On the one hand, so much to love with such an inordinate array of talent assembled to mark Sondheim’s 90th birthday. But on the other, where’s the editor, there’s a real sense of the rambling here too. Fortunately as this has been put together in lockdown (and very well too) it is easier than ever to skip to the bits you want (in the spirit of these times, I ain’t telling you who disappointed me).
For me, I loved the unexpectedness of Katrina Lenk’ ‘Johanna’, the cuteness of Beanie Feldstein & Ben Platt’s ‘It Takes Two’, and the energy of Alexander Gemignani’s ‘Buddy’s Blues’. And of the heavy hitters in the finale, Donna Murphy and Patti LuPone nailed ‘Send in the Clowns’ and ‘Anyone Can Whistle’ respectively, and there’s huge fun (if not finesse) in Christine Baranski, Meryl Streep & Audra McDonald giving us their ‘Ladies Who Lunch’. Continue reading “Lockdown Review: Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration”
I turn my attention to the latest set of Broadway cast recordings with Frozen, Prince of Broadway and Mean Girls
My cynicism about the quick turnaround of megahit film Frozeninto a would-be megahit musical lasted for about 10 seconds as I popped on their cast recording. I mean, I loved the film and its songs by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez and so who was I kidding?!
And it fulfils all of my Disney princess dreams. Caissie Levy (Elsa) and Patti Murin (Anna) lead the cast in fine full-voiced form, new songs from the Lopezes fit in well to the score though it does take a hot minute to get used to them. And the orchestral arrangement lends a note of excitement to the songs you know so well already.
Levy’s ‘Let It Go’ naturally takes the spotlight as the Act 1 closer (reprised to close the show as well) but Murin’s rendition of ‘Love Is An Open Door’ with John Riddle’s Hans gets my vote for its sheer warmth and joie de vivre. Of the new songs, Elsa’s ‘Dangerous to Dream’ probably ranks as my favourite. Definitely keen to see this once it hits the West End. Continue reading “Album reviews: Frozen / Prince of Broadway / Mean Girls”
Admissions, by Joshua Harmon, Lincoln Center Theater
Mary Jane, by Amy Herzog, New York Theatre Workshop
Miles for Mary, by The Mad Ones, Playwrights Horizons
People, Places & Things, by Duncan Macmillan, National Theatre/St. Ann’s Warehouse/Bryan Singer Productions/Headlong
School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play, by Jocelyn Bioh, MCC Theater
Manhattan Concert Productions (MCP) is pleased to announce the following creative team for Broadway Classics in Concert, on Tuesday, February 20, 8:00 p.m., in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall.
Don Stephenson, Stage Director Kevin Stites, Music Director/Conductor Christopher Ash, Projection & Video Jason Lyons, Lighting Dave Horowitz, Sound Gary Mickelson, Stage Manager Telsey + Company / Craig Burns, CSA, Casting
MCP also welcomes Nikki Renée Daniels who will be joining the outstanding alumni cast for Broadway Classics in Concert.
The full alumni cast includes Michael Arden(Ragtime, Hunchback of Notre Dame), Sierra Boggess (The Secret Garden), Carolee Carmello(Broadway Classics 2013), Allan Corduner(Titanic), Nikki Renée Daniels(The Secret Garden), Quentin Earl Darrington (The Secret Garden), Ramin Karimloo(Parade, The Secret Garden), Norm Lewis(Ragtime), Laura Osnes(Crazy For You), Lea Salonga(Ragtime), Ryan Silverman(Titanic)and Tony Yazbeck(Crazy For You).Continue reading “News: Creatives and company for Broadway Classics in Concert”
“I try hard to keep detached,But I get carried away”
On The Town is an undoubtedly frivolous show, a plot as light as gossamer, but seeing it recently at the Open Air Theatre reminded me just how tuneful a musical it is, Leonard Bernstein’s 1944 score full not just of classic songs but gorgeous instrumental passages too, to allow the many dance sequences to really pop. This recording comes from the 2014 Broadway revival which received good notices but barely lasted a year altogether.
Who knows why it didn’t last. It has a strong trio of men as its sailors on 24-hour ship leave in New York – Tony Yazbeck, Clyde Alves, and Jay Armstrong Johnson – and some women who steal the show from them, most notably Elizabeth Stanley’s Claire de Loone, and Jackie Hoffman too for good measure. Stanley’s portrayal in particular really shines through, matching a strong soprano with serious comic skills and making her someone I want to find out more about. Continue reading “Album Review: On The Town (2014 New Broadway Cast Recording)”
“When you dance, you’re charming and you’re gentle”
The Floor Above Me was a successful summer ’14 cabaret show for US actor, singer and dancer Tony Yazbeck, whose profile subsequently rocketed after his Tony-nominated turn in On The Town which opened later that year. He’s reprised the show a couple of times since then and it has now been immortalised on record. In some ways, it’s a slightly odd choice as Yazbeck is a genuine triple threat and this was a show designed to show that off. So there’s tap-dancing segments aplenty, including a special tap-dancing guest in Melinda Sullivan, which in all honesty just doesn’t necessarily come off too well when listening to it.
Proving that the art of cabaret is a highly skilled one, his in-between songs patter lacks the vibrancy to really engage the audience outwith the club though. In person, one can imagine his sincere charm and understated passion coming across really well but here, it just ends up sapping pace and breaking the mood of the record. And the humble schtick about finding the girl of his dreams and being a performer born in the wrong era doesn’t really grab you, especially as his song choices don’t always necessarily reflect that professed notion. Continue reading “CD Review: Tony Yazbeck – The Floor Above Me (2016)”
“Love, sweet love…no, not just for some but for everyone”
It’s no secret that Broadway cares but there’s still something extremely touching about a community coming together to help others, especially when it feels close to home. However others want to spin it, the attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando was an attack on the LGBT+ community and that is something that is just chilling in its cold reality. But from such horror comes something positive too as people rally together to share love and support, solidarity and hope that no matter how dark it gets, we’re never alone.
In London, the LGBT+ community has the Pride in London Parade to spark the coming together over what will be a poignant weekend. And on Broadway, Broadway Records President Van Dean, SiriusXM Radio Host Seth Rudetsky and Producer James Wesley have pulled together a dream choir of amazing performers to record a charity single of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s ‘What The World Needs Now Is Love’ to benefit the Orlando LGBT+ community. Take a look at the video below (and be blown away by such luminaries as Audra McDonald, Bernadette Peters, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Idina Menzel and so many more) but I urge you to please buy a copy too, to support this very worthy cause.
And matching Broadway for passionate respect are the London Gay Men’s Chorus. The response to their musical tribute of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ at the Soho vigil for the Orlando victims was such that they have decided to release it as their own charity single (it had originally been intended for their 25th anniversary album later this year, and recorded just hours before the attack took place).
Listening to the 2008 Broadway Cast Recording of Gypsyhard on the heels of the London cast recording, I was a little worried that it might just pale by comparison, especially since I was able to see the show at the Savoy and pay endless tribute to Imelda Staunton. But with the formidable Patti LuPone at the helm, this is just as strong a Mama Rose, if dramatically and musically much different. This album has the added bonus of a suite of songs that were cut from the original production.
The production is perhaps most infamous for being the scene of one of LuPone’s first recorded outbursts against audiences members using devices in her presence (see video below) but having seen the show here in London and listened to LuPone’s rendition of the show-stopping Rose’s Turn, I don’t think you can blame her for criticising someone for shocking a performer out of in the intensity of such a moment (and not simply bathing in it themselves). Continue reading “Album Review: Gypsy (2008 Broadway Cast Recording)”
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
Steven Boyer – Hand to God as Jason/Tyrone
Bradley Cooper – The Elephant Man as John Merrick
Ben Miles – Wolf Hall Parts One & Two as Thomas Cromwell
Bill Nighy – Skylight as Tom Sergeant
Alex Sharp – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time as Christopher Boone
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Geneva Carr – Hand to God as Margery
Helen Mirren – The Audience as Queen Elizabeth II
Elisabeth Moss – The Heidi Chronicles as Heidi Holland
Carey Mulligan – Skylight as Kyra Hollis
Ruth Wilson – Constellations as Marianne
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
Michael Cerveris – Fun Home as Bruce Bechdel
Robert Fairchild – An American in Paris as Jerry Mulligan
Brian d’Arcy James – Something Rotten! as Nick Bottom
Ken Watanabe – The King and I as The King of Siam
Tony Yazbeck – On the Town as Gabey Continue reading “69th Tony Award nominations”