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Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Stage Addiction: Cheyenne's Naked and Mermaids Suck

-We'll start off this week with a big wet get-well kiss to Dame Edna Everage, star of stage, screen, and sultanate boudoir. Dame Edna's talented alter-ego, Barry Humphries, is suffering due to complications from appendix surgery, which has resulted in the cancellation of her upcoming North American tour. To the world's most charming drag queen, we gratefully say: feel better, possum.

- Now for some (much) better news: August: Osage County, which is turning into the hit drama of the season, has extended its limited run to April 13th. If you haven't seen it, that means there's a whole bunch of great seats now available. (And don't be surprised if it decides to hang on through the Tony Awards in June, where it's sure to pick up a bunch.)

- In a move that won't surprise anyone who carefully reads this weekly column, the new musical adaptation of John Waters' rebel rouser, Cry-Baby, has landed on Broadway at the Marquis Theatre with previews beginning March 15th. Lest you think this is simply Hairspray: Part Two, you might want to look at the creative team: the piece is directed by Mark Brokaw (who helmed the Pulitzer-winning How I Learned To Drive), and the score is by David Javerbaum (former head writer Comedy Central's The Daily Show) and Adam Schlesinger (from the band Fountains of Wayne). As for star power, it's going for low but intriguing wattage: the titular character is played by newcomer James Snyder, and its biggest name Desperate Housewives' Harriet Harris (Thoroughly Modern Millie). And here's a bonus: preview tickets would be priced at $54, theoretically to honor the year the Presley homage is set: 1954. Too bad it can't take place in 1902...

- Cheyenne Jackson. An intimate interview. In his dressing room. His DRESSING room. Where, presumably, on occasion, he is naked. NAKED. Ah, my mind reels at the possibilities...

- ...okay, I'm back now. Speaking of Cheyenne, I had the distinct pleasure of catching him performing at Birdland last week, as part of an all-star concert celebrating the release of up-and-coming composer Scott Alan's new album, Dreaming Wide Awake. (If you don't know who Alan is, be patient...you will soon.) In addition to Jackson, Alan's gorgeous tunes -- which remind me most of Jason Robert Brown's work, with a little Jonathan Larson thrown in -- were sung by a fleet of former Elphabas (including Shoshana Bean and Stephanie J. Block) as well as Jonathan Groff (Spring Awakening), Danny Calvert (Altar Boyz), and the sublime Liz Callaway (Baby), who still has one of the most amazing voices in the business. The night was stolen, however, by a newcomer from Penn State named Natalie Weiss, who tore the roof off the place on three different numbers. (Photos of Weiss and Cheyenne below.) Special thanks to Friends of ModFab Kurt and David, who dragged me out on a Monday and gave me a completely enjoyable evening!

- Our blogbuddy Aaron Riccio, one of the ModFab guest jury members for our Best-Of-'07 feature last month, is rocking our world with his coverage of the Under The Radar Festival at the Public Theater. Here's his Day 1 and Day 2 at the Festival, with hopefully more to come. UTR is arguably the most vital festival in New York City, with tons of superb local and international work. Riccio has me salivating for Terminus by the Abbey Theatre of Ireland; I've got tix for this Saturday already, so I'll let you all know how it is.

- Arguably the blackest reviews of the season came last week for Disney's $15 million stage version of The Little Mermaid; when the Times' Ben Brantley begins his review with the phrase "loathed the show," you know you're in trouble. And yet: I can't say it's not deserved. Disney knew last summer they had a stinker, when equally shitty reviews accompanied their out-of-town tryout in Denver. And despite everything, they chose to make no major changes, no personnel shake-ups, nothing. They could have fixed it (or at least tried), but they didn't...and now they've got no one but themselves to blame for this disaster. (Of course, like Tarzan before it, Mermaid has an enormous pre-sale who bought in early. So expect it to last about a year on those poor, duped audiences before closing up shop. Now that they're batting zero and the company's CEO isn't into 42nd Street, one must ask...is this the end of Disney on Broadway?

- Lots of big news coming in next Thursday's column. Stay tuned...

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Blogger Vance said...

I'm excited for Cry Baby and even just rented to re-watch She's the Man yesterday just to see James Snyder in his role as Malcolm again (though the role seems like the polar opposite to what he will be like in Cry Baby, which of course, impresses me even more)!

1/15/08, 2:24 AM  
Blogger Esther said...

I sure hope it's not the end for Disney on Broadway. I think Broadway should have something for everyone - young children and families included. That's what's helped revitalize Times Square.

Say what you want about how it's tacky and touristy, but as a woman traveling alone, I can't tell you how great it is to feel completely comfortable walking back to my hotel after a show at 11 o'clock. (Believe me, if I didn't feel safe, I wouldn't have made three trips to New York last year to see 19 shows).

These are the shows that are bringing young kids to the theater.

The only Disney show I've seen is Mary Poppins, and I liked it. I was sitting next to a 5-year-old who was at his first Broadway show. (And believe me, he was better behaved than a lot of adults. His cell phone didn't go off once, and he didn't make any noise unwrapping candy in the middle of the show).

I'm not saying we should put up with crap just to entice families with small kids. Of course, I want Disney to put on good shows that appeal to adults as well as kids. I'm just saying that if Disney disappears from Broadway, it will be Broadway's loss.

1/16/08, 4:27 PM  

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