Category Archives: Broadway

TCM spotlights non-music versions of musicals tonight in mini-marathon

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Some of Broadway’s and silver screen musicals were preceded by nonmusical movies (and books). Beginning at 8 tonight Turner Classic Movies offers five of them. A few might surprise.

8 p.m., Anna and the King of Siam (1946)

10:30 p.m., Kismet (1944)

12:30 a.m., Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

2 a.m., Auntie Mame (1958)

4:45 a.m., Gigi (1948)

Anna Leonowens, c. 1905.
Anna Leonowens, c. 1905.

Obviously, Rex Harrison making his Hollywood debut as the King of Siam is casting that wouldn’t happen now. But it was 1946. Better yet, read the memoirs written by Anna Leonowens, the  Anglo-Indian,  British-born travel writer, educator and social activist (on whom the films and musical were based) whose achievements include co-founding the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

 

 

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‘Honeymooners’ musical begins world premiere tonite at Paper Mill

Not many Americans are alive today who watched the original broadcast of “The Honeymooners,” the iconic TV show created by Jackie Gleason that has morphed into a limited run world premiere musical  (after two previous attempts) that begins performances today (Sept. 28) at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey and probably is Broadway bound.

It’s based on the 1950s CBS television series that featured Gleason as bus driver Ralph Kramden;  Audrey Meadows his as faithful but sharp-tongued wife Alice,  Art Carney as his best friend Ed Norton, a sewer worker, and his wife Joyce Randolph and best friend to Alice.

Publicity shot of Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden with Audrey Meadows as Alice, circa 1955
Publicity shot of Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden with Audrey Meadows as Alice, circa 1955

Coming full circle, Gleason’s skits about working-class married couples in a gritty Brooklyn apartment originally  were broadcast live in front of a theater audience on the DuMont network’s variety series “Cavalcade of Stars,” which Gleason hosted, and subsequently on the CBS network’s “The Jackie Gleason Show” (1951–55).

Continue reading ‘Honeymooners’ musical begins world premiere tonite at Paper Mill

Sam Shepard conquered both stage and screen

Sam Shepard was an American playwright, actor, author, screenwriter, and director.
Sam Shepard was an American playwright, actor, author, screenwriter, and director.

Sam Shepard’s work spanned over half a century. He wrote 44 plays,  several books of short stories, essays, and memoirs.

He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his play “Buried Child.”  He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in film “The Right Stuff” (1983).

Shepard received the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award as a master American dramatist in 2009. New York magazine described him as “the greatest American playwright of his generation.

Shepard’s plays are known for their bleak, poetic, often surrealist elements, black humor, and rootless characters living on the outskirts of American society. His style evolved over the years, from the absurdism of his early off-off-Broadway work to the realism of “Buried Child” and “Curse of the Starving Class” (both 1978).

Visit Shepard’s website here.

The obituaries:

Playbill.comThe Off-Broadway pioneer’s works included “Buried Child” and “Fool for Love.”

Variety: Sam Shepard, Pulitzer-Winning Playwright and Celebrated Actor, Dies at 73

New York TimesSam Shepard, Pulitzer-Winning Playwright and
Actor, Is Dead at 73

The Washington PostSam Shepard, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Oscar-nominated actor, dies at 73

Vanity FairSam Shepard, Prolific Playwright and Actor, Dies at 73

CNN: Sam Shepard, Pulitzer-winning playwright and actor, dead at 73

The GuardianSam Shepard, playwright and actor, dies age 73

Mandy Patinkin backs out of ‘The Comet’ following diversity criticism

Josh Groban as Pierre in Broadway's "The Great Comet." (PHOTO: Chad Batka)
Josh Groban as Pierre in Broadway’s “The Great Comet.” (PHOTO: Chad Batka)

Glad I didn’t jump online last night and order tickets when I learned Mandy Patinkin was returning to Broadway after a 17-year absence in “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.” Because today he’s not.

He pulled out after a social media storm that condemned the producers’ decision to replace black actor Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan with the white Broadway legend in an effort to sell tickets, which had fallen off with the departure of Josh Groban. His final performance was July 2.

Continue reading Mandy Patinkin backs out of ‘The Comet’ following diversity criticism

‘Madame Secretary’ features Sondheim’s opener from ‘Company’


Smart TV shows don’t interrupt with commercials during the first 5+ minutes. Hook-and-keep viewers pattern. On Sunday, the first few minutes of the 7-minute opening of “Madame Secretary” was  underscored with the opening number from the original cast album of “Company.” It featured Erich Bergen’s morning routine as the character Blake, top aid to Téa Leoni‘s Elizabeth McCord’s U.S. Secretary of State.

Image of Eric Bergen
Eric Bergen

Bergen also live tweeted last night. He is best known for playing Bob Gaudio in the biographical musical drama film Jersey Boys. He attended the well-known Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Center in  New York for seven years.

Recently, the 31-year-old actor has spoken out about surviving testicular cancer.

Not the only actor on the show with stage credits, Bebe Neuwirth is a Tony Award-winning actress for roles of Nickie in the revival of Sweet Charity (1986), and Velma Kelly in the revival of Chicago (1996). Other Broadway musical roles include Morticia Addams in The Addams Family (2010), Lola in “Damn Yankees (1995) and the ensemble shows “Fosse” and revival of “Chicago.”


Patina Miller is best known for originating the role of disco diva wannabe Deloris Van Cartier in the 2009 West End and 2011 Broadway productions of Sister Act. She also starred as the Leading Player in the 2013 revival of Pippin for which she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

Željko Ivanek, who plays Russell Jackson, has appeared in seven shows on Broadway.

Cast members of "Madame Secretary." Eric Bergen far right.
Cast members of “Madame Secretary.” Eric Bergen far right.

One more video  before you leave

 

‘Comet’ and Bette lead 2017 Tony Award noms

Screen Shot of 2017 Tony nominationsLet’s hope that revealing the 2017 Tony Awards  nominations at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center encourage theater lovers to spend as many hours as I did excavating the Theater on Film and Tape Archive.

The Tony Award nominations include, “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812” came out on top with 12 nominations, including Best Musical, Best Original Score for Dave Malloy, and Best Direction of a Musical for Rachel Chavkin, as well as nods for its two leads: Josh Groban and Denée Benton (both in their Broadway debuts).

Next, the woman whose LPs (look it up) I spent hours listening to in college: the great Bette Midler’s “Hello, Dolly!” earned 10 nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical and all four performance categories: Midler for Lead Actress, David Hyde Pierce for Lead Actor, Kate Baldwin for Featured Actress, and Gavin Creel for Featured Actor. I mean, was there any doubt!?

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2017 Outer Critics Circle Awards Announced

Christy Altomare plays the title character in the Broadway musical production “Anastasia.” (PHOTO: Matthew Murphy)

The just-opened Broadway musical “Anastasia” and the rapturously received revival of Hello, Dolly! are the top nominees of the 2017 Outer Critics Circle Awards. Both Broadway and Off-Broadway productions are eligible.

“Anastasia” earned 13 nominations while “Hello, Dolly!” received 10, including –duh — nods for leading players Bette Midler and David Hyde Pierce, plus Kate Baldwin, and Gavin Creel.

Also showing well are “Come From Away” and the now-closed Atlantic Theatre Company’s  “The Band’s Visit,” which tied with seven nomination.  Paula Vogel‘s Broadway debut drama “Indecent” and Dan Sullivan‘s revival of Lillian Hellman‘s biting “The Little Foxes” each earned six nods.

Continue reading 2017 Outer Critics Circle Awards Announced

Can’t stop watching 2013 Tony Awards opening

No doubt, at least in my mind, that this is the best Tony Award show opening number ever.  Even Broadway pros are looking around with their mouths hanging open in astonishment (look for Debra Messing’s swiveling head).  It’s not just the look, it’s the clever lyrics and jokes that bring the spectacle to a higher level.

But what else would you expect from the guys who wrote the specialty song “Bigger” — Tony Award winners Tom Kitt and the pre-“Hamilton” genius Lin-Manuel Miranda.

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Paper Mill Playhouse reveals next season has 2 world premiere musicals

Paper Mill Playhouse announces 2017-18 season, which includes two potential Broadway transfers.
Paper Mill Playhouse announces 2017-18 season,  including two potential Broadway transfers.

Give a playhouse the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 2016 and watch it turn its 2017-2018 season into one featuring two world premieres — which have all the earmarks of potential Broadway transfers — and two East Coast premieres.

Announced today, the season includes: the world-premiere musical “The Honeymooners” (Sept. 28-Oct. 29), ” Annie” (Nov. 22-Dec. 31),  East Coast premiere of “The Outsider” (Jan. 24-Feb. 18), the world premiere of “The Sting” (March 29-April 29) in a new musical stage adaptation,  and the East Coast premiere of the comedy “Half Time” (May 31-July 1). Continue reading Paper Mill Playhouse reveals next season has 2 world premiere musicals

Theater geek alert! ‘All About Eve’ tonight on TCM

“La La Land” joined “Titanic” and “All About Eve” last week as the latest movie to earn the most Oscar nominations ever. If you haven’t seen the latter lately, tune in to TCM 8 tonight to re-watch one of the best classic films about the theater ev-uh.

It stars Bette Davis as Margo Channing as an aging Broadway star.  Anne Baxter is Eve Harrington, who is young and hungry and wants  Margo’s life — all of it. She attached herself to the star like a leach.

The principal cast of "All About Eve", from left Gary Merrill, Bette Davis, George Sanders, Anne Baxter, Hugh Marlowe and Celeste Holm. (PHOTO: Wikipedia)
The principal cast of “All About Eve”, from left Gary Merrill, Bette Davis, George Sanders, Anne Baxter, Hugh Marlowe and Celeste Holm. (PHOTO: Wikipedia)

Continue reading Theater geek alert! ‘All About Eve’ tonight on TCM