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.
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.
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).
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’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).
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.
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 Pippinfor which she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
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!?
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.
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.
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.
“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.