After a ho-hum kickoff, the Broadway in Bryant Park concert series returned Thursday to its second week with a roar. Big Broadway players like Chicago and Catch Me If You Can showed up with their lead actors and off-Broadway fare like Million Dollar Quartet (new to the “off” title) and NEWSical proved strong.
First up were the guys (and gal) from Million Dollar Quartet, which is readying for its off-Broadway bow at the end of the month at New World Stages (it’s transferring from Broadway’s Nederlander Theatre). Much like Baby It’s You!, this weak show plays the Bryant Park venue fierce as a concert-style performance. Leave the story at home—bring in the hits. Their set list was similar to last year’s, but Robert Britton Lyons bring focus as Carl Perkins and Eddie Clendening is still right on as Elvis Presley. At six songs, their set list could have been cut by two, and they sadly did not perform their signature Britton-Lyons-stands-on-the-bass closing pose this year. Lazy musicians.
The old stalwart Chicago took the stage next, and felt anything but old this year. This was large in part due to Christopher Sieber, one of Broadway’s most reliable leads, bringing his charisma and rubbery face to the stage as Billy Flynn. He led the cast in “We Both Reached For The Gun,” which played great, visually, due to the marionette-like choreography. Melissa Rae Mahon, who was featured in Stage Rush’s Chicago episode of Ensemble Watch, played the part of Roxie alongside Sieber, and delivered her character’s title number with delicious sass.
VIDEO: Christopher Sieber sings “We Both Reached For The Gun” from Chicago
(Using an iPhone or iPad? Watch on YouTube)
- For Facebook Fan Day, Chicago fills the house for free
- Melissa Etheridge joins American Idiot cast for one week only
- Broadway grosses
What do you think, Rushers? Were you at Chicago‘s Facebook Fan Day? Do you think the event was a good idea? Do you think Chita Rivera is as adorable as I do? Did you catch Melissa Etheridge in American Idiot? How do you think she did? Leave your ideas and thoughts in the comments below! Tune in next week to a very special 50th-episode of Stage Rush TV!
- Revisiting James T. Lane, currently a Scottsboro Boy
- Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown suffers the A-list cast curse
- Broadway grosses
Well Rushers, what do you think of James’ Kander and Ebb switcheroo? Have you seen him in Scottsboro Boys? Do you feel the same way I do about Women on the Verge? Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments below! And don’t forget to follow Stage Rush on Facebook and Twitter for on-the-go news updates.
Late last September, it would probably have been difficult to find a Broadway actor who was more engulfed in the music of John Kander and Fred Ebb than James T. Lane. The Philadelphia native was concluding his commitment to the Kander and Ebb classic Chicago and rehearsing for the famous duo’s final show, The Scottsboro Boys. Last April, Lane kicked off Stage Rush’s Ensemble Watch series while he was part of Chicago’s company. He now plays the key, dual role of Ozie (one of the Scottsboro Boys) and Ruby, a white woman (yes, white woman) who falsely accuses the nine black men of raping her and her friend. Lane sat down with Stage Rush to discuss his Scottsboro transition, his new spotlight, and ladies hats.
The last time we spoke, it was April and you were in Chicago. How did The Scottsboro Boys come about?
I had done a reading of The Scottsboro Boys in June 2009. But before then, I auditioned at the end of 2008 for a reading of the show and I didn’t get it. I had a horrible audition, actually. I accidentally made cuts in the song, so obviously the accompanist and I didn’t gel. So when it came around again, I was like, “I’m doing the whole song!” I sang “Steppin’ Out With My Baby,” and then they asked me a funny question: “Do you think you could sing it as a girl?” I said, “Do you mean in my falsetto?” and they said, “No, as a female.” So I did it 1920s, flapper style, very cutesy with shoulders and knees. I didn’t know what they were getting at! I got the reading.
You weren’t involved in the production at the Vineyard Theatre last February. How did the Broadway opportunity come your way?
When they announced that Scottsboro was going to go to the Vineyard, I had obligations with Chicago and some concert work that I had already agreed to. So the Vineyard happened and then they announced it was going to Broadway and I felt, ugh, like I really missed my opportunity. My chance came around again midway through the tryouts in Minneapolis at the Guthrie Theater over the summer. September 20 was when I started rehearsals, and our first preview was October 7. So much had changed since that reading I did.
What is the process of switching shows like?
I did double duty on Chicago and Scottsboro Boys for about a week and a half from September 20 to sometime in October. I was doing rehearsals for Scottsboro during the day and performing Chicago at night. Luckily, both shows have the same producers. I had to put my four-weeks notice in, but they knew what I was doing and were lenient.
Video: James T. Lane talks spotting Kristin Chenoweth at Scottsboro‘s opening night
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”
- Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson gets EMOtional
- Seeing Anyone Can Whistle from a mile away
- Chicago’s ensemble talks stunt casting
- Broadway grosses: Why American Idiot isn’t a sellout
In this second part of Ensemble Watch, Melissa Rae Mahon and James T. Lane of Chicago discuss stunt casting, learning numerous versions of choreography for numbers, and perform their favorite dance steps from the show.
Did what Melissa and James said about knowing numerous versions of musical numbers surprise you, Rushers? How do you feel about some choreography being “watered down” for certain stars?
Kicking off Ensemble Watch, the series that highlights ensemble actors in Broadway’s hottest companies, Melissa Rae Mahon and James T. Lane dish on life in the classic musical Chicago and how they stay fit for those revealing costumes.
A sneak peak at Part 2.
Rushers, have you seen Melissa open Chicago? Did you catch James when he was in A Chorus Line? Are you surprised that these two didn’t describe a rigorous workout routine for the show? Leave it in the comments! Be sure to check back at Stage Rush for Part 2 of my interview with Melissa and James!