There’s No Broadway for the Moment But There’s Parody, (More) Untold Stories, No Shortage of Vinyl, and More…
By: Ellis Nassour
A Titanic Event! Or Close To It
March 29, 2021 — Tony-winning producer Eva Price (Jagged Little Pill, Oklahoma! revival) and premium streaming platform Stellar announced tickets are on sale for the irreverent parody concert, Titanique: The Maiden Voyage, to telecast Sunday, May 2, at 7:30 P.M. E. It will be “ the irresistibly funny and irreverent new musical send-up of the blockbuster film Titanic via the song catalog of pop icon Celine Dion.”
The concert, which will to be telecast live from Greenwich Village’s Le Poisson Rouge, follows sold-out pop-up engagements in L.A. and here, where it won cabaret awards and raves.
Want to find out what really happened to Jack and Rose on that fateful, fearsome, freezing night? Dion is going to tell you – pop icon-style. Though details are sketchy, this much is known: “It will be a hysterical, totally wild and joyful slay-fest that recharts the course of Titanic’s beloved moments through the magic of Dion’s chart-topping songs.”
There’ll be powerhouse renditions of such Dion chart-toppers as “My Heart Will Go On,” “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” “All By Myself”, and “To Love You More,” backed by the energy of a band.
Starring are Marla Mindelle (South Pacific) as Celine, Constantine Rousouli (Wicked) as Jack Dawson, Alex Ellis (Thoroughly Modern Millie) as Rose DeWitt Bukater, Frankie J. Grande (Rock of Ages, Mamma Mia) as Thomas Anderson, the Titanic architect, and Kathy Deitch (Wicked) as unsinkable Molly Brown. Additional characters everyone will look forward to include the Iceberg Bitch.
Titanique’s director and cowriter is Tye Blue (Rumer Willis’ Over the Love tour; associate producer, RuPaul’s Drag Race); co-writers are Mindelle and Rousouli, with choreography by Ellenore Scott (Little Shop of Horrors), and music supervision, arrangements, and orchestrations by Nicholas Connell.
Purchase tickets at StellarTickets.com for $25 through April 11; general admission will then be $29. VIP packages include a meet & greet with the cast and cocktail mixer kits from Shaker & Spoon: “The Jack and Rose,” “The Sip of Dreams,” or “The [Never Made It to] Manhattan.” They’re available through Audience Rewards, and at StellarTickets.com.
For information, including lifeboat reservations, contact the ship’s pursor at www.titaniquemusical.com, @titaniquemusical (IG) or @titanique (TW). The concert can be streamed on any computer browser), mobile web, the Stellar Android or iOS app, and on TV via the Stellar app on Apple TV, Fire TV, and Roku.
You Know Things Are Groovy When R&H Go Pop
Craft Records and Concord Theatricals have released R&H Goes Pop!, a digital album featuring contemporary takes on timeless Rodgers & Hammerstein classics. The 15 tracks feature Broadway’s brightest and a very special guest star honoring the composers of Carousel, Oklahoma!, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music – in addition to Rodgers’ No Strings, with takes ranging from pop and rock to R&B and country.
The iconic songs, include “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’,” “We Kiss in a Shadow,” “Something Wonderful,” “This Nearly Was Mine,” “Younger Than Springtime,” and “Shall We Dance?”
The performers are Jelani Alladin, Gavin Creel, Ariana DeBose, Matt Doyle, Jeremy Jordan, Derek Klena, Katrina Lenk, Ryan McCartan, and Kyle Selig.
The “Some Enchanted Evening” track is sung by special guest Andy Mientus (CW’s The Flash, Smash), who also appears in the music video (Notice Pictures), which also features Dyllón Burnside (FX’s Pose), Michael McElroy, and John Cameron Mitchell. It was directed by two-time Tony nominee Michael Arden.
“I was absolutely gobsmacked when the R&H team agreed to let me tackle ‘Some Enchanted Evening,’ one of my favorites and an undeniably immortal hit,” said Mientus. “I wanted to make a version that felt as romantic for a new generation as the original must have felt in 1949. To me, romance is a crowded after-hours party and the kind of moody, sensual pop you might hear there. For arranger and producer, I asked my frequent collaborator, Van Hughes, to help bring my sonic idea to life.
“I hope that we’ll be able to have crowded rooms again soon,” he adds, “and that someone might meet their stranger there with this legendary song as the soundtrack.”
Behind Closed Doors and Curtains
How have shows like Fiddler on the Roof, Falsettos, A Raisin in the Sun, and Hair fought for social justice through art? Who are the groundbreaking artists whose names have been forgotten but should be remembered? What are the funniest bloopers from Les Misérables and the craziest legends from Studio 54? How have American politics have affected theater in the last century, from the Federal Theatre Project to satirizing presidents on stage? How has Broadway made it through tough times and remained the heart of NYC? Don’t guess. You won’t have to, because she’s back and ready to reveal all! Jennifer, that is.
The new volume of Jennifer Ashley Tepper’s series The Untold Stories of Broadway (Dress Circle Publishing) arrives as we commemorate the first anniversary of the 2020-2021 Broadway shutdown.
“During this time of great adversity for our industry,” says Tepper, “when we’ve been shut down for a year, I wanted to create and share more about Broadway’s essential nature and how special our community is. Theater people have always come together and persevered through tough times. This has been one of the toughest, and how appropriate it is to shine a light on this moment we’re living through.”
In Volume Four, producer and self-appointed historian Tepper provides another oral history of the Broadway we know and the Broadway we don’t know. She takes readers behind-and-in-front-of the-curtain of the Friedman, Golden, Imperial, Jacobs, Minskoff, and Studio 54 and into the offices and conference rooms.
Tepper illuminates Broadway with over 30 new interviews filled with juicy anecdotes, nostalgia, and inspiring tales – all told through the eyes of more than 200 who bring the theater to life each performance: producers, directors, actors, writers, musicians, set/costume/sound designers, music directors, company managers, dressers, stagehands, front-of-house staff, press agents, and ad executives
She goes a step further in Four to remember one of the stormiest times in New York theater: the controversial 1982 demolition of five theatres.
The previous volumes have occupied the #1 spot on Amazon.com’s Best Sellers List in Broadway & Musicals.
To order, The Untold Stories of Broadway, Volume 4 visit www.dresscirclepublishing.com. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Broadway Advocacy Coalition, the theater community’s response to the nation’s pandemic of racism and police brutality.
Broadway Records Previews the Musical Grumpy Old Men
Something that’s been in the works for a while seems to be heading our way or at least to the stage: the musical adaptation of the 1993 WB film Grumpy Old Men, which starred Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, and Ann-Margret. The musical has book by Dan Remmes, music by Neil Berg, and lyrics by former MAD editor Nick Meglin.
The world premiere studio recording (Broadway Records) features vocals are by Ed Dixon, Mark Jacoby, Leslie Stevens, Sally Struthers, Hal Linden, Brenda Braxton, and a large ensemble.
The plot centers on two lovably crotchety, aging, and feuding men, Max (Dixon) and John (Jacoby) who’re invigorated by their new neighbor, beautiful and eccentric Ariel (Stevens).
Grumpy Old Men is available from digital retailers and on BroadwayRecords.com.
The Big Broadway Vinyl Comeback
This is third new vinyl release following last December’s Matilda double album from Broadway Records on blue vinyl and February’s The Color Purple double album on purple vinyl. There are more to come. Here are the newest additions.
Stage Entertainment is presenting Tina – The Tina Turner Musical: Original Cast Recording (Ghostlight Records) on vinyl. The show is nominated for 12 2020 Tonys, including Best Musical and Lead Actress. Featured are Tony and Olivier Award nominee Adrienne Warren and the original London cast. It includes liner notes, synopsis, and production and studio photos. The album is produced by music supervisor Nicholas Skilbeck and Kurt Deutsch, and co-produced by Tom Kelly
Tina – The Tina Turner Musical opened on Broadway in November 2019 to huge box office and raves such as “Tina is one fine specimen in the best showbiz tradition of the Great Big Broadway Musical! The music is fantastic, the staging is deluxe … Adrienne Warren is sensational,” Variety; “Everywhere you look there’s movement and character work and razzle-dazzle. Director Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia) and her choreographer Anthony Van Laast blow our minds,” New York Magazine/Vulture.
The musical, intertwining the career and torrid life of legendary Tina Turner had its world premiere in April 2018 on the West End, breaking box office records at the Aldwych Theatre. A Hamburg production opened last Spring in Hamburg; and another is set to open in Utrecht, the Netherlands.
After the show’s London opening, The Times raved, “A raw musical triumph. This show has heart, soul, and more than a bit of rock’n’roll.” The Guardian hailed Tina – The Tina Turner Musical as “a celebration of triumph over adversity … As good as it gets!” and BBC News hailed Warren as “a 24-carat, all-singing, all- dancing, bona fide star.”
In her transformation into the global Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Turner didn’t just break the rules, she rewrote them. This musical, presented in association with Turner, reveals the untold story of a woman who dared to defy the bounds of her age, gender and race.
Some of the show-stopping tracks from the vinyl release: “Let’s Stay Together,” “I Want to Take You Higher,””River Deep – Mountain High,” “We Don’t Need Another Hero.” “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” “Private Dancer,” “What’s Love Got to Do with It?”and the hot, hot, hot finale featuring a knock-out “Proud Mary.”
The limited-edition original cast double-record vinyl release of the 2018 Tony (Best Revival) and Grammy-nominated Once on This Island (Broadway Records) is available set on orange vinyl. It includes an insert with notes and production photos, cast, a stunning a gatefold cover, and track list.
Once on This Island received the 2018 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical as well as seven Tony Award nominations, including best lead actress in a musical (Hailey Kilgore, Broadway debut) and best direction of a musical (Michael Arden, Spring Awakening revival).
Lynn Ahrens (Book and Lyrics) and Stephen Flaherty (Music)’s Once On This Island is based on Rosa Guy’s novel My Love, My Love., a tale of a tropical village devastated by a storm and transposed into a fantastical world alive with powerful island gods, first love, divided cultures, and hope.
The production featured new and Tony-nominated new orchestrations by original orchestrator Michael Starobin, joined by AnnMarie Milazzo. The recording is produced by Ahrens, Flaherty, Elliott Scheiner, Hunter Arnold, Ken Davenport, and WitzEnd Productions.
The Circle in the Square burst with memorable Caribbean rhythms, vibrant dance, and stunning Tony-nominated set design (Dana Laffrey) under Tony-nominated director Michael Arden and choreography by Camille A. Brown.
The musical features Tony nominee Phillip Boykin (Porgy and Bess), Merle Dandridge, Quentin Earl Darrington (2009 Ragtime; upcoming MJ), Kilgore , Kenita R. Miller, Alex Newell, Tony winner Lea Salonga, and a colorful/talented ensemble.
Tracks include “Waiting for Life,” “And the Gods Heard Her Prayer,” “Rain,” “Forever Yours,” “Ti Moune,” “Mama Will Provide,” “The Human Heart,” “A Part of Us,” and “Why We Tell the Story.”
Order vinyl Once on this Island from music retailers, including Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
April Flowers Bring May Flowers — and New John Lloyd Young Concert
Following the success of his livestream concerts from The Space in Las Vegas, Tony and Grammy-winner John Lloyd Young returns on Saturday, May 1 with John Lloyd Young By Request: Live from Las Vegas, another up close and personal concert but with a unique twist. The song line-up will be chosen entirely by fans. The 75-minute concert will, of course, also include favorites from his R&B, rock, doo-wop, Broadway, and of course, Jersey Boys repertoire.
The May 1 concert begins at 9 PM E/6 PM P with the virtual VIP after-party starting at 10:45 P.M. E/7:45 P.M. P. On the post-show, Young and long-time music director Tommy Faragher will workshop requests for songs fans wish to hear.
“It’s been a long-haul during Covid but there seems to be some light over the horizon,” says Young. “As a thank you to loyal fans and friends, I wanted to turn May 1 over to them to decide which songs they want to hear. The entire evening will be fashioned by them.”
Send requests at www.johnlloydyoung.com and his social media channels (Twitter: @GenuineJLY, Instagram: @johnlloydyoung, and JLY Facebook fan page, John Lloyd Young Friends).
Young is the Tony and Grammy Award-winning star of Broadway’s Jersey Boys as well as Clint Eastwood’s film adaptation. He’s the only American actor to have received Lead Actor honors in a Broadway musical: Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle. Young has performed at the White House, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Hollywood Bowl, Cafe Carlyle, Feinstein’s/54 Below, Feinstein’s at the Nikko (San Francisco), and Feinstein’s at Vitello’s (L.A.). He served as a member of President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, and worked on programs with former First Lady Michele Obama.
Grammy-nominee Faragher is producer of the #1 Billboard hit “Teenage Dream” from TV’s Glee, and has produced/written for artists Al Green, the O’Jays, Celine Dion, and Young’s soul album My Turn.
John Lloyd Young By Request: Live from Las Vegas concert is $30; with concert and after-party, $100. The concert will be available for purchase OnDemand for one week. Purchase at www.thespacelv.com.
Classic Musical Film Adaptations on DVD/Blu-ray
Annie Get Your Gun (M-G-M,1950; 107 minutes)
Golden Globe-nominated Betty Hutton, in the role Judy Garland was to play and Doris Day, Ginger Rogers, and Judy Canova wanted to play, and golden-voice tenor Howard Keel (Show Boat) star in this funfest based on the 1,147-performance Broadway smash boasting Irving Berlin’s beloved score, including “Anything You Can Do,” “I Got the Sun in the Morning,” “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun,””The Girl That I Marry,” “They Say That It’s Wonderful,” “Moonshine Lullaby,” and “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” As produced by Arthur Freed, directed by George Sidney, and seen and heard in this new, this lavish, spirited production showcases songs and performances, earning an Oscar for Best Scoring/Music (Adolph Deutsch, Roger Edens). The story focuses on the romance of buckshot rivals Annie Oakley and Frank Butler. Love finally conquers all, proving that you can get a man with a gun.
Bonus features: Subtitles, Susan Lucci retrospective and introduction (from 2000 DVD); Reissue trailer; Outtakes; Stereo pre-recording session tracks including: “Let’s Go West Again,” Hutton, which Berlin wrote for the film and which was deleted; “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly” and “I’m an Indian, Too,” Garland; “Colonel Buffalo Bill,” Howard Keel, Frank Morgan; and “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” Garland. 1080p HD Master Sourced from 4K scan of original nitrate Technicolor negatives; HD presentation DTS HD-Master Audio 2.0; Aspect ratio: 1.37:1 4×3 Full frame.
Calamity Jane (WB; 1953; 101 minutes)
Jack Warner of Warner Bros. attempted to buy rights to the Annie Get Your Gun as a vehicle for Doris Day. Bidding was fierce. In the end M-G-M’s Louis B. Mayer outbid him. Warner swore revenge. Three years later, Doris Day got her opportunity, playing another sharp shooting female wildcat as a Deadwood territory Indian Scout in Calamity Jane opposite Howard Keel, as Wild Bill Hickcock. He who must have felt a sense of déjà vu since the film was quite similar in theme to Annie Get Your Gun. However, it’s considered one of the best film musicals and one of Day’s best. The score by Paul Francis Webster and Sammy Fain includes the opening “The Deadwood Stage (Whip-Crack-Away),” the Day/Keel duet “I Can Do Without You” – no doubt inspired by “Anything You Can Do” — and “Secret Love,” which became a huge hit for Day, and won the Best Song Oscar.
Broadway Melody of 1940 (M-G–M; 1940; 102 minutes; B&W)
Broadway happy-go-lucky hopeful (dancer par excellence Fred Astaire) is ready to dash onstage until a mix-up gives the job to his partner. Give up, move away? No way. Another example of Broadway hopes dashed? Not when Johnny. Watch him outmaneuver ‘em all; and to a sparkling Cole Porter scored, clever comedy and dance (Astaire and the legendary Queen of Tap Eleanor Powell, who gives as good as she gets from the King…and does it backwards). This was the last in the Broadway Melody series, and it’s one to remember. Powell’s nautical “All Ashore” routine (a/k/a “I Am the Captain”), the boogie woogie tap medley, Astaire’s duet with a piano, his blissful “I’ve Got My Eyes on You”; and the duo’s mesmerizing and elaborate “I Concentrate On You” are mere warm-ups for the leads to take their dazzling tap finale, the classic “Begin the Beguine,” into cinema history books. As ole blue eyes said in the studio’s That’s Entertainment!, “You can wait around and hope, but you’ll never see the likes of this again.”
Hoofer George Murphy and Frank Morgan co-star. Bonus features: Making-of featurette “Begin the Beguine” (hosted by the one and only Ann Miller); Our Gang Comedies: The Big Premiere; M-G-M cartoon: The Milky Way; Original trailer (HD). Subtitles; 2021 1080p HD Master sourced from 4K scan of nitrate preservation elements; DTS HD-Master Audio 2.0.
Videos are available at www.wbshop.com/warnerarchive, where you can often find bargains, and online retailers.
Did You Catch …
CBS Sunday Morning is a popular and addictive Sunday morning treat, more often than not hosted by Jane Pauley. Until the pandemic closed Broadway, it was one of producers’ favorite programs to promote their shows. In a sign that Broadway will be returning, last Sunday Six ran an ad letting viewers know it will, too.
Sunday there were treats for theater fans:
Tracy Smith interviewed Leslie Odom Jr., one of the Tony winners for Len-Manuel Miranda’s landmark Best Musical/Pulitzer Prize winning Hamilton, where he portrayed Aaron Burr. He’s gone on to land two Oscar nods for the fictional drama One Night in Miami, where he plays famed blues and pop recording artist Sam Cooke. Tracy Smith talks with Odom about his remarkable career, starting with his teenage debut in Broadway’s Rent.
Mo Rocca interviewed three-time Tony-nominee and Oscar-nominated/Golden Globe-winner Brenda Vaccaro, a still-animated, raspy-voiced 81, in a unique Brooklyn setting. She’s quite frank about loss, her “rolling joint” days, and years-long affair with and “marriage” to a stellar filmdom actor/producer.
Vaccaro made her TV debut in 1961 and has guested/starred regularly for over 40 years (including a stint on Friends as Joey’s mom). She’s remembered for two controversial films: 1975’s adaptation of Jacqueline Susann’s novel Once Is Not Enough (Supporting Actress nod/Golden Globe win), opposite Kirk Douglas; and 1969’s Oscar winning X-rated (a first) Midnight Cowboy, starring Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight, for which she received a GG Featured nomination.
In 1961, she also made her Broadway debut in the short-lived Everybody Loves Opal. After two more brief runs, she hit pay dirt in Neil Simon’s 1966 Cactus Flower (Featured Actress nod), opposite Lauren Bacall and Barry Nelson; and in 1967, directed by legendary George Abbott, she wowed audiences as a Wall Street tour guide (Best Actress nod) in Elmer Bernstein, Carolyn Leigh, and Max Shulman’s How Now, Dow Jones opposite Tony Roberts and, in his third Broadway outing, Tommy Tune. [Stepping in as uncredited choreographer was young Michael Bennett. Much-troubled enroute to New York, it ended up winning the Tony for Best Musical.]
Vaccaro co-starred (Best Actress nod) with Milton Berle in 1968’s short-lived Herb Gardner comedy The Goodbye People. She took over as Olive in November 1985 in Simon’s The Odd Couple. In 1992, she returned for her last Broadway performance in Simon’s hit Jake’s Women, which starred Alan Alda.