News: Broadway stars to give us Show of Titles

SHOW OF TITLES
Directed By: Lonny Price
Music Direction by Jason Howland
Date: June 8th, 2021 at 8:00PM ET

An evening of celebrated stars performing the titles songs from Broadway’s best.

With Performances By
Annaleigh Ashford, Glenn Close, Len Cariou, Darren Criss, Santino Fontana, Kelsey Grammar, David Alan Grier, Jake Gyllenhaal, Joshua Henry, Isabelle Huppert, Norm Lewis, Patti LuPone, Rob McClure, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Melba Moore, Jessie Mueller, Eva Noblezada, Kelli O’Hara, Laura Osnes, Steven Pasquale, Michael Rupert, Ernie Sabella, Lea Salonga, Phillipa Soo, Will Swenson, Aaron Tveit, Leslie Uggams, Vanessa Williams & Patrick Wilson.

And Special Appearances By
Broadway Inspirational Voices, Candice Bergen, Danny Burstein, Bryan Cranston, Sheldon Harnick, John Kander, Angela Lansbury, John Lithgow, Lindsay Mendez, Phylicia Rashad, Ben Vereen, BD Wong & Florian Zeller. Continue reading “News: Broadway stars to give us Show of Titles”

Lockdown Review: Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration

On the one hand, so much to love with such an inordinate array of talent assembled to mark Sondheim’s 90th birthday. But on the other, where’s the editor, there’s a real sense of the rambling here too. Fortunately as this has been put together in lockdown (and very well too) it is easier than ever to skip to the bits you want (in the spirit of these times, I ain’t telling you who disappointed me).

For me, I loved the unexpectedness of Katrina Lenk’ ‘Johanna’, the cuteness of Beanie Feldstein & Ben Platt’s ‘It Takes Two’, and the energy of Alexander Gemignani’s ‘Buddy’s Blues’. And of the heavy hitters in the finale, Donna Murphy and Patti LuPone nailed ‘Send in the Clowns’ and ‘Anyone Can Whistle’ respectively, and there’s huge fun (if not finesse) in Christine Baranski, Meryl Streep & Audra McDonald giving us their ‘Ladies Who Lunch’. Continue reading “Lockdown Review: Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration”

News: Sondheim’s 90th birthday concert line-up announced

Legendary Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim will be toasted with an all-star birthday concert, streaming live on Sunday 26th April. Hosted by Raúl Esparza, with musical direction by Mary-Mitchell Campbell, and coinciding with the 50th Broadway anniversary of Sondheim’s CompanyTake Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration can be seen for free on YouTube. 

This once-in-a-lifetime event, benefiting ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty), will include a range of songs from the Sondheim catalogue performed by many of the artists who delivered iconic turns in his musicals, including Meryl Streep, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, Mandy Patinkin, Audra McDonald, Christine Baranski, Donna Murphy, Kristin Chenoweth, Sutton Foster, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Kelli O’Hara, Aaron Tveit, Maria Friedman, Katrina Lenk, Michael Cerveris, Brandon Uranowitz, Elizabeth Stanley, Chip Zien, Alexander Gemignani, Iain Armitage, Stephen Schwartz and, from the cast of Pacific Overtures at Classic Stage Company, Ann Harada, Austin Ku, Kelvin Moon Loh and Thom Sesma.

TV Review: The Split Series 1 / The Good Fight Series 2

If female-fronted lawyer shows are your bag (and why wouldn’t they be!), the twin joys of The Split and The Good Fight have marvellous to behold

“Kill all the lawyers”

If I’m completely honest, Abi Morgan’s The Split did leave me a tad disappointed as it veered away from its legal beginnings to something considerably more soapy over its six episodes. The personal lives of the Defoe clan well and truly took over at the expense of any of the cases they were looking after and even if that family includes Nicola Walker, Annabel Scholey and Deborah Findlay, it’s still a bit of a shame that it ended up so schlocky. Continue reading “TV Review: The Split Series 1 / The Good Fight Series 2”

Album Review: Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (2011 Original Broadway Cast Recording)

I’m feeling kinda woozy. I’ve been crying for an hour,
And my boyfriend has an ooze and he doesn’t clean the shower”

David Yazbek’s musical take on Pedro Almodóvar’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown hasn’t had the best time of it really, managing four months on Broadway in the winter of 2010 and then repeating a run of a similar length in the West End in 2015 in a retooled version that evidently did little to help. The Spanish director’s work is so richly musical that one might have thought musical theatre would gel easily with it but the reality is far more complex and difficult.

And so the result is something really quite challenging, often on the cusp of making the breakthrough to become the musical it ought to be but all too rarely making it. The main problem lies in a distinct lack of purpose to both Yazbek’s score and Jeffrey Lane’s book, even as it cleaves closely to the original film with its web of Madrid women with intricately connected love-lives circling around the same feckless men over the course of a tumultuous 48 hours. Continue reading “Album Review: Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (2011 Original Broadway Cast Recording)”

Album Review: Brian Stokes Mitchell – Simply Broadway

“Haven’t sung half the songs I want to”

Even if I hadn’t listened to a whole lot of musical theatre stars’ CDs over the past few weeks, I’d still be mightily impressed with Brian Stokes Mitchell’s second album Simply Broadway, for it really is something. Not content with just gathering together a selection of classic songs, he and his arranger Tedd Firth, who also pulls double-duty on a fine grand piano, have reimagined and reinterpreted them all.

There’s nothing simple about the piano accompaniment here though, it’s rich and complex and really brings something new to the table. Just listen to the opening track ‘Feeling Good’ and how it flows differently once released from the stomping chord progression we’re so used to, likewise Les Miserables’ ‘Stars’ finds an alternative emotional energy here, Mitchell’s dramatic storytelling coming to the fore. Continue reading “Album Review: Brian Stokes Mitchell – Simply Broadway”

Album Review: Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed (Original Broadway Cast)

“Sons and daughters of the long dark night
Our time has come to glow in the light”

Bit of a cheeky one this as this 8-track sampler of Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed was recorded live for Tony voters but hey, why should they get all the fun, especially now that the decision was made to close the show allegedly in the light of Audra McDonald’s pregnancy making it a less saleable prospect.

The show takes a little unpicking – a musical with a 1921 score by Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle and a contemporary libretto by George C. Wolfe, based on the original book of the musical revue Shuffle Along, by Flournoy Miller and Aubrey Lyles. The story thus focuses on the challenges of mounting the original production of Shuffle Along and its effect on Broadway and race relations. Continue reading “Album Review: Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed (Original Broadway Cast)”

Happy London Pride – paying tribute to Orlando and beyond

“Love, sweet love…no, not just for some but for everyone”

 
It’s no secret that Broadway cares but there’s still something extremely touching about a community coming together to help others, especially when it feels close to home. However others want to spin it, the attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando was an attack on the LGBT+ community and that is something that is just chilling in its cold reality. But from such horror comes something positive too as people rally together to share love and support, solidarity and hope that no matter how dark it gets, we’re never alone. 

In London, the LGBT+ community has the Pride in London Parade to spark the coming together over what will be a poignant weekend. And on Broadway, Broadway Records President Van Dean, SiriusXM Radio Host Seth Rudetsky and Producer James Wesley have pulled together a dream choir of amazing performers to record a charity single of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s ‘What The World Needs Now Is Love’ to benefit the Orlando LGBT+ community. Take a look at the video below (and be blown away by such luminaries as Audra McDonald, Bernadette Peters, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Idina Menzel and so many more) but I urge you to please buy a copy too, to support this very worthy cause.

You can buy ‘What The World Needs Now’ here. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the song will benefit the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida

And matching Broadway for passionate respect are the London Gay Men’s Chorus. The response to their musical tribute of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ at the Soho vigil for the Orlando victims was such that they have decided to release it as their own charity single (it had originally been intended for their 25th anniversary album later this year, and recorded just hours before the attack took place).

You can find out more about ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ here or purchase it directly on iTunes and Google Play. Proceeds from the sale of the charity single will be split equally between the Orlando Victims Fund, organised by Equality Florida; and Galop, the UK’s LGBT anti-violence charity that supports victims of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crime.