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Carousel: Review and pics

 

The new “Carousel” has the most glorious singing on Broadway, as well as thrilling choreography and picturesque sets and costumes that seem lifted from great American paintings by Thomas Eakins and Edward Hopper. It also has a surprisingly dark story whose last half hour has aged so poorly it offers a bizarre mix of the ugly and the precious.
Director Jack O’Brien, though he has made some superficial changes to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s beloved 1945 musical, hasn’t solved its dated attitude toward domestic abuse, nor does he take the corn out of the scenes set in Heaven; if anything, he makes more corn, inserting a prologue of angels gamboling in stage smoke, and expanding the role of the Starkeeper, the celestial counselor. But in this fifth Broadway revival, the director does bring us opera star Renee Fleming as Nettie Fowler singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (which she sang at Barack Obama’s inaugural concert) and “June Is Busting Out All Over” – which would be enough right there in my book to make up for any flaws in the show…

Full review at DC Theatre Scene.

Click on any photograph by Julia Cervantes to see it enlarged.
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Mean Girls Review: Tina Fey’s Ill-Timed Broadway Musical About High School

At the end of “Mean Girls,” Cady, the new girl in high school who tries so hard to fit in that she’s become phony and superficial, tells her classmates that she’s learned her lesson: “I wanted everyone to like me so bad, I kind of lost myself in the process.” Had Tina Fey and her collaborators learned the same lesson, they surely would not have turned her smart, funny 2004 movie into the overlong, ill-timed Broadway musical that is currently running at the August Wilson Theater.
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Miss You Like Hell Review: Daphne Rubin-Vega on Immigrant Mother-Daughter Road Trip

“Miss You Like Hell,” a new musical by “In The Heights” book writer Quiara Alegría Hudes and singer-songwriter Erin McKeown, depicts the most American of adventures, the road trip. But this road trip takes place in the America of today, and so the discoveries and self-discovery are edged with some dark realities.
Daphne Rubin-Vega, portraying one of her most vibrant original characters since her Broadway debut in “Rent,” is Beatriz Santiago, a Mexican immigrant mother who drives from California to Philadelphia to pick up her troubled 16-year-old daughter, Olivia (the terrific Gizel Jiménez.) They have not seen each other for four years – Olivia’s American-born father has sole custody of her – but Beatriz has been reading Olivia’s blog, in which she asked her readers whether she should jump off the Ben Franklin Bridge. And so Beatriz insists that Olivia accompany her on a cross-country trip over the next seven days.
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Escape to Margaritaville: Pics and Review

Escape to Margaritaville, the new Broadway musical with songs by Jimmy Buffett, promises much the same experience as the week long tropical resort vacation that it depicts — fun, relaxation, even romance. As with such resorts, the musical, opening at the Marquis, has its disappointments, but it largely delivers; all it asks of you in return is that you put your brain on hold.

Full review on DC Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph by Matthew Murphy to see it enlarged

Phantom of the Opera Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary on Broadway

Phantom of the Opera opened on Broadway on January 26, 1988. A gala tonight (two days early) celebrates the 30th anniversary of the longest-running show in Broadway history. Watch the Red Carpet live (starts at around 1 minute five seconds.)

Hal Prince at 16 minute mark: “Except for two years and two months, I’ve had a show on Broadway since 1954.” Why has Phantom lasted so long? “It’s a love story. You’d think a lot of shows would be love stories on Broadway. But very few are….”
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Poll: Best Cast Recording of 2017

It’s no secret that original cast albums were the gateway drug for many lifelong theater addicts. Just ask Lin-Manuel Miranda or Todrick Hall.

Choose your favorite recording from among the 10 below, listed alphabetically, which were released in 2017.
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#AChristmasStoryLive on Fox. Ranking Live TV Musicals

When A Christmas Story is broadcast live tonight on Fox (starting at 7 p.m. ET), a reworked version of the Broadway musical by Pasek and Paul, it’ll be the latest example of a trend that began four years ago, with NBC’s live broadcast of The Sound of Music starring Carrie Underwood.

How has this new trend/tradition fared?

Below is a ranking of nine of these live musicals, with links to my recaps/ reviews (and/or features or photo galleries), and the shows’ scores on Rotten Tomatoes.

Update: Rotten Tomatoes has now included A Christmas Story, and it isn’t pretty. Preliminary reports also reveal the show had the lowest viewership of any of the live musicals since 2013.

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The Lion King Turns 20 on Broadway

Today is the 20th anniversary of the opening of “The Lion King.” Now the third-longest running show in the history of Broadway, the musical is worth celebrating.

 

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Sondheim Originators on His Advice to Them

Len Cariou, one of the five performers who recently reminisced about having originated roles in musicals by Stephen Sondheim, recalls getting the script for “Sweeney Todd” and thinking “You’ve got to be kidding!”  At the end of the first preview, although it was plagued by technical glitches, Sondheim came backstage and exclaimed about the audience: “The understood it! They f— understood it,” and performer and composer hugged. By that time Cariou had long since come around: “We realized this was one of the great musicals of all time, a work of genius.”

Cariou and the others — Harvey Evans, Pamela Myers, Kurt Peterson and Teri Ralston, who variously originated roles in “Anyone Can Whistle,” “Company,” “Follies,” “A Little Night Music,” and “Sweeney Todd,” (and performed in the original “West Side Story” and “Gypsy”)  — gathered over the weekend to talk for 90 minutes about their experiences with the composer who changed their lives. The video below is an 18-minute excerpt, answering the question: What advice did Sondheim give you?

“I don’t remember his giving us too many notes,”says Harvey Evans, who performed in the original Broadway productions of West Side Story, Gypsy, Anyone Can Whistle and Follies. “I wish he had given me more personal help.” But he did give them stories.

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Google Celebrates West Side Story

“West Side Story” opened on Broadway on September 26, 1957. To celebrate its 60th anniversary, Google Arts & Culture is presenting a virtual exhibition that explains its history, profiles its makers, assesses its impact, and showers us with imagery  (some of it digitized for the first time).The online collection was created in partnership with Carnegie Hall, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the Museum of the City of New York, and the National Museum of American Jewish History.

Below is a glimpse (Click on any photograph to read the captions supplied by Google.). Check out Google Arts and Culture’s whole West Side Story exhibition.

 

A 360-video of “Cool”, one of the most popular songs of the musical, performed at the Knockdown Center in Queens, NY as part of Carnegie Hall’s, The Somewhere Project.