Tag Archives: Broadway theatre

Heaven sent.

There is a new musical on the horizon that I am quite excited about. The songwriters responsible for Grey Gardens – Scott Frankel and Michael Korie are returning to the Playwrights Horizons with their new musical Far From Heaven as part of the Off-Broadway company’s 2012-2013 season.

It is based on the film of the same name, Far From Heaven and the book has been written by Tony Award winner Richard Greenberg (Take Me Out). Michael Grief (Grey GardensRent, Next to Normal) is set to direct the production that will premiere at the Williamstown Theatre Festival this American summer.

Playwrights Horizons, have  commissioned the work, but they have not announced dates for the off-Broadway  production. Grey Gardens also premiered at Playwrights prior to the Broadway transfer. I am a big fan of Grey Gardens and absolutely adore the film  Far From Heaven so I have high hopes for this one.

The 2002 movie was directed by Todd Haynes and  starred Julianne Moore, Dennis Haysbert and Dennis Quaid and had a supporting cast that included the wonderful Patricia Clarkson who was always harping on about the catering – I smell a song for her character, and Oscar nominee Viola Davis once again playing the maid.

This is how the musical is being billed – “Cathy Whitaker seems to be the picture-perfect wife and mother in 1957 suburban Connecticut. But roiling beneath the surface, secret longings and forbidden desires cause her world to unravel––with incendiary consequences. With a lush score that is both jazz-inflected and hauntingly lyrical, Far From Heaven is a powerful story of romance, betrayal, intolerance and a woman grappling with her identity in a society on the verge of great upheaval.”

No casting has been announced but it will surely have a great role for a singer/actress to play the part of Cathy. And like the great performances created in the musical Grey Gardens perhaps it will lead to a Tony award if the piece is successful and transfers to the Great White Way. I am looking forward to the sets and costumes that will be created as the film had such a lush look that surely needs to be replicated in some creative way.

Here are some beautiful stills from the movie…

Viola Davis

Julianne Moore & Dennis Haysbert

Patricia Clarkson – “oh I must check with the caterers” & Julianne Moore


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Betty visits Carrie.

Betty Buckley the Tony winning Broadway diva who played Carrie’s mom in the original Broadway flop-turned-cult-musical (she was also the gym teacher , Miss Collins in the movie version) went to see the new revisited off-Broadway revival. She liked it but called it a PG. version of the original. I love Betty and I love Carrie too.

A couple of my New Yorker friends have seen it and have given it the thumbs up with a few reservations, it’s not the dog one expected but also not the misunderstood masterpiece, overall it seems it’s a good night at the musical theatre.

pic by Jenny Anderson/Broadway.com

Betty Buckley, center, with Molly Ranson, left, who plays Carrie, and Marin Mazzie, who plays Carrie’s mother.

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first look CARRIE the musical revival clip

Click on the link below if you wanna see a sneak peek of the first ever revival of CARRIE the musical…..

you know I do.

I hope you enjoy 🙂

http://broadwayworld.com/videoembed.php?colid=336754

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A trickle of blood

CARRIE is a coming, and before the gush of blood here is a little trickle to tantalise……

The first preview of the off-Broadway revival of the cult flop musical based on the Stephen King novel and the Brian DePalma classic movie will be performed on Jan 31st – next Tuesday. The official Playbill cover has been released as well as some other publicity, including a performance of a new song performed by the characters Sue Snell and Tommy Ross. Here is a taste for you.

Broadway.com have gone behind the scenes so here is a sneak peek of what we might expect.  I have my spies in New York eager to tell me of the outcome, I just hope it is a hit and I will get to see it on my planned trip in May.

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It’s A Wrap – Part Two

MY THEATRICAL YEAR.

Sadly my year at the theatre was meagre. If only I could have  squeezed in a trip to New York which had a bumper year, alas I did not.

But I did manage to see a few live presentations, musicals dominated, a couple of comedy gems and even a puppet show abroad!

Here they are.

SPRING AWAKENING.

Presented by The Young Australia Broadway Chorus at St Kilda’s National Theatre. An amateur production yes but this was a chance for me to see the Tony award winning Broadway musical live. Performed by a young cast exact of age to the characters they represent on stage – teenagers coming of age both mentally and most importantly sexually. Based on the play by German author Frank Wedekind which premiered to great controversy in 1906. A musical dealing with teen sexual awakening and with a rock score by Duncan Sheik and Steven Slater. A fine cast performed with all the energy and dedication to the piece that I am sure was witnessed on the great white way. A lot of young talent to be admired, I loved the piece and enjoyed this production – was glad to finally catch up.

MARY POPPINS.

This Cameron Mackintosh hit production featuring a fine hand picked Australian cast was a real delight. Everything worked! – the dancing, the scenery, the singing and the songs. Professional theatre at its best. Highlights being Verity Hunt-Ballard as the famous Nanny – bossy but with a heart of gold, and Debra Byrne as the bird lady who sang the famous “Feed The Birds” so moving and sublime of voice. A treat for kids and adults. I really enjoyed every moment, musical theatre doesn’t get much better than this.

XANADU.

The stage musical version of the infamous flop movie musical starring Olivia Newton John was a surprise hit on Broadway but a dismal failure down under. Presented under a Big Top tent at Melbourne’s Docklands it had horrendous sound problems and I suppose did look rather cheap. It was not a total write off thats for sure. I for one loved the book by Douglas Carter Beane and the energy of the hard working cast. I enjoyed it far more than many I guess? (it failed to tour round the country as planned) and I can tell you the reason why – Christie Whelan in the leading role of Kira – daughter of Greek god Zeus, all Aussie accent, leg warmers and roller skates. She is such a fine comedienne (her timing is exquisite) and has a rip roaring Broadway belting type voice. A standout in the MTC production of “The Drowsy Chaperone” and I am told the best thing in the recent revival of  “The Important Of being Earnest”, upstaging Geoffrey Rush is no mean feat. Surely she will be cast in the new planned Australian production of the musical “Legally Blonde” but her talents deserve so much more than that. For me Xanadu presented to me a star what more do you need?

HAIRSPRAY.

A local production of the Broadway hit. What a disappointment. Under the direction of David Atkins and choreography from Jason Coleman it was promoted as a state of the art production with never seen before staging. I was appalled! The set consisting of computer lighting that conjured up animation that was both lame and horribly unoriginal. Fortunately for me I did see a production of the Broadway original in London and it was brilliant fun. Sadly the over the top hammy performances and unsubtle direction made this night in the theatre unbearable for me. I could go on and point out all the faults from both cast and creatives but I can’t be bothered – enough time spent on this turkey.

ROCK OF AGES.

A total reproduction of the Broadway hit musical that is a real guilty pleasure. Slick direction, slick design, choreography that excites and songs from the 80’s rock music cannon – yes it is another jukebox musical. I saw a final preview and it was rocking. The cast were clearly having a rip roaring time and the audience hooting and hollering were too. A silly storyline about the redevelopment of the famous Sunset Strip in Hollywood doesn’t have much chop, but the enthusiasm and clever direction worked a treat. Sadly it also failed to tour around the country as planned but a film version is due out mid year directed by Adam Shanckman (Hairspray) and featuring Tom Cruise in the scene stealing role of rocker Stacee Jaxx.

NEXT TO NORMAL.

This local production of the Broadway musical was presented by the Melbourne Theatre Company. It lacked the pathos and excitement that I experienced in the Broadway production of which I blogged about a while back . The set was over active and a total distraction and the cast led by Kay Kendall lacked the talent required to pull off this fantastic musical. Oh well we can’t always get it right.

PARADE.

I went along to see this high school production of another Broadway musical because it gave me the chance of seeing it live and complete. I have long been a fan of the Tony winning score by Jason Robert Brown so it was good to see it performed. An unusually grim choice for a school musical it tells the story of Leo Frank wrongfully accused and convicted of raping and murdering a young schoolgirl back in 1913 in America’s south. Frank was a successful Jewish businessman and the show deals with anti-semiticism and media sensationalism – still going on today! It was a flop when it was presented on Broadway back in 1998. With its grim subject matter it is hardly Broadway feel good fodder but its score is still highly regarded as one of Broadway’s finest. The schoolkids involved in this production did very well, some voices not up to scratch but others (particularly the lead boy) were quite impressive. Hats off to St Michael’s Grammar.

LOVE NEVER DIES.

This overhyped and underwhelming dud of a musical is only worth mentioning for the fine set and costume design by Gabriela Tylesova. Dull and boring even with so much movement going on. To distract one of all the shortcomings of the production perhaps?  You can catch it on DVD soon as it was filmed during its Melbourne run.

GREY GARDENS.

Fantastic casting and performances made this local production of the Broadway show based on the acclaimed documentary a real highlight of my theatrical year. I expect Pamela Rabe to win a few awards for her heartbreaking performance as Little Edie Beale. Nancye Hayes as Big Edie held her own too and is eagerly anticipated for her upcoming role as Miss Hannigan in the new revival of “Annie”.

LILY TOMLIN.

This is the second time I have managed to see Lily Tomlin in her live comedy act and she didn’t disappoint. A marvel at face manipulation and full of endless energy she had me laughing out loud and riveted as she took on all her favourite creations with their unique take on the modern world. I love Lily!

EDDIE IZZARD – STRIPPED.

My first time seeing Eddie Izzard live was a last minute decision and I am glad I made the right one. I laughed in wonder at his observations regarding the creation of the world. It really impresses me when performers of this calibre manage to entertain for almost 3 hours (including interval) on stage solo. It must be so exhausting. Izzard is a master at it.

SMOKE AND MIRRORS.

“Smoke And Mirrors” was another first for me. It was the first time I was to see the acclaimed performer iOTA perform live. After performances in “Hedwig And The Angry Inch” and as Frank-n-Furter in a revival of “The Rocky Horror Show” this was the show I caught up with his talents. Performed in the famed Spiegeltent at the Arts Centre. Part vaudeville, part fantasy, part circus act iOTA led a troupe of performers on a musical journey fantastical and funny, moving and magical. He didn’t disappoint, I’d check him out again sometime.

THANG LONG WATER PUPPET THEATRE –  HANOI

I went to see this water puppet show when I was holidaying in Hanoi, Vietnam. It was very touristy and a little tacky but it did have live performers, thankfully it was quite short too. I am glad I saw it as it is always good to soak up some local culture while abroad.

NT Live – FRANKENSTEIN

Filmmaker Danny Boyle’s production of Mary Shelley’s classic novel was very disappointing. I am sure that seeing it live may have been more electric but the ever imposing cameras of the NT Live presentations didn’t capture it. The performance I saw featured Benedict Cumberbatch as the monster and Johnny Lee Miller as his creator Victor Frankenstein. (they alternated the roles in the shows run) I felt that Cumberbatch gave way too much of a ‘gimp’ style performance that seemed so overblown in the confines of a cinema with close up camerawork. The rest of the cast had nothing much to offer and I must say I was bored by the banality of this particular adaptation.

NT Live – THE KITCHEN

I enjoyed this production much more than “Frankenstein”. The play by Arnold Wesker was first performed at the Royal Court in 1959 and is set in the kitchen of a very busy London restaurant. It tells of the trials and tribulations of its workers – the chefs, kitchen hands, waitresses et al. It had moments of great theatricality and choreography that was very creative. The miming of the cooking and the sequence in which full service was occurring was a highlight. Once again the imposing camerawork from the NT Live presentation hampered some of the better moments and didn’t help with some of the theatrical hammy performances (close-ups are not kind on a theatre actor reaching out to the back row). I do enjoy seeing these NT Live events but I wish they would hold back on the ‘clever’ camerwork and let us watch the show as if we were there in the front row, not riding on top the lens of the camera.

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Eddie and the Edies.

I saw two theatrical productions this weekend and both were excellent and challenging in their different ways.

GREY GARDENS: THE MUSICAL

Grey Gardens is based on the 1975 documentary by Albert & David Maysles that depicts the story of the eccentric Beales, a mother and daughter both named Edith. They lived in squalor in a run down mansion called Grey Gardens in the Hamptons –  New York. Of interest here is that they are the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.

Strange subject for a Broadway musical you might say, but it works very well. In the documentary the women talk and bicker to the camera telling how it was and how it could have been. How did these former socialites end up like this? The musical’s first act shows us the early years of the Beales and the circumstances that led to their strange co-dependancy. Act 2 closely follows the documentary. The musical has a book by acclaimed playwright Doug Wright (I am My Own Wife, Quills), lyrics by Michael Korie and music by Scott Frankel the score owes a lot to the musical style of Stephen Sondheim. It was first performed off-Broadway in 2006 then transferring to the main stem in a revised version. It won Tony awards for it’s leading ladies Christine Ebersole and Mary Louise Wilson.

The Australian premiere has been mounted by The Production Company and features two of Australia’s most talented women – Pamela Rabe and Nancye Hayes. Rabe plays Big Edie in act 1 and in act 2 takes on the role of Little Edie with Hayes portraying the elderly mother Big Edie.

It is a fine production, deftly directed by Roger Hodgman, simple and no fuss, letting the actors shine and boy do they shine. Rabe is monstrous as Big Edie, hilarious and heartbreaking as Little Edie – able to ham it up as the roles allow, her final song is very poignant. Hayes is very much her equal, funny and moving as an old lady frustrated at losing her faculties and relying on her odd daughter’s support. The rest of the cast are very good, I couldn’t fault this fine production which gave it’s final performance from a limited season on Sunday.

Nancye Hayes & Pamela Rabe

Pamela Rabe as Little Edie in Act 1

EDDIE IZZARD – STRIPPED

What a dazzling talent Mr. Izzard is, standing alone on stage for nearly two hours (with intermission) a full force funny man like no other- Izzard the blizzard I say!!!

Izzard’s comedic style has been described as rambling, whimsical and self-referential. His storytelling goes off on all sorts of tangents, with hilarious results. This particular show has a structure in which he explains the formation of the world and civilisation from the beginning of time when ‘god’ had a few busy days being creative. His left leaning politics are apparent but not overdone making it all the more powerful. Highlights for me were a rant on Apple ITunes agreements and downloads, and an observation of the vegetable bok choy, his thread on the Latin language was side splitting, actually the whole night was side splitting and his appreciative audience lapped it up. His talents of voice control and physical comedy to match are outstanding, comedy with this much intelligence is very rare, I just loved every minute of it. Eddie Izzard you are a marvel.

Eddie the incredible

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SMASH is coming.

SMASH is coming in Feb and I can’t wait . Please let it be fast tracked to Australian TV screens.

Here is a preview of a music video from the show, thanks to BWW.  Click on the link 🙂

STAGE TUBE: First SMASH Music Video ‘Beautiful’ Premieres by Katharine McPhee Video Content (BroadwayWorld.com).

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