Tag Archive for revival

Opening Tonight: Rent Revival

A revival of Rent? Already? Didn’t it just close? Yes it did.

New World Stages are becoming a popular destination for shows that close on Broadway. The 39 Steps did it. Avenue Q did it. Million Dollar Quartet did it. And now Rent, the musical that every high school theater students since 1996 claimed as their own, is reopening Off-Broadway. I’m a fan of the New World Stages. They’re small seating theaters with nice deep stages that can be set up to handle many different show demands. I’ve seen tiny shows like Musical of Musicals: the Musical there and bigger shows like Avenue Q. It’s just a great multi-theater venue.

There’s a performance highlight reel for the new production of Rent going around. I’m not holding my breath. I’m glad that the show got some slightly varied sets and costuming, but the little we hear of the singers sounds like they’re mostly trying to copy the OBC recording. Who knows if original director Michael Grief insisted on this? It just feels…familiar. Rent is an exciting show and I’m not sure this production will capture that. We’ll see what the reviews say tonight.

What do you think? Are you ready for another long run of Rent so soon? Or do you wish more time than a little over 2 years had passed since the last NYC production? Sound off.

Rapturepalooza; or, There Sure Are a Lot of NYC Productions about Christianity

A little over a month ago, we were threatened with the Rapture. Earthquakes were supposed to destroy the world around 5PM, though the exact time zone was never specified. This didn’t happen. However, I am willing to jump on the Rapture bandwagon and propose a tenuous connection between Harold Camping’s billboard blitz and the recent resurgence of Bible-themed productions hitting the NYC stages.

Even if it is a coincidence, there just seems to have been a larger than normal density of Christian-themed or inspired shows in the area. Last fall, playwright/actor Charles Busch put on a well-reviewed run of his nun-spoof The Divine Sister. This play saw him don a habit as all the cliches of nun-based theater–singing nuns, dancing nuns, nuns in peril, nuns questioning their faith, nuns becoming governesses, etc.–were skewered and adhered to in a way that only Charles Busch can do. It closed 20 days before the alleged Rapture.

Another nun play made it all the way to Broadway. High was a bit more risque in subject matter. A nun is put in charge of a young drug addict’s therapy and rehabilitation program, which only pushes her to danger of falling back into her old habits as well. The show did not receive great reviews, had poor box office performance, and closed 27 days before The Rapture.

More nuns arrived on Broadway around the same time.

Coming This Summer: Follies

Follies is arguably the hardest Stephen Sondheim musical to stage. The score and book are strong, but the technical requirements of the show are very high. The musical takes place in a crumbling Broadway theater about to be demolished. A group of performers from the Weismann’s Follies are reuniting. They haven’t performed their show since before both of the World Wars and are shocked by the condition of their old home.

Now just imagine trying to mount a musical where the set is a formerly lush and desirable theater falling apart. You not only have to design a gigantic stage, you have to destroy it as well.

Then go further into the challenge of the show. There are two distinct scores happening at the same time. The songs happening in the actual narrative of the show–the reunion–are on in one style, while the songs performed by the characters at the reunion–the old show numbers–are in a completely different style. Meaning, a bunch of show girls and chorus members are arriving to reunite in less than ideal circumstances and performing the songs that haven’t been in style for 40 years. It’s a tricky balance with big production numbers that is hard to find.

Though the original production ran over 500 performances on Broadway, the show ultimately lost money because of the demands of the production. It also split the critics when it opened for being just so different. It’s well-remembered now and revived with elaborate productions on occasion at regional theaters. The most recent revival at The Kennedy Center–starring Bernadette Peters, Jan Maxwell, Danny Burstein, Ron Raines, and Elaine Paige–closes in 3 days in Washington, D.C.. However, it is going to transfer to Broadway by the end of the summer for a limited engagement. The cast is phenomenal and the critics raved about the production. This will be a fall theatrical event not to be missed.

Anything Goes Extends to January 2012

Congratulations have to go out to the cast, crew, and creative team of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of Anything Goes on Broadway. The show opened to near-unanimous positive reviews and now is going to run through January 2012.

This is a big coup for the Roundabout Theatre Company. Roundabout is a not for profit subscription-driven theater company in New York City. They normally put on a handful of shows each season, sometimes successful, sometimes not. The roughly two to three month runs let them experiment a lot without much risk. When a show like Anything Goes opens at the end of their season, they can extend it if the cast is available.

So what went so right for this production?

Watch: Anything Goes Rehearsal Footage

I won’t lie. I was very skeptical about this revival of Anything Goes. Joel Grey, to me, is way too old to play Moonface Martin and Sutton Foster hasn’t shown the sass-mouth brassy belt ala Reno Sweeney before (though Janet Vandergraaf in The Drowsy Chaperone was close, she played it as a vixen, not a vamp, and there is a difference). And, to put it bluntly, the book (doesn’t matter which version) is horrible. If you do not have explosive choreography and the best singers possible with just the right voices, the show is a snore.

The above footage excites me for many reasons.