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Andrew C. McGibbon

Andrew C. McGibbon

 

 

Andrew C. McGibbon has spent the past thirty years working in live theatre as a stage manager, general manager, producer and leader in the convergence of Broadway and online.

Mr. McGibbon worked as a stage manager and general manager for ten years. In 1994 he created a website devoted to live theatre, BroadwayWorld-Wide.com. The site was subsequently bought by, and became Playbill.com. He continued to manage the site for Playbill for four years. In 2000 he became the website manager for TonyAwards.com. With the 2008-09 season he finished his ninth year on the show. He has also worked as a webmaster for the Broadway LeagueJazz at Lincoln Center, and as the Director of Digital Media for the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

Since 2015, Andrew has been working as an architectural photographer and virtual tour photographer known for his photography of theatres such as the Kimmel Center, Tanglewood, Signature Theatre Company, Roundabout Theatre Company, Arena Stage and the Goodspeed Opera House. His photography work can be previewed at https://andrewmcgibbonphotography.com.

Mr. McGibbon is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, the Independent Theatre Bloggers AssociationActors' Equity Association and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, as well as the American Society of Media Photographers

In addition to his work in the theatrical industry, Mr. McGibbon is also a partner in Simple Solutions Distributing, a manufacturer of filtration equipment for the waste-water industry.

Photo: Elizabeth Leitzell

 

 

 

TheAndyGram.com Announces Launch of Broadway Press Release Retweet

Broadway Press Releases to be Sent Out as Tweets and Archived at TheAndyGram.com

In an effort to get Broadway news out to the public faster, Andrew C. McGibbon of TheAndyGram.com has announced the launch of Broadway Press Release Retweet. Once received from press agents and added to TheAndyGram.com the headline of a Broadway press release will immediately be sent out as a tweet from Mr. McGibbon's twitter account with a link to the contents of the release.

"While other theatre news sites may take one to four hours to re-write the story, theatre fans and theatre insider's can have Broadway press releases almost within minutes of being sent by the press agents" said Mr. McGibbon. He continued "these will remain in the format of the original press release with the exception of the deletion of some sensitive contact information. While this may not be the way theatre fans are used to reading their theatre news, I think they will find them concise and to the point."

You can choose to follow Andrew McGibbon's Twitter account by clicking here.

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BROADWAY’S SMASH HIT MAMMA MIA! WELCOMES

Tony Award® nominee John Dossett, Tony Award® winner Beth Leavel
Alyse Alan Louis, Eric William Morris
Patrick Boll, David Andrew Macdonald
Allison Briner, Michael Mindlin, Halle Morse

TONIGHT! TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2009

Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus’ global smash hit musical MAMMA MIA! welcomes a host of new Broadway stars to the Winter Garden Theatre stage tonight, Tuesday, September 22, as Tony Award® nominee John Dossett, Tony Award® winner Beth Leavel, Patrick Boll, Alyse Alan Louis, Eric William Morris, Patrick Boll, David Andrew Macdonald, Alison Briner, Michael Mindlin and Halle Morse join the cast.

MAMMA MIA! stars Tony Award® nominee John Dossett and Tony Award® winner Beth Leavel as “Sam Carmichael” and “Donna Sheridan.” Alyse Alan Louis plays bride-to-be “Sophie Sheridan,” making her Broadway debut opposite Eric William Morris (Coram Boy) as fiancé “Sky.”

Patrick Boll (Faith Healer) and David Andrew Macdonald (“Guiding Light,” Coram Boy) join the company as “Bill Austin” and “Harry Bright,” rounding out the trio of men from Donna’s past who are Sophie’s three possible dads.

Judy McLane (Chess, Kiss of the Spiderwoman) and Allison Briner are “Tanya” and “Rosie,” Donna’s best friends and former back-up band known as “Donna and the Dynamos” who reunite on a Greek island for the wedding of Donna’s daughter, Sophie.

MAMMA MIA! also features Halle Morse as “Lisa” and Amina Robinson as “Ali,” Sophie’s best friends, and Raymond J. Lee as “Eddie” and Michael Mindlin as Sky’s sidekick “Pepper.”

Seen by over 40 million people around the world, MAMMA MIA!, is celebrating over 3,000 performances in its eighth smash hit year at Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre and remains among Broadway’s top  selling musicals. The original West End production of MAMMA MIA! is celebrating 10 years and over 4,000 performances in London, an international tour has visited more than 40 foreign cities, and the blockbuster feature film adaptation, produced by Judy Craymer and Gary Goetzman, is the most successful movie musical of all time grossing $600 million worldwide.

With a worldwide gross of over $2 Billion, MAMMA MIA! is acclaimed by the Associated Press as “quite simply, a phenomenon.”

Inspired by the story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs, writer Catherine Johnson’s sunny, funny tale of family and friendship unfolds on a tiny Greek island.  On the eve of her wedding, a daughter’s quest to discover the identity of her father brings 3 men from her mother’s past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago.  Songs including “Dancing Queen”; “The Winner Takes It All”; “Money, Money, Money” and “Take A Chance on Me” are all featured in this feel-good night of fun and laughter.

Produced by Judy Craymer, Richard East and Björn Ulvaeus for Littlestar in association with Universal, the creative team responsible for bringing MAMMA MIA! to theatrical life includes some of the most gifted and celebrated talents of musical theatre and opera. With music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, MAMMA MIA! is written by Catherine Johnson and directed by Phyllida Lloyd. MAMMA MIA! has choreography by Anthony Van Laast, production design by Mark Thompson, lighting design by Howard Harrison, sound design by Andrew Bruce and Bobby Aitken, and musical supervision, additional material and arrangements by Martin Koch.

For tickets, schedule and information about MAMMA MIA! around the world: 
www.mamma-mia.com

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CATHERINE ZETA-JONES
ANGELA LANSBURY
TO STAR IN THE FIRST BROADWAY REVIVAL OF
STEPHEN SONDHEIM & HUGH WHEELER’S
A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC
DIRECTED BY TREVOR NUNN

OPENS DECEMBER 13, 2009 ON BROADWAY AT THE WALTER KERR THEATRE
PREVIEWS BEGIN NOVEMBER 24, 2009

“A perfect production. Sexy and sophisticated. Not to be missed.”– Mail On Sunday, London
“Trevor Nunn’s production is unforgettable”– The Times, London

Academy Award–winner Catherine Zeta-Jones, five-time Tony Award®–winner Angela Lansbury and Olivier Award–nominee Alexander Hanson will star in the first Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s Tony Award–winning masterpiece A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, directed by Tony Award®-winner Trevor Nunn. The production begins previews on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 and opens on Sunday, December 13, 2009 at the Walter Kerr Theatre (219 West 48th Street ).

Catherine Zeta-Jones, in her Broadway debut, will play the role of Desirée Armfeldt. Angela Lansbury will play Madame Armfeldt. Alexander Hanson will play Fredrik Egerman, a role he created in the recent Trevor Nunn-directed production of A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC at London ’s Menier Chocolate Factory and in the West End .

The cast also features Aaron Lazar (Les Misérables) as Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm, Erin Davie (Grey Gardens) as Countess Charlotte Malcolm, Leigh Ann Larkin (Gypsy) as Petra, Hunter Ryan Herdlicka as Henrik Egerman, and Ramona Mallory (The Fantasticks) as Anne Egerman. The cast also includes Bradley Dean, Marissa McGowan, Betsy Morgan, Karen Murphy, Jayne Paterson and Kevin David Thomas. Additional casting, including the role of Fredrika Armfeldt, will be announced at a later date.

Alexander Hanson is appearing with the support of Actors’ Equity Association. The producers gratefully acknowledge Actors’ Equity Association for its assistance to this production.

“I’m honored that Trevor Nunn and Stephen Sondheim asked me to make my Broadway debut in this beautiful production,” said Catherine Zeta-Jones. “I look forward to starting rehearsal with this extraordinary group of people and working with the incomparable Angela Lansbury, whose work I’ve long admired.”

“The circle is complete,” said Angela Lansbury. “I'm back singing the beautiful music of Stephen Sondheim, and working with a lovely young actress, Catherine Zeta-Jones!”

Based on Ingmar Bergman's film Smiles of a Summer Night, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC is set in a weekend country house in turn of the century Sweden , bringing together surprising liaisons, long simmering passions and a taste of love’s endless possibilities. Hailed as witty and wildly romantic, the story centers on the elegant actress Desirée Armfeldt and the spider’s web of sensuality, intrigue and desire that surrounds her.

A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC – featuring a score by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Hugh Wheeler – originally opened in 1973 at Broadway's Shubert Theatre and ran for 601 performances. Produced and directed by Harold Prince, the production garnered six Tony Awards® including Best Musical and Best Original Score. The Sondheim score features one of the composer's best-known songs, “Send in the Clowns,” as well as “Every Day a Little Death,” “The Miller's Son” and “A Weekend in the Country.”

Trevor Nunn’s production of A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC debuted to critical acclaim at London ’s Menier Chocolate Factory in November 2008 and subsequently transferred to the West End where it played a successful limited engagement through July 25, 2009 at the Garrick Theatre.

The creative team for A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC includes Lynne Page (Choreography), Caroline Humphris (Musical Supervision), David Farley (Set & Costume Design), Hartley T A Kemp (Lighting Design), Dan Moses Shreier and Gareth Owen  (Sound Design), Paul Huntley (Wig Design), Jason Carr (Orchestrations) and Tom Murray (Musical Direction).

A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC will be produced on Broadway by Tom Viertel , Steven Baruch, Marc Routh, Richard Frankel, the Menier Chocolate Factory, Roger Berlind , David Babani , Andrew Fell and Sonia Friedman Productions.

Additional production information will be announced soon.

TICKET INFORMATION
Tickets for A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC can be purchased exclusively by American Express® Cardmembers from Wednesday, September 30th to Friday, October 16th. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Saturday, October 17th and the Walter Kerr Theatre box office (219 West 48th Street ) will open on Monday, October 19th. Tickets will be available by calling Telecharge.com at (212) 239-6200, (800) 432-7250 outside the NY metro area, or online at Telecharge.com. Group sales for A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC will begin Wednesday, September 30th. For more information on group sales, contact Theatre Direct International at 212-541-8457 x 2, or outside the NY metro area at 1-800-BROADWAY x 2.

BIOGRAPHIES
CATHERINE ZETA-JONES (Desirée Armfeldt) will make her Broadway debut in A Little Night Music. Zeta-Jones created her Academy Award®-winning performance, portraying the notorious Velma Kelly, in the screen adaptation of the Broadway musical Chicago . The film, which won the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Picture, also starred Renee Zellweger and Richard Gere. Zeta-Jones was nominated for a Golden Globe and took home the 2002 Critics’ Choice Award, the 2002 Screen Actors Guild Award and BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress for her critically acclaimed performance. Upcoming, she will be seen opposite Justin Bartha in The Rebound, playing a newly divorced mother who captures the eye of her neighbor, a much younger man. Zeta-Jones recently starred with Aaron Eckhart in Warner Brothers’ hit romantic comedy No Reservations, and opposite Guy Pearce in the romantic thriller Death Defying Acts. In 2005, she reprised her role as Elena de La Vega in The Legend of Zorro, the sequel to the blockbuster film The Mask of Zorro. She starred in Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's 12, and prior to that appeared opposite Tom Hanks in Steven Spielberg's The Terminal.  Zeta-Jones also starred with George Clooney in the Coen Brothers' comedy Intolerable Cruelty. Zeta-Jones earned a Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal of the wife of a drug-runner in Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic. The cast of the critically praised film received a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture. She first captured international recognition in the action adventure film, The Mask of Zorro, opposite Antonio Banderas and Anthony Hopkins. Zeta-Jones continued to captivate audiences in 1999, in Jon Amiel’s romantic-thriller Entrapment, opposite screen legend Sean Connery. She also starred with Julia Roberts, Billy Crystal and John Cusack in the ensemble comedy America’s Sweethearts. Born in Wales, Zeta-Jones began her career on the stage in London and following that was cast in the popular Yorkshire Television series, “The Darling Buds of May,” based on the novels of H.E. Bates. Zeta-Jones is married to actor Michael Douglas. They have a son, Dylan, and a daughter, Carys.

ANGELA LANSBURY (Madame Armfeldt) has enjoyed a career without precedent. Her professional life spans more than a half-century during which she flourished, first as a star of motion pictures, then as a five-time Tony Award®-winning Broadway musical star. She appeared most recently on Broadway as Madame Arcati in the 2009 revival of Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit, for which she received her fifth Tony Award®, as well as Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards; and in 2006 in Terrence McNally’s Deuce, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award®. She made her Broadway debut in 1957 starring as Bert Lahr’s wife in the French farce, Hotel Paradiso. In 1960, she came back to Broadway as Joan Plowright’s mother in the season’s most acclaimed drama, A Taste of Honey, by Shelagh Delaney. A year later, she starred on Broadway in her first musical, Anyone Can Whistle. Lansbury returned to New York in triumph in 1966 as Mame, for which she won the first of her unprecedented four Tony Awards® as Best Actress in a Musical. She received the others as the Madwoman of Chaillot in Dear World (1968), as Mama Rose in the 1974 revival of Gypsy and as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd (1979). From 1984-1996 she starred as Jessica Fletcher, mystery-writing amateur sleuth, on “Murder, She Wrote,” the longest-running detective drama series in the history of television, for which she won four Golden Globe Awards. In 1994, Queen Elizabeth II named her a Commander of the British Empire , and in 2000 she received the Kennedy Center Honors. Angela and her husband Peter were married in 1949 and worked together until his death in 2003. She has three grown children and three grandchildren.

ALEXANDER HANSON (Fredrik Egerman) most recently played this role in the Menier Chocolate Factory production of A Little Night Music, which transferred to the West End 's Garrick Theatre. His other recent stage work includes Otto in the world premiere of the musical Marguerite (Theatre Royal Haymarket; Olivier Award-nominee for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical), and Captain von Trapp in The Sound Of Music (London Palladium). In previous work with Trevor Nunn he played Bassanio in The Merchant Of Venice and Diomedes in Troilus and Cressida (National Theatre), Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard (Adelphi) and Septimus Hodge in Arcadia  (Theatre Royal Haymarket). Other theatre credits include: The London Cuckolds, Candide and The Villain’s Opera (NT); Copenhagen (NT tour); Talking To Terrorists and Shallow End (Royal Court); Cracked and Memory Of Water (Hampstead Theatre); Enter The Guardsman and Brel (Donmar); Tonight At 8.30 (Chichester Minerva Theatre); Things We Do For Love (Duchess); Aspects Of Love (Prince of Wales and UK tour); A Little Night Music (Chichester and Piccadilly) and he created the role of Khashoggi in We Will Rock You at the Dominion. His film and television credits include: “Party Animals,” Kidulthood, “Auf Wiedersehen Pet,” “The Fugitives,” “The Last Detective,” “Murder City,” The Merchant of Venice, “The Escort,” “Beech Is Back,” “Heartbeat,” “Six Characters In Search Of An Author,” “Unfinished Business” and “The Bill.” Radio includes: Caravan of Desire, Oxygen, Amy’s View, Cabaret and Gigi.

AARON LAZAR (Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm). Broadway: Impressionism; Les Misérables revival (Drama Desk Nomination); The Light in the Piazza; A Tale of Two Cities; Oklahoma !; The Phantom of the Opera. He also recently in starred in South Pacific at the Hollywood Bowl opposite Reba McEntire and Brian Stokes Mitchell. Film/TV: The Notorious Bettie Page, USA's upcoming series “White Collar,” “Ugly Betty,” “New Amsterdam,” The Light in the Piazza (Live from Lincoln Center); special guest “The Today Show.” Guest artist: Marvin Hamlisch and the National Symphony Orchestra; Keith Lockhart and The Boston Pops; NY Pops at Carnegie Hall. www.AaronLazar.com

ERIN DAVIE (Countess Charlotte Malcolm). Broadway: Niki Harris in Curtains, Young Little Edie in Grey Gardens (Theatre World Award for Outstanding Broadway Debut). Off-Broadway: The Glorious Ones, LCT; Infertility (the musical that's hard to conceive). Encores! Applause (Eve Harrington). National Tours : Swing!, The Music of Andrew Webber. Some Regional: Carousel (Julie), Jekyll & Hyde (Emma), The Student Prince (Princess).

LEIGH ANN LARKIN (Petra ) is so honored to be a part of this magnificent piece of theater.  Broadway: Gypsy starring Patti LuPone (Dainty June).  National Tours : Disney’s On The Record.  Regional:  The Kennedy Center’s Ragtime (Evelyn Nesbit), New York City Center Gypsy starring Patti LuPone(Dainty June), Williamstown Theater Festival, Pittsburgh CLO, Pittsburgh Musical Theater, New Theater Restaurant, Macau Music Festival, The York Theater. Film/TV: “Flight of the Conchords,” “Lipstick Jungle,” “All My Children,” “The Guiding Light,” “The White Cure,” CBS “Pre-Tony Special.” Recordings: “Gypsy” with Patti LuPone, Disney’s “On The Record.”  BFA: Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. www.LeighAnnLarkin.com

HUNTER RYAN HERDLICKA (Henrik Egerman). Broadway debut. Hunter is a native of Dallas , Texas and a 2009 graduate of Carnegie Mellon. Regional credits: Fiddler on the Roof (Motel) & Othello with the Utah Shakespearean Festival; The Full Monty (Malcolm), High School Musical (Ryan), My Fair Lady (Freddy) and The Wedding Singer (George) with West Virginia Public Theatre. Readings/workshops: Bubble Boy: The Musical (Bubble Boy) and Mrs. Sharp with the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera/ASCAP & The Greenwood Tree (Poet) for NYMF 2009.  Proud member of Actors’ Equity.

RAMONA MALLORY (Anne Egerman). Broadway Debut. Off-Broadway: The Fantasticks (Luisa). National Tour: Captain Louie (Amy). Regional: Amadeus (Constanze); The Crucible (Abigail);Oklahoma ! (Laurey); Yours, Anne (Anne Frank); Cats (Victoria ); Camelot (Guenevere), Grease (Rizzo), The Sound of Music (Liesel).

STEPHEN SONDHEIM (Music & Lyrics) one of the most influential and accomplished composer/lyricists in Broadway history, was born in New York City . As a teenager he met Oscar Hammerstein II, who became Sondheim’s mentor. Sondheim graduated from Williams College , where he received the Hutchison Prize for Music Composition. After graduation he studied music theory and composition with Milton Babbitt. He worked for a short time in the 1950’s as a writer for the television show “Topper.” His first professional musical theatre job was as the songwriter for Saturday Night, which had its belated New York premiere in 1999. He wrote the music and lyrics for A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Anyone Can Whistle, Company, Follies, The Frogs, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, Sunday In The Park With George, Merrily We Roll Along, Into The Woods, Assassins, Passion and Road Show as well as lyrics for West Side Story, Gypsy, Do I Hear A Waltz? and additional lyrics for Candide. Anthologies of his work include Side By Side by Sondheim, Marry Me A Little, You're Gonna Love Tomorrow and Putting It Together. For films and television, he composed the scores of Stavisky and Reds, songs for Dick Tracy and Evening Primrose and co-authored the film The Last of Sheila. He is on the Council of the Dramatists Guild, the national association of playwrights, composers and lyricists, having served as its president from 1973 to 1981, and in 1983 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1990 he was appointed the first Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre at Oxford University . He was also a recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor in 1993.

HUGH WHEELER (Book) won Tony Awards® for Candide, A Little Night Music and Sweeny Todd. He is the author of the plays Big Fish, Little Fish; Look, We've Come Through; We Have Always Lived in the Castle; and additional material for Pacific Overtures. His screenplays include Travels With My Aunt, Something for Everyone, A Little Night Music and Nijinsky. He also wrote 30 mysteries under the pseudonyms Patrick Quentin and Q. Patrick. He has written such operas as Kurt Weill's Silverlake, Mozart's Impressario and the opera versions of Candide and Sweeney Todd.

TREVOR NUNN (Director). From 1968 to 1986, Nunn was the longest serving Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the RSC. During that time, he directed most of the Shakespeare canon, as well as Nicholas Nickleby (Five Tony Awards®) and Les Misérables, the longest running musical in the world. He recently returned to the RSC to direct King Lear and The Seagull. From 1997 to 2003, he was Director of the National Theatre, where his twenty-one productions included award-winning revivals of Troilus and Cressida, The Merchant of Venice, Summerfolk and The Cherry Orchard, as well as Oklahoma!, My Fair Lady and Anything Goes. He has directed the world premieres of Arcadia , Every Good Boy, The Coast of Utopia and Rock 'n' Roll by Tom Stoppard, and of Cats, Starlight Express, Aspects of Love, Sunset Boulevard and The Woman in White by Andrew Lloyd Webber. More recent theatre work includes: Timon of Athens and Skellig (Young Vic), Hamlet and Richard II (Old Vic), The Lady From The Sea (Almeida), The Royal Hunt Of The Sun (National Theatre) and Scenes From A Marriage (Coventry ). His opera productions include: Idomeneo, Porgy and Bess, Cosi Fan Tutte and Peter Grimes (Glyndebourne) and Katya Kabanova and Sophie’s Choice (Royal Opera House). Work for television includes “Antony and Cleopatra,” “The Comedy of Errors,” “Macbeth,” “Three Sisters,” “Othello” and “King Lear” and on film, Hedda, Lady Jane and Twelfth Night.

THE VIERTEL, BARUCH, ROUTH, FRANKEL GROUP (Producer) have produced and general managed a wide range of plays and musicals on and off Broadway, in London and on tour for 24 years. Currently: Burn The Floor, Young Frankenstein Tour, Hairspray (London ) and Stomp (off-Broadway and on Tour). Previously: The Norman Conquests, Gypsy, Young Frankenstein, The Producers, Sweeney Todd, Company, Little Shop of Horrors, The Weir, The Sound of Music, Smokey Joe's Cafe, Angels in America, Oleanna, Love Letters, Driving Miss Daisy, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, Penn & Teller, many others. Upcoming: Leap of Faith with music by Alan Menken. Awarded 36 Tonys, 47 Drama Desk Awards, 38 Outer Critics Awards, four Grammys, eight Olivier Awards and two Pulitzer Prizes. They have the rare distinction of having won Tony Awards in all four “Best” categories – play, musical, play revival and musical revival.

MENIER CHOCOLATE FACTORY (Producer). Having celebrated its 5th birthday in March 2009, the Menier Chocolate Factory is a full time producing theatre. Under the Artistic Direction of David Babani , it has transferred seven productions to the West End , with transfers of its productions of La Cage aux Folles and A Little Night Music planned for Broadway in the next six months, to add to the success of Sunday in the Park with George in 2008. This unique venue, built in 1870 to house a chocolate factory, now comprises an atmospheric restaurant serving pre and post show dinner, bar, rehearsal rooms and theatre. Having maintained the original exposed beams, brick interior and unusual cast iron columns, this is a stimulating environment to experience a high quality theatrical experience.

ROGER BERLIND (Producer) has been producing for over 30 years. Recent productions include Copenhagen; Kiss Me, Kate; Proof; Medea; Anna in the Tropics; Caroline, or Change; Wonderful Town; Doubt; Well; The History Boys; Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Faith Healer; The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial; The Vertical Hour; Deuce; The Year of Magical Thinking; Curtains; Rock ’n’ Roll, Is He Dead?, Gypsy, Equus, 13 and the upcoming Ragtime.

DAVID BABANI (Producer) is Artistic Director of one of London ’s most exciting venues, the Menier Chocolate Factory. Currently celebrating its 5th anniversary, productions originated at the Chocolate Factory have received seven Olivier Awards, four Evening Standard awards and nine Tony nominations. Seven of its productions have transferred to the West End and its critically acclaimed production of Sunday in the Park with George played Broadway in 2008. David has also produced Forbidden Broadway (Albery Theatre) and The Donkey Show (Hanover Grand). During his time as Artistic Director of the Jermyn Street Theatre, David produced Simply Barbra, which broke all box office records and transferred to the Playhouse Theatre; and the critically acclaimed UK premiere of Closer Than Ever by Maltby and Shire. In Australia he produced the world premiere of Symphonic Forbidden Broadway and international concerts with Jason Robert Brown, Andrew Lippa and Maltby and Shirem, all at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. David also produced the international hit comedy The English American by Alison Larkin (Soho Theatre), Richard III (Pleasance London), Boom Chicago (Jermyn Street , Soho , Royal Festival Hall) and a hugely successful production of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s Assassins (New End).

ANDREW FELL LTD. (Producer) has produced or co-produced: A Little Night Music (Garrick); Zorro (Garrick), Madame Melville (Vaudeville); Gross Indecency – The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde (Gielgud Theatre); Soul Train (Victoria Palace/tour); Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Playhouse); Marc Salem’s Mind Games (Edinburgh Festival; Hampstead, Tricycle, Shaw and New Ambassadors Theatres). They have general managed: Porgy and Bess (Savoy, dir. Trevor Nunn); The Producers (Drury Lane/Tour, Olivier: Best Musical); Jerry Springer The Opera (UK tour); Romeo & Juliet The Musical (Piccadilly); Taboo (Venue); The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Garrick, Olivier: Best New Comedy); Antarctica (Savoy); the Tony Award®–winning play Side Man (Apollo); Perfect Days (Vaudeville); Show Boat (Prince Edward, dir. Hal Prince).

SONIA FRIEDMAN PRODUCTIONS LTD. (Producer) has initiated and produced more than 90 significant productions since 1991 in the West End and on Broadway. Sonia founded SFP, a subsidiary of the Ambassador Theatre Group, in 2002. Recent West End and Broadway productions include The Norman Conquests, The Seagull, Arcadia , Boeing-Boeing, La Cage aux Folles, Rock ’n’ Roll, Faith Healer, Othello, Prick Up Your Ears, The Mountaintop, A View From the Bridge, Dancing at Lughnasa, No Man’s Land, Endgame, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg and Noises Off.  Upcoming: Jerusalem (January 2010). SFP is currently actively developing over 25 major new productions. In 1993, Sonia co-founded Out of Joint Theatre Company, one of Britain ’s leading new writing companies.

Thursday, 06 August 2009 20:04

Broadway Review: "Burn the Floor" Does

Burn the Floor

Burn the Floor
Photo: Mark Kitaoka

Alright, I’ll be the first to admit, I was ready to be snarky as hell about Burn the Floor, the new extravaganza now playing at the Longacre Theatre.  I’ve never been a fan of, or even felt a compunction to watch the big dance shows, “So You Think You Can Dance,”  “Dancing with the Stars” and the like.  But I dare you to see this show and within the first 3 minutes tell me you don’t see something you like,  and I haven’t even gotten to the dancing yet.  This is one of the sexiest casts that Broadway has ever seen.  From the first moment to the curtain call, these people are not only burning the floor they’re smokin’. 

Burn the Floor has a cast of 10 couples performing the 10 dances that comprise the “international style” of ballroom dancing.  They are the Cha-Cha, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, Swing, Lindy, Jive, Samba, Rumba, Tango, Quickstep, and Paso Doble.  This cast performs each of these with astounding precision and emotion.  The 18 award-winning international dancers hail from around the globe - Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Russia, Australia, Sweden, The Philippines and the U.S. - and include Australian Ballroom and World Latin American champions.

Burn the Floor

Burn the Floor
Photo: Mark Kitaoka

The show was birthed at a fiftieth birthday celebration for Sir Elton John in 1997.  Subsequently it opened in London, traveled to over 30 other cities and eventually landed on Broadway.  It’s created, directed and choreographed by Australian Jason Gilkison, former World Champion Latin and Ballroom dancer, and guest choreographer on the fourth season of “So You Think You Can Dance.”  Mr. Gilkison has beautifully crafted a thrilling evening of dance theatre. 

The dancers were accompanied by a pre-recorded synthesized track as well as two on-stage drummers , a wood-wind player, a violin/guitar player and a male and female singer.  Singers Ricky Rojas and Rebecca Tapia brought real passion to their vocals.  Mr. Gilkison integrated the singers beautifully into the show by weaving them in and out of numbers.  His rendition of Si tu Supieras was gorgeous.

I’m disappointed in the producers for not ponying up for more live musicians.  I was seated in front of a tower of speakers and the synthesized strings and brass began to irritate me.  While I’m beating up on the producers, I’m disappointed in their decision (and obviously the decision of Mr. Gilkison) to not include a same-sex couple dancing together.  I would hope that my disappointment need no explanation. 

The show featured Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy as featured dancers.  Both are title holding ballroom dancers who have both appeared on the dance hit, “Dancing with the Stars.”  The couple is talented without a doubt.  But the rest of the cast is certainly no less than the couple in that department. 

Burn the Floor

Burn the Floor
Photo: Mark Kitaoka

I need to take a moment to articulate my disappointed in the Tony Awards for eliminating the Special Theatrical Event category from next season’s awards.  This category was the Tony Awards appreciation for the fact that not all theatre comes in vanilla and chocolate.  The theatrical community is a diverse family and now they’ve just been told by the theatre’s highest honour that unless they fit neatly into a play or a musical category, their chances are pretty much nil. 

Side Note: to the “gentleman” who arrived a few minutes before curtain, was seated in the centre orchestra, wearing a ratty Central YMCA London t-shirt and jean cut-offs, WTF?  First snacks at our seats and now attire like this?  I still feel funny if I wear jeans to the theatre.  Come on people, class it up.

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Disagree with me? Scroll down to write your own review.

Review Roundup:

Michael Kuchwara for The Associated Press – “It's not that the 20 dancers, drawn from all over the world, aren't technically proficient. They can swirl, swerve, kick, slide and glide with ease. But Australian director and choreographer Jason Gilkison has arranged the show, which has toured the world over the last 10 years, in a deadening manner.”

Robert Feldberg for The Bergen Record – “It calls itself a ballroom-dancing show, but its relationship to common social dancing is roughly the same as that of a motorcycle to a scooter. Think of it as an extended version of "Dancing With the Stars," done in triple time, by really, really good dancers.”

Charles Isherwood for The New York Times – “The good news about “Burn the Floor,” a ballroom dancing extravaganza that opened Sunday at the Longacre Theater, is that it is every bit as flashy and tacky as you would expect.  Do I need to add that this is also the bad news?”

Michael Dale  for BroadwayWorld.com – “The 2009-10 Broadway season began with a shirtless man and a bikini-clad woman posed dramatically under a spinning disco ball.  Soon after, similarly underdressed performers danced their way up and down the aisles of the Longacre Theatre in displays that suggested over-caffeination more than artistry.”

Sunday, 10 May 2009 12:22

Review: 9 to 5 the Musical

9 to 5 the Musical
Megan Hilty, Allison Janney and Stephanie J. Block in 9 to 5 the musical
Photo: Joan Marcus

9 to 5 the musical which just opened at the Marquee Theatre is a toe-tapping, fast-paced (sometimes too much so) musical from the screen-writer of the original movie script, Patricia Resnick and country singer and savvy media business-woman Dolly Parton. Unfortunately, 9 to 5, as charming and wonderful as it is doesn't quite make it to flawless. It is a bit of a letdown at the conclusion of a mind-bogglingly impressive theatrical season.

The three leading ladies, Allison Janney as Violet (the Tomlin role), Stephanie J. Block as Judy (the Fonda role) and Megan Hilty as Doralee (the Parton role) make this show. Helping them along are Marc Kudisch and Kathy Fitgerald in the roles of Mr. Hart and Roz, his assistant.

Monday, 27 April 2009 23:05

Review: next to normal

next to normal
Aaron Tveit, Alice Ripley and J. Robert Spencer in next to normal
Photo: Joan Marcus

next to normal represents a new modern style of Broadway musical. If you thought Mr. Sondheim wrote serious musical theatre, meet Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey the composer and lyricist respectively of this thrilling new musical.

I'm not going to try and explain the plot except to say that this is the story of a family tormented by mental illness. next to normal finds its brilliance in the sum of its parts. To try and describe them individually would make the piece sound trite. This material is so accessible by anyone who has dealt with any kind of family trauma. The entire story is told using more than 30 songs that have a broad range of styles. You won't necessarily be humming them as you leave the theatre, but they do work to further the plot and they drive the show along nicely. Many of them are short and serve almost as a recitative in furtherance of the plot. Alice Ripley gives a raw and gut wrenching performance as Diana, a wife and mother who isn't fully in control of her own mind. In the show her diagnosis is given m many technical descriptions with bipolar seeming to be the most oft used. At the beginning of the show we meet the adoring husband, well played by J. Robert Spencer (Jersey Boys), Natalie, the child conceived under misguided intentions and Gabe, the perfect son. Or is he? Does he even exist? The answer is no. Gabe is dead and lives only in Diana's head. It is this ghost that haunts and torments Diana.

next to normal
Adam Chanler-Berat and Jennifer Damiano in next to normal
Photo: Joan Marcus
Jennifer Damiano as the tormented daughter Natalie is sarcastic and caustic as she deals with growing up, a first love and a mother she is worried she might become. Her boyfriend is Henry the pothead played to lovable perfection by Adam Chanler-Berat. His attention to Natalie and her mother is gallant. While J. Robert Spencer did a terrific job in the role of Dan, his tenor voice didn't fit the role. It didn't have the years of torment in it; it was too pretty or even too young. If you saw him in Jersey Boys you will know that he is a talented man. As Gabe, Aaron Tveit is a loving son but also a torment to his mother. Mr. Tveit handles the wild swings of both the character mood and the vocals brilliantly. Louis Hobson as Drs. Madden and Fine makes the most out of his time to shine as a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde figment of Diana's mind.

Director Michael Greif certainly knows his milieu. He has taken a dark subject and a talented cast and assembled them into a finely honed unit. Much as he did in his direction of Rent and Grey Gardens. Mark Wendland's set is brilliant and serves the production well, particularly when used to effect as Gabe watches down on his family.

next to normal
Jennifer Damiano, Aaron Tveit and Adam Chanler-Berat in next to normal

I do have one complaint. Frequently during the performance I was noticing that several of the actors had pitch problems. The orchestra was stacked on a second and third tier on opposite sides of the stage from each other. I found myself wondering if they couldn't hear the band. If I had a dollar for every time an actor ever said to me as a stage manager "can I get more monitor" (you know who you are) I would be rich. Something for the show to think about moving forward. Because I'm guessing this show is going to be here a while.

Side note: This is the perfect musical to bring someone to if that someone ordinarily doesn't like musicals.

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In other reviews...

Ben Brantley for the NY Times writes "No show on Broadway right now makes as direct a grab for the heart — or wrings it as thoroughly — as next to normal does. This brave, breathtaking musical, which opened Wednesday night at the Booth Theater, focuses squarely on the pain that cripples the members of a suburban family, and never for a minute does it let you escape the anguish at the core of their lives." Read the entire review

Joe Dziemianowicz in the NY Daily News writes "A story of a mom's mental illness and the toll it has taken on her and everyone around her may not sound like one that sings, but Tom Kitt (music) and Brian Yorkey (book and lyrics) have created an exceptional show that says something meaningful and powerful about surviving in a world of problems." Read the entire review

Jeremey Gerard writes for Bloomberg "Superbly cast and staged by Michael Greif, next to normal is a distinctly modern musical. Lights frequently glare into the eyes of audience members. Mark Wendland’s skeletal, multitiered set features the black-and-white image of a house that resembles a newspaper photograph blown up so all the dots of ink turn it into a kind of Rorschach test." Read the entire review

For the Associated Press, Michael Kuchwara writes "There are no easy answers to be found in next to normal , a startling, emotion-drenched musical about one family's attempt to cope with mental illness. The show is an impressive achievement, a heartfelt entertainment that has found its way back to New York after an invaluable out-of-town retooling." Read the entire review

 

Saturday, 25 April 2009 10:46

Review: Mary Stuart

Mary Stuart
Harriet Walter (L) and Janet McTeer in Mary Stuart
Photo: Joan Marcus

If you are the type of theatre-lover who yearns for a chance to worship at the altar of diva-dom, run don't walk to the Broadhurst Theatre to see Janet McTeer as Mary, Queen of Scots and Harriet Walter as Queen Elizabeth I in a fresh, riveting  and timely retelling of the story of the familial rivalry between two cousins,  Mary Stuart.    

You know you are at a true hit on Broadway by the level of glitterati in the audience.  In attendance were none other than opera diva Jessye Norman, actress Kate Burton, Oscar winner Kate Winslet and adult film entrepreneur Michael Lucas.   

Thursday, 16 April 2009 21:01

Review: Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages
The Cast of Rock of Ages
Photo: Joan Marcus

Thankfully, Rock of Ages, the new musical that just opened at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on Broadway is anything but just another jukebox musical. The show takes songs from 1980s hair metal bands and weaves them together, albeit loosely, into a raucous and silly evening of theatre that is more fun than I am happy admitting.

During the 1980s I had just graduated from High School and was living in New York City. I was more of an "Andrew Lloyd Sondheim" (to quote one of the characters in the show) fan than I was a fan of Styx, REO Speedwagon or Poison. The music was far more tolerable than I would have recollected, perhaps even a bit enjoyable and oddly not too loud (a complaint I have at most concerts these days).

Rock of Ages
Constantine Maroulis in Rock of Ages
Photo: Joan Marcus

TThe plot revolves around Drew, a bar-back at the Bourbon Room, a rock club on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. Drew is here from the mid-west to make it big as a rock star. Drew is played by "American Idol" also-ran Constantine Maroulis. In the role of his love interest, Sherrie, is Amy Spangler. She is also fresh off the bus ready for her big break. What she finds are grab-ass rock-stars with short attention spans. Next thing she knows she is working as a stripper. Both Mr. Maroulis and Ms. Spangler handle their roles without trouble. Vocally they are both up to the task.

To the mix we add the owner of the Bourbon Room, Dennis played with great enjoyment by Adam Dannheisser and another rock-star wannabe and bar employee, Lonny. Lonny is the evening's narrator and is played by Mitchell Jarvis. He has been provided with some pithy lines by book writer Chris D'Arienzo to help stitch together the plot. He flits about the stage like Tinkerbell on steroids and delivers a fun performance you won't soon forget.

 

Rock of Ages
Amy Spangler in Rock of Ages
Photo: Joan Marcus

The future of the bar is in jeopardy because a German real estate developer, Hertz played by Paul Schoeffler, is intent on tearing down the bar to make room for a Foot Locker. He plays the role with stereotypical German stoicism (that is until he starts to sing with the rest of the cast). His son Franz is his side-kick until he realizes the error of his ways. Franz is played with sheer abandon by Wesley Taylor in a role reminiscent of the character of Mark on "Ugly Betty." He has one of the best lines of the evening. When told by some of the girls that they thought he was gay he responds with "I'm not gay, I'm German." He ultimately falls in love with flower child hold-over Ragina (rhymes with... well you know) played by Lauren Molina.

This show is not going to win a Pulitzer but if you have a thing for songs like "Every Rose Has its Thorns," "I Want to Know What Love Is," and "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" (or even if you just came of age during the 1980s) you will have an appreciation for this show. The band is terrific, the set and lighting are eye-catching as they extend out into the theatre from the stage and the show is directed with a brisk pace by Kristin Hanggi.

During this time of morbid national spirits I found myself thinking how lucky we are on Broadway to be so blessed with a variety of entertainment choices. There is a place on Broadway for Rock of Ages and it couldn't have come at a better time.

 

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In other reviews...

Ben Brantley in the NY Times says " Fortunately, and I must say surprisingly, the attractions of this latest in the ceaseless parade of jukebox musicals on Broadway extend well beyond the extensions. Written with winky wit by Chris D’Arienzo, directed with zest by Kristin Hanggi, sung with scorching heat by a spirited cast, and featuring a towering stack of heavy-rotation favorites from the glory years of MTV — hits from Journey and Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar and Poison, Whitesnake and Twisted Sister — this karaoke comedy about warped-vinyl dreams is about as guilty as pleasures get. Call it “Xanadu” for straight people — and straight-friendly people too." Read the entire review

For the Associated Press, Peter Santilli says " This lighthearted, comedic production faithfully retreads 1980s rock classics, performed by a talented cast and a potent house band. Throw in an arena-style light show and it all makes for a lively night at the theater." Read the entire review

For the Bergen Record's Robert Feldburg the joy was, well not so much. He says "Rock of Ages, which has been directed with a frantic hand by Kristin Hanggi, seems intent on creating a crude, crass and raunchy atmosphere that will echo the 1980s rock world. A dubious goal, sloppily pursued." Read the entire review

Reuter's Frank Scheck said " The audience at a recent preview ate it all up, enthusiastically singing along and dutifully waving their flashlights. Clearly, "Rock of Ages" is tapping into a target demographic that has little use for the music of ABBA or Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons." Read the entire review

Sunday, 12 April 2009 21:32

Review: reasons to be pretty

reasons to be pretty
Thomas Sadoski (L) and Marin Ireland in reasons to be pretty

Neil LaBute's reasons to be pretty (intentionally left all lower-case by the author) is the best new play on Broadway since last season's August: Osage County. It opens with Steph, played bitterly and sarcastically by Marin Ireland yelling at her boyfriend Greg, played by Thomas Sadoski in a tirade that would peal paint. The cause of this fracas is the fact that Greg, in a moment of male bonding at work with his best friend since childhood, has referred to Steph's face as "regular." Certainly sounds innocuous. Unfortunately, another co-worker who just happens to be the wife of Greg's friend and a friend of Steph's overhears this. She has made it her job to let her friend know what her boyfriend has said.

Monday, 06 April 2009 20:48

Review: Hair

Hair
Gavin Creel (L) and Will Swenson in Hair

You will be hard-pressed to find as much energy, poignancy and joy on Broadway right now than the current revival of Hair which opened at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. This production originated in Central Park last summer also under the auspices of the Public Theater.

The original production of Hair opened at the Public Theater on October 17, 1967 as the country was in the midst of the Vietnam War and a cultural revolution. Who could imagine that this period piece could feel as timely today as it did in 1967. It hardly has the shocking impact on today's audience it did on the audience then. In watching the show you can see the kind of jarring impact the show must have had on audiences in 1967. Its in-your-face disavowing of what was considered right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable not to mention the nude scene at the end of act one must have made some audience members in 1967 apoplectic.

The sheer energy level of this cast is hard to comprehend. As I was leaving the theatre after a Saturday matinee I couldn't fathom them having to turn around and do another show that night. The cast stars Will Swenson as the tribe leader Berger who leads this cast with wild abandon in the role as kind of a master of ceremonies. He is everywhere, humping everything. (Be forewarned, this is a very erotic production. ) His performance is completely void of any kind of self-consciousness and is as relaxed and enjoyed as any performance I have seen this season.

At the performance I attended, Sasha Allen who usually plays Dionne was replaced by her understudy, Saycon Sengbloh. Being familiar with the short-shrift that understudies usually get with regard to rehearsal, particularly this soon after opening, Ms. Sengbloh was phenomenal. She opens the show with "Aquarius" and had you not been informed ahead of time you would never have known that you were seeing an understudy. As the rabble-rouser of the women of the tribe and Berger's main squeeze, Sheila, played with earnestness by Caissie Levy, is a stand-out. Her rendition of "Easy to be Hard," singing about the cruelty she feels at the hands of Berger, will break your heart. As the conflicted Claude (as if all the characters aren't conflicted), Gavin Creel is gut wrenching to watch as he pines after two people he can't have (Berger and Sheila) and tries to stay true to himself and make his parents proud by succumbing to being drafted by the US Army. As each cast member's character feels so completely developed and unique, it feels almost unfair to single out specific cast members for praise.

Galt MacDermot's music is alive and fresh in the hands of this talented band under the direction of Nadia Digiallonardo. The members of the onstage band are having just as much fun as the cast as they become members of the tribe themselves. They interact with the cast and actually become characters. The guitarists particularly seemed to have a good time. As someone who can no longer go to a concert without using earplugs, this show is loud, but just at the right level. Kudos to Acme Sound Design and whoever was on the board for the performance I saw. The sound was perfect.

HairSasha Allen (C) and the Cast of Hair

The production is staged with precision as organized chaos by director Diane Paulus and choreographer Karole Armitage. It is impossible to determine where one's work stops and the other's begins as the cast moves freely around the theatre. They use the entire theatre as their playground. They come from everywhere, the aisles, boxes, doors in the back wall of the stage, doors to the street. This director has successfully created what I can only imagine was the effect achieved during its run in the openness of Central Park. At the end of the show the majority of the cast exits through the back of the house. They then need to exit through the front doors of the theatre and run west on 45th Street to get back to the stage door in time for the curtain call. As the lights come up on the cast entering stage left you almost feel like they just ran a marathon to see who could be first for the curtain call. This only adds to the sense of excitement.

The set by Scott Pask is minimal and takes advantage of a mostly bare stage. I particularly enjoyed the incorporation of an old truck into the design of the bandstand for the stage. When not actively in scenes the cast uses the cab of the truck as a place to hide and catch a buzz. Pask has successfully found a way to incorporate the band onstage and not take up a lot of room. This is similar to the way that Robert Brill has stacked the orchestra for the current production of Guys and Doll.

If you are a true theatre lover, you will not miss your chance to see this gem of a revival. I had been looking forward to seeing Hair all season and was most certainly not disappointed.
Hair is playing at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre at 230 West 45th Street. Get Tickets

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In other reviews...

In his review for the NY Times, Ben Brantley calls Hair a "thrilling revival" and says of the show "what distinguishes “Hair” from other recent shows about being young is the illusion it sustains of rawness and immediacy, an un-self-conscious sense of the most self-conscious chapter in a person’s life." In speaking of the director: "It’s not so much what Ms. Paulus brings to “Hair”; it’s what she brings out of it, vital elements that were always waiting to be rediscovered." Read the entire review

For the Associated Press, Michael Kuchwara says "Hair is the liveliest show in town." He says the show has "made the jump from a summer Central Park engagement to Broadway with all its exuberance intact - and more." Read the entire review

In Variety David Rooney says the production is "sharper, fuller and even more emotionally charged" than the Central Park production. Describing the effect of the cast on the audience: " They elevate the audience to such a collective high during the first act's nonstop exuberance that the apprehensive turn becomes all the more wrenching." He concludes: " If this explosive production doesn't stir something in you, it may be time to check your pulse." Read the entire review

For Bloomberg, Jeremy Gerard says "Hair was then and is now the most exciting new show in town, not so much a breath of spring air as a jolt of adrenaline." Read the entire review