Posts Tagged ‘plays’

Get Your Tickets Now! It’s a Laugh a Second at Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation at the York Theatre Company

Run, don’t walk to The York Theatre Company to see Gerard Alessandrini’s latest rendition of Forbidden Broadway, this time called Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation. It’s indeed next generation, advancing the beloved show from its 1982 roots to a new version that gives it a 2020 vision. This is a show that will leave you breathless with laughter as well as breathless in general as you try to keep track of all the Broadway  shows (and some TV series) lampooned here. It’s like trying to tally up the song snippets included in Moulin Rouge, but this time mashed up into 90 minutes of Broadway parody.

Opening with a familiar shout out to Merrily We Roll Along which closed quickly after its premiere and the brilliantly choreographed “God I Wanna See it 2019” spoofing Chorus Line’s impassioned opener “ I Hope I Get It,” Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation introduces the Broadway scene of today.  Prepare yourself for a rollicking journey through the plays and musicals presently on Broadway as well as an insightful dissection of everything that could be considered less-than-perfect on the stage.

Take, for instance, the show’s mockery of the current obsession with jukebox shows or with turning old movies into musicals and you’ll get the idea. There’s a spin-the-wheel segment called “It’s Got to Be a Musical” where Hal Prince’s Broadway roulette wheel lands on any number of novels or movies and turns them into instant musicals. It kind of reminds you of “Something Rotten” where the Bottom brothers devise a brilliant plan to save their acting company by producing a musical. Has Broadway found its salvation by turning everything into a musical? You can draw your own conclusion after watching.

Five performers and one accompanist (Fred Barton) bring Alessandrini’s ingenious lyrics to life enhanced by masterful creative direction by James Morgan, costumes by Dustin Cross and choreography by Gerry McIntyre

Immanuel Houston is instantly recognizable as André De Shields in Hadestown, extolling the New York subway train as the train to the underworld. Chris Collins-Pisano, a visual body double for Jake Gyllenhaal, plays a mean Danny Burstein in Moulin Rouge! as well as Lin-Manuel Miranda in that little show you’ve heard about, Hamilton. The two female performers, Jenny Lee Stern and Aline Mayagoitia, are skilled chameleons who portray Bette Midler and Bernadette Peters as well as characters in shows like The Ferryman (Aunt Maggie and Caitlin) and Sweet Charity with believable exaggeration. In a tour de force performance belying his age, 13-year-old Joshua Turchin, the youngest performer ever in a Forbidden Broadway show, wows as Dorothy Michaels from Tootsie and Ben Platt from Dear Evan Hansen.  And those are just a few of the scene-stealing performances that you’ll see.

I laughed and guffawed through the entire show, nodding in non-vocal acquiescence to some very insidery comments about theater today as well as the lifestyles of stars well-known from the Great White Way. But it really doesn’t matter if you’re not familiar with all of the shows parodied, as most of the stars will be recognizable and a good number of the songs, including many classic Broadway show tunes, will have you pondering, “Which show is that from?”

Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation also takes a stab at some of the Broadway-themed shows and personalities that have appeared on TV of late, like Fosse/Verdon with stars Michelle Williams and Sam Rockwell or Billy Porter’s cross-dressing appearances on multiple talk shows. How do you feel about the move into movies by stars playing stars like Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland? There’s no equivocation here.

Choreography, performances and costumes all have their moment over the theatrical coals.  Alessandrini spares nothing and has a keen eye for pointing out the lunacy of much that has captured popular attention. If Broadway’s dissolution into jukebox musicals has you pining for the Broadway musicals of yore, you’ll immediately relate to several of the skits with some shows positioned as thinly veiled remakes of each other. If the tone of a various type of play – in particular, Irish theater – has you weeping from the very first line delivered, you’ll laugh instead when you see how this is treated by Forbidden Broadway. Perhaps the most hilarious spoof is that of Fiddler on the Roof’s recent remount in Yiddish, with the rhetorical question, do we no longer need to understand theater but just conceptualize it? “Brush Up Your Yiddish” indeed. Cole Porter must be rolling in his grave. As must Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein in theirs… you’ll see what I mean.

I don’t want to give too much away as a good part of the momentum is the build from one hilarious spoof to the next, often with an unexpected change-up of songs midstream that circles and reverts, catching you off-guard with the brilliance of Alesandrini’s lyrics, the vocals and the character impersonations. Rest assured, however, that the current lineup of hits and flops on Broadway have all been skewered here. The show is very much of the moment in that regard, but as the writer notes at one point, Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation, like all Broadway, “stands on the shoulders of the last generation” so you’ll see much of the past reflected as well.

Given all the hilarity, it is indeed sad that this show runs only for a month. The brilliant writer and performers should have their day in the sun, or, at least, on-stage. I can only hope for a transfer of this show to another theater should the space at the York not be available past February 16. Tickets , www.yorktheatre.org, 212-935-5820. York Theatre Company, Citicorp Building, entrance on 54th Street just East of Lexington Avenue, New York City.

All photos by Carol Rosegg.

A Hot Theater Opening and Plays about to Disappear

Quick!  These are shows that you need to pay attention to:  one has just opened and is hotter than hot. Two others are closing soon or have limited runs. I can only encourage you to jump on your computer and book any or all of these as quickly as you can.

Just Opened and Hot, Hot, Hot

Moulin Rouge! The Musical is the Broadway extravaganza translation of Baz Luhrmann’s enormous film hit which starred Nicole Kidman as Satine.  With a playlist of 71 songs that extend into current music phenoms like Lady Gaga, Pink, Katy Perry as well as perennial faves like Elton John and the Rolling Stones, this show will have you paying attention as you play “name that tune” throughout. The set is gorgeous with the theater transformed into the Moulin Rouge that you’ll recognize from the movie.  As Satine, Karen Oliva wows as do Danny Burstein as Harold Zidler, and Aaron Tveit as the lovestruck playwright Christian. You’ll be covered with confetti before you leave.  Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 West 45th Street, 212-239-6200, www.moulinrougemusical.com

Limited Run

Oklahoma! is the re-imagined Rodgers and Hammerstein favorite, done up in a way that’ll make you look twice at the classics.  The band is on stage, playing a countrified version of singalongs like “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” or “Surrey with the Fringe on the Top.” The costumes are contemporary, and there’s a daring use of light and dark. Plus you’ll be treated to an intermission refreshment of vegetarian chili and cornbread. Ado Annie is played by wheelchair-bound Ali Stroker in a role that won her a Tony award for best featured actress in a musical. For a special experience, try to score a seat at one of the floor tables – you’ll be right in the center of the action. The show closes in January so you have a little time, but not that much.  Circle in the Square Theatre, 235 West 50th Street, 212-239-6200, www.OklahomaBroadway.com.

Closing Soon

The Cher Show is to Broadway what Cher’s Farewell Tour is to Las Vegas – a tribute to one of the greatest music divas of our times. Spanning Cher’s five-decade (or longer) career, The Cher Show has three Chers, each portraying a span of her life. Babe is the young Cher, discovered by Sonny Bono.  Lady is the Cher of Sonny and Cher and the solo Cher. And Star, in a tour de force Tony-winning performance by Stephanie J. Block, is the mature Cher who continues to find and re-invent herself.  Cher fans will know every song, while fashionistas will marvel at the array of Bob Mackie costumes. I wish this one were playing longer, as I’d really love to see it again, and I’ve already seen it twice.  Neil Simon Theatre, 250 West 52nd Street, 877-250-2929, www.TheCherShowBroadway.com.

Off-Broadway Week: 2-for-1 Tickets Starting September 24 on Sale Now

Off-Broadway fans will love NYC & Company’s 10th Off-Broadway Week, from September 24 through October 7.  Tickets are now on sale at 2-for -1 pricing for 38 productions. If you’ve never seen an Off-Broadway show, this is the time to try out something new. Theater in NYC is much more than blockbuster musicals and long-running plays on Broadway – there’s much to love about the creative productions often set in much smaller, more intimate theaters. And the values are terrific.

Some of the shows offered include critically acclaimed musical Avenue Q, formerly on Broadway, Drunk Shakespeare, revivals of Jersey Boys and Smokey Joe’s Café, and fan favorites Gazillion Bubble Show, Puffs and STOMP.

All tickets are subject to availability, so hurry to purchase yours now. Tickets for the 10th NYC Off-Broadway Week can be purchased now at nycgo.com/off-broadway-week.

The 38 shows participating in NYC Off-Broadway Week Fall 2018 are:

  • Apologia
  • Avenue Q
  • Because I Could Not Stop: An Encounter with Emily Dickinson
  • Blue Man Group
  • The Book of Merman
  • Desperate Measures
  • Drunk Shakespeare
  • El Coronel No Tiene Quien Le Escriba
  • Final Follies
  • Gazillion Bubble Show
  • Gloria: A Life
  • I Was Most Alive with You
  • The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking
  • India Pale Ale
  • Jersey Boys
  • The Marvelous Wonderettes
  • Midnight at The Never Get
  • Monday Night Magic
  • Naked Boys Singing
  • NEWSical The Musical
  • Neurosis: A Musical That Gets in Your Head
  • On Beckett
  • Perfect Crime
  • Popcorn Falls
  • Puffs, Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic

An Insider’s Guide to Broadway and Off-Broadway: What to See, What to Do, Where to Eat

No visit to New York City is complete without sampling two things: theater and restaurants. You may consider yourself a world traveler, and you may have dabbled in international cuisine and some touring shows, but nothing compares to the bright lights and shiny plates of the Big Apple.

A trip down Manhattan’s Great White Way offers up a confusing and varied selection of musicals and plays, some veteran productions that are now crisscrossing the US and others seen only in Manhattan.  My advice is to skip “Kinky Boots” and “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical” (you’ve probably already seen them this year), or “Phantom of the Opera” (it’s now in its 31st  year on Broadway) and go for the newer shows that theater divas rave about.

I Want to Hear Some Singing

Come from Away

Among musicals, two should be on your “don’t miss” list. “Come from Away,” a 100-minute jewel box of a show, wins the hearts of theatergoers every performance with its touchingly humanitarian story of travelers stranded outside of the US in the days following 9/11. Cast members play multiple roles, the songs are memorable, and the story strikes a chord. The equally captivating “Dear Evan Hansen” is a narrative about a topic that resonates with many families. Written by director Michael Greif, Dear Evan Hansen will have you remembering just how important musicals can be in building awareness of difficult topics. TONY winners “Once on This Island” (best musical revival, 2018) and “The Band’s Visit” (best new musical, 2018) should also be on your go-to list. For a night of pure fun, “Mean Girls” does the trick.

But Drama is What I Prefer

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

It’s filled with magic and the characters that you love, so don’t delay in sourcing a ticket to “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” the two-part spectacular that was an enormous hit in the West End and is currently wowing audiences on Broadway. It’s a drama that the entire family will appreciate, especially if they’ve read all the books.  Do you love farce?  Then you absolutely have to see “The Play That Goes Wrong,” another British import that will have you laughing until your sides hurt.  Seriously.  You may want to see it twice, just to catch all the lines that you miss in this rapid-fire silly show.

There’s More to Broadway than Broadway

Jersey Boys

Off-Broadway refers to a number of smaller theaters located minutes away from traditional Broadway houses or in other parts of the city. The shows in these alternative venues may have stripped-down sets or may function as tryout spaces for future Broadway runs. This is where current Broadway mega-hits like “Hamilton” and “The Band’s Visit” started, and, if you see a director, story or cast member that appeals, it’s a great chance to explore. It’s also the place where larger-scale, popular Broadway shows sometimes return for a second incarnation. If you loved “Avenue Q,” “Jersey Boys,” or “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,”  here’s a chance to see them again, refreshed.

Off-Broadway shows usually have limited runs and are announced periodically. Check online for performances at the Public Theater, Signature Theatre, Atlantic Theater Company and Vineyard Theatre among others to see what’s playing when you plan to visit. Then check the reviews – it’s good to experiment!

So, Where Should We Eat?

If the show has an early curtain (7pm instead of 8pm), or a runtime of 90 minutes (instead of 2 ½ hours), you’re probably safe dining after the show. If the thought of eating at 10pm after a longish play makes you queasy, then consider one of the quicker pre-theater options that locals enjoy instead of the overcrowded (and bland) choices that fill Times Square.

Obao

My recommendation is to head to the small, ethnic restaurants on Ninth Avenue.  Give yourself an extra 10 minutes to walk from the theater to these, and you won’t be disappointed.  From 42nd Street to the low 50s, an array of ethnic options offers authentic international dining, the antithesis to Epcot Center. Among the many Thai restaurants, two-story Obao is a standout, offering reasonably priced pan-Asian choices in a casual setting with quick, attentive service. Nearby upscale Marseilles satisfies with lovely French cuisine in a pretty room – the bouillabaisse is an instant ticket to the South of France. Italian Bocca di Bacco will please any oenophile. Other choices are the aptly named Turkish Cuisine and Five Napkin Burger for terrific Istanbul and American dining.

Food halls are the rage in Manhattan, with one of the newest located in the Theater District. Atop the Row NYC hotel, City Kitchen is an upscale version with a carefully curated variety of stalls. Here, local favorites like Luke’s Lobster (lobster rolls), Whitmans New York (cheesesteaks), and Gabriela’s Taqueria (tacos) let you create a smorgasbord of quick-food choices. Grab a seat in the picnic-like area, eat as quickly or as slowly as you’d like, and then mosey off to your show.

The Marshall

After the curtain falls and you’ve gotten an autograph by the stage door, you can continue stargazing by heading to after-show cast favorites like Joe Allen’s, Orso and The Marshall. Or descend the staircase to subterranean Sake Bar Hagi, an izakaya hideout of the photographer set.

Three Ways to Score the Least Expensive Seats

The TKTS booth at 47th Street in Times Square offers deeply discounted tickets for same-day shows, starting at 10am (matinee days), or 2pm (Tuesday) or 3pm (rest of the week).  Other TKTS locations in Brooklyn, at the South Street Seaport and at Lincoln Center have shorter lines. Check the hours of operation online. https://tdf.org/nyc/7/TKTS-Overview

Take your chances on where you’ll go with Broadway Roulette. You indicate whether you want a musical or a play, exclude up to six shows that you don’t want to see, and provide your dates. Broadway Roulette selects the show with the best seats.  https://www.broadwayroulette.com/

Book ahead with Today’s Tix, a theater concierge service that has discounted tickets to many shows and delivers them to you outside the theater.  https://www.todaytix.com

The hitch? With these options, you can’t pick your seats.

Introducing Broadway Roulette: A New and Affordable Way to Enjoy Theater

Here’s a new way to score Broadway tickets at an affordable price with no hidden service fees and absolutely no hassle. Broadway Roulette is changing the game so that everyone can see some of the best shows in town. Broadway Roulette was created to help broaden the theater audience by making theater more accessible and certainly more affordable. With prices for the newest shows soaring into the $200-$300 range for the hottest tickets, and popular shows often sold out before you can snag a seat, Broadway Roulette is a game you really can’t lose.

The process is simple: pick your desired show date ranging from the next day to three months in advance, cross off up to four shows you’ve already seen or are not interested in seeing, select between musicals or plays, and let the roulette wheel work its magic to send you to a performance based on your preferences. The price is fixed at a maximum of $59 with a minimal $6 service charge per ticket. And it keeps getting better the more you spin the wheel: any shows that you see through Broadway Roulette are automatically excluded from future rounds so you can pick four other shows to eliminate from your selection.

Like the show listings in Playbill, variety is the name of the game and Broadway Roulette delivers with an ever-changing list of shows. You do need to be a bit of a risk-taker. By leaving the show selection to Broadway Roulette, you may not score your number one pick, but you’re guaranteed a great night of theater without standing in a Broadway rush line only to find that your show is sold out.

Finding out what you’ve “won” is simple, too.  On the day of the show, you receive an email and a text with the details of the play or musical, the theater address, and the performance time. You then pick up your tickets at the Will Call window at the theater – no need to search for someone standing outside the theater to hand you an envelope.  But, better still, there’s no need to enter a lottery every day, hunt around to find a possible discount, stand in line for half-price tickets, or rush to the box office to pay full price to see a Broadway show.

Broadway Roulette? I call this The Price Is Right.  Weekday show tickets are a mere $49; weekend prices increase to $59. Fees and handling are $6/ticket. http://www.broadwayroulette.com

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