The energy at Joe’s Pub was infectious on April 9 as the short-lived, but much loved, Lysistrata Jones cast performed their Class Reunion concert. The quirky Douglas Carter Beane musical, a modern-day musical adaptation of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, played only 30 performances on Broadway, but was in fine shape taking to the stage one last time three months after closing.
—Concert recap by Zachary Laks
Joe’s Pub’s intimate setting made for an exciting opportunity to hear Lewis Flinn’s score, which will be preserved on a cast recording set for release on May 15. Book writer Beane hosted the evening, interjecting his sharp wit in between the performances. Three of the original Broadway cast members were unable to attend, due to scheduling conflicts. Most noticeably absent was Lysistrata Jones herself, Patti Murin who is filming a pilot in Los Angeles. Teddy Toye (Harold) and Alexander Aguilar (‘Uardo) were also unavailable for the event.
The concert began as the Broadway production did, with its startling bang and a Greek-like chorus homage leading into its high-energy meet-the-characters cheer song, “Right Now.” With a peppy, petite lead in Libby Servais (Murin’s understudy—who had never gone on in the role on Broadway), the opening brought the whole cast out to great cheers and the glory-filled moments of the cast reuniting on the same stage. Flinn noted that the performance was taking place exactly one year ago from the first rehearsal for its off-Broadway production. Read more
- Raul Esparza, Sierra Boggess, and more sing devastatingly beautiful Christmas songs at ASTEP’s annual holiday benefit concert
- Broadway grosses
What do you think, Rushers? Who had the best performance of the night at ASTEP’s Christmas concert? Would you forgo Christmas presents in exchange for hearing Raul Esparza sing (like I would)? What’s your favorite Christmas song that you’d like to see one of these guys perform? (An album of songs featured in the concert is available on iTunes and at Sh-K-Boom Records.) Leave your swooning and inappropriate thoughts in the comments below!
Raul Esparza shook his ass, Sherie Rene Scott compared Lindsay Mendez to her right breast, and Seth Numrich showed up to announce he can’t sing. Yes, everyone was in the holiday spirit at ASTEP’s fourth annual New York City Christmas concert at Joe’s Pub December 12. (An album of songs featured in the concert is available on iTunes and at Sh-K-Boom Records.) The evening of Broadway A-listers performing Christmas songs to innovative arrangements proved as solid and gorgeous as ever, mixed in with a lot of good humor. Here’s what went down.
Sherie Rene Scott, Lindsay Mendez, and Betsy Wolfe (previously seen together in Everyday Rapture) kicked off the show with Mariah Carey’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” in such sassy, female rocker fashion, it made me wish the three would form a permanent girl rock group. The bond between the three women seemed strong, as their chemistry flared during their feisty number and between songs, they exchanged playful banter. Scott told a story in which an early scene for Everyday Rapture had Mendez and Wolfe playing her breasts, with character names simply “Left” and “Right.” Scott credited her strong relationship with Mendez saying, “Lindsay will always be my Right.”
VIDEO: Sherie Rene Scott, Lindsay Mendez, and Betsie Wolfe sing “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
When it comes to traditions, I’m the most stodgy when it comes to ones related to Christmas. That’s why I am thrilled beyond comprehension that one of my favorite holiday events is returning again this year. For the fourth year in a row, some of Broadway’s best performers, including Raul Esparza, Chester Gregory, and Sierra Boggess will come together to sing Christmas tunes for ASTEP’s New York City Christmas concert at Joe’s Pub on Monday, December 12 at 7 p.m.
The concert features Broadway A-listers singing classic Christmas carols, revamped with unique arrangements. The delightful Lynne Shankel once again serves as music director and host of the evening, which includes performers such as Esparza, Gregory, Boggess, Lindsay Mendez, Orfeh, Andy Karl, and more.
The evening is one filled with warm holiday spirit and powerful Broadway talent. But here is the top reason to see the concert, Rushers. The arrangements of these traditional Christmas songs are spectacular. The prime exhibit comes from the concert’s first iteration in 2008, when Esparza set the stage on fire with his English-Spanish rendition of “O Holy Night.” Watch the embedded video below and just try not to squirm in sensual delight. Read more
- 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!
It was obvious that Jonathan Groff was utilizing his newfound Jesse St. James moves at his solo concert Sunday night at Joe’s Pub. Coming off his hugely popular Glee guest role as the star singer of the fledgling club’s main competition, the Spring Awakening and Hair star channeled the cocky Jesse’s moves into his performance. With a set list of funk and R&B tunes, Groff got down in a playful, silly manor that he has seldom been able to display on stage.
The set list, Groff explained, was inspired by his time at Glee. While sitting in LA traffic on his way to and from the set, which he explained as a “blessing and a curse,” Groff said he immersed himself in music and the songs he chose to perform at the concert were those he sang at the top of his lungs in his car.
Opening with Stevie Wonder’s “You Haven’t Done Nothin’,” the song choice came as a surprise from the usual mellow rock Groff has sung in shows. The performances came across authentic, as Groff infuses a hefty amount of genuine emotion into his delivery. Over the course of the set, which lasted just shy of an hour, Groff sang with a huge grin and constantly reminded the audience how happy he was to be there.
This performance at Joe’s Pub marked Groff’s first ever solo concert. He told the audience that the day he moved to New York, he attended a concert at Joe’s Pub featuring Legally Blonde star Laura Bell Bundy, and that while sitting in the audience, he vowed the day would come that he would headline the stage as well. Read more
That’s why I was at Joe’s Pub last night for New York City Christmas, a holiday concert featuring some big Broadway stars and benefiting Artists Striving To End Poverty. It was the second incarnation of the concert, which was held for the first time last year at the Zipper Factory (why is that place closed??). Due to the success of last year’s concert, ASTEP produced a recording of the songs performed on Sh-K-Boom Records (actress Sherie Rene Scott is a co-founder), and they decided to do it again this year.
It was a well-paced, dimple-ridden evening, with enough belts and laughter to last the entire year. Big names like Chester Gregory, Sierra Boggess, Sherie Rene Scott, and Orfeh filled the room with fantastic renditions of classic Christmas tunes. Lesser-known names like Lindsay Mendez and Tyler Maynard (both who appeared last year) held their own among the marquee fixtures, and looked ebullient. Mendez, who I want to see more of, two years in a row has made one of the most lasting impressions.
The evening was hosted by Harriet Harris (photo embedded, because I feel she’s one of those actors whose face everyone knows, but few people can attach a name to), who has the ability to induce hilarity with any word she says. Referring to cellist Summer Boggess (Sierra’s sister) who was part of the band, “Summer’s on the cello. I just had to find a way to work that in there and say that,” cooed Harris. But I also have to give huge credit to keyboardist Lynne Shankel, who unofficially co-hosted the event. She served as MC last year, and in addition to being wildly charming, she helped organize the concert (along with ASTEP founder Mary-Mitchel Campbell) and is astonishing with how wide her talents stretch. Where can I see more of her? Does it have to be once each December?
And now we come to Mr. Esparza. Last year, he debuted a mid-tempo, Spanish-guitar arrangement of “O Holy Night,” in which he sings the first verse in English and the second in Spanish. It is a searing performance, memorable in every way, and redefines the classic song. For me, he can do no wrong, and the way his performance makes my mom feel—“I want to claw the skin off my face!” You know, in a good way.
Below is the video of his performance from last year’s concert. I chose to enjoy this year’s without the confines of a lens. I hope you’ll understand.
All I can say is I hope this becomes a Christmas tradition, just as TBS’s A Christmas Story marathon and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”