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1
Feb

The No. 1 Reason To See: Porgy and Bess

porgy and bess broadway poster audra mcdonald norm lewisIntense struggle is on display in Diane Paulus’ revival (and retooling) of the classic opera Porgy and Bess. Adapted for a more standard evening of Broadway (ahem, running under four hours) by Suzan-Lori Parks and Diedre L. Murray, the production stars Broadway heavyweight Audra McDonald as Bess, a prostitute trying to turn her life around, and Norm Lewis as Porgy, the crippled beggar who gives her the love she needs to do it. The characters of South Carolina’s Catfish Row are destitute and scraping to get by. Bess has to battle the ties to the past she desperately wants to leave behind. And to top it off, there’s a wicked hurricane a-comin’.

The No. 1 Reason To See Porgy and Bess: Audra McDonald and Phillip Boykin’s brawl during “What You Want With Bess?” Read more »

26
Jan

The No. 1 Reason To See: Wit

wit cynthia nixon broadway play posterThe medical horror story of dealing with cancer is starkly depicted on stage in the Broadway debut of Wit. Cynthia Nixon stars as Vivian Bearing, a brilliant college professor, specializing in 17th century British poetry, who is being treated for stage-four metastatic ovarian cancer. The Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Margaret Edson follows Vivian through her aggressive chemotherapy, as well as her clashes with hospital bedside manner and her own pride.

The No. 1 Reason To See Wit: Cynthia Nixon’s startling portrayal of pain Read more »

22
Jan

Stage Rush TV: Episode 88

Talking points:

What do you think, Rushers? Do you think Mendez will one day headline her own Broadway show? Do you think she’s a character actress or a leading lady—or is she both? Who are some of your favorite character actors on Broadway who have become leading men and women? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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17
Jan

Lindsay Mendez: The rise of a fan favorite, still rising

lindsay mendez godspell broadway headshotAlthough not yet a marquee name, Lindsay Mendez sits comfortably atop many Broadway fans’ lists of favorite performers. For those unfamiliar with her, that’s all changing thanks to her well-received performance in this season’s revival of Godspell, as well as her endless lineup of cabaret gigs. In her latest concert engagement, Mendez headlines with her jazz partner Marco Paguia January 18 at Joe’s Pub. Before a performance of Godspell (but not after a day of workshop and concert rehearsal), Mendez sat down with Stage Rush to discuss the endless amounts of energy required for Godspell, singing with her Broadway A-list friend (and former roommate) Sierra Boggess at the ASTEP New York City Christmas concert, and whether she sees above-the-title billing in her future.

This show looks like it’s so much fun to perform. What’s been the best moment so far?
I’d say opening night, just because it was such a mammoth task to take on redoing this show. In the beginning of rehearsal, we all thought this could either be really awesome and fun, or it was going to be really bad. It took a while for it to come together. When we opened, the show was fluid and wonderful.

Since your character is called Lindsay, what qualities of Lindsay Mendez are in the character you play in Godspell?
I think the Lindsay in the show has a lot of joy and definitely wants to go her own way. She’s also very materialistic. I don’t think I’m quite as bad as her, in that respect. But I really like playing her because I get to wear really fancy things. I don’t wear anything this nice. There aren’t many things that differ from her and I and it’s been really fun to have the audience get to know who I really am.

Is that difficult to play yourself?
I feel like I always bring a huge part of myself to any role I play. In Everyday Rapture, I played myself as well, in a way. I’m kind of used to playing myself. It’s not as foreign to me.

This is such a vocally heavy show with sustained energy. How is your voice and energy level holding up?
My body is more tired than my voice. The first couple weeks, the cast was saying there’s no way we’re going to be able to do this. We’re on stage the whole time; we sing every song; we never get water; we never get a break. I had to figure out how to manage. When you’re doing a Broadway show, it can start to feel like jail, in a way. All you do is wake up and hope you have enough of a voice to do the show and that your body feels good enough to perform at night. I’m trying to find the balance of having my own life in the daytime, then coming here at night and doing a great job. It’s an ongoing learning process for me. Read more »

30
Dec

Stage Rush TV: Episode 87

Talking points:

What do you think, Rushers? What was your top Broadway moment in 2011? What are you most looking forward to on Broadway in 2012? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and have a safe and happy New Year!

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

28
Dec

Google Places & Stage Rush announce the Relatively Speaking ticket giveaway contest

relatively speaking broadway play poster woody allen ethan cohen elaine may

In Relatively Speaking, four-time Oscar winner Ethan Coen and two-time Oscar nominee Elaine May join with Woody Allen for a one-of-a-kind Broadway experience directed by John Turturro. Julie Kavner, Steve Guttenberg, Mark Linn-Baker and Marlo Thomas head a cast of 16 in this hilarious evening of one-act plays that explore the often outrageous reality of relatives (each one-act play springs from a different branch of the family tree).

So, what’s better than attending a performance of Relatively Speaking with a friend at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre? How about getting to attend a performance of Relatively Speaking with a friend  for free, courtesy of Google Places and Stage Rush?

Stage Rush is proud to be teaming up with Google Places, the new personalized local recommendation engine powered by the reviews of users and their friends. Google New York wants to give you the opportunity to win a pair of tickets to Relatively Speaking, just for sharing your opinions about your favorite places in New York City—and all the winners will go out to the theater together on the evening of Tuesday, January 10. And, after the show, you’ll all go out for drinks—on Google! Read more »

22
Dec

There’s more to Louis Hobson than prescription medication and firearms

louis hobson headshot next to normal bonnie and clydeAcross 733 performances, Louis Hobson played the dual role of the Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine in the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical Next to Normal. In addition to out-of-town iterations, Hobson was one of two actors to stay with the show through its entire Broadway run. After a stint in the brief run of The People in the Picture last spring, the former Seattle theater star is currently chasing down Jeremy Jordan and Laura Osnes in Bonnie & Clyde as police officer Ted Hinton (closing December 30). Hobson sat down with Stage Rush to discuss firearms, the highest highs of Next to Normal, and the satisfaction level of supporting roles on Broadway.

Ted Hinton is an interesting role in that you’re kind of the bad guy. The audience doesn’t root for you, but you’re on the side of the law; you’re doing the right thing. Sounds like a difficult mindset to get into.
Our conversation from the first rehearsal was that there is no antagonist in this show. If you need to choose an antagonist, you can say it’s society or the circumstances that everyone’s in. I wanted to push Ted as close to the middle of that line between right and wrong. I think that Clyde falls on that line as well. To me, it’s more interesting that no one in the show is all good and no one is all bad.

What’s it like playing someone who actually lived?
Ted Hinton was the last surviving member of the group that brought Bonnie and Clyde down. Ted in the show is sort of a composite of several different people. What he needed to be for this story was a little different than what he was in real life. But it’s always nice to start with something that’s real.

Is it fun to play cops and robbers on Broadway?
It’s fun having a gun. It gives you so much power. Unfortunately, I don’t get to shoot mine. Ted is one of the few guys that doesn’t get to shoot his gun. We have these big-ass guns [during the shootout scene at the end], but they don’t actually fire; they’re prop guns. Everything in that scene is firing sound effects. I don’t get to fire a blank in the show, and… that’s alright. [mock disappointed voice]

The gunshots in the show are jarring for the audience. Is it still startling for you?
We jumped when we were first [firing the blanks]. These are real bullets; they just don’t have the metal tips that fire the projectile. We were playing around with a full load of gun powder, then a half load, a quarter, an eighth—all to test different volumes. I can live with this volume now; it was so loud at the beginning. I’ve gotten used to it. Every once in a while, I get that ringing in my ears. But it’s much worse for Jeremy and Laura.

VIDEO: Louis Hobson talks about acting opposite Tony winner Alice Ripley in Next to Normal

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 »

12
Dec

The No. 1 Reason To See: On A Clear Day You Can See Forever

on a clear day you can see forever broadway musical revival poster harry connick jrIn director Michael Mayer’s revival (read: overhaul) of the Burton Lane/Alan Jay Lerner musical On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, Harry Connick Jr. plays Dr. Mark Bruckner who hypnotizes a male patient (David Turner) to help him quit smoking. While under hypnosis, Bruckner taps into David’s previous life as a beautiful jazz singer named Melinda Wells (played by Jessie Mueller). Here are some free hypnosis scripts that the ones interested in hypnosis can have a look at. Grieving his late wife, Bruckner’s finds escape and comfort in his interactions with Melinda and falls in love with her. Nevermind that the straight Bruckner has fallen in love with the gay David’s previous incarnation, which technically is manifested within David. Thus commences one awesome head-scratcher of a love triangle. (Stage Rush TV: On A Clear Day workshop at Vassar College)

The No. 1 Reason To See On A Clear Day You Can See Forever: The three-way dance between Harry Connick Jr., Jessie Mueller, and David Turner Read more »