This week’s acts at Broadway in Bryant Park couldn’t match the scorching heat of Kerry Butler and Aaron Tveit from last week, so Mother Nature sent down an excess of UV rays to make up for the difference. The third week of the concert series was the hottest yet, clocking in at 94 degrees. In addition to the added heat, there were five shows performing, breaking from the usual four. It was a jam-packed show with solid turnouts, but no clear, wowing performance.
Joseph Harrington took the stage first for Billy Elliot, singing “Electricity.” His delivery seemed a bit robotic and inorganic, but at the end when he took center stage and performed numerous, consecutive pirouettes—I couldn’t help but have chills. Emily Skinner sang Mrs. Wilkinson’s number, “Shine,” but was unaccompanied by her ballerina students, who performed during the number last year. Closing out their set, all four current Broadway Billies (Harrington, Tade Biesinger, Giuseppe Bausilio, and Peter Mazurowski) convened for a tap dance set.
Memphis sent in its understudies in place of Chad Kimball and Montego Glover. Bryan Fenkart, who sat down with Stage Rush for an “Understudy Hall” profile, is often a pinch-hitter for the role of Huey. News broke on Thursday that Kimball is scheduled to take a leave of absence from the musical in the fall due to a long-gestating injury. Fenkart’s appearance at the Bryant Park concert provided some thoughtful foreshadowing as to whether he might be tapped to replace Kimball in the role. Regardless, Fenkart delivered a vocally-impressive and well-acted “The Music of My Soul,” followed by Dan’yelle Williamson, who added her own gospel flourishes to the great solo “Colored Woman.” Surprisingly, Fenkart and Williamson were the only two Memphis representatives. I found it odd that the show didn’t make use of its impressive ensemble, but the two back-up leads delivered a strong set on their own.
VIDEO: Bryan Fenkart sings “The Music of My Soul” from Memphis
- Scottsboro Boys producer Catherine Schreiber discusses the show’s 12 Tony Award nominations and what she thinks the show can win on the big night
- The Broadway softball league kicks off with tons of stars; Aaron Tveit sings “The Star-Spangled Banner”
- Free ticket giveaway to new off-Broadway musical Lucky Guy
- Broadway grosses
What do you think, Rushers? Do you think Catherine Schreiber is on to something, or is she being too optimistic about Scottsboro‘s chances at the Tonys? Who had to wipe the drool from their mouth when they saw Aaron Tveit in a baseball uniform? For your viewing pleasure, watch Aaron’s full performance of the National Anthem below. Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
- Striking out at Next to Normal during stars’ final week
- Missing Memphis’s Montego Glover at Broadway in Bryant Park
- Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson announces Broadway transfer in September
- Broadway grosses
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!
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”
- Interviewing Chad Kimball’s understudy, Bryan Fenkart, from Memphis
- Loss #1 at the American Idiot ticket lottery
- Million Dollar Quartet rocks out at a private jam session
- Broadway grosses
Some great rock musicals have made their way to Broadway in the “post Rent” era. Spring Awakening, Passing Strange, and Next to Normal have all piqued my interest in the evolution of the Broadway musical. With Memphis billed as a story about “the birth of rock and roll,” I was expecting to tack another show onto this list. And I had reason to think so.
While I was standing outside the Shubert Theatre in the brisk October morning air, two people walked by me, noticed I was waiting for tickets, and exuberantly told me what a treat I was in for. This kind of man-on-the-street feedback was surprising to me, particularly for a show that was still in previews. I felt so good about myself! I was the first rusher in line at 9:30 a.m. (come on people; you’re making this too easy!) and only had to wait a half hour to get front row tickets to a show that two New Yorkers thought was great.
The student rush policy for Memphis was a great one. It was the good ol’ two-tickets-in-the-front-row-for-$26.50-each deal. The reason I say “was” though is because the policy was only in effect during previews (Memphis opened last night). When contacted, publicists for Memphis told me that there are no official plans to instate a rush post-opening, but there has been talk of it and it will depend on week-to-week sale monitoring. So I guess that means all you rushers waiting to see this new musical will have to hope the show isn’t a sellout. Memphis sold just over 91 percent of its tickets last week, so the likelihood of a rush being reinstated soon isn’t looking too good. Read more