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.