Thus endeth the sabbatical. After five weeks away from writing, I have returned with cool head and a keen eye and am looking forward to a new theater season and many adventures with friends old and new.
This year’s Tony Awards came and went with the requisite flash and bang. The telecast was the best I’d seen since I started watching ten years ago (and a far cry from last year’s bomb). I was glad the awards weren’t held at Radio City Music Hall. The Beacon is still a big house, but it allowed more intimacy in the numbers, making it easier for the songs to sell to the audiences in house and at home. I also loved that each show was given about two extra minutes to perform. The breathing room made all the difference; and far better than those hackneyed and dull medleys. I had a good time and one of the main reasons was that I didn’t really care who won. I seriously didn’t; it was mostly predictable who was going home with what so it was fun just to sit back with the crew at SarahB‘s annual party. It made for a ridiculous fun night, with ample laughs and Madame Arcati’s Cucumber Sandwiches. I do hope that the American Theatre Wing and Broadway League continue to host the ceremony at the Beacon (if they refuse to use one of our own Broadway houses).
I’ve recently started using Netflix again – and my first time with the streaming option. My goodness, is this fun! A time killer, yes, but I’ve been able to catch up on some wonderful things I’ve missed along the way, like Pushing Daisies and Party Down (two woefully short-lived and wonderful series), and also catch up on some old favorites (I recently watched The Dick Van Dyke Show from pilot to series finale). The amount of titles that are streaming amaze me, particularly the older and more obscure films. It’s kinda fun to have Gentlemen Prefer Blondes or The Pajama Game at your finger tips. I also watched the brilliant Downton Abbey for the umpteenth time. (And if you haven’t seen any of these, add them to your queue immediately).
We’ve got a plethora of musical revivals happening next season; and so many are tried and true classics. The biggest is the limited engagement of Follies coming in from the Kennedy Center, with most of its regional cast intact. Bernadette Peters is Sally and Jan Maxwell is Phyllis. Danny Burstein and Ron Raines will reprise their roles Buddy and Ben. West End legend Elaine Paige will be appearing on Broadway for the second time, and for the first time she is Tony eligible. Joining the cast for the Broadway run are Jayne Houdyshell (replacing Linda Lavin) and Mary Beth Peil (replacing Regine) as Hattie and Solange, respectively. I’m not entirely thrilled that the show is playing the Marriott (the theater itself is efficient, but its location and legacy are a major letdown).
Harry Connick Jr. will be playing Dr. Bruckner in the revised On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. Other Broadway casting hasn’t been finalized, but David Turner – who has participated in the Vassar reading last summer – will be playing David Gamble at the Vineyard workshop this month. (I’m assuming he’ll be doing the honors at the St. James, but we’ll wait for final casting). Whether it’s David or not, I feel sorry for the man who has to fill Barbara Harris’ shoes. I’m curious to see how they’ve reconceived it, even if it eviscerates what was once a great leading lady star turn, by splitting the role in half and making one of those halves male. The show itself was something of a trippy mess, as there was a lot of LSD involved in its writing, but script aside the score is an absolute treasure.
Plus, Audra McDonald, Norm Lewis, David Alan Grier and Josh Henry will be coming to the Richard Rodgers for a revised Porgy and Bess, with a new script by Suzan-Lori Parks and direction by Diane Paulus. It will be seen first at the ART, where Ms. Paulus is artistic director, in Cambridge, MA. There’ll be duelling Jesus’ as Ken Davenport’s production of Godspell comes to the Circle in the Square, while there are talks to bring the highly acclaimed Stratford Festival’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar to Broadway in the spring.
On the play front, Tyne Daly is currently wowing audiences in Master Class at MTC (and boy do I want to see that!) The revival of the Terrence McNally play will close in August to make way for the darling of the day, Nina Arianda, to reprise her off-Broadway triumph in Venus in Fur on Broadway. (I will see either leading lady in a bus and truck of The Phonebook). Kim Cattrall is importing her London revival of Privates Lives to Toronto then Broadway, starring opposite the brilliant Paul Gross (who dominated Slings & Arrows). I’m also still curious to see how the starry revival of The Best Man will shape up.
This week I attended the CD release celebration for Kate Baldwin’s She Loves Him, her tribute to lyricist Sheldon Harnick which was recorded live at Feinstein’s at the Regency. I was so taken with the show back in March that I saw it twice (not bad for a seven show run). Over the course of four of those shows (one of which I attended), the show was recorded live and was released this week by PS Classics. Kate and Sheldon appeared for an abridged set of favorites before a champagne reception, where they happily signed CDs. I had a chance to meet Mr. Harnick and talk to him for a couple moments about his shows, particularly She Loves Me (my favorite musical comedy) and his lyrics. The album is a pure joy from start to finish; a must-have for any serious musical theatre fan.
Finally, I was At Large Elsewhere this week as I made my second appearance as guest co-host on Stage Rush TV, which is hosted by my good friend and fellow blogger Jesse North. The ladies of The Craptacular were on last week to talk about the upcoming season and he asked if I would come on to talk about what I was looking forward to on Broadway this season, as well as Sister Act, Broadway in Bryant Park, among some other fun things. One of the life lessons learned in this week’s episode is never to bring up Sex and the City in my presence. Throughout the rest of the summer, Jess will be featuring other bloggers on his weekly episode (which is always fun to watch) so be sure to keep checking in for more hilarity and banter.
And I’ll be here, as always, to bring on the Weissman Girls.