Thursday, January 31, 2019

#TBT: Playbill: Beautiful - The Carole King Musical: January 2014

Beautiful - The Carole King Musical recently celebrated its 5th anniversary, and as it turns out, we saw the show 5 years ago this past week. Since then, it's been great to see the original cast in new things - Jessie Mueller in Carousel, Jarrod Spector in The Cher Show, etc. And while it will never be a favorite show of mine (review HERE), five years for a show that wasn't Best Musical is still quite an accomplishment. Of course, there's no doubting the sheer excellence of King's music. That alone makes the show worth celebrating.

Here's a look back inside the first month's Playbill:

Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
Stephen Sondheim Theatre
60 previews, 2,108 performances (as of 1/31/19)
January 2014 cast: Jessie Mueller, Jeb Brown, Jake Epstein, Anika Larsen, Liz Larsen, Jarrod Spector

January 2014
The legendary Carole King with Jessie Mueller and Jake Epstein

2 Legends, 2 shows on Broadway

The Original Broadway Company

January 2014 was a great time on Broadway for music fans! You had After Midnight, A Night With Janis Joplin, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia!, Motown and Rock of Ages to choose from. Disney fans had their pick of Aladdin, Newsies and The Lion King. Movie buffs had Kinky Boots, Rocky and The Bridges of Madison County to enjoy. Like I said, a great time.

"(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman"

Jessie Mueller, Anika Larsen, Jarrod Spector and Jake Epstein

(Photos by J. Kyler and J. Marcus)


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Around the World in 80 Musicals: Part VI: The Americas

With today's entry, we conclude our world tour with the final 10 musicals which all hail from the Western Hemisphere. This batch of classics covers hits, misses, masters of musical theater, history, world leaders, gods and commoners...and an ominous movie star with the kiss of death.  We represented the United States with shows that reflect our history. Why? Because coming soon, we will tour the good old U.S. of A. with a new series - Around the States in 80 musicals!

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 Six: The Americas: 
Canada, The United States, Mexico,
The Antilles, Panama, Argentina


Come From Away
The Happy Time

1. Come From Away - Setting: Gander, Newfoundland, Canada (2017, 789 performances*, Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre)
2. The Happy Time - Setting: A small town in Canada (1968, 286 performances, Broadway Theatre) 


The Civil War

3. 1776 - Setting: Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, summer 1776 (1969, 1,217 performances, 46th Street Theatre)
4. The Civil War - Setting: The Battlefields and towns of the North and South (1999, 61 performances, St. James Theatre)
5. Hamilton - Setting: The Colonies (2015, 1,457 performances*, Richard Rodgers Theatre)


Mexican Hayride
6. Mexican Hayride - Setting: Mexico (1944, 481 performances, Winter Garden Theatre)


Once On This Island
7. Once On This Island - Setting: The French Antilles (1990, 469 performances, Booth Theatre)


Panama Hattie
8. Panama Hattie - Setting: Panama City, The Canal Zone (1940, 501 performances, 46th Street Theatre)



Kiss of the Spider Woman
9. Evita - Setting: Buenos Aires and all over Argentina (1979, 1,567 performances, Broadway Theatre)
10. Kiss of the Spider Woman - Setting: a prison in Argentina (1993, 908 performances, Broadhurst Theatre)

* - as of 1/30/19

Visit the rest of this world tour:
Part I - The United Kingdom and Ireland HERE
Part II - France, Spain, Portugal HERE
Part III - The Rest of Europe HERE
Part IV - Asia and Oceania HERE 
Part V - Africa and The Middle East HERE


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

#MyBroadwayThing - Souvenir Programs

They say confession is good for the soul. Sharing my struggles with collecting all things Broadway with you has, in fact, been very cathartic. Today, I bring you #MyBroadwayThing for souvenir programs. They used to be the only merchandise thing I'd buy every time there was one for sale.

Tours or Broadway, if there was a logo emblazoned booklet, my money was at the ready. It all started innocently with a tour of A Chorus Line back in the early 80's. It was a show that changed my life, so naturally, I had to buy a program. It had a centerfold that opened to show the whole line. Then I bought the Mame revival program to commemorate my first Broadway show. I still wasn't buying them at every show. And then...

About a year later, I saw A Chorus Line again. The lady next to me had a program and was thumbing through it before the show started. I glanced over a few times.  It looked just like the one I already had. Until she got to the centerfold. It wasn't the same people on the line as in my program! (Of course it wouldn't be... I was so naive back then.) Well, I had to get one. And thus a new collection began.

Inside the brochures of The Band's Visit and Disney's Frozen

Inside Sunset Boulevard

I have many more than a hundred of them packed away in a box. I do have a few on my bookcase, and I do actually look through those probably twice a year. I've long since stopped collecting them regularly. Between shows that don't have them at all, and shows I see before they come out, my collection wouldn't be complete, anyway. Now, I just buy them occasionally, for shows that mean something extra special to me. My most recent purchases include Frozen (it is a huge, beautifully photographed book), The Band's Visit and Fun Home (both have very interesting articles and great photos, too), and the revivals of Sunset Boulevard (I have every other one they made - Glenn, Betty and the tour!) and Spring Awakening (a stunning production I don't ever want to forget).

Which brings me to the impetus for today's blog - my most recent program purchase - the 30th Anniversary The Phantom of the Opera brochure. Frankly, I can't believe it was only $25.  It is a large, thick book full of articles and color photos of the current cast and several pages on the original cast and history of the show. Now that the show is in its 31st year, I wonder how much longer they'll even have it.

The 30th Anniversary Company

Original Phantom, Michael Crawford (left)
Original costumes sketches by Maria Bjornson

Phantom anniversary artwork through the years.
This weekend, I'm seeing Hamilton and Harry Potter. I've already budgeted for both. They are both special productions, right?

(Photos by J. Kyler)


Monday, January 28, 2019

Broadway Heat: Be More Chill Edition: The Sweet 16!

HOT on Broadway (adj): fierce, talented, big potential; has "buzz"; has "it" factor.


It's been the talk of the internet among the teen theater geek niche for years. There must be something to the bajillion downloads the cast recording got, and some brave producers rolled the dice and put up the funds for an off-Broadway production last year. Now, after several weeks of sold out shows, and a huge media presence, they are rolling the dice again with a Broadway mounting. How it fares remains to be seen, but, no matter what, if it opens on Broadway, we have a job to do!

There are only 16 cast members, so we are starting with the Sweet 16 round. Your job this week is to narrow them down the The Elite 8 - the 8 HOTTEST cast members of Be More Chill. Pick your favorite from each pair below, then BE SURE YOU CLICK "FINISH SURVEY" under the last question. If you don't click that button, your vote will not count.

Thanks for playing along!

Here are the cast members who didn't move on to the next round:

Anthony Chatmon, Tiffany Mann, Lauren Marcus

George Salazar, Britton Smith, Jason Tam

Joel Waggoner, Jason SweetTooth Williams

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