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Posts from the ‘Features’ Category

6
Jan
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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.” Read more

22
Jul

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 »

14
Jul

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, 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 »

25
Jun

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 »

13
Jun

Straight Shootin’ with the cast of The Bad and the Better: Regina Blandón

amoralists bad and the better regina blandon derek ahonen daniel aukinThe streets are filled with shady politicians and rebel-rousing anarchists in Derek Ahonen’s new play, The Bad and the Better, which begins performances at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater on June 14.  In anticipation 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: Regina Blandón Read more »

12
Jun

Straight Shootin’ with the cast of The Bad and the Better: Jordan Tisdale

jordan tisdale amoralists bad and better derek ahonenThe streets are filled with shady politicians and rebel-rousing anarchists in Derek Ahonen’s new play, The Bad and the Better, which begins performances at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater on June 14.  In anticipation 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: Jordan Tisdale

Has the nature of the Amoralists’ work allowed you to take more risks on stage? Moreso than your experiences with other theater companies?
They have allowed me to take more risks than I have before and probably ever will. It’s all in the writing. Although we are a breed of actors who go all the way and don’t consider anything but excellence as an option, we wouldn’t be able to do that without the allowance of the writing. Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, and Sam Shepard to name a few, do the same when they give an actor crazy and plentiful circumstances to work through. Actors love to go all the way and push the boundaries. Read more »

7
May

Clybourne Park makes Tony nominee Jeremy Shamos racist proof

jeremy shamos headshot clybourne park broadwayIn two acts each taking place in different eras, the new play Clybourne Park demonstrates how race issues haven’t changed much in 50 years. Jeremy Shamos plays Karl in Act I during 1959 and Steve in Act II in the present day—two of the most foot-in-mouth characters to hit Broadway in years. Shamos’ hilarity has been recognized with a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play, along with three other nominations for Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning drama. This is quite a triumph for a play that nearly got the plug pulled on it when mega producer Scott Rudin abruptly withdrew from the production last February, due to a conflict with Norris. Stage Rush sat down with Shamos, before the Tony nominations were announced, to discuss breaking dozens of social norms on stage, Clybourne’s press-shy playwright, and almost not making it to Broadway.

Your Act I character, Karl Lindner, has stepped out of A Raisin in the Sun and into Clybourne Park. What’s it like to play that unique aspect?
I’ve made some effort to not over think the Raisin in the Sun connection. I haven’t poured over Karl Lindner’s part in that play. For Bruce Norris, it was a jumping-off point, and it’s the same for me. I’ve never seen the movie; Bruce told me that I shouldn’t. [laughs] When I first walk on stage in Act I, my character resonates with people and a lot of the work is done for me. Pretty late in the first act when I say “The community association made an offer to these people,” the people who are familiar with [A Raisin in the Sun] know what that means, because they’ve been in that living room and saw him make an offer to the Youngers. I get the advantage of my first act being the second act of something else.

How does it feel to play a character that breaks social norms and is hilariously bad?
That’s the pleasure of doing Bruce’s plays in general. He allows his characters to say things that we have probably all thought, but would never say. That’s a complete pleasure, especially within the context of a very smart theatrical event. I’ve been asked if it’s hard to say the things that my characters say. There are certain things that are offensive that would be hard to say if the play itself was offensive. Then yeah, I’d just be offensive in an irresponsible way. But because things are contextualized so well, I feel like it’s thrilling and the audience gets a real vicarious thrill. Read more »

28
Apr

Follies’ Elaine Paige: Still here and finally gunning for a Tony Award

elaine paige follies broadway revival im still here carlotta bernadette peters

Photo: Joan Marcus

On May 1, Elaine Paige, the actress who originated the roles of Eva Peron in Evita and Grizabella in Cats could likely be nominated for her first Tony Award. Despite a lauded stage career that goes back nearly 45 years, the British actress has only been on Broadway twice (and not in those shows), having done most of her work in London’s West End. Her Broadway debut was in Sunset Boulevard, and although she played the lead role of Norma Desmond, she was ineligible for a Tony nomination, as she was a replacement. However, her return to Broadway last fall as the saucy stage and film star Carlotta who belts out “I’m Still Here” in the revival of Follies has her on everyone’s frontrunner list for a nod for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. As she readied to begin rehearsals for Follies’ Los Angeles run, Paige telephoned Stage Rush to discuss chumming it up with her Follies costars, being Andrew Lloyd Webber’s go-to gal, and what a Tony nomination would mean to her.

You’ve taken this show to three locations now. How does that feel?
Here we are in LA for the third and final installment. It’s extraordinary. It feels like we’re on tour, really. It’s all very unexpected, of course, because initially it was just going to be in Washington, DC. To then be told we were going to New York was a wonderful surprise. Now to be here in LA is even better. It keeps on rolling.

What’s going on with this production? Has anything different? How’s it going with Victoria Clark, who is replacing Bernadette Peters?
I haven’t yet started rehearsals; I start on Friday. One thing I know is different is that the leading lady, Bernadette Peters, is not in this production out here. It’s a young lady by the name of Victoria Clark, who I’ve yet to meet. That will make a different complexion on the piece. Sometimes when somebody new comes into something, I think that could be a breath of fresh air.

Read more »

19
Apr

Duncan Sheik gets electronic with American Psycho and goes indie with Spring Awakening movie

duncan sheik spring awakening american psycho barely breathing whisper houseDuncan Sheik is still knee-deep in theater projects. The Tony-winning composer is getting ready to mount the first staged production of his new musical The Nightingale this June in San Diego, he’s still polishing away at the musical version of American Psycho, and he’s also trying to get the much-anticipated film version of Spring Awakening off the ground. Yet while the stage calls, Sheik is taking some time to focus on his music career. Sheik is co-headlining a concert tour with Suzanne Vega (most widely known for “Tom’s Diner”), which will play New York’s Highline Ballroom on April 25 and 26. Sheik phoned Stage Rush on the drive to his first rehearsal for the tour to chat about how American Psycho is influencing his next solo album, Spring Awakening going the indie film route, and why he’s wanted to dodge his biggest hit, “Barely Breathing,” for so long.

How did this collaboration with Suzanne Vega come about?
We’ve known each other for a really long time because we’re both practicing Buddhists. We knew each other through those circles and we’d see each other at various places when we’d be touring for our records. For a long time, Suzanne had this idea about writing a show where she would play Carson McCullers and perform these songs that were inspired by her writing. Suzanne’s daughter is a huge fan of Spring Awakening, so Suzanne thought that since I’ve done the theater thing before, she’d call me up. We ended up writing a score for this piece together. She performed it a year ago at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and she’s been performing a few of the songs in her concerts since then. So we decided to do this co-headlining tour. Read more »

13
Apr
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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. Read more