Tag Archives: Jason Robert Brown

Prince of Broadway –Looking Back at a Long, Successful Career

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Karen Ziemba, Emily Skinner, Chuck Cooper, Tony Yazbeck. Photo by Matthew Murphy

By Karen Isaacs

Follies, Evita, Sweeney Todd, Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story, Cabaret – the list is endless of shows that Hal Prince either directed or produced or both.

So a Broadway show that includes scenes from all these should be terrific. Right? Unfortunately, while Prince of Broadway has many delightful moments, the sum of its parts doesn’t add up to a hit show.

Why is hard to determine. Certainly the cast of the Manhattan Theater Club production (now at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre through Oct 22) includes top notch musical theater talent – Tony Yazbeck, Brandon Uranowitz, Emily Skinner, Karen Ziemba and more.

Yet this evening that uses Prince’s biography to string together scenes from both hit and flop shows, only sometimes catches fire.

The show gets off to a slow start. The overture, arranged by composer Jason Robert Brown lists 17 songs as being included, yet somehow it was hard to identify many of them. It seemed as only phrase or two was included.

Throughout the show, various cast members, each speaking as if he or she were Hal Prince, detail parts of his biography. It opens with some bio and then just a snitch of the first show he was involved in – The Pajama Game.  We hear a few bars of “Hey, There” but we see no-one. From there were are on to a well sung, but somehow lifeless rendition of “Heart” from Damn Yankees.

 The show begins to gather some momentum with West Side Story, the first show Prince produced; at that point chronology goes out the window. Why the remainder of the show is organized the way it is, is a mystery. It seems relatively random.

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Janet Dacal Photo by Matthew Murphy

So what are the highlights?  Each member of the nine person cast has moments that are terrific.  Kaley Ann Voorhees is a luminous Maria in “Tonight” from West Side Story and Janet Dacal is hilarious doing “You’ve Got Possibilities “ from It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman. She’s also a very good Eva Peron and Aurora (Kiss of the Spider Woman). Byronha Marie Parkham does her best work as Amalia in She Loves Me with “Will He Like Me?”

 Tony Yazbeck once again demonstrates not only his exceptional dance talent, but also his strong voice. He’s Tony in West Side Story, Che in Evita, and with a nod to Jason Robert Brown, Leo in Parade. Since I had never seen nor heard the entire show, his rendition of “It’s Not Over Yet” was a highlight for me. It is an exceptionally moving song. But the extended dance number in Follies, while well executed doesn’t seem to have a purpose beyond showing off his skills.

Once again, I was delighted with the performance of Brandon Uranowitz,as the Emcee in Cabaret, George in She Loves Me and Molina in Kiss of the Spider Woman. Chuck Cooper scored with songs from Showboat and as Sweeny Todd, though his Tevye was not as good.

Michael Xavier has followed up his performance as Joe in the recent Sunset Boulevard with some excellent work as the Phantom, Bobby in Company and Fredrik in A Little Night Music.

 The first act closing number, a series of songs from Cabaret was terrific. Not only was Brandon Uranowitz is excellent as the Emcee but Karen Ziemba gave us two characters – the gorilla in “If You Could See Her” and a touching Fraulien Schneider is “So What?” Her performance as Mrs. Lovett in “The Worst Pies in London” was a highlight of the second act. These are two roles I hope some director casts Ziemba in very soon.

Emily Skinner’s best number is“The Ladies Who Lunch” from Company; her rendition of “Send in the Clowns” is very good but not outstanding.

Certainly the production values are excellent. Beowulf Boritt (scenic and production

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Emily Skinner. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

design) and William Ivey Long (costume design) have handled the huge task for recreating moods for these diverse shows in different periods and location with finesse. As has Howell Binnkley with the lighting design.

Susan Stroman is credited as both choreographer and co-director with Prince himself.

Although I just wish that Prince of Broadway had somehow caught fire more than did, it is still a very enjoyable evening in the theater – revisiting favorite musicals or discovering some new ones.

It is at the Manhattan Theater Club, Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th Street. Tickets are available through Telecharge.

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Tony Yazbeck, Kaley Ann Voorhees. Photo by Matthew Murphy

 

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“My Paris” – Musical at Long Wharf Should Go Far

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Bobby Steggert and Mara Davi Photo by T Charles Erickson.

By Karen Isaacs

 It is always exciting to be in at the beginning of something that has great potential.  Last summer, Goodspeed at Chester presented a “new” musical – My Paris. Now after more work, it is at Long Wharf through May 29. After New Haven, who knows how far it will travel.  Some sort of New York production should be in its future.

In reality it is not a new musical but a substantial revision of a musical that started life in the 1990s.  The famed French singer/composer Charles Aznavour wrote a musical about the life of Toulouse-Lautrec. During that period it had a brief run in London; most agreed including Aznavour that the production was poor and the English lyrics inadequate.

So, My Paris might have been buried in the cemetery of lost musicals. But some top notch Broadway talent found it and decided that it was worth resurrecting.

That process is still going on; the production at Long Wharf has substantial differences – and improvements – from the show seen in 2015 in Chester.

Alfred Uhry, who wrote Driving Miss Daisy, other plays and the book for the musicals The Robber Bridegroom and LoveMusik, took on the task for rewriting the book about the life of the famed artist Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. Jason Robert Brown, an award winning composer, lyricist and arranger, signed on to write lyrics and do the musical adaptation. Of course, Aznavour gave them plenty to work with; over the years, he had written more than 30 songs for the show,; he has also written new songs specifically for this production.

Then director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall came on board.

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Photo by T. Charles Erickson

My Paris tells the story of Lautrec who is best known for his iconic posters of Montmarte characters. His life has been immortalized in film and lore. The son of a nobleman, Lautrec was born with a congenital disease that caused his bones, particularly his leg bones to break easily. As a result he was under five feet tall.  He escaped his disappointed father and his smothering mother to move to Paris and to paint. There he gravitated to Montmarte, which was certainly déclassé for a nobleman. He was introduced to the various performers, starving artists and the can-can dancers. He started creating the posters of the performers as advertising; they soon provided him with a steady income. But he also succumbed to the lure of Montmarte – excessive drinking particularly absinthe, a very strong, anise flavored liquor that is said to be addictive and a hallucinogen. While its addictive qualities have not been proven, the liquor is banned in the US and many European countries.

The musical focuses on his life in Paris and his relationship with several friends and the model and artist Suzanne Valadon. Valadon not only became a prominent artist in her own right, but she was the mother of artist Maurice Utrillo.

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Donna English, Bobby Steggert and Tom Hewitt. Photo by T Charles Erickson

he play opens with Lautrec greeting us, but we are soon back at the country palace of his parents as they learn of his deformity. Marshall has created Lautrec as a child by using a puppet in a pram. His father seeks assurance that Lautrec will be able to ride and hunt, the father’s favorite activities besides affairs with other women. His mother wants to protect him.

As a young adult, Lautrec convinces his parents to let him go to Paris to study, but he soon finds his milieu in the bohemian Montmarte.

The production at Long Wharf differs from the one at Chester; several songs have been added and the show split into two acts. The dancing has also been beefed up.

Marshall has choreographed and directed the show with a polished touch. She cleverly produces the illusion of Lautrec’s shortness through the use of steps, chairs with lower seats and other devices. It helps that Bobby Steggert who plays Lautrec is not exceptional tall. She creates an almost living tableau to showcase some of Lautrec’s most famous posters.  A failure is the attempt to show the allure of absinthe as the “green fairy” who randomly appears; it takes a while for the audience to grasp and is also obvious.

The set design by Derek McLane combined with the projections design by Olivia Sebesky shows us Parisian setting around 1900. The costume design by Paul Tazewell as well as the wigs (Leah Loukas) add, if not an authentic feel, one we are familiar with from films.

Aznavour’s melodies are delicious and for the most part Jason Robert Brown’s lyrics not only fit the music but let us see inside the characters. You feel as though you would be humming these if you heard them just a few more times. I particularly liked “Paris!”  Vive La Vie,”  “The Honor of the Family,”  “What I Meant to Say,” and “Where Are You Going.”

The cast is excellent. Bobby Steggert has received numerous award nominations for his work and you can see why. He has created a fully dimensional character that you care about. He is a fine singer and in a few “dream moments” even dances. He is joined by two other performers from the original Chester show: Mara Davi as Suzanne Valadon and Donna English as Maman, Lautrec’s mother. Each has developed the characters more and show us multiple aspects of them. I particularly liked Davi. Both are excellent singers.  The role of Papa is now played by Tom Hewitt and it has been expanded. Hewitt brings a strong presence to the stage, an aristocratic air and an excellent voice.

Lautrec’s three drinking buddies are roles that still need some development, but Andrew Mueller, John Riddle and  Rachou do what they can with the roles while also playing other characters in the show.

I thoroughly enjoyed this show and would love to go back and see it again. It still needs work but it should a future.

Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven through Sunday, May 1. For tickets call 203-787-4282 or visit longwharf.org.

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Photo by T. Charles Erickson

MTC’s “The Last Five Years” Lacks Subtlety

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Cathy and Jamie at their happiest. Photo by Joe Landry

By Karen Isaacs

 MTC (the Music Theater of Connecticut) is closing its season with Jason Robert Brown’s off-Broadway musical, The Last Five Years through April 24.

The musical, asks an eternal question:  What happens to cause a relationship to go sour?  In this case it is the relationship (and marriage) of Cathy and Jamie.  From meeting to divorce it lasts just five years. Not unusual nor even surprising. After all the two are young (early 20s) when they meet and both are trying to establish themselves in artistic careers. Jamie wants to write fiction and Cathy is trying to make it as an actress/singer/performer.

What is different about The Last Five Years, and works intermittently, is the way the story is told. Cathy tells the story of the relationship from finding Jamie’s letter announcing his intention of leaving her and goes backwards to when they first met and fell in love.

Jamie, on the other hand, tells the story chronologically from meeting Cathy to deciding to leave her and end the marriage. The two meet/cross only at the wedding.

Jason Robert Brown — the composer, lyricist and book writer for The Last Five Years is one of the most promising in the younger generation of Broadway writers. He regularly composes, writes the lyrics and does the arrangements for his shows which have included The Bridges of Madison County (he won the Tony for best score and orchestrations), Parade (the Tony for best score), Honeymoon in Vegas, 13, and Songs for a New World.

The Last Five Years opened off- Broadway in 2001 and was named as one of the best shows of the year, winning the Drama Desk award.

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Cathy (Jennifer Malenke). Photo by Joe Landry

When the show begins, Cathy is reading the letter Jamie has left for explaining that he is leaving. In just minutes in this mostly sung musical, we see Jamie — but he is just meeting Cathy and falling in love with her.

The songs of each reflect where they are in the relationship and in their lives — from just meeting, to getting to know each other, an engagement, wedding, and then the difficulties of married life.  The only time they are in the same place and time is at their wedding.

Their lives are equally different — Jamie finds success as novelist early on when his book is published to acclaim;  Cathy struggles to make find jobs in the theater — auditioning numerous times, working in far off summer theater.

Jennifer Malenke and Nicolas Dromard are Cathy and Jamie. The roles are more difficult then they seem on the surface and each performer struggles at times.  It is easy for Cathy to seem perpetually angry – at Jamie and at her lack of career success.  Malenke’s performance is very one note — the tender moments are rare; also rare are reflective moments.  It is no wonder that Jamie begins avoiding her. Dromard has an equal problem; Jamie can seem self-centered and selfish, if not handled carefully. As his career takes off, it is easy to understand why he may become self-absorbed with his success but you don’t see his frustration with Cathy’s lack of involvement with his career.

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Nicolas Dromard as Jamie. Photo by Joe Landry

Unfortunately director Kevin Connors and particularly musical director Nolan Bonvouloir have not helped the two performers. MTC is a very small theater, seating under 150 people in a thrust stage; so why must the performers use microphones? Can’t these two experienced musical performers project sufficiently in the small space (each area is just 4 rows deep) to be heard?

But the real problem is that the pianist, situated at the back of the stage, overwhelms everything else. It is just too loud. Not only does it force the performers to belt, but it drowns out the other instruments in the combo.  Brown uses cello a great deal in his orchestrations but this cellist could not be heard.  Right after seeing the show, I heard the original cast cd and realized how much the cello added to the mood of the show.  It is missing in this production.

There are some other questionable decisions. Cathy’s costumes seem like a reprise of the 1970s, and for one part of the show, the staging blocked our view of Joe.

The lack of subtlety makes this production of The Last Five Years a less successful and enjoyable one than it should be. The show deserved better.

The Last Five Years is MTC, 509 Westport Ave., Norwalk through April 24. For tickets, visit musictheatreofct.com or call 203-454-3883.

 

‘My Paris’ at the Norma Terris Is Starting the Road to Broadway

MY_PARIS_Full_Art_4CBy Karen Isaacs

Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theater in Chester is a place where musicals are given early workshop productions – professional casts, directors, sets, costumes, etc. – to let the creative team – book writer, composer and lyricist see how it all works in front of an audience.  It is a beginning.

Some shows never go much further, others have numerous productions around the country and a few, a very few, go on to Broadway.  Amazing Grace which began at Chester has just opened on the Great White Way.

My Paris, the current production on the Norma Terris stage through Aug. 16, is a new musical but one with a long history.

Alfred Uhry, the book writer, explained some of this history during a talk at R. J. Julia’s in Madison.

The music is written by Charles Aznavour – a world famous French performer who is sometimes referred to as the “French Frank Sinatra.”  Aznavour, who is still performing into his 90s, over the years wrote more than 30 songs for a musical about Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, an aristocrat who became famous for his drawings, posters and art of Paris’ seamier side – the music halls, the streetwalkers, and the can-can dancers in the late 1800s.

Uhry pointed out that Lautrec was not a midget as some may think from various movie representations;  he suffered from a congenital defect of weak bones that resulted not only in multiple fractures but also caused his legs to stop growing while he was still a child.

Bobby Steggert as Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and members ofo the cast. Photo by Emma Mead

Bobby Steggert as Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and members ofo the cast. Photo by Emma Mead

Director Kathleen Marshall became interested in the project several years ago and asked Uhry who in addition to writing Driving Miss Daisy has also written the book for various musicals (Parade, LoveMusik), if he would be interested in writing the book for this show.

“I said ‘sure’,” Uhry said.  He soon received a package of tapes from Aznavour of the songs all in French.  “I didn’t have a clue about what they were about.”

In fact, there had been a British production using some of the songs – Aznavour continued to write additional music – in 2000 called Lautrec. It had a brief run and Aznavour reported “hated it.” [After looking at some of the reviews of that short-lived production it seems it was fatally hampered by a tedious biographical book and what once critic described as “tin-eared” lyrics.]

My Paris is a new show – it focuses on reproducing some of Lautrec’s most famous works on stage as well as the relationships he had with three women important in his life: his mother, the performer Jane Avril, and his mistress and muse Suzanne Valadon.  An artist in her own right, she was also the mother of the artist Maurice Utrillo.

As Uhry explains, the 90-minute show attempts to let us see what Lautrec saw; it was a sordid world he lived in yet he saw beauty in it.

Though he died young (at 36) and lived a life of excess, the show, Uhry said is full of joy.

In Uhry’s view, he was not writing a biography.  “My role is to tell the story and set up the songs.  Songs don’t tell stories, they illustrate.”

Since literal translations of lyrics from other languages usually do not work well.  Kathleen Marshall convinced Tony winning composer/lyricist Jason Robert Brown to rewrite the lyrics.  In some cases, Uhry said, they express the same point or emotion as the original French lyrics but other cases they are totally different from the meaning of the French lyric.

“We are creating a new musical based on what Aznavour has indicated he would like,” Uhry said.

As part of the talk, Donna English who is playing Lautrec’s Maman (mother), Adele, introduced the audience to the song “Where Are We Going.”  As his prime caregiver, English said Mamon both recognized that Lautrec had to break away from her as he grew older but because of his delicate health, was concerned for his well-being.

Mara Davi who plays Suzanne in the show sang “What I Meant to Say.”  She’s done extensive research on Valadon who died in the 1930 and had her art works exhibited throughout the world.

Bobby Steggart who has starred in Big Fish and Ragtime plays Lautrec.

No one know what will happen to My Paris after it leaves the Norma Terris – undoubtedly a lot a more work and then, perhaps onto Broadway.

For tickets contact goodspeed.org.

Bobby Steggert as Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and Mara Davi as Suzanne Valadon. Photo by Emma Mead.

Bobby Steggert as Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and Mara Davi as Suzanne Valadon. Photo by Emma Mead.

“Honeymoon in Vegas” Provides Laughs and Tunes and Silly Fun

Tommy Korman (Tony Danza) and Jack Singer (Rob McClure). Photo by Joan Marcus

Tommy Korman (Tony Danza) and Jack Singer (Rob McClure). Photo by Joan Marcus

By Karen Isaacs

 

What could be more Vegas than Elvis impersonators?  Photo by Joan Marcus

What could be more Vegas than Elvis impersonators? Photo by Joan Marcus

If you want a totally silly musical that appeals to the proverbial “tired businessman” while also appealing to Tony Danza fans and those of the movie of the same name, Honeymoon in Vegas will provide an enjoyable evening’s entertainment.  But like some treats,  you may soon be hungry for something more.

The new musical at the Nederlander Theatre follows the plot of the successful film comedy closely.  We meet Jack Singer and Betsy Nolan.  They have been dating for years and Betsy is getting tired of waiting for the proposal.  But Jack has a problem;  his mother made him give a death bed promise to never marry and keeps popping up to remind him of it. After Betsy’s implied threat to leave, he impulsively decides they should leave NYC and head to Vegas to get married.

Rob McClure declaring his love in Brooklyn. Photo by Joan Marcus

Rob McClure declaring his love in Brooklyn. Photo by Joan Marcus

Cut to Vegas and a typical emcee/entertainer.  Also, returning to Vegas is Tommy Korman, an older gambler.  Tommy sees Betsy and finds a remarkable resemblance to his late wife for whom he is still in mourning.  So he decides to invite Jack to a poker game.

You can probably guess what happens next. Jack ends up losing much more than he can possibly pay off (the mid-five figures).  Tommy makes him a proposition:  Let Tommy spend a platonic weekend with Betsy and the debt will be forgiven.  Betsy is not happy with the idea but agrees to a meeting with Tommy. The act ends with Betsy agreeing to the plan and Tommy springing the fact that he will take her to his plush house in Hawaii. Tommy plans to woo Betsy and get her to marry him.

If you think act one is improbably, just wait until you get to act two! Betsy and Tommy are in Hawaii and Betsy is certainly impressed with Tommy’s attention,  treatment and lush lifestyle.  The fact that his son, daughter-in-law and new grandson show up is also a plus for Betsy, who feels her biological clock ticking. Jack is scheming to get to the islands but Tommy and his henchman are putting many roadblocks in the way.  He finally arrives just as Tommy and Betsy are flying back to Vegas — on Tommy’s private jet, of course — to get married.

Tony Danza at Tommy woos Betsy  (Brynn O'Malley) in Hawaii. Photo by Joan Marcus

Tony Danza at Tommy woos Betsy (Brynn O’Malley) in Hawaii. Photo by Joan Marcus

The solution for Jack to get back to Vegas and win Betsy’s hand, as well as to prove himself to his mother involves a group of flying Elvis’ (Elvis impersonators are a must in any show about Vegas) and a parachute jump.  Let’s just say it all ends happily.

Andrew Bergmann has adapted his film script, and the very talented Jason Robert Brown has provided the music and lyrics.  Brown has captured the Vegas idiom in music — much of it sounds like an old Ed Sullivan Show — in a good sense.  It has that delightful “tackiness” of Vegas.  Yet, I did not leave the theater humming any of the tunes, nor do Jack and Betsy have a really great love song.  The best love song is for Tommy and Betsy, “You Made the Wait Worthwhile.”  BUT — I really do want to hear the original cast CD; I suspect the score will grow on me.

Director Gary Griffin has kept it moving and has accepted the musical for what it is — silly fun.  Choreographer Denis Jones has added appropriate Vegas style dances and made room for Tony Danza to tap — even if it does seem somehow an “add on.”

Which brings us to the cast.  Rob McClure is fine as Jack.  He is a multi-talented performer who can charm an audience.  He does the “heavy lifting” in this show.  Brynn O’Malley as Betsy is attractive and can sing and dance.  The problem is a lack of chemistry between the two.  It just didn’t feel as though they were a longtime couple with a deep love for each other.  Tony Danza has both the look for the gambler Tommy and an odd charm.  His face doesn’t reveal a great deal of emotion but that seems appropriate for the character.  Despite his manipulations, you feel for this character.  There is something about his love and yearning for his dead wife that is endearing and Danza brings that out.

Jack (Rob McClure) promises his mother (Nancy Opel) on her death-bed to never marry.  Photo by Joan Marcus

Jack (Rob McClure) promises his mother (Nancy Opel) on her death-bed to never marry. Photo by Joan Marcus

Nancy Opel is a hoot as Jack’s mother — from the hilarious death bed scene to her other multiple appearances. David Josefsberg, Matthew Saldivar and Catherine Ricafort turn in fine performances as a typical Vegas singer,  Tommy’s sidekick, and a Hawaiian “distraction” to Jack.

The production is enhanced by the flexible scenic design by Anna Louizos which relies heavily on projections, costumes by Brian Hemesath, lighting by Howell Binkley and sound design by Scott Lehrer and Drew Levy.

If Honeymoon in Vegas did wow me, it did provide an enjoyable evening of tuneful, colorful and silly entertainment.  Sometimes that is what we need.

Honeymoon in Vegas is at the Nederlander Theater on West 41st Street. Tickets are available through ticketmaster.com

Johnny Sandwich (Matthew Saldivar, Tommy Korman (Tony Danza) and Buddy Rocky (David Josefberg. Photo by Joan Marcus

Johnny Sandwich (Matthew Saldivar, Tommy Korman (Tony Danza) and Buddy Rocky (David Josefberg. Photo by Joan Marcus

The New York Season — Always in Flux

By Karen Isaacs

 The New York theater season has officially started, but for the most par, shows are only in preview.  Every season starts optimistically — we all look forward to great performances, wonderful new plays and musicals, stellar revivals and more.  Sometimes we are rewarded and sometimes when we look back over the season, we are disappointed.

Previews of the New York theater scene are difficult.  Many shows that will arrive in the Spring are still not definite — some may disappear and others will suddenly find a theater and open on Broadway.  Stars will have scheduling conflicts or suddenly become available.  Off-Broadway is even more in flux.  But I will give you my thoughts on some of the shows that may be big hits at the box office, big hits critically or major disappointments.

 

The Plays — Revivals

At least at the moment, the revivals are plays that are less commonly seen. No productions of Streetcar, Cat on a Hot Tim Roof, Death of Salesman or some of the other frequently plays have been announced.

Plus, some of my favorite playwrights are represented — A. R. Gurney, Kaufman and Hart, Tom Stoppard, Edward Albee and Terence McNally.

            Ever changing pairs of stars will grace A. R. Gurney’s sweet Love Letters.  Among those already signed up are Brian Dennehy, Mia Farrow, Carol Burnett, Alan Alda, Diana Rigg, Anjelica Huston, Martin Sheen and probably many more. I have fond memories of seeing this play at Long Wharf.

Anytime you can see James Earl Jones on stage is a red letter day.  He’s now in previews with the Kaufman and Hart  comedy You Can’t Take It with You. He’s joined on stage by Kristine Nielsen, Mark Linn-Baker, Julie Halston, Byron Jennings, Elizabeth Ashley and others. It’s directed by Scott Ellis and Jason Robert Brown has written original music for it.

October is going to bring us three major revivals.

Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing is being revived by the Roundabout Theater starring Ewan McGreggor, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Cynthia Nixon and Josh Hamilton.  I always like Stoppard’s intellectualism.

Glenn Close is returning to Broadway with John Lithgow andMartha Plimpton in Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance. This limited run is directed by Pam MacKinnon.

Another limited run is The Elephant Man starring Bradley Cooper with Patricia Clarkson and Alessandra Nivola.  Cooper got raves in the Berkshires a year ago but this is the first opportunity his scheduled has permitted bringing to New York.

 

The New (or new to Broadway) Plays

             It’s Only a Play, the McNally farce about playwright on Broadway, is already a box office hit.  It’s now in previews and with a cast including Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Stockard Channing, F. Murray Abraham, Megan Mulally and Jack O’Brien as director, I am certainly looking forward to it.

             The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, may get the award for the longest title of the season.  This play is coming to us from the National Theater; you may remember that this play was underway when that theater roof in London collapsed.  It is billed as a fantasy.

Blythe Danner is a favorite actress of mine – she was terrific in The Commons of Pensacola last year. The Country House is by Connecticut’s Donald Marguilies, its directed by Daniel Sullivan, and Daniel Sunjata also stars.  It’s a Manhattan Theater Club production so the runs is limited unless it is a hug hit and can move to another theater.

It won the Pulitzer Prize, so Disgraced is finally making it to Broadway thanks to Lincoln Center. The outline of the plot — a Pakistani lawyer and a political dinner party — may make this production “iffy” given all of the recent terrorist attacks.

Hugh Jackman.  A play.  Need I say more.  The box office will be booming for The River which runs just 75 minutes but will have high ticket prices.

Come the spring, it will be hard to snag a ticket for The Audience starring Helen Mirren.  She won ALL the awards in London last season playing Queen Elizabeth II.  It is about the meetings the Queen has had over the years with her various Prime Ministers.

 

The New Musicals

             Sting is following in the footsteps of other rock giants and writing a musical. The Last Ship is based on his childhood in a English shipping town now in economic ruins.  I’m interested.

When it played New Jersey’s PaperMill Playhouse, Honeymoon in Vegas won raves but no theater was available last spring to bring it to Broadway.  Now it is arriving with the same major cast members — Tony Danza and Rob McClure. The score is by Jason Robert Brown.  Yes, it is an adaptation of the film.

Another film to musical will arrive next Spring, after it previews in Paris: An American in Paris.  Who will play the Gene Kelly role? But it has great Gershwin songs though many were just recently heard in Nice Work If You Can Get It.

             When  the Jeanine Tesori- Lisa Kron musical Fun Home opened off Broadway last year, it won raves. Now it is heading to Broadway.  Sometimes making the transition is hard.

 

The Musicals — Revivals

            On the Town, the musical that introduced us to Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green is returning to Broadway in a production that began life at the Barrington Stage Company in 2013.  Tony Yazbeck is in the cast as is Jackie Hoffman and lots of others.  John Rando directs.

Another musical featuring lyrics by Comden and Green is returning to Broadway. On the Twentieth Century with music by Cy Coleman and based on the Harold Hawks film Twentieth Century, a screwball comedy.  Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher star as the temperamental actress and the down-on-his-luck producer.  Roundabout is producing with Scott Ellis directing.

Let me see Kelli O’Hara in anything. But will she finally get the leading actress in a musical Tony?  It’s been almost 20 years since The King & I has been on Broadway.  In the Spring it is back at Lincoln Center.  I can’t wait.

                       When Side Show opened in 1997,  critics raved at the performances of Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner as the co-joined sisters who went into vaudeville.  The show did not run long but has had many, many devoted fans.  Now,  a reworked version of the show was a big hit at the Kennedy Center and is returning to Broadway with Erin Davie and Emily Padgett as the sisters.

 Some Shows That May Make It to Broadway

            Paper Mill Playhouse is producing a revised version of Cole Porter’s Can-Can starring Kate Baldwin and Jason Danieley — if it goes well, it might cross the river.

Goodspeed is opening a musical version of the film Holiday Inn which starred Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire and introduced “White Christmas.”  Major players are backing the conversion to stage.  It wouldn’t surprise me if it makes the transition to Broadway IF all goes well.

 

Off-Broadway

            Off-Broadway is a mixture of revivals and new works; often details are sketchy until the last minute.

A  show that is a getting Connecticut production is also scheduled for off-Broadway: Brownsville song ((b-side for tray) is at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater in Lincoln Center; in Connecticut it is at Long Wharf.

I’m looking forward to Indian Ink at Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theater. It is one of Tom Stoppard’s plays that have not been seen in NYC.  Plus it stars Rosemary Harris.

Classic Stage Company is producing one of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s lesser known works: Allegro directed by John Doyle.  This work may have been ahead of its time.

Lee Blessing’s  A Walk in the Woods about Soviet and American arms negotiators premiered at Yale Rep.  The Keen Company is producing it with Kathleen Chalfant as the Soviet negotiator.  The company is also producing the musical John & Jen.

Neil La Bute’s The Money Shot  is being produced by Manhattan Class Company.

  The New Group is reviving David Rabe’s Sticks & Bones. This play about a son’s return from Vietnam won the Tony in 1972.

As a Nöel Coward fan, I’d like to see I’ll Leave it to You at The Actors Company Theater.

Plus, I’ll be keeping an eye on the productions by The Mint Theater (lesser known early 20th century British and American plays), the Irish Rep, Signature Theater Company, Pearl Theater.  

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