63.
  • June 24, 2011: The NY State Senate passes the same-sex marriage bill into law 33 - 29.  Governor Andrew Cuomo immediately signs the law, which will go into effect 30 days later.
  • July 13, 2011: Rory O'Malley of Broadway Impact, The Public Theater's Oskar Eustis, and Jujamcyn Theatre President Jordan Roth, along with other Broadway dignitaries including Joel Grey, Will Swensen and the current cast of Hair announce that following the performance of the show on July 25, several members of the Broadway community will be married on the stage of the St. James Theatre. (Above)
  • July 24, 2011: Same-sex marriage becomes legal in the state of New York.
  • July 25, 2011: The Scottsboro Boys' Colman Domingo, an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church, conducts the marriage ceremony of several same-sex couples at the St. James Theatre.  Among the couples: Follies co-star Terri White and jewelry designer Donna Barnett (above), actor Ryan Dietz and playwright Josh Levine, and stage doorman John Raymond Barker and Jujamcyn Theatres usher Jared Pike.

Though the LGBT community has many more hurdles to climb over on the journey towards complete equality, let's all pause for a bit to reflect on how far we've come and to offer thanks and congratulations to everyone married today and in the future.

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