March 2005 Archives
Finally after 40 odd years the Conn Curse has been lifted by my daughter Myrna! What is the Conn Curse? Well before I got married it was called the Ibronyi Curse.
Whatever the name, it meant that no matter how exceedingly talented (and modest) I was I could never ever get cast in a major part in any theater production throughout my school years. Through my elementary, junior high and high school years no matter how many times I auditioned I always got stuck in the chorus!
Well, it seemed as if my daughter had inherited a similar fate. Now, she is a hundred times more talented than I ever was and it seemed that for the last six years of her elementary schooling she was always mysteriously overlooked. It was a mystery 'cuz she was getting cast in commercials and productions outside of school. Hence the Conn Curse. Well no more my friends! Myrna has been cast as Mr. Bumble (the lead part available) in her class's "Reader's Digest" version of Oliver! for music night! Congrats Myrna!
So I admit I was a bit pissed at Mirvish Productions for screwing up the run of The Producers and Hairspray in Toronto and plastering Mamma Mia ads everywhere I turned in this fair-ish city. In my opinion, their past productions (The Lion King, The Producers,Hairspray, Miss Saigon) have had a pretty spotty casting track record. And to top it off, I thought they were turning into purely spectacle producers with the Lord of the Rings extravaganza coming next spring.
However, according to The Toronto Star(Mirvishes in an expansive mood, The Toronto Star, March 30, 2005), Mirvish announced his new 2005/2006 subscription series with none other than Mary Poppins herself, Dame Julie Andrews.
Julie Andrews also announced that, as part of that lineup, she will be directing The Boy Friend, a fun 1920s spoof musical with which she made her Broadway debut at the age of 19, some 50 years ago. She originally directed this musical for Goodspeed Musicals in 2004 in Connecticut, and is now in charge of their touring production. Add to that Les Mis (yawn, but a crowd pleaser), Movin' Out (awesome if you get the right talent), and three new plays, and you've got a respectable (if not groundbreaking) lineup.
Fingers crossed on casting choices! Now if I can just get Mirvish to include Plane Crazy in their 2006/2007 lineup...
From the Star:
If you're announcing a theatrical playbill full of huge hopes and optimistic dreams, who better to help introduce it than Mary Poppins?
Obviously that's what David Mirvish had in mind when he brought out Dame Julie Andrews as the star attraction to launch his biggest-ever subscription season yesterday morning at the Royal Alexandra Theatre.
The 69-year old star of My Fair Lady, Camelot and The Sound of Music actually brought many in the crowd of 400 media types to their feet in a spontaneous standing ovation when she made her entrance.
Andrews managed to combine cool elegance and friendly warmth as she discussed her production of The Boy Friend, which will be one of the shows in next year's Mirvish season, as previously revealed in The Star.
"I look on this as a labour of love," said Andrews in describing the 1920s spoof with which she made her Broadway debut at the age of 19, some 50 years ago. "It's as elegant and beautiful as a piece of lace, but it's also an awful lot of fun."
The 42nd Mirvish subscription season will feature seven shows, a record number for the organization. Mirvish himself attributed his daring to "a sense of optimism that's sweeping through the city again. This is a time to rebuild, to move ahead and we want to be part of it."
Playwright Michael Healey served as master of ceremonies for the event, utilizing his customary martini-dry wit. "Hello, I'm Ed Mirvish," is how he began.
Healey's presence was more than coincidental, because his new comedy, The Innocent Eye Test, will have its world premiere next season, in a co-production with the Manitoba Theatre Centre, directed by Christopher Newton.
The author described it as "a classic farce about art dealers, terrorists and how Canadians are perceived abroad." Set in a Tuscan villa, it fulfills what Healey jokingly said were Mirvish's demands when he commissioned it: "a two-act comedy with no more than eight characters, all about sex and money."
Also present to raise the Canadian content level were author Dan Needles and star Rod Beattie of Wingfield's Inferno, the fifth play in the incredibly successful series about a Bay Street broker who leaves it all behind to live on a small Ontario farm.
"It's about how Canada's biggest growth industry is the stifling of human achievement," is the way Beattie wryly described his latest work.
There will be three other big shows in the season as well. First, of course, is the recently announced stage version of The Lord of the Rings, which, with its $27 million budget and international creative team, is likely to stand as the focal point of the entire year.
But the two remaining musicals joining it on the bill are no slouches either.
Movin' Out, the Billy Joel/Twyla Tharp collaboration, has been a huge hit on Broadway and across the country ever since its opening late in 2002. Using 24 of Joel's hits to tell the story of five friends whose lives are changed forever by the war in Vietnam, this show packs a real punch, due in large part to Tharp's kinetic staging.
And the original mega-musical, Les Miserables, has been a favourite of Toronto audiences ever since it first played here in 1989.
Mirvish gently turned aside any questions as to whether Toronto residents Colm Wilkinson and Michael Burgess might be stepping into the shoes of Jean Valjean that they once filled.
"You'll have to ask (producer) Cameron Mackintosh about that," was his diplomatic reply.
Rounding out the year is the wild card of the seven shows, Nomade, a production from the Quebec-based Cirque Eloize. The group has been highly popular in Europe and is currently performing in Paris at Les Folies Bergere.
Their style is hard to describe, but from the video we were shown, it seems a bit like Riverdance meets Cirque du Soleil.
In any event, the season Mirvish Productions has planned has the potential to be truly spectacular and to fulfill one of the major purposes of theatre, which is, as Andrews wisely described it, "to bring a bit of joy into all of our lives."
OK, I think that this just about wraps it up. If anyone can think of any more Hollywood to Broadway transplants, let me know!
Amazingly, Sweet Charity is back on. Quick, buy tickets before they change their mind again! Sounds like Charlotte d'Amboise will open the show and go until May 4, when Christina Applegate will return. I don't know about you, but I'm going in April to see Charlotte...assuming it's still on...
It was on. Then it was off. Now it's back on again. Broadway will see Sweet Charity at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on April 11 with Charlotte d'Amboise in the lead, and Christina Applegate joining the show on April 18, producer Barry Weissler told Playbill.com.
Opening night will be May 4.
Barry Weissler said in a statement: "I spent the weekend on the telephone with Christina Applegate who made a passionate and compelling case for moving forward with our Broadway plans. Her doctor also confirmed this morning that she will be ready and able to resume performances on April 18th. I have approached my partners on the show and we have all agreed to put up the additional funds necessary to accommodate this new schedule. I guess the only thing left for me to do is ask everyone to please refrain from using the old showbiz adage, 'break a leg!'"
The quick change is only the latest for the show in the last two weeks. Producers announced March 25 that the revival would close with its final performance in Boston March 27. Charlotte d'Amboise was the actress performing the title role during that engagement. She began her surprise bout on March 18, subbing for Christina Applegate, who broke her foot during one of the final shows of the earlier Chicago stand.
OK, OK, everyone keeps requesting them, so here they are:
The Lyrics to Sarah Jessica Parker's "Pretty Khaki" Ad for The Gap:WHEN I HAVE A BRAND NEW HAIR-DO
WITH MY EYELASHES ALL IN CURLS
WELL I FLIRT AS THE CLOUDS OF AIR DO
I ENJOY BEING A GIRL
MEN SAY I'M CUTE AND FUNNY
AND MY TEETH AREN'T TEETH BUT PEARLS
I JUST LAP IT UP LIKE HONEY
I ENJOY BEING A GIRL
Of course, these are original lyrics (not all, obviously) from the song "I Enjoy Being A Girl" from Flower Drum Song (Music by Richard Rogers, Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, Book by Oscar Hammerstein and Joseph Fields, Choreography by Carol Haney, Directed by Gene Kelly).
It opened on Broadway on December 1, 1958 at the St. James Theater, and closed May 7, 1960 after 600 performances.
Set in San Francisco's Chinatown, it tells the story of a young Americanized Chinese man, torn between his own leanings and his desire to comply with his father's rigorous, traditional teachings. Hammerstein described it as "...a sort of Chinese Life with Father."
I just re-listened to the original cast album and it's a wonderful musical, and I especially enjoyed "Don't Marry Me", which I hadn't heard in a long time.
The version for the Gap ad featuring Sarah Jessica Parker was arranged by Marc Shaiman, who did a great job of making the original lyrics "pop" for the 30 second format of a TV ad.
And thanks to Brighterbuc, here are all the lyrics to the original song:
I'm a girl and by me that's only great
I am proud that my silhouette is curvy
that I walk with a sweet and girlish gait
With my hips kind of swivelly and swervey
I adore being dressed in something frilly
When my date comes to get me at my place
Out I go with my Joe or John or Billy
Like a filly who is ready for the race
When I have a brand new hairdo
With my eyelashes all in curls
I float as the clouds on air do
I enjoy being a girl
When men say I'm cute and funny
And my teeth aren't teeth but pearls
I just lap it up like honey
I enjoy being a girl
I flip when a fellow sends me flowers
I drool over dresses made of lace
I talk on the telephone for hours
with a pound and a half of cream upon my face
I'm strictly a female female
And my future I hope will be
In the home of a brave and free male
who'll enjoy being a guy, having a girl like me
When men say I'm sweet as candy
As around in a dance we whirl
It goes to my head like brandy
I enjoy being a girl
With someone with eyes that smolder
Says he loves every silken curl
That falls on my ivory shoulder
I enjoy being a girl
When I hear a complementary whistle
That greets my bikini by the sea
I turn and I glower and I gristle
But I'm happy to know the whistles meant for me
I'm strictly a female female
And my future I hope will be
In the home of a brave and free male
who'll enjoy being a guy, having a girl like me
I was watching a great old musical on BRAVO last night. You know the kind that you can have on in the background while you do other stuff, stopping occasionally to take in a great song or dance number? It was the story of three navy nurses played by Joan Evans (redhead) Vivian Blaine (blonde, of Guys and Dolls Adelaide fame) and Esther Williams (brunette).
And of course, lots of swimming. You hear about how famous Esther Williams was, but it's hard to believe until you see a film with a bunch of neato swimming scenes. She was known as "The Million Dollar Mermaid", and it's the first movie I've ever seen with gratuitous "swimming" shots in it...including a great scene where Esther joins two young children in the pool and creates a very cute performance with some great little swimmers complete with a toy ladder and sailboat.
Did people really enjoy watching her swim? It's interesting enough, but it does feel a bit weird since it isn't tied into the story at all. Her character just takes the occasional choreographed dip in the pool! I guess you had to be there...
I tuned in late, so I didn't know the title until the very end, and it was hilariously calledSkirts Ahoy...wow, times really do change...especially since 1952! This gem even has the song "What Goods a Girl Without a Guy".
Maybe I should call Plane Crazy "Stews Ahoy"...
In the story, Esther plays Whitney Young who leaves her fiance at the altar and joins the Navy. There she meets two other young ladies who are also having trouble with love. One was left at the altar, and one just can't be in the right place at the right time.
They decide they want to travel the world and forget about men altogether, that is until Whitney meets and falls in love with her Lt. Commander. From then on, all she wants to do is win him over whatever the cost. The other two girls play out their own stories of how they find happiness.
Here are a bunch more Hollywood to Broadway transplants:
I met the songwriter Jimmy Webb ("Wichita Lineman", "Up Up and Away", "By The Time I Get To Phoenix") back in the '90s in Nashville during one of the Tin Pan South events held by the NSAI. That was back in the days of Executive Director Pat Rogers (now atSESAC). Those really were the good old days when every Tin Pan South week would begin with a Songwriting Legends Concert. And not just country songwriters either. I remember seeing Charles Fox, Cy Coleman, Marilyn and Alan Bergman among other luminaries, sing and tell about their songs. Thrilling, just thrilling. But I digress...
It was a special Jimmy Webb concert, where he sat at a piano and played and talked and played and talked. I could have sat there listening forever. He was pushing his new bookTunesmith a combination anecdotal/how to songwriting book which I was more than happy to buy. We stood in line, waiting for a signature.
When it was my turn at bat, I screwed up enough courage to admit to Jimmy that actually I was working on writing a musical (Plane Crazy, of course!).
It was then that Jimmy said "Wow, that's a tough business". Boy, oh boy, when a songwriter tells you something is a tough business, it's TOUGH! He then said he had his own musical, Tuxedo, that was giving him problems.
Needless to say, I felt supercool at that moment, to be working in the same genre as one of my songwriting heros.
I always wondered what became of Jimmy's Tuxedo musical so the other day I googled it.
Turns out it was never produced (tough biz!). However Michael Feinstein has recorded a new CD "Only One Life -- The Songs of Jimmy Webb" on which is a song "These are All Mine" which is from the score of the unproduced Tuxedo!
Not only that but apparently Jimmy has written the music and lyrics to a new musical based on the movie A Bronx Tale. Feinstein recorded a doo-wop-flavored song from the show,Belmont Avenue. The show is being readied for a pre-Broadway tryout next fall. Fingers crossed!
I found Tunesmith on my shelf and flipped it open to the signature. It read "Suzy, the road to paradise is paradise". In this tough business, that is so true...
They say it's the hot trend in musicals today -- adapting a popular movie to the stage -- but while The Producers (2001), adapted from The Producers (1968) and Hairspray(2002), adapted from Hairspray (1988) grab all the attention, the trend has actually been around for a while. Here's a sampling of a list that seems to grow every day.
David Merrick, the legendary impressario, actually loved to adapt film material and he became famous with some of these productions:
Marcel Pagnol's Marseilles Trilogy (1929) became Fanny: A New Musical (1954)
And here's a bunch more non-Merrick examples:
And continuing into the future, stay tuned for White Christmas, based on the 1954 movie of the same name.
Swing Rosie Rox at the Rex
We had a wonderful evening at The Rex tonight catching up with Swing Rosie. They were in wonderful form, and they looked loose and relaxed on the stage. They sounded great, and they seemed to be having a great time with each other.
I'm famous for my "doo-doo-doo-doos", or moments of "incredible coincidence". There were actually two tonight connected to Swing Rosie, however I will only recount the weirdest one.
If you read this morning's post, about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, I made a comparison between "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" and the Japanese slang for James Bond: "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang". So, we're sitting in The Rex and we're looking at the Schedule of Events for April. I scan down to April 27 & 28, and the band performing at 9:30 pm is called "Kiss-Kiss, Bang-Bang"...how weird is that? They're from Copenhagen, Denmark, and they play the music from the films of James Bond. What are the chances that I would blog that in the morning, and then see a jazz band in the same vein on a schedule that afternoon?
Sometimes I scare myself...
Initially, I wasn't overly thrilled about the prospect of seeing the stage musical version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Of course that was back in my judgmental days. However, John Sparks, the director ofTheatre Building Chicago Musical Theatre Writers' Workshop, saw it in London and loved it.
Amazingly John is the only person in the free world who had never seen the movie! Good grief, I even had Chitty Chitty Bang Bang paper dolls and a car as a young girl (both of which I lost and both of which my husband replaced for me!). He said the theater was full of kids -- preteens mostly (which is an age group I've never really seen at the theater in great numbers) going absolutely ape with enjoyment. And he noted that London audiences are much more vocal and emotional than New York audiences -- go figure!Even though you know that there are hydraulics behind it, the flying of the car is magical. What I had forgotten (or was never really conscious of) was that Ian Fleming wrote the book and Cubby Broccoli produced the film! Bang Bang, Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang! (hey, that phrase actually appears as part of the lyric of the title song -- coincidence? I think not!). John did say one thing that I've been pondering -- he said that the story was an obvious spoof of a James Bond story. I just don't see that...From Playbill:
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the musical based on the novel and film of the same name, begins previews at the newly renamed Hilton Theatre March 27 at 7:30 PM.
The "fantasmagorical stage musical," which originated in the West End in 2002 -- it continues to play the London Palladium -- stars Raul Esparza as Caractacus Potts, Erin Dilly as Truly Scrumptious, Philip Bosco as Grandpa Potts, Marc Kudisch as Baron Bomburst, Jan Maxwell as Baroness Bomburst, Chip Zien as Goran, Robert Sella as Boris, Kevin Cahoon as the Childcatcher and Frank Raiter as the Toymaker. The children are played by Henry Hodges (as Jeremy) and Ellen Marlow (as Jemima).
The nearly 50-member company features the talents of Ken Kantor as Lord Scrumptious, Dirk Lumbard as Phillips/Coggins/Inventor, JB Adams as Chicken Farmer/Inventor, Kurt Von Schmittou as Sid/Inventor, Robert Creighton as Inventor, Rick Faugno as Inventor, William Ryall as Inventor, Robyn Hurder as Violet and Michael Herwitz as Toby.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang features music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. Song titles include "Truly Scrumptious," "Toot Sweets," "Hushabye Mountain" and the Oscar nominated title song "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang." The musical will officially open April 28.
The story is quite interesting: Edward "Ned" Knyaston (Billy Crudup) is a beautiful man, and as an actor in 17th-century London that means he's quite popular portraying women, since females are forbidden to tread the boards. His mischievous air of entitlement, unfortunately, soon sets in motion a chain of events that will see King Charles II(Rupert Everett) lifting the ban on actresses, allowing Ned's devoted dresser, Maria (Claire Danes), to become the city's reigning theatrical diva. Director Richard Eyre (Iris) is still best known for his stage work, and it shows: Stage Beauty is rich in character and attention to detail.
It's reminiscent of the difficult transition from vaudeville to radio which was brilliantly profiled in the movie musical There's No Business Like Show Business; the heartbreaking transition from silent film to the talkies, which is profiled inSingin' In The Rain; and of course The Buggles classic "Video Killed the Radio Star"...
By detailing how the world changed OVERNIGHT for men who played women in the 1660s, the movie conjures up memories of stage actors who couldn't make the transition to film; vaudeville acts that couldn't make the transition to radio; and silent film stars and directors that didn't make the transition to talkies.
The last transition -- silent to talkie -- was particularly painful. So many of the silent stars and directors couldn't make the transition, and ended up NEVER WORKING AGAIN.
For example, DW Griffith, the director of Birth of a Nation, ended up dying penniless and alone in a Hollywood flophouse: Although his funeral was attended by greats of the silent era like Lillian Gish and Mary Pickford.
What was particularly interesting is that the "gesture approach" to acting was alive and well in the 17th century, and this continued until the invention of film. The greater intimacy of film made the stagey gestures that were popular on the stage at the time seem artificial and "wrong". Mary Pickford was one of the first to impart a "natural" acting style into her films, and worldwide success and fame soon followed (not many know that she was one of the original founder of United Artists, along with Douglas Fairbanks, DW Griffith, and Charlie Chaplin. She was known in the media as "America's Sweetheart", but when she became the first actor to make $1MM per year, Chaplin renamed her "Bank of America's Sweetheart").
Sweet Charity to Close in Boston; Broadway Engagement Scotched
The Broadway-bound production of Sweet Charity is bound for Broadway no more. Producers announced the revival would close with its final performance in Boston March 27.
Charlotte d'Amboise will be the last actress to perform the title role in the production. She began her surprise bout on March 18, subbing for Christina Applegate, who broke her foot during one of the final shows of the recent Chicago stand.
"The Sweet Charity company is one of the most gifted and talented group of individuals I've ever had the privilege of working with. I know I speak on behalf of my partners when I say how deeply proud we are of everyone who worked on this production. However, our weak sales on the road and in New York have left us with little choice other than to make the painful but fiscally responsible decision to close the production in Boston," said producer Barry Weissler in a statement.
The show was to have begun previews at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre April 4 and officially opened on Broadway April 21.
The decision is a sudden one. In the March 25 issue of The New York Post, Weissler insisted that he would bring the show to New York. "Of course we're bringing it in. Why would we not? At the end of the day, the public will decide whether we are a success or a failure."
My daughter Myrna was a singing and dancing pig, and was featured as a foxette (glamorous back-up singer to the Big Bad Wolf who was dressed like Elvis but looked more like RumTumTugger...)
I know Judy and David are immensely popular Treehouse TV celebrities, but I must say Myrna stole the show! Of course not for lack of "hamming" it up by Judy and David (especially David). Lots of audience howling, shouting, clapping, squealing, and general delight from the rugrat set.
Very simple sets, but totally in sync with the whole performance. J&D keep a strong relationship with their audience by constantly breaking the fourth wall to keep the kiddies engaged. Mark Terene (of Beauty and the Beast and Lion King fame) directed and the piece moved along nicely.
My only complaint was that the sound was a bit loud, making it obvious that some of the group vocals were tracked, which seemed unneccesary given all the enthusiastic kids up on stage from the CharActors Theatre Troupe, who sang and danced their hearts out throughout the whole show.
Next year I hear the show is going to be Red's in the Hood...
After the general car wreck of Taboo, it's nice to see Rosie staying involved with Broadway. From BroadwayWorld.com, here's an article on "Rosie's Belters", a benefit concert for Rosie's Broadway Kids, a not-for-profit arts education organization:
Rosie O'Donnell is proud to present "ROSIE'S BROADWAY BELTERS," an evening of music and comedy that will be presented for one performance only at The Zipper Theatre (336 West 37th Street) on Monday, April 11, 2005 (8:00 p.m. curtain). All proceeds from "ROSIE'S BROADWAY BELTERS" will benefit Rosie's Broadway Kids, a not-for-profit arts education organization dedicated to enriching the lives of New York City public school children through the arts.
"ROSIE'S BROADWAY BELTERS" is a musical comedy variety show that marks Ms. O'Donnell's return to her stand-up roots while also celebrating some of Broadway's best musical talent, both established and up-and-coming. With music direction by Seth Rudetsky, "ROSIE'S BROADWAY BELTERS" will feature musical performances by Farah Alvin, Michael Arden, Elaine Brier, Alix Korey, Norm Lewis, Euan Morton, Shayna Steele and Marty Thomas.
Rosie's Broadway Kids is a not-for-profit arts education organization founded by Ms. O'Donnell in 2003. Using professional teaching artists, Rosie's Broadway Kids provides New York City fifth graders with in-school classes in dance and music, and a professional theater experience for those who might not otherwise have the opportunity. The program's mission is to inspire excellence, motivate learning, uplift the human spirit and install a lifelong appreciation for the arts.
Describing the evening, Ms. O'Donnell says, "Back in the days of 'The Ed Sullivan Show,' when New York City was the home to live primetime television and the world's entertainment capital, the incredible talents of Broadway -- the Ethel Mermans and Barbra Streisands -- were able to be seen and appreciated by everyone. I want to do an evening has that same feeling that show did and to throw a party that celebrates the theatre industry's very best singers. And this evening of music and comedy will help Rosie's Broadway Kids share this life-altering love of Broadway with children who live in this city but who do not have access to it."
Wow, this sounds like fun...a three hour concert celebrating the songs of Stephen Sondheim (he just turned 75). It was particularly interesting to read that several episodes of Desperate Housewivesare named after Stephen Sondheim tunes, the result of Desperate Housewives exec producer Marc Cherry's love of Sondheim. That's cool!
Here's the article fromBroadwayWorld.com:
There's not a tune you can hum, not a tune you go bum-bum-bum-di-dum? Have people actually said such a thing about Stephen Sondheim's musicals?!
If it were true, how on earth could Symphony Space have put together the three-hour concert that closed out Saturday's Wall to Wall Sondheim, a 12-hour spree of performances, reminiscences and panel discussions held in honor of the composer's 75th birthday. Yes, the Sondheim zealots -- some of whom waited in the cold all day to get in -- were plotzing at a succession of performances by Angela Lansbury, George Hearn and other Sondheim vets. But even if you had just stumbled in from under the proverbial rock, you would have had to been entranced by the sheer loveliness of the music. As arranged by the likes of Jonathan Tunick and Jason Robert Brown, as sung by everyone from the Juilliard Choral Union to Patti LuPone, and as played by an orchestra under the direction of the tireless Paul Gemignani, almost every song in the concert sounded so...melodic...tuneful...so pretty. (Y'know, all those things Sondheim has been accused of not being.) Has any opera company ever delivered a multi-voice euphony as divine as Wall to Wall's "A Weekend in the Country"?
I was down at the Jane Mallet Theatre today picking up my tickets for Judy and David's Pigmania (on until Thursday afternoon) and a matinee had just let out. Judy and David (still in Pig get-up, complete with pig noses) were out Meeting and Greeting the tiny tots. What a joy it is to see little kids who have just been totally engrossed and entertained with live theatre and music, squeal with delight as they get their picture taken with the stars and get a chance to meet the real live people from the stage.
The reason I'm going on Thursday is that my daughter Myrna is a foxette in this rock and roll version of The Three Little Pigs. As part of the CharActors travelling troupe she has performed all over the city in this show for the past two weeks.
Singing and dancing her way through March Break. Now that's what I like to see! I'll give you a review after I see the show...
I'm still feeling badly for Christina Applegate, what with missing her big Broadway opening on April 21.
However, it is a wonderful opportunity for Charlotte d'Amboise, who is set to finally get the recognition that she's due. I saw her in Damn Yankees(starring Jerry Lewis) in the '90s, and she was FAN. TAS. TIC. She was really a blow-away dancer. I could have watched her over and over again. It was better than Cats...
So, now, she's headlining a show. Since Charlotte is such a dancer, it will probably change the dimension of the show, making it more choreography focused. Should be interesting.
We're getting tickets for late April, and I can't wait to see her onstage again.
According to this article in the Boston Herald, it sounds like things are going well for Charlotte:
"The past week has been a whirlwind," said Charlotte d'Amboise on Friday, hours after getting a standing ovation for her first performance in Sweet Charity at the Colonial.
In a scenario right out of 42nd Street, d'Amboise was on Broadway less than two weeks ago, playing Roxie Hart in the revival of Chicago -- when she was called to Chicago to replace Christina Applegate, who had just broken her foot, in the pre-Broadway tryout of Sweet Charity.
D'Amboise was under contract as Applegate's understudy for the New York run, a position she was to maintain while in Chicago.
Now, for d'Amboise it will be all Charity all the time -- at least through its April 21 Broadway opening.
The Tony-nominated theater veteran is taking it all in stride. "You know, I'm not the least bit stressed out about it," she said. "I have two kids (18 months and 2years) so I'm pretty busy with them. And my husband (Broadway actor Terrence Mann) and I just bought a brownstone in Harlem. So I'm dealing with a brownstone with two kids and two shows. It's a lot, but I'm managing."
Producer Barry Weissler has said Applegate, who got mediocre reviews during Chicago previews, will return. Meanwhile, Broadway Web sites and gossip columns are abuzz with stories she was angered by the decision to let d'Amboise open in New York. Last Friday's New York Post reported the television star believes she can be ready by the Broadway opening, and was "flipped out" by Weissler's comments.
D'Amboise, though, wants to remain above the fray. "I don't read much of the press, so I don't know exactly what they are saying," she said. "And as far as I'm concerned, it's Christina's role."
"And I love Christina. She's just a gem in every way. It's a horrible thing that happened to her, but it happens to dancers all the time. It's your greatest fear as a dancer."
Still, getting the role of Charity Hope Valentine gives d'Amboise, the daughter of choreographer and dancer Jacques d'Amboise, the chance to open a major revival as the lead, and to play a fourth role originated by the legendary Gwen Verdon and staged by Bob Fosse.
This is almost too hard to read. This article in Playbill talks about the story of Alison Hubbard and Kim Oler who won the Rogers Award forLittle Women, and were then KICKED OFF THE PROJECT when it went to Broadway. This is a TOUGH business...
The musical-theatre songwriters Alison Hubbard and Kim Oler have had their share of highs and lows in recent years.
Receiving the Richard Rodgers Award, with librettist Allan Knee, for their musicalLittle Women was a definite high in 1998. Getting cut loose from the project by the producers who were taking it to Broadway was a serious low.
Charting the details of the songwriters' painful separation from the show (in April 2000) is a "Rashomon" experience: For participants on both sides there are different points of view about how and why an award-winning score did not make it to Broadway.
Lyricist Hubbard and composer Oler have moved forward to other projects, including the creation of their own fresh version of Little Women, inspired by the novel by Louisa May Alcott.
This month's Vanity Fair April 2005 (check out the cover -- talk about gratuitous cheesecake pics, and I thought I was bad...).
In his usual rant against George Bush et al, editor Graydon Carter starts off this month's Editor's Letter with a reference to Harold Hill andThe Music Man! He compares Bush to Harold Hill in the way he falsely scares people (We've Got Trouble... with a capital T that rhymes with P that stands for Pension, well Social Security actually...) to try and sell'em a bill of goods. Finally, a political reference I get. And what's this? George Wayne's Q&A with Robert Goulet talking about his star-making turn in Broadway's Cameloton Dec 3, 1960!
Next stop, the moon!
It is a play by Tracey Scott Wilson and directed by Chuck Smith. As usual, the theater was packed and the crowd was dressed up. I've noticed that New York audiences talk during theater and Chicago audiences chew gum...and Toronto audiences stay home. But I digress...
I enjoyed the play -- it was an OK story (inspired by an article the playwright read about Janet Cooke, the Washington Post reporter who lied about a story).
The play was about a reporter who has faked her resume and in her blind ambition to get ahead, ends up fingering an innocent girl in a murder case. But I really enjoyed how it moved along and the staging techniques used. The central character would have two conversations at once with two different people, the second conversation commenting on the first, and taking place at a later time. It wasn't at all confusing the way it was written. Apparently she was inspired by Tony Kushner's Angels in America where four characters are in two different scenes and their dialogue is overlapping and the meaning of the dialogue is overlapping. It made me want to use that technique in a musical.
Next month I see Floyd and Clea under the Western Sky which is having its world premiere at the Goodman. Stay tuned.
Mermaniac, "A Show Tunes Weblog", has an excellent blogroll which has been divided into the signs of the zodiac...although it mysteriously omits Blogway Baby...what's up? BTW, I'm a Cancer...
There's a link to an excellent article on the Academy's attitude toward musicals: Why is Oscar silent on musicals? From the article:
"Best Original Musical?" I hear you ask. Well, let me explain. For about 20 years, the Academy has had this category on the books -- but not enough movies to activate it. Here's the rub: To be eligible, the movies must be original musicals for the screen, soChicago, fabulous though it may be, doesn't qualify because it's from the stage. And in order to activate the category, there must be five qualifying musicals in a given year. And qualifying is tricky. The film must have five original songs integral to the story, written by the same songwriters. And then there's the Oscar-qualifying run in a commercial theater. It can't be on tape either: The Academy is very fussy about that. If it's digital, it has to come from a server. Not that even a pro could tell, but the Academy really hates tape.
And this year there were five qualifying movies. They're back! Show-tune lovers were about to have their moment in the sun!
Then the Academy killed the category anyway. Bastards! Write your congressman! The Academy is discriminatory!
Discriminatory? Yes -- but perhaps not in the way you might think. This is where I have to get into some history.
Remember me not liking musicals? Well, I produced one. How I ended up producingOpen House is still somewhat of a mystery to me. A musical about real estate, no less. It had to happen, I suppose -- I mean, finding a home is something to sing about. And setting a Realtor's patter to music, well, that was just a matter of time.
Let me tell you a little about the film's director. Dan Mirvish is the guy who, years ago, got mad at Sundance because they rejected his film. So he started his own festival: Slamdance. If you're into indie film, you know that's where the real discoveries show up. Anyway, the point is that Dan's something of a force of nature: Lots of people end up doing him favors, and after a year or two of "volunteering" you wake up one morning asking how you got there. Like me, sitting in the Magic Johnson Theatre in Los Angeles at noon, watching our Oscar-qualifying run playing for an audience of one elderly retiree and a bored gangbanger. How, indeed, did I get here?
42nd Street Moon Blogis a GREAT musical theater blog, with a Blogway Baby-style fanatical devotion to Broadway. It's published by a theater company focused on "Classic Broadway in Concert", based in San Francisco. I wish I'd known about these guys when I lived in Palo Alto!
Here's a bit from theirWeb site on History and Purpose:
42nd Street Moon, based in San Francisco, is one of only four theatre groups in the nation whose mission is to present concert performances of classic Broadway musicals of the 1920s through the 1970s. Since 1993, the organization has mounted five productions every year, and serves a loyal constituency who participate with both regular audience attendance and a solid base of contributed income.
42nd Street Moon contributes to the preservation and evolution of American musical theatre by presenting these classic Broadway shows as "staged concert performances." In staged concerts, actors hold scripts in-hand throughout the performance. There are no sets or elaborate costumes. We do not present our work through digitally engineered sound systems. The material itself is the star. This format allows our audience to hear the work with remarkable clarity, and to use their imaginations. We allow our audience to participate in the here and now, the very essence of LIVE theatre.
From an Anonymous Blogway Baby contributor. All I have to say is WOW...where did you find all of these? Although Cocoonseems to have picked off about half the group:
Broadway: Jamaica (Off-Broadway The Fantastiks)
SF Movie: Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan
Broadway: Three's a Crowd
SF Movie: Absent-minded Professor (hmmm...)
Broadway: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
SF Movie: Star Trek The Next Generation (TV Series), Star Trek Generations
SF Movie: Godzilla (1998)
Broadway: Sweet Charity
SF Movie: Cocoon
Broadway: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
SF Movie: Cocoon
Broadway: Silk Stockings
SF Movie: Cocoon
Broadway: Company (etc. etc.)
SF Movie: Cocoon II
Conrad John Schuck
SF Movie: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
SF Movie: Star Wars Trilogy
Billy Dee Williams
Broadway: Hallelujah, Baby!
SF Movie: Star Wars V & VI
SF Movie: Swamp Thing
Broadway: Bye, Bye Birdie
SF Movie: Son of Flubber (Hmmm again...are these Disney flicks really SF?)
SF Movie: Sleeper
Stephen Sondheim turns 75 on Tuesday, and Broadway is rolling out the mat to celebrate a lifetime of accomplishment. There is a great article in today's Toronto Star by Richard Ouzanian (The Two Sides of Stephen, Sunday, March 20, 2005) which does an excellent job of chronicling Sondheim's life and achievements. My favorite Sondheim quote:
The rest of the 1960s were a fairly desolate time for Sondheim. His next show, Anyone Can Whistle (1964), was a quick flop, to be followed by Do I Hear A Waltz? (1965), a collaboration with Richard Rodgers, the former partner of his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein.Man, that Stephen can really dish. Here's the whole article, which is hidden by a silly login system by The Star:
The relationship between the two chilled rapidly after Sondheim told one journalist, "Oscar was a man of infinite soul and limited talent; Dick is a man of infinite talent and limited soul."
"You're always sorry, you're always grateful."
That description of marriage is more than just a lyric from Stephen Sondheim's 1970 musical, Company. It also encapsulates the philosophy of the man who turns 75 on Tuesday.
For 50 years, Sondheim has transformed a craft into an art, transforming what he called "the elegant puzzle" of songwriting into something capable of expressing profound thought and disturbing emotion.
In gratitude, the theatrical world is honouring him this spring with almost non-stop concerts, tributes, productions and recordings, including Sondheim musicals at the Stratford and Shaw festivals.
"Never judge a book by its cover/The thing that counts is what's inside," wrote Sondheim in Follies (1971), and that could well serve as a caveat for anyone attempting to examine his life's work.
The tunes may often be jaunty, fulfilling the need for artificial exaltation that musicals are supposed to provide, but the lyrics that ride on those melodies are drenched in melancholy, anger and regret.
In Sondheim's universe, the incurably romantic optimist is constantly being sacrificed on the altar of grim pessimism.
Sondheim has been given all the awards -- Tony, Oscar, Pulitzer -- but his greatest claim to fame may very well be that he is the first existentialist in the history of musical comedy, sharing his awareness that, in affairs of the heart, we are free to choose, but that freedom is also a curse.
So who is this man?
Those not blissfully cursed with a passion for show tunes probably know him best for his biggest single hit song, "Send In The Clowns," or for his lyrics to West Side Story, his first professionally produced work.
But there are nearly 20 other shows to his credit, whose themes include American imperialism (Pacific Overtures), cannibalism (Sweeney Todd), obsessive love (Passion) and political mayhem (Assassins).
His musicals have been set in exotic locales -- Japan, Sweden, Italy -- yet they often come back to America, more specifically to the city that nurtured and consumed him at the same time.
Stephen Joshua Sondheim was born on the Upper West Side of Manhattan on March 22, 1930. His father, Herbert, was a successful dress manufacturer; his mother, Janet Fox, was known by all and sundry as "Foxy."
His parents went through an ugly divorce when he was 10 (he refers in a lyric to one of the joys of marriage as "the children you destroy together"). Young Stephen found himself in the custody of Foxy, a woman so monumentally horrible -- manipulative, grandiose and capable of a wide range of emotional abuse -- that he fought with her all of his life and finally refused to go to her funeral.
It's no wonder Sondheim sought a surrogate family. He found one that would change his life.
Foxy's summer home was in Bucks County, Pa., a popular haunt of New York theatre folk. Her nearest neighbour was Oscar Hammerstein II.
The famous lyricist behind ShowBoat and Oklahoma! befriended the young man and invited him to work as an assistant on some of his shows, a classy laboratory where Sondheim could learn the art of musical theatre first-hand.
After earning a degree in music at Williams College and studying composition under Milton Babbitt, Sondheim made his first foray into the professional theatre with a musical called Saturday Night.
The unexpected demise of its producer, Lemuel Ayers, caused the show to be cancelled but, even at the age of 24, the Sondheim style was already formed. Lurking inside the perky title song is a reflection of unexpected bleakness: "Alive and alone on a Saturday night is dead."
Sondheim was subsequently asked to join heavyweights Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins and Arthur Laurents on West Side Story, which opened in 1957 to enormous acclaim and launched his career on a high note.
But the lush romanticism of the work, undiluted by any mitigating irony, is alien to the rest of Sondheim's creations, a fact he willingly admits.
He has often denigrated his lyric from "I Feel Pretty," where Maria sings "It's alarming how charming I feel," by saying, "She's supposed to be an uneducated Puerto Rican girl, but you know she would not have been unwelcome in Noel Coward's living room."
His next project was another lyrics-only assignment that drew Sondheim in because of the richness of the material.
Gypsy (1959) was ostensibly the saga of how burlesque queen Gypsy Rose Lee rose to prominence. In reality, it was a chilling portrait of the destructive powers of mother love as exemplified by the larger-than-life Rose -- a character who bore more than a passing resemblance to Sondheim's mother.
When Rose screeches, "Someone tell me, when is it my turn?/Don't I get a dream for myself?" one can just imagine how many times Sondheim heard those same words growing up.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962) was Sondheim's first solo show and a great big hit. Even though it is meant to be a rollicking farce, he still finds a way to undercut the merriment, as when he warns us, "Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight."
The rest of the 1960s were a fairly desolate time for Sondheim. His next show, Anyone Can Whistle (1964), was a quick flop, to be followed by Do I Hear A Waltz? (1965), a collaboration with Richard Rodgers, the former partner of his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein.
The relationship between the two chilled rapidly after Sondheim told one journalist, "Oscar was a man of infinite soul and limited talent; Dick is a man of infinite talent and limited soul."
Starting in 1970, Sondheim's work broke through to a new level with the series of musicals he did in collaboration with director Harold Prince.
Company (1970) dissected modern marriage with a surgeon's coolly elegant skill, whileFollies (1971) explored the success ethic of our society, reaching the conclusion that, "Sometimes when the wrappings fall/There's nothing underneath at all."
A Little Night Music (1973) set a series of waltzes to Ingmar Bergman's Smiles of a Summer Night in a style that Sondheim called "whipped cream with knives," whilePacific Overtures (1976) revisited Commodore Perry's conquest of Japan in supple, haiku-flavoured lyrics that summed up Sondheim's fatalistic attitude to life with the solitary phrase, "There is no other way."
Sweeney Todd (1979) remains his masterpiece, a bleakly funny tale of a revenge-maddened barber who slits the throats of his victims and then has his equally insane mistress turn their corpses into human pies.
"The history of the world, my sweet," he tells her, "is who gets eaten and who gets to eat."
The Sondheim-Prince partnership ground to a halt with the 1981 failure Merrily We Roll Along, which dealt with what happens when ideals get betrayed. It features a devastating insight into Sondheim's worldview:
"It's called flowers wilt
It's called apples rot,
It's called thieves get rich and saints get shot,
It's called God don't answer prayers a lot."
He next embarked on a trio of musicals with author James Lapine: Sunday in the Park with George (1984), Into the Woods (1987) and Passion (1994).
Although these later works are seemingly marked by more of a willingness to make an emotional connection, there is always something that clouds the horizon -- the hint of disillusionment that Sondheim splashes into potential happiness the way some people add a drop of bitters to their martinis.
Perhaps the apotheosis of these contradictory feelings occurs in Into The Woods:
"Sometimes people leave you
Halfway through the wood.
Others may deceive you
You decide what's good.
You decide alone,
But no one is alone."
Sondheim's willingness to engage the human heart at its most complex level may be the reason he has never enjoyed the enormous popular success of an Andrew Lloyd Webber, but, by the same token, it's the reason his work deserves our attention and respect.
His most recent lyric, for a revival of The Frogs last summer, demonstrates that age has not softened his approach. In a song where Dionysus recalls his dead wife, Ariadne, he sums up his feelings with an archetypal Sondheim line:
"And it fills me with joy/And it fills me with pain."
After 75 years on Earth, Stephen Sondheim is still sorry and still grateful.
It was reviewed in the New York Times by Ben Brantley, and he gave it apretty good review, and with much of which I would agree. Although I saw the show a couple of months ago in Chicago, I think that he summed up my reaction to the show as:
Do these disparate elements hang together in any truly compelling way? Not really. That "Spamalot" is the best new musical to open on Broadway this season is inarguable, but that's not saying much. The show is amusing, agreeable, forgettable -- a better-than-usual embodiment of the musical for theatergoers who just want to be reminded now and then of a few of their favorite things.
Wow, this is going to be fun. We have almost an entire year of buzz to build up to the opening night of the $27MM Lord of the Rings Musical.
It's kinda cool that the global debut will be here in Toronto, but I'm a little surprised that everyone keeps saying that it's the first major show to debut outside of the West End or Broadway. What about Kiss of the Spider Woman? Started in Toronto...directed by Hal Prince...won 6Tonys on Broadway (1993: Musical, Book, Score, Costumes, Actor: Brent Carver; Actress: Chita Rivera; Featured Actor: Anthony Crivello). What about Ragtime? Started in Toronto...won a 4 Tonys on Broadway (1998: Book, Score, Orchestration, Featured Actress: Audra McDonald). Gosh, evenShowboat was revived in Toronto, and then went on to a triumphant North American tour and 5 Tonys (1995: Revival, Costumes, Director: Harold Prince; Choreographer: Susan Stroman; Featured Actress: Gretha Boston). Gee...what did all those shows have in common? Oh yeah...
Still, it seems really unfair to take everything from someone, even the accomplishments of his shows...
Anyway, in today's The Globe And Mail James Adams Weekend Diary (sadly hidden behind a "premium content" wall...and no New York Times-style blog appropriate Link Generator...sorry) was a bit of an homage from my post from Thursday. James said:
"It's been said that the Rings will owe less to the conventions of musical theatre and more to the sweep of opera and epic movies, while drawing on "ethnic traditions." I think this could be a mistake. If I want opera, I can walk the few blocks from the Princess of Wales to the new home of the Canadian Opera Company to see the completeRing cycle by Wagner. If I want ethnic, I can catch the China National Acrobatic Troupe at the nearby Hummingbird Centre. And if I have a hankering for cinematic scope, well, there are the DVDs of Alexander and Troy, and the three Rings movies for that matter.I'm still partial to my "Second Breakfast At Tiffany's" and from Brighterbuc:
In short, The Lord of the Rings musical should not try to exempt itself from one of the fundaments of the hit musical, which is to leave the audience with a snappily titled, hummable melody or two reverberating in their skulls as they exit the theatre. To spark this kind of thinking, I hereby offer the show's creators these (possible) song titles:
Give My Regards To Mordor;
Hobbitually Devoted To You;
Careful With That Axe, Grimli;
I've Grown Accustomed To Those Orcs;
Let Elvish Rule;
Gandalf, I'm Only Dancing."
You're getting to be a Hobbit with me?
'Swonderful, 'smarvelous, 'smeagle should be with me...
It's Gandalf Night for Singing
One (Ring that's a sensation)
Ma, he's making Eye at me!
My husband and I continued to watch the very cool The Songwriters series on DVD: Last night it was performance shot in the very early 1980s with Alan Jay Lerner. He appeared with his EIGHTH wife, Liz Robertson, and he was talking about a new musical that he was writing that was going to star her. They had met in 1979 when he directed her, as Eliza, in a major London revival ofMy Fair Lady.
So, I was a little curious to see what had happened to Alan Jay Lerner, his wife Liz Robertson, and the musical that he was writing for her.
Well, it was destined to be his last musical, and it was called Dance A Little Closer (1983), and it closed after one performance. Ouch. It is so weird to see someone talking excitedly about a new project, and then being able to quickly Google forward and see the result of their labors. It's about as close to time travel as we'll ever get, I suppose, and it really changes the texture of TV viewing. I find myself watching a lot of stuff from the past, Googling forward to see the result of their predictions, and then snapping back and watching the characters proceed with their grim charade of living out a pre-determined future. It's a bit odd.
The good news is that Liz Robertson went on to have a great career:
Liz began her career as a singer-dancer in a dance group called The Go-Jos and she then became the lead singer and dancer of BBC2's The Young Generation. Her West End career began when she appeared in A Little Night Music (directed by Hal Prince at the Adelphi)and Side by Side by Sondheim (at The Mermaid and Wyndham's). She went on to star in the subsequent Toronto production with Georgia Brown at The Royal Alexandra Theatre. In 1977-8 she starred with Ben Cross in I Love My Wife directed by Gene Sack at the Prince of Wales, after which Cameron Mackintosh signed her to play Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady -- she earned rave reviews and The Variety Club's 'Most Promising Actress' award. A season at Chichester followed, as Jessica Mitford inThe Mitford Girls, and then she assembled a one-person show for the Duke of York's called Just Liz, which was later broadcast on television. Credits Include: Dance a Little Closer (Minskoff Theatre, Broadway); Song & Dance (Palace Theatre, Broadway),Kern Goes to Hollywood (Donmar & Broadway), Killing Jessica (Richmond & Savoy),Canaries Sometimes Sing (The Albery), A Touch of Danger (Nat'l), My Fair Lady(Birmingham & Manchester), Sherlock Holmes -- The Musical (Exeter & the Cambridge), The King and I (U.S. Nat'l -- Carbonell Best Actress Award, South Florida Enterainment Writers Association), The Sound of Music (Sadler's Wells & Tour). Mavis in Stepping Out (Thorndike Theatre, Leatherhead and the Theatre Royal, Plymouth), Let's Do It (Yvonne Arnaud Theatre & Nat'l), The King and I (Covent Garden Festival), The Music Man (Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park), Beethoven's Tenth (Chichester Festival Theatre), Love.co.uk (King's Head), Something Wonderful(Nat'l), and Peter Pan (Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford). TV: The Good Life, Song by Song (Cole Porter and Richard Rogers), Words of Alan Jay Lerner, and Give Us a Clue. In 1984 she recorded her first album, Somebody's Girl; she has appeared in four Royal Variety Performances and she also performed at The Kennedy Center Honors before President and Mrs Reagan.Hey kewl: "She went on to star in the subsequent Toronto production with Georgia Brown at The Royal Alexandra Theatre."
Okay, okay, I confess.
I've been writng too many posts involving Hugh Jackman. Is it that obvious that I do a gratuitous post about him just so I can include his picture? Shouldn't I broaden my appeal? Aren't there other, more pressing issues to address? WHugh! I'm exhausted just thinking about them. After all, I know Jack about what's really going on, Man! I need to start doing some research before I Log-an....and write another piece of drivel...Oh no, I think I'm coming down with a cold...AcHugh!
I saw all the LOTR movies, but must confess (horror of horrors) I am not a huge, huge fan like my husband and daughters.
I always thought "Elvish" was what you spoke when you talked like Elvis Presley...
But I just read in the Globe and Mail today (Can a hobbit save Hogtown? by Guy Dixon,Globe and Mail Thursday March 17, 2005) that as a proud citizen of Ontario I'm helping throw $3 million into the LOTR musical!
Woohoo I'm a producer -- Sardi's here I come! No more rented tux! Given that kind of commitment towards a $27 million project, well, I sit up and take notice. So, do you thnk they could trim a little fat off the budget by just adapting some existing material for this project?
Maybe Smeagle could sing this to Gollom ?(from Kiss Me Kate)
"Why Can't You Behave"
Maybe Frodo could sing this to Sam in a touching moment of hobbit-bonding?
"Hobbits, hobbits who need hobbits are the luckiest hobbits in the world..."
Or what about:
"Bye Bye Bilbo?"
"Second Breakfast At Tiffany's?" I know this failed as a musical but why not give it a second chance.
And to borrow from the Fats Waller musical, Ain't Misbehavin': "Your Feets Too Big"
Hey, I'm just getting started...
Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus!
Christmas comes early to Broadway! Today, Playbillconfirmed that Hugh Jackman will host the 2005 Tony Awards! My husband and I were betting on who was going to host the awards this year (yes, I know, we need to get out more...). We both thought Hugh wouldn't do it, so I said it was going to be John Lithgow or Jason Alexander, but definitely a man. My husband thought it might be Ellen Degeneres...but definitely a woman. Then last night we both thought for SURE it would be Billy Crystal since he is a great host and on Broadway this season with 700 Sundays.
I'm glad to say we both lost the bet, but it is an honor just to be nominated!
That Boy From Oz, Hugh Jackman -- who will soon open Las Vegas' Wynn Resort with a solo concert directed by George C. Wolfe -- will return as host of this year's annual Tony Awards telecast.
The 59th Annual Tony Awards will mark Jackman's third consecutive year as host. This year's awards will be executive produced by Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss. In a statement Weiss said, "We are very excited to be working with Hugh Jackman on the Tony Awards again. Hugh has proved himself time and time again to be the perfect host, with all the talent fitting for a show honoring the exceptional talents of the Broadway community."
As previously announced, the 2005 Tony Awards will once again be held at Radio City Music Hall and will be broadcast by CBS from 8 to 11 PM. Sunday, June 5 is the date.
Hugh Jackman received a Tony Award for his portrayal of the late Peter Allen in TheBoy From Oz. He received an Olivier Award nomination for his work in the London revival of Oklahoma! and an MO Award for his performance as Joe Gillis in the Australian production of Sunset Boulevard. Jackman's film credits include The X-Men,Someone Like You, Swordfish, Kate and Leopold (Golden Globe nomination) and Van Helsing.
If only I was flying to Chicago for myTheatre Building Chicago Musical Theatre Writers' Workshop weekend on Thursday instead of Friday this week!
Harvey Korman andTim Conway are going to be appearing this Thursday March
17 for one night only at the Paramount Theater in Chicago.
Get outta town! They will be performing skits from the Carol Burnett Show, one of my all time favorite shows growing up. Nothing makes me feel younger than remembering the look on Harvey Korman's face as he valiantly tried not to break up laughing at Tim Conway during one of their skits.
And I'll never, ever, ever forget Harvey Korman as the recovering amnesia victim answering the banana instead of the phone, then saying "Oh silly me", only to turn the banana around and speak into the other end.
Over the years, (mostly in my rash youth) I have made judgments on certain musicals for which I did not care.
These are musicals that I usually saw or listened to only once and rejected right away. These don't include shows that I've seen more than once, or if I have listened to the score or played the vocal selections over and over, and still don't really like, such as Phantom.
I have decided to go on a twelve-step re-dis-covery program. Actually, there are just two steps -- I clear my mind and then I listen to the CD again. Here are the first couple on my re-dis-covery journey:
Titanic: I bought the CD a few years back, listened to it, and put it back on the shelf. Now as I take it out to revisit it I can't recall a single song. On second listen I don't mind "Ship of Dreams" but the score gets a bit monotonous. And you know what? I just can't seem to work up any more enthusiasm for the subject, it's been done to death so many times. Maybe that's my fundamental problem.
Avenue Q: I saw the show and although it was wonderfully produced, amazingly acted and sung, with a book that moves along nicely, I just couldn't get "into it". I just didn't laugh (picture me sitting quietly while the entire audience is literally falling out of their seats laughing...it was a truly bizarre experience.) I thought the songs were fine but forgettable. So upon a few more listenings of late I find the songs to be well-crafted ditties that are...fine. They don't move me for some reason. I sit listening to "The Internet is for Porn" wondering why I'm not laughing, when I still chuckle when I hear Tom Lehrer's "Smut"?! This one remains a mystery to me.
Among Those Still To Go:
Baby: (Book by Sybille Pearson, Lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr. and Music by David Shire) I only lasted through the First Act. I saw this with my sister when the Hummingbird Centre was still called the O'Keefe Centre. As I remember it, and my memory is fading, it was boring with forgettable songs. I never listened to it again. But hey, that was soooo long ago back before I even knew where babies came from! Shouldn't I give that another chance? After all, David Shire did write Big...
Sunset Boulevard: I only lasted the First Act on this one as well. Diahann Carroll was sick and the understudy (can't remember her name) was on. Maybe I should reconsider -- after all, this Lloyd Webber guy did write a couple of good things before...
I'll keep you posted...
Poor Christina Applegate...Lucky Charlotte d'Amboise. The announcements are coming in daily from the Weisslers, and it's looking worse and worse for Christina Applegate. Yesterday, she was going to be there for the opening in NYC. Today, hmm, who knows...
From today's Playbill:
Charlotte d'Amboise will be Charity Hope Valentine when the new revival of Sweet Charity opens in New York on April 21, producer Barry Weissler announced.Broadway is full of stories of last minute replacements who went onto glory. The most famous of course was Shirley MacLaine, who ironically played the lead in Sweet Charity, the movie. More recently, in Thoroughly Modern Millie. Charlotte d'Amboise has so often been a bridesmaid, but never a bride, a real classic Broadway gypsy, so this is a real chance for her to take and own this role. Good luck Charlotte!
Charlotte d'Amboise was standby to original star Christina Applegate until recently. Applegate broke her foot during the March 11 performance in Chicago, two days before that second of three out-of-town engagements ended at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. Understudy Dylis Croman stepped in March 11-13. Soon after, it was announced that the show would arrive in Boston with Tony Award nominee d'Amboise in the title role March 18-27, at the Colonial Theatre.
The producers Barry and Fran Weissler and Clear Channel Entertainment plan to present Christina Applegate in her Broadway debut upon her recovery, a spokesman said.
Also, in an associated bit of weirdness, the other two leads have been replaced as well. Is this a bit of housecleaning?
It has been a whirlwind three days for the venture. In addition to the above, it was revealed that Krya DaCosta and Janine LaManna would replace Solange Sandy and Natascia Diaz, respectively, as Charity's best pals Helene and Nickie, who commiserate with Charity that "there's gotta be something better than this."
LaManna made a name for herself in another Weissler-produced show, Seussical (she was quirky Gertrude McFuzz) and has since appeared in The Look of Love. DaCosta was part of the cast of Aida.
Also, congrats to BoingBoing for winningBloggies for "best group 'blog" and "blog of the year/best weblog overall". I've been a reader since Cory joined in 2000, and I've been a solid fan ever since. Here's a link to the BoingBoing post on the announcement.
Proven show...check. Great buzz...check. Responsible out-of-town tryout schedule...check. Proven star...not so fast there cowboy!
In another confirmation of what makes Broadway so darn tough, even when everything seems to be falling in place, Christina Applegate has broken her foot during a performance of Sweet Charity in Chicago. Is that too weird or what...you'd think that this was Wicked or something. I mean, she broke her foot DURING the performance. How do you break your foot dancing?
According to Playbill:
Applegate sustained her injury at the beginning of the show March 11 and continued to play for approximately 20 minutes before being unable to continue, the producers confirmed. The show was stopped while Applegate's understudy, Dylis Croman, prepared to go on and finish the performance.
The busy d'Amboise, a gifted dancer and comedienne lauded for her quirky work as Roxie Hart in the national touring and Broadway companies of Chicago, appeared in Broadway's Chicago March 11 and then flew to the Windy City over the weekend. Barry and Fran Weissler are producers of both Chicago and Sweet Charity (both shows are directed by Walter Bobbie).
Producer Barry Weissler said in a statement, "The entire Charity family wishes Christina a speedy recovery and looks forward to welcoming her back to the company when the show begins performances on Broadway."
Playing Roxie, d'Amboise earned rave New York reviews and the L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award, L.A. Ovation Award and Bay Area Theatre Circle Award for the national tour. Her credits include the Encores! production of Can-Can and Broadway's Contact, Lola in Damn Yankees (Fred Astaire Award), Jerome Robbins' Broadway (Tony nomination), Company, Carrie, Song & Dance and Cats.
Well, now I really understand that scene inWhite Christmas where the cast is rehearsing the dance number "Choreography" with Danny Kaye andVera-Ellen, up at the chalet. As you know, all the women dancers are barefoot, dressed in dull grey dresses and instead of "chicks doing kicks" they are doing modern choreography while DK sings "through the air they'll be flying, like a duck that is dying, instead of dance it's choreography!"
Last night my husband and I went out to see Dream Machine at Theatre Passe Muraille. We hadn't seen a show there since The Drowsy Chaperone! It really is a nice, small space. It had received four "N"s in NOW magazine. Written by Blake Brooker and David Rhymer, and featuring Denise Clarke, Andy Curtis, Michael Green, Onalea Gilbertson and Brad Payne, it is billed a "The spirit of the Beats conjured in a hallucinogenic, genre-defying musical".
What is a Dream Machine I hear you ask? In the program they describe it as follows:
"The Dream Machine was a light/flicker-producing device invented by Biron Gysin and Ian Sommerville in 1960. It was meant to transport the user into a waking dream state. The inventors knew that it was capable of producing a drugless high and hoped that it would become a common household appliance. It never caught on."Instead, we got the cappuccino machine.
The program goes on to say:
"The Beat Movement and its activities were many and varied: proponents advocated experimentation in all forms -- faith, food, sex, travel, art and work and through this, formed their own strange orthodoxy. Dream Machine started off as a musical investigation of the lives os some of the Beat luminaries (William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Brion Gysin) then it became something else. Fittingly, perhaps, and under the sway of the furious experimentation and playfulness the Beats were famous for, we began to experiment ourselves. Could we create a musical without characters or plot? Could we musically induce in the audience the emotions of these courageous, idiosyncratic, and frustrated minds?"Yes and no. The evening was nicely sustained on one "slice of Beat life" after another, as the songs explored the angst, the drugs, the sex etc. And the rear projection added to the whole effect. I'm not sure whether it was the piece , or the Beat movement itself, but the whole thing felt empty, sort of soulless. I didn't feel any connection to the actors, it was very egocentric, like one big navel gazing party. Maybe that was the point?
Maybe too much time has passed. The continuous drug fuelled angst and sex orgies on stage seemed less controversial and shocking and new, and more tired and annoying.
Although the lyrics were fun to follow, the music was a bit wallpapery and not very engaging or fun (or God forbid, catchy) as opposed to the memorable drug songs from the musical Hair.
Also, I couldn't help thinking of the Mike Myers movie So I Married An Axe Murderer as the actors recited some jumbled verse. And I half expected Vera-Ellen to descend from the rafters, ready to relieve us with some good ol' fashioned tapping.
However, it was fun live theater. The actors were great to watch in such a small space. Denise Clarke was especially captivating. The way her body moved was compelling -- strong,flowing, freakish at times. She was so deep into this piece that she no longer appeared to be acting.
I had a good time, but I wouldn't see it again and I probably wouldn't recommend it. But hey, I'm still thinking about it...
We finally have proof that Musical Theater is taking over the world!
I was surfing the TV channels the other day when I stumbled onto MuchMusic (or was itMuchMoreMusic?) and the Gwen Stefani video "Rich Girl" (featuring Eve). It caught my eye because it looked like a campy version of the Pirates of Penzance, with everyone decked out inswashbuckling finery.
Then, as I continued to listen intently, much to my surprise I noticed Gwen was sampling "If I Were A Rich Man" from Fiddler on the Roof! Every so often within the song she would go into "If I were a rich girl...yadayadayada....if I were a wealthy girl!".
Well, drop my drawers and call me Harvey! I never thought I'd see the day! What next -- Snoop Dogg sampling from You're A Good Man Charlie Brown?
OK, I've got another one:Ewan McGregor. Ewan is, of course, Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace and Star Wars II: Attack of the Clowns. And this fall in London's West End, Ewan is playing Skye Masterson in a production of Guys and Dolls. Ewan is also the lead in one of my favorite movies (and my husband's #1), which is of courseDown With Love. Although not a movie musical, it is achingly close to one...and the end musical number between Ewan and Renee Zellwegger is incredible. Every time I see that movie I wish they'd gone one step further and musicalized it. Perhaps it will appear on Broadway one day...
And John Travolta. We all know his historic, career-ending role in the Scientologist-fundedBattlefield Earth. But most people don't know that Travolta got his start with an off-Broadway debut in 1972s Rain. A minor role in the touring company of the hit musicalGrease followed (he had the much more important role of Danny in the movie), and in 1973 Travolta appeared opposite The Andrews Sisters in the Broadway musical Over Here!
Camp Broadway for Aspiring Broadway Stars
I just signed up my oldest daughter, Myrna, for Camp Broadway. This will be her third trip to Camp Broadway: Myrna attended twice last year, once for "Show-by-Show", a weekend dedicated toWicked. The second was a week in the performers program, which was an amazing NYC trip. Camp Broadway is a wonderful opportunity for kids to work with real Broadway professionals and to experience the thrill of working on the stage. I only wish that I'd had the same kind of opportunity when I was a kid, but these kind of programs didn't exist in the early [ahem]...'90s...
Camp Broadway Mission Statement:
Camp Broadway is a theatre arts education company dedicated to helping students and families experience theatre in creative and meaningful ways.
Camp Broadway began as -- surprise -- a performing arts camp, founded in 1995. There are many, many "children's theatre" camps, but Camp Broadway set out to be different -- to open a door into the authentic world of Broadway traditions, bringing theatre-loving kids ages 10 to 17 together with Broadway professionals. Broadway theatre has a unique heritage. Around the world, "Broadway" means distinctive, theatrical excitement and magic. It's this one-of-a-kind spirit that drives Camp Broadway.
Now Camp Broadway is much more than just a camp. We bring the same energy and enthusiasm of our camp experience to all our other programs.
Our arts-in-education division, Stages-for-Learning, was launched in 1998, with the goal of introducing our particular brand of arts education into the curriculum of schools across America. Our Broadway spirit reaches into the classroom whether you're 45 minutes from Broadway or on the opposite side of the country.
Stages-for-Learning has hosted thousands of students at interactive pre-theatre workshops, where students learn as they role-play, guided by professional teaching artists. Students have become passengers on Titanic, members of the Continental Congress in 1776, townspeople in The Music Man. Each experience is unique, bringing students into the world of theatre in a memorable way.
Stages-for-Learning has sponsored the distribution of The New York Times into the public schools, and even helped hundreds of Girl Scouts earn their theatre badge. We've also created a series of curriculum guides entitled StageNOTES: A Field Guide for Teachers that incorporates the objectives of the United States Department of Education's National Standards for Arts Education.
The experienced Camp Broadway staff is committed to creating affordable and sustainable programs that present Broadway as a relevant and accessible art form for educators, kids, and families. In order to achieve this goal, we've developed working partnerships with Disney, Bravo Television Networks, Group Sales Box Office, Radio City Entertainment, the Educational Theatre Association, and the producers of such shows as 42nd Street, Kiss Me, Kate, The Music Man, Jane Eyre, Titanic, Footloose,Amadeus, and Copenhagen.
Camp Broadway: Inspiring the Next Generation.
Since Blogway Baby launched January 2nd, we've had unique visitors from 46 countries. Broadway really is a global language!
Our goal by the end of this year will be at least one unique visitor from the entire global village.
How do you say thank you in 465 languages? Oh my gosh...here it is...
Here are the country visitors we've had so far:
So what's this I hear? Another Jukebox musical coming down the pipe? God knows we need another one...I mean,Urban Cowboy, Mamma Mia, We Will Rock You, Tonight's The Night, Good Vibrations, Movin' Out*, All Shook Up*,The Boy From Oz* aren't nearly enough to quench my thirst for a bunch of old pop songs tied together with a ridiculous plot. No sireee.
Anyway I hear they're putting together anEarth, Wind and Fire musical called Hot Feet (starring Dr. Scholl's?)
Hot Feet is being developed by renowned dancer and actor Maurice Hines (older brother of Gregory) and it will feature live music by Earth, Wind and Fire's Maurice White. Maurice Hines received a Tonynomination for Best Actor in 1986 for his hit musical Uptown...It's Hot!. Hot Feetwill feature hip-hop and contemporary jazz styles of dance. If this is purely a dance piece then maybe it has a chance -- I lovedMovin' Out, which seemed to breath new life into Billy Joel's music. And my inside sources says All Shook Up is getting good buzz in New York. (And y'all know how I feel 'bout Hugh Jackman in The Boy From Oz).
Maybe this is just the tip of the iceberg for jukebox musicals. Everyone knows it's hard to write new music -- just talk to Axl Rose who spent $13 million of Geffen Records money over a decade and never finished his CD. ("The Most Expensive Album Never Made" by Jeff Leeds, The New York Times Sunday March 6, 2005) It was supposed to carry the title "Chinese Democracy" -- duh, of course it's not ready yet! But I digress...
So what's next? Perhaps "Material Girl", an all nudie musical compilation of Madonna's music containing the breakout hits "Unlike A Virgin" and "Justify My Investment"? Or TheDavid Bowie musical "Major Tom", a traditional bisexual space odyssey of boy meets alien, boy loses alien, boy gets alien.
And I think I would pay real money to see what kind of a story they could weave for a musical called "TV Mania" -- a musical that combines a bunch of different, famous TV theme songs, like One Day At A Time, and Laverne and Shirley's "We're Gonna Make Our Dreams Come True" and Happy Days and The Facts of Life and Gilligan's Island...the lyric-less themes (I Dream Of Jeannie, Hill Street Blues) could be used for the dream ballet sequences...
Any other ideas?
*I like these ones, so they are the exception -- hey, it's my blog after all!
Here are a few starters:
1. Hugh Jackman (X-Men / X2and The Boy From Oz)
2. Robert Preston (The Last Starfighter and The Music Man)
3. Sarah Jessica Parker (Mars Attacks and Once Upon A Mattress)
4. Matthew Broderick (Godzillaand The Producers)
5. Mark Hamill (Star Wars andHarrigan 'n' Hart)
6. Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Spamalot): I get bonus points for this one since RHPS is a SF Musical, which is a rare breed indeed...
Anybody else? I'm sure I've missed a bunch.
There's a Starlight Express meme in here somewhere, but I too blinded by my hatred forPhantom to recognize it.
There's also a critically acclaimed musical based on The Last Starfighter which is supposed to be something special. Is it time for these two entertainment niches to unite?
Jackman, Hugh Jackman.
Since my idea of Vegas was formed entirely from old Rat Pack movies andconcerts, I had always wanted to visit and experience The Strip. I went to Las Vegas in January 2002 and I swore I'd never go back.
I found it depressing, tacky, seedy, and disappointingly cold [weather-wise]. Although I did have some good sushi at Nobu, and I stayed in luxury suite at the Four Seasons hotel, I just couldn't enjoy myself. I think it is because I don't gamble (lose you entire saved allowance once at the Midway at the CNE and you're cured forever!).
I had really great tickets for the Rick Springfield show at the MGM Grand, courtesy of one of my husband's work "associates". I was pretty excited to go and see a real Vegas show, but it was just awful. Vocal tracks, music too darn loud, lame jokes (hey, I can get that in Toronto -- just kidding folks!). Rick did look good after all those years of wishing he had Jesse's girl, but the whole thing felt too lame.
However I did get a fantastic backstage tour by one of the female dancers in the show (she was dating the work "associate" whom she constantly called "baby", and whom she eventually left for an Italian "count" after she got her breast implants: Yeesh!) and saw all the costumes and machinery it takes to run one of these suckers, so all was not lost. The dancer said she was just doing this until she could get a gig on Broadway (tell me about it!)
So, I left, vowing I'd never return.
Until I read the news in Playbill that Hugh Jackman is starting a world concert tour (is Toronto part of the world?) in Vegas -- WooHoo!
Hugh Jackman to Play Vegas; Wolfe to DirectThis is also the hotel where Avenue Q will play to an intimate 1200 seat crowd. Puppets work best in a Gladiator-sized arena, don't you think?
Tony Award winner Hugh Jackman will follow in the footsteps of Peter Allen, the late entertainer he memorably played in Broadway's The Boy From Oz.
Jackman will play Las Vegas, one of Peter Allen's more frequent concert destinations. Jackman will kick off his world concert tour in April when he plays the Wynn Resort.Caroline, or Change's George C. Wolfe will direct the Jackman concert, which will also boast choreography by Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall. Liz Smith also reports that Jackman's show will feature a troupe of dancers.
Hugh Jackman received a Tony Award for his portrayal of the late Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz. He received an Olivier Award nomination for his work in the London revival of Oklahoma! and an MO Award for his performance as Joe Gillis in the Australian production of Sunset Boulevard. Jackman's film credits include The X-Men,Someone Like You, Swordfish, Kate and Leopold (Golden Globe nomination) and Van Helsing.
I read somewhere else that Hugh will be performing there April 30, two days after the hotel officially opens, and that Carol Bayer Sager is writing a song especially for him. Sigh.
Road trip to Vegas anyone?
I saw it again last night. The songs aren't my favorite in the whole world but boy she can stand on an empty stage in a somewhat unflattering dress and deliver them in such a way that you cannot take your eyes off her. And the scenes withDirk Bogarde are uber-compelling. When he tells her he is so sick with anger he can hardly talk and then calls her a bitch -- WOW!
Or the famous scene in the hospital at the end (apparently she improvised some of the dialogue). He tells her that he's loved her the whole time, but that's where it ends. This movie has evolved into a My Best Friend's Wedding syndrome for me. Everytime I watch it I'm hoping the ending will change -- not only will he confess his love but they will get married. Oddly enough, that doesn't happen. Just like Julia doesn't end up with Dermot. Sigh. I guess I'll have to keep watching.
Well, this is interesting. The writers of Urinetown are now in process on a prequel, according to this article in Broadwayworld.com. I'm a big fan of Urinetown, and we saw the excellent CanStage production here in Toronto last summer.
Side note: The Toronto Urinetown production also had a Plane Crazy connection: Michael Coady, who played Sam Crenshaw in Plane Crazy, was also in the Toronto production ofUrinetown.
Side note number two: Mark Hollmann, who wrote Urinetown's music and lyrics, also took the Theatre Building Chicago Musical Theatre Writer's Workshop, which I'm taking now. In fact, I heard about the Chicago program via Mark Hollmann's bio.
Fans of Urinetown, the quirky musical satire on corrupt capitalism, will be able to make a return visit. Mark Hollman, who wrote Urinetown's music and lyrics, and Greg Kotis, who wrote additional lyrics and the book of the show, announced to Variety that they are working on a prequel to the Tony-winning show. It will most likely workshop at the Eugene O'Neill Music Theatre Conference this summer.
Hollman had yet more news as to the future of Urinetown. "This story is totally original, and we consider this one to be another part of a trilogy, of which Urinetown is the center piece.
Kotis elaborated upon the new work, calling it "unproduceable in the way we thought Urinetown was unproduceable...But we do hope to see it produced."
The show started off at the 1999 New York International Fringe Festival, a stronghold for new works of questionable commercial appeal. Yet its success at the Fringe Festival caused it to open off-Broadway in 2001, and it transferred to Broadway's now-demolished Henry Miller's Theatre on September 20th of that year, lasting for 965 performances.
The show, which chronicled a state of toilet totalitarianism, starred Hunter Foster, John Cullum, Spencer Kayden, Nancy Opel and Jennifer Laura Thompson, and won the so-called Triple Crown of 2002 Tonys--Best Book of a Musical for Kotis, Best Original Musical Score for Hollman and Kotis, and Best Direction of a Musical for John Rando. The show lost Best Musical to the more marketable flapper-fest Thoroughly Modern Millie.
The Eugene O'Neill Music Theatre Conference was established in 1978, and has fostered hundreds of new musical theatre works. Past conferences have included works by Maury Yeston, Jeanine Tesori, Kirsten Childs, Andrew Lippa and Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez.
The first performance of the eagerly awaited tour of Stephen Schwartz's Wicked -- scheduled for March 8 at the Canon Theatre in Toronto -- has been canceled.
Stephanie J. Block, who portrays the not-so-Wicked Witch of the West, is unable to perform due to an injury sustained during the show's rehearsal period.
A press statement reads, "[Block] has suffered a minor injury during rehearsal. She is experiencing muscle spasms which are preventing her from performing. As a result, tonight's preview performance has been canceled and has been rescheduled for Sunday, March 13 at 7:30 PM. . . All tickets for this evening's performance will be honored for this new Sunday evening performance."
Block, according to the press statement, is expected to return to the musical in a few days. Kristy Cates, one of the standbys in the Broadway production of Wicked, will play the role of the misunderstood Elphaba until Block returns.
Wicked is proving to be a bit of a dangerous proposition for its leading ladies. Kristin Chenoweth, who originated the role of Glinda, suffered a neck injury during the show's out-of-town tryout in San Francisco. And, Tony Award winner Idina Menzel broke a rib during her final weekend of performances on Broadway.
Here are this year's winners:
1. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
2. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly
3. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
4. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
5. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
6. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
7. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
8. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
9. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.
10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit).
11. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
12. Decafalon (n.): The gruelling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
13. Glibido: All talk and no action.
14. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
15. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
17. Caterpallor (n.): The colour you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.
And the pick of the literature:
18. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole.
Hey, finally, here's evidence that not everyone who loves musical theater is gay, contrary to the snide comments that come from popular media.Here's a great, romantic proposal story between two red-blooded heterosexuals in front on theTKTS booth in Times Square. Way to go you two!
Like many people, Betty Levy checks the ticket board at the Theatre Development Fund's TKTS Booth in Times Square nearly every weekend to catch the latest Broadway hit. March 6 was like many other Sundays for her—until she looked closely at the electronic board and her life was changed forever.
Levy's boyfriend, Aaron Winnick, had previously contacted TDF communications director David LeShay about flashing a marriage proposal on the TKTS board just as frequent customer Levy was looking at the listing of that's day shows. LeShay was able to work out a plan with the TKTS booth workers that day and Winnick proposed to a stunned Levy in front of all the eager ticket-buyers.
Levy accepted and was whisked away to a pre-planned engagement party, complete with a $100 TKTS gift certificate courtesy of TDF.
Above, Winnick and Levy are seen in front of the TKTS board just after the special moment. Below, Winnick's surprise proposal lingered on the board just long enough for a picture.
It was the first time in the 32 year history of the TKTS booth that it become the site for a marriage proposal.
My husband and I finally got to go out for a romantic dinner together last night. Our Saturday night plans were ruined by our eldest daughter's insistence that she seeFootloose at the City Playhouse in Vaughn that same night (she saw it and gave it rave reviews!). So another sacrifice in the name of theater...
Anyway, we decided to go out Sunday night instead (Desperate Housewives was preempted by an Oprah-produced tearjerker movie...so we figured, why stay in?) to our favorite Cajun restaurant:Southern Accent on Markham Street (inMirvish Village, no less).
We drove by the Bathurst Street Theatre where Bat Boy is playing and parked. Inside, Southern Accent was in full Bat Boy mode, having hosted the opening night party. Batbills (Playbills in disguise) decorated the walls and there was even a dish on the menu called "Bat Boy Salad"!
The salad was composed of baby spinach and radicchio with grilled asparagus and avocado, tossed in a lime olive dressing with sesame seed garnish (what else would you expect?) for $12. Add marinated black tiger shrimp pieces and it goes up to $16.
That got me thinking.
I mean, I've been to celebrity restaurants before (the Hog's Breath Inn in Carmel, owned by Clint Eastwood, where you can still get an Dirty Harry burgers and an Eiger-sandwich) but I've never seen a regular restaurant offer a musical-themed item.
What about a "Sloppy Pal Joe"? "Pajama Game" (roasted au jus of course)? "Wonderful Tuna"? "The Sound of Moussaka"? I'm sure you can think of others.
More importantly when Plane Crazy is a hit, what will its food offering be? Think. Think. Think. How about "The Plane Crazy Stew", a chicken dish made with breasts and thighs...
I really need to get out more.
We've updated the way archiving works here at Blogway Baby (how exciting...we actually have an "archive" now...) and we're basically continuing to pay homage to the excellent UI of our favorite "other" blog: BoingBoing.
So, you can access the Archive with the link under the title bar, or now you can scroll down to the end of the articles and there's a link to the Archives there as well. And, when you go to archives we've shelved January and February.
I started up dance/aerobics classes again with the great Sarina Condello on Friday! I took a session last year at this time and it was sooooo amazing.
Unfortunately any strength and flexibility I may have built up last year is gone and I'm starting from zero again (sigh). The class participants were assembled by Elaine Overholt, singer and vocal coach extraordinaire (she vocal coached Richard Gere, Rene Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones during the filming of the movie musicalChicago). I used to take vocal lessons with Elaine many moons ago, but now my oldest daughter Myrna has that honor.
Anyway, the people in the class are all singers/writers/musical theatre performers so it is a great group. Meredith Shaw and Giovanni Amenta who played Janet and Brett in the Plane Crazy workshop last March are back for this session too. Actually Sarina's class was how I met them and eventually cast them in the workshop. BTW, Meredith will be appearing inLittle Shop of Horrors as Chiffon from March 23 through 26 at the Isabel Bader Theatrehere in Toronto. (All proceeds donated to the Toronto People With Aids Foundation). And there were a couple of newbies in class today too.
Sarina's teachings focus on the African origins of dance and rhthym, with Latin, Arabic and modern dance thrown in too. I'm not usually the type of person who gets spiritual and in touch with the earth, but Sarina's enthusiasm and lack of pretense are so wonderfully inclusive and infectious that I can't help but discover my inner warrior!
By the end of the eight weeks I'm fully expecting to be a lean, mean dancing machine (and maybe touch my toes if I'm lucky!)
I've always loved musicals (really? wow!) and story pop songs. Well-written story songs are more captivating than one idea songs ("She's So Cold" by The Rolling Stones, no offense intended), in the same way that musicals are. Some story songs have been made into tv movies ("The Gambler" by Don Schlitz, "Harper Valley PTA" by Tom T. Hall) but so far none have been expanded into musicals.
Speaking of "Harper Valley PTA", what about other great country story songs like "Ode To Billy Joe" and "Fancy" by Bobbie Gentry?
And what about my story song hero, Chris DeBurgh? I mean you can take any song off theSpanish Train album and imagine the full story. "Spanish Train" -- a musical about God and The Devil fighting for souls, or "Patricia The Stripper", or the World War I "This Song For You".
I still remember the impact of listening to theElvis version of "In The Ghetto" (by Mac Davis) as a young child. I've never forgotten it.
So instead of taking movies and making them into musicals, how about taking story songs and making them into musicals? I mean you've already got one song written!
I've received some comments on my tagline, "Medicine for the Fabulous Invalid" -- mostly, "what in God's name does that mean?"
Well, Broadway has always been known as the "Fabulous Invalid"...it's one of those industries that is perpetually in crisis, at least for the last hundred years.
The phrase is put to good use in a fantastic DVD called Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There, which, by the way, was ROBBED at the Oscars...
If you care about Broadway, at all, you have to get this DVD. It is simply fantastic. The filmmaker interviews a grab bag of classic Broadway stars, including many that are now deceased (Ann Miller, for example). It's a priceless capture of a time that is gone, gone, gone, but not forgotten.
Anyways, back to the Fabulous Invalid. Broadway is often referred to the "Fabulous Invalid" because, every year, it is constantly painted as being in crisis. Let's face it, in the 1970s, Broadway was generally in crisis. NO ONE was going to Times Square (after all, it was just Sondheim musicals and hookers). Then, in the 1980s, Broadway was in crisis because all the musicals were overblown British imports. In the 1990s, the crisis seemed to wane and flow with each year. In the 21st century, we're now saying goodbye to the off-Broadway play (at least from a financial standpoint). But at the same time, there is always a bright light. The Producers. Hairspray. Chicago. Wonderful Town. Urinetown. Big. Oops, scratch the last.
And so why is Blogway Baby "Medicine" for the Fabulous Invalid? Well, with all humility, I think that if enough of us care enough to keep the spirit of Broadway alive, care enough to train our children to love Broadway, care enough to write it, to see it, to buy it, to visit it, to live it, to love it...then goddamit, Broadway ain't going anywhere...
Medicine for the Fabulous Invalid. Take a whole spoonful: It's good for you.
Gap and Old Navy are both owned by the same company, Gap Inc.
Both these ads feature musical theater songs! Has there been a corporate dictate to feature Broadway in Gap Inc. ads? I don't know, but I LIKE IT...
The Gap ad features Sarah Jessica Parker (who got her start as Annie on Broadway) singing "I Enjoy Being A Girl" from Flower Drum Song.
The Old Navy ad features the title song from Fame, re-written as "Shorts"...in particular "Bermuda Shorts"...
But thanks to an article in the New Yorker (Dirty Dancing: The Rise and Fall of American Striptease by Francine Du Plessix Gray, February 28, 2005) I now understand the title. Apparently, Oh! Calcutta! is a pun on the French phrase "Oh, quel cu t'as", which means: "Oh, what an ass you have".
I should have paid more attention in French class (thankfully my French teacher never said that to me...ewww). Who knew?
I was finally getting over the shocking and horrifying news that Mark Lester had been dubbed on "Where Is Love?" by 20 year old Kathe Green, the daughter of the film's musical director Johnny Green in the movie version of Oliver.
When I was a little girl I had a crush on that little blonde-haired lad, mostly because he sang like an angel! Now I know it was a girlie singing?
Yuk! Come on Mark, be a man...er...boy. So, there I am, trying to steady my nerves by reading a fabulous book my thoughtful husband gave me called Broadway Musicals The 101 Greatest Shows Of All Time. This is great book, with one unforgivable omission -- the authors Ken Bloom and Frank Vlastnik make no mention of Plane Crazy. Go figure.
Anyway I'm reading the entry on Pajama Game (of course) and a bit on Carol Haney who I've always thought was amazing. (I tried to pattern my performance of Gladys Hotchkiss on her; obviously didn’t quite make it). Get this -- it says that Carol Haney began her career in California "...assisting Gene Kelly on MGM musicals such as On the Town and Singin" in the Rain (where she dubbed Kelly's taps in the legendary title song)"!
Gene Kelly's taps were dubbed? By a WOMAN? Is this a pattern or what? So, I guess it's true when they say, "...behind every great man is a woman [who can sing and dance]!" Too bad Mel Gibson didn't get a woman to dub his voice in Pochahantas...
PLEASE tell me it's not true: Apparently Mark Lester has been named as a defense character witness for Michael "Jacko" Jackson's current trial. Eww.