Forbidden Broadway Returns with a Grin and a Wallop

After a three-year absence, one of New York’s best-loved and longest-running Off -roadway shows, Gerard Alessandrini’s classic series, Forbidden Broadway,has returned with a new edition, “Alive and Kicking,” at the 47th Street Theater. This marks the internationally acclaimed show’s 30th anniversary, as well as its 21st edition.

Harold Rome's Pins and Needles

This Saturday and Sunday (October 27-28, 2012) offers the rare opportunity to see a concert revival of Harold Rome’s witty and critically acclaimed 1937 Pins and Needles, presented by Downtown Music Productions at LaMaMa E.T.C. Club (74A East 4th Street, between Bowery & Second Avenue). The revue is a unique satire with musical skits calling for social justice and equity, with songs and skits that spoof everything from Fascist European dictators to bigots in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

Ringling International Arts Festival 2012

For the fourth year, the John and Mable Ringling Museum, governed by Florida State University, and the Barishnikov Arts Center of New York partnered to bring to the Sarasota campus -- including all its theaters -- offerings in dance, theater, music and film from Oct. 10 -13, 2012. If there were fewer performers in this year’s program, which had to sustain itself independent of previous state and local government contributions, all the arts were still represented. Although the contemporary and nontraditional mixed, all presentations might be called unusual in some way, usually in mode.

Scotland's Little Theater that Could

“A Celtic legend.” “A phenomenon and a cause célèbre.”“The most prolific producer of new plays in the U.K.”

These are just a few of the accolades that have been heaped on A Play, a Pie and a Pint, a small theater company working out of a church basement in the West End of Glasgow. Led by the visionary David MacLennan, the company has been specializing in lunch-time theater for the past eight years, offering up hour-long dramas, comedies and musicals, most of which were original works commissioned by MacLennan.

Che to the Max

Max von Essen has been duly praised for his performance as Magaldi in the Broadway revival of Evita,but many theatergoers may be unaware that he is also the understudy for the marathon leading male role of Che -- unless they happened to see the show at either the matinee or evening performance on Wednesday, June 13, 2012, when on VERY short notice, von Essen went on as Che in place of star Ricky Martin. Apparently, it went well, and he'll be spelling Ricky when the latter takes a brief vacation, July 2-7. I got to chat with Max about what it was like to be shot out of a cannon.

DiCapo's Michael Capasso is Most Happy About Fella

Frank Loesser's The Most Happy Fellais one of my all-time favorite musicals, but the show has never been tremendously popular with the general public, and I think that's mostly because of bad luck.

The original Broadway production opened in May 1956, less than two months after the opening of My Fair Lady -- with the result that not a whole lot of attention was paid to Happy Fella. (Yes, the show was referenced prominently in an episode of “I Love Lucy,” but even that didn't help it achieve more than a 20-month run.)

Kurt Peterson and Victoria Mallory Remember When Everything was Possible

Kurt Peterson and Victoria Mallory met in the mid 1960s when they were both fresh-faced kids studying at AMDA, and even before they graduated, they were cast as the passionate lovers Maria and Tony in the 1968 Music Theater of Lincoln Center revival of West Side Story. In real life, they dated "on and off" for about eight years, during which time they appeared separately in an impressive list of shows (Dear World, Carnival, Dames at Sea, A Little Night Music, The Baker's Wife, and others.).

An Open Letter to the Stratford Festival

Congratulations on the Stratford Shakespeare Festival's naming Antoni Cimolino its next Artistic Director. This absolutely justified move strikes me as inevitable and a cause for rejoicing in the theater world.

A Banner Year for Gypsy of the Year (2011)

Two SRO performances of the 23rd Annual “Gypsy of the Year” competition held recently at the glorious New Amsterdam raised an all-time high of $4,895,253 – over a million more than 2010 – for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS thanks to the tireless efforts of 53 Broadway, Off-Broadway and tour companies during the six-week Fall drive.

Since 1989, the competitions have raised more than $49 million to benefit BC/EFA and Actors Fund programs here and around the country.

The Return of Liberty

The long-shuttered, decaying auditorium of the historic 1904 Liberty Theater, whose entrance was on West 42nd Street, but whose auditorium was on West 41st Street, has risen from the ash heap of bird droppings, infestation and a putrid basement lake to become the showpiece of Times Square Hospitality Group's Famous Dave's restaurant.

Bonnie & Clyde and Lyricist Don Black

At the opening of Bonnie & Clyde, Frank Wildhorn, knowing how his shows are received critically, was smiling, joking and laughing. The persistent Wildhorn must have thick skin. He keeps coming back when others might have taken the money and be living the high life. Many are of the opinion that he got a raw deal, that Bonnie & Clydeis far better than 99 percent of the critics thought.

The Keenan-Bolgers Back on Broadway

Fred and Adele Astaire set the gold standard for brother-sister showbiz teams -- but she retired very early, leaving him to become a star on his own. Today, we have two super-talented pairs of male/female theatrical siblings in our midst, although neither works as a team. Incredibly enough, both pairs hail from Detroit, Michigan. (Really, what are the chances?) They are Sutton and Hunter Foster, and Celia and Andrew Keenan-Bolger.

Petula Clark: After Decades, Miss 'Downtown' Hits Midtown In Cabaret

The facts of Petula Clark's career are impressive: Huge popularity as a child performer in England; more than 70 million records sold, including "Downtown," "I Know a Place," and other smash hits of the 1960s. She's had starring roles in musicals on film (“Finian's Rainbow,” “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”) and stage (The Sound of Music, Sunset Boulevard, Blood Brothers). Now, at age 79, the lady still performs all over the world.

The Best (and Worst) of Theater 2011

Content dictates form, which is why this year-end look back at New York theater in 2011 is somewhat different from my previous surveys. Usually I provide a fairly lengthy list of what I consider to be the highlights of the year and completely avoid the negative. But while there certainly were highlights in 2011, it was not a good calendar year for theater overall. The fall season on Broadway was especially disappointing, and the most deplorable of this year's shows -- both on and off Broadway -- were so shockingly awful that I think they really need to be singled out for censure.

The Greatest Gift: Bernadette Peters Goes Deeper and Deeper into Sondheim's Characters

"The greatest gift" Peters goes deeper and deeper into Sondheim's characters Interview by Michael Portantiere "Broadway Baby" is one of the many songs by Stephen Sondheim that Bernadette Peters has sung in her career. The phrase "Broadway Baby" is also a sweet sobriquet for the lady herself.

Warren Carlyle: It's Been a Very Busy and Good Year

To say director/choreographer Warren Carlyle’s been busy is an understatement. He worked as choreographer on Eric Schaeffer’s Kennedy Center Follies revival, now on Broadway; was creative producer of An Evening with Hugh Jackman in San Francisco and Toronto; and is director/choreographer of Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway and Cotton Club Parade (which plays six performances at City Center, November 18–22, 2011).

The Hugh Jackman Experience - From the Audience

At Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway audiences are rapturously in love with the titled star. They are not alone. The revue doesn't open until November 10, 2011, and it's already breaking house records at the Broadhurst: the latest, in excess of $1.2-million -- no doubt due to the jacked up ticket pricing; regular seats go from $67-$350.

Bringing Up Baby Case

A shorter version of the first part of this story was written for Philadelphia City Paper in June 2000, during the first workshop.


Did you ever wonder what goes on at those workshops that have become such an important part of theater?

The American Musical Documented by a Documentary

One hundred years of Broadway milestones and musicals will flash to life on the PBS-TV series, "Broadway: The American Musical." It brings alive the epic story of musical theater and its inextricable link to 20th-century American life through portraits of the creators and collaborators who toiled on and off stage to define and develop theater -- especially along "The Great White Way," in and around its centerpiece Times Square, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

How He Succeeds

Matthew Broderick is 36 but, conceivably, could pass for 17, the age at which he started acting. The son of actor James Broderick and artist-playwright Patricia Broderick, he once studied with Uta Hagen. Broderick, who received excellent notices in the revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, was brave enough to take the plunge back to the boards. He could also afford to. Though "Godzilla" received a critical drubbing the likes of which NAT will never see and did less than mega box-office in the U.S., it was a monster monster-movie abroad.

Como? Si!

Perry Como never appeared in a musical stage play, but he deserves a special mention in the history of Broadway musicals.

For two decades he was the voice most closely associated with the hit songs from almost all the long-running musicals. His versions of "If I Loved You," "Some Enchanted Evening," "Hello, Young Lovers" and "No Other Love," among many others, were played on all the disc-jockey programs and were the best-selling recordings.

Arthur Kopit's Dangerous World

Arthur Kopit, author of Oh, Dad, Poor Dad, Momma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad (and other plays with shorter titles), would probably like to be in two places at once. His play, BecauseHeCan (a revised version of Y2K, which made its brief Off-Broadway debut at the close of 1999) opens Friday, March 30, 2001 at McCarter Theater, under the direction of Emily Mann. That date also marks the world premiere of Kopit's Chad Curtiss: Lost Again, the umbrella title for three short one-act plays with a

Karen Ziemba & Boyd Gaines: Making <I>Contact</I>

They've known each other ten years, since Karen Ziemba's husband introduced Boyd Gaines to her when she was creating magic in Kander and Ebb's And the World Goes 'Round.  Then she saw him in his Tony winning turn in the She Loves Me revival.  "We have mutual friends and were always seeing each other," laughs Karen, "but never worked together until a reading of [K&E's] Steel Pier. It's a small world, and our lives have often interconnected."

Side By Side By Barbara

Spring has come a little late this year (2002). In the past, a sure sign of spring would be Barbara Cook appearing nightly at the elegant Upper East Side Cafe Carlyle, where it seemed Cook was singing just to you as if in the intimacy of your living room. Well, it's the dog days of summer and Cook is appearing Sunday and Monday nights in Mostly Sondheim at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center.

Spring Brings Barbara Cook To The Café Carlyle

There's no surer sign of spring than Barbara Cook bursting upon New York -- accompanied as always by the sensational Wally Harper -- at the Cafe Carlyle.  Through May 3rd, Cook, a legendary star of Broadway and a leading light of the cabaret, concert, and recording world, will mesmerize audiences in this intimate, elegant boite, one of the most romantic spots in town, with her lush renditions of Broadway classics.   This season's theme is "Oscar Winners II," a tribute to the lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II, which, as it happens is the title of her new DRG Records (91448) CD.

Heroism, The Roman Way

Responding to the comment that Shakespeare never blotted a line, Dr. Johnson quipped, "Would that he had blotted a thousand." Johnson might well have had in mind several rocky out-croppings in the stream of Coriolanus, a decidedly rhetorical play, to change my metaphor. Much of the text is reportage: something has happened elsewhere. Still more text consists in tales to be re-told, though these, blessedly, are planned for some off stage events (in Act One, scenes 1, 4, 7, 10; nearly as much in Act Two, and thereafter).

From Floyd To Florence, With Saturn In Between

Adam Guettel stands on the brink of a great career. Maybe two. He's certain to be an important composer for the American musical theater. And possibly he could be a star performer, attracting audiences with his voice and his stage presence. He's slender and handsome, sings gorgeously and plays at least four instruments.

Jim Dale: Kidding Aside

Jim Dale is jumping for joy. Literally.  He rushes from the single digit temperatures and arctic winds of the New 42nd Street into the warmth of West Bank Cafe and shakes himself down. It may be downright frigid outside, but Dale is filled with the warmth of the accolades he and his cast in Trevor Griffiths' Comedians are receiving. The New Group's revival, directed by Scott Elliott, has many critics touting the ensemble as the best so far this season.

Jennifer Hudson & Beyonce Knowles Break Out in Dreamgirls

Twenty-five years after first bringing audiences to their feet, Dreamgirls finally arrives onscreen. David Geffen, who controlled the rights, was very protective and wanted to make sure he put the show in the right adapter's hand. He did. It was a long wait, but well worth it. "Dreamgirls" is a dream!

Flatt Raised High

Robyn Baker Flatt, founding artistic director of Dallas Children's Theater in 1984, was inducted into the prestigious College of Fellows of the American Theater on April 22, 2007 in a ceremony at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

This was an honor also bestowed in 1996 upon her father, Paul Baker, founding artistic Director in 1959 of Dallas Theater Center. Ms. Flatt's award marks only the second time in the 42-year history of the organization that members of two generations of the same family have received this honor.

Grand Banner Season for Granville-Barker

Can you imagine that there was a playwright George Bernard Shaw envied? Better still, that he would admit there was a playwright he envied?
Shaw was so impressed with the talent – and success – of post-Victorian era leading light Harley Granville-Barker that he actually wrote Misalliance as an answer play to Barker's then hit, The Madras House, about family, courtship, marriage, marital separation, commerce, greed, sexual politics and harassment.

Hamburger Helper

To understand Richard Hamburger's role as artistic director of Dallas Theater Center, one needs to follow the path of how he got there. He is only the fourth permanent artistic director in DTCs 42+ year history (its first production was in December 1959).  Hamburger stepped into some formidable shoes and a powerful legacy when he assumed the post in 1992.

Sing, Sang, Sung

Two eras came to an end over the Labor Day weekend, and, by coincidence, they were related to each other. Firstly, when Lionel Hampton died at age 94, it marked a finality to the swing-era generation. Benny Goodman was the King of Swing, and Hampton was the last surviving member of the landmark Goodman quartet that not only set new standards in jazz but also integrated the pop music industry.

You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet

You've seen him as Captain Hook in the Peter Pan revival, or as Growltiger/Asparagus in Cats (Tony nomination, Best Featured Actor in a Musical) or the NYSF production of  The Pirates of Penzance.  In fact, Stephen Mo Hanan's credits roll on and on. He's known as a singer/actor's singer/actor. Now you can add writer to his credits. And star turn. His Al Jolson in the York Theater Company's world premiere of Jolson & Co., which he co-wrote with director Jay Berkow) is a showstopper.

Ed Harris Is Taking Sides

Ed Harris' popularity in such movie blockbusters as last summer's "The Rock" and 1995's "Apollo 13" (Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor) has kept him busy in front of and, as producer, behind the camera.  But he yearned to return to the stage, where he had triumphs on and off Broadway.  However, on his first read of Taking Sides by Ronald Harwood (1982 Tony-nomination for The Dresser), Harris felt his character, American army Major Steve Arnold, was too cut and dried.  Arnold is assigned to the American sector of 1946 occupied Berlin to investigate symphony conductor Wi

The Belle Returns To Amherst

Julie Harris, in the midst of a revival tour of her 1976 hit, The Belle of Amherst, says these are her farewell performances of the play.  She's not retiring from the stage - just retiring the role. "I'm 75 years old," she says, "and the character I'm playing [poet Emily Dickinson] is 55. I'm getting too old. When I started the play I was just 50."

It's Far From `All Over' for Rosemary Harris

The place is Afghanistan 1934, the northwest frontier territory, what was once a part of India. Upon a makeshift, stage a family-staged theatrical is in progress. The seductive "Dance of the Seven Veils" is reaching its climax (i.e., Princess Salome's seventh veil is about to drop). Standing in the wings, Queen Herodias gets her cue. In high dudgeon, she makes her grand entrance. "I had no words to speak, but I put my nose in the air, kicked my train and made my way slowly across the stage, looking with disgust at the King and Salome, and made my exit.

Hart For Hart

The National Arts Club Fourth Annual masked Red Ball last week honored stage, screen and concert legend Kitty Carlisle Hart. On hand to pay tribute in song were Tammy Grimes, Lee Roy Reams, K.T. Sullivan, Mary Bond Davis (Hairspray), Marni Nixon and cabaret artist Anna Bergman.

The indefatigable Miss Hart is 95 and a legendary star of operetta, stage and film ("A Night At the Opera") and a New York society doyenne. She's the widow of prodigious Broadway producer/director, playwright and best-selling author Moss Hart, who died in 1961.

Remembering Kitty Carlisle Hart

A lot of memories have surfaced in the last two days about the incredible life of Kitty Carlisle Hart.