Monthly Archives: March 2010

Two New Shows Coming to Broadway, Summer 2010

While nothing is official, The Broadway Critic has heard reports that two new shows are coming to Broadway in Summer 2010. There are no official dates on either shows, but I assume they’ll be opening late summer, early fall (similar to how Finian’s Rainbow and Ragtime opened). Hopefully, these two shows will fair better than Finian’s Rainbow and Ragtime.

What’s most interesting, is the fact that both shows are successfully touring before their Broadway run. Usually, it’s the other way around – Broadway, then tour – but not with these two shows.

The first show that’s planning on transferring to Broadway after their successful tour across the USA is the Paper Mill Playhouse’s production of The Little House on the Prairie.

Little House on the Prairie finishes their first national tour in Kansas City, MO on June 27th, 2010. The closest that it’s coming to the Bay Area is Sacramento on April 14th – 25th, 2010. You can better believe I’m going to try to drive up there and see it! I figure that since they are finished the end of June, that they will probably be starting previews on Broadway in August and possibly opening in September.

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s inspirational stories take on a brand new frontier in this uplifting new musical. An award-winning team has collaborated to make this one of the best new musicals in decades! The team includes: superlative direction by internationally acclaimed Francesca Zambello (Disney’s The Little Mermaid on Broadway); a riveting book by Tony Award winner Rachel Sheinkin (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee); a wondrous score by Oscar Winning composer Rachel Portman; lyrics by Donna di Novelli and finally: Melissa Gilbert, who played “Laura” in the beloved TV series, joins the cast as “Ma.”

It too has been getting great reviews around the country and now it’s ready to take the chance to see if Broadway has room for some country charm.

The Little House on the Prairie Website

The second show that’s coming to Broadway this fall is the widely successful Apollo Theatre revival of Dreamgirls.

This revival of Dreamgirls brings back the original show, but acknowledges and embraces the almost 30-year journey since its creation. Robert Longbottom teams with co-choreographer Shane Sparks of TV’s “So You Think You Can Dance” to infuse the show with fresh, contemporary movement and style. The cast is filled with some of today’s most talented young stars and, of special importance, this new Dreamgirls will be launched at Harlem’s famous Apollo Theater, highlighting the show’s themes of talent and discovery like no production before it.

As you can tell, this particular production is special and the audiences have loved it. It currently has dates to play in San Francisco on August 24th – September 26th. But interestingly enough, those dates are not on the Dreamgirls website. Have they changed their mind and decided Broadway instead? If so, it will probably end up on Broadway late September but if it does go to San Francisco then you should plan on an October preview and November opening for this new revival. If they don’t end up coming to San Francisco, believe me I’ll be buying a ticket to see this on Broadway. If it does, you’ll see a review this summer. Either way, I’m stoked to see this being revived on Broadway. It’s time.

Dreamgirls Touring Website hasn’t even reported either of these shows are coming to Broadway, but I heard that they are currently casting for both for the Broadway-bound productions. (Check out’s full list of upcoming Broadway shows here.) I’m waiting for an official announcement because we all know that casting a show isn’t the same as actually producing one. (Please refer to Spiderman: Turn of the Dark.) But, my bets are in – both of these shows will show up on Broadway next season.

Which one are you most excited about?


Posted by on 03/29/2010 in Broadway, News


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Broadway News Round Up #14

Each week, The Broadway Critic will be featuring the news that you don’t want to miss! A lot has happened since we posted about Addams Family starting previews and Fela! transferring to London.

  • The idiots have started previews on Broadway!! The soundcheck sounded phenomenal and looked like everyone was rocking out. (Check it out, here!) Of course, you can read my review of American Idiot at Berkeley Rep, here. There is so much buzz around this show, that Tom Hanks is in talks to direct a movie version of the musical – pretty amazing if you ask me. wants to cast Penn Badgley as the Will, Liam Hensworth as Tunny and Shia LeBouf as Johnny. Seriously, who’s writing that crap? Have they even seen the show? I’m all for making a movie, but they better use some real singers, or they are gonna end up with another Nine or Mamma Mia.
  • Come Fly Away opens tonight, Friday, March 25th at the Marquis Theatre. I’ve heard very mixed things about this show so far. One friend loved it and others have hated it. Blogger, Chris Caggiano absolutely hated it. He tweeted, “… [it’s] tedious. 4 interchangeable couples. No real story. Generic dance. Producers know but fear Twyla.” If I can get cheap tickets, I’ll keep an open mind on this one, but I don’t plan on spending a lot.
  • This video doesn’t make me want to see All About Me at all. I think their intentions are to “sell” the show, but I don’t think it’s that funny. Am I missing something?
  • More London transfers: Arthur Laurents is in talks to direct Gypsy with Patti LuPone. Apparently, LuPone is Laurents’ favorite Mama Rose. (Poor Bette!) You can read the full interview on In other LuPone news: she’s hosting the Drama Desk Awards.
  • People are already talking about this year’s Tony Awards. The consensus is that Angela Lansbury will be winning her 6th Tony for her role in A Little Night Music. Everything else seems up in the air. I’m gonna say that either Fela! or American Idiot will win (depending on what critics say about American Idiot). Do you have any favorites or shoe-ins?
  • Happy Birthday to Andrew Lloyd Weber and Stephen Sondheim. Sondheim got the best birthday present ever: the Henry Miller Theatre is now the new Stephen Sondheim theatre. Pretty awesome 80th birthday present if you ask me.
  • Oh, and just so you know… my rumor about Alice Ripley wanting to go on tour with Next to Normal and transferring to London is true. There hasn’t been any contracts signed, but the negotiations are in process.

A bunch of new shows are starting previews & opening on Broadway in the next couple weeks:

  • 3/24/10: American Idiot (previews)
  • 3/25/10: Come Fly Away (opening)
  • 3/28/10: Promises, Promises (previews)
  • 4/01/10: Red (opening)
  • 4/04/10: Lead me a Tenor (opening)
  • 4/06/10: La Cage aux Folles (previews)
  • 4/11/10: Million Dollar Quartet (opening)

Until next week…


Posted by on 03/25/2010 in Broadway, News


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Theatre Review: “The Illusion” @ Pear Avenue Theatre, 03/20/10

Written by Guest Writer: Walter Mayes

In the hands of master dramatist Tony Kushner, the classic French comedy “L’illusion Comique” has been reshaped into a play where illusion is all but impossible to discern from reality. Playing with the concept of multiple identities and worlds-within-worlds, director Michael Champlin and his cast take audiences on a two-hour journey where every question seems answered with another question, and the shifting identities of the talented cast add depth and resonance to the tale.

A father comes to a sorceress for information about his missing son. The sorceress shows him visions of his son, but with different names and under differing circumstances. Along the way, we ask ourselves if we can ever truly know anyone; if lovers must also be liars; and if fathers and sons can resolve their notions of each other and find understanding. Each question causes us to ponder the nature of illusion in life and just how much we need ours.

While all the acting is good, stellar performances are given by Sepideh Moafi and Monique Hafen. Moafi brings a beguiling cunning to her multiple portrayals of a woman always on the wrong side of love’s equation, while Hafen has the furthest to travel in her three roles (from wide-eyed, love struck ingenue to mature and bitter wife) and acquits herself beautifully. Both women have a flair for the comedic that is given room to shine, but their more serious scenes truly crackle with dramatic prowess.

Ron Gasparinetti’s set, while beautiful and functional, left me confused because the large panels with a circular design on it didn’t look like the cave that is the setting for the play. I think I didn’t get it.

The Pear Avenue Theatre continues to do strong work in their tiny space, and this latest production is one more example.


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Theatre Review: “Lady Be Good” @ Tabard Theatre, 03/18/10

The Tabard Theatre Company is now presenting Lady, Be Good, a George & Ira Gerswhin musical written in 1924. The story – albeit a very confusing script – is about a brother and sister who are on the skids and need some money. They’ll do just about anything to get what they want – dressing up and crashing parties, pretending they are famous people, marrying for money (at least I think they got married) and just about everything else.

It’s a “1920’s styled musical” – think Thoroughly Modern Millie - with the same amount of hijinks, dazzle and tap numbers as every other 1920’s musical. There’s also the standard ethnic character that is a con man or shady dealer and Lady, Be Good is no exception. (This time it’s a Mexican, though I heard that Tabard’s production appropriately toned down the racial slurs.) Back in 1924, it ran on Broadway for almost a year starring the brother/sister duo: Fred & Adele Astaire. The show features some great toe-tappin’ jazz standards like, “Oh Lady, Be Good” and “Fascinating Rhythm.”

Everything on paper says: “This is a hit!” But, unfortunately, it’s not.

There’s a big reason why this musical is a “forgotten gem”. Frankly, it sort of needs to be forgotten. Guy Bolton and Fred Thompson’s book lacks focus in scenes and direction in the story. There were several times when I thought, “I have no idea what is happening right now.” Characters weren’t introduced properly, songs popped into scenes without any clear reason and overall, it was totally confusing. While, Diane Milo (Director/Vocal Director) could have brought a clearer vision to the overall look and feel of the production, the material never helped her in this regard. The lack of set and limited props never gave us a clue on time or place. Generally, I love a sparse stage because it lets the audience imagine everything, but when the book is riddled with inconsistencies, then as an audience member it just becomes even more confusing. The lack of diction in the music, especially in the fast tempoed “Swiss Miss”, was another reason why the story was lost. This combined with everything else, made up for a very confusing night of theatre.

The choreography was definitely the highlight of the production. Dottie Lester-White’s lengthy career rooted in tapping where she performed on Broadway with Katherine Hepburn in Coco and Ruby Keeler’s No, No Nanette gives Lady, Be Good the 1920’s charm that it needed so desperately. Also, the cast’s execution was quite fantastic. Their tapping and hand movements were sharp and precise, down to the last finger. You could see all of the hard work that was put into the choreography and dancing! I also loved how Lester-White used the entire stage (both levels) to showcase her dancers. I only wish that some of the blocking mirrored the creative movement of the choreography.

While, the dancing was fantastic and leading lady, Mary Kalita (Susie Trevor) did her best to sell it with her smile and charm, it unfortunately didn’t keep the show afloat. Since the space was so intimate and the material border-lined slap-stick, many of the characters overplayed their face and hand gestures to the point that it wasn’t funny. Kalita did the best at finding the very fine line between slapstick and over-the-top in her Millie-inspired performance. James Creer’s crooning in “Little Jazz Bird” and “Fascinating Rhythm” was another highlight of this production.

Sometimes “forgotten gems” need to stay forgotten for a reason. I thought the Gershwins were fail-proof, but it’s obvious with Lady, Be Good that they weren’t even close to perfect. I think it would have more enjoyable to strip the story from the show and stage just the songs and dance numbers. It then would have been a fun-filled, 90-minute production with energized tap numbers and some great standard jazz tunes. Then, and only then, would it be a delightful night of theatre.

Listen to “Oh, Lady, Be Good” from The Gershwin’s Songbook: S’Marvelous

“Fascinating Rhythm”


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Theatre Review: “Ain’t Misbehavin'” @ San Jose Rep, 03/21/10

Photo: Tim Fuller

It’s no wonder why Ain’t Misbehavin’ won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1978. You can’t help yourself from having a fantastic time at Ain’t Misbehavin’ when Fats Wallers’ music makes you want to get up and dance! It sparkles; it shines and most of all, it’s deliciously snazzy.

These five performers – Rebecca F. Covington, Angela Grovey, Christopher L. Morgan, Ken Robinson and Aurelia Williams – are Broadway-caliber talent. From the first note of the production in the titled track you are instantly taken by to the sounds of the Cotton Club and the Savoy Ballroom of the ’20’s and ’30’s. Even without a story-based plot, the performers were able to find a story-line in each one of the songs they sang. Because of this, each song became its own “show” – little tidbits and stories of a bygone era.

There were several favorites of the evening but of course, there were a few stand-outs! “Honeysuckle Rose” – one of the more famous songs from this show – was Ken Robinson’s shining moment, especially when he hit that famous note at the end of the song and held it for longer than naturally possible. Outstanding! The Act 1 finale, “This Joint is Jumpin'” literally almost had me out of my seat, clapping and dancing! It was electric. “The Viper’s Drag/The Reefer Song” was a highlight for the audience as Morgan descended from a rope, shirtless singing a song with a little bit of a raunchy, sexy flavor. As he used the audience to fulfill his passing whims, it got a little more outrageous with each audience member. He nailed it.

Covington’s infectious smile lit up the stage whenever she was on. My favorite song of hers was, “Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now.” She could sing to me any day of the week! Williams’ gorgeous soprano voice and Grovey’s sultry pipes were featured in the hilarious “Find Out What They Like”. I couldn’t believe the perfect blend and diction behind it all. It was precise in all the right ways. Finally, “Black and Blue” featured the entire cast, sitting on their chairs, singing in perfect harmony. Stunning.

I will say that I wish this was presented in a more relaxed, cabaret-styled, environment that would allow audience members to dance, groove and sing a long. The performers made me feel a part of the Cotton Club, so I actually wanted to be in a club.

I think the entire audience was ready to dance and clap at the end because all of us leapt to our feet during the closing song!

I couldn’t be more thrilled that this was my first introduction to Ain’t Misbehavin’! It’s a perfect treat!


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Bay Area Theatre: Weekend Picks, March 19-21

Here are The Broadway Critic’s picks for Bay Area Theatre this weekend:

1. Baby – A Musical at Ray of Light Theatre – “Ray of Light Theatre is proud to present the delightful musical comedy, Baby. Continuing our 9th season after rocking the house with The Who’s Tommy last fall, Baby is a seven-time Tony award-nominated musical that The New York Times praised as “Smart, funny and often ingenious”. It runs 5 weeks, March 19 – April 18, 2010, at Off-Market Theatres in San Francisco. Directed by Dyan McBride.” I haven’t seen this production yet, but it looks like an interesting night of theatre.

More Info | Tickets

2. Ain’t Misbehavin’ at San Jose Rep – San Jose Rep is swinging to the tunes of Thomas “Fats” Waller with a stellar Broadway caliber cast. The joint will be jumpin’ with an ensemble of energetic and electric performances, featuring the hottest jazz band in town guaranteed to bring down the house with a musical parade of 30 great hits! Aint’ Misbehavin’ is directed by Kent Gash and is based on an idea by Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby, Jr. I’m off to see this tonight – opening night. Look for a review, early next week.

More info | Tickets

3. Legally Blonde at Broadway San Jose – Legally Blonde is only running until Sunday, March 21st, so you’ll want to check it out this weekend! Don’t forget! I said, “We’re glad to have the cute, spunky Malibu blonde back in the Bay Area. It’s not a perfect cast or show, but you’ll leave the theatre laughing because you’ve had such a good time. You might even change some of your wardrobe to pink!” Read the full review, here.

More InfoTickets

On my Radar:

  • Broadway Forever at Herbst Theatre: I saw their initial run back in February and reviewed it here. It was one of the longest nights of theatre I have ever been to, but then again there were some fantastic songs that you might not want to miss. You just might want to bring something to do during the others.
  • Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at Broadway by the Bay: I’m really looking forward to this one as it stars Robert Brewer! I worked with Robert on Bat Boy at Foothill College and The Great American Trailer Park Musical at San Jose Stage Company. Plus, I’ve never seen anything at Broadway by the Bay! It starts April 1st and runs through April 18th. More info here.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird at Theatreworks: “When a black man is accused on little evidence of assaulting a white woman, a small-town lawyer stands for justice in the shadow of overwhelming racism in an utterly engaging tale of heartache and joy, innocence and integrity.” Sounds fantastic! Opens April 7th, 2010. More info here.

Until next week…


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Broadway News Round Up #13

Each week, The Broadway Critic will be featuring the news that you don’t want to miss! A lot has happened since we posted Alice Ripley doing the Next to Normal tour!

  • The Addams Family opened in previews with a bang! There were more than 10,000 people that attended at 98.7% capacity! Their median ticket price was $113.63 (crazy for previews)! Sean Patrick Doyle (one of the Cagelles in the new La Cage revival) said that, “My boyfriend is the associate costume designer. I saw the gypsy run and the only two moments I disliked were cut the next day.” Apparently they are making mad changes every day! also announced this week that Addams Family will be releasing a CD on Decca this upcoming June. (Along the side of A Little Night Music and Fela!) I’m planning on seeing this production in about a week!
  • Rumor Alert: Last week I reported that Alice Ripley will be performing Diana in Next to Normal tour. I’ve also heard that she wants to perform Diana in London as well (whenever that opens)! Ripley is making this her “Dolly” role one step at a time.
  • Twitterer BroadwayGirlNYC is now writing a column for My favorite part: the juicy gossip at the end. She writes, “A former West Side boy may be catching the Priscilla bus when it heads to Broadway…. And – will an original principal or two from Rock of Ages be heading out on tour after all?” What Rock of Ages star do you think will go out on tour? I’m just hoping the tour comes to San Francisco. You’ll have to wait till May for that announcement. (But I’m trying to get the inside scoop on that!)
  • Fela! is transferring to London later this year with two of the stars: Sahr Ngaujah and Kevin Mambo will alternate the lead role. Is this another Hair move? It feels good that we have been transporting a lot of American shows to England lately.
  • American Idiot’s new “student lotto” policy is pissing a lot of people off! From the website: “A limited number of tickets in the first two rows of the orchestra will be sold via lottery. Winners must be present at the time of the drawing and show a valid student ID to purchase tickets.” What do you think? Should it be just a lotto or student rush? Or should you combine them to make a “student lotto”? I don’t think the “student lotto” has ever been done before.
  • All About Me opened yesterday, March 18th. You can check out an interesting review on The Faster Times. For whatever reason, I’m just not that into seeing this show. Maybe, but I’m yet to be convinced.

A bunch of new shows are starting previews & opening on Broadway in the next couple weeks:

  • 3/18/10: All About Me (opening)
  • 3/19/10: Sondheim on Sondheim (previews)
  • 3/24/10: American Idiot (previews)
  • 3/25/10: Come Fly Away (opening)
  • 3/28/10: Promises, Promises (previews)
  • 4/01/10: Red (opening)
  • 4/04/10: Lead me a Tenor (opening)
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Posted by on 03/19/2010 in Broadway, News


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