“Answered prayers” indeed! After 19 days of rigorous negotiations the stagehand’s strike is finally over and the Broadway community staged a party by giving a free public concert, BROADWAY’S BACK, headed by theater legends Angela Lansbury and Bernadette Peters. Bob Martin hosted the show which The League of American Theatres and Producers put together in just over 12 hours.
The event featured cast members from dozens of Broadway shows on stage in costume at the Marquis Theater, where Mr. Martin performs in The DrowsyChaperone, his Tony and Drama desk award winning musical. Right at home Martin was a witty host, but the highlight was the Irving Berlin classic “There’s No Business Like Show Business” given a special twist, the lyrics were adapted to fit the occasion. The cast and audience sang along with Ms. Peters in a unified spirit of thanks making a blissfully memorable moment. Seth Rudetsky, currently in the revival of The Ritz, led a full orchestra for the occasion.
“Broadway’s long dark night is over,” said Mr. Martin. The lights are shinning brightly all along the Rialto and this will be a joyous holiday season after all.
This Thanksgiving Weekend the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor will present the World Premiere of “Simeon’s Gift,” a new hour long musical adapted from the 2003 best-selling picture book of the same name by Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton. The two women, who together have written 17 children’s books, have provided the script for the musical as well, but this will be the first time one of their books has ever been developed for the stage. A dynamic team of collaborators, both behind the scenes and on the stage, have come together to mark the occasion.
As an ode to the theater the new musical The Glorious Ones, stylishly directed and choreographed by Graciela Daniele, is a sublimely funny treat served with winning wit by a marvelous ensemble of seven headed by the divine Marc Kudisch. These are singers who act having a joyous blast breathing life into the bawdy little one act.
Frankenstein’d to death? Is he out to kill us or is he just kidding us? In any case he must be a powerful dude, because if your name is Frankenstein, the show must go on. Proof? “The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein” and its gothic sibling, “Frankenstein”, a new musical at 37 Arts Theatre are keeping the fires of show biz burning, at least during the strike.
Adam Rapp’s new one act Bingo With The Indiansopened at The Flea on November 8, 2007. Directed by the playwright the tale is a fascinating jumble, but nonetheless hauntingly memorable with an excellent cast that features an outstanding performance by Evan Enderle as Steve, the story’s emotional center. Bingo sets a disgruntled East Village theater company in a seedy New England motel, where they have come to rip off the local bingo game. Rapp, a prolific writer, novelist, filmmaker, and a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Red Light Winter, always bears watching and BingoWith The Indians is no exception.
Kevin Kline dazzled with magnificent command of the language and the stage as Cyrano the title character, a lovelorn poet with a sword and a deformed nose, in the visually stunning Broadway revival of the Edmond Rostand's 1897 classic Cyrano de Bergerac helmed by British director David Leveaux. Opening night at the Richard Rogers Theater brought out a throng of Broadway celebrities as the beautiful film star Jennifer Garner, looking marvelous in the 17 century costumes, made a confident Broadway debut as Roxane opposite Mr. Kline, who was conspicuously absent from the opening night party.
There is a sense of deja vu in Adam Bock’s suspenseful one act The Receptionist premiering under Joe Mantello’s skillful direction for the Manhattan Theater Club. Last year Mr. Bock gave us the critically praised The Thugs, which debuted downtown and like that previous effort his new play takes place in an office where small talk seems the order of the day, but beneath the glib chatter some sinister plot is unfolding. Both plays share the same clever gimmick, a normal everyday façade eventually reveals some horrible truth. The brisk 70 minute tale is an outstanding production with a pitch perfect performance by Jayne Houdyshell as Beverly the title character at the center of the story and a set by David Korins that becomes on ominous fifth character. But nonetheless this entertaining Receptionist feels incomplete awaiting a second act.
The American premiere of J. T. Rogers’ new play TheOverwhelming grippingly directed by Max Stafford-Clark for The Roundabout Theater Company is a thought provoking tale of an American family, newly arrived in 1994 Rwanda, where a genocidal civil war is about to break out and nothing or anyone is exactly what they seem. The family will find themselves embroiled in grim events beyond their understanding as they struggle to find the truth and ultimately discover what they will do to protect themselves.
A Gala Benefit celebration, Hooray for Hollywood, honoring the legendary Oscar winner Patricia Neal, (First Actress ever to win a Tony Award), Smith Barney’s Shirl Penney and The Count and Countess de Lesseps was held at Steiner Film Studios in Brooklyn, the largest sound stage on the East Coast. The gala evening chaired by David Steiner benefited The Auditory Oral School of New York, a non profit organization which specializes in teaching deaf and hard of hearing children to listen, talk, think and socialize.
The Theatre Museum presented their 2007 Awards for excellence at a ceremony hosted by Tony Award winner Jim Dale at The National Arts Club in Gramercy Park. Actress Ellen Burstyn was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence. The evening featured marvelous performances by James Naughton, Jim Dale, Jessica Grove, Tovah Feldshuh, and Kerry Butler, now staring on Broadway in Xanadu.
The 2007 Tony Honors for excellence in the theatre given annually since 1990 to Broadway’s unsung heroes, who toil off stage, were presented at Tavern on the Green this past Tuesday. The honorees Gemze de Lappe, Neil Mazzella, Alyce Gilbert, and Seymour “Red” Press were feted at a festive luncheon ceremony hosted by Tommy Tune that featured a performance by Patti Lupone. The Honorees, whose names have been in the fine print of your theater programs for decades, boast 150 years of collective experience in the business. Mr. Tune hailed them as “The virtual backbone of Broadway.” The Tony Honors are presented by The American Theatre Wing and The League of American Theatres and Producers.
Making his Broadway debut Chazz Palminteri plays all 18 characters in A Bronx Tale with impressive panache. His semi autobiographical reflections, although sentimentalized, is quite charming, even disturbing, but what stands out is Mr. Palminteri’s strong feeling for the old neighborhood and the forces that helped shape his character. Viewed from a distance of almost half a century his tale takes on added nostalgia that does not necessarily make for dynamic theater, but is nonetheless most entertaining.
Jamie deRoy & Friends honored Broadway Star and Grammy Award Winning Singer/Song Writer, Larry Gatlin with a musical tribute at the Friars Club hosted by Jamie deRoy. The evening directed by Barry Kleinbort featured James Naughton, Lari White, Sal Viviano and others with musical direction by Ian Herman.
A sex farce about a straight businessman hiding from the mob in a gay bath house must have been risqué to Broadway audiences back in 1975, but despite some funny situations, witty dialogue and much physical humor played at full throttle by the talented cast, the revival of Terrence McNally’s ground breaking play, The Ritz directed by Joe Mantello for the Roundabout, feels decidedly tame and dated. Mantello’s kind hearted send up of a more innocent time, the decade that predated the AIDS epidemic, is pure physical farce, an amusing homage to slapstick, but the dazzling tri-level set by Scott Pask with a series of shimmering red doors manages to upstage most of the action turning the evening into more of an interesting walk down memory lane than a riotous good time.
When the The Color Purple opened on Broadway back in December of 2005 we raved, “Hallelujah! The new musical is a joyous celebration of the human spirit, culled from Alice Walkers 1982 Pulitzer Prize winning novel,” and exclaimed “The impassioned tale is a shimmering mosaic, a triumph in every way. Here is a serious musical graced with intelligence and humor that is destined to become a classic.”