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Sunday, September 21, 2014

LOVE LETTERS on Broadway

Love Letters by A.R. Gurney premiered on Broadway in 1989 and the current revival, directed by Gregory Mosher, allows an entirely new generation to be exposed to this intimate work. This play about the ever-changing relationship between two friends over the course of fifty years has a sense of nostalgia without feeling dated. 

The stage is bare, aside from a table, two chairs, and a lighting fixture or two. The actors read their letters aloud side-by-side, yet they never interact. It is as if an invisible brick wall separates the two, just as states or countries often did. Though it is performed in one act, the play can be divided into four distinct phases in the characters lives: grade school, prep school, college, and adulthood. Since Ms. Farrow and Mr. Dennehy are actors of a certain age, it is difficult to sense a difference between their grade school selves and their prep school selves. Ms. Farrow's Melissa does have a youthful flippancy about her that comes across in her letters as she verbally signs her name with a "Valley Girl" flair. One hopes that during the run, she will find different colors and inflections to differentiate her very young self from her less young self. Ditto for Mr. Dennehy's Andy. 

When the characters reach their college years, that is when the magic starts to happen. The characters come alive as if reincarnated from their letter-bound state. Andy becomes more focused on his future; meanwhile, Melissa flirts with an artistic lifestyle and remains ever the free spirit. We can feel the magnetism between them, but distance and other obstacles keep getting in the way. As an audience, we want them to stop writing so many damn letters and become a real couple already, but time has other plans. 

Eventually Andy meets a lover in Japan and out of jealousy, Melissa quickly marries. When each couple eventually separates, we hope that Melissa and Andy will finally realize how they feel about one another, but it is not to be. Andy marries a much classier woman and Melissa immerses herself first in her art, and then in her drinking. Late in life, Andy and Melissa finally have an affair, but being a Senator, he can never leave his wife. This ultimate realization that she will never have Andy sends Melissa into a tailspin and he struggles to pick up the pieces. 

As an audience member, this is a difficult piece to wrestle with. Should we feel happy for Andy and Melissa and celebrate their 50 years of friendship? After all, it is rare for any relationship to last that long. Or, do we mourn the marriage that was never to be? Their love seemed so palpable in the letters. It was so real on paper that in the flesh it could never measure up. Since seeing the play last week, I've had the nagging feeling that this seemingly antiquated letter relationship is not so different from the "relationships" we have over email and text. You will have to judge for yourself. 

See Mia Farrow & Brian Dennehy in Love Letters at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre through October 10th. Carol Burnett replaces Ms. Farrow through November 8th. Alan Alda & Candice Bergen take over until December 5th. Stacy Keach & Diana Rigg helm the production through January 9th and finally, Martin Sheen & Anjelica Huston finish the run on February 15th. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Exclusive Offer Code for DISGRACED on Broadway

DISGRACED begins Broadway previews on September 27 and opens on October 23 and we are offering an exclusive discount code!

The discount code is DIMAIL811 and can be utilized through or at the Lyceum Theatre box office.  The offer gives users access to discounts up to 36% off, with tickets ranging from $48 - $87.  The discount is valid through 11/9/14 and some blackout dates may apply.

Enjoy a sneak preview from our cast!

The winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Price, DISGRACED is an explosive tale of the stories we tell our friends, the secrets we tell our lovers, and the lies we tell ourselves to find our place in the American Dream.

Following sold-out engagements in Chicago, London and New York, this “rollicking play that bristles with wit and intelligence” (The New York Times) makes its Broadway premiere this September.

Starring Josh Radnor (“How I Met Your Mother”), Gretchen Mol (“Boardwalk Empire”), Karen Pittman (Domesticated), and Hari Dhillon (star of the acclaimed London’s Bush Theatre production), and written by Ayad Akhtar, one of the most astonishing new voices in American theatre, this proactive tale of big city aspiration and cultural assimilation dares to face the truth hiding just below the deception.

Visit the show’s website for more information:

Connect with DISGRACED on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Google+ at @DisgracedBway.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

PHANTOM: The Art of the Mask

Submissions to be accepted starting July 28; 26 winners selected the First Week in September; 5 Grand Prize winners Announced in early October

PHANTOM Art Gallery and Pop-Up Shop to open at
The Paramount Hotel in October

For full details, please see our Facebook page and click on "THE ART OF THE MASK CONTEST"

Winning masks to be auctioned to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS

Producers Cameron Mackintosh and The Really Useful Group announced today an extensive multi-tiered art contest in connection with the longest-running show in Broadway history, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, directed by Harold Prince. 

PHANTOM: THE ART OF THE MASK invites the musical’s “Phans” and all artists across the country to submit original artwork on a template of the legendary Phantom’s mask.  Designed by the late Tony Award-winning designer Maria Björnson, the mask has become one of the most iconic images in Broadway history.  The contest will culminate in an exhibit at the PHANTOM Art Gallery and Pop-Up Shop, which will open on the ground floor of The Paramount Hotel (235 West 46th Street), just one block from the musical’s stage door at The Majestic Theatre.

The first phase of the contest will feature artists registering on the PHANTOM Facebook page ( and submitting a two-dimensional design on the template of the mask provided by the production.  Artists are encouraged to design whatever inspires them and aren’t limited to designs based on the show itself.  26 winners (in honor of the New York production’s record-breaking 26 Years) will then each have the chance to recreate their designs on a three-dimensional replica mask that will be sent out to them by the production. 

Once submitted, all 26 masks will be displayed at the special PHANTOM Art Gallery and Pop-Up Shop at the Paramount Hotel at the end of October.  Of the initial 26 winners, five will be selected as Grand Prize winners by members of the cast and creative team in early October. 

The initial 26 winners will be awarded a souvenir brochure of the musical and a winner’s certificate. In addition to the brochure and certificate, the five Grand Prize winners will also receive a voucher for a pair of tickets to the show and a photo of their mask with cast members.

Representing the production’s ongoing commitment to the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, all 26 masks will be auctioned off to benefit the non-profit fundraising organization.  Since the musical’s opening, the New York Company of PHANTOM has proudly raised $5.5 million for BCEFA.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

My Twenty-Two Year Journey with THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

My journey with The Phantom of the Opera began in 1992 at the tender age of four. My godmother took me to see the first National Tour at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. I was absolutely mesmerized. I have since seen the show on six or seven other occasions but I will always remember my first time, which ironically, was one of the show's advertising campaigns in recent years. The details from that first experience are fuzzy, but I very vividly remember the Phantom's lair, the Masquerade, and of course, the famous chandelier. Not yet five years old, I already knew what a "high C" and a "high E-flat" were from running around my house singing the title track at the top of my lungs. I thought I was part of the show and I experienced the drama along with Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford every time I listened to the cast recording on cassette tape.

Fast forward two decades and I still love The Phantom of the Opera, but for different reasons. Becoming a singer myself, I appreciate the glorious music that Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber has written for Christine and The Phantom get to sing. I'm not as enamored with the chandelier and the boat as I once was, but those first chords of the overture still give me goosebumps every time. I was lucky enough to attend the 25th anniversary concert a year ago and what an incredible experience that was. The festivities and the special performances that followed the show were fantastic, of course, but there was one element of the show that made the evening special. Her name was Sierra Boggess.

This brings me to the special performance I was able to attend a few weeks ago for a blogger event. I was more excited to see this show than I had been for any other repeat visit, and I was not disappointed. Sierra Boggess and Norm Lewis in the main roles are the most excitement this show has seen in years. I don't use the term 'reinvent' lightly, but that is exactly what they did with these roles that are over twenty-five years old. They are vocally brilliant, which was not unexpected, but what makes their performances so profound is their chemistry and their acting choices. I think their previous onstage relationship as father and daughter (in The Little Mermaid) adds an interesting element to their Phantom relationship by making it seem even more forbidden. The highlight of Sierra's performance is her Act II solo Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again. The vocal nuance that she applies to the scores give such depth to the character and we experience Christine's emotional highs and lows alongside her. Super fans will also be excited to hear the Wandering Child trio from London has been added to the end of this scene. Norm's booming baritone adds a new flair to the previously tenor-performed songs Music of the Night and the title track. However, where he really shines is in the final scene Down Once More/Track Down This Murderer. He finds some small notes of humor in this character that is often played only as brooding and grotesque. He actually resembles a child throwing a tantrum as he forces Christine to choose between Raoul's life and her own freedom, which adds all the more pain and anguish to his character.

Hal Prince's staging of this beloved musical is timeless, yet if I squinted a little bit, I almost felt as if I were watching a new production because the performances are so fresh. Whether you're a casual fan or you've grown up with The Phantom in your soul like I did, it is worth revisiting. It is an absolute joy and a pleasure to revisit the staging and hear Sir Webber's glorious romantic melodies with two exquisite talents at the helm. In fact, take your own children and maybe, just maybe, the musical theatre will take hold of them and refuse to let them go as it did with me over twenty years ago.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Your Last Chance to see THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN on Broadway!

As you may or may not know, The Cripple of Inishmaan, featuring Daniel Radcliffe and a hilarious cast of British and Irish actors is nearing the end of its Broadway run. However, you still have time to see the show. We do NOT suggest missing this production. Sunday July 20th is your last chance to see the show.

We are also giving away copies of two of Martin McDonagh's other plays, The Beauty Queen of Leenane and The Lonesome West.

To enter our contest, answer the following trivia question in the "comments" section below along with your email address by Wednesday July 16th.

Martin McDonagh is arguably most famous for his play The Pillowman. Which New York City veteran stage actor starred in the role of Katurian in the play's Broadway debut?

Good luck and come back soon for future contests! 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

2014 TONY Awards Predictions

I will preface this post by saying that these picks do not represent my personal feelings on who SHOULD win, but rather my predictions for who I believe will actually win the Antoinette Perry on Sunday night. I will be live tweeting the Red Carpet & the Awards on Sunday so follow along @barbiebackstage!

Best Play (Prediction: All The Way)
Act One
Author:  James Lapine
 All The Way
Author:  Robert Schenkkan
 Casa Valentina
Author:  Harvey Fierstein
Mothers and Sons
Author:  Terrence McNally
Outside Mullingar
Author:  John Patrick Shanley

Best Musical (Prediction: A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder)
After Midnight
Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder

Best Revival of a Play (Prediction: Twelfth Night)
 The Cripple of Inishmaan
The Glass Menagerie
A Raisin in the Sun
Twelfth Night

Best Revival of a Musical (Prediction: Hedwig and the Angry Inch)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Les Misérables

Best Book of a Musical (Prediction: Robert L. Freedman, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder)
Chad Beguelin
Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
Douglas McGrath
Bullets Over Broadway
Woody Allen
A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
Robert L. Freedman
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre (Prediction: Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County)
Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin
The Bridges of Madison County
Music & Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown
A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
Music: Steven Lutvak
Lyrics: Robert L. Freedman & Steven Lutvak
Music: Tom Kitt
Lyrics: Brian Yorkey

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play (Prediction: Bryan Cranston, All The Way)
Samuel Barnett, Twelfth Night
Bryan Cranston, All The Way
Chris O'Dowd, Of Mice and Men
Mark Rylance, Richard III
Tony Shalhoub, Act One

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play (Prediction: Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill)
Tyne Daly, Mothers and Sons
LaTanya Richardson Jackson, A Raisin in the Sun
Cherry Jones, The Glass Menagerie
Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill
Estelle Parsons, The Velocity of Autumn

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Prediction: Jefferson Mays, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Ramin Karimloo, Les Misérables
Andy Karl, Rocky
Jefferson Mays, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
Bryce Pinkham, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Prediction: Jessie Mueller, Beautiful)
Mary Bridget Davies, A Night with Janis Joplin
Sutton Foster, Violet
Idina Menzel, If/Then
Jessie Mueller, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
Kelli O'Hara, The Bridges of Madison County

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play (Prediction: Mark Rylance, Twelfth Night)
Reed Birney, Casa Valentina
Paul Chahidi, Twelfth Night
Stephen Fry, Twelfth Night
Mark Rylance, Twelfth Night
Brian J. Smith, The Glass Menagerie

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Prediction: Celia Keenan-Bolger, A Raisin in the Sun
Sarah Greene, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Celia Keenan-Bolger, The Glass Menagerie
Sophie Okonedo, A Raisin in the Sun
Anika Noni Rose, A Raisin in the Sun
Mare Winningham, Casa Valentina

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical (Prediction: James Monroe Iglehart, Aladdin)
Danny Burstein, Cabaret
Nick Cordero, Bullets Over Broadway
Joshua Henry, Violet
James Monroe Iglehart, Aladdin
Jarrod Spector, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Prediction: Lena Hall, Hedwig and the Angry Inch)
Linda Emond, Cabaret
Lena Hall, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Anika Larsen, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
Adriane Lenox, After Midnight
Lauren Worsham, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder

Best Scenic Design of a Play (Prediction: Beowulf Boritt, Act One
Beowulf Boritt, Act One
Bob Crowley, The Glass Menagerie
Es Devlin, Machinal
Christopher Oram, The Cripple of Inishmaan

Best Scenic Design of a Musical (Prediction: Christopher Barreca, Rocky)
Christopher Barreca, Rocky
Julian Crouch, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Alexander Dodge, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
Santo Loquasto, Bullets Over Broadway

Best Costume Design of a Play (Prediction: Jenny Tiramani, Twelfth Night)
Jane Greenwood, Act One
Michael Krass, Machinal
Rita Ryack, Casa Valentina
Jenny Tiramani, Twelfth Night

Best Costume Design of a Musical (Prediction: William Ivey Long, Bullets Over Broadway)
Linda Cho, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
William Ivey Long, Bullets Over Broadway
Arianne Phillips, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Isabel Toledo, After Midnight

Best Lighting Design of a Play (Prediction: Jane Cox, Machinal)
Paule Constable, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Jane Cox, Machinal
Natasha Katz, The Glass Menagerie
Japhy Weideman, Of Mice and Men

Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Prediction: Christopher Akerlind, Rocky)
Kevin Adams, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Christopher Akerlind, Rocky
Howell Binkley, After Midnight
Donald Holder, The Bridges of Madison County

Best Sound Design of a Play (Prediction: Matt Tierney, Machinal)
Alex Baranowski, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Steve Canyon Kennedy, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill
Dan Moses Schreier, Act One
Matt Tierney, Machinal

Best Sound Design of a Musical (Prediction: Brian Ronan, Beautiful
Peter Hylenski, After Midnight
Tim O'Heir, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Mick Potter, Les Misérables
Brian Ronan, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical

Best Direction of a Play (Prediction: Tim Carroll, Twelfth Night
Tim Carroll, Twelfth Night
Michael Grandage, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Kenny Leon, A Raisin in the Sun
John Tiffany, The Glass Menagerie

Best Direction of a Musical (Predition: Darko Tresnjak, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder)
Warren Carlyle, After Midnight
Michael Mayer, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Leigh Silverman, Violet
Darko Tresnjak, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder

Best Choreography (Prediction: Warren Carlyle, After Midnight)
Warren Carlyle, After Midnight
Steven Hoggett & Kelly Devine, Rocky
Casey Nicholaw, Aladdin
Susan Stroman, Bullets Over Broadway

Best Orchestrations (Prediction: Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County
Doug Besterman, Bullets Over Broadway
Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County
Steve Sidwell, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
Jonathan Tunick, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder

Monday, April 28, 2014

2014 Tony Awards Nominations LIVE Webcast!

The 2014 Tony Awards Nominations Announcement, Sponsored by IBM 
Tuesday, April 29 2014 8:30 a.m. ET 
Hosted by Jonathan Groff and Lucy Liu 
From the Paramount Hotel in NYC 
Video courtesy NY1 News

Click below to watch the live announcement of the 2014 Tony Nominees!

Video Console!