Tag Archives: Broadway

We’re Not Gonna Pay!

Last week we announced that there will be a lottery for the Rent 20th Anniversary tour at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre January 24 – 29. The lottery has become an important part of the theatre going experience for the last 20 years. Would you believe that the tradition started with Rent?

Patrons anxiously await for their name is called for the Wicked lottery outside of the Hollywood Pantages Theatre.

On April 29, 1996 Rent opened on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre in NYC. It quickly became the show everyone had to see. As tickets became more expensive and scarce, many complained that they simply could not afford to attend the show.

Lottery hopefuls fill the box office lobby as names are called out.

The show’s producers offered 34 seats in the front two rows of the orchestra for $20 each on a first come first serve basis on the day of the performance. Jumping at the opportunity for discounted tickets, people began to form lines at the break of dawn. Suddenly, a new model was born.

Cody Jamison Strand (Elder Cunningham) from the cast of The Book of Mormon calls out the names of the lottery winners

On September 7, 2008, over 10 years after the first lottery names were called, Rent on Broadway held it’s final lottery. The video below shows the events of that day. Do not stand in between a Renthead and their tickets!

 

Today, many are still taking advantage of the opportunity to wait in line for inexpensive tickets. The phenomenon not only occurs on Broadway but in touring houses all over the United States. Tickets for the upcoming engagement of the Rent 20th Anniversary Tour are selling quickly. For details about the lottery CLICK HERE

 

What’s Next?

While most of us are happy to leave 2016 behind, we are sad to say goodbye to some of our favorite shows that have closed and will be closing in the coming weeks on Broadway. We’ve already bid adieu to Fiddler on the Roof, Matilda, and Something Rotten. Soon we will see the closures of The Color Purple, Jersey Boys and Holiday Inn. So what’s next? We compiled a list of shows scheduled to make their debut in 2017.

MISS SAIGON

Eva Noblezad in the London production of Miss Saigon

• Theatre: Broadway
• Previews: March 1, 2017
• Opens: March 23, 2017
• Written by Claude-Michel Schönberg (music), Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg (lyrics), Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg (book)
• Director: Laurence Connor
• Cast: Jon Jon Briones and Eva Noblezada
• An American soldier named Chris marries Kim in Vietnam before departing for the US. Three years later, he returns to find Kimstill alive and raising Tam, a boy he fathered. With the Viet Cong closing in on the city and two women wanting the only place in his heart, Chris has big decisions to make.
• Prior to its West End opening, Cameron Mackintosh said the London revival of Miss Saigon might transfer to Broadway in 2015 if it was well received. The revival went on to break box office records.
• Limited run through January 15, 2018.

WAR PAINT

Patti Lupone in War Paint

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

• Theatre: Nederlander
• Previews: March 7, 2017
• Opening: April 6, 2017
• Writers: Book by Doug Wrights; music and lyrics by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie
• Director: Michael Grief; choreographer: Christopher Gattelli
• Cast: Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole
• Musical based on the rivalry of cosmetics titans Helena Rubenstein (LuPone) and Elizabeth Arden (Ebersole)
• Premiered at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago in summer 2016.

GROUNDHOG DAY

Andy Karly in Groundhog Day

• Theatre: August Wilson
• Previews: March 16, 2017
• Opening: April 17, 2017
• Music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, book by Danny Rubin
• Director: Matthew Warchus
• Cast: Andy Karl
• A musical adaptation of the 1993 Bill Murray film about a cynical Pittsburgh TV weatherman who is sent to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, PA, when he finds himself caught in a time loop, forced to repeat the same day again and again…and again. Will he ever unlock the secret and break the cycle?
• Produced in London in summer 2016.

HELLO DOLLY!


• Theatre: Shubert
• Previews: March 15, 2017
• Opens: April 20, 2017
• Music and lyrics by Jerry Herman; book by Michael Stewart
• Director: Jerry Zaks; choreographer: Warren Carlyle
• Cast: Bette Midler and David Hyde Pierce
• Revival of the blockbuster 1964 musical about a matchmaker who sets out to find a match for herself at the turn of the 20th century.

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY

Douglas Hodge West End production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

• Theatre: Lunt-Fontanne
• First Preview: March 28, 2017
• Opening: April 23, 2017
• Written by David Greig (book), Marc Shaiman (music & lyrics), Scott Wittman (lyrics), Roald Dahl (novel)
• Director: Jack O’Brien
• Cast: Christian Borle as Willy Wonka
• When Charlie wins a golden ticket to the weird and wonderful Wonka Chocolate Factory, it’s the chance of a lifetime to feast on the sweets he’s always dreamed of. But beyond the gates astonishment awaits, as the five lucky winners discover not everything is as sweet as it seems.
• A West End production opened in June 2013.

ANASTASIA

Christy Altomare sings Once Upon a December in Anastasia

• Theatre: Broadhurst
• First Preview: March 23, 2017
• Opening: April 24, 2017
• Music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, book by Terrence McNally
• Director: Darko Tresnjak
• Cast: Christy Altomare, Derek Klana, Ramin Karimloo, Mary Beth Peil, John Bolton, and Caroline O’Connor
• Inspired by the 1997 film about a young woman who may be the last surviving member of the Russian royal family. The score features songs from the movie, including the Oscar-nominated “Journey to the Past,” plus additional new songs from the same Tony Award-winning team.
• The musical had its world premiere at Hartford Stage May 12 through June 26, 2016.

BANDSTAND

Laura Osnes and Corey Cott in Bandstand

• Theatre: Jacobs
• First Preview: March 31, 2017
• Opening: April 26, 2017
• Music by Richard Oberacker and book and lyrics by Robert Taylor and Richard Oberacker
• Director/Choreographer: Andy Blankenbuhler
• Cast: Laura Osnes and Corey Cott
• This self-described “big-band musical” chronicles a mismatched band of WWII veterans who join forces to compete in a radio contest with dreams of stardom.
• The show had a hit first production in summer/fall 2015 at Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey.

PRINCE OF BROADWAY

Ramin Karimloo, Tony Yazbeck, Josh Grisetti and Shuler Hensley in Prince of Broadway

• Theatre: Thomas J. Friedman
• First Preview: August 3, 2017
• Opening: August 24, 2017
• Libretto by David Thompson; songs by Stephen Sondheim, Kander & Ebb, Strouse & Adams, Bock & Harnick, Andrew Lloyd Webber and many others.
• Co-directors: Hal Prince and Susan Stroman
• Musical revue featuring highlights from the career of master showman Harold Prince.
• Had a tryout production in Japan in fall 2015.

THE HONEYMOONERS

Hank Azaria, Megan Hilty, Michael McGrath and Leslie Kritzner to lead in The Honeymooners

• Theatre: TBA
• Target Opening: TBA
• Written by Stephen A. Weiner (music), Peter Mills (lyrics), Dusty Kay and Bill Nuss (book)
• Director: John Rando
• Cast: Michael McGrath, Hank Azaria, Laura Bell Bundy and Leslie Kritzer.
• Ralph Kramden and his buddy Ed Norton are back and still shooting for the moon in this world-premiere musical. After shocking their wives by winning a high profile jingle contest, they are catapulted out of Brooklyn and into the cutthroat world of Madison Avenue.
• An industry presentation was held November 2014, produced by Jeffrey Finn and Goodspeed Musicals and starring Michael McGrath, Hank Azaria, Leslie Kritzer and Megan Hilty. A full fall production at Goodspeed was subsequently cancelled. McGrath, Azaria, Bundy and Kritzer took part in an April 2016 lab presentation in New York.

MEAN GIRLS

Tina Fey

• Theatre: TBA
• Target Opening: TBA
• Written by Jeff Richmond and Nell Benjamin (music & lyrics), Tina Fey (book)
• Director: Casey Nicholaw
• Cast: TBA
• A musical adaptation of the hit 2004 film.
• Produced by Lorne Michaels and Stuart Thompson.
• Tina Fey first confirmed in January 2013 that a musical adaptation was in the works. In May 2014 Fey and her husband Jeff Richmond, who is scoring the show with Nell Benjamin, confirmed that it was progressing. Richmond told Yahoo in March 2015 that 60 percent of the show was completed. A reading was presented in fall 2015. A world premiere production was announced for fall 2017 at the National Theatre in Washington DC.

SPONGEBOB: THE MUSICAL

Spongebob: The Musical cast in the Chicago premiere

• Theatre: TBA
• Target Opening: 2017
• Book by Kyle Jarrow, music by Steven Tyler, Cyndi Lauper, They Might Be Giants, Jonathan Coulton, Dirty Projectors, The Flaming Lips, Sara Bareilles, John Legend, Lady Antebellum, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s, T.I. and David Bowie.
• Director: Tina Landau
• Cast: Ethan Slater, Lilli Cooper, Danny Skinner, Gavin Lee, Carlos Lopez and Nick Blaemire.
• Stage adaptation of the hit Nickelodeon cartoon series about the undersea residents of Bikini Bottom.
• The show had a Chicago tryout in summer 2016.

There are so many great shows in the making. For a full list of upcoming shows visit: www.Playbill.com Which shows are you most excited about?

Returning to “Tomorrow” Today With Martin Charnin

Evan Henerson

It takes a certain perseverance and resilience of spirit to create a musical about perseverance and resiliency.  Just ask writer-director Martin Charnin who keeps framed rejection letters from the early to mid 1970s mounted on his walls. Those epistles were sent by dubious producers who advised Charnin and his co-creators to abandon the idea of bringing the saga of a certain cartoon orphan to the musical theater stage and move on to a different subject.

“I treasure them,” Charnin says of the letters. “It’s a good lesson. Sometimes people don’t like what you do.”

But sometimes they do. The original production of “Annie,” which lyricist and original director Charnin created with composer Charles Strouse and librettist Thomas Meehan, ran for 2,377 performances on Broadway. There have been two Broadway revivals and multiple touring companies. Between Broadway, road companies, regional and international productions, Charnin has now directed the musical 19 times.

One need not necessarily be a glass-half-full minded individual to identify with “Annie,” but that spirit is part of what keeps Charnin returning to the well. After a successful theatrical career that began in 1957, the Emmy and Tony award-winning Charnin certainly knows that “the sun’ll come out tomorrow,” but he figures that the world can often use a similar wake-up call.

“I really am reminded every time I do it what the show’s initial message was, and that’s how I basically get the optimism that is up on the stage for two hours,” Charnin says. “That’s something that I need. I think everybody needs a tap on shoulder to remind them that, as awful or as bleak or as difficult as it may be today, there might be something better around the corner.”

“That’s a valuable message to have in your wheelhouse,” he continues. “Certainly for the last 38 years that it’s been playing, that seems to be the message every time we enter a political year. The message becomes a little more pertinent.”

Asked whether the show ever served as a pick-me-up in the director’s own life, Charnin harks back to the original production…the one that produced those rejection letters. It took seven years and multiple passes to finally get “Annie” on stage first at the Goodspeed Opera House and then to Broadway. When “Annie” finally arrived in the late 1970s, it premiered when national spirits were not exactly at their highest.

“The country was in dismal shape when we started to work on it,” he says. “Nixon, Vietnam, a bad economy and everything started to turn around in 1976. In 1977, everything exploded in a positive way.”

Set as the musical is in the winter of 1933 against the effects of the Great Depression, “Annie” follows its 11-year-old heroine of comic strip fame as she moves through a series of hardships en route to a fairy tale ending in the home of Oliver Warbucks. Our Annie’s never-say-die spunkiness is intended to be a bellwether for dealing with the types of difficulties faced by post-Depression era America.

In the midst of her quest, Annie belts out a song that articulates her hopefulness… a certain song that has become more than a little bit famous as evidenced by the fact that it is now one of the 100 most frequently performed musical theater songs.

Perhaps you’ve heard the tune? A one-word title that rhymes with the words “you borrow”?

“We needed a moment early in the show that kinds of defines Annie musically,” Charnin recalls. “We find out a lot about her in ‘Maybe’ which opens the show and which tells us things in terms of plot. What we find out in ‘Tomorrow’ is her attitude.”

Over the ensuing years Charnin, has heard “Tomorrow” performed in multiple languages and in a variety of contexts.

“One of the funniest ways that I remember it was when they used it to accompany a commercial showing all of the playbacks from an NFL season,” Charnin says. “The day after the season ended, the players were all getting their gear together and leaving the stadiums. All of the quarterbacks are thinking about tomorrow and the next season.”

“I guess we always live in the present and we go to bed and wake up and it’s the future,” he says. We’re lucky to have locked that title up and made it work on so many levels.”

Any young lady who sings “Tomorrow” has to project not only hopefulness, but the grit that it will require to power through those tough times. Having worked with dozens of young girls – both portrayers of Annies and her fellow orphans – Charnin emphasizes that the character is “not Shirley Temple.”

“That’s a common misperception,” the director says. “She’s got to have a toughness and a sense of stick-to-it-iveness. And obviously she has to have a set of pipes. Annie’s a survivor. She confronts a lot of different things in the context of the script. Basically that’s what she was in the cartoon when we first read it, and that’s what attracted me to the character.”

Charnin cites the impressive history of stage Annies from original Broadway creator Andrea McArdle all the way through the current tour’s Issie Swickle. You want resiliency?  How about starting your professional career while you’re still in elementary school and still be able to ply your trade three decades later, maybe even as the mother of an acting child yourself? “Annie” has its share of break-out stars from Allison Smith to Sarah Jessica Parker to a young Welsh actress from the London company, Catherine Zeta Jones.

“I get a big charge from working with the kids,” says Charnin. “We have had quite a lot of luck finding young ladies who were 10 or 11 who have gone on to have terrific careers.”

With the “Annie” tour successfully launched, Charnin is hard at work on other projects including a musical about the life of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish humanitarian credited with saving the lives of tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary during the Holocaust. Charnin is also working on a revival of the “Annie” sequel “Annie Warbucks” potentially for a New York opening during the 2016-17 season. Ideally, Charnin says, “Annie” and “Annie Warbucks” would play in repertory at the same theater so that you can see the shows on alternating nights or – “Nicholas Nickleby” style – as a same day two show weekend marathon.

Of course, wherever his creative journeys take him, Charnin always figures to have the opportunity to return to a production of “Annie” somewhere, sometime. As the last nearly 40 years have established, the appetite for this tale has by no means abated.

With this new incarnation, Charnin hopes that people who saw the musical as a child might revisit it and take home new memories. For audiences who are returning to the musical many years later, perceptions should be based on what is on stage rather than on memories that have been distorted by the passage of time or other versions of the story, Charnin says.

“Part of what this show is about is a reminder to look at it again, and then make your judgment,” Charnin says. “The hope is people take to it in the same way they did and have been for almost four decades.”

Bet your bottom dollar!

Henerson headshot 10-5-15

Evan Henerson has been writing about theater in Los Angeles for more than 20 years. He was the Theater writer and critic for the Los Angeles Daily News for nine years and has written for Playbill Online, Backstage, American Theatre and Stage Directions.You can read his reviews on TheaterMania, CurtainUp and Examiner.com.