With the 70th Annual Tony Awards only a week away, Broadway enthusiasts have been buzzing about one of the most praised theatre seasons in many years. Musicals and plays this season have made groundbreaking impacts in diversity and accessibility to theatre for all. Alas, as one of the best Broadway seasons, it also seems to be one of the toughest seasons, especially for the Tony Awards. Across Broadway this year there are an array of performances all deserving of award nominations, but just not enough space in each respective category. This unfortunately means that shows are left out, which could bring them closer to a closing notice and fan-bases become disappointed when their favorite theatrical experience of the season is not recognized. Although, the dedicated fans of these shows, the performers’ love for what they do, and the connection across the theatre community is the most important part. On June 12th, that community will celebrate the accomplishments of not just those nominated, but all who are in this community, whether it be on-stage or off. Since fans are not the decision-makers in the Tony Award race, we asked fans their reactions the theatre they saw this season.
On The Color Purple
“I've seen a lot of shows in my day, but The Color Purple was the very best performance I've ever seen. Cynthia Erivo was so moving, I literally couldn't stop crying when it was over. Bravo!”
- Fran Favin Weiskopf
“Cynthia Erivo's 11th hour performance of "I'm Here," in The Color Purple was life changing for me. I saw the show back in January and still today there is not a day that goes by that I don't reflect on the emotional performance she gave. When things are good, I belt the song, and when times are tough, I sing it through a tear streaked face. While others have done this song justice, Cynthia takes it to a brand new level with a performance that is an emotional roller coaster.”
- David Jonathan Pearce
“Leslie Odom Jr.'s Aaron Burr in Hamilton is perfection. His performance is like watching a pot boil, starts off slow and steady, steadily getting more agitated, until it boils over. He completely changes by the end. I've never seen a performance so transformative and exhilarating. His crazy eyed look in "the room where it happens" is scary and you know that a switch has turned on. I love everyone in the category, but I think he deserves the Tony.” - Ariana Klarfeld
"Leslie Odom Jr. gave possibly the best performance I've ever witnessed. He's a small guy, but he commands the stage in a way, & with an energy, the mesmerizes the audience" - Lisa Tricarico
“Leslie Odom Jr. Seeing him as Burr was so much like Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar. I laughed with him when he'd keep coming back at the beginning of songs "Do you BELIEVE this sh*t?!" lol, I cried with him when he sang about Fatherhood & his realization. His performances echoed the same feelings I had when Judas sang his numbers in JCS. I was captivated & filled with compassion.” – Patrice Marion
On Fiddler on the Roof
"Danny Burstein's Tevye made me cry!" - Hayley Goldstein
On Spring Awakening
“Deaf West's Spring Awakening changed my life. I don't usually get to see Broadway shows more than once, but for this gem of a production, I had to make the trip two more times. Incredible performances from the entire cast. Brilliant direction and choreography. So much passion from everyone involved.” - Becca Parsons
“Spring Awakening was my greatest theatre experience ever. I was lucky enough to see the Deaf West production four times, including the closing night performance. The amount of tears shed over the show and my collection of every piece of merchandise the show has to offer proves how life changing and important this show is to me. A good portion of the cast follows me and chats with me on Twitter, and it is incredible to be social with many of my idols. This production also inspired me to learn ASL. Deaf West Spring Awakening is perfection!” - Val Shwalb
“I was so moved by Deaf Wests Spring Awakening. I was lucky enough to see it twice but wish that number was higher. I already loved Spring Awakening and the new cast showed me a completely new side of the story. Both times I was moved to tears by the story and acting put on stage.”- Ilana Atwater
“Michael Arden's directorial debut in the revival of Spring Awakening is unlike anything I've ever seen before. The production is honestly my favorite production I have ever seen. The choices he made and designers he hired brought even more life and another layer to an already incredible show.” – Hannah May
“Jennifer Simard's singing Nun in Disaster! gave a whole new meaning to spiritually uplifting. She took an iconic 70's character and made it wonderfully her own. Loved her performance.”
- Lisa Port Weiss
“Jennifer Simard is incredible in her break-out role. Despite Disaster!'s all-star cast, it was Jennifer's performance as Sister Mary Downy that kept me coming back for more. Jennifer's delivery was absolute perfection - she had the audience laughing hysterically with every line that she said. Not only that, but her song “Never Can Say Goodbye,” the most hilarious scene I have ever seen on a Broadway stage. Her different mannerisms with the slot machine had me crying laughing. Not only is her comedic timing spot on, but her voice is incredible. While Disaster! did not get the love that it deserved, I am so happy that Jennifer Simard is being recognized and adored by so many people. Jennifer has made history - the first time that a portion of a show has ever been legally filmed and broadcasted live was Jennifer's final "Never Can Say Goodbye" on Playbill's Facebook. The attention and love from everyone that she is getting is so deserved. I am thrilled that she was nominated and hope that she takes the win, or gets to be featured in some way at the Tony's. #PutSimardOn!” – Broadway Jessi
“Jen Simard - no other woman on Broadway made me laugh like she did & girl's got PiPES!!!! #PutSimardOn” – Patrice Marion
“When I saw Jennifer Simard in Disaster, I said that she must get a tony nomination. She stole the show!” - Jennifer Kennedy Erdody
On Bright Star
“Carman Cusack seamlessly transitions between 17 and 39 at the blink of an eye. She completely embodies Alice Murphy and is giving a brilliant performance.” - Taylor Clemons
"Carmen Cusack punches audiences in the heart with her breathtakingly beautiful performance in Bright Star" – Elizabeth Maxman
"When I first heard of Bright Star, I had little interest due to the fact it was known as a "bluegrass musical" and that is definitely not my style. I am not one to like country music at all, but after a friend told me I had to go, I finally insisted. All I can say is wow. The music is not super twangy at all and some songs contain the most wonderful melodic lines I have heard. This show is so beautiful and such the "secret gem" of Broadway. The storyline and the music are both simply and effortlessly moving. The show as a whole has personally helped improve my mood over the past month. Bright Star is led by the outstanding, Tony-nominated Carmen Cusack who gives the best performance of this season I have seen so far. Her role is so raw, tragically beautiful, and relatable to any audience member. She gives hope to anyone who may feel there is none. Despite the little coverage this show gets, I advise everyone to go see Bright Star. It has changed my outlook on life and I'd love for it to do the same for others." – Lauren Ashbrook
"I went into Bright Star not knowing anything about it; I wasn't familiar with the plot or the music. Seeing the show ended up being one of the best decisions of my life. In my opinion, a good show is one that stays with you long after you leave the theatre and that's exactly what happened when I saw Bright Star. I found myself not only humming the catchy songs but also I left with a feeling of hope and optimism. The story just has so much heart and I feel like many people are hesitant to see the show because of the music but I think everyone should give this show a chance. There is something in it that will resonate with everyone. I can't express my gratitude for this show enough." - Layla Navidi
On She Loves Me
“The cast of She Loves Me is just so, so charming.” – Andy Zhang
“Laura Benanti was angelic in She Loves Me!” – Hayley Goldstein
On School of Rock
“The incredible amount of energy, passion and talent that Alex Brightman brings to every performance of School of Rock! He took a well-loved role, kept the essence but added his own flavor and it is marvelous!!” - Hannah May
“I am a teacher who has become a little jaded but after seeing Alex Brightman in SCHOOL OF ROCK I am all about getting my "Dewey Finn" back!” - Alanna Perkovich-Smith
On Shuffle Along
“The folks over at Shuffle Along, including myself, are super excited that this little show that could crank out 10 Tony nominations. That's so crazy and we're super-duper excited.”
- Arbender Robinson (Actor in Shuffle Along)
“The choreography for Shuffle Along took me to a higher level of consciousness.”
– Hayley Goldstein
On American Psycho
“The lighting in American Psycho - The Musical is the best light show I’ve ever seen on a stage that wasn't a rock concert. And as someone who has seen hundreds of rock concerts, this blew me away!” - Patrice Marion
“The American Psycho cast is killer, pun intended. They are all so talented and really love being on stage with one another. I saw it three times and it just doesn't feel like enough. This show is so different and amazing, I wish it lasted longer, but as Benjamin Walker told me the other day, "hey it was a great run, and you just move onto the next project." – Val Shwalb
On Noises Off
“Noises Off had me laughing from beginning to end. It’s a good old-fashioned slapstick comedy and I hope wins best play revival it's truly something that had a passion behind it” – Patrick Blood
"Megan Hilty was brilliant in Noises Off -- her physcial comedy was awesome. She was so PRESENT, it was hard not to watch her even when the dialouge was happening elsewhere on stage. Really phenomenal performance!" - Lisa Tricarico
On Tuck Everlasting
“Tuck Everlasting had a short run, but I loved all the actors in it. The story has always been one of my favorites and the ensemble numbers looked great. I only wish it had run longer.” – Lilli Briezke
You can catch the 70th Annual Tony Awards on CBS, Sunday, June 12th at 8/7c.
Tuck Everlasting is the new Broadway hit that will have your heart soaring with song and dance. Broadway veteran, Carolee Carmello (Mae Tuck), is a member of the Tuck family alongside Michael Park (Angus Tuck), Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Jesse Tuck) and Robert Lenzi (Miles Tuck), when they meet an adventurous 11 year-old girl Winnie Foster (Sarah Charles Lewis). The adventure begins when Winnie discovers that the Tuck family holds the secret to everlasting life. The musical is based on the book by Natalie Babbitt and is directed by Casey Nicholaw. We talked to Carolee Carmello about her journey with Tuck Everlasting and more in our interview below! For tickets to Tuck Everlasting visit http://www.tuckeverlastingmusical.com/.
Josh Grisetti talks about "It Shoulda Been You," "Prince of Broadway" in Japan and his new book "God In My Head"
BroadwayCon 2016. The MainStage crowd is buzzing with excitement. Between the extravagant BroadwayCon Opening Ceremonies and the Hamilton: History is Happening in Manhattan panel, a gentleman stepped on stage who had just as much energy as the 3,000 fans in the room. That man’s name was Ben Cameron.
Cameron introduced himself to the crowd respectively, but it wasn’t until he noted that we may recognize him from a very popular cast-recording called Wicked.
“Glinda, is it true you were her friend?” Cameron quoted in the exact dialect from the cast-recording as his line from the Original Broadway Cast Recording of the musical. What happened next, well the crowd went crazy, as 3,000 Broadway fans would do, but then the show went on.
In that small time slot which was designated to Cameron between the two big events on Friday, January 22, 2016, he became a BroadwayCon favorite. Over the Twittersphere, #BenLooksRealCute became a “thing,” and fans could not stop praising Cameron as the host who originally was just there to keep the crowd entertained for a small amount of time.
Over the course of BroadwayCon (January 22 - 24, 2016) and in the face of a blizzard, the fans saw more and more of Cameron in his element taking on the task of hosting numerous other events.
Cameron throughout the weekend was seen hosting the Broadway Jukebox, his own panel where he talked about being in the original cast of Wicked, Your Chance To Shine: Fan Karaoke on the MainStage, Avenue Q & A, and the YouTube Viewing Party Singalong.
I sat down with Cameron at the Broadway go-to spot, Schmackary’s a little under a week after the festivities concluded to talk about his experience at BroadwayCon.
How did you get involved with BroadwayCon?
I’ve known David Alpert (Artistic Director of BroadwayCon MainStage events) for many years. I had heard about BroadwayCon just last year. I was in Arizona with a friend and we were at a Tony Awards pool party. We were watching and they’re all like “yes we’re all very excited we’re going to BroadwayCon,” and that was the first I’ve heard of it. David reached out and he said to come in and that he could work some magic. I came in for Friday to host the Broadway Jukebox and they asked me last minute to fill in the time before the Hamilton panel. From there on in, they kept writing me every morning being like “Can you come back?” so it was all kind of fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants. It was kind of wild and wacky and unexpected for the most part.
What was your experience with the fans and hosting the big events?
That people were so willing to come up and talk. I found that everyone else who was involved on our end felt the same way, like Lesli and Rob, we were all really happy that the fans felt that they were so much a part of it...that they didn’t have a problem coming to talk to us. The truth of the matter is, we’re exactly the same. You don’t get to be a Broadway performer without being a Broadway fan, it doesn’t exist. Standing in front of 3,000 people who were as geeked out about theater as I am, really puts in perspective, it’s so powerful.
Favorite moment from the weekend?
The YouTube dance party, I mean have you ever seen anything like that? It was crazy. Being on-stage with Anthony Rapp was huge for me because I just love him, and being that close to the man who created something that I responded so personally to.
Were you Star Struck to meet anyone?
I don’t really get Star Struck but if anybody, I walked past Tommy Tune a couple of times but I didn’t say anything. It was great to see Ben Vereen again. Yeah, probably Anthony (Rapp) because he just carried so much weight and his personal investment in this.
What were the challenges of creating programming in the face of a blizzard?
We were sitting in a room on the fourth floor and in the control room, the blizzard happened, you just see everyone firing off “what can we do?” and people are just spit-balling ideas. They came up with the Blizzard Party-Line which was a huge hit. We all just kind of jumped in. We all sat in corners of the Hilton and said “this is what we are going to do, this is what we are going to make happen.” David was just like “i’m just going to kind of throw you out there.”
Did you learn anything from hosting at such large convention?
The thing that strikes me the most is the energy of that many people. I host Broadway Sessions every week but there are only 120 seats if people are sitting on laps, compared to 3,000 people in a large hall geeking out at the same time. As a host, the most important part of hosting is listening and being present, not thinking about what you’re going to say but listening to what they’re saying. Having to pull the Anthony Rapp stuff out of my butt, I hadn’t planned on asking about the fan-fiction, but I was like “that is truly what I want to know right now, I wonder if anybody else does?” Trusting that.
Will you be back next year?
I think so. the stories I’m being told by the people putting it together is that I will back in a larger capacity. It’s exciting for me.
Where can people not in New York City catch you doing your thing?
We just started Periscoping for Broadway Sessions, follow @BwaySessions on Twitter and that’s every Thursday night. You can catch me acting crazy and the people I have performing. That’s the best way.
What are the Broadway Sessions?
The Broadway Sessions are live musical theatre themed variety shows. I like to say it’s like Ellen, but late at night and gayer. We’ve been doing it for 7 ½ years, which is completely insane to me. Every week we have a different group of Broadway performers come in. Because it’s late at night too, everyone lets their hair down. It’s a celebration of the community. There are performances, we play games with the audience, and sometimes give away theatre tickets. It’s a really intimate inside look it’s kind of like what the Broadway community is when we are not pretending to be cool.
Ben Cameron has been on Broadway in the original casts of Footloose and Wicked, as well as the a member of the cast of Aida, and has appeared in numerous touring productions. You can catch Ben Cameron hosting The Broadway Sessions every Thursday evening at The Laurie Beechman Theatre (42nd and 9th). Follow Ben on Twitter @BenDoesBroadway and check out more information on The Broadway Sessions here http://broadwaysessions.net/index.htm.
For full audio and details of my chat with Ben, listen below!!
2015 was a fantastic year! Interviews with Broadway's newest star, a Tony Award nominee, a queen, X-Factor contestant, and tons of fun events! See below for some highlights from the year!
Definitely the coolest and most down to earth person I have ever interviewed, and maybe even have met. Alex Brightman is rocking out with kids on stage in the Broadway hit School of Rock: The Musical! Get to know Alex (trust us, you'll want to know him) in our interview with this leading man.
Everyone's favorite Queen of the Broad-way, Lesli Marghertia, who we talked to about the Broadway show Dames at Sea, being "LOUD" in Matilda, cardboard Edward, and her solo shows.
Broadway's genius, Lin Manuel Miranda and the cast of Broadway's mega-musical Hamilton signed albums for fans after Miranda did a Q&A with the audience at Barnes and Noble on the UES to celebrate the release of the physical Hamilton cast recording. We all know everyone is itching to hear anything and everything that comes out of his mouth.
This month brought so many different fun events! May we always be "SATISFIED" because Hamilton's Broadway cast album dropped this month. Now everyone can rap the entire show, even if they haven't seen it....like us. We had the BC/EFA Flea Market, Doctor Zhivago OBC recording release event, Ramin Karimloo's BB King's solo show, and then one of our favorite moments.....Will Swenson and Ramin Karimloo's Miscast of Les Miserables.
August and July 2015
August brought upon Ramin Karimloo's final show as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables on Broadway. In July, we saw Idina Menzel live in concert, and what beats hearing her sing some Wicked tunes live?! Nothing really.
Whether it be Tony Award nominations, or Stars in the Alley, May was about Broadway (as was every other month HAHA!) Got to watch some free Broadway performances right in Shubert Alley, as well as interview TWO TIME Tony Award nominee, Andy Karl, who was performing in On The Twentieth Century.
The first interview of the year with Miss. Rachel Potter from Broadway and the X-Factor, after many years of trying to schedule one (since EVITA)!!
These were just some of the amazing highlights from 2015, we hope that 2016 is just as wonderful!!! For more videos from this past year, be sure to check out our YOUTUBE! Thank you for all the support in 2015!!!
Alex Brightman Talks About Being a Leading Man in School of Rock, Creativity, Intermission Antics, and More!
If you’re ready to rock, then you have come to the right review! School of Rock: The Musical! if you haven’t heard already, is Broadway’s newest smash hit! Here are the facts: Warner Brothers Records released the cast album on December 4, 2015,of the show, which is based on the 2003 hit movie of the same name. You know the music is going to be good, I’m sorry, GREAT, because the songs were written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Glenn Slater, plus, you’ll also get to hear a few numbers that you may remember from the film. The cast recording was produced by Grammy Award-winner, Rob Cavallo.
On to the fun stuff. Let me start off with two words, Alex Brightman. The recording features Brightman, who is the newly-slated Rock Star of Broadway. I had seen the show in previews, and saw Jonathan Wagner kill it as Dewey, but I am more than ecstatic to head back to School of Rock in the near future to watch Brightman shine. Just listening to the first track on the album made me place him at the top of Mount Rock...(already making inside jokes with whomever has heard the album, whoops!). Really though, he is definitely in a top spot on my Broadway favs list. You can feel Brightman’s energy in each track that he leads, just by putting in a pair of headphones. He’s just fantastic.
Speaking of Mount Rock, the opening track “When I Climb To The Top of Mount Rock,” already proves Brightman to be perfect for this role. To be honest, I haven’t seen the movie since it came out, so to me, listening to this album retold a story that I had a slight memory of, and Brightman has wonderfully reinvented Dewey Finn.
Of course, I can’t believe I have gotten this far into the review without mentioning Sierra Boggess, because COME ON, it’s Sierra Boggess. Lloyd Webber knows Boggess very well, and has worked with her before (Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies), so he knows how to showcase Boggess’ beautiful, classical, range. What is so great though, is that Boggess (who plays Principal Rosalie Mullins) has this magnificent ballad in Act 2, called “Where Did The Rock Go?” and this song demonstrates how Boggess can flawlessly master a pop/rock number. The song’s message came to me as “Don’t lose yourself, even if you happen to get off track, and never be afraid to let go every once in awhile.”
Mamie Parris (Patty) and Spencer Moss (Ned), as well as the adult ensemble, display a great deal of talent on the album. Let’s move on though, to the pint-sized stars of this show. THE KIDS.
There are earlier songs on the album where you say “hey, these kids are pretty good,” but once I heard “You’re In The Band” and “Stick It To The Man,” I had no doubt that these kids have starpower streaming through every bone in their bodies. If you’re looking for a song that tugs at your heartstrings, SoR has that too. “If Only You Would Listen,” makes me want to shed a tear every time I give it a listen (but I can’t, I’m in public). Once you hear it, you will remember that every single person has felt that way at some point in their life. Also it reminds me that these kids are more talented than I will ever be. Giving a quick shout-out to Bobbi Mackenzie, who can SANNNGGG.
One of the best things about this album, and the show overall is that it appeals to everyone. Lloyd Webber said he took on the project because he wanted to prove that music has an impact on kids. Yes, the show is a great one for kids to experience. Though the music is fun to listen to, be mindful that it also drops language that young ones may not be used to hearing everyday. This only makes it more hilarious for adults, because we are listening to Dewey fit his outgoing personality into an element that is completely out of his own. #IThoughtYouWereAllABunchOfLittleDouchbags
This album features dialogue/short scenes, which I think will paint a picture for those who may not have the opportunity to see the show on Broadway (until it comes around on tour and to the West End)!
In a wrap-up, it’s a Kick-Ass cast recording (I apologize for the language), and the cast will keep those songs running through your head for days. Here are my top 3 picks off the album: “When I Climb To The Top of Mount Rock,” “You’re In The Band,” “Where Did The Rock Go?” Let me know your favorite song off the album!
School of Rock: The Musical - Original Broadway Cast Recording is available on Itunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and probably a bunch of other places where you can buy rockin’ music. Go see the album performed LIVE at the Winter Garden Theatre! For more info, you can visit http://schoolofrockthemusical.com/.
Written by Laura Furlipa
A Look Back