As a San Franciscan, I had some initial doubts about the much-hyped Broadway-centric Fringe musical The Legend of Julie Taymor, or The Musical That Killed Everybody! My internal resistance monologue went something like this: “It’s just going to be full of New York industry jokes I won’t get,” and “Oh great, another musical about musicals; like that’s never been done before”, and “They just want to beat up on the most successful female director on Broadway.” All of which turns out to be more-or-less true, but what else turns out to be true is that some shows are worth their hype, and if you want an opportunity to tempt the fates and poke fun at the Broadway machine, The Musical That Killed Everybody! is for you.
Even in California, the on-going delays, budget crises, and injured actors of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, have been a constant source of am-news-ment over the past couple of years, so none of the material presented in the show comes as much of a surprise. But what does is the crack timing, powerful vocals, and buoyant enthusiasm of the cast, and the slickly professional feel of the production as a whole, despite the pointedly low-budget set (six cubes and a triptych painted in the style of Picasso’s “Guernica”) and the cardboard props, which cleverly undermine the related budgetary excesses of the ill-fated Taymor production. Read more
- New play about Chris Farley, The Fatman Cometh, has Broadway/off-Broadway potential
- Who is the best man in That Championship Season
- Julie Taymor is out of Spider-Man. Why we shouldn’t cry for her
- Broadway grosses
What do you think, Rushers? Would you see a play about Chris Farley? Who do you think has the best performance in That Championship Season? Do you think the producers of Spider-Man did Taymor wrong? Leave your sympathy, thoughts, and ideas in the comments below!
Broadway.com editor in chief Paul Wontorek sits in a comfy white chair in the middle of the website’s video production room in its Times Square offices. Amid professional lighting and expensive video cameras, a shiny blue curtain hangs. It acts as a backdrop for “Show People,” a new video series Broadway.com launched in December, in which Wontorek interviews A-list Broadway actors in talk-show format. He stares at it and looks proud. Wontorek has a right to feel that way. Last December, statistics on theatergoers gathered by The Broadway League revealed Broadway.com as the most-viewed source for people seeking theater information, beating out The New York Times. Also in December, the site was bought by Key Brand Entertainment, a leading producer of Broadway shows and national tours.
This week marks 11 years Wontorek has helmed Broadway.com. Wontorek, 38, sat down with Stage Rush to discuss the inner workings of Broadway.com, his personal road to Broadway, and the harmful disconnect he sees between critics and ticket buyers.
The acquisition of Broadway.com by Key Brand Entertainment brings to light the story of how the first owner, Hollywood Media Corp., created the property. It was 1999 and the Internet landscape was dramatically different. (Playbill.com was still only available through AOL.) Hollywood Media Corp. bought the Broadway.com URL for $1.6 million. However, the company was based in Boca Raton, Florida, and Wontorek says the owners “didn’t really know Broadway.” Wontorek was brought in for an interview and was told that they didn’t know what Broadway.com needed to be.
“I knew exactly what it needed to be,” Wontorek said. Read more
Daily Bugle News Flash! Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark is not the best musical ever written. However, the venomous reviews and general bad press seem to be overshadowing the aspects that director Julie Taymor and her creative team have gotten right. Here are five reasons why Spider-Man is worth the money.
1. Flying: This is the spectacle that the show rests on, and it is something to be seen. Aerial designers Scott Rogers and Jaque Paquin succeeded in making me feel like a little kid again, yearning for the ability to fly. I’m sure I wasn’t the only gaping-mouthed patron who was left insanely jealous of the actors that got to perform the aerial stunts. Despite very-visible cables (synthetic spider silk hasn’t been successfully manufactured in large quantities yet), Spidey and Green Goblin slingshot around the Foxwoods Theatre with shocking fluidity. They even reach every side of the two mezzanines, so that no audience block is left out of the action.
2. Sets: Scenic designer George Tsypin’s has created a cartoonish, sometimes whimsical world for Peter Parker and his enemies. But Tsypin’s real achievement with his designs is with the unique use of angles and perspective. We’re treated to two views of New York’s famous Chrysler Building: a standard tip-of, head-on shot and then a mind-bending aerial view, gazing down to the taxi-lined streets below. The Brooklyn Bridge juts out toward the audience with a dizzying height illusion. Climactic-moment scenes aside, Tsypin even turns a ho-hum stroll for Peter (Reeve Carney) and Mary Jane (Jennifer Damiano) to their Queens row homes into a direction-shifting stunner. Read more
- Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark plays its first, much talked about, preview
- Stage Rush favorites The Scottsboro Boys and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson post closing notices
- American Idiot trying to hold on, announces Billie Joe Armstrong returning for 50 performances
- Broadway grosses
What do you think, Rushers? How did Spider-Man sound to you after all the coverage from the first preview? Are you as crushed as I am that Scottsboro and Bloody Bloody are closing so prematurely? Do you think Billie Joe’s return to American Idiot will keep the show afloat? Take solace with other concerned Rushers in the comments below. Let’s all have a group hug!
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
- Duncan Sheik plays second show at City Winery
- It’s official: Jennifer Damiano will play Mary Jane in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
- Broadway in Bryant Park ends with American Idiot and La Cage aux Folles
- Broadway grosses
What do you think, Rushers? Are you prac-ti-ca-lly per-fect? Did you catch Duncan Sheik’s concert at City Winery? Do you think he should continue with the covers or return fully to performing his solo work? Are you on board for Jennifer Damiano joining Spider-Man? Did you see the finale of Broadway in Bryant Park? Which week was your favorite this summer? Leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below!
When Jennifer Damiano departs Next to Normal tonight, she will be beginning a new chapter in her career: the next big project. While no official statement on casting has been made, the New York Times reports that Damiano has signed on to play Mary Jane in the upcoming mega musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Despite the mountain of publicity this will bring her, is becoming Spider-Man’s girlfriend the best move for a Tony-nominated actress known for playing three-dimensional women?
Since debuting on Broadway in the original cast of Spring Awakening in the ensemble and as an understudy, Damiano’s career has included co-headlining concerts at Joe’s Pub and her acclaimed performance as Natalie in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Next to Normal. These are tremendous accomplishments for a 19-year-old actress. Her involvement in Spring Awakening and Next to Normal, both Tony nominees for Best Musical (Spring won in 2007), both box offices successes and beloved by critics, has established her as an artsy-type actress. Starring in Spider-Man will shake up this trend.
Spring Awakening and Next to Normal were both “indie” musicals that began off Broadway. Neither were expected to achieve the level of success that they did when they transferred. Granted, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has been plagued by production and financial issues. It’s original big-name stars—Evan Rachel Wood, who was originally supposed to play Mary Jane, and Alan Cumming as Green Goblin—dropped out. Just this Friday, Broadway’s largest PR firm Boneau/Bryan-Brown resigned from Spider-Man’s account. Nevertheless, the show has Marvel Entertainment backing it. It has been reported that the undertaking of this musical has cost upwards of $50 million. This is no Spring Awakening or Next to Normal. Read more
- The Broadway portion of Las Vegas
- The Scottsboro Boys has a rush policy, but no rush tickets
- Evan Rachel Wood backs out of Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark
- Steven Sater: Spring Awakening film could begin production as soon as fall
- Broadway grosses