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Audra McDonald

Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune

June 15, 2019

Given references to "Prizzi’s Honor," "Looking for Mr. Goodbar, " Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond, and VCRs, the otherwise effective revival of "Frankie and Johnny"--now on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre--can feel rather dated. The play debuted, after all, in 1987, and McNally’s ambition for realism makes such references natural, if not exactly necessary. But it’s still a substantial look at a one-night stand between Frankie, a waitress, and Johnny, a short-order cook at the same off-stage restaurant. [more]

ON THE TOWN with Chip Deffaa …. for July 5th, 2016

July 5, 2016

I’ve always liked Andrew Keenan-Bolger's work. He was a memorable child actor, playing leads on Broadway in shows like "Beauty and the Beast" and "Seussical," when he was around 13 or 14 years old.  I admired  his sunny, open-hearted work then.  And he's even more successful today (at age 31)  as an adult--not every child actor can make such a transition. He conveys the same sort of buoyant spirit on stage now as he did when I first saw him in those  shows he did so well as a youth.. (His whole family is talented.  He and his sisters, Celia Keenan-Bolger and Maggie Keenan-Bolger, are all making their contributions to the arts.) [more]

Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All that Followed

June 27, 2016

"Shuffle Along..." follows the travails and triumphs of the creators of the 1921 David that fought what was at first a losing battle against the Goliath of the Broadway powers-that-be. The quartet that put the show together on a long road tour were libretto creators F.E. Miller (Brian Stokes Mitchell whose charisma and mind-boggling professionalism makes his character the safe harbor) and his partner, Aubrey Lyles (Arbender Robinson, brilliantly taking on the part usually played by Billy Porter); composer, Noble Sissle (Joshua Henry, giving a quietly dignified performance as an artist whose disappointment in America takes him to Africa) and lyricist, Eubie Blake (Brandon Victor Dixon, the more effervescent and demanding of the two songwriters). [more]

2016 Tony Awards Bestow Much Love on “Hamilton”

June 13, 2016

Although "Hamilton" had been nominated for 16 awards in 13 categories, it failed to break the record of Mel Brooks’ "The Producers" which remains the all-time winner with a total of 12. Hamilton took all of the top musical awards including Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical (Thomas Kail, previously nominated for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights) except for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical which went to British actress Cynthia Erivo. (Making her Broadway debut, Erivo was reprising her role as Celie Harris in "The Color Purple" from the 2013 Menier Chocolate Factory production re-envisioned by John Doyle.) Star Miranda won his second and third Tonys with his awards for Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theater and Best Book of a Musical. He previously won for Best Score with his 2008 Broadway musical, In the Heights. [more]

Editor’s Notes: 2014 Tonys Wrapup

June 12, 2014

Broadway had its big night when the 68th Annual Tony Awards, presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, were given out at Radio City Music Hall hosted by the genial and charming Hugh Jackman for the fourth time. One of several of the evening's surprises was the four minute opening number in which Jackman hopped from the street to the stage to backstage and back on stage again, recreating Bobby Van's iconic number from the 1953 MGM musical, Small Town Girl, which went unidentified in the course of the evening. [more]

Editor’s Notes: The 2014 Tony Season Heats Up

May 16, 2014

his year's Tony Awards will go to the music hall murder mystery, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder (Best Musical) and All the Way, Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Schenkkan's LBJ play, All the Way (Best Play). [more]

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill

April 10, 2014

Beg. Borrow. Steal. In a breathtaking leap, famed Audra McDonald has vaulted past anything she's ever done to this pinnacle of performance art, her portrait of Billie Holiday, the mesmerizing, tragic figure who haunts us still with the beauty and wreckage of her life, and if you don't go to see her, you'll be poorer for it. Because this is not only Billie Holiday, this is Audra McDonald at her consummate best. [more]

Spotlight on Ahrens and Flaherty: Dessa Rose and a Merkin Hall Tribute Concert

March 28, 2005

The 12-person cast, as staged by longtime Ahrens & Flaherty director Daniele Graciele, presents a moving tale throughout the show. However, the material, especially in Ahren's dialogue scenes, can be very repetitive and can seem overly sentimental. This is often the case with Ahrens & Flaherty shows, which usually contain a batch of stunning musical numbers performed by excellent actors in shows that never seem to be perfected – say "My Favorite Year," "Ragtime," and "A Man of No Importance." Of course, one is glad that Ahrens & Flaherty's shows get regularly produced on Broadway, Off Broadway, and at Lincoln Center. [more]