Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Raul Esparza’

15
Mar

Ticket giveaway: Leap of Faith

***This giveaway has concluded***

Stage Rush’s favorite leading man is returning to Broadway this spring in the new musical Leap of Faith! Yes, the man who showed us that Christmas could be both sexy and depressing at the same time is back on the Great White Way—Raul Esparza! Starring as Jonas Nightingale, Esparza plays a con-man reverend who swindles money out of unsuspecting towns. We’re just about as excited as we could be for this Tony nominee to return to Broadway and so Stage Rush is giving away two pairs of tickets to see Leap of Faith! Read more »

16
Dec

Stage Rush TV: Episode 86

Talking points:

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!

Follow Stage Rush on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for the weekly newsletter!

15
Dec

Concert recap: Raul Esparza, Sierra Boggess rock ASTEP New York City Christmas

raul esparza astep new york city christmas concert joe's pub public theaterRaul 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)”

Read more »

8
Dec

4th annual New York City Christmas concert to play Joe’s Pub

Photo: Bitten By A Zebra Photography

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 »

21
Apr

‘Gossip Girl’’s Margaret Colin rules over ‘Arcadia’

margaret colin broadway arcadia head shot gossip girl

Photo: Carol Rosegg

Margaret Colin might currently be on hiatus from playing Blair Waldorf’s mother, Eleanor, on Gossip Girl, but not from portraying a sharp-tongued commander of an estate. As Lady Croom in the current Broadway revival of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, Colin sheds the Prada wardrobe for a corset as a member of the show’s 19th-century group of ensemble characters. Colin is a native New Yorker who has been a consistent presence on stage and screen since she made her TV debut in 1979 in the soap opera The Edge of Night. In addition to the bossy Eleanor Waldorf, her major work has included Independence Day, The Devil’s Own, and Three Men and a Baby. Colin sat down with Stage Rush to talk about making sense of Arcadia, gasping for breath in her costume, and how Gossip Girl is influencing her performance.

Tom Stoppard was present during your rehearsals for Arcadia. What is he like?
He’s tall, dresses really well, and he’s much more European than he is British. He’s a genius that likes to show off, so what better place for him to be in but the theater? He’s a gentleman. He has a generosity in spirit, and the way he treats women is delicious. We spoke for two days for five hours at a time, and normally with a room full of actors, you’d want to kill yourself, because we want to talk.

While becoming involved in this project, did you find any of it intimidating?
I did not have the sense of being intimidated when we started, but once we got on our feet and rolling, I was very grounded for doing the work. Once more elements were added and we had to do it up to speed, make the connections and try to find the life of the play apart from individual exchanges, then yeah. Lady Croom is kind of outside of that world. She’s really just concerned with her garden and trying to keep control of her world. I just had to jump in and swim as fast as I could. I was not intimidated by that. I was just eager to do the work and find it. The first time I saw this play, I adored Billy [Crudup]. I had a girlfriend, Haviland Morris who played Chloe, and I came to support her. I didn’t have a clue what the play was about. I remembered the turtle, the waltzing at the end, and somebody saying something about underwear—drawers! That’s all I remembered. After reading it, the idea that it was so dense and funny turned me on. It was something I could commit to for all these months and stay intrigued. Read more »

4
Dec

ASTEP New York City Christmas returns for third year

The holiday season truly has begun, because one of my favorite Broadway events has announced its return. The ASTEP New York City Christmas concert will play its third annual show at Joe’s Pub on December 20 at 7 p.m. The brilliant Lynne Shankel will again play host and music director to a night full of some of our favorite Broadway stars singing holiday tunes in creative, new arrangements. If this year is to be half as amazing as last year’s concert (and I know it will), all you Rushers should be buying your tickets now.

From the performer lineup this year, I can tell you the names I’m most looking forward to are Chestor Gregory, Andy Karl, Lindsay Mendez, Orfeh, and Elizabeth Stanley. Stanley is the only actor in that group who has not performed at the ASTEP New York City Christmas concert before. The rest of the spectacular list includes Michael Buchanan, David Josefsberg, Anya Singleton, Sally Wilfert, and Betsy Wolfe. Read more »

16
Apr

Stage Rush TV: Episode 9

Whisper House‘s Holly Brook introduces!


Talking points:
What do you think, Rushers? Have you seen Andrew Jackson? Does it deserve to get an open-ended off-Broadway run? Did you pay for better seats to Anyone Can Whistle than I did? Do you think I’m right about the people who are buying tickets for American Idiot? Leave it in the comments!
10
Apr

Review: Anyone Can Whistle

Since I was a fool and missed Raul Esparza’s last mind-blowing on-stage pairing, it was even more exciting to see him co-star in a musical with Broadway’s leading lady, Sutton Foster. That man is a fantastic dramatic actor, but he really needs to do more musicals.
The show is City Center Encores!’s production of Anyone Can Whistle. This i s a rarely performed Sondheim show, and it’s got a collect-’em-all factor for fans.

To summarize this play would be missing the point. If you don’t understand it (which I didn’t), there is still fun to be had. But for a primer, it’s about a plotting mayor, played by Donna Murphy, who rules over a destitute town. A rock starts spouting water and people flock to the town to see it and the “mayoress” charges them for it. Suddenly, Raul Esparza arrives to sort out the town crazies and the mayor is out to arrest Sutton Foster for questioning the validity of the lucrative miracle. Read more »

22
Mar

Broadway Brain: Music director Lynne Shankel risks the Broadway crapshoot, sexifies Christmas

If Raul Esparza is making audiences swoon with a Spanish rendition of “O Holy Night” or a boy band causes an audience to crack up with their humorous religion-infused pop music, it means Lynne Shankel is doing her job. As a music director, Shankel is in charge of shaping a production’s music into the correct tone, style, and interpretation. Having worked on Broadway (Company, Cry Baby), off (Altar Boyz), and on countless concerts at venues like Joe’s Pub (ASTEP’s New York City Christmas) and benefits around the country, Shankel is a go-to musician for producers and performers who want their shows and showcase concerts to hit the right notes.
The Kansas City native studied piano performance at the University of Michigan, but much to the chagrin of her professors, she soon drifted from her classical studies and gravitated toward the theatrical. Playing piano in numerous college productions, which involved future Broadway stars Hunter Foster and Jennifer Laura Thompson, as well as Vanities composer David Kirshenbaum, Shankel’s passion for musical theater was established. She moved to New York in 1993 and has been working ever since.
Shankel kicks off Stage Rush’s Broadway Brain series, focusing on the behind-the-scenes masters of New York theater. The 39 year old opens up about Broadway’s triumphs and disappointments, nursing a show’s score from start to finish, and keeping the creative juices flowing.
Explaining it to me as if I’m a 3 year old, what does a music director/supervisor do?
The first thing you do as a music director is you work with the cast before you even start with the musicians. You teach them the vocals for the piece. I work on tons of new pieces. When you’re working on something new, it’s not like putting together The Wizard of Oz, where the actors have heard the cast recording and they know how it’s supposed to sound. With a new piece, the score is constantly changing and developing. Even before that, you work with the creative team to develop the piece. For a new show, I develop it through as many readings as we decide to have. Once we get past that point, I work with the composer, director, and choreographer intensely to figure out what the piece is, musically. What is the style we’re going for? From there, we hone in on the vocals and work on not only the sound and the style, but also the interpretation of the lyrics. A big part of what I do is coaching the actors through a song so that it not only has a musical arc, but a dramatic arc as well. Once I get through working with the cast, then it’s time to add in a band. If it’s an original piece, then I also work with an orchestrator, because the music hasn’t been played before. Sometimes there can be a bit of trial and error, figuring out what works and what doesn’t. I work out the dynamics, style, and articulations, so that we have a piece that feels cohesive. Then we get into the theater and it’s a whole other ball of wax with technical elements and conducting the show.
***VIDEO AFTER THE JUMP: Lynne Shankel describes her strangest day working in the theater*** Read more »
5
Mar

Stage Rush TV: Episode 3, LA Edition

Coming to you from Los Angeles this week! Please excuse the wind interference—we weren’t aware of it until we had finished (low-cost equipment here). I had a real, live soldier of the Hollywood entertainment industry collaborating with me this week—my good friend Michelle Mogavero . Having a “crew” was very exciting.





Talking points: 

  • Rush FAIL: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno 
  • Upcoming interview with Lynne Shankel, former music supervisor for Company, music director for Cry Baby and Altar Boyz. 
    • ASTEP’s New York City Christmas benefit concert
  • Broadway grosses 
Please leave your thoughts, questions in the comments below!