Posted in #Chicago, long running Broadway musical, Long running musical, moving musical drama, musical, Musical drama, musical revivals, musical theater, musical theatre, musicals, Phantom, The Long Running AMERICAN Musical, The Long Running Broadway Musical

The long game

The Company in a London production performing “Masquerade.” Photo by Matthew Murphy.

So why does it say “longest running American musical?” Because Phantom is actually the longest-running musical on Broadway. Chicago is the runner up! The Phantom of the Opera, which by provenance is a British musical, makes Broadway history by going strong for over 30 years and over 13,000 performances.



Posted in musical revivals, revival, theater

Revivals and transfers

Originality is always prized, but is it always good box office?

Back by popular acclaim

On Broadway, the revival is generally a vehicle that’s had tried-and-true success. The public likes the play or its author, and adding a marquee name will probably bring them in again. An eager new cast and crew doing the hard bits is probably a formula that will minimize a producer’s risk.

There are no guarantees, of course, in the theater. The audiences can be fickle. Is O’Neill still a draw? Will Arthur Miller appeal? Do they want to see Neil Simon, or Ibsen? Is Chekhov a lock for their full attention?

Setting the stage

Les Miz and Miss Saigon (currently in a revival at The Broadway Theatre) cycle through periodically, generally with good success. Cats is bringing back “Memory” at the Neil Simon Theatre at the moment. Sondheim gets out quite a bit too– from revivals of Follies to Sweeney Todd to Gypsy, to mention a few, and of course the current revival of Sunday in the Park with George starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford at the refurbished Hudson Theatre.

Bette Midler is expected to be a very effective matchmaker in Hello Dolly! Given her fanbase,  she should attract a loyal audience to the Shubert Theatre, running through January 7, 2018, and in fact, the website’s performance calendar is already offering tips on availability.

On the dramatic side, Tennessee Williams gets his share of the Broadway air. His works are often produced, and not just at the not-for-profit subscription houses. So many roles tempt actresses to climb the mountains of his beautiful poetic prose that The Glass Menagerie has seen a number of recent renditions. In 2014, Cherry Jones tackled the part of Amanda Wingfield; in 2010 it was Blythe Danner. Currently, it’s Sally Fields taking on the mother of all roles (sorry Mama Rose) in the Broadway run of The Glass Menagerie
through July 2nd.

Crossing over

Broadway transfers create a very different equation for the money behind productions. The show did well in, say, a 300-seat house. How will it fare in one with 500+?

We caught In Transit in its off-Broadway run at 59E59 in a Primary Stages production, and the move to Broadway for this gritty a cappella musical should be interesting to watch. It’s at Circle in the Square through June 25th.

Often, Broadway’s bookmakers like the odds. They’ve taken The Humans, for instance, out of Roundabout’s Laura Pels and plucked it onto the Helen Hayes where it has flourished. Stephen Karam’s domestic drama won the 2016 Tony® as Best Play. Significant Other, another Roundabout vehicle is heading over to Broadway’s Booth Theatre, through July 2nd.

Dear Evan Hansen is doing very well, thank you, since moving around the corner from 43rd Street’s 2nd Stage to the Music Box in an open run. A dramusical with lots of heart and the off-Broadway cred of its creative group, Steve Levenson (book) and Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (music and lyrics.) It’s attracting Broadway audiences. Its lead, Ben Platt, who like Significant Other‘s Gideon Glick , has star quality; both transferred with the pvehicles they lead.

Big ticket

Avenue Q took a circuitous route, after transferring from off Broadway’s Vineyard Theatre, it landed off a well-received Broadway run (it won 3 Tony®s in 2004) at New World Stages for seven years.

The most famous name in Broadway transfers came from the Public Theater to win 11 Tony Awards®. It is, of course, Hamilton, a story onto itself. Another recent  Public Theater production, Sweat, opens at Studio 54 on March 26th; Lynn Nottage’s timely drama about the dystopia of working class America should do well on a bigger stage.

For my money…

If you were putting up money for a Broadway produciton, would you opt for a revival or take a fly on bringing a production uptown? Tough call. And a big thanks to all the folks who do put their money in and bring theater to us.

Posted in bio-musical, musical revivals, musical theater, Uncategorized

"Dancing In The Streets" at Motown The Musical: It’s Not Just Berry Gordy’s Memories

Motown The Musical is being revived this summer at the Nederlander Theatre, in previews now and running through November 13th.

Our Theater Blog: TandBOnTheAisle

There was a time when Detroit rolled out great big cars, and an even bigger sound. The music of the Motor City was humming in everyone’s ears, and playing “with a brand new beat” on and off the Billboard charts.

Berry Gordy’s memoirs turned into “Motown The Musical,” now at the Lunt-Fontaine Theatre,  based on Gordy’s book To Be Loved: The Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown, are condensed to bring us up to the 25th Motown Reunion in 1983.  His Hitsville USA studios brought an exciting new formula to
pop music. Motown records was modeled after the assembly lines of Detroit automobile factories where Gordy had worked.

Berry Gordy, Jr.’s (Brandon Victor Dixon) glam vision added lavish costumes and complicated dance moves to the “short stories,” as he put, in the songs his writers created. Gordy gave each of his groups their own persona– “The Temptations,” “The…

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Posted in 2016 Tony nominations, Audra McDonald, musical, musical revivals, musical theater, theater

Whoops, I overlooked a contender or 2

In my predictions for the nominations Tony is about to make, http://wp.me/p5jq0w-OI, I left out some of this year’s Broadway starts. School of Rock was not mentioned, and truly, despite its spunk, I doubt it stands a chance in this contest. Nor will American Psycho overturn Hamilton in its run to the top.


May 3rd, noon, Looks like the Tonys left out a contender, too: Audra McDonald was not nominated for the Best leading actress in a musical.


Here’s where the oversight is more serious: From the list (entitled The Chanteuse) below, I have left out Laura Benanti, a soprano to be contended with, often on the short list for many an Award, and Tony winner (for “Gypsy”). Benanti stars beautifully in a wondrous revival of She Loves Me, the musical descendent of a personal favorite among Magyar tales–Little Shop Around the Corner. (In view of this oversight, no ice scream for me.) Laura Benanti is as I said always on the nominees list, and we loved her in the underrated Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

THE CHANTEUSE

The contest for Best among musicals leading ladies is always one that excites, and this year is no exception.

Audra McDonald is a powerhouse performer with 6 Tonys to her credit. Jessie Mueller is a Tony winning actor whose charm shines in every role she takes. Her portrayal of Jenna in Waitress is no exception, of course, even if the pop style is not strictly in her wheelhouse. These two are the likely contenders for the 2016 Best Lead Actress in a Musical, with Bright Star‘s Carmen Cusack giving them a long-shot’s run for the gold.

Musical Revivals

If Shuffle Along… prevails in its plea to be considered a revival, it will be in the contest with The Color Purple, and the aforementioned She Loves Me.

There are no guarantees, but in such a case, despite the star power and sincerity of Shuffle Along…, it might have a struggle beating out the brilliantly cast, effervescent She Loves Me. The latter is as bouyant as the shlag in your coffee, with a lovely if familiar romantic story to tell. We have yet to see Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Billy Porter etc etc in the George C. Wolfe helmed Shuffle Along…. Chances are we’ll be blown away by the cast and Savion Glover’s choreography, so we’ll keep you posted.