Friday, September 25, 2015

Beats by Broadway Episode 1: "Why I Love Broadway"

I have an exciting announcement! My twin sister (known on Twitter as #TwitterlessTwin) and I recently started a weekly Broadway radio program which airs in Statesboro, GA. It does not stream online, but luckily for my adoring fans (hey, Mom!), I will be recording it weekly and posting it right here on Singular Sensation for the world to listen to.

Last week, we premiered the show with a variety of songs that have made us feel something strong either when we saw them performed live, or even when we heard them for the first time.

So below, click the picture to check out our first episode, called "Why I Love Broadway"!

Song list:

  1. "One Day More" from Les Miserables (Original Broadway Cast)
  2. "Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat" from Guys and Dolls (1992 Broadway Revival)
  3. "Into the Fire" from The Scarlet Pimpernel (Original Broadway Cast)
  4. "You Don’t Know/I am the One"from Next to Normal (Original Broadway Cast)
  5. "Wheels of a Dream" from Ragtime (Original Broadway Cast)
  6. "What You Own" from Rent (Original Broadway Cast)
  7. "Always True in My Fashion" from Kiss Me Kate (2004 Broadway Revival)
  8. "96,000" from In the Heights (Original Broadway Cast)
  9. "Defying Gravity" from Wicked (Original Broadway Cast)




 "Why I Love Broadway"


What songs do you want to hear us play next week? Let us know in the comments below!

Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: @BwayGinger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Woman Crush Wednesday: Karen Olivo

Karen Olivo in: Tick... Tick... Boom!, In the Heights,
and West Side Story
This past weekend I discovered this amazing new musical- maybe you've heard of it. It's called In the Heights, and it's by this genius Lin-Manuel Miranda...

Ok, yeah, I know it's not a new musical, and Miranda is certainly not a random guy! I finally listened to it a few days ago and fell absolutely in love! And of course one of the side-effects of my finding new favorite shows is I often develop a new crush. So my newest girl crush is Karen Olivo.

She played Vanessa in the original Broadway cast of In the Heights, but she also famously played Anita in the 2009 Broadway revival of West Side Story. Olivo has an incredible voice and acts with this powerful stillness that undeniably draws you in. Oh, and she's gorgeous!

So check out some of my favorite clips from her theatre career!

"It Won't Be Long Now," In the Heights
She's a good percentage of the reason why I have been listening to that show on repeat for the last three days.



"Come to Your Senses," Tick... Tick... Boom!
While Broadway fans may know her best for In the Heights and West Side Story, they may not have seen clips from her turn in NY City Center's ENCORES production of Tick... Tick... Boom. This all-but-forgotten musical written by Rent's Jonathan Larson took place just last June. Yet again, she played opposite Lin-Manuel Miranda. And I'm totally ok with that. (The quality of the video isn't great, but that's what happens with bootlegs, right? But just listen to her earnestness!)




"America," West Side Story
Because Anita IS America, y'all! Part of the reason why I love her so much in this role is due to the choreography and the costume decision. The choreography in the first WSS revival underwhelmed me completely, and I definitely wasn't a fan of the short-hair they gave Anita in previous Broadway productions and the movie. But this totally remedies those! Her long hair shouldn't make me this excited, but it's just so perfect, don't you think? Oh, and of course she won the Tony Award for her role.


Currently, Karen Olivo is helping out with Chat4Charity, raising money for BC/EFA by taking phone calls from and autographing memorabilia for fans. Check out her Chat4Charity page here.

I hope to see her back on Broadway very soon! Can you tell why?

Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: @BwayGinger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

Photo credits: NY City Center; Joan Marcus; Joan Marcus

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Springtime for Broadway: Top 3 Spring-Themed Broadway Songs

Spring is just around the corner- or if you're way down South like me, it's officially here to stay. Goodbye snow (or in my case, half-hearted cold), hello butterflies and flowers! And what better way to embrace the new life-giving season than brush up your Broadway music? Fortunately of course, there is a Broadway tune for literally everything.

Below, check out the short list of the top musical songs with the name "spring" in the title!

Springtime for Broadway: Top 3 Spring-Themed Broadway Songs

1. "Springtime for Hitler"- from The Producers (2005 film)
     Music & lyrics by Mel Brooks


2. "Younger Than Springtime" - from South Pacific (2008 Broadway revival)
    Music: Richard Rodgers
    Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein


3. "Spring, Spring, Spring" - Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954 film)
    Music: Gene de Paul
    Lyrics: Johnny Mercer


BONUS: This might go more into the summer category, but here's a performance of "The Lusty Month of May" from Camelot.


And here is the real irony: the recent and popular Broadway musical that actually has the word "spring" in the title has no song. Spring Awakening fail.

Happy Wednesday, y'all!

Also on Singular Sensation...

WICKED Flies into The Fox Theatre to Win the Hearts of Atlantans

No, I Wouldn't Rather Be an Actor, but Thanks for Asking 

YouTube's Best Broadway Gems

Top 10 INTO THE WOODS Criticisms Every Theatre Fan is [Not-So] Secretly Thinking

Disney Nerd Heaven


Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: @BwayGinger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

Monday, March 2, 2015

WICKED Flies into The Fox Theatre to Win the Hearts of Atlantans

It's Wicked season in Atlanta, y'all.

I don't know about you, but whenever Wicked tours to my city, my Facebook newsfeed is FULL of pictures of people at the Fox Theatre with their BFF. Oh the puns are a good time too. If I had a dime for every post that says, "Having a WICKED time at the Fox Theatre..." And we're fortunate enough to have the show in our city for a whole three weeks, so it's not by any means slowing down! But it's the one biannual time that everyone comes together and celebrates the beauty of Broadway.

Read highlights from my review for BroadwayWorld below (aka, what I thought about the actors, because as we know, the actors are the only part anyone cares about), and be sure to check out the whole thing here!

If crowd appeal is any indication of a show's worth, Wicked is a multimillion-dollar treasure. WICKED's second national tour, "The Munchkinland Tour," flew into the Fox Theatre on Wednesday, February 18 to play a 3-week engagement, marking the show's fourth engagement at the historic Atlanta venue. Not surprisingly, this production did not disappoint.
...
As Elphaba in the first act, Alyssa Fox, replaced by Emily Koch in Act II, barely scraped by vocally due to allergy issues. In her first song of the show, "The Wizard and I," Fox ended with a slightly pitchy landing, and not surprisingly, completely botched the final notes of "Defying Gravity." Bless her heart. Besides vocals, Fox executed the role with an earnestness that could not be ignored. Thus did she endear herself to the audience.
I dearly hope that when Elphaba standby Emily Koch received word that she would take over the iconic role for the remainder of the performance, she at least mentally burst into a rousing chorus of, "This is the Moment" from JEKYLL AND HYDE. Whatever her response, Koch absolutely blew the audience away with her strong, dynamic voice. Particularly during "No Good Deed," her final solo, Koch explored the notes in her own unique way, prompting me to think, "Ok, well now you're just showing off!" And yet, her enthusiasm and clear adoration for the whole show made her impossible not to love.
As the peppy, sorority-girl-on-steroids, G(a)linda, Carrie St. Louis went through the motions of the giddy blonde, but seemed to be portraying someone else's role. At times, her mannerisms distinctly resembled Laura Bell Bundy's Elle Woods from LEGALLY BLONDE, and at others she appeared intent on not copying Kristin Chenoweth's Glinda. Such a display led to a portrayal threaded with emotional dishonesty, though St. Louis nailed the Schwartz score with delightfully consistent ease.
With a chiseled torso and hair shaped to form a "fohawk," (to borrow a short-lived term from the early '00s) Ashley Parker Angel's outer appearance perfectly suited the "genuinely self-absorbed and deeply shallow" rich-boy Fiyero. And yes, he rocked those famous tight white pants. However, his soaring, albeit effeminate vocals did not convince me that he was or could ever be in love with Elphaba.
I have no doubt that the beautiful storytelling woven through Winnie Holzman's script, Joe Mantello's direction, and the incredible songs by Stephen Schwartz will cause this show to run on Broadway forever and tour even longer.
WICKED plays Atlanta's Fabulous Fox Theater February 18- March 8th.

Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: @BwayGinger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

Photo credit: Joan Marcus

Monday, February 16, 2015

Georgia Southern's RACE Spurs Surprising Audience Reaction at KC/ACTF 2015

Tatyana Arrington, Whitaker Gardner, and V. Akil Jackson
*Some of the students at the eight schools who brought plays to KCACTF Region IV this week had previous experience with taking a show on the road to the festival. But for current students at Georgia Southern University, the experience was completely new.
The Statesboro school packed up their fall production of David Mamet’s Race and headed to Albany, Georgia, which as we theatre people know well is easier said than done. Members of the Race team say they first had to consider the significantly different structure of the theatre in Albany in relation to the theatre they had used during their run in September.
“The new space affected the set because originally the set piece was on the ground floor,” says assistant stage manager Brandon Muggy, referring to the large platform on which sat the lawyers’ office. “We had risers for the audience in the original space, and they were closer to the set [than they were in the Albany venue]. But the new space was a proscenium thrust, so the set was up higher now, and the audience was below.”
Thus, the new space necessitated the team to anticipate adjustments before arriving at the venue. And with just four hours allowed in the theatre before the performance, they had to make it run like clockwork.
“We practiced load-in one day at the Performing Arts Center,” says Tatyana Arrington, who played Susan. “We were just like, ‘We just want to load in the set to see how long it’s going to take and get a feel for the space.’ So we did it at the PAC at Georgia Southern, because it’s a lot bigger than the Black Box, and more similar to the space in Albany. Doing that ahead of time helped us be faster and helped us get a feel for the space just so we could know what we were doing.”
Muggy says the most onerous part of the practice load-in ended up being not the heavy platform pieces, but rather the simplest set dressing.
“We had so many books!  And to catalogue all the books and to get them on the shelf to please the designer was a challenge. When we did our first practice load-in, it was a disaster. It took us literally an hour to figure out where to put the books and eventually made a catalogue system and used that to tour.”
Besides rehearsing load-in and load-out, the cast, which also included Whitaker Gardner, Harry Hudgins, and V. Akil Jackson, met for rehearsals in the weeks leading up to KCACTF. Even this proved easier said than done, because Arrington had graduated this past December.
“We had to have Skype rehearsals before I could actually come back to Statesboro,” says Arrington. “Then we were rehearsing every day, and Lisa [Abbott] was sitting in on that last week of rehearsals before we left for ACTF.”
Their preparation paid off, because once in Albany, it was smooth sailing, with a load-in that met their one-hour goal. The cast and crew spent some of their remaining hours before the show working out the kinks that came with a new space, though those were few.
Both Muggy and Arrington agree that by far the most surprising aspect to this whole process was the audience’s reaction.
Muggy says, “At our home performance space, the audience didn’t receive it well… The audience here at ACTF had a completely different reaction. We got laughter! That was astonishing. I remember sitting backstage thinking, ‘They’re… laughing at this?!’”
Arrington was surprised at how strongly she could sense the total support of the audience. “It made our performances even better. I feel like just feeling them enjoying the show, laughing and sighing and saying things like, ‘Uh-uh! No way! I can’t believe this! Another curse word!’—everything like that helped better the show for me.”
But the best moment in Arrington’s eyes came after the final line had been delivered. Parts of the audience started a standing ovation without waiting for the lights to come back on for the curtain call.
“When the lights went down, I just remember I breathed really loudly, and then Akil [Jackson] put his hand on my shoulder, and then the lights came up,” Arrington recalls.
“Just to see everybody on their feet clapping and cheering for us, it was the best feeling. We just felt so happy in that moment. I literally ran off stage, changed out of my costume as soon as possible, ran into the guys’ dressing room, and jumped into their arms, saying, “I love you guys! We did it! We did it!” It was such a good feeling.”
Muggy says that even a day after the show, he still heard conversations about the material, as well as praises for the whole team. “I hung out with Harry [Hudgins] today, who was Charles, and some people stopped us and said to Harry, ‘Oh my God, you were so good!!’ So it was exciting to see their reaction today. And they’re still talking about it.”
*I wrote this piece for the American College Theatre Festival Region IV this week as part of the Institute for Theatre Journalism Advocacy's young critics competition. Click here to read the rest of my ACTF articles!

Also on Singular Sensation...

No, I Wouldn't Rather Be an Actor, but Thanks for Asking 

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Top 10 INTO THE WOODS Criticisms Every Theatre Fan is [Not-So] Secretly Thinking

Disney Nerd Heaven


Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: @BwayGinger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

Monday, February 9, 2015

No, I Wouldn't Rather Be an Actor, but Thanks for Asking

*In my experience with the theatre world, I have been on multiple sides of the theatrical process. I started out acting, I’ve tried out the stage crew thing a bit, and now of course I’ve discovered everyone’s favorite piece of the puzzle: the critics. As much as we want to say “Every part of this creative process is important; the PA holding the back door is just as vital as the ingĂ©nue,” the truth is that the actors are the ones everyone cares about. Let me clarify, they are the ones that those outside of the entertainment industry care about.
It’s true though!
For instance, following the Oscar nominations announcement this year, I saw multiple posts on social media in which people stated there were no African Americans nominated for Oscars… Yeah, not true at all. What they meant, of course, was that there were no African American actors nominated.
Likewise, since Broadway actress/goddess Audra McDonald won her sixth Tony Award last year, setting the record for the performer with the most Tonys, multiple theatre fans keep going around reciting a false statistic. That is, they keep claiming that McDonald has the most Tony Awards of all time, to which I’m fairly certain producer/director Hal Prince utters a condescending “LOL, that’s cute,” as he polishes Tony #21.
So to industry outsiders, acting seems to be the be all and end all of the entertainment world. Thus, I have found that people often assume that anyone working in theatre or film must wish he or she were an actor. Granted, there are definitely some people in that situation, but believe it or not, others would genuinely rather run wardrobe crew than be on stage.
When I tell people about my Broadway journalism aspirations, they consistently mishear me, and it gets awkward really fast. Somehow by the time the phrase, “I want to write about Broadway,” gets to their ears, it has transformed into, “I’m going to act on Broadway.”  And bless their hearts, my friends are so supportive of this new future they have envisioned for me! But then I have to say, “No… I mean… I want to write about Broadway news,” and they take a second to think about it, and then they feebly say something like, “Oh, yeah that’s great too…”
So here is a quick public service announcement to all laymen: when conversing with a theatre person about their future…
  1. Be slow to assume- When you hear the word “Broadway” or “TV,” carefully consider if the word “actor” was actually involved, or if it was just your imagination. Then continue the conversation from there.
  2. Tread carefully- Some non-actors are weird about your assuming that just because they’re in theatre they act. If you do get in that situation, try to casually slip in words like “gaff tape” and “gobo” so you at least seem like you know what you’re talking about.
You’re welcome.
*I wrote this piece for the American College Theatre Festival Region IV this week as part of the Institute for Theatre Journalism Advocacy's young critics competition. Click here to read the rest of my ACTF articles!

Also on Singular Sensation...

The 3 Reasons Why Super Bowl XLIX Confused Broadway Fans [Besides the Football Thing] 

YouTube's Best Broadway Gems

Top 10 INTO THE WOODS Criticisms Every Theatre Fan is [Not-So] Secretly Thinking

Disney Nerd Heaven




Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: @BwayGinger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

Monday, February 2, 2015

The 3 Reasons Why Super Bowl XLIX Confused Broadway Fans [Besides the Football Thing]

Super Bowl poster translated into
Broadway terms
Last night was the sports event of the year, and for once, every single Broadway fan actually cared. At least, for the first 3 minutes.

With Tony Award-winner Idina Menzel singing the National Anthem, I think all of us in the Broadway community were holding our collective breath, hoping that she would display the full extent of her talent for which we love her so dearly, but which unfortunately hasn't been up to par in recent live performances (the most recent of which I would link to, but it has magically disappeared from the interwebs). But y'all, we could rest easy, because she nailed it. Straight up nailed it.

But how often is it that a Broadway fan can tune in to the Super Bowl and actually recognize the name of someone involved? Idina Menzel's wasn't the only name we recognized. And that's where the confusion came in.

3 Reasons Why Super Bowl XLIX Confused Broadway Fans [Besides the Football Thing]

Michael Bennett
Reason #1: Michael Bennett (Seahawks)
When normal people hear his name, they might picture a big defensive end, but the Broadway fans immediately thought of director/choreographer Michael Bennett. Most famous for the American masterpiece A Chorus Line, he won a gazillion Tony Awards back in the day, and passed away much too soon. So just picture that every time this Michael Bennett poser did something exciting, every Broadway fan taking the opportunity to see if they could still remember the choreo to "I Hope I Get It."

Richard Sherman
Reason #2: Richard Sherman (Seahawks)
Did anyone else have this issue earlier in the season where you'd see "Richard Sherman" trending on Twitter, and you immediately assumed it was because the remaining Sherman Brother of Disney songwriting fame had died? No? Oh yeah ok... The Sherman Brothers penned the music for basically every awesome "First Generation" Disney musical, including Mary Poppins, Jungle Book, The Sword in the Stone, and honestly the list is longer than the Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark previews. #FirstSpiderManReference #milestone

Ben Vereen
Reason #3: Vereen (Patriots)
Ok, I really might be whining about this one, but every time I heard them refer to "Vereen," it took me a second to realize they meant Shane Vereen and not actor/dancer Ben Vereen. I mean, my first clue might have been that Shane plays football and Ben does not, but still! Ben Vereen appeared in a historical/groundbreaking show, like, every other year in the '70s, including the original production of Pippin, for which he won a Tony Award (back when the Leading Player was played by a guy).

I think it's a testament to the extreme egocentricity of Broadway fans that we can turn even the biggest sporting event of the year into a teachable moment about Broadway history. Yay us!

Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: @BwayGinger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

Monday, January 26, 2015

Interview: Rachelle Rak Part 2! Sas Talks Mentors, EVERY LITTLE STEP, Valuable Lessons, and More

Broadway gypsy Rachelle Rak will take the stage once again at 54 Below on Thursday, January 29, singing her way through personal stories from almost 30 years of performing. I interviewed her recently for BroadwayWorld* regarding her show, and let me tell you, she has had so many awesome and raw experiences! She told even more stories in Part 1 of the interview, "Rachelle "SAS" Rak Opens Up About Fierce Perseverance Through an Extensive Gypsy Career." 

You might have seen her in Every Little Step, a documentary ironically about casting the revival of A Chorus Line. As heartbreaking as that musical is to begin with, the documentary was actually harder to watch because of situations like Rachelle's.  Below, check out what Rak has to say about mentors and harsh lessons learned in the theatre! 
________________________________________________________________

Who are some people that you've learned from on your journey?

I would say Ann Reinking and Gwen Verdon gave me the greatest opportunities in [the original Broadway cast of] Fosse. I did not start as a featured dancer in anything. I was in three numbers in three and a half hours. And pretty much, when we were in LA, they were firing people, and I thought I was definitely on the roster, because I was not in the show. I was not a Fosse dancer, I hadn’t done a workshop, nobody knew me. They made fun of me, because I came in the first day in a leopard outfit and everyone else was in black. 

But I was so willing to learn the Fosse style just to be in the ensemble. So I stayed for every dance rehearsal and learned every number.  I wasn’t in many, but I learned how to do it. But then, for some reason, an opportunity came about, and I was the understudy. Somehow Ann kept seeing me work in the corner. And every time a female left the show, they moved me up. And it was a gift. I understudied Valerie Pettiford who was a class act to understudy.

I mean, it was life-changing, and it changed the way I danced forever.

So after years of doing [ensemble work], then I wanted to do other things. And then I got some other opportunities. But I’d have two shows in one year, and then nothing. Sweet Smell of Success and Thou Shalt Not were the same year, and I had done two workshops, and I chose [to go to Broadway with] Thou Shalt Not because I’d never worked with Susan Stroman. So I wasn’t the understudy for anything, because she told me I wasn’t innocent enough to play Therese Raquin. 

So begrudgingly, I accepted that news, you know, because I wanted to keep growing. And then something happened. One of the understudies was injured, one of them lost her voice, and [Stroman] said to me on 9th Avenue, “Do you think you could learn the part?” and I was like, “I thought I wasn’t innocent enough…” And in nine days, I learned the entire part of Therese Raquin with the New Orleans accent and went on. I mean, I had a stage manager at every wing telling me my cue line. 

It was crazy! But it was live. Like, you want to talk about feeling alive? That was all fear. 

And let’s talk about Every Little Step. That’s the first place I saw you. It was an amazing documentary, but oh my goodness, so incredibly heartbreaking.

Yeah, They spread the audition process out over this 8-month period, which they don’t usually do. Usually it’s tighter, but after four months of auditioning, I felt like I got the part. I mean, the buzz from people was all about me. My friend [Broadway lyricist] Scott Wittman said, “Oh yeah, I heard that Bob Avian really likes this ‘Rachel Rak.’” [laughs] 

And you know, I was doing Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the time.

I wanted this part, I lived the part, I was the part. This was it. Like, for me, I put every egg in that basket, and I was getting that part. 

And what they liked about me at my first audition, when I came back, they had asked me to change. And I remember coming back to the final, and they were like, “We’d like you to change that, and could you maybe pull your hair up?” and then it was, “We want you to do what you did last summer.” And I was like, “Honey, I don’t know what I did yesterday.” And that was the truth. 

And anyone that asks you that, now, without sounding disrespectful, it just sounds ridiculous, because the whole point of being in the moment is creating where you are that day. 

Unless you’re just blasting through  lines every night, you have to touch something personal when you’re talking about monologues, or you’re talking about playing Sheila, or whoever you’re playing. So that was a big let-down.

And then, I wasn’t invited to the premiere of the film Every Little Step, because I wasn’t cast, so I kept getting texts that night from friends who were in the cast who were like, “Sass, you’ve got to see this documentary.” And I was like, “Oh, well what did I say? Oh no…” 

So then all of a sudden, because of the buzz of this documentary, I did all these interviews with the New York Times. I mean, it was amazing, the LA Times did this whole story. 

And you know Sally, the one thing I will say about fate and irony, is it ended up the part that I didn’t get that I wanted, that was everything to me at the time, ended up giving me more respect, or just people understanding what I went through. 

I mean, everybody goes through that every day of their lives, but the notes that I got on Facebook from the gypsies saying, “Thank God somebody finally spoke up. Somebody finally said, ‘No, that’s not good enough. I need an answer today.’”

________________________________________________________________


Also on Singular Sensation...

Interview: Rachelle "SAS" Rak Opens Up About Fierce Perseverance Through an Extensive Gypsy Career

Interview: Lorna Luft Talks 54 Below Debut, New York at Christmas, and More


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

*Note: Italicized content was published on BroadwayWorld.com here while un-italicized content is exclusively on Singular Sensation!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Top 10 INTO THE WOODS Criticisms Every Theatre Fan is [Not-So] Secretly Thinking

Ever since a certain Best Score Tony Award-winning musical was adapted for the screen, everyone and their GBF has been expressing their opinion on the piece. And yeah, no I'm not talking about the Annie remake. In fact, no one is talking about the Annie remake. I'm talking about the movie musical we actually care about. (Wow, I'm on a roll with these Annie zingers...)

After seeing Into the Woods with #TwitterlessTwin, who's a total Sondheim junkie, as well as some more Broadway-loving BFFs, of course we had to be typical theatre fans and discuss the film, venting about the parts that were omitted, changed, etc. Since the film's release, I've seen discussion after discussion about its flaws, and at this point, the responses are getting to be completely predictable! So I've compiled a list of my favorite and frequently-voiced criticisms, in no particular order.

Top 10 Into the Woods Criticisms Every Theatre Fan is [Not-So] Secretly Thinking



  1. "Like, how could they cut 'No More'?" Let's be real guys, who doesn't skip that song when you're listening to the album? Yeah, thought not.  I've loved seeing people's least-favorite song all of a sudden turn into hallowed ground.
  2. "What was up with how they cut songs but played the instrumentals in the background at the parts where they should have been sung?" YOU'RE NOT FOOLING ME DISNEY! But seriously, I thought that was a great nod to fans. Let's keep in mind that the musical is like 5 billion hours long, so they had to cut songs, and I say if you must cut the song, at least acknowledge it.
  3. "How could you keep Rapunzel alive?" Her fate was admittedly ambiguous, but very "Disney"-fied, in that rather than having her die, they had her make a poor decision and disappear. However, I think there was no doubt in the audience's mind that her story didn't end well.
  4. "Who do you think you are, cutting 'Agony (Reprise)'?!" Ok, the main issue I had with cutting the song in which Cinderella and Rapunzel's princes sing about loving Sleeping Beauty and Snow White was that it made Cinderella's Prince the only cheating sleaze. The original version made it less a spotlight and more an overall commentary on princes in general, saying that they're not all you wish them to be- none of them. Also, that song has my favorite reprisal line from the show, "Ah well, back to my wife..."
  5. "Why was there no narrator character?" I really can't see how that would have flowed in the movie version. But the part where the Narrator gets killed by the giant is one of my favorites, and it furthers the idea that nothing about fairy tales is certain, not even the safety of the storyteller himself.
  6. "What about the mysterious man?" As much as they had to cut from the show, I thought this was actually a good choice.
  7. "What happened to Cinderella's dad?" Oh wait, nevermind... No one's even pretending to care.
  8. "Did it seem just... Darker?" I totally agree with this one. Like for real, they cut so much that they had no room for the comic relief! Do y'all remember how humorous the entire show is on stage? There were a few funny moments in the movie, but only moments, as opposed to an overarching tone like the stage version has.
  9. "Why couldn't Lilla Crawford play all the roles?" Ok, maybe I'm the only one who said it, but this former Annie star (ironic, right?) was so powerful as Little Red. From the first moment she was on screen, she captured the Sondheim tone of the piece, as well as my heart.
  10. "Those pants, tho..." It's true. I'd say Rapunzel's prince's (played by Billy Magnussen) black leather pants rival the famous white Fiyero pants from Wicked  
Which parts of the Broadway show did you miss? And more importantly, does Meryl Streep deserve the Oscar nod?

Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: @BwayGinger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

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Monday, January 12, 2015

New Year, New Musicals! Top 5 New Musicals to Listen to as You Start 2015

As we say goodbye to 2014, there are various ways we measure the year. (Unintentional Rent reference there...) Frequently, we gage a year by what we just couldn't get enough of.

We say something like, "This was the year when I was obsessed with [name that musical/song/movie/actor, etc]." I think we can all safely say that 2012 was the year that, like it or not, we were obsessed with "Call Me Maybe," for at least some period of time.

So right about now might be the point at which you are completely tired of that song/musical of 2014 and are ready to scream if you hear it. It's time for something new!

Below, check out my top 5 list of new musicals to try, listed in chronological order. By "new," I'm referring to both shows that opened this past season, as well as a recent show that got pushed under the rug way too quickly.

And remember, you have the whole year to listen to them, so be careful how soon you put things on repeat. Don't pull a Sally and listen to the entire Ragtime album for the first time three times IN A ROW. That kind of behavior produces musical theatre comas. And epic-ness overdoses.

Top 5 New(ish) Musicals to Listen to in 2015

The Bridges of Madison County- 2014
If you're a die-hard theatre fan, there's a good chance you've already heard the Tony Award-winning album, which garnered composer Jason Robert Brown his second and third Tony Awards for Original Score and Original Orchestrations. Kelli O'Hara has the voice of an angel (and, by the way, needs a Tony). Steven Pasquale, aka, Laura Benanti's ex-husband, is brilliant as well. Jason Robert Brown fans will love this one.


A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder- 2013
This past season's Best Musical Tony Award-winner, Gentleman's Guide has a very old-fashioned sound to it. It's honestly refreshing to have a musical go back to old Cole Porter-like roots (though, of course no one can match the lyrical genius that is Porter), especially in light of the proliferation of rock musicals. So bravo, Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak!


Rocky- 2014
These musical resolutions are totally for me too, because I'll be honest, I didn't even realize the Rocky cast had made a cast recording until this week. On paper, it should be a pretty good show, despite the fact that it closed quickly. After all, the songs are written by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, who did Ragtime (you know I love me some Ragtime!) and 20th Century Fox's animated movie Anastasia. So join me, won't you? Let me know what you think, and I'm sure I'll share my opinions at some point.


Bullets Over Broadway- 2014
Another show from this past season, Bullets is that one that starred Zach Braff, one of the many Hollywood stars on Broadway, and folded within four months. It used a series of old songs with lyrics adapted somewhat to fit the show. I believe I'd call this one a genuine jukebox musical. I'll have to admit that I only listened to this album once, so I have some homework to do!


Bonnie & Clyde- 2011
Ok, so I'll just say that Bonnie & Clyde's Broadway run (33 previews, 36 performances) makes Rocky look like a smash hit, but seriously, it wasn't bad. Starring Jeremy Jordan and Laura Osnes, the music has some very catchy, upbeat songs. It's interesting for a Frank Wildhorn show, because I suppose if you slowed the songs down, they'd sound like all of his other stuff, but the way he adapted them to fit the genre is interesting.


Which musicals did you wear out in 2014? Which shows have you been meaning to listen to but just keep forgetting about?

Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: @BwayGinger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

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Monday, January 5, 2015

Interview: Rachelle "SAS" Rak Opens Up About Fierce Perseverance Through an Extensive Gypsy Career

Last week, I got to talk to my favorite Broadway gypsy, Rachelle Rak for BroadwayWorld.com* regarding her show at 54 Below this month. Below, check out our conversation in which she really opens up and pulls out all the stops regarding the business of Broadway, the affects of Hollywood stars, and more. I highly recommend sharing this segment with anyone who wants to be in the Broadway industry!

You’re a seasoned triple-threat with lots of Broadway credits, national tours, and pretty much everything, and along the way, you’ve worked with some big names in show business. So what are some things that you’ve really learned from on your journey?

Oh let’s see, where to begin?! Well first of all, I was in Starlight Express in 1988 or 1989 when I was 18, and I remember this, that Arlene Phillips came up to me- and this is a harsh lesson- and grabbed my waistline and said, “What’s this?” I’m telling you, 18 years old, that stuff sticks with you. But first of all, it’s not a negative. Arlene Phillips kind of toughened me up to know, “Oh, ok, you have to be fit.” I feel like doing Cats and doing Starlight Express, those Lloyd Webber shows very early, I had a resilience that just, I could do anything. That’s what I thought, because I had such stamina. And I’m grateful for that.
And this business is always about, “Me! Pick me! Am I good enough? Am I pretty enough?" It’s exhausting. And I say that with tone, because after 25 years, you’re like, “I like me. It’s ok if you don’t.”  
It takes the resilience and discipline to get good and then to get great. And for me, I’m still not there. I’m like, I just want to keep getting better. 
Every step I take, I’m trying to grow. Even if I fall, even if I embarrass myself, I’m going to laugh at it, and move forward. That’s where I’m at.
And then after being featured in the original Broadway cast of Fosse, I remember people saying, “Well you’re not going to go back into the chorus, are you?” And I was like, “I like to work! I want to be a part of the show.”

And then you have all the movie stars stepping into leading roles on Broadway. But thank God we have the Sutton Fosters who went up from Broadway, which is wonderful! But it’s getting harder and harder to get those parts, because Hollywood is on Broadway a lot more. And it’s like, if there’s not a star, is it going to sell? And it’s sad to me.

For sure. You’ve been in a few shows that were considered flops, like your most recent one Catch Me If You Can.

Oh, so heartbreaking! I mean, people think once you’re in a Broadway show, it’s “What show are you doing next?” It’s very hard. And I’m not looking for empathy, but just because you’re in one show does not mean you get the next one.
Life works that way, where you work really hard, you get a promotion. Broadway does not work that way. 
Last week I saw my friends in Side Show. And I thought it was a fantastic show, and it just shows me, I’m like, “What is Broadway doing wrong that they can’t keep these amazing shows open?”

And with so many different choreographers, they all have their groups, and to break into that group it can be tricky. So when you do, you better ride it out and enjoy it. I always feel for the underdogs, because somebody gave me a shot when I was 17 years old, had no resume. I was in high school. So when new people are coming to New York, I always hope that someone takes a shot on someone new with nothing on their resume, but with a lot of guts and a lot of heart, because that’s how I started.
There’s a lot of students who are not learning to dance, sing, and act and do all three well, because they want to be the one singing the solo. I wanted to be in the game. I wanted to be in the show. 
My husband still can’t understand that you go into auditions, maybe for your fourth audition, and sometimes they don’t call you that you didn’t get it. It’s just done. They don’t say, “Thank you for the four times and 27 trips that you made.” 
And if I write a book, and I’m working on it, it’s going to be called, It is Personal, because it is personal. It is everything about who you are.
Check Singular Sensation in the coming weeks for more from Rachelle Rak!

Rachelle Rak in Sas with one 'S'™ plays 54 Below (254 West 54th Street) on Sunday, January 4, 2015 and Thursday, January 29, 2015. There is a $30-40 cover charge and $25 food and beverage minimum. Tickets and information are available at www.54Below.com. Tickets on the day of performance after 4:00 are only available by calling (646) 476-3551.

Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: @BwayGinger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

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*Italicized content was published on BroadwayWorld.com here while un-italicized content is exclusively on Singular Sensation!

Make sure to read the whole interview on BroadwayWorld.com* here

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