Some theatrical ideas are so ambitious it almost doesn’t matter whether they succeed or fail – the fun is in seeing them play out. In his audacious, stripped-down staging of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, which opened Sunday at St Ann’s Warehouse, director Daniel Fish exposes the repression, lust, and violence that always lay beneath the surface of this seminal musical.
CHICAGO — “Being a woman is no job for a man,” Michael Dorsey (Santino Fontana) concludes in the winning but inconsistent Broadway-bound musical comedy Tootsie, which opened last night at the Cadillac Palace Theatre here. So how come his Dorothy Michaels holds the stage as well as his Michael Dorsey?
In an auburn wig, beige high heels and glasses, Fontana is sublime as Michael/Dorothy, the temperamental, opinionated, unemployed New York actor who finds stardom and self-awareness after putting on a dress and posing as an actress. Fontana borrows a gesture or two from Dustin Hoffman’s performance in the brilliant 1982 Columbia Pictures comedy. But Fontana makes the role his own with fine timing, crisp dancing and a gender-bending vocal range interpreting David Yazbek’s varied and mostly wonderful score. (Plus, of course, nonstop changes of William Ivey Long’s wry costumes.)Continue Reading
The musical Be More Chill has some baggage. It’s about high school angst that verges on cliché, and it’s a showcase for the kind of head-banging pop, in this case by composer/lyricist Joe Iconis (Smash), that’s commonplace in today’s musical theater. It also has an out-there sci-fi premise: Hopelessly uncool high school sophomore Jeremy Heere (Dear Evan Hansen’s Will Roland) swallows a pill-shaped supercomputer called a SQUIP that implants itself in his brain and instructs him in the finer points of teenage social etiquette.Continue Reading
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, COLORADO — The 502 Ford Mustangs, both late-model show cars and immaculately restored classics, created a hotel room crunch and congestion downtown.
But the 31st-annual Rocky Mountain Mustang Roundup competition last weekend didn’t hurt the first annual Colorado New Play Festival, held at the 123-seat Chief Theater. “We got walk-up traffic,” festival co-executive producer Jim Steinberg said. “People saw the sign and came in. I was amazed.”
EXCLUSIVE: Conventional wisdom dictates that most new plays need an off-Broadway or out-of-town tryout before they’re Broadway-ready.
Norman Twain didn’t do conventional.
The New York movie and theater producer spent years nurturing The Lifespan of a Fact, a comic-drama about the interplay of facts and truth in the magazine world, based on the 2012 book by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal. Twain sought to open it cold on Broadway, in a starry one act, while putting a cleaver to runaway production costs.
UPDATED THROUGHOUT: In a court battle over money and reputations, the partnership that sought to bring Rebecca the Musical to Broadway won a token $90,000 damage award against its former press agent — less than 1 percent of what producers were seeking.
Publicist Marc Thibodeau hugged his lawyers and cried after the jury verdict. Five women and one man decided that Thibodeau wrongfully interfered with a contract but didn’t defame Rebecca Broadway LP when he sent rogue emails under the pseudonyms Sarah Finkelstein and Bethany Walsh. The emails warned a prospective investor that Rebecca‘s commercial potential was questionable and there was fraud in its midst .
Producer Ben Sprecher broke down on the stand today at the Rebecca civil trial in lower Manhattan, while recounting being forced to shutter the $12 million musical on the eve of its first rehearsal.
“The whole thing was a tragedy,” Sprecher testified, speaking with apparent difficulty. “I don’t know what to say.”
EXCLUSIVE: A star of the new heyday of television is taking a swing at a golden age musical.
Jeffrey Richards leads a team of producers developing it for 2018. Richards enhanced (or subsidized) an Encores! revival of the show at New York City Center in 2008. Kathleen Marshall is to direct and choreograph Damn Yankees on Broadway.
UPDATE to include Hamilton accord: As the cast of Hamilton looks forward to a portion of profits from the blockbuster, The Book of Mormon has paid its workshop actors about $3 million to-date for helping to develop that Broadway smash.
The estimate of royalties is based on financial results for Mormon obtained from the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman via a Freedom of Information Law request. (Royalties include only the Broadway production, as data from the London production and two national tours weren’t made available.) Chris Boneau, a Mormon spokesman, declined to comment. One Mormon actor who spoke on condition of anonymity said he’s been paid $20,000 to $40,000 a year in royalties.
A musical without musicians is an untested concept on Broadway. Janet B. Rosen, the freshman lead producer of In Transit, a long-gestating a cappella romantic comedy circling Broadway, says she’s undaunted.
In Transit employs the subway as a setting and plot line and is arranged by Deke Sharon, the arranger and music director of the a cappella movies Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2 (worldwide gross $400 million). A national a cappella tour he oversees, Vocalosity, appears to be selling well. And Kristen Anderson-Lopez — who wrote In Transit with Sara Wordsworth, James Allen-Ford and Russ Kaplan — co-wrote Disney’s Frozen ($1.3 billion). “We are ready to take it to Broadway,” Rosen, who holds the rights to In Transit, told Broadway Journal last night at a concert presentation at Feinstein’s/54 Below. She said it would be Broadway’s first a cappella musical. “A cappella is huge right now.”