Posts Tagged ‘theater’

Catch the Leading Ladies on Broadway Before the TONY Awards – Sunset Boulevard, War Paint, Hello Dolly!, The Little Foxes

It’s countdown time to the Tony’s. This year it’s a diva dash and you can still catch most of the leading ladies who have graced the Broadway stages this season, albeit most in limited runs.

First, the play ladies. Sally Field has been nominated as Leading Actress in a Play for her role as Amanda Wingfield in the highly touted re-imagining of The Glass Menagerie. Sadly, the show’s lack of overall nominations forced a closing six weeks earlier than planned. You’ll have to wait for the next revival of this Tennessee Williams classic or, perhaps, for a future tour with Sally (we can only hope).

Not to worry. There’s still much female power that shouldn’t be missed. Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon are the chameleon actresses in The Little Foxes exchanging roles every other night. In an interesting twist, Ms. Linney has been nominated as Leading Actress for her turn as Regina, while Ms. Nixon received the nod for Featured Actress as Birdie. The Lillian Hellman play, nominated for Best Revival of a Play, closes on July 2. Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th Street , 212-239-6200.

The big diva story, however, lies with the musicals.

Bette Midler is an instant hit, and a Leading Lady nominee, as meddling matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levy in the Tony-nominated revival of Jerry Herman’s and Michael Stewart’s masterpiece Hello Dolly! (Sam S. Shubert Theatre, 225 West 44th Street, 212-239-6200). Pitted against each other, Patti Lupine and Christine Ebersole create a bravura War Paint dance at the Nederlander Theatre (208 West 41st Street, 877-250-2929) as cosmetics industry titans, with both ladies nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical.

It’s a shame we don’t have the opportunity to award Glenn Close another Tony – she isn’t eligible for her reprise as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard because she’s already won a Tony for that role. It’s also a shame that the category of musical revivals was reduced to only three contenders this year, thus also closing out the show from another potential award.

Nonetheless, Sunset Boulevard is a musical that you should not miss, and don’t let a non-appearance on the Tony Awards roster nor on the stage of Radio City Music Hall on June 11 deter you. Ms. Desmond’s non-acceptance of her relevance as an aging silent-screen actress spiraling out of control is a powerful story that evokes admiration and pity. Think Follies meets Grey Gardens. It’s a privilege to watch Glenn Close take on the same role she played 20 years ago in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s tour de force, this time with a maturity and presence even more in keeping with the story line. The songs strike with pathos and stay with you long after the curtain falls. Grab any ticket you can; the end date is June 25. You can even buy a keepsake to remind you of this glorious musical evening, a beautiful replica of Norma Desmond’s jewelry specially curated for the show. Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway at 47th St., 877-250-2929.

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

Off-Broadway is Good for Laughs and Talent – See These 2 Fab Shows

You don’t have to be Jewish to love Not that Jewish.  In fact, the play is really a celebration of family values, family love, and family challenges.  Monica Piper, the writer, is a comedian who has written for the likes of Mad about You, Rugrats and Roseanne. She’s also a stand-up comedienne who began her career teaching English but quickly segueing into the world of improv via Second City in Chicago.

So what has being Jewish got to do with the show?  Well, the cultural richesse passed down from generation to generation among Jewish families lends itself to the creation of language and ritual fodder, making for neuroses, laughs, and, of course, family entanglements.

The play travels the life path of Ms. Piper’s beginnings as the daughter of a comedian through her passages as a single mother, as an adult encountering the old age issues of her parents, and through the successes of her career. It is both humorous and tender, touching and riveting, while hitting a chord with anyone who has endured the rituals of family.  Do you need to be Jewish to understand it?  Not really.  The touchstones are relevant to all, although knowing some of the Yiddishisms will certainly enhance your experience.  (A glossary is handed out along with the Playbill to help you understand the intricacies of this rich, rich but dying language).

Ms. Piper performs the 90-minute show seven times a week at the New World Stages at 340 West 50th Street.  Tickets are available at www.telecharge.com. www.notthatjewish.com.

For Spamilton, it does help if you’ve seen Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brilliant history-making show Hamilton. www.hamiltonbroadway.com. The inside jokes take life from knowledge of the play, its foibles, its characters, and its songs.  They also incorporate a dose of pure Broadway, including some of the nuances that assume a fairly broad knowledge of what makes theater on the Great White Way endearing as well as annoying (or trite).

Written by Forbidden Broadway creator, Gerard Alessandrini, Spamilton is the consummate parody of a popular show. It exploits every nuance, every endearing or annoying gesture that you’ve come to love or hate about Broadway and about Hamilton in particular.

The show, which is extending its reach to Chicago this month, concurrent with the opening of the real Hamilton in that city, depicts all of Hamilton’s lead characters, from the Schuyler sisters to George Washington, Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton himself with a frighteningly close degree of talent and dexterity.  The rapping is unmistakable. The lyrics implausibly phenomenal. If you are familiar with Hamilton, you will be howling non-stop while also remarking at the extraordinary talent of the cast. These actors are so good that you could easily imagine them assuming the Broadway roles of the characters they spoof.

My recommendation?  See this show after you’ve seen Hamilton. Or at least after you’ve listened to the cast album a few times. But given the luxurious price of these tickets compared to the inflated Hamilton ones, you can easily see this show over and over and gain something new from it each time. I can’t wait to see it again. And this time I know I’ll be in the room where it happened, up close and personal, and not perched in a mezzanine seat at the Richard Rodgers Theater.

Spamilton plays eight shows a week at the Triad, 158 West 72nd Street, on the Upper West Side. Tickets are cheap. A two-drink minimum is required, as this is, after all, a cabaret, a cozy room where it will happen. http://www.triadnyc.com/buy-tickets www.spamilton.com.

7 Shows Closing on Broadway: Tickets Make Great Holiday Gifts

If you’re thinking about something to give the theater lover in your family this holiday season, tickets to one of these shows soon ending their runs are the perfect gift.

Hurry now to get tickets to these seven gems:

The Color Purple – The musical version of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel closes its Tony-winning revival on January 8. The powerful story of an abused African-American woman in the American South won Cynthia Erivo a Tony Award. The show also features Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black) and Tony and Grammy-winner Jennifer Holliday. The gospel, blues and ragtime tunes are brilliant.  www.colorpurple.com.  Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 West 45th Street. Tickets: www.telecharge.com or 212.239.2600.

The Encounter – Unlike anything you’ve ever experienced on Broadway, this smash from London surrounds you in immersive sensory brilliance.  Told by actor Simon McBurney and using 3D audio, it is the startling story of National Geographic photographer Loren McIntyre who was lost among the people of the remote Javari Valley in the Amazon rainforest. Be prepared, there’s no intermission and you can’t leave your seat as you’re tethered to it by your headphones. Closes January 8 as well. John Golden Theatre, 252 West 45th Street.  www.theencounterbroadway.com. Tickets: www.telecharge.com or 212.239.6200.

Photo by Joan Marcus

Fiddler on the Roof – The 50th anniversary revival of this wondrous show ends its run on December 31. Danny Burstein plays Tevye, a character that is truly larger than life, in this musical about a Jewish community on the eve of the Russian Revolution. The show revolves around the marriage of Tevye’s three daughters and includes songs that have become part of Broadway legend like “Sunrise, Sunset,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” and “Tradition.”  www.fiddlermusical.com.  Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway. Tickets: www.telecharge.com or 212.239.6200.

Jersey Boys – The boys from New Jersey will play their final show on January 15. The story of the rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons will have you on your feet as you join the quartet in singing “December 1963 (Oh What a Night).” You know all the songs (“Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” but even if you don’t, you’ll still be humming and tapping along to the story behind those wondrous voices that took the radio waves by storm in the latter part of the 20th century. www.JerseyBoysBroadway.com. August Wilson Theatre, 24t5 West 52nd Street. Tickets: www.ticketmaster.com or 877-250-2929.

Matilda the Musical – This brilliant, Tony-Award winning show about the children in Roald Dahl’s book, will no longer be “a little bit naughty” after January 1. Another West End transplant, the musical tracks the life of precocious Matilda, her abusive parents, and her disheartening school experiences and how Matilda decides to change her destiny. The music is catchy and the kids are fantastic. www.matildathemusical.com.  Shubert Theatre, 225 West 44th Street. Tickets:  www.telecharge.com or 212-239-6200.

Photo by Joan Marcus

Oh, Hello on Broadway– In this season of less-than-funny news and change, Oh, Hello has brought welcome laughs to Broadway audiences. John Mulaney and Nick Kroll of Saturday Night Live and Comedy Central fame play two crusty Upper West Side bachelors who have a flair for the theatrical. You’ll have to pay attention to catch all the lines and fabulous zingers, which can sometimes get lost under the audience laughter. Each night’s performance features a surprise performer. For New Yorkers, this is a must-see. Closes January 22. www.ohhellobroadway.com. Lyceum Theatre, 149 West 45th Street. Tickets: www.telecharge.com or 212.239.6200.

Photo Joan Marcus

Something Rotten – Shakespeare was never as cool as in this wonderful musical about the creation of the world’s first musical. Adam Pascal from the original production of Rent plays the Bard. But all good things must come to an end, and so must the Renaissance: Something Rotten closes on January 1.Broadway musical fans should pay attention to all the shows mentioned especially in the opening number. Something Rotten is a tribute to every musical that ever was and is. www.rottenbroadway.com.  St. James Theatre, 246 West 44th Street. Tickets: www.ticketmaster.com or 877.250.2929.

@ Joan Marcus

Let’s Entertain the Kids: Kids’ Night on Broadway and a Giant Paper Fight

Wondering how to entertain the kids before the real holidays start? Two innovative programs invite children to immerse themselves in theatrical artistry, designed to educate and amuse all ages.

One of my favorites, Mimirichi is a pantomime troupe that has achieved international acclaim. They bill themselves as specialists in the art of “paper fights.” You’ll have to see them to understand what this means, but trust me that it’s a combination of comedy, pantomime, slapstick and good old-fashioned silliness. Their newest show, Paper World, promises an interactive element as well. Not surprisingly inducted into the World Clown Academy, the three Ukrainians who comprise Mimirichi recall Marcel Marceau, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and other clown geniuses. The show takes place from November 10 – 29 at Theater for New City, 155 First Avenue, Manhattan (between 9th and 10th Streets). Tickets start at $45. The show is appropriate for ages 4 and above. Information, 800-718-1444, or http://www.mimirichi.com/events/.

Starting immediately, tickets are on sale for Kids’ Night on Broadway, February 9, 2016, brought to you by the Broadway League. Now entering its 20th year, the program offers a free ticket to kids ages 18 and under when accompanied by a full-paying adult. The 23 productions included in this special promotion include both musicals and plays with such alluring shows as Fun Home, Jersey Boys, Kinky Boots, The King and I, Something Rotten, Wicked, Aladdin, Fiddler on the Roof, Finding Neverland, Noises Off, On Your Feet, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, The Lion King, Matilda! The Musical, School of Rock The Musical, Phantom of the Opera, and Les Miserables. For the full list of shows and links to tickets, visit http://www.kidsnightonbroadway.com/shows. Discounts at area restaurants are also available.

Three Broadway Shows to See Before Mid-January

You’ve just missed your chance at seeing the last Broadway performances of Once, Side Show, Cinderella, Pippin, The Real Thing and This is Our Youth.

Before it’s too late, I suggest you buy your tickets for these shows which are scheduled to close (or move from their original home) mid-January:

It's Only a PlayIt’s Only a Play – An insider look at what happens on the opening night of a Broadway show, the title sums up how the characters are supposed to feel when the show doesn’t quite get the reviews hoped for. Now with Martin Short replacing Nathan Lane, Katie Finneran, F. Murray Abraham, and Stockard Channing, “It’s Only a Play” is a non-stop laughfest, poking fun at pretty much every major show on Broadway. It helps to see it with someone who is conversant with the current Broadway line-up, especially if you’re not a regular theater-goer. Now playing at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre (236 West 45th Street), It’s Only a Play moves to the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 West 45th Street, starting January 23. Tickets: www.telecharge.com.

Rock of the AgesRock of Ages – Unbelievably, this long-lasting, feel-good rocker is about to have its farewell tour. Closing on January 18, the show will no longer bring you those familiar 80s faves like “Any Way You Want It,” “We Built This City,” “Wanted Dead or Alive,” and “Don’t Stop Believin.” Constantine Maroulis (sixth-place finalist from the fourth season of American Idol) leads the final line-up.  Helen Hayes Theatre, 240 West th Street.  Tickets: www.telecharge.com .

The story about Berry Gordy’s creation of the Motown sound, starting in 1959, is a bit too long, with too much crammed in, but it’s still a crowd pleaser. Starting January 18, Motown: the Musical is concentrating its focus on its tour companies. This is your last chance to relive those Detroit phenoms like the Supremes, the Jackson Five, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Smokey Robinson. The young Michael Jackson is a knockout. Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, 205 West 46th Street.  Tickets: www.ticketmaster.com.

For more detailed information on these and other Broadway shows, a good source is Playbill,  www.playbill.com, where you can sign up for a newsletter of upcoming theater events.

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