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Posts from the ‘Taking Direction’ Category


Analysis: Peters and Stritch to replace Zeta-Jones and Lansbury in ‘Night Music’

In an anticipated announcement Monday, it was revealed that Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch will replace Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury in A Little Night Music, effective July 13. Zeta-Jones and Lansbury will depart the show June 20, and the production will take a three-week hiatus, during which the actresses will rehearse.

This casting news effectively saves this production from shuttering, as it had already marked June 20 as its closing day. Until this point, the show’s producers had wooed numerous A-list actresses to assume the roles (Gwyneth Paltrow and mother Blythe Danner, Debbie Reynolds), but with no talks coming to fruition. Yet Peters and Stritch’s commitments to the show are a well-deserved saving grace for a high quality production.

I wonder if Peters felt slighted when she began talks for the role, since she wasn’t the first approached, and the other attempts were well publicized. Peters will fit the role extremely well, which makes me question why the producers hadn’t asked her earlier. Although from their first attempts at a replacement, it is clear they were looking for more Hollywood power, and Peters has more Broadway clout to her name than from film. Regardless, I don’t think her name will perform poorly at the box office, as she’s become one of those Broadway legends that people flock to see. Read more »


Hey Finian, shut up and sing!

When I make a playlist, I mix in songs from Broadway musicals right in there with my circa-1995 soft rock. To me, they’re no different, and just as motivating while cleaning the apartment or working out. So when I’m in the groove, there’s nothing more irritating than when dialogue interrupts the music.

The cast recording of Finian’s Rainbow is going to annoy me to no end. The album for the excellent, gone-way-too-soon show was released yesterday, and today I downloaded three songs from it (I loved the show as a whole, but didn’t want the entire album). “How Are Things In Glocca Morra,” “Look To The Rainbow,” and Old Devil Moon” all have introductory dialogue leading into the music. I’m sure the majority of the tracks have incorporated dialogue—perhaps someone can let me know if I’m right or wrong in the comments section below.

Why did the producers at PS Classics (the label that released the album) do this?? Dialogue in cast recordings toss a distracting wrench in the continuity of the album’s flow. And in Finian’s case, there’s more than just continuity problems. Read more »


“Fela!”‘s Missed, Genius Rush Opportunity

Fela! is a wildly unique and outside-the-box-thinking Broadway production. I thought so and so does just about every major theater critic. And with 86 percent of its tickets sold last week, it’s a fair hit. But I just read a fantastic gem of an idea New York Magazine delivered in it’s final paragraph of their review for Fela! that would have been a ridiculously exciting and original rush concept. Here’s the block quote from reviewer Dan Kois:

Given the concert conceit of Fela!, and the audience participation that its stars encourage, I wish they’d just ripped the first ten rows out of the orchestra and sold those spots for ten bucks to music lovers. It probably would’ve violated a fire code or some union contract, but it also might’ve helped the energy in the crowd match the exceptional energy onstage.

First of all, the $10-general-admission-pit rush idea is brilliant. It made me excited just to read and consider the notion. I can just imagine how much fervor that would draw out of fans, or rather how much more enthused it would make theater goers about the show. People would feel rabid about this show, like they feel about the Hair revival, spurred on by the nightly invitation for the audience to come dance on stage. A $10 price would be perfect to not only match up with the fact that there would be no seat, but also to reflect the atmosphere and realism of the story’s setting. It certainly didn’t cost $85 to get into Fela’s Shrine nightclub.

Kois’s idea of ripping out rows of seats is definitely radical, and I am kind of on board (although I don’t want to damage the beautiful Eugene O’Neill Theatre). That, however, would be a massive undertaking and an extra cost to Fela!‘s backers to restore whenever its run ends. But who are we kidding? Jay-Z and Will Smith have the money—let’s make this happen! (Not to mention we’d also have the newest chamption for Cheapest Rush Ever! …Fine, there was also this one.)

Photo: Monique Carboni


“Next to Normal” Ends Rush Policy, Begins Ticket Lottery

In the words of Melchior in Spring Awakening, “HHHHNNNOOOOOO!!” Next to Normal will end its excellent rush policy October 12 and begin a ticket lottery for day-of seats. Granted, this means no more cold, early mornings, but with it comes the uncertainty of seeing the show. I am greatly disappointed by this news, not only because it makes getting rush tickets for the Yorkey/Kitt musical significantly more difficult, but I’ve always felt the “snobby,” we’re-too-good-for-you shows employ ticket lottos.

Let the facts speak for themselves. Hair, In The Heights, Rock of Ages, Shrek, West Side Story, and Wicked all hold ticket lottos. With few exceptions, these are shows that generally sell at least 90 percent of their tickets every week. Shrek is an odd beast in that it hasn’t consistently sold well since it’s opening last December and it also has a (overly-priced) student rush policy. In The Heights was a huge seller for a year after its 2008 Tony win for Best Musical, but has recently dipped to dangerously low numbers (some suspect it might close in January). But Hair, Rock of Ages, and West Side Story are monster-sellers and crowd pleasers, not to even mention the mega-bucks earnings of Wicked, which always sells out the 1,809-seat Gershwin (aka. the largest Broadway theater).

Now in my mind, Next to Normal is the best musical currently on Broadway. But we have to think of this from a mainstream perspective: Next to Normal is no Wicked. The show has been on a massive high from its Tony wins, but attendance has slipped to the high 80s in recent weeks (still strong, but a decline nonetheless). And Broadway’s prized theatergoers—families with kids—are not going to see this show. And there is nothing wrong with that. Next to Normal caters to theatergoers who aren’t afraid of a dark, depressing, thought-provoking show. But this is not the show to start a ticket lottery with. As much as I’d hate to see its sales suffer, I would be surprised if it maintains its current momentum into the post-holiday winter.

Lotteries are for shows—such as Wicked and Hair—that have certain longevity. But if recent trends have taught us anything, is anything on Broadway certain?

What do you think, Stage Rushers? Are you happy about this new lotto policy for Next to Normal, or are you clenching your fists in an anguished grip?

PS: In perusing the updated show rush policies, I noticed that the new musical Memphis, currently in previews, has a rush policy “in effect only for preview performances.” Memphis, I really want to see you; I do. But let’s not play the we-can’t-have-a-rush-policy-because-we’re-going-to-be-too-popular card until we’ve opened, shall we?


Rushing 12 Nights in Advance: The State of the Rush

I love Anne Hathaway. Like, love her. So when I heard she was doing Shakespeare in the Park’s Twelfth Night this summer with Raul Esparza, my other favorite actor, I couldn’t contain my excitement. In fact, I tweeted on April 15 “Raul Esparza has been cast in Twelfth Night, which is already starring Anne Hathaway. I’m getting in line NOW!” Little did I know I should have followed through with that tweet.

On Sunday, I was shut out from getting tickets to the performance. Unfortunately, it was the production’s final show. I know, I should have planned to do the famed Central Park rush earlier in the run, but due to scheduling conflicts, this is the way it worked out. But I took precautions. I arrived at 5:45 a.m.—a time I thought might even be over ambitious. But as the eternally long line of ticket hopefuls moved from Central Park West into the park (Central Park is technically not open to the public before 6 a.m.), line monitors of the Public Theater cut off the line when it reached a certain point, allowing no one else to join. There were already more people than there were tickets available, they said. After asking people who just made the cut off what time they arrived, I learned that on this particular day, unless you arrived at 4 a.m., you were out of luck. Read more »