It Ain’t Festivus, but I’m Airing Some Grievances

  1. The Broadway.com Awards are the epitome of why “the public” can’t be allowed to vote for anything in the entertainment industry. Why? Because “the public” voting on their smartphones is mostly comprised of close-minded teenagers who are just getting exposed to the theatrical world. Disclaimer: There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Hell, my first “gateway show” was Wicked. Everyone’s got to start somewhere. But unless voters adequately acquire the breadth of knowledge required to judge performances…awards turn into a popularity contest. Which is fine, but then it should be touted as such. Call the category “Favorite Working Actress” instead of “Best Performance by an Actress,” so that when Idina Menzel or Laura Osnes win for shows that close in less than 6 months, it’ll make sense.
  2. On that note, the notion of “parody” adaptations being protected from copyright suits is starting to bother me. You make a mockery out of someone else’s work, and it’s totally fine. You lovingly adapt someone else’s work because you respect the material and want to see it anew, and suddenly you’re cutting legal red tape. It hardly seems fair…but as a friend pointed out to me, it’s also hardly about the art when dollar bills start falling into people’s laps.

breaking

…So to speak.

Okay, my rant’s over.

Videos to Get You Pumped for NEW WORKS on Broadway This Spring

Okay, okay guys, calm down.

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Yes, I know the news came out today that Sara Bareilles will be succeeding Jessie Mueller as Jenna in the former’s own musical, Waitress. From what I’m seeing, half of the world is super excited and the other half is concerned. With some overlap between the two. The concerned side feels as such because they worry how this show’s almost-certain reappearance on public radar could affect the multitude of brand new musicals that will already be struggling to secure an audience just before Tony Awards time.

Well to these friends I say, “Never fear!” Puccini’s Chronicles is here to help. Today I’m going to share some awesome previews that are sure to entice folks into taking a chance on a new show. You know, along with their already-purchased revival tickets or 900th attempt at the Hamilton lottery. (Click on the name of the musical to watch the video!)

AMELIEWhat you’re seeing: A well-arranged selection of visual highlights from the piece’s pre-Broadway run in Los Angeles, set to a lovely duet from its stars, Philippa Soo and Adam Chanler-Berat.

ANASTASIAWhat you’re seeing: Christy Altomare, as Anya, singing the beloved Oscar-nominated song “Journey to the Past” in Columbus Circle.

BANDSTANDWhat you’re seeing: A very cinematic trailer, complete with a bass-baritone narrator and appearances from the original Papermill Playhouse stars, Laura Osnes and Corey Cott. Also, keep an ear open for a Hamilton name-drop.

WAR PAINTWhat you’re seeing: The two leading divas, Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole, doing what they do best at the Guggenheim Museum.

Spotlight: The Top 10 Moments I’ve Personally Witnessed on Broadway.

  • Chita Rivera having more rhythm than me at 83 years old in The Visit
  • Terri White’s “Who’s That Woman” in the revival of Follies
  • Judy Kaye swinging from a chandelier in Nice Work If You Can Get It
  • Mary Louise Wilson straddling the train in On the 20th Century
  • Elaine Stritch breaking the 4th wall in A Little Night Music
  • Jessie Mueller’s soulful “She Used to Be Mine” in Waitress
  • Laura Osnes’s dress transformation in Cinderella
  • The Alison Bechdel trio “Flying Away” in Fun Home
  • Jefferson Mays as the D’Ysquith family in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
  • Paulo Szot singing “Wash That Man” in South Pacific

 

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The 2016-2017 Broadway Decision Generator

At the encouragement of some friends at a recent party, I’ve decided to help out non-thespians by creating an algorithm (sort of) to determine which musical they should catch in the coming season. I think it’s a pretty self-explanatory system. Please comment with the show you got so I can gauge my generator’s effectiveness.

FIVE SIMPLE STEPS

  1. Do you prefer a comedy or a drama?
  2. A lot of singing or a lot of dancing?
  3. A mostly original plot or one based on a classic story?
  4. How about a period piece or something modern?
  5. Finally, do you want to see a star or a newbie?

Now, find your show below based on the combination of answers you chose!

COMEDY, DANCING, ORIGINAL, MODERN, NEWBIE: Cats

COMEDY, DANCING, CLASSIC, PERIOD, NEWBIE: Holiday Inn

COMEDY, DANCING, CLASSIC, PERIOD, STAR: Hello Dolly!

DRAMA, SINGING, CLASSIC, MODERN, NEWBIE: Miss Saigon

DRAMA, SINGING, ORIGINAL, MODERN, NEWBIE: Dear Evan Hansen

COMEDY, SINGING, CLASSIC, PERIOD, STAR: Amelie

DRAMA, SINGING, ORIGINAL,  PERIOD, STAR: The Bandstand

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What is It with These Broadway Kids Today?

Listen well, my younger readers. One of the most important pieces of advice I can give you if you’re searching for your place in the industry is to BROADEN YOUR HORIZONS. Look beyond the Tveit. Peer through the Emerald Curtain. Swap the Newsies cap for a turn-of-the-century hat, complete with feathers. And really explore the world you long to see beyond the barricade.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I’m concerned that I’m reading stuff from you kids about the same ten shows/actors all the time. Spring Awakening, Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera, Laura Osnes, Sierra Boggess, Aaron Tveit, Idina Menzel, etc. Now I totally get that different shows speak to you in different ways; there’s absolutely nothing wrong with loving any of the shows you love. But you cannot fairly praise them as the best thing since sliced bread if they’re the only shows you’ve really heard. Take a chance and listen to that obscure show that ran for less than 10 performances on Broadway (*cough* Anyone Can Whistle *cough*) and you just may find some brilliant music there. And that’s another way a piece of art will have done its job in touching your heart.

Or you may find a new performer that blows you away with their interpretation of this new music. And then hopefully we’ll see some appreciation posts of them on your social media channels! And then more people will see them and want to learn about them! And so it continues infinitely! Okay, I’m getting a little too enthusiastic. But you get my drift. Here are some performers and shows I think you guys will love based on the current trends I’m seeing on various blog tags:

  • If you like Wicked…try Into the WoodsPippin, and Thoroughly Modern Millie.
  • If you like Hamilton…try Pacific Overtures and An American in Paris.
  • If you like Les Miserables or Phantom…try Carousel and Miss Saigon.
  • If you like First Date…try Company and She Loves Me.
  • If you like Laura Osnes or Sierra Boggess…check out Barbara Cook, Victoria Mallory, and Julie Andrews.

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Pictured: Victoria Mallory’s daughter, Ramona, in the same role her mom once played on Broadway! What are your favorite “lesser-known-but-still-amazing” stars of the stage and screen?

Spotlight: MGM’s THE BAND WAGON takes center stage in NYC

Opening nights of new shows are always exciting. Not only for the actors and crew who’ve been working on it for a while and watching it materialize, but for the audience as well, anticipating that they will share in that energy. That will all happen tonight at NY City Center, where a new stage adaptation of the classic film The Band Wagon is debuting. Like many MGM musicals of its day, The Band Wagon follows a typical showbiz plot- a washed-up star tries a new performing venture, falling in love and encountering a colorful and sometimes explosive cast of characters along the way. Of course, the story wouldn’t be complete without some Great American Songbook fun and stunning dance numbers; in fact the original movie starred Fred Astaire, and I’ve heard one source use the following analogy.

Fred Astaire is to The Band Wagon as Gene Kelly is to Singin’ in the Rain. Gee, if questions on the SAT were like that, a lot more artsy kids would get good scores, I think.

Anyway, dancing his way into Astaire’s part is Broadway veteran Brian Stokes Mitchell, known for his roles in Kiss Me Kate and Ragtime. Opposite him is one of the most popular leading ladies to tread the boards in recent years- Cinderella and Bonnie and Clyde‘s Laura Osnes. Tracey Ullman (the movies of Once Upon a Mattress and Into the Woods) and character actor Michael McKean also star as feuding theatre collaborators/spouses, and rounding out the main players is Tony nominee Michael Sheldon (Priscilla Queen of the Desert) as the tightly-wound director. Wow- if that’s not a cast, I don’t know what is.

The production will be directed by famed choreographer Kathleen Marshall, who headed Nice Work If You Can Get It and the most recent revival of Anything Goes. Here’s a fun convolution- Tracey Ullman just wrapped up Into the Woods, and that was directed by Rob Marshall, the brother of Kathleen!

All in all, I wish I could go and see this one. It’s got all the elements that make for a great show- and I would definitely do a review for all of you. But, in spite of my own misfortune, I encourage all of you in the neighborhood to try catching a performance. If you can, remember to come back to Puccini’s Chronicles and share what you thought! Tickets start at $30 and can be purchased here.

Oh, one more thing- did you figure out the answer to the question I posed in my last entry? These three people are St. Genesius, St. Clare, and St. Cecilia; they are all patron saints of the performing arts! Specifically, Genesius is the patron of actors, Clare is the patroness of television, and Cecilia is the patroness of musicians.

Frosted