- Heidi Blickenstaff’s surprising Broadway season
- “You Know You’re On Broadway When…” with Heidi Blickenstaff
- Spring Awakening national tour at The State Theatre, New Brunswick, New Jersey
- Poster designers Fraver and James McMullen speak at Lincoln Center Library
- Broadway grosses
What do you think, Rushers? Would you have loved to have seen Heidi Blickenstaff in The Book of Mormon? Where have you caught the Spring Awakening national tour? What now-closed Broadway show do you miss? 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
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)
- 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!
Five hundred spotlights. That’s how many center-stage moments the At This Performance concert series has given to Broadway understudies since its inception seven years ago. During the Monday night concert, Erick Buckley—who understudies Uncle Fester in The Addams Family, was crowned number 500. At the time of the concert, he had yet to ever go on for the role.
That fact is what makes the At This Performance concerts so special—it honors actors who rarely get the glory. Musicals Tonight! artistic director Mel Miller introduced the night’s performers as “the backbone of American musical theater,” noting that they are the future leads of Broadway. The actors represented such shows as Fela!, The Lion King, A Little Night Music, and Memphis.
Typically, the performers perform solo, but since Colin Cunliffe and Jessica Lea Patty were both in attendance from The Addams Family, they sang the duet their characters share, called “Crazier Than You.” Rather than give the song a straight performance, the two acted out the song, using props.
Video: Colin Cunliffe and Jessica Lea Patty sing “Crazier Than You” from The Addams Family
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
As a nice last-minute rush alternative upon discovering The Addams Family did not have any rush tickets for their matinee performance, I hopped on over to play the ticket lottery for The Miracle Worker. I had good vibes about this lottery, after being skunked by Addams.
For the play about Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan who gave her the gift of language, about 15 people entered and the attendant announced they’d be selling 10 lottery tickets. Now keep in mind, it was more like 30 people were playing, since most people register for two tickets. I kept positive and was the fifth name called! The lotto attendant directed the winners to line up in the order our names were picked. We did, but upon directing us to line up in the same order at the box office window to purchase our tickets, the attendant walked away and the order disintegrated. A woman who was called after I was zoomed to the front of the line. I suggested that the woman whose name was called first should be the first to purchase her tickets. The woman protested my suggestion, saying that she was waiting to play the lotto since 11 a.m., and should purchase first. I told her that wasn’t the way a ticket lottery works, to which she called me a “ticket Nazi.” So to the box office workers of the Circle in the Square Theatre, this ticket Nazi is telling you that you should keep your lottery more organized in the future.
Aside from disorganization, The Miracle Worker ticket lottery is a good one. From what the attendant said, 15 people was the most he’d seen play the lotto, and the tickets are $16 a piece, up to two per person. The seats are in the back row of the theater, and that brings me to my first point of review for this show—the scenery. Read more