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Richard Rodgers

Oklahoma!

April 17, 2019

Like John Doyle’s reconceived musical revivals ("Allegro," "Passion," "Pacific Overtures," "Carmen Jones," "The Cradle Will Rock"), Fish’s production is minimalist but with a difference. While Doyle strips away the trappings both of sets and costumes and offers nothing in their place, Fish has turned his "Oklahoma!" into environmental and communal theater. When the audience enters the Circle in the Square, they are confronted with set designer Laura Jellinek’s giant dance hall with long tables around the perimeter with red crock pots on the center of each. The plywood walls of the theater are covered with rifles, the kind used by real cowboys on the range. The bluegrass band is located in a pit off center, at one end of the circular stage. Some lucky audience members sit at the first row of tables with a ringside view. Scott Zielinski’s lighting is kept on for most of the show so not only does every member of the audience see every other one but it is as though we are part of the show, not just audience members. This communal feeling is continued during the intermission when the audience is invited onto the stage to taste corn bread (that we watched Aunt Eller and Laurey preparing in the opening scene) and chili. [more]

Carousel

April 22, 2018

If it seemed like no staging could ever top London’s National Theatre production (which was directed by Nicholas Hytner and came to Lincoln Center in the mid 1990’s), this newer version epitomizes the notorious relationship between anticipation and realization. Though the advance word during the extensive preview period was rather negative, Jack O’Brien’s "Carousel" proves up there with the best. [more]

The Boys from Syracuse

February 18, 2018

The cast seems to have been mostly chosen for their comic skills rather than their singing skills. Nevertheless, Josh Waldren and Matthew Fairless as the visiting travelers turn “Dear Old Syracuse” into a delightful soft shoe number complete with straw hats and canes, and Walden has a lovely duet with Darrell Morris, Jr. as Luciana to “This Can’t Be Love (Because I Feel So Well).” Shapiro's Luce  and Ian Fairlee as Dromio of Ephesus have a big success with the witty, “He and She,” a comic specialty number. However, much of the show has been eroticized and there is a “wink wink” feeling to the overall approach. [more]

Book review: “Sense of Occasion” by Harold Prince

November 16, 2017

The first 26 chapters are the original text of "Contradictions" with each followed by “”Reflections,” where Prince variously corrects, expands upon and ruminates about that portion.  After concluding with the tribulations of the 1974 revival of "Candide," the next 19 chapters are new additions that detail all that came after.  There’s also a comprehensive appendix of facts about all of his shows and an index. [more]

92nd Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists Series: I Have Confidence: Rodgers After Hammerstein

May 26, 2016

Above the stage on a screen throughout the presentation were projected photographs illustrating Rodgers’ career and appropriate backdrops for the locales of the shows. Brief insightful video interviews with Rodgers’ daughter Linda, lyricists Sheldon Harnick and Martin Charnin, playwright Sherman Yellen, historian Ken Bloom, Rodgers grandson Peter Melnick, record producer Thomas Z. Shepard, and the actor John Cullum were shown. A 1974 Public Television interview conducted by James Day showed the aged Rodgers ravaged by strokes and throat cancer but still vital and articulate. [more]

Do I Hear a Waltz?

May 14, 2016

Ms. Errico gives a smashing musical theater performance. Her gutsy broad that’s tough on the outside and unraveling on the inside characterization is quite captivating. Her singing of several of the wan attempts at showstoppers exhibits her charismatic range. It’s definitely a case of a performer elevating weak material with their talents. Her commitment is as intense here as if she were playing either Sally or Phyllis from Follies particularly for the boozy ode to self pity, “Everyone Loves Leona.” [more]

Babes in Arms

March 10, 2016

The musical known for its “Let’s put on a show!” plot has a great deal more going for it than one might expect. First off, it has one of the greatest scores ever written for a Broadway musical comedy adding the witty and lilting “Where or When,” “I Wish I Were in Love Again,” “Way Out West (on West End Avenue),” “Johnny One Note,” “The Lady Is A Tramp,” “Imagine” and the title number to the American Songbook. This represented more hits than any other R&H show. The political plot (which was sanitized in 1959 under the auspices of the composer himself) has been restored and the show is positively electric with hotly debated ideas, philosophies and theories. As performed by Andrews’ cast, the satiric show has a colorful array of dynamic characters. [more]

Richard Holbrook: Richard Sings Rodgers with a Lot of Heart – Revised and Updated

October 19, 2015

As always, Holbrook was dapper in his signature tux and brought real class and style to the stage. His rich, tenor voice was soothing to the ears and stirred the packed audience, mostly an older crowd, into reminiscing with him about the old days when these songs were written. Their enthusiasm was undeniable, underscored by their continuous applause. Holbrook's vocal instrument is not particularly robust but, what he lacks in volume, he makes up for in passion; a great interpreter, he really feels the music and sings with a lot of heart just like the title of his cabaret. This, along with his great stage presence, connects him with his audience and they find themselves being reeled in. [more]

Broadway by the Year: The Broadway Musicals of 1941-1965

April 4, 2015

In the course of Mr. Siegel’s erudite remarks, the work of key figures responsible for these often classic musicals recurred. Composer and lyricist Cole Porter was represented by four shows, composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II by three shows, as was composer Jule Styne. Most monumental was the achievement of legendary producer David Merrick who was responsible for bringing five of the shows to Broadway. [more]

Broadway by the Year: The Broadway Musicals of 1916-1940

February 28, 2015

Director Mindy Cooper’s very well executed transitions between the show’s 27 numbers, the personable Scott Siegel’s erudite remarks, and the variety of gifted performers who participated made "Broadway by the Year: The Broadway Musicals of 1916-1940" a brisk and very enjoyable event. [more]

Allegro

December 2, 2014

"Allegro" was inspired by Thornton Wilder's Our Town which also uses no scenery and uses the actors as a chorus commenting on the action. Aside from the actors all playing stringed instruments when the show begins (as well as other instruments in the course of the show such as piano, clarinets, oboe, etc.) in Mary-Mitchell Campbell's folksy new orchestrations, they remain on stage throughout as they both narrate and give advice to its hero Joseph Taylor, Jr. [more]

Lyrics & Lyricists Series: “Getting to Know You: Rodgers and Hammerstein”

March 29, 2014

Every song was well chosen to demonstrate the versatility and range of R & H and the singers all met the challenge. Rebecca sang the often neglected "The Gentleman is a Dope" (Allegro) and turned it into a showstopper. The show closed with "Edelweiss" (Sound of Music) that Ted said people think is an old Austrian folk song but was written by these legendary collaborators. It was the perfect ending for a wonderful tribute to a never to be duplicated writing team whose shows and music will live forever. [more]