- Part 2 of Ensemble Watch with The Lion King’s Ray Mercer and Jean Michelle Grier. Ray talks about his giraffe, Gus, and how he mounts the 14-foot puppet.
- At This Performance concert celebrates 500 understudies
- Riding Stew’s Brooklyn Omnibus at BAM
- Broadway grosses
Do you think you have what it takes to ride Gus, Rushers? Have you been to one of the At This Performance concerts? Have you taken a ride on Stew’s Brooklyn Omnibus yet? Leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below, and follow Stage Rush on Facebook and Twitter for more updates, news, and sightings!
Five hundred spotlights. That’s how many center-stage moments the At This Performance concert series has given to Broadway understudies since its inception seven years ago. During the Monday night concert, Erick Buckley—who understudies Uncle Fester in The Addams Family, was crowned number 500. At the time of the concert, he had yet to ever go on for the role.
That fact is what makes the At This Performance concerts so special—it honors actors who rarely get the glory. Musicals Tonight! artistic director Mel Miller introduced the night’s performers as “the backbone of American musical theater,” noting that they are the future leads of Broadway. The actors represented such shows as Fela!, The Lion King, A Little Night Music, and Memphis.
Typically, the performers perform solo, but since Colin Cunliffe and Jessica Lea Patty were both in attendance from The Addams Family, they sang the duet their characters share, called “Crazier Than You.” Rather than give the song a straight performance, the two acted out the song, using props.
Video: Colin Cunliffe and Jessica Lea Patty sing “Crazier Than You” from The Addams Family
- Kevin Daly of Theatre Aficionado At Large and I discuss the first preview of The Scottsboro Boys
- Fela! performs free concert in DUMBO
- Seeing Lombardi
- Broadway grosses
Were you at the first preview of The Scottsboro Boys, Rushers? If so, what did you think of the show? Is it on your list of shows to see this season? Did you make it out to the free Fela! concert, despite the rain? Have you caught Lombardi yet? Leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below! And for on-the-go updates, news, and sightings, follow Stage Rush on Facebook and Twitter.
Do you think rain would really keep Fela from performing? The outspoken Nigerian musician would never miss a chance to be heard. When a dreary day washed out hopes of the cast of Fela! providing a free concert at Brooklyn Bridge Park Monday night, the cast and band quickly moved the location to the nearby St. Ann’s Warehouse.
The rain didn’t inhibit fans either, who had the venue nearly packed when the doors opened at 6 p.m. for the 6:30 p.m. show. The concert commenced 15 minutes late and was preceded by four speakers—two artistic directors and two politicians. (Forgive me for not remembering their names. No one in the house was too concerned with them.) After an anxious crowd failed to hide its disinterest with the speakers, the Fela! band took the stage.
After playing a 10 to 15-minute intro (which should have been shortened), Sahr Ngaujah (and his abs) took the stage, followed by five of his Queens. Ngaujah spiritedly chatted with the crowd about hurried lives and following dreams, as he guided his band through “Trouble Sleep,” “Ego,” and other Kuti tunes.
Video: Sahr Ngaujah and the cast of Fela! take the stage at St. Ann’s Warehouse
Were you at the free Fela! concert, Rushers? What did you think of Ngaujah’s performance and the set list? Leave your thoughts on the concert in the comments below! Don’t forget to follow Stage Rush on Twitter and Facebook for on-the-go updates, news, and sightings!
The new Broadway season swoops in with quite a homecoming when it takes over the area it inhabits. During the annual Broadway on Broadway concert, Broadway the art takes full control of Broadway the district. In its nineteenth year, the free outdoor concert in Times Square offered strong performances, many of theater’s biggest stars, and a lack of new offerings.
Sponsored by The Broadway League and billed as a kick-off to the new theater season, Broadway on Broadway should (and usually does) feature the new musical productions that will be bowing in the coming months. It’s an exciting sneak peak of shows that are opening in a few weeks, and some much further into the year. Last year, new productions like Finian’s Rainbow and Memphis were among those that debuted their songs and cast to the Times Square audience. This year, just two new musicals performed, out of the 10+ productions slated for Broadway this year.
Only one of those two productions, Elf, features original music. Beth Leavel was on hand to perform “There Is A Santa Claus,” which was pretty paint-by-numbers in melody, but embodied a strong seasonal flavor. Will Swenson (with newly cropped hair, much to the female audience’s audible disdain) performed “I Say A Little Prayer” from Priscilla Queen of the Desert—a jukebox musical. Not two of the strongest numbers of the day, but still exciting, being they were new.
Where was the cast of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, who is clearly ready to go? The Scottsboro Boys are still performing at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, so they get a pass on this event. But why couldn’t Reeve Carney represent Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark like he did on Good Morning America on Friday? Were the A-list stars of Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown above the free concert? Being that all these shows are set to open in the next two months, a one-song performance couldn’t have been too far out of their reach. Instead of performances, Sutton Foster, from the upcoming revival of Anything Goes (another production that didn’t perform—like she doesn’t know how to sing “Blow, Gabriel, Blow?) appeared on stage to read from the list of all these shows that are coming to Broadway and wouldn’t be performing. Some tease. Read more
- Fela! announces surprise January 2 closing date
- Fringe Festival: In Loco Parentis
- Live At Lincoln Center: South Pacific—more Broadway on TV, please
- Broadway grosses
Were you as shocked as I was by Fela!’s closing notice, Rushers? Do you think the show deserves a longer run? What Fringe Festival shows have you seen so far? Did you tune in for the live broadcast of South Pacific? What kind of compromise would you suggest to get more Broadway on TV? Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments!
- Seeing the concert reading of On A Clear Day You Can See Forever
- Fela! and Avenue Q make for the strongest Broadway in Bryant Park of the season
- Broadway grosses
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!
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
- Celebrating 20 episodes of SRTV!
- Being a way overdue audience member of Rock of Ages and Race
- The Fela!/39 Steps giveaway has ended. More giveaways to come!
- Broadway grosses
What shows have you been super late to seeing, Rushers? Did you find yourself immersed in Rock of Ages? Did you feel convinced with Race? Leave all your questions and thoughts in the comments! And once again, thank you so much for watcher. Rushers rock!
- Jonathan Groff at Joe’s Pub
- Talking with Afton C. Williamson, former understudy, current star of Race
- Stage Rush’s free ticket giveaway: Fela! and The 39 Steps
- Broadway grosses
Did you catch Jonathan Groff at Joe’s Pub, Rushers? What did you think of his set list? Have you seen Afton Williamson in Race yet? What do you think of her story? Have you entered the Fela!/39 Steps ticket giveaway yet? What are you waiting for, Rushers? Leave it in the comments!