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”
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 Company, Take 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.
This trio of album reviews covers Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project, Mamma Mia! The Movie Soundtrack and Il Divo – A Musical Affair
“You know I’ve got So much that I wanna do”
Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Projecthas an amazing list of performers, composers, and musicians behind it, all coming together to create a 2-CD set and 48-page children’s book to benefit breast cancer research, support and education. And rather wonderfully, it is an utterly gorgeous record. Brilliant jazz musicians accompany writers like Michael John LaChiusa, Adam Gwon and Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez in indulging their gentler side to create the prettiest tunes. And then a cast of dreams sing them – just listen to Raúl Esparza’s aching tenderness on ‘This Little World’, or Donna Murphy’s crystal clear ‘Lucky’ (by Stephen Schwartz) – we should all be so lucky to be lulled to sleep this way. Continue reading “Album Reviews: Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project / Mamma Mia / Il Divo – A Musical Affair”
“One of your old favorite songs from way back when”
Seeing Hello, Dolly! at the Open Air Theatre still ranks as one of my all-time favourite theatrical experiences, tied up as it is with memories of my Aunty Mary, so it was only really practicality that held me back from booking to see the show on Broadway once the casting of Bette Midler was announced (heck, even Donna Murphy as her alternate was a seriously tempting proposition). But resist I did, in the anticipation of the inevitable Cast Recording that would offer a peek into Dolly’s new world.
It’s always a tricky thing, to embrace a new version of something so beloved and for me, every note, riff and chuckle of Barbra Streisand’s interpretation for the film soundtrack is ingrained on my memory. And so to hear someone else do it, no matter how well, always requires something of a readjustment. So it took me a couple of listens to really get into the groove of this album but in the new arrangements by Larry Hochman (orchestrations), and Don Pippin (vocal arrangements), the score feels familiar but fresh. Continue reading “Album Review: Hello, Dolly! (2017 New Broadway Cast Recording)”
“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.
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).
Annie Baker, The Flick
Christopher Durang, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Joe Gilford, Finks
Richard Greenberg, The Assembled Parties
Amy Herzog, Belleville
Deanna Jent, Falling
Richard Nelson, Sorry
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play Brian Bedford – The Importance of Being Earnest as Lady Bracknell Bobby Cannavale – The Motherfucker With the Hat as Jackie Joe Mantello – The Normal Heart as Ned Weeks Al Pacino – The Merchant of Venice as Shylock Mark Rylance – Jerusalem as Johnny “Rooster” Byron
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play Nina Arianda – Born Yesterday as Emma ‘Billie’ Dawn Frances McDormand – Good People as Margie Walsh Lily Rabe – The Merchant of Venice as Portia Vanessa Redgrave – Driving Miss Daisy as Daisy Werthan Hannah Yelland – Brief Encounter as Laura Jesson
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Norbert Leo Butz – Catch Me If You Can as Carl Hanratty Josh Gad – The Book of Mormon as Elder Cunningham Joshua Henry – The Scottsboro Boys as Haywood Patterson Andrew Rannells – The Book of Mormon as Elder Price Tony Sheldon – Priscilla Queen of the Desert as BernadetteContinue reading “65th Tony Award nominations”
Jon Robin Baitz, Other Desert Cities
Adam Bock, A Small Fire
Stephen Adly Guirgis, The Motherf**ker With the Hat
Samuel D. Hunter, A Bright New Boise
Rajiv Joseph, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
David Lindsay-Abaire, Good People
Nick Stafford, War Horse