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Theatre Review: “Anything Goes” @ Stephen Sondheim Theatre, 1st Preview, 03/10/11

Disclaimer: I saw the Anything Goes on their first preview, March 10, 2011. No press tickets were given; I purchased my own ticket.

Anything Goes, Roundabout Theatre Company’s newest revival, is absolutely de-lovely.

It’s delightful.

It’s delicious in every respect.

Not only is it one of the best revivals I have seen in recent years, it’s one of the best shows that I’ve seen on Broadway in a long time. While other Broadway shows are trying to push the envelope, Anything Goes ends up being good-ole fashioned musical theatre fun. It doesn’t need to be technically over-produced like Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark, or pushing the limits on subject matter like in Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s musical, The Book of Mormon because Anything Goes is a classic.

Kathleen Marshall, the director and choreographer, has done an impeccable job recreating this 1930’s Broadway staple, but she also put her own creative stamp on it. The inventive and well-polished choreography in this show will blow you away. From the minute the tap shoes start tapping in the titled number, “Anything Goes” at the end of Act 1, you know you are in for a treat. That tap number is going down in Broadway history and is worth the price of the ticket alone. The new dance arrangements by David Chase are sensational! By the end of that number, the audience was in an absolute frenzy and we still had the entire Act 2 to go!

Marshall understood the balance of the show and infused longer dance breaks when appropriate, but never over-indulged in choreography (as a lot of director/choreographers often do). The beautiful ballroom dancing in “Easy to Love” took my breath away. The charming Billy Crocker (Colin Donnell) and beautiful Hope Harcourt (Laura Osnes) danced the night away. Then, of course, “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” blew everyone away in Act 2. Marshall’s stage pictures were dynamic and incredibly intricate. The cast nailed it.

It’s also interesting to note that Marshall understood where the book needed some extra support. She used the choreography to tell the story and create deeper relationships between the characters. Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Adam Godley) and Reno Sweeney’s (Sutton Foster) duet, “The Gypsy in Me” was hilarious and only cemented their relationship even further. Sutton Foster and Joel Grey almost stole the show with their comical rendition of “Friendship”. Cole Porter’s lyrics are to die for and both Foster and Grey found the humor in every line. It was perfection.

Now to talk about the formidable Sutton Foster. Let’s just say this: if she doesn’t win the Tony Award for this portrayal of Reno Sweeney, I’m going to be flabbergasted. She sings it better than I’ve ever heard before (her belting was sublime), dances it with ease and finds nuance in the script that no one ever knew was there. As Lord Oakleigh would say, “She is the dog’s pajamas.” She is one of the few actors on the Broadway stage that is a true triple threat. She is a becoming a true Broadway legend.

Now you add that type of talent and combine it with Joel Grey and you have a sure-fire hit. Grey’s Moonface Martin is likable, funny and a little bit sweet. Somehow, all of the prop mishaps that occurred in the first preview, were related to Grey’s scenes and he made them hysterical. A quick glance to the audience with a raised eye-brow sent us into hysterics. Some of the timing was off in the dialogue in the second act, but it was only the first preview and it will only get tighter and tighter after each performance.

One of the great things about this show is how wonderful the cast is. It couldn’t have been cast any better. (Now, why did Bye Bye Birdie, the previous revival in the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, have such a hard time with casting?) Elisha Whitney (John McMartin) is sometimes seen has a throw away role, and Whitney’s drunk portrayal was spot-on funny. Jessica Walter, who plays Mrs. Evangeline Harcourt, milked every scene she was in. All of her little “bits” were hysterical. My favorite being when she ran on stage with her life vest and all of her jewelry screaming that the ship was sinking — wrong musical honey! Even Erma (Jessica Stone) was delightful in her song, “Buddie, Beware”.

The set was beautifully lit by Peter Kaczorowski with saturated blues, reds, purples throughout. The stunning sunrises and sunsets were gorgeous. You could literally see the sun hit the deck of the ship, or vice versa. The mood was easily set by the lights and Kaczorowski did a hellavu job. The band, directed by James Lowe, created an infectious energy starting from their first note in the Overture. (It was also really wonderful to hear a musical with a true Overture and Entr’Acte.) The updated orchestrations and dance arrangements were fantastic. I can’t wait to hear them again on a cast album.

Overall, Anything Goes is a slice of musical theatre heaven. While there’s no “Heaven Hop” in this revival, Kathleen Marshall found a cast that is going to take this Broadway season by storm. Forget all of those new musicals coming out, Anything Goes is the quintessential Broadway musical and should be seen by everyone.

As the song says, “It’s delightful, it’s delicious. It’s delectable, it’s delirious. It’s dilemma, it’s delimit, it’s deluxe. It’s de-lovely”.

A+.

 
 

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Spring 2011 Broadway Preview: What Broadway Musicals Should You See?

The 2010-2011 Broadway season has seen more new musicals than in the last several years and several of them didn’t have a out-of-town tryout! But all four shows that have opened so far this season have already closed. Here’s a preview of the eight new musicals that are opening this Spring 2011.

Here’s the list:

  • Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown* – Closed January 2nd, 2011
  • Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson ** – Closed January 2nd, 2011
  • The Scottsboro Boys ** – Closed December 12th, 2011
  • Elf* – Closed January 2nd, 2011
  • Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark* – Opening March 15th, 2011
  • The Book of Mormon* – Opening March 24th, 2011
  • Priscilla Queen of the Desert ## – Opening March 20th, 2011
  • Catch Me If You Can # – Opening April 10th, 2011
  • Wonderland # – Opening April 17th, 2011
  • Sister Act ## – Opening April 20th, 2011
  • Baby It’s You* – Opening April 27th, 2011
  • The People in the Picture* – Opening April 28th, 2011

* No out-of-town tryout   ** Off-Broadway   # Out-of-town tryout    ##Transfer from London

And revivals:

  • Anything Goes – Opening April 7th, 2011
  • How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying – Opening March 26th, 2011

Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark at Foxwoods Theatre – To be honest, I’m a little over all the publicity surrounding Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark. It seems that every time I check my Twitter feed or Playbill.com, there’s another story. But to be fair, I really enjoyed the show. I posted my preview “review” a couple of weeks ago. I was totally blown away by the technical aspect of the show. Yes, the story and music could be tweaked or reworked, but I got my money’s worth and that’s all I really care about. I think you should see it. Regardless of what you think of the show, it’s making Broadway history.

Website | Previews started | Opens March 15th, 2011

The Book of Mormon at Eugene O’Neill Theatre – It’s happening. Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Robert Lopez are writing a musical that’s sure to offend everyone. My stance has significantly changed since I wrote about it almost a year ago, but I’m still annoyed at the title of this musical. I don’t really have high hopes for this show, but you never know. I’m not planning on racing to see it either. I think I’m gonna wait this one out.

I think it’s a major gamble. There’s not one person in the show that’s marquee-worthy and they never had an out-of-town tryout. I heard that the October workshop of this show was an absolute disaster, so I hope they are pulling it together. They are definitely promoting the hell out of it, so it will be around for awhile — plus you have all of those South Park fans.

Website | Previews: February 24th, 2011 | Opens March 24th, 2011

Priscilla Queen of the Desert: the musical at Palace Theatre – I saw Priscilla in London, last June, and absolutely loved it. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but the costumes, story and music are irresistible. The infectious familiar melodies make you want to get up and dance and the story is so touching. I absolutely loved it.

I have a feeling that Priscilla is going to be the musical to beat this year! I know it’s gonna win several Tony Awards! (The costumes are a total shoo-in.) It’s just too cute!

Sneak Audio Peek:

“I Will Survive”

“Always On My Mind/Confide In Me”

Website | Previews: February 28th, 2011 | Opens: March 20th, 2011

Catch Me If You Can – A New Musical at Neil Simon Theatre – The only thing that is getting me excited to see this show is the cast. It features: Norbert Leo Butz, Tom Wopat, Aaron Tviet and Kerry Butler. I’m a little disappointed by the songs that they have chosen to post as the “show’s catchiest tunes”, because they aren’t that catchy or good. You can hear the 4-song sampler, here.

I’m curious if this show is going to be as big of a hit as Hairspray was. I have my doubts, but maybe Catch Me If You Can will surprise me.

Sneak Audio Peek:

“Fly, Fly Away” (Kerry Butler)

Website | Previews: March 11th, 2011 | Opens: April 10th, 2011

Wonderland at Marquis Theatre – I just have a feeling that Wonderland is going to be this year’s Come Fly Away or 9 to 5. First, it’s in one of Broadway’s biggest houses and the Marquis Theatre is known for its flops. (Maybe there’s a curse!) There is some major Broadway talent in the cast, but there’s not one “marquee-worthy” name.

What’s going to make people want to buy a ticket? Wildhorn’s music — probably not. A musical based on Alice in Wonderland — probably not.

I’m running out of ideas. I bet it’s going to be a huge flop.

Sneak Audio Peek:

“Finding Wonderland”

Website | Previews: March 21st, 2011 | Opens: April 7th, 2011

Sister Act at Broadway Theatre – Sister Act was the fifth musical that I reviewed for The Broadway Critic and I loved it (basically). I wrote, “Sister Act has so much energy and joy to give away… As it says in the closing number, “Spread your love around!” and Sister Act does just that…” My biggest complaint was the plot and music surrounding the male supporting characters because it felt that those characters were overlooked. I have a feeling they’ve fixed that and it’s going to be a huge hit!

And look at their cast: Patina Miller, Victoria Clark, Fred Applegate and Chestor Gregory. If Sister Act can win the critic’s favor, it’s gonna be a huge contendor during the Tony Awards.

I highly recommend Sister Act and can’t wait to see the Broadway production.

Audio Sneak Peek:

“Raise Your Voice”

“Fabulous, baby” (Reprise)

Website | Previews: March 24th, 2011 | Opens: April 20th, 2011

Baby It’s You – a new musical at Broadhurst Theatre – Here’s the tagline from Broadway.com, “Featuring songs such as “He’s So Fine,” “Dedicated to the One I Love” and “Twist and Shout,” Baby It’s You! follows the rise of New Jersey housewife Florence Greenberg, who teams with African-American songwriter Luther Dixon to launch the popular girl group The Shirelles as well as an independent record company.”

It kind of sounds like the girl-version of The Jersey Boys or this season’s Million Dollar Quartet.

I’m sure it will find an audience and run for awhile, but I have a feeling it’s going to be over-looked during the awards season. There hasn’t been that much press surrounding the show and it snuck into the Broadhurst without much of a bang, so we’ll see what happens to it. (Even their website doesn’t have that much content on it.)

Website | Previews: March 26th, 2011 | Opens: April 27th, 2011

The People in the Picture at Studio 54 – Two time Tony Award-winner, Donna Murphy (Passion, The King and I) stars in The People in the Picture, directed by Leonard Foglia. This new Broadway musical features book & lyrics by the author of the international best seller Beaches, Iris Rainer Dart, and a glorious score by Mike Stoller (Smokey Joe’s Café) and Artie Butler (“Here’s to Life”).

The biggest thing that Roundabout has going for it right now is that Donna Murphy is starring in this! This is another musical that hasn’t had an out-of-town try-out, so there will be a lot of buzz come first preview.

I don’t know enough about the production, story or music to pass any kind of judgement. I’m intrigued. Currently, it’s only running till June 19th, 2011, so you might want to get your tickets soon.

Website | Previews: April 1st, 2011 | Opens: April 28th, 2011

REVIVALS:

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying at Al Hirschfeld Theatre – How to Succeed… centers on a young window-cleaner, J. Pierrepont Finch (Daniel Radcliffe), who begins a meteoric rise from the mail room to Vice President of Advertising at the World-Wide Wicket Company. Finch’s unorthodox and morally questionable business practices jeopardize not only his career but also his romance with Secretary Rosemary Pilkington.

Okay, so it’s Daniel Radcliffe… I’m a bit intrigued to see how he does singing and dancing, but he better do a good job or it’s not going to be pretty. I’m excited to see a professional production of this musical, since I’m not as familiar as I would like to be with it. If Promises, Promises can run over a year, I have a feeling that How to Succeed… is going to do just as well.

Website | Previews: February 26th, 2011 | Opens: March 27th, 2011

Anything Goes at Stephen Sondheim Theatre: Out of all the shows that are opening this Spring, Anything Goes is the most exciting in my opinion. First off, it has Sutton Foster starring as Reno Sweeney. Second, Kathleen Marshall is directing and choreographing the production and it’s one of my favorite musicals of all time.

I have extremely high expectations of this production and I hope it blows everyone out of the water! (Unlike that abysmal Bye Bye Birdie revival that also played the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.)

Website | Previews: March 10th, 2011 | Opens: April 7th, 2011


 
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Posted by on 02/07/2011 in Broadway, Music, Preview

 

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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…

 
3 Comments

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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Broadway News Round Up #3

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 The Addams Family opening in Chicago and Denzel Washington’s return to Broadway.

  • The musical Nine (the movie) is coming out in theatres on December 25th – a perfect gift. People are getting very excited because it features Academy Awards winning actors Daniel Day Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, and Sophia Loren, with Academy Award nominee Kate Hudson, and Grammy winner Fergie. Quite an impressive line-up! It doesn’t have an official website, but you can see the trailer above. Here’s an interview with Maury Yeston, the composer.
  • Sutton Foster released her new website this past week. It’s quite impressive and sleek. Ron Bohmer needs to get on the bandwagon and update his next because it’s looking kind of 90’s – in a real bad way. Sutton Foster’s fans can purchase limGlory Days CD Coverited edition prints of her artwork on her site as well.
  • The original cast recording of the musical Glory Days, which closed on Broadway following its opening night, will arrive in stores Nov. 24 on the Ghostlight Records label. Glory Days is a musical with music and lyrics by Nick Blaemire, and a book by James Gardiner. The musical premiered at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, in 2008, before moving to Broadway later that year. Yes, the show was a total flop, but with this CD they are hoping to win over Regional, Community, and high school theatre companies/departments across the country. (We think they might!) Pre-order here.
  • The stars of God of Carnage – Marcia Gay Harden, James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels and Hope Davis – gave their last performance on November 14th. If you missed this one, then this is something you’ll regret. This cast was all nominated for a Tony (while Harden won the Tony). It was a gripping 90 minutes that I won’t soon forget. Playbill.com gives us the new cast: “Succeeding the original Broadway company (starting Nov. 17) will be original London God of Carnage cast member Ken Stott as Michael with Oscar nominee Christine Lahti (The Heidi Chronicles, “Chicago Hope”) as his wife Veronica. “Designing Women” favorite Annie Potts will make her Broadway debut as Annette alongside Jimmy Smits (Anna in the Tropics, “NYPB Blue”) as her husband Alan.” I’m thinking about seeing the new cast in January. It’s just that good.
  • So Ashlee Simpson-Wentz is coming to Broadway as Roxie Hart in Chicago. I know Chicago just hit it’s 13th birthday this past week, but honestly why do they have to hire Simpson-Wentz as Roxie? Isn’t there anyone else that’s better? Or that will sell more tickets? Come on Chicago, you can do better than that.
  • “Academy Award nominee Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith and Grammy winner Jay-Z have joined the producing team of Broadway’s Fela!, which is scheduled to open at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Nov. 23,” Playbill.com reports. It seems like an Oprah move. Is she gonna jump on the bandwagon as well? Unfortunately this makes me want to see this production less, not more. What other Hollywood stars are gonna become producers?
  • Girl Crazy opens this weekend at City Center Encores in NYC. It stars Ana Gasteyer, Wayne Knight, Marc Kudisch and real-life couple Chris Diamantopoulos and Becki Newton. Wish I was there!!

In honor of Nine, listen to: “Unusual Way” from The New Broadway Cast Recording (with Laura Benati and Antonio Banderas)

 
2 Comments

Posted by on 11/19/2009 in News

 

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