musical theater | WAMC

musical theater

Album artwork for "Row"; Dawn Landes; Row key art for WTF
dawnlandes.com // wtfestival.org / dawnlandes.com // wtfestival.org

Tori Murden McClure was the first woman - and the first American - to successfully row across the Atlantic Ocean. She succeeded in 1998 after an attempt in 1998 was foiled by a hurricane. Her vessel? A 23 foot rowboat she had built and named the “American Pearl.”  The story of her accomplishment has inspired the new musical “Row” - with a book by Daniel Goldstein and music and lyrics by singer-songwriter, Dawn Landes.

“Row” was scheduled to have its world premiere production at The Williamstown Theatre Festival this past summer. WTF and Artistic Director, Mandy Greenfield have partnered with Audible to release audio versions of the shows intended to play on their stages last season. A release date for “Row” hasn’t been finalized, but Dawn Landes’ album of songs from the show - recorded with musician friends - is available now.

Sue Frost is founding partner of Junkyard Dog Productions, which is the lead producing entity of the Broadway musical "Come From Away." They currently have 5 productions around the world - Broadway, North American Tour, Toronto, London and Australia - on hiatus. 

She is also an active member of the Broadway League, working on multiple task forces aimed at bringing Broadway and touring Broadway back. 

BTG PLAYS! 2019-2020 Touring Show is "Magic Tree House: Pirates Past Noon," based on the book "Magic Tree House: Pirates Past Noon" by Mary Pope Osborne. This musical features a book by Jenny Laird and Will Osborne, lyrics by Randy Courts and Will Osborne and music by Randy Courts, with direction by Travis Daly.

Magic Tree House: Pirates Past Noon is an adaptation of the fourth of Mary Pope Osborne's award-winning fantasy adventure books from the Magic Tree House book series, which has sold more than 100 million copies and is available in more than a hundred countries around the world.

BTG PLAYS! Touring Show is a part of Berkshire Theatre Group’s year-round education program, which reaches 13,000 school children annually. Beginning in October and running through the school year, this production is appropriate for elementary and middle school aged children and family audiences, and is designed to introduce students to the excitement of live theatre.

The Berkshire Theatre Group has announced its 2020 summer theatrical season, with a casting sneak-peek. And Kate Maguire - Artistic Director, CEO, and new WAMC panelist – is here to tell us more.

The 2020 season – which marks ten years since the announcement of the merger between The Colonial Theatre and Berkshire Theatre Festival – includes classics, three world premieres, and plenty in between.

Tony-winning director Bartlett Sher and the team behind “South Pacific,” “The King and I” and 2017 Tony-winning Best Play “Oslo,” bring a fresh and authentic vision to “Fiddler on the Roof” a beloved theatrical masterpiece from Tony winner Joseph Stein and Pulitzer Prize winners Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick – now on tour at Proctors in Schenectady, New York through Sunday.

The original production won ten Tony Awards, including a special Tony for becoming the longest-running Broadway musical of all time. This new production features movement and dance from acclaimed Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter, based on the original staging by Jerome Robbins.

A wonderful cast and a lavish orchestra tell this heartwarming story of fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, and the timeless traditions that define faith and family.

Maite Uzal plays Golde in the production. As Tevye’s wife of twenty-five years and mother of his five daughters, Golde is an efficient helpmate and traditionalist, faced with changes of a “new world.”

In the book, “Beyond Broadway: The Pleasure and Promise of Musical Theatre Across America,” Stacy Wolf examines the widespread presence and persistence of musical theatre in United States culture.

Those two words: “musical theatre” evoke images of The Great White Way - glitz and glamour on a few short blocks in New York City -- but what truly keeps the art and industry alive is the creating, watching, and listening that happens all over the country in high schools, community theaters, afterschool programs, summer camps, and dinner theaters and regional festivals.

“Beyond Broadway” - it is published by Oxford University Press. Stacy Wolf is Professor in the Program in Theatre in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University.

Artwork for Mandy Patinkin In Concert: Diaries
Peggy Sirota

Over the last few years award winning stage and screen actor Mandy Patinkin has entered a new phase of recording, working with pianist, singer, and producer Thomas Bartlett (a.k.a Doveman) with the “Mandy Patinkin: Diaries” series. Patinkin’s most recent recent, released last October, is entitled “Children and Art” and features songs from the Diary sessions by Tom Waits, Marc Anthony Thompson, Randy Newman, Laurie Anderson, Stephen Sondheim, Taylor Mac, and others.

Mandy Patinkin In Concert: Diaries with Adam Ben-David on piano will be at Proctors as part of a 30 city tour.

Patinkin won a Tony Award for originating the role of Che in “Evita” and was nominated for playing George in the Broadway run of “Sunday in the Park with George.” His film credits include “Yentl,” “Dick Tracy,” “The Princess Bride,” and “Wonder.” He’s played many notable roles on television including his multiple-time Emmy nominated turn as Saul on the Showtime series “Homeland.” The show’s eighth and final season will premiere next month.

Additionally, Patinkin has been passionately involved in volunteer work with various NGOs throughout his life, and currently is an ambassador with the International Rescue Committee.

The Tour of The Tony-Award winning revival of the musical “Once on this Island” will be at Proctors in Schenectady, New York on Friday, January 17 and Saturday, January 18.

The Lynn Ahrens/Stephen Flaherty musical, directed by Michael Arden and choreographed by Camille A. Brown, tells the story of the orphaned Ti Moune and four competitive Gods who make a wager over her life and her love. “Once on this Island” is a celebration tinged with sadness that emphasizes the importance of telling everyone’s stories.

Tyler Hardwick joined us. He plays Daniel and he joins the tour after playing a storyteller and understudying roles during the show’s Broadway run.

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.

Based on the 2007 movie of the same name, “The Band’s Visit” features music and lyrics by David Yazbek, a book by Itamar Moses, and is directed by David Cromer. The show won ten Tony Awards in 2018, including Best Musical and The North American tour is at Proctors in Schenectady, New York through January 5.

James Rana plays Simon in “The Band’s Visit” – and joins the North American Tour having been part of the original Broadway cast. He is also the stand-by for the lead character, Tewfiq. He joined us to talk about his journey with the show.

Ancram Opera House in Ancram, New York is mounting an original musical theatre adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen.” The staged reading will have performances December 7-15.

The production features book and lyrics by Barbara Wiechmann, music by Lisa Dove, and is directed by Jeffrey Mousseau.

Nehal Joshi, Scott Stangland, Peter Dinklage, and Jasmine Cephas Jones in "Cyrano"
Monique Carboni

Jasmine Cephas Jones is starring opposite Peter Dinklage in The New Group’s “Cyrano” which is running at the Daryl Roth Theatre in New York City through December 22.

In the new musical version of “Cyrano de Bergerac,” the 1897 play-in-verse by Edmond Rostand, Dinklage plays the brilliantly eloquent and love-struck cadet Cyrano, pining after Cephas Jones’ beautiful and willful Roxanne - who in turn loves the handsome and witless Christian.

This new version is adapted from the original and directed by Erica Schmidt and features original music by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of the rock band The National with lyrics by Matt Berninger (also of The National) and Carin Besser.

Jasmine Cephas Jones originated the dual roles of Peggy and Maria Reynolds in Hamilton at The Public and subsequently on Broadway, earning widespread recognition and acclaim along with her castmates, and a Grammy Award for the cast recording. She co-starred in the film “Blindspotting” which starred and was written by her “Hamilton” co-star Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal. A television series based on the movie is in development. In addition to being an actor and performer, Cephas Jones writes music and will have an EP of her original music coming out soon.

Caroline Bowman as Elsa and Caroline Innerbickler as Anna in the National Tour of "Frozen"
Matt Murphy / Murphy Made

For the last several weeks, crews have been busy at Proctors in Schenectady working on the national broadway tour of the Disney and Broadway hit, “Frozen.”

“Frozen” begins two weeks of performances at Proctors on Sunday, November 10 and runs there through November 24.

Based on the animated film of the same name, “Frozen” has been melting hearts on Broadway in an all-new production created for the stage which features songs from the original film plus an expanded score with a dozen new numbers. The music and lyrics are by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the book is by Jennifer Lee. The show is directed by Michael Grandage with choreography by Rob Ashford.

Caroline Innerbichler plays Anna and F. Michael Haynie plays Olaf.

TINA: The Tina Turner Musical” opens tonight at The Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on Broadway. The biographical jukebox musical features a book by award-winning playwright Katori Hall and is directed by Phyllida Lloyd. It tells the story of Anna Mae Bullock of Nutbush, Tennessee’s life and growth into Tina Turner - living legend and international Queen of Rock and Roll. Adrienne Warren plays Turner -she’s earned raves in the West End production - and an Olivier Award nomination - and gathering early buzz during Broadway previews.

Daniel J. Watts plays Ike Turner. Watts is the creator of a long-running and evolving solo-show entitled “The Jam.” His previous Broadway credits include “The Color Purple,” “In the Heights,” “Memphis,” “Motown: The Musical,” and “Hamilton.” He’s often jumped from stage to screen and plays “Felony” in the comedy series “The Last OG” on TBS starring Tracy Morgan and Tiffany Haddish.

Watts was just nominated for an L.A. Stage Alliance Ovation Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical category for his West Coast performance as Sammy Davis, Jr. in Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole. Daniel J. Watts' “The Jam: Only Child” will be at Joe's Pub in New York City in January.

Howard Pollack is the John and Rebecca Moores Professor of Music at the University of Houston. He will be speaking next Wednesday, October 30th at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York about as part of the college's Jacob Perlow Series. Pollack's subject is “American Musical Theater and the Legacy of Jewish Emigration: From Show Boat to Fiddler on the Roof.”

Jewish American composers, many of them children of Russian-Jewish immigrants, in collaboration with Jewish lyricists and librettists, played an extraordinary role in the creation of the classic Broadway and Hollywood musicals of the twentieth century, as well as American opera of the same period - composers that include Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, Richard Rodgers, Marc Blitzstein, and Harold Arlen.

Pollack will focus on how the legacy of Jewish immigration impinged itself dramatically on American musicals and operas by looking at the ways in which themes of migration, departure, arrival, assimilation, and utopia inform this repertoire.

The Spongebob Musical” National Tour sets sail at Proctors in Schenectady, New York on September 22 and will anchor there through September 28.

Conceived and directed by Tina Landau with a book by Kyle Jarrow, orchestrations by Tom Kitt, and choreography by Christopher Gattelli, “The Spongebob Musical” features songs by Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, John Legend, Panic! At The Disco, They Might Be Giants, David Bowie, Brian Eno - and more.

In the show, Nickelodeon’s popular right-angled aquatic invertebrate and his town of Bikini Bottom face catastrophe - until an unexpected hero rises to take center stage.

We are joined by the actors playing best friends SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star: Lorenzo Pugliese and Beau Bradshaw.

Michael Mitnick and Adam Gwon in front of a RTC step-and-repeat
Jennifer Broski / broadwayworld.com

Tomorrow night, the new musical “Scotland, PA” begins previews at The Laura Pels Theatre in New York City - produced and commissioned by The Roundabout Theatre Company.

Based on the 2001 film of the same name written and directed by Billy Morrissette, “Scotland, PA” is inspired by Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” - though instead of being a Scottish general, this Mac is an American burger joint employee in 1975. Mac and his wife, Pat, make a plan to improve their lives in a darkly-comic musical directed by Lonny Price.

“Scotland, PA” features a book by Michael Mitnick and music and lyrics by Adam Gwon and they joined us to talk about the show.

Matt McGrath, Alyse Alan Louis, Sam Heldt, Ellen Harvey star in "Fall Springs" at Barrington Stage Company August 9-31
Bill Wright

The next mainstage show of Barrington Stage Company’s 25th Anniversary Season is “Fall Springs” -- a World Premiere Musical from Barrington Stage Company’s Musical Theatre Lab. It will run on the Boyd-Quinson Mainstage in Pittsfield, Massachusetts from August 9 to August 31.

The town of Fall Springs is cash-strapped but sits directly on top of America’s largest reserve of cosmetic essential oils. It has big dreams but at what cost? With new fracking techniques being recklessly implemented, the ground beneath Fall Springs is crumbling.

The new musical, directed by Stephen Brackett, features Music and Lyrics by Niko Tsakalakos and Book and Lyrics by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb. They joined us at The Linda along with actors Felicia Finley, Ellen Harvey, Sam Heldt, Alyse Alan Louis, Matt McGrath, and Eliseo Román.

Based on the Oscar-Winning DreamWorks Animation film, “Shrek The Musical” is a Tony Award-Winning fairy tale adventure, featuring songs from Jeanine Tesori and a book by David Lindsay-Abaire. “Shrek” brings all the beloved characters you know from the film to life on stage.

“Shrek” tells the tale of an unlikely hero who finds himself on a life-changing journey alongside a wisecracking donkey and a feisty princess who resists her rescue. Throw in a short-tempered bad guy, a cookie with an attitude and over a dozen other fairy tale misfits, and you’ve got the kind of mess that calls for a real hero. Luckily, that’s where Shrek comes in.

The Berkshire Theatre Group production runs through August 17 at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. We are joined this morning by Director Travis Daly and actor Alex Getlin who plays Fiona.

The David Yazbek/Terrence McNally musical “The Full Monty” is currently running at Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany, New York through August 11.

While spying on their wives at a “Girls’ Night Out” trip to a male strip club, a group of unemployed Buffalo steelworkers come up with a bold way to make some quick cash. As they conquer their fears, self-consciousness and prejudices, the men come to discover that the strength that they find in each other just might give them the individual courage to “let it go.”

The musical is based on the 1997 film of the same name and was nominated for ten Tony Awards when it premiered on Broadway in 2000. Producing Artistic Director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill directs the production at The Rep.

We are joined by actors Christopher Sutton and Lyn Philistine.

Rachel Chavkin
Chad Batka

Rachel Chavkin won the Tony Award for best direction of a musical last month for the Tony Award winning best new musical "Hadestown." Fresh from that win she's taking on her newest project, "Annie Salem: An American Tale," the first Musical Workshop production of the 2019 Powerhouse season presented by Vassar and New York Stage and Film in Poughkeepsie, New York. The workshop will have performances July 5-7.

Adapted from the novel by Mac Wellman, "Annie Salem" features a book by Chavkin, music by Heather Christian, and lyrics by Chavkin and Christian. The show is an otherworldly journey into the jagged heart of rust-belt Ohio, where blue monkeys play in the wreckage of post-industrial America, and where high school boy Jack Scan is in love with the prettiest girl in town. It is a timely adaptation of Mac Wellman’s wry, surrealist coming-of-age story that travels through time and space, to Mars and back again as it tries to make sense of the forces lurking in the American woods.

"Rock and Roll Man: The Alan Freed Story" is the new musical about the incredible rise and fall of Alan Freed, the man who coined the phrase rock and roll and brought its sound to the world. He discovered black artists and got them record deals. He traveled the country and got them heard from coast to coast. He spoke to the younger generation and brought them to their feet. By the dawn of the ’60s, he was the biggest name in music until scandal made him the biggest target in America.

To learn more about The Berkshire Theatre Group production of "Rock and Roll Man," which runs at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA through July 21, we welcome BTG's Artistic Director and CEO Kate Maguire, producer and co-writer Rose Caiola, Tony Award-nominated actor Alan Campbell who plays Alan Freed and multiple-Emmy Award-nominated George Wendt who plays J. Edgar Hoover.

Barrington Stage Company’s first Main Stage show of the 2019 summer season is the Tony Award winning Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine musical “Into the Woods.”

Originally on Broadway in 1987, “Into the Woods” tells the tale of a childless baker and his wife as they endeavor to lift their family curse by journeying into the woods where they encounter Rapunzel, Cinderella, Jack (of Beanstalk fame), Little Red Riding Hood, and other classic fairy tale characters.

The Barrington Stage Company production is directed by Joe Calarco and runs in Pittsfield, Massachusetts through July 13.

This morning we are joined by actors Mara Davi, Mykal Kilgore, Pepe Nufrio, and Kevin Toniazzo-Naughton and Musical Director Darren R. Cohen.

Erin McKeown
Joanna Chattman

Musician, writer, producer  - and one of our favorite guests - Erin McKeown will return to the stage at Caffè Lena in Saratoga Springs, New York tomorrow night for a LGBTQ Pride Night concert with opener Crystal Rose.

McKeown is a singer-songwriter, composer, and producer. Her albums encompass pop, swing, rock, and folk. In 2018 her first musical, "Miss You Like Hell," opened Off-Broadway at The Public Theater earning 5 Drama Desk Awards, including Best Lyrics, Best Music and Best Orchestration. The Wall Street Journal named it Best Musical of 2018. She is working on a new musical entitled "Terrarium Behavior" and a new singer-songwriter album.

The Adirondack Theatre Festival is celebrating its 25th Anniversary season in Glens Falls, New York.

Running now through August 9th – the festival will present four mainstage productions, a concert reading, a "greatest hits" cabaret, a magical comedy show, and a dinner theatre for kids at the Charles R. Wood Theater.

Producing Artistic Producer Chad Rabinovitz joins us with a preview of the season.

In the musical, “Waitress,” we meet Jenna, a waitress and expert pie-maker who dreams of a way out of her small town and rocky marriage. Pouring her heart into her pies, she crafts desserts that mirror her topsy-turvy life such as “The Key (Lime) to Happiness Pie” and “Betrayed By My Eggs Pie.” When a baking contest in a nearby county and a satisfying encounter with someone new show Jenna a chance at a fresh start, she must find the courage to seize it.

Brought to life by a groundbreaking, all-female creative team, this Tony Award-nominated hit features original music and lyrics by 7-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles, a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson and direction by Tony Award winner Diane Paulus.

"Waitress" is on stage at Proctors in Schenectady through Sunday, June 16th. This morning we welcome two members of the company - Christine Dwyer plays Jenna and Melody Betts plays Becky.

The New York Times calls it “the best musical of this century.” The Washington Post says, “It is the kind of evening that restores your faith in musicals.” And Entertainment Weekly says, “Grade A: the funniest musical of all time.” Jimmy Fallon of The Tonight Show calls it “Genius. Brilliant. Phenomenal.”

“The Book of Mormon,” won nine Tony Awards in 2011, including Best Musical. The national tour is now playing at Proctors in Schenectady, New York through Sunday, May 19. The show’s book, music, and lyrics are by Robert Lopez, Matt Stone, and Trey Parker.

To tell us more we welcome two men who play the role of Elder Cunningham in the show. Jordan Matthew Brown is rejoining the National Tour straight from the Broadway company of “The Book of Mormon!” And just in case something happens – he bought his stand-by with him. Jacob Ben-Shmuel is Jordan’s understudy and is making his national tour debut. He recently graduated from UCIrvine with his BFA in Music Theatre.

The new musical “The Prom” tells the story of four all-but-washed-up narcissistic Broadway stars, played by Brooks Ashmanskas, Beth Leavel, Christopher Sieber, and Angie Schworer, who are in need of a positive image boost. To fix their personal PR - they travel to Indiana, where Emma, a high school student played by Caitlin Kinnunen, has been banned from attending her prom with her same-sex partner. They make things worse before making them better and everyone learns something along the way.

The big-hearted Broadway hit, running since last autumn, is nominated for seven Tony Awards this season including Best Musical. The show features music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin, and a book by Beguelin and Bob Martin. We are joined two of the show’s Tony nominees. Matthew Sklar and Beth Leavel. This interview was recorded in March.

Composer, Matthew Sklar, is a Tony, Emmy and Drama Desk Award-nominated composer of the Broadway musicals “Elf” and “The Wedding Singer.”

Beth Leavel plays Dee Dee Allen in The Prom - her thirteenth Broadway show. She won a Tony, Drama Desk, OCC, L.A. Drama Critics award winner for her performance as the title role in "The Drowsy Chaperone."

Eva Tavares in "The Phantom of the Opera"
Matthew Murphy

Cameron Mackintosh's spectacular new production of "The Phantom of the Opera" is now on stage at Proctors in Schenectady, New York through May 5. The show features a new scenic design by Paul Brown, Tony Award-winning original costume design by Maria Björnson, lighting design by Tony Award winner Paule Constable, new choreography by Scott Ambler, and new staging by director Laurence Connor.

The production, overseen by Matthew Bourne and Cameron Mackintosh, boasts many exciting special effects including the show’s legendary chandelier.

Eva Tavares plays Christine Daaé. Previous credits include: Maria in "West Side Story," Anne in "A Little Night Music" and most recently, the world premiere "Sousatzka" starring Victoria Clark. Eva is active in the dance community, most recently choreographing "Die Fledermaus" for Vancouver Opera.

Beetlejuice musical artwork and photograph of director Alex Timbers
Photo of Timbers: Morris Mac Matzen/Stage Entertainment

Tonight a show about death opens at The Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway. A very funny, extremely wacky, semi-familiar show about death.

Beetlejuice: The Musical,” adapted from the 1988 Tim Burton film, features a book by Scott Brown and Anthony King and music by Eddie Perfect - who is further represented on Broadway this season with “King Kong."

The ghost-with-the-most, played memorably by Michael Keaton, in the film is dusted-off and deaded-up by Alex Brightman. Lydia, a grieving but righteous teen, is artfully inhabited by Sophia Anne Caruso. Kerry Butler and Rob McClure play the recently deceased Barbara and Adam. Adam Dannheisser and Leslie Kritzer play Charles and Delia; the sort-of-crazy sort-of-couple that buys Barbara and Adam’s now-haunted house. It’s a powerful cast, all joyfully mourning and energetically filling David Korins’ memorable-moveable set eight shows a week. Musical Supervision, Orchestrations, and Incidental Music is by Kris Kukul, formerly the Music Director at The Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Connor Gallagher is the choreographer.

Alex Timbers directs. His previous Broadway credits include “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson,” “The Pee-Wee Herman Show,” “Peter and the Star-Catcher,” “Rocky,” and “Oh, Hello.” He directed the stand-up special “John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City.” Some of his off-Broadway productions are “Gutenberg! The Musical!,” “Here Lies Love,” “The Robber Bridegroom.” He is the co-creator of the Amazon series “Mozart in the Jungle.” His next directorial project is the stage adaptation of “Moulin Rouge” which begins previews at the Hirschfeld Theatre in June.

The hit 1982 film, Tootsie, has a new stage-musical adaptation that is opening on Broadway tomorrow night. The updated story of the actor, Michael Dorsey, who disguises himself as a woman to get cast in a show, is directed by Scott Ellis, features a book by Robert Horn, and music and lyrics by David Yazbek. Santino Fontana dons the infamous pumps.

Sarah Stiles plays Sandy Lester in “Tootsie: The Musical” - the role was played in the film by Teri Garr. Stiles is a Tony nominated performer whose previous Broadway credits include “Hand to God,” “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever,” “Avenue Q,” and “The 25th Annual Putnam Country Spelling Bee.” She plays Bonnie on the Showtime series “Billions”  and Gladys in “Get Shorty” on Epix.

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