The advance buzz has been overwhelming, and we have been inundated with questions about the new Broadway musical Spamalot. Did you like it? Did they do a good job adapting it for the stage? Is it all that? Did you have to see the movie to follow it? Yes, yes, yes, and no with superlatives all around for the entire team.
Spring Awakening, which was an acclaimed hit last summer at the Atlantic Theatre Company, is now a stunning triumph on Broadway, and the American musical may never be the same again. Duncan Sheik has created a fantastic rock score and Steven Sater has provided equally impressive lyrics as well as a faithfully bold adaptation of the 1891 German Expressionist play by Frank Wedekind that the musical is based on.
The Disney production of Mary Poppins on Broadway plus Cameron Mackintosh equals supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Based on the classic 1964 Disney movie that won an Oscar for Julie Andrews in the title role, the musical that has been imported from London’s West End draws much of its dark magic from P.L. Travers’ original novel and is even better on Broadway. Here is a stylish vibrant family entertainment that promises to please not only the children but the adults as well.
The ingenuous new British import, “The 39Steps,” is a shamelessly silly spoof of the classic 1935 Alfred Hitchcock suspense thriller of the same name. Directed by Maria Aitken, the award winning West End production being presented by the Roundabout at their American Airlines Theater is a ditzy delight performed by an accomplished cast of four actors playing all the roles.
The musical In the Heights conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda (with music and lyrics by Miranda as well) is an infectious celebration of a Washington Heights neighborhood pulsating with Latin-American rhythms. Mr. Miranda’s songs blend rap, hip-hop, jazz, pop and salsa into a nostalgic love letter to his community, while making reverent nods to traditional show tunes .The combination is irresistible. And there is a bitter-sweet quality running through the entire evening that gives a soulful counterpoint to the jubilant production.
Making his Broadway debut with his dynamic new play August: Osage County, playwright Tracy Letts takes you on a thrilling ride that will not only leave you breathless, but keep you spellbound for nearly three and a half hours. “Fasten your seat belts because it’s going to be bumpy ride!” The playwright will let the venom spew in his gripping tale of the Weston clan that brings the dysfunctional family into the 21st Century.
The latest Disney Production to take up residency along The Great White Way is based on the magical Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Little Mermaid.” Disney turned the story into a classic 1989 animated film that b
oasts an Academy Award winning score and song, “Under the Sea,” by Alan Menken and his long time collaborator the late Howard Ashman. The two attained fame with their superb musical “Little Shop of Horrors” 25 years ago.
Legendary theater and cabaret performer Julie Wilson joined Mac & Bistro award winner Steven Brinberg, considered by many to be the definitive Barbra Streisand impressionist, for A Simply Barbra Holiday party at Symphony Space on Broadway at 95th Street, where the stage veterans joined forces for a heartfelt benefit/show for The Ali Forney Center. The evening also featuring Broadway’s Tituss Burgess from the Little Mermaid and The Broadway Boys was hosted by the star Barbra/Brinberg, who sang the bulk of the musical numbers including many of the Diva’s signature classics with a few entertaining twists.
On Broadway 13 a smooth coming of age tale geared toward kids around that age performed by an entire cast of enthusiastic teenagers, including the onstage band, is one for the whole family. The show boasts some catchy tunes and several good performances by the youngsters. Based on the show’s slick marketing and packaging, the kids may already be chomping at the bit to see 13. The musical could easily be the opening for some serious heart to heart time with your kids about values, empathy and the effect of our choices.
The Noble prize winning British playwright Harold Pinter, acclaimed for his dark menacing stories of bleak lives, passed away at 78 after a prolonged battle with cancer. He won the Noble Prize for literature in 2005 and his acceptance speech at the time was most profound. Just this past season, Pinter was represented on Broadway with a star studded revival of his classic The Homecoming.
Jamie deRoy & friends brought their charming "Holiday/Magic" to The Metropolitan Room where a host of talent including The Accidentals, Loni Ackerman, David Buskin, Julie Budd, Jake Holmes, Will & Anthony Nunziata, Oz Pearlman, Lee Roy Reams, and Caroline Rhea spun an array of entertaining spells in preparation of the season. Lee Roy Ream was in grand Broadway form with a melody of songs from "Holly Dolly" and some priceless imitations of the ladies who played her. Another highlight was the very funny take off on "The Grass is Always Greener" amusingly sung by Jamie and Loni.
Liza Minnelli brought her electrifying presence to Broadway in her new show “Liza’sAt The Palace…, " where the three time Tony Award winning superstar "razzle dazzled" the opening night audience with a confident, grity and of course magical display of showmanship. Liza’s very personal show plays tribute to her godmother Kay Thompson, who as vocal coach and arranger for MGM during that studio’s musical heyday period in the 1940s and 1950s taught Lena Horne and Judy Garland how to sing.
"Quiet please, there’s a lady on stage. She may not be the latest rage, But she’s singing and she means it; And she deserves a little silence…"
[Carole Bayer-Sager/Peter Allen]
Well, she didn’t get it!
The audience response was near pandemonium. After Liza with a Z took six bows, including ones with her pianist Billy Stritch, music director Michael Berkowitz and the 12-piece orchestra, she reluctantly left the stage, completely drained and wet from perspiration, wrapped in Stritch’s arms.