April 30, 2008

Marty Thomas is Mr. Broadway



Well, the title speaks for itself but learn more about it here. But check him out singing Defying Gravity in the clip above.

Addendum: photos of the event can be found here.

ASTEP

Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP) is a non-profit organization founded in 2006 by music director and orchestrator Mary Mitchell Campbell. In collaboration with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids, artists go to poverty or AIDS-stricken areas and lead workshops or camps for children. They already have an arts camp program in Homestead, Florida, an arts-based orphanage for "untouchable" children in India, and AIDS awareness projects in South Africa. According to Playbill,
"ASTEP's major public presence in New York City has been its ArtCents Benefit concerts that feature the work of emerging songwriters — as well as Broadway singers showing off their pop sides — in intimate evenings at which patrons show up with a jar of change for admission."

If you're looking for a meaningful way to spend your summer, you can volunteer overseas or in the NYC area.
April 29, 2008

X files 2

Is anybody else excited about this ?

Friends, Romans and Countrymen....



Every summer the Public Theatre produces Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theatre. This year's productions are Hamlet (May 27 - June 29) and Hair: The American Tribal Rock Musical (July 22 - August 17).

Tickets for these performances are usually free. The catch is you have to queue up at the Delacorte or the Public Theatre downtown the day of the show to get tickets. The box office starts handing out tickets at 1 pm but people start lining up as early as midnight for shows that have impressive casts.....one such show was Mother Courage with Meryl Streep and Kevin Klein in 2006. I was lucky enough to see this production even though the play stopped several times during the performance due to freezing rain. I also got to see Jennifer Ehle and Liev Shreiber in Macbeth that same summer (we did have better weather conditions that time).

The Public Theatre has just announced that they are no longer distributing tickets at their downtown location but is introducing a "Virtual Line" online.

From Playbill.com:
With the new virtual line, the Public allows individuals who are registered at the Public Theater website to log on and submit a day-of request for tickets beginning at 12 AM ET. Each individual entry is able to request up to two tickets for that day's performance. At 1 PM registered users can log on to the Public website to see if their names have been randomly selected. The day-of tickets will be held at the Delacorte box office.

Majority of tickets will still be available for those who queue up in person at the Delacorte. So if you are in the city around those dates join the queue and make new friends! It's one of the quintessential NY theatre experience if you're a theatre geek.

(photo fr PublicTheatre.org)
April 28, 2008

Headed THATAWAY.....again!

So after the back to back Sondheim last Saturday (4/19), I headed back on Sunday (4/20) to see one of my favorite shows last season, Curtains! They had announced that they are closing this June and I wanted to see it one more time before it's run ended. It was this show that made me want to take up dance classes again (and by that I mean Hawaiian when I was 6....LOL!). This time I was with Dawn, Mike and Tom who were seeing it for the first time. I'm happy to say that the show is still as fresh, energetic and enjoyable as I had seen it last year (see previous post here). The whole company still seemed to be enjoying performing on stage together. Bravo to the whole cast!

I did however have a major "slip of doom" moment. As I opened my playbill, the white slip read "role of Bobby Pepper will be played by David Eggers". This role is usually played by Noah Racey. I was looking forward to seeing him dance again and also sign my Never Gonna Dance Playbill that I had with me. But alas he wasn't on that day. Devastated :(
Don't get me wrong though, David Eggers was good and I still did enjoyed the show.

Some stagedoor pics:

David Hyde Pierce as Lt. Frank Cioffi

Erin Davie (formerly of Grey Gardens) played Niki


Amazing Karen Ziemba as Georgia Hendricks

Very funny Debra Monk as Carmen Bernstein

Megan Sikora as Bambi Bernet.....I don't know how she can do all those backbends 8 times a week!

David Eggers as Bobby Pepper that day

and just because he's an amazing dancer, a pic of Noah Racey (Bobby Pepper) taken last June 2007 :)
Addendum (5/7/08): Maybe this is the reason why I didn't get to see him: Broadway Tap Dancers Come to Jordan

Moving Right Along.....Sh-K Boom, Sh-K Boom.....





Sh-K Boom Records has been a supporter of preserving music from Broadway shows as well as Broadway artists. They have produced cast albums of The Last Five Years, The Drowsy Chaperone and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels plus Broadway artists such as Christine Ebersole, Adam Pascal and Alice Ripley to name a few.

The name comes from the lyrics from the above clip from The Muppet Movie. The owners of the label Kurt Deutsch and his wife, Sherie Renee Scott use to sing it during road trips.....the SH is for Sherie and K is for Kurt.

In recent years, the market for cast albums is getting smaller and the cost of production isn't offset by the sales. Major labels have avoided producing them and in turn, causing a lot of shows with good music not to be recorded (ex. Never Gonna Dance). Sh-k-boom Records has been a stalwart in producing and preserving these shows. Shows live on because of their cast recordings. One of my favorites is The Last Five Years and now, that show is being produced in colleges, community theatres and in other countries. In fact, The Last Five Years was produced in the Philippines a few years ago with Audie Gemora and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo.

Here's an interview of Kurt Deutsch about creating a cast album from Playbill.com



April 26, 2008

Burn This





Our house in the Philippines unfortunately got damaged from a fire that started next door. During the clean-up, I was so happy to find these Playbills. What a sight for sore eyes! Intact Playbills and souvenir programs truly made my day.

Jetlagged

Plane rides to the Philippines are exhausting. I can never sleep, and I might even have restless legs syndrome. Here's the lowdown on my recent airplane mini film festival:
  • No Country for Old men (I don't get it. What was that ending? But Brava Javier!)
  • Lars and the Real Girl (more on this later)
  • National Treasure: Book of Secrets. Wahappen Dame Helen?
  • Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (yes, I ran out of movies! *sobs* I had seen most of the other selections.)
  • P.S. I Love You (Hilary Swank in a romantic role with swanky clothes. I still love you Gerard. On the plus side, bonus Sherie Renee Scott and James Marsters (Spike from Buffy). At least the ending wasn't forced. Oh and I wanna go to Ireland NOW!)
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (A quiet and moody film considering its topic but it was engaging enough. Casey Affleck is a must-watch actor.)
  • I tried to watch There will be Blood and Things we Lost in the Fire. Even Daniel Day-Lewis and Benicio del Toro couldn't make me finish viewing.
  • Back to Lars and the Real Girl: Ryan Gosling is a sensitive loner who buys one of those life-sized dolls online. He starts calling her Bianca, takes her everywhere and introduces her as his girlfriend. Pretty soon, the whole community supports him in his delusion. Patricia Clarkson plays the sympathetic doctor/psychologist, with Paul Schneider as his confused brother and Emily Mortimer as his caring sister-in-law. His situation is not played for laughs. It is funny at times, but mostly sweet and touching.
April 25, 2008

Putting It Together





Last Saturday I had a back to back Sondheim viewing.......a double header of Sunday in the Park with George and Gypsy.

Sunday in the Park with George is a cleverly written fictional story of the painter George Seurat. Act 1 centers on creating his painting A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (pictured below and which incidentally is in the Art Institute of Chicago) and his relationship with his muse and lover, Dot. But aside from that, it also gives snapshots of the life of the people that make up the painting, the boatman, the little girl and her mother just name a few.

Act 2 is set in the 1980's where we now see Seurat's grandson George, who is also an artist and his daughter Marie, George's grandmother. The musical centers on the need for connection.......to one's work.....to one's audience and most specially one's loved ones. It emphasizes what an artist gives up for their art and thus the words in the song "Art Isn't Easy". It's Sondheim's homage to art and creativity.

For me, the show has good music which echoes the pointillism aspect of Seurat's painting but it's also a difficult show to see as you really have to listen to the lyrics to fully grasp it. Mr. Sondheim really makes his audience work in his shows.

Daniel Evans plays George in both acts while Jenna Russell plays Dot/Marie. They are Brits imported from the London production of the same show. Mr. Evans played the role really well because I found myself really frustrated with his George in Act 1 with regards to how he treats Dot but at the same time understand his obsession with getting his painting just right. Ms. Russel is incredibly moving as Dot specially in the last scenes at the end of Act 1. I must say though that there were some times I couldn't hear her over the orchestra which was located on the box, stageleft at the level of the mezzanine which was where I was seated. So I don't know if it was only because of my seat location. I was surprised too that the show has bits of humor most of which came from Ms. Russell. The other cast members such as Jessica Molasky, Mary Beth Peil were great but Alexander Gemignani's voice just stood out for me clear as crystal.

Another star in this production is the projections. Literally before your eyes, as George would draw on his sketch pad, you'd see it coming into life in the scenery behind. You hear an audible gasp from the audience when you see the painting come to life onstage. It's very thrilling so see. But a very memorable moment for me is at the end where you see young George looking at the scenery of the Island of La Grande Jatte and then it disintegrates into just white walls and you hear the words uttered "like a blank canvas.......so many possibilities" as you hear George gasp in excitement. It's a powerful image to see.

It was BC/EFA collection time for Easter Bonnet so Jenna Russell was by the exit doors at the end of the show collecting donations. I got to chat with her a bit and complemented her on her performance. She said she's really excited to be on Broadway and then said thank you and shook my hand as I left.


Gypsy is a musical about Mama Rose and her 2 children June and Louise. It's based on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee. It tells of a mother's obsession to get her child, well first it was June and then she moved onto Louise, to be a star on stage.

The show is very accessible and has really good familiar music and according to a lot of people, has the best overture of a musical. I must commend the director's decision to have the orchestra on stage. It's very fascinating to get to see a full orchestra play that overture!

Mama Rose is played by the iconic Patti Lupone who is incredible in this role. Although this show is a revival and several great women have played this character, this role seemed to be tailored for Ms. Lupone. She was aggressive, sly, calculating, loving and also heartbreaking as Mama Rose. Laura Benanti played Louise. I was really impressed with how she played the role because there was a fully developed arch to her character. You see her Louise develop from a shy, talentless second fiddle to a very sexy, commanding and seductive Gypsy Rose Lee once she found her calling. Boyd Gaines played Herb, was understated but effective as the faithful agent who is also in love with Mama Rose. All three gelled really well onstage. To borrow the words of Charles Isherwood, NY Times theatre critic, well, this is actually from a review of another play but I thought it sums up a perfect evening at the theatre:

When the actors onstage all inhabit the same dramatic plane, creating a seamless world, a play can become something more than a performance. Your sense of time drops away, you cease to see actors and see only people, you enter a fully imagined realm in which every detail of emotion, action and language is perfectly aligned. A playwright’s words become entrancing music that can linger in your head for days — be it exalting, despairing or merely diverting.

That's how I felt seeing the show..........transported!

Well, it was crazy at the stagedoor. Good thing Mike and Tom stayed with me to get playbills autographed because they don't normally like to do that. Mike even commented that he feels like a paparazzi. LOL! We didn't have to wait long though and most of the actors came out. I was actually intimidated by Patti Lupone because she's just so iconic for me but she was really nice. Security had announced that she won't be posing for pictures before she came out. She did however, try to sign everyone's playbill and was chatty that night. Laura Benanti didn't come out of the stagedoor. Prior to this show I had actually heard that she had walking pneumonia during the week and didn't do shows until Friday night. I was glad she was there that night.

Oh before I forget, during the start of Act 2 someone from the audience yelled I Love You Patti......that was really amusing!

So here are some Stagedoor pictures at Gypsy:

Tony Yazbeck who played Tulsa. He's an amazing dancer and was also formerly in the revival of A Chorus Line


Boyd Gaines who played Herb


And Mama Rose herself........La Lupone (sorry for the blurriness I took it from my camera phone as my digital camera decided to tune out at this point)
April 23, 2008

The Billies Have Been Found!



The Billies for the upcoming Billy Elliot The Musical have been announced! They are from left to right: Kiril Kulish, David Alvarez and Trent Kowalik. Of the three, only Mr. Kowalik has performed the role before in the London production. However, all three have impressive dance training. Read all about them here. Photos of a special preview performance for the media can be found here.

Welcome to Broadway boys!

(photo fr Broadway.com)
April 22, 2008

Awards Season

The Drama League Award and the Outer Critics Circle nominations have been announced yesterday April 21, 2008. The Drama League Awards are given by the Drama League which is an organization comprised by theatre professionals and patrons. The awards are given to Broadway and Off-broadway shows of the season. The Outer Critics Circle is the official organization of writers on the New York theatre for out-of-town newspapers, national publications, and other media beyond Broadway. These 2 awards plus the Drama Desk Awards are the precursors of the Tonys but what makes them even more intriguing is that Broadway shows are pitted against Off-Broadway shows in the nomination pot whereas the Tony Award is only for Broadway shows.....these are the BEST in theatre for the season. How exciting!

Outer Critics Nominations

Drama League Nominations

Good Luck to the nominees!
April 21, 2008

Hoofing Around



I've been learing a lot about Tap since I took lessons and I am not an expert but to explain the difference....or at least the way I understand it......the clip above (which is from 42nd Street) is an example of "Broadway Tap" coming from the Vaudeville style of dancing. The technique is a more "light" on your feet style as if the dancer is lifted off the ground. Taps come mostly from the shuffle movement of the toes. Among the great tap dancers of this style are Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. In contrast, the clip below is a sample of "Rhythmn Tap". It has a louder, more grounded sound to the beats. The dancer is also more "grounded" to the floor while dancing and taps come from the heel and stomp actions of the foot. This has a more "improvisational style" and was made famous by dancers like Gregory Hines and Savion Glover. Either way, they're both fun to dance!

April 17, 2008

[TOS] is On!


[TOS] = Title of Show--you know the really awesome show by "2 nobodies in NY"--is moving to Broadway in July! I know this was last week's news but I only got to post this today but it still makes me excited! I didn't get a chance to see it off-Broadway but I have the CD and I really love it. It's very unique......about 2 people writing a musical about bringing a musical to Broadway. Does that description give you a headache or what?! I tell you though, I've loved the video blogs they have been posting on youtube about getting [TOS] to Broadway. I previously posted one of their best episodes here. It will be playing at the Lyceum Theatre and tickets will be available on April 21, 2008.

Read about it's Broadway transfer here from one of the show's creators Hunter Bell.
(photo....is the cover of my CD)
April 16, 2008

My Boy Jack


Daniel Radcliffe has definitely done a variety of roles even though he is most known for Harry Potter. This fall he is making his Broadway debut as Alan Strang in Equus. However, this Sunday, April 20, he will play the son of the writer Rudyard Kipling in Masterpiece Theatre's My Boy Jack. It's a tale about father-son relationship. Coincidentally, this movie also stars Kim Cattral.........wait Samantha of Sex and the City in a period film?!!? I highly enjoyed the recent broadcast of The Complete Jane Austen series as well as E.M. Forster's A Room with a View and so this Sunday will again be a treat for me! For more show information please check your local PBS listings.
(photo fr EW)
April 14, 2008

Seth's Broadway 101 Rehearsal

Yay for Seth Rudetsky chronicling his Broadway 101 concert! He's showing rehearsal footage with Andrea Burns, Jonathan Groff, Julia Murney and Norm Lewis.....who all sound amazing! It was a very fun night last year and I'm sure Mike who'll be at the show this year will enjoy himself.

We previously got a tip that Julia will be playing Evita in Sacramento this summer but couldn't post it so.......yay! Finally! Seth announces it on his blog! You get a tidbit of it with her singing Buenos Aires in this footage.

Addendum (4.15.08) from Playbill.com: "High Flying Adored" Murney Will Be Evita for Sacramento

April 13, 2008

Seth's Broadway 101

It's actually billed as A Masterclass of Belting, Divas and Hostile Opinions. Last year, Lani, Dawn and I saw this show and not only did we have so much fun but we learned a lot about different aspects of a musical. This year Seth Rudetsky is presenting it again tomorrow night April 14, 2008 at the New World Stages for the benefit of the Actors' Fund of America. If you're in NYC area don't miss this opportunity. Show information here.

The above video is from last year's show with Andrea McArdle (Annie) and Laura Benanti (Into the Woods, Nine, and the current revival of Gypsy). Seth was explaning the difference between a Head Voice (soprano) and a Chest Voice (belter) and had the ladies sing from West Side Story.

Christmas in April




I know it's April but I really love Marty Thomas' version of All I Want For Christmas is You. The boy would make Mariah proud!

PS.....a bit of trivia.....he beat out Britney Spears in Star Search when they were younger



April 12, 2008

Shoshana's I Will Survive

Here's Shoshana Bean's version of I Will Survive from the Rosie's R Vacations Cruise. Check out those riffs! As Christian Siriano from Project Runway would say........FIERCE!

April 7, 2008

August: Wins Pulitzer!



The original play, August:Osage County, by Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble member Tracy Letts just won the Pulitzer Prize! The play is a family tragicomedy set in motion when the patriarch goes missing. It's such an intense but very enjoyable play. Make sure you catch it before it's run is over.....next up....Best Play at the Tonys!

Congratulations to Mr. Letts and the Steppenwolf Company!

For the full article of the news click here.

(photo fr. Steppenwolf.org)

on PreDoom Day


Thanks to Lynn for this! Happy Sunday then a happy Monday all! (Otherwise known as Doom Day.)
April 5, 2008

Sutton's WISH


This may be a few days late but Sutton Foster is heading to the recording studio for her first CD which will be produced by Ghostlight Records. Ghostlight is the sister company of Sh-K-Boom Records, the label which produced the cast albums of Title of Show, The Drowsy Chaperone and soon to come, In The Heights. The CD, entitled WISH, will be released in 2009. Check out the full article here. As a teaser, she'll be performing some songs from her cd at Joe's Pub on April 28, 2008. For information about that concert click here.
(photo fr. Broadway.com)
April 4, 2008

The runaway groom


I love love love the always likable Simon Pegg. He makes me laugh and yet his dramatic turns can leave me teary-eyed. I will pretty much watch anything he's in. So of course I saw David Schwimmer's Run Fat Boy Run. Mr. Schwimmer's directorial debut is not as witty, cooky and laugh out loud funny as Mr. Pegg's Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz. The plot is formulaic, some jokes are corny and crude. The ending is predictable. But I still enjoyed the movie, rooting for our slacker hero, thanks to Simon's Everyman charm.
Simon plays Dennis Doyle, our ne'er-do-well, not really fat but mostly unfit protagonist who left his pregnant fiancee (the beautiful Thandie Newton) five years earlier. She becomes involved with Mr. Perfect guy Whit (Hank Azaria, the stereotypical villain in a love triangle). Whit is a marathoner and Dennis tries to prove that he's changed by joining the fictitious Nike River Run in London. Dennis ends up running for the love of his ex-fiancee and child, as well as his self-respect. There are some cute tender moments with his Lord of the Rings-loving son.

(photo from Getty Images)
April 3, 2008

Hell to the yeah!

I became a fan of Guillermo del Toro after watching Hellboy. It always seems to be on TV, and each time I have to stop and watch it again. I can't wait to see the sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army this summer. Here's the trailer:

Earth Hour

By now, I hope everyone has heard about this. And as Lani posted on her "Unplug" post, Chicago is the US flagship city. Kudos to Mayor Daley! So I bring you some pics from Earth Hour, March 29, 2008 8PM

Chicago skyline - a minute before (Sears Tower on the left with the 2 spires, AON Center is the tall one with a white band in the middle, Hancock Building on the right with a white band):
Earth Hour 2008 - Chicago
8:01 pm The Sears Tower leads the way:
Earth Hour 2008 - Chicago
Followed by the Hancock Center (right of pic):
Earth Hour 2008 - Chicago
Next is the AON Building (middle of pic):
Earth Hour 2008 - Chicago
Earth Hour in full bloom at 8:15 pm:
Earth Hour 2008 - Chicago
The Hancock Building 1 minute before Earth Hour ends:
Earth Hour 2008 - Chicago
The Hancock Building at 9:01 pm with the lights on top back on and the reflection on Lake Michigan:
Earth Hour 2008 - Chicago

My friends and I participated too in our own way unplugging everything at home. I took pics but they turned out to be crappy LOL! The marquees of the theatres that are part of Broadway in Chicago such as Cadillac Palace (The Drowsy Chaperone, well, not until 4/1), Ford Oriental Theatre (WICKED) and La Salle Bank Theatre aka The Shubert (Jersey Boys) were all darkened too! Brava!

Check out this video of the lights turning off in Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Sydney and even Manila!

On a WGN news overheard from the radio the next day, ComEd reports that there was a 5% reduction of energy at the 8 PM hour that Saturday compared to the same time a week before. Imagine what that could do if every city participated? Or if we did that once a week?

(pics from EarthHour.org)
April 2, 2008

Chung Chung

Lynn showed this to me last year and now I finally have a reason (sort of) to use it. Happy 47th Birthday to Law and Order SVU's Christopher Meloni!

April 1, 2008

We've grown accustomed to her face

It is so sad that legendary singer/actress Julie Andrews can no longer sing for us after her vocal cords were damaged during throat surgery. At least her incredible body of work will be with us forever. She is also a celebrated childrens' book writer. So for your kids and grandkids, Ms. Andrews will launch the JULIE ANDREWS' COLLECTION OF FAVORITE POEMS, SONGS AND LULLABIES in the fall of 2009. Written with her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton, the anthology will include:
beloved favorites from her childhood, as well as works created by the mother-daughter team themselves. Each themed section of the anthology will include an introduction by Ms. Andrews highlighting the special meanings the songs and poems hold in her life. A bonus CD featuring archival musical recordings as well as new personal narrations by Ms. Andrews will be packaged with this special collection. Subsequent titles in the program will include an additional anthology, as well as the exciting launch of a brand-new picture book character, THE VERY FAIRY PRINCESS, in Spring 2010 about the whimsical adventures and playful nature of one mischievous little girl and her quest to become a fairy princess.

In the meantime, you can pick up a copy of her new autobiography that was released today, Home: A Memoir of my Early Years.

Persepolis the Musical


It has been reported by the folks at BWW that Stephen Sondheim has announced plans to adapt the Academy Award nominated film into a musical. In a recent interview, the Mr. Sondheim stated that he had just seen the film and loved the universal themes of family, country and finding one's identity that he thought of writing the lyrics and score. It is unknown at this time who will be the bookwriter for this project. You can read the whole interview here.


(photo from Moviefone.com, and just in case you didn't click the "here" button.......you really should click it)
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