Friday, November 30, 2018

Looking Forward to Winter: December 2018 - February 2019

Why am I always so shocked when December rolls around? The older I get, the faster time goes by. Ah, well. At least I have a lot to look forward to as the holidays approach (and fly by) and we settle in for the cold months of the new year. There are 6 shows opening between the start of December and the end of February: one new musical, one holiday special, one play revival and three new plays. And that doesn't even include off-Broadway shows!

Before we look ahead, let's review what we got to see in the fall. I'd say it was hugely successful: Passion (Signature Theatre, Virginia): A, The Band's Visit (re-visit): A+, The Waverly Gallery: A+, King Kong: C, and The Prom: A+. (And I'd still recommend King Kong - it is fun and spectacular.)

So this is what we have coming up during the next three months. As you can see, it'll be a busy few months.

Torch Song (on Broadway at the Hayes Theatre)

Left over from the fall, I'm looking forward to seeing this as a fan of playwright (in this case) Harvey Fierstein, Michael Urie and especially Mercedes Ruehl. Also, this play, along with the recent The Boys in the Band and Angels in America represent major works of gay theater. Supporting that and learning from it is practically a civic duty these days. I'm very excited about seeing this revival.

The Cher Show (on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre)

I'm not sure which thing draws me more to this show - the cast (Stephanie J. Block, Matthew Hydzik, Emily Skinner, and my favorite ensemblist, Charlie Williams, among others), the costumes, or the music (I love Cher, of course...). I suspect it's a little of all of those. Even though I'm getting a little tired of bio-jukebox musicals, I have high hopes that this will at least be fun.

To Kill a Mockingbird (on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre

Like most people, I grew up loving this book. (I've never seen the movie.) And I respect the work of writer Aaron Sorkin and of director Bartlett Sher. Then again, there's the cast. I've long enjoyed Jeff Daniels, and look forward to seeing many of my stage favorites like Celia Keenan-Bolger, Gideon Glick, Frederick Weller and Stark Sands. Word of mouth on this has been extremely positive, and I've been looking forward to seeing it ever since it was first announced.

Puffs (off-Broadway at New World Stages)

In preparation for Cursed Child, we've been watching the films (and Mike read all of the books - I read them when they came out). To get us in a lighter mood before the epic event, we are seeing Puffs! It looks like a lot of fun. Add to that we both took the "official Sorting Hat quiz" on Pottermore and found out that we are both Hufflepuffs. I have a feeling this will be a great laugh and a lark.

Hamilton (on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre

This will be our second visit to the room where it happened. Previously, we had the honor of seeing the original cast. We both thought it was quite good, if not quite the revelation of musical theater everyone says it is. I have a feeling we suffered a case of show hype let down. That said, we look forward to appreciating the show for what it is not what we were hyped to believe we'd see. Plus, we are both fans of Daniel Breaker, Euan Morton, James Monroe Iglehart and Denee Benton. Here's hoping they are still with the show in early February!

Don Giovanni (Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center)

This will be my second opera at The Met, the first being The Death of Klinghoffer. Mike is a big opera fan, and he's teaching me an appreciation for the form. This time, we are seeing a traditional classic. I know nothing about it, other than a synopsis I read. The pictures look interesting.  I am looking forward to expanding my base of knowledge. And the opera house is pretty amazing just to be in!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (on Broadway at the Lyric Theatre)

We have had tickets for this since they day they went on sale, so the waiting has been torture. (I'm a little irked that better seats than I have seem to pop up all the time, but that's for another time...) Still, our seats are good, and we will be completely prepared by the time we see it. Everything I've seen and heard about it makes me excited to see it at last. Both of us are trying not to suffer from show hype let down (see Hamilton above). And I'm holding out hope that the original cast will still be there... No matter what, I look forward to an in person return to the Wizarding World!


Thursday, November 29, 2018

#TBT: Xanadu: The Book (Seriously!)

Like many young kids in the early 80's, I played the soundtrack to the movie Xanadu to death, and I knew every lyric, pause and audible breath on the Olivia Newton-John side. And I played, if I do say so myself, a mean air guitar and air keyboard, to every song on the E.L.O. side. It was also (around the 100th time I sang along to "Magic") that I first, finally, admitted to myself that it wasn't a straight crush I had on Olivia, but my first gay crush on someone who would become an amazing gay ally.

So, imagine my delight to find out that Xanadu was being made into a musical. Everyone around me was predicting disaster and a fast flop. I bought a ticket anyway, and went in thinking, "well, at least we can say we saw it and laugh about it after." Neither Mike nor I expected what we saw, and we didn't expect to love it. But we did, and ended up seeing it several more times, including from onstage. I've got all the different Playbills, including my coveted first edition including James Carpinello above the title (I didn't see him, but I did see Cheyenne Jackson's first credited performance), the cast recording, as well as both versions of the window card, plus an autographed copy, too.

Which brings me to today's Throwback Thursday memorabilia, the coffee table book, Xanadu: The Book! I love everything about this tome, from its irreverent send up of other such books - the audacity of publishing it in giant soft cover!

There's a lot packed into these 80+ pages: dozens of full color production photos, interviews with the producers and Douglas Carter Beane (book), and a fun questionnaire with director Christopher Ashley. There are also great articles about each design element, along with photos of those things that inspired the designs. One of the funniest things is the interview with the screenwriter of the movie!

If you can get your hands on a copy of this, grab it up, put on your leg warmers, put on the cast recording, and get to reading!

Here's a look back at the show that inspired the book - seriously!


  • The show began previews at the Helen Hayes Theatre on May 23, 2007, and opened on July 10th after 49 previews. The show closed after 512 performances on September 28, 2008.
  • Olivia Newton-John came to see the show and loved it!
  • Whoopi Goldberg played the part originated by Jackie Hoffman for several weeks during the run.
  • The show was nominated for 4 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
  • Several of today's most popular Broadway people were in the show: Kerry Butler (Mean Girls, Beetlejuice), Cheyenne Jackson (Finian's Rainbow), Jackie Hoffman (On the Town, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Addams Family), Mary Testa (Queen of the Mist), Kenita R. Miller (Once on This Island), Anika Larson (Beautiful), Curtis Holbrook (SpongeBob SquarePants, West Side Story), Marty Thomas (King Kong), and Andre Ward (Rock of Ages). Patti Murin (Lysistrata Jones, Frozen) and Annie Golden (The Full Monty, Violet) were understudies. The national tour included Elizabeth Stanley (On the Town, Company, Jagged Little Pill) and Max von Essen (Evita, An American in Paris, Anastasia).

The National Tour

(Click on the pictures to enlarge!)


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Around the World in 80 Musicals: Part IV: Asia and Oceania

Today our world tour continues to the East, with stops in 7 countries. This week's adventure covers 10 more musicals - some huge hits, (including 2 classics!); others, notorious flops. We'll even visit a mythic island. On this leg of our journey, we'll see Nellie and Emile, Anna and the King, meet a Shogun, and confront the World Champion of Chess. Good times! Buckle up! Priscilla is a feisty bus

The data comes from The Playbill Vault and Internet Broadway Database, and details the original Broadway production. Many of the shows take place in multiple countries, but (for the most part) we include them under their primary setting. In limiting it to 80 shows, obviously some favorites are going to be left out. We'd love to hear from you with your favorites that we missed.

Around the World in 80 Musicals
Stop Four: Asia and Oceania: 
China, India, Japan, Thailand,
Vietnam, Australia and the Islands



Pacific Overtures

James Clavell's Shogun: The Musical
1. Pacific Overtures - Setting: Japan, 1853 (1975, Winter Garden Theatre, 193 performances)
2. James Clavell's Shogun: The Musical - Setting: April - July, 1600 (1990, Marquis Theatre, 72 performances)


Chu Chem
3. Chu Chem - Setting: China, 600 years ago (1989, Ritz Theatre, 45 performances)


Miss Saigon
4. Miss Saigon - Setting: Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), 1975 (1990, Broadway Theatre, 4,092 performances)



The King and I
5. Chess - Setting: Bangkok, Thailand (1988, Imperial Theatre, 68 performances)
6. The King and I - Setting: Bangkok, 1860s (1951, St. James Theatre, 1,246 performances)


Bombay Dreams
7. Bombay Dreams - Setting: Bombay, India (2004, Broadway Theatre, 284 performances)



The Boy From Oz

Priscilla Queen of the Desert
8. The Boy From Oz - Setting: Tenterfield, Australia (2003, Imperial Theatre, 364 performances)
9. Priscilla Queen of the Desert - Australia: Sydney, The Outback  (2011, Palace Theatre, 526 performances)


South Pacific
10. South Pacific - Setting: Two islands in the South Pacific (1949, Majestic Theatre, 1,925 performances)

Part I: HERE

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