#AdventwithClowns Day 20 – tick, tick…BOOM! (2021)

Lin-Manuel Miranda directs a fantastic new version of tick, tick…BOOM!, making a theatrical nerd’s wet dream out of this Jonathan Larson musical 

“Everything you’re about to see is true…apart from the bits Jonathan made up”

Some musicals you see and you think yeah, this could possibly change a sceptic’s mind about the artform. And then some you see and you think, this really is just playing to the crowd. tick, tick…BOOM! definitely falls into this latter category, hugely enjoyable but so densely suffused in the world of musical theatre that it might be too much for newbies to unpick.

It is directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton) and adapted by Steven Levenson (Dear Evan Hansen) from Jonathan Larson’s (Rent) semi-autobiographical musical about writing a musical. And structurally, we follow Andrew Garfield’s Jonathan as he delivers a one-man-show (called tick, tick…BOOM!) whilst flashing back to his attempts to finish his magnum opus, a musical called Superbia. Continue reading “#AdventwithClowns Day 20 – tick, tick…BOOM! (2021)”

#AdventwithClowns Day 1: In the Heights (2021)

This Advent I am going to try to showcase some of the online theatre content that’s still available, particularly now as Omicron approaches, starting with the film version of In the Heights

“That’s señorita to you”

Whilst fully appreciating the concerns raised at the lack of Black Latinx representation in a film set in a New York neighbourhood where they make up a substantial proportion of the population, it does feel a bit of a shame that so much of the discourse around In the Heights focused on it, possibly to the detriment of its box office. When there’s so little representation available from Hollywood studios, you want something like this to succeed regardless but with that representation at a premium, it’s no wonder that those who are still left out want to make their voices heard.

These problems around colorism aside, Jon M Chu’s film of Quiara Alegría Hudes and Lin Manuel Miranda’s 2005 musical remains a fairly curious choice for adaptation. The story isn’t one of the conventional narrative arc, it really is more of a feeling, a mood, a slice of life from the predominantly Dominican neighborhood of Washington Heights. We follow a whole range of characters as they follow their dreams, no matter how big or small, from life-changing decisions to getting an ice-cold drink to ease a heatwave but the focus is on the micro-, offering a warm personal hug. Continue reading “#AdventwithClowns Day 1: In the Heights (2021)”

News: musicals coming to the screen soon

In The Heights

Due to arrive on 25th June, Jon M Chu’s film of In The Heights, based on Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes’s vibrant musical, tells the story of a Hispanic-American community threatened by gentrification. The film stars, among others, Anthony Ramos, Leslie Grace, Dascha Polanco, Stephanie Beatriz, Corey Hawkins, Melissa Barrera and Lin-Manuel Miranda predictably makes an appearance, though as Piragüero not Usnavi. Continue reading “News: musicals coming to the screen soon”

10 of my top moments of the decade

Ever behind the curve, I present 10 of my top moments in a theatre over the last ten years (plus a few bonus extra ones because whittling down this list was hard, and it will probably be different tomorrow anyway!)

© James Bellorini

Extraordinary Public Acts for a National Theatre

The establishment of the Public Acts programme at the National Theatre offered up something sensational in Pericles, an initiative designed to connect grassroot community organisations with major theatres, resulting in a production that swept over 200 non-professional performers onto the stage of the Olivier to create something that moved me more than 99% of professional productions.  A truly joyous and momentous occasion. 

Honourable mention: this year’s musical take on As You Like It proved just as heart-swellingly beautiful over at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch. Continue reading “10 of my top moments of the decade”

Nominations for 2019 Lucille Lortel Awards

Outstanding Play
Mlima’s Tale Produced by The Public Theater. Written by Lynn Nottage
Pass Over Produced by Lincoln Center Theater/LCT3. Written by Antoinette Nwandu
Slave Play Produced by New York Theatre Workshop. Written by Jeremy O. Harris
Sugar In Our Wounds Produced by Manhattan Theatre Club. Written by Donja R. Love
What The Constitution Means To Me Produced by New York Theatre Workshop. Written by Heidi Schreck

Outstanding Musical
Be More Chill Produced by Gerald Goehring, Michael F. Mitri, Jennifer Ashley Tepper, Marc David Levine, Marlene and Gary Cohen, 42nd.club, The Baruch Frankel Viertel Group, Alisa and Charlie Thorne, Jenny Niederhoffer, Chris Blasting/Simpson & Longthorne, Brad Blume/Gemini Theatrical, Jonathan Demar/Kim Vasquez, Ben Holtzman and Sammy Lopez, Koenigsberg/Federman/Adler, Ashlee Latimer and Jenna Ushkowitz, Jenn Maley and Cori Stolbun, Robert and Joan Rechnitz, Fred and Randi Sternfeld, YesBroadway Productions, in association with Two River Theater
Music and Lyrics by Joe Iconis, Book by Joe Tracz 
Girl from the North Country  Produced by The Public Theater. Book by Conor McPherson, Music and Lyrics by Bob Dylan
Midnight at The Never Get Produced by The York Theatre Company by arrangement with Visceral Entertainment and Mark Cortale Productions, Nathaniel Granor, Jeff G. Peters, Daryl Roth, Megan Savage. Book, Music, and Lyrics by Mark Sonnenblick, Co-Conceived by Sam Bolen
Miss You Like Hell Produced by The Public Theater. Book and Lyrics by Quiara Alegría Hudes, Music and Lyrics by Erin McKeown
Rags Parkland Sings The Songs Of The Future Produced by Ars Nova. Written by Andrew R. Butler Continue reading “Nominations for 2019 Lucille Lortel Awards”

Nominations for the 2018 Drama Desk Awards

Outstanding Play
Admissions, by Joshua Harmon, Lincoln Center Theater
Mary Jane, by Amy Herzog, New York Theatre Workshop
Miles for Mary, by The Mad Ones, Playwrights Horizons
People, Places & Things, by Duncan Macmillan, National Theatre/St. Ann’s Warehouse/Bryan Singer Productions/Headlong
School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play, by Jocelyn Bioh, MCC Theater

Outstanding Musical
Desperate Measures, The York Theatre Company
KPOP, Ars Nova/Ma-Yi Theatre Company/Woodshed Collective
Mean Girls
Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story, 2b Theatre Company/59E59
SpongeBob SquarePants Continue reading “Nominations for the 2018 Drama Desk Awards”

Nominations for 2017-2018 Outer Critics Circle Awards

John Gassner Playwriting Award
Kate Benson, [PORTO]
Jocelyn Bioh, School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play
Lindsey Ferrentino, Army and the Orphans
Meghan Kennedy, Napoli, Brooklyn
Dominique Morisseau, Pipeline

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Harry Hadden-Paton, My Fair Lady
Joshua Henry, Carousel
David M. Lutken, Woody Sez
Conor Ryan, Desperate Measures
Ethan Slater, SpongeBob SquarePants
Continue reading “Nominations for 2017-2018 Outer Critics Circle Awards”

Review: In The Heights, King’s Cross Theatre

 

“Since when are Latin people scared of heat?”

There’s something about a really good musical that makes it a pleasure to go back and revisit and so it is with In The Heights, its fresh contemporary edge hugely exciting to witness and so full of visual and lyrical interest that re-viewing brings up many things that I missed first time round. My 5* review for Cheap Theatre Tickets can be read there and I urge you to book as soon as possible, if only because Victoria Hamilton-Barritt is getting increasingly pregnant (funny how that happens!) and she is unmissable in the role of Daniela (although equally, it will be interesting to see how whoever covers the role performs it once she leaves).

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (with interval) 
Photo: Robert Workman
Booking until 3rd January

Review: In The Heights, King’s Cross Theatre

“Well you must take the A Train
Even farther than Harlem 
To northern Manhattan and
maintain 
Get off at 181st, and
take the escalator 
I hope you’re writing this 
Down, I’m gonna test ya later” 

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s stock could not be higher with his new show Hamilton taking Broadway by storm so it’s an apposite time for this belated transfer of his earlier musical In The Heights, with book written by Quiara Alegría Hudes. Undoubtedly one of the best shows of 2014, Luke Sheppard’s production blew the roof off the Southwark Playhouse and is now poised to do the same at the King’s Cross Theatre with many of the original cast and creatives returning to give us a slice of life from the New York Hispanic community of Washington Heights. 

Nothing has been lost in the move, the whole production just sparks with vivid life. From takis’ effective sidewalk design (now with added movable fire escape) to the pure joy of Drew McOnie’s choreography, the reconfigured staging releases a newer, raw energy that blooms into the space. And with Gabriella Slade’s day-glo bright costumes, the vibrant splashes of Howard Hudson’s lighting and the crispness of Gareth Owen’s sound design, complemented well by Phil Cornwell’s musical direction, Sheppard keeps the show firing excitingly at full throttle throughout. Continue reading “Review: In The Heights, King’s Cross Theatre”

Winners of 2014-2015 Outer Critics Circle Awards

John Gassner Playwriting Award (Presented for an American play, preferably by a new playwright)
WINNER – Ayad Akhtar, The Invisible Hand
Halley Feiffer, I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard
Elizabeth Irwin, My Mañana Comes
Markus Potter, Stalking the Bogeyman
Benjamin Scheuer, The Lion

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Christian Borle, Something Rotten!
Brian d’Arcy James, Something Rotten!
WINNER – Robert Fairchild, An American in Paris
Peter Gallagher, On the Twentieth Century
Tony Yazbeck, On the Town Continue reading “Winners of 2014-2015 Outer Critics Circle Awards”