Thursday, September 28, 2006

What About Tears When I'm Happy?

Does everyone out there know about the musical How to Save the World and Find True Love in 90 Minutes? It's a musical that was at the Fringe two years ago... I'm sure the fact that it is coming back has been reported somewhere--it starts at New World Stages in November. I know its cast includes Anika Larsen, Nicole Ruth Snelson (who was good in that Have a Nice Life NYMF show I saw), Natalie Joy Johnson (always to be best known in my mind from Bare), Stephen Bienskie and Michael McEachran, but I don't know much else about it, which is scary because I saw it. That's right, I sat at the Lortel watching it in August 2004 and yet I remember none of it. I think it takes place at the UN. I think I laughed a couple of times during it, but I don't recall thinking it was a definite transfer. And clearly it wasn't memorable! Yet it's coming off-Broadway. I continue to be surprised at how many off-Broadway musicals get produced. Each year, there is a crowded crop of hopefuls, despite the dismal odds of success.

In the next few months, New World Stages' five spaces will be completely filled with musicals (if you count Drumstruck as a musical and, I mean, they do play music on those drums). Of the new crop--there is How to Save the World in the tiny Stage 5, Mimi le Duck (which i support) in the 499-seat Stage 3 and Evil Dead in the other 499-seater, Stage 1. I wish all of them the best of luck, especially Mimi. And, as a theater fan, I'm happy they're getting done. I just really, really question the business model at play here. Is there even one? Or in the increasing world of investors as producers are people just basically following their hearts?

I leave you to ponder that question--and please feel free to email me at or leave a comment if you have any answers. Today I was going to write about why the mediocre musical The Color Purple (which will soon welcome Alton Fitzgerald White to its cast) continues to be popular, but I've lost the energy. Actually, even writing that sentence completely tired me out.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Don't Ya Think

Greetings all. The Jewish holiday just ended a few hours ago and I'm still away with family. Thus there will be no real posting today. I will say that I was reading my guest blogger's columns over and I want to make a correction--Jane Eyre was not closed when it was nominated for its Tony. I remember vividly the whole "we're closing/we're not" drama because it geniusly involved Alanis Morisette (who bailed the show out) and it also involved Tony Award broadcast time (the Tonys took away the show's performance time-slot when it announced it was closing and originally refused to give it back even though the show was remaining open). In the end, Jane Eyre was indeed still open when it was nominated for its Tony and when it lost on Tony night (which of course was inevitable). After a fight, the show was allowed to perform on the broadcast. I can't remember what they performed--the only thing I remember from that night was timing the number on a stop watch and, additionally, being upset when Christine Ebersole won. OK, back to the family now. It's time for dinner. I'll have a good post on Wednesday to make up for this random one.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I Just Can't Wait...

It is my favorite time of year ladies and gentlemen -- fall television premiere time. This is really the time of year when there is an extra spring in my step, that full force cara glimmer in the eye (that you likely cannot see behind my glasses).

This season has been particularly special so far because it has been full of theater folk. Did everyone see that Megan Mullallay opened her show with a musical number? I mean, sure she has no idea how to be a talk show host, but she can sing. That's what these critics need to focus on. And Heather Goldenhersh... I really thought she would tone the lisp down before hitting the airways... But there it was, full force as she talked to theater vet Jesse Tyler Ferguson on the CBS show The Class. Really warms my heart.

Speaking of making me happy, and we always are, my friend Michael made me very happy when he sent me this link on Monday:

I love these photos. I mean, look at these two women. Look at the differences... As far as I am concerned, more Legends! stalking people. Get out there. Just don't get arrested--I spent a night in jail once and I think everyone should try to avoid it.

OK, now I need to take a moment to applaud the sheer strength of Disney marketing. They really can push anything. I have often said that if Seussical or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang were Disney shows--they would have survived much longer than they did. And if Cats opened during the Disney era, it would have never survived; it would have been crushed by the Disney family fare. Disney is a child friendly machine. I see those Tarzan commercials and I think "oy" but I was sitting in a roomful of people earlier today and the commercial came on and I heard a mother say "I HAVE TO get tickets to that." And it's on all the time. So is that "Just can't wait to see King" ultra NYC-centered Lion King commercial--even I had that stupid line in my head today. Disney marketing is unavoidable--it's not that what they have is so clever, it's simply that it is slick and omnipresent. I can't compliment the company's genius, but I do admire the amount of money they put behind their shows. Of course they are the only Broadway producers who have billions to spare.

Monday, September 18, 2006

This Week's Hot Topic

I got a few emails from people asking me why I found NYMF sort of "scam-ish," as I referred to it last posting. I have to say, I'm no expert on this topic. I've never really researched it or paid that much attention when people spoke to me about it. BUT here is why I have always been a little confused by the way they work things there...

For Fringe, most press people are sent a pass that they can use to attend any show they want, as long as that show is not sold out. So, at the last minute, one can decide to just run into a show (as long as it does not have a very catchy title, aka is not sold out), show their little press pass and there is no drama. For NYMF, the situation is very different. Producers pay to put things on as part of the festival and yet don't really control their own tickets. What do I mean? Let's say I'm producing The Flight of the Lawnchair Man (which I have seen in enough incarnations to be part of its team). I am probably paying a good amount of money to put it on--not anywhere near the amount needed to produce a real run, but some mullah nonetheless. The festival gives me, let's say 16 comps for the 6 performances. So, less than 3 per performance. If I give some to the cast and some to potential money people and a few to reviewers, I'm out. Now, let's say my Tuesday at 4pm performance has not sold well and there are plenty of empty seats and I want to use those empty seats to invite every press person I know in hopes that they'll mention Lawnchair in future stories. I have to buy those press people their tickets. They are not mine to give away, even if they will just sit empty. So, after my first 16 tickets are gone, I'm paying $20 for every person I want to invite. So clearly I am keeping those invites down. And clearly I don't want random press just wandering in--I need to be stingy. Meanwhile, Kris Stewart gets up there and talks about how every ticket bought only pays for 1/3 of NYMF expenses... I'm not saying I doubt that, these kinds of festivals are expensive to do and I 100% admire anyone who takes it on, but.... I don't feel really bad for them because I feel, in the back of my head, there is something not quite right about how they handle things.

That being said, they do some good shows. Some shows that are not so feasible to produce--like I loved But I'm a Cheerleader (the musical, not the movie on which it is based), but watching it at last year's festival I knew it wasn't a smart Broadway or off-Broadway investment because the topic isn't Broadway and the cast is too big for off-Broadway. So I'm extremely happy NYMF exists.

This year I am particularly happy because they are doing some solo shows, including ones from Joe Iconis and Donna Lynne Champlin. Now I usually hate solo shows like this, please don't ask me to come to your cabaret, yet I've seen both of these shows before and want to recommend both. Joe Iconis--September 26 at Ars Nova--be there. He's not singing like he does on the demos I've linked to from here before. Don't worry. Now onto Donna Lynne. Anyone who reads this blog knows that she is one of my very favorite people--honestly. But, even if she wasn't, I would recommend this show. Actually, I was harder on this show than most (I was very objective reviewer watching it), and I still loved it. It's genius. You sit there and you laugh and laugh. I knew some of the stories beforehand and I still laughed and laughed. I saw it twice! She tells this story about stalking Brian d'Arcy James and, now, every time I see him I picture him hiding behind a lamppost to avoid her. It's at Ars Nova on October 1 and I say, with all sincerity, if you like musical comedy, go to this. I wouldn't push it if I didn't think it was actually damn funny. I am not on commission.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Come Look At The Freaks

This is another blog posting that I have not really had time to think about. What is wrong with me these days? I think NYMF craziness has gotten to me--while I do not frequently attend many Fringe shows, I am an NYMF girl, even though I think the financials behind it are sort of scam-ish.

On Monday night, I was at the very first presentation of the festival, Have a Nice Life at New World Stages. I did not love it, but it had a great cast, which included Emily Skinner. So, for this post, I am going to discuss Alice and Emily. I know that is an old topic and I am so not going to Town Hall to see them (has it happened already?), but they are clearly back together again. If only they were still attached... But, I digress. Anyway, I just want to say that I am excited about them both starring in The Witches of Eastwick at Signature next summer. If all goes according to plan and they are both actually in it (with it so far away, I can't 100% bank on it), I'll totally go. And I'll be excited about going. Though I hope they don't cast Clarke Peters--I know he got good reviews in London, but I really don't get him.

Monday, September 11, 2006


I forgot today was blog day. I don't know how--I'd like to blame jet lag, but, it seems like a lame excuse. The "dog ate my homework" of yuppies. So I'll just say I forgot and that is it.

For a while now, I've been waiting for to stop writing reviews/doing roundups. It was the last step in becoming a marketing site and it seemed inevitable. Now I think it has been taken. No Usher review/roundup. Alas. Let's take a moment to mourn and then completely forget about it.

Done? OK. So what am I going to knock out for this blog posting? A cheer for Rosie O'Donnell, who I don't usually support. Rosie unquestionably did a lot for the theater when she had her daytime talk show--and not just big Broadway shows--she encouraged people to go see smaller projects as well; for instance, she tauted the one-woman play The Syringa Tree (as Jim Randolph frequently mentions). Last week was her first one on The View and she is already starting up again. She promoted The Wedding Singer, mentioning her love of new star Constantine Maroulis and giving away tickets. This is the kind of thing that draws nationwide attention to shows. So, I must applaud her return the daytime, despite her continued praise of Tom Cruise.

I'm busy or else I'd write more. You'll all live without additional remarks, I am pretty sure.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I'm baaack!!!!

It's Cara again, back where I belong. I want to give a ginormous public thank you to our guest columnist, who, in my opinion, did a great job. I actually loved reading the columns--appreciating the occasional channeling of me and admiring the obscure knowledge contained in the comments. I disagreed with some of the views put forth in the posts, but we have our own ways of looking at things and I'm all for everyone getting a say.

I've returned home at a good time--it's premiere week for My Network TV, the network that is doing everything telenovela style, so as I write this I am watching Bo Derek headline trash. (Does she sing? Because she could totally follow this series up with a stint in Mamma Mia.) Additionally, currently The Wedding Singer features a minimum of three principals that were not around for the show's opening. (Stephen Lynch is on vacation, Laura Benanti is on leave and American Idol playboy Constantine Maroulis has already stepped in.) So this is indeed a big week.

Anyway, people keep telling me I missed nothing while I was relaxing post-employment, but I did miss things. It's just they were all boring, so no one committed them to memory. (Though I am making a special public "yay" for the casting of Gaby Hoffman in subUrbia. Plus, thank you Andrew Gans for your exciting Little Mermaid premiere story--I'm all about The Little Mermaid and I never thought we'd see her float to the surface.) Thus I am not going to talk about anything that happened recently, I am going to talk now about the 1980s.

During the 1980s I was very young. I didn't have high hair like some others of my generation and, most importantly, I didn't see shows. But I know that in 1987 Les Miz, Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Fences all opened on Broadway and Talk Radio opened off-Broadway. And, now, this season, we'll likely see all of them again. (Then there are shows like A Chorus Line and The Fantasticks that were also playing during that time.) So, basically, we're partying like it's 1987. Why? What happened to reviving golden oldies? We could have a 1950s hop! Why not?! Well, there is a certain sense that shows that are too old and dated simply do not play to today's TV-influenced audience. Sure The Pajama Game was successful, but that had a big star to help propel it. Other moldy pieces have not fared as well in recent years; times have been especially hard on old-fashioned musicals such as Bells Are Ringing and Wonderful Town. Even Never Gonna Dance, which was technically a new musical, felt extremely stodgy. (OK, it was also bad, but moving on...) So I think that people looking for things to revive are going to increasingly go with newer shows. There will always be a Grease or West Side Story coming down the pike, but mostly we're going to see things revived that I was alive for the first time around. I've decided not to blame that on the fact that I'm simply getting older...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Enough I Say!

Last night, I watched the film version of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. Besides the fact that it's a fabulous movie - Joanne Woodward is fantastic, fierce and funny; the screenplay by Alvin Sargent is a beautiful and thoughtful expansion of the play; and Paul Newman's direction is incredibly sensitive - it would make a wonderful revival for a great star. Meryl Streep. Allison Janney. Edie Falco. How much better off Edie Falco would have been doing this instead of 'night Mother. So if anyone from Manhattan Theatre Club or Second Stage or the poor li'l Roundabout Theatre reads this God forsaken blog that I am still stuck ghost writing I mean that I am thrilled to continue ghost writing even though The Broad of Broadway is back from abroad, consider yourself gifted. But please notice I did NOT mention Cherry Jones above. Enough with that nonsense already! Enough I say!

Some other plays I'd like to see revived on Broadway in the near future: Toys in the Attic, The Children's Hour, Sweet Bird of Youth, I Never Sang For My Father, and Biloxi Blues - just kidding.

I don't have a whole hell of a lot else to say... I mean, I do, but I really don't know where to begin. I have never blogged before, I have never even read a blog before this one, and this is the only one I ever will read... until Katie Holmes starts one up that is. I have been tempted many times to post things on All That Chat, but where do you begin with those lovely, confused people? Tonight, someone asked how the last row of the mezzanine was at the Broadhurst. IT SUCKS! IT'S PRACTICALLY AT THE SHUBERT! WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU!?! WE HAVE LIVES!!!

As the season begins, I shall continue calling the Jacobs the Royale and the Schoenfeld the Plymouth. I am pretending Chicago is not still running. I am continuing to lobby NY1 to buy Donna Karger a comb. I look forward to seeing A Chorus Line back on Broadway, Les Freres Corbusier's Hell House, The Coast of Utopia, The Clean House, and Regrets Only. I am not looking forward to seeing Talk Radio, Translations or Jay Johnson and his friggin' puppet. What the hell is that? Enough with that nonsense already! Enough I say!