FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Vivacity Media Group
INTERNATIONAL MUSIC SENSATION
TO PLAY BROADWAY
6 EPIC WEEKS ONLY
AT THE BROADWAY THEATRE
MARCH 20 – APRIL 29, 2018
AMERICAN EXPRESS® CARD MEMBERS CAN PURCHASE TICKETS BEFORE THE GENERAL PUBLIC BEGINNING MONDAY, OCTOBER 30 AT 10AM THROUGH MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6 AT 9:59AM
TICKETS ON SALE TO AUDIENCE REWARDS MEMBERS
BEGINNING MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2017 AT 10AM
GENERAL ON-SALE BEGINS
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2017 AT 10AM
“Rocktopia creates a world where Mozart and Led Zeppelin coexist”
– Chicago Tribune
(NEW YORK – October 11, 2017)This spring, the international music sensation ROCKTOPIA will rock Broadway for six epic weeks, March 20 – April 29, 2018 at The Broadway Theatre (1681 Broadway). ROCKTOPIA is a musical revolution that celebrates the fusion of the best rock songs of the past century with some of the greatest classical music ever written. ROCKTOPIA showcases the works of musical innovators including Mozart, Queen, Beethoven, Journey, Handel, U2, Tchaikovsky, Pink Floyd, Heart, Rachmaninoff, Foreigner, Copland, The Who and more.
Created through the unique vision of vocalist and recording artist Rob Evan and Maestro Randall Craig Fleischer, a pioneer in the fusion of symphonic rock and world music, ROCKTOPIA delivers one-of-a-kind, spine-tingling musical arrangements with insanely talented lead vocalists, a 5-piece rock band, a choir of 40, and an orchestra of 20.
Developed over eight years, ROCKTOPIA is inspired by the idea that if Beethoven or Mozart were alive today, they would be modern-day rock stars. With extensive knowledge of both genres, Evan and Fleisher looked for common themes, potency, and emotional resonance in the songs before fusing them together to create explosive and moving new musical arrangements.
“We love both classical music and classic rock. There are so many parallels between the genres and between the “rock stars” who composed and performed them,” says Evan. “With Rocktopia, we want to break down barriers and any preconceived notion of what either genre is about – and electrify and inspire lovers of either musical styles with these completely original new pieces.”
The groundbreaking live concert will be performed by a celebrated, diverse array of rock, Broadway, and opera vocalists: Rob Evan (Broadway: Les Miserables, Jekyll & Hyde and more, multi-platinum recording artist); Chloe Lowery (Chris Botti, Yanni’sVoices); Tony Vincent (Broadway: American Idiot, RENT, NBC’s “The Voice”); Kimberly Nichole (NBC’s “The Voice,” performs with Janelle Monae, Slash, Joe Walsh, The Heavy); and featuring Alyson Cambridge (The Merry Widow atThe Met, Madame Butterfly, La Boheme, Show Boat). The world-class musicians featured in the ROCKTOPIA band include Grammy and Emmy Award nominated violinist Máiréad Nesbitt (Celtic Woman, Lord of the Dance); acclaimed guitarist Tony Bruno (MD & guitar for Enrique Iglesias & Rihanna, “America’s Got Talent”); pianist Henry Aronson (MD/Conductor/keys for entire Broadway run of Rock of Ages, The Who’s Tommy); bass player Mat Fieldes (Joe Jackson’s Grammy winning album Symphony No. 1, the Gorillaz, Book of Mormon); and drummer Alex Alexander (David Bowie, Jimmy Cliff, Ritchie Blackmore). An additional 40-person choir and a 20-person orchestra enhance every performance of ROCKTOPIA.
An inaugural performance of the show, “Rocktopia: Live from Budapest” produced by Two Hands Entertainment/Jeff Rowland, was recorded in front of a live audience in June 2016 at the 19th century Hungarian State Opera House for PBS. It was performed with the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra with six vocalists, a five-piece rock band, the Hungarian State Opera Chorus, and the Jazz and More Choir. ROCKTOPIA has since toured over twenty cities in the United States, featuring local symphonies and choirs across the country.
ROCKTOPIA is produced by ROCKTOPIA Broadway LLC (William Franzblau, Executive Producer and Maggie Seidel-Laws, Associate Producer) in association with HUGHES WALL LLC. Additional cast, creative team, and the New York orchestra and choirs that will join each performance, will be announced at a later date.
American Express® Card Members can purchase tickets before the general public beginning Monday, October 30 at 10am (EST) through Monday, November 6 at 9:59am. Beginning on Monday, November 6 at 10AM, tickets will be available exclusively to Audience Rewards Members via AudienceRewards.com. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Monday, November 13 at 10AM via Telecharge.com. Special student pricing, beginning at $39, will be available for the duration of the run.
Performance schedule, complete creative team, and opening night will be announced shortly.
For Performance Photos, visit: http://bit.ly/2yeP6PJ
For Video, visit:http://bit.ly/2g8tFpI
ROB EVAN (Co-Creator, Vocalist) is a highly accomplished actor, singer, and producer with more than 20 years of professional experience in the entertainment industry. He has performed in seven leading roles on New York stages including the original Broadway cast of Jekyll & Hyde, playing the title roles more than 1,000 times over three years. His rendition of “This Is the Moment” was performed at numerous prestigious events, including the 2001 Inaugural Gala for President George W. Bush, the Millennium Independence Day US Naval Revue aboard the USS JFK for President Clinton, the Millennium World Forum Conference with speaker Mikhail Gorbachev, and the New York City Mayor’s Inaugural Gala. Rob also appeared on Broadway as Jean Valjean in Les Miserable, Kerchak in Disney’s Tarzan, The Dentist in Little Shop of Horrors, and Count von Krolock in Jim Steinman’s Dance of the Vampires. Off-Broadway, Rob created the roles of The Dancin’ Kid in Johnny Guitar and the hero Miles Hendon in The Prince and the Pauper. Rob is a member of the multi-platinum-selling band, Trans-Siberian Orchestra. He can be heard on TSO’s The Lost Christmas Eve and Night Castle, which debuted at #5 on Billboard’s Top 100. He was also the lead vocalist for Jim Steinman’s The Dream Engine, and recently released the debut album from his progressive rock band, Menrva Realm. Rob has also been a regularly featured soloist for over 40 symphonies around the world, including appearances in San Francisco, San Diego, Atlanta, Chicago, Hong Kong, and the Czech Republic.
RANDALL CRAIG FLEISCHER (Co-Creator) Active as a composer and arranger, Mr. Fleischer is a national leader in the fields of symphonic rock and world music fusion. His works and arrangements have been played by many world-renowned orchestras including the Boston Pops, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, China Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony, the National Symphony, and many others. Fleischer has also worked with artists such as John Densmore (The Doors), Natalie Merchant, Blondie, Ani DiFranco, John Cale (Velvet Underground) Garth Hudson (The Band), Kenny Rogers, Chris Baron (Spin Doctors), and Native American artists R. Carlos Nakai, Burning Sky, The Hawk Project, The Benaly Family, and others. Mr. Fleischer’s operatic repertoire includes productions of La Boheme, Turandot, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Don Giovanni, La Traviata, and others. Fleischer received his Bachelor of Music Education from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and has studied conducting with Leonard Bernstein, Otto Werner Mueller, Seiji Ozawa, Riccardo Muti, Gustav Meier, and others. He first came to international attention when, at the National Symphony Orchestra, he conducted Dvorak’s “Cello Concerto” with Mstislav Rostropovich as soloist. In December of 1992, Mr. Fleischer conducted an ensemble of more than 70 cellos, including YoYo Ma, and a 190 voice chorus in a tribute to Rostropovich, broadcast on CBS with then-President and Mrs. Bush in attendance. In 1993, Mr. Fleischer conducted a private concert for Pope John-Paul at the Vatican. The Pontiff awarded Mr. Fleischer a medal for his achievements in music. A passionate educator, Fleischer has co-authored several instructional pieces for children in collaboration with his wife, comedian Heidi Joyce, which were premiered by the National Symphony Orchestra, including three rap pieces for orchestra. Mr. Fleischer lives in Los Angeles with his wife Heidi and daughter Michaela.
CHLOE LOWERY (Vocalist) is an American singer, dancer, actress, and songwriter born in Largo, Florida. At age12 she was signed to RCA Records, and soon after being signed was featured on two movie soundtracks, Boys and Girl and Joe Somebody. She went on to tour with Big Brother and the Holding Company and work with world-renowned producer Ric Wake, which then led to a collaboration with Yanni on the 2009 Yanni Voices Project. After tours of the U.S. and Mexico with Yanni, she signed to Disney/Hollywood Records as a solo artist. Chloe has since been featured on three Yanni records: 2013’s Truth of Touch, 2014’s Inspirato, and 2016’s Sensuous Chill. Chloe joined multi-platinum selling rock band Trans-Siberian Orchestra performing as Theresa on their Beethoven’s Last Night Tours and continues to work with the band both in the studio and live on stage. Lowery has also toured with Chris Botti, performed with the New York City Ballet as a featured vocalist, and contributed her talents to collaborations with artists like Everclear. Chloe will independently release a solo project in early 2018.
ALYSON CAMBRIDGE (Vocalist) is one of the most diverse and compelling vocal artists on the scene today. Her rich, warm soprano, combined with her strikingly beautiful stage presence and affecting musical and dramatic interpretation, have brought her over a decade of successes on the world’s leading opera and concert stages, including The Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Carnegie Hall, London’s Royal Albert Hall, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Vienna Konzerthaus, among others, as well as recent debuts Paris , Warsaw, Beijing, and other musical capitals throughout Europe and Asia. Her repertoire includes the beloved heroines of Puccini, Verdi, and Mozart (Mimi, Madama Butterfly, Donna Elvira, Violetta, and Micaëla among them) as well as successful forays into the crossover, Broadway and jazz repertoire, most notably with award-winning and critically-acclaimed performances of Julie in Show Boat and Vi in Gershwin’s rarely performed jazz-opera Blue Monday. Alyson’s debut album, “From the Diary of Sally Hemings,” a song-cycle by acclaimed American composer William Bolcom, premiered at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall to rave reviews, and her newest album, Until Now, a mix of jazz, pop, and musical theater standards was released in January 2016 on the Naxos imprint Suite 28 Records, and is available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.
TONY VINCENT (Vocalist) Best known for his appearance on NBC’s “The Voice”, Tony Vincent is a recording artist, actor and producer. In 1993 Vincent started his own record company, Adobe Flats, writing and producing the EP Love Falling Down that led to a recording contract with EMI records. The two solo albums that followed, Tony Vincent & One Deed, produced six #1 Billboard radio singles. Soon after, Vincent took a detour into rock-based theater, starring on Broadway in RENT (Mark, Roger), Jesus Christ Superstar (Judas Iscariot) and Green Day’s American Idiot (St. Jimmy). He played Simon Zealotes in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s film remake of Jesus Christ Superstar, and is also featured in the film Andrew Lloyd Webber: Masterpiece. Vincent originated the role of Galileo Figaro in the rock band Queen’s We Will Rock You in London’s West End, and opened the U.S. production. He also fronted the band itself, performing “Bohemian Rhapsody” for Queen Elizabeth II, with a live audience of over 1 million people at Buckingham Palace. Vincent independently released two more albums, A Better Way, produced by Adam Anders (“Glee”), and the self-produced In My Head, following his appearance on NBC’s “The Voice”. He is currently headlining the North American symphony tour of The Music of David Bowie, and working as a record producer at his New York recording studio, Soundshop 370.
KIMBERLY NICHOLE (Vocalist) exploded onto the national scene on season 8 of “The Voice”, earning praise from Pharrell Williams, Christina Aguilera, Lionel Richie, Mark Ronson and Reba McEntire, with her show-stopping performances, stylish presence and vocal power. Her covers ranked on iTunes’ Top 20 three weeks in a row and made the Billboard 100 Charts. Over the course of her career, Nichole has share the stage with Slash (Guns N Roses), Living Colour, Alice Smith, Janelle Monae, Nona Hendryx (Labelle), Aloe Blacc, Bilal, Joe Walsh (The Eagles) and Jon Bon Jovi. Her mesmerizing performance style has captured the attention and support of Quincy Jones, songwriting duo Ashford & Simpson and fashion savant Andre Leon Talley, who featured her in an issue of Vogue. Her original music has been featured on MTV, VH1, BET, LOGO, Lifetime and Showtime, and Tony award winning director George C. Wolfe personally selected her to be the featured rock performer in his film You Are Not You, which stars Oscar-winner Hilary Swank. She’s been crowned ‘Mistress of Ceremonies’ at New York City’s wildly popular private night club ‘The Box’, and has received ASCAP Foundation’s “Reach Out and Touch” Award, given to promising songwriters. She most recently was featured in the NETFLIX, Ezra Koeing-created (Vampire Weekend) anime series “Neo Yokio” (starring Jaden Smith, Jude Law, Susan Sarandon and more).
TONY BRUNO (Guitar) became the music director and guitarist for Enrique Iglesias in 1999. Since then, he has put together six of Iglesias’s tours and done countless TV performances. In 2005, he partnered with choreographer Tina Landon to create the show for artist Anastacia’s Live at Last tour. He has also worked with artists such as Rihanna, Enrique Iglesias, K’naan, Karmin, Delta Goodrem, and many others. TV production credits include “America’s Got Talent”, “X-Factor”, “American Music Awards,” “Top Of The Pops”, “MTV Music Awards”, TRL, “Wetten Das”, and others. His song “Daylight in Your Eyes” for German artists No Angels was the second best-selling German single of all time. Tony has worked on writing songs with the world’s top songwriters including Shelly Peiken, Lindy Robbins, Kara DioGuardi, and Ty Lacy. In the studio, Tony has lent his extraordinary guitar skills to numerous hit records with top producers like Ted Templeman, Bob Rock, and Desmond Child.
MÁIRÉAD NESBITT (Violin) For more than a decade, Máiréad Nesbitt has enchanted millions of fans around the world as the Celtic violinist and founding member of the globetrotting music phenomenon Celtic Woman. Loyal fans of all ages, across geographical and cultural boundaries far beyond the musical heritage of Ireland, have adored her beguiling stage presence and versatile instrumental talents. As the featured violin soloist on all 11 Celtic Woman albums, each title achieved the coveted #1 slot on the Billboard World Music Chart, an Emmy-nomination for one of her companion television specials and her most recent album with the group, “Destiny”, received a 2017 Grammy Nomination for Best World Music Album. Máiréad is also an accomplished solo artist who released her newest album Hibernia at the end of 2016. Upon its release, Hibernia charted on four different Billboard charts, including the World Music, Classical Crossover, Heatseekers, and Classical charts. Máiréad also released a special album, reaching back to her family roots called “ The Nesbitt Family – Devils Bit Sessions”. In 2017 the “Máiréad Nesbitt Celtic Violin Collection” was launched and is available exclusively online and in specialty shops in North America and Ireland. Máiréad has appeared with the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong, Berne Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and more.
HENRY ARONSON (Piano) is among the most in-demand music directors in the Broadway theatre. He was the music director/conductor/keyboardist for the Broadway run of Rock of Ages. Also on Broadway, he was music director for Grease, The Times They Are A-Changin’, In My Life, Little Shop of Horrors, Rent, Rocky Horror Show and Starmites; associate conductor of Cry Baby, Good Vibrations, Parade, Saturday Night Fever, Mail and Prince of Central Park; and conducted The Who’s Tommy and On Your Feet; he also conducted and played many seasons of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Off-Broadway, he conducted at Cagney, was music director of Once Around the Sun (Zipper), King Lear (Public Theater, starring Kevin Kline), The Wind in the Willows (New Victory), 3 Guys Naked From the Waist Down (Minetta Lane), and numerous productions at Playwrights Horizons and Naked Angels. He studied piano at Mannes College of Music, and received his Music degree from Columbia University. His musical Loveless Texas, which he wrote with his wife Cailín Heffernan, was produced this year by Boomerang Theatre Company at the Sheen Center in New York City.
MAT FIELDES (Bass) is a very active bass player on the New York freelance scene. He has collaborated with artists such as Jay-Z, Gorillaz, Joe Jackson, Ornette Coleman, John Cale, Peter Erskine, Jim Steinman, Sufjan Stevens, Steve Vai, PaquitoD’Rivera, Kristjan Jarvi, Joe Williams, Arturo Sandaval, Toni Tennille, Kelli O’Hara, and many others. Mr. Fieldes tours extensively as the solo bassist for Absolute Ensemble, an electro-acoustic crossover chamber orchestra, which performs at major venues worldwide. Broadway credits include: Mamma Mia, The Book of Mormon, Next to Normal, Billy Elliot, South Pacific, Mary Poppins, Kiss Me Kate, The Full Monty, Legally Blonde, and Saturday Night Fever,and Matilda. He has played with the New Zealand Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Auckland Philharmonia, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Key West Symphony (Principal), Long Island Philharmonic, Westchester Symphony, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, New Zealand String Quartet, New Zealand Trio, Continuum, Bronx Arts Ensemble, and has recently appeared in major festivals in Mexico City, Bremen, El Paso, Adelaide, and Montpellier.
ALEX ALEXANDER (Drums, Percussion) is a “first call” session drummer/percussionist residing in New York. He has performed and recorded with artists such as David Bowie, Dido, Eminem, Ritchie Blackmore, Rickie Lee Jones, Jimmy Cliff, YoussouN’Dour, Joy Askew, Bernie Worrell from P-Funk, Bruce Springsteen, The Association, Toots and the Maytalls, Sophie B. Hawkins, J.C. Chasez from NSYNC, Montell Jordan, Willie Nile, Dougie Fresh, Bebel Gilberto, Julia Fordham, The Barrio Boyzz, Eljuri, Chaka Kahn, Buddy Miles, and more. Alex has also performed on many soundtracks for films, including the cult classic, The Search For One-Eye Jimmy, the multi-award winning HBO film, Liberty Kid, the HBO film, Forged, as well as the soundtrack to the Academy Award winning documentary, Born Into Brothels. Alex has invented an instrument called the Electric Djembe. Using African djembes, ethnic percussion, Shure wireless microphones, and custom Guitar F-X pedals and loop boxes, Alex creates sounds that range from drum machine emulation to ambient keyboard pads and washes. His unique blend of hand percussion and guitar effects pedals can be heard on television and film soundtracks, which he composes through his production company, Perpetual Motion Productions.
Whitney Holden Gore
Vivacity Media Group
1650 Broadway, Suite 609, New York, NY 10019
Oh BroadwayKingdom, what a thrill to be able to present to you
An Interview with the amazing
star of the original Australian & Broadway productions of
“Priscilla Queen of the Desert”
and recently starred in Broadway’s “Amélie”
In this very fun interview Tony shares the story of his life and career, so far, and breaks some exciting news about the upcoming 10th Anniversary Australian National Tour of “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”!
So get a beverage, make yourself comfortable and watch and enjoy…
We’ll Take Manhattan
A review of Encores! concert reconstruction of
THE NEW YORKERS
At New York City Center
March 22, 2017
by Moshe Bloxenheim
THE NEW YORKERS originally featured specialty acts, material built around Mr. Jimmy Durante’s unique personality and took a very amused look at the world of Park Avenue Society, Gangsters and Prohibition, making no bones about the fact that this was not a show for “The Little Old Lady from Dubuque” though I daresay she might have had a whale of a time too. Encores! manages in a case of sheer theatrical chutzpah to piece together a fine entertainment that gives an impression of the enjoyment that was to be found in the original 1930 show even if an accurate reconstruction is not in cards.
Mr. Cole Porter’s score alone is well worth the price of admission. Admittedly many numbers are hits imported from other shows, but they seem to make themselves perfectly at home sometimes showing up in surprisingly adroit ways. Mr. Jack Viertel assists in this with a concert adaptation of Mr. Herbert Fields original book that allows the plot to entertain and move the show onward without ever forgetting that the songs come first.
The gangsters, good time girls, vapid socialites, adulterers, hoofers, gigolos, prisoners and so on that inhabit THE NEW YORKERS are all likeable and occasionally endearing and make the most of whatever story had first been furnished by Mr. E. Ray Goetz and the famous New Yorker Magazine cartoonist, Mr. Peter Arno: Alice Wentworth, a pretty socialite, is engaged to marry the stodgy, wealthy and reputable Phillip Booster. She expects her marriage to be like that of her parents, Dr. Windham and Mrs. Gloria Wentworth. The Doctor is the swain of the entertainer Lola McGee and the famous inventor of the pick-me-up drug Alcodol while Gloria has Captain Hillary Trask as her special pick-me-up. When the handsome young Captain goes off with Lola, the Doctor and Gloria are rather nonplussed to have to go home together. All plans for a similar life with fiancé Phillip go out the window the moment Alice meets the dashing speakeasy owner Al Spanish. Al and Alice are quite smitten and, for good measure, Philip falls hard for Al’s girlfriend, the singer Mona Low. Unfortunately, complications arrive in the guise of Feet McGeegan, who wants Al to keep out of the Caviar Racket (as if rum-sunning wasn’t hazardous enough). Merry mayhem ensues with some frequency and lots of great music and dancing. Through it all comedian and drink Inventor supreme Jimmie Deegan struts his stuff, the Three Girl Friends Trio and the Varsity Eight chorus sound and look stunning, and jokes about prohibition, politics, society, prison and Cole Porter references are tossed in with happy abandon. Oh yeah – it all ends right.
Delightful Ms. Scarlett Strallen ensures that Alice Wentworth is no mere pretty face, making the most of the character’s savvy naiveté and getting her some wonderful laughs in Alice’s discovery of Real Life (in the form of Al Spanish). Ms. Strallen can also deliver a song with the best of them making the well-known “Most Gentlemen Don’t Like Love” and “Night and Day” just two of the many high points of a very well scored evening.
Anti-antihero Al Spanish may be a gun-toting gangster but Mr. Tam Mutu makes him the perfect gentleman from the wrong side of the tracks. He exhibits a sort of Gee Whiz quality that makes him the good guy even as he guns down his rivals. Mr. Mutu has an ability to put a number over that looks downright effortless and yet so enjoyable.
Usually a musical has one main lead couple and one subplot. But THE NEW YORKERS delivers far more.
Ms. Mylinda Hull gives a wonderful performance as Mona Low. Mona may be losing her Al to Alice but Ms. Hull can make one quite believe that this torch singer knows how to set the stolid Phillip Booster on fire and Mr. Todd Buonopane’s Phillip is a hoot as he transforms from Alice’s burden to Mona’s pleasure.
Alice’s parents are the second couple as they discover that although infidelity is lots of fun, it is always nice to come home to one another. Dr. Windham Wentworth is one of those urbane if slightly vague men-about-town and Byron Jennings plays him with fine understatement. Ms. Ruth Williamson makes Gloria Wentworth a fine contrast to the good Doctor, giving us a woman-about-town who might like home better. Her delicious delivery of “The Physician” comes across is the complaint of a lady who feels a bit ashamed that she much prefers her husband to her boyfriend – if he would only give her a glance!
Then there is Lola McGee and Captain Hillary Trask. These two may not end up together living happily ever after, but Ms. Robyn Hurder and Mr. Tyler Lansing Weaks ensure that they and the audience have a good time for the present. When Ms. Hurder delivers “Please Don’t Make Me Be Good” it is clear that she already is.
Then there is Mr. Kevin Chamberlain in the role of Jimmy Deegan – the comic mixologist. Just the knowledge that Mr. Jimmy Durante originated the part makes his memory a hard act to follow. Still, Mr. Chamberlain makes Jimmy Deegan truly funny and gets the best out of the silly dialogue, yet he is able to add enough Durante mannerisms to make us see how Mr. Durante might have laid them in the aisles in 1930 just as Mr. Chamberlain proceeds to do in 2017. His Act One closer “Wood” is an example of how great absurd comedy can really last.
Aiding and abetting Mr. Chamberlain are his two comic and dancing sidekicks Monahan and Gregory, played with gleeful skill by Messrs. Clyde Alves and Jeffery Schecter.
While Jimmy Deegan is a unique comedy turn all by himself, there are several other specialty acts that deserve much praise:
The Gangster Feet McGeegan is the villain of the show in the mold of Snidely Whiplash or Witch Hazel. So naturally as one of those characters who deserves killing, THE NEW YORKERS obliges, having Feet coming to an untoward end over and over and over again. Mr. Arnie Burton manages to give him just the right level of cartoonish melodrama proving that death may be easy and comedy is hard but comic death is an art all its own. As an added highlight, Mr. Burton stops the show with the brilliant patter number “Let’s Not Talk About Love”.
Other musical delights include the trio of Mss. Christine DiGiallonardo, Lindsay Roberts and Kathryn McCreary as the Three Girl Friends and the Varsity Eight in the guise of Messrs. Matt Bauman, Sam Bolen, Brian Flores, Matthew Griffin, Curtis Holland, Timothy McDevitt, Brendon Stimson and Cody Williams, who recreate the numbers originated by the megaphone-wielding Waring Pennsylvanians.
Many of these performers double up in several roles but Mr. Eddie Korbich laudably wins the multiple casting honors as he appears and reappears as a doctor, a nightclub major domo, a waiter at a deli, a policeman, a butler…
The rest of the company deserve top marks for their acting and dancing, but even with the wealth of pleasure offered onstage, one performer still stands out indelibly: Ms. Cyrille Aimée delivers “Love for Sale” on an empty stage without any introduction and brings down the house. This lonely, haunting performance on its own would have made THE NEW YORKERS worth seeing.
Director John Rando has no trouble with the fact that THE NEW YORKERS is a series of songs with barely enough plot to keep the show from being designated a revue or vaudeville (not that there would be a problem with either one). But Mr. Rando ensures that even with all the numbers being launched in so many ways by different people and acts that everyone gets to shine and nothing ever clashes so that the show buckets along engagingly to its loopy conclusion (the memorable “I Happen To Like New York” chorale). Mr. Chris Bailey’s choreography has a lot to do with this because so much movement and dancing carry THE NEW YORKERS forward. A gangster battle where the machine gun fire is enacted by tap-dance emphasizes the period, plot and cartoonish nature of the show since the assailants and their would-be targets just keep happily tapping and firing. More than that, the specialties are clearly staged to make the most of the talents involved yet invoke their predecessors in the roles. In fact, where many songs have at least a line to cue them in, Messrs. Rando and Viertel know that sometimes a song should be left to fend for itself and ensure that a moment like Ms. Cyrille Aimée’s singing of “Love for Sale” stands alone as the jewel of the show as the original piece did in 1930.
This care with THE NEW YORKERS songs and music is obviously shared by the Rob Berman and the Encores! Orchestra. Mr. Berman’s arrangements and conducting and Messrs. Josh Clayton’s and Larry Moore’s orchestrations are out to get the best of musicians and actors and all deliver beautifully. Even when a number is an import from another show and of a slightly different style (like “The Physician” from the English show NYMPH ERRANT), it just seems to be a natural fit in THE NEW YORKERS. Certainly it would have been braver and wiser for the show to have selected more obscure pieces from Mr. Porter’s songbook and give them the currency they may deserve but I enjoyed myself too much to quibble with what is on offer.
The look of the show is also quite striking with designs that appear as an idealized 1930. Thanks to Mr. Allen Moyer’s scenery and Mr. Alejo Vietti’s costumes one can see glitz and glamor even in Sing-Sing prison and Mr. Ken Billingtons’s top-notch lighting makes even the shimmering reflections of the ladies’ lamé gowns become part of the visual pleasure.
I was a little surprised at the unevenness of Mr. Dan Moses Scheier’s sound system, but besides a few aural fades in Act One, everything sounded pretty good, upholding the illusion that you could hear the voices from the actors rather than the loudspeakers.
THE NEW YORKERS is a loving and varicolored bouquet to the people, foibles and theater of that 1930’s city but it still has an enchanting effect in today’s Empire City as well. As with all first public Encores! performances there was a slightly tentative feeling as the performers gauged how the material was landing, but all went wonderfully well and I am sure that the future performances will only get better and even funnier.
Encores! final Performance of THE NEW YORKERS was 7 PM Sunday Night, March 26, 2017.
I am a computer programmer, wannabe writer who loves theater and just got into the habit of inflicting my theatrical opinions.
I live in New York. Moshe can be reached at MB1224@aol.com
Read how ENCORES restored the show: http://www.nycitycenter.org/Home/Blog/March-2017/Reclaiming-The-New-Yorkers?fullsite=true
Small WORLD, isn’t it?
A Review of Musicals in Mufti’s concert production of
At the York Theatre
by Moshe Bloxenheim
Musicals in Mufti’s concert production of DEAR WORLD is one of those lovingly staged productions that can beguile an audience into wondering why this show didn’t work the first time? With a book based on Monsieur Jean Geraudoux’s play THE MADWOMAN OF CHAILLOT and an often delightful score by Jerry Herman, DEAR WORLD relates how Countess Aurelia, Madwoman of Chaillot saves humanity from being overrun by the soulless seekers of money and power. In the Countess’ adventure the audience is introduced to the characters who make up her world and those who threaten it.
The Prospector and the three corporate Presidents seek to destroy the Countess’ beloved Paris for the lake of oil that they know is below the city. Mr. Gordon Stanley is a perfectly peevish Prospector who is driven by oil and cannot see any romance beside it. He fits perfectly in with the Presidents who are played with relish by Messrs. Stephen Mo Hanan, Peter Land and J. Bernard Calloway. All the gentlemen gleefully twirl a metaphysical villainous mustache with panache, bringing their best to their anthem of greed “Just A Little Bit More” and being merrily hissable in “The Spring of Next year” where they exult in the destruction of Paris.
The young executive Julian had been one of their crew until he realized that people would be hurt and Mr. Hunter Ryan Herdlicka manages to show this change of heart quite briefly and yet credibly. Indeed, under the Countess’ idealistic spell Julian goes from accomplice to uncertain to penitent to hero and lover and the handsome Mr. Herdlicka accomplishes the changes with charm and ease, most memorably in a tender scene where Julian pretends to be Adolphe Bertaut – the man who had broken the Countess’ heart many years in the past.
Nina is a waitress and general factotum at the Café Francis – the bistro where the Countess holds court and the place that the Prospector wants to destroy to start the oil drilling. Ms. Erika Henningsen makes a sweet and pretty Nina who clearly enjoys being a part of the Countess’ world. We root for her Nina and Julian to fall in love with each other and cheer when Ms. Henningsen sings “I Never Said I Love You” (even with its inept positioning in the show).
One of the Countess’ aides and links from the harsh real world to her romantic existence is Mr. Lenny Wolpe’s jovial Sewerman. From his number “Pretty Garbage” and onwards Mr. Wolpe creates a man who has his mind in the most delightful of gutters, giving cheerful denials about the outrageous world below that make it seem even more wonderful and fantastic. When the Sewerman gives a “sympathetic” defense of the rich in Act Two, Mr. Wolpe extracts some wonderfully timely comedy out of the moment.
It is a talent indeed to play a role without practically a word and Mr. Kristopher Thompson-Bolden makes a beautiful Mute – the observer of all and assistant to the Countess. For a man who will not speak, Mr. Kristopher Thompson-Bolden’s Mute is a real chatty soul and can even deliver a song with flair – allowing gesture and dance to supply the lyrics that are then picked up and sung by the other performers.
Other helpful men who brighten the stage are Mr. Dewey Caddell as the Police Sergeant and Ben Cherry who is the Waiter at the Café Francis.
Two other Madwomen assist the Countess: Ms. Alison Fraser gives us a striking and memorable Madame Constance, Madwoman of the Market. She could have jauntily stepped out of an Edward Gorey drawing but her fancies are less gothic and more aurally and erotically absurd.
Adding to the fun, Ms. Ann Harada’s superb Madmoiselle Gabrielle, Madwoman of Montmarte is relentlessly virginal and unsullied. Ms. Harada’s character could simply be childish and a bore about her imaginary lap dog, Dickie, but Ms. Harada makes us see why the others would care for her and even makes us wonder if we aren’t seeing the dog too, even though Mlle. Gabrielle then claims she hadn’t brought Dickie after all.
Finally, the Doyenne of Madwomen: Countess Aurelia, Madwoman of Chaillot.
Ms. Tyne Daly gives a definitive performance as the sanest Madwoman there ever was, living in a romantic dream that must be cruelly interrupted to save the beauty of the real world. As a Madwoman, Ms. Daly sensibly gives her Countess the only French Accent in this stage Paris and often seems to have to refocus her fantasy driven mind. Musically, Ms. Daly does not sing her songs prettily but delivers them to brilliant effect, making them truly enchanting. The Countess’ plea against reality “I Don’t Want to Know” is downright heart-stirring as Ms. Daly performs it. Then again, the Madwoman’s tea party in Act Two could easily become a scene stealing battle, but Ms. Daly is clearly at stage center joining in with Ms. Harada and Ms. Fraser in creating a wonderful piece of musical theater studded with comic gems. You want to hug and take care of Ms. Daly’s Countess even while knowing full well that she is more than capable of taking care of you.
Mr. Michael Montel directs DEAR WORLD with the clear understanding that the more intimate this show is, the better it will work and makes the most of the small York Theatre Stage with its basic setting by Mr. James Morgan and lighting by Brian Nason. He does his best to make us forget some of the bumpier moments of the book and well evokes the fairy tale atmosphere of this whimsical story.
There have been times when I have been to a musical that sadly manages to evoke earlier recording of the show by its current shortcomings. Happily, this cannot be said of DEAR WORLD where Mr. Christopher McGovern’s first-rate musical direction and piano playing – along with the fine bass and accordion skills of Mr. Louis Tucci – sound anything but spare.
Messrs. Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s original book for DEAR WORLD has been revised by Mr. David Thompson and he has made a noble effort of reworking and tightening the show, changing the song order, working with added material and introducing some numbers to better effect. While “Just a Little Bit More” is not my favorite number, it now gives a suitable way for our Villains to better define who they are and relocating “The Spring of Next Year” to Act Two gives these characters a number that lets them reestablish themselves to the audience as evil beings when they musically celebrate Paris’ impending ruin. The Countess’ “Kiss Her Now” has become a very satisfying moment, framing Julian and Nina’s love towards the end of Act Two. Still, even the concert premise cannot really overcome the clumsy placement of Nina’s lovely “I’ve Never Said I Love You” which suddenly erupts without rhyme or reason.
And then there is the Title Song.
Mr. Jerry Herman creates some unforgettable pieces: “I Don’t Want To Know”, “Each Tomorrow Morning”, “Kiss Her Now”, etc. – but the title song “Dear World” is one of those things that must be gotten through because it is a TITLE SONG. Messrs. Thompson and McGovern clearly have done their level best to make “Dear World” work as an anthem that will bring heart back to the protagonists but in spite of their efforts, it still feels like being beaten repeatedly between the eyes with a Hallmark Get Well card. One annoying aspect of the song is the fact that the people singing “Dear World” are the ones being forced save the world – it will not save itself like the song repeatedly insists. The song that immediately follows it, “One Person”, is actually more to the point and moves things forward. Perhaps it is heretical, but I think the show would be much better if “Dear World” was totally rewritten with more suitable lyrics or even dropped altogether.
Still, even in its current condition, DEAR WORLD is well worth it – as a marvelous entertainment with a great cast and as an appropriate fable for these times. Even the flaws are intriguing and some of the more creative spectators may leave the theater both thrilled with what they have seen and contemplating what might be done do to overcome the imperfections.
Alas, DEAR WORLD closed March 5.
I am a computer programmer, wannabe writer who loves theater and just got into the habit of inflicting my theatrical opinions.
I live in New York. Moshe can be reached at MB1224@aol.com
Book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
New Version by David Thompson
Music and Lyrics by Jerry Herman
Based on The Madwoman of Chaillot by Jean Giraudoux as adapted by Maurice Valency
Directed by Michael Montel
Music Directed by Christopher McGovern
Featuring Tyne Daly
With Dewey Cadell, J. Bernard Calloway, Ben Cherry, Alison Fraser, Stephen Mo Hanan, Ann Harada, Erika Henningsen, Hunter Ryan Herdlicka, Peter Land, Gordon Stanley, Kristopher Thompson-Bolden, Lenny Wolpe
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
STARS IN THE ALLEY
SOCIAL MEDIA HOSTS ANNOUNCED!
ALEX BRIGHTMAN and SIERRA BOGGESS
Currently starring in
SCHOOL OF ROCK – THE MUSICAL
TO BE SOCIAL MEDIA CORRESPONDENTS
AT THIS YEAR’S
PRESENTED BY UNITED AIRLINES
IN LEGENDARY SHUBERT ALLEY
FRIDAY JUNE 3, 2016
RAIN OR SHINE!
Free Outdoor Broadway Concert
Featuring Musical Performances and Appearances
From Over 30 Broadway Shows!
PRODUCED BY THE BROADWAY LEAGUE
SPONSORED BY UNITED AIRLINES
New York, NY – (May 19, 2016) – 2016 Tony Award Nominee Alex Brightman and his School of Rock The Musical co-star, Sierra Boggess, have been named social media correspondents for the 2016 STARS IN THE ALLEY concert, presented by United Airlines. The pair will post on social media throughout the event, keeping fans up-to-date on all of the action behind the scenes and on stage.
Stars in the Alley will be hosted by Sean Hayes and Mo Rocca. Sean Hayes will be starring in Broadway’s An Act of God and was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in Promises, Promises and Mo Rocca is a Correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning and appeared on Broadway in the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
Stars in the Alley will take place on Friday, June 3rd from 12:30pm-2:30pm in Shubert Alley, between Broadway and 8th Avenue and 44th and 45th Streets. To add to the festivities leading up to the Tony Awards, the free outdoor concert in the heart of the Theatre District will celebrate Broadway with star appearances and exciting performances from over 30 new shows and long-running favorites, accompanied by a 12-piece live orchestra.
“Alex Brightman and Sierra Boggess are a dynamic pair on stage and they know how to engage fans in a fun and exciting way. We can’t wait to have them rock out as our social media correspondents!” says Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League. “Stars in the Alley is a celebration of the amazing Broadway season and we invite fans to join us in the festivities, counting down to the eagerly anticipated Tony Awards ceremony on June 12th.”
“I’m so excited to serve as co-social ambassador alongside my School of Rock co-star Sierra Boggess at Broadway’s best block party – Stars in the Alley! The next best thing to rocking out at a free outdoor concert is following along with us online. Looking forward to see you there, one way or another!” says Alex Brightman.
“I’m honored to be the social media correspondent this year at Stars in the Alley alongside my incredible co-star Alex Brightman,” said Sierra Boggess. “This is one of my favorite Broadway events of the year, and I’m thrilled to be a part of this special free concert!”
“United Airlines is proud to be the official airline of the Broadway League and the presenting sponsor of Stars in the Alley. This celebration adds to the festivities leading up to the 2016 Tony Awards by bringing the excitement of the year’s memorable shows and incredibly talented performers to the iconic Shubert Alley in New York City for everyone to enjoy,” says Mark Krolick, Managing Director, United Airlines
“Stars in the Alley showcases the excitement of musical theatre and the vibrancy of Times Square all at once. The opportunity to help bring great live music that is free to the public is the primary goal of the MPTF,” says Dan Beck Trustee, Music Performance Trust Fund.
Alex Brightman received a 2016 Tony nomination for his uproarious role as Dewey in School of Rock-The Musical on Broadway. His other Broadway credits include Big Fish, Matilda, Wicked and Glory Days. As a writer, he has penned Make Me Bad (music & lyrics by Drew Gasparini), Everything In Its Place: The Life and Slimes of Marc Summers, and The Whipping Boy (music & co-lyrics by Drew Gasparini), an upcoming musical adaptation of the award-winning novel.
Sierra Boggess currently stars in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock—The Musical. Sierra made her Broadway debut originating the role of Ariel in The Little Mermaid, for which her performance received both a Drama Desk and Drama League Nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Musical, as well as Broadway.com Audience Award for Favorite Female Breakthrough Performance. Sierra has also starred as Christine Daae in the critically acclaimed sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies, for which she received an Olivier Award Nomination for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance. Sierra later returned to the role of Christine for the The Phantom of the Opera’s 25th anniversary limited six-week engagement in 2013, rejoining the Broadway company a year later again as Christine. Her other credits include It Shoulda Been You, Master Class, and most recently, she starred in Lincoln Center’s two night, 25th anniversary concert event of The Secret Garden; her other West End credits include Les Misérables.
Stars in the Alley information can be found at Broadway.org.
The American Theatre Wing’s 70th Annual Tony Awards® will air on the CBS Television Network on Sunday, June 12, 2016 (8:00-11:00 PM, ET/delayed PT) live from the Beacon Theatre in New York City, hosted by Tony Award-winner James Corden. The Tony Awards, which honors theatre professionals for distinguished achievement on Broadway, has been broadcast on CBS since 1978. The Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.
The event is produced by The Broadway League. United Airlines is the title sponsor of Stars in the Alley® and is the official airline of The Broadway League and the Tony Awards. Live music sponsored by The Recording Industry’s Music Performance Trust Fund and Film Funds. The official hospitality partner is Junior’s Restaurant. The official media partner is The New York Times. Additional support is provided by The Shubert Organization and SL Green Realty Corporation.
# # #
UNITED AIRLINES and United Express operate an average of nearly 5,000 flights a day to 342 airports across six continents. In 2015, United and United Express operated nearly two million flights carrying 140 million customers. United is proud to have the world’s most comprehensive route network, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. United operates more than 700 mainline aircraft, and this year, the airline anticipates taking delivery of 20 new Boeing aircraft, including 737 NGs, 787s and 777s. The airline is a founding member of Star Alliance, which provides service to 192 countries via 28 member airlines. Approximately 84,000 United employees reside in every U.S. state and in countries around the world. For more information, visit united.com, follow @United on Twitter or connect on Facebook. The common stock of United’s parent, United Continental Holdings, Inc., is traded on the NYSE under the symbol UAL.
THE MUSIC PERFORMANCE TRUST FUND (MPTF) was established in 1948 as a nonprofit independent public service organization whose mission includes contributing to the public knowledge and appreciation of music, as well as making music a part of every child’s life experience. Headquartered in New York City, the tax-exempt MPTF, operating under section 501(c) 3 of the Internal Revenue Code, evolved from a landmark collective bargaining agreement between the American Federation of Musicians and the major recording companies of the day. Today the MPTF is a vital organization that brings music to the public and supplements the income of musicians, all at no cost to those receiving this precious gift of music.
THE BROADWAY LEAGUE (Charlotte St. Martin, President), founded in 1930, is the national trade association for the Broadway industry. The League’s 700-plus members include theatre owners and operators, producers, presenters, and general managers who present in nearly 200 markets in North America. Each year, League members bring Broadway to nearly 30 million people in New York and on tour across the U.S. and Canada. The Broadway League annually co-presents the Antoinette Perry “Tony” Awards®, one of the most coveted awards in the entertainment industry. Key League programs and resources include: Kids’ Night on Broadway®, The National High School Musical Theatre Awards (The Jimmys), Stars in the Alley®, Internet Broadway Database® (ibdb.com), Broadway.org, SpotlightonBroadway.com, Commercial Theater Institute (with Theatre Development Fund), as well as numerous conferences and forums for our members. TheatreAccessNYC (co-produced with TDF) is the one-stop website of accessible Broadway performances for theatregoers with disabilities. Broadway.org is the League’s official on-line headquarters for Broadway in NYC, on tour, and internationally. For more information visit BroadwayLeague.com, or follow The Broadway League on Twitter @TheBwayLeague and on Facebook at Facebook.com/BroadwayLeague. Download the free Broadway.org and IBDB mobile apps from the iTunes App Store or Google Play.
Elisa Shevitz, firstname.lastname@example.org, 212 703 0225
Martine Sainvil, email@example.com, 212 703 0231* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Brought to you by the NEW www.broadwaykingdom.com For more info on Elli -- The King of Broadway www.thekingofbroadway.com Facebook | Twitter | IMdB | Actors Access For more interviews & reviews go to www.broadwaykingdom.com * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Devil may care.
A review of Encores! concert staging of
at New York City Center
February 11, 2016
CABIN IN THE SKY is one of those battles between the Heavenly and Hellish forces over a soul – that of the hapless Little Joe to be specific – that encourage the spectators to root for the good and grand even if there seems to be much more entertainment in the bad and brassy. To be fair, both sides are blessed with the marvelous music by Mr. Vernon Duke and the fine lyrics of Mr. John Latouche as well as some eye-catching choreography inspired by Mr. George Balanchine’s work for the original production, but even at its most buoyant moments, CABIN IN THE SKY’s Virtue always has a whiff of smug schoolroom morality. I can’t say if this was inherent in Mr. Lynn Root’s original book for the show or the result of Messrs. Ruben Santiago-Hudson and Jack Viertel’s concert adaptation for Encores! but no one is exactly at the edge of their seat rooting for Righteousness. Especially since the Devil has the charm, the campier lines and most of the best dance numbers.
Nevertheless, the cast of CABIN IN THE SKY provides some very winning performances that often transcend the limitations and triteness of the material.
Mr. Chuck Cooper is a petulant delight playing the Head Man: a son of the Devil who is trying to “make good” in his Poppa’s business by getting Little Joe’s soul. While his satanic efforts may not exactly breed success, they are always diverting and earn well deserved applause. Musically as well, Mr. Cooper never flags, and his rendition of “Do What You Wanna Do” backed up by his superb assistants in evil – Ms. Tiffany Mann and Messrs. Dennis Stowe and André Garner – is a veritable crowd pleaser.
On the other side of the scale, Mr. Norm Lewis makes a gratifyingly caring Lord’s General, earnestly fighting for good but with a level of amusement that keeps him from being a cardboard seraph. The problem is, that even while the Lord’s General is trying to help Petunia and Little Joe, the best argument he can offer up is the very engaging but still tame “It’s Not So Bad to Be Good.” Not exactly heady stuff for Little Joe after the production numbers that the Head Man brings onstage. Basically Mr. Lewis’ Lord’s General and his angels – played by the worthy Ms. Kristolyn Lloyd and Messrs. Jared Joseph and Nicholas Ward – are the sort of beings you would bring home to impress your folks, whereas Saturday night is more entertaining in Mr. Cooper’s diabolically fun company.
As for the object of Good and Bad’s dispute. Little Joe is a schmo, yet, we don’t wonder why Petunia bothers with him, because Mr. Michael Potts makes Little Joe Jackson a likeable and sympathetic hero. Indeed, Mr. Potts makes even Little Joe’s enjoyment of his newly virtuous life believable. His playfulness when singing “In My Old Virginia Home (On the River Nile)” with Petunia makes us fully appreciate why his wife has been fighting for him when she obviously can do better.
Of course, there is nothing like another woman to mess things up for a man and Georgia Brown – as played by the talented Ms. Carly Hughes – is perfect for the job. Georgia Brown is one of those terribly attractive and self-assured ladies who is perplexed when she cannot get what she wants – such as Little Joe. Ms. Hughes gives her pursuit of Little Joe a good dash of humor as well as spice, and plays off Mr. Michael Potts most effectively.
Fighting to save her man from Hell is Little Joe’s devoted wife Petunia. By rights, this lady should be a romantic doormat, but the admirable actress billed as “LaChanze” creates a plausible woman with backbone who can see the good in her husband and lovingly draw it out. This heroine is both a worthy wife and darned good company who easily captivates the audience with numbers like “Taking a Chance on Love.” When it appears that she has reached the last straw, Ms. LaChanze’s Petunia changes dramatically into a woman who can best even the worldly Georgia Brown and bring down the house with the impressively sung number “Savannah”
The rest of the company is truly first-rate and deliver many high points in the show, most memorably the wonderful and boisterous “Dry Bones” which in itself is worth the price of admission.
Director Ruben Santiago-Hudson creates many memorable moments in the action of CABIN IN THE SKY but while I was entertained and interested, I was never really gripped by the sometime sitcom setup of the story (which Mr. Santiago Hudson also had a hand in). There is unevenness in the narrative that saps some of the drama out of the twists in the plot.
On the other hand, Ms. Camile A. Brown’s choreography provides impressive pieces of dance and movement. But at times certain numbers seem to get lost in a sort of Balanchine recital mode that merely extends the performances instead of enhancing the songs or adding to the story.
Musically the Encores! Orchestra conducted by Mr. Rob Berman is superb and Mr. Jonathan Tunick’s orchestrations of Mr. Vernon Duke’s music is a joy to listen to, taking full advantage of the chorus’ Gospel voices along with a big band sound reminiscent of the early 1940’s. Everything is properly amplified by Mr. Scott Lehrer’s audio designs, though the body microphones seem to be a little more obvious than intended.
Keeping with the concert staging, Ms. Anna Louizos’ sets are basic yet very effective – especially the opposing twin thrones in which are seated the Head Man and Lord’s General. Ms. Karen Perry is just as skilled in providing attractive costumes that go far in illustrating the personalities of the characters from the cheerful red garments of the Head Man and his henchmen to the white suit and amusing silver lamé cape worn by the Lord’s General. Everything is lit to good advantage by Mr. Ken Billington.
With its unequal book and overabundance of “Balanchine,” this CABIN IN THE SKY could have used more work on its dramatic foundation. But if it does not approach perfection, CABIN IN THE SKY is often very entertaining, with splendid songs and a praiseworthy cast who work hard to give the show a substance that it might not otherwise have.
I am a computer programmer, wannabe writer who loves theater and just got into the habit of inflicting my theatrical opinions.
I live in New York. Moshe can be reached at MB1224@aol.com
Originally produced in 1940, Cabin in the Sky followed Porgy and Bess in celebrating African-American music and dance traditions. The musical tells the story of “Little Joe” Jackson (Michael Potts), a charming ne’er-do-well who dies in a saloon brawl and is given six months on earth to prove his worth to the Lord’s General (Tony Award nominee Norm Lewis) and the Devil’s Head Man (Tony Award winner Chuck Cooper)—all while struggling to remain true to his loving wife Petunia (Tony Award winner LaChanze) and resist the wiles of temptress Georgia Brown (Carly Hughes). Long considered a lost treasure, the score of Cabin in the Sky—which includes jazz hits like “Taking a Chance on Love” and “Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe”—will be restored to its original glory for Encores!* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Brought to you by the NEW www.broadwaykingdom.com For more info on Elli -- The King of Broadway www.thekingofbroadway.com Facebook | Twitter | IMdB | Actors Access For more interviews & reviews go to www.broadwaykingdom.com * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Elli does Reggae
with The Amazing Bottle Dancers
Vincz Lee feat Popcaan, Cali P, FireFly & Riga
Filmed in Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Available on Itunes https://itunes.apple.com/ch/album/ups…
Video directed by Goodwiine
© Hemp Higher Productions
We are thrilled that our historic livestream of Daddy Long Legs is tonight!
We look forward to sharing our beautiful show with you all!
Just a reminder that our livestream will be played 4 times so theater fans across the globe can tune in. Our schedule is below:
8pm Eastern Standard Time (LIVE), December 10th
8pm Pacific Standard Time, December 10th
8pm Greenwich Mean Time, December 11th
8pm Japan Standard Time, December 11th
Once the livestream begins, it will be available on: www.DaddyLongLegsMusical.com/
We look forward to sharing this historic night with you.
P.S. Share your thoughts with us on social media using #DaddyLongLegsLive for a chance to win a copy of the Daddy Long Legs cast album!
The Front Row Follies
A review of Lincoln Center Theater revival of
THE KING AND I
At the Vivian Beaumont
April 7, 2015 IN PREVIEWS
NOTE TO READERS: I usually try to treat every show I review as if I am seeing it for the first time. However in the case of THE KING AND I such a position was not entirely possible.
Mr. Oscar Hammerstein II wrote the book and lyrics for the classic 1951 musical THE KING AND I basing his work on Ms. Margaret Landon’s novel ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM, (which is in turn a reworking of Ms. Anna Leonowens’ dramatic memoirs of the 1870’s). THE KING AND I tells the story of the young widow Anna Leonowens who in the 1860’s has journeyed to Siam with her young son Louis. Anna has been hired as teacher for the King of Siam’s royal family as part of the King’s plan to modernize (westernize) his country while fending off the imperialist ambitions of European powers. As she starts her work, Anna finds herself being drawn into the intrigues of Palace life and even having conflicts with the King – primarily regarding a certain term of her contract that he claims to have no knowledge of. In turn the King is intrigued by the Englishwoman who apparently has no fear of him and who represents the western advances in sciences and ideas that he is aspiring to achieve. When Western adventurers call the King a barbarian whose country should be made a protectorate Anna helps him to entertain and influence an English Delegation with results that deeply affect the King, the Royal Family, Siam and herself.
Director Bartlett Sher and his production team are clearly in awe of THE KING AND I and have mounted a revival that is both an astonishing eyeful and a veritable crowd pleaser. But for all that Mr. Sher and Co. have accomplished to impress the hell out of the audience and make it feel that it has gotten its money’s worth, there is an air of self-importance and a tendency to miss details that keeps this revival from being the truly outstanding production it so clearly is trying to be.
The book itself is an example of this problem: the current revival makes certain revisions to Mr. Hammerstein’s book and cuts the song “A Puzzlement” in a way that adds emphasis to the King’s difficult position as a traditional Eastern monarch who must adapt and strategize in the face of European imperialism. For the most part, I actually like these changes which make His Majesty seem less naïve and driven by personal desires than in previous productions. However, there is a tendency to make the situation clear and then immediately expound upon another variation of the same point. This causes certain scenes to lose their tension and focus and become rather labored. Judicious cutting and refining would definitely help.
Of course even with such changes, the rest of the score is wonderfully intact: from the optimistic trepidation of “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” through the endearing “Getting to Know You,” and the climactic “Shall We Dance,” Composer Richard Rodger’s and Mr. Hammerstein’s widely ranging music and lyrics define characters, enhance the action and make up one of the truly great musical scores.
This production of THE KING AND I is indeed “Mrs. Anna’s” show as Ms. Kelli O’Hara’s Anna Leonowens sweeps into Siam with all the apparent eagerness and self-confidence of someone who is certain that she is right. But Ms. O’Hara makes it clear that Anna’s assuredness and insistence of promises being fulfilled is actually the armor her character uses to protect herself and her son in this strange new place. Bit by bit this shell is removed, letting us see the woman who can become a discreet champion of doomed lovers in the moving “Hello Young Lovers,” make a classroom of royal children into a believable mutual adoration festival through the joyful “Getting to Know You.” It is Ms. O’Hara’s ability to contrast Anna’s humanity and vulnerability with her overwhelming desire to have everything set to rights in the Kingdom that makes this Governess a heroic and sympathetic person instead of the interfering intruder she might easily have been. This Anna may be exasperated and critical of the King – earning our sympathy and well deserved laughs and applause in the explosive and difficult soliloquy “Shall I Tell You What I Think of You?” – but she champions his goals and even makes some effort to understand him.
As Anna’s employer, Mr. Ken Watanabe is a truly formidable King Mongkut of Siam, presenting a man driven by politics as well as royal prerogative. This King understands how essential it is for him to speedily assimilate new ideas and languages, while trying to maintain authority in a changing world. Thus for Mr. Watanabe’s King, his fascination for Mrs. Anna is that of someone who represent the challenge of a Western influence as well as a colleague with whom he can communicate. Mr. Watanabe uses his accent to provide a vocal brusqueness that would be natural for a Monarch who is still feeling his way through English. Alas, some of the spectators around me did have some trouble fully understanding him – especially when he sometimes hastened though his sentences. Furthermore – although I fear this may have been due to Mr. Bartlett Sher’s direction – Mr. Watanabe’s depiction of angst was often of an “all or nothing” style of delivery that made his version of “A Puzzlement” appear less a song of intellectual perplexity than of digestive trouble.
Adding to His Majesty’s anxieties is the emotional isolation of his new wife, the Lady Tuptim. A gift from the court of Burma, Tuptim had already fallen in love with Lun Tha, one of the Burmese delegates, before she had ever been presented to the King. Charming Ms. Ashley Park is a wonderful Lady Tuptim, giving her role a grace and spirit that makes Tuptim more than just a girl driven by love. This is a woman who dares to hope for a better future even in the face of futility. Ms. Park’s memorable rendition of “My Lord and Master” – a song describing Tuptim’s emotions when she has been accepted as a wife to the King – manages to be both operatic and yet believably from Tuptim’s secret heart.
Although the handsome Mr. Conrad Ricanora’s Lun-Tha is not as imposing or even as heroic a character as the King is, his reckless and despairing love for Tuptim endows his role with its own power. When he sings “We Kiss in a Shadow,” Mr. Ricanora makes it Lun-Tha’s musical lure that unites him to Tuptim in their dangerous dream.
Where Tuptim feels trapped in the world of the Palace, Ms. Ruthie Ann Miles’ brilliant Lady Thiang is a poised inhabitant. Ms. Miles’ shows us the embodiment of a loving consort, who truly loves the King and does all she can for him and her son, the Crown Prince Chulalongkorn, seeing their potential for good. This is clearly shown in Ms. Miles’ moving performance of “Something Wonderful” which can all too easily become a hymn to enablement rather that the longing need of a woman to assist someone she loves in their aspirations for greatness.
As the heir of the King, Prince Chulalongkorn represents the aspirations for the future. Mr. Jon Viktor Corpuz presents us with a sturdy young prince who is not sure that he is really thrilled with life under Anna’s instruction and plays the Prince’s gradual warming to his teacher most quite well, keeping Anna unsure of how much her lessons are reaching him.
Mr. Jake Lucas succeeds nicely in preventing Anna’s son Louis Leonowens from becoming a mere prompt for other people’s dialogue. Indeed Mr. Lucas’ sunny young man provides an interesting contrast to the Royal Children, always being part of the crowd yet apart from them too which gives his duet with Chulalongkorn in the recap of a “A Puzzlement” a bit more depth than I expected in a reprise that was originally devised to cover a scene change.
Another surprise was Mr. Paul Nakauchi’s finely tuned performance as the King’s Prime Minister, the Kralahome. Mr. Nakauchi created an aloof dignitary who truly understands and respects his ruler, letting his feelings for him show briefly but most effectively.
The rest of the performers are all excellent, be they wives, children, courtiers, dancers and foreigners. Indeed the troupe who dance the balletic play-within-a-play THE SMALL HOUSE OF UNCLE THOMAS are simply phenomenal, performing this earnest “Siamese” take of UNCLE TOM’S CABIN with a flair and sense of fun that never crept into parody.
It is obvious from this splendid cast and the ornate production that Director Bartlett Sher truly has an embarrassment of riches on his hands. I only wish he could let some of that wealth fall to the sidelines when a concept does not quite work. Also it is apparent that Mr. Sher is enthralled by staging and designs that can only be appreciated properly from the back rows of the theater. This results in a lovely and inspiring state of affairs for anyone seated in the rear of the house but downright frustrating to those holding seats closer to the action, starting with the opening scene which became a debacle for many people sitting in the first four or five rows around the Orchestra Pit: As the stage extends over the musicians in orchestra an imposing model steamer sails onward, its prow towering above the front of the stage apron. When Captain Orton and Louis Leonowens appear on the top deck of this vessel, all that is visible for those unfortunates in the closer seats is Captain Orton’s cap. Then Ms. Kelli O’Hara makes what ought to be THE star entrance as Anna Leonowens. Her voice is clear and her hat the only visible part of her until she approaches the ship’s rail and treats the spectators seated beneath the ship to several long and unnerving views of the vast underside of her hoopskirt. After THAT introduction, I can report that under the interesting array of her crinoline, Ms. O’Hara wears sturdy traveling shoes, proper hose and clean pantalets that ended above the knee.
After this annoyingly awkward sequence, everyone climbs off the ship which pulls away to reveal a quayside setting that would have been perfectly fine from the very beginning since most of the action and singing takes place here anyway IN FULL SIGHT. But clearly someone’s judgement was woefully affected by the concept of that unfortunate ship.
This “sightlines be damned” tendency occurs consistently and aggravatingly throughout the evening, caused by the arrangements of the set, a prop or groupings of the cast members and I firmly and regretfully lay the blame for this ineptitude at Mr. Bartlett Sher’s feet. Doubtlessly Mr. Sher is trying to emulate the beautifully cinematic flow of SOUTH PACIFIC (a show he dazzlingly revived at the same theater some years ago), but the palatial progression and set pieces of THE KING AND I constantly works against such a dynamic approach due to the need for the action to be visible to the entire audience and because all the time taken for the constant onstage shifting and rearranging of scenery tends to drain off more and more energy.
Then too, it appears that Director Sher sometimes focuses on the impressive climax of a scene but lets everything coast into it. At other times he allows the action to build up ponderously, such as the aforementioned thematic repetition of the King’s concerns with Europe. For me the worst instance of all this sloppiness is in Act 2 during Anna’s final confrontation with the King. Each of her accusations is rushed along like a run-on sentence that comes to a halt with her final indictment of His Majesty. This haste robs Ms. O’Hara and Mr. Watanabe of their most powerfully dramatic moment since each of Mrs. Anna’s charges is meant to hit the king like an emotional body blow until he can no longer take it and finally erupts at her.
Still, there is much to praise in Mr. Sher’s work from the scholarly and politically shrewd King through Anna’s delightfully individual relationship with each of the Royal Children. Mr. Sher makes certain that even the smallest role onstage provides another character in the story rather than function as mere walking scenery. If I had to argue with any of the characterizations it would be with Mr. Edward Baker-Duly’s Sir Edward Ramsey: why must this visiting dignitary who had been part of Anna’s past always get played with a sort of to-the-gallery vapidity? I have seen this style of portrayal often enough to assume it is traditional with revivals of THE KING AND I but to me is just seems silly and makes Anna and the King’s interaction with Sir Edward of far less importance than we have been led to believe it should be, especially after all the highlighting of the King’s political concerns.
Choreographer Christopher Gattelli is quite faithful to Mr. Jerome Robbin’s original dances but marvelously makes the fullest use of the vast Vivian Beaumont stage to permit the performers to come alive rather than merely re-enact the glory of Mr. Robbin’s past work.
Similarly Mr. Ted Sperling directs a wonderfully large orchestra that truly glories in Mr. Richard Rodgers unforgettable music (with the classic orchestrations of Mr. Robert Russell Bennett and Ms. Trude Rittman’s additional arrangements). Alas the Overture deserves better treatment, not merely being truncated which would have been understandable given the length of the show, but being rewritten into a mere hit parade of tunes lingering on “Shall We Dance,” a theme that is usually never heard in the overture because it is reserved for actual performance to heighten it’s impact. Such a spoiler of an overture is better discarded altogether.
The sets (besides the confounded boat) are simple yet grand. Mr. Michael Yeargan understands how sumptuous and magnificent does not have to be overwhelming. He skillfully evokes the Bangkok riverside and the Palace Environs on the large performance space with care and even delicacy. The sets and stage action were admirably lit by Mr. Donald Holder and Mr. Scott Lehrer’s judicious sound designs assured that even if the scenes cannot be fully seen by everybody, they can clearly be heard.
It has been observed that certain moments of THE KING AND I star not only the actors but the costumes they wear and Ms. Catherin Zuber’s gorgeous creations take the stage most impressively. From English hoopskirts to Siamese pha nungs, Ms. Zuber’s garments both capture the eye and define the character of the wearer. While using new designs to make Mrs. Anna look most charming, Ms. Zuber wisely does not eschew the magic of the famous pink satin ball gown that has always made “Shall We Dance” one of the most memorable moments in musical theater. On an irreverent note, THE KING AND I’s opening scene makes it most clear to the closer seat holders that Ms. Zuber is as just meticulous about designing the cast’s underclothes.
THE KING AND I is slated to open on April 16 and it is sure to be a popular draw and should not be missed. All the same, I feel sad that some unfortunate and thoughtless choices will prevent this revival from being the defining hallmark production that it ought to be. And I close with a word of advice:
When booking your seats, avoid the first five rows around the stage.
and an ardent plea to Mr. Sher:
SINK THAT SHIP!
I am a computer programmer, wannabe writer who loves theater and just got into the habit of inflicting my theatrical opinions.
I live in New York. Moshe can be reached at MB1224@aol.com