Self esteem and high school glory are once again on the line when it’s time for the big game in Volleygirls. The new musical by Rob Ackerman, Eli Bolin, and Sam Forman, playing as part of NYMF through July 27 at the Signature Center, focuses on a team of six insecure high school volleyball players and their equally hapless coach. Coach Kim Brindell (played by [title of show]’s Susan Blackwell) is a disgraced Olympian who gets a chance at redemption when she is charged with shaking the team from their dismal losing streak. Yet the girls’ road to victory is smattered with mommy issues, daddy issues, sexual identity crisis and more. Both coach and teammates will have to pull each other out of their emotional mire to go for the gold. Read more
- Playwright Jez Butterworth quotes Stage Rush’s Jerusalem review on Theater Talk. [Full TV clip here]
- The Book of Mormon Tony nominee Rory O’Malley gives his best impression of co-star, and college roommate, Josh Gad impersonating him
- The [title of show] / Now. Here. This. gang announces the winners of the 2011 Patrick Lee ITBA Awards
- Broadway grosses
What do you think, Rushers? Did you catch the Jerusalem episode of Theater Talk? Can you believe former college roommates Rory O’Malley and Josh Gad are now both starring in (and Tony-nominated for) The Book of Mormon? How much does seeing the [title of show] gang together again make you want to explode with happiness? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
The Independent Theater Bloggers Association has announced the winners of the 2011 Patrick Lee ITBA Awards! Watch the [title of show] gang—Hunter Bell, Susan Blackwell, Heidi Blickenstaff, and Jeff Bowen—currently working on their next project, Now. Here. This., announce the winners.
Do you think the ITBA chose wisely, Rushers? How do you think the ITBA winners will differ from the victors on Tony night? How adorable is the [title of show] team? Are you on the edge of your seat for Now. Here. This.? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
Heidi Blickenstaff had planned to be a Mormon this Broadway season. For the past two and a half years, she had been playing Mother Price—Andrew Rannells’ character’s mother—in production workshops of The Book of Mormon. Yet the role that had started out with two songs gradually diminished as the show evolved. A torn calf muscle that sidelined Blickenstaff during the final workshop didn’t help. Soon after, Blickenstaff received a phone call from one of the show’s producers saying that the role was being made even smaller—Blickenstaff amicably decided to bow out. However, another maternal role was unexpectedly around the corner.
“I’m sure that had I been in my early twenties, I would have been devastated,” Blickenstaff said. “It worked out the way it was supposed to. I’ve learned to let go of that stuff. There’s a plan, there’s a road; just walk on it.” That road led to a last minute audition for the replacement cast in The Addams Family for the role of Alice Beineke—the mother of Wednesday’s love interest.
“Oddly, it was not on my radar at all,” Blickenstaff said. “I hadn’t seen the show. My agent said [the casting directors] had seen a lot of people for Alice Beineke and they couldn’t seem to find what they wanted. I knew Carolee Carmello had done the role, and we’re very different vocal types. I thought, ‘This probably isn’t going to go my way, but I’ll go in, say hi, and do my best.’” Fifteen seconds into the audition, Blickenstaff knew it was going well. Director Jerry Zaks walked her out and 20 minutes later, she received a phone call with the offer. “I had no plans to do this, but I was so thrilled for the job,” Blickenstaff said. “You know, times is tough right now [sic]. I couldn’t be more grateful to be here. It was the most wonderful surprise. I’m having a really good time. It’s a really fun role.”
In the show, Alice Beineke, a tightly wound conservative, visits the Addams mansion with her husband from Ohio to meet the family of the daughter with whom their son has fallen in love. Although appalled at what she sees upon her arrival, over the course of her stay, Alice loosens up—although the Addams’ make that decision for her. At the end of Act I, Alice sings a showcasing, belty number called “Waiting.” “It’s all over the place—it’s got everything from opera, to smoky jazz, to really standard musical theater. It’s super schizophrenic.” Read more
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.
- 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!