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Posts tagged ‘Broadway in Bryant Park’

12
Aug

Broadway in Bryant Park recap: ‘American Idiot’ and ‘La Cage aux Folles’

The weather didn’t get the memo that Broadway in Bryant Park still had one more week left in the season. It drizzled on the massive crowd that gathered for the free lunchtime concert’s final show of the summer. But judging from the crowd’s reactions to the buzzy shows that performed, they didn’t seem to mind the rain.

The Cagelles of La Cage aux Folles, this year’s Tony winner for Best Revival of a Musical, took the stage first. I wasn’t surprised that Kelsey Grammer didn’t participate in the event, but Douglass Hodge, the Tony winner for Best Actor, could have showed up to belt out “I Am What I Am.” Instead, their merry mass of transvestites entertained the crowd to exuberant applause. Not donning any feminine garb for “We Are What We Are” did come off a bit strange (“Look under our frocks,” what frocks?!), but their energy was through the roof, especially as they spiked extra large beach balls into the audience. The song began strangely though, as the announcer introduced the song as “What Are We Here For,” and then interrupted the already-in-progress number to give it the correct title. Dale Hensely and Chris Hoch went on as Albin and Georges, respectively, for “With You On My Arm,” which came off dull. The duo then joined the Cagelles for their closing act, “The Best of Times,” in which they paled in comparison to the effusive ensemble.

Video: “We Are What We Are”

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6
Aug

Stage Rush TV: Episode 25

Talking points:

Did you catch On A Clear Day You Can See Forever at Vassar Powerhouse, Rushers? Did you have tickets to one of the performances that Anika Noni Rose was absent for? What was your take on Broadway in Bryant Park this week? Any Rushers ever eaten a Wicked brownie? Leave all your thoughts and ideas for Broadway desserts in the comments!

6
Aug

Broadway in Bryant Park recap: ‘Fela!’ and ‘Avenue Q’

After a hiatus from Broadway in Bryant Park last week due to some traveling, it seems the lunch-time concert series missed me, because it put on perhaps its strongest show of the season so far. What seemed like a strange lineup of mostly off-Broadway shows (Million Dollar Quartet and Fela! being the only Broadway offerings) delivered strong performances from each cast that included stars and no less than 10 minutes of stage time—something we haven’t seen in recent weeks.

The concert started off with a bang, with the Broadway newbie Million Dollar Quartet. Coming off of a Tony nomination for Best Musical and a win for supporting actor Levi Kreis, the honored actor and his cast mates took the stage with their instruments. Most casts sing to recorded instrumentals, as an orchestra usually can’t fit on the Bryant Park stage. However, since in Quartet, the actors are the orchestra, this made for a unique performance. The cast of Quartet are fantastic musicians and performers—every performance I’ve seen of theirs has been engaging, and this concert was no exception. It was refreshing to see the actors out of their Lewis/Presley/Perkins/Cash garb, instead donning jeans and Quartet t-shirts; it brought some of the cheese out of the performance, leaving their talent and chemistry alone on the stage. Lance Guest and Eddie Clendening, who play Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley respectively, were not in attendance, but their understudies were, and any difference in performance was nearly unnoticeable. A standout was Elizabeth Stanley, who plays Elvis’ girlfriend Dyanne, and usually fades into the background. On the Bryant Park stage, Stanley was feisty and bubbled over with sex and raw vocals. Her rendition of “I Hear You Knocking,” made an impression on me that hadn’t before upon seeing a musical preview and the show itself. Read more »

24
Jul

Stage Rush TV: Episode 23

Talking points:

Were any of you Rushers at the Next to Normal lottery for Alice Ripley, Jennifer Damiano, and Brian d’Arcy James’ final performance? Did any of you win? Who has camped out for Shakespeare in the Park tickets? Do you think it’s worth it? Who has seen Bernadette Peter and Elaine Stritch in A Little Night Music? Who else, like me, has a crush on Leigh Ann Larkin? Leave your thoughts, questions, and ideas in the comments!

23
Jul

Broadway in Bryant Park recap: ‘A Little Night Music’ and ‘Rock of Ages’

Unbalanced was the word of the day for the third concert in the Broadway in Bryant Park series, this week featuring A Little Night Music, the off-Broadway Falling For Eve, Chicago, and Rock of Ages. Although the meaty middle was dull, the concert was bookended by high points.

The first of the bookends was A Little Night Music. I have to say that my heart leapt when the announcer introduced Leigh Ann Larkin to the stage. I knew that she’d be singing “The Miller’s Son,” her character Petra’s only solo in the show—which is one of my favorite moments from the current production. Larkin couldn’t be sexier when she performs this number. She is playful and wide eyed, yet moves like a siren on the stage. Youch! After a fantastic performance from Larkin (which was unfortunately plagued by sound glitches beyond her control), I was shocked to see her leave the stage and hear the announcer introduce the next musical. That Night Music should only get one performance is absurd. I was not surprised that its stars, Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch, were not present to perform, but surely the rest of the (fantastic) supporting cast could have entertained. A lot of Night Music’s numbers would make little sense when taken out of the show’s context, but “The Glamorous Life” and “Every Day A Little Death” would have worked fine. That Larkin would be sent to represent such a gigantic show (and cast) alone was surprising.

Video: “The Miller’s Son”

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16
Jul

Stage Rush TV: Episode 22

Talking points:

Rushers, what did you think of Brian D’Arcy James as Dan in Next to Normal? Please tell me, since I didn’t see him. What did you think of this week’s Broadway in Bryant Park? Were you disappointed Montego Glover was absent, or were you thrilled to see Danielle Williamson? Are you getting your eyeliner out in anticipation of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson’s Broadway transfer in September? Leave all your excitement, woes, and thoughts in the comments!

16
Jul

Broadway in Bryant Park recap: Memphis and Billy Elliot

The second installment of the free summer Broadway-at-lunchtime extravaganza (aka Broadway in Bryant Park) enjoyed much less steamy weather than its premiere week. I also indulged in one of the park’s signature green chair this time, which resulted in a much further spot for filming, which I didn’t realize was a consequence until later. Let me know if the videos are too difficult to see, or if you enjoyed the full-stage perspective.

This week’s concert, which boasted a hefty lineup, kicked off with the oddball of the group—The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, featuring the Rockettes. I can’t be the only one who isn’t keen on Christmas in July. Thankfully, the Rockettes showed the audience mercy and refrained from performing to any Yuletide tunes. Instead, they relegated their performance to a brief routine of high kicks and chorus lines to an instrumental number (no Christmas carol I could make out), and exited the stage roughly three minutes after they began. Someone’s not getting coal in their stocking, come December.

The first real show to take the stage was the king of Broadway, The Phantom of the Opera. Phantom actor John Cudia was not in attendance, but Paul Schaefer knocked it out of the park with “Music of the Night.” Interestingly, Phantom only got two songs, which, as I would find out, left more time for newer shows. Usually, all shows get four numbers. This week, the allotted numbers were quite unbalanced.

The cast of South Pacific was up to bat next, and they were easily the best performers of the day. I’ve thought for a while that the South Pacific chorus is the strongest I’ve ever seen on Broadway. Danny Burstein and his men proved it once again with “There Is Nothing Like A Dame,” making full use of the stage, something that Memphis could have done (but more on that later). Laura Osnes (ah, a star!) was up for the Bryant Park challenge and sang “A Wonderful Guy.” Seeing her perform was a first for me, and I was quite impressed with her vocals.

Video: “There Is Nothing Like A Dame”

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9
Jul

Stage Rush TV: Episode 21

Talking points:

What do you think, Rushers? Do you love the Broadway in Bryant Park concerts as much as I do? Do you think A-list stars should be obligated to perform at these concerts promoting theirs shows? Have you seen the original Wedekind Spring Awakening performed? How did it compare to your liking of the Sater/Sheik musical? Leave it in the comments!

9
Jul

Broadway in Bryant Park recap: In the Heights and Promises, Promises

Forget the Fourth of July. Summer doesn’t kick off on Broadway until it infiltrates Bryant Park. The annual Broadway in Bryant Park concert series kicked off yesterday, featuring the casts of Nunsense, Promises, Promises, Stomp, and In the Heights.

While most casts go casual for their performances, the ladies of Nunsense donned their character’s habits in the humid, high-80-degree weather. While the silly sisters twirled around onstage, I wondered how many spectators sitting in the park’s classic green chairs thought they were watching songs from the upcoming Sister Act musical.

When it was time for the cast members of Promises, Promises to take the stage, I felt foolish actually thinking its stars Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth would be among them. In a musical where few numbers are not sung by the two male and female leads, I figured for sure they would be up for the task of the lunchtime concert. Instead, Sarah Jane Everman (who was on when I saw the show) and Peter Benson filled in for the stars. (And my Kristin Chenoweth Curse is still maintained—I have never seen her perform live when I’ve had the chance.)

Video: “I Say A Little Prayer”

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