Monday, December 31, 2012

News & History: Les Mis Tries for a Successful Revival in 2014

2006 Revival
Undoubtedly, everyone is now tired of all of the Les Miserables headlines, not to mention Facebook statues, Tweets, and numerous mentions about Les Mis in whatever other new-fangled social media through which the masses are communicating these days. In any case, since its release, Les Mis has been dominating all of those. Not with movie news, just reviews, quotes, comments, etc. Now producer Cameron Mackintosh has finally brought some totally new news to the table.

According to the BroadwayWorld.com newsdesk, the Les Mis producer has said that this 1987 Broadway musical will be revived on Broadway for the second time in 2014. It may stem from the currently touring production, which is slated to run through June of next year, but no official word on casting or exact dates have been announced. Read the full news item here.

But yes, this will be the second Broadway revival for Les Miserables. I'd forgotten it was revived, but indeed it was. It ran for two years, which is respectable for a show, but seems short considering that the first installment lasted from the '80s to 2003. But the problem may lie there: the original show closed on May 18, 2003 after almost 700 performances, and previews started for the revival in October 2006, just three years later. In this journalist's humble opinion, that is way too early to revive anything. Good gravy.

The cast included Alexander Gemingnani as Jean Valjean (must be a Sondheim favorite, because he's been in 3 different of Steve's revivals), Norm Lewis of the 2012 The Gershwins' Porgy & Bess as Javert, Daphne Rubin-Vega- yes, Mimi in Rent OBC- as Fantine (ok... Why?), Beauty and the Beast's original Lumiere, Gary Beach as Thenardier, Peter and the Starcatcher's Celia Keenan-Bolger as Eponine, and of course little Carly Rose Sonenclar (on X-Factor this season) as Young Cosette. It was nominated for no Tony Awards, one Drama League Award, and a measly three Drama Desk Awards, compared to the original which won eight of the twelve Tonys for which it was nominated, all five Outer Critics Circle Awards, and eight of the eleven Drama Desks for which it was nominated. No wonder, though. This revival was up against the successful revival of A Chorus Line; but really, this was a bit of a lame season for Broadway (yes, Spring Awakening won all the awards that year but then again, it closed only a year after this Les Mis dud).

Ben Brantley of the New York Times concurred with the notion that this one was revived too soon in his review from opening night. He also suggested that the revival tried to be the original, but fell short in almost every way, lacking the original passion, and miscasting lots of talented and experienced actors. Overall it was lackluster, with the minor characters stealing the show. Read the whole review here! It's great!

Here's a highlights reel of the revival. Beware: when you hear "I Dreamed a Dream" you might scream and throw things at the screen. It's awful. Get past that, and the rest of it is pretty good. Do you concur with Brantley that it's just not quite there?


So there's your tidbit on Broadway News and History for the day. Learn more about both Broadway installments of Les Mis on PlaybillVault.com.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

"Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn" Trailer Featuring Katherine McNamara is Finally Released!

imdb.com/name/nm3031063/
It's finally out! Just recently, the trailer for the new film Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn was released. This one stars Joel Courtney of Super 8 with Jake T. Austin ("Wizards of Waverly Place") as Huck, and most importantly, one of my favorite actresses, Disney's Katherine McNamara (Girl vs. Monster, New Year's Eve, "Kickin' It") will be playing the sweet Becky Thatcher. (Check back for a Singular Sensation Spotlight about her in the near future!) Katherine is one of my favorites because I saw her as Fredrika Armfeldt in 2010 in the revival of Sondheim's A Little Night Music with Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch. That was a magical performance.

I'm really confused... From the looks of it, the plot will include the high points of Tom Sawyer (of course, because it's very conducive to a children's action/adventure flick), and some small aspects of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I'm cautious, because the latter is my favorite book of all time. And like all my favorites, it is of course a musical. Have you seen Big River? That is a brilliant show. At any rate, come 2013, all these questions will be answered.

Anyway, check out the new trailer below!


Be on the lookout for a new Singular Sensation column: News & History, which looks at Broadway news and takes a look back at similar news from the past.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Celebrate Christmas with Memphis and the Midtown Men!

Merry Christmas, everyone! Though I've been looking forward to Les Mis coming out on Christmas all year, that's of course not the main focus of the day.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

"Praise be to God for his indescribable gift!" 2 Corinthians 9:15

So here are some of my favorite Christmas tunes, of course sung by Broadway people.

I've mentioned this before, but my favorite singing group, the Midtown Men, worked with writer Stevie Van Zandt on his song (originally featured in the film Home Alone 2), "All Alone on Christmas." It's a special song for several reasons, first of all that it was re-arranged just for the Men. What's great about TMM version is that it sounds very "them." What I mean by that is it doesn't sound like they pulled out a Christmas song at random and said, "Let's do this... because it's Christmas." The style of this song fits right in with the oldies on their "60s Hits" album and their touring show. It was a perfect choice and a brilliant arrangement. It's a very natural sound. Though there is a key change in the original '90s recording, it's not very prevalent. However, listen to The Midtown Men and you'll notice the modulation is the highlight of the song. That's what distinguishes it and really makes it one of my favorites. Give it a listen!


Last Christmas, The Memphis Facebook page had this contest where they wanted fans to submit Memphis-appropriate parody lyrics to the tune of "Jingle Bells." Since I've done some parodies for fun in the past, I wrote up a verse and submitted it. The one with the most "likes" on Facebook won. (Hint: here's how you win those things: stay up late Facebook-chatting all of your friends and ask them to vote for you. It might take 2 hours or so, but it's doable) The prize was that a Memphis cast member would sing the winner's song. That was probably the best moment of my life, seeing this post on the Memphis wall:
Congrats to Sally Henry: You've written the winning Memphis Jingle Bells lyrics! Stay tuned to hear your song performed by a Memphis cast member.

It's times like these that make me just want to yell in Gladys Herdman fashion, "HEY! Unto you a child is born!"

Monday, December 24, 2012

One Day More!!!

The day before big events, I always find myself singing "One Day More" from Les Mis (check out the performance from the movie here!). And since it's one day before the biggest event of the year, I've been humming that tune all day. No, I'm not talking about Christmas, but the opening of the Les Miserables movie! So what better time to that song than today?

Since most theatre fans have seen the Tony performance, here's one you might not have seen. It's a flash-mob in a mall done by the Polish cast of Les Mis performing "One Day More." Though I don't speak the language, it's still awesome. And the best part is that the Les Mis walk seems to be a worldwide thing. Thank goodness.

Click on the picture below to watch this performance and gear up for the opening of the most anticipated movie of the year!

Ok, here's the Tony Awards performance from the '80s. Merry Christmas!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Broadway Vets Shine in "One Day More"

I'm sure many of you have already seen this, but here is the newly-released performance of "One Day More" from the Les Miserables movie, which comes out in less than a week.

Having seen this performance, I'm pretty concerned about the leads. The way Russell Crowe struggle-busses the notes in this song makes the Javert part sound tenor, and Amanda Seyfried (Cosette) does the same thing. The other two- Eddie Redmayne (Marius) and Hugh Jackman (Jean Valjean)- sound fine, but they're not by any means owning the notes. These flaws may go unnoticed were actual Broadway actors not in the movie, however. Samantha Barks (Eponine) was an excellent choice because she has played Eponine before, in fact she did so in the 25th anniversary concert production. While Aaron Tveit (Enjorlas, pictured below) has never done Les Mis, he has been in multiple Broadway shows, so he definitely has the pipes (and of course the looks) for this role. From this video alone, it looks like Samantha Barks and Aaron Tveit are going to shine and really stand out.

Click on the picture below to watch the performance!


Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Birthday, Bryan Fenkart!

Today seems to be a big day for stars' birthdays. We've got Kiefer Sutherland, Samuel L. Jackson, Jane Fonda, and one of my favorites, Bryan Fenkart. I've written about him a couple times, but never fully expounded on him, so here's his chance in the spotlight.

I saw Bryan Fenkart as Huey Calhoun in Memphis on Broadway in 2010. He was in for Chad Kimball that performance, but after I saw it, I can't imagine that Chad could have been better. For one thing, Bryan looked perfect for the part. This picture is basically in a nutshell.

 http://boston.broadway.com/shows/memphis-baa/photos/memphis-national-tour-show-photos/167560/show-photos-memphis-national-tour-bryan-fenkart
In addition to his Broadway stint, he went on to star in the National Tour as well, and you best believe I was right there in the audience when he came to my city. I actually wasn't going to see it because I thought it was silly to spend a fortune see the same show twice within two years, but truthfully, knowing that Bryan was in it really tipped the scale and convinced me to see it again.

Meanwhile, he's also a solo singer. He released his debut album, "Imperfect Man" a couple years ago, and released "Simple and Grey," his latest full-length LP, earlier this year. He did the latter album while he was understudying for Chad Kimball in Memphis. What's great about his music is that not only can everyone relate to the very real lyrics, but it seems like he is completely revealing the real Bryan Fenkart through his songs.

Check him out for yourself!


And besides being talented in so many ways, he is also an incredibly nice guy. At the stage door, he took special time to talk to all of the fans and sign their memorabilia. So at this point, I hope it's clear why Bryan Fenkart is one of my favorite actors. Celebrate his birthday by watching this video and check out "Simple and Grey" on Spotify!

Keep up with Bryan Fenkart at: www.bryanfenkart.comwww.facebook.com/bryanfenkart, or www.twiter.com/Steinway7.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's About to Get Real

Here's the latest Smash Season 2 promo! I think this picture speaks for itself. Let's just say, it's just about to get real. I think I haven't harped on the new casting yet, so here goes: Jennifer Hudson is a good singer, however, I am disappointed that they chose her to join. What I love about Smash is the Broadway angle. I realize they're bringing her in to play the American Idol angle, but it doesn't make sense to cast people who are primarily singers into this drama. There are so many talented Broadway people out there, so why not cast them?

I loved the news about Jeremy Jordan (Bonnie & Clyde, Newsies, etc.) getting on the Smash train and Krysta Rodriguez (Addams Family, Spring Awakening, etc.) was a great addition as well (I saw her as Wednesday in Addams Family, and she was brilliant). Perfect. So why do they have to cast singers as the new stars? Granted, I'm probably still bitter that they're kicking Brian d'Arcy James off. (missed that analysis? Click here!) 

Anyway, the cool kids at the Smash Twitter page posted this picture with this caption earlier today:

"After seeing this brand new  art, all we can say is season 2 can’t come fast enough! "

VOICE OVER: America Crowns The Voice Champion 2012

VOICE OVER: America Crowns The Voice Champion 2012 
Last night, the Voice ended, and America finally crowned the one who can now be called "The Voice." It was a very fun night filled with ridiculous wigs (of course), crying, and even a cheesy group performance by CeeLo Green, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, and Blake Shelton. No spoilers here, but I will say that I correctly predicted at least the final two and maybe even the winner... Read this full article to find out!

The Voice Finale! December 18

It's crazy that this whole fun experience is over! It's been real, Voice peeps. Who knows what I might be recapping next... Seriously, if you know, give me a call. I have no idea. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

THE VOICE Finale Tonight!!!

So, tonight is the season finale of The Voice! Yes, yet another season is drawing to a close. Who do you think'sgoing to win season 3? It's such a hard prediction to make, because these are some talented singers. Of course they are. They wouldn't be in the finals if they weren't. Nevertheless, I feel an obligation to predict more than just the finalists, but the actual winner. But there are lots of factors that go into who might win and different reasons for each person.

Let's start with the last from Team CeeLo, Nicholas David:
He has a different sound than most pop singers; he's certainly different from the other two who are competing against him. Because of this and his lack of general popularity, I don't think he's likely to win. With all three of the singers, it really just comes down to style preference, but I think he won't win over America.

It seems like this competition is really between the two Team Blake members, Cassadee and Terry.
Terry has an awesome voice, not to mention his fun personality which has shown lots in the last few episodes. And he has one advantage in that he has a Scottish accent which Americans really can't resist. But seriously, I think the time I realized he was really brilliant was when he brought down the house with "Don't Stop Believing." It was at that point that it was clear he'd be in the finals. I would love to see him win, because while he tried to make it when he was younger, but never really got off his feet.

At this point, I really feel like Cassadee Pope will win though. There has to be more than just her voice going on for her to win, because all three of these people are worthy. Cassadee has this sound like Avril Lavigne that's just refreshing, because though she sings the same kind of music as lots of other artists these days, I think her voice distinguishes her. Besides just that, she's a cute and fun girl. Seeing her and her coach interact is really sweet, and there's just something about her that makes her special. I can't really describe it, but out of the finalists, she seems to be the most popular. It helps that she is close to the age of the voters, so they can relate to her.

Basically, I'd love to see Terry win, but I think Cassadee has more of the popularity and marketability needed tow in.

That is the official Ginge's Picks for the last time! Do you concur?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

VOICE OVER: Team CeeLo Faces Off Against Team Blake as the Fab Four Become Three

The Voice December 11
Due to these pesky things we like to call "finals," there's only one The Voice recap this week. I know, it's sad, right? Anyway, tonight's show was the results from the top four elimination! Seriously, after the last two weeks when Dez Duron and Amanda Brown were eliminated, I was ready to give up this whole thing. I sat down mumbling things about if so-and-so stays, I'll slap someone side of the head. So, check it out... Did someone have to get slapped tonight? 

Click on the picture to get the full article and Ginge's Picks for the finals!


Before She Was on Broadway... WAY Before

It's a hobby of mine to look for familiar actors in movies. Even if I don't know their names, I love sitting with my family and being able to say, "Oh! That's that guy from that other movie!" (I'm more specific than that, but you get the idea) Here's a confession: I pride myself on being able to recognize any actor I've seen. And for the most part I can. Last night, I was on a roll. I was positive that this one actor who I really had never seen before, was another actor's brother. And he was. 

Then I was watching Jumanji, and I realized that the little girl in that is a young Kirsten Dunst. However, in my pride, I missed a Broadway actress. I know, I'm a total failure. In my defense, she was young. and pre-nose job. But when I saw her name in the credits, it suddenly made sense. 

So you may know her as the original Amber in Hairspray on Broadway and the original Elle in Legally Blonde the musical. I'm talking about Laura Bell Bundy. Bless her heart, she looked very different in Jumanji. That was a total shock, but now that I know, I feel like I can see it in her eyes. Visit her website to learn about her Broadway and country singing career (the latter of which actually came first) and of course see what she looks like now.

from the 1995 film Jumanji
So that's your Broadway spotting for the day! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Favorites From the Day: Carrie Underwood, The Midtown Men, and More!

Today was a great day to be a Broadway journalist. It's days like these that remind me why I love my job. Check out my favorite articles from today!

STAGE TUBE: Future 'Maria von Trapp' Carrie Underwood Sings 'The Sound of Music'

I found a gem today, which impressed my boss (always a good day when that happens!). Not sure if you realized it, but country icon Carrie Underwood is slated to portray the role of Maria von Trapp in NBC's upcoming holiday broadcast of The Sound of Music in 2013. So I found this video from 2008 of her singing the title song on CBS. I'll go ahead and admit that I'm totally skeptical of her being chosen for this role. Not that she's not awesome, but literally no one can replace Julie Andrews, or even touch her performance. That's called sacrilege. Nonetheless, she's been chosen, so you might as well check out this video of her singing Broadway. Has she got the pipes for it?

STAGE TUBE: MEMPHIS Tour's Morrison & Gurr Record 'Santa Baby' on the Road

While on the road, Memphis cast members Jill Morrison and Christopher Gurr recorded the classic favorite Christmas song, "Santa Baby," with Jill singing lead vocals and Christopher playing ukelele and adding backup vocals. This video includes footage from Memphis, Christmas pictures, and more set to this new song. Read the full article and be sure to check out Jill's bio! She is an incredibly talented girl, and I hope her career goes far.



STAGE TUBE: The Midtown Men Record Van Zandt's New Arrangement of 'All Alone on Christmas'



I got to write about my guys again today! Is it weird that I refer to them as "mine"? Oh well. At any rate, the Midtown Men, original cast members from Broadway's Jersey Boys, recently collaborated with writer and musician Stevie Van Zandt to record a new version of Van Zandt's "All Alone on Christmas." The song was originally recorded by Darlene Love with E Stree Band and The Miami Horns and was featured on the 1992 Home Alone 2 soundtrack. Now 20 years later, Van Zandt has re-arranged the song for The Midtown Men, which marks their first Christmas single. 

Go inside the recording studio and hear part of this new song through this making of video!


This just sounds fun. Very cool idea! Fans, friends and supporters of Thodos Dance Chicago, the contemporary dance company founded by Melissa Thodos, will kick up their heels at Thodos Dance Chicago's 21st Anniversary Gala 21 Club, Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 6pm at the Chicago Cultural Center, Randolph Street and Michigan Avenue, Chicago.



~Favorites From the Day are articles that I have edited or written on the day I post~

Monday, December 3, 2012

"The Glee Project" Meets "Smash" and Parody in The Smash Project

Smash is one of my favorite shows on TV. I'm so bummed that it isn't coming back until next spring! But you best believe I will be there the moment it starts again!
It's basically about the making of a Broadway musical (about Marilyn Monroe, called Bombshell) following the journey of the music/lyrics team as well as actors, producers, directors, etc. The plot took a little while to get into, but I just had to embrace the drama and go with it. My favorite part was seeing all the random Broadway guest stars interspersed, whether it was Norbert Leo Butz (2-time Tony Award-Winner: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels; Catch Me if You Can) playing the lead in the musical in Smash called Heaven on Earth, or Rebecca Naomi Jones (American Idiot) randomly playing one of the Katharine MacPhee character's friends.
All that to say... Here is a video done by John Walton West of Newsical that is basically a big inside joke for theatre-lovers. It's supposed to be like "The Glee Project," except for Broadway... with famous Broadway actors trying to get on Smash. This guy's impressions are simply hilarious!


Fun fact: at the time this video was made, this wasn't widely-known, but actually Terrence Mann was also in Smash for an episode, and actually he was a bigger part than Norbert Leo Butz was.