Before he was Mrs. Doubtfire, he was a very personable Charlie Chaplin. Rob McClure is said to be doing wonders withthis new musical transferring from a Seatlle run in 2020, just as he did marvels in the earlier Chaplin, The Musical.
McClure’s Scottish nanny has taken over for Santino Fontana’s Tootsie which is set to end its run on January 5th in the category of older women impersonations.
We’ll have to wait til March to see Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick’s Mrs. Doubtfire, another plucked from the screen project. (Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farell who collaborated on the book, here, along with Wayne Kirkpatrick, also were responsible for a favorite of ours, Something Rotten!, a Tony-“loser” from 2015.)
I am playing a replacement game with you in this post, so let’s take Oklahoma, closing on January 19th, and go to Ove Van Hove’s de-construction of another classic from the same canon, West Side Story. Currently in previews, it opens on February 6th. This musical has a revised book and some of the music as I understand it, has been cut. There is also new choreography, replacing Jerome Robbins’ original, by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Intriguing!
Lack of Tony® love has done to The Prom what it usually does. The show, with music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin, and a book by Bob Martin and Beguelin and based on an idea of Jack Viertel, is set to close on August 11th.
At the Walter Kerr, across the street from the unappreciated The Prom (the cast and creatives got nods but no statuettes) is Tony® darling Hadestown, There, you will see lines waiting for tickets by lottery early on any given day. (Actual ticket distribution for Rush is around 5pm, so the folks sitting outside the theater at noon are really eager.) The musical’s ticket price skyrocketed thanks to the warm welcome it got at the Awards ceremonies. André De Shields was not the only winner from the cast of this musical, written by Anaïs Mitchell and developed with director Rachel Chavkin, also a winner that night. The scenic designer, Rachel Hauck, and the sound designer, jessica Paz, also won for their contributions to the musical as well.
Of course, if you must close, you must. The Ferryman, Broadway’s Best Play of 2019, is closing tomorrow, July 7th. Tickets for the play put it in the million dollar range over its run. Tickets for Sunday’s final performances run at $224 and up.
It’s expensive to mount a Broadway production, and that explains some of the high prices. There is also a reseller’s premium for some of the hotter shows, of course, but also the fact that demand drives costs allows the producers to write their own ticket, as it were. In fact, for the 2018-19 season, audiences ponied up an average of $123.84 for a seat at a Broadway show.
Family Man, Sliding Doors, and the Broadway musical If/Thenall take a deep dive into questions of alternate realities. They involve shifting time, as does the Sandra Bullock-Keanu Reeves romance The Lake House to slightly disparate effect.
Sliding Doors and Family Man are films which explore what might have been by letting it happen to Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicolas Cage respectively. Similarly, If/Then let Idina Menzel experience a different life if she made different life choices. (The alternate reality I would have liked to see is for the musical play to be honored with a Tony in its 2014 bid.)
It is a giddy fact that the divergent paths the hero or heroine takes leads to different outcomes for him/her in each of these works. Makes you wonder what you might have done had you done differently!
It’s May 20th, and this week’s theater throwback is from 1971. Like Hamilton, this rock musical had ties to the Public Theatre, previewing at the Delacorte and moving to Broadway, where it won multiple Tony Awards. of course, Hamilton‘s 11 were record breaking, and in the bad old days, a mere two were a nice win.
Two Gentlemen of Verona, based on Shakespeare’s comedy of the same name, is an unique rock musical. Its creators were John Guare and Mel Shapiro (book), lyrics by Guare and music by Galt MacDermot, all of whom had great success with Hair, a staple of revivals, which opened at the Public. The musical starred Raul Julia and Clifton Davis as the two gents and Jonelle Allen and Diana Davila as their ladies. It featured an unknown Stockard Channing, in her Broadway debut in the chorus, along with Jeff Goldblum and Sheila Gibbs. The original Broadway production, in 1971, won the Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical.
Coincidentally, Two Gentlemen closed its Broadway run on May 20, 1973, after 614 performances.
Let’s close with Jonelle Allen belting out Night Letter along (with Clifton Davis.)
There are those who do not believe that anything happens by accident. Dr. Freud most famously disdained the idea of the inadvertent.
For instance, it is a matter of fact and history that my husband has crossed paths with several composers of pop tunes. Meeting famous people is a trick of Burt’s. We have spoken to stars like Jerry Stiller, and Burt sat next to him at Avenue Q when it opened on Broadway. He spoke to Stiller’s old castmate, Jerry Seinfeld at the Brooklyn Diner as well. Burt shook hands with Donald Sutherland on a New York street, and with Debbie Reynolds in Vegas back in the day, just to name a few.
On his pop circuit, Burt came in contact with the famous early on. Joe Shapiro was head of the English Department at Lafayette High in the 1950s. Shapiro’s hit song (written with Lou Stallman) was Round and Round, recorded by Perry Como and topping the charts in 1957. Also hitting #1 was Stallman and Shapiro’s Treasure of Love (1956) but for some reason there was less buzz over that Drifters hit in the school corridors when it did.
Manny Kurtz was related to one of Burt’s neighbprs. His Let It Be Me was a big success, Recorded by The Everly Brothers and Elvis Presley (among others) it hit the top of the pop charts more than once. Kurtz worked as Mann Curtis and Manny Curtis as well, and it turns out has a very extensive and impressive discography.
Some years later, when Burt met his first wife, it turned out, she was also related to the pop world through a cousin. The name Phil Spector is both infamous and famous. His pop star bona fides range over many decades of rock and roll. Spector has known a lot of the greats in his career.
The biggest of all the musical stars was one Burt met as a teenager, One of his boys dated Carol Klein for a while. They all hung out in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Her name in lights today is Carole King. Coincidently, we ran into her when she was on her way to her starring role in Blood Brothers on Broadway (she replaced Petula Clark during the musical’s run.) Naturally Burt introduced us. That was very exciting, and isn’t that justBeautiful.
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.
Having a successful older sibling can be both a point of pride and a burden.
For Musicals in Mufti, at the York Theater on E54th and Lexington,despite its excellent and clever name and long history (they’ve staged 100 productions to date). the better-known City Center Encores! series is that more prominent sib.
Like Encores!, Musicals in Mufti takes a bookish approach to musicals of seasons past. The average production is only some 11 performances long, and the actors are in street dress, often carrying the texts of the musical they are performing with them.
Me and Ella, written and performed by Andrea Frierson, closed at the York Theatre on July 23rd
It is a reading or a concert version of a classic work, not seen on Broadway for some time. The upcoming summer production at the York is Jerry’s Girls, running from August 5th through the 13th, a tribute to the women of the Jerry Herman repertory, featuring songs from Hello! Dolly,Mame, La Cage Aux Folles, Milk and Honey, Mack and Mabel, A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, and Dear World.
In the original 1985 Broadway run of the revue at the St. James, featured Chita Rivera, Leslie Uggams and Dorothy Loudon.
For more information about Jerry’s Girls in the Musicals in Mufti summer series, please visit the York Theatre website.