Thursday, November 30, 2006

Addition Elle sets Feminism back 100 years

We need PLANE CRAZY now more than ever!

So I'm driving my kids to school in the morning, listening to non-stop holiday music (yes, already) on the radio when an ad for Addition Elle bras comes on. I'm paraphrasing a bit, but here's the exchange between the mother and the teenage daughter:

Daughter: Mom, if this were the sixties, would you be a feminist?

Mom: If by feminist you mean celebrating my curves and embracing my femininity, then yes.

Daughter: So you'd burn your bra?

Mom: Oh no! I'd never burn my Addition Elle!

Egads! What were they thinking? So this is what the women's movement has accomplished in the past 40 odd years? However you have to admire the unabashed tacky exploitation of feminism to sell product! That's what I love about advertising, and why the ad guys are such an "upstanding bunch" in PLANE CRAZY.

I'm just thankful they're not advertising on TV...The Venus Flytrap anyone?

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Leslie Kritzer is Patti Lupone at Les Mouches

Talk about Rainbow High!

I've heard from several reliable sources that this is a concert not to be missed. Leslie Kritzer, who I saw as "Pickles" in THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL (she was nominated for the Drama Desk Award), and in JERRY CHRISTMAS and VANITIES at NAMT, is appearing at Joe's Pub as Patti Lupone.

From her Web site:

Leslie Kritzer will embody Patti LuPone, performing the exact song set, arrangements and script of the legendary smash club act LuPone did at midnight on Saturdays during her run on Broadway in Evita at the no longer existent Chelsea club, Les Mouches. LuPone’s original Les Mouches musical director/arranger David Lewis is back to lead the band and the thrilling evening is directed and produced by Ben Rimalower.

According to The New York Times:

A young dynamo with Judy Garland's chops, Ms. Kritzer has an electric stage presence and is deliciously goofy, eliciting perfectly timed laughter with a pliable face that rivals Jim Carrey's. And her impressive vocal range, from a smooth low alto past high soprano, is rare.

There is an hilarious mp3 on her Web site of one of the songs that she sings as Patti, "Heaven Is A Disco". Having seen Patti Lupone in concert a couple of times, Leslie is frikkin' amazing!

She's appearing tonight, November 26 at 9:30pm, as well as December 8 and December 9 at 11:30pm at Joe's Pub at The Public. Tickets are $25.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Countdown to THE WIZ

Check out this awesome video put together by Chris James who plays "Scarecrow" in the upcoming City Youth Players' production of THE WIZ.

THE WIZ opens at the Vaughn City Playhouse on Thursday November 30 at 7:30pm.

Tickets are only $22 for adults and $19 for seniors/kids.

Showtimes are:
Thursday November 30: 7:30pm
Friday December 1: 7:30pm
Saturday December 2: 1:00pm and 7:30pm
Sunday December 3: 1:00pm

If you go to one of the shows, you'll probably see me there! To buy tickets, call the City Playhouse box office:

The City Playhouse
1000 New Westminster Drive
(part of the Benjamin Vaughan Complex)

Box Office 905-882-SHOW (7469)
Fax: 905-882-7949
Administrative offices: 905-326-7469

Box Office Hours:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 2pm to 7pm and Saturday from 12pm to 5pm.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Betty Comden dead at 89

Why-o-why-o-why-o?

According to this article in Playbill:

Betty Comden, the award-winning lyricist and librettist who -- with writing partner Adolph Green -- created such musicals as Bells Are Ringing, Wonderful Town and On the Town -- died Nov. 23 at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She was 89.

The New York Times reports that the cause of Ms. Comden's death was heart failure.

Born Elizabeth Cohen on May 3, 1919, in Brooklyn, NY, Comden -- with the late Green -- would go on to write several musicals that were love letters to her native city. She and Green first hit the town in a sketch-comedy group called The Revuers, which also featured the late Judy Holliday. It was for Holliday that the duo created the 1956 musical Bells Are Ringing; Holliday won a Tony Award for her performance and later repeated her role as Ella Peterson in the screen version of the classic musical.

Comden and Green also worked closely with their friend Leonard Bernstein. With Bernstein they created two of their best-known works, On the Town -- a tale of three sailors on leave in Manhattan that boasted such tunes as "New York, New York," "Lucky to Be Me" and "Lonely Town" -- and Wonderful Town -- the story of two sisters from Ohio who find themselves over their heads in Greenwich Village. That musical gave the world such songs as "Ohio," "A Little Bit in Love," "A Quiet Girl" and "It's Love."

The other musicals for which the writing team -- who also performed an acclaimed specialty act throughout the years entitled A Party With Betty Comden and Adolph Green -- penned book and/or lyrics include Bells Are Ringing; On the Twentieth Century; Hallelujah, Baby!; Applause; Peter Pan; A Doll's Life; Do Re Mi and The Will Rogers Follies.

Comden and Green also enjoyed success as screenwriters. Although they only wrote ten films, their scripts include "Singin' in the Rain" as well as the Oscar-nominated "The Band Wagon" and "It's Always Fair Weather." Other titles: "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," "Auntie Mame," "Good News," "What a Way to Go!" and "The Barkleys of Broadway."

In 1991 Comden and Green were both awarded the Kennedy Center Honors. The duo also racked up numerous Tony Awards: 1953 (Wonderful Town wins Best Musical Tony), 1968 (Hallelujah, Baby! wins Tonys for Best Musical and Best Composer and Lyricist), 1970 (Applause wins Tony for Best Musical), 1978 (On the Twentieth Century wins Tonys for Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical) and 1991 (The Will Rogers Follies wins Tony for Best Original Score).

Among the plethora of songs that came from the pens of Comden and Green are "Make Someone Happy," "Just in Time," "The Party's Over," "Long Before I Knew You," "Never Never Land," "Comes Once in a Lifetime," "I'm Just Taking My Time," "My Own Morning," "Never Met a Man I Didn't Like" and "Look Around."

Another Tony Award-winning librettist, the late Peter Stone, once spoke about how Comden and Green worked together. Stone told Playbill writer Harry Haun, "Adolph Green might have been the only writer in all of history who never wrote. Betty's the one who jotted everything down, Adolph jotted absolutely nothing down. I never saw him use a pen or pencil, let alone a typewriter. It would have been useless for him to even try to type because he was not on direct speaking terms with any sort of mechanical object.

The form and structure came from Betty, so did style and sensibility. Then what, you might ask, did Adolph do? The answer is: the madness. The sheer, outlandish, surreal, weird, goofy, uniquely Adolphian madness."

Haun also interviewed both Comden and Green in 1998, as the revival of On the Town was set to hit the New York stage. Both were overjoyed by the show's reemergence. Said Ms. Comden, "Just say that we're thrilled to see it again and that we're working on a new show. We go on, that's all. That's the best thing to say."

Ms. Comden married designer Steven Kyle in 1942. After his death in 1979, she never remarried. The couple had two children: a son Alan, who died in 1990, and a daughter Susanna Kyle, who survives her.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

JAY JOHNSON: THE TWO AND ONLY in danger of closing!

Don't let this happen!

Okay, we need a holiday miracle here folks. This is a fabulous show that every kid, not to mention every adult should see. It's like a once in a lifetime opportunity to see real magic on stage, without rabbits and top hats!

So I was very dismayed when I read in this Playbill article that JAY JOHNSON: THE TWO AND ONLY might close November 26, due to weak ticket sales:

The wooden puppet Bob, of "Soap" fame, is facing a return to the trunk if ticket sales for Jay Johnson: The Two and Only! don't perk up.

Playbill.com has learned that producers of the Broadway play at the Helen Hayes Theatre have posted a provisional closing notice for Nov. 26, but if sales improve for the week after that (to Dec. 3), the show will continue.

Expect the show -- about the history and art of ventriloquism as refracted through Johnson's life and career -- to continue on a week-to-week basis if sales merit it.

The family-friendly critically-acclaimed play (one of the best reviewed works of the Broadway season) has had a hard time luring theatregoers, although they jammed the box office Nov. 21 for a special ticket giveaway at $2 per ticket (for shows to Dec. 3).

More than 222 tickets (the allotment for the special offer) were sold in about 10 minutes Nov. 21. The sale (to celebrate Bob's 29th birthday) was announced to offer 222 tickets spread out for performances to Dec. 24, but only tickets dated to Dec. 3 were sold.

Jay Johnson's side-kick Bob made his network television debut in November 1977 on the groundbreaking comedy series "Soap." Still together after almost three decades, Bob is now starring on Broadway with Jay in Jay Johnson: The Two and Only!, along with a variety of other characters.

Jay Johnson: The Two and Only! opened on Broadway to critical raves on Sept. 28. It was seen in an earlier Off-Broadway engagement and has played regional dates, as well.

The Jay Johnson: The Two and Only! performance schedule is as follows: Tuesday through Thursday at 7 PM, Saturday at 2 & 8 PM and Sunday at 1 & 5 PM.

Do yourself a favor and go out and buy a ticket!

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

STRIKING 12: THE NEW GROOVELILY MUSICAL

striking_12.jpg

Christmas comes early to a new Christmas musical!

Well it looks like The New York Times is in an Off-Broadway frame of mind! First, postive reviews of EVIL DEAD -- THE MUSICAL, then HOW TO SAVE THE WORLD AND FIND TRUE LOVE IN 90 MINUTES, and now STRIKING 12!

STRIKING 12 is a "thoroughly winning minimalist musical" performed by the indie pop-rock trio GrooveLily -- Gene Lewin on drums, Brendan Milburn on keyboards, and Valerie Vigoda on electric violin. Written by Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda, in collaboration with Rachel Sheinkin (who, if you didn't already know, is the Tony-award winning writer of the book for THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE), STRIKING 12 is described on the cover of the CD as "a rewired version of "The Little Match Girl" by Hans Christian Anderson".

Charles Isherwood of The New York Times describes it in this review as "an urban fable set in the waning hours of a dreary year in the life of Mr. Milburn's character, called the Man Who's Had Enough"

He goes on to describes the storyline as follows:

Its sweet-and-sour story line is simple: The cranky hero is seduced out of his emotional cubbyhole by a visit from a kooky urbanite, played by Ms. Vigoda, who goes door to door selling "special full-spectrum holiday light bulbs" geared to keep New Yorkers from succumbing to seasonal affective disorder. Musing on her plaintive reaction when he brings up a comparison to the Little Match Girl -- "Do you know what happens in that story?" she asks darkly -- Mr. Milburn's character pulls out his handy Hans Christian Andersen. Forgoing an evening of trolling through the holiday offerings on television (cue a hilarious parody of "Law & Order"), he rereads that touching if gloomy tale, and it springs to life in song. The show then toggles between the urban fairy tale and the classic one.

I haven't seen the show but I have listened to the CD. It's a great score that stands on its own. You can still get into the feel and the mood of the season and the message of the show, without having actually watched the show. It's a really fun listen while you're driving around Christmas shopping, or at home baking Christmas cookies. And who doesn't love electric violin?

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Donny's Holiday Message to Me!

I got another "personal" message from Donny Osmond at Donny.com today, and boy was I excited to see that he's thinking about me during the holidays:

From my family to your family, we would like to send our warmest wishes and greetings to you during this Thanksgiving Holiday. In a world that has so much tension right now it's all the more important to keep a safe haven in our homes for us to feel safe and secure. At this time of year it causes all of us to reflect on what is really important and that is our family and friends; those we love.

My Mother and Father were always so positive and uplifting, and whether our holiday was spent in a hotel room, a tour bus, or at home, we always felt the security and love of our family. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we are thankful for. It has been said that "an ungrateful person is like a hog under a tree eating acorns, but never looking up to see where they come from." As we look around our homes or wherever you may be this holiday season, let's try to be thankful for the little things; the small acts of kindness from others.

Too many times only the big things get recognized as worthy of a thank you. Gratitude begins with attitude. While to some every apple shines, to others the remaining blemishes after the polishing process are all that's visible. I hope that we can all look over the blemishes and enjoy the warmth and love of this holiday season. Work to make your homes a haven and place for your children, grandchildren, or loved ones to feel they can come home and be loved unconditionally. Say those three important words "I love you" to those you love.

I wish you all the joy and happiness for this Holiday Season.

If you haven't had a chance to purchase The Best of Donny and Marie: Volume 1 -- rush out and buy it today!

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Springwise.com: Hubwear

From the ever-fascinating Springwise.com:

Aspiring entrepreneurs often ask us for ideas that don’t require hundreds of thousands of dollars, euros or pounds to get started. Look no further than the burgeoning arena of t-shirts. Bearer of profiles, of lists, of any kind of self-expression really, the humble t-shirt continues to bestow riches on creative entrepreneurs, or at least guarantee some low-risk entrepreneurial fun.

So here’s yet another cool t-shirt start up: Hubwear. Its t-shirts display a wearer’s favorite travel routes, in airport codes (think JFK, AMS, MIA, HKG and so on), with the two airport codes on the front showing the outbound flight, and the return trip on the back.

All shirts, as Hubwear likes to point out, tell a story: some routes are family vacations, some are crazy work trips, and others save long distance relationships. The shirts come in three classes: Economy Class (USD 25), which lets customers mix and match routes from over 20 popular airports, Business Class (USD 30), offering travel-inspired, limited-edition graphic prints, and First Class (USD 35) for fully-customized itineraries. In December, Hubwear will introduce a line of kids t-shirts with airport codes in lowercase.

Why we think this works? As we pointed out when highlighting t-lists, yet another interesting t-shirt start up, list- and profile-mania is proliferating rapidly thanks to social websites like MySpace, Facebook, lastfm and Bebo, which are connecting likeminded individuals from around the world. (Not to mention the thousands of dating sites for those who want to be more than friends.) Refreshingly enough, this new listmania is not about keeping track of mass market hits, but about individuals: their likes, dislikes, preferences, interests and so on. What better conversation starter than one's frequent or infrequent trips across the nation or around the world?

For those of you who'd like to get on board: Hubwear is looking for partners in the travel industry (airlines and airports) and for traditional retailers who cater to the urban traveler. Or start your own ‘conversation starter on a shirt’ business! There are enough other areas ripe for some healthy self expression...It doesn’t hurt that sites like Spreadshirt and Indigo Clothing can handle most of the work for you anyway ;-)

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

CURTAINS headed for Broadway!

That's CURTAINS with an S, not CURTAINS with a Z...

I'm totally pumped about this new Kander and Ebb (and Rupert Holmes) musical coming to Broadway! Not that anyone is tired of CHICAGO...

According to this article in Playbill:

John Kander, Fred Ebb and Rupert Holmes' musical comedy Curtains will next play at Broadway's Al Hirschfeld Theatre.

Following a world-premiere run in Los Angeles this summer at Center Theatre Group's Ahmanson Theatre, the backstage murder-mystery heads to New York for a Feb. 27, 2007, start and a March 22 opening.

Scott Ellis (Twelve Angry Men, The Little Dog Laughed) directs and Rob Ashford choreographs. Original stars David Hyde Pierce, Debra Monk, Karen Ziemba, Jason Danieley, Jill Paice and Edward Hibbert will reprise their turns for the Broadway run.

The cast also features John Bolton as theatre critic Daryl Grady, Michael X. Martin as stage manager Johnny Harmon, Michael McCormick as nervous investor Oscar Shapiro, Noah Racey as lead dancer/choreographer Bobby Pepper and Megan Sikora as aspiring dancer Bambi Bernstein.

And shout out to Allison Spratt, who played Faith Hope in the 2005 NYMF production of PLANE CRAZY, who will be swinging and understudying several principal roles in the show! Congrats Allison!

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

RUDOLPH UNPLUGGED at ARS NOVA

If it's unplugged, does that mean his nose doesn't glow?

There are a couple of theatres that win the "most persistent e-mail marketing blast campaign" award -- Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, and Ars Nova in New York City.

Not a day goes by that I don't get an e-mail from one of those theatres, advertising something exciting coming up. I don't mind those blasts because it keeps me up to date with who's doing what where, even if I can't make the show. And it certainly keeps those two theaters top of mind.

So when I got this in the latest Ars Nova e-mail I felt compelled to share the info on this show. RUDOLPH UNPLUGGED is about what happens 40 years after the classic Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer TV special! I can't make it but it sounds like a fun show. Hey, it's the holidays...

From the Web site:

Ars Nova presents

Rudolph Unplugged
Sunday, November 19, 2006 through Monday, November 20, 2006

Currently starring on Broadway as Max Bialystock in THE PRODUCERS, John Treacy Egan puts Great White Way on hold for a special, two-night engagement of his hilarious holiday show, RUDOLPH UNPLUGGED. Based on the characters from the 1964 animated holiday classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, RUDOLPH UNPLUGGED dares to ask that oh-so-obvious question "where are they now?"

For tickets go to smarttix.com.

So that's why his nose is so red...all that beer at Ars Nova!

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Friday, November 17, 2006

The New York Times loves HOW TO SAVE THE WORLD AND FIND TRUE LOVE IN 90 MINUTES!

I got an e-mail from my friend Seth who wrote the music for HOW TO SAVE THE WORLD AND FIND TRUE LOVE IN 90 MINUTES:

"It is great to see people under 40 (maybe even under 30!) going to the theater," wrote Anita Gates in her review of "How to Save the World..." in the New York Times.

The full review is available here:

She says the music is "diverse" and the book and lyrics "witty," and the show is "directed with an untethered sense of fun," all of which should "make for a long run."

"How to Save the World..." opened last Sunday and has been playing to almost-full capacity. Thanks to everyone who has come out and seen the show.

The show's success still depends largely on word of mouth and attendance during the next few weeks, however. If you haven't had the opportunity to see it, I encourage you to go soon. If you saw it during previews, please come again and bring friends -- it's gotten a lot tighter since the first few performances. Meet me afterward -- I'll be conducting and playing the show. And fill out the form in your program for a chance to win dinner at the Palm with "He," the show's beloved terrorist character!

Tickets are only $28 this weekend and $43 from November 20 through December 22 if you join the Playbill Club.

I hope to see you at the show!

Way to go Seth!

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

THEATRE BUILDING CHICAGO MUSICAL THEATRE WRITERS WORKSHOP SHOWCASE

"Which came first -- the music, lyrics or the fundraiser?"

That's a tough one! Theatre Building Chicago is devoted to support and development of new musical works. Fundraising is critical to their continued success since, unlike other organizations who shall remain nameless, they actually pay actors and writers and TBC never takes royalties from writers for workshopping and showcasing their new works.

Oh and here's a bonus -- the planned evening will include a selection from NAKED IN AMERICA -- THE MUSICAL (sans nudity).

From the TBC Web site:

Which came first? The music, lyrics or the fundraiser? Enjoy an evening of scenes and songs from new musical works by dozens of playwrights, lyricists and composers. Dress casually. Applaud generously. Bring a friend or two or three! Feel free to donate more than $25. After all, you’ll be wow’d by an evening of many new musical works. Food and drink are included.

All proceeds will go toward readings, workshops, and further development of new works by tomorrow's musical theatre writers.

Date: Tuesday November 28, 2006
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. Chicago IL
Cost: $25

For tickets call the Theatre Building Chicago box office at (773) 327-5252 or go to Ticketmaster online.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

HAIR -- the original Broadway cast recording

For some unknown reason my parents owned the original Broadway cast recording of HAIR on vinyl and as a young impressionable lass I listened to it ad nauseum. I memorized all the lyrics of all the songs (even if I didn't know what the lyrics to "Sodomy" actually meant...)

I also loved the cover with its bright orange and green 'fro heads. I’m not sure I really knew what "the american tribal love rock musical" meant exactly, but I do remember singing "Good Morning Starshine" in elementary school, and everyone sang "Aquarius" from Sonny and Cher to Perry Como!

"Frank Mills" was my favorite song (no relation to "The Music Box Dancer" guy...I think) and I was always a little freaked out by the beginning of "Don't Put It Down"...folding the flag is like putting it to bed for the night...eeks, he still gives me the creeps.

So when the movie version of HAIR came out, with Treat Williams, and Beverly D'Angelo -- and choreography by Twyla Tharp -- I skeptically listened to the soundtrack. It seemed so overproduced and slick compared to what I had been listening to all those years. But over the years I stopped listening to my HAIR record and the movie soundtrack became the standard HAIR fare.

A couple of weeks ago I finally went out and bought the original Broadway cast recording on CD. It also included six previously unreleased tracks -- "I Believe in Love", "Ain't Got No (Reprise)", "Going Down", "Electric Blues", "Manchester England (Reprise)" and "The Bed". Not surprisingly, it seemed rougher, rawer, and more true to the original intent of the show. Diane Keaton and Melba Moore were in the original cast, as were the book and lyric writers Gerome Ragni and James Rado (they're also on the album cover of the Off-Broadway cast recording, pictured above). You don't see that too often, now do you? Can you imagine, COMPANY starring Stephen Sondheim as Bobby? Or Stephen Schwartz as the Wizard in WICKED? How about me in a stew outfit in PLANE CRAZY?

It was great listening to the old version again, especially "Frank Mills", and the CD liner notes includes a great picture of the authors -- long-haired, groovy-looking Gerome Ragni and James Rado, and a short-haired white-shirt-and-tied Canadian, Galt MacDermot. There is also a wonderful synopsis written by cast member Lorrie Davis of what went on onstage at HAIR. Here is just a snippet:

Hud, a pioneer Black hippie type, is carried onstage by two White boys hanging upside down from a pole. Hud sings "Colored Spade," listing the stereotypes people have labeled Blacks -- colored spade, nigra, black nigger, jungle bunny -- while three Black girls "tar" (mud) and feather Claude. While he is being washed clean of mud and feathers, Claude sings "Manchester". Then Hud, Woof and a new tribal member, Dionne, sing a song about have-nots. ("Ain't Got No"). Sheila enters as if on horseback and Hud hands her a poster. After her song, "I Believe in Love", the protest rally begins with Sheila, as leader, asking the cast what they want: Cast: Peace! It became a chant. A trap door in the stage opens and out pops Jeanie who sings "Air" a song about air pollution. At the end of the song, Jeanie climbs out of the manhole to reveal she's pregnant by a crazy speed freak, and is in love with Claude.

Crazy man!

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

HOW TO SAVE THE WORLD AND FIND TRUE LOVE IN 90 MINUTES opens Off-Broadway today!

Break a leg Seth!

According to this article in Playbill:

The new musical "How to Save the World and Find TrueLove in 90 Minutes", a hit during the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival, opens at Off-Broadway's New World Stages/Stage 5 Nov. 12. Previews began Nov. 4.

Christopher Gattelli -- of Altar Boyz fame -- directs and choreographs the open-ended engagement. The cast features Michael McEachran, Anika Larsen, Nicole Ruth Snelson, Stephen Bienskie, Natalie Joy Johnson and Kevin Smith Kirkwood.

With book and lyrics by Jonathan Karp and music by Seth Weinstein, How to Save the World..., according to press notes, is set at the United Nations and concerns the "a cowardly bookshop clerk, a sexy diplomat and an idealistic slacker [who] confront their deepest fears when an office romance leads to international crisis."

The creative team for the musical comprises Beowulf Boritt (set design), David Murin (costume design), Jeff Croiter (lighting design) and Peter Hylenski (sound design).

"How to Save the World and Find True Love in 90 Minutes" plays Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 PM with matinees Saturdays at 2 PM and Sundays at 3 PM. Tickets, priced $25-$75, are available by calling (212) 239-6200. New World Stages is located at 340 West 50th Street.

For more information visit www.HowToSaveTheWorldAndFindTrueLove.com.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

THE NUTCRACKER at the new Four Seasons!

(No, this isn't another JERSEY BOYS post...)

The National Ballet of Cananda has a new performance venue at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, home to the Canadian Opera Company. (What's the difference between a "new home" and a "new performance venue"?) And it's that time of year again, so THE NUTCRACKER will be performed starting December 9.

Nothing says Christmas like getting dressed up and going to see THE NUTCRACKER. I've been curious to check out the Four Seasons Centre for The Performing Arts anyways, so I'm thinking this is a good year to go to THE NUTCRAKCER. And I just found out that my young nephew Tommy will be dancing as a mouse in a few of the performances so now I absolutely have to go! How exciting! Break a leg Tommy!

Gee, I wonder if it's appropriate to say "Break a leg" to a ballet dancer? Hmmm...

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Friday, November 10, 2006

National Alliance for Musical Theatre 18th Annual Festival of New Musicals

I went to my first ever NAMT Festival of New Musicals this past September! (I apologize for the late reporting, but it has been a bit of a crazy Fall.)

From the program:

The National Alliance for Musical Theatre is the only national service organization dedicated exclusively to musical theatre. Over the past 17 years, more than 175 new musicals have been featured at the NAMT Festival, leading to thousands of subsequent productions across the country and around the world. Once recent example is THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, which was in our 23004 Festival and is now a hit on Broadway."

Other shows (that I recognized) that have had a life post-NAMT presentations include: SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL; THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE; and HONK!

This is an industry-only event, with producers, directors, choreographers, writers, artists, member theaters, agents &c from across the country congregating at New World Stages to check out 45-minute presentations of eight new musicals. However, there is a last-minute line for regular folk to see a show, if it isn't full. It's a fairly intensive two days, where you line up to see a show, go in, watch for 45 minutes, exit and then line up for the next show (the shows are spaced 30 minutes apart). By the end of the two days and eight shows later my head was positively spinning!

The interesting thing is the 45-minute presentation. These are all pretty much full shows (2 hours in length on average) but they have to choose what to show in 45 minutes. Some shows choose to do a "Reader's Digest" version of the entire show (think of it as freeze dried show -- just add water and it expands into 2 hours), and some shows just do a shortened Act I or Act II, and some shows may choose to do a straight 45 minutes from the show. What is the best way to show off your show? From what I've heard "the cut" is quite "the art".

What to include? What to cut out? Sometimes shows actually create new material (that will never see the light of day post-NAMT) to help narrate the show. The shows do get help from amazing directors and consulting producers. And if you like what you see you can request a full script and CD.

I have to mention the talent. These shows all had amazing talent. Broadway and Off-Broadway names like Megan Lawrence, Leslie Kritzer, Brian D'Arcy James, Kerry Butler, Gregg Edelman, Jodie Langel, Marc Kudisch, Megan Hilty, Jenny Powers and Sarah Stiles, to name just a few!

Congrats to the shows that made the juried selection to appear in NAMT 2006. Who knows, maybe we'll see one or more of them on Broadway!

DANGEROUS BEAUTY
Book by Jeannine Dominy
Music by Michele Brourman
Lyrics by Amanda McBroom

EMMA
Book, Music and Lyrics by Paul Gordon

JERRY CHRISTMAS
Book by Daniel Goldfarb
Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa

JULIAN PO: A NEW MUSICAL
Book and Lyrics by Andrew Barrett
Music by Ira Antelis

ONE STEP FORWARD
Book By Berni Stapleton, with Leslie Arden and Timothy French
Music and Lyrics by Leslie Arden

PIECE
Book by Tara Smith
Music and Lyrics by Scott Alan

SUNFISH
Book and Lyrics Michael L. Cooper
Book and Music by Hyeyoung Kim

VANITIES: A NEW MUSICAL
Book by Jack Heifner
Music and Lyrics by David Kirshenbaum

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

DREAMGIRLS: The Movie

And I'm telling you...I'm going on a roadshow!

I've seen trailers for this movie starring Jamie Fox and Beyonce Knowles and Jennifer Hudson and it looks awesome. I've also been listening to the original Broadway cast recording (singing "One Night Only" in my sleep!) so I'm totally pumped. This "vintage" roadshow idea sounds neat, but wouldn't it be cool if they could do some kind of live performance before the movie?

From this article on Playbill:

The upcoming DreamWorks/Paramount film "Dreamgirls" -- based on the award-winning musical of the same name -- will employ a vintage marketing technique prior to the film's nationwide debut.

A roadshow -- designed to make an evening of moviegoing more like a live theatrical experience -- will be offered in three cities beginning Dec. 15. Variety reports that Hollywood's Cinerama Dome, New York's Ziegfeld Theatre and San Francisco's Metreon will all host the "Dreamgirls" roadshow, which features reserved seating, an intermission, "Dreamgirls"-themed lobby displays and merchandise booths, a limited-edition program and, of course, higher ticket prices.

The roadshow will play in each of these theatres for ten days. About the "Dreamgirls" roadshow, Paramount's president of distribution Jim Tharp told the industry paper, "We wanted to bring ["Dreamgirls"] to audiences in a special way, and we think this roadshow does the film justice." The last film to have an official roadshow, Variety says, was another film musical, 1972's "Man of La Mancha."

Directed by Bill Condon, "Dreamgirls" is scheduled to hit movie theatres nationwide Dec. 25, although it will premiere in New York Dec. 4 and in Los Angeles Dec. 11. The film stars Jennifer Hudson as Effie, Beyonce Knowles as Deena Jones, Anika Noni Rose as Lorrell Robinson, Jamie Fox as Curtis Taylor Jr., Eddie Murphy as James "Thunder Early" and Danny Glover as Marty. Director Bill Condon also wrote the film's screenplay based on the late Tom Eyen's book. The film employs most of the original score by Eyen and Henry Krieger as well as four new tunes.

"Dreamgirls," according to the film's official website, "follows the rise of a trio of women -- Deena (Beyonce Knowles), Effie (Jennifer Hudson) and Lorrell (Anika Noni Rose) — who have formed a promising girl group called The Dreamettes. At a talent competition, they are discovered by an ambitious manager named Curtis Taylor, Jr. (Jamie Foxx), who offers them the opportunity of a lifetime: to become the back-up singers for headliner James 'Thunder' Early (Eddie Murphy). Curtis gradually takes control of the girls' look and sound, eventually giving them their own shot in the spotlight as The Dreams. The spotlight, however, begins to narrow in on Deena, finally pushing back the less attractive Effie out altogether. Though the Dreams become a crossover phenomenon, they soon realize that the cost of fame and fortune may be higher than they ever imagined."

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

THE STORY OF MY LIFE

the_story_of_my_life.jpg

"World Premiere of a musical in one act"

My interest having been piqued at the NAMT Songwriters Showcase with the song "Mrs. Remington" (see previous post), I went to see THE STORY OF MY LIFE last night at the Berkeley Theatre. It was the only night I had free, but it turned out to be lucky since Monday is Pay What You Can Night! I was feeling generous so I paid $20 for my ticket (apparently most people pay $10, so hey, I'm not as cheap as I thought).

THE STORY OF MY LIFE, with book by Brian Hill, and Music and Lyrics by Neil Bartram, was developed at the Manhattan Theatre Club and was directed by Michael Bush, most recently the director of artistic production for the Manhattan Theatre club. Hey, and in the thank you section the writers thank Hunter Bell (among many others, including Richard Ouzounian) from [title of show] for contributing to the development of THE STORY OF MY LIFE.

The house was almost full (maybe I'm the only one who didn't know ahead of time that it was PWYC!) -- not bad for a Monday night!

Brent Carver played Thomas, and Jeffrey Kuhn played Alvin and they were both really terrific. They both had so much stage charisma that you forget there are only two people on stage for 105 minutes (not the 90 minutes outlined in the program!). And Jeffrey did a fabulous job on "Mrs. Remington", my favorite song in the show.

Luckily for me there weren't any speaker hiss problems that stopped the show on opening night and everything went smoothly!

Canstage Artistic Director Martin Bragg says in the program:

"THE STORY OF MY LIFE is a perfect portrayal of how a friendship can have the power to change our lives forever. In this beautiful show, the specific easily becomes uniersal -- this is the story of Alvin and Thomas, but it is bigger than that; friendship and human connection are universal needs. I hope you leave the theatre today remembering a Thomas or an Alvin in your life"

Congrats Neil and Brian!

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Happy Birthday JERSEY BOYS!

Oh, What a Year!

JERSEY BOYS celebrates its one-year anniversary on November 6!

From this article in Playbill:

Jersey Boys -- the 2006 Tony Award winner for Best Musical -- celebrates its first year on Broadway Nov. 6.

Des McAnuff (The Who's Tommy, Big River) directs the show, which began on Broadway Oct. 4, 2005, and officially opened at the August Wilson Theatre Nov. 6.

Tony Award winners John Lloyd Young (as Frankie Valli) and Christian Hoff (Tommy DeVito) as well as Daniel Reichard (Bob Gaudio) and J. Robert Spencer (Nick Massi) continue to star as The Four Seasons, the roles they created on Broadway.

Jersey Boys re-creates the story of American pop group The Four Seasons — the highs, the lows and all in between — on stage in the musical with the help of their hits "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like a Man," "December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)" and more.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

ScriptLab Presents The First Annual Canadian Musical Theatre Festival

ScriptLab Presents The First Annual Canadian Musical Theatre Festival November 21-26, 2006 at the Newly Restored Papermill Theatre at Todmorden Mills.

TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE at www.ticketking.com

ScriptLab, a registered charitable organization with a 17-year history of developing new work, under the current Artistic Direction of Jim Betts, will present the first annual Canadian Musical Theatre Festival, November 21-26, 2006 at the newly restored Papermill Theatre at Todmorden Mills, 67 Pottery Road in Toronto. The six-day festival will showcase the work of Canadian musical theatre writers of the past, present and future. Out of the 100 artists involved, participating are composer Leslie Arden and performances by Louise Pitre, Don Harron, Adam Brazier, Victor A. Young and Charlotte Moore. Tickets for the Gala Actors’ Fund Benefit are $40.00 all other events are $10.00.

"We're looking forward to celebrating the history and the future of the Canadian Musical Theatre. It's exciting to have a forum where we can feature some of our best shows, our best writers, and our best performers and musicians. It will be a great opportunity to hear some wonderful material -- some familiar, some new, and some unjustly forgotten,” Festival Artistic Director, Jim Betts said.

“Musicals written by Canadians have entertained international audiences with great success. The most current example is THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, the acclaimed Broadway hit that was started in Toronto and written by Canadians. This Festival will provide Canadians with the rare opportunity to showcase and develop their work at home. It is our goal to provide new and existing shows with a launching pad so that they can be produced on main stages in Canada and around the world. This is an exciting first step,” explained Festival Executive Producer and ScriptLab President Michael Rubinoff.

The Festival will kick off with an entertaining and fast-paced tribute to the history of musical theatre in Canada. Presenting songs from MY FUR LADY to THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, this gala event is a benefit in aid of the Actors’ Fund.

November 22nd will feature a Symposium on The Canadian Musical Theatre entitled "Where We've Been, Where We Are, and Where We're Going" moderated by writer and Toronto Star theatre critic Richard Ouzounian.

November 23rd will be a Tribute to Norman Campbell, (Composer of Anne Of Green Gables, The Wonder Of it All, Turvey) and the establishment of The Norman Campbell Award for Canadian Musical Theatre Writers. The evening will also include a staged reading of TURVEY a musical by Norman Campbell, Elaine Campbell, and Don Harron.

November 24th is a showcase reading of FIREWEEDS (Women Of The Klondike) by Cathy Elliott.

The afternoon on November 25th will showcase five musicals currently in development. Saturday evening will be a showcase reading of THE GIANT'S GARDEN by Scott White and Peter Fenton.

The Festival will conclude Sunday afternoon at 2pm with a concert of songs from a number of musicals currently in development.

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Steve on Broadway (SOB)

Steve On Broadway -- a frequent visitor and commentor on Blogway Baby -- has a really cool site! But I have to ask: Is the acronym intentional?

He posts his personal views and reviews as well as industry news, and has interactive statistics. Fun stuff -- check it out!

As he describes himself on his site:

Name: Steve Loucks

As someone who has been involved in both politics and public relations, it's no wonder I love watching theatre. Good or bad, it's the raw energy of seeing a live performance that gets my adrenaline pumping. From the moment I saw my very first Broadway show ("Annie" in London in 1979), I was hooked. Now I see as many as 50 shows each year ranging from soaring musicals to two-handed plays. And I just may be in an audience near you!

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Friday, November 03, 2006

I'm Gonna Blow My Own Horn!

I'm gonna Bump it with a Trumpet!

After nine long years of collecting dust in the corner, I finally took my beautiful Yamaha trumpet to St. John's Music to get it "tuned up". My husband bought me this trumpet years ago when I wanted to get back into playing the trumpet. I had played in high school but stopped playing once I went to university.

So I started taking lessons again when I was pregnant with my second daughter. This went along fine until my obstetrician said I needed to stop playing until after I had the baby!

Needless to say once I had a baby and a toddler I didn't do much trumpet playing!

Now the trumpet is all cleaned and polished and ready to go! So what do I play first? The opening strains of the GYPSY overture? The sassy horn section in "It's All About the Green" from THE WEDDING SINGER? Maybe I'll be in a John Doyle "sing/play" production of a Stephen Sondheim musical, like COMPANY or SWEENEY TODD...

Or maybe I'll just see if I can play an F scale. Now there's a gimmick!

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

THE WIZ at City Youth Players!

"Ease on down the road" to the City Playhouse...

City Youth Players (the brilliant theatre company that put on ANNIE WARBUCKS, HONK!, A CHORUS LINE, and FOOTLOOSE) is producing THE WIZ at the Vaughn City Playhouse from November 30 to December 3, 2006.

From the CYP Web site:

Revisit the land of Oz in this Soulful '70s Musical Extravaganza!

Adapted from "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"
by L. Frank Baum
Book by William F. Brown
Music and Lyrics by Charlie Smalls

Winner of seven Tony Awards, including "Best Musical"

My daughter Myrna is in this production and she's been telling me all sorts of cool things that they are doing in this show -- for example, the dance from "Thriller" -- I can't wait to see it!

Tickets are only $22 for adults and $19 for seniors/kids.

Showtimes:
Thursday November 30: 7:30pm
Friday December 1: 7:30pm
Saturday December 2: 1:00pm and 7:30pm
Sunday December 3: 1:00pm

If you go to any one of these shows, you'll probably see me there!

To buy tickets, call the City Playhouse box office:

The City Playhouse
1000 New Westminster Drive
(part of the Benjamin Vaughan Complex)

Box Office - 905-882-SHOW (7469)
Fax - 905-882-7949
Administrative offices - 905-326-7469

Box Office Hours:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 2pm - 7pm and Saturday from 12pm - 5pm.

BTW, I got the image for this post from a real cool site called "Movie Musicals: From Stage to Screen", which has all sorts of screensavers for musical theatre productions that have gone from the stage to the screen. Check it out!

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