30 June 2009

Perviously at The O'Neill

My friend Lowy (also at The O'Neill with me) directed me to this video on IN THE HEIGHT's time here. Pretty interesting if you have even a passing interest in the show (or The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford CT)

from the info section:
This video is for the Heights superfans. Here are some home videos of our two weeks developing In The Heights at the O'Neill Theater Center in July 2005.

Some choice nuggets of cut songs, and old friends.

Our cast at the O'Neill:

Usnavi . . . Javier Munoz
Nina . . . Natalie Cortez
Benny . . . Chris Jackson
Vanessa . . . Sheena Ortiz
Kevin . . . Rick Negron
Camila . . . Nancy Ticotin
Daniela . . . Monica Salazar
Carla . . . Janet Dacal
Abuela Claudia . . . Doreen Montalvo
Sonny . . . Robin DeJesus
Graffiti Pete/Piragua Guy . . . Matt Saldivar

and Huey Dunbar as the late, great Lincoln!

Also appearing: Alex Lacamoire, Bill Sherman, Quiara Hudes, Thomas Kail, Doug Hinrichs on drums.

20 June 2009


This is the type of thing I would expect to see on an old Ed Sullivan show clip (if they hadn't all been taken off the internet). But it's from the Bonnie Hunt show and au current. An A Capella rendition of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" performed by "Dick Van Dyke and the Vantastix". I suppose when you're old and rich you can do anything. My mother has proselytized Van Dyke my entire life (and most of hers), so there's usally something conforting about seeing him do anything. But this is actually a bit bizarre and unsettling. But I kinda like it. I mean, really, you have to be made of stone to not get some enjoyment out of this silly song.

Happy Song: Saturday 20-June

"Nobody's Side" from CHESS is most certainly one of my favorite songs of all time. I fell in love with the Elaine Paige version one night when I was up late working a set model for D&P, and I listened to the song on repeat for a couple of hours. When the Idina Menzel concert version came out, I knew that was the only track I really needed--the rest of the show really doesn't do much for me. I really like Idina's version (particularly the bit she adds to the bridge at 2m25s). If, watching the video, one is shocked that they are watching a Tony Award winning "Actress," she really does sing the shit outta this.

Nobody's Side

19 June 2009

Pearl and Carol

Long story short, but "Elegance" from HELLO DOLLY came up (because I brought it up), and I thought it seemed an appropriate Recessionista song of the musical theater variety. The clip I found from the (terrible) movie version disabled embedding, which led me to search more, which led me to this hoakey gem of a variety show featuring Carol Channing and Pearl Bailey singing, among other things, "Elegance" and that insipid title song. It is beyond indulgent--decadent, really. But something we're not likely to see Idina Menzel, Stephanie J. Block, Shoshana Bean, Eden Espinoza and Julia Murney doing anytime soon (though I kinda wish they would)

14 June 2009

NIGHT MUSIC Casting Game

So it looks like this NIGHT MUSIC revival is actually happening, and it's about freakin' time. Of course, my ideal A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC revival would be directed by Bartlett Sher at presented at Lincoln Center, or even Circle in the Square...some sort of thrust space. I, in fact, have a few reservations about a Trev-Trev production. But at the very least, the mere announcement of its arrival allows us to play "Who should be in it?" God, how disheartening would it be if they pulled a SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE and brought over the capable but unknown British cast?

So, to begin, I think it's safe to assume that Alex Gemignani is going to be in it. Because he gets to be an any NY Sondheim production. Is he too old for Henrick? Too young for Fredrick? Would he be willing to play a Leidersinger? I don't know. But he'll be there.

As for possible Fredricks, I would love to see Mark Jacoby in the role. Or Michael Cerveris. James Barbour? (Though, is he legally allowed to be around a Fredricka-aged actress?) I actually think Victor Garber is really boring, but people like to cast him, because he was on ALIAS. Or Gregg Edelman/Rene Auberjenois.

Mark Kudish has to play Count-Magnus

The SWEENEY revival's Benjamin Magnuson seems a decent Henrick, since we know he can already play the cello. Or some recent musical theater BFA.

For some reason I'm assuming Ashley Osnes is going to play Anne, and, provided she has the top notes, she'll be fine. Laura Benanti's too old, right?

Leslie Kritzer as Petra!!!!!!!!! *see note below

I would give just about anything to have Angela Lansbury play Mme. Armfelt. If that doesn't pan out, Carole Shelly would be great. Does Elizabeth Ashley sing? Because she could be interesting. Or what abut Phylicia Rashad? Harriet Harris, or is she too young!

I wish I had seen Randy Graff's Charlotte a few years back at Kennedy Center. Would it be a demotion for Allison Janney? Probably, but she'd be great. Maybe this is where Harriet Harris should go, or is she too old? Nancy Opel? Hows about Alice Ripley?

But who will be Desiree? Michelle Pawk would actually be my first choice, but she usually is (and there she shall remain until it actually happens). Toni Collette would be suitably amazing. Donna Murphy, natch. Christine Ebersole might lack a certain gravitas I associate with the role, but I would love to hear her asides in "You Must Meet My Wife". Christine Baranski? (I'm actually kind of over her, but maybe this could change my mind again).

I could play this game forever, and possibly will, or at least until I get further update from playbill.com

12 June 2009

Everything Was Possible And Nothing Made Sense

This may perhaps be the most inspirational theater site I've ever seen.

AbandonedTheaters.com is essentially a slide show of pitctures (by Julia Solis) taken "over the course of several years" of stages in disrepair--be they in old movie theaters, cafeterias and probably some vaudeville theaters or something. The point is, each space seems so ripe with potential and possibility. I wish captions were included indicating where they were.

10 June 2009

Belated Tony Lessons

The Tonys are over. Rock of Love's nose has begun to heal, the sound designer's fired, and the non-winner's closing notices are up. But what did we learn from this year's Tony Awards Ceremony?

1) Actually, Broadway is NOT just about New York. There was much hullaballoo about creative awards being shunned to a cybercast to make room for performances from touring productions of MAMMA MIA, LEGALLY BLONDE, and JERSEY BOYS. But the point was made--Broadway is about theater for a national--and international--audience. Yes, the shows START in New York, but if they become hits (and win Tonys) they take to the road, so the rest of the nation can watch. And them what run these roadhouses are Tony voters. Which is why NEXT TO NORMAL (which seems to have more limited touring potential) really didn't stand a chance of pulling an AVE Q-style upset. The purpose of televising the TONY Awards isn't really to get people to come to New York and see shows after all. It's to get them excited about next year's Broadway Series at the Cleveland Palace. Perhaps New Yorkers feeling territorial about their theatrical experiences should invest more in making Off-Broadway, which (with some notable exceptions) is more geared towards a predominately local crowd, a fiscally strong creature.

2) Being "Well Written" doesn't make you "Great" (and it certainly doesn't make you popular). BILLY ELLIOT really isn't a very good musical, but it's a great musical. It's faults: There are major inconsistencies in tone amounting to what is more or less an identity crisis (Bawdy musical hall? Lis Miz-esque Popera? Hal Prince-esque political metaphor? Sean O'Casey drama? Flashdance?). It's over-long and light on plot and music. The "central" conflict of the miner strike, is explained either through a cop-out video, and note in the program, or not at all. (I'm still unclear as to why the strike breaking was a bad thing or why it broke in the first place). Many plot devices and entire characters were shoe-horned for cheap tears (Grandma, dead mum). But the moment Billy does his first perfect ballet move is a fantastic moment in the theater. The very essence of theater (especially musical theater) lies in an unpredictable live, emotional connection and response between the material, the artisans onstage, and the audience. So yes, I could--and have--pick apart BILLY for every inconstancy, pointless plot point, and cheap lyric, but the fact of the matter is, what it offers (a little boy achieving his dream, improbably as both the achieving and the dream itself may be) is inherently moving and wonderful, and to be against it would make me as bad as Maggie Thatcher.

3) Nice guys don't always finish last, or, If at first you don't succeed... There are plenty of Tony Winning composers who have also had shows that closed 10 days (or less) after they opened. But the Tony part usually comes first...unless you're Tom Kitt. What was most impressive was not the fact Mr. Kitt managed to turn his luck around, but that he did it with a show that seemed perhaps MORE doomed for ridicule and scorn. Take risky/tricky subject matter, add mixed (at best) reviews Off-Broadway, throw in a seemingly hasty Broadway transfer from a generally well received regional theater that nonetheless hastily laid a rotten egg on Broadway (GLORY DAYS) the previous summer, bake in an economic crisis and win. And, to top it all off, the powers that be actually saw fit to TELEVISE his award? It makes me all warm and fuzzy just to think about it.

And now we have a whole year see what will happen next...

06 June 2009

Happy Song: Saturday 6-May

I discovered this song a few years ago when I was on a big choral music kick, which bled into an brief fascination with the Swingle Singers. This seems to be one of their more "obscure" songs (as in, it's not on YouTube as far as I can tell), a Peruvian folk song from a 2005 album. Use it as distraction from TONY angst (which I have, even though I'm not, you know, nominated, just because the thought of BILLY sweeping the night makes me sick, but more on that later). Just press play, and let the (brief) song unfold. Then listen to it 25 more times.

"Cachapaya" by The Swingle Singers

05 June 2009

Something about the TONYS

Neil Patrick Harris (an inspired choice for host this year) doing the Top Ten list on Lettermen. "Top 10 Signs You've Hired a Bad Tony Awards Host." Glad to see CBS do something interesting to promote their broadcast. I'm also impressed that Lettermen manages to keep the Top 10 list concept witty and fresh after all these years. (I remember cracking up with my mom and my brother as I read a compilation of Top 10 lists while driving to Bowling Green, KY to visit my grandparents...16 years ago).

Watch this...

...when no one is around to watch you LOVE it. Here's an a capella choir from Slovenia singing "Africa" (a song, though fairly ubiquitous, I'm fairly certain I have never heard from start to finish before). It starts off with the members creating a thunderstorm using their hands. It then explodes into a very satisfying arrangement which is only missing the context of being performed bu a bunch of misfits who find out about life by singing, thanks to the expert tutelage of some famous actor. It starts with a slightly pitch 1st verse, 2nd verse adds a great descant, then there's a fun bridge after the 2nd chorus, a cute guy around 5min, and it ends with a soloist offering an empowered response to the chorus in the tradition of the meek "Cherish him" singer in SISTER ACT. And then a little more "rain" for shits.

So I was just going to link to the below, but after watching it I realized it deserved a more featured status. I have serious doubts about the musical version of SISTER ACT (which is set in the 1970s) now playing in the West End. Because this number is so perfectly executed (thanks to the brilliant arrangement by Marc Shaiman), I can't imagine an original--disco infused--song by Alan Menkin doing the trick. The way it manages to incorporate the quirks of the featured nuns, the way its relative simplicity makes the premise seem plausible, the way it ingratiates itself into your head upon listening...who could ask for anything more?

04 June 2009

Documentary, My Dear Watson

So, what's with the sudden onslaught of musical-theater related documentaries? First was the excellent EVERY LITTLE STEP, then came the recent CHASING BROADWAY DREAMS (which I haven't seen in spite of my deep affection for IN THE HEIGHTS, and coming up is the Hal Prince documentary (airing this weekend on Ovation and giving me plans for Saturday night), and, airing in July, a documentary about the original broadway production of HAIR. I admit, I don't have a lot of commentary to offer on the subject, but thought it was worth pointing out.

Even more prevelant than documentaries about musicals are blog posts about twitter. Today I came accross this article about a man who was robbed after he announced on Twitter that he was on vacation. I also came accross the following image on a design blog.

03 June 2009

Get Out and Stay Out!

Today's Reidel report focuses on how CBS, in an attempt to draw better ratings to the TONY AWARDS Broadcast, will not air design awards, choreography, book of a musical, and, perhaps most shockingly, Best Revival of a Play. In place of these awards, CBS is putting on musical numbers from hit shows currently on Broadway, and, inexplicably, LEGALLY BLONDE. (I actually have a great deal of fondness for BLONDE, but am seriously confused as to why it is being promoted...for the tour? The West End production? DVD release of LEGALLY BLONDE: THE MUSICAL, THE SEARCH FOR THE NEW ELLE WOODS?) Regardless, this is hardly a new development...CBS has been pulling this shit for years. The most effective solution was, when LION KING was out, to have the creative awards telecast on PBS where they padded out the segment with behind the scenes looks and the process of the respective designers. It was awesome (and much more memorable television than the actual broadcast...or any awards broadcast for that matter).

I think the issue is not that shows literally irrelevant to a celebration of Broadway (BLOND) are being broadcast instead of these awards--these awards have not been overlooked by CBS for the better part of a decade. I think the issue is simply the fact that this continues to be an issue. That CBS somehow thinks they will have a ratings winner on a Sunday night in June if "fix" the awards. That CBS believes there is a market made up of people who want to see musical numbers from Broadway shows, but otherwise would never watch the Tony awards. That CBS has something better to do, and wouldn't just run reruns of COLD CASE and WITHOUT A TRACE which people could watch on TNT anyway.
Every year the threat looms: if numbers don't improve, CBS will drop the broadcast. But the threat is meaningless, as the numbers have never improved (and in fact worsened) and CBS has not dropped the broadcast. I've counseled enough friends/parents through damned relationships to know when it's time to pull the plug. The relationship between CBS and Tony has grown too comfortable, even in its dysfunction. It isn't growing. They're each forcing the other to be something they're not instead of appreciating each other for who they are. Tony needs to be strong, assert her needs, and leave her controlling, domineering and spiteful bastard-of-a-boyfriend once and for all. Because as tough as Les Moonves (pictured above) may think he is, he'll never have the cohones to do it himself. And Tony will feel so much better than before.

01 June 2009

All the morning glories on the FEEEEZ

I've posted this before, but Imma repost, just because it's June (June, Juuuuuuune)