The Buzz Stream
- Best Revival in 2018?
March 7, 2017
It’s been 25 years since we saw a production of My Fair Lady onstage. The original production which starred Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews, won 6 Tony awards. The movie was great too, though Marni Nixon had to “ghost sing” for Audrey Hepburn. The newest revival will be opening for previews on March 22nd, 2018 at the Lincoln Center Theatre and Broadway journalists are already speculating about the newest Eliza. Whoever she is…she needs to be someone who can “dance all night!”
The musical, based after the play by Robert Bernard Shaw called “Pygmalion,” is about a girl named Eliza who sells flowers on the street. One night she meets a gentleman, Henry Higgins, who mocks her lowly stature and speaking voice. He tells her that he is a linguist and could perfect her language to get her a better job as a real lady. Eliza dreams about the possibilities and then shows up at Henry Higgins’ home to ask about the offer. Higgins agrees to put her up in his home, dresses her like a lady, but treats her like a test subject until the end of the play when he realizes his adoration for her.
One of the great elements of the musical is Eliza’s strength. All of the female characters have power regardless of their social stature, but Eliza goes from being treated like a test subject to a woman with a strong mind and a stubborn attitude. The music is beautiful, the story is funny, and the relationships are memorable.
The Creative Team
Directing this revival is Bartlett Sher, recipient of the 2008 Tony for Best Director from South Pacific also at Lincoln Center. Sher will be bringing back his South Pacific team with Scenic designer Michael Yeargan, costume designer Catherine Zuber, and lighting designer Donald Holder.
We can’t wait to see who the next Eliza is! Would you go out for the role if there was an open call? Let us know on Twitter!
- Spamilton Looks At Broadway
February 13, 2017
Even before last year’s Tony Awards, American audiences knew to expect multiple wins for Hamilton. As Broadway’s current sensation, it almost feels like other Broadway shows don’t live up to it! However, looking back at theatre history we see that sold out patterns like Hamilton have occurred before. In fact, there is an entire Off-Broadway show whose plot centers around the normalization of the Hamilton phenomenon. The production called Spamilton both praises and normalizes the phenomenon while appealing to well-versed musical theatre geeks everywhere.
The composer and playwright behind Spamilton is Forbidden Broadway creator, Gerard Alessandrini. Though his Off-Broadway career has been all about spoofs since 1988, Alessandrini has won a number of awards including an OBIE, a Lucille Lortel Award, a Drama League Award, and five Drama Desk Awards. Some other musical titles in his Off-Broadway series include Forbidden Broadway 2001: A Spoof Odyssey, Forbidden Broadway: A Rude Awakening , and Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back.
For a creator who has made his career on spoof musicals, Alessandrini is a pretty successful guy. Spamilton seems to be no exception since the New York Times gave it a pretty great review last September. One of the elements the Times Reviewer, Ben Brantley, mentions is the hype of Hamilton with the overall fame and popularity of former President Barack Obama. His attendance in its rise of fame and post as America’s first black president were staple elements of Hamilton. Alessandrini’s Spamilton has a scene where Barack and Michelle are listening to the Hamilton soundtrack before bed. Alessandrini mentions that JFK and Jackie O would listen to Camelot before bed since it was Jackie’s favorite musical during the JFK presidency and this scene was made as a mirror to that event.
“(…) contrary to what its more rabid fans might believe, “Hamilton” is neither the only show in town nor the only musical that ever mattered. “Spamilton” is here to dispel those myths by placing Mr. Miranda’s masterwork in a context that might be described, on many levels, as broad. (…) In other words, Mr. Alessandrini’s latest effort isn’t just about “Hamilton,” but about where it fits on the continuum of show business as usual
This production is happening at Stage 72, formerly known at The Triad. It runs for 80 minutes with no intermission and if you sit in the orchestra, you need to order at least 2 drinks. If you like Broadway spoofs and drink minimums, head to 158 West 72nd Street before the show closes on April 30th!
- A 9/11 Musical Whether You’re Ready Or Not
February 8, 2017
This month, a new Broadway show will be opening at the Gerald Shoenfeld Theatre. It is a production that has seen a lot of stage time since 2015 on the West Coast and whose subject matter is a little touchy. It is the first musical the world has seen that is based on the events of 9/11. Its name, Come From Away, refers to its setting in Newfoundland, Canada where 38 planes holding almost 7,000 people were forced to land after the U.S. government shutdown the U.S. airspace. The musical, which is walking on marketing eggshells, could be the musical of the year.
Deterring From 9/11 Terminology
I decided to write about this new production after I watched the above NY1 interview with musical ensemble member, Joel Hatch. Prior to watching the interview, I had seen multiple marketing videos of music and audience quotes, none of which really touched on the fact that 9/11 is the musical’s central event. Hatch addressed the anxiety of the NY1 journalists about seeing a production around an event that is still pretty taboo in our society. He said that this musical is largely about how the entire world was affected by 9/11.
The show stars 12 actors who take on many roles to tell real stories of people who were stranded in Newfoundland after 9/11. The actors play Newfoundland residents as well as the “come from aways” (non-native visitors) to enact relationships that came out of the 5-day stay on the island. The music of the show is celtic-folk and represents the Irish immigrants who settled in Newfoundland in the early 1900s. It has eight band members who are also a big part of the story.
Though the marketing spends much more time dwelling on the show’s characters than the fact that it is a 9/11 musical, that is the draw to the show. Just wondering what political commentary will be made in the production, and wondering if it is a good telling could be enough to drive ticket sales. Also, its musical sound is current with the Broadway trend in folk music like that of Bright Star, Once, and The Bridges of Madison County.
Make up your mind about the show and order some group tickets from All Tickets today. If you’ve already seen the show, what did you think? Tell us on Twitter!
- Sunday in the Park with George Revival
January 31, 2017
Last October, the New York City Center hosted Annaleigh Ashford and Jake Gyllenhaal for a concert performance of Sunday in the Park with George. The production, which received rave reviews from the New York Times, will be transferring to Broadway at the Hudson Theatre from February 23rd until April 23rd.
The original production of Sunday in the Park…, written by Stephen Sondheim, premiered in 1984. It starred Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters and received Tony Awards for best Lighting and Scenic Design. Since it was up against La Cage Aux Folles that year, it was a bit overshadowed.
The story, based on a painting by George Seurat, takes place on the island of La Grande Jatte on the River Seine just outside the gates of Paris. In 1884, George Seurat is busy painting the people around him. Through his painting he learns about the people around him. When he goes home, he meets his mistress and model, Dot (Peters’ character). George’s pre-occupation with work has gotten in the way of his romance with Dot and in finding herself pregnant and unhappy, she accepts the marriage proposal of another man.
It takes a lot to be compared to theatre greats like Patinkin and Peters. According the reviews of his staged reading performance last year, that concert was a very cathartic experience. This new production, which will employ full stage designs and costumes unlike the reading, should be even more successful in catharsis:
“But when Mr. Gyllenhaal intones, ‘blue, blue, blue, blue,’ in a bristling succession of notes, you could swear you hear dabs of paint turning into shimmer. With that moment, we’ve stepped with Mr. Gyllenhaal through the doorway of one man’s vision and into the empyrean summoned by his character, the 19th-century French painter Georges Seurat. It’s going to be a long and happy time before we have to return to our dimmer daily worldviews” If you’re interested in seeing this production, keep up with All Tickets for group rates!
- The Ballad Continues: Sweeney Todd Off-Broadway
January 24, 2017
As a kid, one of my favorite films was the tour version of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street with Angela Lansbury and George Hearn. The original cast included Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou and the musical has been represented by many duos! The latest couple playing Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney will be performing Off-Broadway at the Barrow Street Theatre next year. Tony Award winners Norm Lewis and Carolee Carmello will be “trying the Priest” Off-Broadway from April 11th- August 13th.
City on Fire
The last time we saw Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd in New York City, it was in concert at Lincoln Center starring Bryn Terfel as Sweeney, Emma Thompson as Lovett, and Audra McDonald as The Beggar Woman. The production was live telecast and reinvented the usual concert musical performance ideal. The cast started out in their fancy attire in front of music stands and a full orchestra until they stripped themselves of the “polite performance behavior,” changed into costumes, chucked their scripts, and performed the musical full out. It was an incredible performance.
Before the Lincoln Center performance, we saw another reinvented production of Sweeney Todd at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre in 2005. The production starred Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris. Directed by John Doyle, it transferred to New York from the West End. This production was revolutionary because the actors worked at the orchestra along with their regular parts. Lupone played the tuba and the percussion instruments while Cerveris played the guitar. Since this production, other musical revivals have followed suit in asking their performers to also act as the orchestra. The most recent Roundabout revival of Cabaret adopted this idea as well.
Did You Come In For a Pie, Sir?
This newest adaptation of the show, arranged by Christopher Bond, is supposed to be an awesome experience. The press notes from the production state:
“…immerses audiences in a completely new theatrical experience. This Sweeney Todd comes to New York City following sold-out runs in London where the show debuted in Harrington’s Pie and Mash Shop, the oldest continuously operating pie shop in the city, before transferring to a West End venue on Shaftesbury Avenue. The working pie-shop environment will be re-created at the Barrow Street Theatre.”Pies will actually be sold to audience members during the production. Hopefully, the pies won’t be as expensive as the drinks at Broadway theatres! Chances are pretty low on that front…
- City Center Encores! 2017
January 16, 2017
The City Center puts on incredible limited engagement productions each year at great prices. I paid $25 a couple of years ago to see The Wild Party starring Sutton Foster and Steven Pasquale. It was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen in New York and the audience couldn’t have been more boisterous. Besides the crowd enjoyment, I couldn’t forget the cool ancillary programming alongside their season. With The Wild Party came historical lessons in dances crazes during prohibition in the lobby before the show. The ancillary programming has yet to be announced but their 2017 season was announced in May and we cannot wait…
From February 8th-12th, a special production of Big River will have all of seven performances! Based on Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, the musical has an amalgam of styles of music: bluegrass, honky tonk, and gospel. Tickets for this production start at $35. Stars like Christopher Sieber(Spamalot), Lauren Worsham(Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder), and Tony Sheldon (Priscilla Queen of the Desert) will be among the cast.
The New Yorkers: A Sociological Musical Satire
Set during prohibition, this musical reconstructs the 1930 show by Cole Porter that was lost to time and lack of upkeep. It is made possible by the Joseph S. and Diane H. Steinberg Broadway Musical Restoration Fund who provided the loose ends of music for the reconstruction. The production is set for March 22nd-26th and will hopefully live up to its name as one of the most ambitious musical reconstructions of its time: “The musical centers on featherbrained socialite Alice Miller, whose bootlegger beau leads her on a madcap romp from Park Avenue to Sing Sing and back again”.
The Golden Apple
The Golden Apple will run from May 10th-14th and is another ambitious production. The plot is based on The Iliad and The Odyssey. Its creators, Jerome Moross (Music) and John Latouche (Book), premiered it in 1954. Instead of Ancient Rome, the plot is set for 1950s USA. It sounds like a flop of a musical to me but it seems that critics liked it at the time.
Any of these productions would be well worth the $35 ticket. Playbill will be announcing more stars for the Encore season at the City Center and we hope we’ll be seeing more familiar faces!
- Willy Wonka Casting Complete!
January 9, 2017
The full cast was announced on December 19th for the new musical telling of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The oompa-loompas can be previewed starting March 28th of next year at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on West 46th Street. The cast will include 36 ensemble members including some Broadway veterans like Emily Padgett, Kathy Fitzgerald, Ben Crawford, John Rubinstein, and Christian Borle.
From Book to Movie to Musical
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a Roald Dahl favorite around the world giving it high expectations for viewers. The 1971 film helped us “view paradise” with Gene Wilder, the Tim Burton conception from 2005 gave us a slightly darker yet closer to the book telling, and the book has been a staple in public libraries children’s sections since its conception in 1964. Telling this story to reach the magical level originally achieved by Dahl to make it a transcendent story is the challenge a production like this would have to achieve.
The story is about a young boy named Charlie Bucket who lives in poverty with his parents and four grandparents. His grandparents share the only bed in the house and Charlie must work to help his family survive. His family lives in the same town as the famous Chocolate Factory run by Willy Wonka who closed his doors to visitors many years before. Wonka announces that he will allow five special people the opportunity to tour his factory and to win a lifetime’s supply of chocolate. He hides five golden tickets in his chocolate bars to be found by five lucky winners!
One of the interesting things about this casting announcement is that they have cast three alternating children as Charlie: Jake Ryan Flynn, Ryan Foust, and Ryan Sell. However, all of the “bad” children who are also on Wonka’s tour will be played by adults. Augustus Gloop, the first child to get the boot, will be played by F. Michael Haynie. He played Boq in Wicked as well as Dogfight off-Broadway. Other adults playing kids will be: Emma Pfaeffle as Veruca Salt (Finding Neverland), Trista Dollison as Violet Beauregard (A Bronx Tale), and Michael Wartella as Mike Teavee (Tuck Everlasting).
Christian Borle (Spamalot, Something Rotten, Legally Blonde) will lead the cast as Willy Wonka after a successful run of Falsettos on Broadway. He’ll go right from Falsettos to playing Wonka in 2017. Hopefully the reviews for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will be as positive!
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will be on our list of group sale shows for next year! Give us a call to see what group price we can offer you!
- An Actress to Remember: Carrie Fisher on Broadway
January 2, 2017
We’re all disappointed to see that so many beloved celebrities have passed away last year. Incredible performers who moved us during their lifetimes are difficult to let go. Recently, Carrie Fisher passed away from the effects of a massive heart attack. Today, we remember her career on the Great White Way and the live performances in which she excelled.
What you may not know is that Carrie Fisher made her debut on Broadway in 1973 in a revival of a musical that starred Debbie Reynolds! The musical was Irene about an Irish immigrant woman named Irene who is making her way up in New York high society. The original production began in 1919 and was revived in 1973 with Fisher as an ensemble member at the Minskoff Theatre.
Post-Star Wars Theatre Success
After the release of the first Star Wars film, Fisher had some more substantial roles on Broadway. From 1977 to 1983 when the original Star Wars films were released, she was involved in a few productions. In 1980, she originated the role of Iris in a comedy called Censored Scenes from King Kong. She performed alongside Stephen Collins and Alma Cuervo.
In January of 1983, Fisher replaced Amanda Plummer in the Broadway production of Agnes of God written by John Pielmeier. The show is about a nun who gives birth to a child in a convent and then strangles it. Agnes, the nun, must see a psychiatrist whose negative past has deterred her from the church. The psychiatrist ends up learning a lot about herself in the process of examining Agnes.
In 2009, Carrie Fisher opened her one woman show Wishful Drinking at 54 Below sponsored by the Roundabout Theatre Company. It received rave reviews and let audiences in on her experiences as a celebrity including the alcoholism she dealt with years before. To see excerpts from her one woman show, check out this link from Broadway World TV.
May The Force Be With You
With all of her triumphs as a performer, Carrie Fisher was also a great person. She suffered from drug abuse while in the public eye as a young performer but has been very vocal about her experiences. Her courage in expressing her life challenges in books, her one woman show, and in interviews gave her fan base more to respect her for more than just the skimpy outfit in The Return of the Jedi.
What is your favorite Carrie Fisher memory? Share it with us on TwitterGreenfield, Thomas Allen. Broadway: an encyclopedia of theater and American culture. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, an imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2010. Print.