Monday, May 26, 2014

Hollywood Stars are Taking Over Broadway... [Unsuccessfully]

Hollywood stars on Broadway 2013-2014
James Franco, Daniel Craig, Bryan Cranston, Zach Braff
Courtesy of PlaybillVault.com
Hollywood actors have been infiltrating Broadway for years. For instance, the first time I watched the Tony Awards (2010), Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Scarlett Johansson each won a Tony Award, with another 9 famous Hollywood actors also nominated, and I remember feeling betrayed that so many Tonys were going to screen stars. Not to say that they were undeserving, but I was just surprised. This year is no different. In fact, with 22 Hollywood stars on Broadway this season, I would venture to say that this is some sort of record. But unlike Hollywood's success of 2010, very few of the 2014 Tony Awards will be going to movie stars. Indeed, the list of television stars who are actually nominated for a Tony Award is vastly smaller than those not nominated, let alone winning.

So first, here are the whopping five screen actors starring on Broadway who have received Tony nominations:
  • Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston* (All the Way)
  • Bridesmaids's Chris O'Dowd* (Of Mice and Men)
  • Monk's Tony Shahloub (Act One)
  • How I Met Your Mother's Neil Patrick Harris (Hedwig and the Angry Inch)
  • 24's Cherry Jones (The Glass Menagerie)
(Oddly enough, three of them are nominated against each other: Cranston, O'Dowd, and Shaloub)

And then there are those who did not get a Tony nomination (though, to be fair, some of them have been nominated in other awards organizations)...
  • Denzel Washington (A Raisin in the Sun
  • Dawson's Creek/My Week with Marilyn's Michelle Williams* (Cabaret)
  • Spiderman's James Franco* (Of Mice and Men)
  • Scrubs's Zach Braff* (Bullets Over Broadway)
  • Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe (Cripple of Inishmaan)
  • Stark Trek/Heroes's Zachary Quinto* (The Glass Menagerie)
  • Will and Grace/Smash's Debra Messing* (Outside Mullingar)
  • Weeds's Mary Louise Parker (Snow Geese)
Check out this video of Zach Braff and the cast of Bullets Over Broadway in rehearsals (he does sing!!)


But wait, there's more! As if having your expensive star not get nominated weren't sad enough, the following shows got an extra slap in the face by receiving no nominations at all:
  • X-Men's Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart (No Man's Land/Waiting for Godot, repertory production at the Cort Theatre)
  • Dexter's Michael C. Hall (The Realistic Joneses
  • James Bond's Daniel Craig and The Constant Gardener's Rachel Weisz* (Betrayal)
  • Billy Crystal (700 Sundays, a 1-man show)
  • Chuck/Tangled's Zachary Levi* (First Date)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean's Orlando Bloom* (Romeo and Juliet)
  • Ethan Hawke (Macbeth)
Moral of the story: It's not a good year to be named Zach.

Y'all, that's 18 movie stars who are exiting the Great White Way with not even a Tony nomination. 18! My guess is that back in 2010, Hollywood stars on Broadway were a novelty to the Tony nominating committee, and I think producers had other reasons to cast them. Now, it appears as though stars are purely used to draw crowds for a short amount of time, and producers don't seem to care that much about awards or a long run. I also think that Tony voters are disenchanted by the movie actors by now.

I've heard people diss Daniel Radcliffe's performance in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, but I thought he was great. Do we need Hollywood actors on Broadway? Are they very good?

Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: www.twitter.com/bwayginger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

*Denotes a Broadway debut

Read More:
Tony snubs 2014
New Musicals on Broadway
Star Power episode of the "A Night on the Town" Broadway radio program (which inspired this blog post)
All about the Tony Awards

Monday, May 19, 2014

What's New on Broadway? Spotlight on 7 Tony-Nominated Broadway Revivals

Public service announcement! The Tony Awards are exactly three weeks from yesterday, so this is the time to ditch those noble aspirations of having a full grasp of everything that's playing on Broadway and just skip right to the Tony nominees. And if you're like me, this means quickly cramming by furiously skimming some reviews and trying to be able to at least recognize the posters so you can appear to be the ultimate Broadway nerd scholar at your Tony Awards party. I've already written some short summaries of the new plays and new musicals, so as promised, here are some quick notes about the revivals! I'm only including the Tony nominees, because when you're cramming, you really need the shortest list possible. You're welcome.

Revivals are Broadway productions of shows that have been performed on Broadway before (sometimes they don't actually have to have been on Broadway, but usually they have at least played Off-Broadway).

Tony Award Nominees for Best Revival of a Play 

The Cripple of Inishmaan April 20-July 20, 2014 (limited run)
Playwright: Martin McDonagh
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe (only nominated for a Drama Desk award), Sarah Greene (who's already won a Theatre World Award for her role)
Skit name: Harry Potter's Back on Broadway- This Time with Pants!
And no, that double-"a" business in the title is not a typo.
The Glass Menagerie September 26, 2013-February 23, 2014
Playwright: Tennessee Williams
Stars: Cherry Jones, Zachary Quinto, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Brian J. Smith
Skit name: (I'm sorry, I got nothing, because all I can think of is how creepy Zachary Quinto was in the TV show Heroes back in the day)

A Raisin in the Sun April 3-June 15, 2014 (limited run)
Playwright: Lorraine Hansberry
Stars: All the cool kids (no really, we've got Denzel Washington, Anika Noni Rose, Sophie Okenedo, and LaTanya Richardson Jackson, all of whom are Tony nominated for their roles, except Denzel... awkward...)
Skit name: Not Even Almost About Dried Fruit

Twelfth Night November 10, 2013-February 16, 2014
Playwright: Bill Shakespeare
Stars: Mark Rylance, Stephen Fry, Samuel Barnett, Paul Chahidi (all of whom are Tony nominated for their performances)
Skit name: The Tranny SkitTony Nominees for Best Revival of a Musical 

Les Misérables March 23-now
Music: Claude-Michel Schonberg
Lyrics: Herbert Kretzmer
Book: Alain Boublil and Schonberg
Stars: Ramin Karimloo (Tony nom), Will Swenson, Cassie Levy, Nikki M. James, Andy Meintus, Samantha Hill
Skit name: The Most Beautiful Les Mis Cast of All Time (seriously, Karimloo and Swenson playing opposite each other must be incredibly distracting)
On another note, it's only nominated for 3 Tonys. Count 'em: 3: Best Revival, Best Actor, and Best Sound Design. Although, this is sadly better than the last revival which, in a word, tanked and got 0 Tony noms.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch
PlaybillVault.com told me that this was an original musical, so I mistakenly included it in the list of new musicals a couple weeks ago, so read about it here!
ETIQUETTE ADVISORY: To save you from a totally awkward party foul as you try to impress your more experienced theatre friends at your Tony Awards party, I must warn you that it's pronounced "Hedvig" with a V (think a German version of Harry Potter's owl). That information should save you from being on the receiving end of one of those condescending looks that theatre people are prone to bestow upon ignorant fools who have the audacity to crash a sophisticated theatre conversation when they know nothing (think Laura Benanti's epic shade in The Sound of Music).

Violet

Again, PlaybillVault.com and I are still at odds over this one which they claimed was an original musical so read about it in my previous article  here!
Let's take a moment to remember that Sutton Foster and Idina Menzel (2 of the best Broadway divas right now) are nominated against each other. How does this even happen?! #bestseasonever #yaybroadway

I often wonder who exactly is nominated for plays/musicals themselves, like who's entitled to the statue if the show wins? While everyone involved in a show can take credit for the win, I believe the actual winners are the producers... Because money. And that's your fun Tony Awards fact for the week!

Now memorize this list, and you'll be pro enough for even the purest of Broadway purists!

Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: www.twitter.com/bwayginger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

Read More:
All about the new plays on Broadway
All about the new musicals on Broadway
All about the Tony Awards

Monday, May 12, 2014

3 Backstage Broadway Video Blogs to Watch This Summer

Christopher Hanke in How to Succeed
Photo courtesy: YouTube
So, Broadway.com features some great video blogs (or, "vlogs" as the cool kids call them) from Broadway cast members in a lot of popular Broadway shows. Basically, they take a camera around and film themselves doing random and/or routine things backstage and around town, so it's a great glimpse into the life of a Broadway actor. I can neither confirm nor deny that I have faithfully used these vlogs as my #1 source of procrastination material and summer entertainment. Since the current ones are not completed yet, I'll show you some of my favorite past ones.

When Kyle Dean Massey joined Next to Normal as The Son (Gabe), he did a vlog for Broadway.com, and it was adorable! I believe all of the cast members were featured at some point, and it went for 11 episodes, which were all about 10 minutes long. This one is fun, because the cast members are all hilarious, and he does a lot of filming backstage while the show is going on, so at some points you can hear the songs being sung on stage. I particularly love the last one when J. Robert Spencer (who was still playing Dan) tells about a blooper that had just happened. Check out the first episode below!


Another one of my favorites was the first Broadway.com vlog I saw, featuring Christopher Hanke from the recent revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Hanke is quite possibly the most adorable person ever. He had me at the Les Mis reference in the first episode. A lot of this vlog is spent with just him, and no, Daniel Radcliffe does not make an appearance, with the occasional video bomb (is that a thing? I'm going for the video version of photo bomb...), or rather, takeover, from ensemble member Nick Mayo, as well as many other cast members (like one of my favorites, Paige Faure, currently of Bullets Over Broadway). He does a variety of things like showing off his abs for no apparent reason (actually the reason is that he's trying to rival Nick Adams of Priscilla Queen of the Desert), showing off fan mail, rocking out to Beyonce, and more. Hanke's 11 episodes are more like 15 minutes long, and very fun. Check out the first one below! (here's a link to the rest)


I have been loving Kyle Dean Massey's new vlog for Pippin, cleverly named "Fresh Prince." It's not quite finished, but I still have to share it, because Kyle Dean is just as adorable as he was in his Next to Normal one. This vlog is a little different, because it starts before he joins the show, so there are a lot of rehearsal sequences and such, which are fascinating.


There are lots more, so check them out on Broadway.com!

Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: www.twitter.com/bwayginger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

Monday, May 5, 2014

The 6 Ways LES MISERABLES and MISS SAIGON are Identical

Les Saigon (PlaybillVault.com)
So, I think that judging from my blog and Twitter, it's no secret that I love Miss Saigon (exhibit A: I just made a Miss Saigon topic on Singular Sensation, because there are so many posts about it... exhibit B...). And of course I love Les Mis, because no self-respecting theatre nerd wouldn't. Did you know that the same songwriting team, Boublil and Schonberg, wrote both of these? After I discovered Miss Saigon just over a year ago, I could not only tell that the music and lyrics similar, but then I had an epiphany: Les Mis and Miss Saigon are exactly the same! Like, more alike than Frozen and Wicked! So below, I bring you the Boublil and Schonberg formula, by way of their characters.

(Totally forgot to include a video for this one, so I added it on 5/7/14)


     Les Miserables                                      Miss Saigon

Young Leading Man

Chris
(Lea Salonga & Simon Bowman,
Original London)
Song: "Why God?"
Marius
(Frances Ruffelle & David Bryant,
Original Broadway)
Song: "Empty Chairs at
Empty Tables"
Hopelessly in love with a girl he for some reason can’t have (For Marius, it's Cosette, for Chris, it's Kim). He's technically a main character, but in reality, he seems to be in the middle of the action rather than initiating. But don’t worry, he gets an emotional solo or two.


The Best Friend

Enjorlas
(Michael Maguire,
Original Broadway)
Song: "Do You Hear the People Sing?"
John
(Peter Polycarpou,
Original London)
Song: "Bui Doi"
A baritone who's pretty much the brains behind the operation, he ends up telling the main guy that there's no way he can be with the girl he likes because war is no place for romance. He thus encourages the main guy to put "the cause" before his girl. He of course sings the stirring call-to-action song.


The Malcontent Hooker


Fantine
(Randy Graff,
Original Broadway)
Song: "I Dreamed a Dream"
Gigi
(Rachelle Ann Go,
2014 London Revival)
Song: "The Movie in My Mind"
This is probably the most confusing character, but I think the point about her is that she represents an entire group of people. She's the one who has an epic "hard knock life" solo and some unnecessary character development towards the beginning, then she's just gone before we're halfway through Act 1. Because of this, it's always confused me as to why this role is so coveted (like when all the previews for the Les Mis movie showed Anne Hathaway, and all the theatre fans were confused).



Check out this video of Randy Graff, the Original Broadway Fantine, singing "I Dreamed a Dream" back in 1987 on The Phil Donahue Show!



The Other Girl

Eponine
(France Ruffelle,
Original Broadway)
Song: "On My Own"
Ellen
(Liz Callaway, Original Broadway)
Song: "Now that I've Seen Her"
Yes, y'all, this is the Eponine character. She's in love with the young leading man but has doubts about his affections for her. She gets a solo where she sings about him loving someone else, and then of course, there's a great trio sung by the leading man, leading lady, and this girl.  She's like the Act 2 equivalent of the Malcontent Hooker. Besides her pretty solo, you have a hard time figuring out why you care about her... It's funny cuz it's true.








The Sleezy Bad-ish Guy

The Engineer
(Jonathan Pryce,
Original London/Broadway)
Songs: "Prologue/The Heat is On"
"American Dream"
Thenardier
(the late Leo Burmester,
Original Broadway)
Songs: "Master of the House"
"Beggars at the Feast"
This is a rule-breaker who is around during the whole show. You don't know his/their whole story, but you just know that they have every intention of ending on top no matter what it takes. They aren't really on anyone's side and thus manage to slip under the radar when trouble comes. The big thing about this character is that they have a character development song at the beginning and one at the end, showing that they haven't changed. I just love that!




The Men's Chorus

This might seem obvious, but this is a very key ingredient in the Boublil and Schonberg shows. And I'm not just talking about chorus in general. This is specifically men. They back up the best friend's big moments and try to be as cool as him. Basically.

Before the theatre nerd police gets on me about not including the main role from Miss Saigon, Kim, I will clarify that I purposely left her out, because she and Cosette are not quite alike enough to make the list.

Also, fun fact: they opened at the same theatre, because Les Miserables opened at the Broadway Theatre in 1987, and moved to the Imperial when Miss Saigon came along in 1991.

Obviously, there are definitely differences between the characters in these shows, like the fact that Marius is not technically the main character of Les Mis. However, I think we can safely say that this role is actually about as big as Chris, since the role of Chris has never been eligible for the award for Best Actor. But they are the "leading man" type.

Anyway, I think the characters that are most alike are Gigi and Fantine, as well as Thenardier and The Engineer. Oh, and we're all thinking it: Enjorlas and John's main difference is that Enjorlas is way more attractive. Sorry, but no John stands a chance against that hair. 

Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: www.twitter.com/bwayginger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

Read More:
All about Miss Saigon on Singular Sensation
Miss Saigon on PlaybillVault.com
Les Mis on PlaybillVault.com