Broadway Poll: Which Fall 2015 Show Most Excites You?

Below are a list of 18 shows scheduled to open on Broadway from September 2015 to January, 2016, organized chronologically by opening date.  Pick the one that most excites you. For information on the shows, see my Broadway Fall 2015 preview guide

Spring Awakening on Broadway Sneak Peek: Sung, Signed, and Close Captioned

Deaf West Theater’s acclaimed production of “Spring Awakening,” a musical about lost and longing teenagers, is coming to Broadway in September, starring Marlee Matlin, Camryn Manheim, Andy Mientus, Krysta Rodriguez, and a cast of exciting newcomers, some of whom sing, some of whom sign.

Below watch “Mamma Who Bore Me” performed by Sandra Mae Frank, who portrays Wendla, and Katie Boeck, who is the voice of Wendla and accompanies her singing and Frank’s signing with guitar. They performed at the last Broadway in Bryant Park of the summer, on August 13. The video is close captioned.

Dames At Sea on Broadway Sneak Peek: First Pic, Two Songs

DAMES AT SEA - three ladiesWhy did Bernadette Peters sing an entire number from “Dames at Sea” to a dog at this year’s Broadway Barks? It was the first musical in which she starred on a New York stage, Off-Off Broadway at the famous Caffe Cino in 1966.

Nearly half a century later, it’s finally making it to Broadway, set to open October 22, 2015 at the Helen Hayes Theater, with a cast that includes Lesli Margherita who made a terrific Broadway debut as Mrs. Wormwood in Matilda, and John Bolton (Spamalot A Christmas Story, etc.) portraying the Captain.

The photograph above features, from left to right: Margherita as Mona Kent, a temperamental diva; Eloise Kropp who plays the Bernadette Peters part, Ruby, the ingenue; and Mara Davi, who plays Joan, a wise-cracking chorus girl.

Here is how the producers are describing the show: “Ruby steps off a bus in Manhattan, and into her first Broadway show, but hours before the opening night curtain is to rise, the cast learns their theater is being demolished, so it is “all hands on deck” to find a stage to put on the show.”

Below watch Broadway newcomer Danny Gardner sing “Broadway Baby,” and Lesli Margherita sing “That Mister Man of Mine,” which they performed in the August 13, 2015 Broadway in Bryant Park lunchtime concert.

 

Allegiance on Broadway: Watch Sneak Peek

TellyLeunginBryantPark
ElenaWangforTwitterTellyLeungforTwitter“Allegiance” cast members Telly Leung (holding a fan made out of his face, above) and Elena Wang sang two songs from the musical at the Broadway in Bryant Park lunchtime concert. The Broadway musical starring George Takei and Lea Salonga and inspired by Takei’s own story is about a Japanese-American family that is relocated after the attack on Pearl Harbor from their farm in California to an internment camp in Wyoming. The show is set to open at Broadway’s Longacre Theater on November 8, 2015.

George Takei and Lea Salonga were not at the concert, but their fans were — both human fans, and those made from cardboard, below.

AllegiancemasksTakeiandSalonga

Hamilton on Broadway: Review, Photos, Video

When Hamilton opened Off-Broadway in February, I called it groundbreaking and breathtaking – and I was trying not to gush. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop musical about the life and times of the Founding Father whose face is on the ten dollar bill has drawn exuberant bipartisan praise – from both Obama and Cheney, both Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Now that it has opened on Broadway, Hamilton has the potential to do something revolutionary – to help dissolve Broadway’s dependence on British imports, and throw off the tyranny of Hollywood adaptations.

There seems to be just one major danger ahead – that Hamilton’s early adopters have created such high expectations for this original musical that it will wind up disappointing theatergoers who are used to more conventional Broadway fare.

On the other hand, at a certain point in the life of a hit Broadway show, any individual opinion no longer matters; it’s a hit because it’s a hit, and people go because it’s a hit; those who don’t like it are likely to blame themselves.

Given its $30 million in advance ticket sales, is it possible that Hamilton has already reached that point?

Full review on DC Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph below to see it enlarged.

(In response to inquiries about the three other Hamilton videos that used to be on this post: The show asked me to remove them, saying it was a mistake to have given them to me in the first place because they were “not finished.”  They said they’ll give the finished videos to me to post when they’re done, but didn’t say when that would be.

Update August 19: I have seen one of the videos I was asked to take down on the Charlie Rose show and another one on Good Day New York, but upon inquiring whether this meant that the videos were now “ready,” I was told “no”)

American Idol And Broadway: The TV Show Ends, The Connection Continues

Jennifer Hudson on American Idol in 2004, and on the Oscars 2015

Jennifer Hudson on American Idol in 2004, and on the Oscars in 2015

With Jennifer Hudson, American Idol season 3 seventh place finisher, about to make her Broadway debut in the revival of The Color Purple this fall – the same season that American Idol is coming to a close – it seems a good time to look at the American Idol-Broadway Pipeline, which I do in an article for Broadway Direct.

Below is the first section of the article.

idol950When American Idol comes to an end after 15 seasons next year, it will have introduced a number of performers who have become household names — and even more who have become Broadway veterans. Some have become both. At least 17 (and counting!) alumni of the TV singing competition have gone on to tread the boards of Broadway.

“I’m not surprised at all,” says Justin Guarini. “If nothing else, American Idol teaches you how to get up in front of a crowd.” The runner-up to Kelly Clarkson in the first season, Guarini has performed in four Broadway shows, more than any other Idol finalist. He is one of several who could serve as poster children for the American Idol–Broadway pipeline.

Constantine Maroulis has an explanation for the phenomenon. “Let’s be honest: Broadway has always featured whoever the current celebrities are — people who have a fan base and media attention — and we’re all over television and red carpets and magazines,” says Maroulis, referring to his fellow former Idol contestants. “It’s just good math all around. Of course, it works best when the person is also the best for the part.” Maroulis, the sixth-place finisher in season 4, is a three-time Broadway veteran and the only Idol contestant so far to receive a Tony Award nomination, for the leading role of Drew that he originated in Rock of Ages.

“Broadway was where I was always headed; American Idol was just an unexpected stop along the way,” says season 2’s Frenchie Davis, who was the first Idol contestant to join the cast of a Broadway show (Rent in 2003).

“If you have the talent, the drive, and the perseverance, Broadway gives you a place to shine,” Guarini says. “Many AI contestants share those qualities.”

The Big Broadway Quiz Thing August 7th: Preview 10 Theater Questions

BroadwayQuizThingLogoNoah Tarnow makes a living being quizzical. The creator of The Big Quiz Thing, he is bringing his act to The New-York Historical Society for a night of Broadway trivia August 7th.

NoahTarnowBonus good news: Friday nights, museum admission is pay-what-you-wish, and there’s no extra charge to play the game.

Below are a sample of ten questions that he might be asking. See how many you can answer correctly.

(Answers below)

QUESTIONS 

 1. In three-time Broadway production The Music Man, they’ve got trouble, my friends, right there in River City. With a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for what?

 2What Tom Stoppard play, revived last year, shares its name with a former Coca-Cola slogan?

 3. Not Jaws, not Schindler’s List: Name the two Broadway musicals from the past ten years that were adapted from movies directed by Steven Spielberg.

4. Ironically considering its title, the jukebox musical Rock of Ages features no songs by what British rock band?

 5. What play, which ran on Broadway from last November to February, was about a real-life person named Joseph Merrick—not, as the play claims, John Merrick?

 6. What current Broadway show’s title references genitalia (or the lack thereof)?

 7. Name the classic play, seen on Broadway last year: Only five characters, one set, and a title character who is never seen.

 8. What recent Tony winner for Best Musical was largely set in the nation of Uganda?

 9. With 21 productions, which is the most produced Shakespeare play on Broadway that’s named for a 100 percent verifiably real English monarch? (So no, it’s not Julius Caesar.)

 10. Only two current Broadway theaters are named for living people, both of them extremely famous among anyone interested in American theater. Who are they?

ANSWERS

 1. Pool

 2The Real Thing

 3. The Color Purple, Catch Me If You Can

 4. Def Leppard (since it’s named for their song “Rock of Ages”)

 5. The Elephant Man

 6. Hedwig and the Angry Inch

7. Waiting for Godot

 8. The Book of Mormon

 9. Richard III

 10. Neil Simon, Stephen Sondheim

August 2015 Theater Openings on Broadway (Hamilton!), Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway

Hamilton9

Hamilton-PlaybillHamilton is NOT the only show opening this month. There are new plays at the Signature by both Annie Baker, winner of last year’s Pulitzer Prize for The Flick, and the 84-year-old A.R. Gurney, experiencing a late-career resurgence. There are 200 shows at the Fringe festival, and another 63 at the lesser known Thespis festival. There are exciting FREE plays at the New Brooklyn Theatre, including one by Lynn Nottage.

But Hamilton is the only show opening on Broadway, and even people who rarely if ever go to the theater have been gushing over it since its debut at the Public Theater, where it swept nearly every Off-Broadway award.

Below is a selection of the shows opening in August, organized chronologically by opening date. Each title is linked to a relevant website.

Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Purple or Blue. Off Off Broadway: Green.

August 2

Delirium’s Daughters (Triumvirate Artists at Theatre Row)

Four suitors, three daughters…what’s a father to do? A kind old gentleman believes his deceased wife has forbid their three daughters to marry, until one of the suitors plays a series of tricks that helps him deal with his loss and recover his sanity. A new take on Commedia Dell’Arte

August 3

What I Learned in Fallsburg (Stage 72 at the Triad)

Gary Waldman’s personal musical tribute to growing up in the Catskills

August 4

Crossing Verrazano (Hudson Guild)

Writer-director Anthony Fusco’s play tells the true story of a gay-bashing that took place in Greenwich Village in 2010.

Lynn Nottage

Lynn Nottage

This is one of 63 plays being presented as part of the Thespis Theater Festival.

August 5

Las Meninas (New Brooklyn Theatre)

A play by Pulitzer-winnig playwright Lynn Nottage that tells the story of “the love affair between Louis XIV’s wife Queen Marie-Therese and Nabo, her African servant as told through the imagination of their illegitimate daughter. This play is offered FOR FREE.

August 6

Hamilton (Richard Rodgers)

Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson with ensemble of Hamilton

Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson with ensemble of Hamilton

The story of Alexander Hamilton, told by Lin-Manuel Miranda (In The Heights) using a mix of rap, jazz, r&b, and even light opera. I saw this at the Public Theater, and loved it.

August 7

Rachel2

Rachel (New Brooklyn Theatre)

Angelina Weld Grimké, the first African-American woman to have a play publicly performed, wrote Rachel  at the request of W.E.B. DuBois, shortly after the debut of D.W. Griffith’s racist 1915 film The Birth of a Nation,  it was one of the first plays to protest lynching and racial violence. This play is offered FOR FREE, and is presented in repertoire with Las Meninas.

August 10

cymbeline

Cymbeline (Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park)

 Lily Rabe, Hamish Linklater, Patrick Page and Raul Esparza are featured In this Shakespearean fairy tale directed by Daniel Sullivan, described this way: ” Princess Imogen’s fidelity is put to the royal test when her disapproving father banishes her soul mate. Cross-dressing girls and cross-dressing boys, poisons and swordfights and dastardly villains all take the stage in this enchanting romp about the conquering power of love.” For FREE.

August 11

John (Signature Theater)

Signature Theatre presents “John” A New Play by Annie Baker; Directed by Sam Gold Pictured: Georgia Engel as Mertis Katherine Graven, Christopher Abbott as Elias Schreiber-Hoffman & Lois Smith as Genevieve Marduk

Signature Theatre presents “John”
A New Play by Annie Baker; Directed by Sam Gold
Pictured: Georgia Engel as Mertis Katherine Graven, Christopher Abbott as Elias Schreiber-Hoffman & Lois Smith as Genevieve Marduk

A play by Annie Baker (Pulitzer winner for The Flick), starring an impressive cast including Georgia Engel (from the Mary Tyler Moore Show), Christopher Abbott (who left Girls),Hong Chau (Treme) and Lois Smith (The Trip to Bountiful, Rebel Without A Cause, etc), and directed by long-time Baker collaborator Sam Gold. “The week after Thanksgiving. A Bed & Breakfast in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. A cheerful innkeeper. A young couple struggling to stay together. Thousands of inanimate objects, watching. “

August 14

Fringeteaser

The New York International Fringe Festival, which begins today and runs through August 30th, offers almost 200 different shows.

August 18

InformedConsentforTwitter

Informed Consent (Primary Stages at The Duke on 42nd St)

A play by Deborah Zoe Laufer “about one woman’s quest to answer the mysteries of science and her own life, inspired by a landmark court case between one of the country’s largest universities and a Native American tribe based in the Grand Canyon.”  The suit was against Arizona State University for doing unauthorized research on blood drawn from members of the Havasupai tribe

August 19

MercuryFurscriptcoerMercury Fur (New Group at Signature)

“In a society ravaged by warring gangs and a hallucinogenic-drug epidemic, Elliot and Darren, under the sway of the ruthless Spinx, throw parties for rich clients in abandoned apartment buildings – parties that help guests act out their darkest, most sinister fantasies.”

August 24

Love and Money (Signature)

AR Gurney By Gregory CostanzoA.R. Gurney, 84, has written close to 50 plays. He is best-known for “The Dinner Party,” but he is experiencing a career resurgence, which includes last fall’s Broadway revival of Love Letters, and this fall’s Broadway debut of Sylvia, as well as an entire season devoted to him at the Signature. Love and Money is a new play written as part of his residency year at Signature. “Determined to donate almost everything she owns before her life of grace and privilege ends, wealthy widow Cornelia Cunningham’s plan hits a snag when an ambitious and ingratiating young man arrives to claim his alleged inheritance.”

August 27

A Delicate Ship (Playwrights Realm at The Peter J Sharpe Theater)

A Delicate Shipcast

From the company, Playwrights Realm, that produced one of my favorite shows from last year, My Manana Comes, comes this play by Anna Ziegler. “It’s Christmas Eve, and Sarah and Sam are celebrating like New Yorkers: flirting over wine and debating the nature of existential suffering. Then there is a knock on the door, and Sarah’s childhood friend Nate stands at the threshold. And suddenly suffering becomes a whole lot less sexy.”

Whorl Inside a Loop (Second Stage)

WhorlInsideALooppic

Co-written and co-performed by Sherie Rene Scott (Everyday Rapture) A well-regarded actress agrees to teach six inmates how to tell their stories behind the bars of a men’s maximum security prison. Sharing intimate and sometimes hilarious details of their former lives, this unlikely group forms a bond — even as the actress’s life outside spins out of control.”

Watch: Changing My Major, Fun Home Lesbian Love Song, on Late Night With Seth Meyers

ChangingmyMajorLateNight

Late Night with Seth Meyers featured the six minute scene and song from Fun Home, when Medium Alison (Emily Skeggs), a freshman college student, kisses a classmate, Joan (Roberta Colindrez), and then later, while Joan sleeps on Alison’s bed, breaks into song. (Lyrics below)

What happened last night? Are you really here?
Joan Joan Joan Joan Joan
Hi Joan Don’t wake up, Joan Oh my god last night
Oh my god Oh my god Oh my god Oh my god last night I got so excited
I was too enthusiastic
Thank you for not laughing
Well you laughed a little bit
at one point when I was touching you and said I might lose consciousness which you said was adorable
and I just have to trust
that you don’t think I am an idiot or some kind of an animal
I never lost control
due to overwhelming lust
But I must say that I’m
Changing my major to Joan
I’m changing my major to sex with Joan I’m changing my major to sex with Joan with a minor in kissing Joan
Foreign study to Joan’s inner thighs A seminar on Joan’s ass in her Levis And Joan’s crazy brown eyes
Joan, I feel like Hercules
Oh god that sounds ridiculous Just keep on sleeping through this and I’ll work on calming down
so by the time you’ve woken up I’ll be cool I’ll be collected and I’ll have found some dignity but who needs dignity?
‘cause this is so much better
I’m radiating happiness
Will you stay here with me
for the rest of the semester?
We won’t need any food
We’ll live on sex alone
Sex with Joan!
I am writing a thesis on Joan!
It’s a cutting edge field and my mind is blown I will gladly stay up ev’ry night to hone
My compulsory skills with Joan
I will study my way down her spine Familiarize myself with her well-made outline While she researches mine!
I don’t know who I am
I’ve become someone new
Nothing I just did
is anything I would do
Overnight everything changed, I am not prepared I’m dizzy I’m nauseous I’m shaky I’m scared
Am I falling into nothingness
or flying into something so sublime? I don’t know!
But I’m
Changing my major to Joan
I thought all my life I’d be all alone But that was before I was lying prone
in this dorm room bed with Joan
Look, she drooled on the pillow–so sweet All sweaty and tangled-up in my bed sheet And my heart feels…
Complete
Let’s never leave this room
How’ bout we stay here ‘til finals
I’ll go to school forever
I’ll take out a dementedly huge high-interest loan ‘Cause I’m changing
my major

Taye Diggs begins in Hedwig and the Angry Inch

TayeDiggsinHedwig

Taye Diggs returned tonight to a New York stage after a ten-year absence to star as the title character in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” the Tony winning best musical revival. The sixth Hedwig since the revival opened in April, 2014, Diggs is scheduled to perform the demanding role through October 11, 2015.

This is Diggs’ fifth Broadway production. He made his Broadway debut in 1994 at age 23 in Carousel, then made a splash in the original cast of Rent, followed by turns in Chicago and Wicked.

Diggs has become a familiar face on screen. TV: “Murder in the First” and “Private Practice.” Film:​ The Best Man, Rent,Chicago, Brown Sugar,​ and How Stella Got Her Groove Back.

But he’s yearned to play Hedwig for a long time, he’s told interviewers.  “I want a chance to show everybody everything. I can dance and I can sing, and everybody knows I can act…But I didn’t think it would ever happen. I assumed that nobody would ever have the open-mindedness to cast this character black.”

 “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”began on Broadway with Neil Patrick Harris in the role, followed by Andrew Rannells, Michael C. Hall, John Cameron Mitchell (who co-wrote the musical with Stephen Trask), and Darren Criss.

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged.
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