“What dream hold the key to your heart?”
I may be the wrong target audience for Anastasia, currently doing decent business on Broadway, being 18 when the film came out and never having made the effort to see it since. And I have to say the prospect of seeing the musical treatment fills me with even less enthusiasm, having now listened to the Original Broadway Cast Recording.
Composed by the seemingly tireless Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, it is a relentlessly chirpy and traditional score that didn’t excite me for one Cossack-kicking moment (and given the number of tracks here, it is a substantial moment). Its Russian influences are worn so heavily they drag down much of the first half, a lack of subtlety that is carried through with real consistency. Continue reading “Album Review: Anastasia (2017 Original Broadway Cast Recording)”
“A ghost on a visit from the past”
The final musical written by Kander and Ebb together before the latter’s passing in 2004, The Visit has had a bit of a troubled history trying to make its way to Broadway. Original star Angela Lansbury having to withdraw due to her husband’s ill health, Chita Rivera stepping in but the hopes to transfer the out of town tryout in Autumn 2001 scuppered by the post 9/11 climate, consistent issues with financing…
But Rivera stuck with the show through various readings, concerts and mini-runs, culminating in a new one-act version directed by John Doyle, which eventually landed at the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway for not even two months. Musicals – who’d do em?! Fortunately though, this cast recording was created to help its legacy live on and hopefully, one imagines, inspire Thom Southerland to put on a production over here sometime soon! Continue reading “Album Review: The Visit (2015 original Broadway Cast Recording)”
If I Forget, by Steven Levenson, Roundabout Theatre Company
Indecent, by Paula Vogel, Vineyard Theatre
A Life, by Adam Bock, Playwrights Horizons
Oslo, by J. T. Rogers, Lincoln Center Theater
Sweat, by Lynn Nottage, The Public Theater
The Band’s Visit, Atlantic Theater Company
Come From Away
Hadestown, New York Theatre Workshop
The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical
Continue reading “Nominations for the 2017 Drama Desk Awards”
John Gassner Playwriting Award
Jaclyn Backhaus, Men on Boats
Sarah DeLappe, The Wolves
Paola Lázaro, Tell Hector I Miss Him
Qui Nguyen, Vietgone
Bess Wohl, Small Mouth Sounds
Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Christian Borle, Falsettos
Nick Cordero, A Bronx Tale
David Hyde Pierce, Hello, Dolly!
Andy Karl, Groundhog Day
Tony Shalhoub, The Band’s Visit Continue reading “Nominations for 2016-2017 Outer Critics Circle Awards”
“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)”
“All the women around here are perfect sex-kitten bimbos. All the men are drooling nerds. Doesn’t that seem strange?”
There’s something pretty amazing about how bad the 2004 remake of The Stepford Wives, especially given the acting talent it managed to accrue. Nicole Kidman, Glenn Close, Christopher Walken, Matthew Broderick, Bette Midler…all tempted by Ira Levin’s original novel and director Frank Oz and all abused by the Hollywood machine at its very worst. I knew a little of the film’s troubled history beforehand but I think my favourite tidbit on reading up on it was finding out that Kidman refused to attend the premiere and decided instead to go to the Tonys to give Hugh Jackman an award.
It’s all the more frustrating that the raw ingredients were definitely there for something special. The satire of 1950s US society and in particular its notion of femininity remains as pointedly relevant as ever and as we’re introduced to Kidman’s Joanna Eberhart, a reality TV producer who is fired after pushing the boundaries too far, the updating seems to make sense. Swept away to the Connecticut town of Stepford by husband Walter (Matthew Broderick) to start a new life, it soon becomes apparent that there’s something up with the neighbours. Continue reading “DVD Review: The Stepford Wives”
“I wanted something when I came here 30 years ago but I forgot to write it down”
Is Follies a show you can really just listen to? Many clearly agree but having got through this double-disc cast recording of Eric Schaeffer’s production of Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s show from 2011, I’m not sure enough of it really translates on record. This is quite possibly coloured by the fact that I saw it for the first time earlier this year in a most fun semi-staged concert version at the Royal Albert Hall and memories are that are still strong.
So the interplay of past and present, the ghostly presence of the showgirls and the younger selves of the central foursome, doesn’t really come across. This recording tries to address that by including lengthy passages of scene-setting dialogue but without that initial familiarity with the material, it’s hard to see how much it would really help – plus there’s something moving in the sight of a group of veteran actors given such agency on a stage, it should definitely be produced more, difficult or no. Continue reading “Album Review: Follies (2011 New Broadway Cast Recording)”