Monday, November 25, 2013

Watch MISS SAIGON Revival's Eva Noblezada and More in This Preview!

Eva Noblezada
I could not be more excited about the new London revival of the 1989 musical Miss Saigon, coming in May 2014! On Thursday, they released the official casting announcement, revealing that Eva Noblezada will be playing the lead, Kim.

It seems fitting that producer Cameron Mackintosh found this 17-year-old who has no experience besides high school shows, because that kind of background is very true to the character, who is actually supposed to be 17 at the beginning of the show. According to, Mackintosh has voiced what many of us have also thought: that her casting is very similar to another young star from the '80s, Lea Salonga.

Additionally, a video came out on Friday in which Mackintosh, and composers Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg introduce the other principals. In this video, we see Noblezada sing Kim's "I'd Give My Life for You," the show's John sings the Act 2 showstopping opening "Bui Doi," their Gigi sings "The Movie in My Mind," and of course the Engineer sings the 11 o'clock number, "The American Dream." Also introduced in this video are Chris and Ellen.

Yes. The picture below is that ginger adolescent from the above video who has been cast as Chris, Alistair Brammer. Feeling more at peace with his casting? Me too.

Alistair Brammer
As the video said, Brammer played Marius on the West End in Les Miserables, so I'd say it makes sense that he'd be playing Miss Saigon's equivalent character (no seriously, besides the accents, the characters/vocal ranges/songs are exactly the same). Brammer also starred as the title character in the 2008 UK Tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Right now, he is in War Horse at the National Theatre.

I feel like clarification is in order regarding Noblezada's casting: yes, she will be playing the iconic role at a young age, but she will only be playing four shows a week so she can continue with school. Interestingly, her aunt, Annette Calud, was in the original 1991 Broadway cast as a bar girl and the Kim understudy, later taking over as the Kim alternate. So, in case there was any doubt in your mind from her audition whether Noblezada is a good choice, watch her perform "With You" from Ghost at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards this year.

What do you think of the casting? Was there someone you wanted to see in this new cast who was snubbed? I'm sure there is. At any rate, this ginger Broadway nerd can't wait to see that helicopter land on a West End stage again after so many years.

Read More:
Miss Saigon on Broadway
"17-Year-Old Eva Noblezada to Star in MISS SAIGON in the West End"
Miss Saigon barely makes it to Broadway
Video: The Making of Miss Saigon Part 1
Video: The Making of Miss Saigon Part 2
Alistair Brammer on Twitter
Rachelle Ann Go on Twitter

Sally Henry // Twitter: // Facebook:

Monday, November 18, 2013

News and History: Matthew Morrison Talks Boy Bands, Returning to Broadway "right after Glee," and More!

Matthew Morrison in SOUTH PACIFIC on Broadway
Glee star and Broadway alum (original Link in Hairspray, original Lt. Cable in South Pacific revival) Matthew Morrison has been extra popular for about the last month or so. He's brilliant and definitely deserves it, but this attention is largely coming from the fast-approaching release of his first Christmas album, "A Classic Christmas." But for real, everyone has been interviewing him, and even more than that, Billboard even gave an exclusive preview of his album!

He Skyped with HuffPost Live on November 7 for about 15 minutes, and it was so entertaining (see the many expressions of Mr. Morrison below). Here's a quick look at the highlights:

Not surprisingly, he first discusses his Christmas album and post-Cory Monteith Glee. He says of the tribute episode, "I'm glad it's behind us so we can just move on." Then he shares that they were currently filming their Christmas episode, calling the atmosphere, "Very jovial and gleeful." *see what he did there*

At 7:44, they show clips from the best jokes about Mr. Shue's hair on Glee through the years. Of course they are all Sue Sylvesterisms, and Morrison thought them all hilarious.

Most notably, he says, "Right after Glee, I definitely want to get back on stage. That's kind of the reason I put out a lot of these albums is because I'm a creature of the stage, and I love to perform in front of a live audience, and that reciprocal feeling that you get from a live audience- that's what really feeds my soul." He says he wants to play someone different from Mr. Shue either on Broadway or the West End. Yes, you heard that right. He said that very definitively. Welcome back to Broadway, sir!

Lastly, he addresses "the boy band thing," revealing that he has been a part of 6 boy bands in his past including LMNT, (which released their hit song "(Hey) Juliet!" after he quit) and "Fresh Step" which he called a "fake boy band). He says he didn't really love the boy band experience, because he's a solo artist. "If there's a mess-up on stage, it's my mess-up... I don't trust other people, I guess."

To brighten up your morning, I bring you some golden, wonderfully ridiculous Matthew Morrison footage from when he performed with "Fresh Step" on Letterman. Heehee this is probably the best thing I've ever seen.

I'm sorry, but all I heard from the HuffPost interview was the part about him wanting to be on Broadway soon! We'll welcome him back gladly, I'm sure. Since all celebrities go the revival route, which roles would you like to see him in?

Read More: // Twitter: @Matt_Morrison // Facebook:
Matthew Morrison on Broadway
"Matthew Morrison on His New Holiday Album, Lea Michele, and Being Like a Real-Life Mr. Schue" (Elle)
"Matthew Morrison, 'A Classic Christmas': Exclusive Album Premiere" (Billboard)
"Matthew Morrison LIVE (Video)" (HuffPost Live)

Sally Henry // Twitter: // Facebook:

Monday, November 4, 2013

Best of YouTube: Aaron Tveit and Norbert Leo Butz Sing in a WICKED Face-Off

Aaron Tveit
Writing last week's Wicked Week articles totally renewed my love for that amazing show. And you know what? Even though I posted just about a zillion Wicked-related videos every day, there were still some that I left out! Since I'm not quite ready to let go of my Wicked high, I'll share another video with you. Wait, did you miss last week's tributes? Check them all out here!

The video below is from Broadway's "Miscast" concert in 2009, in which Norbert Leo Butz (original Fiyero in Wicked, one of my favorite actors of all time) and Aaron Tveit (a Fiyero replacement, original Gabe in Next to Normal, Frank Abagnale in Catch Me if You Can) sing a great song from Wicked which, as the concert title might suggest, they would normally never sing. And then there's a hilarious surprise in the middle involving the famous Fiyero pants.

This requires a little bit of background information though. Those Fiyero pants have a reputation for being ridiculously tight, which Norbert just found funny, because he felt like he was a little old to be playing the young college guy, much less wear some tight pants (Read here about when they ripped during a performance). An interesting thing to bear in mind: this performance was before he and Aaron Tveit adorably starred together in Catch Me if You Can (2011).

Since then, they have apparently had many discussions about the fact that Norbert will always be the original Fiyero and therefore the one who wore the pants the best. Do you concur?

Read More:
Aaron Tveit on Broadway
Norbert Leo Butz on Broadway
Norbert Leo Butz interview: too old for Fiyero

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Friday, November 1, 2013

WICKED Week: Bloopers & Extras & Mishaps, Oh My!

10th Anniversary Special
The most successful musical of this generation, Wicked, celebrated a great milestone on Wednesday. As of October 30, they have been on Broadway for 10 years. Check out tributes from every day this week, including documentaries, interviews, original rehearsal footage, bootleg performance videos, and more as I have highlighted the road to Broadwaythe Fiyerosthe Elphabas, and the Glindas(Scroll down to the bottom for a synopsis and main character list)

For the final tribute to bring Wicked Week to a close, I want to show some videos that are not usually seen and share some stories from the 10 years of this incredible show on Broadway.

Back in the day, Norbert Leo Butz had a website with some hilarious anecdotes about Wicked. Unfortunately, said website is no longer around, so you'll just have to take my word for these:

So in the scene where Elphaba and Fiyero save the lion cub, Elphaba (Idina Menzel) says something like, "Isn't it terrible to keep animals in cages?" as she was saying that line or a little before it one time, a cell phone went off in the audience. So then Norbert ad-libbed, "I think people with cell phones should be kept in cages."

Another time, when Norbert was flying in to say "Let the green girl go!" on a rope in those famous Fiyero pants, his pants totally ripped all the way up, and that was apparently a night that some school kids were there. He had nothing on underneath except a dance belt.

Below is the audio for "Which Way is the Party?" which was sung by Fiyero in the San Francisco tryout, but was later replaced by "Dancing Through Life."

Other cut/replaced songs (of which I am aware) include "Making Good," replaced by "The Wizard and I," and "As if By Magic," (this recording was from a reading, so you can hear someone reading stage directions!) sung by Dr. Dillamond, Fiyero, and Elphaba. Today if you go see the show, you will hear an extra song, which I love. It's sung by Nessa bemoaning her life in the scene where Elphaba comes back to find that Nessa is the dictator of the Munchkins, and it's called "Wicked Witch of the East."

Here's an ad-lib from Kristin Chenoweth's last performance of Wicked. Right before "One Short Day," Idina totally went off-script, and Kristin was in tears. Check it out below!

According to The Grimmerie, the book about the making of Wicked, Stephen Schwartz originally wanted every song to either have the word "good" or "bad/wicked" in the title. After a few though, he realized he couldn't keep that up. So you can get an idea of what order he wrote the songs in when you think about which titles follow that pattern, like "No One Mourns the Wicked," "For Good," "Something Bad," etc.

The most famous mishap in the show was not funny at all, though. Listen to Idina Menzel tell in her own words about her serious injury that happened when she only had 2 or 3 performances left.

If you've seen this video before, I'm sure you knew it was coming. Here is the video of Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel rehearsing their emotional last duet, "For Good." In The Grimmerie, Stephen Schwartz says that he had consulted his daughter for that song, asking what she might say to her best friend if they would never see each other again. He says some of these lyrics are pulled directly from that conversation.

Favorite line:
Fiyero: There is no pretense here. I happen to be genuinely self-absorbed and deeply shallow.

THANK YOU for joining me in Wicked Week for the past few days! Did I miss any memorable videos/stories from Wicked over this week? What are your favorite memories from the past decade of Wicked? Please share your thoughts/insights!

Wicked is about Elphaba (later known as the Wicked Witch of the West) who goes to Shiz University as a social outcast and ends up rooming with Glinda. Despite the odd pairing, the two become best friends. The story is about loyalty and friendship as it follows their journeys as they have to decide who they want to be as opposed to who other people think they are. The original cast included Idina Menzel (Tony Award, Elphaba), Kristin Chenoweth (Tony nomination, Glinda), Norbert Leo Butz (Fiyero, the ridiculously good-looking and self-proclaimed shallow guy at Shiz), and Joel Grey (the Wonderful Wizard of Oz).

Read More:
Wicked the Musical on Broadway
Wicked the Musical official website
Full Wicked cast list (from 2003-2013, click on the box on the right that says "expand replacements")

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