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“Memphis” @ Broadway San Jose, 10/23/12

I decided to wait to publish this review of Memphis until after Broadway San Jose closed their recent Bay Area premiere of Memphis, because of two reasons: I want you to see shows at Broadway San Jose (especially when they are Bay Area premieres) and Theatreworks, based out of Mountain View, was one of the regional theatres that cultivated this show from the beginning. Both of these institutions are major players in bringing great theatre to the Bay Area, and I want people to support them, but personally, I just don’t like Memphis. I thought I might have a change of heart since I saw it back in previews in October 2009, but if anything, it completely solidified my feelings of dislike even stronger.

I just don’t understand how Memphis won the 2010 Tony Award for Best Musical. I do have a theory though. I think that it just ended being the perfect storm for Memphis. Back when I saw it in previews, I wondered if it was going to last through winter, but the show kept keeping on, and in a very weak year for new musicals, Memphis just ended up being the best choice. (It was up against American Idiot, FELA! and Million Dollar Quartet for Best Musical.) Memphis ended up winning the coveted award for Best Musical and ran on Broadway for 1,166 performances and now there is even a feature film in the works. Not bad for a show that doesn’t have any emotional resolve.

And that, basically, is my main issue with the show: the ending.

At the end of the show, radio show host Huey Calhoun (the fantastic Bryan Fenkart) is in complete depression – he lost his girl, Felicia (Felicia Boswell) about four years ago and is on the worst radio station in Memphis. He has barely any listeners, no love life, and the last we had heard, the racial tensions in Memphis were not good (people were rioting when they found out about Huey & Felicia kissed on local TV broadcast). None of these issues are resolved, and if anything, worsens when Felicia announces that she is married to Bill, who very clearly, she doesn’t love. Then, all of the sudden, Felicia is on stage at her Memphis concert premiere singing, “Listen to the beat. Play it. Obey it. Love it with your feet.” Huey suddenly joins and continues, “Listen to your soul…. let it make you whole.” Then the song plays over and over until curtain.

(She really does sing, “Love it with your feet!” Seriously. I can’t make this stuff up.)

When it finished, I wondered, “What the hell just happened?”

This show doesn’t make me want to fight for societal change — the risks and losses are too great. This show doesn’t make me want fight for love — both characters end up alone (it’s clear that Felicia still feels alone even though she is engaged) and emotionally bruised. This show doesn’t even make me want to visit Memphis. Though it has some great music, the city which this musical is named after, is not featured enough to make me actually like the city. If anything, everything about the city of Memphis is negative.

Was Huey Calhoun’s efforts worth anything? Clearly, things have changed in regards to racial tension and segregation, but none of that was addressed in the musical. The very obstacle of the show was clearly about race, but at the end there is no hope towards a racially equal world. It wasn’t even really addressed unless you count White and African Americans dancing together but that wasn’t enough for me.  The writers had a the perfect moment to impress upon a very open audience on how standing up for change can influence generations! A Normal Heart, with a few short words in a projection slide at the end of the production, created a huge impact, one that is still with me months after seeing it. Memphis ended and all I felt was annoyed that I invested myself into these characters who made all of the wrong choices and ended up being sad and alone.

All that being said, I sat back, forgot my worries and tried to be entertained. Unfortunately, I was taken out of the moment about every 5-10 minutes. Felicia Boswell, clearly a very strong singer, was barely intelligible. I didn’t understand probably 80% of what she sang (though this probably wasn’t helped by the bad sound design which I address next). Her big number, “Colored Women” during the middle of the first act was a tour-de-force performance that sounded like it was in a different language. She had incredible vocal prowess but without any diction. Her moments on stage with Bryan Fenkhart was definitely the best part of the show — their scene work was fantastic. Bryan brought a depth to Huey that I didn’t see when I saw it on Broadway. (He was the original understudy for Chad Kimball.) His accent was also less annoying than Kimball, which made his character so much more likable. I really enjoyed his character work and overall story arc a lot more.

I know that sound quality/design in the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts is incredibly difficult. Every opening night that I have been to has had some sound issues. I think past shows have had it a little easier since the orchestra used the pit. But with Memphis’ current staging, the band is off stage for the first act, and then on stage for the duration of the second act. This created a huge issue for the performers (at least I’m assuming) because I have never heard a Broadway chorus that was consistently off-key, not together with the band, or that hard to understand. I know these performers are better than that, so I assume it was the space and the fact it was their first time performing in this space. I’m sure it only got better during the length of the run, but it was just one of those performances that was just “off.” (Even Bryan’s chair’s wheel broke during the last scene!) Those things happen, and the cast kept doing their best and I’m sure that 75% of the audience never even noticed anything, but I was a bit surprised with the frequency of it all.

There were some great moments! Huey’s mother, Gladys (the hilarious Julie Johnson) was fantastic, especially in her number “Change Don’t Come Easy”. She brought the house down! Her comic timing was perfect. The choreography, by Sergio Trujillo, was fun to watch and incredibly athletic! It was also a treat to see William Parry (Mr. Simmons) perform on stage. (He was seen on Broadway in four original Stephen Sondheim musicals and many others.)

So unless you convince me otherwise, it’s safe to assume, I’m not a huge fan of Memphis, but that said, I’m a huge fan of the Bay Area supporting the arts — and I think it’s amazing that a show that got its start at Theatreworks’ New Works Festival is creating its own story! And I hope everyone that has been on its journey has loved every moment of it!

 

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The 2011 Tony Award Performances

From the poll that I published on Monday, it looks like that the 2011 Tony Awards were a huge success! Currently, 71% of the people that took the poll said they absolutely loved them! Personally, I thought it was entertaining, interesting and I loved the performances, though I had some reservations about a few (specifically, why didn’t Josh Gad perform with the cast of The Book of Mormon).

The biggest issue I had was that they went over about 5 minutes and my DVR didn’t record the next program. Since, my TV wasn’t on CBS, it didn’t do any back recording. I missed the main event: when The Book of Mormon won Best Musical! But, as everyone knows by now, I’m okay with missing that speech.

But the closing rap, was absolutely stellar. Watch that here.

Here’s all of the 2011 Tony Award performances:

Anything Goes performing “Anything Goes”

 

Sister Act performing “Raise Your Voice”

 

Priscilla Queen of the Desert performing “It’s Raining Men”

 

Catch Me If You Can performing “Don’t Break the Rules”

 

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying performing “Brotherhood of Man”

 

The Scottsboro Boys performing “Commencing in Chattanooga”

 

The Book of Mormon performing “I Believe”

 

Memphis performing “Steal Your Rock n’ Roll”

 

Company performing “Side by Side”

—-

And my favorite speech of the evening goes to Sutton Foster:

 

 
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Posted by on 06/15/2011 in Broadway, News

 

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What to Expect on Broadway in January 2011

What to expect on Broadway in January 2011? There is one thing for sure – not a lot.

For the second year in a row, I’ll be in New York City during the 3rd weekend of January and both visits will be right after the mass closings on Broadway at the beginning of the new year. It’s when Broadway becomes a ginormous unemployment line. It’s going to be dismal this upcoming January.  From big Tony Award winning hits like In the Heights to Christmas fare like Elf and last season’s hits: Promises, Promises, A Little Night Music and Fela! all seem to be getting the axe. Now, two new musicals this season are closing: The Scottsboro Boys and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

What will be worth your time?

Spiderman: Turn off the DarkThis is on top of my list to see in January. It’s the first new musical opening on January 11th and it will be after a six-week preview time. A guest writer, Sean O’Conner, talked about his experience at the first preview on The Broadway Critic. He concluded, “The real reason to attend Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark is to witness the magical and original stage craft, but we all already knew that. The flying sequences are truly remarkable. I imagine the spectacle will be enough to get an audience in building. The sets by George Tsypin and costumes by Eiko Ishioka are the stuff of theatre legend. You can see the money on the stage and it will take your breath away. Taymor has done nothing but turn her ultimate dreams into reality, and for that she deserves our respect and praise. Well done Julie!”

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American IdiotAmerican 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.

Here is my latest review of American Idiot when I saw it on Broadway on 10/10/10. The best part is that Billie Joe Armstrong is coming back to play St. Jimmy for 50 performances between the beginning of January to the end of February. Luckily enough, I’ll be at there on one of the weekend’s he is performing. I can’t wait!

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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. They are only contracted to stay in the show until February. (Make sure you see them now!)

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!)

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Honorable Mention:

  • The Addams Family at Lunt-Fontanne Theatre – You’ll probably have a little while to see this show. They just announced that Roger Rees will be taking over for Gomez (Nathan Lane). Last week they were at 91% capacity. Critics be damned with this show!
  • Memphis at Sam S. Schubert Theatre – Here’s a show I didn’t particularly enjoy. I thought the book was terrible and the music was so-so. It won the Tony Award for Best Musical. It probably will be on Broadway for awhile; it’s going strong.
  • Million Dollar Quartet at Nederlander Theatre – This show I’m surprised that it’s still playing. I thought it was going to close at the end of summer. It’s only playing 51.7% capacity last week, so I wonder how long it can sustain without a huge profit margin. It probably has an extremely low running cost, but still, with the new London production opening in February 2011, I won’t be surprised to hear about Million Dollar Quartet‘s closing notice soon.

Broadway Standards:

  • Billy Elliot at Imperial Theatre – Not a fan. I saw it twice – the little kids just don’t do it for me — plus that damn set, particularly the bed. I can’t stand it. 2 out of 5 stars
  • Chicago at Ambassador Theatre – Great show, with sizzling music and an even better plot. Must see. 5 out of 5 stars
  • Jersey Boys at August Wilson Theatre – I saw this in Las Vegas and absolutely loved it. Great show for a family with teenagers. 5 out of 5 stars
  • Mamma Mia at The Winter Garden Theatre – I’ve never seen this. Thoughts?
  • Mary Poppins at New Amsterdam Theatre – A childhood dream come true; I absolutely loved the choreography. Good for kids (ages 6-adult). 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • The Lion King at Minskoff Theatre – Another show I saw in Las Vegas and never on Broadway. I loved it. Fantastic imagery — might be a little long for ages 3-7. 4 out of 5 stars
  • The Phantom of the Opera at Majestic Theatre – I loved the Las Vegas production, but never seen the Broadway version. It’s a staple.
  • Rock of Ages at Brooks Atkinson Theatre – Try to win the lotto on this one. It’s an rockin’ 80’s show that is good for a laugh or two. 3 out of 5 stars
  • Wicked at Gershwin Theatre – It’s still selling out after seven years. 4 out of 5 stars

Two Plays:

  • Time Stands Still at Cort Theatre – I saw this on a whim, last January, and loved it. Here’s my review. Closing, January 30th, 2011
  • Lombardi at Circle in the Square Theatre – I’ve heard really great things about this play and I think it definitely has some staying power until at least the Tony Awards in June.

What will you be seeing in January?

 
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Posted by on 12/01/2010 in Broadway

 

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The Bay Area & London Sweep The Tony Awards

First off, congratulations to all of the winners! The Tony Awards this year were quite entertaining besides the technical audio snafus and weird camera shots. I loved Sean Hayes as the host. He was funny and made fun of all the right things – especially the disgustingly straight kiss between him and Chenoweth. Very Funny. (Oh, and the Spiderman reference was quite funny too…)

Favorite announcers: Kristin Chenoweth and Bebe Neuwirth/Nathan Lane. I loved that they made fun of the fact they weren’t even nominated for a Tony. I was dying laughing. Kristin’s faint was classic.

Favorite acceptance speech: Catherine Zeta-Jones. She was so genuinely humble about the fact that she had just won! It was cute and not at all what I had expected to come from her. Her performance of “Send in the Clowns” was a bit, um… schizophrenic. She has it all wrong though – Michael Douglas is the one that’s sleeping with a hot movie star/Tony-winning actress now!

Favorite performance: My favorite performance of the night goes to Green Day and the cast of American Idiot. I got chills listening/watching their performance. Those cast members had more energy than everyone else combined. Memphis did a good job and the cast is obviously extremely talented. It’s just not my favorite song and I’m not a huge fan of the choreography from that specific number. Million Dollar Quartet’s number was fun, but what you learned was why Levi Kreis won the Best Actor – he works his butt off and is incredibly talented as a singer and pianist!

Least Favorite Announcer: Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong. I think someone needed to give him a little coaching so he didn’t end up sounding like a complete ass. I think he genuinely loves Broadway and his new “community” but he acted so above it all last night.

Least Favorite Acceptance Speech: The really weird segue-way between the Best Musical acceptance speech and Sean Hayes and then to Memphis performing again became the most anti-climatic moment of the evening.

Least Favorite Performance: Fela‘s number didn’t translate very well on TV – I think you really need to be at the show to understand what’s going on. I absolutely loved the production when I saw it (see review here) but for some reason, it did not work last night on the Tony Awards.

OVERALL FAVORITE: My favorite moment of the show last night had nothing to do with who was actually nominated or won the Tony Award, but with Glee’s Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele performing. Those two had so much charisma and talent in their short number – more than most of the other performances! I thought Lea Michele’s vocals were the best of the entire evening rivaling all of the performances up on that stage (except for Montego Glover and Christiane Noll who nailed it as well). I think, overall, it just goes to show that this year’s Broadway Season wasn’t all that great.

OVERALL DISAPPOINTMENT: I’m still annoyed that Michael Mayer wasn’t nominated for Best Director. But my biggest disappointment of the night was that American Idiot didn’t win Best Musical. I had a feeling they weren’t going to, but that doesn’t make me any less disappointed. I’m still extremely happy that the Bay Area was being represented by the fact that Memphis won, but I fell in love with American Idiot when it had it’s short out-of-town tryout at Berkeley Rep and I wanted it to win! At least it still won two design awards! But congratulations to Theatreworks and the cast of Memphis!

Represent the Bay Area!

TOTALS:

Red – 6
Memphis – 4
Fences – 3
Fela – 3
La Cage aux Folles – 3
American Idiot – 2
A View from the Bridge – 1
Promises, Promises – 1
Million Dollar Quartet – 1
The Royal Family – 1
A Little Night Music – 1

Best Musical

American Idiot
Fela!
*Memphis
Million Dollar Quartet

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical

Kelsey Grammer, La Cage aux Folles
Sean Hayes, Promises, Promises
*Douglas Hodge, La Cage aux Folles
Chad Kimball, Memphis
Sahr Ngaujah, Fela!

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical

Kate Baldwin, Finian’s Rainbow
Montego Glover, Memphis
Christiane Noll, Ragtime Sherie Rene Scott, Everyday Rapture
*Catherine Zeta-Jones, A Little Night Music

Best Revival of a Musical

Finian’s Rainbow
*La Cage aux Folles
A Little Night Music
Ragtime

Best Play

In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play
Author: Sarah Ruhl
Next Fall
Author: Geoffrey Nauffts
*Red
Author: John Logan

Time Stands Still
Author: Donald Margulies

Best Revival of a Play

*Fences
Lend Me a Tenor
The Royal Family
A View From the Bridge

Best Choreography

Rob Ashford, Promises, Promises
*Bill T. Jones, Fela!
Lynne Page, La Cage aux Folles
Twyla Tharp, Come Fly Away

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play

Jude Law, Hamlet
Alfred Molina, Red
Liev Schreiber, A View from the Bridge
Christopher Walken, A Behanding in Spokane
*Denzel Washington, Fences

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play

*Viola Davis, Fences
Valerie Harper, Looped
Linda Lavin, Collected Stories
Laura Linney, Time Stands Still
Jan Maxwell, The Royal Family

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical

Kevin Chamberlin, The Addams Family
Robin De Jesús, La Cage aux Folles
Christopher Fitzgerald, Finian’s Rainbow
*Levi Kreis, Million Dollar Quartet
Bobby Steggert, Ragtime

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical

Barbara Cook, Sondheim on Sondheim
*Katie Finneran, Promises, Promises
Angela Lansbury, A Little Night Music
Karine Plantadit, Come Fly Away
Lillias White, Fela!

Best Direction of a Musical

Christopher Ashley, Memphis
Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Ragtime
*Terry Johnson, La Cage aux Folles
Bill T. Jones, Fela!

Best Direction of a Play

*Michael Grandage, Red
Sheryl Kaller, Next Fall
Kenny Leon, Fences
Gregory Mosher, A View from the Bridge

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play

David Alan Grier, Race
Stephen McKinley Henderson, Fences
Jon Michael Hill, Superior Donuts
Stephen Kunken, Enron
*Eddie Redmayne, Red

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play

Maria Dizzia, In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play
Rosemary Harris, The Royal Family
Jessica Hecht, A View from the Bridge
*Scarlett Johansson, A View from the Bridge
Jan Maxwell, Lend Me a Tenor

Best Sound Design of a Musical

Jonathan Deans, La Cage aux Folles
*Robert Kaplowitz, Fela!
Dan Moses Schreier and Gareth Owen, A Little Night Music
Dan Moses Schreier, Sondheim on Sondheim

Best Sound Design of a Play

Acme Sound Partners, Fences
Adam Cork, Enron
*Adam Cork, Red
Scott Lehrer, A View from the Bridge

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Marina Draghici, Fela!
*Christine Jones, American Idiot
Derek McLane, Ragtime
Tim Shortall, La Cage aux Folles

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

*Kevin Adams, American Idiot
Donald Holder, Ragtime
Nick Richings, La Cage aux Folles
Robert Wierzel, Fela!

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Neil Austin, Hamlet
*Neil Austin, Red
Mark Henderson, Enron
Brian MacDevitt, Fences

Best Scenic Design of a Play

John Lee Beatty, The Royal Family
Alexander Dodge, Present Laughter
Santo Loquasto, Fences
*Christopher Oram, Red

Best Costume Design of a Musical
*Marina Draghici, Fela!
Paul Tazewell, Memphis
Matthew Wright, La Cage aux Folles

Best Costume Design of a Play

Martin Pakledinaz, Lend Me a Tenor
Constanza Romero, Fences
David Zinn, In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play
*Catherine Zuber, The Royal Family

Best Book of a Musical

Everyday Rapture
Fela!
*Memphis
Million Dollar Quartet

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

The Addams Family
Fences
*Memphis

Best Orchestrations

Jason Carr, La Cage aux Folles
Aaron Johnson, Fela!
Jonathan Tunick, Promises, Promises
*Daryl Waters & David Bryan, Memphis

 

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Broadway News/Blog Round Up #19

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 Everyday Rapture and Memphis possibly becoming a movie musical.

  • If you haven’t heard already, the Tony Award nominations were released on Tuesday, May 4th. You can see the full list here. I usually don’t agree with Michael Reidel on much, but this time I think he hit the nail on the head: “You guys [the Tony committee] did more damage in one day than the critics did all season.” The main damage being that Enron is closing on Sunday with a four million dollar loss. I’m still pretty upset about American Idiot not getting more nominations and if Memphis actually wins the Tony for “Best Musical” I will know, for a surety, that the Tony Awards are a sham. I’m just going to say it: I hated Memphis (and it looks like some people agree with me). Get all of your Tony Award news here.
  • The other big news on Broadway was the unsuccessful car bomb — CNN.com has the latest news – “The Times Square car bomb suspect sensed authorities were closing in on him in the hours leading up to his arrest, law enforcement sources told CNN on Wednesday.” Apparently, Lucy Lui was scared and called out that night – which I don’t blame her at all.
  • Time Stands Still is coming back to Broadway in the fall. I absolutely loved this play. I went on a whim back in January and I’m so glad I did — apparently the Tony Awards committee loved it as much as I did. It received two 2010 Tony nominations for Best Play and Best Actress in a Play (Laura Linney). Read my review of it, here.
  • According to Playbill.com “Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning book writer and lyricist Brian Yorkey is collaborating with Grammy-winning rocker Sting on a new Broadway musical.” To be honest, I’m not that surprised. Who’s next? Pray, that it’s Lady Gaga. Can you imagine the costumes?
  • Photo Call: Remembering Lynn Redgrave. Rest in Peace — very sad news.
  • The Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle announced their winners. You can see the full list here. Just to note, Theatreworks production of Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues won over American Idiot at Berkeley Rep. I didn’t see Theatreworks production, but it still kind of baffles me. Thoughts on this?


Broadway Blog Round Up:

  • Sarah B. gives a shout out to the darling Kate Baldwin. She also mentions she’s seeing her in Paradise Found in London next month. So will I! Are we going to be there on the same day?
  • Chicago Theatre Blog is a little bit upset that the premier of Little Miss Sunshine is happening at La Jolla Playhouse next Spring. He writes, “Truth be told, with Chicago’s known affinity for new plays, we seem like a much better fit for just such a debut.  But being that Lapine has worked with La Jolla on previous premiers, it makes sense that they landed the gig.” I’m glad that it’s only a 5-hour drive away instead of a 5-hour plane ride!
  • Some great Tony news on Grace Notes.
  • Gratuitous Violins gives her take on the Tony Award nominations. On the same note, Steve on Broadway gives his. And one more: Pataphysical Science gives her initial recations. (Clearly, we are an opinionated bunch!) My favorite take on the Tony Awards goes to Chris Caggiano – read here
  • Another review of Promises, Promises from one of my favorite bloggers: The Andy Gram. Here’s what he had to say, “While I really wanted to love this, I felt let down by the piece itself.  There’s not much of anything the producers or director could have done about that, short of picking another show.  Mr. Hayes is a talented man.  My hope is that we will get to see him in more Broadway outings (no double-entrende implied).”
  • Theatre Review: Slasher at SF Playhouse on Idiolect.
  • The Producer’s Perspective has a new iPhone app. Very cool stuff! I just downloaded it. You can download The Broadway Critic’s iPhone app here.
  • Stage Rush reviews the Tony-nominated Everyday Rapture. “Interestingly, Michael Mayer directs the show, which meansEveryday Rapture share most of its creative team with that of American Idiot. It’s strange how one director’s production like Idiot could make me feel so much, and his other make me feel so little.”

Until next week…

 
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Posted by on 05/06/2010 in Broadway, News

 

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Broadway News/Blog Round Up #18

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 Brian D’Arcy James starring in Next to Normal and American Idiot opening on Broadway.

  • Everyday Rapture released the new cast recording on Tuesday, digitally and in stores. You can check out some great photos on Broadwayworld.com. It opens on Broadway today, Thursday April, 29th. I’m super happy that Sherie Rene Scott gets this chance to shine on Broadway again! (Thank you, Megan for making that possible.)
  • Memphis is possibly becoming a movie musical. Really? I’m not happy about this one. There are so many other shows that I would rather see as a movie musical. But, I’m thinking – if done correctly – the movie could be much better than the Broadway version and maybe they’ll have time to fix that ridiculous ending. Or, it could just end up like the dismal, Nine. Thoughts?
  • Playbill.com interviewed Rebecca Naomi Jones (star of American Idiot) and found out that she wants Ben Fold’s music to be in a musical. Read some other great answers here.
  • Hunter Foster weighs in on this year’s Broadway season and talks about the lack of new Broadway scores. Interesting read.
  • Rumor Alert: Sutton Foster might be returning to Broadway next season in a new revival of Anything Goes. I’m really a fan of anything that Foster does, but I will say that “Sutton Foster/Cole Porter” combined seems like absolute bliss to me.
  • Last but not least, it’s Broadway Week with Regis & Kelly. More info on who’s performing, here.

Broadway Blog Round-Up:

  • Read all about Sarah B.’s adventures seeing a ton of Broadway shows, going to Sondheim’s birthday party and running to other fellow theatre bloggers in her “Catching up on some adventures…” post.
  • “Everything I Know I Learned From Musicals” finally weighed in on Next to Normal winning the Pulitzer Prize this year. “Is it possible for a show to be worthy of a Pulitzer Prize yet still espouse a viewpoint that I find questionable at best, dangerous at worst? Well, that’s free speech for ya. At the very least, Next to Normal provides the opportunity to create some dialog about the topic of mental illness.” Read and comment here.
  • Broadway Across America announced their next season in Boston and Gratuitous V covers the pros and cons about their decision. Read here.
  • Musicals in L.A. interviewed Erin Quill (Avenue Q) and talks about her new show, The Mikado Project.
  • Read Pataphysical Science’s view on American Idiot. She thought “Good Riddance” was cheesy. Do you agree? I don’t.
  • Stage Notes reviewed the new revival, Promises, Promises that’s starring Sean Hayes and Kristen Chenoweth. She seems to agree with all of the critics: “Katie Finneran is the surprising break out star who comes out of nowhere in this story as Marge McDougal. She is hilarious! She’s a genius with physical comedy and we were in stitches with her every line. What a natural!”
  • “But one thing stands out above all else, that is that Stephen Sondheim is a prolific genius, the likes of whom we may never see again.” – The Andy Gram reviews Sondheim on Sondheim.
  • Steve on Broadway celebrated four different milestones: 1. 4th year SOB blog anniversary, 2. Saw 200 shows on Broadway, 3. Seeing all of this season’s Broadway shows and 4. Interviewed Alicia Silverstone – his first formal thespian interview. Read here.
  • The Producer’s Perspective writes a great post about the how Broadway houses sell their house tickets. I think there needs to be a change as well. I’ve stopped buying my tickets ahead of of time because I hate all of the extra fees. They are ridiculous.
  • Stage Rush interviews the understudy, Charlotte Maier, of God of Carnage. Funny thing: my costume designer for The Wedding Singer – the show I’m directing and choreographing at my school – is Maier’s sister-in-law. Don’t forget to watch Stage Rush’s  video of Green Day showing up to the performance and playing an encore number on the night Stage Rush went to review American Idiot.

New shows that are starting previews, opening  and/or closing on Broadway in the next couple weeks:

  • 4/28/10: Collected Stories (opening)
  • 4/29/10: Everyday Rapture (opening)
  • 5/04/10: TONY AWARD NOMINATIONS
  • 6/13/10: The 64th Tony Awards
  • 8/28/10: South Pacific (closing)

Until next week…

 
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Posted by on 04/29/2010 in Broadway, News

 

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Broadway News Round Up #15

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 American Idiot and Come Fly Away.

  • There are reports that there are four shows that are eyeing Broadway for next season:
  • Out of those four, I think three will happen, two will be successful and one will be a critical hit, but no one will go. Can you guess which?
  • Should bloggers wait till opening night to post their reviews? Or should the old ways of the press die and let new media reign supreme? Fellow theatre bloggers, Gratuitous Violins and Chris Caggiano report. What do you think? I might be posting my opinion later this week on the very subject.
  • The Memphis cast album was finally released this week in stores and on iTunes. It sure did take a long time for them to nationally release this cast album. I’ve had it for months and hopefully my post inspired you (or maybe not) to buy it. Did you buy it and what do you think of it? I’m finding it somewhat non-intriguing. I wonder how it will fare at the Tony Awards this year. I have a feeling that it will get nominated for several awards and overlooked by most, only winning one or two.
  • BroadwayWorld.com is reporting that Phantom of the Opera will be closing this June. Does Andrew Lloyd Weber not want both of his shows running at the same time? Read more info here. (I say, CLOSE IT!)
  • Everyone is getting a little excited for City Center Encores! production of Anyone Can Whistle starring Sutton Foster, Raul Esparza and Donna Murphy. You can check out some of the rehearsal footage here. I wish I was in NYC to see this! I’ve seen Foster and Esparza perform in several different shows and I absolutely love watching them! They are some of my favorite actors on Broadway right now.
  • CLOSING NOTICES: All About Me and The Miracle Worker are both closing prematurely on Sunday, April 4th, 2010. Am I surprised? Not really. I never understood why All About Me even had an audience. And, while A Miracle Worker sounded amazing and I heard great things about it, I think it opened a few weeks too early to survive the March slump.

New shows that are starting previews and/or opening on Broadway in the next couple weeks:

  • 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)
  • 4/18/10: La Cage aux Folles (opening)
  • 4/20/10: American Idiot (opening)
  • 4/22/10: Sondheim on Sondheim (opening)
  • 4/25/10: Promises, Promises (opening)

Until next week…

 
1 Comment

Posted by on 04/01/2010 in Broadway, News

 

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Listening to “Memphis” A New Broadway Musical

Last month, I gave a way a copy of Memphis – A New Broadway Musical. I thought I might revisit this since they’ve released a release date for the CD, nationwide on March 30th. If you’ve been waiting for it to show up on iTunes instead of buying the $25 version at their website or theatre, then you’ll just have to wait one more month. Not too bad. But, to hold you over, you can hear a few of the songs here on The Broadway Critic.

Be sure to tell all of us what you think in the comments!

The Memphis track listing follows:

“Underground”
“The Music Of My Soul”
“Scratch My Itch”
“Ain’t Nothin’ But A Kiss”
“Everybody Wants To Be Black On A Saturday Night”
“Make Me Stronger”
“Colored Woman”
“Someday”
“She’s My Sister”
“Radio”
“Say A Prayer”
“Crazy Little Huey”
“Big Love”
“Love Will Stand When All Else Falls”
“Stand Up”
“Change Don’t Come Easy”
“Tear Down The House”
“Memphis Lives In Me”
“Steal Your Rock ‘n’ Roll”
Bonus Track “The Music Of My Soul” – David Bryan

Listen to a few tracks from Memphis:

“The Music of My Soul”

“Someday”

“Radio”

“Love Will Stand When All Else Falls”

“Memphis Lives In Me”

“Steal Your Rock ‘n’ Roll”

 
2 Comments

Posted by on 02/27/2010 in Broadway, Music

 

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Contest: Win a Copy of “Memphis: The Original Broadway Cast Recording”

Happy New Year!!

To celebrate 2010, The Broadway Critic’s first post of the new year is a contest! I decided that we are going to give away a couple of *digital* copies of Memphis: The Original Broadway Cast Recording starring Chad Kimball and Montego Glover.

You can win two different ways:

  1. Comment on this post and let me know what your favorite song is? If you don’t have one, tell me why you want to win! (The winner will be picked by random.org)
  2. Join us on Facebook and become the 220th fan and win a copy! (http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Broadway-Critic/168034079682?ref=ts)

Now if you don’t win, you can always buy the CD here.

While you are waiting to see if you won, listen to a few of my favorites on The Broadway Critic. Enjoy!!

Winners will be announced on Friday, January 8th, 2010.

Listen to:

“Someday”

“Love Will Stand When All Else Falls”

“Steal Your Rock and Roll”

 
10 Comments

Posted by on 01/01/2010 in Broadway, Contest

 

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Five Broadway Shows You Should Skip

Just as I wrote out my “Five Shows You Should See on Broadway” there happens to be five shows you shouldn’t see as well. Let me qualify that by saying that most shows that get produced on Broadway are worth seeing for one reason or another — they wouldn’t have landed on Broadway if there wasn’t something unique/special about them. But there’s some shows that you should probably just stay away from, especially if you are in NYC for only a limited time. I always think, “Will I regret it if I miss this show?” If the answer is yes, than I make sure that I go. Unfortunately, there are a few shows that you might just regret actually going to and spending all that money on.

Here’s a list of shows that I’ve regretted going to:

Bye Bye Birdie Revival Playbill 1. Bye Bye Birdie at Henry Miller’s Theatre – Oh, what can I say? It’s a mess. After sitting through this, my friend and I coined the phrase, “The best high school production of Bye Bye Birdie I’ve ever seen.” But then I digress, I’ve actually never seen Bye Bye Birdie performed at a high school. From the color-coordinated costumes to the lack of choreography, this show is just wrong. Oh, and did we mention that the teenagers are actually teenagers? So, if you are willing to shell out between $86.50 – $136.50 to see high schoolers perform, than more power to you. But I left, severely disappointed. The moment when you really want to walk out is during Gina Gershon’s mess of a dance, “Spanish Rose” — if you actually can call a “half-fan kick” dancing. It’s not scheduled to close till April 25, 2010. April can’t come any sooner.

Billy Elliot Playbill Cover2. Billy Eillot at Imperial Theatre – I’ll probably get some flack for this one, considering it won the Tony Award for Best Musical this year. The first time I saw this, I actually almost walked out during intermission. I hated it that much. I wanted it to be so much more than it actually was considering that I loved the movie SO much. My biggest beef with this show, is that somewhere along the way, it lost its “heart”. The show changes so much with what Billy you see. The first time, I saw the “angry” Billy. Th second time was the “confused” Billy. These kids have to be a triple threats and both of the ones I saw were incredible dancers, but lacked in the acting department. Maybe the two new Billys will be better? Also, I have to talk about the set: it neither gives a clue of where we are or what time period we’re in. And for a show that specifically needs to identify both, I was sorely disappointed. (And that damn circular bed just drove me crazy.) The show is incredible in regards to the dancing, so if you are a dance enthusiast than you should check this one out. I say: pass. Wait for it to come on tour (or don’t). More info, here.

Playbill3. West Side Story at Palace Theatre - This is another show that I should have loved, but instead really felt nothing for. I saw a matinee, which might have influenced my overall feelings, but I really thought I would like it and I didn’t. It has the makings for something incredible. Obviously, the show is incredible, yet I felt that this revival didn’t have anything new to offer, except for the genius performance by Karen Olivo playing Anita (who won the Tony Award). Olivo was the only one to give a fresh perspective to her character. Finally, they are replacing Matt Cavenaugh, who plays Tony, on December 13th. Frankly, they never should have cast him in the role in the first place. Riedel, of the NY Post gives some advice to the next Tony, “Don’t miss any performances, don’t get old, and don’t get married.” Apparently, Ms. Olivo has been missing performances as well, so your best bet is just to miss this one altogether. More info, here.

Playbill4. The Phantom of the Opera at Majestic Theatre - I solely write Phantom of the Opera on this list because you are better off seeing it in Las Vegas than in NYC. I’ve actually never seen the Broadway production because there is always something else that is more important. Always. The Vegas version is quite thrilling, especially since they cut all the nonsense to 90 minutes. Besides, the sound design is the best I’ve ever heard from any show, anywhere. See something else on Broadway and take a trip to Vegas to see Phantom. You won’t regret it. Besides, it’s been running on Broadway since 1988. Maybe with the sequel, Love Never Dies, coming out next November on Broadway it will finally die away…. maybe. More info, here.

MammaMia5. Mamma Mia at Winter Garden Theatre – Really, I mean really. This show should close so something else worth seeing can take its spot. Immediately. The show opened back in 2001. We are at eight years now. Playbill.com says, “The infectious music of ABBA provides the framework for a romp through the preparations of an unusual wedding.” Romp. Now I’m for sure not going.

Seriously, people. Stop. Going. To. This. Show.

More info, here.

HONORABLE MENTION:

memphiscover

Memphis at Sam S. Shubert Theatre – I actually hate putting Memphis on the “shows you should skip” list. I really don’t want to because the performers are kind of amazing — it’s the show that just doesn’t work. All of the sudden the show ended and I didn’t know why? That’s how convoluted the story gets to be at the end. You can’t deny the comparisons between Hairspray and Dreamgirls; it feels awfully similar to both of those shows and not in a good way. My friend and I decided that all of the performers in Memphis should be in Bye Bye Birdie and than, we would have something to write home about. Though Chad Kimball gives a unique and note-worthy performance, we unknowingly ended up hating him and his ridiculous Memphis accent. Montego Glover’s vocal range is impressive throughout, she’s just not given the songs to truly shine and show off her magnificent instrument. Bay Area local, James Monroe Iglehart, stole the show with his Act II performance. The audience couldn’t get enough of him. All in all, it’s a talented cast, just not a great show. More info here.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on 11/10/2009 in Broadway

 

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