The Ides of March are coming and those of us whose money came to them in a “Miscellaneous Income” format are hurrying to make sure we don’t owe an arm, a leg, and our first born child. If you spent all of last year working in non-profit theatre settings and are claiming whole lot of un-taxed income, we have some good news for you. Read today’s Broadway Educator’s blog and educate yourself on your earnings.
If you saw the Tony Awards this year, you probably remember all the awards Hamilton won as well as the hilarious video montage showing all its original actors in featured roles on Law and Order. Musical theatre stars are becoming more and more visible on the small screen after Broadway success! Here are a few accounts of the stars whose small screen ventures you should see…
The Superhero Universes
Living at home with my superhero obsessed boyfriend, I learn a lot about the Marvel and DC universes. Lately, he’s been watching The Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl. I was surprised to see such actors as Calista Flockhart (The Glass Menagerie), Victor Garber (Godspell), Jeremy Jordan(Newsies), and Laura Benanti (She Loves Me) on these shows. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the writing style compared to the Netflix streaming ones like Daredevil, Jessica Jones , and Luke Cage but clearly these actors gain a little more financial stability by taking advantage of their SAG cards. With more money and more flexibility rather than the “eight-show-a-week” schedule, there are some positives to the job shift.
Beauty and the Beast was my favorite Disney movie as a child. I loved the spectacle, the love story, and the elements that Disney brought to the original Grimm tale (e.g. Belle’s yellow gown, the enchanted red rose, and the musical themes). A new live-action remake is going to be released on Saint Patrick’s Day starring Emma Watson, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Kline, Audra McDonald, Emma Thompson, and Josh Gad.
The original film from 1991 set a precedent for other Disney films as well as other cartoon films of its time. Alan Menken wrote the music that he later extended for a stage production that opened on Broadway in April of 1994 at The Palace Theatre. With lyrics by Tim Rice and Howard Ashman and a book by Linda Woolverton, the production was nominated for nine Tony Awards and won one for Best Costume Design.
The 1991 film had many stars including Paige O’Hara as Belle, Jerry Orbach as Lumiere, Jesse Corti as LeFou, David Ogden Stiers as Cogsworth, and Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts. Angela Lansbury was recently interviewed by Entertainment Weekly about the new remake. The 91 year old actress stated her confusion at Disney’s want to redo the story:
“I don’t quite know why they’re doing it. I can’t understand what they’re going to do with it that will be better than what we’ve already done. And how they’re doing it live — it may turn out to be very entertaining and wonderful. It won’t be like the cartoon that we did, but it’s a good story — it’s one of the famous fairy stories that is known worldwide by children. Therefore, why not? I don’t blame them for doing it. But, I’m sorry, they’re not really on our territory. We did it as cartoon characters, and that is quite different from live actors.”
A Great Remake Or Just a Money-Maker
A live-action remake for Beauty and The Beast could be great. The advanced CGI for the Disney castle will definitely be remastered in a new, enchanting way. Designers already seem to be taking advantage of the authentic, Bavarian aesthetic from the original Grimm Fairytale. The filmmakers could also be adding more of our favorite songs from the live stage production, which would set the movie apart. Then, Emma Watson will once more get an opportunity to be delivered from her perpetual place as Hermione Granger. Good things could definitely come of it!
On the other hand, the merchandise for the film will earn Disney more money and the box office earnings are expected to be ridiculous. I guess we’ll just have to wait until March 17th to see if it’s all worth it!
After the passing of Carrie Fisher, we were dismayed to learn that her mother, Debbie Reynolds, had passed. After a stroke, she was hospitalized on December 28th. News of the hospitalization spread all over the internet until the news of her death surfaced hours later. Today, we remember her triumphs onstage and off that left us singing in the rain and feeling as unsinkable as Molly Brown!
Reynolds’ career began in film with her break-out role as Kathy Selden in Singing in the Rain. She proved to have the charm and the chops to make it on the big screen but her musical strengths led her to the Great White Way where she starred in Irene in 1973. If you read our posting about Carrie Fisher, you’ll know that this production was also her daughter’s Broadway debut. Fisher played an ensemble member in the show that was about an Irish immigrant, Irene, who has high ambitions to hang out with high society types.
After Irene, Reynolds did a special Broadway concert review in 1976 called Debbie at the Minskoff Theatre. With a full cast of male dancers and a few back-up singers, Reynolds shared some Broadwaylore with audiences for a limited run of 14 performances. In 1977 she starred in the US tour of Annie Get Your Gun as the title character. Then in 1983 she added Woman of the Year to her resume. Reynolds always shined playing the charming and beautiful ingenue.
A Legacy to Be Remembered
Debbie Reynolds dazzled us for about six decades. She was even memorable for younger generations with her performances in Disney Channel Original movies, voice over work, and cameos in television shows like Will and Grace. We hope we won’t have to write another one of these articles for a long time, though an actress like this is worth remembering.
On this day in 1968, a new musical by Kander and Ebb opened at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway. The musical was Zorba!. Set on the island of Crete, this musical deals with the inheritance of power, unrequited love, and vengeance: all the things that sum up Greek life! It lost to 1776 for Best Musical in 1969, but it continues to be produced around the world today.
From Book to Stage to Screen
Based on the Greek novel, Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantakis, the narrator gains control over a mine on the island of Crete. Nikos becomes friends with an energetic older man named Zorba who teaches him about life and living it to the fullest. Meanwhile, Crete is filled with tragedy. The widow of the man Nikos inherited the mine from, has an affair with a youth on the island. The youth commits suicide when his love for the widow is not reciprocated. Shortly after, the boy’s family looks to gain revenge from the widow and murders her. These tragic events test Nikos’ newfound excitement for life.
“The Bend of the Road”
The original actors in the production included Herchel Bernardi as Zorba(Fiddler on the Roof), Maria Karnilova (Fiddler on the Roof OBC), Carmen Alzarez (Bye Bye Birdie), and John Cunningham (Cabaret). Though the production didn’t get the best reviews, more productions came along to star some big names! John Raitt and Chita Rivera performed in the US Tour in the 1970s and last year, the New York City Center produced the show in their Encores! series. This production starred John Turturro, Zoe Wanamaker, and Marin Mazzie.
“That’s a Beginning”
Do you remember the film production of the show? Can you remember the 1969 Tony Award performance? Maybe you can just remember the production of the 1983 revival at the Tonys! Whatever you can’t remember, there is a website for that! YouTube has the ‘69 Tony Award performance of “Life Is”.
Was this a musical favorite of yours or just a more depressing version of Fiddler on the Roof? Let us know on Twitter!
Schwartz, Gershwin, Schonberg, Menken, Kander, Ebb, and Webber: What do these names have in common? They represent names of musical composers whose music is currently represented on the Great White Way! Names that would not have become so well known in musical theatre if it had not been for one great Irish-born composer: Victor Herbert!
The Climb to the Top
On first looking at old pictures of Herbert, the first striking trait is the mustache. He probably twirled the ends of it nervously during long periods of composing alone in his New York flat.
Herbert’s mustache gained some acclaim because his wife Therese Förster came to New York with him to sing at the Met for a season of Wagner. He got some associative fame as her pianist and then skyrocketed into the New York scene from there! His goals as a composer were to create work within a “folk theatre” scope that was reminiscent of Harrigan and Hart, a vaudevillian duo of comedic composers who also performed in NYC. Herbert’s first productions are considered “Light operas” and he was the best at writing during the turn of the 19th century. He and his twirling mustache made famous the song, “Gypsy Love Song” from The Fortune Teller (1898) that is shown here in this video performed by the Robert Shaw Chorale from 1976:
Always a Backlash
Of course, Herbert didn’t have it easy with the critics all the time. When he first came to the United States, his first job was as bandmaster for the 22nd New York National Guard Band. Critics found his ascension to composing fame to be appalling because they believed a job as a bandmaster was completely lowbrow! To think that this man should be allowed to twirl his mustache on the New York stage annoyed them. At the fame of The Fortune Teller, critics scoffed and called him a plagiarist of better composers. Unfortunately for them, their hateful words have not lasted as long as his influence on the musical comedy!
What He Gave Us
Herbert’s constant mustache twirling and composing gave the musical comedy a need for great music accompanied by a strong libretto. Though he was born in Ireland, studied in Germany, and then immigrated to the United States, his composing style helped to give identity to American musical theatre with his marches, waltzes, and ballads. Much like Antonin Dvorak and the New World Symphony, his appearance in the United States and experience of American patriotism helped him to identify us and himself as a composer in the New World.
A quiet studio just for your particular skill set sits waiting in a rural town in New England. For composers and writers there are cottages with grand pianos, beautiful bedrooms with handmade quilts and rugs, and large windows to look out into the woods for inspiration. Your gourmet lunches and breakfasts are delivered quietly and left in ornate baskets outside your door. At dinner you can join other artists at a summer camp-style mess hall to discuss progress. This Thoreauvian escape is where the most elite artists are accepted to work for weeks at a time. If it seems like your type of place, you might consider submitting your work to The MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire next year.
History and Famous Fellows
Composer Edward MacDowell and his wife, Marian MacDowell, a pianist, invested in this property in 1896 as an escape. Its peaceful grounds and remote location made it a perfect place for MacDowell to compose. MacDowell wished he could turn the area into a community for working artists and his wife acknowledged this wish. After MacDowell’s death in 1908, Marian worked with investors like Andrew Carnegie and Grover Cleveland to turn the area into an artists’ colony. The colony has now served more than 6,000 artists including some of our theatre favorites Suzan Lori-Parks (Topdog/ Underdog), Kerrigan-Lowdermilk (Henry and Mudge), John Pielmeier (Agnes of God), Susan Blackwell (Title of Show), and Leonard Bernstein (West Side Story).
Visit the Grounds
To continue MacDowell’s belief of a community area, the colony invites the general public to visit once every summer. There is a great guest speaker or two, women wear expensive floppy hats, everyone eats lunch on the lawn, and the artists open up their cottages to display their work and speak with the public. I was lucky enough to visit the year Stephen Sondheim was the guest speaker. Musical theatre geeks from New Hampshire and Massachusetts flocked to hear him discuss his lessons learned under his mentor Leonard Bernstein. Visiting only made me more jealous of the sanctuary each of these creators are allotted for a few weeks out of the summer. As one of the top artist communities in the world, it’s no wonder why it’s difficult to become a MacDowell Fellow. Applications are usually due around April of each year.
Sarah Siddons was born in Wales in 1755. She became one of the most prominent actresses of the 18th century, famous in particular for playing Lady Macbeth. She remains notable and memorable even today. The Sarah Siddons Society in Chicago presents theatre scholarships in her name annually.
Siddons made her first appearance in Dublin in 1784. An Irish newspaper, apparently, felt that the hype surrounding her over in London was out of control.
What follows is their writeup, as documented a century later in English As She Is Wrote, which was itself published well over a hundred years ago, in 1883.
There are only a handful more performances of Deaf West’s production of Spring Awakening before it closes on January 24th! The original production won 8 Tony Awards® for Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Score in 2006, and we’re all going to be waiting to see how this production does in the revival category at next year’s Awards! With American Sign Language fully incorporated in the storytelling of this drama, the production pulls at the heartstrings of audience members whether they’re part of the deaf community or not.
No One is “Left Behind”
Accessibility is hugely important for today’s audience goer. Sensory friendly elements, ASL translators, and audio descriptive aids are being incorporated into more and more performances. Theatres are finding ways to incorporate proper translations, less stimulating sound or lights, as well as venues committed to the whole experience of sensory performances for young ones with autism. The great thing about using American Sign Language in theatre is that there isn’t a problem with performance and syntax. The expression of the language in song is meant to be fluid with rhythm and tempo as well as with facial expression. This makes the performance more pleasing to watch and more meaningful. In fact, the meaning of the language becomes stronger with the auditory and visual elements being portrayed by these highly animated actors.
What Made This Story Great: “The Guilty Ones”
“A re-imagining of Frank Wedekind’s 1891 play with music by Duncan Sheik”, bookand lyrics by Steven Sater, the Tony-winning Spring Awakening boldly depicts how young people navigate the thrilling, confusing and mysterious time of their sexual awakening. The story centers around a brilliant young student named Melchior, his troubled friend Moritz, and Wendla, a beautiful young girl on the verge of womanhood” (Broadway.com). The revival has been open on Broadway since September 27th and has won or been nominated for many Ovation Awards during its L.A. Deaf West run, including Best Production of a Musical, Best Acting Ensemble of a Musical, Best Choreography, Best Direction of a Musical, and Best Lighting Design.
If you haven’t seen this production yet, you have until January 24th! Ticket prices in the mezzanine are low right now, starting at $39 a piece when making use of our Group Discounts. All Tickets Inc. is a great place to go to grab group tickets for you and all your friends to see this show in its final stretch on Broadway! Just don’t forget the tissues!
Dear Madam, you have seen this play;
I never saw it till today.
You know the details of the plot,
But, let me tell you, I do not.
The author seeks to keep from me
The murderer’s identity,
And you are not a friend of his
If you keep shouting who it is.
The actors in their funny way
Have several funny things to say,
But they do not amuse me more
If you have said them just before;
The merit of the drama lies,
I understand, in some surprise;
But the surprise must now be small
Since you have just foretold it all.
The lady you have brought with you
Is, I infer, a half-wit too,
But I can understand the piece
Without assistance from your niece.
In short, foul woman, it would suit
Me just as well if you were mute;
In fact, to make my meaning plain,
I trust you will not speak again.
And – may I add one human touch? –
Don’t breathe upon my neck so much.
Determining what is happening on Broadway at any given time can be especially confusing. Snapshots are often offered as are summaries but there’s rarely a view that is panoramic, all-inclusive, or devised in a manner that provides an accurate idea about what is occurring over a length of time.
What we know about Broadway is that overall ticket prices continue to rise and that grosses also continue to rise. What do those two basic stats mean and what else do we know? Those may be the billion dollar questions.
Some of the greatest theatre in the world can be seen on the Broadway stage. Also, some of the worst theatre in the world can be seen on the Broadway stage. In addition, Broadway does not have a monopoly when it comes to quality theatre. You can find amazing theatrical experiences Off-Broadway, and across American in various regional, university, and summer theatres. Of course, that’s not to mention theatre in other countries where, often, theatrical experiences eclipse those on Broadway.