Posted in musical theater, theater, Uncategorized

Closing soon–or still playing– at a theatre near you

Ana Villafañe and the cast of On Your Feet! --one of few still standing even after a poor Tony showing.(c) Matthew Murphy
Ana Villafañe and the cast of On Your Feet! –one of few still standing even after a poor Tony showing.(c) Matthew Murphy

Among the end of summer rituals is the revving up of the theater season. New plays will open at the subscription houses, Broadway will host revivals and original productions; the fall will be the time to re-start.

Just as the fall brings new plays to our attention, so the summer sees old ones run their course. Here’s a list of what you need to catch up on before school starts:

Finding Neverland fits one of my favorite themes. It is another example of a musical undaunted by Tony denial. The production wasn’t even nominated and they survived well over a year! That is about to come to an end, and soon, when the show closes at the Lunt-Fontaine on Sunday, August 21st. It sets off for a national tour, beginning October 11th inm Buffalo.

Also nearing the end of its Broadway tenancy is the highly original and charming Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which shuts its light effects at the Ethel Barrymore on September 4th.

That day, the 4th of September, will also be the last performance of the Les Miz production currently at the Imperial Theatre. The epic Les Miserables will be missed, but we know we’ll raise a glass to its return.

Fun Home will depart Circle in the Square after its final performance on September 10th.

Meanwhile, Cats has slinked into the Neil Simon, opening for a limited run through January 15th. Jogs the “Memory,” when some 40 years ago, I sat on the stage of the Winter Garden to watch T.S. Eliot’s poetry turned to motion in the original Broadway production.

The ever bouyant and dramatic Phantom, another Andrew Lloyd Webber invention, continues to startle in its long-term home at the Majestic.

Among the more resilient musicals around is still Something Rotten!, which tall-tells the history of all musicals nightly (and twice on Wednesday and Saturdays) at the St. James.The musical, which was also light on TONY recognition in 2015 when it opened, is holding ticket lotteries even as we write.

Sort of like Hamilton, but… tix for the Perfect $10 are still a lot harder to score.

 

Posted in theater, Tony Awards, Tony winner

TONY (W)rap

I was wrong
Hamilton came on strong

Not seven
But eleven

Statuettes for lighting,
Orchestrations, and fighting

Cast and Lin
All win

Hamilton‘s got a token
Record’s still unbroken

Hamilton– 16 nods, 11 wins– trails
The Producers– winning 12– prevails

Their twelve wins no one’s topped
Even with just 11, Ham can’t be stopped

Try and get a ticket to see it, now– no!
That’s okay, it’ll still be there when you do go


It’s an annual ritual at VevlynsPen.com to have me flail around guessing who the winner will be on TONY’s big night. I am often wrong, and occassionally right. Congratulations, for instance, to Roundabout’s She Loves Me for a best for sets designed by David Rockwell.

But the business of TONY is a double-edged sword. The awards celebration attracts audiences– Hamilton, we might point out, did not need the boost– andthose not getting an award are dubbed TONY losers. Yes, I know, a TONY nominee is not a loser, but if you don’t win it…. well you know. It is in the musical category that productions are particularly vulnerable. (Plays are on their own time-table; very rarely would one last even 500 performances, although it may find a revival every few years.)

Not every musical is as resilient as Something Rotten! which chugs along with only the one lonely TONY winner, Christian Borle, in its cast. From this year’s crop, On Your Feet!, the Emilio and Gloria Estefan musical, has its own special appeal, and is selling tickets through next April.

American Psycho The Musical succumbed before awards night. The luminous Bright Star is closing before the July 4th holiday on June 26th; as CBS news confirms, it did not win the awards needed to keep the public’s interest. Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Broadway Sensation of 1921, and all that Followed is telling its story through October 9th at this point. We’ll see if it gets a second wind if and when Audra McDonald returns from her intermission from the show.

Since I mentioned plays, aka non-musical ones, earlier, it is good to remember that Eclipsed might have had a longer run had it gotten more love from TONY. The Father, which won a TONY for Frank Langella’s star turn, closed on schedule on father’s day.The Humans, this year’s best play will stay open at least through the end of the year at the Helen Hayes.

What can the TONYs do to help Broadway more? Should we all ease up a little on thinking of a TONY win as the pinnacle of a production’s success? In other, maybe TONY should matter less and the play be the thing…..

Posted in theater

Who will win at the 2016 Tonys?

NoLateSeating

My TONY predictions are up for debate and parley: what do you think?
http://www.vevlynspen.com/2016/06/on-tonys-night-gonna-be-fight-with.html
Almost as soon as I make a guess as to which will win what, I want to hedge my bet. For instance, although I suggested that Savion Glover’s choreography for Shuffle Along, or… would win this year’s award, I am now leaning towards Sergio Trujillo’s congas in On Your Feet as prize winning for choreography.

In the musical categories, there is one big show to beat, but it is not the only contender. Without a doubt, however, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brilliantly original Hamilton will be TONY’s BEST MUSICAL of 2016.

Lin-Manuel Miranda and the company of Hamilton. Photo © Joan Marcus
Lin-Manuel Miranda and the company of Hamilton. Photo © Joan Marcus

In other TONY expectations: look for Frank Langella to go home with a statuette for his performance in The Father. Likewise, The Humans looks good for Best Play, especially after its clinch at the Drama Desk Awards, although Danai Gurira’s timely and moving Eclipsed is also a nominee still in the running.

It is ever so tempting to blame the TONYs for early closings, but, honestly, American Psycho was steeped in red ink way before the nominations failed to acknowledge the hard work of its star, Benjamin Walker, or to credit the ingenuity of its creative team, particularly composer/lyricist, Duncan Sheik. TONY nomonations–or lack thereof– are not always the only problem productions face. Plays, especially “difficult” ones like Gurira’s, are often under-appreciated by theater-goers. (AP closed last week, and Eclipsed is scheduled to on June 19th. On Your Feet can carry on without substantial nominations and just its fan based audiences.)

My track record in guessing TONY finalists is not very good. So, let’s just hope for a lovely day and may the best play and players win!

 

 

Posted in comedy, dining, dinner, drama, musical theater, theater

Dinner and a show

Book dinner and a show for ridiculous prices– no not those ridiculous prices, the ones that are considered moderate in this town!

Winter 2016 Restaurant Week and Broadway 2-for-1 coincide this season. The latter starts on January 19th and runs to February 5th, while Restaurant Week gives you an extra day to get ready on January 18th.

You can be sure that Hamilton did not make this list of 2-fors, but there are still plenty of big-ticket performances to see. 

This is a perfect time to catch An American in Paris, or The Color Purple, The King and I, or Beautiful, On Your Feet!, Something Rotten!, School of RockThe Humans or Phantom— to name just a few of the productions featured in the 2-fers. Dine before the show at Aureole, one of a couple of Bobby Van’s or The View at the Marquis for $38pp. If you hit a matinee and grab lunch it’s just $25pp at places like Victor’s Cuban Cafe, The Capital Grille (Times Square) Steakhouse, Butter Midtown or Barbetta. The list could go on, but you get our drift.

Everyone loves a bargain, so plan ahead for a table and your seats!

Visit http://www.nycgo.com/broadway-week to see what you haven’t seen yet. Go to http://www.nycgo.com/restaurant-week to snag a place at the table of your choice. Atlantic Grill, the Lincoln Ristorante and Boulud Sud are also participating in this winter’s Restaurant Week.