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Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Stage Addiction: If Broadway Cost $1000, Would You Still Go?

- First things first: Was that Grease reality show some kind of heinous nonsense, or what? It's like American Idol meets the Schnectady Little Players production of Pump Boys and Dinettes. And Billy Bush...is...the...most...irritating...human being ever spawned. (Don't be fooled by the amateurs...there are professionals in the mix too, including a former Altar Boy. The rumors are flying all over 42nd Street that there the producers have seeded the auditions with six "ringers" that they will make sure get to the finals. After that, they don't care who wins, but it will be one of the six. Or so they say.)

- What will follow The Little Dog Laughed into the Cort after it closes next month? No public announcements yet, but the smart money is on Radio Golf, the last play by the late August Wilson. The financing for the show is coming together faster than any of the other contenders (most notably, The Voysey Inheritance at Atlantic).

- So let's talk about that record-setting Christmas week Broadway had that got so much press. In case you missed the 10 gazillion press articles about it, Broadway broke its own sales record, and a number of shows trumpeted that they had broken their house records: Avenue Q, Butley, Tarzan, The Lion King, and Jersey Boys screeched the loudest. Is this a great thing? Sure, if you're an investor. But the truth is that this is simply jacked-up ticket prices, particularly the premium seats (often $250 or more) that have taken over Broadway. Seats were filled by European tourists drawn by the weak U.S. dollar -- who, frankly, didn't know how to utilize cut-rate TKTS or discount brokers (and therefore paid more, on average, for their tickets than regular theatregoers...who know better). The media would have you believe that Broadway is booming...but if it is, it is because they are pricing out the middle-class theatre lover in favor of corporate expense accounts and one-time-only tourists. And that, in the long run, will prove disastrous.

- Meanwhile, in a place where there is no pretense to art: the Las Vegas production of Mamma Mia is closing. In a year and a half. So you better hurry.

- Making good theatre begins and ends with casting. If you've got the right actors in the right roles, you're already more that halfway home before rehearsals even begin. Sometimes it's good, like the new revival of Prelude to a Kiss (John Mahoney, Annie Parisse, Alan Tudyk)...excellent actors well-tailored to the parts. Sometimes, however, it's desperate, like pulling Lea Salonga (Miss Saigon) out of mothballs to take over Fantine in Les Miserables. And sometimes -- like the announcement of teen has-been Ashley Parker Angel taking the role of Link in Hairspray -- well, it's just. Ummm. Doomed. Is what it is.

- Potentially, the most intriguing revival of the year might be Kenny Leon's production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, featuring an all African-American cast. Plans are afoot for a Broadway opening next fall. No word on who would be in the cast, but let's hope it's not P. Diddy, the star of Leon's last Broadway revival.

- Nicole Kidman will develop and star in a film version of Rabbit Hole, the domestic drama that won Cynthia Nixon a well-deserved Tony last spring. This should work out about as well as Gwyneth Paltrow in Proof. Or Ashley Parker Angel in Hairspray.

- More info on Xanadu, which is having its last workshop before Broadway. The cast? Jane Krakowski, Cheyenne Jackson, Mary Testa, Jackie Hoffman and Darius de Haas. Not bad. Not bad at all.

- Looks like someone got screwed over when Terrence McNally decided to move Deuce to Broadway. And they're a little bitchy about it.

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