The Tony Awards' 2012 Opening Number - What If Life Were More Like Theater? - with Neil Patrick Harris, Patti LuPone, Amanda Seyfried, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson
What is Cyndi Lauper doing to follow up her brilliant, well-received (and award winning) 2010 album Memphis Blues? Why, she's writing a musical! A stage adaptation of the charming UK film Kinky Boots which will be opening in Chicago later this year, with an anticipated move to Broadway in 2013. Eager for a preview? EW is hosting a sneak peek of the track The Sex Is In The Heel (scroll down for player), and the track will be available for free download at the musical's website starting tomorrow. Lauper will also be performing the track live at the NYC Pride Parade this weekend, where she will be Grand Marshall.
The revival of Death of a Salesman starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman is taking Broadway by storm. It's directed by Mike Nichols and also stars Andrew Garfield. It's one of the theater's most respected works. But there's a bittersweet irony with this revival. "Tickets for the original run, in 1949, cost between $1.80 and $4.80; tickets for the 2012 run range from $111 to $840. After adjusting for inflation, that’s a 10-fold increase, well beyond the reach of today’s putative Willy Lomans." "Certainly few middle-class people, or at least anyone from any “middle class” that Loman would recognize, are among the audiences attending this production."
Standing in the wings and hoping someone on stage will get injured was never part of my big Broadway dreams. I had been working professionally long enough to know that many actors considered swings to be the second-class citizens of Broadway, the spares whose talent wasn’t distinctive enough to merit their being seen on stage every night. I knew those generalizations to be false, and though they stung, I had reasons beyond my pride for wanting my own track in Chicago. [more inside]
"It's either a whore house, or it isn't. Suzy either took a job there, or she didn't.
The play doesn't give satisfaction here and it leaves an audience wondering. My position is that she took the job all right but she wasn't any good at it. In the book, Fauna explains that Suzy's no good as a hustler because she's got a streak of lady in her. I wish we could keep this thought because it explains a lot in a short time."Pipe Dream, a little-known and rarely performed Rodgers and Hammerstein musical based on John Steinbeck's novels Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday, will be revived this month in a concert production at New York City Center [SLYT] for the first time in decades. The musical had not been available for performance for years due to rights issues. [more inside]
Susan Blackwell is an American actress, writer and singer, best known for playing herself in the musical [title of show]. The web series "Side by Side by Susan Blackwell" chronicles her unconventional encounters with Broadway celebrities: sorting laundry with Daniel Radcliffe, feeding goats with Jonathan Groff, researching rectal surgeries with Norbert Leo Butz, naming dogs with Zachary Quinto and consulting a ouija board with Andrew Rannells, to name a few. [more inside]
"I've been called over the top," Steinman says. "How silly. If you don't go over the top, you can't see what's on the other side." James Richard Steinman is best known for his collaborations with artists such as Meatloaf (Paradise by the Dashboard Light,) and Bonnie Tyler Total Eclipse of the Heart. His songs have been covered by artists such as Barbara Streisand(Left in the Dark - here's Steinman's original.) Barry Manilow (Read 'Em and Weep, here performed by Meatloaf) Air Supply (Demo with Rory Dodd on vocals) And of course, many of us have seen the “literal versions of his videos for Making Love out of Nothing At All, I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That) Total Eclipse of the Heart, inspired by his flamboyant, theatrical style, which does lend itself to parody. But of course, there is much, much more. [more inside]
As he sings, the walls of the apartment begin to move off, and the city walls surrounding them begin to close in on them. Then the apartment it self goes, and the two lovers begin to run, battering against the walls of the city, beginning to break through as chaotic figures of the gangs, of violence, fail around them. But they do break through, and suddenly-they are in a world of space and air and sun. They stop, looking at it, pleased, startled, as boys and girls both sides come on. And they, too, stop and stare, happy, pleased. Their clothes are soft and pastel versions of what they have worn before. They begin to dance, to play: no sides, no hostility now; join, making a world that Tony and Maria want to be in, belong to, share their love with. As they go into the steps of a gentle love dance, a voice is heard singing. [more inside]
Nants ingonyama bagithi baba! It's been nearly two decades since that glorious savanna sunrise, and once again The Lion King is at the top of the box office. It's a good chance to revisit what made the original the capstone of the Disney Renaissance, starting with the music. Not the gaudy show tunes or the Elton John ballads, but the soaring, elegiac score by Hans Zimmer which, despite winning an Oscar, never saw a full release outside of an unofficial bootleg. Luckily, it's unabridged and high-quality, allowing one to lay Zimmer's haunting, pulse-pounding, joyful tracks alongside the original video (part 2, 3, 4), revealing the subtle leitmotifs and careful matching of music and action. In addition, South African collaborator Lebo M wove traditional Zulu chorals into the score, providing veiled commentary on scenes like this; his work was later expanded into a full album, the Broadway stage show, and projects closer to his heart. Speaking of expanded works, there were inevitable sequels -- all of which you can experience with The Lion King: Full Circle (download guide), a fan-made, three-hour supercut of the original film and its two follow-ups. Want more? Look... harder... [more inside]
It Ain't Necessarily "Porgy". Director Diane Paulus is turning The Gershwins' (and DuBose Heyward's) Porgy & Bess from an opera into a commercial Broadway musical, with a more upbeat ending. Stephen Sondheim takes issue with this bold reinterpretation. [more inside]
It begins: “Thank you for coming to see our play. Please know that everything in ‘The Normal Heart’ happened. There were and are real people who lived and spoke and died, and are presented here as best I could.” The letter goes on to name some of the people on whom he based his characters (the central figure, Ned Weeks, is based on himself) and describe what became of them. [more inside]
Produced by a pair of Vaudeville comedians just as the Vaudville era was era was coming to a close, the musical revue Hellzapoppin' became a runaway smash hit, and for a time, was the longest running show on Broadway. It was a crazy quilt of frequently updated comedy and musical bits stitched together, featuring risque humor, fourth-wall breaking audience participation, skits abandoned halfway through, dwarfs, pigeons, clowns and Adolph Hitler with a Yiddish accent. [more inside]
From Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, and Robert Lopez, of Avenue Q, comes the new Broadway show "The Book of Mormon." The show "tells the story of two young Mormon missionaries sent off to spread the word in a dangerous part of Uganda" while gently (and no so gently) lampooning organized religion and traditional musical theatre. The entire show is now streaming on NPR. Songs are extremely Not Safe For Work.
Arthur Laurents (wiki), writer of the libretti for West Side Story and Gypsy, among many other things, has died at the age of 93. [more inside]
On March 14th, the 26th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will add 5 new performers to the growing list of well-known musicians. As previously discussed, the 2011 inductees are Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, Dr. John, Tom Waits and Darlene Love. Though the last name may not be as famous as the four fellows, the chances are you know her voice, from Monster Mash, Rockin' Robbin, or Da Doo Ron Ron. Except her name wasn't credited first on any of those recordings, if it was mentioned at all. [more inside]
Homelessness: Cutting out the middle men (Economist) "The most efficient way to spend money on the homeless might be to give it to them". [more inside]
This week, the world will finally get its first look at Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. But the most expensive musical in Broadway history has already had an epic run—battling bankruptcy, broken wrists, unruly technology, and one comic villain disguised as a Post columnist. And at the center of it all, perched over her “God mike,” is the relentless and inventive Julie Taymor. (previously)
Defamation by Twitter Broadway actor Marty Thomas has filed papers in court asking that the identify of the "bwayanonymous" Twitter account (cache) be revealed, after the account made a post alleging Thomas has crabs.
Producer Ken Davenport announces he will be "crowd-funding" an upcoming Broadway revival of the musical Godspell. [more inside]
Tomorrow after 37 previews and 1000 performances, Broadway will bid farewell to the critically-lauded, award-winning, first-ever revival of the classic Rodgers & Hammerstein musical South Pacific. [more inside]
Theatre composer Jason Robert Brown (bio) tries to explain to a young fan why it’s wrong to download sheet music from the Internet for free. Via.
However, nobody quite remembers how they decided on 11-year-old Ralph Carter (who is black) to replace 23-year-old Geer (who is white).
Dude. Articles on the failed musical Dude by Hair cocreator Gerome Ragni. Where to start? Well, there is this summary of the disaster by the New York Times, which is just mind-boggling: "He also made demands, phoning Adela Holzer at 2 A.M. to say he wanted a hundred butterflies let loose into the audience before each performance. No? Well then what about having a couple of oinking pigs and chickens run down the aisle at intermission?" [more inside]
Actor, Playwright, Artist, Comedian, Magician, "Man of A Thousand Voices" (including Mighty Mouse,) "Beloved Herring Maven"
Broadway, block by block, 1899. (SLNYPL) "A 19th century version of Google's Street View, allowing us to flip through the images block by block, passing parks, churches, novelty stores, furriers, glaziers, and other businesses of the city's past."
On Sunday New York City closed two of the busiest sections of perhaps the most famous street in the U.S. to traffic and created pedestrian plazas in the "Crossroads of the World" (and also in Herald Square) [brief plan / NYCDOT detailed plan]. [more inside]
Only 325 days until Broadway's Hilton Theater hosts the first preview of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, a $40 million musical directed by Juliet Taymor with music and lyrics by Bono and The Edge of U2. Investors hope it will fare better than another big-budget pulp adaptation.
Patti Lupone freaks out - mid-song - at someone taking pictures during a performance of "Gypsy." Audio clip on YouTube. Dished about at Gawker and The Village Voice. [more inside]
Songs that clearly and directly address or reference economic hardships and injustice in America, not to mention that do so in a bitter, regretful tone, don't often become enormous hits. Matter of fact, it's such a rare phenomenon that you could count such songs on... um, one finger? Yes, Yip Harburg and Jay Gorney's iconic Brother Can You Spare a Dime is that song. Covered by a surprisingly wide range of singers through the years, the song still resonates. [more inside]
The Worst Flop in Broadway History? First staged in 1983 for only one night, Moose Murders (wiki) is legendary as the flop-of-flops in Broadway history--and is now being revived for its kitsch value. [more inside]
Can I Get a Napkin Here? A food court musical brought to us by the fine folks of Improv Everywhere . For more musicals in public places, check out "Reach! A Lecture Musical!" and "Reading on a Dream: A Library Musical" both from Prangstgrup.
The Battery's Down is a new musical web series about an aspiring New York actor, Jake Wilson - ostensibly playing himself. Written and directed by Wilson, it also contains cameos by Broadway actors - and feature songs composed by up-and-coming musical theatre composers (each song is also available for download). [more inside]
Nearly 12 Years Old, ‘Rent’ Is to Close. The 1996 Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning musical will close its doors at New York's Nederlander Theatre on June 1st. The 7th longest-running musical in Broadway history, it is based on Puccini's La Boheme and is credited with bringing young people to musical theatre and the invention of Broadway Rush ticketing - it sold its first two rows for $20: first in , first served on the day of the performance. [more inside]
Musical fans, meet Seth Rudetsky. Watch him (YT links) deconstruct "Turkey Lurkey" and Barbra Streisand or accompany Raul Esparza on "Defying Gravity." Learn from his Broadway 101 parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6a and 6b.
As the Writer's Guild of America strike wears on into its second week, it seems appropriate to remember why they're striking in the first place. If you ask me, the terms seem almost too reasonable. But in the defense of the studios, I'm sure the businessmen involved have gotten used to spending those millions of dollars, and wouldn't want to see them go. Now that Broadway has shut down in allegiance to their Hollywood compatriots, things are looking grim for anything to be resolved without more financial bloodshed.
Broadway's original Effie White, Jennifer Holliday, has been very open about how haunted and snubbed she felt during the production of the Dreamgirls movie. In particular she was hurt when, without permission, her own singing voice was used in a theatrical trailer to promote the production that had completely shut her out. Yesterday at the BET Awards she was finally given some overdue recognition and invited to join Jennifer Hudson onstage for a duet of the song she made famous. You may have heard the song a hundred times, but try to make it 101. 'Cuz seriously, the girls can sing. Previously.
"Someone in a Tree" -- an incedibly rare video from the original, 1976 production of "Pacific Overtures." I grew up listening to an L.P. of these same people perform this same song, but I've never before seen them perform it. I grew up in Southern Indiana, so actually seeing a Broadway show was out of the question. But I loved this song, and -- years later -- I read that it was Stephen Sondheim's favorite of all the songs he ever wrote. Today, I found this video on YouTube and it was like finally seeing someone after being blind for years. I still have chills running up and down my spine. Also: Sondheim forum, online journal, and various gems (and bombs) on youtube -- including the man himself teaching a master class and this 12-year-old's spirited performance!
Broadway.com has been doing a video diary of Legally Blonde: the Musical as it moves toward Broadway. See the first rehearsal with director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell, visit a costume fitting, or catch a sneek peek of the show's pre-Broadway tryout in San Francisco. Legally Blonde starts performance in New York City on April 3rd.
"Spotlight Live... puts guests in the limelight in a way that will surpass their wildest dreams. Guests can walk in the door for dinner and walk out the door a star" In the age of American Idol, why go to see a show on Broadway, when it's your birthright to be a show on Broadway, complete with your own professional back-up singers and dancers?
I'm a Jewish Yankee Doodle Dandy and other Yiddish sheet music on topics ranging from the Dreyfus affair to interreligious romance. How Broadway evolved from Yiddish theater.
You can keep your Simon, Randy and Paula, I'll take Barbara Cook any day. Here is the Broadway legend's two hour master class (it's a REALTIME video from The New York Public Library) and it'll teach you more about singing, phrasing and music than every moment of American Idol combined. At least watch the first 20 minutes, you'll be amazed.
Dancer Sues Movin' Out for breach of contract and sexual harassment she claims to have suffered during her run in the National Touring company of the Broadway hit. In an interesting move, the dancer, Alice Alyse, has created a lawsuit website to explain her side of the story. Perhaps she'll win, but will she ever work again?
Buying Rare Race Records in the South. Music That Americans Loved 100 Years Ago. The Cheney Talking Machine. Just three among dozens of amazing articles about early recording machines and American popular music at the astonishingly detailed site of Tim Gracyk, author of Popular American Recording Pioneers: 1895-1925. Scroll down for bios of forgotten stars, including Nora Bayes - who performed in the Follies of 1907, before Flo Ziegfeld's name became part of the title, George W. Johnson - "the most important African-American recording artist of the 1890s," and piano player Zez Confrey, whose sheet music for the 1921 hit "Kitten on the Keys" sold over a million copies and became "the third most-frequently recorded rag in history."
A couple years ago, they did SILENCE! the musical version of Silence of the lambs, now they're working on "RoboCop The Musical" with this track uploaded as a preview entitled "Murphy, It's You" performed by RoboCop and Anne Lewis.
Doris Eaton Travis. Doris Eaton returned to Broadway 87 years after her premiere. Her film debut was only 84 years ago. She wrote her award-winning autobiography when she was only 99.
"When stewardesses were sexy and the world was sexist" is the tagline of this years-in-making musical by Suzy Conn, who also runs the blogway baby musicals log (which talks about this musical quite a bit). It's meant to be based around the early 1960's, when airlines were truly a luxury, not unlike a sea cruise or a first-class train ride pre-Amtrak. (The website spends some time going on about Braniff International, and it's worth it to check out the history of that airline. This is also laid out on top of the era of Women's Liberation, although it does so using the aesthetic of 1960's music and phraseology, which was, basically, designed by male-dominated hollywood. For everyone who sits in the cheap seats, if you let the flash animation at the beginning of the site load, it plays the entire opening title song for you. Hey, free show!