Monday, May 31, 2021

1970s Broadway Musical Logos Bracket Tournament - The Sweet 16!

Over the past year, we've been in search of the very best in Broadway musical logos, going back 40 years. Now let's jump aboard the Broadway Time Machine and go waaay back to the 1970s and start a new tournament, looking for the very best logo of the decade of love! The 70s on Broadway were a mix of everything from traditional Broadway fare (Annie, Applause), to nostalgia pieces (Grease, Beatlemania), to psychedelic shows (Dude, Via Galactica).As usual, there were big hits and even bigger flops. It was the decade that gave us Bob Fosse and Stephen Sondheim in their prime, movie stars on stage - Katharine Hepburn, Lauren Bacall were but two, and a new guy named Andrew Lloyd Webber.

But how were the show logos? That's up to you to decide. We've created a bracket of 64 Broadway show logos from the decade. The Tony winners and hits and flops have been evenly distributed over four 16 "team" regions. Your votes have whittled down the 64 logos to The Big 32! Now, we've arrived at The Sweet 16!


1970s Broadway Musical Logo Madness!

  • Each week, we'll open the voting for a different segment of the bracket, and you will select your favorite from each pairing.
  • Your selection should be based on the logo/window card ONLY. We are NOT looking for your favorite show! It is possible to like a logo from a show you've never heard of before!
  • We will provide pictures of the full window card (in most cases) or logo above each week's ballot, then you scroll down and make your selections. You MUST click/tap the "Click Me to Count Your VOTES" button at the bottom of the survey.

GAME 1:                                                                     GAME 2:

GAME 3:                                                                     GAME 4:

GAME 5:                                                                     GAME 6:

GAME 7:                                                                     GAME 8:

Friday, May 28, 2021

Broadway Games: True or False?

Broadway Games:
True or False

1. TRUE or FALSE: The 74th Tony Awards, airing on September 26th, will be the first to air the ceremony on two different networks.

2. TRUE or FALSE: Once Upon a One More Time will be the first pre-Broadway tryout presented by D.C.'s Shakespeare Theatre Company.

3. TRUE or FALSE: To date, West Side Story is the only Broadway musical that has not announced a re-opening date.

4. TRUE or FALSE: 2021 will mark the 55th anniversary of Mame, Man of La Mancha and Sweet Charity.

5. TRUE or FALSE: Slave Play holds the record for most Tony Award nominations for a play.


Answers to Last Week's
Broadway Games: A Mini-Quiz

1. Put these shows in chronological order by the date of their official Broadway opening night:

    D. Moulin Rouge!
    B. The Lightning Thief
    E. Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
    A. Jagged Little Pill
    C. The Girl from the North Country

2. Which of these shows features an original score by George and Ira Gershwin?
    A. Crazy For You
    B. My One and Only
    C. Nice Work If You Can Get It
    D. Porgy and Bess

3. True or False: All three of Neil Simon's "B" plays (Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues, Broadway Bound) played on Broadway simultaneously.

FALSE. Memoirs and Blues did overlap for a short while, but Broadway Bound did not open until months after the first two were closed.

4. Which of these musicals have not had Broadway revivals with their original stars?

    A. Mame
    B. Cats
    C. Hello, Dolly!
    D. The King and I

5. Which of these actors has had the MOST Broadway credits between 2000 and 2020?

    A. Gavin Creel (7)
    B. Caissie Levy (6)
    C. Patti Murin (3)
    D. Taylor Trensch (6)

Thursday, May 27, 2021

At This Performance: Van Hughes in American Idiot

Back in April, Mike wrote an article about his favorite performance of the role of St. Jimmy in his favorite musical, American Idiot (HERE). Today, he shares his thoughts on one performer who understudied all three principal male roles, a performer he had the opportunity to see in all three roles!

At This Performance:
Van Hughes in American Idiot

In the original Broadway run of American Idiot, Van Hughes served as understudy for all three of the young men whose story the show is about: restless wanderer Johnny, sudden family man Will, and injured soldier Tunny. In this blog, Jeff has invited me to reflect on my experience seeing Hughes in all three of these roles during my multiple trips to the show.

I first saw Hughes take on the role of Will, who is unable to accompany his friend Johnny on his adventure when he finds out his girlfriend is pregnant. While this seems to me like the most straightforward of the three roles, it’s also true that the actor playing Will is on stage almost the whole time and has to create some kind of character arc out of a small amount of material. Van Hughes’ take on the role was just as compelling as – and, to be honest, very similar to – that of Michael Esper, the regular performer. The main difference that I noticed was their vocal delivery in “Novacaine” and “Nobody Likes You,” for which Hughes gave a more traditional reading alongside Esper’s deliberately strained thinness. They were both great in the part, and they even looked a little bit alike.

I next saw Hughes when he substituted for Stark Sands in the part of Tunny, who runs away with Johnny to the big city but quickly finds himself being seduced into the army. Once again, Hughes pretty much nailed it, but in this case I must admit that Sands had the edge. Some of the reasons were a bit superficial: Stark Sands simply looked the part of someone who has it in him to be both a trouble-making slacker and a clean-cut soldier, whereas Van Hughes’ vaguely edgier look didn’t fit so well here. The “Extraordinary Girl” flying sequence was noticeably less tight when Hughes was in the role, especially the speed of some of the rotations (but this is something that I’m sure would be corrected if he had played the role for a longer term). And, although I don’t know exactly what the ranges are for the parts, it seemed like Hughes’ voice was not quite as well-suited to the relatively high tessitura of a song like “City of the Dead.” But these are largely quibbles from someone who saw the show too many times. Hughes gave a convincing performance, wringing out all of the heartache and uplift to be found in the journey of Tunny, whose story is somehow both the most tragic and ultimately the most joyous in the show.

I was finally able to see Hughes’ take on the central character of Johnny for the first - but not nearly the last - time when he played the role opposite Melissa Etheridge as St. Jimmy. And even though Etheridge is a genuine star in real life, it was Hughes who gave the standout performance, delivering a stunning interpretation of this very enigmatic role. It would be impossible to give a ranking of his performance with respect to that of regular star John Gallagher, Jr.; it doesn’t even feel quite right to compare them. While both performances were finely tuned to the role, their choices were categorically different, with very different benefits and rewards proceeding from these choices.

If you saw Gallagher in the role of Johnny, you know that he created a unique, fascinating character played with amazing discipline and precision. His Johnny was also, I think, rather stylized, a creation perfectly suited to the world of American Idiot but perhaps, I must admit, not very much like any person I’ve met in the real world. (This is not really a  criticism, and I’ll just leave it at that, since the topic here is Van Hughes.) Anyhow, all of this discipline and precision also meant that Gallagher’s performance was tightly constrained – and that’s something that was not at all true of Hughes’s performance, with very affecting results. Hughes attempted to show nothing more than a regular guy, slightly bored and resentful of his home situation, who decides to go on what he thinks will be an exciting journey but which will really end up dragging him down to hell and back. This was perhaps not as tightly wrought or ambitious a characterization as Gallagher’s, but the rewards were just as potent, because Hughes was very convincing in his vivid highs and exquisitely painful lows.

And so Hughes’s Johnny jumped up and down like a little boy on Christmas morning when he was about to leave with his best friend on a cross-country trip; when he got there, he swung his guitar playfully as he delighted in the prospect of conquering his new city. (Gallagher’s Johnny, so tightly wound from start to finish, would never do these things, and we wouldn’t want him to). Having established this, Hughes enabled himself to really bring out the horror of Johnny’s steady descent. And it was a nuanced, incremental one: although the effects of his drug use were starting to change him, Johnny was still basically a happy and optimistic guy when he first made love with Whatsername; much less so the second time, as St. Jimmy’s influence grew and the drugs became as important as the sex; and still less so by the time he sang “When It’s Time” to her as she slept. By the time he was threatening her with a knife (“Know Your Enemy”), the descent was complete, but significantly more shocking under Van Hughes’s performance, because this is something we could never have imagined of the young man at the start of the show.

Hughes went on to succeed Gallagher as the regular portrayer of Johnny on Broadway - not a surprise, considering how compelling his “trial run” proved to be - and he also headlined the show when it began its national tour. This gave me the opportunity to see his wonderful performance several more times, and it only got better as he gained experience in the role. 



Wednesday, May 26, 2021

One That Got Away: Footloose

 One That Got Away:

In the late 1990's I was in the middle of my "theater snob" period, and I missed a lot of fun shows. One of those is the subject of this month's One That Got Away. Frankly, there really is no excuse for my absence from the Richard Rodgers Theatre. It was there for over a year and a half, and one of its stars, Dee Hoty was (and still is) one of my favorite actors. It also featured a handful of my favorite actors from the recent revival of Grease, like Hunter Foster and Paul Castree. (I saw Grease an embarrassing number of times, but was too uppity for this??!!) The truth is, missing Footloose was most ridiculous because I have a sentimental attachment to the film upon which the musical is based. You see, the movie was a huge hit the week I graduated from high school, and a group of my friends and I went to see it together one rainy night during our post-graduation beach trip. It was the last time all of us would be together. How did I not go?

As a theater-goer, I recognize that it (like most shows, honestly) was not exactly "theat-ah." But I'm sure it was plenty entertaining. Also, and most importantly, I missed the opportunity to see a number of now-beloved Broadway actors making their debuts on the Main Stem. Among them were dancer Ron Todorowski, the legendary Orfeh, and the entire company was led by two newbies - Jennifer Laura Thompson as the rebellious preacher's daughter, Ariel, and Jeremy Kushnier as the city slicker upstart, Ren. Among the show's notable replacements were such actors as Jenn Gambatese, Mary Gordon Murray, Curtis Holbrook, and future multi-Tony-winner, Christian Borle.

No matter how I slice it, I really missed out.

began its 18 previews at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on October 5, 1998, and opened there on October 22, 1998. The production was nominated for Best Choreography, Best Actress in a Musical (Dee Hoty), Best Original Musical Score, and Best Book of a Musical. Footloose closed on July 2, 2000 following 709 performances.

Did you see Footloose
Tell us about it! Email: or Tweet us: @jkstheatrescene


Tuesday, May 25, 2021

This Week in Broadway History: May 25 - 31

This Week in Broadway History:

May 25 - 31


May 25, 2016:
 Cirque du Soleil came to Broadway with Paramour on this date at the Lyric Theatre, where it stayed for 366 performances.

May 26, 1964: Carol Burnett starred in Fade Out - Fade In at the Mark Hellinger Theatre. The Comden and Green musical played 271 performances.

May 28, 1953: Is this the least known Rodgers and Hammerstein musical of them all? Me and Juliet  opened for a 358 performance run at the Majestic Theatre,

May 31, 2018:
 The 2019 Tony-winning Best Revival of a Play, The Boys in the Band, opened its limited engagement at the Booth Theatre.


May 25: Actor Sir Ian McKellen, "June Is Bustin' Out All Over" singer/actor Leslie Uggams

May 26: Actor (and the original Sandy in GreaseCarole Demas, The Band's Visit's Adam Kantor

May 27: Actor Louis Gossett, Jr., Phantom's Jeremy Stolle

May 28: Actor Kristine Nielson, actor Justin Kirk

Adam Kantor     Young Jean Lee

Sir Ian McKellen     Tonya Pinkins

May 29:
Actor Rupert Everett, American Idiot's Melissa Etheridge, Come From Away's Rachel Tucker

May 30: Actor/activist Tonya Pinkins, Tony-winner Idina Menzel, playwright Young Jean Lee

May 31: Choreographer Anthony Van Laast, and actors Brooke Shields, Merle Dandridge, Matt Cavenaugh and Phillipa Soo


There were two huge musical hits on Broadway this week in 1976, and both were approaching their first birthday. Neither were showing any sign of slowing down at this point. One was at the 46th Street Theatre, the Bob Fosse-Gwen Verdon-Chita Rivera-Kander-Ebb razzle-dazzler, Chicago. The other, that one singular sensation at the Shubert Theatre, the Michael Bennett-Marvin Hamlisch musical that brought the ensemblists to the front of the stage, A Chorus Line, the Hamilton of its time. And it just won 9 Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize! Tickets to both were tough to get.

Of course, they weren't the only shows playing. There was also the provocative and challenging Pacific Overtures by Broadway dream team Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince. at the Winter Garden. The ANTA Playhouse (we know it as the August Wilson) was home to the hit musical revue, Bubbling Brown Sugar. Flop lovers (like me) would probably be rushing to the Lunt-Fontanne to catch the final week of Rex. Revival fans would be found at either the Vivian Beaumont or the St. James. The former was home to the legendary revival of Threepenny Opera starring Raul Julia and Ellen Greene; the latter, home to My Fair Lady starring Christine Andreas, Ian Richardson, and recent Tony-winner, George Rose.

It was not a great year for plays. Of the four Tony nominees for Best Play, for example, only one was still playing at this time, Knock Knock. But here's the kicker: the play closed last week for re-casting, so you couldn't see it if you wanted to! You can't even blame it on a post-Tonys purge. All three of the others, including Best Play winner, Travesties were closed months before.

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