Posted in Bullets over Broadway, Cinderella, Mamma Mia, news from the rialto, Phantom, Susan Stroman, Thursday is matinee day, Woody Allen

Broadway Melodies

Broadway welcomes the Thursday matinee! At last.

When I was last in London a gazillion years ago, I was thrilled to have the chance to go to a Thursday matinee, as well as the usual Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday ones. One more outing in a week full of theater adventures. I always thought it was a great idea to spread out the matinees so binge goers, and out- of-towners eager to see whatever was on on the Great White Way could do more with their week in New York.

Three shows now offering you the Thursday option are “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” ”Mamma Mia!” and “The Phantom of the Opera.” ”Matilda the Musical” (reviewed with the current cast in these pages recently) may give the idea a try this summer.

“Cinderella” now features the enormously likeable Fran Drescher as the wicked stepmother. The infectious gaiety that is “Mamma Mia,” which is also playing Vegas as it happens, has recently moved to the Broadhurst Theatre on W44th Street. “The Phantom of the Opera” is celebrating more than 25 years at The Majestic.

“Phantom,” “Mamma Mia!,” “Rock Of Ages,” and “Chicago” have long also had Monday night curtains, another great way to extend the Broadway week.

Charlotte D’Amboise as Roxie Hart with Ryan Worsing and
Michael Cusumano in a production of “Chicago.” Photo by Jeremy Daniel

This show does not have a Thursday matinee, or a Monday night, so you’ll have to stick to one of the more traditional days to see “Bullets Over Broadway” which, by the way hits the bull’s eye.

“Bullets…,” based on the Woody Allen film from 1995, and written by Mr. Allen and Douglas McGrath (who also penned “Beautiful…”) starts off with a bang– in case you’re worried that you are in the wrong theater, a machine gun sprays the play’s title on the inside curtain– and doesn’t let up ’til the final curtain drops. The musical’s style rings in a little like “The Producers,” which Susan Stroman also famously directed and choreographed. Stroman’s signature dancing in unconventional locales has a tap chorus hoofing fiercely on top of the train headed for out-of-town tryouts.

In an impressive cast, Nick Cordero is a revelation as the soulful thug Cheech. Marin Mazzie gives her all as an egocentric star on the wane. This is a Tony-worthy performance.

“Bullets” does something that Broadway hasn’t done since the beginning of the last century, using standards and in a way that generally is not done– the tunes, by Cole Porter and others– move the story along and further the plot.

Visit http://cinderellaonbroadway.comhttp://mammamianorthamerica.com to learn more about Thursday matinees, or any other day you’d care to catch them. Go to to find out more about “Chicago.” For more information on “Bullets,” visit

Posted in Berry Gordy, Bette Midler, Cicely Tyson, Cinderella, Cuba Goodng Jr, Father's Day, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sue Mengers, The trip to Bountful

What are you doing this weekend? A few select suggestions:

 See Bette Midler play Sue Mengers, or go see “Motown The Musical” or you could head home to Bountiful, TX…. 

Bette Midler is the perfect hostess in “I’ll Eat You Last,” as she invites the audience into her home, well, Sue Mengers’ home.  Click above for review and details, but there are only a few performances left, and honestly, you should not miss this one. Closing June 30th.

Love the music that came out of Detroit in the late ’50s and early ’60s? Come relive the era with “Motown The Musical.” Tickets aren’t discounted on the usual sites, but go ahead and treat yourself after you click on the links for our reviews, at any rate. (See also, Gordy Tells His Story on VP as well as the review on this site.)

There are discounts for “The Trip To Bountiful,” for which Cicely Tyson won the Tony. (For discounts check on, among others.) Cuba Gooding, Jr. makes his stage debut in this lovely production.

Off-Broadway, there’s “Cornelius” by JB Priestley at 59E59 Theaters’ Brits Off Broadway. The play takes place during tough economic times during the 1930s, but you can relate, right? [Also closing on June 30th.]

Alan Cox and Col Farrell in J.B. Priestley’s “Cornelius,” directed by Sam Yates, part of Brits Off Broadway at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

It plays only on Wednesdays, but plan to attend a matinee or evening performance before July 31st:
“Unbroken Circle” (review) at the St Luke’s Theatre.
Photo by Bill Selby

Looking for romance and dancing? “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” can take you on a waltz-filled adventure. It won a Tony for the spectacular costumers, but it’s a genuinely enjoyable production.

Looking for something a bit … smaller? St Ann’s Warehouse in Dumbo is celebrating toy theater from June 14th to the 23rd. It’s the Tenth International ToyTheater Festival. Check it out. Photo below is courtesy

Great Small Works, and features Barbara Steinitz and Bjorn Kollin presenting “Schnurzpiepegal,” a picture book that comes alive. 

Another highlight of the festival is Janie Geiser’s “The Reptile Under the Flowers,” which incorporates mechanical objects, puppetry, small projections in twelve diorama scenes of a peepshow spectacle. Don’t know about you but “Toy Theater” appeals to my love of minatures.

Janie Geiser’s “The Reptile Under the Flowers,” courtesy Great Small Works

Posted in Audra McDonald, Cinderella, Cyndi Lauper, Kinky Boots, Neil Patrick Harris, Pippin, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Tony Awards, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Tony, Tony, Tony!

The Tony Awards are more than just a celebration of the great work done by the theater community in the past season, they are also a showcase for New York City’s best product: Broadway!

Broadway is an export product, with shows touring all over the country, but more importantly, it imports visitors to our town and brings them to the Great White Way to share some of the magic. The 2013 Tony Awards highlighted what’s in store for out-of-towners and locals alike.

Making book on who will win is not a blood sport, but I am gratified at how many picks I got right this year!
Imagine how much more satisfying those wins were to Patina Miller, Cicely Tyson, Tracy Letts, Billy Porter– yes I predicted these wins. Congratulations to you all and to “Kinky Boots,” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and Pam McKinnon, and all the rest. In fact, a big congratulations to all the nominees and the Bests.

Posted in ball, ballgowns, Cinderella, fairytale, gowns, Harriet Harris, Laura Osnes, Peter Bartlett, Santino Fontana, TV version with Julie Andrews, Victoria Clark, William Ivey Long

Waltzing With The Prince: "R+H’s Cinderella" On Bway!

Little girls dream of dressing in gowns and looking like a princess, and, as they get a little older, of charming princes who can whisk them off to a castle.

The fantasy in “Rodger’s + Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” in an open run at the Broadway Theatre, is about transformation and aspiration.

Poor Cinderella (Laura Osnes) leads a terrible life, toiling at thankless tasks for her thankless stepmother, Madame (Harriet Harris) and ne’er-do-well stepsister Charlotte (Ann Harada) and the nicer Gabrielle (Marla Mindelle.) She dreams of escape, “In My Own Little Corner,” and goes back to work mending and cleaning.

Laura Osnes as Cinderella and female ensemble. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Douglas Carter Beane sees in  Cinderella both the hopes for betterment and the determination to make a better world in his script adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein original TV production. His take is perhaps just a little too up-to-the-minute. Or maybe, it contributes to making “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” so much more than a made for TV version of a timeless fairytale, even if that 1957 live broadcast featured Julie Andrews in the heyday of television. There is a shiny sort of do-good, feel-good quality to Beane’s rescripting, and to the lyrics he and David Chase have added to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s original.

Santino Fontana as Prince Topher and Laura Osnes as Cinderella at the ball.  Photo by Carol  Rosegg.

Laura Osnes, whose ascent to Broadway was as the winner in a TV contest for her role in  “Grease,” has proven to be the quintessential stage actor. She is also more than a made for TV star. Since being “discovered,” she’s done yeomen’s work in the much-maligned “Bonnie and Clyde,” subbed seamlessly for Kelli O’Hare as Nellie Forbush in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific,” played Hope Harcourt in “Anything Goes.”  She’s performed at Carnegie Hall and in concerts at 54 Below. In short, Laura Osnes is a genuine Broadway actor.

Cinderella’s desires and dreams resonate as they always have. She’s just a little pluckier and gutsier than you might remember her. Her Prince Topher (Santino Fontana) is a little more evolved and sensitive, too.

Santino Fontana is delicious as Prince Topher. Ann Harada gets to sing one of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s most wonderful anthems, “The Stepsister’s Lament” with a touch of irony and innocence. Marla Mindelle as the stepsister who falls in love with a rabble-rousing poor boy, Jean-Michel (Greg Hildreth) is endearing, as is Greg Hildreth, in an endearing subplot. Victoria Clark makes a sweet Fairy Godmother, Marie although she looks a bit uncomfortable during her stint in the air.

What would Cinderella’s trip to the ball be without exquisite costumes? We don’t have to imagine anything so dire, since William Ivey Long gives us glamourous gowns worthy of a fairytale and happy endings. Anna Louizos’s sets are also gorgeous and imaginatively rendered. Paul Huntley’s headdresses are extravagant enough to make hair and wigs a character. Mark Brokaw ‘s direction keeps “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” moving at a lively pace.

“Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” will make your wish for a captivating evening come true.
Sweet dreams. (Visit VP for more on “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella.”)

For more information about “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” please visit