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Tag Archives: In the Heights

Broadway San Jose Announces 2011-2012 Season

September 20-25, 2011

Based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks film that started it all, Shrek, The Musical is part romance, part twisted fairy tale and all irreverent fun for everyone! Shrek, The Musical tells the story of a swamp-dwelling ogre who goes on a life-changing adventure to reclaim the deed to his land. Joined by a wise-cracking donkey, this unlikely hero fights a fearsome dragon, rescues a feisty princess and learns that real friendship and true love aren’t only found in fairy tales.

The Broadway Critic’s reaction: To be honest, I didn’t love the touring production when I saw it last December in San Francisco (read full review here) but I did like the production (for the most part) on Broadway. It’s a fun show, with a lot of humor in it and some pretty good songs. Here’s hoping it will be better than what I saw in San Francisco.

December 27, 2011 – January 1, 2012

The show that revolutionized musical theatre is coming to San Jose. The national tour of Cats is the only production in North America sanctioned by Andrew Lloyd Webber. With original direction by Trevor Nunn and choreography by Gillian Lynne this is the Cats credited with the British invasion of Broadway. The national tour of Cats is closing in on its 30th anniversary, holding its place as the longest continuously touring Broadway musical in history.

The Broadway Critic’s reaction: There’s a huge break between Broadway San Jose’s first show, Shrek (in September) and their next show, Cats at the end of December. I’ve officially never seen a professional production of Cats before and even though this tour is a non-equity tour, I’m intrigued. It’s never been my favorite show but I’m going to keep an open mind and see if this production of Cats will live up to its name.

January 17-22, 2012

More than fifty years ago one musical changed theater forever. Now it’s back, and mesmerizing audiences once again. From the first note to the final breath, West Side Story soars as the greatest love story of all time. West Side Story remains as powerful, poignant and timely as ever. The new Broadway cast album of West Side Story recently won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album. The Bernstein and Sondheim score is considered to be one of Broadway’s finest and features such classics of the American musical theatre as “Something’s Coming,” “Tonight,” “America,” “I Feel Pretty” and “Somewhere.”

The Broadway Critic’s reaction: I’ve heard great things about this tour. I absolutely loathed the revival production when I saw it at the Palace Theatre on Broadway a few years ago. Apparently, they’ve changed everything that I hated (the cast, the Spanish and some of the staging). West Side Story is a classic and I would like to see a production that is as great as the material is.

March 6-11, 2012

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, produced by NETworks, is the classic story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped in a spell placed by an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. But time is running out. If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity.

The Broadway Critic’s reaction: This is a perfect musical for families, children and Disney lovers. It’s a great opportunity to take your children and introduce them to the magical world of the theatre. But, I just might be skipping this one, because it’s not really “my kind” of show. It recently came through San Francisco last August. Did anyone see the production and care to comment? This is also a non-equity touring production.

April 17-22, 2012

Winner of four 2008 Tony Awards® and the 2008 Grammy® Award for Best Musical Show Album the South Bay premiere of In the Heights tells the universal story of a vibrant community in New York‟s Washington Heights neighborhood – a place where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music.  It’s a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind. Universal Pictures has acquired the rights to produce a feature film based on the smash hit musical.

The Broadway Critic’s reaction: Yes, yes and yes! This is an incredible show and I can’t wait to see it again! Here’s a quote from my review: “I think I could see In the Heights over and over. I never expected to love it as much as I do, but it’s infectious rhythms and beautiful melodies accompanied with a story that has more heart than most Broadway musicals makes for an electrifying evening of theatre.” (Read full review here.)

Make sure that you get tickets to see this show — one of my favorites!

May 8 -13, 2012

The national tour of Million Dollar Quartet, the Tony Award-winning new musical inspired by the true story of four rock ‘n’ roll icons will make its Bay Area Premiere at Broadway San Jose.

On December 4, 1956, an auspicious twist of fate brought Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley together. The place was Sun Records‟ storefront studio in Memphis. The man who made it happen was Sam Phillips, the “Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, who discovered them all. The four young musicians united for the only time in their careers for an impromptu recording that has come to be known as one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll jam sessions of all time

The Broadway Critic’s reaction: Let it be known that San Francisco is not getting the premiere of this show – Broadway San Jose is! And that is awesome news! I haven’t had a chance to see Million Dollar Quartet. I’m really looking forward to it. If you like some good ole’ fashioned rock ‘n’ roll music, then grab your tickets to this. I’ve heard the musicians are fantastic.

May 29 – June 10, 2012

The Bay Area Premiere of Mary Poppins is bringing its own brand of Broadway magic to theaters across the country, which has Variety raving,  “This is the rare touring production that over-delivers on every level!”

Featuring the irresistible story and unforgettable songs from one of the most popular Disney films of all time, plus brand-new breathtaking dance numbers and spectacular stage-craft, Mary Poppins is everything you could ever want in a hit Broadway show!  So get swept up in the fun of this high-flying musical the New York Post gives 4 out of 4 stars and calls “a perfect piece of musical theater.”

The Broadway Critic’s reaction: I couldn’t be more excited about seeing the touring production of Mary Poppins. The music in Mary Poppins is absolutely wonderful and the new additions fit perfectly into the score. The dancing is incredible and I hope they re-create some of the same choreography on Broadway because it’s truly magical.

Check out Broadway San Jose’s website for more information!

 
 

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Top 10 Best Plays/Musicals of 2010

Disclaimer: I didn’t see every play and musical in the Bay Area or on Broadway, so unfortunately this isn’t a comprehensive list. I did see over 60 productions this year and saw a wide variety of plays and musicals at most of the Bay Area Theatre companies and several in Las Vegas, London and New York City.

There are still a few main companies that I’m missing in the Bay Area, but planning on reviewing next year (most notably, ACT in San Francisco). I’m excluding two productions that I was a part of: RENT at City Lights Theatre Company and Smokey Joe’s Cafe at Bus Barn Stage Company — they were both fantastic productions, but would be totally biased if included.

These 10 plays/musicals were my favorite productions that I saw in 2010. (You can see the list of all of the shows I saw, here.)  The Bay Area has had many success stories this past year, from Theatrework’s production of Memphis that won the Tony Award for Best Musical and Berkeley Rep transferring Green Day’s American Idiot (which also won two Tony Awards). The Bay Area Theatre community is definitely representing well but here’s a list of my favorites of 2010 that includes the Bay Area, Las Vegas, New York City and London!

Congratulations and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year! I’m hearing that some of my favorite shows are going to be produced right here in the Bay Area.

Number 10:

Rain at Broadway San Jose: Broadway San Jose has brought a lot of fun productions this year to San Jose. They started off the year with the super high-spirited shows, Avenue Q and Legally Blonde. In September, their second season started off with a bang, with the sizzling show, Burn the Floor (which I surprisingly loved). But, my favorite, so far this year, was Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles. I said in my review, “Rain: A Tribue to the Beatles does an incredible job of grabbing everyone’s attention and giving them a show that’s instantly likable at any age.”

I had more fun at this performance, (which technically seemed more like a concert than a “musical”) than I ever expected to have, plus I was able to hear some of my favorite Beatles’ songs performed live. 100% recommended.

Read the full review, here.

Number 9:

In the Heights at Curran Theatre (SHNSF – touring production): Out of all of the touring productions that SHNSF brought to San Francisco, In the Heights was by far the best one. There was Fiddler on the Roof, Young Frankenstein (which I missed), Beauty and the Beast, West Side StoryShrek and of course, the San Francisco cast of Wicked which sadly closed at the beginning of September. Here’s an excerpt of my review of In the Heights:

I never expected to love it as much as I do, but it’s infectious rhythms and beautiful melodies accompanied with a story that has more heart than most Broadway musicals makes for an electrifying evening of theatre. I might just have to go back and see this again. It’s that good.

I’m sad that In the Heights is closing on Broadway in January, but happy I had the experience of seeing this incredible show.

Read the full review, here.

Number 8:

Ain’t Misbehavin’ at San Jose Repertory Theatre: For my first introduction to this fantastic show, San Jose Rep’s production was Broadway-caliber. I thought the performers were incredibly talented and the overall production was one of the best shows I’ve seen at SJ Rep. I really enjoyed several productions at SJ Rep this year and Black Pearl Sings was another favorite, but Ain’t Misbehavin’ had an energy that was totally infectious.

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!

Read the full review, here.

Number 7:

San Francisco SymphonyAudra McDonald & Duncan Sheik/Holly Brook: San Francisco Symphony is creative and innovative with their programming choices. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the two programs that I saw at SF Symphony this year, because they were excellent. Audra McDonald’s performance was genius (per usual). McDonald’s voice accompanied by the SF Symphony was absolutely breathtaking. This is a night I won’t soon forget. The other show I saw was Duncan Sheik’s symphonic arrangement of his newest musical, Whisper House. The beautiful arrangements added so much texture and layers to his already haunting score. I just wished it was a longer concert. (It was great to see Duncan Sheik in concert while I was visiting Glasgow.) Well done SF Symphony.

Read the full review of Audra McDonald, here.

Read the full review of Duncan Sheik/Holly Brook, here.

Number 6:

Musical Love Never Dies at Aldephi Theatre (London): With all of the negative press that has been surrounded by Love Never Dies I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed myself. I’ve never been too partial to Phantom of the Opera (though I do love the shortened Vegas production), but I was absolutely intrigued by the beautiful set, costumes and world that Andrew Lloyd Weber has created at the Aldephi Theatre. I was enraptured the entire time (and I had the worst seats ever). I’m seeing this production again on New Year’s Day and am looking forward to seeing the changes that they have made to the plot/story-line, but  the melodramatic story accompanied the music perfectly. It’s a spectacle and one that you shouldn’t miss. It was my favorite show I saw in London.

Read the full review, here.

Number 5:

Jersey Boys at The Palazzo (Las Vegas): For some reason, I avoided Jersey Boys like it was the plague. I had no interest in seeing this musical, even though it won the Tony Award for Best Musical. But on my Las Vegas Broadway Vacation, I saw The Lion King, Phantom and Jersey Boys and both the missus and I absolutely loved Jersey Boys. Here’s an excerpt from my review:

The Las Vegas production of Jersey Boys is so engaging that even someone who has never cared to acquaint themselves with the music and story of The Four Seasons (like myself) cannot escape being sucked into this world.

Read the full review, here.

Number 4:

Compulsion at Berkeley Rep: This particular play will be in New York City (with the same cast) in the Spring and you won’t want to miss this heart-breaking play. The interweaving of puppets, matched with Mandy Patinkin’s intensity makes this play one of the best things I saw this year!

Berkeley Rep is known for producing first-rate theatre, but out of everything that I saw this year at Berkeley Rep, Compulsion was the best. It’s remarkable.

Read the full review, here.

Number 3:

Tie between American Idiot and Next to Normal on Broadway: The reasons behind the tie is that I have seen both of these productions before. I saw American Idiot four times at Berkeley Rep and Next to Normal four times on Broadway (all with Alice Ripley). This was the first time I saw American Idiot on Broadway and the first time I saw Next to Normal without Alice Ripley. Out of all of the new shows I saw on Broadway that weekend, these two shows still resonated with me the most.

I can’t get enough of either show. I rarely see a show multiple times, and both of these shows I have now seen five times. If you haven’t seen either, than I suggest running to theatre and grabbing tickets! I’ll be seeing both of these shows in the new year – American Idiot again on Broadway with Billie Jo Armstrong as St. Jimmy and Next to Normal on tour in San Francisco with Alice Ripley.

Read the full review of American Idiot, here.

Number 2:

Broadway Cast Poster Closing night of Finian’s Rainbow at St. James Theatre: On a whim, I saw the closing night of Finian’s Rainbow. It was one of the most emotional nights of theatre I have ever witnessed. Here’s an excerpt of the review:

Song after song, scene after scene, it just kept getting better and better. It ended with a beautiful rainbow as they sung, “How are Things in Glocca Morra?” The audience leapt to their feet, tears in their eyes and gave a rousing standing ovation unlike any standing ovation I’ve ever seen in theatre. What a special show, night and cast.

It’s truly a travesty that this show closed so early, but it’s a gift that will never be forgotten. The magic of the rainbow is far but over.

Read the full review of Finian’s Rainbow, here.

Number 1:

Whisper House at Old Globe Theatre (San Diego): This is a musical that has stayed with me all year. Time after time, I’m thinking about this show, listening to the music and recounting the experience to friends and family. “Duncan Sheik and Kyle Jarrow’s new musical, Whisper House, carefully crafts a new style of story-telling that is powerful, unique and riveting.” I love that Sheik and Jarrow upset the “standard musical comedy” with a different way to present a musical. It tells me that there is a future in this craft and that people are still willing to make huge strides in storytelling in musical theatre instead of adapting movies into musicals (over and over).

I absolutely loved Whisper House and I will go and see it anywhere in the country. I wouldn’t miss it for anything.

Read the full review of Whisper House, here.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

 

 

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Five Shows You Should See on Broadway – #3

I get asked this question a lot: “What shows should I see on Broadway?” I get asked from friends who are visiting New York City for the weekend, teachers who are taking their students on an extended field trip and even friends who live in the city. Now, I usually try to answer that question, keeping in mind, what my friends or students would be interested in seeing – making sure its content and style appropriate.

Back in November, I posted my top five favorite shows and since then two have closed and the other three have significant cast changes. Then back in March, I posted my new list, but that was before all of the new Broadway shows had opened and there have been several that have opened but it’s still a very similar list.

Here’s my top 5 that you should check out this summer in New York City:

1. Next to Normal at Booth Theatre – Next to Normal continues to be #1 on my list for a number of reasons, even with the new cast changes. Husband-and-wife actors Jason Danieley and Marin Mazzie will join the cast of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical in July. Next to Normal is a breath of fresh air, especially when comparing it to such shows as Billy Elliot or even Disney’s Mary Poppins (which I happen to love).

Tom Kitt’s beautifully crafted rock opera deals directly with heartache in a way that’s never been presented in musical theatre.  With the difficult level of the score, intensity of the acting and fiery energy that the actors bring to the show every night, I thought that it might actually get “tired” as the run went on. My friend saw it last week and said it was the best he’s ever seen it! (It was his 5th or 6th time seeing it.) You have till July 18th to see the Tony-winning performance by Alice Ripley.

It’s my all-time favorite show I’ve seen on Broadway. Don’t miss it!

WebsiteTickets

2. American Idiot at St. James Theatre – American Idiot didn’t win the Tony Award for Best Musical, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see this show! It did win the Tony Award for the lighting and set design (which were well-deserved). I saw it four times at Berkeley Rep in it’s out-of-town try-out and I can tell you it will blow your mind. It was the musical that actually inspired me to start this website.

“Finally, someone has come along and given musical theatre the electro shock therapy it has needed for so long. While Tom Kitt’s newest musical, Next to Normal, deals directly with the affects of electro shock therapy, American Idiot is electro shock therapy for the audience. It screams independence and acceptance in a way that is nothing short of brilliant.” You can read the full review here.

WebsiteBuy tickets

Playbill Cover3. A Little Night Music at Walter Kerr Theatre: I actually gave up my ticket to see this to see the closing performance of Finian’s Rainbow.(Read the full story here.) I’ve only heard fabulous things about this production and that Angela Lansbury and Catherine Zeta-Jones are exquisite in their roles. Zeta-Jones did just win the Tony Award for Best Actress on Sunday.

In the New York Times Catherine Zeta-Jones is said to be, “…drop-dead gorgeous in David Farley’s wasp-waisted period dresses, Ms. Zeta-Jones brings a decent voice, a supple dancer’s body and a vulpine self-possession to her first appearance on Broadway.” This is your last week to see Miss Zeta-Jones and Miss Lansbury as their final performance is on June 20th. But on July 13th, you’ll have a chance to see two other theatre legends take over the roles: Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch. I have a feeling that this is a show you won’t want to miss!

Website | Tickets

4. La Cage aux Folles at Longacre Theatre: First off, you have to congratulate La Cage aux Folles for being the first musical in history to win “Best Musical” or “Best Musical Revival” three times! Talk about a huge triumph and making musical theatre history! The Menier Chocolate Factory’s acclaimed revival hits the Broadway stage, starring Douglas Hodge (Olivier Award and Tony Award) as Albin, a drag performer with a heart of gold, and Kelsey Grammer as his partner Georges.

I haven’t seen this production yet, but from what I’ve heard, you don’t want to miss it – the Cagelles are worth the price of admission. (Did you see them on the Tony Awards? Talk about fierce!)

Website | Tickets

5. In the Heights at Richard Rodgers Theatre – In the Heights won the 2008 Tony for “Best Musical” and has been a hit on Broadway ever since. I caught the In the Heights tour in San Francisco last month and absolutely fell in love with the show all over again. (Read review, here)

I took 35 theatre/music students to this production on Broadway in March ’09 and they absolutely fell in love with it, just as I had when I saw it for the first time. The infusion of Latin/Rap/Pop music into musical theatre isn’t groundbreaking or new, but Lin-Manuel Miranda’s lyrics are. The end of Act I, when they sing “Blackout” — fireworks literally and figuratively go off on stage. It’s electrifying!

Website | Tickets

Shows I hope to see in August:

  • Promises, PromisesI can’t resist seeing a show with Kristen Chenoweth, Sean Hayes or Katie Finneran (who won the Tony for Best Supporting Actress) all in it! If you have time for one more revival, then this one should be on your list!
  • Next to Normal: It’s one of the rare shows that’s open on a Monday night and I can’t wait to see the new replacements: Jason Danieley and Marin Mazzie.
  • American Idiot: Yes, I know – with all of the shows that I haven’t seen on Broadway that are open, why see a show I’ve already seen four times! Well, I haven’t seen it on Broadway yet! And I want to see the changes and new discoveries they have made since Berkeley Rep.
  • La Cage aux Folles/A Little Night Music: It’s basically going to come down to which one will I be able to afford tickets to! I have never seen either show in any production, so I’m looking forward to seeing at least one!

It looks like, I might just have to return sometime in October to catch a few more…

 
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Posted by on 06/15/2010 in Broadway

 

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Theatre Review: “In the Heights” @ Curran Theatre (SF), 05/12/10

It’s obvious that In the Heights is a winner. It’s won numerous awards including the Tony Award for “Best Musical” in 2008 as well as score, orchestrations and choreography. It also has won Drama Desk Awards, Lucille Lortel Awards, Outer Circle Critics Awards, Obie Award and even a Grammy for “Best Musical Show Album”. The show is fantastic and if you haven’t seen it, then I’m not sure what you are waiting for. Buy your tickets and enjoy one of the best musicals I’ve seen in recent years. (Read the New York Times review, here.)

The real question is: Does this touring cast live up to all of the Broadway hype? I’d have to say yes. If you’ve seen In the Heights on Broadway or Off-Broadway, you won’t be disappointed. I saw the original cast on Broadway and was totally blown away by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s lyrics and story, not to mention the electrifying choreography by Andy Blakenbuehler. The touring cast has a lot to live up to, and they do so in a way that gives it their own unique interpretation. Natalie Toro (Camila – Nina’s Mother) almost stole the show with her solo number, “Enough”. It was incredible. It’s not one of my favorite songs and Toro made it one of the most passionate songs of the evening. Another stand-out was Sabrina Sloan (Vanessa). What a voice! You might remember her from American Idol a few seasons back. Her vocals are beautiful. Also, Arielle Jacobs (Nina) was equally as talented though the physical connection between her and Rogelio Douglas Jr. (Benny) wasn’t as hot as it should have been, especially in “Sunrise” – the act 2 opener.

I honestly wasn’t sure if anyone would live up to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Usnavi. He conceived, wrote and starred on Broadway and even received a Tony Award nomination for “Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical”. Usnavi (Kyle Beltran) was funny and extremely likable. His relationship with Abuela Claudia (Elise Santora) was touching. I did miss a lot of the rhymes in the lyrics because his diction wasn’t as clear as it needed to be but other than that, I really enjoyed Beltran’s youthful take on Usnavi. His sidekick, Sonny (Shaun Taylor-Corbett) was charismatic and the audience seemed to enjoy his comic-relief. (Taylor-Corbett was an original cast member of the Off-Broadway/Broadway cast.) Isabel Santiago as the fiery and sassy hair salon owner, Daniela, was hilarious.

The choreography is some of the hottest choreography I’ve ever seen in a Broadway musical. The way that Blankenbuehler uses the choreography to tell a story is genius. The little moments between scenes when the ensemble uses dance to move the story along are some of my favorite moments in the show. The ensemble definitely shined in the songs: “96,000”, “The Club/Fireworks” and “Finale”. “96,000” almost got it’s own standing ovation. Obviously, it was the best song of the night.

I think I could see In the Heights over and over. I never expected to love it as much as I do, but it’s infectious rhythms and beautiful melodies accompanied with a story that has more heart than most Broadway musicals makes for an electrifying evening of theatre. I might just have to go back and see this again. It’s that good.

 

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Bay Area Theatre: Weekend Picks, May 14-16

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

1. Peter Pan - Ferry Landing: “To live would be an awfully great adventure,” Peter Pan states at the end of Act 2. That statement perfectly sums up the new 360 degree production of Peter Pan - it’s an awfully great big adventure, surrounded by unimaginable, incredible effects that almost stole the show. Continue reading the full review here.

WebsiteTickets

2. In the Heights - Curran Theatre (San Francisco): I saw this production on opening night and loved it. I haven’t written up my full review of this show, but I will say that many of the main characters were fantastic. While the Broadway show was ultimately more flashy and energetic, the touring cast found more heart in the story.

Website | Tickets

3. Beautiful Child – ACT (San Francisco): “Shamed by his father’s arrest during the panic of 1893, a young New York socialite traverses the railways to Chicago and meets other teenage runaways on the fringes of society. An ACT Young Conservatory performance presented in collaboration with Bird School of Music.” This looks extremely interesting. May 14–29, 2010

Website | Tickets

On My Radar:

  • Thoroughly Modern Millie at Santa Clara University – I love this show and one of my favorite Bay Area actresses is starring as Millie: Monique Hafen. Please don’t miss this one! Opens May 28th – June 5th at the Mayer Theatre, Santa Clara University. Website

Until next week…

 

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Five Shows You Should See on Broadway – #2

I get asked this question a lot: “What shows should I see on Broadway?” I get asked from friends who are visiting New York City for the weekend, teachers who are taking their students on an extended field trip and even friends who live in the city. Now, I usually try to answer that question, keeping in mind, what my friends or students would be interested in seeing – making sure its content and style appropriate.

Back in November, I posted my top five favorite shows and since then two have closed and the other three have significant cast changes.

Here are the top five shows you should see on Broadway, as of March 8th 2010.

Broadway Cast Poster 1. Next to Normal at Booth TheatreNext to Normal continues to be #1 on my list for a number of reasons and even with the cast changes (Kyle Dean Massey is an excellent Gabe. I saw him last July and absolutely loved him!) Next to Normal is a breath of fresh air, especially when comparing it to such shows as Billy Elliot or even Disney’s Mary Poppins (which I happen to love). Tom Kitt’s beautifully crafted rock opera deals directly with heartache in a way that’s never been presented in musical theatre. Alice Ripley’s Tony Award winning performance alone is reason to buy tickets to this show. Ripley is stunning – you walk away thinking you’ve witnessed something extremely special. With the difficult level of the score, intensity of the acting and fiery energy that the actors bring to the show every night, I thought that it might actually get “tired” as the run went on. When I saw it for a 4th time in October, the show has only become tighter, more emotional and somehow even more exciting. It’s my all-time favorite show I’ve seen on Broadway. Don’t miss it!

WebsiteTickets

2. American Idiot at St. James Theatre – My number two pick last November was also at the St. James Theatre, but Finian’s Rainbow has since closed. (I did get to see the closing night performance of Finian’s Rainbow and it was spectacular.) Now, American Idiot doesn’t start previews until March 24th, 2010, but I saw it four times at Berkeley Rep in it’s out-of-town try-out and I can tell you it will blow your mind. It was the musical that actually inspired me to start this website. “Finally, someone has come along and given musical theatre the electro shock therapy it has needed for so long. While Tom Kitt’s newest musical, Next to Normal, deals directly with the affects of electro shock therapy, American Idiot is electro shock therapy for the audience. It screams independence and acceptance in a way that is nothing short of brilliant.” You can read the full review here.

Website | Buy tickets

3. In the Heights at Richard Rogers Theatre – This too, has had some major cast changes since I wrote about it last November. Corbin Bleu, of High School Musical fame, has now taken over the lead role. I’ve heard a lot of groaning when it was first announced, but I actually haven’t heard anything bad since. In the Heights won the 2008 Tony for “Best Musical” and has been a hit on Broadway ever since. Luckily, if you aren’t traveling to Broadway anytime soon, you can catch the In the Heights tour coming to San Francisco in the Spring. You can follow them on twitter at #Heights_Tour. I took 35 choir students to this production on Broadway in March ’09 and they absolutely fell in love with it, just as I had when I saw it for the first time. The infusion of Latin/Rap/Pop music into musical theatre isn’t groundbreaking or new, but Lin-Manuel Miranda’s lyrics are. The end of Act I, when they sing “Blackout” — fireworks literally and figuratively go off on stage. It’s electrifying!

Website | More info here

4. Fela! at Eugene O’Neill Theatre – Fela! is not a standard musical. It’s not even a non-standard musical. Frankly, I don’t think you can even call it a musical, because I feel that somehow diminishes what Fela! is. Yes, Fela! is on Broadway and I’m sure it will be nominated (maybe even win) a Tony Award for Best Musical, but I would call Fela! an experience, not a musical.” And that experience needs to be had by everyone! Read my full review here. The Broadway Critic was even posted on their news section as saying, “Prepare yourself for an experience unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.”

Website | Buy tickets

Playbill Cover 5. A Little Night Music at Walter Kerr Theatre - I actually gave up my ticket to see this to see the closing performance of Finian’s Rainbow. (Read the full story here.) I’ve only heard fabulous things about this production and that Angela Lansbury and Catherine Zeta-Jones are exquisite in their roles. In the New York Times Catherine Zeta-Jones is said to be, “…drop-dead gorgeous in David Farley’s wasp-waisted period dresses, Ms. Zeta-Jones brings a decent voice, a supple dancer’s body and a vulpine self-possession to her first appearance on Broadway.” Just make sure that Ms. Zeta-Jones isn’t on vacation when you book your tickets. (And they are Ms. Lansbury and Zeta-Jones are leaving after the Tony’s in June.)

Website | Buy Tickets

Honorable Mentions –

  • Hair The musical is all about community and you feel like you are a part of the Hair tribe for a few hours. And everyone needs a chance to let the sun shine in. The entire original cast had their last performance on March 7th, 2010 because they are moving to London to the West End. But, there’s a star-studded cast waiting to fill their shoes and their quite the shoes that need to be filled.
  • God of CarnageIf you are in the mood to see a play, then try to purchase scalped tickets to this one. It’s 90 minutes of pure brilliance — a voyeuristic look into two couple’s relationships. Plus, it features a new cast now: Dylan Baker, Jeff Daniels, Lucy Liu and Janet McTeer.
  • South Pacific - With a ridiculously big orchestra, let Rodger & Hammerstein’s music sweep right over you. Even at three hours long, you won’t want it to stop. It’s a perfect revival of a golden-age classic. This beautiful production is closing on August 22, 2010.

On the Horizon: (Shows that I’ll be seeing at the end of March.)

  • Addams Family at Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
  • Come Fly Away at Marquis Theatre
  • La Cage aux Folles at Longacre Theatre
  • Million Dollar Quartet at Nederlander Theatre
  • Promises, Promises at Broadway Theatre
  • Sondheim on Sondheim at Studio 54
  • A View From the Bridge at Cort Theatre
 
3 Comments

Posted by on 03/08/2010 in Broadway

 

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Top 15 Broadway Posters of the 2000s

As 2009 is winding down, it’s time to celebrate what a great decade the 2000’s have been for theatre. At the end of the 90’s, it seemed that everyone thought that the Broadway musical was doomed. Then in 2001, The Producers, rolled into town and won 12 Tony Awards and became a smash hit, turning a huge profit and boosting ticket prices to astronomical prices. (I still hate them for that!) Instead of debating what shows were the best or worst of 2000, this list focuses on: The Top 15 Broadway Posters of the 2000s.

15. Ragtime Revival – I haven’t seen this production yet, but I just absolutely love how everything is bursting from the piano/Statue of Liberty. I don’t think it could describe the show any better. It’s a fresh adaptation – especially from the original clunky poster which I never really understood.

Window Card

14. The Light in the Piazza - I find this poster so beautiful, much like Adam Guettel’s score. It’s whimsical yet full of mystery. I think I might like the simplicity of the poster from the vocal selections book better though. Either way, a beautiful show and artwork.

13. Mary PoppinsI think Disney did a fantastic job of reimagining a classic and iconic poster. In my mind, that is one of the hardest things to do because everyone already “sees” something when you think of Mary Poppins. It’s simple, colorful and the accented red on the title really pops out.

12. 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling BeeIt’s unique, catchy and fun. It represents the show so well by using caricatures of the spellers on the front cover. You instantly know it’s not a serious night of theatre. It’s a perfect set-up for such a larger-than-life show.

11. South PacificJames McMullan’s artwork is so impressive. McMullan has created a whole line of beautiful posters for The Lincoln Center that you can see on McMullan’s website. It’s stunning, just like the production is.

10. XanaduSeriously. I just love this poster because you see it and think, “Oh, what a hot 80’s mess.” But then you read “Seriously.” and you realize that it’s hot 80’s mess on purpose and you can’t resist the luscious locks of Clio – I mean Kira. Have you seen the rainbow-fabulous version?

9. The Drowsy Chaperone - “The Funniest Musical on Broadway.” True, true, true. I absolutely adored this show and I loved how they took a risk with this poster. They were banking on just the musical alone and not hoping that a big name would sell this show. The risk paid off!

8. In the Heights – This poster is bursting at the seams with energy, just like the production. It seriously makes me want to dance just looking at it.

7. Hair - I have this poster in my office and everyday I “let the sun shine in”. I love how the peace sign is the center of the poster, but not so big that it becomes cliche and boring. This poster is so much better than the original!!

Broadway Cast Poster

6. 110 in the Shade – What an incredible picture of the star, Audra McDonald. If I was her, I would get an original and frame that in my house. It’s gorgeous. The color, rain and pure joy that is on McDonald’s face becomes irresistible.

5. Avenue Q - What’s not to like when the tag lines are “What the FUZZ are you looking at?” and “Warning: Full Puppet Nudity”? It’s genius. A perfect way to sell an adult show with Jim Henson-like puppets. Hysterical marketing for a hysterical show.

4. Next to Normal – I might be a little biased since it’s one of my favorite musicals ever, but I think the poster is such a risk. In everyone of the posters above this one, there are depictions of the character(s) from the show on it but Next to Normal’s poster there is a suburban-looking house, two eyes, some music notes and a quote. There’s mystery behind th0se eyes that keeps you intrigued and the quote by Ben Brantley says it all, “…a feel-everything musical”.

Broadway Cast Poster

3. UrinetownWhat can I say? When I first saw this poster, I thought, “What the hell is this?” Your in Town? I absolutely loved it when Little Sally said, “Or a bad title, even? That could kill a show pretty good.” Yes, it’s a bad title, but that’s why I love the poster so much. Even in the poster it’s making fun of itself.

2. Finian’s RainbowWhat a remarkable poster. Even though there are some people that were comparing it to the Urban Outfitter’s logo, I just love it. What a great way to re-introduce this musical into everyone’s vernacular.

Broadway Cast Poster

1. WickedI’m choosing Wicked as the best Broadway poster of the decade for a couple of reasons. I remember when I was in New York the summer of 2003, there were big signs going up for Wicked and I knew I had to see this show. (This was before I knew anything about the production.) It’s also one of the most iconic Broadway posters of this decade. It’s become the new Phantom or Les Miserables.

Did we miss any that you think should be on this list?

 
6 Comments

Posted by on 12/24/2009 in Broadway

 

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Broadway News Round Up #5

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 Ragtime might be closing (I heard just this morning that it’s not!) and Kelsey Grammer starring in La Cage Aux Folles.

  • Big news! Fela! had to cancel their Sunday, 12/6 performance because of several injuries in the cast. NY Times reported that, “…Daniel Soto, a dance captain, was out with a wrist injury; Nicole Chantal de Weever, an ensemble member, was elbowed in the eye by another performer during the Sunday matinee and taken to the emergency room; and Corey Baker, an ensemble member, developed back spasms just before the evening performance.” Talk about some bad karma! Hope everyone is feeling better and that Fela! gets their groove back. Has anyone heard of other Broadway shows cancelling because of that many cast injuries?
  • Everyone is twittering about how Corbin Bleu, of High School Musical fame is going to play the role of Usnavi in In the Heights starting January 25th. Apparently there are a lot of haters out there complaining about his talent and the fact that he’s not Dominican. Of course, Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote a response on Broadwayworld.com’s message boards. You can read it here. I hope he’s right! I actually would like to see Bleu in this role (but only after the critics weigh in)!
  • Several fantastic, well-known actors have joined the Sondheim on Sondheim cast: Tom Wopat, Norm Lewis, Euan Morton and Matthew Scott will join the previously announced Barbara Cook, Vanessa Williams and Leslie Kritzer. Seriously? This cast is astronomical. I would pay just to see only Cook or Williams! Plus, I’m currently in love with Kritzer because I have been listening to Rooms: A Rock Romance which was released this week as well.
  • Playbill.com reports, “Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig made a unique place for themselves in the history of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS fundraising Dec. 8, when it was announced that they had raised $1,549,953 in the 21st annual Gypsy of the Year competition in six weeks of curtain appeals at their hit Broadway drama, A Steady Rain.” Maybe, some more Hollywood hunks will take their shirts off for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. It seems like the Jersey blue-hairs and gays love it!
  • The Addams Family Musical opened in Chicago on Wednesday, December 9th, 2009 in their pre-Broadway cast. You can read the review here.

Until next week…

 
2 Comments

Posted by on 12/10/2009 in Broadway

 

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Five Shows That You Should See on Broadway

I get asked this question a lot: “What shows should I see on Broadway?” I get asked from friends who are visiting New York City for the weekend, teachers who are taking their students on an extended field trip and even friends who live in the city. Now, I usually try to answer that question, keeping in mind, what my friends or students would be interested in seeing – making sure its content and style appropriate.

Here are the top five shows you should see on Broadway, as of November 4th 2009. It’s always changing!

Broadway Cast Poster 1. Next to Normal at Booth TheatreNext to Normal is a breath of fresh air, especially when comparing it to such shows as Jersey Boys or even Disney’s Mary Poppins (which I happen to love). Tom Kitt’s beautifully crafted rock opera deals directly with heartache in a way that’s never been presented in musical theatre. Alice Ripley’s Tony Award winning performance alone is reason to buy tickets to this show. Ripley is stunning – you walk away thinking you’ve witnessed something extremely special. With the difficult level of the score, intensity of the acting and fiery energy that the actors bring to the show every night, I thought that it might actually get “tired” as the run went on. When I saw it for a 4th time in October, the show has only become tighter, more emotional and somehow even more exciting. It’s my all-time favorite show I’ve seen on Broadway. Don’t miss it! Buy tickets here.

 

Broadway Cast Poster2. Finian’s Rainbow at St. James Theatre – The reviews have poured in and they have been nothing less than stellar. Variety.com reports “From the moment music director Rob Berman raises his lighter-than-air baton on the show’s soaring overture, blissful surrender is the only option.” It’s true; the score is stunning. It’s traditional musical theatre at it’s finest, yet somehow feels updated and fresh. With songs like “Old Devil Moon” and “Look to the Rainbow” you can’t help but fall in love with stars, Cheyenne Jackson and Kate Baldwin. I can not wait until the CD recording comes out (though no report has been made on whether a cast album is in the making). Christopher Fitzgerald stays true to the old theatre homage, “There are no small parts.” He’s a terrific leprechaun – perfect comedic timing and a fantastic voice. Watch this story about Terry White’s road back to Broadway. It will definitely pull on your heart strings. Finian’s Rainbow’s first-ever revived production is a classic that you must not miss. Ticket info here.

 

Broadway Cast Poster 3. In the Heights at Richard Rogers Theatre – Since it won the 2008 Tony for “Best Musical”, In the Heights has been a hit on Broadway. Luckily, if you aren’t traveling to Broadway anytime soon, you can catch the In the Heights tour coming to San Francisco in the Spring. You can follow them on twitter at #Heights_Tour. I took 35 choir students to this production on Broadway in March and they absolutely fell in love with it, just as I had when I saw it for the first time. You know it’s good, when I get a text from my wife at intermission saying, “This is the BEST thing I’ve ever seen on Broadway.” (And she’s the real critic! This was also before she had seen Next to Normal.) The infusion of Latin/Rap/Pop music into musical theatre isn’t groundbreaking or new, but Lin-Manuel Miranda’s lyrics are. The end of Act I, when they sing “Blackout” — fireworks literally and figuratively go off on stage. It’s electrifying! Info here.

 

 

Broadway Cast Poster4. Hair at Al Hirschfield Theatre – Hair has been rocking audiences since the 1960’s. The new Broadway revival was my first introduction to Hair. Yes, I’ve heard the music. Yes, I knew there was the nudity! (gasp!) Yes, I had read about it in all of my musical theatre books. Hair changed musical theatre and finally I found out why! I purchased the cheapest seats I could, which ended being on the last row of the mezzanine, yet I still felt like I was on the front row. Why? Because, the performers literally come into the audience and perform in the aisle ways, even up to the last row. The musical is all about community and you feel like you are a part of the Hair tribe for a few hours. And everyone needs a chance to let the sun shine in. If you get a chance, run up to the stage at the end of the show! When else will you get a chance to dance with Broadway stars on a Broadway stage. Unfortunately I was too hesitant and I missed my chance. What’s there not to love? Info here.

 

Broadway Playbill

5. Ragtime at Neil Simon TheatrePlaybill.com describes it perfectly, “This much-loved musical explores themes ranging from immigration to racism and social unrest in the early 20th century. The recent (and acclaimed) Kennedy Center revival arrives on Broadway.” Though I haven’t seen this production, I’ve heard numerous wonderful things from people who’ve seen it. I had the opportunity to hear Christiane Noll sing at the Broadway Teachers Workshop this summer and I knew then I just had to see this. It’s definitely on my list of shows to see when I’m in New York City next. It’s only been eleven years since Ragtime opened on Broadway! Their slogan is “The Story is Ours. The Place is America. The Time is Ragtime.” Watch for Broadway newcomer, Stephanie Umoh – she’s a recent BoCo graduate. If you’ve seen it, please let us know what you think. Info, here.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Toxic Avenger MusicalTechnically this is Off-Broadway, but if you loved shows like “Little Shop of Horrors” or “Bat Boy, the musical” then you will LOVE this show. It’s a toxic treat!
  • Rock of AgesFrom “Don’t Stop Believing” to “Every Rose Has it’s Thorn” — the 1980’s Rock classics are all in there. Go right now to see Kerri Butler (of Xanadu, Bat Boy, and Little Shop of Horrors fame) play Sherrie.
  • God of CarnageIf you are in the mood to see a play, then try to purchase scalped tickets to this one. It’s 90 minutes of pure brilliance — a voyeuristic look into two couple’s relationships.
  • South Pacific - With a ridiculously big orchestra, let Rodger & Hammerstein’s music sweep right over you. Even at three hours long, you won’t want it to stop. It’s a perfect revival of a golden-age classic. (And, the darling Kelli O’Hara is back playing Nellie Forbush!)
 
4 Comments

Posted by on 11/04/2009 in Broadway

 

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