broadway

Tonight, all Broadway theaters will honor Carol Channing, who died on Tuesday at the age of 97, by dimming their marquee lights. Her performances as the gold-digging Lorelei Lee in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and the matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi in “Hello, Dolly!” made her a Broadway legend.

In 2003, Carol Channing joined us for an hour in studio here at WAMC for an episode of our afternoon call-in program, Vox Pop. Her book “Just Lucky I Guess: A Memoir of Sorts,” had come out a few months prior and she was en route to an event at Bennington College in Vermont. 

After the terrorists attacks on September 11, 2001, airplanes had to be diverted as the airspace over the United States was closed. Thirty-eight planes landed in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada.

Come From Away” is an award-winning Broadway musical about the Gander citizens and the passengers and crew members from the planes who were forced to exist together and help each other for the better part of a week. The show opened in March of 2017.

The book, music, and lyrics are by married Canadian writing team Irene Sankoff and David Hein - who created the show by interviewing the real people involved in the events of that day and week.. The show is directed by Christopher Ashley with musical staging by Kelly Devine. The cast of 12 plays both - and various - Gander-ites and Plane people.

De’Lon Grant, who is an actor, singer and photographer who grew up in Duluth, Minnesota and attended holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Michigan and a Master in Music with concentration in Musical Theatre Performance from The Boston Conservatory of Music, is making his Broadway debut in “Come From Away.”

Andy Karl
Eric Ryan Anderson

The 1990 hit rom-com “Pretty Woman,” written by J. F. Lawton and directed by the late Garry Marshall, starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere has been adapted for the stage as a musical with music by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. The show, directed by Jerry Mitchell, has been bringing Beverly Hills to Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre since July.

Vivian is played by Samantha Barks, making her Broadway debut and Edward Lewis is played by Andy Karl. Karl is an Olivier award winning actor whose most recent pre-”Pretty Woman” Broadway credits include “Groundhog Day,” “On the Twentieth Century,” and “Rocky.” This summer he appeared in an incredible staged concert version of “On The Town” with the Boston Pops directed by Kathleen Marshall -- which showed in Boston and at Tanglewood. 

This morning we look at the year on Broadway 2018 and it was quite a year. Movie properties were plentiful: "Mean Girls," "Pretty Woman," "Frozen" and even "King Kong." The ever-persistent juke-box musical form came from the songs of Cher, Donna Summer and The Go-Go’s.

There was lots of star power - Kerry Washington, Bryan Cranson, Chris Evans, Laurie Metcalf, Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer and Elaine May - just to name a few.

And, there were amazing transfers from London that landed on Broadway and have made an impact: "Harry Potter & the Cursed Child," the National Theatre productions of "Network" and "Angels in America" as well and the Jez Butterworth powerhouse "The Ferryman."

There is nobody better to discuss the year on Broadway with than Ben Brantley. Ben is the co-chief theater critic of The New York Times, filing reviews regularly from London as well as New York City, and Regional theatres.

Jez Butterworth’s, “The Ferryman” is currently running on Broadway at The Jacobs Theatre. The New York Times review of the production called the show “... an endlessly vibrant work, directed with sweeping passion and meticulous care by Sam Mendes.” The review went on to say: “This is theater as charged and expansive as life itself.” The West End production won three Obie Awards - including Best New Play and Best Director.

Set in rural Northern Ireland in 1981, The Carney farmhouse is a hive of activity with preparations for the annual harvest. Three generations of Carney’s live in the house - a family tree with a jumble of branches connecting on this special annual event to cousins, strays, and - unwanted by most in the house - a cause with dire consequences.

Mark Lambert plays Uncle Patrick Carney - or “Uncle Pat” - a jovial storyteller and keeper of household tradition. Lambert, who has an illustrious career on the stage primarily in London and Dublin, makes his Broadway debut in "The Ferryman."

kingkongbroadway.com

A new musical adaptation of “King Kong.” Kong opened at The Broadway Theater on November 8, directed by Drew McOnie, with a book by Jack Thorne and music by Marius de Vries and Eddie Perfect.

Eric William Morris plays fast-talking filmmaker Carl Denham - the man responsible for moving the giant ape from Skull Island to New York City so he can capitalize on the spectacle of Kong’s size.

Morris made his Broadway debut in “Coram Boy” and played “Skye” in “Mamma Mia!.” He’s also appeared often in film and on television and is a Company Member of ANIMUS.

Max von Essen in "Anastasia" on Broadway
Matthew Murphy


  Max von Essen is a charming and compelling performer - Tony nominated for his role as Henri in the Broadway adaptation of “An American in Paris.” He is currently playing Gleb in “Anastasia” through December 16 (the show will continue to enchant at the Broadhurst Theatre). We caught up with Max to discuss his experience in “Anastasia,” show-family, the kismet of his being cast in “An American in Paris,” and touring with Liza Minnelli.

 

Since taping this interview, it has been announced that von Essen will star in the national tour of “Falsettos.”

  Last week, a new Broadway musical made history during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade when actors Caitlin Kinnunen and Isabelle McCalla shared a kiss on live television, which appears to be the first same-sex kiss in the parade’s history.

The Prom” is currently running at the Longacre Theatre. Casey Nicholaw directs and choreographs the show, which features a book by Chad Beguelin and Bob Martin, music by Matthew Sklar, and lyrics by Beguelin.

While the show was in rehearsals, we sat down with actors Angie Schworer and Christopher Sieber. [Bios below.]

 

Masterworks Broadway will release the cast recording digitally on December 14 and on CD on January 11.

The Illusionists wowed New York audiences three record-breaking years in a row with “Witness The Impossible,” “Live on Broadway” and “Turn Of The Century.” The new mind-blowing spectacular “The Illusionists – Magic of the Holidays” showcases the jaw dropping talents of the most incredible Illusionists on earth, alongside special guests Light Balance. The show runs at Broadway's Marquis Theatre November 23 through December 30.

The performers are master entertainers Adam Trent (The Futurist), Colin Cloud (The Deductionist), Shin Lim (The Manipulator), Chloe Crawford (The Sorceress), and our guest, Darcy Oake (The Grand Illusionist).

Sasson Gabay and Katrina Lenk in The Band’s Visit
Evan Zimmerman for Murphy/Made

In “The Band’s Visit,” The Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra is traveling from Egypt to play a concert in Petah Tikva, Israel but after language confusion at the border end up in Beit Hatikva - a small city where civic pride is low. Without a means of transportation out of town until the morning, the band is taken in by the locals.

With music and lyrics by David Yazbek, a book by Itamar Moses, and directed by David Cromer, "The Band's Visit" won 10 Tony Awards last June.

The show is at once charming and uplifting, humorous and moving, global and deeply personal. The band, who you see on stage as they are characters in the show - is out of this world and the music is lively and inviting.

Tony Shaloub originated the lead role of Tewfiq on Broadway - winning a Tony Award. Succeeding him is Sasson Gabay, the Israeli actor who played Tewfiq in the award winning 2007 film that the musical is based on. Gabay has been an actor for more than 40 years and has been a member of the Beit Lessin Theatre in Tel Aviv for 20.

JOHAN PERSSON

  Under the watchful gaze of his young assistant, and the threatening presence of a new generation of artists, Mark Rothko takes on his greatest challenge yet: to create a definitive work for an extraordinary setting.

Based on the original Donmar Warehouse production, this new production of "Red" is the first ever UK revival since MGC Artistic Director Michael Grandage directed the premier in 2009. The production went on to win six Tony Awards including Best Play.

Award-winning stage and screen actor Alfred Molina reprises his critically acclaimed performance as the American abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko. He is joined by rising star Alfred Enoch, of US television drama series "How to Get Away With Murder," as his assistant Ken.

"Red" will screen in cinemas on November 7, distributed by Trafalgar Releasing.

Paul Thornley, Noma Dumezweni, Jamie Parker, Sam Clemmett, Poppy Miller, Alex Price, and Anthony Boyle
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” opened in London in 2016 and on Broadway this past summer. The story begins nineteen years after the events of J. K. Rowling’s final Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” and follows the boy-now-a-family-man wizard and his son, Albus Severus Potter, as the latter begins his education at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Albus is a bit stooped from living in the shadow of his famous father.

There’s magic to do in the acclaimed and oft-awarded two-part theatrical experience and the production asks audience members not to give anything away. The script is available, so one could know the plot before attending but there are effects, tricks, and swirls of secrets we are implored to keep.

The production features an original score by Imogen Heap which is available from Masterworks Broadway today.

We are joined by Sam Clemmett who plays Albus. He originated the role in London and now plays it on Broadway.

Ben Brantley, the New York Times Chief Theater Critic, will discuss the current state of Broadway theater and his approach to reviews at the upcoming Columbia County Habitat fall brunch on November 4.

Brantley has been with the The New York Times since 1993, filing reviews regularly from London as well as New York. He has notably reviewed "Hamilton," "Chicago," and "The Book of Mormon," among countless other productions.

15 years ago tonight, the original cast of “Wicked: The Musical:” Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth, Joel Gray, Norbert Leo Butz, Christopher Fitzgerald, Carole Shelley (and many others) opened on the stage of Broadway’s Gershwin Theatre, for good.

Based on the novel of the same name by Gregory Maguire, featuring music by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman, and directed by Joe Mantello, “Wicked” has been dancing through life in New York (and all over the world) ever since.

 

Kevin Chamberlin is the actor sentimentally filling the robes of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz on Broadway as the company celebrates this landmark anniversary. Chamberlin’s recent previous Broadway credits include “Disaster!,” “The Addams Family,” "Seussical," and "Dirty Blonde."

Tom Alan Robbins and Jeremy Kushnier in "Head Over Heels" on Broadway
Joan Marcus

The new Broadway musical, “Head over Heels,” opened at The Hudson Theatre on Broadway over the summer. The show, which was conceived by Jeff Whitty with an adaptation by James Magruder, features songs by The Go-Gos orchestrated and arranged by Tom Kitt.

Directed by Michael Mayer, “Head over Heels” takes audiences the kingdom of Arcadia where the “beat” is divine. But when an oracle’s prophecy of doom threatens its beloved beat, it propels the king and his royal family through a journey of mistaken identities, jealous lovers, secret rendezvouses and sexual awakening – where everything (and everyone) is not what it seems. It’s one hell of a good time and the cast recording is available now from Masterworks Broadway.

Our guest, Tom Alan Robbins, plays Dametas. Robbins’ previous Broadway credits include “Newsies,” “Once Upon a Mattress,” “Sunset Boulevard,” “Threepenny Opera,” “Jerome Robbins Broadway,” “Is He Dead?,” and he originated the role of Pumbaa in Disney’s “The Lion King.”

First a one-man act,written and acted by Chazz Palminteri,  then a movie and now a musical "A Bronx Tale" takes viewers into the 1960s Bronx neighborhood.  Palminteri tells the story of a young kid caught between his relationship with his father and the mob boss he'd like to be. The story brings emotional force to a tough and gritty plot.

Chazz Palminteri played Dave Kujan in "The Usual Suspects" and was nominated for an Oscar for his role in "Bullets Over Broadway".  "A Bronx Tale" is running at Proctors in Schenctady, New York October 23- 28. 

In the new play, “The Lifespan of a Fact,” the determined young fact checker is about to stir up trouble. The demanding editor has given him a big assignment: apply his skill to a groundbreaking piece by the unorthodox author. Together, they take on the high-stakes world of publishing in this new comedy of conflict. The ultimate showdown between fact and fiction is about to begin – with undeniably delicious consequences.

“The Lifespan of a Fact” is based on the stirring true story of John D’Agata’s essay, “What Happens There,” about the Las Vegas suicide of teenager Levi Presley. Jim Fingal, assigned to fact check the piece, ignited a seven-year debate on the blurred lines of what passes for truth in literary nonfiction.

“The Lifespan if a Fact” is currently in previews at Studio 54 on Broadway starring Daniel Radcliffe, Cherry Jones, and Bobby Cannavale. It opens on October 18. It is directed by our guest, Leigh Silverman.

The National Tour of the Broadway musical “Anastasia” is beginning its journey to the past at Proctors in Schenectady, New York. The show features a book by celebrated playwright Terrence McNally and a lush score by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens. It is helmed by Tony Award-winning director Darko Tresnjak.

Inspired by the beloved films with the same title, “Anastasia” transports the audience from the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s, as Anya sets out to discover the mystery of her past aided by conmen Dmitry and Vlad - who attempt to teach Anya how to embody the missing princess, Anastasia Romanov.

Lila Coogan plays Anya in the tour and she joins us now.

When a letter that was never meant to be seen by anyone other than its author draws anxious high school senior, Evan Hansen, into a family’s grief over the loss of their son, he is given the chance of a lifetime: to belong.

The stage musical, “Dear Evan Hansen,” was nominated for nine Tony Awards in 2017 - and won six, including Best New Musical. The popular and moving show continues to run on Broadway, the National Tour began just last week in Denver, Colorado, and today, Little Brown has published a novelization of the story of inclusion, perspective, family, young romance, and viral content.

Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are the songwriting team behind “Dear Evan Hansen.” They also wrote the songs and lyrics for “A Christmas Story: The Musical,” and the films “La La Land” and “The Greatest Showman.” Playwright Steven Levenson wrote the book for “Dear Evan Hansen” - his latest play, “Days of Rage” begins previews off-Broadway at 2ndStage tonight. Levensen, Pasek, and Paul have entrusted actor, musician, and writer Val Emmich to pen the novel.

Ben Schnetzer and Heather Lind in MTC's "The Nap
Joan Marcus

“The Nap” is a new play by Richard Bean, now running on Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Friedman Theater. In the play, which is directed by Daniel Sullivan, Dylan Spokes, a fast-rising young snooker star, arrives in his hometown for a championship tournament only to be confronted by the authorities warning him of the repercussions of match fixing. Before he knows it, Dylan’s forced into underhanded dealings with a cast of wildly colorful characters.

Heather Lind plays Eleanor in “The Nap” and she joins us now.

Lind was previously seen on Broadway in “The Merchant of Venice,” starring Al Pacino, this past summer she played Desdemona in The Public Theatre’s Shakespeare in the Park production of “Othello” starring Chukwudi Iwuji and Corey Stoll. She was on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and AMC’s “Turn: Washington’s Spies” -- and she grew up in the Capital Region.

The Broadway musical, “Mean Girls” tells the story of Cady Heron as she and her parents move from Africa to America where Cady will leave behind potentially dangerous animal encounters and learn to navigate the emotionally perilous habitat of High School. In true bildungsroman fashion, Cady loses her way; falling in with a superficial clique, lead by alpha-female Regina George, before she rediscovers her moral center and learns about true friendship.

The musical is adapted from the 2004 film of the same name, which was written by Tina Fey (adapted from Rosalind Wiseman‘s book “Queen Bees and Wannabes”). Fey returns to write the book of the musical, which features music by Jeff Richmond, lyrics by Nell Benjamin, and direction and choreography by Casey Nicholaw.

The show was nominated for 12 Tony Awards last season - a number that should make even a plastic proud. October 3 is Mean Girls Day - and there will be events all over New York City to celebrate. To join in on the fun, we spoke with Erika Henningsen, who plays Cady Heron.

Jason Butler Harner and Janet McTeer in Roundabout Theatre Company's "Bernhardt/Hamlet"
Joan Marcus

Last night, The Roundabout Theatre Company opened a new play by Theresa Rebeck at The American Airlines Theatre in New York City. Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel, “Bernhardt/Hamlet” is set just before the turn of the 20th Century when the acclaimed and adored Sarah Bernhardt stages a production of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” with herself in the title role of the halting and hesitant Prince of Denmark.

In “Bernhardt/Hamlet,” the divine Sarah is inhabited by Golden Globe, Tony, and Olivier Award-winning actress, Janet McTeer. Bernhardt as penned by Rebeck is having an affair with poet and playwright, Edmond Rostand who is played by our guest, Jason Butler Harner.

Harner’s previous Broadway credits include “The Crucible” and “The Coast of Utopia.” He’s performed Off-Broadway, as well, earning OBIE and Drama Desk nominations. His major film debut came in Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-nominated film “Changeling” and he currently stars on the Netflix series “Ozark.”

Pamela Tatge, Jacob’s Pillow artistic director
Hayim Heron/Jacob’s Pillow Dance

Each year thousands of dance enthusiasts visit the Berkshires to experience the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival with more than 50 dance companies and 200 free performances, talks, and events; to train at The School at Jacob’s Pillow, to explore the Pillow’s rare and extensive dance archives; and to take part in numerous community programs designed to educate and engage dance audiences of all ages.

This weekend alone, Jacob’s Pillow will present Houston Ballet; a work by Obie and Lucille Lortel Award-winning choreographer Sonya Tayeh; and, on Sunday, a program entitled “Gotta Dance: New Faces for Broadway.”

Pamela Tatge is the Director of Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival and she joins us.

Joseph Crespino is the Jimmy Carter Professor of history at Emory University. He is the author of "In Search of Another Country," winner of the 2008 Lillian Smith Book Award from the Southern Regional Council, and "Strom Thurmond's America."

The publication of "Go Set a Watchman" in 2015 forever changed how we think about Atticus Finch. Once seen as a paragon of decency, he was reduced to a small-town racist. How are we to understand this transformation?

In "Atticus Finch," historian Joseph Crespino draws on exclusive sources to reveal how Harper Lee's father provided the central inspiration for each of her books. A lawyer and newspaperman, A. C. Lee was a principled opponent of mob rule, yet he was also a racial paternalist. Harper Lee created the Atticus of Watchman out of the ambivalence she felt toward white southerners like him. But when a militant segregationist movement arose that mocked his values, she revised the character in "To Kill a Mockingbird" to defend her father and to remind the South of its best traditions.

The 2018 Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice will take place in Phoenicia, New York August 3-5. This year’s theme is “Sirens of the Voice.” The festival’s Director Maria Todaro and Artistic Director Louis Otey join us.

Theresa Rebeck's new play "Seared" opens on Wednesday night on the Nikos Stage at the Williamstown Theatre Festival - her third play to premiere at WTFest. In "Seared," between the smell of sizzling garlic and balsamic drizzle, tempers are boiling over in an on-stage kitchen. Chef Harry has poured his heart into his intimate Brooklyn restaurant and it is finally paying off. A rave review has New Yorkers flocking through his door and selling out every table, but is this the success he has been dreaming of?

This also marks the start of a string of new productions for Theresa Rebeck. After "Seared," she'll premiere her new Broadway play "Bernhard/Hamlet" starring Janet McTeer followed by a New York premiere of "Downstairs" starring Tyne and Tim Daly and the release of her film, "Trouble" starring Anjelica Houston and Bill Pullman.

Vassar and New York Stage and Film’s second Main Stage Powerhouse production this summer is “The Waves,” a musical adaptation of the novel by Virginia Woolf. The piece, which features a book by Lisa Peterson and music and lyrics by the late Davick Bucknam, was produced nearly 30 years ago in New York City. The version running at Vassar July 19-29 is directed by Peterson, features additional music and lyrics by Adam Gwon, and employs four time Tony Award nominee Raúl Esparza as creative consultant and actor.

Esparza’s Broadway credits include “Cabaret,” “The Rocky Horror Show,” “Taboo,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “Company,” “The Homecoming,” “Speed the Plow,” “Arcadia,” and “Leap of Faith.” Television credits include “Pushing Daisies,” “Hannibal,” “The Path,” “BoJack Horseman,” and he recently finished a six-season run as ADA Rafael Barba on “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.”

Esparza joins us to talk about his work.

The cast at Powerhouse features Ken Barnett, Eleasha Gamble, Douglas Lyons, Alice Ripley, and Lauren Worsham.

The Creative Life series is produced by UAlbany’s University Art Museum, NYS Writers Institute, and the UAlbany Performing Arts Center in collaboration with WAMC. The series features leading figures from a variety of artistic disciplines in conversation about their creative inspirations, their craft and their careers. At 11am we will air Joe Donahue’s candid conversation with Tony Award winning Broadway star, Patti LuPone.

Two-time Tony and Grammy Award winner Patti LuPone was most recently seen on Broadway in the musical ”War Paint.”

A graduate of the first class of the Drama Division of New York’s Juilliard School and a founding member of The Acting Company in which she toured the country for four years, LuPone went on to be a Broadway superstar for more than 30 years – starting with her Tony-winning performance in “Evita.” 

It's impossible to know what the American Musical would be without the fateful partnership of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. Their first collaboration, "Oklahoma!," opened at The St. James Theatre on Broadway 75 years ago.

Todd S. Purdum’s new book, "Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway Revolution," is a portrait of these two men, their creative process, and their groundbreaking innovations.

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The Tony Awards race this year seems to be dominated by big established brands — Disney's "Frozen," J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter," Tina Fey's "Mean Girls" and Nickelodeon's "SpongeBob SquarePants."

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