Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Extra! Extra! Casting changes for The Golden Apple

We have a couple of casting changes for our next show, The Golden Apple:

First Rudy Guerrero (Prince Dauntless from last season's Once Upon a Mattress is taking over as Menelaus/Scylla. Also Moonie newcomer Jerry Van Carlos Gore is our new Paris. That was the Orlando Bloom part in the recent movie, if you're into connecting all the dots :)

Monday, January 30, 2006

Wow, another sad passing: Wendy Wasserstein

Intrepid Annette just sent me word that Wasserstein has lost her battle with cancer.

My S.O., folks and I were just talking abut her last night, because we had tix to what was going to be her first musical, presented by Theatreworks, later this year. The show had already been "postponed" due to her illness.

Perhaps the thing that has stick most in my mind about Wasserstien was the somewhat fairy-tale story of how a man, a NYC Transit cop, won Jeopardy by providing Wasserstein's name as the right answer in Final Jeopardy. Later they met and dated. As a fan of both the theatre and of Jeopardy, what could be a more romantic tale!

She was only 55, and I think it's a sad, premature loss for, obviously her family, including a 7 year old daughter, but also for the theatre world.

Fayard Nichols dead at 91

Of course I first read about Fayard Nicholas' passing on a blog. I had just watched that Broadway's Golden Age DVD, which had a clip of the Nicholas Brothers, so I had been reminded recently of that great tradition of hoofers. I was a huge Gregory Hines fan, and he, in turn was influenced by such artists as the Nicholas Brothers (he even featured Fayard's brother Harold in his movie Tap.)

This picture of a young Fayard Nicholas and his shaky signature is from a site that sells Hollywood memorabilia, and is available for $30. (I have no connection to the site, I just want to give proper attribution for the picture.)

Moonie in the World: Craig Jessup

Our 'Sir' from Roar of the Greasepaint, Craig Jessup is doing a cabaret show in honor of Valentine's Day, entitled "Wish I Were In Love Again."

Here's the blurb from theweb site:

The giddy, dreamy, befuddling, maddening, fiery, tearful, joyful, heart-racing, intelligence-robbing ups and downs of the elusive thing called LOVE that have plagued or inspired the world's most famous songwriters. Presented by two experts on the subject who also happen to be two of the Bay Area's favorite cabaret performers, Craig Jessup and Barry Lloyd.

Hmm, I might have to go to find out how one becomes an expert on the subject of love!

It's performing at the Bettie Condiotti Theatre in Rohnert Park on the following dates:
February 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26

TIMES: Friday and Saturday, 8:00 pm; Sunday, 2:30 pm

HOW MUCH: $20 full; $17 youth/senior

CALL: 707-588-3400

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Wanna get out of town this weekend? Moonies can get a discount on wonderful Berlin celebration

More discounts available to Moonies, this time from our own Kristopher McDowell and his theatre in Merced.

Kristopher is producing Always: the Love Story of Irving Berlin, featuring cabaret stars KT Sullivan and Mark Nader this weekend, and Moonies can get 15% off tomorrow's Opening Night performance.

Apparently Irving Berlin, "only" a musician, met and fell in love with the daughter of the head of Postal Telegraph, Ellen McKay. Ellen's father fought to keep them apart. So Irving and Ellen married secretly at City Hall. Ellen was swiftly disowned, so Irving gave her the copyright to the song Always, which brought her a pretty penny.

The show is both a concert of Berlin tunes, and an accurate historical representation of the life behind those songs.

Sounds simply lovely!

Here are the deets:

WHAT: Always: The Love Story of Irving Berlin
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Multicultural Arts Center, 645 Main St., Merced (about 90 miles east of SF)
REGULAR TICKET PRICES: $50 general admission and $45 for seniors and students in advance, $55 at the door. Includes the show and a full buffet catered by the Mansion House.

MOONIE DISCOUNT: Only $35 for buffet dinner and show for MOONIE alumni -- to redeem these seats please call Kristopher's home office at (415) 567-7719 or Claire Coleman (the Managing Director) at (209) 201-6357 and let them know how many in your party (limit is two per person) and make reservations before 12 noon tomorrow.

PS-They can also get you a 10% discount on local hotels if you inquire upon calling.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

One week Worker Bees special: 50% off "The Tribute" at the Marines Memorial

Not quite 42nd St. Moon-style theatre Not quite cabaret. But featuring the kind of standard American songbook that Moon fans should love. The Tribute - to Frank, Sammy, Joey & Dean has been running for months in San Francisco and has extended several times. Finally another show was contracted to come into the Post Street Theatre (The Putnam Spelling Bee, which I am VERY excited to see, and which Moonie Elsa Carmona is in) so Tribute closed and negotiated to re-open at the Marines Memorial Theatre.

For THIS WEEK ONLY: if you buy tix now thru Jan 31st for any performance in February or March it will only cost you $35 a pop. That's big savings off the regular $60-$70 prices.

It's retro fun, but with a seriously jammin' swing orchestra. Check out all the deets here.

Order tix online or via phone: (415) 771-6900.

42nd St. Moon Dean Goodman Choice Awards

The esteemed Mr. Goodman didn't make it to all of our shows last year, but he came to the Roar of the Greasepaint... and obviously loved it. The show garnered three Dean Goodm an Choice Awards:

Direction- Cindy Goldfield
Principle Actor- Craig Jessup
Principle Actor- Kristopher McDowell

Congratulations everyone!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Lest you think we're high-falutin'...

Greg also weighed in on my comments about Jennifer Hudson playing Effie in Dreamgirls:
Ah, but my dear, the "inside word" that I heard from a source was that Jennifer Hudson knocked everyone out with her ACTING chops -- and that, combined with her voice, got her the job. Fantasia couldn't act, or so I heard. (And aren't you impressed how I can bandy these names about, when I have no clue who they are, having never to this day watched an episode of "American Idol"?)

Oh, yes, very impressed. Greg: you'll need to start reading my American Idol weekly recaps on my Personal Blog...coming soon!

Greg weighs in on Sondheim...

I blogged recently about which Sondheim shows might qualify for the term "rarely-produced."

I theorized that his latest, Bounce probably would, along with The Frogs, Saturday Night, Merrily We Roll Along and Anyone Can Whistle.

Greg has a slightly different take:
I would argue that neither "Merrily We Roll Along" nor "Anyone Can Whistle" qualifies in any way, shape or form as "rarely produced" -- Broadway flops, yes, but not rarely produced! In fact, didn't you star in a production of "Whistle" not that long ago? (And aren't Patti LuPone and Audra McDonald doing it for the Ravinia Festival this summer?)

Editor's Note: Yes, I starred in Anyone Can Whistle at Foothill Music Theatre, back in 1998. I mean, that's 8 years ago now, and I don't know of another production around here before or since, do you? I did not know about the Festival performance of which Greg speaks. It's not mentioned on their site, although 3 performances of Patti LuPone as Mama Rose is newly announced! Anyway, moving back to Greg:
"Saturday Night" is -- well, it's one of the few shows that I saw (in NY) and didn't stick around for Act Two. Sondheim was wise to keep it on the shelf all those years. And I think that the fact that none of the local Sondheim "specialist" companies has chosen to do it speaks volumes to the lack of a good show there. The leading man is so unlikeable it really kills the show, in addition to the so-so score (though it's really the book that sinks it.) The Sondheim Review keeps up with all scheduled productions of Sondheim's shows (they get the info from his licensing houses), and at last count there were NONE scheduled for '06! So it's not just me.

Editor's Note: Oh, how I wish the Sondheim Review was or had a blog! I can't remember to go back to sites I like, they need to have an RSS feed. And I don't need another paper magazine coming to my house.
And "The Frogs" -- yeah, whatever. Not my cup of tea, and I can't say Stephanie's beating the drum for it, either. Not everything Sondheim touched was gold, and "Frogs" and "Saturday Night" are the dross in his jewel box. (Well, actually, I think "Saturday Night" has a superior score to two other recent (ish) vintage SS musicals which shall remain nameless.)

You know what IS rarely-produced Sondheim? FOLLIES!!!! One of my all-time favorite musicals. Unfortunately, the Bay Area is one of the only places where is HAS been produced (twice, I believe, at AMTSJ). And of course, we'd have to do that one "big" and that's beyond us right now.

Editor's Note: Yes, AMTSJ has done Follies twice now. But one of my favorite albums is my recording of the Carnegie Hall Follies concert, probably 20 years old or so. As far as I knwo they did have a few show girls traipsing around, but didn't do it all that big. I would love to hear Follies sung unamplified, personally. As you may know, seeing anything at the CPA in San Jose is like watching the action, but listening to it on the radio. The amplification is horribly non-directional. Just disembodied voices. Back to Greg:
I'd also -- you should pardon the expression -- kill to do "Assassins." One of my favorite of his scores. But also not rarely-produced, and done locally at least twice. This year sees at least 12 productions already scheduled nationally (almost as many as Sweeney Todd!) Speaking of ST, if that were rarely-done, I'd -- ahem -- also kill to do it, especially having seen the new revival version (in its original British production) which is so wonderful. And "A Little Night Music" is on my short list of five all-time favorites, but of course it's a hit that's been locally well covered. Were "Into the Woods" and "Sunday in the Park" not well-loved and well-and-often produced, I'd do either one in a heatbeat,too.

And "Waltz" -- well, we know that story...

So that about covers it for Sondheim for us ....

Editor's Note: Yes, I'd say Assassins, Sweeney, Into the Woods, Sundayand Little Night Music have been regularly produced around here.

Anyway, fun to get Greg's show by show assessment of Sondheim. We share many favorites in common.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Dreamgirls, the movie, casting

Well, I guess we can only hope that this trend in new movie musicals, spurred by the success of Chicago, will continue.

I don't think The Producers and its so-so reviews is going to help much.

Intrepid Annette sent me casting info on the impending Dreamgirls movie.

Most of the casting is movie/music-star casting that I think will probably work just fine:

Can't complain about Jamie Foxx as Curtis Taylor Jr., Eddie Murphy as James "Thunder Early" and Danny Glover as Marty. I'm not even going to question Beyoncé Knowles as Deena Jones.

Two pieces of casting are a little more interesting though. Young Tony-winning Anika Noni Rose (from Caroline or Change) is playing Lorrell. First of all, she's the only one with musical theatre pedigree involved, so good for her. but isn't she really young?

Lastly, American Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson is going to play Effie. Lord have mercy. OK. Anyone who has read my American Idol recaps from Season 3 knows that I was never ever a Hudson fan. She may have belty chops, but she has no nuance and no vulnerability. Not only that, but she's not exactly the right physical type for Effie. Effie borders on the unlikable as it is because she ends up being rather self-pitying through the center section of the show. I really fear Hudson is just going to make that unbearably obnoxious.

Any Hudson fans out there to refute me?

Friday, January 20, 2006

Patti LuPone has some advice to audience members

Patti has a semi-blog. She calls it "Ramblings", and rambling is obviously perfectly acceptable blogging behavior. BUt she does ramble fairly infrequently, and you know we bloggers loves us some frequent posting.

This month's ramble is about the bad behavior engaged in by today's Broadway audiences, but it could easily be applied to movie theatres and even the Symphony. Such behaviors include:

Sleeping. She asks "Are they drunk, are they crazy, do they have narcolepsy?"
Eating. She relates: "I told him in the curtain call not to eat in the theatre. Why would you spend a hundred bucks to eat in the theatre?"
Drinking. She describes: "The other guy pulled out a bottle of Bud and was swigging it during the second act. He was drunk in the curtain call and made Michael Cerveris high five him."

OK, I think 42nd St. Moon might have had the occasional sleeper, and surely has the had the rude eater...but the drunk, make-the-cast-high-fiver? I haven't heard that story, if it exists!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Sondheim's Lost Musicals

I occasionally say there isn't much chance that 42nd St. Moon will get to do Sondheim, but it's actually not true. Sondheim has done numerous shows that didn't become famous...and some that have made their Broadway debut years after their origination.

His latest example, the ill-fated Bounce, is getting a reading at the Public Theatre in NY. (It's a closed reading even!)

Bounce played Chicago and DC but just didn't make it to New York. That's perhaps the furthers from NY Sondheim has ever been. Assassins finally made it to Broadway in 2004, after 2 previous failed attempts. Oh, and I've got a story if you'd like to hear some little-known theatre history. Now, this comes only second-hand, unlike most gossip which is much more removed from the source. Apparently the show was selling well and should have had a longer run, but the theatre started getting threats right around the time the Republican Convention came to town! Not only the threats themselves, but the cost of upping security to respond to the threats convinced the producers to close.

Anyway, Bounce will likely qualify as "rarely-produced." The same could be said of The Frogs, Saturday Night, arguably Merrily We Roll Along and Anyone Can Whistle...which has an AMAZING score, but a seriously wacky story.

Am I missing any?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Review: Broadway, the Golden Age DVD

This weekend I gave a good friend a belated Christmas present: Broadway - The Goden Age, by the Legends Who Were There.

He was so thrilled that we decided that instead of dinner and movie we would go to dinner then come back and watch the DVD.

Now that was a schedule change that was well worth it. This documentary is a fabulous look back at Broadway , pretty much pre-1968 or so. And the people that documentarian Rick McKay got to speak to him! Carol Channing, Ann Miller, Jerry Orbach, John Raitt...and lesser knowns too with fantastic stories to tell, Gretchen Wyler among others.

Many of these folks are now dead, he caught them in the last few years of their lives, but their passion and energy is still there when they talk about old Broadway.

They make me wish I had seen Laurette Taylor in Glass Menagerie, and John Raitt in Carousel, and so many others. And it's a blessing that they now record most Broadway shows for archival purposes, because it's a damn shame there's nothing left of some of the performances.

It was a great gift for someone who loves Broadway (and even classic movie musicals, since there's a lot of crossover.)

And I just found out (after I bought the gift I must say) that our own Kristopher McDowell is involved with the documentary, so you'll be helping out a Moonie to when you buy this DVD!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Brian Stokes Mitchell sounds like heaven (and sings a song from Golden Apple)

Brian Stokes Mitchells are in short supply on Broadway these days. And part of the problem, I guess, is that people aren't writing shows that call for Brian Stokes Mitchell. He is a classic Broadway leading man with a full rich baritone. He is not some rock tenor....he is from the John Raitt school of leading men. And I find that yummy to the extreme.

So I read this NY Times review of his cabaret act and was filled with jealousy.

Note, of course, how much his acting comes into play. He does not command that audience by virtue of his voice alone.

It sounds like heaven. And it sounds like he closes with "Lazy Afternoon", a song from The Golden Apple.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Blogger spends quality time with Kitty Carlisle Hart

My blog buddy Renee Blodgett knows Kitty Carlisle Hart's accompanist, so not only did she get to see her sold out show at the Empire Plush Room, she got to accompany her to the ladies room! Sounds like a fabulous time. At 95 Hart is practically a living legend, and definitely one of the last links back to the fabulous time of classic musical theatre that I was discussing yesterday. As she mentions herself, she knows how to sing the classics because the composers themselves, like Gershwin Porter and Berlin, taught her! Imagine those parties!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I shudder for 42nd St. Moon...75 years from now


When the year is 2080, and the futuristic 42nd St. Moon is looking to the early '00s for inspiration and lost classics...what will they find?

The reviews coming in for San Francisco's latest look at a pre-Broadway tour, Lestat, indicate it won't be, well, Lestat.

Nor the Mambo Kings. Nor Lennon. Nor In My Life.

And I still haven't named a musical that isn't either a movie remake or a jukebox musical. Even the hits, The Producers, Hairspray, Jersey Boys...movies and jukeboxes.

At least when they did jukebox musicals in the 30s they were original songs written for the musical. (I'm not even going to go there that the songwriters were Gershwin, Porter and Berlin, not the Four Seasons or Mel Brooks.)

I'm not trying to be a snob, but I'm really struggling to create a list of fine original works since the year 2000 (here's a list of what's currently playing if you want to pitch in and help):

The Light in the Piazza (based on a novella, that's OK.) This will definitely be a classic musical in 50 years.

Avenue Q...highly original, just not sure the puppeting requirement will be encouraging to lots of theatres putting it on 50 years from now.

Is the Color Purple supposed to be good?

So, help me out: What is 42nd St. Moon ca. 2080 going to have on its season?

(And if you can't think of anything post Y2K I'll let you use the 90's.)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Wanna get a listen to The Golden Apple?

Do you like to build a little familiarity with a work before you go see it? Personally before I go see a concert I start listening to my CDs of the artist in question...remind myself why I spent those mega-bucks on concert tickets!

If you'd like a little sneak listen to The Golden Apple I thought I'd let you know that Amazon.com does carry the CD and that every single track has a brief clip available for listening to.

By the way: it's also fun to read the Amazon customer reviews on this (and just about any) original cast recording. People often talk about when they first saw the show in question and their memories of it, almost like a mini blog.


Saturday, January 07, 2006

Wonderful review of Elaine Stritch's interpretive artistry

Today the NY Times review Elaine Stritch and her new cabaret act at the Carlyle.

The philosophize at length on one of my pet topics: actors who sing vs. singers who can't act their way out of a paper bag, but sound so very lovely.

Well, they don't actually frame it that way at all, but it's clear that if the reviewer can gush about Stritch in all her scratchy, brassy glory, all because she manages to make each phrase seem to have real and personal meaning...then you know he favors the actors who sing.

In popular music that's why I can listen at length to a Lou Reed or a Tom Waits, neither of whom have a voice you would call beautiful, but both of who have a delivery that is individual and specific.

So, who do you love even though you know they don't have the greatest pure voice in the world?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Greg rises to the challenge: 2006/2007 season scoop

OK, all rights are not yet cleared, but greg has given me hints about each of the shows that we are trying to get for next season. guess away! (He actually yold me the answers, thus depriving me of the right to guess.) Here are the hints:

"Pending rights approval, we'll have one show (possibly two) by a famous, more contemporary composer-lyricist team whom we have never done before -- plus a fabulous guest star appearing in one of the greatest of all Cole Porter scores -- plus a colorful "lost hit" from the 50s, and the return of two of the Golden Age's greatest songwriters, who've been absent from our stages for six or seven years now."

OK, those hints are pretty oblique. Or do I mean opaque? But I look forward to guesses.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

AMTSJ's schedule announced...ho hum

I'm actually an American Musical Theatre of San Jose subscriber and have been for years and years. Our seats are in row 7, so you know we've been around a long time. But I haven't really been thrilled about a season of theirs in a long time. I mostly hold on to the subscription beacuse it's a guaranteed half a dozen times a year we get to go out with another couple with whom we are dear friend, but who we don't see as often as we'd like.

I am one of the few who enjoyed it as AMT transitioned from all home-grown to more touring shows. I thought the quality got noticeably better, and I admit I had been tired of seeing the same people doing the same things year after year. It also increased the chances you'd get some new shows in...like the recent Little Women tour.

But what is usually wrong with their seasons is that they depend way too much on the old chestnuts. These are shows from similar eras to the shows 42nd St. Moon does, but you have seen them (unlike any 42nd St. Moon show) a hundred times. You may have a different list, but I can tell you at least half a dozen "classic" musicals that I never ever want to see again. OK, let's start a controversy...what are yours? Mine are:

Music Man
Sound of Music
South Pacific
King and I (You guessed it, I'm not a huge R&Hammerstein fan...R&Hart is an entirely different matter!)

I'm sure there are more.

Anyway, AMT's new season is full of such shows:

Sweet Charity (starring Molly Ringwald)
The King and I
Christmas Dreamland (the Radio City Music Hall production, for goodness sake)
Camelot (starring Michael York)
42nd Street
TBA: another touring Broadway show will be announced later

I will say that I always love a good production of 42nd Street, but other than that I gotta wonder if we wouldn't be better off just going out to a nice dinner 6 times a year!

Oh, and I'm hoping this long missive about another theatre's impending season will nudge Greg into giving me a few more hints about our 2006-2007 season!

Monday, January 02, 2006

You gotta listen to Barbara Cook:

I already knew I loved Barbara Cook, but I've fallen in love all over again listening to her podcast interview with the American Theatre Wing. I've mentioned these before, and I'm working my way slowly through them, but this one is a must-listen.

I love her comments about song interpretation, about the invasion of melisma into singing in general and Broadway in particular. I also love her purist perspective. Which I have to say I agree with. Example: early Sinatra? pure and beautiful. Later Sinatra? It put her off with all his added "Baby"s etc.

Cannot believe she is 77 years old! She sounds pretty much the same as ever.


Sunday, January 01, 2006

Classic movie musicals go well with the holidays and a bad cold

Both the S.O. and I are down for the count with nasty coughs and colds...his being much worse than mine. So instead of spending this holiday week (which the S.O. off as vacation) out doing fun things, we've been home, miserable, but consoling ourselves with TV, including a bunch of classic movies.

Last night we watched How to Marry a Millionaire, not a musical, I know. Lauren Bacall is the oldest soul on earth, and the more you see marilyn Monroe in action, the more you have to admit she really just had something special.

The night before we watched Rhapsody in Blue, supposedly a biopic of George Gershwin. What is glorious about this film is the long, uninterrupted passages presenting some of Gershwin's more "serious" musical works...including complete performances of Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris and major portions of his Cuban Concerto and his Concerto in F. Ira gets a little shortchanged frankly, because they focus so little on his work in musical theatre. The movie stars a young Robert Alda, and you can really see his son Alan's resemblance to him in this film. What is not so glorious is that we found out via the channel commentator post-movie that almost every "biographical" plot point in the movie is pure fiction!

We also watched Funny Face, starring Astaire and Audrey Hepburn. Yes, Astaire is too old for her. And yes, this movie shows you why you should be very very glad Hepburn didn't do her own singing in My Fair Lady. And yes, the beatnik scenes are kind of painful. But Hepburn is just smashing in those Givenchy outfits, and Kay Thompson is a hoot. Honestly, I wish Astaire had had more to do. He has one solo number, but mostly just waltzes around with Hepburn.

Anyway, I know it sounds like a very high brow weekend, but we capped it off by watching Project Runway, the Bravo reality show about fashion designers (kinda fits with the theme, now that I think of it, given the fashion angle of both Funny Face and How to Marry a Millionaire) so don't think we're too cultural :)

Happy new Year to all. Hope your New Year's Eve was a little more festive than ours.

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