Archive for the ‘Theatre’ Category

Love Never Dies

For fans of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage musical, The Phantom of The Opera, the good news is that “Love Never Dies,” the sequel to the 1988 winner of 10 Tony Awards, is set to begin previews this week at London’s Adelphi Theatre.

According to Broadway Buzz, “The sequel takes place in Coney Island, where the mysterious Maestro who runs the local theater announces a one-off concert with legendary Parisian soprano Christine Daaé. After Daaé arrives in New York with husband Raoul, Victome de Chagny and son Gustave, their subsequent meeting with the Maestro sends the cataclysmic events that happened at the Paris Opera a decade ago crashing back into their lives.”

Previews begin on February 22, 2010, in preparation for an official opening on March 9, 2010.  A Broadway version of the production is targeted to open in November 2010 (theatre to be announced).


To go to the official website of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies, click here.  To purchase advance tickets to the West End Show, click here.

The official London Cast Recording will be released on March 9, 2010 and can be purchased, in advance, from by clicking here.

Above:  View an interview with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber in which he introduces Love Never Dies by clicking the Play button.  Below:  Watch a “preview” of one of the principal songs from Love Never Dies, featuring Ramin Karimloo, as the Phantom, by clicking Play.

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Every Little Step

It’s been 34 years since A Chorus Line took Broadway by storm and transformed the way we think about the American musical.   Conceived and directed by Michael Bennett, with book by James Kirkwood, Jr. and Nicholas Dante, lyrics by Edward Klebanm and music by Marvin Hamlisch, A Chorus Line was an unprecendented critical and commercial hit, winning nine Tony Awards in 1976, including Best Musical, and the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.  The show ran for 6,137 performances, making it the longest-running production in Broadway history at the time.  A revival of the show opened on Broadway in 2006, following an initial run in San Francisco.

Every Little Step, a new docu-drama, produced and directed by James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo, opened in the Bay Area this week.  The film includes original footage of Michael Bennett, together with interviews with Marvin Hamlisch, Bob Avian, former New York Times theater critic Frank Rich, and original Broadway cast members Donna McKechnie and Baayork Lee.   It also includes some of the audiotapes made at the early workshop sessions as well as behind-the-scenes footage of the audition, rehearsals and performances of both the 1975 production and the 2006 revival. 

I saw the original national touring version of A Chorus Line and the 2006 pre-Broadway revival in San Francisco.  Remarkably, the show successfully retains all its original energy, dazzle and relevance after 34 years.  Every Little Step offers a fascinating glimpse into the development of the early concepts for the 1975 Broadway show and the subsequent impact of the show on American musical theatre.  If you’re a fan of A Chorus Line, you’ll surely enjoy Every Little Step.


You can view the official trailer of Every Little Step, a 2009 Sony Motion Pictures Classic release, below.



 ”Every Little Step is a large triumph.”

   –  Joel Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal

“Tracing A Chorus Line from its creation in 1974 by Michael Bennett and his dancers to its 2006 Broadway revival, Every Little Step is a thrilling combination of documentary and musical dazzler. “

   –  Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Vist the official website of “Every Little Step” from Sony Motion Picture Classics, by clicking here.


A Chorus Line is #5 on my list of Top 10 Favorite Shows.  To go to a previous post with a complete list of my Top 10 Favorite Shows, click here.

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On Stage at ACT

This week, San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) opened a powerful and deeply moving new play, Boleros for the Disenchanted, written by Jose Rivera, two-time OBIE Award winner and Academy Award-nominee (Best Adapted Screenplay for The Motorcycle Diaries), and directed by Carey Perloff.  Rivera returns to his native Puerto Rico to explore themes of  love, memories, death and hope in a vibrant, fresh story that span 40 years.   Acclaimed actors Rachel Ticotin (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Total Recall, and Broadway’s Macbeth) and Robert Beltran (Star Trek: Voyager, Big Love) star alongside the fresh new talents of Drew Cortese, Lela Loren, Dion Mucciacito, and Michele Vazquez in their A.C.T. debut.

This is one of ACT’s finest new productions.  The play runs on ACT’s main stage at the historic and beautiful Geary Theatre, San Francisco’s oldest theatre, through 5/31/09.  To learn more about Boleros for the Disenchanted, visit the official ACT website by clicking here.  To purchase tickets, click here.



“The most theatrically satisfying production of the Bay Area season and what could well be remembered as one of A.C.T.’s all-time watershed productions . . . stunning performances . . . a profoundly moving love story” —Contra Costa Times

“Pure delight . . . a funny, romantic, winning story!” —San Francisco Examiner

“Deeply affecting! Beautiful! A play that celebrates love” —The Boston Globe

“Magical! An enchanting production that sizzles with passion. José Rivera has  penned a heartfelt ode to true love.” —Metro (Boston)


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Sun and Moon

Today’s video is a special performance of “Sun and Moon,” from the hit stage musical “Miss Saigon,” which appeared on British TV.  The song is performed by Lea Salonga and Simon Bowman, who originated the roles of Kim and Chris, respectively, in the 1989 West End production of the show by Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil, with lyrics by Boublil and Richard Maltby, Jr.   The show played in London for 4,264 performances and on Broadway for 4,092 performances, where it became the 10th longest-running musical in Broadway history.

Miss Saigon is a modern adaptation of Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly and was inspired by a photograph discovered by Schonberg in a magazine showing a distraught Vietnamese mother saying farewell to her child at a military air base in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam as her child prepares to board a flight headed to the USA where her father, an American G.I., would be able to provide a better life for her.  This concept of “ultimate sacrifice” is a central theme to Miss Saigon.

In reports about his inspiration for the the show and his reaction to the photo, Claude-Michel Schonberg said, “ The silence of this woman stunned by her grief was a shout of pain louder than any of the earth’s laments.  The child’s tears were the final condemnation of all wars which shatter people who love each other.   Behind this particular picture lay a background of years of enquiries and bureaucratic formalities, in order to find the ex-solider from the other side of the world, with whom the woman had shared a brief moment of her life.   She knew, as only a mother could, that beyond this departure gate there was both a new life for her daughter and no life at all for her, and that she had willed it.   This photograph was for Alain and I, was the start of everything… ”


And, here’s a remarkable video showing Lea Salonga’s audition to the creative team who were casting the central role of Kim for the West End premiere.  The team includes Schonberg, on the piano, together with Nicholas Hytner, Cameron Mackintosh and Alain Boublil.  Of course, Salonga, then 17 years old, went on to win the role of Kim and the U.K.’s Olivier Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical for the 1989-1990 season, as well as the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World Awards for her performance in the same role on Broadway.

Miss Saigon is No. 2 on my list of  Top 10 Shows.  To go to the complete list, click here.

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On Stage in SFO

This month I had the opportunity to see three productions on San Francisco stages– Spring Awakening at the Curran Theatre, Rock and Roll at ACT’s Geary Theatre, and A Bronx Tale at the Golden Gate Theatre.

A BRONX TALE at the Golden Gate Theatre


A Bronx Tale is a semi-autobiographical one-man show, written and performed by Chazz Palminteri, which is currently playing at the Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco as part of a 2008-2009 national tour.  The play premiered in Los Angeles in 1990, where it received great critical praise.  Palminteri then moved the show to New York, where it enjoyed a critically and commercially successful four-month run Off-Broadway. 

A Bronx Tale is set in The Bronx section of New York in the 1960’s and tells the story of Calogero Anello (nicknamed “C”), a nine-year old boy from a working class family who gets involved in the world of organized crime. 

The play was made into a film in 1993 by Robert DeNiro, in his directorial debut.  The cast included Palminteri, DeNiro and Joe Pesci.  According to written reports, Palminteri refused to sell the film rights to the play until the right offer came along, which included a provision that he play the key role of mobster Sonny.  After seeing the play during its Off-Broadway run, DeNiro reportedly approached Palminteri and offered to make the film and cast Palminteri as Sonny.  The film helped launched Palminteri’s successful film career, which includes an Oscar-nominated performance in Woody Allen’s 1994 film, Bullets Over Broadway.

In the play, Palminteri plays “C” (at Age 9 and 17), as well as a dozen other characters, including his father and gangster ”Sonny” who both shaped the youngster’s life.  It’s an amazing and physically-demanding performance by Palminteri.

The reviews of the Off-Broadway production included the following excerpts from The New York Times and NY1 News:

To learn more about the 2008-2009 national tour of A Bronx Tale, visit the official website by clicking here.

To read more about the film version from IMDB, click here.  To purchase the DVD version of A Bronx Tale from, click here.   


SPRING AWAKENING at the Curran Theatre


Spring Awakening, winner of eight 2007 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, is now playing at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre, as part of the rock musical’s national tour.  Based on Frank Wedekind’s controversial 1891 German play of the same name, Spring Awakening features music by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steve Sater, and focuses on a set of teenagers who are discovering their sexuality in late 19th-century Germany. 

The show premiered Off-Broadway in 2006 and ran for three months before moving to Broadway’s Eugene O’Neil Theatre, where it received rave reviews for its ravishing rock score and compelling, high-energy performances.  It received 11 Tony Award nominations and won eight awards.  The Original Cast Recording won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album in 2008.

Using a young cast and no stars, the show has helped propel the careers of many of its principal players, including Jonathan Graff (2007 Tony Award nominee, Lead Actor in a Musical) and John Gallagher, Jr. (2007 Tony Award Winner, Featured Actor in a Musical).

I thought the show was electrifying– and easily the best youth-oriented musical since Jonathan Larson’s groundbreaking 1996 rock musical, Rent.

To view the official website for Spring Awakening and to learn more about the national tour, click here.  To purchase the Original Broadway Cast Recording CD from, click here.

Credits: Spring Awakening photo from The New York Times

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On Broadway

During my stay in New York last week, I saw three shows on Broadway– Equus, Boeing Boeing, and All My Sons.  It was definitely an interesting mix of shows. 

EQUUS at the Broadhurst Theatre

This limited 22-week run, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Sir Richard Griffiths, who both reprise their roles from the London production, was in final previews last week, in preparation for opening on 10/1/08.  The Broadway run is already sold out, based largely on Radcliffe’s star power (from Harry Potter film fame), his famous full-frontal nude scene, and the critical and box-office acclaim during its run in London’s West End.  The play, written in 1973 by Peter Shaffer, was performed on Broadway in 1975 in a production starring Anthony Hopkins and Peter Firth.  This is its first Broadway revival.

My observations were:

*  Co-star Sir Richard Griffiths (Tony-award winner for “The History Boys”) steals the show in the role of Dr. Martin Dysart, the psychiatrist who is treating 17-year old Alan Strang (played by Radcliffe) for a crime in which he blinded six horses;
*  In addition to shedding his clothes, Daniel Radcliffe successfully sheds his image as wizard Harry Potter in this shrewd piece of casting and career management;
*  The show holds up reasonably well after more than 30 years, given the advancements in the field of psychiatry and the changing views on homosexuality;
*  Although much hoopla is made of Radcliffe’s full-frontal nude scene, it’s interesting to note that his co-star, Anna Camp, in the role of young girlfriend Jill Mason, also appears nude in the play;
*  The spare, simple staging by Tony-award winner John Napier (who designed the original production) is highly-effective and adds to the dark, brooding mood of the production;
*  The choreography and costuming of the actors who play the six horses is imaginative and chilling.

Messrs. Griffiths and Radcliffe received a rousing standing ovation for their performance.

To learn more about the Broadway production, visit the official website by clicking here.  To purchase tickets from Telecharge, click here.


“The young wizard has chosen wisely.  Making his Broadway debut, 19 year-old film star Daniel Radcliffe steps into his part and wears it like a tailor’s delight – that is a natural fit that allows room to stretch.”

   –Ben Brantley, The New York Times

“A rattling good show.  Peter Shaffer’s solid craftsmanship hasn’t aged a day, and the showy theatricality of Thea Sharrock’s staging knocks every single crumb of rust of the script.  As for the large cast, I don’t see how it could be improved upon.  A near-ideal revival, a consummately effective piece of theatre.”

   –Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal

BOEING BOEING at the Longacre Theatre

Christine Baranski, two-time Tony-award winner (”Rumors” and “The Real Thing”) leads an impressive cast in Boeing Boeing, the winner of two 2008 Tony awards for Best Revival of a Play and Best Actor (Mark Rylance).  The play, a French farce written by Marc Camoletti, originally opened in 1962 and ran for a total of seven years.  A film version, starring Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis, was made in 1965.

The show features broad, near-slapstick humor and highly-animated physicality by the entire cast, including Mark Rylance, as Mark (Tony-award winner), and Kathryn Hahn as flight attendant Gloria.  The brightly-lit, mod-70’s set is a treat, too.

Christine Baranski appears to have fun delivering the droll lines of Bertha, the long-suffering housekeeper, who was famously played by Thelma Ritter in the film version.

The Broadway run is currently open-ended.  To read more about the Broadway production, click here.  To purchase tickets, click here


“Up, up and away! ‘Boeing-Boeing’ is pure pleasure and unconditional bliss! It soars right out of its time zone and into some stratosphere of classic comedy. The happy cast, led by Christine Baranski, is a roaring success.  Mark Rylance gives a priceless performance, evoking the great Buster Keaton.  A delicious, delirious production. ”

   –Ben Brantley, The New York Times

ALL MY SONS at the Schoenfeld Theatre

The biggest treat for me in the Broadway line-up was the revival of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons,” featuring a dream cast of two-time Tony-award winner John Lithgow (”The Changing Room” and “Sweet Smell of Success”), two-time Oscar winner Dianne Wiest (”Hannah and Her Sisters” and “Bullets Over Broadway”), Tony-nominee Patrick Wilson (”The Full Monty”), and Katie Holmes.

The play opened on Broadway in 1947 and won Tony awards for Arthur Miller and Director Elia Kazan.   It was adapted for the screen in 1948 featuring Edward G. Robinson and Burt Lancaster.  A 1987 Broadway revival starred Richard Kiley.

I saw a preview performance on 9/27/08, which the cast dedicated to the memory of Paul Newman, who passed away a day earlier.  The show opens on 10/16/08 and will close on 1/11/09.

John Lithgow delivered a towering, highly-physical performance as Joe Keller (Father) that packed an enormous emotional punch.  Dianne Wiest brought her natural delicacy and fragility to the challenging role of Kate Keller (Mother).   Patrick Wilson (”Little Children” and “The Phantom of the Opera”) was impressive in the role of the suffering son, Chris Keller.  And, Katie Holmes (who looked great from the 5th row) managed to do no damage in her much-ballyhooed Broadway debut in the role of girlfriend Ann Deever.

To learn more about the limited-run production on Broadway, click here.  To purchase tickets, click here.

And… while in London, I was able to see Billy Elliot, The Musical.  To read that post, click here.

To read more about the current line-up of shows on Broadway or London’s West End, click here to go to

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Go, Go, Billy Elliot!

While in London, I was able to see the smash-hit Billy Elliot, the Musical, at the beautiful Victoria Palace Theatre.  The show, which opened in London in 2005, is based on the critically-acclaimed 2000 film of the same name which was nominated for 3 Oscars and 13 BAFTA awards.  Stephen Daldry, who directed the original film, also serves as director of the stage musical, together with the same writer, Lee Hall, and same choreographer, Peter Darling.  They are joined by Elton John, who wrote a new, original score for the stage musical. 

The demanding role of Billy Elliot is played in rotation by four different actors. During the performance I saw last month, the role was performed by Layton Williams, 13, who joined the cast of the show in early 2007.

I thoroughly enjoyed the show, which I thought was emotionally powerful and far superior to the original film.  The show received a huge standing ovation at the sold-out performance.

The New York production of Billy Elliot is currently in previews and is scheduled to open on 10/1/08 at Broadway’s Imperial Theatre.  Quite obviously, this production will be a huge commercial success on Broadway and beyond.

To purchase tickets for the London production, click here.  To purchase tickets for the Broadway production, click here.

Go, Billy, go!

“Billy Elliot strikes me as the greatest British musical I have ever seen.”

   –Charles Spencer, The Daily Telegraph

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Top 10 Shows

NOTE: Updated 10/9/08.


1.  Angels in America (Parts I and II)
2.  Miss Saigon
3.  Sunset Boulevard
4.  Les Miserables
5.  A Chorus Line
6.  Aspects of Love
6.  The Normal Heart
7.  Phantom of the Opera
8.  The Lion King
9.  Billy Elliot (New as of 10/9/08)
10.  Beatles Love, by Cirque du Soleil


Note: Shows include theatrical stage productions.

To see other lists in the “TOP 10 FAVORITE” series, click here.

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