Friday, January 31, 2014

The Broadway Bowl II: Denver vs Seattle


Last year, Broadway Bowl I (HERE) pretty much mirrored the 47th NFL Championship Game: It ended up very close, with Baltimore pushing hard to win and pulling it out at the very end.  If that is any indication of how the "Big Game" will go on Sunday, look for Denver to dominate the first half, and to be more closely matched in the second half, though they will be able to hold on to their lead at the end of each quarter.  We shall see!

Well, sports fans, Sunday is the Big Game (copyright rules forbid my use of the term "Super Bowl" which refers to the NFL Championship Game).  This year's 48th outing pits Denver against Seattle.  OK, so I know almost nothing about football, so forgive any, uh, fumbles in this blog...

If Broadway was the NFL Championship Game, which team would win?  Denver or Seattle?

Harvey has been on Broadway three times

"Team Captain" Antoinette Perry
The Denver Center for the Performing Arts
TEAM DENVER: Harvey, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, The Easiest Way, Caught in the Rain (PLUS: support from The Denver Center for the Performing Arts)
  • First Team: Harvey's Elwood P. Dowd (Quarterback), Vita Louise Simmons The Unsinkable Molly Brown's Molly Brown (she survived the Titanic, after all!), Johnny "Leadville" Brown, Roberts (a good butler can be an asset!)
  • Second String: The Easiest Way's Cast  and Caught in the Rain's Cast (They were both around in the very early 20th century - both are more than 100 years old, but age brings wisdom to a thinking man's sport!) 
  • Special Teams: Harvey's Harvey (As an invisible rabbit, he brings speed and stealth!) and Dr. Chumley and Nurse Kelly; The Unsinkable Molly Brown's Prince and Princess DeLong (A little royalty never hurt any team...) and The Denver Center for the Performing Arts (just think of the resources!)
  • Coaching Staff: Antoinette Perry (Yes, her!  She directed Harvey.) (Head Coach), Scott Ellis, Dore Schary, Meredith Willson, Mary Chase

Seattle Repertory Theatre

TEAM SEATTLE: Jennie, Me Him and I (PLUS: support from Seattle Repertory Theatre and the Seattle World's Fair Performing Arts Division)
  • First Team: Jennie's Jennie Malone, Christopher Lawrence Cromwell, James O'Conner, Nellie Malone, Abe O'Shaughnessy; Me, Him and I's Seattle Sal, U. Kahn, Vera Hartburn, Willie Rolla, Costa Rolla, Dusty Dawson
  • Second Team: Jennie's The Harem Girls and The Sewing Girls; Me, Him and I's Con. Conn, Marjory Gold, Hon. Hiram Rolla
  • Special Teams: Jennie's Dong Foo, The Evil Wang Chu (racist, right?); Me, Him and I's Fort Issimo, Pian Issimo,Winnie Pegg, Toronto Ontario (love the names!) and The Seattle World's Fair Performing Arts Division and Seattle Repertory Theatre
  • Coaching Staff: Mary Martin (Head Coach), Joseph Anthony, Charles Laughton, Arthur Penn, Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers, Larry Gelbart, Herman Wouk, John Van Druten, Frank Loesser


Play Sequence 1: Shows that ran more than 50 up to 300 performances (1 point each): DEN
DEN: 5         SEA: 1
Play Sequence 2: Shows that ran more than 300 up to 999 performances (2 points each): DEN
DEN: 2         SEA: 0
Play Sequence 3: Shows that ran more than 1000 performances (5 points each): DEN
DEN: 5         SEA: 0

DEN: 12      SEA: 1

The Unsinkable Molly Brown
Play Sequence 1: Number of revivals (1 point each): DEN
DEN: 3          SEA: 0
Play 2: Number of plays that take place in their city (2 points each): DEN
DEN: 6          SEA: 2
Play 3: Number of musicals that take place in their city (3  points each): TIE
DEN: 3          SEA: 3

DEN: 12      SEA: 5

HALF TIME:        DEN: 24          SEA: 6

Play Sequence 1: Tony Nomination: Creative (2 points each): TIE
DEN: 0          SEA: 0
Play Sequence 2: Tony Nomination: Writing and Direction (3 points each): TIE
DEN: 0          SEA: 0
Play Sequence 3: Tony Nomination: Acting (4 points each): DEN
DEN: 8          SEA: 0
Play Sequence 4: Tony Nomination: Best Play, Best Musical or Best Revival (5 points each): TIE
DEN: 5         SEA: 5

DEN: 13      SEA: 5

Recording Jennie
Play Sequence 1: Winner: Regional Tony (5 points each): TIE
DEN: 5          SEA: 5
Play Sequence 2: Winner: Creative Tonys (7 points each): TIE
DEN: 0          SEA: 0
Play Sequence 3: Winner: Tonys for Writing and Direction (7 points each): TIE
DEN: 0          SEA: 0
Play Sequence 4: Winner: Tonys for Acting (7 points each): DEN
DEN: 7          SEA: 0
Play Sequence 5: Winner: Pulitzer Prize (10 points each): DEN
DEN: 10        SEA: 0
Play Sequence 6: Winner: Tonys for Best Play, Best Musical or Best Revival (20 points each): TIE
DEN: 0          SEA: 0

DEN: 22       SEA: 5

FINAL SCORE:  DEN: 59         SEA: 16

(Left) Harve Presnel and Tammy Grimes in The Unsinkable Molly Brown
(Right) Mary Martin and friend in Jennie

Although not a complete blow out, Denver clearly wins the Broadway Bowl. On paper, neither "team" is all that strong with five productions for Denver, and only two for Seattle, but Denver's two biggest shows - Harvey and The Unsinkable Molly Brown both had healthy runs, while it has been nothing but flops for Seattle.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Broadway Bares: Winter Burlesque Heats Up Frigid January (NSFW)

So, it was freaking cold in New York City last Sunday.  But it was steaming hot at the XL Club, not once but twice, that freezing night.  The cause?  Broadway Bares: Winter Burlesque "Calendar Girls" kicked off the 24th season of Bares events, and the result was $32,781 for the Broadway Cares/Equity Fight AIDS campaign.  This is, as my regular readers know, my favorite charity, and I love to promote their great deeds!

Christopher Sieber hosted the event, which featured 25 Broadway guys and gals in strips themed for each month.  Here, in pictures by K.T. Garcia and Dan Roberts is a very sexy 2014 calendar for your viewing pleasure.  I don't know about you, but I can't wait for November!

REMEMBER: This may be NSFW! Click the pics to make them, um... larger...

The Perfect Calendar Cover
January: What polar vortex?
February: Who needs chocolate?
March: I guess all leprechauns aren't small...
April/May: No wonder spring is so... wet!
It's true! June is bustin' out all over!
July: The perfect case for wearing
less in the heat...
August: Hot month, hot 3-some!
September: Back to school!  Teach me!
October: I'll trick or treat with
Daniel Robinson anytime!
November: So much to be thankful for...
December: Where were these guys when I saw Elf?

For more information and to get tickets for Broadway Bares 24 this spring, go to or


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Broadway Things That Make Me Happy: January (Part III)

Well, we are nearly a full month into 2014, and I am down to one resolution I am still keeping, and here it is.  I resolved, as you might recall, to be more positive in my outlook to things.  These are the things to do with Broadway this week that made me smile.  This week, there's teamwork, a Broadway elder-stateswoman, and new family members. (Keep scrolling to see them all!)  And I'll start with a great example of the blogger community working together with the Broadway community - for what else? a charity event!

I got the press release to share with you:


Feels Like The First Time, a benefit concert presented by the popular website The Craptacular (, will bring together a host of Broadway stars at NYC's (le) Poisson Rouge on Monday February 10, 2014 at 7:00pm. In the evening of story and song, some of your favorite Broadway babies will recount their first time, and things could get... messy.

Proceeds from the performance will benefit 3-year-old Cameron Huffine — recently diagnosed with Inflammatory Myofibroblastic Cancer — and Children’s Hospital Colorado.

The concert will include performances by Max Von Essen (Evita), Tony Award winner Nikki James (The Book of Mormon), Julia Murney (Wicked), Ben Platt (The Book of Mormon), Elizabeth Stanley (Million Dollar Quartet), and Tony nominees Tony Sheldon(Priscilla Queen of the Desert) and Barbara Walsh (Falsettos), with additional casting to be announced shortly. Andrew Kober (Hair) hosts and Broadway alum Colin Hanlon (Co-Producer Submissions Only, Rent) directs, with music direction by Tony and Grammy Award winner Stephen Oremus (Kinky Boots, The Book of Mormon, Wicked). The evening is being co-produced by The Craptacular(Aileen McKenna and Laura Motta) and Katie Riegel.

VIP Reserved Table Seating is $40 or General Admission Table Seating is $25 with a 2 item food/drink minimum. Standing Room tickets are also available for $25 with no minimum.

Tickets are available now at or by calling or visiting the LPR Box Office. (le) Poisson Rouge is located at 158 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10012.

Craptacular ladies: I hope your event is a huge success!


This picture of Dame Angela Lansbury makes my heart warm and my smile bigger than ever.  Here she is in London, on stage as she prepares for her return in her Tony-winning role in Blithe Spirit.  She looks great, doesn't she?  And happy, too!


One of the fun perks of following Broadway folk on Twitter is that they share great pictures of the rehearsal and backstage lives they lead before the show starts.  I love the camaraderie and teamwork and sense of humor they always show.  Here's a glimpse at If/Then and Bullets Over Broadway!

Looks like If/Then rehearsals are grueling!  James Snyder and LaChanze need to take naps!  It's easy to forget that show business is hard work...

Bullets Over Broadway must require some elastic dance moves! Betsy Wolfe helps with the stretches...


As if preparing to star in a Disney extravaganza won't keep him busy enough, Aladdin's Adam Jacobs is now the proud father of TWIN BOYS, Jack Loren and Alex Gregory.  And let's not forget that his actress wife, Kelly Jacobs, had a little part in the process!  A whole new world, indeed.  Congratulations, Jacobs family!


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

REVIEW: Matilda (2nd Visit)

Review of the Saturday, January 25 evening performance at the Shubert Theatre in New York City, New York.  Starring Gabriella Pizzolo, Ben Thompson, Gabriel Ebert, Betsy Struxness and Jill Paice.  Book by Dennis Kelly.  Music and Lyrics by Tim Minchin.  Orchestrations and Additional Music by Chris Nightingale.  Choreography by Peter Darling.  Direction by Matthew Warchus.  2 hours 40 minutes, with one intermission.

Grade: A+ again!

In a weaker production, four or more understudies, including two principals, could be a disaster.  And when you factor in a relatively new child actress in the title role, and an extremely complex staging, it is amazing that the powers that be didn't just cancel the show.  But in the case of Matilda, you would never know anything was even a little off-kilter, let alone a cast full of fill-ins.  In fact, I will go so far as to say I loved it even more this time around.  (Click HERE to see my original review.)

The show itself is even tighter, broader and riotously funny.  It is showing no sign of "going rote."  The energy and enthusiasm of the entire company is very apparent; they look to be having a great time, and the audience was with them the whole time.  And the benefit of a re-visit to a show like this one is that you catch so many things you missed, and are able to examine things much more deeply.  Kelly's book and Minchin's lyrics are full of cleverness and seem so simple, but the closer examination that a second viewing allows reveals a complexity of ideas, themes and some rather profound truths about growing up, parenting and the power of love.

For those of you into the minute details, there have been some tweaks, the biggest being a dialogue/character  name change from "escapologist" to "escape artist," and the addition of a show curtain and very brief overture before "Miracle."

But let's get right to it,  How were the performances? First, let's talk about the "regulars."  Taylor Trensch and Phillip Spaeth continue to be very funny - the former by saying almost nothing and doing even less, the latter by delivering an over-the-top caricature long with some rather, um, elastic moves.  Karen Aldridge  is as sweet and good humored as ever - the perfect mentor.  And Gabriel Ebert is even sharper than before, though I have to admit I still can't quite see why he won the Tony.  If he embellishes his act much more, it'll be too much.

I'll be blunt here: Ben Thompson is, for me, even better than Bertie Carvel.  Thompson manages to be wickedly funny, but with a certain amount of restraint that allows the character to ebb and flow.  Instead of one level of craziness, this allows the tantrums, bullying and severity to grow.  The result is that Miss Trunchbull is scarier and funnier, and that, in turn, makes her demise all the more gratifying and delightful.

(Left to right) Ben Thompson, Betsy Struxness, Jill Paice

Betsy Struxness is every bit as fabulous as Lesli Margherita.  And boy, can she dance!  I hope she enjoys every second she's on stage as much as I enjoyed watching her.  Then there's Jill Paice, who is so much like her predecessor, I could swear Lauren Ward never left the show.  Don't take that as a slight to either actress.  Both are superb, and Paice provides a much-needed emotional grounding in the midst of so much cacophony and mayhem.  She is terrific.

Gabriella Pizzolo
Finally, I am so glad I got to see Gabriella Pizzolo as Matilda.  This adorable little dynamo is the complete package, without even a hint of that child actor cheesy-ness that plagues every Annie I have ever seen.  Her accent is polished, natural sounding and clear as a bell.  She commands the scene every time she's front and center, and a real team player when she needs to blend in with the company.  Her rendition of "Naughty" was so good, I had to restrain myself from standing when she was done.  What more could  you ask for in a Matilda?

Sometimes, when you return to a show you love, you come away disappointed.  Maybe the performance has lost its edge.  Maybe the replacement actors just aren't up to snuff.  Or worse yet, the show you love might not hide its faults as well in a second viewing.  Not to worry, Matilda fans, the show is in superb shape, from the understudies to the new leading lady.  And if you haven't paid this show a visit yet, what the heck are you waiting for?


Monday, January 27, 2014

REVIEW: Beautiful

Review of the Sunday, January 26 matinee performance at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre in New York City.  Starring Jessie Mueller, Jake Epstein, Anika Larsen, Jarrod Spector, Jeb Brown and Liz Larsen.  Music and lyrics by Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.  Book by Douglas McGrath.  Choreography by Josh Rhodes.  Direction by Marc Bruni.  2 hours, 25 minutes, including one intermission.

Grade: C

WARNING: This review contains plot spoilers.

Carole King, it has been reported, has no plans to see the story of her life on the Broadway stage.  If, in fact, she's doing it because it's just "too personal," she needn't worry - it never gets too deep.  But if she wants to avoid the show because she wants to avoid being embarrassed, I totally support her.  Douglas McGrath's banal, boring book - a cross between a sit-com, and a weak Behind-the-Music documentary - shoe-horns in all the facts, but so little of the emotion and real influences of her life.  It reduces the life of one of America's greatest composer-lyricists to a live Wikipedia article.  He mentions, for example, that Ms. King skipped two grades in high school, three times in the first ten minutes of the show.  What does it say about a musical when the height of tension in the whole thing revolves around an abruptly ended game of strip poker followed by a "no" at an awkward marriage proposal?  The lone time, and I do mean the lone time, McGrath shows us instead of tells us anything is when Gerry Goffin inexplicably begins to stutter uncontrollably, and the result is an ever so brief glimpse at what Beautiful: The Carole King Musical might have been.

The Beautiful Company
Another "might have been" comes from the spectacular montage sequence called "1650 Broadway Medley," where we get to see the inner workings of that venerable music factory at its prime.  A hit parade of songs is cobbled together, while we see the beehive of activity at work around Derek McLane's serviceable, if uninspiring unit set. It is clever, exciting to watch, and, sadly the most interesting scene directed by Marc Bruni.  To be fair, it is amazing that he has gotten as much out of the show as he has.  The rest is a slick, clean staging - so slick as to be repetitive and, well, boring after awhile. But that has more to do with the material as written, I think, than a lack of ability.

That is not to say that the show is without its charms, some of them considerable.  Technically, Alejo Vietti's numerous costumes and Charles G. LaPointe's bounty of period wigs are top notch, as is Peter Kaczorowski's delightfully old school lighting - not an overwrought, garish projection screen in sight - which fits the numerous locations of the story and highlights the performance scenes perfectly.  I should also mention that Brian Ronan's sound design is flawless.  The choreography supplied by Josh Rhodes is high quality, full of energy and evocative of the period.  The numbers by "The Drifters" and "The Shirelles" are especially fun; I loved watching them change formations and effortlessly glide through smooth move after  move.  "On Broadway" and "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" were definite highlights.

"The Shirelles"
One of the chief delights here is the principal cast.  While her role is a sorry cliche of the bitter divorcee and Brooklyn housewife, Liz Larsen makes the most of her role as Carole's long-suffering mother.  Jeb Brown is also amusing as the I-want-to-be-tough-but-can't-really-hide-my-heart-of-gold record producer, Don Kirschner.  The central four characters, though, manage to almost effortlessly - almost - elevate the material they are trying to sell.  As written, they are the classic I Love Lucy set up, with the"Fred and Ethel" of Jarrod Spector and Anika Larsen (as Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil) playing partners-in-crime to the "Lucy and Ricky" of Jessie Mueller and Jake Epstein (as Carole King and Gerry Goffin).  Spector is quite funny and has a wonderful voice, even as he suffers through a one-note characterization (we get it, Mann was a hypochondriac).  Of equally good voice and a constant source of energy every time she hits the stage, Larsen shines as sometimes feminist, fiercely loyal Weil.  As the tormented ladies' man Goffin, Epstein is given the most to chew on here, and he does so with sex appeal and compelling angst.  That his character provides the most dramatic interest speaks volumes about the book of a show that isn't really about him.

Brown, Epstein, Mueller, Spector and larsen

(Top) Jessie Mueller and Jake Epstein 
(Bottom) Jarrod Spector and Anika Larsen
Everything that has already been said about Ms. Mueller's performance is true.  She carries the show with her effortless portrayal and dynamite vocals, not so much mimicking King, but rather approximating the legend.  When Mueller is on stage, you can't take your eyes off of her, and when she sings, it is near bliss.  Her rendition of "Natural Woman" alone is worth sitting through the rest of the show, and the title song, "Beautiful," is sung with so much feeling, you can almost forgive the rest of the show's faults.

Jessie Mueller
Beautiful will likely be the show that the wives of the men who loved Jersey Boys will flock to in the foreseeable future, and they were lapping it up like cream at the performance I attended, oohing and ahhing as they recognized each classic tune, and happily sang along to many of them - man, that annoys me - and applauding many numbers and "acts" like we were at a concert rather than a Broadway show.  ("The Righteous Brothers" got such a hand, you'd have thought the real duo was making a surprise guest appearance or something!)  Still, it is hard not to be that enthusiastic, for the music here is the best part of the whole thing.  Looking back on it, it is amazing just how much those four songwriters changed and added to American popular music.  It is true: they sure don't write 'em like that anymore.

I guess what is so annoying about this latest bio-jukebox musical is the untapped potential.  Carole King deserves much more.  It isn't nearly as bad as Motown, and it is epic theatre compared to the insultingly bad Baby It's You!  But it is a definite reminder that enough is enough of such "musicals."

Photos by Joan Marcus


Friday, January 24, 2014

CONTEST: Win tickets to see Broadway's ROMEO and JULIET at a Movie Theater Near You!


Broadway fans around the country lately have been able to see theatre performances from the comfort and convenience (not to mention pretty cheaply) of their local cineplex.  From Love Never Dies to Merrily We Roll Along, plus a wide selection of things from the National Theatre of Great Britain,  movie theaters all across the country are bringing the thrill of live theatre performances to avid fans and those who can't get to New York.

And now comes Romeo and Juliet  starring Orlando Bloom (Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean) as Romeo and Condola Rashad (Smash, Sex and the City 2) as Juliet, will be opening at a movie theatre near you this Valentine’s Day! The film has an exclusive run in movie theaters from February 13-19.  And I have a pair of tickets to a screening for you to win!

Orlando Bloom (Romeo) and
Condola Rashad (Juliet)

ABOUT THE PRODUCTION                                           
The stunningly modern stage production has received acclaimed-reviews, including this from the New York Times: “Mr Bloom in a first-rate Broadway debut and the gifted Rashad exude a too fine for this world purity that makes their characters’ love feel sacred.” In addition to Bloom and Rashad, the cast includes Christian Camargo (The Hurt Locker, Dexter), Justin Guarini (American Idol, American Idiot), Tony Award winners Brent Carver (Kiss of the Spider Woman, Sleepy Hollow), Chuck Cooper (Law & Order, American Gangster), and two-time nominee Jayne Houdyshell (Follies). Romeo and Juliet was captured for cinema on November 27 at New York’s Richard Rodgers Theatre by the multiple, Emmy award-winning Don Roy King (Saturday Night Live).

While Romeo and Juliet is the most famous love story of all time, this production marked the first time in 36 years that the play was produced on Broadway.  For more information on the screening, including social networks and link to the film trailer, scroll down past the contest.

Conrad Kemp (Benvolio) and
Orlando Bloom (Romeo)

  • Answer the following three questions.
  • Email the answers to the questions, letter AND answer like this : 1. D. Angela Lansbury
  • Include your full name and city and state.
  • Send the email to with the Subject Heading ROMEO AND JULIET FILM CONTEST
  • ENTER TO WIN NO LATER THAN MIDNIGHT, JANUARY 30! The winner will be contacted on Friday, January 31 by 6PM.
1.  The song "(You Gotta Have) Heart" comes from which Broadway Musical.
     A. Kiss Me, Kate
     B. Kiss of the Spider Woman
     C. Damn Yankees
     D. A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

2.  Which current musical features a tune called "Love Song"?:
     A. A Night with Janis Joplin
     B. Pippin
     C. Matilda
     D. Kinky Boots

3.  Twyla Tharp choreographed a dance to the Frank Sinatra version of "My Funny Valentine" in which Broadway musical?:
     A. Come Fly Away
     B. Movin' Out
     C. The Times They Are A-Changin'
     D. Singing in the Rain

  • The prize is one pair of tickets to a screening on Romeo and Juliet, playing February 13 - 19.
  • Winners of the ticket contests from JK's TheatreScene for Forever Tango, Romeo and Juliet, A Time to Kill I and Macbeth are NOT eligible for this contest.
  • ONE ENTRY per email address.
  • Entries must be received by MIDNIGHT on Thursday, January 30, 2014.
  • JK's TheatreScene is NOT responsible for lost or late emails, screening availability, seat location or the policies of individual movie theaters.

For movie times and tickets, visit


Photos by Carol Rossegg

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