January 31, 2012

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Thank you Theatre Gods!

It's just been announced by Cameron Mackintosh that Samantha Barks will be playing the role of Eponine in the upcoming film of Les Miserables. Ms. Barks played the same role at the West End and at the 25th Anniversary Concert (see above). I loved her performance! Taylor Swift (who we feel was totally wrong for the role) was previously announced as Eponine. Maybe the Theatre Gods heard the uproar of theatre geeks all over the world when Ms. Swift was announced. It's nice to see someone with real theatre chops and amazing voice get the role over someone with a recognized name. Read all about the exciting announcement here.
January 30, 2012

Kermit and Miss Piggy Take on Fox "News"

January 27, 2012

Broadway Actor In A TV Commercial: Mandy Gonzalez

Mandy Gonzalez, lately seen on Broadway as Nina in In The Heights and Elphaba in Wicked, appears in this IKEA Commercial.
January 26, 2012

Time Out's All Time Broadway Divas

Time Out NY or TONY comes out with Broadway's 25 All Time Divas. Check out the list if your favorite diva made it!
(photo from TimeOut NY)
January 25, 2012

The Ghost Light Sessions

The musical Ghost which has been playing in London held a sneak peek presentation at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater last Thursday Jan 19. As I arrived that evening, there were huge trucks outside of the theater, which I would later learn to be the production moving in to their new digs. Staff of the event wore white hard hats to coincide maybe to the moving in theme or maybe to the first scene of the production when the characters demolish their way to they new loft apartment.

I picked up my "press" pass and enjoyed some frozen "Ghost" vodka and some sliders before taking my seat. The stage looked like it was moving in day: moving crates strewn about and the back brick wall was exposed behind them. There were microphones in the form of the traditional "ghost light" which is apparently the light kept onstage constantly to ward away the ghosts of productions past. From the lack of a true set, I concluded that this was to be more of a "concert" rather than a glimpse of the actual production, reminiscent of the Les Mis anniversary concerts.

The evening was hosted by one of the producers who explained the history of the production and how well received it has been in London. The two stars Richard Fleeshman (Sam Wheat) and Cassie Levy (Molly) took the stage to sing "Here Right Now". There was something off with their mikes as the sound quality was a little off, which persisted throughout the whole concert. I noticed that the host actually had a better mike. Maybe the sound people reduced the sensitvity of the mike of the singers (?). Though I was expecting to be starstruck by the cast, I actually enjoyed hearing more from the people behind the musical. Bruce Joel Rubin who did the screenplay of the movie and also did the book and lyrics of the musical expressed how he was at first strongly opposed to the musical and his journey to be completely involved in it, including how he got the idea for "Ditto" (thankfully, I had just recently seen Ghost again by chance about 3 weeks prior when it played on the AMC channel at work so I knew about the Ditto reference).

Cassie Levy then sang "With You" and in the words of Seth Rudetsky she was was "amahzing". The songwriters later explained that they started with the lyric "Without You" to embody Molly's loss but it's banality led them to change it to "With You". Unfortunately, "Without You" from Rent played in my head for the rest of the night. They then introduced Dave Stewart (the other half of Eurythmics) by a short video clip of the songs he has written mostly for Eurythmics but also for other artists (he wrote "Underneath It All" by No Doubt). Then to introduce the other songwriter Glen Ballard, they also played a video clip of his compositions which started with the opening bars of Thank U from Alanis Morissette which made my hairs stand on end (disclosure: I am a HUGE Alanis fan). He is very prolific and successful songwriter, writing for Dave Matthews Band, Michael Jackson ("Man in the Mirror"), Wilson Phillips, Katy Perry, Idina Menzel, and yes, Lea Salonga).

I had to leave before the final number but was pleased to receive a CD of the musical! I listened to it this weekend while driving though the snow. Very rock pop, very accessible, with a few Disney-esque musical numbers. In other words, I think it will be a hit! I saw a clip of it on Youtube and the set looks very high tech. But what will Ben Brantley think....

Anyway, here's that YouTube video. The actual event was apprently broadcast on Facebook last night so you may be able to check it out there:

Ringtone Fiasco

Lately, it's been a constant battle with technology when ringtones interrupt a performance. Check out how this violinist handles the situation when a Nokia ringtone goes off during the concert. It occurs in 0:39 sec. I bet that patron learned his lesson after this. So I end here quoting Elder McKinley......TURN IT OFF !!!
January 24, 2012


The creators of The Book of Mormon discuss the preview process on Theater Talk.

You're The Top

Uber talented Sutton Foster and dreamy Colin Donnel perform You're The Top from Anything Goes at the Rosie Show (Mon. Jan 23).
January 23, 2012

The Madness for Darren Criss

Darren Criss gave his farewell performance in How To Succeed on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012. Above is the video of the crazy stagedoor after the performance. He sends out a very appreciative message to the fans waiting for him after the show. Check it out.

Carolina in my Mind

January 22, 2012

Little Kristin and Big Blue

Kristen Chenoweth will sing the national anthem at the 2012 Giants vs. 49ers NFC Championship Game today.  Kick off is at 630 PM EST on Fox.
January 21, 2012

Interviews with Megan Hilty and Katherine McPhee

January 20, 2012

Lady Grantham Speaks...

Egyptian Queen

It's been reported first by the Sydney Morning Herald that last week acclaimed British theatre director, Declan Donnellan spearheaded a 2 day (Th & Fri) workshop of Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra at the Sydney Theatre Company. This scoop has also been picked up by The Australian and the UK's The Guardian. In this workshop, Richard Roxburgh played Anthony opposite Cate Blanchett's Cleopatra! What a casting feat!

According to SMH, the play is being considered for STC's 2013 Season. If the production pushes through, this would be Ms. Blanchett's swansong as she and husband Andrew Upton are handing over the reins as Artistic Directors of The Sydney Theatre Company at the end of 2013.

Incidentally, Ms. Blanchett recently won the Sydney Theatre Award for Best Actress in Leading Role of a Mainstage Production for her work in Gross Und Klein last Monday Jan. 16, 2012.

(photo from STC)
January 19, 2012

Firth and Ferguson

Watch out for the awkward Englishman and Scotsman hug :)

Quips from the Countess

Lady Grantham, the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey is probably the most humorous character in the series. Played with much sass by Dame Maggie Smith, she has a plethora of zingers. Zap2it has compiled the Dowager's qoutes from every episode from the first 2 seasons (don't worry, no spolier alert here because they only included those episode that were already shown. To read more about her quips or to see if you've missded some, please click here.
January 18, 2012

Interviews with Anjelica Huston and Debra Messing

January 16, 2012

Online Smash

NBC smartly acknowledges the importance of word of mouth that they are actually offering the first episode of SMASH online. For those theatre geeks who can't wait for Feb. 6, you can watch it online starting today Jan. 16, 2012 on itunes and amazon.com for free!

For those not aware of it, SMASH is a show within a show and is about a group of individuals attempting to produce a Broadway musical based on Marilyn Monroe. Some of the music in the show are specially composed by the Scott Witman and Marc Shaiman (Hairspray) and script is written by Theresa Rebeck (Seminar).

(photo from IMDB.com)

The Man who Won't Let you Forget He's Harry Potter

Daniel Radcliffe's SNL skit as the Chosen One reliving his glory days.

January 15, 2012

To Catch a Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is an excellent adaptation of John Le Carre's book about the Cold War. Gary Oldman gives a brilliantly restrained performance as George Smiley, a British Intelligence officer.  He is forced into retirement when his boss, Control (John Hurt) quits after a botched operation involving Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong)  in Hungary.  He is called back to service to catch a suspected Russian mole, based on information provided by disgraced agent Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy).   The traitor could be anyone of these senior agents: Roy Bland (Ciaran Hinds), Bill Haydon (Colin Firth), Toby Esterhase (David Dencik), Percy Alleline (Toby Jones).  Sherlock himself, Benedict Cumberbatch, is Peter Guillam, personally chosen by Smiley to assist him in this cat-and-mouse game.  This stellar ensemble alone makes Swedish director Tomas Alfredson's complex and intellectually stimulating film a must-see.

But it is Mr. Oldman's tour de force yet subdued performance as Smiley that makes the film compelling.  He captures every subtlety of a seasoned espionage veteran, who also happens to be personally worn down by his  life. He is a man of few words, carefully observing and putting things together in his mind.

The film's palette is muted, gray; the pace of the film slow; the tones hushed.  It all fits in with the cloak and dagger theme, and the methodical way Smiley is investigating.  One comedy site described the movie as "old men talking."  True: there are no explosions or car chases, and lots of document-reading, but when all the intricate puzzle pieces fall into place, the payoff is immensely gratifying.
(photo from Imp Awards)
January 14, 2012

All About Marilyn

My Week with Marilyn is based on Colin Clark's The Prince, The Showgirl, and Me: Six Months on the Set with Marilyn and Olivier.  As a twenty-something production assistant, Mr. Clark (played by Eddie Redmayne) claims to have had a special connection with the iconic movie star during filming. Watching this movie was a peculiar experience because I found the major characters to be unsympathetic. The smitten Clark ditches wardrobe girl Lucy (Emma Watson) for the famous star.  Although Michelle Williams is appropriately little-girl-lost as Marilyn, and I wanted to like Ms. Monroe, I couldn't.  We all know about her drug habit, perpetual tardiness or absences, forgetting lines, troubled childhood.  Despite the unprofessional behavior, she was still being doted on by her entourage that included Paula Strasberg (Zoe Wanamaker), Arthur Jacobs (Toby Jones), and Milton Greene (Dominic Cooper). Why wouldn't they?  They get paid to do so.  But even Arthur Miller (an unrecognizable Dougray Scott), Marilyn's new husband at the time, had to bail. Maybe she was just a true artist, disturbed and destined to be tragic.

Kenneth Branagh is perfectly cast as a peeved and frustrated Lawrence Olivier.  Why would an actor of his caliber put up with the petulant, insecure, and unreliable Ms. Monroe? He achingly sums it all up in a truthful piece of dialogue that every working actor could probably relate to at some point in their career. Only Julia Ormond as a perceptive and pragmatic Vivien Leigh, and Dame Judi Dench as the kind Lady Sybil Thorndike come off as likable.
(photo from Imp Awards)
January 13, 2012

DVR Alert: Anna Deveare Smith's Let Me Down Easy

Watch Let Me Down Easy on PBS. See more from Great Performances.

Anna Deveare Smith's one woman show, Let Me Down Easy which premiered at Second Stage in NYC will be broadcast on PBS Great Performances tonight, Jan. 13 at 9 pm.

According to press notes:
" Having been credited with creating a new form of theater, to create Let Me Down Easy Smith interviewed an eclectic group of people (300 on three continents) and performs several in an evening that is funny, moving and engaging.

The title resonates on several levels reverberating with meanings of lost love, the faith that sustains people in times of difficulty, and ultimately, the end of life."

To check local listings, please click here.

The Descendants

The Descendants is based on Kaui Hart Hemmings' book about a (mostly absent) father who is forced to re-connect with his two daughters after his adventure-seeking wife is injured in a boating accident in Hawaii. George Clooney plays Matt King, a wealthy but down to earth land owner and practicing lawyer . He is descended from Hawaiian royalty, and in between hospital visits, he is trying to sell family land to make money for his lazy cousins who have squandered their inheritances. (Beau Bridges plays one of the cousins.)

As if Matt doesn't have enough on his plate, he finds out that his wife had been having a long-time affair. He sets out to find her lover, aided in part by his rebellious daughter Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) and her friend Sid (Nick Krause). To make matters worse, his father-in-law
(played by Robert Forster), thinks his daughter can do no wrong while giving Matt no credit whatsoever. You feel for him whenever he gets a dressing-down from his cheating wife's father.

Mr. Clooney's understated performance anchors the film, and he might even get an Oscar nod. He is the perfect mix of humor (Hawaiian shirts. That goofy run.) and pathos. One hospital scene in particular made me break down. His daughters are excellent as well: the lovable but troubled Scottie (Amara Miller), and headstrong Alexandra. You take that emotional journey with this father and his kids. The final scene was so moving in its simplicity but very cathartic.

Written and directed by Alexander Payne (along with screenwriters Nat Faxon and Jim Rash), the story is character-driven, and all the characters are human and relatable. I hope you'll enjoy the Hawaiian soundtrack as much as I did. This is one of the best family dramas I've seen in a long time.

(photo from Imp Awards)
January 11, 2012

Sh*t Liza Minelli Says

Christine Pedi, currently in NEWSical Off-Broadway, does this spot on and hilarious take on Liza Minelli. Have a look!
January 10, 2012

Young Adult

Young Adult stars Charlize Theron as Mavis Gary, ghostwriter of young adult books. A high school prom queen, she is now divorced, eats too much junk food, and drinks heavily. She somehow gets it into her head that she can reclaim her glory days by reuniting with ex-boyfriend Buddy Slade, (Patrick Wilson). The downside? He is happily married to another classmate, and they just had their first child.

At a local bar, Mavis runs into an old classmate, Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt), who is permanently disabled after being bullied during their high school days. They form a strange friendship, with Matt discouraging her from her insane plans. I've only known Mr. Oswalt for his comedy but here he gives a tremendous performance.

Written by Diablo Cody and directed by Jason Reitman, this is not the film for you if you're looking for tales of redemption and self-evolution. There is nothing likable about Mavis. She probably has some undiagnosed psychiatric disorder, aside from her alcoholism. Will the girl-gone-bad turn good? Don't hold your breath.

(photo from Imp Awards)
January 9, 2012

DVR Alert: Idina Menzel Live

PBS will broadcast Idina Menzel Live: Barefoot at the Symphony tonight at 10 ET /9 CT. The live concert was filmed in Toronto in Nov. 2011 and features EGOT winner Marvin Hamlisch and Taye Diggs. Check local listings here for broadcast schedule.

(photo from TimeOut)

Hugh Jackman returns to Broadway in 2013 as Houdini

It looks like Hugh Jackman really loves being on stage! He has just finished his one-man show on January 1, which broke Broadway Cares records by raising $1.8 million and Shubert Organization records as well by earning more than $2 million in its last week. Wow. Anyway, as early as now, he's already slated to star in the Stephen Schwartz-Aaron Sorkin musical Houdini , which will be directed by Jack O'Brien. It is set to premiere during the 2013/2014 season.

Dragon Tattoo Re-inked

David Fincher's adaptation of Stieg Larsson's novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is sleeker, more elegant compared to the Swedish original. The film has a lot of atmosphere and polish, but it remains brutal and grisly. Its cinematography accentuates the grim Scandinavian winter, the evil family history of misogyny, Nazism/fascism.

Rooney Mara as the titular punk hacker is peculiar and spellbinding. But unlike Noomi Rapace's twitchy and simmering Lisbeth, Ms. Mara's could be distant at times, perhaps more haunted. It is a star-making performance. Daniel Craig is Mikael Blomkvist, the journalist who hires the computer genius as his assistant in his search for Henrik Vanger's (Christopher Plummer) niece.

There were some plot changes, and there is a lot of exposition, complete with flashbacks, from the get-go. It made for a faster thrill ride, but somehow the ending left me wanting. I think the old adage, "the original is always the best" holds true.

(photo from Imp Awards)
January 8, 2012

Ghost the Musical presents The Ghost Light Sessions

After making waves in the West End, Ghost the Musical is making its Broadway debut at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, with previews beginning on March 15 and opening night on April 23. The Ghost Light Sessions Live, a special sneak peek presentation of the musical, is being held on January 19, but fans of the musical's Facebook page will be able to get an exclusive look at this presentation as well as hear more about the production from the cast and crew on January 24. Screenings for that day will take place at 9 a.m., 4:30 p.m., and 9 p.m. Eastern time.

Ghost the Musical is directed by Matthew Warchus and stars Richard Fleeshman and Caissie Levy, who will reprise their roles as Sam and Molly.

Downton Abbey Day

Watch Downton Abbey 2: The Critics Can't Stop Talking on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

January 7, 2012

Downton Abbey: Bridging Season 1 to 2

Watch Downton Abbey: Bridging Season 1 to 2 on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

Tomorrow night I will be glued to my telly (yes I said telly!) since Downton Abbey Season 2 premieres on Masterpiece Theatre. In fact, as I write this, I am doing a marathon of Season 1 in anticipation for Season 2. Season 1 ends with the out break of The Great War and Season 2 starts two years into the war. Times have changed and the Crawley household has been affected. Watch the video above to see how they bridged the two seasons.

To read StageNotes' post about Season 1, click here.

The Host

January 3, 2012

Meet the New Finch

Darren Criss takes over tonight as J. Pierrepont Finch in How To Succeed. The NY Times did a profile interview with him as he prepares for his Broadway debut. Read about it here.
(photo from DarrenCriss.com)
January 2, 2012

Funny and Classy

Daniel Radcliffe's last show in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying was yesterday, Jan 1, 2012. Here is his Final Curtain speech that is indeed funny and classy. Taking over his role is Darren Criss (Glee) starting tomorrow, Jan. 3.
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