Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Here are my predictions of who will walk home with Broadway's biggest prizes on Sunday night. I didn't include every award, just the ones I have strong opinions about. Please comment with thoughts on whether or not you agree!

Best Play
Will Win: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike - I think this critical and fan favorite will get the big prize for plays. It was a huge success off and on Broadway, which speaks well to its chances.

Should Win: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike - It should win for the reasons above

Could Win: Lucky Guy - Tom Hanks and Nora Ephron make a killer combo. While I think they have better shots individually, they could take the big prize too.

Best Musical
Will Win: Matilda - While I had my own opinions about it, it was an amazing production altogether, which is what this award is about. Plus the fact that it is the most popular new show on Broadway right now, it should follow up its success from London.

Should Win: Matilda - It was one of (if not) the best productions I've ever seen and does truly deserve the honor.

Could Win: Kinky Boots - This show has a little bit wider a net than Matilda and considering a lot of out of town professionals are voters, there could be a big push for a Kinky Boots win.

Best Revival of a Play
Will Win: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - This was the best play I have ever seen. I could have sat through a whole night of this production and I think voters will remember it.

Should Win: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - See above

Could Win: The Trip to Bountiful/Golden Boy - These shows got great reviews, so if people "forget" about Woolf, either show could walk away big.

Best Revival of a Musical
Will Win: Pippin - An all-around amazing production of one of the most beloved musicals directed by Tony-baby Diane Paulus, with a circus troupe and amazing cast. This is a no-brainer.

Should Win: Pippin - See above.

Could Win: Let's be honest. Pippin is going to win.

Best Book of a Musical
Will Win: Dennis Kelly, Matilda - The book was witty and endearing, without losing its grit. It is going to be hard to beat.

Should Win: Dennis Kelly, Matilda - See above.

Could Win: Harvey Fierstein, Kinky Boots - He is loved by the theatre community and people are loving Kinky Boots right now. Could be a lethal combo.

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Will Win: Cyndi Lauper, Kinky Boots - I think this will be where Kinky Boots overthrows Matilda. It's a great pop score written by one of pop's biggest legends.

Should Win: Cyndi Lauper, Kinky Boots - I might get backlash for saying this, but I think Cyndi wrote the best score of the year. Sorry, Tim. It might not be as complex, but I think it's a great score.

Could Win: Tim Minchin, Matilda - Another great score that is complex and well written. I just don't think it was perfect and I think this was one of the weaker parts of Matilda. Sorry, not sorry.

I'm just adding - I would LOVE to see Pasek & Paul take the award to support new, contemporary musical theatre (my favorite), but don't think it will happen.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Will Win: Tom Hanks, Lucky Guy - Big Hollywood star giving a great performance in a well-received show that already recouped. It's his to lose.

Should Win: Tracy Letts, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - The fact that as George he gave the strongest performance of the show in a group of powerhouse actors should win him the award alone. Unfortunately, I think the show closed too long ago.

Could Win: Nathan Lane, The Nance - Nathan Lane has a lot of fans out there and is giving one hell of a performance.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play (Arguably the toughest category)
Will Win: Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful - Easily the critic favorite who seems to be gaining the most traction ahead of the awards.

Should Win: Amy Morton, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - If you can't tell, I loved this show. Amy's performance was amazing, but will be forgotten in such a crowded category considering the show closed so long ago.

Could Win: Kristine Nielsen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike - The fact that she completely overshadowed Sigouney Weaver should show how great a performance she gave. She could be the black horse winner, and a well-deserved one at that.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Will Win: Bertie Carvel, Matilda The Musical - If you read my review of MATILDA, you'd know that this is the performance to beat. He was flawless and perfect in every way.

Should Win: Bertie Carvel, Matilda The Musical - See above.

Could Win: Billy Porter, Kinky Boots - If Bertie wasn't in this category, it'd definitely be Billy's to lose. That's why I'm not counting out his powerful, drag performance yet.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Will Win: Patina Miller, Pippin - She is one of the highlights of one of the most talked about shows of the season. Plus she is playing one of the greatest musical theatre roles created. I think it's definitely hers to lose.

Should Win: Patina Miller, Pippin - See above.

Could Win: Laura Osnes, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella - She is a princess. And Broadway's princess at that. She might pick up her Tony for this role, but I think she won't get the necessary support.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Will Win: Danny Burstein, Golden Boy - People really love Danny Burstein.

Should Win: I honestly don't know.

Could Win: Courtney B. Vance, Lucky Guy - He got some serious raves for his performance. And working with Tom Hanks doesn't hurt.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Will Win: Judith Light, The Assembled Parties - She followed up an amazing Tony Award-winning performance from last season with another amazing performance. She will win again.

Should Win: Judith Light, The Assembled Parties - See above.

Could Win: I honestly doubt Judith will lose.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Will Win: Terrence Mann, Pippin - Pippin is going to get a lot of love in the acting categories, as it was overall probably the strongest musical of the year.

Should Win: Will Chase, The Mystery of Edwin Drood - He will have been forgotten by now, but I think his performance was definitely a standout in this super fun revival.

Could Win: Keith Carradine, Hands on a Hardbody - I was one of like 10 people saw this show, but if enough people did, his performance was heartwarming and powerful enough to sway some voters.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Will Win: Andrea Martin, Pippin - She gets a mid-show standing ovation at most performances. I'd say that is a good indication that she will win.

Should Win: Andrea Martin, Pippin - See above.

Could Win: Annaleigh Ashford, Kinky Boots or Keala Settle, Hands on a Hardbody - Both gave some of the strongest performances in their shows and could get enough love/split the vote enough to walk away with the award.

Best Direction of a Musical
Will Win: Matthew Warchus, Matilda The Musical - This show had amazing vision all the way through and I think that is a direct reflection of phenomenal direction.

Should Win: Diane Paulus, Pippin - In typical Paulus fashion, she did something amazing that I don't think anyone else would attempt. She deserves this award.

Could Win: Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots - He is loved and did a great job with one of the season's best shows. I don't think he should be counted out.

Best Choreography
Will Win: Peter Darling, Matilda The Musical - While I wasn't wow-ed by the choreo, a lot of people were and I think it's uniqueness will win it the award.

Should Win: Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots - This is one award I think Kinky Boots definitely has on Matilda, but I don't know if the voters will agree.

Could Win: Chet Walker, Pippin - His Fosse-inspired choreo could have a lot of voters on his side.

I know this was long winded, but now all my opinions are on the table. I can't wait to see what happens Sunday!


So. Better late than never. But FINALLY, here is my review of MATILDA on Broadway.

I probably haven't ever had a show built up for me as much as MATILDA was. Reviews were stellar. Word of mouth was stellar. My friends who saw the show in London (and are the pickiest theatregoers I know) said it was the most amazing experience they ever had in the theatre. Unfortunately, my reaction wasn't on the same level.

I thoroughly enjoyed the two and a half hours I spent in the Shubert Theatre and will argue that it was one of the best productions I have ever seen. Technically, everything was as on point as Matilda's quick wit, but the show itself didn't resonate with me as I had hoped.

Tim Minchin's pop-y score had standout moments (like Bertie Carvel's "The Smell of Rebellion" and the ensemble number "When I Grow Up"), but didn't have me leave the theatre thinking I needed to listen to the score on repeat for the next month. The group numbers were definitely the highlights, with the solo numbers lacking some of the luster and power that they could have had.

Dennis Kelly's book was as witty as one would hope for a show about a young girl with brilliance beyond her years. The problem, for me, was that it didn't resonate. I felt for Matilda and her classmates, but it didn't instill in me any sort of passion. While I am not one to ever argue that shows can be "for boys" or "for girls," after talking with a lot of my (female) friends, I think some of the meaning is lost on a young adult male like myself.

There are a few parts of the hype though that I COMPLETELY agree with. First. BERTIE FREAKING CARVEL! If he does not win the Tony Award this Sunday, I will revolt like the children in the show. His performance was flawless . He made my skin crawl from his visciousness, and I felt his pain in some of his more emotional scenes. His portrayal of Miss Trunchbull was so well created that I at no point thought I was watching a man playing a woman. Bertie Carvel was Miss Trunchbull.

I am not going to say which Matilda I saw (because it shouldn't matter). But she was a superstar on stage. Although one of the youngest, smallest members of the company, she commanded the attention she deserved as the eponymous character.

Technically, the show was gorgeous. From the moment you walk in and see the proscenium covered with Scrabble tile-like letters, you know you are in for a treat. The set was simple in looks, but complex in use. Things went in and out of the wood floor with ease, creating the library, home, and school quickly and efficiently. The lighting was phenomenal, especially with some surprises that will please any audience. The coolest thing for me was when Matilda used her powers and things moved by themselves. I couldn't figure out how they made the tricks worked, which made it super effective as an audience member. Most times the theatre-maker in me can figure out how things happen, but I was as dumbfounded as Trunchbull when Matilda made the chalk move.

I understand why MATILDA got the hype it did and am glad it is a success. I am interested to see how it fares come Sunday.

Monday, May 13, 2013

REVIEW: MURDER BALLAD at the Union Square Theatre


When I walked into the Union Square Theatre, I was transported into a dive bar inhabited by some super talented theatre stars. The theatre made sure to make this unique rock musical a truly immersive experience for the audience.

MURDER BALLAD is the story of Sara (Caissie Levy) who leaves her youth and recklessness behind to settle down with Michael (John Ellison Conlee), a poet and professional, and leave her old flame Tom (Will Swenson) behind. But in this love story, narrated by Narrator Rebecca Naomi Jones, Sara can't check her reckless youth at the door and struggles to completely leave behind her past.

The space was set by risers and chairs on three of the four sides, a stage on the fourth side for the band (that looked more like something I'd see in a club than an orchestra for a show), and in the center of the space was a bunch of small tables and chairs (with audience in many of them, but some open for cast members to use), a pool table, and a long bar. The bar was open before and after the performance, for people to really feel like they were in the bar in which the play takes place.

There was no true focal point for the entirety of the 80-minute, sung through show. The cast moved throughout the space. (Will and Caissie both got to belt on the stair right next to my seat). This was a strange experience for me, because I never knew exactly where to be looking and tried to make sure I didn't miss anything. I was impressed with how director Trip Cullman manipulated the space, to tell a visual story where there was no focal point. I never felt like I couldn't see the action, no matter where in the space a scene/moment was taking place.

The score, by Jonathan Larson Award-winner Juliana Nash was a very generic pop-rock score, that definitely was more pop CD than musical theatre score, but it worked in context. What I really loved about the score was that it flowed directly into itself, and there was never a dramatic, weird shift in tone. The musical motifs repeated themselves well throughout the whole show. This is definitely a score though that needs to be part of the show or listened to in its entirety on the recording. There weren't any specific stand-out songs to me (even though specific moments shone).

Rebecca Naomi Jones, who played the Narrator of the story, was the strongest point for me. Vocally she was always on point and sounded AMAZING, and had phenomenal comedic timing that made her really seem a part of the story, even though she was almost entirely an observer. While she was the stand out for me, there was no weak link in this cast. The chemistry and talent were through the roof, and all four voices melded together perfectly and were perfectly suited for this pop score.

This was one of the coolest, most unique theatre experiences I have ever had and I hope this show has a long life ahead of it. I want to go back and see it again, it was that wonderful.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

And the Nominees Are...2013 TONY AWARD NOMINEES

Here are the 2013 Tony Award Nominations! I think this is a good list, but there are some very obvious snubs (and definitely some things that got nominated that maybe shouldn't have been). Post in the comments people who you think should have been nominated or people that were that shouldn't have been!

Best Play
The Assembled Parties
Author: Richard Greenberg
Lucky Guy
Author: Nora Ephron
The Testament of Mary
Author: Colm Toíbín
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Author: Christopher Durang

Best Musical
Bring It On: The Musical
A Christmas Story, The Musical
Kinky Boots
Matilda The Musical

Best Revival of a Play
Golden Boy
The Trip to Bountiful
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Best Revival of a Musical
The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

Best Book of a Musical
A Christmas Story, The Musical
Joseph Robinette
Kinky Boots
Harvey Fierstein
Matilda The Musical
Dennis Kelly
Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
Douglas Carter Beane

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
A Christmas Story, The Musical
Music and Lyrics: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Hands on a Hardbody
Music: Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green
Lyrics: Amanda Green
Kinky Boots
Music & Lyrics: Cyndi Lauper
Matilda The Musical
Music & Lyrics: Tim Minchin

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Tom Hanks, Lucky Guy
Nathan Lane, The Nance
Tracy Letts, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
David Hyde Pierce, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Tom Sturridge, Orphans

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Laurie Metcalf, The Other Place
Amy Morton, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Kristine Nielsen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Holland Taylor, Ann
Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Bertie Carvel, Matilda The Musical
Santino Fontana, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
Rob McClure, Chaplin
Billy Porter, Kinky Boots
Stark Sands, Kinky Boots

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Stephanie J. Block, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Carolee Carmello, Scandalous
Valisia LeKae, Motown The Musical
Patina Miller, Pippin
Laura Osnes, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Danny Burstein, Golden Boy
Richard Kind, The Big Knife
Billy Magnussen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Tony Shalhoub, Golden Boy
Courtney B. Vance, Lucky Guy

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Carrie Coon, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Shalita Grant, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Judith Ivey, The Heiress
Judith Light, The Assembled Parties
Condola Rashad, The Trip to Bountiful

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Charl Brown, Motown The Musical
Keith Carradine, Hands on a Hardbody
Will Chase, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Gabriel Ebert, Matilda The Musical
Terrence Mann, Pippin

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Annaleigh Ashford, Kinky Boots
Victoria Clark, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
Andrea Martin, Pippin
Keala Settle, Hands on a Hardbody
Lauren Ward, Matilda The Musical

Best Scenic Design of a Play
John Lee Beatty, The Nance
Santo Loquasto, The Assembled Parties
David Rockwell, Lucky Guy
Michael Yeargan, Golden Boy

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Rob Howell, Matilda The Musical
Anna Louizos, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Scott Pask, Pippin
David Rockwell, Kinky Boots

Best Costume Design of a Play
Soutra Gilmour, Cyrano de Bergerac
Ann Roth, The Nance
Albert Wolsky, The Heiress
Catherine Zuber, Golden Boy

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Gregg Barnes, Kinky Boots
Rob Howell, Matilda The Musical
Dominique Lemieux, Pippin
William Ivey Long, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer, Lucky Guy
Donald Holder, Golden Boy
Jennifer Tipton, The Testament of Mary
Japhy Weideman, The Nance

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kenneth Posner, Kinky Boots
Kenneth Posner, Pippin
Kenneth Posner, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella
Hugh Vanstone, Matilda The Musical

Best Sound Design of a Play
John Gromada, The Trip to Bountiful
Mel Mercier, The Testament of Mary
Leon Rothenberg, The Nance
Peter John Still and Marc Salzberg, Golden Boy

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Jonathan Deans and Garth Helm, Pippin
Peter Hylenski, Motown The Musical
John Shivers, Kinky Boots
Nevin Steinberg, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella

Best Direction of a Play
Pam MacKinnon, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Nicholas Martin, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Bartlett Sher, Golden Boy
George C. Wolfe, Lucky Guy

Best Direction of a Musical
Scott Ellis, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots
Diane Paulus, Pippin
Matthew Warchus, Matilda The Musical

Best Choreography
Andy Blankenbuehler, Bring It On: The Musical
Peter Darling, Matilda The Musical
Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots
Chet Walker, Pippin

Best Orchestrations
Chris Nightingale, Matilda The Musical
Stephen Oremus, Kinky Boots
Ethan Popp and Bryan Crook, Motown The Musical
Danny Troob, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella

Monday, April 22, 2013

TONY Nominations Predictions 2013!

So the Tony Award nominations will be announced (by Sutton Foster and Jesse Tyler Ferguson) on April 30th, so here is my prediction of who will be nominated for some of the biggest awards. I also will have a wild-card pick per category if there is someone/or a show that could very well score a surprise nomination, even if it isn't necessarily likely.

Kinky Boots
Hands on a Hardbody
WILD-CARD: Bring It On! The Musical

Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
WILD-CARD: Jekyll & Hyde

Rob McClure (Chaplin)
Bertie Carvel (Matilda)
Matthew James Thomas (Pippin)
Billy Porter (Kinkt Boots)
Brandon Victor Dixon (Motown)
WILD-CARD: Santino Fontana (Cinderella)

Patina Miller (Pippin)
Laura Osnes (Cinderella)
Lilla Crawford (Annie)
Carolee Carmello (Scandalous)
Stephanie J. Block (The Mystery of Edwin Drood)
WILD-CARD: Deborah Cox (Jekyll & Hyde)

Will Chase (Mystery of Edwin Drood)
Jim Norton (Mystery of Edwin Drood)
Andy Karl (Mystery of Edwin Drood)
Terrence Mann (Pippin)
Gabriel Ebert (Matilda)

Annaleigh Ashford (Kinky Boots)
Andrea Martin (Pippin)
Keala Settle (Hands on a Hardbody)
Ann Harada (Cinderella)
Kate Finneran (Annie)

Diane Paulus (Pippin)
Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots)
Charles Randolph-Wright (Motown)
Warren Carlyle (Chaplin)

Chet Walker (Pippin)
Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots)
Peter Darling (Matilda)
Josh Rhodes (Cinderella)

Harvey Fierstein (Kinky Boots)
Douglas Carter Beane (Cinderella)
Doug Wright (Hands on a Hardbody)
Dennis Kelly (Matilda)

Kinky Boots
Hands on a Hardbody
A Christmas Story, The Musical
WILD-CARD: Chaplin

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
The Nance
The Other Place
The Assembled Parties
WILD-CARD: I'll Eat You Last

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
Golden Boy
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
The Heiress

Tom Hanks (Lucky Guy)
Tracy Letts (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf)
Nathan Lane (The Nance)
Alan Cumming (Macbeth)
Alec Baldwin (Orphans)

Jessica Chastain (The Heiress)
Holland Taylor (Ann)
Amy Morton (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf)
Laurie Metcalf (The Other Place)
Fiona Shaw (The Testament of Mary)

Danny Burstein (Golden Boy)
Richard Kind (The Big Knife)
Jonny Orsini (The Nance)
Tony Shalhoub (Golden Boy)
Tom Sturridge (Orphans)

Judith Ivey (The Heiress)
Elizabeth Marvel (Picnic)
Debra Monk (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof)
Cady Huffman (The Nance)
Condola Rashad (The Trip to Bountiful)

Pam MacKinnon (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?)
Nicholas Martin (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike)
Jack O'Brien (The Nance)
Bartlett Sher (Golden Boy)
Michael Wilson (The Trip to Bountiful)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Is DC the New IT Theatre Town?

Today marked the announcement of ANOTHER major musical making its out of town tryout in Washington, DC. Ahrens and Flaherty's LITTLE DANCER (based on the dancer in Degas' paintings) will premiere in October 2014 at the Kennedy Center.

This announcement follows the announcement of the first major revival of SIDE SHOW, directed by Bill Condon (Chicago, Dreamgirls), will premiere at the Kennedy Center only a few months earlier in June 2014.

IF/THEN, the new musical from the entire creative team behind NEXT TO NORMAL, starring Idina Menzel (Rent, Wicked), will premiere in November 2013 at DC's National Theatre ahead of a spring Broadway opening.

Lastly, Arena Stage will be having the pre-Broadway premiere of THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN starring Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella.

Having lived in DC for the past few years, this is the most "pre-Broadway" or big name productions I have seen or heard of. The only major production to come from DC recently was last year's FOLLIES (starring Bernadette Peters) at the Kennedy Center.

This begs the question of whether or not DC is becoming the new IT theatre town, in the vein of Chicago or Seattle? As someone hoping to pursue a career in theatre in DC, I hope this is the case, but I have to assume that these premieres are more than just coincidence.

I don't particularly have any answers, but I'd love to hear if any of my readers have any thoughts?

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Martin Luther King Jr. inspired hundreds of thousands of people with his charismatic speeches and drive to fight racial inequality. Arena Stage's production of resident playwright Katori Hall's THE MOUNTAINTOP didn't have me wanting to climb to the mountaintop when the curtain closed.

Katori Hall's inventive play, which won an Olivier Award in London and played on Broadway with Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett, tells the story of Martin Luther King Jr.'s last night before his assassination in a motel room in Memphis. When a newly employed maid pays a late-night visit to Dr. King's room, their back and forth explores what MLK truly stood for and how he could prepare himself for the impending tragedy.

While I thought the play was unique and interesting, I was taken out of the experience by an uncharismatic MLK. Bowman Wright, who portrayed Dr. King, skillfully portrayed the human elements of the Civil Rights leader, but when he needed to be passionate and show the side of MLK that inspired thousands, I was left uninspired. The actor didn't seem to connect with the character as I had hoped he would.

Joaquina Kalukango, the brilliant actress who portrayed the maid Camae, found every comedic note with ease and was far and away the highlight of the production. While this was great, it was unexpected in a play about Martin Luther King.

The set was very plain, a 1960's motel room, that was structured as a box set. It wasn't revolutionary but it was exactly what this simple play needed. The plain set served as a perfect foil for the excellent projections that were innovative and brought this production to a "magical" level.

Overall, the play had extremely strong production values that were brought down by a sub-par performance and average direction.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

REVIEW: Another "Five Years"

Last night I had the opportunity to see another incarnation of Jason Robert Brown's THE LAST FIVE YEARS, this time at Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA. Had I not just seen Second Stage's phenomenal revival in New York (read my review here), I think I would have found last night a lot more magical.

The first thing that stuck out to me when I walked into the space was the gorgeous set, designed by Daniel Conway. For such a minimalist musical, he created a complex, interesting space, that was highlighted by a stream of papers flying in an upward spiral from the desk on stage. 

Once the musical started, the show was similar to both other productions of this show I've seen. The same story, the same music, all surrounding the five year relationship between the novelist Jamie and actress Cathy. 

After the vocal powerhouse that was the performance by Betsy Wolfe and Adam Kantor, this production was a let down vocally. Erin Weaver, who plays Cathy, has a sort of frail voice that didn't lend itself to the strong ballads like "Still Hurting." Unfortunately her acting in the beginning of the show, where Cathy is a wreck emotionally, was bland and she didn't seem broken up by her break-up with Jamie at all. She was much stronger, at least in terms of acting, in the character songs like "Summer in Ohio" and "I Can Do Better Than That."

James Gardiner, who played Jamie, was stronger than Weaver was both vocally and in his acting. He was funny and likable, until he needed to be the villain of the story. Was he perfect? No. But what actor ever is? His rendition of "The Schmuel Song" had me cracking up the whole time, and I liked how he differentiated his performances from the canon version of the show (by Norbert Leo Butz).

Overall, this was a pretty good regional production of a great show. I wonder how I would have reacted if this was the first production of the show I saw. It definitely was worth the time though and if you can make it out to Arlington, worth the price of admission.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Didn't Romeo and Juliet Kill Themselves Already? Apparently Not.

It was announced this week (on April Fool's Day to be precise) that Shakespeare's ROMEO & JULIET will be returning to Broadway in the fall with Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean  and Condola Rashad (Stick Fly) in the eponymous roles.

I really hoped this was an April Fool's joke. It wasn't.

The new production will open at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in the fall with David Leveaux (Arcadia) directing.

Now, I appreciate Shakespeare's play for what it did for theatre and for its artistic value, but I feel like we have seen it plenty and really don't need another production of it. (Doesn't every high school have one anyway?)

But getting past the fact that the production exists (which I can eventually accept), what really bugs me is that they cast two actors who are almost double the age of the characters! As a college actor, there are plenty of super talented actors around who are totally capable (and much more age appropriate) to play these iconic roles. I feel like I'd be ok with Zac Efron and Selena Gomez as Romeo and Juliet more than this.

Ok. That's a lie. But still...

And moving on from that, there is ANOTHER professional production being done in NYC in the fall starring Elizabeth Olson at Classic Stage Company (an Off-Broadway theatre). I think this production is smarter, as Olson is relatively closer to Juliet's age, but it's still ANOTHER production of ROMEO & JULIET.

So what I leave you with is this. I thought these characters are dead. Is it really necessary to have multiple productions of this same play, in the same city, with completely inappropriate actors? I think not.

P.S. Folger Theatre in DC just announced they'd be doing a production as well. Lovely.

Monday, April 1, 2013

THE TONY'S ARE COMING! With Sutton and Jesse!

So today is opening day for baseball fans, but also the real start of Tony Award season, as USA TODAY just announced that Sutton Foster (Anything Goes, Bunheads) and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family, Spelling Bee) will announce the 2013 Tony Award nominees on April 30th at the New York Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

The TONY's will be broadcast on June 9th on CBS.

I think these two are a great choice to announce the awards, as they are two of Broadway's most famous alums as of late, but both are ineligible for any Tony's because they are both on hit TV series and haven't been on stage this year.

So the speculation and guessing of who will be nominated kicks in to high gear now.

It's Hard to Get to Broadway: A Prince Dies Young

Over the past year, it seems that getting a show to Broadway has become a major source of gossip on news websites like the New York Times and New York Post. This weekend, another highly anticipated show, THE PRINCE OF BROADWAY, was delayed indefinitely.

The show, which had trouble securing its Multi-million dollar budget, has been delayed twice already on the Great White Way.

The PRINCE OF BROADWAY is following in the footsteps of the ill-fated REBECCA, but without the legal drama.

Is it getting harder to get original musicals on Broadway? It seems the answer is yes.

After seeing a plethora of movie-adapted musicals recently (I.e. Matilda, Newsies, Once, Sister Act) and much less successful adaptations, like Leap of Faith, it seems that there is no magic formula.

So what does this mean for the state of Broadway? People don't want to invest because chances of getting back your investment, let alone making a profit, are slim. This is making it increasingly difficult especially to fund new musicals.

I was excited for PRINCE OF BROADWAY, and it's sad to see unique ideas dying so early.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring On Broadway: Some Special Awards

It is officially spring on Broadway and shows are opening (and closing) right and left. Both new shows and revivals are opening in the next month, so they can be eligible for this year's Tony Awards. I thought I would post some predictions/awards of my own of what I think will happen over the next few weeks.

RUNAWAY HIT AWARD: Matilda - it was a runaway smash in London, and based on early observations, it will do these same here.

Runner-Up: Pippin - it's bound to be great and got great reviews in Boston, but won't quite achieve the success Matilda will. It will probably be hard to get a ticket though for some time.

SURPRISE HIT AWARD: Motown: The Musical - while it lacks a true book, this jukebox musical has already been selling out (despite its quality being poorly received and questionable). I think this could be the next Jersey Boys due to its great song catalog.

COULDA-SHOULDA-WOULDA AWARD: Hands on a Hardbody - despite decent reviews, this show isn't at the level it could have been and will probably close soon, despite its great concept and dedicated cast.

THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD AWARD: Annie - it has had mediocre reception and in a crowded season, especially in the arena of family-friendly musicals, this show will fly under the radar, but it's name recognition will keep it around (at least through the summer).

SHOULD EXTEND BUT WON'T AWARD: Alan Cumming's Macbeth - this show has sold out every venue it's been performed in, and I doubt Broadway will be any different. But I have a feeling this will maintain its very limited engagement status.

SHOULD CLOSE EARLY BUT DOESN'T AWARD: Breakfast at Tiffany's - Reviews were mediocre at best, with very few redeeming qualities. But I think Game of Thrones' Emilia Clark will save this show from an early closing notice.

SHOW EVERYONE FORGETS ABOUT AWARD: The Testament of Mary - Despite a starring role by Fiona Shaw, I have heard almost nothing about this scene and have a feeling it will exist very quietly on the Great White Way.

While I hope every show can be super successful, it just isn't a reality. Only time will tell if these predictions prove to be true. Do you have any predictions of your own? Comment below!

Friday, March 15, 2013



I had the privilege of getting to see Second Stage Theatre's new production of THE LAST FIVE YEARS on Wednesday night, and it was one of the best theatrical performances I've ever seen.

THE LAST FIVE YEARS is the story of Jamie and Cathy's five year relationship, only they tell the story one song at a time, moving in opposite directions, only singing together in the middle at their wedding.

This production, directed by the show's composer Jason Robert Brown, was perfectly cast with Adam Kantor (Rent, Next to Normal) and Betsy Wolfe (Mystery of Edwin Drood, 35mm).

L5Y is one of my favorite musicals, so I have the original cast recording (starring Norbert Leo Butz and Sherie Renee Scott) basically memorized, and was worried I'd be disappointed by this new production because of my love of the original. Boy was I wrong. I loved the different moments these actors found and the different choices that made it sound and feel like a different show.

What made this production great was the use of the sparse set and lighting, but using them at specific moments to help illustrate exactly what was going on. The set was almost entirely made up of a set of windows that moved up and down. Three of them had screens that served as setting in multiple numbers.

It was also interesting because Jason Robert Brown changed some lyrics and moments for this revival, which took me by surprise, but were very effective while minimal.

Wolfe and Kantor were both equally matched, both vocally and in acting ability. Both truthfully told Cathy and Jamie's story instead of just beautifully singing the song cycle. (There is almost no spoken text in the show). Highlights for me were Wolfe's "Summer in Ohio" and the Audition Sequence, and Kantor's "If I Didn't Believe in You."

I really hope that they record this production, because it is absolutely brilliant (it has already been extended twice before it has even officially opened). Check out this behind the scenes video!



There is a good musical somewhere in HANDS ON A HARDBODY, with music by Phish's Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green (Bring It On). The only problem is it isn't what's being performed right now at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

HANDS ON A HARDBODY, based on the 1997 documentary of the same name, is the story of ten strangers all competing to win a new truck, by keeping their hand on the truck longer than anyone else. Weaved within the competition, the audience learns about the lives and struggles of the ten contestants.

The music was actually a lot stronger than I expected, but what really brought the show down was the lyrics, which used cheap rhymes and didn't truly help move the story along. The lyrics took me out of the story because they seemed so out of place, especially for a Broadway musical. You can preview a song, "I'm Gone," on the show's website.

The story and book were alright, but the problem stood in the fact that it didn't make the audience truly care about the characters or who won the competition. When the winner was announced, I could have cared less because I didn't care about any of the characters. There were some strong moments, but they were too scattered.

The concept for the story was really strong, and it allowed for a lot of creativity, but the staging was very bland and didn't promote the story in the slightest. They tried to be creative and use the truck (the main set piece), but it ended up being clunky and cut off sight lines (and I was in the center of the orchestra).

The performances were also inconsistent. Keala Settle started off weak, but ultimately had the strongest performance in the end. Her song was by far the highlight of the show. Hunter Foster had a strong presence, but his character was too one-note until the end of the show. Allison Case and Jay Armstrong Johnson were stand outs for me performance-wise, as they were consistently strong the whole time, but the book didn't give them enough to work with.

I really wanted this show to be great because it is a great and unique concept. I think it has the makings of a great musical, but I doubt it will find it before opening night next week. If it had more time in development, or wasn't on Broadway, it could be great. It's just not the calibur that is expected of a new Broadway musical and I have a feeling it won't be around long (I hope I am proven wrong).

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Idina Menzel to Star in NEXT TO NORMAL 2?

Big news broke this week that Idina Menzel would star in a new musical written by Tom Kitt & Brian Yorkey, NEXT TO NORMAL 2. Wait. That's wrong. The musical is call IF/THEN.

The show is described as:

"On the verge of turning 40, Elizabeth moves to New York City, the ultimate city of possibility, intent on a fresh start - new home, new friends, and hopes for a resurgent career. But even in her carefully planned new life, the smallest decision or most random occurrence will impact her world in ways she never dreamt possible. Set against the ever-shifting landscape of modern day Manhattan, If/Then is a romantic and original new musical about how choice and chance collide and how we learn to love the fallout."

The show will try to match the success of NEXT TO NORMAL, one of most successful original musicals in the last decade, by reuniting the writing duo with director Michael Greif and producer David Stone.

I, for one, am a HUGE Idina fan and n2n is one of my favorite musicals, so I am extremely excited to see this show. And a positive: the show is having a tryout in DC this fall before opening on Broadway in Spring 2014. That means I will definitely be sure to be seeing this as soon as it opens.

I am curious what the rest of the cast will look like, because I'm sure they will use the success of n2n to find all-stars like Menzel. I just hope that they didn't rush the show and that it is too much of a n2n copy. Only time will tell.

Here is a video of Menzel singing the one song known so far from the show: "Learn to Live Without"

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why Is SMASH Failing?

Before season 2 premiered, it seemed like it was on the fast track to make up for last season's major problems: a poor plot, bad writing, ridiculous characters, and weird dream sequences. As Theresa Rebeck, the show's creator and writer was replaced by Gossip Girl's Josh Safran.

Then season 2 premiered with a huge, 2-hour season premiere. The episode was good, not great, but you could tell they were trying to clean up last season's messes. They also had some of the best music that a SMASH episode has had yet, like "Cut, Print...Moving On" and "Broadway, Here I Come." The new characters introduced, Jeremy Jordan's Jimmy, Andy Mientus' Kyle, Krysta Rodriguez's Ana, and Jennifer Hudson's Veronica, were all welcome additions that gave the show a fresh feel.

Then there was a week long hiatus. People seemed to kind of forget the show was happening and it lost the little momentum it had.

When SMASH returned last night, it definitely stayed to a much more streamlined plot, focused almost entirely on the business of the shows being produced. But it was very weak. The music, except for Hudson's rendition of "Home," was bland and didn't live up to earlier standards. The streamlined story made us, as viewers, lose something: characters we care about.

I'm by no means saying that I want SMASH to go back to last season's fiasco, but I think it needs to really figure out what it's trying to be and do THAT very well.

Last night's ratings showed a further dip, and I just hope the show can survive to see the plot get better and a rating's bump when THE VOICE returns in late March.

Did you watch SMASH? Any feelings?

Sunday, February 17, 2013


This weekend I went to see a production of David Lindsay Abaire's newest play GOOD PEOPLE at Arena Stage in Washington, DC. Abaire has long been one of my favorite playwrights. His play, RABBIT HOLE, is my favorite play of all time. And while I've never seen one of his plays live before this, he is most definitely still my favorite after seeing this production.

GOOD PEOPLE is the story of Margie, a woman far below the poverty line from the Southie area of Boston. After she is fired from her job, she is reconnected with an ex-boyfriend who has gotten out of Southie and is now a successful doctor. When she goes to him to try to find a job, a series of events follow that brings up old feelings and memories and leads to an unexpected evening.

The production was expertly executed from acting to directing to the technical aspects. The show struck the perfect balance of comedy and drama, without anyone feeling as if the play was trying to make fun of lower class people or people of different races or ethnicities. The actors were so truthful in their representations of these lower class characters, that I couldn't separate the actors from the story, which does not happen for me in the theatre too often.

Johanna Day, a Tony Award nominee for her performance in PROOF, was brilliant as Margie and showed the tough skinned woman with such perfect balance of toughness and heart that when she came to crossroads in her life, we as the audience truly felt for her. While she struggled for some lines at times, it played off as emotion and she regained footing without missing a beat.

The supporting cast was equally as strong, portraying much more comedic sides to those living in Southie. I had some personal qualms with some of the acting choices, but they were all made with such strength, that it overall still led to an almost perfect evening.

The set was amazing, because they used a simple background, with box sets that could easily come on and off stage to serve as the different homes and locations.The set was high quality, as one would expect with Arena, but still realized that they were sets and not real homes/offices.

The sound design, which was an original score for the production that underscored the lengthy scene changes, was brilliant and I hope it gets recognition for its beauty and power.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

What the GRAMMY'S Mean for MUSICal Theatre

Tonight is music's biggest night, the Grammy Awards. While that may be, it is by no means even close to the biggest name for musical theatre. That award goes to the Tony's which happen in June. So why does tonight even matter to the theatre community? Well, there is one award given for musical theatre (Best Musical Theatre Album).

It used to be that this award solely went to the producers of the album, meaning not too much actually happened for those involved in the show. But as of last year, principle vocalists now take home Grammys as well. For example, last year Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad also took home statues in addition to the producers of the BOOK OF MORMON cast album.

This gives a much stronger argument for why the Grammys mean anything for musical theatre actors. It is nice to see the mainstream world giving credit to the actors who are featured in Broadway shows, but also who lend their voices and influence the success of cast albums.

Here are the nominees for tonight's broadcast:


Danny Burstein, Jan Maxwell, Elaine Paige, Bernadette Peters & Ron Raines, principal soloists; Philip Chaffin & Tommy Krasker, producers (Stephen Sondheim, composer/lyricist)
(New Broadway Cast With Danny Burstein, Jan Maxwell, Elaine Paige, Bernadette Peters, Ron Raines & Others)
Label: PS Classics

The Gershwins' Porgy And Bess

David Alan Grier, Norm Lewis & Audra McDonald, principal soloists; Tommy Krasker, producer (George Gershwin, composer; Ira Gershwin, Dorothy Heyward & DuBose Heyward, lyricists)
(New Broadway Cast With Audra McDonald, Norm Lewis, David Alan Grier & Others)
Label: PS Classics


Jeremy Jordan & Kara Lindsay, principal soloists; Frank Filipetti, Michael Kosarin, Alan Menken & Chris Montan, producers (Alan Menken, composer; Jack Feldman, lyricist) (Original Broadway Cast With Jeremy Jordan, Kara Lindsay & Others)
Label: Ghostlight Records/ Razor & Tie

Nice Work If You Can Get It

Matthew Broderick & Kelli O'Hara, principal soloists; David Chase, Bill Elliott & Robert Sher, producers (George Gershwin, composer; Ira Gershwin, lyricist) (Original Broadway Cast With Matthew Broderick, Kelli O'Hara & Others)
Label: Shout! Factory

Once: A New Musical

Steve Kazee & Cristin Milioti, principal soloists; Steven Epstein & Martin Lowe, producers (Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova, composers/lyricists) (Original Broadway Cast With Steve Kazee, Cristin Milioti & Others)
Label: Masterworks

And my thoughts:
SHOULD WIN: FOLLIES - this is one of my favorite cast albums because it sums up the show so well and features great vocals and production value
WILL WIN: ONCE - it was critically acclaimed and is the most "mainstream" of the albums.

UPDATE: As I predicted, ONCE won the Grammy! Congratulations to all involved!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

That's SMASHing!

Yesterday, my twitter feed was acting like a major world event was happening, like an election or inauguration. The only problem was that it wasn't an event of national importance. It was the second season premiere of the NBC show SMASH.

For the unaware, SMASH is a TV series that follows the lives of the creative team and actors of a musical aiming for Broadway. They focus on the drama on stage and off. Last season, the focus was solely on a musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe, BOMBSHELL. After some major creative changes, including adding showrunner Josh Safran (Gossip Girl) and losing creator and main writer Theresa Rebeck (Seminar, Dead Accounts), the show is now focusing on a wider set of shows (including a new Rent-esque musical HIT LIST) and cutting the ridiculous unrelated-to-the-show story lines.

SMASH was the pinnacle of "hate-watch" television last season, and it was very obvious after last night's two-hour premiere, that they are definitely trying to clean up and move on from last season, as evidenced by the opening number of  the episode "Cut, Print...Moving On." They've cleaned the story up a lot (they still have a long way to go) and have expanded the music styles to include some of musical theatre's most up-and-coming composers. Also, I'm just putting it out there, I've already listened to the new song "Broadway, Here I Come" on repeat.

SMASH is definitely moving in the right direction. The new characters are great, especially Jeremy Jordan (Newsies)'s Jimmy Collins, and have upped the acting quality insanely already. As someone who loves many of Broadway's lesser known actors and biggest up-and-comers, it's great to see people like Jordan, Andy Mientus, and Krysta Rodriguez show up on the TV.

I am interested to see where this season goes, but will definitely stay along for the ride. Here is a preview of the season premiere to give you a taste of the show.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

I Want That Soundtrack! I Mean Cast Recording...


The amount I've been corrected when I say "soundtrack" in regards to a CD produced for a musical is greater than I can count. But it was successful, because now I correctly refer to these recordings as "cast recordings" and get duly annoyed when people mix them up.

Now, I also am someone who still enjoys a physical CD. I know, it's the 21st century, but for some reason, buying a physical CD makes it seem more real. This is especially so with cast recordings, because they typically feature production photos and exclusive content from cast members or members of the creative team.

Now, in the theatre industry, recording a CD is a difficult task, because typically, unless the show is a huge hit (a la Wicked or Phantom of the Opera), it is difficult for a cast recording to sell enough copies to make financial sense. So why do we still get so many cast recordings?

Well, first, to document some of the best performances from the stage. This is especially true for revival cast recordings, where the score is already preserved and well-known. Secondly, especially for newer shows, without a CD as a base, it is less likely for shows to be licensed for performances in regional and amateur theatres around the country.

Lastly, it could be for the reason I love cast recordings. As a college student of limited means who doesn't live in New York City, a cast recording is a phenomenal way for me to here a recording of a show or performance I couldn't see, or something I loved so much and would love to experience again, but can't afford another ticket.

So with that, here are some of my favorites (and of course links for if you want to sample or buy it yourself).

Favorite Classic Cast Album: Into the Woods (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Favorite Revival Cast Album: Follies (2012 Broadway Cast Recording)
Favorite Modern Cast Album: Next to Normal (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Favorite Off-Broadway Cast Album: [title of show] (Original Cast Recording)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

REVIEW: Happy 25th Birthday PHANTOM!

So today marks a major milestone in Broadway history. It is the 25th anniversary of the opening of Andrew Lloyd Webber's PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. While tonight's performance, in honor of the birthday, is "invite only," I was luckily able to see the show last night (obviously with the same cast as tonight's celebration will have).

I had never seen PHANTOM live before, but have had heavy exposure. I knew every word to the cast recording, had seen the movie with Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum, and had seen the filmed live version of the London 25th anniversary (w/Sierra Boggess who is Christine on Broadway now).

Seeing it live was an experience unlike any other PHANTOM experience I have had. From the opening chords of the overture through curtain call I was engaged in the magic that was happening on stage, proving how this show survived 25 years on Broadway.

First, I need to start with the performances (because that's the first thing I pay attention to at any show). Sierra Boggess IS Christine. While I've heard her sing Christine before, seeing her play the role was amazing. I wish Tony Awards were given out for replacements still because less than a week into her run with the show, she was flawless. Hugh Panaro as the Phantom was unique. Vocally he sounded phenomenal and he acted the part extremely well, but it was a very different Phantom than I have ever been exposed to. It was not the dark, ominous, deep (vocally) Phantom, but rather a more insecure, almost clown-like (in the classical sense) representation of the Phantom. It was by no means bad, it was just unexpected.

In terms of the supporting roles, I didn't love Kyle Barisch's Raoul. Again, it was vocally flawless (as was everything in this production), but it didn't have that certain spark that I feel the character needs. Based on his representation (SPOILER ALERT) I don't get why Christine chose him over the Phantom. Ellen Harvey (who I have seen in 3 different shows this year, check out my rave for her in INTO THE WOODS here) was phenomenal as Madame Giry. She was in a role in which she could shine as an actress. She fits exactly what Giry needs to be, a strong actress who can play strict well with a gorgeous voice. And lastly, Kara Klein, who plays Meg, was exactly what I always find Meg to be, bland, boring, and annoying. Except that's not the actress' fault, it's just how the character is written.

Now, technically this show is gorgeous. I won't give much away, but the sets and costumes were phenomenal, its hard to think they've looked this good for 25 years. Also, the lighting was great, with some really good aesthetic choices, but not at all over the top.

After seeing this performance, I understand how it has lasted so long and why it is one of the world's favorite musicals, and I look forward to seeing the show again at its 50th anniversary performance.

Here's a video of Sierra singing her opening aria, "Think of Me."

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Magneto & Professor X to Bring WAITING FOR GODOT to Broadway

Magneto & Professor X, sorry. I mean Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart will star in  WAITING FOR GODOT on Broadway this fall. They will perform it in repertory with NO MAN'S LAND at a theatre to be announced.

I think they will be great, especially because their performance was critically acclaimed in London. It is interesting for two plays to be done in rep on Broadway. I've never heard of that being done, and am curious to see how it will play out.

I love Beckett's play and think they are both brilliant actors who will do great work.