30 May 2008

Get Out of My head Mr. Writer Guy!

Okay, so a Mr. Robert J. Elisberg (whose other work I haven't read but looks interesting and not Musical-Theater related--Rich, I think you will like him) at the Huffington Post online put up an article all about...Fiorello!, the musical. The musical I love by Bock and Harnick. He loves it too. And no one loves it. Or, rather, no one has heard of it (which is largely the part of the article). Anyway, it's a brief and pithy article that doesn't need much more from me than a hearty recommendation. Maybe sometime this weekend I'll figure out a way to post a song or two (or, segments of songs) so you all can enjoy it.

So I was right...

Cubby Bernstein IS an ingenious and subversive marketing campaign for Xanadu.







Honestly, it's working on me. Check out Episode 3...but first watch this bit of nonsense lip-synched to the previously posted "Suddenly" Who is this kid who plays Cubby? Does he even get the humor. I mean, he must. In either case, someone needs to get him on Ugly Betty when it starts filming in NYC in the fall


28 May 2008

I Hope You're Sitting Down...

...there are wildly unsubstantianed rumors taken from little more than a passing comment from a cast member that there are plans for an UGLY BETTY MUSICAL!



If those adorable kids behind Xanadu get their mits on it, it could be the most fabulous thing in the history of mankind. If the Weisslers get their mits on it...it could be the most fabulous thing in the history of mankind...Starring Brooke Shields....or one of the anchors of Good Day New York. (That last detail is particularly upsetting, and reminds of that episode of Family Guy when Lois directs the community theater production of The King And I )



Blue Tooth!

Donald is going digital! And to prove it, I used magical Bluetooth technology to upload this video I took at Atlantic/Pacific Center. It is a little person dressed like Michael Jackson (when he was cool) dancing Billy Jean. It's short, but worth it.


video

21 May 2008

A New Reidel Report!



And Speaking of Passing Strange, here's a tidbit from NYMag Online About Stew at the Obies.


Stew is so cool.

20 May 2008

Happy Eliza Doolittle Day!

There is a line in "Just You Wait" from My Fair Lady when the imaginary King of England says "Next week, on the twentieth of May, I proclaim Eliza Doolittle Day". So here I am, celebrating. Naturally, the first choice is "Just You Wait", even though it really isn't my favorite song from the show (is it anyone's?). Click Here to see a full version of the song (which includes the line about Eliza Doolittle Day), but the clip below is far more interesting. It features Julie Andrews, in a rehearsal-type setting. For whatever reason they cut to the movie version for a bit, but at the end Rex Harrison comes in and has a brief chat with Julie.



Next is Julie Andrews (and friends) performing "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" on the Ed Sullivan show. By the way, she's like 21 here. I know, kinda makes you hate her.




And, of course, one of the most Wonderful songs in Musical Theaterdom, I Could Have Danced All Night. I actually thought there would be tons of wonderful High School/College clips of this one...but turns out, this delicate number is pretty easy to fuck up. It's easy to overplay, but hard to fill all that music. There are tons of clips of some joker namedJamie Cullum singing a weird jazz-ska-pop version. There's also an okay clip from a Brazilian production, but I'm going to have to defer to the movie version on this one. Audrey Hepburn really does a fine job...of acting. (But seriously, she does) And Marnie Nixon's hidden vocals are also pretty great. Enjoy.

19 May 2008

Hodge-Podge

1) I still don't know who is behind the brilliant Cubby Bernstein (see previous post), but part of me thinks it's actually a brilliant, toungue-in-cheek, viral marketing campaign for Xanadu. Even if that isn't the case, there really is much to admire in Xanadu. Not so much the material itself--though it is a LOT of fun, and I've enjoyed listening to it on my brandspankingnew iPod Shuffle--or even the fabulous performances, but the fact that 4 young producers are thinking outside of the box about how to get a show on Broadway. They had an idea, a crazy idea even, but they also had equally crazy ideas about how to make it work, including finding the right writer, director, and cast. If the Best Musical Tony award were to be thought of solely as a Producer's award, I would give it to these kids.



2) I saw a preview of SAVED, the new musical based on that movie with Mandy Moore and a wheelchair bound Culkin. It's probably poor form to speak in too much depth on a show still in previews, especially a musical, but I REALLY liked it. I would even go so far as to say I LOVED it. I found it very funny and moving and generally satisfying, well showing some very different relationships than are typically scene on the Musical Stage.

3) Um...the President of Gambia wants to behead all homosexuals found in his country. No, literally. Wow. Just...wow.

16 May 2008

The Funniest Thing I've Seen in a Long Time

Meet Cubby Bernstein, Tony Campaign Manager. Really, these videos speak for themselves. Enjoy them. Happy Friday. (And thanks to Diana, aka Lezbehonest, for bringing this to my attention.)

Episode 1


Episode 2

15 May 2008

Why STOP talking about Gyspy?

Here is a vintage feature from the NYTimes, chronically Tyne Daly's (mis)adventures on the road in a pre-Broadway tour of her 1989 bow as Momma Rose. Unlike all of Patti LuPone's interviews, which mainly consist of her being angry that she wasn't cast in everything ever, Daly is gracious and offers some great insight into the show, her role, and its evolution as it travels. Though she apparently didn't have the musical training to sing the role without ruining her voice, those who saw her have said she was magnificent. I can't really say that about LuPone--I feel like everyone is going ape-shit because it's fun to go ape-shit over Gypsy. Happy reading!

I linked to her performance of Rose's Turn in my last Gypsy post, so to mix it up, here's a vintage commercial from once it hit the Great White Way

14 May 2008

A New Reidel Report!

He takes on the Tony Noms. Some choice comments from Mr. Fierstein too...

'CATERED' SNUB
NO TONY AFFECTION FOR FIERSTEIN

It Keeps Going and Going and Going...

Hillary made a decisive victory in West Virginia, which means she ain't down yet. Call me crazy, but this is fun.

Speaking of fun, and ain't being down, here is Tammy Grimes singing a strange version of "I Ain't Down Yet" (from The Unsinkable Molly Brown on The Ed Sullivan Show (courtesy of my favorite place on the web, bluegobo.com). The song is by Meredith "The Music Man" Wilson, and its sentiment can pretty much be inferred from the title. But Ms. Grimes kinda looks like Hil in this clip, and there's a strange sung-spoke section (which begins at 2m40s) that seems like it could be Ms. Clinton's interior monologue this morning.

Can you imagine living in a world where this is not only on prime time TV, but on one of TV's most popular shows? I mean, it begins with a lengthy kazoo solo...










Oddly enough, Ms. Grimes is a republican.

13 May 2008

Tony Nominations!!!!!!!


What every good little homo waits for with an excitement usually reserved for Christmas, or a shirtless shot of Henry from Ugly Betty...The Tony Awards Nominations! Why are they so exciting‽ Because, the minute they are released, we are entitled, by birth right, to get into a fabulously dramatic tizzy of angst and anger, culminating in the assertion that (1) The Tony Awards are crap (2) Theater is going to hellinahandbasket (3) Perhaps we should try a "Younger Than Springtime" theme for this year's Tony party....

So, here are the nominees for the fun categories, plus what the "tizzy" will be, and the likely winner.

Best Play:
August: Osage County
Rock 'n' Roll
The Seafarer
The 39 Steps
The Tizzy: No real argument, though the 4 people who saw Is He Dead? and liked it might have some choice words.
The Winner: If you don't know then you should stop reading now. You are simply hopelessly out of the loop. But I'll give you a hint. The one with the colon will win everything.


Best Musical:
Cry-Baby
In the Heights
Passing Strange
Xanadu
The Tizzy: Cry-Baby? No one likes it. No one has seen it. There was talk that they might even close up shop during previews. And it beats out a show by Harvey Firestein directed by John Doyle (A Catered Affair)? The Tony Awards are crap, theater is going to hellinahandbasket
The Winner: In The Heights and Passing Strange both got love letters from the press. Heights seemed to be in the lead for awhile, but they must've blown their marketing budget or something because I haven't heard anything about it for awhile. These two shows are going to war.


Best Book of a Musical
Cry-Baby, Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan
In the Heights, Quiara Alegria Hudes
Passing Strange, Stew
Xanadu, Douglas Carter Beane
The Tizzy: No real argument, lines up with the Best Musical Nominees. (Though Fierstein's snub is doubly felt here)
The Winner: Passing Strange. Even though it's book is not entirely traditional, Heights's maudlin book has been it's chief criticism.


Best Original Score
Cry-Baby, Music & Lyrics: David Javerbaum & Adam Schlesinger
In The Heights, Music & Lyrics: Lin-Manuel Miranda
The Little Mermaid, Music: Alan Menken and Lyrics: Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater
Passing Strange, Music: Stew and Heidi Rodewald Lyrics: Stew
The Tizzy: I'll give you a hint. It has fins. This is seriously a direct snub of both A Catered Affair, which doesn't deserve it, and Young Frankenstein which does. (Did you even notice it was missing from the previous nominations?)
The Winner: Toss up between Heights and Passing.


Best Revival of a Play
Boeing-Boeing
The Homecoming
Les Liaisons Dangereueses
Mabceth
The Tizzy: Most people consider Top Girls, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Come Back Little Sheba better than Liaisons.
The Winner: McB


Best Revival of a Musical
Grease
Gypsy
South Pacific
Sunday in the Park With George
The Tizzy: That, even though there are four slots and only four eligible revivals, Grease wasn't shut out.
The Winner: Will it be the oft revived, and almost foolproof, Gypsy, or the tricky Pacific, which, on Broadway for the first time in 50 years, is the hottest ticket in town? It will get ugly, but I'm going to go ahead and pick the one with shirtless sailors.


Best Performance By a Leading Actor in a Play
Ben Daniels, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Laurence Fishburne, Thurgood
Mark Rylance, Boeing-Boeing
Rufus Sewell, Rock 'n' Roll
Patrick Stewart, Macbeth
The Tizzy It was a loaded catergory with potential nominees. Morgan Freeman's absence is notable (as it the lack of attention for The Country Girl anywhere else on this list), same for Kevin Kline (and his Cyrano), and those 4 people who saw Is He Dead Yet? might get uppity again, but this list is pretty fair.
The Winner: Patrick Stewart


Best Performance By a Leading Actress in a Play
Eve Best, The Homecoming
Deanna Dunagan, August: Osage County
Kate Fleetwood, Macbeth
S. Epatha Merkerson, Come Back, Little Sheba
Amy Morton, August: Osage County
The Tizzy: No tizzy. They got this one right.
The Winner Toss up between the August ladies. Dunagan has the showy part, but Amy has the bigger arc and carries a 4-hour evening. My vote would go to Morton, but I don't have a vote, so, who knows?


Best Performance By a Leading Actor in a Musical
Daniel Evans, Sunday in the Park With George
Lin-Manuel Miranda, In the Heights
Stew, Passing Strange
Paulo Szot, South Pacific
Tom Wopat, A Catered Affair
The Tizzy: I'm sure Roger Bart's mother must be upset, but this is a pretty fair list. I wouldn't mind seeing Cheyenne Jackson naked...I mean, nominated, but, um....moving on
The Winner: Lin-Manuel Miranda. But if Heights ends up sweeping, Stew could take home an award so Passing doesn't have to go home empty handed. Think David Hyde Pierce in Curtains.


Best Performance By a Leading Actress in a Musical
Kerry Butler, Xanadu
Patti LuPone, Gypsy
Kelli O'Hara, South Pacific
Faith Prince, A Catered Affair
Jenna Russell, Sunday in the Park With George
The Tizzy: I love seeing Kerry Butler on this list. Others might not. But really, who else would it be?
The Winner: Catfight! Should it be newly crowned Broadway Star O'Hara, or the LegerdaryPattiLuPone? Maybe some people might take umbrage to the fact that LuPone's name is bigger than the title on the Gypsy poster. Maybe some people think Kelli O'Hara is overrated and bland. Maybe a tie?


Best Performance By a Featured Actor in a Play
Bobby Cannavale, Mauritius
Raúl Esparza, The Homecoming
Conleth Hill, The Seafarer
Jim Norton, The Seafarer
David Pittu, Is He Dead?
The Tizzy: The only thing I can think of is those 4 people who saw Is He Dead?
The Winner: No clue. Maybe Raúl will get this as a consolation prize for losing to Niles Crane last year.


Best Performance By a Featured Actress in a Play
Sinead Cusack, Rock 'n' Roll
Mary McCormack, Boeing-Boeing
Laurie Metcalf, November
Martha Plimpton, Top Girls
Rondi Reed, August: Osage County
The Tizzy: Well, you can't nominate the entire cast of Top Girls, so this is the best ya can do.
The Winner: Martha Plimpton. New York loves her.


Best Performance By a Featured Actor in a Musical
Daniel Breaker, Passing Strange
Danny Burstein, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific
Robin De Jesús, In The Heights
Christopher Fitzgerald, The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein
Boyd Gaines, Gypsy
The Tizzy: No complaints.
The Winner: It probably should be Boyd Gaines, but he already has 3, so people might give it to Fitzgerald for being the only entertaining thing in that Mel Brooks show he was in.


Best Performance By a Featured Actress in a Musical
de'Adre Aziza, Passing Strange
Laura Benanti, Gypsy
Andrea Martin, The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein
Olga Merediz, In The Heights
Loretta Ables Sayre, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific
The Tizzy: Where's Leslie Kritzer (A Catered Affair)? Not that it matters because...
The Winner:...Benanti has it in the bag, and deserves it. Bitch was fierce.


Best Direction of a Play
Maria Aitken, The 39 Steps
Conor McPherson, The Seafarer
Anna D. Shapiro, August: Osage County
Matthew Warchus, Boeing-Boeing
The Tizzy: I'm assuming those 4 people who saw Is He Dead? have tuned out by now.
The Winner: Dollars to donuts it's Anna D


Best Direction of a Musical
Sam Buntrock, Sunday in the Park with George
Thomas Kail, In The Heights
Arthur Laurents, Gypsy
Bartlett Sher, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific
The Tizzy: This is a weird list. 3 out of 4 nominees are for revivals, rather dismissing the director's role in shaping new work. Annie Dorsen, Passing Strange's helmer, is missing, which seems a bad omen for their chances of winning The Big One. Instead we get Arthur Laurents, who's directed his show (which he also wrote, albeit brilliantly) twice.
The Winner: Thomas Kail might win, just for working with new material, but I have a feeling they'll give it to Bartlet Sher.

12 May 2008

A New Word

As I approach the end of watching Murder One, I realized there was no word to describe my anticipated emotion: a mixture of satisfaction, even victory, at having watched the entire thrilling ordeal, and sadness that it is over. So I propose we add this word to the english cannon:

Sadisfied. adj. Maliase after reaching an appropriate end that still fails to satiate the hunger created by and for that which was just finished.

I'll talk to the folks at the SAT when I have a chance.

09 May 2008

Violet! You're turning violet, Violet!


About a year ago I got the cast recording to the show Violet with music by Jeanine "Caroline, or Change" Tesori and book and lyrics by Brian Crawley. Since then I've been OBSESSED with the song "On My Way". Also, since about then, I've been OBSESSED with looking up amature performances of songs I'm OBSESSED with on YouTube. Since it's a Friday, and we all want to kill time, Imma share some of these with you.

The premise of Violet: A young girl, named Violet, is hit in the face with an ax when she is young and has a huge scar. (Traditional productions don't show the scar, but rather have the actress "mime" it.) As a young woman, she decides to travel by bus to visit a Evangelist/Faith Healer. Personal growth ensues. "On My Way" happens early in the show, at the beginning of her journey. Note: If anyone has a clue as to what the lyric "His wife thinks I'm a dragon-fly Lord, you've got to help me find my way" means, please help. I think it may refer to the singer's son, but it's left me bothered and bewildered for months.

First up is my favorite of the available clips, from University of Miami. The video quality is not so hot, but the sound is pretty good. They seem to capture the delicate, wistful nature of the show perfectly, and nail the orgasmic choral section (I almost cried a little bit, the build-up begins at 3m26s). I also enjoy the "bus turns". A classy offering, if a bit static.


Slightly less successful, in my opinion, is this version from PACE University. They approach the material with a decidedly heavier hand, have slightly forced vocals, and reduce the pit to a piano and percussion. As a result, the chorgasm isn't quite as strong, but it's a much more kinetic production than Miami's, and I think their leading lady has tons of personality. I also love they way they incorporate the Young Violet in this production.


Then, because it's Friday and we're all over it, here are some honorable mentions:
  • A bit of Sutton Foster singing a solo version. She sounds great, but a solo version is kinda pointless, depsite her noble effort.
  • A group called "Broadway Boys" doing a sort of Broadway Boy Band version. If you watch this one you either really hate your job, really LOVE this song, really love being a gay man, or any combination of the above.

08 May 2008

Glory DAY


So the producers of Glory Days, that musical by a coupla 23 years olds about the major life changes that happen after 1 year of college, decided that Opening Night would also be its last performance. As much as I knew this was an ill-fated venture from the get go, closing on opening night puts it up there with Moose Murders, and I really didn't expect it to be THAT bad.

Though the reviews were uniformly negative, they were generally kind, or at least diplomatic, to these poor child-authors (who never really asked for their little show to be blown up and thrown in front of New York critics and audiences who, deservedly, simply expect more than what these guys have to offer). Ben Brantley's assesment of the evening and its shortcomings is really masterful.

Director Eric Schaeffer, Artistic Director of the Signature Theater in DC where Glory Days premiered, should--and probably will--take the rap for this. I get the impression that he's somewhat of an egomaniac, eager to be a Big Deal in NYC. Well, he's certainly getting his name in a lot a papers with this one.

Hubris, Mr. Schaeffer, is not becoming on you. And trust me, if I were on you, I would not be coming either. Do not give this man $10 mil to do ANYTHING.

07 May 2008

A New Reidel Report!

He talks about Mario Lopez in A Chorus Line, and his pride/insecurity about his muscles. Fabulous.

ARMS AND THE MAN
A RIGHT TO BARE ARMS LOPEZ'S HUNKIER FLUNKY COVERS UP

The BEST Momma Rose

There's an article at Broadwaystars discussing the Mer-bashing in the program of the current Gypsy revival. But here is a clip (put on YouTube by some sort of angel) of Angela Lansbury as Rose. I think she puts Patti, Bernadette, Bette, and Tyne to shame (I'm not even going to mention the Rosiland Russell/Lisa Kirk hybrid performance). Angie sings it like no other, and acts it to kingdom come. It's easy to say Ethel Merman wasn't "an actor", but I'd like to hear Laurents say anything deragatory about this performance.

In this montage you get most of "Some People" (fabulous). Starting at 2m16s we get a bit of "Together Wherever We Go" (fine, would've rather seen something else, but I am loathe to complain...). Finally, at 4m25s, we get the end of "Rose's Turn" (absoutely haunting, a real, Musical Theater breakdown). I wonder if this clip implies there's more out there. I want it. I want it all. Enjoy.


06 May 2008

5 Ways to Spend Your Economic Stimulous Check

1) Buy Everything Suze Orman has written. Sure, she has so much crap you'll probably spend more than you got, but at least you'll know what to do the next time the government gives everyone "free" money. Also, she teached you how to feel good about yourself, even with bad hair.


2) Sushi Pillows! They're so cute.

3) Tickets to Passing Strange. It's good, and I want it to have your dollars.


4) Dinner at Frankie's in Carroll Gardens. It's delicious. But a word to the wise, don't show up at 8:00 on a Saturday night with a table of 4 and expect to sit down soon. Order anything. Then eat it. All of it.

5) Be a Scientologist for a day. (Not, you will not be able to afford this option unless you get the maximum stimulous check.) You might get to meet Jenna Elfman, she's such a free spirit!

05 May 2008

More About Gay Methodists

Here's more about Gays and the Methodist Convention, from towleroad.com about 2 women who married each other accross the street from the convention.

The Best Show You Didn't Watch

In the fall of 1995, in full wake of the OJ Simpson Murder Trial, ABC began airing a somewhat unconventional lawyer show, Murder One.

What is uncovnetional is not the fact that the leading man has absolutely no hair anywhere (alopecia?), but rather that the entire 1st season focuses on one case. Apparently the prolonged Simpson proceedings made producers realize that this was possible.

Of course, unlike the Simpson case, there is not an overwhelming mountain of evidence proving the fictional defendant's (a Hollywood heart-throb actor named Neil Avedon) guilt. There is, in fact, an incredibly sexy Stanly Tucci as a sleazy, conspiratorial, billionaire with shadowy intentions who probably has more to do with the "Goldilocks Murder" (as the case is dubbed by the fictional media) than he lets on.

In addition to Tucci and The Bald Guy, we get Dylan Baker, some guest spots from Donna Murphy (with terrible hair), and this guy John Fleck who brought a lawsuit against the NEA in the early 90s when they said his performance art was indecent and unfundable

I admit, I am only about 20% through the season, but it has been engrossing. True, it is a little "old school" (this was made before HBO taught us we could make TV shows that look like movies, and not TV shows), and the other cases the firm deals with on a weekly basis, though interesting, are more of a conventional throw-back to what you would expect from LA Law or The Practice. And it does come off as a bit pretentious and even preachy at times. But, thus far, Murder One has been fascinating and addictive.

In 1995, before TV on DVD, DVR or iTunes, a show like Murder One, with its cumulative plot line, didn't really stand much of a chance. Those who missed the beginning episodes, or a week here and there were lost, and ratings were low.

(The producers apparently thought they could solve this is the second season by focusing on 3 cases, each of which would take up 8 episodes. They also replaced the bald buy with Andy Garcia. I do not plan on watching that season.)

But the good news is, Season One of Murder One is on DVD, or you can watch it for free at Hulu.com (though you will have to deal with a lot of Chili's commercials and buffering).

Here's a YouTube video of the aforementioned John Fleck. On Murder One, he's some sort of assistant and usually tells Bald Guy that someone is waiting to see him. But he's an intriguing presence nonetheless.

01 May 2008

What My Dad thinks About Gays....sorta


Okay, this is not actually about what my dad (aka The Rev) thinks about gays, but it is about the latest Methodist Convention, and their official rulings on assorted gay issues. The article at towleroad.com has more details (and links to "real" news sources).

1st, some personal knowledge of what a Methodist Conference is like. It involves a bunch of methodists in an under-ventilated room treating the Methodist Church like Congress, bringing what are essentially "bills" before the Conference, followed by a debate wherein people line up at microphones to say, at length, what someone before them already said. The end result is an "official" standing of the Methodist church, which can largely be accepted or ignored by respective pastors within his/her own congregation. These conventions are really just about press releases, getting The Methodist Church in the paper, like they're Episcopalian or something.

Here's how it went down, with a modicum of commentary on my end.

Approved, 517-416, keeping the statement that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.
--Honestly, I think the "disapprovers" showed well...almost 45% of the vote. That's pretty good for an ultimately traditional, Christ-based faith. And the fact that they bring this (and the other issues up) every year at these conventions I take as a measure of good faith. It looks possible that, within my lifetime, the Methodist Church may have a majority of "approvers".

Rejected, 574-298, a measure that would have changed the church's definition of marriage to include same-sex unions.-Basically, between the first question and this one, 57 people changed sides, and 61 abstained (courteously). Fascinating.

Approved, 544-365, a resolution opposing homophobia and discrimination against lesbians or gays.--It looks like a decisive victory for this battle (though perhaps not decisive enough) but in the context of the war, I think it is significant that this bill was approved with almost as many votes as the Definition of Marriage bill was denied.

So there we have it. The Methodists aren't ready to love the gays, but they're on their way. And there is at least one pastor in Northeast Ohio who is on the right track.

And here is a little video from a film called The Sentinel that may perhaps give us a glimpse into the mind of red-state perception of gay culture.

By the way, the one who looks like a drag queen is Sylvia Miles, who once dumped a bowl of pasta on theater critic John Simon's head after he panned one of her performances. Can we say tranny fierce?

May!