PLAY BY PLAY: Patrick Pacheco's inside look at the world of theater, and the crazy people who inhabit it
Last week’s sudden announcement by Radio City Music Hall that it was postponing “Heart and Lights,” its $25-million spring extravaganza, was shocking. But it was by no means an anomaly in the increasingly high-gamble world of New York City tourist entertainment, which, of course, includes Broadway. What made the news so stunning is that James Dolan, executive chairman of Madison Square Garden, which owns RCMH, chose to pull the plug just days before the much-ballyhooed show was to begin performances for a five-week run. “Heart and Lights” had been germinating for more than two years over a series of workshops headed by Linda Haberman, the director of the musical and artistic director of the fabled Rockettes, who were slated to star in the production. The libretto had been written by Douglas Wright, who won both Tony and Pulitzer Awards for his Broadway play, “I Am My Own Wife” and who had also worked on “The Little Mermaid” and “Hands on a Hardbody.”
In the interstitial patter between songs on her new CD, “The Right Kind of Attention,” recorded live at the nightclub 54 Below, Laura Benanti never passes up the opportunity to mock herself. Growing up in Manhattan and New Jersey, she’s the class nerd torturing her mates with obscure Broadway show tunes and sensitive folk songs. As an actor, she’s the unlucky sap who gets cast in short-lived TV series: “Go On,” in which she played a grief counselor to Matthew Perry, and “The Playboy Club,” as an “aging” bunny opposites knockout Amber Heard. As sincere as this self-effacement may be, it must stem from a confidence of being one of theater’s most acclaimed, protean, and accomplished performers.
The producers of “Rocky, the Musical” never expected the critics to be in their corner, so there must have been a collective sigh of relief on March 14th when their eponymous hero was still standing after the scribes took their best shots.
If Broadway composers were stocks, blue-chip Robert Lopez would have split several times over. Andrew Lloyd Webber, on the other hand, is on a downward trajectory. Having won Tony Awards for “Avenue Q,” and “The Book of Mormon,” Lopez may well win an Oscar on Sunday night for the song “Let It Go” from the Disney animated blockbuster “Frozen.” The soundtrack of the film’s score, which he co-wrote with his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez, has been riding the top of the charts with over one million copies sold and the movie itself is nearing a billion dollars in worldwide grosses. The film has been so successful that Disney has put it on the fast track to be adapted into a Broadway musical.
The allegations of child molestation once more raised against Woody Allen — this time by the purported victim Dylan Farrow Previn — has unleashed a spate of articles and threads on theater chat rooms questioning whether or not it may affect the prospects of his new musical, “Bullets Over Broadway.” Not likely. The fate of one of the most highly anticipated musicals in recent history lies where it always has been: in the hands of its cast, which includes stars Zach Braff and Marin Mazzie, and its creative team, most notably Allen, who is adapting the libretto from his 1994 film comedy hit; and Tony Award winner Susan Stroman (“Producers”), who is directing and choreographing the show. Continue Reading
“Titanic, the Musical” is not the only behemoth finding a berth on Broadway later this year. Come December, “King Kong, the Musical” will be moored at the 1,930-seat Foxwoods Theatre, which was recently vacated by “Spider-Man.” The announcement was made through Gerry Ryan, an executive with Global Creatures, the Melbourne-based technology and entertainment group that developed the 20-foot, 2,200-pound animatronic puppet which stands in for the most famous ape in the world. The musical, with a libretto by Craig Lucas and direction by the British-based American Daniel Kramer, received mixed notices when it premiered in Melbourne this past summer, but was strong at the box-office. It ends its exclusive nine-month run there on February 16. Continue Reading
“‘The Sound of Music’ Live!” scored so high in the ratings on the evening of December 5 that it is likely that NBC-TV, which took a huge gamble, may well be encouraged to repeat the exercise. According to TVMediaInsights, the show peaked at an 11.5 rating at 8:30 p.m., a half-hour into the three-hour epic of the beloved Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. Compare that to the 10.5 rating, which the top-rated “The Big Bang Theory” delivers in its similar time slot. Continue Reading