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Fabulous He, Aladdin Genie James Monroe Iglehart Is Joining Hamilton

The continental army could use a friend like the Marquis. James Monroe Iglehart, who won a Tony playing the Genie in the Broadway adaptation of Aladdin, is heading off to take the dual roles of the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in Hamilton. Seth Stewart currently plays both parts, which were originated by Tony winner Daveed Diggs. Iglehart, who is also known for playing Coriolanus Burt on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, will give his last Aladdin performance on February 19 and join the cast of Hamilton in mid-April — take that, Titus Andromedon!

  • Posted 1/15/17 at 7:27 PM

Theater Review: BAM’s Bang-up Revival of The Beauty Queen of Leenane

In a dank and grimy cottage in a small town in remote Connemara live the embittered fortyish spinster Maureen Folan and her spiteful mother, Mag, whose name rhymes with “hag” for good reason. Even in a local microculture defined by disappointment, vengefulness, lunacy, and complaint, they are egregious. Mag blithely empties her chamber pot in the kitchen sink every morning, despite constant instruction to the contrary and her well-publicized “urine infection.” Maureen seems even worse, at first, mechanically engaging in such pointless cruelties as refusing to stir the lumps out of her mother’s nutritional supplement. Nor is this an undeclared war. When Mag tuts over news of a man who “up and murdered the poor oul woman in Dublin, and he didn’t even know her” — making a strangling seem like a faux-pas — Maureen is unimpressed. “Sure, that sounds exactly the type of fella I would like to meet,” she says, “and then bring him home to meet you, if he likes murdering oul women.”

As dark as dark comedy gets. »

Jennifer Holliday Is ‘Very Disheartened’ That Word of Her Inauguration Performance Generated So Much Hate

Yesterday, Donald Trump's presidential-inauguration festivities got a boost of star power country crooner Toby Keith, rockers 3 Doors Down, and Broadway songstress Jennifer Holliday all confirmed they would be performing at a pre-inauguration concert at the Lincoln Memorial on January 19. Though Holliday's publicist initially disputed her involvement, Holliday then herself offered a few words to her fans to confirm the news, telling the New York Times that she doesn't have "a dog in this fight" and that we should all "pray" on the success of America. Still, it appears Holliday's choice engendered some ill-will towards her, as she simultaneously defended her choice to perform during the inauguration and reprimanded her detractors to Billboard. "I was like, nobody knows that I'm alive and then I decide to sing a song and I wake up and they all hate me," the Hillary Clinton supporter explained. "I haven't even endorsed anything. I'm not singing for Donald Trump; I'm singing to welcome the people of America. He cannot be the only face that's gonna represent us. And just to have all white people up there singing is not going to be a fair representation either. So you're just saying don't go? Really? I'm just very disheartened by it that it would be so much hate."

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Lionsgate is Weighing the Possibility of a Live La La Land Stage Show

La La Land could be the gift that keeps on giving to Liongsgate, according to The Hollywood Reporter. After an enchanted festival run, a record-setting night at the Golden Globes, a viable path to top honors at the Oscars, and a ton of other award nominations, the co-president of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, Erik Feig, told investors on Tuesday, “If we want to do a stage show, we can do a stage show.” While not quite the prestige picture of Damien Chazelle's Hollywood darling, Feig cited the live adaptation of Step Up, which is currently active in Dubai, as a precedent for the possible business move. Of course, a screen musical moving to the stage is clearly not the most outlandish idea, but before you seize the impulse to roll your eyes or toss off another incarnation of La La Land as cashing in or a speeding train towards over-saturation, consider the casting possibilities. A broad complaint about the movie was its positioning of Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian as the hopeful “white savior” of jazz, but with the single stroke of not making Seb white a stage version could get started dancing on a less problematic foot. Look at that, La La Land 2.0 is already getting you excited for a better future.

Choke Back Your Tears While Watching Lin-Manuel Miranda and Christopher Jackson Perform ‘One Last Time’ at the White House

As Inauguration Day approaches and President Barack Obama rounds out the rest of his farewell tour, the cast of Hamilton also wants to join in with their own heartfelt good-bye. The entire original Broadway cast visited the White House last year to perform some tunes and hang out, and although a few videos of songs from the performance have already been released "Alexander Hamilton" and "My Shot" among them it seems the musical purposely held off on showcasing one particular number until the perfect time came along. Now, behold Lin-Manuel Miranda and Christopher Jackson singing an emotional rendition of "One Last Time." No explanation necessary. Enjoy.

  • Posted 1/10/17 at 8:53 PM
  • Theater

Sara Bareilles in Talks to Join Broadway’s Waitress in the Lead Role

After receiving Grammy and Tony nominations for writing the music and lyrics for Broadway’s Waitress, Billboard reports that the singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles is now in final talks to play the lead role in the production. Waitress made its Broadway debut last year, and if the deal closes, Bareilles would be taking over the role of Jenna Hunterson from actress Jessie Mueller. This would be the pop star’s onstage Broadway debut.

  • Posted 1/8/17 at 10:00 PM

Theater Review: Cate Blanchett Boosts Up The Present (And So Does Her Underwear)

If there were a Tony award for best supporting undergarment, it would surely go this season to Cate Blanchett’s bra, which gets the biggest laugh of the evening in Andrew Upton’s sour-funny The Present. This may come as a surprise to those who know that the play, opening tonight at the Barrymore, is based on an unfinished early work by Anton Chekhov. Corsets would seem to be the thing for a story originally set among the feckless, fading gentry of pre-revolutionary Russia; maintaining the right silhouette while going morally and literally bankrupt is a hallmark of the glamorous heroines of The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, and The Cherry Orchard. But Upton, who is Blanchett’s husband, has relocated the tale to the mid-1990s, as the dregs of the former Communist elite scramble for position in the post-Glasnost era, at the dawn of the kleptocracy. For them, and especially for Anna, whom Blanchett plays quite brilliantly as a wasp trapped in a bottle, boredom and dread are full-time careers.

Movie-star charisma with stage transparency. »

Who Dares Disrespect Bette Midler Like This?

You may want to sit down before you continue any further, because on Thursday evening Page Six brought news of a horror of horrors: The Shubert Theatre spelled Bette Midler’s name incorrectly on their marquee. Yes, reader, they omitted the second “e.” Per the site, fans were shocked by the grave error:

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There’s No Woman to Blame for Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Musical Coming to Broadway

Rejoice, East Coast Parrotheads. The New York Times is reporting that Escape to Margaritaville, a musical inspired by Jimmy Buffet's island-escapism classic "Margaritaville," will be opening on Broadway in spring 2018. The musical fully backed and supported by the six-string strummin' Buffet will be setting sail to New York after its previously announced May 2017 premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse in California, followed by a short national tour stopping in New Orleans, Houston, and Chicago. Revolving around "a part-time bartender and singer named Tully who thinks he has life figured out until a tourist steals his heart," Buffet will feature some of his classic tunes in the show, as well as compose new original songs. Please, tourists, do not cover yourself in oil while attending any of the performances.

Leslie Jones Doesn’t Have Enough Tuna in This Exclusive Oh, Hello Clip

Oh, how the tides have turned. A segment in Nick Kroll and John Mulaney's Broadway show Oh, Hello infamously consists of the duo, as their cranky septuagenarian personas Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland, trying to get a celebrity to mutter the words "too much tuna" during an interview segment. (Yes, it's weird. Don't overthink it.) But as this exclusive clip from a recent show reveals, self-proclaimed tuna aficionado Leslie Jones thinks that the massive tuna sandwich presented to her isn't as big as it should be — an Oh, Hello first! — with Kroll and Mulaney truly lost for words as they're pranked on their own show. Check, meet (a very fishy) mate.

32 New Broadway and Off Broadway Shows Worth Seeing in 2017

Barring last-minute announcements — unlikely because every available theater is booked — 24 productions are scheduled to open on Broadway between now and the Tony Awards cutoff at the end of April. More than five times as many will open Off Broadway during that same window. Without counting the hundreds of smaller events popping up all around the city, or most of what happens in May and beyond, which is still too foggy to bet on, that leaves a vast landscape of stage activity to enjoy. What I’m most looking forward to is the wealth of challenging new plays, even on Broadway, but in every category of theatrical offering, except perhaps clown acts, something compelling beckons. Here’s a highly selective and idiosyncratic look at what’s in store.

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Carrie Fisher Was Reportedly About to Begin Work on a Sequel to Wishful Drinking

Carrie Fisher was reportedly preparing for a return to the stage. According to IndieWire, the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles had just commissioned a sequel to Fisher’s successful one-woman show, Wishful Drinking, to be called Wishful Drinking Strikes Back: From Star Wars to, uh, Star Wars! Geffen was the same organization that helped develop the original stage show in 2008, and the continuation was reportedly meant to reunite Fisher with director Josh Ravetch. IndieWire says that the deal was made last Thursday, the day before Fisher suffered her heart attack, and that her and Ravetch were supposed to meet today to begin work on the new show.

Watch a Phantasmagorical Mash-up of School of Rock, Cats, and Phantom, and Start to Question What Is Real

There are three Andrew Lloyd Webber shows currently open on Broadway: School of Rock, which is about kids learning about music; Phantom of the Opera, which is about chandeliers; and Cats, which is about cats. This morning, Good Morning America hosted a mash-up of all three shows at once, in what can only be described as the most absurd Glee scene that never aired. This spring, Sunset Boulevard will return to Broadway, bringing Andrew Lloyd Webber up to a total of four shows running at once. Hopefully that gives GMA an excuse to restage this Dadaist dreamscape and also add Glenn Close.

Theater Review: The Wolves Has Bark and Bite

Nine high-school girls on a soccer team somewhere in suburbia yack and confide and bluster and gossip, all at once, about everything from the Khmer Rouge to the relative merits of pads versus tampons. That’s the opening blast of Sarah DeLappe’s astonishing new play The Wolves, and if you think your ear will gradually get ahead of its brilliant polyphony, think again. You do hear what you must: The director, Lila Neugebauer, has calibrated the volume and the emphasis so you’ll never be totally lost. But you’ll nevertheless be lost, in the most realistic and powerful way, as the play darts through a month or two of pregame practices on the bright green Astroturf during the course of an eventful winter in the girls’ lives. Without specifying what, other than soccer, it is about, the play is about almost too much to bear.

Firecracker dialogue with the unmistakable ping of reality. »

Taran Killam Is Making His Broadway Debut As Hamilton’s King George

Oceans rise, empires fall, we've seen Taran Killam through it all. Saturday Night Live alum Killam will be making his Broadway debut in Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical sensation Hamilton, where he'll be playing the flamboyantly grouchy King George for an unspecified period of time. He'll officially begin his reign on January 17, with the current king, Rory O'Malley, scheduled to play his final performance on January 15. The casting will be keeping Killam who was unexpectedly let go as a featured player from SNL this season busy in the upcoming months, as he also scored a Showtime pilot called Mating, which is about a "recently divorced guy forced to confront the modern hookup scene." We can't help but wonder what Jebidiah Atkinson would think.

Theater Review: A Pair of Reinvented Othellos

As befits its all-or-nothing love story, Othello is Shakespeare’s most intense play, in part because it eschews his usual ADHD dramaturgy. The tragedy of the Moorish general who becomes a hero in his adopted land, who marries the pearl of its gentry, Desdemona, and is then gulled by his ensign, Iago, into murdering her in a jealous rage, is barely interrupted by the typical sideshows. Claustrophobic and headlong, it confines itself to just two settings: imperial Venice for the first act and occupied Cyprus thereafter. It has no subplots, no Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, no gravediggers or porters or walk-on punsters, and only a couple of clown scenes, which are tied quite closely to the story. Still, the clowns have been cut in the ripping good modern-dress production that opened at New York Theatre Workshop tonight, in a production starring David Oyelowo and Daniel Craig under Sam Gold’s masterly direction. Cut, too, are many eddies of metaphor and reiterations of intent that, however beautiful and apropos, defuse the dread and slacken the thrust of the action. In all, about one-fifth of the play has been excised, very judiciously; what remains, though still three hours long, is even more intense than usual, moving like a bullet from gun to skin.

Set amid the present-day military. »

Theater Review: In Transit, a Musical Without Musicians

Maybe an a cappella stage musical could make sense: The sound of unaccompanied voices in tight harmony can be compelling, and the genre has proved successful in the Pitch Perfect movies. A bit less intuitive is the idea of making a musical set mostly in and around the New York subways; the two previous examples I can think of, Subways Are for Sleeping and Happiness, were hardly successes. In any case, milieus are not stories — but let’s give that a pass for now. The bigger problem with the new musical In Transit, which opened tonight at Circle in the Square, is that it randomly jams the two gimmicks together and, lacking a more meaningful animating principle, promptly derails.

Solid songs, thin characters. »

Theater Review: The Shaggy Excellence of The Band’s Visit

It hasn’t been a great year for new musicals; only one — Dear Evan Hansen — made my list of the top ten theatrical productions of 2016. Several others were great in part: the design of Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812; the showbiz wow of the first act of Shuffle Along. A few, like Waitress, even proved to be commercial successes. But as I thought about what performers in musicals had been singing at me since January, very little of it seemed to convey the excitement and importance of what performers in plays, especially Off Broadway plays, had been saying to me during the same period. Was the musical as a form entering one of its periodic lulls? Had Hamilton sucked so much air out of the room that no other musical could catch its breath? Or were there just not enough new musicals to choose from in a genre where the odds of greatness seem to hover around one in 50? 

"The Band’s Visit doesn’t feel like any musical ever." »

Jasmine Cephas Jones, One of Hamilton’s Last Original Cast Members, Is Leaving the Show

Mutter a somber "and Peggy!" in commemoration. Jasmine Cephas Jones, who has portrayed Hamilton's dual role of Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds during both the musical's Off Broadway and Broadway iterations, will be performing her last show today, December 8. "Today is my last performance at @hamiltonmusical," she wrote on her Instagram. "Thank you for the most life changing 2 years. Thank you for making a platform to show the world that diversity is important and it is a beautiful thing to just be who you are ... that you are enough. What a ride! Now let's do this one last time!" With Jones's departure, the only original Hamilton cast member that remains is Okieriete Onaodowan, who plays the dual role of Hercules Mulligan and James Madison. Schuyler sisters for life.

  • Posted 12/8/16 at 12:20 PM

Why Was Hairspray Live! Tamer on TV?

The nearly perfect 2002 stage musical Hairspray is so hardy you don’t notice how carefully it’s crafted. The score, by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, is of course part of that, bringing to American pop circa 1962 a level of wit and polish hardly ever experienced in situ. If you sing the songs accurately they’re almost impossible to screw up. But the book and staging also contribute crucially, tempering the downmarket camp of the 1988 John Waters original with moral uplift and confident high spirits. What a difficult titration! Indeed, the Broadway production has not yet been equaled elsewhere: not onstage or in the 2007 movie version starring John Travolta or now in the pleasant, but not arresting, television adaption that was broadcast on NBC last night. Hairspray Live! (as I suppose we must call it even now that it’s dead) was a good-enough version of a show that, in its bones, needs to be great.

Read More  »

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