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
- 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”
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