Editor’s Notes: A Mad Musician, a Politician and a Clown: three famous gents ignited a cold month
By: Jeannie Lieberman
Phantom’s Fabulous 25th
The Cast and Crew of The Phantom of the Opera joined by Director
Harold Prince and Producer Cameron Mackintosh on January 26, 2013
(Photo credit: Lyn Hughes Photography)
The usually quiet midwinter theater scene was spectacularly brightened by glitterati attending the special, invitation only Phantom of the Opera’s 25th Anniversary Gala.
Indeed the show was polished and in its prime for this audience. Following a gorgeous performance starring Sierra Boggess and Hugh Pinaro as Christine and the Phantom, Director Hal Prince and Producer Cameron Mackintosh took the stage, while overhead a prerecorded message from composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sarah Brightman chatted about the origins of the play. Later Miss Brightman surprised the audience with a guest appearance onstage.
The magical moments of four Phantoms from other productions around the world singing together with Pinaro and Miss Boggess, augmented by strategically placed performers from earlier productions in the audience, filled the house with the heavenly "Music of the Night."
“It was the most perfect night of theater,” my companion, Broadway Maestro Don Pippin, said as we filed into the freezing night en route to the huge party at New York's Public Library.
Truly a night to remember!
The Phantom of the Opera, Majestic Theatre, 247 West 44 Street, in Manhattan
For tickets: call telecharge at 212 239-6200 or visit http://www.thephantomoftheopera.org
Representative Barney Frank with Shuler Hensley, Danny Rutigliano as
Mayor Fiorello La Guardia and Erin Dilly at the final curtain call of the
Encores! performance of Fiorello! on Saturday evening, February 2, 2013
(Photo credit: Maryann Lopinto)
I remember when cast albums of shows surfaced months before the show actually opened and you could hear selections on the radio over and over until they became part of your DNA (did we have DNA then?) And all that while you were mentally invested imagining the scenes which accompanied those tunes. So was it for me when I finally got to see Fiorello! on Broadway in 1959. Usually the reality never matches the fantasy of one’s imagination, but I was not disappointed and even now can vividly remember the show and sing the score!
So, when New York City Center Encores! was created in 1994 and announced its inaugural show to be Fiorello! I just HAD to see it – unfortunately for me the series was an instant success and immediately after the announcement tickets were just not to be had –
However there was a great blizzard, the city was practically paralyzed and people were cross-country skiing to get around town.
“Ah! Ha!” I thought – here was my chance and figured there would be so many cancellations they would be glad to see me.
When I finally got there the lobby was packed - 400 people had the same idea! I got the last ticket next to an aging New York Times reviewer whom I helped home on a variety of buses. I was almost as thrilled to meet him as I was to see the show.
What a night!
An additional dimension was added to the production as New York lost another beloved mayor, Ed Koch, who had just passed away.
New York City Center Encores!’s Fiorello!, Jan. 30 – Feb. 3, New York City Center, 131 W 55th Street (between 6th & 7th)
For tickets: call CityTix® at 212.581.1212 or visit http://www.nyciytcenter.org
Broadway Goes to the Opera in Rigoletto!
Michael Meyer’s new production of Rigoletto at the Metropolitan Opera
(Photo credit: Ken Howard)
Imagine a Broadway musical with a soaring score, an enormous orchestra filling an elegant cavernous house and VIP seats hitting the $400 plus mark. No! Not Spiderman! It’s the newly re-imagined Metropolitan Opera’s production of Verdi’s Rigoletto, which premiered January 28.
Broadway director Michael Mayer brought along his own creative team, all making their opera debuts: set designer Christine Jones, lighting designer Kevin Adams, costume designer Suzan Hilferty and choreographer Steven Hoggert with him to take Verdi’s original setting, a palazzo in 16th-century Mantua to the Las Vegas of the early 1960’s. It opens with the licentious Duke in a casino singing Sinatra-style (unused mike included) in a white dinner jacket with eight dancers in yellow-and-orange feathers while the male chorus is in luxurious brocade jackets. The unfortunate clown Rigoletto is in an argyle harlequin patterned sweater with only a slight hump, and Act Two opens with an appropriately unclothed pole dancer.
It was a risky decision for the Met’s innovative general manager Peter Gelb in his attempt to bring in new audiences and isn’t it nice for the long arm of Broadway to extend just a little further. Gelb knew it could go either way with the demanding Met audience but the cheers reigned supreme opening night in a visually invigorating as well as vocally thrilling “musical.”
Rigoletto runs through May 1 at the Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center
For tickets: call (212) 362-6000 or visit http://www.metopera.org