Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Lackluster Fall on the Rialto

As we approach the true start of the 2012-2013 Broadway season, it is interesting to see the lackluster shows that will be opening this fall. This is shaping up to be one of the more boring seasons in my memory. The shows opening are (NOTE: I am not including shows that are returning for a second run):

An Enemy of the People
Cyrano de Bergerac
If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
The Heiress
Running on Empty
Glengarry Glen Ross
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
The Performers
Dead Accounts
A Christmas Story! The Musical
Golden Boy
The Anarchist
The Other Boy

While their are a few big name titles (Who's Afraid, Annie, Cyrano, Glengarry, Drood), a few big name authors (Mamet, Albee, Kathie Lee Gifford), and a few big name actors (Gyllenhaal, Holmes, Rivera, Hodge), this fall is truly lacking the "WOW" factor that drives sales and interest. I don't forsee many of these shows lasting longer than many of their limited runs.

In terms of plays, the high points, I think, are VIRGINIA WOOLF, which I saw in DC and was AMAZING, GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, which boast Pacino and an amazing cast, and The Anarchist, another combination of Mamet and an amazing cast. All of these though don't in my opinion have much lasting power. Other than these shows, the plays are extremely lackluster.

The musicals will, in a word, fail. DROOD and ANNIE have potential to drive in some major audiences through the holidays just based on name recognition, but they aren't where I am worried. All of the new musicals (REBECCA, SCANDALOUS, and CHAPLIN) are drawing very little attention, have minimal star power, and just don't seem like they will succeed. While I hope they are all great and do well, this just seems highly unlikely.

I think their will be a lot of open real estate this spring to make way for hopefully a more exciting spring. Is there anything you guys are particularly excited for or dreading? Comment and add your opinions!

Friday, August 24, 2012

REVIEW: 35mm Original Cast Recording

Earlier this week, I got my hands on the new Original Cast Recording of Ryan Scott Oliver's new musical 35mm, which premiered Off-Broadway earlier this year. The cast includes Lindsay Mendez (Godspell), Betsy Wolfe (Encore's Merrily We Roll Along), Jay Armstrong Johnson, Ben Crawford, and Alex Brightman. I had liked all the songs I have heard from this show previously, but this recording, with this extremely talented cast, made me fall in love with this show.

This recording shows off Oliver's composer skills and provides a fun, creative musical, based on photographs, an unusual subject for a musical. While the actors each play many different roles, this gives the show an opportunity to mix voices in many different ways, and they all sound great in every combination.

While the whole album is great, the standouts (for me at least) are "The Seraph," which is hauntingly beautiful, Mendez's rendition of "The Party Goes With You," and probably the most famous song from the musical (and rightfully so) "The Ballad of Sara Berry." I recommend to everyone checking this one out, and I hope this show has a future ahead of it!

VIDEO: "Our Time" Superstar Edition

This video has been posted as a preview for the PBS special "From Dust to Dreams" that celebrates the opening of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas. In this video, five Broadway stars are singing Stephen Sondheim's "Our Time" from MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG. And for lack of a better word, it is KILLER. It stars Cheyenne Jackson (The Performers), Laura Osnes (Cinderella, Bonnie & Clyde), Montego Glover (Memphis), Benjamin Walker (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), and Sherie Renee Scott (Everyday Rapture). This is the best version of this song I have ever heard!! Check it out below!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

2004 Cast of Roundabout's ASSASSINS to Hold Benefit Reading

The 2004 cast of Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Sondheim's ASSASSINS will reunite on Monday, December 3rd at 7:30pm at Studio 54 for a benefit reading. Tickets start at $150 and are available on Roundabout's website.

The cast includes: BeckyAnn Baker, James Barbour, Mario Cantone, Michael Cerveris, Mary Catherine Garrison, Alexander Gemignani, Neil Patrick Harris, Marc Kudisch, Jeffrey Kuhn, and Denis O’Hare.

This cast seems awesome and I'm sure this would be a great benefit!!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

REVIEW: INTO THE WOODS at Shakespeare in the Park

Yesterday, I felt like I was Cinderella getting to go to the ball. I didn't think I would get to see the Public Theater's star-studded production of INTO THE WOODS, but won virtual lottery tickets on a whim, and dropped everything to get to Central Park's Delacorte Theater to see the show. (I live in PA, so this was not so easy). While I was extremely excited to see one of my favorite musicals performed by an amazing cast, after reading some of the reviews, I was not sure what the outcome of this night of theatre would be.

This was the first staged production of ITW I have seen, and for all that has been said about this production, my major problem was with the show itself, as written by Lapine and Sondheim. It feels like two shows and is way too long. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this three hour production.

I feel like this cast was truly outstanding. While individually, I had some problems with some of the actors (I'll get to that later), when the ensemble worked together, this production found magic. I felt like this show worked like a well-oiled machine in the ensemble numbers and fully brought to life the world of Sondheim and Lapine's show. I liked that the ensemble was almost always there and was spot on when they were. I also loved the plot device of the narrator as a young boy. I feel like it added so much to the performance.

While I would love to dissect every performance of every major character, that isn't possible so I'll just give some highlights.

- From the beginning, Ellen Harvey stuck out among the ensemble as truly outstanding. I didn't know she was in the show and every moment she was on stage, she commanded attention, whether she was the focus or not.

- Sarah Stiles and Gideon Glick as Little Red and Jack respectively, stole the show with their comedic timing and amazing performances. Stiles was hilarious every time she was on stage. Glick was endearing as the small-minded Jack, and was amazing in (one of my favorite musical theatre songs of all time) Giants in the Sky.

- Jessie Mueller is a star. Or she will be very soon. Her voice was probably the best in the entire cast, and she soared above everyone else as Cinderella. This show should go to Broadway, just for her and Donna Murphy.

- Denis O'Hare as the Baker was very interesting for me. There were times I loved him and times where I was completely annoyed by him. You could tell they cast him for his acting chops, which were great most of the time, but he held his own with Sondheim's score.

- Amy Adams also was a mixed bag. In her major professional theatre debut, I feel like she definitely did well, but stumbled at times. She missed a few musical cues and couldn't fill the time. She also was not nearly as big and animated emotionally as she should have been to fill the Delacorte. Her performance perked up in the second act significantly, with Moments in the Woods being a true highlight for her. She did honorably, but if you want to see the show for her, it isn't worth it.

- Lastly, Donna Murphy. Her turn as the Witch was truly magical. She hit every comedic and musical note perfectly and brought her professionalism and experience to this cast. She led the cast perfectly and seemed to be the crux holding the whole thing together.

Technically, the show was great and I loved the set design. Being outdoors added so much to this production.

I highly recommend everyone try to see this show before it closes September 1st. I think it was an amazing show and I am interested to see its life following this run. While I know the production is aiming for Broadway, regardless of the amazing performances, I'm not sure it would work in an indoor theater. We will just have to wait and see. So now, I'm off into the woods...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Into the Woods, Out of the Woods, Oh My!

So the biggest discussion right now seems to be whether the Public Theatre's INTO THE WOODS, starring Amy Adams, Donna Murphy, and a plethora of other stars, will be making its way downtown to the Great White Way following its September 1st closing at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park.

According to the New York Times, producers are looking to make the money work and bring the show downtown this fall. Michael Reidel, on the other hand, says no way in hell will this production transfer to Broadway, especially following lukewarm to negative reviews from critics.

Seemingly, no consensus has been made and no one will know for certain until there is an official announcement from the Public Theatre. I, for one, hope it transfers because I love this show and was so excited to see this production (which I won't be able to see in Central Park). Feel free to comment with your thoughts!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Jeremy Jordan to Leave NEWSIES in September

Jeremy Jordan will leave NEWSIES on September 4th due to his filming schedule for the TV show SMASH, where he will have a role in the upcoming 2nd season.

Unknown Corey Cott, who understudies the role currently and joined the cast last month, will take over as Jordan's replacement.

While its really sad that Jordan is leaving NEWSIES, Cott seems like he will be great. Here is a video I found of him singing ALW's "Til I Hear You Sing" from LOVE NEVER DIES.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Kickstarter Started for NOW. HERE. THIS. Cast Recording

A Kickstarter campaign has been started for a cast album for the new show from the creators of [title of show], NOW. HERE. THIS., which played off Broadway in the Vineyard Theatre earlier this year. NOW. HERE. THIS. reunites Jeff Bowen, Hunter Bell, Susan Blackwell, and Heidi Blickenstaff.

The album, should they become fully funded, would be recorded through Ghostlight/Sh-K-Boom Records and be released in December.

Check out this video they made below and click here to donate!! I know I did because I want this to become a reality!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

MEMPHIS Team Reunites for New Musical

The creative team behind the Tony Award-winning musical MEMPHIS, will team up again for a new musical called CHASING THE SONG. Joe DiPietro will write the book and lyrics with David Bryan writing the music.

CHASING THE SONG will focus on NYC's Brill Building and feature 1960's style music. The musical is looking for a fall/winter workshop in 2013.

I'm excited for a new musical from the duo and think this could be really good. I'm sure we won't see anything from it for a while though.

Nintendo to Release ALW Video Game?!?!

Nintendo has announced that it will release a new video game for the Wii called ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER MUSICALS: SING & DANCE on September 14th.

The game will feature Elaine Paige, Michael Crawford, Sarah Brightman, and others while players sing and dance their way through some of ALW's biggest hits.

Not quite sure how I feel about this one, but it definitely will be something different and I would definitely be interested in trying it out. Anyone planning on buying it??