Results tagged “Off-Broadway” from Blogway Baby
I know where I'll be in October! At The New York Musical Theatre Festival watching The Broadway Dolls amazing show TOUR DE FIERCE!
And spoiler alert -- there might even be a song or two of mine in the show!
From the NYMF website:
TOUR DE FIERCE
GIRL GROUP MEETS BROADWAY
Tuesday, Oct 11th, 2011 at 8:00 pm
Thursday, Oct 13th, 2011 at 1:00 pm
Friday, Oct 14th, 2011 at 8:00 pm
Friday, Oct 14th, 2011 at 11:00 pm
Saturday, Oct 15th, 2011 at 1:00 pm
Sunday, Oct 16th, 2011 at 5:00 pm
Girl Group meets Broadway in the event of the season, Tour de Fierce! This ambitious new stage production mixes elements of Broadway, Cabaret, Fashion, Performance Art and Film, in a non-stop song-and-dance concert. Starring The Broadway Dolls, a girl group featuring five of the most fiercely talented, sexy, and intelligent triple-threat ingénues of the Broadway Stage – accomplished and contemporary women who tell the stories of their road to Broadway in a surprising, moving and often hilarious evening of theatrical fabulousness. In a word, FIERCE.
The cast includes Tracee Beazer (Memphis, Hairspray, Good Vibrations, The Wedding Singer), Hollie Howard (Mamma Mia, Hairspray, Anie Get Your Gun, A Chorus Line), Tracy Jai Edwards (Legally Blonde, Hairspray), Robyn Hurder (Grease, Chitty Chitty Bang, Bang, The Wedding Singer, Spamalot), Chelsea Morgan Stock (The Little Mermaid, Baby It's You) and Gabrielle Ruiz (In The Heights, A Chorus LIne).
Approximate Running Time: 2:00; with intermission
You can buy tickets here .
I am thrilled to announce that my musical PLANE CRAZY will be in the Village Theatre 10th Annual Festival of New Musicals!
That's right, on Saturday August 14, 2010 at 2:00 pm at Village Theatre in Issaquah, PLANE CRAZY will fly again.
PLANE CRAZY will be directed by David Ira Goldstein (Artistic Director of Arizona Theatre Company), with musical direction by Kim Douglass!
I've been reworking the show over the past couple of months, and I had a "test run" reading of it on Monday. First of all, thank you to everyone involved, you guys were amazing! Secondly, it was so incredibly helpful and I've been madly rewriting ever since. I'm so excited to see the show up again, since the show has changed immensely since it first premiered off-Broadway in New York at NYMF in 2005. New scenes, new music, new lyrics, new structure!
PLANE CRAZY is a musical comedy about the emergence of the modern women's movement in the swinging ‘60s Jet Age. A time when the stews were sexy and the world was sexist. PLANE CRAZY is the story of three stewardesses who go on a journey to find their own voice and is set during an explosive time in history: The intersection between the dawn of the Jet Age, the introduction of the Pill, the genesis of the modern Feminist Movement, and the Golden Age of Advertising.
For more information, check out the Village Theatre website.
Stay tuned, and fasten your seatbelts!
It is hard to believe it has been 5 years since PLANE CRAZY appeared at the New York Musical Theatre Festival on 42nd Street in the Beckett Theatre on Theatre Row. What a great, crazy experience that was! I'm still in touch with, and working with people who worked on that production, like Hollie Howard and Seth Weinstein. Since then PLANE CRAZY has had productions in Oklahoma City, Toronto and a reading in New York.
After moving to the great Pacific Northwest, I got involved writing for The 5th Avenue Theatre's Adventure Musical Theatre Program, and acting as the writing mentor/lyricist for the Village Theatre Kidstage Company Originals program and working on other new projects. So I put PLANE CRAZY on the back burner (or in the hangar, to use a more appropriate metaphor.)
But recently I read about British retailer Primark selling padded bikini tops to 7 year olds and t-shirts for young girls that say "So Many Boys, So Little Time", and it reminded me of a passage from Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique (first published in 1963) - " Manufacturers put out brassieres with false bosoms or foam rubber for little girls of ten. And an advertisement for a child's dress, size 3-6s, in the New York Times in the fall of 1960, said: "She Too Can Join the Man-Trap Set."" . Hmmm, the more things change...
So I got to thinking about PLANE CRAZY. Perhaps it was time to dust off the script, say hello to those characters again and get PLANE CRAZY flying again! To be honest, I missed the characters!
So now I'm go-go boot deep in rewriting. New scenes, new songs, new takes on old songs...it's good to be back in 1965!
That's all for now...
A couple of weeks ago I went to New York City and I realized I hadn't seen a show there in three years! I was there last spring, attending Robert Mckee's STORY workshop, but only had time to see the last 45 minutes of TOXIC AVENGER!
This trip was all about seeing people, seeing shows and eating at some of my favorite New York restaurants.
I know there are a gazillion amazing restaurants in New York, but my trip wouldn't be complete without at least a couple of post-show trips to Sardi's. I love that I usually never eat dinner in NYC until after 10:00 pm. We usually get the appetizer plate, or maybe a New York cheesecake with strawberries...
We also made our regular pilgrimage to The Boat House in Central Park. Ever since we saw WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, The Boat House has been a must when we're in NYC. The scene were Carrie Fisher is trying to fix up Meg Ryan with a guy and she goes through her rolodex is priceless. It's so relaxing to sit at a table by the water and watch the boaters and the turtles!
And of course, the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station is another must. Fried clams...mmmmm.
Friday night we saw PROMISES PROMISES. I know a lot of people didn't liked it, and I don't think it got rave reviews, but I LOVED it! And the audience LOVED it! I would see it again in a heartbeat. It was so much fun. With a Bacharach and Hal David score, Neil Simon book, mid century modern sets, lots of dancing, Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth and Katie Finneran, how could I not like it? The opening of the second act with Sean and Katie is worth the price of admission - I am NOT a pick up!
Saturday afternoon I saw Sondheim's A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC. Catharine Zeta Jones was out sick, but to be honest, i was there to see Angela Lansbury and Keaton Whittaker. What a gorgeous show and Keaton was awesome! And seeing/hearing "Send in the Clowns" performed in context by the lovely and talented Jayne Paterson, I finally understood the song. Yay for me!
Saturday night was EVERYDAY RAPTURE, Sherie Rene Scott's one woman show about her spiritual journey from Topeka Kansas to New York City. If you get a chance, see it before it closes. It is wonderful. She is one of those engaging performers who you could just listen to for hours and still want more. And if that isn't enough, there are songs from Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood in the show!
Sunday I saw NEXT TO NORMAL. We were three rows from the stage right in front of "the chair". Alice Ripley is fierce. What an awesome show. But I have to admit, Brian D'arcy James was my favorite character (he played the father).
Monday night we saw THE KIDD off-Broadway with Christopher Sieber, and Susan Blackwell and Jill Eikenberry. Christopher Sieber is another one of those performers who are so easy to watch. But Jill had my favorite line in the show -- "Man up, Mary". Nuff said.
Until next time New York...
Anthony is starring as Joseph in The 5th Avenue Theatre's upcoming production of JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT.
Oh, and he was also a runner up on a little-known show called American Idol!
I hate to disappoint his fans, but he won't be wearing his JOSEPH loincloth at COCKTAIL NUTS...
Here's the 411 on Anthony from The 5th Avenue Theatre website:
Born in Yalta, Ukraine, Fedorov came to America at the age of 9 and eventually settled with his family in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. While still a toddler Fedorov had to undergo an emergency tracheotomy because of complications from a birth defect and doctors predicted he would lose all ability to speak. But after a miraculous recovery, Fedorov regained the use of his voice and soon developed a passion for singing. Throughout his teens he could be found shuttling between Pennsylvania and New York City, singing whenever and wherever he had the opportunity.
Following his success on American Idol the 24 year old singer has gone on to a variety of music, television, and theatre projects including being a contestant on Celebrity Fear Factor, serving as a guest judge on MTV’s Little Talent Show as well as appearances on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Ellen Degeneres Show, Live with Regis and Kelly, and The Tony Danza Show. He recently made his New York stage debut as “The Boy” in the current Off-Broadway revival of The Fantasticks and earlier this summer he starred in Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma’s production of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
His dynamic rendition of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” on American Idol garnered acclaim from the show’s judges who compared him favorably to Clay Aiken.
TIckets are going fast, so buy yours now!
Here's the 411 on COCKTAIL NUTS with your host Rich Gray:
For an unforgettable evening of music, comedy, gourmet snacks and cocktails, come join our host Rich Gray as he celebrates "Landing The Gig" with:
Anthony Fedorov (from The 5th Avenue Theatre's upcoming JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, and AMERICAN IDOL)
Anne Allgood (from ACT Theatre's upcoming ROCK 'N' ROLL)
Jessica Skerritt (from Village Theatre's upcoming CHASING NICOLETTE)
The NightClub Gentlemen (the "almost" Rat Packers)
Also featuring appearances by Bill Robison and Myrna Conn
Tickets for this incredible night of entertainment are only $35.00 which includes complimentary gourmet snacks. And there will be a cash bar featuring an original COCKTAIL NUTS cocktail -- all cocktail and food service is by VESSEL, our neighborhood nightspot that Esquire magazine calls one of the “Best Bars in America.”
Monday September 28, 2009
Door: 7pm for cocktails and complimentary gourmet snacks
Show: 8pm to 10pm
Union and 7th, downtown Seattle
For tickets, call the ACT box office at (206) 292-7676 or visit the COCKTAIL NUTS ticket page at acttheatre.org
Elizabeth Lucas, a friend of mine in New York, sent me this email.
Sounds like a super cool movie! Don't miss it at the New York Musical Theatre Festival!
From the email:
I am so proud of what we came up with and would love to share it with you. We are premiering the results next Thursday, September 10th. Please join us.
We’ll be screening at the SVA, a newly renovated facility with top of the line High Def projector and sound equipment, and the second largest screen in New York City. This presentation is the movie in its best possible form.
You can view the trailer on our website at www.clearbluetuesday.com. Edited by Alex Hammer, the trailer is a beautiful representation of the movie. If it moves you at all, don’t miss this screening.
You are invited to the World Premiere of the musical movie CLEAR BLUE TUESDAY, premiering as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival!
WHERE: SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd Street
WHEN: Thursday, September 10
7:00pm and 9:15pm
TICKETS: $20 (includes post-screening Q&A)
VIEW THE TRAILER:www.clearbluetuesday.com
If you are looking for something free to do at 4:00pm in New York on Monday August 31, why not check out the industry reading of the new musical FLYER ...
From the press release:
Fresh from its premiere Equity Regional Production in Delaware , Flyer, an award-winning musical based on the majestic and turbulent lives of the Wright Brothers, comes to NYC with a one-night reading presentation at the esteemed Florence Gould Hall Theatre next Monday, Aug. 31 at 4:00 pm.
Flyer was the first recipient of an unprecedented two-time (consecutive years) ASCAP / Disney Workshop Award for its Co-Composer/Lyricists Dan Tramon and Diana Belkowski. The second ASCAP award given was for their musical, Rocket Boys (film version known as October Sky with Jake Gyllenhaal), which had its own premiere last year in Huntsville, AL. Directed by Carl Anthony Tramon (SDC), Flyer was initially presented at the Lamb’s Mainstage Theatre in NYC, followed by a week-long stay as part of North Carolina's NASA/Smithsonian 2003 'Festival of Flight. It was also presented in abridged concert form at Oklahoma City University in 2006.
Dan and Diana have long-collaborated for the Broadway community and beyond, also composing for jingles, multi-media, and both Presidential and gubernatorial campaigns. Carl has been performing on stage since 3 yrs old, and directing professionally for the past 5 years. The current Flyer cast includes Billy Clark Taylor (Wilbur), Michael Mott (Orville), Natalie Newman (Kate), Beau Allen (Milton), Sabina Petra (Susan), and Trip Plymale (Charlie).
This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ very first plane sold. 2009 also celebrates the Centennial of the renowned Paris Air Show, which figured greatly in Wilbur and Orville’s path to notoriety. However, the message of Flyer is timeless, as the story is as much about the complex influences that nurture or inhibit potential as it is about a child’s dream to fly.
The Florence Gould Hall is the premier theater of the French Institute Alliance, and is located at 55 East 59th Street in Manhattan. Tickets are free, and may be reserved online at www.flyerthemusical.com.
Lucky number seven!
If you are wondering what to do the evening of Monday August 3 to celebrate Canada's civic holiday, (or you just want to rock out on a balmy August eve), look no further than NEW VOICES 7 brought to you by Contemporary Classics. Yes, this is the same concert series that Myrna rocked last December!
From the Facebook event page:
Its back! Don't miss the seventh edition of the popular NEW VOICES series. This edition is part of the CENTRAL HEATING LAB at ACT Theatre.
NEW VOICES is a concert series showcasing the best of today's most promising young musical theatre composers. An exciting blend of Sondheim and pop/rock, this next generation of composers is turning Broadway on its ear with musicals about grunge bands, electroshock therapy, road trips, and Anna Nicole Smith. Performed by some of Seattle's hottest talent, joins us for a break from the summer heat with an evening of brand new musical theatre songs.
August 3 at 8pm
Allen Theatre at ACT
700 Union Street in Downtown Seattle
$20 general admission, $15 student (with ID)
Purchase tickets at https://www.acttheatre.org/TicketsPlays/Play.aspx?prod=2340 (tickets on the right by the calendar)
**Some material may not be suitable for younger audiences**
Krystle Armstrong (5th Ave's HELLO, DOLLY!)
Mo Brady (5th Ave's CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, SEVEN BRIDES)
Sarah Davis (ZANNA, DON'T!)
Nick DeSantis (5th Ave's SUNDAY IN THE PARK...)
Beth DeVries (SCT's WIZARD OF OZ)
Christian Duhamel (5th Ave's SEVEN BRIDES...)
Ashley FitzSimmons (Village's SHOW BOAT, BEAUTY & THE BEAST)
Nick Garrison (HEDWIG..., 5th Ave's CABARET)
Diana Huey (ZANNA, DON'T!)
Cayman Ilika (Village's SHOW BOAT)
Kate Jaeger (REEFER MADNESS)
Naomi Morgan (5th Ave's WEST SIDE STORY)
Brandon O'Neill (Village's TOMMY)
Kat Ramsburg (5th Ave's MAME)
Don Darryl Rivera (SCT's I WAS A RAT!, BUSYTOWN)
Tanesha Ross (Village's SAINT HEAVEN)
Jenny Shotwell (Seattle Musical Theatre's JANE EYRE)
Troy Wageman (Village's BEAUTY & THE BEAST)
Billie Wildrick (5th Ave's SUNDAY IN THE PARK...)
and Justin Huertas on cello
With R.J. Tancioco on piano
Hosted by Brandon Ivie
WITH SEXY SONGS BY
Michael Kooman & Christopher Dimond
Brian Lowdermilk & Kait Kerrigan
Dan Martin & Michael Biello
Ryan Scott Oliver
Benj Pasek & Justin Paul
Jeff Thomason & Jordan Mann
The best kind of deja vu...
I saw this show last summer and it was a blast! Not only was it funny, but I really liked the music too!
Brandon Ivie, who is the Artistic Director of Contemporary Classics is directing the show again, with a lot of the same cast members as last year. Contemporary Classics also presents the concert series New Voices (the next one is August 3 at ACT in the Falls Theatre), which is always a blast, and is introducing Showtune Suckapunch!
From the Facebook event page:
ZANNA, DON'T! is a hip musical fairy tale about a matchmaking teen who turns relationships upside down, challenges our point of view, and changes the world forever. In a world where it's normal to be gay and taboo to be straight when Kate and Steve fall in love it's up to Zanna, the local love fairy, to search for the right spell to make the world safe for the two lovers. But Zanna's spell has a bigger impact than he planned. Is this new world really what he wanted? With a little magic and a fresh pop score, ZANNA celebrates the discovery of love in a world of adversity.
The Seattle production was named one of the Best Musicals of 2008 by Seattle Gay News and won a Seattle Times Footlight Award.
Director: Brandon Ivie
Music Director: Mark Rabe
Set Design: Andrea Bush
Costume Design: Harmony Arnold
Lighting Design: Robert J. Aguilar
Zanna: Justin Huertas
Steve: Jared Michael Brown
Kate: Sarah Davis
Mike: Connor Russell
Roberta: Diana Huey
Tank: Don Darryl Rivera
Candi: Lindsey Hedberg
Arvin: Arthur Allen
"Few shows have the appeal of ZANNA, DON'T! Something about it's pure sugary hopefulness satisfies a sweet tooth that many of us may have forgotten we have."
-The New York Times
"ZANNA, DON'T! is hands down the gayest thing I have ever seen on stage - and that's a good thing‚ It isn't without a profound message that's bound to put ideas into people's heads."
"A joyful romp!... ZANNA, DON'T! is a sparkler la John Waters to brighten your Fourth of July celebration."
-The Seattle Times
Hey, ZANNA DON'T! opens next Friday! Better get your tickets soon!
Someone bring me my smelling salts -- I just fainted!
Okay, maybe I am a little disappointed that Hugh Jackman isn't returning to Broadway in a musical, but this will do!
From an article on Playbill.com :
Two major Hollywood box-office draws will join forces in the fall for a new Broadway play.
No official announcement about the production has been made; however, should it come to pass the drama will likely be the hottest ticket of the fall season.
Barbara Broccoli, who was a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang producer, will produce the Broadway outing.
A Steady Rain tells of two seasoned cops whose lifelong friendship is severely tested when a seemingly routine domestic disturbance call results in the death of a young boy. When the horrific truth of the situation is revealed, one of the two must take the blame for the fatal mistake.
A Steady Rain would mark Craig's Broadway debut. His film credits include "Defiance," "Quantum of Solace," "Flashbacks of a Fool," "The Golden Compass," "The Invasion," "Casino Royale," "Infamous" and "Renaissance," among others.
Jackman, who was recently seen on screen in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," earned a Tony Award for his work in the Broadway musical The Boy From Oz.He is also known for his film roles in the "X-Men" trilogy, "Someone Like You," "Swordfish," "Kate and Leopold," "Van Helsing" and the recent "The Fountain" and "Happy Feet" (in voice). His stage credits also include Trevor Nunn's staging of Oklahoma! at Britian's National Theatre and award-winning work in productions of Sunset Boulevard and Beauty and the Beast in his homeland.
A Steady Rain played a six-week sold-out engagement at Chicago Dramatists in fall 2007. The cast and artistic team, headed by director Russ Tutterow, remained intact for the 2008 run at Chicago's Royal George Theater.
Playwright Keith Huff is the recipient of a Drama-Logue Award, the Cunningham Prize, the John Gassner Award, the Berrilla Kerr Award, and three Illinois Arts Council Playwriting Fellowships. He has developed plays at American Repertory Theater, The O'Neill Theatre Center National Playwrights Conference, Steppenwolf, New York Theatre Workshop, New York Stage and Film, and The Public Theater. His plays have been produced nationally and Off-Broadway.
ROBERT MCKEE Story Seminar in New York City!
Aka “Shut up and listen!”
When I realized I hadn’t been back east for almost two years since I moved to Seattle, I decided a trip to New York was in order. And what better reason to fly 5 hours than to attend Robert Mckee’s famous “Story” seminar. Yes, I had read his book, aptly named “STORY”, but I wanted to experience it first hand since I had heard so many great things about his seminars. So my husband and I signed up, and started packing!
From the website:
Over three intense days, McKee's Story Seminar effectively demonstrates the relationship between story design and character. Quality story structure demands creativity; It cannot be reduced to simple formulas that impose a rigid number of mandatory story elements. Robert McKee's course teaches you the principles involved in the art and craft of screenwriting and story design, and proves the essence of good story is unchanging and universal. Whether on the big screen, on television, in novels, on stage and in ALL creative work, everything works in the shadow of classic story design.
The seminar ran Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 9am -8:30pm. Yikes! I haven’t sat for that long in a long time. And it didn’t leave much time to see any shows! I did manage to squeeze in a matinee of EXIT THE KING (Geoffrey Rush is amazing!) and the last 30 minutes of TOXIC AVENGER!
I thoroughly enjoyed the seminar, and having Robert Mckee basically talk us through the book really helped solidify the concepts and ideas in my mind. And he runs these workshops with a iron (and grumpy) fist. No questions allowed except at break time (by then, you’re too scared to ask!) and no cell phones at all. If your cell phone rings by mistake, you have to pay him ten dollars. If it happens again, he kicks you out. And he loves to go off on tangents (aka rants) on the current sad state of movies, and various political topics. Perhaps his grumpiness had something to do with the fact that he had just badly hurt his back playing golf and had to sit the entire time.
One of my favorite parts of the seminar was the screening and anaylsis of CASABLANCA (the seminar really is geared towards the cinema, but the fundamentals of story apply to other mediums as well, such as musical theatre). Plots, subplots, text, subtext all unfolded before us. Interestingly, I don’t remember CASABLANCA being so funny! I chuckled constantly throughout the film. That is until the iconic farewell scene as the last plane out is about to take off. It was then that I realized, to my horror, that I had left my cell phone on from the last break! Oh no! What to do, what to do? And my cell phone sounds like a jet engine when you turn it on or off!
I thought about making a run for the door, but then in a moment of pure genius, I waited until the screen was full of loud, rotating airplane propellers and I pressed the off button. The jet engine sound of my phone was muffled by the movie! Robert Mckee remained blissfully unawared of my cell phone situation, and I watched the last few minutes of the film peacefully (ignoring the disgusted glare from my husband who couldn’t believe what had just happened!).
Mckee does this story seminar around the world, as well as single days devoted to genres (love, comedy etc.) .I would highly recommend his seminar to anyone who is in the business of telling stories.
When I read the words "children's jazz puppet show", I just had to post this press release that I got!
Culture Project Presents The Cat Who Went To Heaven,
Captivating Jazz Puppet Show at The Harlem School of The Arts
with Music And Lyrics By Nancy Harrow
Based On The Newbery Award-Winning Book By Elizabeth Coatsworth
Directed By Will Pomerantz
Six Special Performances Begin Wednesday, May 13, 2009 (suggested donation $10)
New York, NY, April 13, 2009 — Culture Project (Allan Buchman, Artistic Director), who brought to the stage the successful, seven season run of the children’s show Maya the Bee, has announced a special, six-performance run of the acclaimed children’s jazz puppet show The Cat Who Went to Heaven at The Harlem School of the Arts Theater (647 St. Nicholas Avenue @141st Street). Directed by Will Pomerantz, with music and lyrics by Nancy Harrow (creator of the Maya the Bee production), this delightful show is based on the 1931 Newbery Award-winning children’s book by Elizabeth Coatsworth.
The Cat Who Went to Heaven features notable instrumentalists Clark Terry, Kenny Barron, Frank Wess and the voice of Grady Tate. The delightful tale is about the intertwined fates of a struggling Japanese artist, his housekeeper, a Buddhist priest from the local temple and an inspirational cat named Good Fortune. The story’s timeless message of compassion for all beings resonates with people of all ages.
The Cat Who Went to Heaven brings together contemporary jazz and the traditional Japanese art of “Bunraku” puppetry. The full cast includes the singing voices of Ms. Harrow (as the title cat), Grady Tate (as the Artist), Anton Krukowski and Daryl Sherman, with Kameron Steele as the narrator. The puppeteers include Matt Brooks (as the Artist), Melissa Creighton (as the Cat), with Anna Sobel, Lara MacLean, Kate Katz and Eric Wright.
The full design team includes Jane Catherine Shaw and Amanda Maddock (puppet design and construction), Amanda Maddock (costume design) and Joseph Silovsky (set design).
“The show is a perfect introduction to jazz for children,” said Allan Buchman, Artistic Director, Culture Project. “For more seasoned jazz lovers, the show is an opportunity to enjoy Harrow’s beautiful score while soaking in the visual feast of Japanese Bunraku Puppetry.”
The six performances will take place at The Harlem School of the Arts Theater, 647 St. Nicholas Avenue between West 145th and 141st Streets, New York, NY 10030 as follows:
Suggested donation is $10. Reservations can be made at 212-479-0829.
Contemporary Classics strikes again!
On Monday August 4 I had the great pleasure of attending NEW VOICES 5 at the Poncho Forum at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. Presented by Contemporary Classics (Artistic Director Brandon Ivie, who also hosted the evening), NEW VOICES 5 is the fifth (duh) in a series devoted to showcasing new up and coming musical theatre writing talent.
I love this kind of evening. For $20 you get to hear amazing talent sing cool new songs accompanied only by piano (amazing piano playing actually, by R.J.Tancioco). That’s a value equation that is hard to beat!
From the email I got:
“Now in it's fifth incarnation, the New Voices series is a concert showcasing the best of today's most promising young musical theatre composers. An exciting blend of Sondheim and pop/rock, this next generation of composers is turning Broadway on its ear with musicals about grunge bands, electroshock therapy, road trips, and Anna Nicole Smith. Performed by some of Seattle's hottest talent, join us for a break from the summer heat for an evening of brand new musical theatre songs.
Composers in this edition include Scott Alan, David A. Austin, Adam Gwon, Michael Kooman & Christopher Dimond, Brian Lowdermilk & Kait Kerrigan, Peter Mills, Orlando Morales, Jeremy Schonfeld, and more.
The young composers featured in New Voices have won such prestigious awards as the Jonathan Larson Foundation Award, the Richard Rodgers Award, Fred Ebb Award, Ed Kleban Award and have had readings, workshops, productions and concerts of the work at Ars Nova, Joe's Pub, The York Theatre, TheatreWorks, Second Stage, National Alliance of Musical Theatre and locally at Village Originals.”
The cast included Casey Craig, Kristin Culp, Antonia Darlene, Sarah Davis, Nick Desantis, Lindsey Hedberg, Diana Huey, Brandon Ivie, Mackenzie Miller, Ryah Nixon, Kat Ramsburg, Don Darryl Rivera, and Billie Wildrick. They were all totally amazing!
“Climate Change” by Orlando Morales
“Exit Right” from Songs from an Unmade Bed
“For No Apparent Reason” from Room To Grow
“How Long” from Taxi Cabaret
“I’m a Star” by Scott Alan
“I’ve Gotta Get Out” from Ordinary Days
“Letting Go” from Writing Arthur
“Random Black Girl” from Homemade Fusion
“Say Goodbye” by Scott Alan
“See” from Writing Arthur
“The Sensitive Song” from Cops
“Simple Plan” from Dead Wives Club
“Walking Without You” from Homemade Fusion
“Way Ahead of My Time” from Taxi Cabaret
“Where I Dream” from Writing Arthur
“Why Can’t I Kiss You?” by Jeff Blumenkrantz
There were so many great performances, but some of the highlites for me were “Why Can’t I Kiss You”, “His Name” and “For No Apparent Reason” and “Way Ahead of My Time”.
I can’t wait until NEW VOICES 6, which is coming in December! Yeah!
Reality tv comes to the theatre!
Six teams create six 10-minute theater pieces while traveling the entire route of the A train and then present the work (fully costumed, body-miked and with orchestra) in just over 24 hours! This sounds nuts - I love it! And I certainly hope they are filming the process.
Here is the press release:
theAtrainplays, vol. XXII
A CELEBRATION BENEFITING THE OFF-BROADWAY COMMUNITY
ONE NIGHT ONLY - WEDNESDAY JUNE 20TH
New York, NY – June 15, 2007 – theAtrain plays, a celebration of New York, created by six teams while traveling the entire route of the A train (from 207th Street & Broadway to Far Rockaway and back) returns to Off-Broadway on Wednesday, June 20 at 8:00 pm at The New World Stages.
In what sounds like the next "reality TV show," writers, composers, lyricists, directors, choreographers, and performers will team up to produce six separate 10-minute theater pieces, and present the work - fully costumed, body-miked and with orchestra in just over 24 hours!
Produced by Lawrence Feeney, Valley Theatre League, and The Off-Broadway Brainstormers, theAtrainplays began in 2002 at the Neighborhood Playhouse.
Performers scheduled to appear will include Emy Baysic (Miss Saigon), Todd Buonopane (Spelling Bee), Stephanie D’Abruzzo, (Tony Award nominee, Avenue Q), Kevin Daniels (Ladder 49), Darius de Haas (Kiss of the Spider Woman), Natalie Douglas (6-time MAC Award winner), Ryan Duncan (Altar Boyz), Lawrence Feeney (My Super Ex-Girlfriend), Adam Fleming (Hairspray), Eric Michael Gillett (Kiss Me, Kate), Blythe Gruda (Of Thee I Sing, Encores!), Cristin Hubbard (Pirate Queen), Cady Huffman (Tony Award winner, The Producers), Timothy Johnson (A Chorus Line), Donovan Patton (“Blue’s Clues”), Thom Sesma (The Times They Are A Changin’), Darcie Siciliano, Robin Skye (Parade), Tracie Thoms (Rent film, “Cold Case”), and Melanie Vaughan (Ring of Fire), among others to be announced.
The creative team includes writers P. Seth Bauer, Barbara Hammond, Michael Lazan, Shawn Nacol, Stephen O’Rourke, and Erica Silberman; lyricist-composers Gaby Alter, Joe Iconis, Brian J. Nash, and Brandon Patton; directors David Brind, Edie Cowan, Michael Duling, David Hilder, Mark Lonergan, and Tony Stevens; and choreographers Wendy Seyb and Staś Kmieć.
On Tuesday evening, June 19th, four librettists will hop on the A train at 207th Street and begin writing the books for four 15-minute musicals, all set on the A train. Before each of the teams begins their journey, they pick a number between 3 and 5 to set the number of characters, then they choose headshots from a blind draw to determine who is in each piece. When the librettists reach the Far Rockaway stop, they randomly select, through another blind draw, their collaborative lyricists, composers, directors and choreographers, who have been awaiting their arrival at a nearby McDonald’s with two playwrights joining them and just beginning their journey.
Two directors will meet the creators of the now finished plays at 207th Street and they all proceed to Columbus Circle where they meet the pre-selected pool of actors, decipher their scribbles, copy the scripts and begin rehearsals. They have until show time THE NEXT DAY, Wednesday night, June 20th at 8:00PM to develop these works into six exciting new musical experiences to be shared with the audience at New World Stages on the set of the hit musical Altar Boyz.
Also involved are Alec Berlin (Musical Director), Andrea ‘Spook’ Testani (Production Supervisor), Andrew Donovan (Original Scenic Designer), and Carol A. Sullivan (Production Stage Manager).
Tickets for this ONE NIGHT ONLY event benefiting the Off-Broadway community are $50 for the performance, $100 for premium seats, and $20 for the post-show benefit party with the cast and creative team. Tickets can be purchased on-line at www.telecharge.com, by calling 212-239-6200, or in person at New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues.
I got an email from my friend Randall David Cook, who wrote SAKE WITH THE HAIKU GEISHA (see my previous post ), who has written a new play called FATE'S IMAGINATION which is being produced by Gotham Stage Company.
Here is the info from the email:
I'm sending this notice out later than I had intended, but I wanted to let you know about the new play I have opening Off-Broadway. It's a sexual and political drama titled "Fate's Imagination," and previews start this Friday (May 25th) and the show opens officially next Thursday (May 31st). Right now the play is scheduled to run through June 17th (with a possible extension to June 30th).
The cast is great, the director's done a wonderful job, and the designers are first-rate. (The sound designer, in fact, won an Obie two nights ago!)
This play is quite a departure from "Sake with the Haiku Geisha," and I'm very excited to be presenting such different work to the theater-going community. I feel very fortunate to be having my second Off-Broadway show open just a year after the first, and one reason that is happening is because so many of you, my friends and supporters, came to see the show and talked about it with your friends. Word-of-mouth helped sell out the last week of the run of "Haiku Geisha," and once again I am hoping that the play being presented will be worthy of discussion.
Below is all the basic information about the play, but I'd like to specifically invite you to two important performances next week: Tuesday, May 29th and Wednesday, May 30th. Those nights are critics' nights, so it's imperative to have a decent-sized house so reviewers can see and feel how an audience responds to a work. So if you can come next week on one of those two performances, please do so!
At the end of this e-mail I've provided $20 discount codes for all preview performances and $30 for all tickets thereafter. A limited number of $45 tickets are also being sold for opening night, and those tickets include invitations to the opening-night party for cast and crew and friends.
Many, many thanks! Hope to see you at the theater!
Randall David Cook
PS. The play contains strong sexual situations and nudity, so better not to bring any child who hasn't at least reached puberty!
Gotham Stage Company presents The World Premiere of FATE'S IMAGINATION
A limited engagement running May 25-June 17 *****
LILAH: I'm old enough to be your mother.
BROCK: I know.
LILAH: Does that turn you on?
A Presidential candidate on the verge of making history… A young reporter on a path of discovery… And a teacher desperate to escape from self-imposed isolation
Three unique individuals, three different paths, one point of intersection
Last year Gotham Stage Company teamed up with playwright Randall David Cook for its inaugural production, "Sake with the Haiku Geisha," resulting in a bold production embraced by audiences and critics alike. Now Gotham is back Off-Broadway with another daring play by Cook. A searing sexual and political drama, "Fate's Imagination" is directed by Hayley Finn. The talented cast includes: Donna Mitchell ("Mona Lisa Smile", "Syriana", "Pollock", "The Ice Storm"), Elizabeth Norment ("A Touch of the Poet" and "Plenty" on Broadway, last year's Off-Broadway critical darling "Dead City") and Jed Orlemann (Jack O'Brien's Tony-winning "Henry IV" at Lincoln Center and "The Normal Heart" at the Public).
--Please note: This play contain strong sexual situations and nudity.--
Where: The Players Theatre 115 MacDougal Street New York, NY 10012 (West side of MacDougal Street, between West 3rd Street and Minetta Lane)
By subway: Closest subway: A, B, C, D, E, F, Q to West 4th Street. Walk south on 6th Avenue to West 3rd Street, then east to MacDougal Street, then south to the theatre.
Showtimes: Tuesday-Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3:00 p.m.
Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission
To purchase tickets: Please call 212-352-3101 or visit www.gothamstage.org
Discount codes and specials: Preview week (May 25-May 30): use GSC1 for $20 tickets Opening night (May 31): $45, includes invitation to opening night party June 1-June 17: use RDC01 for $30 tickets to any show
Congrats Randolph and Break a leg!
Well, I completed my off-Broadway trilogy last night by seeing SAKE WITH THE HAIKU GEISHA, a play written by Randall David Cook, at The Perry Street Theatre. I really enjoyed this show, and it has inspired me to see more off-Broadway productions.
Randall David Cook's new play, "Sake With the Haiku Geisha," a collection of five anecdotes inspired by the playwright's own experience as an English-language teacher in Japan, is an often observant, witty evening about the ways in which other cultures can unexpectedly impinge on our own individual experience.
This elegant and precise production by the Gotham Stage Company, staged by Alex Lippard, combines Western realistic and Japanese Noh theater techniques. It is at its best in the first half of the 100-minute, intermissionless evening, as three 20-something English-language teachers are invited to share their stories on the last night of their visits to Japan. The uptight British graduate of Oxford, the gay but virginal American Southerner, and the hostile and sarcastic Canadian woman reveal small epiphanies that have affected their ways of dealing with loss, isolation and death, epiphanies that have their origins in the confusing culture in which they find themselves.
The three instructors are in Japan because they are "running from themselves," but the grace of the playwright's language and observations happily obscures this pedestrian insight. The other two anecdotes of the evening are less fortunate. As the Japanese host tells the story of his own family's decision to embrace English as a second language, Mr. Cook's powerful description of the effects of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs becomes lost in a vague if well-intentioned plea for communication. The anecdote about the Haiku Geisha herself, a traditional hostess who speaks only in the poetic form most associated with Japanese culture, turns out to be a predictable tale of true love confronting the threat of an arranged marriage.
As a hostile and sarcastic Canadian woman myself (tee hee), I enjoyed the bizarre, funny, and touching honesty of the westerner's vignettes.
The actors were incredible as well, playing a wide range of characters, all completely believable. I love it when a piece is written so you are not only entertained, but you get the feeling that you are getting a glimpse behind the closed door of personal experiences.
The Great American Trailer Park Musical will return to New York at Off Broadway's Dodger Stages Aug. 20 with Shuler Hensley, Kaitlin Hopkins, Linda Hart and more in tow.
Producers Jean Doumanian (Democracy) and Jeffrey Richards (Glengarry Glen Ross) will team to present the work seen last summer at The New York Musical Theatre Festival to tentatively reopen in the new Off-Broadway venue Sept. 15, according to production spokespersons.
Featuring music and lyrics by David Nehls with a book by Betsy Kelso (who also directs the show), the country-rock and blues musical centers around "an agoraphobic housewife who must tear herself away from Dr. Phil long enough to leave her trailer and save her marriage.
Congratulations guys! I saw the showcase production of The Great American Trailer Park Musical at NYMF 04 and really enjoyed it. I was volunteering for the festival so I was able to grab a seat in a sold out performance (I just had to fold some programs). It was fun, trashy, fresh, goofy and a definite crowd pleaser.
Whatever rough edges there were, were more than overcome by the freshness of the piece, and the sense that it knew exactly what it was, and was delivering it come hell or high water. I also recall the cast being fabulous. There was only one moment in the show where it broke the fourth wall ("of course we'll have a happy ending, this is a musical") and despite the fact that it got a big laugh, was completely unnecessary to the charm of the show. (Sorry, those nudge nudge wink winks are a touchy spot for me). I wonder if they left it in...
Shuler Hensely's credits include Oklahoma! and Van Helsing -- just like Hugh Jackman! Sorry, I just can't go that long without a reference to the Mighty Jackman...
Susan Brinkley, who produced the long-running Off-Broadway rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, pleaded guilty May 24 to taking $48,000 from film and television directors Carl and Rob Reiner, and "Seinfeld" producer George Shapiro.
Brinkley accepted the money in 2001 with the understanding that it would be used to produce a play written by Annie Reiner, Carl's daughter. Instead, said Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, she put the money into Hedwig. When the Reiners and Shapiro filed a complaint, the office of state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer arranged a settlement in which Brinkley was to repay the trio and accept a lifetime ban on optioning new theatre projects. However, argued Morgenthau, Brinkley proceeded to repay the debt by stealing money from the nonprofit Ensemble Studio Theater, where she served as executive director.
Yeesh, what was she thinking? It was supposed to be for his daughter's play, for goodness sake. Did she think that Carl wouldn't notice?
I'm Not Sure I Wanna Be a Producer!
The Zipper Theatre is a really cool, intimate, converted zipper factory. The seats are all reclaimed bucket car seats, some single, some double.
Directed and conceived byRoger Rees and choreographed by Neuwirth's Chicago colleague Ann Reinking, the show introduces a bedraggled woman who returns to a run-down watering hole populated by two thugs, a pianist, and a barkeep.
In a 90-minute span of time, songs by Kurt Weill are performed -- not telling a particular story but suggesting conflicts within the lost title character, and between her and the men of the joint. My favorite number is the "Saga of Jenny" (which, BTW, Julie Andrews also performs asGertrude Lawrence in the movie musical Star!).
And I read in this article in Playbill that the show is running in San Francisco at the Post Street Theatre until May 25. I'm not familiar with that theater but I'm hoping it is as intimate a space as the Zipper was, because I'm not sure the show would work in a really large venue. You kind of need to feel like you're a fly on the wall.
Anyway, if you love Bebe and you love Kurt Weill, you'll enjoy this show! In a world wherenobody's got no class, Bebe is filthy with it!
I've been listening to the original cast recording of The MAD Show -- A New Musical Revue based on MAD Magazine, which opened Off-Broadway at the New Theatre on January 9, 1966 and ran for 871 performances.
Being a big reader of MAD Magazine since I could read, (I especially loved the "Sung to the Tune of" comedy songs) I was excited to get the CD. The music is by Mary Rodgers, lyrics by Marshall Barer, Larry Siegel and Steven Vinaver, and book by Larry Siegel and Stan Hart. The cast includes Linda Lavin, Macintyre Dixon, Dick Libertini, Paul Sand and Jo Anne Worley (how great is that line up!). Of course, the production was conceived and directed by "Alfred E. Neuman".
There are some wonderful anecdotes in the liner notes (hey, that rhymes!) written by Mary Rodgers in 2004. In 1965 the creators got permission from Bill Gaines, the publisher of MAD, to create a musical revue on the condition that he had the right to toss out any material he didn't like. She goes on to say:
So anyway, two days before rehearsals were to begin, Bill Gaines finally decides to exercise his option. He wants to hear the material. Picture this: A nasty, hot little attic room above the New Theatre. Bill Gaines and his MAD Mag suits, Columbia Records execs (they had, sight unseen or heard, agreed to produce the album) and their suits, Steven Vinaver in his suit (tweedy) Stan, Larry and Mary, nondescriptly attired, huddled in a corner, Sam Pottle the musical director looking like your normal Yalie, which he was, poised to play the out-of-tune upright, and: Marshall wearing pointy boots, jeans, a shirt festooned with yesterday's tuna fish sandwich, and a fringed leather jacket. He is foaming at the mouth from an overdose of Tums, squinting at his coffee-stained, unpaginated bunch of lyrics, putting on his distance glasses, taking off his distance glasses, losing his distance glasses (resting on his head). He stumbles through the entire score at the end of which SILENCE. Bill Gaines rises. Reminds the room of his right to toss out any material he doesn't like. And what doesn't he like? Everything. He doesn't like everything. Couple of tunes, maybe, but otherwise, forget it. This is Friday, remember? And we start rehearsal on Monday. What me worry? You betcha!
Needless to say rewrites were done, presented and approved. The MAD Show opened on time "to some pretty terrific reviews" and ran for over two years.
Listening to the show you get an overwhelming sense of the good-natured, innocent, and joyous parody. Despite the hilarious parody it never feels cynical, or bitter, or self-congratulatory. I loved it. It's definitely comedy first, and music second but it totally works. It also really feels like a musical version of MAD magazine, which stands in comparison to the current late night show MAD TV, which although funny at times doesn't feel like MAD magazine at all. My favorite numbers are "Misery Is" (a charming send up of "Happiness Is" from You're A Good Man Charlie Brown), "The Boy From..." ( the classic parody of "The Girl From Ipanema") and Kiddie TV (Pompus Room is a hilarious send up of Romper Room).
The lyrics to "The Boy From..." are credited to Esteban Ria Nido. Ted Chaplin explains this in a super cool anecdote:
Spanish to English: Esteban = Stephen. Ria = river. Nido = nest. German to English: Sond = sound, or body of water, as in "Long Island Sound." Heim = home, or nest. In thePlaybill for The MAD Show the lyricist of "The Boy From..." is listed as Nom De Plume. Here is what this all means: when Mary Rodgers was in the pickle she describes above, she called on her friend Stephen Sondheim to help out. This was the year of "Do I Hear A Waltz?" Sondheim was a determined as ever to make his mark as a composer and lyricist. So instead of telling the world right off that this would be another set of Sondheim lyrics -- brilliant, one might add -- he decided to take a "nom de plume", or pen name, and translate his own name into Spanish, in keeping with the South American nature of the song parodied, "The Girl From Ipanema." (Musical theater buffs take note: turns out "The Girl from Ipanema" was originally intended for a musical comedy entitled "Blimp" which, as far as we know, was never produced.) Once Sondheim's career became established with "Company" and "Follies" and the rest, he removed the puzzle from his own participation in "The Boy From...".
Wow. Sondheim is connected to MAD Magazine. I have a whole new level of respect for him!
When I was down at the New York Musical Theatre Festivallast September I went to a reading of Captain Louie, a new family musical by Stephen Schwartz (Music and Lyrics) and Anthony Stein (Libretto) based on the picture book The Trip byEzra Jack Keats.
It is the story of Louie, who feels lonely in a new neighborhood. Looking for something to cheer him up on a Halloween Night, he returns to his old neighborhood friends in an imaginative journey on the wings of his favorite toy, a little red plane. If I remember properly it was described as being about friendship and the ability to make new friends and the importance of old ones.
It was a true reading, with all the kids sitting with music stands and just piano accompaniment. I was dazzled by the talent of the kids, entertained by the music (very easy on the ears), but underwhelmed by the story. Now there wasn't any choreography and I believe it was presented in a somewhat shortened version. So I promised myself I would go and see the full-up production if and when it came to be.
Good news! Captain Louie, opens at the York Theatre (NY, 54th St. off Lexington) on May 8 for a 6-week run. Captain Louie is directed Meridee Stein who co-produced with Pam Koslow and Kurt Peterson at the York (James Morgan, Producing Artistic Director).
Apparently, a tour is in the works for 2006-2007 and the Captain Louie CD will be available from PS Classics in May.
I get a great weekly newsletter from the ACLCL that has all sorts of great tidbits on Canadian musical theater.
In this week's issue they talk about DUDDY, a musical based on Mordecai Richler's The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, which was abook (1959), then the movie (1974) that launched the career ofRichard Dreyfuss, and then the Canadian musical in 1984. Or, was it the off-Broadway musical by Alan Menken in 1987? Or is it this onefrom 1997 with lyrics by Edward Gallardo? Or is it this one, also from 1997, with lyrics by Eyal Bitton? How many musical versions of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz are there?!?
From the ACLCL Newsletter:
DUDDY was a musical based on the book and the movie The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. April 7, 2005 marked the 21st anniversary of the opening night of DUDDY at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton in 1984. This past Monday night, many of the cast members had a wonderful reunion party at Grano's Ristorante on Yonge St. in Toronto. And a wonderful time was had by all.
DUDDY was a unique experience mostly because the cast became a family on the first day of rehearsal as we went around the room introducing each and every member of the company. And stellar company it was, starting with writer Mordecai Richler, and working through the cast to David Gale who introduced himself as playing "3rd Jew from the left". They came from all across Canada plus a few from New York. The family survived the loss of its original director, a de-moralizing re-rehearsal period, cancellations of the promised major tour, and an early closing in Ottawa. We bonded on that first day and the love and friendship continues.
Many attended the reunion party and those who couldn't, sent greetings or phoned because they couldn't make it in person. No one forgot. Our special surprise was the presence of Lonny Price, the star of the show (and the heart and soul of it too), who took the time to fly up from New York for the event.
Sadly we have lost some of our family*, but I would like to remember everyone here, because it's important to remember our history. This seemed an appropriate place since everyone on this e-list cares about musical theatre. La Chaim!
The company/family of DUDDY included: Wendy Abbott, B. J. (Judy) Armstrong, Ted Beniades, Jim Betts, Sal Bienstock, Marshall Borden, Jay Brazeau, Howard Cable, Faye Cohen, Ed Connell, Louise Currie, Diane Fabian, Jan Filips, Donald Finlayson, Dom Fiore, Robert Fox*, David Gale, Sam Gesser, Marcy Anne Goldman & Benjy Gutkin, Rosanne Hopkins, Don Horsburgh, Scott A. Hurst, Howard Jerome, Reid Jones*, Judith Lee, Jerry Lieber, Brian Macdonald, Sam Malkin, Larry Mannell, J. Gordon Masten, Clarice McCord, Suzanne Mess, Peter Messaline, Jack Northmore*, Marlane O'Brien, Ted Pearson*, Marshall Perlmuter*, Lonny Price, Max Reimer, Nicholas Rice, Mordecai Richler*, Jason Ross, Stephen Ross, Joey Shulman, Philip Silver, Anna Starnino, Mike Stoller, Vinetta Strombergs, Anne Wootten and "Broadway Joe" Shoctor*.
DUDDY -- The great Canadian musical experience that never made it to Broadway. But those who went through the experience just refuse to forget what a wonderful time it was. May you all have the good fortune of being a part of something so special.
Here's a special musical that is generally referred to as a flop, but which has been unfairly maligned (IMHO).
I guess I was a bit surprised since the subject matter is something she doesn't encounter much at school and the CD I have is an off-Broadway restaging from 1987 with just Kander's piano accompaniment. Not a lot of bells and whistles.
She was taken with Kander's famous vampy musical style and Ebb's engaging lyrics. In particular, she really enjoyed the song "Sign Here" which is sung by the character Harry who is trying to get Flora to join the Communist Party (free milk for kids, don't make cannon fodder of our youth, that type of stuff) and sings the refrain "It's clear, it's clear you're a communist, sign here!"
Now I know I'm not the first person to tout musical theater as a tool for teaching kids. But this is a perfect example. Musical theater can take on a complex subject and deliver it in a funny, entertaining way, giving kids the emotional and informational highlights that otherwise might be dry reading for them. It was my daughter who came to me after listening to the CD about twenty times (as kids do) and said "Mommy, what's communism?" We had a great discussion about communism, history, and the Depression that I'm sure would not have occurred without Flora as a catalyst.
This also reinforces the fact that kids don't need to be spoon fed music in their education. They are more than receptive to all kinds of music at an early age. They may not "get" everything right away but hey, isn't that part of a parent's job?
The only downside is that Trinity walks through the halls of her most definitely capitalist-oriented private school singing at the top of her voice "You're a Communist, Sign Here!" Kids will be kids...
The article does a nice job of profiling the new impresario, Morris Berchard, who is funding this mid-size musical, to the tune of $500K...he's certainly done a good job of building advertising awareness with a significant bus shelter campaign.
With theater in Toronto a definitely iffie proposition in Toronto over the last two years, it's nice to see new producers jumping into the fray. Especially in the under-served mid-sized musical department. From the article:
Bat Boy the Musical was inspired by stories that appeared in the early '90s in the tabloid Weekly World News. To this day, the paper's former managing editor claims the stories of a hybrid child were true, although it must be noted that the tabloid owns the Bat Boy trademark and has taken royalties from productions off Broadway, in London's West End and across the US.
Bat Boy the Musical is being marketed as a universal story of an outsider trying to fit in. That's what appealed to producer Morris Berchard, who's spending close to $500,000 of his own money to bring it to the Toronto stage. Just like Schramek and several of the sort-of-familiar character actors who comprise the cast of 10, Berchard sees Bat Boy the Musical as his bid for wider acceptance.
"Right now, I'm a little bit like Bat Boy. I'm an outsider trying to get in," says Berchard, a youthful looking 49, assessing his relationship to Toronto's theatre community. Winnipeg-born Berchard always dreamed of being an actor, but his parents advised him to seek greater financial security. So he took his psychology and sociology degrees to a fledgling Toronto firm in the early '80s and helped turn it into Canada's biggest purveyor of employee assistance programs. Berchard is vice-chairman of WarrenShepell, a company that no longer requires his day-to-day attention, leaving him vulnerable to the theatre bug.
He became transfixed by Bat Boy the Musical last spring, after he attended a reading by the original off-Broadway cast. The show was a cult-hit in New York, and Berchard was considering an investment in the London run. "It just blew me away," he says, and he ended up bringing it to Toronto with the creators' blessings. "They took a bit of a chance, because I'd never produced anything in Toronto before."
Perhaps not, but Berchard is getting top-notch advice from Donald Farber, a veteran entertainment lawyer in New York. The show's associate producer is Marlene Smith, the seasoned Toronto producer known for bringing Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats to town in the 1980s. As well, Berchard isn't cutting corners.
"He didn't cheap out, you know?" says Schramek, who notes the quality of the tech equipment, props and costumes. "What a wonderful thing for an impresario to come out of the woodwork. This guy who loves theatre has the potential to produce stuff and isn't afraid to go quality."
While it's not strictly an Equity production, Berchard has signed Equity contracts with the actors. Doing otherwise has been a sore point for the non-union Blue Man Group production that's going into the refurbished New Yorker Theatre. "After we all got our contracts," says Schramek, "Morris invited us over for a meet-and-greet. No producer I've ever worked with has just said, 'Come over to my place. I'll cater a night.'"
Berchard is the last to deny that he gets a thrill mixing with theatre people and watching their eyes light up when, for example, they first saw the elaborate set on the theatre stage. "They were so delighted to be working on the show, being on the stage," says Berchard. "It was a magical moment for me."
The producer has plans to bring other New York properties to Toronto, concentrating on the mid-sized 400- to 500-seat houses. Schramek also sees a lot of potential in that range, as well as in the style of new musical thatBat Boy typifies.
Seriously, why hasn't there been an all-nude revival of Oh! Calcutta!?
There have been similar attempts, including The First Nudie Musical (1976) and the more recent Debbie Does Dallas (2002), but nothing has come close to the overall cultural impact. Oh! Calcutta! was a bold, innovative landmark in theater. It included the involvement of luminaries such as John Lennon and Jules Feiffer in its composition.
Called the "The World's Longest Running Erotic Stage Musical!", This famously bawdy review opened Off-Broadway in 1969 before moving to Broadway and then to a revival which ran for a record-setting 13 years. Lyrics and music written by The Open Window (Robert Dennis, Peter Schickele (a.k.a. PDQ Bach), Stanley Walden) who also as the pit band performed and sang most of the music. One of the original actors wasBill Macy, who subsequently hit it big on TV as Beatrice Arthur's malleable hubby on the popular feminist sitcom Maude, and who recently appeared in this year's Surviving Christmas (whoops). Ironically, he also played an uncredited juror in the original 1968 Mel Brooks movie of The Producers starring Zero Mostel (b. 1915 / d. 1977).
It's amazing how much things have changed since the '70s. Back then, Oh! Calcutta!was mainstream, and now ohcalcutta.com points to a skanky pr0n site. Although, ironically, ohcalcutta.com.au points to a what looks like a tasty Indian restaurant in Australia. Bit of a dodgy play by the restaurant on setting their URL to virtually the identically address as a pr0n site, but whatever.
I remember this show being advertised in all the newspapers. It's amazing how much more conservative our society has become...when a nipple can cause a ripple, and where sex has now become dirty.
How did this happen? How did we go backwards in our cultural acceptance of sexuality? One theory, which is interesting, is that the overwhelming mass of Internet pr0n has changed our conceptions of sexuality. Pr0n, as a business requirement, has become increasingly segmented into fetishes. Is pr0n's fetish focus forcing sexuality into the closet, as it appeals to our darker desires, while leaving healthy sexuality behind on the side of the road?
Maybe Oh! Calcutta! could revive the Toronto theater scene, taking advantage of our more relaxed Canadian moral values. Plus it'd be fun to appear naked on stage...