- Lucky and The Mick from The Craptacular co-host with me this week!
- Broadway in Bryant Park kicks off with a not-so-stunning set
- Hair returns to Broadway at the St. James Theatre
- Our take on the Broadway shows opening in the fall
- Broadway grosses
What do you think, Rushers? What new show are you most excited to see in the fall? Did you think the first Broadway in Bryant Park concert of the summer was a dud? Did you catch the re-revived Hair yet? Leave all your Craptacular thoughts in the comments below!
Manhattan’s summer lunch breaks just got extended. There’s only one event that could justify an hour-and-a-half reprieve from the office, and that is the Broadway in Bryant Park concert series that kicked off Thursday afternoon. (Yes, my math is correct. The concert lasts an hour, but attendees should expect to get there at least a half hour early for a good seat.) Despite the gorgeous (if not intense) summer weather that beat down on the Bryant Park audience for the kick off installment, the concert series got off to an underwhelming start.
Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana was set to perform first. You might be wondering what act could be performed from the super-elaborate spectacle. The answer: not much. A couple minutes of clowns waddling through the sweaty crowd and a quick run across the stage comprised Zarkana’s bizarre performance—if you can call it that.
The women of Baby It’s You! took the stage to show what a performance is really about. The four actresses that play the Shirelles pounded out a medley of the girl group’s hits, with Christina Sajous spunky vocals mixing well with her Rihanna-style cropped hairdo. The cheesy costumes of the 60s were not missed, and the performance demonstrated that the musical works so much better as a tribute concert than a narrative show.
VIDEO: Baby It’s You! performs a Shirelles medley
Greetings from Los Angeles, Rushers! I’ve been out here on the west coast for over a week participating in the National Endowment for the Arts’ Theater Journalism Institute, and the website we’ve created—Engine 28—is bursting with theater content, relative to both LA and NY folk. My biggest undertaking in the program was producing a theater webshow, featuring top personalities and burning arts-related issues. Here is the result—Off Stage with Engine 28. In this premiere episode, I sit down with Pasadena Playhouse artistic director (and Baby It’s You! director) Sheldon Epps to discuss his controversial statements about Broadway needing a quality evaluation, as well as the upcoming musical version of Sleepless In Seattle. I also sit down with Good People‘s Tate Donovan to discuss the conclusion of that show’s successful run and his thoughts on the LA theater scene.
What do you think, Rushers? What did Sheldon Epps say that most surprised you? How about his hints that Pasadena Playhouse would shift their season so that Angela Bassett could complete her run in The Mountaintop? What do you think of the term “devised theater”? Do you think Tate Donovan’s evaluation of LA theater is accurate? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
- Priscilla: Queen of the Desert‘s Nick Adams on being taken seriously as an actor
- Tony Award nominee predictions! What categories can Born Yesterday, Baby It’s You!, The Normal Heart, and The People In The Picture hope for?
- Watch the Tony Award nominations announcement LIVE on Stage Rush: Tuesday, May 3 at 8:30 a.m.
- Broadway grosses
What do you think, Rushers? Do you think Nick Adams’ good looks can act as a double-edged sword regarding how he is perceived as an actor? What do you think of Aaron Tveit’s statement on the subject? Do you agree with my Tony Award nominee predictions? Who do you think will get nominated? Feel free to go Tony-Award crazy in the comments below!
Theater needs to feel genuine, and in the case of the new musical Baby It’s You!, it comes off as a marketing ploy concocted by executives doing musical theater algebra. Commercial success Jersey Boys + all females (because women love to go to the theater) = Baby It’s You!. Only this equation doesn’t yield exciting results.
The musical focuses on Florence Greenburg, the New Jersey housewife who decides she’s bored and scoops up five female singers to manage. They become the Shirelles, and Baby It’s You! is set to their music. Don’t be fooled though; the show is about Greenburg and barely includes the actual members of the Shirelles. Florence all but abandons her husband and two children to manage the girls, climbs the music industry ladder, and enters a then-taboo affair with the Shirelles’ black producer, Luther Dixon. She and the Shirelles make pop-music history, but at what cost? Fame or family—which is more important? You decide.
Although there isn’t much else to ponder in Baby It’s You!. A musical that should be all about relationships (well, what play isn’t about relationships?) leaves all the personal connections undeveloped and cold. Beth Leavel and Allan Louis play Florence and Luther, and there isn’t one fiery ember of chemistry between them. Florence’s daughter, Mary Jane (played by Kelli Barrett) feels spurned by her mother who ditched her for the recording industry. She shows up after years without communication ready to ream her mother out, and all anger is washed away with a song. (Mary Jane can belt; how convenient. Watch out MJ, Mamma might try to sign you.) Most criminal is the lack of connection between Florence and the girls she manages. The woman who left her children to basically act as a surrogate mother to the members of the girl group shows no sign of deep rapport with any of them. What passes between the Shirelles and Florence is simply blank. Read more