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Nutcracker Rouge Keeps Davon Rainey (Painfully) on His Toes

Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet The Nutcracker has been given a burlesque makeover at the Minetta Lane Theater off-Broadway with Nutcracker Rouge. Created by Company XIV, this eye-popping dance piece has been splashed with baroque drapings (sets and costumes by Zane Pihlstrom) and puts the audience inside a setting that would be a mouthwatering Vanity Fair photo shoot. Director and choreographer Austin McCormick sets his cast of talented dancers loose on the stage, acting with feverishly sexual flare and singing in smoldering cabaret style, some songs as modern as “Material Girl.”

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Newsies’ Andrew Keenan-Bolger carries the banner for Disney a fourth time

If you give Andrew Keenan-Bolger a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, he will give you a Crutchie trading card. Disney has given each cast member of its new Broadway musical Newsies, based on the 1992 cult favorite film, 100 trading cards of their respective characters to distribute at will. I found this out when I sat down with Keenan-Bolger in his dressing room at the Nederlander Theatre when I presented my interviewee with what I had heard was his favorite snack. (I have card no. 62.) Keenan-Bolger, who plays lead newsie Jack Kelly’s disabled best friend, is making the screaming girls who crowd the stage door after every performance work for these collectors’ items. If they’re lucky, they’ll get a piece of what has been a golden year for Keenan-Bolger.

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Rory O’Malley turns his nifty little ‘Mormon’ trick into a Tony nomination

When Rory O’Malley called his mother in Ohio to tell her the happy news that he had been nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in The Book of Mormon, she suggested that he double check. “She said, ‘Are you sure? How do you know?’” O’Malley recalled. “I said, ‘It was on TV, Mom.’” Despite the momentary disbelief, O’Malley cites sharing the news with his supportive mom as the highlight of his Tony journey. “She certainly worked just as hard, if not harder, on my dreams by being who she is and raising me.”

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Recent Articles


Review: John & Jen

john jen, kate baldwin, conor ryan

Photo: Carol Rosegg

While musicals have license for unbridled imagination to reach the most extravagant of conceits (and we thank them for that), sometimes they can have the most profound effects when they’re brought down to ground-zero reality. The crushingly intimate John & Jen takes a magnifying glass to the relationship of a brother and sister who grow up (and apart) during the tumultuous 1960s and 70s. The revival of this two-hander by Andrew Lippa and Tom Greenwald is the rare musical that takes the time to examine the relationship between two sole characters, doing so to an impressively deep degree. Read more »


The No. 1 Reason to See: Volleygirls

Volleygirls scene 01

Self esteem and high school glory are once again on the line when it’s time for the big game in Volleygirls. The new musical by Rob Ackerman, Eli Bolin, and Sam Forman, playing as part of NYMF through July 27 at the Signature Center, focuses on a team of six insecure high school volleyball players and their equally hapless coach. Coach Kim Brindell (played by [title of show]’s Susan Blackwell) is a disgraced Olympian who gets a chance at redemption when she is charged with shaking the team from their dismal losing streak. Yet the girls’ road to victory is smattered with mommy issues, daddy issues, sexual identity crisis and more. Both coach and teammates will have to pull each other out of their emotional mire to go for the gold. Read more »


The No. 1 Reason To See Bella’s Dream

Photo: Julie Lemberger

Photo: Julie Lemberger

Bella’s Dream, the debut play from Dana Boll, which runs through June 30 at the Flamboyan Theatre, follows the globetrotting journey of her grandparents as they flee Poland on the eve of the Nazi occupation. Prompted by a premonition of impending danger, Bella (Lisa Kathryn Hokans) convinces her husband Raymond (Jon-Michael Miller) to uproot their lives to avoid the impending war in Europe. The play chronicles the couple’s harrowing journey across Eastern Europe and Central Asia, while flashing forward to present day America, when their granddaughter (Boll, playing herself) discovers the truth about her grandparents’ experience during World War II. Read more »


The No. 1 Reason to See: Hands on a Hardbody

PS - Hands on a Hardbody - story

The hardknock life of Americans battered down by lean financial times gets the musical treatment in the new show Hands on a Hardbody. Composed by Trey Anastasio (of Phish phame) and Amanda Green with a book by Doug Wright, Hardbody adapts its story from the 1997 documentary about 10 Texans trying to win a pickup truck. The rules of the contest are simple: whoever keeps their hands on the truck the longest wins. The musical dramatizes the endurance competition while highlighting each of the contestants’ backstories. Read more »


Ticket giveaway: Golden Boy

***This giveaway has concluded.***

Lincoln Center Theater vets Seth Numrich and Danny Burstein are back in a revival of Clifford Odets’ drama Golden Boy. Numerich stars as Joe Bonaparte, a gifted violinist who sacrifices his music talents for stardom in the boxing ring during Depression-era America. Tony Shalhoub co-stars in the Barlett Sher-directed drama. Stage Rush is giving away a pair of tickets to two lucky readers to see the show at the Belasco Theatre.

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Only one entry per person will be counted. Read more »


Ticket giveaway: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

***This giveaway has concluded***

It’s been 5 years since Amy Morton first screamed, “I’m running things now!” on Broadway in August: Osage County. Now the Tony nominee is back on the boards and mad as ever in the 50th anniversary revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. As if that wasn’t reason enough to see it, August playwright Tracy Letts joins her onstage as her embittered husband. Stage Rush is giving a lucky reader a pair of tickets to see these two powerhouses duke it out at the Booth Theatre.
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Fill out the form below to be entered into the contest.
Only one entry per person will be counted. Read more »


Ghost‘s Jennifer Sanchez displays ‘model behavior’ on Broadway and as a single mom

“What was the name of that cheese that I like?” It’s the seventh voicemail Candela leaves for her MIA friend Pepa in the song “Model Behavior” in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. While Laura Benanti was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in the role, this line (and her rendition of the whole song) highlighted understudy Jennifer Sanchez as an unsung comedic gem at a 2011 At This Performance concert. Sanchez went on twice for the part and still beams at the memory of it, calling it “the best time” she’s ever had on stage. Having made her Broadway debut in West Side Story in 2009, she’s now appearing in Ghost the Musical as an ensemble member and Rosa Santiago, the first client of the faux psychic Oda Mae Brown. Sanchez sat down with Stage Rush to discuss playing a 64 year old, the challenges faced by an understudy, and being a single mom on Broadway.

This is your third Broadway show. What’s it like to work on Broadway? Was this always the dream?
I didn’t see a Broadway show until I was in college. I had never been to New York. The first time I acted in a show was when I was 7 years old. It was a community theater production of Annie in New Mexico. I thought that was everything. I had so much fun. I got to wear lip gloss and hairspray. I thought my life was complete. That was the start of it all.

You are playing an old widow in Ghost. How did that happen?
Well, she’s 64. Her age isn’t specified in the script, but she’s 64. When I auditioned for Rosa Santiago, I honestly thought she was 27. I thought she was young, fun, and beautiful. When I auditioned, I wore my usual outfit—these huge earrings, bangles over my tight dance top, and heels. There was nothing in the script that said she’s older and has a cane. When the producers flew the cast to London to see the show, I saw her come out and I thought, ‘Well that must just be the London version.’ [laughs] I had seen the movie, but I didn’t think it’d be the same. I thought, ‘That’s just for London.’ We came back to New York and on the first day of rehearsals, they gave me my cane. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’

It seems that you prefer playing a character role rather than the pretty young woman that you are.
That’s the most fun for me, when I’m lucky enough to make people laugh. Read more »


NYMF Preview: Graham Skipper draws a blood bath in Re-Animator the Musical

graham skipper re-animator the musicalFor over 20 years, Blue Man Group has been the only show in New York to require the ‘You may get wet’ disclaimer. Now, theatergoers can go from blue to red as they get sprayed with blood from the undead. After two sold-out, extended runs in Los Angeles, Re-Animator the Musical is being presented at the New York Musical Theatre Festival from July 17 through July 22. Based on the H.P. Lovecraft story and 1985 camp film, the musical centers on Herbert West, a young medical student who invents a serum to reawake the dead; naturally, the potion has some unintended side effects. As the stage becomes more populated with West’s killer creations, the carnage reaches the first rows of audience members in the “splash zone.”

The actor charged with the most blood splatter is Graham Skipper, who plays West. A life-long fan of all things cult horror, Skipper feels at home with the plays aesthetics of gore and blood spatter. “When you need an extra push to get you to the end of a show, how could a geyser of red in your face not wake you up?” Skipper said of the on-stage bloodbath.

There are two concoctions used to make the blood in the show. The kind the audience gets sprayed with is a mixture of laundry detergent, baby shampoo (get here), and food coloring, so it’s “easy to wash out,” Skipper explained. The actors get a less forgiving blend, which includes tomato juice. While harder to get out, it also “shows up really well under the stage lights,” Skipper said, who also admitted to often receiving strange looks as he makes his way home from the theater, covered in stage blood.

While the stains are merely an occupational hazard for the cast taken in stride, Skipper said no one in the audience has ever seemed to mind. However, Skipper offers a word of caution for anyone who sees the show. “If I see somebody that’s actively avoiding trying to get wet in the splash zone, of course I’m going to target you.” Skipper recalled a performance in which he locked his aim on a man who repeatedly made futile efforts to hide behind other audience members’ seats. “I got him so bloody and soaking wet,” Skipper said, chuckling. “At the end of the show, I bowed and waved to him; he only seemed a little perturbed.” Read more »


Straight Shootin’ with the cast of The Bad and the Better: Clyde Baldo

bad and the better amoralists derek ahonen clyde baldoThe streets are filled with shady politicians and rebel-rousing anarchists in Derek Ahonen’s new play, The Bad and the Better, which plays at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater through July 21.  In honor of the new detective noir, Stage Rush asked some of the fearless cast members about rolling with The Amoralists, admiring rebels, and shooting firearms. Here’s what they had to say!

Actor: Clyde Baldo

Has the nature of the Amoralists’ work allowed you to take more risks on stage? Moreso than your experiences with other theater companies?
I was very drawn to the reputation of the Amoralists and their gritty, risk-taking spirit. I take risks on stage in different ways. My role as Richard Zorn really doesn’t allow me to be risky. But I hope in future Amoralists productions, I get more of a chance to be out there. Read more »


The No. 1 Reason To See: The Bad and the Better

bad and the better poster amoralists derek ahonen daniel aukin peter jay sharpGet transported into a noir-ish New York City in Derek Ahonen’s twisty new crime thriller The Bad and the Better. The Lang Brothers, whose family tree is deeply rooted in the NYPD, both investigate New York’s murky underbelly from different sides. On their respective investigations into anarchist groups and mysterious suburban murders, each uncovers corrupt secrets that will change their lives forever.

The No. 1 Reason To See The Bad and the Better: The shocking plot twists Read more »