<![CDATA[NBC New York - The Scene]]> Copyright 2016 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/entertainment/the-scene http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Fri, 29 Apr 2016 12:13:36 -0400 Fri, 29 Apr 2016 12:13:36 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Review: Top Talent Returns 'Shuffle Along' to the Spotlight]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 22:48:57 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ShuffleMain.jpg

Theater legend George C. Wolfe aims to right a historical wrong with “Shuffle Along,” a new musical—and it sure feels new, despite what a key producer is arguing—about the making of an often-overlooked show credited in certain circles with starting the Harlem Renaissance.

Conceived by a foursome of vaudeville veterans, “Shuffle Along” arrived on Broadway in 1921. Though beset by financial difficulties on the road, it would run for some 500 performances at the 63rd Street Theatre, launching the careers of, among many, Paul Robeson and Josephine Baker, who appeared in a touring production.

“Shuffle Along” was groundbreaking in its depiction of intimate emotional relationships between African-Americans, and for its integrated audience seating. Yet while one song (“I’m Just Wild About Harry”) has lingered in the popular canon, how many of us can instantly trace it back to that musical?

Wolfe has essentialy said: "That's not so honorable." The amalgam of backstory and revival that opens tonight at the Music Box (a telling subtitle is noted at the end of this review) is a passion project for the former shepherd of the Public Theatre, who directs and has crafted a new libretto about the musical’s innovations and impact on theater, hoping to introduce it to new audiences.

To be clear, this is not a revival of the original, with its thinnish story about a small-town mayoral race.

Wolfe employs the finest Broadway talent to play the quartet of creators: composers Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle (Brandon Victor Dixon and Joshua Henry), and writers F.E. Miller and Aubrey Lyles (Brian Stokes Mitchell and Billy Porter). 

Dixon’s Blake is the easy-going peacemaker of the group. Henry, as Sissle, relishes the feeling of power that comes with success. As the “Shuffle” story writers, Mitchell and Porter are, respectively, the practical one, and the angry man with a chip on his shoulder. 

Miller sees performing in blackface as an undesirable, but necessary compromise. Porter gets the best lines, like when he complains about the semi-marginalized, northern location of the "Broadway" venue where “Shuffle Along” finally lands: “Broadway. Is. 42nd Street.”

Audra McDonald, groundbreaking in her own right, plays Lottie Gee, who was considered the first black ingenue featured in a Broadway musical. Lottie is lusty, busty and trusty … and eventually fed up with romantic overtures from the married Blake, for whom she has sacrificed career opportunities. (McDonald temporarily departs the cast in June, to fulfill a commitment in London.)

The story behind the evolution of “Harry” is where I was most wild about “Shuffle Along.” Blake creates it as a waltz, because he thinks a syncopated love song in the jazz or blues vein won’t work for the mass audiences the team is courting.

But then, Lottie persuades a dancer to improvise a rhythm, so she can show Blake the song he would have written if he’d followed his inspiration. And so he does. In its evolved form, “Harry” serves as a spectacular production number concluding the first act.

“Shuffle Along” is stylized to evoke an era and focus on big scenes, which can become burdened with exposition: Will the show run out of money and be unable to tour? Will the writer turn the riff in his mind into a great song? Will the four men find acclaim afterward, or fall victim to their post-success rivalries?

These necessities push individual personalities into the background, which keeps us from getting to know better the ensemble players, such as Adrienne Warren’s Florence Mills.

Choreographer Savion Glover (Wolfe’s “Jelly’s Last Jam,” etc.), brings to life elaborate tap sequences such as the “Pennsylvania Graveyard Shuffle,” which plays out the company’s train ride through that state’s smallest towns before winning financial support to come to New York.

“Shuffle Along” is moving, in fits and starts, as a story about artists who risk their critical and financial fortunes, sculpting a musical from their most raw emotional expressions and their sophisticated artistic heritage, instead of toning down that spirit for mass consumption.

Scott Rudin, the deep-pocketed producer, is asking Tony Award officials to put “Shuffle Along” into consideration as a revival, which would spare it from going up against “Hamilton” as an original musical. Plenty of theater foks are on pins and needles over this one. A decision is due within days.

“Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed,” at the Music Box Theatre, 239 W. 45th St. Tickets, on sale through Oct. 9: $79-$169. Call 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Lange, Byrne in First-Rate 'Journey']]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 18:49:39 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/JourneyMain.jpg

All four Tyrone family members end up splayed on the floor—at different times, for terribly different reasons—in Roundabout’s first-rate take on Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” now at the American Airlines Theatre.

Jessica Lange and Gabriel Byrne lead the cast as Mary and James Tyrone, a drug-addicted wife and her miserly husband, with Michael Shannon and John Gallagher Jr. as sons James Jr. and Edmund, one a barely employable drunk, the other a young man who might have a promising future, if tuberculosis doesn’t kill him first.

Ain’t family grand?

Lange was Olivier Award-nominated for this role 16 years ago on the West End. Byrne was Tony Award-nominated as Jamie Tyrone in 2000’s Broadway “Moon for the Misbegotten.” They know their O’Neill, and are suited to take us on the roller-coaster ride, set across one day that will prove a turning point in the lives of a troubled family.

English theater director Jonathan Kent guides the simple and elegant, nearly 4-hour-long production, split between its four acts with one intermission. 

Leads Lange and Byrne share an effortless chemistry in which they are alternately tolerant of, and vile toward, one another—but always easily relatable. That’s quite an accomplishment when dealing with a piece of literature that drifts further away from naturalism as the the night wears on.

Frail mother Mary, hooked on morphine since a difficult pregnancy, is one-half the emotional linchpin of the drama. The other is Edmund, the baby of the family everyone wants to protect, albeit in ways truly warped … Pop is bargain-hunting for the poor kid’s future sanitarium, for goodness’ sake.

Dad and eldest son “Jamie” are in no condition to be relied on as support systems. The Tyrone family tragedy is telegraphed early, as the men fret over why mom is restless in the night—it’s their code for “she’s having a relapse.” Everyone is also putting forth, in proper denialist fashion, a soothing lie that Edmund only has “a cold.”

Lange is magnetic as the family matriarch with no feeling of rootedness or sense of belonging, certainly not in the waterfront New England summer home the family complains is shoddily maintained. At the heart of her loss is the death of a child, Eugene, infected with measles when Jamie, as a young, sick boy, wandered into his room.

Mary blames everyone for Eugene’s death, including herself. In Lange’s hands, the emotions seem sometimes spontaneous, and at others calculated to be wounding: “I blame only myself … I’ve always believed Jamie did it on purpose.” She makes sharp turns with the precision of a race-car driver.

Lange still has the planes and proportions of her youthful beauty, but convinces us that she's a woman whose hands are gnarled, and whose grace and bloom have deserted her. In a different lifetime, Mary might have been a classical pianist, but she took up with James and his journeyman actor’s lifestyle, setting a singular path in motion.

Byrne, as a semi-successful actor taxed by memories of an impoverished childhood, has to come off as a horrible person, willing to sacrifice his family’s health and happiness to save a buck, but also as a man aware that’s his failing. He succeeds, marvelously.

Shannon (“Grace”), a hulking performer, is the truth-speaker in the family and the first to verbalize the severity of his brother’s illness. In one satisfying scene, Jamie, whose front has always been that he loves Edmund, confesses that he's incapable of not trying to sabotage him, saying words akin to: “I’m still going to try to make you a failure, because I don’t want you to ever show me up.”

Gallagher, the brilliant musician and actor who originated roles in “Spring Awakening” and “American Idiot,” has the added burden of serving as stand-in for the playwright.

Pale, and seemingly indifferent to his own crisis, his Edmund prepares to leave for an appointment with his doctor already dressed as if in his own funeral suit. In a nice touch, the advancing fog penetrates the back dining room of the house as Edmund recounts the joy he found amid the solace of the sea, during a stint as a sailor.

The fog puts us right there on the ship with him.

This is a solid production of a canonical play. The actors inhabit their characters with as much truth as can be mustered: Lange, for one, seems so immersed that we feel as if we were watching some real Mary Tyrone, and not that marvelous performer we remember from "Frances," or for that matter, “Tootsie.”

Mary physically realizes her relapse sliding onto the floor after a drug-hazed evening chatting with the only person she can pass off as a friend, the family maid Cathleen (Colby Minifie). James and Jamie end up collapsed or kneeling, drunk. Edmund gets worked up in an argument, and finally falls, all the while hacking into a handkerchief.

For these Tyrones, there’s nowhere to go but up.

“Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” through June 26 at the American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St. Tickets: $67-$147. Call 212-719-1300.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Watch Stevie Nicks Surprise Audience at 'School of Rock']]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 16:12:36 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-524745318.jpg

Stevie Nicks surprised the audience at Broadway’s "School of Rock" Tuesday night with a curtain call performance of Fleetwood Mac’s hit song "Rhiannon" backed by the show’s pint-sized rock band.

The crowd at the Winter Garden Theatre leapt to their feet upon the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer’s entrance, and remained there as Nicks praised the young musicians.

"To be in the presence of these kids that are so amazing that honestly sometimes I close my eyes and I’m not sure that it’s not Fleetwood Mac," she said. "It’s very trippy. They are so good."

This wasn’t Nicks’ first trip to the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. The Grammy-winning singer attended opening night back in December, and her songs were used in the 2003 film starring Jack Black that served as a basis for the Broadway act.

Nicks performed to help raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, an organization that provides financial support for people living with AIDS, HIV and HIV-related diseases, among other things.

"That little bit of extra money...donate it to that cause because it’s important," Nicks told the crowd. "It’s the right thing to do."

Earlier on Tuesday, Nicks performed "Rihiannon" during the 30th annual Easter Bonnet Competition, which celebrates the six weeks of fundraising for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS by 58 Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring companies.

In total this year, a record-breaking $5,528,568 was raised for the organization.



Photo Credit: Matthew Eisman
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<![CDATA[Review: Sweet-Tempered 'Tuck Everlasting']]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 22:57:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/TuckMain.jpg

“Tuck Everlasting,” the best-selling children’s novel that explores themes of mortality, is now a sweet-tempered, family friendly musical directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw. With “Tuck,” Nicholaw has four shows running on Broadway—the others are “Something Rotten,” “Aladdin” and “The Book of Mormon.”

Newcomer Sarah Charles Lewis, 11, reprises her role as Winnie Foster, originated last year in an Atlanta tryout. Winnie, the heroine of Natalie Babbitt’s 1975 story, is a swell role model for girls, a courageous child only reined in by her recently widowed and, thus, overprotective mother.

When a confrontation between mother and daughter leads Winnie to run off into the forest, she meets Jesse Tuck (Andrew Keenan-Bolger, of “Newsies”), the youngest of an otherwise-relatable family with an unusual secret: years ago, the Tucks drank from a spring in these woods, and the water made them all immortal.

Is that a good thing? Not to hear the Tucks tell it. Parents Angus and Mae, and their sons—Jesse has a sullen older brother, Miles—must live for years separated from one another, to avoid arousing the suspicion of locals who might wonder: Why don’t these people ever age?

The new musical, adapted by Claudia Shear (“Dirty Blonde”) and Tim Federle (the performer-turned-author of novels such as “Better Nate Than Ever”), has fun with the lengths Winnie and Jesse are willing to go to satisfy their sense of adventure.

Their stomping ground is Treegap, a New Hampshire village fancifully imagined with rainbow-hued carnival grounds and an abstract tree resembling ribbons of fettuccini noodles. There, Winnie and Jesse encounter “the man in the yellow suit” (Terrence Mann, up to his usual exacting standards), the villain who serves as a catalyst for the simple plot.

Lewis is all the things you’d want in a young protagonist, and her Winnie has got an edge. Circumstances compel the Tucks to “kidnap” her before divulging their secret. When Angus Tuck finally extends a welcome, saying “Don’t you want to shake my hand,” Winnie says: “No. I want to bite it.”

Keenan-Bolger, the energetic performer with his hands in any multitude of entertainment projects (also co-author of the youth-oriented “Jack & Louisa” books), is charismatic as a figure with the impulses of a 17-year-old, who is nonetheless over 100 years old. “Tuck Everlasting” is a real showcase for his whiz-bang dancing skills.

Carolee Carmello and Michael Park are welcome as the TV sitcom-like Tuck parents, tasked with explaining facts of life to Winnie … who is convinced immortality is desirable. Robert Lenzi stands out as Jesse’s older brother, whose wife fled with their young son after unraveling the Tuck mystery.

Fred Applegate, Michael Wartella, Valerie Wright and Pippa Pearthree offer nice performances in supporting roles.

A tone of melancholy underscores “Tuck Everlasting,” as Winnie and Jesse try to escape the pressures of their lives. Among the more memorable songs (music is by Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen) is “Top of the World,” which has the duo scampering up that surreal tree, briefly abandoning their cares before making fateful decisions.

A gorgeous silent ballet, depicting the passage of time, doesn’t integrate well with the story beforehand.

This interpretation of “Tuck Everlasting” is neither tragic nor cynical. It’s good entertainment. If you’re bringing a child, be prepared for some hefty conversation on the way home, and then turn them on to “A Wrinkle in Time” or “The Velveteen Rabbit.”

“Tuck Everlasting,” at the Broadhurst Theatre, 235 W. 44th St. Tickets: $59-$147, on sale through Jan. 1, 2017. Call 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Ferguson Strays Off the Reservation in Riotous 'Fully Committed']]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 15:12:33 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/FullyCommittedMain.jpg

“Modern Family” star Jesse Tyler Ferguson plays 40 roles—some male, some female; some civilized, others obnoxious—in “Fully Committed,” a riotous one-man Broadway comedy set in the basement of a trendy Manhattan restaurant.

The main character, Sam Callahan, is a struggling actor from the Midwest working one of those jobs actors do while pursuing their dreams. In this case, it’s manning an ever-ringing reservation line for a preening chef, a pioneer in “molecular gastronomy.” “Fully committed” is the euphemism Sam’s boss has coined for: “We’re booked up.”

“Ma’am, unfortunately, we’re fully committed” is what prospective patrons don’t want to hear when they dial up Sam.

Becky Mode’s comedy, directed here by Jason Moore (“Pitch Perfect”), was first performed Off-Broadway in 1999; it’s since been updated to reflect more contemporary foodie culture. For this production, Ferguson had help with background research from well-known city restaurateurs, who showed him their color-coded guest lists and so-forth.

Ferguson, a five-time Emmy nominee, has given many a memorable performance in New York, from his celebrated turn in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” to more recent appearances at Shakespeare in the Park. This blissfully frenetic expedition takes things to a whole new level.

Aside from Sam, Ferguson is, at times the haughty chef, more concerned more with cookbook sales than his customers; a useless maitre d’; a harried British hostess; and a Hispanic line cook, who addresses Sam as “Papi.”

He is both a top magazine editor at Bon Appétit and that editor’s put-upon assistant, who call regularly to inquire just why their photographer has been kept waiting in the restaurant’s lounge since 8:30 a.m. (Turns out, it’s payback for a comment the magazine made about the chef’s “edible dirt”).

There’s more: Ferguson plays Bryce, a squealing assistant to Gwyneth Paltrow—who fares worse here than, say, Barbara Streisand in “Buyer & Cellar”; a terminally dissatisfied Park Avenue socialite; an iron-willed regular named Carolann Rosenstein-Fishburn, whose calls no one upstairs will take because “she looks like a horse,” and so on.

Ferguson had help from a Juilliard dialect coach nailing all the different accents, and succeeds brilliantly.

Most everyone calling in makes Sam’s life miserable, save for his widowed dad, who is gently trying to get Sam to come home for Christmas.

Among the biggest offenders are his fellow reservation-taker, Bob, whose absence on this day is making Sam’s life twice as difficult; a nameless customer so desperate for a table he sends a messenger over with a gratuity; and a “friend” and fellow actor Sam routinely competes with for parts.

Ultimately, we behold a fascinating evolution, as the beleaguered fella turns the tables on those who’ve been wounding his spirit. Everyone gets their just, uh, desserts? Revenge is a dish best served cold? Yes, and yes. “Fully Committed” wraps on a note more satisfying than anything we imagine is actually cooked up at this ridiculous restaurant.

“Fully Committed,” through July 24 at the Lyceum Theatre, 149 W. 45th St. Tickets: $45-$147. Call 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Jessie Mueller in Sweet as Pie 'Waitress']]> Sun, 24 Apr 2016 20:45:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WaitressMain.jpg

Sugar! Butter! Flour!

It’s easy as pie to fall for “Waitress,” a sweet comic musical returning Tony Award winner Jessie Mueller (“Beautiful”) to Broadway. Pop singer Sara Bareilles works a recurring chorus of those three ingredients, above, into many of the softly textured songs here, holding out the promise of scrumptious things to come.

And deliciousness is on the menu.

As a “pie consultant” recently told Playbill, nearly three-dozen ultra-desirable desserts are baked per week for “Waitress.” Most are displayed on twisting cases flanking both edges of the stage. A few are incorporated into Lorin Latarro’s yearning choreography.

The Brooks Atkinson smells like pie. The theater even sells pie. Pro tip: try the Key Lime.

In keeping with conventions of the late Adrienne Shelly’s 2007 film, the pies have unique names aligned with the story. So when Jenna, Mueller’s wistful waitress, learns she has unintentionally become pregnant by abusive husband Earl (Nick Cordero), Joe’s Pie Diner is soon dishing out “Betrayed By My Eggs” pie.

Jenna has been steeling herself to run away from her spouse, stashing cash around their home. Her plan is to use the dough to win a local pie-baking contest and start a new life. Fate intervenes with the arrival of new gynecologist (Drew Gehling, charming and, like most princes, unavailable—his wife’s in town, doing her residency).

By Jenna’s side are fellow servers Becky (Keala Settle) and Dawn (Kimiko Glenn), good pals with their own romantic entanglements. Rounding out the cast are Dakin Matthews as Joe, the ailing diner owner, and Eric Anderson as line cook Cal, who I think speaks for many characters in the story when he declares: “I’m happy … enough.”

Mueller’s performance is nicely balanced. She makes Jenna a dreamer, grounded in common sense. Mueller’s also a perfect fit for Bareilles’s alternately sorrowful and empowering songs, such as “Bad Idea” and “She Used to Be Mine.”

I’m tickled that Settle, of “Lez Miz” and “Hands on a Hardbody,” is landing such plum roles these days. She impresses with her second act solo, “I Didn’t Plan It,” a rousing piece about adaptability to circumstances and learning to feel alive.

The talented Cordero, a Tony nominee for “Bullets Over Broadway,” hits his character’s one nasty note, and hits it hard. Earl is a jerk, motivated by insecurities, and we worry what he might do to Jenna and their child.

Christopher Fitzgerald (last summer’s “An Act of God”) steals scenes as Ogie, the high-strung tax auditor who woos butterfly-to-be Dawn with magic tricks, history and off-the-cuff poetry. The same can be said for Broadway vet Matthews, the vinegary diner owner who encourages Jenna to hang on to her dreams.

“Waitress” does a swell job illustrating the shades of gray in human relationships. There are people here holding out for pie in the sky: Gehling’s Dr. Pomatter wants Jenna, but there is the matter of his wife. Becky and Cal are each doing things we could consider morally ambiguous, but their deeds somehow feel forgivable.

Jessie Nelson’s book is sharp: “The fuller the condiments, the fuller the experience,” Dawn reminds her boss, in one of her sassier moments. “Waitress” is more than capably directed by Diane Paulus, who started the production cooking last year at the American Repertory Theater, outside Boston.

The pie is ready. Leave room for second helpings.

“Waitress,” at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 W. 47th St. Tickets, on sale through Jan. 1, 2017: $55 and up, with premium seating available. Call Ticketmaster, 877-250-2929.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Cracker Jack Replacing Toy Prize With Digital Codes for Mobile Games]]> Fri, 22 Apr 2016 15:02:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Cracker+Jacks+Prize.jpg

It's the end of era.

The iconic prize found in a bag of Cracker Jacks will be replaced with stickers containing digital codes for mobile games, the company announced Thursday.

Cracker Jack, which is owned by the Frito-Lay division of PepsiCo, said the company is taking a new approach to their prizes with "baseball-inspired mobile digital experiences directly from the sticker inside."

"The new Prize Inside allows families to enjoy their favorite baseball moments through a new one-of-a-kind mobile experience, leveraging digital technology to bring the iconic Prize Inside to life," Cracker Jack said in a statement.

The new prizes will require fans of the caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts snack to down the Blippar app, available for iOS and Android, and will come in four themes: Dot Dash, Dance Cam, Get Carded and Baseball Star. Cracker Jack will also debut restyled logo and packaging.

The announcement comes as baseball season gets into full swing.



Photo Credit: Cracker Jack]]>
<![CDATA[Review: 'American Psycho' Loses Something in the Execution]]> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 20:03:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/PsychoMain.jpg

“American Psycho,” the new musical based on the savage and polarizing Bret Easton Ellis novel, knows precisely what it wants to be.

It’s consistently satirical, insistently techno (video projections illustrate the world of protagonist Patrick Bateman) and hyper-raunchy (leading man Benjamin Walker spends more time in tighty-whities than his character’s prized Alan Flusser suits).

Alas, there’s no drawing blood from a stone. The weak link is Duncan Sheik’s inaccessible score, which doesn’t come near the level of “Spring Awakening,” or his underrated “Whisper House.” The best songs here are those distinctly from the 1980s, such as “Hip to Be Square,” which sets the scene for a killer conclusion to the first act.

“American Psycho” arrives stateside after a 2013 London debut, where the self-absorbed serial killer was played by Matt Smith, of “Doctor Who.” Directed then, as now, by Rupert Goold (“King Charles III”), the musical tracks Ellis’s maligned 1991 novel more closely than the Mary Harron film that came a decade later.

In all its incarnations, “American Psycho” is a critique of 1980s yuppie greed. The Wall Street boys in Bateman’s orbit numb themselves with party drugs and are so lacking in identity as to be interchangeable—mistaken identities run as a theme through Ellis’s story, adapted by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, a screenwriter known for work on “Glee” and “Supergirl.”

Walker, who made his bones with “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” is on stage for most of the musical’s two-and-a-half hours. After an anticlimactic prologue suggesting a throat-slashing, we’re introduced to the maybe-murderous main character in his apartment, with its Mies van der Rohe seating and then-state-of-the-art 30-inch Toshiba TV.

Over two acts, we witness a hodgepodge of prosaic production numbers, with surprisingly little gore. Among the more interesting is “Cards,” in which the creative team explores a theme from the book—corporate one-upmanship via font and embossing!—digitally painting the walls with “Pierce & Pierce” business cards in hues bandied about as dairy, bone and eggshell.

Later, “I Am Back,” in which Patrick converses with a twitchy pile of corpses, is one of just a few times “American Psycho” rises to the macabre levels established in the book.

Walker’s nailed the requisite mix of narcissism, rage and soullessness, even if his Bateman seems a more tender fella than that icicle Christian Bale, from the film. The music doesn’t push Walker’s range, but he’s not burdened with heavy vocal chores, either. I never wanted to call the cops on him; I did want to refer him to a good psychopharmacologist.

Heléne Yorke (“Bullets Over Broadway”) plays Patrick’s steady girlfriend as an over-the-top, whiny rich girl, by way of a “Saturday Night Live” skit. Jennifer Damiano, as Patrick’s secretary, is sweet and naive. Alice Ripley, Damiano’s “Next to Normal” co-star, deserves better than what she gets here, a one-dimensional part as Patrick’s mother.

The talented supporting actors wear slicked-back hair, like the scions of Donald Trump. Ellis’s original references to their "Bible"—the elder Mr. Trump's “The Art of the Deal”—remain here in their glory. (Mr. Ellis: Where do you purchase your crystal balls?) The homophobic dialogue prevalent in the book and film also is still here, and doesn’t seem out of place in context, grating though it is.

The first act is stronger than the second, which suffers from a drawn-out segue to the Hamptons that further dampens any feelings of real “threat” you might crave.

A key point—the question of Bateman as a reliable narrator—isn't tested until the end of the first act, too late to have much of an impact. Half the reward of all the “American Psycho” iterations is contemplating whether Patrick’s deadly deeds are his sole way of feeling … or if they’ve even happened at all.

Twenty-five years ago, if you had suggested turning “American Psycho” into a musical, you’d have been tossed out of The Odeon. By the time Harron’s movie premiered, we were a society more inured to cultural depictions of homicidal rage. And then there’s today, as mass killings are routinely reported on our 65-inch flat-screens.

This may be why “American Psycho” failed to stir me: The notion that evil lurks where we may not expect to find it isn’t shocking anymore. Still, this “Psycho” would prefer to make you laugh than scream.

“American Psycho,” at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W. 45th St. Tickets, on sale through Sept. 25, $69-$148. Call 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel]]>
<![CDATA[How to Throw a Kentucky Derby Party]]> Fri, 22 Apr 2016 11:32:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-471857186.jpg

Year after year, there is a flurry of excitement leading up to the Kentucky Derby, with an endless series of parties and celebrations. It is the one American race that inspires the spectacle and pageantry of a bygone era.

Derby Fashion 

In 1875, Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. fashioned the Derby after glamorous European horse races. These races required full morning dress for all who attended. The high society women of the day came to the Derby to debut new spring fashions – especially hats. These women were invited to the race as part of Clark’s strategy to brand the Derby as an upscale event. In the 1960’s television gave women a reason to go all out with their hats, which deepened the “see and be seen” culture.

Unlike the Royal Ascot races, which restrict the size and type of hat for adult women (fascinators are not allowed!), there are no hat restrictions for the Derby. Hats bring good luck to the race, so let your imagination run wild when choosing or creating your hat.

Men also put on their Sunday best for race day, wearing bright, sunny colors, and donning a bow tie and fedora, bowler, or a natty straw Homburg or boater.

Hosting a Kentucky Derby Party 

Invitations reveal the color scheme for your Derby Party, as well as what kind of party it is – a brunch, backyard get-together or formal event. Send your invitations well in advance to give you and your guests plenty of time to plan for race day.

Atmosphere lies at the heart of the Kentucky Derby. In 1904, the red rose became the Derby’s official flower. Any red rose will work, but for authenticity, use red Freedom Roses, known for their rich, bright color in your décor. If you need inspiration for your party’s color scheme, look to colorful jockey silks.

  • Freeze rosebuds inside ice cubes, and use them to fill the champagne bucket. When the Derby winner is announced, pop open the bottle to celebrate!
  • Decorate the bases of wine glasses with miniature hats for the ladies and bow ties for the gents.
  • Fold napkins in the shape of a bow tie, using bright colors that coordinate with your party scheme.
  • Dress up your drink stirrers with miniature hats and bows of ribbon.
  • Use a lavishly decked-out hat as a table centerpiece.

Activities:

Photos — Rent a photo booth for your party, or create a picture perfect backdrop with playful props. Take photos of guests in their race day finery, adding trophies, riding crops, fascinators and clip-on bowties as photo booth accessories. Get some giggles out of your guests with a life-size horse and jockey cut-out for their faces. Make your party’s hashtag part of the display.

Crafts — Little Derby party guests and adults will have fun crafting hats out of paper plates, ribbons and flowers.

Games:

  • Corn Hole is an all-American way to bring guests outside for some competition. Customize your Corn Hole board for the Derby.
  • Put a twist on Pin the Tail on the Donkey with fun alternatives, like “Pin the Jockey on the Horse” or “Pin the Garland on the Horse.”
  • Play some rounds of Horseshoes to get in the Derby spirit!
  • Play some Derby trivia. 

Prizes — Trivia winners of all ages can receive a virgin “Mint Julep” – pour Junior Mints in a traditional silver mint julep cup, and top it with a sprig of mint.

Tradition  As the horses parade to the gate, sing along to “My Old Kentucky Home” with the band and audience on Television.

Lyrics below:

The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home,

Tis summer, the people are gay;

The corn-top's ripe and the meadow's in the bloom

While the birds make music all the day. The young folks roll on the little cabin floor

All merry, all happy and bright;

By'n by hard times comes a knocking at the door

Then my old Kentucky home, Good-night! Weep no more my lady.

Oh! Weep no more today!

We will sing one song for my old Kentucky home

For the old Kentucky home, far away.



Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[‘Matilda’ Saying Goodbye to Broadway]]> Fri, 15 Apr 2016 17:22:15 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/MatildaClosing.jpg

After three years on Broadway, “Matilda the Musical” is saying goodbye.

The musical based on the beloved Roald Dahl story will close at the Shubert Theatre on Jan. 1, 2017, having played 37 previews and 1,555 regular performances.

“Matilda” transferred to Broadway in April 2013 from London’s West End, where a production remains open. A production is also touring North America.

Featuring a score by Tim Minchin, “Matilda” tells the story of a magical young girl who dares to challenge authority. Direction comes from Matthew Warchus. The show won four 2013 Tony Awards, including one for Dennis Kelly’s book.

In all, 19 young actresses have rotated the title role on Broadway, in groups of four. The original four actresses in the role -- Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon and Milly Shapiro -- also received Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theater for their work.

For tickets and information, visit matildathemusical.com.



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Frank Langella in 'The Father']]> Thu, 14 Apr 2016 17:04:18 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/TheFatherMain.jpg

Frank Langella allows us a glimpse into the mind of a man deteriorating from dementia in “The Father,” a drama by rising French playwright Florian Zeller. “The Father” is having its American premiere with the Manhattan Theatre Club, after acclaimed runs in Paris and London.

Because “The Father” is presented from the view of Langella’s André, a retired Parisian engineer—or perhaps a tap dancer?—we can't be sure what's actually happening and what's his imagination. But you will at least depart confident that André has a concerned daughter (Kathryn Erbe) trying to ease his adjustment into a nursing home, as she prepares for a new life in another city.

André’s story unfolds in what seems to be sequential fashion, but the same characters in his life keep turning up played by different actors, so the audience is sometimes as off-balance as André during the 90-minute one-acter, directed with assurance by Doug Hughes (“Outside Mullingar,” etc.). (Translation is by Christopher Hampton, known for his play based on the novel “Les Liaisons dangereuses.”)

The people in André’s orbit remember events differently than he does, so André can’t be sure he’s on top of matters, but this is not a man going gently into that dark night: André, 80, sees himself as vital and vigorous, an argument he adds an exclamation point to, during one discussion, by grabbing his own crotch and sneering.

“The Father” is set in daughter Anne’s flat. Or ... the apartment belongs to André. We’re never positive. Either way, the elderly man lounges around in his pajamas there. Our initial glimpse into André’s faltering state comes as he rants to his daughter that a previous caretaker must have stolen a precious watch.

Later, André will question Anne’s husband—that is, a man who may be Anne’s husband—about the man’s timepiece, asking if he can prove it’s his with “a receipt.” So there’s some paranoia going on. Probably.

Langella's last Broadway appearance was in 2011’s “Man and Boy.” Here, we’ll assume his André was an engineer, and not a dancer (as he tries to convince a potential health aide), because he’s clearly a methodical thinker who becomes muddled when things seem out of place. 

The three-time Tony Award winner (currently on FX’s “The Americans”) brings trademark versatility to the role, alternating from aggressive, to lucid and charming, then insecure and infantile. Langella’s mercurial performance surely will be relatable to any audience member who has spent time around a person with dementia.

As Anne, Erbe (the likable “L&O: Criminal Intent” vet, who was often foil to an emotionally volatile detective), is down-to-earth and unaffected. Anne always seems like a real person, and so it’s easy to sympathize with her conflict about leaving her father.

As Anne’s love interests—at least, as far as André is concerned—Brian Avers and Charles Borland are inherently unsympathetic “bad cops,” conveying their exasperation with father and daughter alike. They do fine work. Hannah Cabell, as a new caretaker, and Kathleen McNenny, as a nurse, alternately wander into scenes that are likely delusions on André’s part. The actresses are equally on point.

Donald Holder’s lighting, between the dozen or so scene changes, could be described respectfully as seizure-inducing, and seems a purposeful choice intended to underscore the disintegrating nature of André’s mind.

Much of “The Father” is a delusion, and so we work to form our own conclusions about what's real or not, even as André’s shifting reality guides us toward a foreshadowed ending. This is an intricately constructed drama depicting a phenomenon few can identify with—what it must be like to be a capable person slowly losing his mind.

“The Father,” through June 12 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St. Tickets: $70-$150. Call 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@Robert Kahn



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Big Changes Ahead for 'Hamilton' Lotto]]> Wed, 06 Apr 2016 10:14:17 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/HamiltonLotto.jpg

The $10 ticket lottery to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton,” which attracted over 700 people on its first day, will return from its digital hiatus to the Richard Rodgers Theatre — but for Wednesday matinees only.

The Wednesday lottos, which begin April 6 and have been nicknamed “Ham4Ham” by fans, will include live performances from Miranda and special guests. Entries will be accepted beginning at 12 pm, with the drawing occurring a half hour later.

The digital $10 “Hamiton” lottery will remain in place for all other performances. The digital lotto began as a temporary solution during the cold winter months, but has become immensely popular since launch. You can enter the digital lottery here

Only 21 front-row tickets are made available for each lottery.

The new hybrid lotto experience gives “Hamilton” fans the best of both worlds, according to Miranda, who says the decision was made to “maintain the fun of the #Ham4Ham live show while keeping the diversity & democracy of the online lotto.”

Regulating the in-person lottery to once a week during working hours might also solve the problem of controlling the crowds of hopefuls — often in the hundreds — from blocking the street on 46th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue. “We need to figure out how to safely accommodate our fans without blocking traffic,” producer Jeffrey Seller said in a statement.

Last month, “Hamilton” producers made another step in crowd-control, limiting its standby line to just 30 people.



Photo Credit: Instagram]]>
<![CDATA[Manhattan, Chicago Are Priciest Places to Wed: Survey]]> Thu, 07 Apr 2016 07:10:36 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/wedding-dress.jpg

Manhattan and Chicago are the two most expensive places to get married in the United States, but the affair will likely cost a pretty penny no matter the location, according to a new survey. 

Couples preparing to say "I do" are spending an average of $32,641, according to wedding blog The Knot, which surveyed nearly 18,000 American brides and grooms in 2015 for its ninth annual report.

The average cost of a wedding is up by more than $5,500 in the past five years, though the overall price swings based on where couples wed, reported the Knot. The Knot surveyed members of TheKnot.com, which claims to represent nearly 80 percent of American brides, and used data exclusively from those who said they wed in 2015.

Four of the five most expensive areas to get married were in the New York Tri-State area, with the average price of a Manhattan wedding costing $82,299. Chicago was the No. 2 priciest at $61,265, followed by New York's Westchester and Hudson Valley region, Long Island and north and central New Jersey.

The most affordable places to get married were: Alaska ($17,361), South Dakota ($18,890) and West Texas ($19,261). 

Still, wedding spending has reached an all-time high, the survey found. Elements that increased the most in the past five years include the reception venue, location of the ceremony and reception band.

While the price of the affair may be on the uptick, couples are finding ways to express their individuality. Twenty-two percent of couples choose a theme for their wedding. Nineteen-percent
of couples also opted to include ethnic and religious rituals.

Couples seem to be spending more on their guests' experience, though the number of guests has shrunk. The average number of guests in 2015 was down 10 to 139, but the cost per guest increased from $194 to $237, as compared to 2009.

One category that has more than tripled is guest entertainment as couples have added unique events, like cigar rolling stations or wine and liquor tastings, to their nuptials.

Though costs and extravagance may be on the uptick, couples seeking a simpler affair may be the true winners. A study from Emory University found evidence that "marriage duration is inversely associated with spending on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony."

University researchers surveyed more than 3,000 individuals in the United States in 2014 who married the opposite sex and are not widowed.

Their conclusions revealed that both men and women associate less spending on the wedding with a longer marriage. Instead, the report suggests high wedding attendance and having a honeymoon, regardless of cost, are more promising indicators of a lasting marriage.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Diane Lane Revisiting ‘Cherry Orchard’]]> Tue, 05 Apr 2016 15:44:05 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-516740680.jpg

Oscar nominee Diane Lane made her Broadway debut as a child actress in the 1977 production of Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard.”

Now, the “Unfaithful” and "Batman v Superman: Dan of Justice" star will revisit the drama, returning to Broadway for the first time to lead a new production from the Roundabout Theatre Company.

“The Cherry Orchard” revival will begin performances at the American Airlines Theatre on Sept. 15, ahead of an official opening on Oct. 16.

The new adaptation comes from “The Humans”-scribe Stephen Karam, and will be directed by Simon Godwin. Lane will play Lyubov Ranevskaya, an aristocrat who will do anything to prevent her family’s country estate from foreclosure.

Lane last appeared on the New York stage in 2015’s “The Mystery of Love and Sex” at the Lincoln Center. Last year, she starred on screen in the Oscar-nominated films “Trumbo” and “Inside Out.”

For tickets and information, visit www.roundabouttheatre.org.



Photo Credit: Bryan Bedder]]>
<![CDATA[Review: This 'Crucible' Has an Otherworldly Edge]]> Thu, 31 Mar 2016 20:06:30 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/CrucibleMain.jpg

If Ivo van Hove is thinking one thing tonight, it’s probably: “Finally! Elbow room!”

The Belgian director, saluted this season for minimalist and tightly confined stagings of “A View From the Bridge” and David Bowie’s “Lazarus,” spreads out—all across the vast Walter Kerr Theatre—with another play by Arthur Miller, “The Crucible.”

His cast includes two-time Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan (“Brooklyn”), as a perhaps-possessed schoolgirl, alongside heavy-hitters Ben Whishaw, Sophie Okonedo and Ciarán Hinds.

Curiously, the expansive Kerr stage has the effect of diminishing the anxiety in Miller’s 1953 play, a fictionalized story about the Salem witch trials viewed as an allegory for the Red Scare of the mid-20th century. While there are outstanding performances in Van Hove’s interpretation, I never felt the sense of snowballing paranoia I’d been expecting.

This “Crucible” begins with a brief overture: the curtain rises on seated schoolgirls, chanting. We’re seeing young women forced to learn things by rote—things they may not necessarily believe. A blackboard reads: “The promises of dutiful children,” with a list beneath of notions (“Honor God”) about to fly out the door.

In van Hove fashion, the design is contemporary. Institutional fluorescent lights illuminate a stark classroom, with a tiny sink and tilt-out windows. Characters wear modern, monochromatic garb. Grim Philip Glass music spills through loudspeakers.

Ronan is convincing as chief mean girl Abigail Williams, with her mouth set in a hard line and her eyes narrowed. I liked her performance, but didn’t necessarily see Abigail as someone capable of whipping up the frenzy relied on in “The Crucible.” The adults in this play won’t even consider the possibility this scorned gal is fabricating tales?

Abigail and her friends may be practicing witchcraft, or Abigail may be concocting an elaborate story as a way of punishing Whishaw’s John Proctor, her one-time employer and lover. I was more admiring of the excellent Tavi Gevinson (“This Is Our Youth”), as Mary Warren, the classmate with a conscience.

While I’m confident Miller believed in the power of mankind to manipulate and be manipulated, I’m rather sure his “witch hunt” was metaphorical. Theatrical flourishes here—girls suspended in mid-air, windstorms, what appears to be a wolf wandering alone on stage (in fact, it’s a rare dog breed)—suggest van Hove prefers it an open-ended question.

That added an unanticipated layer to the nearly three-hour proceedings.

Whishaw (“Q,” in recent James Bond movies) was compelling as a guilt-ridden farmer who refuses to be manipulated, then pivots, but finally is more concerned with his legacy than his life.

Okonedo (“A Raisin in the Sun”) is appealing, as always, maintaining a guarded posture as she is caught up in the shifting events. Hinds (Big Daddy, in 2013’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” revival) is imposing as a pompous judge.

I was moved by the way Gevinson’s Mary Warren and Bill Camp’s Rev. Hale undergo their moral evolutions. We need to see them as confused but essentially good people—and in these fine performances, we do.

As alluded, I never did get the sense an epidemic of hysteria was brewing. I struggled at the end to even remember why the Proctors had been implicated in a witch hunt. Oh, yes: He has too relaxed an attitude about religion; she may be using a tiny knit “poppet” as a vessel of evil.

To survive “The Crucible,” characters must admit to something false, or be condemned as witches. While Van Hove’s “Bridge,” last fall, felt like an homage, “The Crucible” feels like a serious reinterpretation. Follow through on the director’s otherworldly implications, and champions of Arthur Miller may find more to worry about than just Communists.

“The Crucible,” through July 17 at the Walter Kerr Theatre, 219 W. 48th St. Tickets: $42-$149. Call 877-250-2929.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn
 



Photo Credit: Jan Versweyveld]]>
<![CDATA[‘Falsettos’ Returns with A-List Broadway Cast]]> Thu, 31 Mar 2016 16:51:03 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/212*120/FalsettosCast.png

Three of Broadway’s best will headline the new production of William Flinn and James Lapine’s “Falsettos,” which begins performances on Sept. 29 prior to an Oct. 27 opening at Lincoln Center’s Walter Kerr Theatre.

Two-time Tony winner Christian Borle (“”Peter and the Starcatcher,” “Something Rotten”), Tony nominee Andrew Rannells (“Hamilton,” TV’s “Girls”) and Tony nominee Stephanie J. Block (“The Mystery of Edwin Drood”) will lead the revival cast. Additional casting is expected to be announced soon.

Borle, who also starred on NBC’s “Smash,” will play Marvin, a gay man juggling relationships between his lover Whizzer (Rannels) and his wife Trina (Block). The story takes place in New York in the 1980s, examining the early years of the AIDS crisis.

The book comes from Finn (“A New Brain”) and Lapine (“Act One”), who combined their two Off-Broadway musicals “March of the Falsettos” and “Falsettoland” to build the piece. Finn provides the score.

Lapine, who directed the 1992 original Broadway production, will once again direct for Broadway.

For tickets and more information, visit www.lct.org.



Photo Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris | Ilya S. Savenok | Dimitrios Kambouris]]>
<![CDATA[Burger King Releases 'Angriest Whopper' Yet]]> Fri, 01 Apr 2016 21:44:15 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Angriest+Whopper.jpg

How much heat can you handle?

Burger King diners can now test their limits with the launch of the company's Angriest Whopper, which sandwiches the brand’s flame-broiled beef patty in a red-colored bun with baked-in spicy sauce.

The fast-food chain's newest burger is a sequel to its Angry Whopper, which "was a hit with guests," according to Burger King's Global Chief Marketing Officer Axel Schwan. Its success led the company to expand upon the spicy creation with the Angriest Whopper.

The burger contains flame-grilled beef, thick-cut bacon, American cheese, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, crispy onion petals, jalapeños, creamy mayonnaise and "spicy angry sauce" between a fiery, red bun.

"This alarmingly delicious burger is sure to disprove the commonly held belief that a sequel is never as good as the original," the company said in a statement.

This isn't the first time that Burger King has released a burger with a colored bun. In the fall of 2015 the burger company sold the A.1. Halloween Whopper, which featured a black bun and was met with mixed reviews. Axel acknowledged that “The black bun of our A.1. Halloween Whopper created a lot of conversation“ after consumers took to Twitter to express their opinion.

Burger King's Angriest Whopper will be available for a limited time in participating restaurants at the suggested price of $5.49 or $7.49 as part of a combo meal.



Photo Credit: Burger King]]>
<![CDATA[Sean Hayes Bringing 'An Act of God' Back]]> Wed, 30 Mar 2016 11:55:13 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Sean+Hayes+as+God+in+An+Act+of+God.jpg

“An Act of God,” the comedy based on David Javerbaum’s @TheTweetOfGod Twitter account and corresponding book, will return to Broadway this spring for a limited run -- this time with “Will & Grace” star Sean Hayes in the title role.

The 14-week engagement begins May 28 and ends Sept. 4, with an opening night set for June 6 at the Booth Theatre.

Directed by Joe Mantello (“Blackbird,” “The Humans”), “An Act of God” premiered on Broadway last season to critical raves, starring “The Big Bang Theory” actor Jim Parsons. The production then moved to Los Angeles, with Hayes replacing Parsons, and San Francisco, where it’s currently playing at the Golden Gate Theatre.

The 90-minute play features a conversation with God, where he and two of angels provide an additional set of commandments. (Casting for the angels is expected to be announced soon).

“I can’t wait to return to the Great White Way this summer,” “God” said in a statement. “I’m particularly excited to spend 14-weeks at the Booth Theater, because when you think about good things happening in a theater, the name you think of is ‘Booth’!”

For more information and tickets, visit anactofgod.com.



Photo Credit: Jim Cox]]>
<![CDATA[Nathan Lane, John Slattery Lead Starry ‘Front Page’ Revival ]]> Tue, 29 Mar 2016 17:53:28 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/LaneSlattery.jpg

Nathan Lane (TV’s “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson) and John Slattery (TV’s “Mad Men”) will return to Broadway this fall in a revival of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s 1928 play “The Front Page."

The drama, about the inner workings of a Chicago newspaper, will come with a star-studded ensemble, including John Goodman (the film “10 Cloverfield Lane”), Rosemary Harris (“The Road to Mecca”), Jefferson Mays (“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”) and Sherie Rene Scott (“Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”).

Opening night is set for October 20 at a theater to be announced, with previews beginning in late September. The play will have a limited five-month run, according to the Chicago Tribune who first reported the story.

This will be the first revival of “The Front Page” since 1986. The three-act play will be directed by Jack O’Brien, who worked with Lane last season in “It’s Only a Play.”



Photo Credit: Theo Wargo | Monica Schipper]]>
<![CDATA['Hamilton' Shake-up: Rory O'Malley to Replace Jonathan Groff ]]> Mon, 28 Mar 2016 17:14:28 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-467564958.jpg

“The Book of Mormon” alum Rory O’Malley will join the cast of “Hamilton” next month, taking over the role of King George from “Looking” star Jonathan Groff.

Groff, who originated the role on Broadway, is departing the show to film a new David Fincher’s drama series for Netflix. His final performance will be April 9.

O’Malley will begin his reign in “Hamilton” on April 11.

The Tony-nominated actor was scheduled to appear on Broadway this season in “Nerds,” which was postponed last month after an investor dropped out.

“Hamilton” tells the story of America’s founding father Alexander Hamilton, and features a book and hip-hop score from Tony-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda. For more information and tickets, visit hamiltononbroadway.com.



Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Steve Martin, Edie Brickell Hitch Wagons to 'Bright Star']]> Thu, 24 Mar 2016 15:33:56 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/BrightStarMain.jpg

Steve Martin and Edie Brickell found inspiration for “Bright Star” from a century-old story about an unwanted infant. From that anecdote—the tale of the “Iron Mountain Baby,” who is thrown from a train—the songwriting duo have crafted an original musical, drumming up backstory as they’ve gone along.

“Bright Star” is now open at the Cort Theatre, after tune-ups at the Old Globe in San Diego and the Kennedy Center. There’s much to admire in the final product: The musical is twangy and tightly performed, with a sweeping score. My enjoyment was muted only by the mostly modest character development.

Martin, the one-time banjo-strumming stand-up whose career has careered in a dozen directions—author, novelist, Grammy-winning bluegrass musician—is responsible for the book and shares credit with Brickell for the buoyant music; the lyrics are all by Brickell, the insouciant “What I Am” singer.

The duo has previously collaborated on a couple of melodic folk-song collections.

“Bright Star” alternates between the 1940s and 1920s. Early, we’re introduced to aspiring writer Billy Cane (A.J. Shively, earning heart-throb status), who has returned from World War II to learn from his father (Stephen Bogardus) that his mother died in his absence.

In a parallel universe decades earlier, we get to know headstrong Alice Murphy (Carmen Cusack, a well-known West End actress). Alice is unrestrained and attractive, an alluring catch for any guy inclined to court her, particularly Jimmy Ray Dobbs, the mayor’s son (Paul Alexander Nolan).

Soon enough, we learn that Alice grows up to become the editor of an esteemed Southern literary journal, a mentor who has helped the careers of Eudora Welty and Carson McCullers. As an adult, Alice has become quite self-sufficient, and even more caustic.

We not only travel in time, but also geographically, through Blue Ridge Mountain towns small and large. Helping us visualize this is—toot!—a model locomotive running high above the actors. It’s clever and effective.

Cusack, who reminded me a bit of Donna Murphy, does proud justice to a tough role. Paul Alexander Nolan, featured last season as a spitfire revolutionary in “Doctor Zhivago,” has an easygoing confidence as another character we get to know at different stages of life.

Supporting characters, of whom there are a glut, include Michael Mulheren, as Jimmy Ray’s interfering father; Dee Hoty, seen last season in “Gigi,” as Alice’s mom; and Jeff Blumenkrantz, as a stereotypically fey assistant in Alice’s employ who tries to get stories past his boss by submitting them with pen names.

I would have enjoyed more of the delightful Hannah Elless, as the hometown girl trying to woo Billy, who of course remains oblivious to her charms.

Martin and Brickell’s music is rootsy and most often joyful. Of note is the involving, melancholy second-act curtain-raiser, “Sun’s Gonna Shine,” which Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight Records will let you listen to here.

Of Martin’s book, I felt that too often I was being told what to feel, without being given opportunity to feel it. Connective tissue between the storylines, probably intended to sneak up on us at the end, seemed obvious halfway through the first act.

“Chicago” director Walter Bobbie might’ve tightened the screws on the musical’s climax, which evokes the legend of that abandoned child. It has one actor scouring the swampy marsh in search of a distant wailing, but the borderline-humorous tone veers from the serious material preceding it.

An attempt to humanize Alice’s Bible-thumping father (Stephen Lee Anderson) didn’t quite ring true, either.

I loved the onstage band, who added lively fiddling to the proceedings. I’m sure there are great hopes riding on “Bright Star.” It’s not a perfect musical; this “Star” doesn’t always guide the way, but at times it beams brightly enough.

“Bright Star,” at the Cort Theatre, 138 W. 48th St. Tickets, on sale through Oct. 9: $45-$250. Call 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Nick Stokes]]>
<![CDATA['Hamilton' Seeks New Talent With Open Auditions ]]> Thu, 24 Mar 2016 15:53:07 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/SchuylerSisters.jpg

You could have a shot at starring in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster musical “Hamilton.”

Casting directors for the historical hip-hopera are holding open auditions for replacements to the Broadway production, and new cast members for the upcoming national tours.

Auditions will be held in New York City on May 3.

No prior theater experience is necessary to audition, meaning you do not have to be a member of Actors’ Equity. Producers are seeking non-white men and women, ages 20s to 30s.

Similar open calls are happening in Los Angeles and San Francisco in mid-April.

“Hamilton is currently running at Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre. A Chicago company will begin performances in September at the PrivateBank Theatre, while a London production is scheduled to open in the West End in 2017.

A national tour will launch in March 2017 at San Francisco’s SHN Orpheum Theatre, where it will play a 21-week run before moving on to Los Angeles’ Hollywood Pantages Theatre. More cities are scheduled to be announced soon.

For further information, visit HamiltonBroadway.com/auditions.



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA['Married on the Move': Couple Weds on NBC's 'Today']]> Thu, 24 Mar 2016 12:21:47 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/Screen-Shot-2016-03-24-at-11.56.30-AM1.jpg

One lucky couple got "married on the move" in front of NBC's "Today" show's audience Thursday morning. The "big fat" wedding celebration was in honor of the March release of Universal Picture's "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" movie.

The viewers didn't only watch the wedding -- they planned it. The show held a contest over the past several weeks to pick the lucky couple and all of their wedding details.

Kaitlin Roseman and John West, form suburban Chicago, were selected to celebrate their nuptials in New York City during a live television taping that took them from the "Today" show studio to Rockefeller Center's Rainbow Room.

The viewers chose everything from the bride's mermaid gown to the wedding rings. 

Where will they be going for their honeymoon? Greece, of course!


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<![CDATA[‘Chicago’ Preps 20th Anniversary]]> Tue, 22 Mar 2016 19:33:03 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Chi-20th_Shot_10_078-Press.jpg

The Tony-winning revival of “Chicago” will mark its 20th anniversary on Broadway this November at the Ambassador Theatre, and have planned a series of events and initiatives to celebrate.

The festivities will include a one-night-only concert performance on August 31 in Central Park that's free to the public. The evening will be presented as part of SummerStage -- City Parks Foundation’s annual free performing arts festival.

Meanwhile over at the Lincoln Center Festival, Japanese troupe Takarazuka will return to New York for the first time in over 25 years to perform an all-female, all-Japanese version of “Chicago” from July 20-24. It’ll be the first time in history that two identical productions of a musical in two different languages will be playing concurrently in New York.

The New York Public Library will also get in on the action, displaying materials from “Chicago” in an exhibit called Curtain Up!. Opening this October at the Library’s Performing Arts branch in Lincoln Center, the exhibit will also be met with public programs featuring original cast and creative team members.

Speaking of original cast members, Bebe Neuwirth, Ann Reinking, James Naughton and Joel Grey -- the revival’s four original leads -- are also taking part in the celebration, reuniting for a new advertising campaign.

And if that weren’t enough, William Ivey Long’s Tony-nominated costumes are being revised for the show too.

“Chicago” features music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb, with direction from Tony-winner Walter Bobbie.

For more information, visit www.ChicagoTheMusical.com.



Photo Credit: Max Vadukul]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Stars Chase the Easy Money in 'Dry Powder']]> Tue, 22 Mar 2016 19:12:26 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/DryPowderMain.jpg

You get plenty of bang for your buck with Sarah Burgess’ “Dry Powder,” now at the Public Theater, and that’s just when it comes to the leads: Hank Azaria, Claire Danes and John Krasinski.

Performed at the intimate Martinson Theater, the experience of attending "Dry Powder" occasionally leaves us feeling as if we’re at a private gala with stars from “The Simpsons,” “Homeland” and NBC’s “The Office.” And the director? It’s Thomas Kail, of “Hamilton.” Ka-ching!

Take my advice, though, and don’t party with these people. In Burgess’ world premiere, a comedy-drama where the subject matter is—brrrrrrrr—leveraged buyouts, the trio of actors make for a heartless team of icy finance execs looking to wring every penny out of any company they can get their hands on.

There are, it turns out, varying degrees of callousness to be explored in this universe, and that’s where “Dry Powder” sinks its claws. The title (if, like me, you’re also a hapless English major, and didn’t know) refers to the “current amount of capital available to private equity investors.” In other words: “How much do we have on hand to buy stuff with?”

Azaria’s Rick is founder and president of a capital management firm. His younger founding partners are the yin-and-yang to his final say on deals. Seth (Krasinski) is a flashy go-getter looking for acquisition targets. Jenny (Danes) is a humorless numbers cruncher.

Watching Danes and Kransinki lob insults at one another for 95 minutes is nearly entertainment enough. Here, though, we find their firm at a turning point: Investors are fleeing, since Rick’s company decimated the ranks of a grocery chain at the same time his flashy engagement party was making gossip headlines.

Everyone here is working an angle. Rick’s priority seems to be keeping his fiancee happy. Seth wants to be part of a company that makes things and treats its workers as family, but he’s also afraid to get his hands dirty. Jeff (Sanjit DeSilva), the chief of a luggage company Seth has identified as ripe for takeover, wants to protect his workers, but needs dough to support an ill-advised business venture back home.

It’s Danes, though, who made off with my heart—and has anyone seen my wallet? I can’t recall a female playwright in recent memory crafting such a nasty, robotic female character, yet Jenny has an essential honesty: She’s not coy about being ruthless.

“Dry Powder” evokes films like “Wall Street,” posing questions about whether we’re all just looking out for our own self-interest. The performances are good, and the simple cube-based set works nicely.

Azaria, Danes and Krasinski are clearly going for some muscle-stretching work-life balance by appearing in a small-ish (and mostly sold-out) new play at The Public. Somewhere, I wonder if Rick, Seth and Jenny are laughing at them. Don’t these guys know they could be making better money in TV?

“Dry Powder,” through May 1 at The Public’s Martinson Theater, 425 Lafayette St. Tickets: $95 and up. Call 212-967-7555.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[‘Curious Incident’ to Close in September]]> Tue, 22 Mar 2016 10:52:33 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/CuriousIncidentClosing.jpg

The play that was named the best on Broadway in 2015 will be ending its run on the Great White Way this summer.

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” which won five 2015 Tony awards including Best Play, will host a final performance at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Sept. 4.

At the time of its closing, “Curious Incident” will have played 23 previews and 800 regular performances -- making it the longest running play on Broadway in more than 10 years.

A national tour will launch this October.

The play, an adaptation of the 2003 novel of the same name, ‘Curious Incident’ stars Tyler Lea as 15-year-old Christopher, a boy with an exceptional intelligence who sets out to solve the mystery of who killed his neighbor’s dog. In the process, Christopher uncovers a deep family secret that shakes his world to the core.

The stage adaptation was written by Simon Stephens.

The National Theatre production, directed by Marianne Elliott, transferred to Broadway after a sold-out run in London’s West End, where it picked up seven 2013 Olivier Awards. The London production is still running and touring throughout the United Kingdom.

For tickets and information, visit curiousonbroadway.com.



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[TV’s ‘The Passion’ Misses the Mark ]]> Mon, 21 Mar 2016 19:28:46 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-516743838.jpg

After a critically acclaimed leap into the live TV musicals game with “Grease: Live,” Fox took a step back Sunday night with “The Passion,” its scattered live original musical special that recounted the last hours of the life of Jesus Christ.

The two-hour event played less like a musical and more like an “American Idol” finale, with live performances from Yolanda Adams, Trisha Yearwood and Seal mixed with pre-recorded video segments and narration from Tyler Perry.

“The Passion” was billed as a tribute to New Orleans, with a crowd of locals carrying through the streets an illuminated, 20-foot cross. Beginning at the Superdome, the procession symbolized how New Orleans residents came together to rebuild the city after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.

It was a touching image overall, but that’s sadly where the New Orleans integration really began and ended.

Except for show-closer “When the Saints Go Marching In,” surprisingly no jazz songs were used in the score. Producers instead opted for a selection of familiar rock hits, like Creed’s “With Arms Wide Open,” Evanescence’s “Bring Me to Life” and Hoobastank’s “The Reason.”

Though sung well, all were arranged as ballads, greatly slowing down the evening’s pace. “The Passion” could have used an up-tempo number here or there.

One Broadway show tune was featured in “The Passion” -- the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from 1945’s “Carousel.”

It’s hard to judge any of the acting, since most of the book scenes were brief. Jencarlos Canela (NBC’s “Telenovela”) was a fine Jesus though his filmed segments didn’t give him much to do emotionally. “Idol” runner-up Chris Daughtry sounded great as Judas, but his performance won’t jump-start his acting career anytime soon.

Yearwood, as Mary, was given the most to sing, and proved to be a reliable anchor to the evening. Her renditions of Whitney Houston’s “Your Love is My Love,” Jewel’s “Hands” and Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up” were highlights.

Seal, as Pontius Pilate, did the most visible acting, sentencing Jesus to crucifixion and bursting into his rendition of Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero.” While meant to be dramatic, the song choice came across funny, as did staging the resurrection on top of a Westin hotel.

Perry’s narration, while sincere, read to the audience like Ryan Seacrest trying to kill time before crowning someone the next American Idol (Sample: “Hey Jesus, Can I get a selfie?”). Another misstep: The self-congratulatory man-on-the-street interviews conducted by entertainment reporter Nischelle Turner.

Kudos to Fox for trying something new with “The Passion.” But Jesus’s story deserved a more structured and dramatic telling. Fox would have been better off adapting a known property, like Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Maybe next Easter?



Photo Credit: Kevin Winter]]>
<![CDATA[The Best Easter Chocolate, as Decided by a Toddler]]> Wed, 23 Mar 2016 08:30:41 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/nbc-news-easter-candy-taste-test.jpg

What's the best Easter chocolate? NBC News asked a 3-year-old who hasn't been allowed to eat that much candy.

For their test, consumer reporter Ben Popken and his son Milo came up with an exacting scientific metric – they would show how much they liked the candy by the width of their hands, and then tabulate the results.

The test soon broke down as Milo spread out his arms their fullest, "this much!" width for every brand they tried.

But they carried on, eventually putting together a taste test score sheet that includes the arm-width metric and factors in giggles.



Photo Credit: NBC News
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA['School of Rock' Kid Performers Balance Real School, Broadway]]> Fri, 18 Mar 2016 20:28:41 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/school+of+rock+kids.jpg The cast of pint-sized performers in "School of Rock: The Musical" on Broadway have quite a task: they perform six nights a week, with two shows on matinee days. So how do these young people of the School of Rock get their schooling? Kerry Barrett reports.]]> <![CDATA[Transgender Documentary 'Southern Comfort' Reborn in New Musical ]]> Fri, 18 Mar 2016 17:08:33 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/SouthernComfort0025rR.jpg

The lives of a small group of transgender people living in rural Georgia come to the stage in “Southern Comfort,” the touching new bluegrass and folk musical directed by Thomas Caruso, playing through March 27 at The Public Theater.

Based on Kate Davis’s 2001 Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary of the same name, “Southern Comfort” follows the confident transgender man Robert Eads (Annette O’Toole) in the final year of his life, and the “chosen family” of transgender friends and supporters he’s built around him.

The title takes its name from an annual convention for the transgender community held each year in Atlanta. It’s comfort in the South these characters all seek, and outside of the convention, all yearn for tolerance and acceptance from their surrounding community.

Female-to-male transgender man Sam (Donnie Cianciotto) is in a loving, long relationship with girlfriend Melanie (“Robin Skye”) that she hides from her coworkers. Robert’s closeted girlfriend Lola (Jeff McCarthy) is scared what his clients will think if he makes the first medical steps toward male-to-female transition.

Jackson (Jeffrey Kuhn), who was born Peggy Sue, considers the most divisive topic of the group: gender reassignment surgery, or phalloplasty. Robert’s against it (“It goes and reduces gender back to what’s between the legs”), though surgery could have prevented Robert from the ovarian cancer that will eventually kill him.

All of our characters have broken relationships with their parents. Sam has to shave his beard when visiting, and Robert’s parents refuse to call him anything but his birth name, Barbara.

“Southern Comfort” brings together a mix of transgender and non-transgender actors and musicians to tell this story -- all incredibly honest in their performances. The inclusion of two transgender actors gives the show weight and authenticity it may not have had without.

The conflict between Robert and Jackson put the outstanding O’Toole (TV’s “Smallville”) and energetic Kuhn (“The 39 Steps”) at odds, and you’ll have a hard time rooting against either. I could have a watched a whole play with just these two captivating, committed actors sparring on stage.

McCarthy sticks out the most at first, painting a Lola who is clearly not yet comfortable in her own transition. But McCarthy draws a clear arc, breaking down in two of the show’s most touching songs, “Bird” and “Giving Up the Ghost.”

The infectious, gentle and earnest bluegrass and folk score comes from Julianne Wick Davis and lyricist Dan Collins, who also wrote the book. A talented four-piece band of storytellers, onstage throughout, carry us through the tale, popping into the action now and then to play small roles.

I wish “Southern Comfort” gave us more moments where our characters embraced the positives of their transitions, and of having one another for support. But I suppose if we’re to learn one thing, it’s that it takes remarkable stamina, along with a decisive mindset and good friendships, to navigate waters as turbulent as these.

“Southern Comfort” through March 27 at The Public’s Anspacher Theater, 425 Lafayette St. Tickets: $20-$65. Call 212-967-7555.



Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg]]>
<![CDATA[Ice Cream is the Latest Free Spring Treat]]> Tue, 12 Apr 2016 13:54:37 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/469718494-ben-jerrys-free-cone-day.jpg

What better way to celebrate the start of spring than with a sweet treat?

Ben & Jerry's is the latest company to offer up some free goodies with its annual Free Cone Day, set for Tuesday.

The unofficial holiday started in 1979, and the chain gave away more than 1 million scoops last year, according to Ben & Jerry's' Free Cone Day website. A vote on the site put Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough as the most anticipated flavor, ahead of Cherry Garcia and Chocolate Fudge Brownie.

Dairy Queen, Rita's Italian Ice and 7-Eleven have all ushered in the warmer weather with free or discounted goodies.

7-Eleven honored the Slurpee's 50th birthday by filling customers' cups for just $1.50 on March 18 and 19. 

Rita's Italian Ice marked the start of spring March 20 with its annual Italian ice giveaway, a company tradition for 24 years.  

Dairy Queen dished out free cones for its annual #FreeConeDay, offering free vanilla soft-serve cone. The ice cream chain was accepting donations for kids at children's hospitals in lieu of payment.



Photo Credit: File – Denver Post via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Sweet 'She Loves Me,' at Studio 54]]> Thu, 17 Mar 2016 15:23:53 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/SheLovesMeMain.jpg

The tremendous revival of “She Loves Me,” now open at Studio 54, left visions of sugarplums dancing in my head and dreams of vanilla ice cream.

The candy fantasies, let’s chalk up to Roundabout’s cartoonish art nouveau sets, which recreate the streets of Budapest in cheery rainbow hues. The ice cream? That was all Laura Benanti, who, as a lonely salesgirl, cries despairingly into her dessert while singing one of the more delicious confections from the classic rom-com.

Miklos Laszlo’s 1937 play “Parfumerie” has been revisited regularly, in films from “The Shop Around the Corner” to “You’ve Got Mail.” It also inspired this 1963 musical by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, the songwriting team behind “Fiddler on the Roof.”

“She Loves Me” saw its first-ever revival in 1993, directed by Scott Ellis. Ellis takes a victory lap guiding this delicious production.

Amalia (Benanti) and Georg (Zachary Levi) make a connection through a lonely hearts column, penning witty letters to each other. When they meet in person—without any awareness of their history—each thinks the other is oafish and ill-mannered.

Amalia comes into Maraczek’s Parfumerie, where Georg works, looking for a job. He’s dismissive. In minutes, she inadvertently tips a bet between Georg and the store owner in the owner’s favor, getting herself hired but leaving Georg to think she’s manipulative and untrustworthy. The course of true love is never smooth, eh?

Lonely Amalia is practical but dreamy, and never far from her copy of “Anna Karenina.” Benanti, the “Gypsy” Tony winner, brings an operatic quality to the role, wrenching emotion from songs such as “Dear Friend.” As with her co-stars, there’s a winking and self-conscious quality to her performance.

Levi, as the shop’s senior employee, has stepped up his game since his nice debut a few seasons back in “First Date.” His Georg is a solid fellow who wants to make everyone happy, especially the shop’s namesake boss (Roundabout vet Byron Jennings).

Levi seems to be having fun, and his performance is natural and comfortable. He also proves more agile than first appearances might suggest.

Jane Krakowski, of NBC’s “30 Rock,” and Gavin Creel, the Broadway favorite (“Hair”), are the fellow salespeople at Maraczek’s, “supporting” players, though such designation hardly does them justice. Krakowski’s Ilona falls for guys anyone else could tell are bad news. Creel, as Steven Kodaly, is the bad news—the cheesy mustache is a giveaway.

While the two leads are obligated to be sweet and winsome, Krakowski and Creel have the off-color and flirtatious roles. Creel is fantastically smarmy. Krakowski shines as a none-too-bright baby doll, whose eyes are finally opened by, indeed, an optometrist.

The always-appreciated Michael McGrath is here as an easygoing salesman who knows he’ll never be top dog. “Perspective,” which has him singing while tossing gift boxes into a crate, must have required an enormous amount of rehearsal.

Jennings is likable as the shop owner. Nicholas Barasch (“Drood”) is swell as a greenhorn delivery boy eager for Mr. Maraczek’s approval. Soap opera vet Peter Bartlett has an over-the-top turn as an affected headwaiter intent on preserving the romantic atmosphere at the cafe where Amalia and Georg plan their face-to-face meeting.

“She Loves Me” surprises with the occasional darker moment, and a take on adult love that’s more sophisticated than one might expect in a romantic comedy that hinges on a joke about disguised identities. The payoff is more delicate than over-the-top.

What an exciting season for Roundabout—first “Noises Off,” now this. “She Loves Me” is pure theater: colorful sets and costumes, surprising acrobatics, memorable songs and fine performances. Musical comedy this sweet deserves an audience, and its own Ben & Jerry’s flavor.

“She Loves Me,” on sale through June 12 at Studio 54, 254 W. 54th St. Tickets: $52-$147. Call 212-719-1300.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Willy Wonka's 'Chocolate Factory' Opening Its Doors to Broadway]]> Thu, 17 Mar 2016 15:36:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/CHARLIE_Bwy+logo.jpg

Willy Wonka will open the gates to his chocolate factory next spring, when a new musical based on Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” begins performances on Broadway.

The new musical comes after an acclaimed run in London’s West End, which began in June 2013 and is slated to end in January 2017.

The score is written by the Tony-winning team of Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (“Hairspray”), who will reunite with “Hairspray” director Jack O’Brien on the Broadway staging. David Greg will adapt Dahl’s book for the stage, with Joshua Bergasse (NBC’s “Smash”) choreographing.

No casting, theater, or opening dates have been announced at this time.

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” tells the story of a young boy who wins the opportunity to tour the factory of world famous candy-maker Willy Wonka. Along the way, he meets a cast of characters as imaginative as Wonka’s world itself, including the iconic army of Oompa-Loompas.

Dahl’s book was first published in 1964, and has been adapted into two motion pictures: 1971’s Gene Wilder-led “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” and 2005’s Johhny Depp-led “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

For more information, visit CharlieOnBroadway.com.



Photo Credit: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Chicago River Dyed Green]]> Thu, 17 Mar 2016 13:45:33 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ezgif-1083319463.gif

For more than 40 years, the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers have dyed the Chicago River green to kick off the city's St. Patrick’s Day Parade celebration.

The union began dumping dye into the river at 9 a.m. Saturday.

The environmentally friendly dye, an orange powder, turns the water bright green, and the formula is a secret, according to the Chicago Tribune. Forty pounds of powder were used this year.

The river's vibrant color is brief: It typically lasts about five hours before darkening and fading away.

YouTube user PrimoMedia shared a timelapse video of the tradition as seen from the Sheraton Grand Chicago.

Other social media users, including Lou Hayes Jr., shared footage of their own.


This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[St. Patrick's Day Recipes to Add Irish Flavor]]> Thu, 17 Mar 2016 07:40:04 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/stpattysfoodtoday-food-al-roker-150313-04.jpg

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day is the perfect excuse to throw an Irish-themed party full of traditional foods and drinks. 

Simple and authentic flavors are the way to go, experts say, but adding some modern spin will keep your guests asking for more. Take a look at these food and drink recipes that will help you add flavor to your St. Patrick's Day festivities:

Chef Matt Murphy shows "Today" show's Al Roker how to whip up an easy meal of corned beef and cabbage. He also suggests serving a classic Irish dessert, Gur cake, which is a tasty, fig-based pastry. 

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A hearty stew is another great choice for a dinner party. Chef Conrad Gallagher shows Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager how to prepare a lamb variation that combines authentic taste with modern flavors, like butternut squash and pearl onions. Gallagher says it goes perfectly with a flavorful Irish stout bread.

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Martha Stewart suggests switching out the typical celebratory green beer or Guinness for this scotch and whiskey-based Irish cocktail. Combining the liquors with lemon and bitters, Stewart gives you a simple Celtic mix cocktail that's full of flavors. 

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The more dessert the better! Stewart shows how to make a simple yet authentic recipe for buttery Irish Oatmeal cookies. 

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On celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's YouTube channel DrinksTube, you can can find the perfect recipe to wind down your party. Coffee expert Mike Cooper shows how to make a warm cup of traditional Irish coffee. 

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Photo Credit: Samantha Okazaki/TODAY
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<![CDATA['Wicked' Breaks Broadway Box Office Records]]> Tue, 15 Mar 2016 22:36:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Rachel+Tucker+and+Kara+Lindsay+in+WICKED+photo+by+Joan+Marcus+2015+copy.jpg

 “Wicked,” the Stephen Schwartz-Winnie Holzman musical about the witches of Oz, has become the third musical to earn over $1 billion at the Broadway box office, behind “The Lion King” and “The Phantom of the Opera.”

The Tony and Grammy-winning musical, now playing at the Gershwin Theatre, is the fastest musical to ever enter the $1 billion club, doing so in just 12 and a half years on the Great White Way.

Since opening in October 2003, “Wicked” has gone on to become a global phenomenon, grossing over $4 billion worldwide. It’s played over 100 cities across 14 countries and has been translated into six languages.

“Wicked” is also the 10th longest-running show in Broadway history. (“The Phantom of the Opera” holds the top spot on that list).

Adapted by bookwriter Winnie Holzman from Gregory Maguire’s novel of the same name, “Wicked” features a score by Stephen Schwartz (“Pippin”) and direction from Joe Mantello (“Blackbird,” “The Humans”).

The original production starred Idina Menzel (“Frozen”) as the wicked witch of the west, Elphaba, and Kristin Chenoweth (TV’s “Pushing Daisies”) as Glinda the good.

A big screen adaptation is currently in the works.

For tickets and information, visit wickedthemusical.com.



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Shamrock's Good Luck: St. Patrick's Day Quiz]]> Mon, 14 Mar 2016 14:44:56 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_835044505278-st-patricks-day-lede.gif

March 17 is St. Patrick's Day and each year millions celebrate by dressing in green, hanging shamrock decorations and downing a few pints of beer at a local Irish pub. 

More than a cause for good cheer, St. Patrick's Day is in honor of Ireland's patron saint who has inspired parades and festivals across the globe.

This holiday, quiz yourself and your friends on the history behind St. Paddy's Day. 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA['Hamilton' Cast Performs at White House]]> Mon, 14 Mar 2016 18:27:28 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/515583464-michelle-obama-white-house-hamilton-cast.jpg

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Broadway cast of “Hamilton” to the White House Monday for a workshop and special performance of selections from the sold-out musical.

"It is an understatement to say this was one hot ticket," the president said, noting that the show "has become a favorite in the Obama household." 

After Obama introduced the performace, members of the cast performed a few of the show's numbers on a White House live stream -- opening number "Alexander Hamiton," a portion of "Aaron Burr, Sir" and the show's anthem "My Shot."

You can watch the White House performance here

"We wanted to share this incredible musical with folks who otherwise might not get the experience," the president said, praising the show for its diversity in casting and storytelling. "['Hamilton'] reminds us that this nation was built by more than just a few great men, and is an inheritance that belongs to all of us."

First lady Michelle Obama called the show "the best piece of art in any form that I have ever seen," stating that "to my mind, this is what school should be."  

"We hope this helps every teacher who spent hours trying to make 'The Federalist Papers' entertaining." the president joked. 

This wasn't the first time the president and first lady have seen “Hamilton.” The two have attended performances in the past -- most recently in November as part of a fundraiser for the Democratic Party.

Miranda first performed material from the show’s opening number for the duo during a May 2009 event celebrating poetry and music at the White House. The book, music and lyrics come from Miranda, with direction from Thomas Kali (“In the Heights.”), who intrdocued the show's numbers during Monday's White House live-stream. 

“Hamilton” tells the story of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an orphan born in the West Indies who later moved to the 13 colonies. He went on to be a major figure in the Revolutionary War and served as secretary of the Treasury under President George Washington before he was killed in a duel.

The First Lady, the musical's cast and others tweeted about their trip to the White House through the day, using the hashtag #Bam4Ham:



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[St. Patrick's Day by the Numbers]]> Thu, 17 Mar 2016 07:35:28 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/stp-GettyImages-163880461.jpg

On March 17, millions of people across the United States, Irish or not, will revel in the celebration of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Here are some numbers that look at the history, the money, and the fun that make up St. Paddy’s. Slainte! 

THE HISTORY:

  • 255: The number of years the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade has been held.
  • Over 40 years: The length of time that the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers have turned the Chicago River emerald green for the St. Patrick's Day celebration.
  • 21: The number of years Ireland itself has held a St. Patrick’s Day Festival.

 THE PEOPLE:

  • 125 million: Estimated number of Americans who plan to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in 2016, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).
  • 35 million: The number of Americans who claim Irish descent.
  • 103 million: Estimated number of people who plan to wear green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, according to NRF.
  • 150: The number of bands that will perform in the annual New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade
  • 70 percent: Percent of 18- to 24-year-olds who plan on celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in 2016, according to NRF.
  • 35 percent: Percent of people 65 or older who plan on celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in 2016, according to NRF.  

THE MONEY:

  • Nearly $500,000: The amount of donations the annual NYC’s St. Patrick's Day Parade has received from donors like Ford Motor Co., Tourism Ireland, Guinness, and more in 2016 as of March 7.
  • $4.44 billion: The amount Americans are expected to collectively spend on St. Patrick's Day in 2016, according to NRF.
  • $39.35: The amount an average American is projected to spend on St. Patrick’s Day-related goods and services, according to NRF.

 THE FUN:

  • 56.5 percent: Percentage of Americans who plan to purchase food and beverages to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, about double that of the next closest item: clothing. 
  • 111,060: The Guinness Book of World record for the largest collection of four leaf clovers. It belongs to Edward Martin Sr. from Cooper Landing, Alaska.
  • 1970: The year Ireland changed St. Patrick’s Day from a religious to a national holiday, allowing alcohol to be served on March 17th.

Patrick Smith and Daniel Sircar contributed to this report. 



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Roundabout's Kinetic "Robber" Revival]]> Sun, 13 Mar 2016 20:16:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/BridegroomMain.jpg

A sexy leading man and inventive director collaborate to charm audiences in “The Robber Bridegroom,” a mid-1970s musical by Alfred Uhry (“Driving Miss Daisy”) and Robert Waldman that counts as its source material a story by Mississippi writer Eudora Welty.

Steven Pasquale (“The Bridges of Madison County”) and Alex Timbers (“Peter and the Starcatcher”) deserve an extra helping of applause for the Roundabout revival now on the boards at the Laura Pels Theatre, because the thin-ish plot and bluegrass score of this eccentric tuner are not to everyone’s tastes.

“The Robber Bridegroom” had separate Broadway runs in 1975 and 1976. Leads in the first cast were Kevin Kline and Patti LuPone. When it returned to the Rialto after a national tour, the star was Barry Bostwick, who would win a Tony Award as Jamie Lockhart, a “gentleman robber” with a stylized mark of berry juice on one side of his face.

As “Robber” unfolds, Jamie saves wealthy plantation owner Clement Musgrove (Lance Robert) from losing his bags of money to thieves. In gratitude, the man invites Jamie for dinner, hoping to stoke interest in his daughter, Rosamund (Ahna O’Reilly). But Rosamund has already met and fallen in love with a “different” fella, “The Bandit of the Wood,” and so has no interest in dad’s matchmaking.

From the giddy opening number, “Once Upon the Natchez Trace,” the audience is in on the big joke in “The Robber Bridegroom”: Honest, if rough-hewn Jamie has a nighttime alter-ego who only steals “with style” and has a penchant for illicit love affairs.

Most of “The Robber Bridegroom” is presented as a series of songs with a Southern, “Hee Haw” sort of vibe. The tone, of course, is a departure from both Welty’s novel and the Grimm Brothers fairy tales that inspired her.

The reliable Pasquale, recently seen in the Encores! staging of “The Wild Party,” is having oodles of fun with his “good ol’ boy” routine, so much so that during a goofier number about plans to move to New Orleans—where “the clouds hang golden as bananas in the sky”—the actor nearly loses his composure and breaks the fourth wall.

Leslie Kritzer has a scenery chewing turn as the planter’s flirty second wife, Salome, an evil stepmother who evokes Carol Burnett’s Miss Hannigan in the movie version of “Annie,” though Salome’s teeth are worse off. Kritzer’s Salome is amoral, sex-crazed and able to whisk a flask from her cleavage in a single-bound.

O’Reilly is very sweet in the less showy role as as the devoted daughter often relegated to hunting down herbs in the woods for her father’s nasty spouse. Also among the rogue’s gallery of dimwits here are a pair of con man brothers, Little Harp and Big Harp (Andrew Durand and Evan Harrington) and a village idiot, Goat (Greg Hildreth).

Timbers employs inventive sound effects and non-stop movement to keep things interesting. “The Robber Bridegroom” is certainly one of the season’s lighter offerings, but if in-your-face, rural slapstick is your thing, it could make off with your heart.

“The Robber Bridegroom,” through May 29 at the Laura Pels Theatre, 111 W. 46th St. Tickets: $99. Call 212-719-1300.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn
 



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[St. Patrick's Day Through the Years]]> Mon, 14 Mar 2016 10:03:34 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/StPatricksDayDenver1-GettyImages-515121422.jpg Each year, millions of emerald-clad revelers across the U.S. take to the streets to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Whether it's attending New York City's St. Patrick's Day parade on March 17-- the oldest and the largest in the U.S.-- or the dyeing of the Chicago River, Americans love to celebrate Irish heritage with lots of green. Take a look at the festivities from past years.

Photo Credit: Denver Post via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Michelle Williams, Jeff Daniels in Unnerving 'Blackbird']]> Thu, 10 Mar 2016 19:53:57 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/BlackbirdMain.jpg

A ghost from the past catches up with Jeff Daniels in a brutal and bruising way during the first Broadway staging of David Harrower’s “Blackbird,” an Olivier Award-winning drama last produced in New York nearly a decade ago.

Doing the haunting — the subject matter is child molestation, hardly bankable material in the Broadway ecosystem — is Michelle Williams, the three-time Oscar nominee who recently spent a year as Sally Bowles in “Cabaret.” “Blackbird” has just opened at the Belasco Theatre.

Daniels, the slouchy star of “The Newsroom” and so many excellent films, plays Ray, a middle-aged businessman working late one-night in a nondescript industrial office. He’s jarred by the arrival of Una (Williams), whom he hasn’t seen in 15 years.

When Ray was 40, and Una was 12, they had a physical relationship. They were neighbors, who met when Una’s father invited Ray over for a BBQ. Ray served a few years in prison for the crime, changed his name and moved on. Una has only recognized him from a photo in a trade magazine.

On this night, Ray is quick to usher Una into a trash-strewn conference room to avoid notice by his co-workers.

The first minutes of “Blackbird” are spent in a battle-of-wills as the two fine actors struggle over whether the door should remain open or shut. Ray wants it open. He’s fumbling and terrified: What could Una want? Is she here to finally strip away his “authority,” in sexual-abuse parlance?

“Blackbird” operates in shades of gray. There is the matter of amends, but that doesn’t quite seem to be what Una is seeking, even as Ray tells her about a letter he wrote from prison, apologizing, that someone—law enforcement? her parents?—had the good sense not to share.

Williams is venomous, fragile and, finally, stripped bare as she narrates a spellbinding account of Una’s last encounter with Ray, at a beach-side hotel in a town far away enough from where they both lived that they wouldn’t be recognized.

The graphic memory telegraphs Una’s reaction a while later, when the power briefly fails, and Ray has to leave (or rather, “abandon”) the room to resolve the problem.

Daniels, with his memorable hangdog face, performed the role in the MTC’s 2007 production, opposite Alison Pill. In his hands, it’s apparent Ray knows what he did was wrong, but also clear that he doesn’t believe he was one of “them”—the kind of man who belongs on a sex-offender registry.

We believe that Ray believes his attraction to Una was more than sexual, not diseased or Nabokovian. Harrower isn’t saying what happened is justifiable, but he is arguing it was complicated. After Una tells Ray her father died some years back, Ray moves to comfort her, touching her back in the warm way a friend might. The way Williams reacts feels pointedly truthful.

Joe Mantello’s direction is as taut as in “The Humans.” A film version of “Blackbird,” starring Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn, and retitled “Una,” is in post-production.

Scottish playwright Harrower’s one-act, 90-minute drama is an unlikely Rialto inhabitant. I’m genuinely surprised a piece of this intense nature has made it to Broadway. “Blackbird” is a small gem, here in the hands of two gifted actors.

“Blackbird,” through June 11 at the Belasco Theatre, 111 W. 44th St. Tickets: $39-$250. Call 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Brigitte Lacombe]]>
<![CDATA[Ben & Jerry's New Ice Cream Flavors]]> Fri, 11 Mar 2016 08:07:35 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ben-jerrys-new-trio-of-cores-1.jpg

Can you say new flavor party?

Ben & Jerry's took to its Snapchat account to announce the addition of three new flavors to its popular "Core" series.

Brownie Batter Core, Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Core, and Coconuts for Caramel Core are the newest trio of flavors.

Each flavor has a core center with jam-packed goodies inside the ice cream.

The Burlington, Vermont-based company says all three new flavors will be available in the upcoming weeks and called the new flavors a "twist on some classic baked goods" with "decadent chunks and swirls."

Click here for pictures and to read more about the new cores.

What's your favorite?



Photo Credit: Ben & Jerry's]]>