Monday, January 29, 2007

It's electrifyin'?

Grease: You're the One That I Want doesn't worry me like it does many others. I don't think it makes Broadway look cheap; I don't worry they are going to hire horrible people. The reason the show bothers me, in addition to being extremely poorly produced, is that it is disingenuous. Watching the show, you would think all the professional actors featured waited online like normal folk. But I know for a fact that certain people were called and asked to audition. So it was set up to not truly be a search for a great unknown. And thus, watching it, I keep wondering what else is fake.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

There's a little rumor...

That title has nothing to do with this post--I only wrote it because I had my favorite In My Life song in my head.

For some reason, this was a big few days for my phone. I got all these phone calls from industry folks (and a good amount from friends and family). Most of the industry calls were from people who were asked to help fund Talk Radio, which currently doesn't have enough cash to, um, get on the air. Though none of the people who called me coughed up any dough, I'm fairly sure the producers will get it (if they haven't already) and the show will happen, so there is no point in dwelling on that. Some of the calls were about "star" replacement casting that I won't divulge here because I don't want to cause message board attacks before these people are even signed. I mean, when it was my job to report such news, that was one thing... but, now, it's not. Though I will say that one of the people that will be announced shortly is in one of my favorite campy movies of the last five years. None of you will guess from that, I'm sure, but, if you think you have, email me (

Now that I've discussed what I'm not really talking about, I'll tell you what I learned this week that I wanted to share. In preparation for my big Tony coverage, I really needed to answer one of my outstanding Tony questions: What the hell is going on with Coast of Utopia?!? No eligibility stories that I read this time around mentioned the shows and there are a lot of questions related to them. Coast could be one show or three. All the actors are below-the-title and could be featured, but, also, some could be moved up. Without answers to these, we won't be able to accurately assess Best Play (though I think they'll be counted as a singular entity), Best Actor in a Play, Best Actress in a Play, Best Featured Actress in a Play or Best Featured Actor in a Play. It appears, Coast of Utopia eligibility will not be dealt with until the spring. So no questions regarding the show will be answered before then. It's going to be tricky to make picks in those categories before then. Sure, you can assume the play is a single entity, but that doesn't tell you anything about the actors. I would think they'd move people up, but LCT has a history of not petitioning for things. They got burned last year with Frances Sternhagen---maybe they've learned their lesson--but you just can't assume that.

In summary, for all those who thought the sentence "All other decisions were consistent with the opening night credits" applied to The Coast of Utopia: Voyage and/or The Coast of Utopia: Shipwreck, know that it did not. Those decisions are still pending.

Monday, January 22, 2007

All I ever needed was the music

I honestly don't personally care when a show announces a theater, Roundabout announces casting for something at the Laura Pels or anything of the sort, but I've always cared about Tony eligibility decisions. I like them because they follow few logical rules. They aren't based on precedent--they basically go according to what the title page of the Playbill says or what the producers ask for. So I always think looking at them tells you a little bit about what is going on in the industry.

When I used to cover the eligibility decisions, I always prepared a list of questions in advance. This was helpful because a lot of things aren't included on the press release the Tony people send out. Sadly I no longer cover them really and no one seemed to ask the questions I wanted answered. So I will just write about the limited amount of things we did learn.

Mary Poppins score being eligible is worthy of a mention, though I expected it to be eligible. Likewise I knew there wasn't any chance directors and designers of Chorus Line and Les Miz would be getting nomination plaques. What most interested me was the decision to keep A Chorus Line's Charlotte d’Amboise, who is below-the-title, in the featured category even though Donna McKechnie won a Tony for Lead Actress for playing the same role in the original production. Now, I'm not saying the character of Cassie should be lead, but I have a distinct feeling the decision not to petition was based less on righting a past wrong than on d'Amboise's chances of being nominated for Best Actress, which were virtually non-existent. Charlotte is a community favorite, and even though her performance in A Chorus Line was far from universally embraced, she has a shot at a nomination in featured. The leading field not only includes Chenoweth, Ebersole, McDonald and Murphy, it also has Block, Brown, Bundy, Monk and Michele among the possible nominees. So, in that category, not so much. And it's all about nominations--it's not about who is lead or featured. It's only about reality when a production thinks they can't get away with something; that happens, but, let me tell you, it is rare unless the something is completely ridiculous. Like there is never going to a Mama Rose in featured, but I wouldn't be shocked if someday we saw a Gypsy in lead.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

There goes the baker with his tray...

I must admit that I am sort of happy Beauty and the Beast is finally going bye bye. (No one tell Jim Byk I wrote that.) I had heard Disney wanted the Lunt-Fontanne for The Little Mermaid, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I feared a Beauty move. And while I don't wish for the failure of things, I really did not want another Broadway house tied up by Beauty and the Beast. I mean--the piece of crap has run long enough. I admit the story is often effective, but, during that beer number, I always want to get up and leave. It goes on and on and on... I still think I respect it more than The Grinch, but, that's really saying very little.

Anyway, those of you who know me, know I am the biggest Little Mermaid fan. I used to have a mermaid on my window at my office with a little sticky pad note that said "Kerry" and an arrow, after Kerry Butler was announced for an early reading. (That was before Celia played it and before the Sierra Boggess rumors... It was also back when Emily Skinner was Ursula, not Sherie Rene Scott.) I have not been wowed by anything I've heard concept-wise about the stage production, but I am still eager to see it... I am holding out hope. And I want everyone to go visit in preparation.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Theater Time

Yet another disappointing episode of Grease: You're The One That I Want is behind us as I write this. I have to say, watching it sort of made me unmotivated to do anything theater-related for the rest of the night. But it's blog day! And it's time for the list of Broadway theaters and their inhabitants!

I like to look at this list myself when I am trying to decide if something can or cannot come in this season. For instance--would The Scene have a theater to transfer into this season? (Note that for such a transfer to happen, producers would have to recast the show's leading man, so I am not confident that it will move, I am just saying hypothetically.) Well, looking at the list it is clear there is nothing available for The Scene unless funding for Radio Golf or Xanadu drops out, a teetering show closes or an upcoming show bombs extremely quickly.

Things that are in the color blue below have not been announced. I used to have things on the list like the Benny/Bjorn musical Kristina (which wanted the Broadway or the Hilton) and Tale of Two Cities (which was also rumored for the Hilton) as tentative, but I thought readers might get confused and begin expecting to actually see those things. Plus, I can't put Kristina on if I refuse to put The Wiz on and I refuse to put The Wiz on because I am confidently rooting for Hairspray. Though I am putting Young Frankenstein on the list just because I want to.

Shubert Theaters
Ambassador -- Chicago
Ethel Barrymore --- Company
Belasco -- Journey's End
Booth – The Year of Magical Thinking
Broadhurst --- Les Misérables
Broadway --- The Color Purple
Cort --- The Little Dog Laughed --> Radio Golf
John Golden --- Avenue Q
Imperial – Coram Boy
Longacre – Talk Radio
Lyceum -- Inherit The Wind
Majestic – Phantom of the Opera
Plymouth/Schoenfeld – A Chorus Line
Royale/Jacobs – Frost/Nixon
Shubert –Spamalot
Winter Garden -- Mamma Mia!
Music Box – The Vertical Hour --> Deuce

Nederlander Theaters
Brooks Atkinson – A Moon for the Misbegotten --> Grease
Gershwin – Wicked
Lunt-Fontanne -- Beauty and the Beast
Marquis— The Drowsy Chaperone
Minskoff – The Lion King
Nederlander -- Rent
Palace -- Legally Blonde
Richard Rodgers – Tarzan
Neil Simon -- Hairspray

Jujamcyn Theaters
Al Hirschfeld – Curtains
Walter Kerr – Grey Gardens
Eugene O'Neill – Spring Awakening
St. James – The Producers --> Young Frankenstein??
Virginia – Jersey Boys

Circle in the Square – Spelling Bee
Hilton -- Pirate Queen
Helen Hayes – Xanadu
New Amsterdam – Mary Poppins
Studio 54 --- All Roundabout
American Airlines – All Roundabout
Biltmore – MTC
Vivian Beaumont – Lincoln Center

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A quick post about something that annoys me...

I was going to write about theater availability tonight, but I'm too tired to construct the list. So, I am going to make this whole post about something I was just going to mention in passing--journalists reporting inflated sales figures. When Playbill reported Spring Awakening's advance was "approaching $2 million" 2 days after it opened, I laughed out loud. I thought "by approaching do they mean three-fourths away?" The Grease figure most recently reported is closer to reality, but still not quite there yet. And, here is the thing, journalists just print this stuff without backing it up. So--this is another one of my "don't believe everything you read--even if you see it here" posts. If you see printed copies of the producer's books, that's one thing. (While they could still be falsified, it likely wouldn't be worth the effort in most cases.) But, short of that...

OK, I really need to go to sleep. Theaters on Sunday!

Monday, January 08, 2007

I Dreamed A Dream

The big news for me this week wasn't Prelude to a Kiss and it wasn't Lea Salonga, it was about eating in the theater. No, not really (though that was close to the top of the list, of course). It also wasn't how bad "You're the One That I Want" is, though I could probably go on about that for days. It was actually the fact that Daphne Rubin-Vega will not be returning to Les Miz after what was scheduled to be a short "leave." Now, if I was in reporter mode, it would have occurred to me weeks ago when I heard about Lea that her casting meant no more Daphne (Lea would certainly not do just a few weeks), but, I have to admit, it didn't. I cheered Lea in my mind and then moved on, went away, thought no more of it.

I don't know how many of you remember this, but, after the opening night of Thou Shalt Not, Craig Bierko, who received horrible reviews (after the Broadway community had embraced him for The Music Man), said he had been injured during the opening night performance (supposedly Norbert Leo Butz, who received positive notices, had hit him in an incorrect way) and was out for a little while. At the time, I questioned the coincidental timing of this, but I knew somewhere in my heart that was unfair of me because he probably was hurt... and I'm too cynical... blah, blah, blah...

I still think, and this is backed up by zero proof, it was probably part injury to the body and part injury to the soul. I believe that is the truth. This time, I am going to choose to believe something that might not be true, but I don't care. I am going to choose to believe that this Daphne thing is part them not wanting her to return, but also part her not wanting to do it anymore. I know that very well might not be true. But I am going to choose to believe it--I don't want to hear any info to the contrary. Stop emailing me about it. I like Daphne, I always have and that's it.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I'm With Stupid

As I logged on to post this, I noticed that my last post didn't publish. I have no idea why that would happen, but, regardless, I published it, so that post is below this one. And now onto this post:

Let me tell you something that annoys me: people who call journalists that they don't know stupid (or some version of such). I'm not talking about those who write editorials--by all means, call them whatever you want--I'm talking about news and feature writers.

Last week I got an email from someone pointing out that on Talkin' Broadway some posters were picking on Gordon Cox. I know Gordon Cox and he's not stupid. I was tempted to register for an account just to defend him, but I didn't want to extend the chain. Then, this afternoon, I was forced into going to an industry lunch (and by "forced," i mean it actually involved someone showing up at my apartment) and some people there were calling another theater reporter I know (and like) stupid.

Here is the thing--some reporters are definitely stupid, but it would be hard for readers to make that determination unless the writer in question prints wildly incorrect things or continually omits obviously necessary information. The reason for this is, you never know what an editor has done to a piece. Over the years, I've handed in pieces and looked at the final product and thought "huh?" when reading some parts. (Over the years I've also made significant mistakes, so I'm not totally blameless, but that is thankfully irrelevant to this discussion.) That is just the nature of being an underling. And, because of that, it's very hard to determine the intellect of a writer. Now I understand the impulse to call a writer you don't know stupid, I've had it myself, but it's really usually uncalled for unless the conditions mentioned above are met.

That's it. That's all I have to say about it--if you want to call reporters stupid, don't do it in front of me. Of course, as this isn't edited by anyone, you can feel free to call me stupid. Though use a different word, please; I'm over that one.