Who couldn't resist following Seth Rudetsky's 31 Deconstructions in 31 Days?!! Here's my lastest faves. Above is Cheyenne Jackson in Xanadu singing All Over The World (which is also my favorite song from the show). And below (yes, I just couldn't resist) is Julia Murney singing Where Do I Go from the Actors Fund Concert of Hair which I have been waiting for him to do along with Julia's version of Nobody's Side from Chess. Such great lessons in music appreciation!
Gary Coleman passed away today at age 42 after a brain hemorrhage. I enjoyed watching Diff'rent Strokes and it's unfortunate that most of its cast members have had such a hard life after the show ended.
Avenue Q features Gary Coleman as a character. The show will pay tribute to the actor after tonight's performance.
(photo from sitcomsonline)
Here's Montego Glover and Chad Kimball and the cast of Memphis The Musical on the Today Show. David Bryan who co-wrote the musical gives the introduction.
Next To Normal is launching their national tour soon so here they are at Good Morning America performing You Don't Know/Iam The One. It's Tony winner Alice Ripley with Kyle Dean Massey and Brian D'Arcy James. Click on the photo to play the video.
And here's the original Dan from Off-Broadway, Brian D'Arcy James singing I've Been. I really loved his performance when I saw the show Off-Broadway at Second Stage. And this song just never fails to move me (sniff). Again, click on the photo to play the video.
I think enough time has passed that people who taped or DVR'd the Lost series finale (appropriately titled The End) would have seen it by now. I would like to apologize for this rambling rave; for alienating non-Lost viewers and those who hated the finale. Let me just say that I've been on hater side this final season, and wary of the finale. This groundbreaking show was polarizing until the end. I LOVED the tear-jerking, funny, corny, mind-blowing, action-packed, and sentimental ending. I was crying, would-have been-biting-my nails if I was a nail-biter, and cheering the whole time. I applaud the creators, writers, cast members and the director for their bravery. Jack Bender should get an Emmy nod, just for his final cutaways between Island Jack and Sideways Jack. It was a stunning reveal, storytelling at its best. Matthew Fox also deserves a nomination for his understated acting and for making me cry like a baby.
People wanted answers to many questions, which true to form, remained unanswered. This wasn't a disappointment for me. The creators remained true to the essence of the show. The show was never just about folks stranded on a strange tropical island with smoke monsters and polar bears. It was about people who had lost their way in the world, and the Island provided a chance to find peace and redemption. When we watch, read or listen to something, we always bring into it our own experiences. I'm a Catholic with Buddhist tendencies. So I fully embraced the concepts of letting go, of emptiness, of connections with all creatures. The episode Across the Sea even brought to my mind the Gnostic traditions, Sophia and the Demiurge, imperfect gods, the search for the Divine within yourself. The finale was overtly Christian, and I appreciated the writers' effort to represent all the major religions inside the church. It was comforting to see our Lostaways in some version of an after-life. Or more accurately, a pre-after-life.
There WERE important questions answered. Faith vs. Science? Overwhelmingly Faith. Man in Black's belief that man will always "fight, destroy, corrupt" vs. Jacob's belief in man's innate goodness? Jack, who for most of the seasons was a man of science, eventually found his faith. His Christ-like sacrifice proved Jacob right.
In the end, all of life's troubles and foibles fall away (like the questions and mysteries of the Island). While our experiences matter because they make us who we are, at the end of our individual journeys, all we can hope for is a life well lived. That we took care of each other and this beautiful world. Jacob said the Island was the cork keeping evil at bay. At the heart of the Island was a Light-filled tunnel, the Source of Life. Our Lostaways were brought to the Island so they could reconnect with their Light and find Love. And this is what's going to save us all from the evils of anger, bitterness, despair. Some days I agree with Sartre that "hell is other people". The End reminded us that heaven is also other people.
(photo from Collider)
Macy's together with CBS and The Tony Awards is inviting theatre fans to send a video of them singing show tunes and the winner will get to attend the Tonys this year! Deadline for entries is on May 27 3pm. For more info please click here.
The Tony Awards site is posting videos of Broadway actors auditioning with Seth Rudetsky to get free tickets. Below is Hunter Bell's audition (one of the funniest so far). But check out the other auditioners too: Pricilla Lopez, Andrea McArdle, Andrea Burns (hers is quite funny too!)
(top photo from MTIblog)
Montego Glover's got some pipes! She is outstanding as Felicia, the talented singer who performs at her brother Delray's (the impressive J. Bernard Calloway) segregated nightclub. She makes the mistake of falling in love with ne'er-do-well Huey Calhoun (Mr. Kimball), who happens upon the club one night and promises to make her a star. Their love story however seemed underdeveloped and a little rushed. But the book still got a Tony nod.
Chad Kimball plays the rebellious Huey, who according to show creators David Bryan (of Bon Jovi!) and Joe DiPietro, is a composite of radio station disc jockeys who dared to play black music in the 1950s and revolutionized music forever. Mr. Kimball is guileless yet confident as he smooth talks his way to becoming the controversial number 1 DJ in Memphis. He refuses to compromise even in the face of difficult, life-altering choices. He knows that home is where his heart is. Chad is an emotional powerhouse who has a solid singing voice. I wonder if his seemingly exaggerated drawl, carriage and gait were all meant to highlight how unconventional he was.
Scene-stealing James Monroe Iglehart is Bobby, aspiring singer by night and janitor by day at the radio station owned by Mr. Simmons (Spamalot's Michael McGrath). Derrick Baskin (from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) is the silent, traumatized bartender Gator. Cass Morgan plays Huey's disapproving mother.
The audience was still hootin' & hollerin' long after the orchestra played its last notes. Don't miss this joyful, soulful, crowd-pleasing spectacle. Ignore the naysayers who think it's too predictable or cartoonish. I laughed, cried, tapped my toes, clapped and cheered. Your soul will thank you for it. This is my pick for this year's Best Musical. Hockadoo!
Most theatre sites and blog interview stage actors, producers or the creative team. Seldom do we hear from fans. I'd like to point you out to this fan interview from Innuendo&Outuendo.com. It's an interview with a fan named Kerri who's seen Wicked so many times that she has lost count! She's seen every possible Elphaba-Glinda pairing out there and gives great insights and observations about the production, characters and the persons who played them.
My favorite, mainly because I do feel the same way (in terms of understanding the character and acting choices) is this:
Julia Murney, I believe, is the best Elphaba. She truly understood the character and made defining acting choices. I actually saw her Elphaba debut on tour, and was reduced to tears – I’d never seen the role portrayed to such intensity. She devoted herself entirely to the character, and it was Elphaba onstage. Not Julia Murney.
For the full interview please click here.
May 25 is National Tap Day! It's celebrated during the birthday of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, great tap master seen above in his famous stair tap routine.
Sean Hayes will be hosting this year's Tony Awards. He is nominated for his role as Chuck Baxter in Promises, Promises. The awards will be telecast on CBS on 13 June 2010.
(photo from New York Theatre Guide)
In the meantime, watch his interview with Josh Holloway. It's great to see Sawyer's non-broody alter ego smiling and laughing.
This is Breath. Just a reminder that May 25 is National Tap Day!
Check out Davenport Central's rendition of Tom Kitt's Perfect. Personally it was strange for me to see it sung in show choir even though the voices were great. It's a very intimate and personal song......at least I think so.......for it to be performed this way. And I guess I'm so used to Julia Murney's version (see video below).
In this one, Mr. Walken is Carmichael, a man searching for his left hand for almost 50 years. He checks into a dingy hotel where he meets Mervyn (Mr. Rockwell), an employee who's strangely averse to being called receptionist. He is in town because a young couple claims to have found the aforementioned missing appendage. And violent hilarity with a steady barrage of foul language can only ensue. The play manages to offend black people, women and probably everybody else. It is a dark comedy so be prepared to leave your sensitivities at the door.
Anthony Mackie, after seeing him in The Hurt Locker, was great in his comic turn as Toby, the bungling weed dealer/conman. Zoe Kazan plays his girlfriend Marilyn, also good but at times a bit overwrought. But then again, if a loony person who looks like Chris Walken is threatening to off you, I'd be more than a little agitated as well.
The play is savagely funny, and even the cast knows it. There was a grisly and ridiculously comic fight scene where umm, body parts get thrown around. The 3 actors onstage lost it for a short while. Professionals that they are, they all managed to recover.
Mervyn was a shady character with odd motivations. He tries to help. Or not. His monologue was outrageously amusing. I wasn't quite sure how his character would end up, how the show would end. But I was gratified. One of the best. last. lines. ever.
It was a privilege and a thrill to see the genius Christopher Walken. He is well known for his offbeat performances, and he stays true to this reputation. The way he delivers his lines, the pauses, the looks, the mannerisms...all very unique and utterly compelling. Carmichael is bizarre, mesmerizing and hilarious. I missed him when he wasn't onstage. I wonder why they haven't done "Being Christopher Walken" yet. That would a be a trip.
Sam Rockwell only stopped for a few autographs and one photo. Mr. Walken does not come out after matinees. (Not embarrassed to say I was a little relieved. That man scares me. In a good way.)
I honestly cannot recall laughing this much at a play. Its run ends 06 June. Catch it while you can. Give them a much-deserved hand.
For those like me who missed her in The View last Friday, here's Vanessa Redgrave talking about the loss of her daughter Natasha and her siblings Lynn and Corin. I can't help but tear up watching her talk about her loss.
It is at the Discovery Times Square Exposition until 02 January 2011.
While King Tut's mummy is never allowed to leave Egypt and his famous funerary mask has been deemed too fragile to travel since the 1980s, there is a nice ending to the exhibit that you'll feel like you've seen the Boy King.
Even more exciting, recent testing may have uncovered the cause of his untimely death. You'll have to see it for yourself to find out.
A gorgeous weekend forecast for the Northeast! Need ideas for things to do?
- How about seeing an hour long ballet today or tomorrow? Perfect for the kids. The New York Theatre Ballet is presenting Sleeping Beauty as part of its Once Upon a Ballet family series.
- Tomorrow is Veggie Pride Parade day. As in past years, there will be music, speakers, veggie food, and other exhibits. Don't say organizers have no sense of humor: the parade traditionally starts at the Olde Meate District.
- If you watched Glee this week, you saw Zack Weinstein as Finn's friend. Here's the npr feature about this young handicapable actor.
- Betty White mania continues! The comedy legend, fresh off her grandslam SNL hosting duties, has been nominated for an MTV Movie Award. The category? Best WTF Moment for getting overly familiar with Sandra Bullock's lady parts in The Proposal. The awards will be handed out on 06 June.
- If you're as Lost as I was by this week's episode, "Across the Sea", read this interview with producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse.
- Glee's very own Mr. Shue, Matthew Morrison, will join Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes at CANY's (Creative Alternatives for New York) annual gala on 17 May. This year's event, Broadway at the Boathouse...Encore, will honor Dr. Sandra Bloom, creator of Sanctuary Model of Trauma informed care and co-director of Drexel University's Center for Non-Violence and Social Justice.
- Edward Norton has started a new company, Crowdrise for fundraising, volunteering and online giving. Even if you don't sign up, the funny and clever website is a hoot.
Sample: their tagline is---If you don't give back, no one will like you. Kudos Mr. Norton! (Many thanks to Maan for this information!)
(photo from Broadwayworld.com)
After the fantastic Iron Man, it was de rigueur for me to see the sequel. The first movie is a tough act to follow, given how smart, funny and original it was. Iron Man 2 is entertaining enough but hasn't surpassed its predecessor. The script is not as clever and there are too many sub-plots.It has the requisite CGI and action sequences, even though I was more impressed by Scarlett Johansson's (Black Widow) hallway fight scene. (Although story-wise, they probably could have cut out her character altogether.)
The film's strong point? The formidable performances. Robert Downey, Jr.and Mickey Rourke's line readings border on the sublime. Downey, Jr. is compellingly watchable even at Tony Stark's most egotistical and arrogant moments. He brags about privatizing world peace to Garry Shandling's smarmy Senator Stern, who wants the government to take possession of the Iron Man suit. (The Senator gets a funny comeuppance in the end.) Glib Mr. Stark is having too much fun being the superhero even though it puts his life in danger. Mr. Rourke is the tattooed, toothpick-chewing, cockatoo loving Russian villain Ivan Vanko with the bad-a*# whips. I enjoyed their first explosive encounter at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Much as I love Don Cheadle, Mr. Downey, Jr. seemed to have more chemistry with Terrence Howard as his best friend Lt. Colonel Jim 'Rhodey' Rhodes. Mr. Cheadle gets to poke fun at the whole casting hullabaloo when he says something to the effect of "I'm here, deal with it, let's move on."
Gwyneth Paltrow is back as the billionaire's right-hand girl Pepper Potts, exchanging repartee and building up the sexual tension. Sam Rockwell plays it right as the unscrupulous Justin Hammer, Stark's oily business rival. He really just wants to prove that he's waayy cooler than Iron Man. Director Jon Favreau reprises his role as Happy Hogan, the industrialist's personal assistant and chauffeur. I was somewhat disappointed that Samuel L. Jackson doesn't get to kick butt as Nick Fury, the head of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The final battle (involving droids!) takes place in Flushing, Queens at the Stark Expo. Maybe it's just jittery me but in light of recent events, seeing New York as the target yet again was a wee bit unsettling.
There are a few hints at what's next in the Marvel movie universe. And as usual, stay for an extra scene after the end credits to get a little preview.
No more storms to weather, Ms. Horne. May you rest in the peace of God.
The film adaptation of the book Letters to Juliet: Celebrating Shakespeare's Greatest Heroine, the Magical City of Verona and the Power of Love is a light and breezy romantic comedy. Perfect for Mother's Day.
Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is a fact checker at The New Yorker magazine, hoping to become a full fledged writer. She and her fiancé Victor (the yummy Gael Garcia Bernal) take a pre-wedding vacation in Verona. The distracted Victor, a restaurateur and chef, predictably leaves Sophia to wander the city on her own. She visits the fictional house of Juliet Capulet, where people have been leaving love notes for many years. Sophie meets the members of the Juliet Club who have faithfully answered the letters. She finds an old letter from Claire Smith (the luminous Vanessa Redgrave) and decides to respond. Pretty soon, they are on a road trip to find Claire's long-lost love, Lorenzo. They are begrudgingly accompanied by Mrs. Smith's skeptical and pompous grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan (who physically reminded me of Heath Ledger/Matt Damon/Ryan Phillippe/Joseph Gordon Levitt).
The movie is a grand travelogue through the spectacular vistas of Italy. One can pretty much deduce how the story ends. But the film's high point is Ms. Redgrave. I started crying the moment I saw her in Juliet's courtyard, in front of the famous balcony. (Just the sight of her made me think of her dear departed daughter Natasha Richardson. And then I started thinking of Lynn and Corin Redgrave.) Her Claire is wise, funny and optimistic. Yet one feels that she is afraid of what she'll find but not letting herself get downhearted. When she said "Life is the messy bits", I really felt for her.
Ladies, I expect you'll have fun with Letters to Juliet. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll get a dose of Hollywood romance. The movie officially opens 14 May.
Here's Avenue Q's response to the Muppet's Bohemian Rhapsody. It's a mash up of We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions.
The Star Wars saga told in 2 minutes and with Legos! Very creative and concise and what a great collection.
(thanks to Lisa for this video)
Masterworks Broadway is the website to visit for all you cast album aficionados. Sony Masterworks' spin-off website dedicated to showtunes seeks to "preserve the history of music from the “Great White Way”
Speed Dating told through dance! Created by Lorin Latarro and featuring the ever so graceful Megan Sikora. Jen Cody is in the video too!
Congratulations to Sean Hayes on his Tony nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical! For his Broadway debut at that.
Congratulations and best wishes to all the nominees. Click here for the complete list.
The Tony Awards will be handed out on the 13th of June. You can watch the telecast on CBS.
(photo from drurylaneoakbrook.com)
Just like that tune,
Simple and clear,
I've come to hear
Breaking my heart,
Op'ning a door,
Changing the world!
I'll hear it forevermore!
So goes my favorite lines from the song New Music from the musical Ragtime. It's one of my favorite musicals because of it's sweeping score coupled with beautiful lyrics and a compelling story. I was looking forward to seeing the 2009 revival on Broadway but unfortunately didn't get a chance to see it before it closed in January 2010. As luck would have it though, the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook IL mounted a superb production of the show and have also casted Quentin Earl Darrington and Valisia LeKae. Mr. Darrington played Coalhouse while Ms. LeKae was the understudy for Sarah in the Broadway Revival.
Ragtime is based on the book by E.L Doctorow with the script written by Terrence McNally and music and lyrics by the talented musical writing team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. It is set at the turn of the century in New York and involves the lives of Mother, a well off wife of an amateur explorer, Coalhouse a piano player and Tateh a Jewish immigrant from Latvia. The lives of these characters intersect when unforeseen events bring them together. It has a lot of heart and a powerful message of acceptance.
The cast is impressive. Quentin Earl Darrington has a great robust voice that he can get away with performing without a microphone. Acting wise, he had the intensity of a man fighting for what he believes in. Valisia LeKae is a dead ringer for a young Whitney Houston and has a beautiful voice. I did however find myself getting pulled out of the story when she would mix her notes instead of belting them. I did love Mark David Kaplan's (Tateh) and Max Quinlan's (Younger Brother) voices. Cory Goodrich played Mother who I also thought had a good voice although not as strong because sometimes the orchestra would drown her singing. Although she played a supporting part, I was most impressed with Summer Naomi Smart's voice who played Evelyn Nesbit. Her voice is rich and appealing and she could make her voice be playful when needed.
The Drury Lane production is set in an intimate theatre but has an impressive set design (see 1st photo) which even incorporates a working Ford Model T car that is essential in the story. Praise should also be given to the staging and choreography of the show. I love the opening when the different groups of people are being introduced. It's very dynamic. This Drury Lane production opened March 18 and will run until May 23, 2010. It's a great production not to be missed!
For information and tickets please click here.
Some photos I took that night:
The marquee from Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook IL
It has happened. A movie from Dreamworks Animation has finally captured my heart! To me, the studio's animated films have been a distant second to Pixar's ability to bring us grand movie-going experiences like Up, Wall-E, Toy Story, Finding Nemo and other masterpieces. Of course, How to Train Your Dragon is from Chris Sanders and Dean Deblois, who brought us the wonderful Lilo and Stitch from Disney. In fact, Toothless the dragon reminds me of Stitch. And not just physically. Even though he has no lines, he manages to convey a whole range of emotions as he bonds with gawky Viking teen Hiccup (Jay Baruchel).
CGI just keeps getting better. The work here is truly astounding, with many life-like scenes. (I only watched it in 2D so I can't even imagine it in 3D, especially the flying sequences.) But it is the story of Hiccup befriending one of the creatures that menace their seaside abode---the elusive Night Fury dragon---that is the film's shining achievement. The filmmakers make a subtle statement about how understanding, tolerance, a willingness to learn from a sworn enemy--- is the way to peace. And that war has ugly consequences. Case in point: Craig Ferguson's Gobber, the instructor at beast-killing school, has lost an arm and a leg.
And like any kids' movie, our lanky but brainy hero longs to make his father Stoick (the very manly Gerard Butler) proud by becoming one of them: a dragon slayer. AND like a typical teenager, he just wants to fit in with his fellow students (which includes SNL's Kristen Wiig). AND maybe get the girl, the fiercely competitive Astrid (America Ferrara). But all this is done so deftly that adults won't mind.
Messieurs Deblois and Sanders (with writer William Davies), y'all can tell a great story. Take a bow. Audiences, enjoy the ride.
Here's a great article from the NY Times by Patrick Healy about the economics of Broadway. I didn't realize that finding a theatre for a production could be this competitive. To read the article, please click here.
(photo from NYTimes.com)
We see the sign all the time: If you see something, say something. Thanks to an eagle-eyed T-shirt vendor on 45th st., a disaster was averted yesterday in Times Square. He saw smoke coming out of a parked SUV and told a police officer. The NYPD found a (thankfully) crude bomb inside the vehicle. The area was evacuated, shows cancelled or started late. I hope the perpetrators are caught. Thanks to the New Yorker who saw something and said something. (He refused to be identified.) And thanks to the ever efficient NYPD and the bomb squad. New York's Finest indeed.
(photo from Reuters)
The Tribeca Family Festival gets underway today at 10 AM. The street fair will go on until 6 PM. A screening of the family festival's feature film "Snowmen" will follow at 7 PM. The movie follows the saga of 10 year old Billy and his friends' quest to make the Guinness Book of World Records.
Along with food, music, face painting, sand sculpting, for the first time ever, families can walk on the official Red Carpet and pose for photos with wax figures from Madame Tussaud's. They can also catch performances from Wicked, Broadway Kids Care, Audrarox, Bubbledo Beatles, improv experts Broadway’s Next Hit Musical and the theater group Making Books Sing, as well as local bands, ballet groups, choirs,gymnastics teams, drum lines and dance troupes. Take Two Film Academy will let kids host their own talk show. Other popular attractions are the Kite Garden and the Bubble Garden.
The Film Festival ends tomorrow, 02 May.