Friday, June 12, 2015

Why 'An American in Paris' Triumphs

Every once in awhile something wonderful happens on Broadway.

And, no we don't mean this year's Tony award for best musical. That wasn't wonderful, that was just political.

No, we mean something wonderful like when a really "best musical" comes along -- something so beautiful, so melodic, so inspiring and so splendidly mounted and perfectly performed that it sets your spirits soaring and you leave the theater feeling like you've seen something truly transcendent.

When it happens, you know it.

And that's what happens with An American in Paris now gracing the confines of the legendary Palace Theater on Broadway.

In a crass and vulgar world (and amidst a Broadway littered with four-letter words and prurient obsessions) An American in Paris is elegant, sophisticated, wonderfully rich and lushly romantic.

Whether you know the story or not (or whether you've seen the movie or not) makes no difference. Because this is a whole new book and an entirely new concept with the finest dancing, the most inventive scenic design, the most evocative costumes, the best lighting, a magnificent cast of 33 and a 20 piece orchestra.

The romantic post World War II story of a young American soldier, a beautiful French girl and an indomitable European city are at the heart of this breathtakingly beautiful musical. Three men vie for the attentions of this winsome French beauty: Jerry Mulligan (perfectly portrayed by Robert Fairchild), Max Von Essen (Henri Baurel) and Brandon Uranowitz (Adam Hochberg). Mulligan is an artist; Baurel is destined to take over his family's textile business but really wants to be a song-and-dance man and Uranowitz is a musical composer. Lise Dassin (Leanne Cope) is the object of their affections and she is a dream-come-true heroine with a secret past. These four propel the story forward with intoxicating music by the Gershwins and choreographed turns, slides, leaps and pirouettes that you simply will not believe in a syncopated celebration of pop, jazz and modern dance with a bit of the ballet thrown in just for good measure (we are in France, after all).

Fairchild, Cope, Baurel and Hochberg are simply heaven together and you can't help but feel sorry for the two guys who will be left out when Lise finally makes her choice.

Fairchild is marvelously angular, unabashedly romantic and a bit brash. Hochberg is the tortured intellectual with a keen eye and natural talent. Baurel is the repressed only child who harbors neon dreams within a delicate, sensitive shell. And Cope is the lithe and enchanting Parisian who is wise beyond her years. All four of them have been scarred in one way or another by the horrors of World War II.

Christopher Wheeldon's direction and choreography are nothing less than miraculous. Bob Crowley's sets (featuring dreamy projections) and costumes (flattering the mid-century New Look) are a joy. Craig Lucas' book is daringly relevant without being preachy.

And, the entire production is laced with that great music: I've Got Rhythm, The Man I Love, Liza, Fidgety Feet, Who Cares?, But Not For Me, I've Got Beginner's Luck, 'S Wonderful, I'll Build A Stairway to Paradise, They Can't Take That Away From Me and An American in Paris.

It's all absolutely astonishing!

Trust us: You miss this one at your own peril. Don't deprive yourself. Get your tickets now!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Three B'way Shows You MUST See!

Among all the Broadway shows that opened this season there are three that tower over all the rest. Each of these three give you the most complete and most fulfilling Broadway experience you could possibly imagine. We saw all three and we assure you, with each one, you will get more than your money's worth -- far more! In no particular order, here they are:

The King and I - Glorious, sumptuous, rapturous!

An American in Paris - Stunning, melodic, romantic, a visual feast!

On the 20th Century - Zany, hilarious, toe-taping, carefree!

Don't miss these three shows.

2015 Tony Award Winners - The Complete List!

Here is the complete list of winner's from last night's Tony Awards show:

Best Play: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Best Revival of a Play: Skylight

Best Revival of a Musical: The King and I

Best Director of a Musical: Sam Gold, Fun Home

Best Director of a Play: Marianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Best Leading Actor in a Musical: Michael Ceveris, Fun Home

Best Leading Actress in a Musical: Kelli O'Hara, The King and I

Best Featured Actor in a Musical: Christian Borle, Something Rotten

Best Featured Actress in a Musical: Ruthie Ann Miles, The King and I

Best Leading Actor in a Play: Alex Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Best Leading Actress in a Play: Helen Mirren, The Audience

Best Featured Actress in a Play: Annaleigh Ashford, You Can't Take It With You

Best Featured Actor in a Play: Richard McCabe, The Audience

Best Lighting Design of a Play: Paule Constable, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Best Scenic Design of a Play: Bunny Christie and Finn Ross, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Best Costume Design of a Play: Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall Parts One and Two

Best Lighting Design of a Musical: Natasha Katz, An American in Paris

Best Scenic Design of a Musical: Bob Crowley, An American In Paris

Best Orchestrations: Chris Austin, Don Sebesky & Bill Elliott, An American In Paris

Best Choreoraphy: Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris

Best Score: Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron, Fun Home

Best Book: Lisa Kron, Fun Home

Isabelle Stevenson Award: Stephen Schwartz

Special Tony Award - Tommy Tune

Best Musical: Fun Home

Note: Underlined shows are ones which we highly recommend.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Tony Awards: Here's Who Will Win!

It's time.
And we're ready.
Here are our predictions for who will win in the major categories at tonight's Tony Awards:

Best Play: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Best Revival/Musical: The King and I

Best Revival/Play: The Elephant Man

Best Actor/Play: Alex Sharp, Curious Incident

Best Actress/Play: Helen Mirren, The Audience

Best Actor/Musical: Michael Cerveris, Fun Home

Best Actress/Musical: Kristin Chenoweth,  On the 20th Century

Featured Actor/Play: Nathaniel Parker, Wolf Hall

Featured Actress/Play: Annaleigh Ashford, You Can't Take It With You

Featured Actor/Musical: Andy Karl, On the 20th Century

Featured Actress/Musical: Judy Kuhn, Fun Home

Director of a Play: Curious Incident

Director of a Musical: Fun Home

Choreography: An American In Paris

Scenic Design/Play: Curious Incident

Scenic Design/Musical: An American in Paris

Costumes/Play: Wolf Hall

Costumes/Musical: The King and I

Orchestrations: An American in Paris

Musical Book: Fun Home

Musical Score: Fun Home

Best Musical: An American in Paris

Saturday, June 6, 2015

'Ever After' Enchants At Paper Mill Playhouse

Have you been to the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ?
If not, now is a perfect time to go.
Because, this legendary theater and well-know Broadway incubator is presenting a romantic new musical suitable for all ages. And Millburn is beautiful this time of year.
But, you'll have to hurry because the world premiere of Ever After continues only through June 21.
Hey, even if you've been to the Playhouse before this show makes it worth a return visit.
Based on the 1998 film starring Drew Barrymore and Anjelica Huston, Ever After is no fairy tale. With Book and lyrics by Marcy Heisler and music by Zina Goldrich, this show sets the record straight on the fable of Cinderella. It was never about fairy godmothers, talking mice, or magic pumpkins. Her name was Danielle and it was always about her wit, her smarts, her strength, and her good friend, Leonardo da Vinci. She makes her own dreams come true. Warm and beguiling, funny and smart, this is the musical you’ll take to your heart.
It's superbly directed and choreographed by three-time Tony winner Kathleen Marshall. And it stars two-time Tony winner Christine Ebersole (Grey Gardens), Emmy winner Charles Shaughnessy (The Nanny), Julie Halston (On The Town) and two marvelous rising stars of Broadway, James Snyder (If/Then) and Margo Seibert (Rocky) as Danielle and Prince Henry. When Snyder and Seibert look into each other's eyes and sing some of the lushly romantic songs in this show it's an absolute joy. They are perfectly matched. Snyder's voice has incredible range and is capable of evoking love, loss and longing. And Seibert has correctly been called "a compelling presence" with a "textured singing voice that lets us hear the character" she is playing.
Right at the start of Ever After the pace is set when Danielle's father sings the beautiful title song. It's a poignant moment that's followed by more than a few surprises. Along the way, we meet the characters of the classic tale presented for the first time as real, three-dimensional personalities, each with their own struggles, hopes, disappointments, dreams, resentments and aspirations. It's a revelation, in more ways than one.
This is a musical with truly melodic, meaningful, listenable songs including the playful My Cousin's Cousin, After All (a mother's weary lament), the farcical All Hail the Gypsy Queen, the romantic Right Before My Eyes, the soaring Out of the Darkness and finally, a beautiful anthem in Love Goes On.
It would be easy to caricature the by now all-too-familiar principals in this tale but the script resists that temptation and the actors take it all to a new level. Ebersole, Shaughnessey, Halston, Snyder and Seibert give us rich portrayals and they're joined by Tony award nominees Charl Brown (Motown) and Tony Sheldon (Priscilla Queen of the Desert) to give us an extraordinary ensemble. Sheldon is wise and wistful as Leonardo da Vinci and Brown is wonderfully agile and endearing as Captain Laurent.
One hopes that Ever After will have a life beyond this world premiere at Paper Mill. It certainly deserves to live on.
But that is just a dream at this point.
So, don't wait. Don't take a chance. See it now!

About Paper Mill Playhouse

Founded in 1934, Paper Mill Playhouse raised the curtain on its first performance with Gregorio Martinez Sierra’s The Kingdom of God on November 14, 1938. By the end of the first year, Carrington had coaxed entertainer Irene Castle out of retirement to make her dramatic debut in Noël Coward’s Shadow Play. The first few years featured a variety of classical and modern plays. By 1941, the Playhouse had begun to specialize in operettas, which it continued until the early 1950s.
Change marked this period in Paper Mill’s history, especially with Scudder’s death in 1958. Then, Angelo Del Rossi joined as Associate Producer in 1964, working closely with Carrington until his death in 1975. Del Rossi then became Executive Producer and remained in that role for nearly 40 years. During this period he led the Playhouse to a new era of prominence and artistic excellence.
In 1971, the New Jersey Ballet staged its first production of The Nutcracker at Paper Mill with world-renowned dancer Edward Villella in the role of the Cavalier. The Nutcracker production has been produced annually at Paper Mill since then.
In 1972, Governor of New Jersey William Cahill proclaimed Paper Mill the "Official State Theater of New Jersey." The theater has been cited as a State Center of Artistic Excellence and as a Major Impact and Distinguished Arts Organization by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
Through the years, Paper Mill Playhouse has welcomed such talent as Christopher Patterson, Gloria Stuart, Alice Ripley, Eddie Bracken, Laura Benanti (Rising Star Award winner), Betty Buckley, Carol Channing, Kristin Chenoweth, Christine Ebersole, George S. Irving, Laurence Guittard, Anne Hathaway (Paper Mill Conservatory alumna and Rising Star Award nominee), Dee Hoty, John Mahoney, Dorothy Louden, Donna McKechnie, Ann Miller, Stephanie Mills, Liza Minnelli, Estelle Parsons, Bernadette Peters, Chita Rivera, Tony Roberts, Patrick Swayze, Karen Ziemba, Adrian Zmed, Nick Jonas, Bailey Hanks, Lynn Redgrave, Lorna Luft, and David Garrison.
In April 2003, Michael Gennaro, former Executive Director of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater, joined Paper Mill as President and CEO. Paper Mill Playhouse was one of the first theaters to begin the regional theater movement in the United States. It has grown to be one of the most acclaimed not-for-profit professional theaters in the country, and attracts more than 450,000 people annually, and has one of the largest subscription based audiences.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Tony Awards To Stream Red Carpet Live, Sunday

For the first time ever, the Tony Awards® will present "LIVE! From the Red Carpet," a live-streamed red carpet special, helmed by TV and stage star Darren Criss, It's Shoulda Been You's Sierra Boggess, and two-time Tony nominee Laura Osnes. Criss, Osnes and Boggess will be joined by special guests including:

George Takei, serving as the live stream’s official fan correspondent;
Randi Zuckerberg as the tech/social correspondent;
Blake Ross as the theatre correspondent; and
Emilio Sosa as the fashion correspondent.
Experience the Action LIVE on Tony Night

The 2-hour, 30-minute special will air from 5:30pm to 8:00pm ET on June 7 on,, and Viewers will feel like they are right in the action, enjoying interviews with the 2015 Tony Nominees from the Red Carpet as they arrive for Broadway’s biggest night.

In partnership with and Playbill, the live special will also showcase exclusive behind-the-scenes features showcasing the nominated shows and actors of 2014-2015 Broadway season. The live special will be produced by red carpet specialist Eddie Delbridge (E! Live from the Red Carpet) in conjunction with Serino/Coyne and Getty Images Video. Additional camera equipment is generously provided by B&H Photo.

“There is no experience quite like being on the Tony Awards red carpet. The energy and excitement of the nominees, presenters and performers as they are about the enter Radio City Music Hall is exhilarating, and we are thrilled to share this unique experience with Broadway fans around the world – live – for the first time,” said Heather Hitchens, President of the American Theatre Wing, and Charlotte St Martin, President of The Broadway League, in a statement.

Fans who are in the New York City area can watch the live stream with fellow fans at the Times Square Simulcast via Clear Channel’s SpectacolorHD screens in the heart of the Broadway community—New York City’s Times Square. Exclusive content will also be available for fans to enjoy on the go through the Tony Awards Youtube channel ( and the Tony Awards Second Screen Experience at
The 2015 Tony Awards

The 2015 Tony Awards - hosted by Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming – will be broadcast on Sunday, June 7, 2015 (8:00 – 11:00 p.m. ET/PT time delay) on the CBS Television Network, live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The Tony Awards, which honors theatre professionals for distinguished achievement on Broadway, has been broadcast on CBS since 1978. The Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.

- See more at:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Drama Desk Winners; Curious, Hamilton Prevail

Following is the complete list of winners of Broadway's 60th annual Drama Desk Awards handed out Sunday evening in Manhattan:

Outstanding Musical — “Hamilton” Lin-Manuel Miranda

Outstanding Play — “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

Outstanding Revival of a Play — “The Elephant Man”

Outstanding Revival of a Musical — “The King and I”

Outstanding Actress in a Musical – Kristin Chenoweth, “On the Twentieth Century”

Unique Theatrical Experience Award — “Queen of the Night”

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical – Renée Elise Goldsberry, “Hamilton”

Outstanding Music — Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Hamilton”

Outstanding Director of a Play — Marianne Elliott, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

Outstanding Director of a Musical – Thomas Kail, “Hamilton”

Outstanding Actor in a Musical — Robert Fairchild, “An American in Paris”

Outstanding Choreography – Christopher Wheeldon, “An American in Paris”

Outstanding Actor in a Play – Alex Sharp, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

Outstanding Lighting Design – Paule Constable, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

Outstanding Lyrics – Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Hamilton”

Outstanding Book of a Musical – Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Hamilton”

Outstanding Solo Performance — Benjamin Scheuer, “The Lion”

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play – K. Todd Freeman, “Airline Highway”

Outstanding Actress in a Play — Helen Mirren, “The Audience”

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical – Christian Borle, “Something Rotten!”

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play – Annaleigh Ashford, “You Can’t Take It with You”

Outstanding Costume Design – Catherine Zuber, “Gigi”

Outstanding Orchestrations — Christopher Austin, ”An American in Paris”

Outstanding Music in a Play – Arthur Solari & Jane Shaw, “Tamburlaine the Great”

Outstanding Revue — “Just Jim Dale”

Outstanding Set Design — Bob Crowley, “An American in Paris”

Outstanding Projection Design – Finn Ross, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

Outstanding Sound Design in a Play – Ian Dickinson (for Autograph), “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical – Nevin Steinberg, “Hamilton”

Monday, June 1, 2015

'Gigi' Delights New Generations On Broadway!

The very name conjures up visions of frothy French merriment.
And the words and music linger in our minds:

Gigi, am I a fool without a mind
Or have I merely been too blind to realize?
Oh Gigi, why you've been growin' up
Before my very eyes

But often the problem has been that Gigi was a bit too grown up right from the start.
How can a girl be transformed into a woman right before our "very eyes" in the span of two or three hours on stage or in the movies?
At least in Colette's novella of Gigi we had some time to savor it all -- we could take the story more slowly and imagine Gigi blossoming into a great beauty.
Of course, the original Gigi stage play starred Audrey Hepburn and her waif-like presence made the transformation believable. In the process, she captivated Broadway and became a star.
Then Lerner and Lowe gave Gigi's story music but instead of bringing the story back to Broadway they launched Gigi, the musical as a movie. In the process they introduced us to the beautiful Leslie Caron, gave Maurice Chevalier the dubious honor of singing Thank Heaven For Little Girls and led us to believe that Gigi could only be performed (and/or sung) by French actors or American actors who were able to carry off a phony French accent. We needed to hear that touch of French throughout the show, otherwise it just wasn't GheeeGheee! We weren't as well-travelled then, or as sophisticated.
Then, in 1973 Gigi, the live musical finally came to Broadway. But it simply didn't seem to captivate audiences the way the movie did. It ran for a few months and closed.
And that was pretty much the end of Gigi -- until now.
Now, Gigi is back on Broadway in a production freshly transported from the Kennedy Center in Washington where it had a successful tryout.
This time, Gigi is younger, fresher, more aware and more alive than she's been in years.
The faux-French heaviness is gone. There are no more French accents. The characters are more human and down-to-earth. And while Thank Heaven For Little Girls is still in the show it isn't sung by old men. Rather, it's sung (appropriately) by Gigi's aunt and grandmother. This move alone makes all the difference in the world because they are the real engineers of Gigi's transformation.
You see, Gigi is at its heart a naughty tale.
The story concerns Gigi, a free-spirited teenaged girl living in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. She is being groomed as a courtesan ( a high-class prostitute) by her aunt (relentlessly) and her grandmother (reluctantly), in her family's tradition. Before she is deemed ready for her social debut, she encounters the bon vivant bachelor Gaston Lachaille, whom she captivates as she is transformed into a charmingly poised young lady.

On its surface this is not a pretty story. But this is the Belle Epoch Paris of long ago and the story is presented with such bubbly subtlety that before we realize what's actually happening we've all been seduced. And, in 2015 nothing shocks us anyway.
This show is filled with lush music and lyrics: I Remember It Well, I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore, The Night They Invented Champagne, A Toujours and the wondrous title song, performed so well by Broadway's newest heartthrob, Corey Cott that it will take your breath away.
This is a Gigi for a new generation -- a Gigi for millennials and even younger theater-goers. In fact, it's a Gigi perfectly designed to attract these groups to such a classic.
And much of this has to do with the presence of Vanessa Hudgens as Gigi. The at once playful and exotic Hudgens was a child star who became best known for her role as Gabriella Montez in the Disney Channel's High School Musical and its follow-up films.
Hudgens is simply marvelous as Gigi - projecting an innocence masking its own share of savvy that eventually turns into budding sophistication. Hudgens really does make the transformation within the course of Gigi's 140+ minutes and she pulls it all off with aplomb. When she joins with Cott and the fantastic Victoria Clark to bring down the first act curtain for The Night They Invented Champagne, it's one of Broadway's most intoxicating moments of the season. You can literally feel the fine French bubbly tickling your nose. It's glorious!
Clark has been nominated for a Tony for her role as Gigi's grandmother and it's deserved. But the show warranted more Tony nominations beyond this one. Shame on the Tony Awards nominees who turned out to be, in the words of the New York Times "merciless" this year.
Sixty-four years after Audrey Hepburn made Gigi come alive on the Great White Way, Broadway now has a Gigi worthy of the original.
Gigi is more than mere "eye candy," as one critic termed it. Rather, it's a timeless tale with great music, lavish sets and costumes and a superb cast interpreting it all anew and giving it relevant meaning in a first-rate production that's worth a visit.
Choose L'amour!