Concert recap: At This Performance, October 2011
The latest installment of the At This Performance concert series brought big laughs Sunday night. The concert that gives Broadway understudies and standbys the spotlight saw performers choosing hilarious song selections and telling stories of their careers that had the audience in stitches. Producing artistic director and host of the concert series Stephen DeAngelis noted the importance of understudies in theater, acknowledging their future star power. Speaking of what Broadway would be like without these actors, DeAngelis said, “They’d be dying Snooki green and putting a broom in her hand.”
The night kicked off with At This Performance’s youngest performer ever—11-year-old Logan Rowland from The Addams Family. He sang Pugsley’s solo “What If” with polish and confidence while his parents video taped and took pictures from the audience. Rowland told the story of his first time going on in the role—co-star Nathan Lane made an announcement to the audience during the show’s curtain call that they had just witnessed his Broadway debut. Rowland’s Addams co-stars Mo Brady and Lisa M. Karlin duetted with “Crazier Than You,” but didn’t live up to the chemistry displayed by Colin Cunliffe and Jessica Lea Patty when they sang the song last October.
Brady’s solo follow-up song was a song called “I Won’t Have To Anymore.” Easily the night’s most emotional performance, Brady sang the story of a young man preparing to flee the home of his verbally and physically abusive father. Showing great emotional depth and vocal range, Brady’s performance was among the night’s most memorable.
Video: The Addams Family‘s Mo Brady sings “I Won’t Have To Anymore”
(Using an iPhone or iPad? Watch on YouTube)
Stage Rush TV: Episode 36
- 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!
Stage Rush TV: Episode 31
- Broadway on Broadway concert lacks new material
- Stage Rush’s top 3 most-anticipated musicals of the fall
- Diving into John Tartaglia’s mind in Imaginocean
- Broadway grosses
Were you at Broadway on Broadway, Rushers? Did you love the concert, or were you left wanting more performances from new shows? What show opening this fall are you most excited for? Have you seen Imaginocean? Leave your thoughts and questions in the comments!
Don’t forget to follow Stage Rush on Twitter and Facebook for on-the-go updates, news, and sightings!
Stage Rush TV: Episode 27
- 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!
Tribute: Patrick Lee, theater journalist
Theater journalist Patrick Lee, creator of Just Shows To Go You and Theater Mania contributor, passed away this week at age 47. The news brought great sadness to many in the theater community, myself included. When I think of Patrick, I think of the beginning of my passion for theater writing. Patrick was the first person I met when I set out on this journey.
It was April 2009. I had just created Stage Rush and had been invited by Broadway producer and Producer’s Perspective creator Ken Davenport to attend a theater blogger meet up. It was at the Planet Hollywood in Times Square and I arrived with such a pit in my stomach, I almost turned away at the entrance. Starting this site, this endeavor, felt like a huge risk to me and I didn’t carry myself with much confidence about it. Ken’s invitation to meet up with real, live theater writers who were already established in the field was incredibly intimidating. Who was I to talk to them? Everything out of my mouth was sure to sound stupid. They’d surely laugh when I told them my site was hosted by Blogger.
I sat down at a table with a platter of nachos on it. I picked at it with one hand and dug the nails of my other hand into my leg as the bloggers began to arrive, everyone schmoozing. They all knew each other—damn.
And then Patrick plopped himself in a chair next to me. I turned my head to him with a jolt, as I knew some social interaction was inevitable. He smiled, introduced himself, and I instantly began to feel at ease. It might sound corny, but Patrick seemed so jolly. That’s really the word to describe how he was. He asked me about my blog and as I talked, he continued to ask follow-up questions. He wasn’t looking at me with disgust—he was interested! I told him I was so proud of myself, because I hadn’t even lived in New York for a year yet and I had already seen 40 shows. Patrick looked at me with a big smile and said, “I see over 200 a year!” But he wasn’t mocking me; he was laughing at the hilarity of it. We both had a big laugh. As we talked, we discovered that we both loved Spring Awakening, John Gallagher Jr., and Passing Strange. He told me that he had tickets to a screening of the Passing Strange movie and I pretty much wanted to gouge his eyes out, I was so jealous. I went home that night feeling more confident about my new project, all thanks to Patrick.
That theater blogger meet up lead to the formation of the Independent Theater Bloggers Association (ITBA), for which Patrick served as awards director. When the ITBA was deciding on nominations for this year’s awards, we met at a Hell’s Kitchen pub to discuss candidates. It was a Broadway nerd’s dream—sitting at a table with a group of people with the same interests, discussing who gave the year’s best performances and arguing about them. Patrick was so funny that day. He kept inserting his humorous, sarcastic opinion, then pulling back, because he was moderating the meeting and it was obvious that he was trying to be democratic.
But I am lucky that that was not my last meeting with Patrick. A few weeks ago, Patrick asked me if I would help him film the off-Broadway cast of The Kid reading the winners of this year’s ITBA Awards. We sat there at Theatre Row with Susan Blackwell and Ann Harada and Patrick just got along with them so well. I envied his ease and calming nature. After we filmed, we talked shop for a while outside the theater. He answered a lot of burning questions I had about the theater-writing field. I remember being so grateful to get that time with him. We shared laughs and had a really good time with that errand for the ITBA. We left that night saying we’d meet up for coffee soon, but we didn’t get the chance.
Patrick’s passing is a strong reminder to me that we all have to harness the joys of life while we still have it. Patrick loved theater and was passionate about LGBT rights. In his life, he made quite a mark in both worlds with his own theater site Just Shows To Go You, his bylines for Theater Mania and other sites, and by being a juror for the GLAAD Media Awards. Patrick is an example of following your passion—a lesson we all should learn from him.
On my Facebook homepage, there’s a notification that says “Patrick Lee has poked you. Poke back.” It’s from the night we first met. I never did “poke” him back. But I’m going to keep that message there as a reminder of what Patrick stood for. It just shows to go you the impact theater can have on a person’s life.
Stage Rush TV: Episode 14
- One of my favorite interviews I’ve done—Tony-winning lighting designer Kevin Adams
- The 2010 ITBA Awards are announced (by Susan Blackwell and The Kid cast)
- Broadway grosses
Rushers, what do you think of Kevin Adams? Did you find what he had to say interesting? Did you geek out about the explanations of his designs like I did? Did some of your favorites win in the ITBA Awards? Please let me know what you’re thinking in the comments!
Broadway Brain: Kevin Adams lights rock stars of Broadway
What do Spring Awakening, Passing Strange, and Next to Normal all have in common? Lighting designer Kevin Adams. Widely regarded as contributing factors to the evolution of the American musical, these shows all have creative teams that have collaborated on subsequent projects, but Adams is the only one to have worked on all three. The Tony-winning lighting designer brought revolutionary looks to these acclaimed productions with his use of bare light bulbs and fluorescent tubes—what he calls “electric objects.” Now Adams is nominated for his fifth Tony award (he won for Spring Awakening and The 39 Steps) for his work on American Idiot, which blends the creative teams of all three rock musicals.
Yet Adams, just shy of 48, says lighting was never a thought in his mind during his education. With an MFA in set design, Adams began working as a set designer in Los Angeles, when he was asked to do his own lighting. Local artists who had seen his work began asking him to light their pieces in galleries. A self-taught lighting designer, Adams then moved to New York to focus solely on that work. “I can’t believe I’m still doing this,” Adams said. “After I do a Broadway show, I think, ‘This will surely be the last one I ever do. No one’s going to come up with another Broadway show that suits what I do.’ But then American Idiot came along.”
The Tony winner (who keeps his two awards at his parents’ houses, claiming they make him nervous) invited Stage Rush into his Manhattan apartment to discuss Tony nominations, his style departure on American Idiot, and what happened when he first met Green Day in a cramped dressing room at Saturday Night Live.
This is your fifth Tony nomination and you’ve won twice. Is it still exciting to get nominated?
It is very exciting. It was exciting to be nominated twice last year. It’s exciting to be nominated for American Idiot. That first time [being nominated], you’re so excited to win and then once you win, then you feel you have to win again. You feel like, “I want to win!”
So you feel pressure to win?
I don’t feel pressure; it’s just that you become much more grotesquely competitive about it. [laughs] And I know other people who have won that agree and say, “Yeah, I’ve felt that way too!” It’s not that it’s competitive, it’s just that the first time you’re nominated, you’re like, “It would be cool to win,” and then the next time, you’re like, “I’ve got to win!”
Hey Finian, shut up and sing!
The cast recording of Finian’s Rainbow is going to annoy me to no end. The album for the excellent, gone-way-too-soon show was released yesterday, and today I downloaded three songs from it (I loved the show as a whole, but didn’t want the entire album). “How Are Things In Glocca Morra,” “Look To The Rainbow,” and Old Devil Moon” all have introductory dialogue leading into the music. I’m sure the majority of the tracks have incorporated dialogue—perhaps someone can let me know if I’m right or wrong in the comments section below.
Why did the producers at PS Classics (the label that released the album) do this?? Dialogue in cast recordings toss a distracting wrench in the continuity of the album’s flow. And in Finian’s case, there’s more than just continuity problems. Read more
A Boy and His Soul
Editor’s note: In the spirit all the exciting changes that are occurring with this blog, it is my pleasure to present Stage Rush’s first guest blogger, Kym Formisano.
When Jesse asked me to be the very first guest blogger for Stage Rush, I cannot deny the wave of complete and utter fear that washed over me. I certainly questioned his sanity briefly; after all, handing Stage Rush over to little old me is akin to entrusting a homeless man on the subway with your firstborn. Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration. But there was a huge amount of trepidation and anxiety on my part, especially when I discovered I would also be covering the first off-Broadway play to be discussed on the blog. Gulp.
As it turns out, I had little need to be so concerned. Actually, what began as a nerve-wracking trip to the always-beautiful Union Square turned into not only one of the easiest and most efficient rushes I’ve done, but also a powerful and vivid theatrical experience matched only by the energy and undying vigor of the show’s star.
Colman Domingo, one of the players in the gone-too-soon masterpiece Passing Strange and its recent film adaptation by Spike Lee, stars in the one-man show he authored, A Boy and His Soul, at the Vineyard Theatre. The Vineyard, previous home to shows like [title of show] and Avenue Q, is an unassuming brick structure with a quaint sensibility (before a certain time, one must be buzzed into the lobby) and an interior that brings to mind a combination of a small-town theater company and a modern art gallery. Because of the erratic nature of some off-Broadway theaters and their rush policies (I’m looking at you, Atlantic Theater Company), I decided to check with the receptionist well before show time to make sure I had the correct rush policy information. After being buzzed in by a super-pleasant voice, I entered the lobby and was immediately greeted by an enthusiastic and helpful box office attendant. The rush policy here is fairly standard: show up two hours prior to curtain with cash in hand and receive up to two tickets at $20 each. It is also a general rush, so don’t worry if you’ve lost your student ID. I left with a sense of confidence, ready to return at 5 p.m. and purchase my tickets. Read more
Next to Normal, #s 1-4
It’s kind of hard to write about a show and a rush that are both perfection. Hence, the reason why I’ve seen Next to Normal four times and am just writing about it now.
The rush for Next to Normal is about as organized as a rush can get. Let this one stand as the example for all rushes. Theater employees distribute wristband numbers to the people in line (no, you don’t have to wear the wristband). This eliminates line cutting and allows people to run briefly to the bathroom or get a snack. I can’t express how many times the pals of people in front of me have joined them in line while I’ve been in place for hours. This isn’t a problem on the Next to Normal rush (just watch that it doesn’t happen before the wristbands are distributed).
Not only is this rush organized, but it’s generous. This is a general rush, meaning you don’t have to be a student to take part. The tickets are $25 a piece (each person can buy two, and the box office doesn’t tack on the usual $1.50 facilities charge). Furthermore, the seats are in the front row, which is a special experience for this show (more on this later). I’ve heard that once the front row is filled, rushers are put in the mezzanine and sometimes a box. Read more