Monday, September 30, 2019

BROADWAY HEAT: The Lightning Thief Edition: Finals!

Coming in a couple of weeks, another round of Broadway Heat as we continue the search for THE HOTTEST BROADWAY CAST MEMBER OF 2019-2020!


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

1ST PLACE - Sam Leicht

2ND PLACE - Chris McCarrell
3RD PLACE - Jorrel Javier



Friday, September 27, 2019

The Friday 5: 5 Current Shows We'd Like To See Again

Over the years, we've been fortunate to have seen favorite Broadway shows multiple times. Sometimes, it is an embarrassing number of times. Sadly, with the ever-climbing rise in ticket prices, multiple visits are less and less feasible. After all, we want to see all the new stuff, too! Well, don't feel too sorry for us. We have seen both Moulin Rouge! and Come From Away (just last week, in fact!) twice... Anyway, this week's Friday 5 is dedicated to the shows currently playing that we'd like to see again.

The Friday 5:
5 Current Shows
We'd Like to See Again

1. Wicked 
So, I've seen this one several times already, but only twice on Broadway. It's kind of like needing to visit an old neighbor. They are always there, and you think about seeing them every once in awhile. And every once in awhile, you actually go for a visit.

2. The Book of Mormon 
Ever since we saw it the first time, days after it opened, we have been saying we need to see it again. I loved it the first time, but my enjoyment was severely hampered by the extremely uncomfortable front mezzanine seats we had. Looking forward, some day, to saying, "Hello!" to the boys again soon.

3. Dear Evan Hansen 
Yes, we just saw this over the summer. And, yes, we saw it off-Broadway. But that off-Broadway experience was so negative to me, this last visit felt like the first time. I'd love to see Andrew Barth Feldman again, but am open to seeing what any future Evans can bring to the role.

4. To Kill a Mockingbird 
Love the novel - it's one of my top 3 favorites ever. But the play blew me away. Truly one of the best plays I have ever seen. I need to see this again. It just seems like the right thing to do.

5. Hadestown 
The first time was a very profound experience for me. I was moved and thrilled. I simply need to feel that again. And soon.


Thursday, September 26, 2019

#TBT: Broadway Playbill: Getting Away With Murder: March 1996

Being the devout Stephen Sondheim fan that I am, there was no way I was going to miss a play that he wrote. Add George Furth - his co-playwright and book writer of Company - and there was absolutely no way I'd miss it. The added attraction of John Rubinstein (the original Pippin!!) and Terrence Mann (the original Rum Tum Tugger, Javert and Beast!!) made this a must-see for me. Christine Ebersole was an unknown to me; I became an instant fan and have followed her ever since. Back then, I was almost exclusively seeing musicals on Broadway, so this was quite a departure for this (then) 20-something!  The critics hated it, and it closed quickly. Turns out that I saw the final Saturday matinee. I enjoyed it, knowing full well that as with any Sondheim show, there was more there than meets the eye. Heck, even the character names were part of the mystery (clever ways of naming them after the seven deadly sins, e.g. Gregory Reed - greed, Dossie Lustig - lust). And it lived up to its genre; it was both funny and thrilling. I recall a rather vivid depiction of a crime, and some every intense moments throughout. Thinking back on it like this makes me long for a new Broadway thriller.

March 1996

Getting Away With Murder
Broadhurst Theatre
31 previews, 17 performances
March 1996 Cast: John Rubinstein, Christine Ebersole, Terrence Mann, Josh Mostel, Jodi Long, Kandis Chappell and Frankie R. Faison
A comedy thriller by Stephen Sondheim and George Furth

I love the fancy headshot/bio combination!

I'll say it again. I miss the Dear Playbill column.
Also, I saw the balloon guy in Victor/Victoria. A wise cut.

(click the pics to enlarge)

A great time to see variety on Broadway: big musicals, musical revues, TWO one-man shows, classic revivals of both plays and musicals - some of the most beloved titles of all time all at once! "New" Rodgers and Hammerstein, old Rodgers and Hammerstein. And the stars! Julie Andrews, Tony Roberts, Rachel York, Michael Nouri (and that's just one show!), Betty Buckley, Lynn Redgrave, Robert Gould, Zoe Caldwell, George C. Scott, Charles Durning, and Nathan Lane. And guess what? The soon-to-be-back-on-Broadway Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker. Everything old is new again.

πŸ“Έ: J. Marcus, J. Kyler


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

REVIEW: Come From Away (Re-Visit)

Review of the Sunday, September 22, 2019 matinee performance at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. Starring Patrina Bromley, Jenn Colella, Alex Finke, De'Lon Grant, Joel Hatch, John Jellison, Tony Lepage, Happy McPartlin, Caesar Samayoa, Q. Smith, Jim Walton and Sharon Wheatley. Book, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein. Scenic design by Beowulf Boritt. Lighting design by Howell Binkley. Costume design by Toni-Leslie James. Musical staging by Kelly Devine. Direction by Christopher Ashley. 1 hour, 40 minutes. Come From Away is performed without an intermission.

Grade: A+

It says a lot about a production when a large part of the original cast remains with it years into its run (not to mention pre-Broadway runs). It says even more about how well it is maintained that a show as tightly directed and staged Come From Away runs so seamlessly even when three understudies are in, and you can't tell at all who they are, they are so fantastic.

For the record, the three were John Jellison (Oz and others) Tony Lepage (Kevin T. (Lumberjack Kevin) and others) and Happy McPartlin (Beulah and others). They were terrific. The natural chemistry between Lapage and Caesar Samayoa was particularly keen, and I really felt Beulah's warmth from Ms. McPartlin. And the rest of the company was in top form. As I said, this show is tightly directed and staged, fraught with the peril that even the smallest error would be very noticeable. But it is also a danger that the whole thing could become a rote, if well-oiled, machine (think the final years of the original Les Miserables). Thankfully, there is no sign of that.

As we become more removed from the events of that fateful day, the show remains as current as ever. This time around, I felt more like 9/11 provides more of a context for the performance and less of the actual story, which is not to say that the gravity of it all is missing. No, the respect and reverence for all involved is firmly in place. Rather, given the ugly times in which we now find ourselves, the piece serves as a reminder that people can be giving, selfless and loving. It also makes certain plot points have an all too fresh sting to them - listening to each person give their name, country and purpose for visit as they enter a friendly nation, the realization that Americans might not be as giving as their new hosts, the fear of someone who looks different.

Jenn Colella and cast
The amazing Jenn Colella and the ladies of the Original Broadway Cast
Still, a return trip to The Rock was overwhelming and joyous - the fastest 100 minutes I've ever spent in a theater, too! Christopher Ashley and Kelly Devine's intricate staging is a real marvel even after having seem it before. The creativity and astonishing transformations are jaw-dropping. This time around, I also noticed how few places there are for the audience to applaud, and I think that is wonderful. Interrupting the rapid fire, ever changing, hectic events of that day would diminish their impact.  I continue to be amazed that people just don't leave in droves during the curtain call like at other shows. And that end of show "concert" by the remarkable band leaves you on a high!

The people portrayed in the show are people I would love to meet in real life. I already feel like a better person for having "met" them on Broadway.

Original review HERE.

πŸ“Έ: J. Kyler, M. Murphy


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

A Few Thoughts on the 2019 Broadway Flea Market

As Mike said as we hit the Lincoln Tunnel, another Broadway Flea Market is in the books. $870,167 was the final tally - way to go, theater fans! We all braved the heat, the crowds and the scaffolding, and hopefully most of us came away with some new and beloved treasures. We're already looking forward to next year! How about you?

Here's what I came away with:

  • It seemed both less crowded and more crowded than usual. Even with all the scaffolding, Shubert Alley seemed easier to navigate all day. And yet, at some tables, it was uncomfortably tight. Seems all of the most important people in the world came to the flea market. You know the ones - they have no regard for anyone but themselves. Taking up coveted space long after they've made their purchases so they can chat with their friends. Move away from the tables to have conversations, huh? This seemed to be the norm at several booths I visited.

  • Speaking of those folks (though this applies everywhere these days, not just at the flea), am I getting to be a cranky old man when I am annoyed at people with no regard to their surroundings who stop dead in the middle of traffic flow to chat/hug/squeal in delight?

  • I miss the flea markets of yesteryear when they blocked off 44th Street and booths were on both sides of the street than around the block on half the street. I know...traffic...blah, blah, blah...

  • I would love to be the person who figures out a way to spread out those bins full of Playbills/Posters/Programs so that more than six people at at time can look through them.

  • Add me to the list of people disappointed with the Moulin Rouge table. Talk about a missed opportunity! Broadway's hottest new show had almost nothing left at 10:45 AM. I was ready to drop some serious cash for the cause for a little piece of the show.

Still for all my complaining, I had a great time and picked up a few things for friends (which I can't tell you about because they'll read it) and a couple of new treasures for myself. I love my To Kill A Mockingbird Tony Voters book, and I found some great cards to fill in my Lights of Broadway card collection. Now, they were organized! I was impressed with the whole table, and Squigs is such a nice guy!

And the non-autograph table star-gazing was great as always. Julie Halston, Patti Murin, Reeve Carney, Eva Noblezada, Jeff Daniels, Telly Leung, and Ryan McPartlin were just a few people I bumped into as I walked around. One or two I literally bumped into!

Finally, as I noted in last week's Friday 5, I got to see some really wonderful, like-minded people. High school boys holding hands. High school girls holding hands. The Beetlejuice cosplay fans. And it seems the older gentlemen with canvas tote bags seem to have created an army!

πŸ“Έ: A. Stock


Monday, September 23, 2019

BROADWAY HEAT: The Lightning Thief (Elimination Round)

New show! New round of Broadway Heat! That's right - since The Lightning Thief began previews last week, we have a job to do!

In our annual quest to name the buzziest Broadway actor or actress of the entire season, we ask you to vote in 2 rounds. In the first round, you'll pick your favorites, and the top half of the vote-getters will move on to the second round the following week, where cast member with the highest number of votes will be named that production's "Hottest."

So, what should you consider when casting your vote? Who do you think we'll be talking about long after this season is over? (Last season's winner, Bonnie Milligan from Head Over Heals is the perfect example!)

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

πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯THIS POLL IS CLOSED!πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯

πŸ“Έ: J. Daniel


Friday, September 20, 2019

The Friday 5: 5 BC/EFA Flea Market Things I Hope to Find

The third Sunday of September is one of my favorite days of each year. I love the BC/EFA Flea Market! (I appreciate the auction, but it is way out of my price range...) So this Friday 5 is what I hope to find while I'm there. (Use the email above & let us know what treasures you will be seeking!)

5 Things We Hope to Find
at the 2019 Broadway Flea Market

5. Star Gazing: Okay, so I don't do the autograph table, which would certainly allow me to see lots of celebrities. But I like my star sightings to be less formal. It's much more fun for me to chat briefly while making a purchase or just say "hello" as they pass by. I figure they don't want to be fawned over as they navigate the crowds on their way to work.  And it's funny, but more times than not, the low key interaction garners a nicer response. That said, as far as autographs go, I get my fair share of signed Playbills for the cause.

4. People Watching: Where else are you ever going to find as many like-minded people in one place? And, if we are honest with each other, theater lovers are a I love the spontaneous singing, the kids who are in a safe space to express their true selves, the older gentlemen who carry canvas tote bags. So much to see.

3. The Lights of Broadway Cards/Squigs Drawings: I love his artwork, and I've become a collector of these cards over the past year. So this will be my first time at that table. I hope to fill in a few holes in my collection!

2. Good Bargains: Well, duh! Since it's all for a charity I really believe in, it's difficult to get too upset if I see something at one table and buy it, then see it again, only cheaper. But hey, here's hoping I see some great deals. Side note: I really hope to avoid any snarky sellers like last year at the Pretty Woman table. Geez, I only asked if we could negotiate the price of a signed poster! "You do realize we are one of the hottest tickets in town, right?" Ha! Joke's on you...

1. Gifts for My Theater Pals: Armed with the knowledge of each of their favorite shows, my primary goal is to find some thing extra special for them. Last year, I found a one-of-a-kind doozy for Mike. The best part is both he and our friend Val are both doing the same thing for me! Then, we keep what we find as a secret until out annual holiday dinner party. They are the best! 

If you run into them, I'd love something from Dear Evan Hansen, Moulin Rouge, Head Over Heels... but, unless it is free, they can keep the Pretty Woman poster!

πŸ“Έ: Lights of Broadway Cards photo by Justin "Squigs" Robertson; other photos and images from Broadway Cares


Thursday, September 19, 2019

#TBT: A Chorus Line: Original Broadway Cast Recording

I make no secret that A Chorus Line is my all-time favorite musical. I've seen it so many times, I know most of the choreography, and can recite most of the line. So it probably will come as no surprise that I love the Original Broadway Cast Recording. I got my first copy of it on vinyl when I was in 9th grade. Yes, my first. I literally wore it out. Ah, how I remember that first time carefully peeling back the cellophane and opening the double fold to see that cool 70's style photo of the "One" kick-line, then marveling at the cover, which had foil letters all down the front. Then listening to it over and over, figuring out who sang what during the montage numbers, and memorizing each of those lyrics. Okay, I am also guilty of studying the cover so I could mimic each pose on the line. (I felt like Paul, but really wanted to be Sheila...)

In the recording studio
Anyway, when I was older and got my first car, it had a cassette player in it. You can guess which cassette I bought first. Then, a few years later, when I got my first CD player, I got the CD, and later still, the "remastered and extended" CD. To this day, I still play it regularly. For the record, I also have the 2006 revival recording, and while I do like it, the original will always be my first love.

This is what happens on the last bump of "I Hope I Get It."

I can say with all honesty that I love every single song, and I'm grateful that even more music was released. Naming a favorite song or two will be impossible. But, I do have a certain affection for a few tracks. First, I love the opening number "I Hope I Get It," and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who tried dancing with Zach's steps. The ending punctuation of those chords...they give me chills every time. Then there is my go-to song for the shower and/or when I'm feeling particularly dramatic and want to belt along, "At the Ballet." (and rarely, but sometimes, I can still hit Maggie's "baaallleeeeeet," rarely...) It is so emotional. And, of course, who doesn't love "Nothing"? A great, relatable story song with a great twist ending. Most everyone has had a Mr. Carp in their lives, right? My "B Side" love lies with both versions of "One," with the theater geek in me loving the "rehearsal" version, and the music fan in me loving the reprise aka the "finale" version. The orchestrations are sublime throughout; the feel both 70's-ish, old-school Broadway, and timeless.

"One" - Rehearsal Version

"One" Finale Version

The cast recording - one of the biggest selling of all-time - is just one part of what makes A Chorus Line the stuff of Broadway legend. A real masterpiece.

Grade: A++


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

LOGOS: The Lightning Thief

The Broadway version
Both Mike and I are looking forward to this show, hoping that this latest entry in the Broadway race to be a big show for a younger audience. We both hope it does better than last season's Be More Chill, which neither of us loved. We are going into it with virtually no knowledge of its source material (just as we did with BMC), and so, at this point, all we really have to go on is a few pictures from the national tour, and the show logo.

To be blunt, The Lightning Thief logo is rather, well...dull.  The color choices are good. I love that shade of blue, and the gold bolt is pretty sharp, if maybe a little too on the nose, especially how it looks textured. It reminds me of superheroes (The Flash, mostly) which seems to fit in with pictures I've seen. Is Percy Jackson a superhero or a super hero? The title font is where they could have really engaged the potential audience, and yet, they went with a white Arial (?) bold font!!?? I'm having flashbacks to the early days of Power Point when that slanted 3-D font treatment was cutting edge. Lazy or low-budget?

I like the brick. Why'd they get rid of it?

(Off-Broadway)I like the graffiti feel of this.
And the dark blue font.
This would look great on the brick background.

I think it is interesting that I actually prefer the off-Broadway version. There's something youthful, edgy, and even a bit mischievous about it. Fun. Ah, well. The show hasn't changed, just the logo did. Here's hoping the show is more exciting.

Grade: C


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Theater Can Be Anywhere: My Trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

You know I love a good tagline!
I rarely go anywhere that I don't see theatricality. Sometimes, it is seeing the possibility of a stage version in some movie or experience. Sometimes it is the way other businesses present themselves. Still other times, most of the time, I see things that remind me of Broadway shows. Surely, I am not alone in this, am I?

Well, as fate would have it, a couple weeks ago, I was in Cleveland. Naturally, that meant a trip to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I love music, so I was pretty much thrilled the whole time. The way many of the exhibits are set up are traditional museum - objects in glass cases, labeled. And we are talking things that are priceless and decades old, so it makes sense. But the way the displays are presented are consistently theatrical. Stage lighting is used throughout, and as you work your way through the decades, the settings of the rooms change. There's even a complete "garage" set up, where you can try out different garage band instruments, and even play a whole song with an impromptu garage band! There is a big multimedia show that shows highlights from induction performances. It is dazzling. And I didn't see one cell phone. Refreshing.

Included in this display is a poster and
 dress from the great Ruth Brown - star
of the original Hairspray film, and
Broadway's Black and Blue

His name is in lights! Can't get much more Broadway than
that! Plus, his catalog was the score for All Shook Up!

I searched high and low for a piece of
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark...

There was a musical called Motown that used that logo.

Beatlemania ran a long time...

Rumor has it that Dreamgirls was influenced
by The Supremes

Here's a guitar with Green Day painted
on it. They were involved with a little
skit called American Idiot...

These are Billy Joel's handwritten lyrics
for a draft of the song "My Life." It was
not in his musical Movin' Out. It ran for
1,303 performances without it.

There is a lot going on in this case. Isn't
that one guitar the logo from the last
revival of Virginia Woolf? And that suit,
wasn't that in Blood Brothers?
The History Boys
? Matilda?

And Broadway's Bruce Springsteen is a Kennedy Center Honors
recipient. This is his award. It is beautiful in person.

As you can see from the pictures, there are Broadway influences all over the place. This is one museum that is fun, educational, and full of history. Broadway needs this kind of treatment. I know there is a Broadway Hall of Fame, and it is a huge honor to be named to it. But really, your name is on a wall. One section has bathroom doors on either side. Classy.Considering how much of an achievement it is, why aren't there displays? Clips of performances? Set models? Costumes? And a multimedia show!!?? It's Broadway for Heaven's sake! The real shame of it all is that to even see the Broadway Hall of Fame (correct me if I'm wrong) you have to have a ticket to Wicked.

P.S.: I know there's a Broadway museum in the works. I'll believe it when I see it. In the meantime, if you get to Cleveland, go to this museum! It rocks.

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