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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fall/Winter 2015 Broadway Preview


Well friends, the 2014-2015 Tony season is behind us and while big winners like Fun Home. King & I, and Curious Incident are reaping the benefits, many shows have closed. Such is the circle of life on Broadway, although we can't be completely upset because many new exciting shows are opening! I am here to preview some of the shows that I am most excited about. Disclaimer: These are not all the shows opening this fall/winter, but just those that we are particularly excited to see.


HAMILTON
Theatre:
Richard Rodgers
Opening: August 8th
Why I'm Excited: This is perhaps the most anticipated Broadway production in years. I saw it front row at the Public. I am debating whether to see it again because it was just so perfect in that intimate setting, but if you didn't see it downtown and you want to see the 2016 TONY winner for Best Musical, get your tickets now!

SPRING AWAKENING
Theatre: Brooks Atkinson
Opening: September 27th
Why I'm Excited: I missed it the first time it was on Broadway but I did catch the national tour. Normally I would say that only 8 years later is too early for a revival, but this is a completely reimagined production by Deaf West that will be performed in American Sign Language as well as being spoken. This pieces will feature Oscar Winner Marlee Matlin as well as Broadway favorites Andy Mientus and Krysta Rodriguez. 

The Gin Game
Theatre: Golden
Opening: October 13th
Why I'm Excited: James Earl Jones & Cicely Tyson.....enough said! 

Dames at Sea
Theatre: Helen Hayes
Opening: October 22nd
Why I'm Excited: Every Broadway season needs an old school favorite and this is it! Plus, I love Mara Davi and haven't seen her on Broadway since A Chorus Line.

Sylvia
Theatre: Cort 
Opening: October 27th
Why I'm Excited: Annaleigh Ashford is attending obedience school to prepare to play the role of a dog in this production.....are you intrigued yet? If not, Matthew Broderick and Julie White also star.

On Your Feet
Theatre: Marquis
Opening: November 5th
Why I'm Excited: We love Gloria! Sure, this may suffer the same fate as most jukebox musicals and lack a strong book, but even so, try to convince me you don't love the Conga! 

Allegiance
Theatre: Longacre
Opening: November 8th
Why I'm Excited: George Takei stars in this new piece set in a Japanese Internment camp. This is new territory for a Broadway musical and also features Great White Way veteran Lea Salonga.

China Doll
Theatre: Schoenfeld 
Opening: November 19th
Why I'm Excited: What goes together better than Mamet and Pacino? Just a word of advice, leave children and home as well as anyone who cringes at the drop of an f-bomb.

The Color Purple
Theatre: Jacobs
Opening: December 10th
Why I'm Excited: The original Broadway production had some bright moments, but overall it was clunky and too long. Luckily this production is helmed by John Doyle, the king of stripping down grandiose shows and presenting exactly what the audience needs to see. Jennifer Hudson will certainly sell enough tickets to keep this production afloat, though I suspect that Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black) will be the breakout star of the season. Can we say Best Featured Actress in a Musical??

Fiddler on the Roof
Theatre: Broadway
Opening: December 17th
Why I'm Excited: The Theatre Queens will kill me for this but I've never seen a full production of Fiddler. I love me some Danny Burstein, and although I don't feel we need yet another revival of this Bock & Harnick classic, I have faith that the visionary Bart Sher will reimagine this.  

Noises Off
Theatre: American Airlines
Opening: January 14th 
Why I'm Excited: This is my all time favorite plays! If you've not seen it before, prepare to get an ab workout from laughter. In the world of farce...this play is king, but it's the theatre so let's cal it queen. Andrea Martin, Megan Hilty, and Jeremy Shamos star.  
















Sunday, June 7, 2015

2015 TONY Predictions

Best Musical Prediction: Fun Home

Best Play Prediction: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

Best Book of a Musical Prediction: Lisa Kron, Fun Home

Best Original Score Prediction: Jeanine Tesori & Lisa Kron, Fun Home

Best Revival of a Musical Prediction: The King and I

Best Revival of a Play Prediction: Skylight

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play Prediction: Alex Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play Prediction: Helen Mirren, The Audience

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Prediction: Michael Cerveris, Fun Home

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Prediction: Kristin Chenoweth, On the Twentieth Century

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play Prediction: Micah Stock, It's Only a Play

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play Prediction: Annaleigh Ashford, You Can't Take It with You

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Prediction: Andy Karl, On the Twentieth Century

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Prediction: Judy Kuhn, Fun Home

Best Direction of a Play Prediction: Marianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time 

Best Direction of a Musical Prediction: Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris

Best Choreography Prediction: Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris

Best Orchestrations Prediction: Chris Austin, Don Sebesky, Bill Elliott, An American in Paris

Best Scenic Design of a Play Prediction: Bunny Christie & Finn Ross, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

Best Scenic Design of a Musical Prediction: Michael Yeargan, The King and I

Best Costume Design of a Play Prediction: Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two

Best Costume Design of a Musical Prediction: Catherine Zuber, The King and I

Best Lighting Design of a Play Prediction: Paule Constable, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

Best Lighting Design of a Musical Prediction: Donald Holder, The King and I



Thursday, May 21, 2015

THE VISIT on Broadway


You are about to hear a tale of revenge, debauchery, and greed. That certainly describes one Kander and Ebb show, but not just the one you are thinking of. Yes, the long-running revival of Chicago is still razzle-dazzling audiences uptown at the Ambassador, but what I want to discuss is their final collaboration, this season’s The Visit. The Visit, starring the incomparable Chita Rivera, tells the story of Claire Zachanassian, a poor Gypsy turned whore who became one of the wealthiest women in the world. Though she has survived many husbands, she declares herself “unkillable”. When she returns to her hometown in an unspecified European country, she finds the village in shambles and the people hungry for her to help them. Throughout the piece, we learn that Claire was once in love with Anton Schell, with whom she conceived a child, but he married Mathilde as her father’s store offered him more of a future. After revealing that Anton’s lies caused her to flee from the town, Claire offers to give the town 10 billion dollars, but only if they will agree to kill Anton. At first, the townspeople grimace at the thought, but as they imagine the luxuries that they could have, dream of “yellow shoes,” and begin purchasing things on credit, their greed overtakes their compassion and they all agree to sacrifice Anton, merely for the sake of “justice.” This tale begs a question that we have all wrestled with before. When wrong is done to us, will forgiveness or revenge win out in the end? We may not know how we’d react in this situation, but we certainly know Claire’s opinion.

This piece has three standouts: Japhy Weideman’s lighting design, Kander & Ebb’s score, and Chita Rivera’s performance. Weideman’s design creates an ominous mood from the very beginning in cold shades of gray. As the performers sing of their memories, the lighting moves into sepia tones that suggest days gone by. I don’t know that I have ever seen a lighting concept that is quite so integral to the storytelling and carried out so effectively. John Kander & Fred Ebb’s final score is perhaps their most complex. The piece is nearly sung through, though Terrence McNally’s trim book holds it all together. This theme of waltzes, particularly the “You, You, You” motif, makes the piece reminiscent of Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. “Winter” and “Love and Love Alone” are standout performances for Chita Rivera’s Claire, while “Yellow Shoes” is a classic Kander & Ebb number if there ever was one, with a toe-tapping rhythm and a lyric that bites.


The show itself is exquisite, but what made this evening a once in a lifetime experience was the postshow discussion by John Kander and Lin Manuel Miranda. These two men represent bookends of a musical theatre composer’s career: the former is experiencing likely his final show on Broadway while the later is preparing to open just his second. As an aspiring musical theatre writer myself, listening to them discuss the writing process brought tears to my eyes at several moments. Kander began by discussing the inspiration for The Visit, which was to take the operatic story of The Merry Widow and “turn it on its ear.” From this idea came the operetta structure and the waltz themes. Miranda commented that, much like Cabaret, this piece gives you beautiful melodies while Ebb’s lyrics “step on your throat”. He then compared the “Yellow Shoes,” the most haunting number in the show to “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” on steroids. A particular highlight was when Miranda shared his favorite saying of Kander’s. “My conscience is clear” is what he says when he has finished writing for the day. Both men also sang the praises of star Chita Rivera, who also stepped onto the stage with director John Doyle for a brief moment. Miranda told a story from last week’s Drama League Awards, where Chita hugged him on her way to accept her award for best performance and whispered “Viva Puerto Rico!" Kander’s final remarks were directed toward Rivera, stating that this was a very different role for her, who we all know best as the dancing dynamo from West Side Story and Chicago. “She’s famous for movement, but watching her stand still is breathtaking.” At 82, Chita is more dazzling than ever, Claire’s mere presence still has the ability to put this downtrodden town in a tizzy, and that is the very heart of this show. In the best Broadway season I have seen in my lifetime, Chita Rivera is still the brightest of stars.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Who Killed It and Who Fell Off the Combo: The Free Dance

Killed It!: These teams brought the beauty, the excitement, the intrigue
  • Papadakis and Cizeron for captivating my attention and leaving me hypnotized 
  • Ilinykh as the heavyweight diva of contemporary ice dancing 
  • Madison Chock chewing the scenery
  • Weaver & Poje leaving it all on the ice 
  • The smoothness of the Shibs' skating
  • I'm living for Paul & Islam's free skate, that contemporary feel was on point
  • Monko & Khaliavin's controlled upside down lift 
  • The long, lithe bodies of Stepanove and Bukin, plus the sitting twizzles, oh the abdominal control! 
  • The exuberance of Guignard and Fabbri was entertaining at least
  • The chemistry of Hubbell and Donohue, plus their rotational lift 
  • The quiet fabulousness of Marie-France 
  • The ease with which Andria Diaz moves, it's all so effortless
  • The joy on Yinyu Liu's face 

Fell Off The Combo: These teams missed the mark
  • Ilinykh's twizzle mishap
  • Marina's reign at the top
  • The Russian obsession with Sarabande 
  • Self-indulgent entrances of any kind
  • Enough bent legs and lazy feet to last a lifetime
  • Hot mess interwoven twizzle patterns 
  • Mozart Rock Opera....enough said
  • An a la seconde twizzle at 45 degrees......it's 90 or bust! 
  • That moment when the Ukranian team destroyed Bach
  • Carolina Moscheni's dance team smile during a dark piece

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Who Killed It and Who Fell Off the Combo: The Short Dance

Killed It!: These teams brought the beauty, the excitement, the intrigue
  • Every blessed thing about Guillaume Cizeron
  • If you take off the skates, Cizeron is the only natural dancer in the entire event
  • The choreographic specificity of the entire group 5
  • Andrew Poje's entire presentation 
  • The fire and precision of the Shibutanis
  • Madison Chock's perfect bun
  • The dramatic build up to group 6
  • Paul & Islam's rotational lift 
  • Paul Poirier's amazing butt
  • Hubbell & Donohue's smoothness 
  • Stepanova & Bukin's sit spin twizzled.....that abdominal control! 
  • Monko & Khaliavin's matching free leg in the twizzle sequence
  • The grace, poise, and carriage of Marie-France 
  • The Hurtado and Diaz counterbalance 
  • Federica Testa's strapless number 
  • Barbara Fusar-Poli 
  • Elena Ilinykh's overall diva qualities
  • The energy and spunk of Wang and Liu 
  • Juri Karakin's hairography 


Fell Off The Combo: These teams missed the mark
  • Gabriella Papadakis' detached-looking bun 
  • Kaitlyn Weaver's saggy bun
  • Marina's political clout
  • Anna Cappellini's carriage-simultaneously stiff and wild 
  • So many women with sloppy, uneven buns 
  • Guignard & Fabri falling on the choreographic spinning movement 
  • Gilles & Poirier's overly dramatic entrances and exits
  • Piper Gilles' drag queen eye makeup 
  • Donohue's damn twizzle
  • Elena Ilinykh paired with Ruslan Zhiganshin who looks like little brother
  • Kirill Minov's hair.....honey please  
  • Any low or intermediate team doing interweaving twizzle patterns 
  • Viktoria Kavaliova's "Whatever Lola Wants" gloves
  • Smart & Buckland's twizzles
  • The Finnish team's twizzles 
  • Natalia Kaliszek's hideous dress/croptop getup 
  • Bent free legs (multiple offenders) 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Rasheeda Speaking

Speaking, starring Tonya Pinkins and Dianne Wiest, marks the directing debut of acclaimed actress Cynthia Nixon. Written by Joel Drake Johnson, this workplace drama brings to light the racial tensions that are still so present in America today. Ileen (Wiest) is the eager-to-please manager of Dr. Williams' (Goldstein) office, while Jaclyn (Pinkins) seems to always rub everyone the wrong way. The stark contrast between these two women is amplified by the staging--two desks splitting the stage--and the obvious difference of one woman being black while the other is white.

The tension between Jaclyn (Pinkins) and the white employees in the office is palpable immediately as Ileen and Dr. Williams discuss how to get Jaclyn fired without creating an HR nightmare. This motif of Jaclyn walking into a room stealthily as she's being gossiped about is repeated several times throughout the play. At the beginning, Jaclyn and Ileen are friendly, with Ileen saying "you are full of drama, I missed your stories, your yammerings." Then things start to unravel as Jaclyn starts showing up late, mixes up details when she tells stories, and grows increasingly negative. This wears on Ilene until she reaches a point of such hysteria that she brings a gun to work and quits.

As the audience, we get what Johnson is trying to do here. He wants to show us that as much as we try to push them under the carpet. Unfortunately, in making Jaclyn, or as she later refers to herself, the stereotypical Rasheeda, he undermines his point. We have to assume that Johnson wants us to pull for Jacylyn since he establishes her as an underdog early on, but she is just such a horribly unlikable character. The pacing is also quite slow, making it difficult to feel engaged in the piece. The subject is certainly an interesting one, but a play may not be the best vehicle. The drama of the piece never really ramps up until the final twenty minutes, with the highlight being Dianne Wiest's exquisite portrayal of the physical effects of emotional stress on Ileen. Cynthia Nixon does a fine job in her directorial debut, but I have to wonder what she could have done with a more interesting script?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU on Broadway!

It Shoulda Been You, one of the most anticipated new musicals of the Broadway season marks the directing debut of TONY and EMMY winner David Hyde Pierce. This stellar cast includes Tyne Daly, Harriet Harris, Sierra Boggess, Lisa Howard, Chip Zien, Montego Glover, and David Burtka to name a few. This new musical comedy about families from different backgrounds begins previews on March 17th and opens at the Brooks Atkinson on April 14th. In the meantime, check out this great youtube preview featuring the cast http://bit.ly/1CxzKOP.

We are also offering a great new chance to win tickets between now and the opening. You'll get the chance to gain multiple entries to the contest by performing different tasks on social media and by sharing your own wedding stories with us. Each week one lucky individual will receive a pair of tickets to Broadway previews. Additionally, one lucky winner will receive an original song written for them by show composers Hargrove and Anselmi based on the story they submitted. What could be better than that? The link to the contest page can be found here: http://bit.ly/1BcRzWp

Start reminiscing about your own crazy wedding stories and we will see you on social media!


Facebook: /shouldabeenyou
Twitter & Instagram: @shouldabeenyou