Concert recap: Broadway on Broadway
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
Stage Rush TV: Episode 23
- Corrected from last week: I actually DID get to see Brian d’Arcy James in Next to Normal
- Camping out all night on the street for Shakespeare in the Park tickets
- Swooning over A Little Night Music’s Leigh Ann Larkin at Broadway in Bryant Park
- Seeing Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch in Night Music
- The Night Music/Promises, Promises ticket giveaway ends July 30. Enter now!
- Broadway grosses
Were any of you Rushers at the Next to Normal lottery for Alice Ripley, Jennifer Damiano, and Brian d’Arcy James’ final performance? Did any of you win? Who has camped out for Shakespeare in the Park tickets? Do you think it’s worth it? Who has seen Bernadette Peter and Elaine Stritch in A Little Night Music? Who else, like me, has a crush on Leigh Ann Larkin? Leave your thoughts, questions, and ideas in the comments!
Ticket giveaway: ‘A Little Night Music’ and ‘Promises, Promises’
My birthday is coming up—July 30, to be exact. Now I know people usually receive gifts on their birthdays, but instead, I want to give you Rushers something. It’s been such an amazing year at Stage Rush, getting to know a lot of you and having you respond to and enjoy all the coverage on the site. I want to show my gratitude to you all. In addition to a very special episode of Stage Rush TV that will go live on Friday, July 30 (starring some awesome friends of mine), four Rushers will win tickets to two of the hottest shows on Broadway!
I am pleased to announce Stage Rush’s next ticket giveaway! Up for grabs are two pairs of tickets each to the Tony-winning shows A Little Night Music and Promises, Promises. Here are the easy steps you need to take to have your chance to win these babies:
- Write on Stage Rush’s Facebook wall. (“Like” us, if you haven’t already done so)
- Include which show you are playing for (if both, note your first choice).
Two winners will be chosen at random for each show. The winners will win a pair of tickets to either A Little Night Music or Promises, Promises—the pair won’t be split up among participants. You must be able to be contacted via private message on Facebook. The giveaway will end on Friday, July 30. I will notify the winners via Facebook private message.
All participants must be able to see either show between the dates of August 1 and August 31. The tickets are not valid for resale and must be picked up at the show’s box office on the day of the performance.
So what are you waiting for, Rushers? Get over to the Stage Rush Facebook wall—it couldn’t be easier!
Stage Rush TV: Episode 21
- Broadway in Bryant Park kicks off with In the Heights and Promises, Promises
- Seeing the play version of Spring Awakening off off Broadway at the Looking Glass Theatre
- Broadway grosses
What do you think, Rushers? Do you love the Broadway in Bryant Park concerts as much as I do? Do you think A-list stars should be obligated to perform at these concerts promoting theirs shows? Have you seen the original Wedekind Spring Awakening performed? How did it compare to your liking of the Sater/Sheik musical? Leave it in the comments!
Broadway in Bryant Park recap: In the Heights and Promises, Promises
Forget the Fourth of July. Summer doesn’t kick off on Broadway until it infiltrates Bryant Park. The annual Broadway in Bryant Park concert series kicked off yesterday, featuring the casts of Nunsense, Promises, Promises, Stomp, and In the Heights.
While most casts go casual for their performances, the ladies of Nunsense donned their character’s habits in the humid, high-80-degree weather. While the silly sisters twirled around onstage, I wondered how many spectators sitting in the park’s classic green chairs thought they were watching songs from the upcoming Sister Act musical.
When it was time for the cast members of Promises, Promises to take the stage, I felt foolish actually thinking its stars Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth would be among them. In a musical where few numbers are not sung by the two male and female leads, I figured for sure they would be up for the task of the lunchtime concert. Instead, Sarah Jane Everman (who was on when I saw the show) and Peter Benson filled in for the stars. (And my Kristin Chenoweth Curse is still maintained—I have never seen her perform live when I’ve had the chance.)
Video: “I Say A Little Prayer”
Tony Awards: press room interviews
As you might know from last night’s live blog, Stage Rush was reporting from the press room of the 2010 Tony Awards. After they gave their acceptance speeches, most of the night’s lucky winners made the long journey from Radio City Music Hall across the rainy plaza of Rockefeller Center to the LA Sports Club, where the press room was stationed. (We missed you, Scarlett Johansson and Catherine Zeta-Jones!) Among the Tony winners were Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Katie Finneran, Levi Kreis, and the Memphis creative team. Here are the highlights from those interviews.
Review: Promises, Promises
This revival of Promises, Promises is being force-fed to potential audiences as “Mad Men The Musical.” It’s not, so let’s just get that out of the way. Regardless of being set in the 1960s, it does not embody the darkness that Mad Men does, even when one of its main characters attempts suicide. Instead of trying to appear to be something it’s not, Promises should revel in what it is—a charming musical.
This production has been widely panned by the critics. It’s not the high point of the Broadway season, but I found myself wrapped up in the earnestness of the musical. If you’re someone who identifies with the nice-guys-finish-last school of thought, and rally for that good guy who never seems to catch a break, you should find yourself captivated, as I was, by Sean Hayes. Playing Chuck Baxter, Hayes is an office underling eager to climb the corporate ladder. But he’s the type that people walk all over, so he let’s his lecherous bosses use his apartment for their trysts, in hopes that his loyalty will manifest into a promotion. Meanwhile, the downtrodden Chuck fancies the company cafeteria cutie Fran Kubelik (normally played by Kristin Chenoweth, but at my performance, understudied by Sarah Jane Everman). As you can imagine, things become really sticky for Chuck when he discovers Fran is “the other woman” to his top boss.
It’s Hayes’ show, as he appeals to the audience, constantly addressing us, and we throw our support behind him. Instead of making Chuck a twerp, Hayes turns him into a truly likeable guy, smiling through all his misfortunes, recognizing the ridiculous humor of his bad luck. But it’s not his pursuit of the corporate high life that we’re rooting for; it’s his potential relationship with Fran, the girl of his dreams. It’s important for Hayes to convey that he’s more than just an unfortunate chump, but that that romance and desire lives in him. For me, Hayes’ highlighting moment is the ridiculously sweet song “She Likes Basketball,” in which he realizes that his hopes of romancing Fran aren’t so far flung, that they actually share common ground. Hayes makes you remember what it was like to be a kid, reveling in every hopeful notion that you and your crush were destined to be together. Read more
Stage Rush TV: Episode 16
- Interviewing Promises, Promises music director Phil Reno
- Seeing Duncan Sheik in concert at City Winery
- Stage Rush will be live blogging from the Tony Awards!
- Broadway grosses
What do you think, Rushers? What do you think it would be like to watch over 1,300 performances of the same show, like Phil did with The Producers? Did you catch Duncan Sheik’s concert at City Winery, or are you planning on seeing next week’s show. What do you think of Sheik forgetting lyrics? Leave it all in the comments!
Broadway Brain: ‘Promises, Promises’ plays best when music director Phil Reno’s mother is in the audience
While Jonathan Tunick might be a Tony nominee for Best Orchestrations for the revival of Promises, Promises, music director Phil Reno has to implement his work every night while conducting the show. Having previously conducted shows like The Producers (for a whopping 1,383 performances!) and The Drowsy Chaperone, Reno is no stranger to Tony-winning productions. Presiding over an orchestra of 18, as well as stars Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes (this year’s Tony host and nominee), Reno is entrusted with Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s famous score.
Reno sat down with Stage Rush in the house of the Broadway Theatre, where Promises is showing, for a chat about Tonys, career destiny, and conducting for his mother.
Explaining it to me as if I’m a 3 year old, what does a music director/supervisor do?
We’re responsible for teaching all the cast members the music. That all happens way before we ever add the orchestra. We usually rehearse a show like Promises, Promises five or six weeks before we go into tech rehearsal. I supervise and oversee the scene-change music and underscoring and introductions of numbers. I write and make suggestions for those pieces to make the whole musical flow of the evening go as smoothly as it can. As the show progresses, I’m responsible for maintaining the musical integrity of the show. How people sing, interpret their songs, make sure group numbers are still tight, and that the orchestra is still playing well. For those of us that are involved in a long run, it can be very easy for some people to get complacent and casual with it. I consider my job to keep them enthused and energized to do it, making it as good or better than the last performance. I try to inspire energy and emotion from the musicians and the cast. I never wanted to be one of those “Here we go again” kind of conductors.