<![CDATA[NBC New York - The Scene]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/entertainment/the-scene http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Sat, 25 Apr 2015 00:29:29 -0400 Sat, 25 Apr 2015 00:29:29 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Review: "Airline Highway"]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 18:30:46 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AirlineMain.jpg

The misfit hookers, strippers and drug addicts of MTC’s “Airline Highway” spend their days along the famous road leading to the New Orleans airport, but none of them are going anywhere anytime soon.

A loose-limbed character study by Lisa D’Amour—her last piece, the anxiety-laden “Detroit,” mined similarly despairing territory—“Airline Highway” arrives via Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company and is directed by Joe Mantello. It’s just opened at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.

Drifting in and out of the crumbling Humming Bird Motel are a half-dozen friends, including Tanya, a prostitute (Tony winner Julie White); Wayne, who manages the place (Scott Jaeck); and Krista, a stripper who can no longer afford the rent on one of the dilapidated rooms (Caroline Neff).

They’ve assembled in the motel parking lot for the funeral of Miss Ruby, a renowned burlesque parlor owner many of them hold dear. Miss Ruby isn’t dead, but she’s being monitored by hospice and a wish was to be around for her own farewell. (Scott Pask’s vibrant set effectively sets the mood.)

The arrival of “Bait Boy” (Joe Tippett), who seems to have escaped the misery of the Humming Bird, serves as a catalyst. Greg, who earned his nickname because of his fondness for underage women (Krista was one of them), is now a kept man who shows up with the 16-year-old daughter of his latest girlfriend.

For Tanya, who gave up her own biological children for adoption, the Humming Bird family has become an outlet for nurturing instincts, and White (with Jaeck, below) is just lovely as a woman who can’t face the decisions of her own past. “Airline Highway” also includes an excellent turn from K. Todd Freeman as Sissy Na Na, a trans bartender who is the play’s requisite voice of spiritual wisdom.

The raucous party organized by Tanya brings with it much of the energy we associate with the freewheeling city, and allows Bait Boy’s teenage charge (Carolyn Braver) to probe the stories of the motel dwellers in the guise of a high school project about “subcultures.”

In a climactic monologue, a fiery Ruby (Judith Roberts, of “Orange Is the New Black”) is carried down from her room on a gurney and makes an impassioned speech, opining that all the people who came into her orbit had a gift for sensuality, but have made lousy decisions with their lives—they’re sexually liberated, she’s saying, but nothing else about them is truly free.

Miss Ruby would tell Tanya and the lot that they have more strength than they realize, and they need to stop letting their weaknesses drag them down. There aren’t any sort of tidy resolutions in “Airline Highway,” and we never get the feeling these has-beens at the Humming Bird will pay Miss Ruby any due. They’re stuck, but at least they’re having a swell time.

“Airline Highway,” through June 14 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th St. Tickets: $67-$130. Call Telecharge, 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Chita Rivera in Kander & Ebb's "The Visit"]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 18:25:27 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/TheVisitMain2.jpg

Never trust a woman who travels with her own coffin. That's one big takeaway from “The Visit,” the thought-provoking and—there’s no other word for the experience—bizarre musical starring Chita Rivera as the richest woman in the world. It’s just opened at The Lyceum Theatre.

Rivera’s vital performance as Claire Zacahanassian, a woman who has married both well and often, is just one reason “The Visit” is notable, here at the end of a crowded theater season.

The two-dozen songs briskly presented in a single 100-minute act represent the final collaboration between John Kander and Fred Ebb, the legendary duo behind “Cabaret.” The story, based on a 1950s German play about greed and vengeance, is by Terrence McNally. And “The Visit” is directed by John Doyle, the noted Sondheim interpreter.

The people of Brachen, Switzerland, are destitute but have cause for optimism when the mayor gets a telegram from wealthy Claire, who announces she’s coming home to the village where she was born. Claire arrives with dozens of bags in tow, a creepy butler, and two even creepier eunuchs … in white face makeup, with bowler hats. Also, she’s brought that coffin.

Claire can revitalize Brachen’s economy, but there’s a big catch—she’ll only do so in exchange for the life of Anton Schell (the ever-magnificent Roger Rees), who broke her heart as a young girl. “The Visit” focuses on the feelings Claire’s proposition raises among the townspeople, Anton’s family (his wife is played with icy glee by Mary Beth Peil, of “The Good Wife”) and indeed, Anton himself.

Rivera is provocative as Claire. The venerable actress is on stage for most of the production, and gets in a few chorus line kicks here and there (I’m not being ageist: Claire is a woman with a false leg and a false arm, lost in separate incidents: “I’m unkillable,” she avers, earning one of the evening’s sparingly doled-out laughs).

The two-time Tony winner has an entrance, in billowy white fur coat and hat, that’s as thrilling as you’d want it to be. Moreso, it’s chilling to realize how at peace she is with her request.

Rees, as Anton, doesn’t have a death wish, but he’s an older man and he knows an interesting offer when he hears one. Anton doesn’t have much ground to stand on in terms of challenging Claire’s anger—he was a louse (Claire’s butler and odd companions factor in to their terrible history), and he knows there’s a price to pay.

He’s just not sure how steep that price should be, and of course, neither is anyone on stage (if only “AFV”-style polling had been available for the audience). Rivera is solid, but it’s the melancholy and soulfulness in Rees’s performance that holds back “The Visit” from any risk of sliding into a parody of itself (the eunuchs are ripe for satire).

The operetta-like Kander and Ebb score haunts, notably “Yellow Shoes,” in which the townspeople sing of the material pleasures they’ve been denied. It’s staged so the audience focuses on the new possessions so many of the residents acquire on credit, as they wait for a decision about Anton. As the lights focus on the footwear and everything else fades to darkness, the whole thing comes off as a grisly live-action filtered Instagram photo.

I’m still thinking about it, and may burn my Amex.

The superb supporting cast includes Jason Danieley (“Next to Normal”) as the town’s schoolmaster, and David Garrison (TV’s “Married with Children”) as the mayor, who will have to justify whatever decisions are made about Claire’s proposal. John Riddle and Michelle Veintimilla (below) are lovely as the young version of the two protagonists; they begin the musical performing a balet in which an overtly sexual act is mimed—it certainly set the tone for the evening.

“The Visit” was due on Broadway in 2001 with Angela Lansbury starring. But a confluence of personal events in Lansbury’s life and, later, changing attitudes about entertainment in the wake of 9/11, scuttled plans. It got a new life, with Rivera starring, in 2008 at The Signature Theatre outside Washington, D.C. The one-act production with many members of this cast was performed last year at Williamstown.

Do everything in your powers to avoid having the ending spoiled. It will be bliss to sit through “The Visit” asking the question that’s clearly supposed to be on our minds: What would we do if we were one of those people in Brachen? I think we’ve established what they are, and now we’re just trying to put a price on it.

“The Visit,” with an open-ended run at The Lyceum Theatre, 149 W. 45th St. Tickets: $29-$149. Call Telecharge, 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Thom Kaine; Joan Marcus, below]]>
<![CDATA[Eat Like The Louisville Locals Do]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 11:54:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/Screen+Shot+2015-04-22+at+2.49.06+PM.png Chef Edward Lee gives us a tour of some authentic Kentucky Derby food and drink. We visit Wagner's Pharmacy, Muth's Candy and Milkwood Restaurant.]]> <![CDATA[Review: Easygoing "Something Rotten!"]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 16:21:48 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/RottenMain.jpg

Shakespeare is a charismatic and conniving copycat who wears skin-tight leather pants in the new musical comedy “Something Rotten!” An easygoing effort from the director of “The Book of Mormon,” the real brains—and heart—of “Rotten!” belong to the Bottom Brothers, a pair of aspiring writers who challenge the Bard on his own turf.

Now open at the St. James Theatre, “Rotten!” delivers the same sort of accessible and over-the-top laughs as “Mormon.” Both stem from the talents of Casey Nicholaw, the director and choreographer who here teams with brothers Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick (one is a songwriter; the other helped pen “Chicken Run”).

“Rotten!” is set in Elizabethan-era London. Shakespeare (Christian Borle) and Nick Bottom (Brian d’Arcy James) once performed in the same acting troupe, but while the former has gone on to success, the latter, along with sibling Nigel (John Cariani), struggles to make a name: “Why is he the Bard? … He’s just one of the bards,” Nick insists.

Everything is turned around when Nick consults an out-of-synch soothsayer named Thomas Nostradamus (Brad Oscar)—perhaps you’ve heard of his uncle?—who convinces him the future of theater lies in one direction: singing. Nick doesn’t quite get the gist, producing a cheerful, upbeat production number called “The Black Death.”

A generous sampling of Shakespearean conventions helps elevate an otherwise-thin and double entendre-laden plot.

While Borle’s role is flashier, it’s d’arcy James, last seen as a Brit chastising Colonials in “Hamilton,” who does the heavy-lifting. He’s the closest thing “Something Rotten!” has to a serious character, and he’s under pressure, not just from his lender, Shylock (yep, they go there), but also his pregnant wife (Heidi Blickenstaff, of “[title of show]”).

Tony-winner Borle (TV’s “Smash” and Broadway’s “Peter and the Starcatcher”) is clearly beside himself with glee at the chance to play the preening rock-star scribe who throws parties in the park. A cute moment has obsessive fans holding up candles to display their adulation, since Bic lighters were still a few centuries off. (Pockets apparently were a ways off, too: costumes worn by male characters all have codpieces evoking “Spamalot.”)

John Cariani (“Fiddler on the Roof”), with his weak stomach and insecurities, is the underdog we cheer for, an ink-stained wretch who actually comes up with the lines we today credit to Shakespeare, but who focuses his energies on pursuing passion with the equally sonnet-minded Portia (Kate Reinders). (Cariani is below left, with d'Arcy James and Blickenstaff.)

Oscar, of “The Producers,” gets all the Nazi jokes one mass-appeal entertainment can provide, plus a mighty first-act showstopper, “A Musical.” Delivered with feigned-surprise and some phenomenal tap-dancing, it foreshadows the entertainment that will go on to please audiences years from now. Look for references to “Annie,” “Fiddler,” “Les Miz,” “A Chorus Line,” “Dreamgirls,” “The Lion King” and “Chicago,” plus “Chess,” for the insiders. This one’s pure genius.

Brooks Ashmanskas is on hand as the Puritan Jeremiah, Portia’s father, who is saddled with too much stock dialogue. The ensemble is particularly strong, notably Michael James Scott, as the minstrel who opens the show with the catchy scene-setter “Welcome to the Renaissance.”

“Rotten!” paints musical theater culture in the same broad strokes that the “The Book of Mormon” used to satirize religion—everyone gets to be in on the joke. This new musical makes us do just enough work that we feel satisfied for picking up on them. Go for the production numbers and the big-hearted turns from the leads, whose enthusiasm ultimately proves even more infectious than the plague.

“Something Rotten!” has an open-ended run at the St. James Theatre, 246 West 44th St. Tickets: $37-$142. Call Telecharge, 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson Lead “The Gin Game” ]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 15:34:38 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/thegingame.png

Tony winners James Earl Jones (“You Can’t Take It With You”) and Cicely Tyson (“The Trip To Bountiful”) will lead a new production of D.L. Coburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “The Gin Game” this fall on Broadway.

Directed by Leonard Foglia, the play, about two lonely residents in a nursing home who bond over a game of gin, will begin previews Sept. 21 at the Golden Theatre — where the original 1977 Broadway production began. Opening is set for Oct. 13.

This isn’t the first time Jones and Tyson have shared the Broadway stage before. The two appeared together almost 50 years ago, in 1966’s “A Hand Is On the Gate.” They also worked together off-Broadway, in Jean Genet’s long running-hit “The Blacks.”

“The Gin Game” was last revived on Broadway in 1997, with Charles Durning and Julie Harris. The original 1977 Broadway production, directed by Mike Nichols, featured Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn. It also played the Golden Theatre.

There have been a two film versions of the play — most recently a 2003 made-for-TV movie featuring Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke.



Photo Credit: John Lamparski | Michael Loccisano | Getty images]]>
<![CDATA[Elisabeth Moss-Led Revival of “The Heidi Chronicles” Will Close May 3]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 03:52:59 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Heidi0153r.jpg

The Broadway revival of Wendy Wasserstein's “The Heidi Chronicles,” starring Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”), Jason Biggs (“American Pie”) and Bryce Pinkham (“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”), will play its final performance on May 3 at the Music Box Theatre.

The limited-run production, which opened to positive reviews on March 19, was originally scheduled to run through Aug. 9.

According to an interview producer Jeffrey Richards gave to The New York Times, low ticket sales and a busy season forced the production to shutter early.

This was the first Broadway revival for “The Heidi Chronicles” since the original production closed in 1990. The play, which follows 20 years in the life of art historian and feminist icon Heidi Holland (Moss), won the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1989.

Customers who purchased tickets to “The Heidi Chronicles” after May 3 can contact their point of purchase for exchanges and refunds.



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus ]]>
<![CDATA[Review: "Doctor Zhivago"]]> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 17:45:19 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ZhivagoMain.jpg

Boris Pasternak’s novel “Dr. Zhivago” and its Oscar-winning film adaptation are love stories that also treat themes of revolution and the value of private life. The new Des McAnuff-directed musical, now open at The Broadway Theatre, boils the story down to a romantic core.

That may have seemed like a winning approach, but this over-ambitious production, with its enormous digital screens and neatly-attired cast of more than 30, never manages to pull the heartstrings quite the way you wish it did.

Much of the action is set amid the final days of Czarist Russia and World War I, but the musical uses Yurii Zhivago’s Stalin-era funeral as a framing device. From there, we journey back three decades, meeting the doctor and poet (West End star Tam Mutu, in his Broadway debut), alongside Tonia Gromeko (Lora Lee Gayer), whom he is raised with and will later marry.

The two have a dutiful union, but it’s Lara Guishar (Kelli Barrett, who has worked on Broadway in “Baby It’s You!” and “Wicked”) who ignites Zhivago’s true passions. Yurii meets Lara when she crashes his wedding—she’s come to kill the self-serving magistrate (Tom Hewitt) who has done terrible things to her over the years. Zhivago’s other rival for Lara’s affections is the political activist she eventually marries, Pasha Antipov (Paul Alexander Nolan, who last year led the cast of Broadway’s “Once”).

Mutu, a phenomenal London talent (Donmar Warehouse's “City of Angels”) is dapper enough to be convincing as a degraded aristocrat, but rugged enough to be believable risking himself to help people in the street when there’s a shoot-out. The ballads he’s given are lovely, if not particularly memorable.

Barrett keeps her soft-focus girlishness throughout, so it's hard to feel why three very different men devote their lifetimes, often at great risk to themselves, to loving and protecting her—Lara could be more compelling.

Nolan (below) is the most spitfire thing about “Zhivago,” first as the revolutionary who enjoys humiliating people, and later as the evil soldier his Pasha will become, a strongman they call “Strelnikov,” who rules by fear and hunts down Yurii and Lara even after they’ve fled Moscow. Hewitt (“The Rocky Horror Show”) seems underused as Viktor Komarovsky, the lecherous high-level functionary who always seems able to fix untenable situations.

The battle scenes and recurrent explosions are vivid, and may leave you feeling as if you’d wandered into “Les Miserables.” Lara shoots the wrong magistrate; Pasha shoots a commanding officer; a young solider is picked off as his battalion tries to advance the front line.

Most of the generic music is by Lucy Simon, who began her career performing with sister Carly—I walked in knowing “Somewhere My Love” (“Lara’s Theme”), and that’s all that was on my mind on the way out. Lyrics are by Michael Korie and Amy Powers, with a book by Michael Weller, who wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for 1981’s “Ragtime.”

The men are here to pine away for Lara, to figure out how to help her, or to avoid her so they don’t have to keep thinking about her. This “Doctor Zhivago” is about three men who love one woman, but I’m afraid they’re feeling it more than we do.

“Doctor Zhivago,” with an open-ended run at The Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway. Tickets: $42.50-$145. Call 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy]]>
<![CDATA[“Between Riverside and Crazy” Wins 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 15:56:12 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/stephen+mckinley+henderson+between+riverside+and+crazy.jpg

Between Riverside and Crazy,” Stephen Adly Guirgis' dark comedy about an ex-cop and recent widower struggling to hold on to his rent stabilized apartment, has been awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The play, which premiered Off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theatre Company in 2014, and also ran at the Second Stage Theatre earlier this year, beat out two other finalists for the top prize -- Jordan Harrison’s “Marjorie Prime” and Suzan-Lori Parks’ “Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2, 3).”

The Pulitzer Prize for Drama is awarded annually to “a distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life.”

The Pulitzer committee described Guirgis’ play as “a nuanced, beautifully written play about a retired police officer faced with eviction that uses dark comedy to confront questions of life and death."

Along with the title, Guirgis, who also wrote the 2012 Broadway hit “The Motherf*cker with the Hat,” will receive a $10,000 prize.



Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Renée Fleming in "Living on Love"]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 14:32:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/LivingOnLoveMain.jpg

A little knowledge of opera helps, but it’s not key to admiring the frothy and fizzy “Living on Love,” in which soprano Renée Fleming makes her Broadway debut -- you’re apt to enjoy the celebrated diva in this send-up of celebrated divas, even if the in-jokes about Maria Callas pass you by.

Set in a luxurious Manhattan penthouse, “Living on Live” (it’s by “Memphis” writer Joe DiPietro, from an earlier play by Garson Kanin) first introduces us to temperamental maestro Vito De Angelis (Douglas Sills), who is under pressure to finish his memoirs.

Vito has alienated every ghostwriter the publishing house has sent, and he’s about to give the heave-ho to the latest, an uptight opera fanboy (Jerry O’Connell). Out of the blue, Vito’s opera-singer wife Raquel (cue Ms. Fleming!) returns early from a tour, just as the publisher sends an ambitious editor (Anna Chlumsky) to retrieve its $50,000 advance from Vito.

In short order, Chlumsky, as Iris Peabody, is somehow working on the maestro’s book, while O’Connell, as Robert Samson, has been pressed into service on a competing memoir for Raquel. For the senior duo, married 30 years, it’s not just a race to the top of the best-seller list—it’s a chance to test their rusty powers of seduction.

Fleming, with her silk caftans and gorgeous arias (she has ample opportunity to break into song, and it gave me goosebumps each time) throws herself into all the diva cliches as she tries to outdo her philandering husband. In an absurd seduction, the rather voluptuous Fleming takes on the role of young seamstress Mimi from “La Boheme” and convinces O’Connell to strip and cover his chest with olive oil. It works.

Sills, of Broadway’s “The Scarlet Pimpernel” and “Little Shop…,” is a comic marvel as the out-of-tune conductor who thinks he still has a way with the ladies. Swanning around in his silk pajamas, he talks only of wine, women and song, and it’s no wonder O’Connell couldn’t elicit any factual stories from him -- confronting the maestro, the ghostwriter asks: “I mean, did you really sleep with the entire humming chorus of Madame Butterfly?”

Chlumsky, lately of TV’s “Veep,” is focused on her assignment in a ruthless and grim way, as the straitlaced career girl. O’Connell (“Seminar,” etc.) is entertaining as the spurned ghostwriter (or, “spooky helper,” as the maestro calls him in a thick Italian accent). In the same way the maestro and Raquel will ultimately benefit from acknowledging how meaningful their relationship is, O’Connell and Chlumsky (below) learn from the couple to loosen up a bit.

 

Blake Hammond and Scott Robertson are crowd-pleasers as the family’s longtime butlers, who make sure neither of the young visitors dare touch the snow globes the maestro and the diva have exchanged over the years as gifts from their travels -- there are so many of the tchotchkes, we just know the maestro and the diva really love one another.

Most of the time, Fleming is boozy and Sills is flamboyant. It’s not until the end of the two-act confection (you won’t be blamed for wishing director Kathleen Marshall had made things just a bit tighter), that they have to do anything bittersweet. When Vito and Raquel finally drop their schtick and connect with each other, it makes for an impressive conclusion, especially considering the abrupt change in tone.

“Living on Love,” through Aug. 2 at the Longacre Theatre, 220 W. 48th St. Tickets: $25-$145. Call Telecharge, 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theatre Purchased by Second Stage]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 12:59:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/83397537.jpg

After tense negotiations, Off-Broadway theater company Second Stage Theatre has purchased its first Broadway house -- The Helen Hayes Theatre.

Located on West 44th Street, the Helen Hayes is the smallest theater on Broadway, with only 597 seats. It opened in 1912, as the Little Theatre, and during its history has housed television and radio shows for ABC and CBS.

The theater, named after the legendary actress, has been dark since the long-running hit “Rock of Ages” closed early this year.

Second Stage plans to dedicate the Helen Hayes exclusively to producing the work of living American playwrights. It will be the only house on Broadway with that mission.

“We pledge to keep our new theater a bustling center of activity on Broadway,’ said Second Stage Founder and Artistic Director Carole Rothman. “Nurturing not only new plays from established and emerging writers but also feeding a new, diverse generation of theatergoers who will help keep American plays at the heart of the Broadway experience.”

The group plans to hold its first Broadway production at the theater during the 2017-18 season. A renovation by The Rockwell Group will begin in 2016.

Just because Second Stage is entering the Broadway space doesn’t mean they’ll be vacating their Off-Broadway houses. They’ll continue to lease and operate the McGinn/Cazale Theatre on the Upper West Side and the Tony Kiser Theatre in Midtown.

For more information about the Second Stage Theatre, visit www.2stonbroadway.com.



Photo Credit: Neilson Barnard | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pulitzer Target Line Sparks Frenzy]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 12:15:08 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/lilly+pulitzer+for+target.jpg

Lilly Pulitzer's highly anticipated Target collection debut led to disappointment for many shoppers.

For many fans, the Sunday release was filled more with long lines, empty racks and website problems than purchases of the colorfully printed products.

The much-hyped collection was slated to go on sale early Sunday morning, but some online users reported problems with Target’s website. On top of the extreme online traffic, stores across the nation saw large crowds and long lines, with some selling out entirely in just a few minutes.

By Sunday afternoon, Target said products online were nearly sold out.

Target said the response to the debut was “nothing short of remarkable” both online and in stores, but heavy traffic caused slowness on the site that resulted in “an inconsistent experience for our guests.”

The Minneapolis-based company apologized for any disappointment the website troubles caused, but noted the site did not crash. Instead, the company said it took the collection offline for 15-20 minutes to “manage traffic to the site.”

“We took several measures throughout the morning to manage the extreme traffic levels and make the collection accessible to our guests,” the company said in a statement.

The company said it does not plan to replenish the limited-edition collection’s products online or in stores, a move that left many customers disappointed.

The fan frenzy gave several stores a Black Friday feel and had many taking to Twitter using the hashtag #LillyPulitzerforTarget.

Target, which said it would not apologize for items selling out quickly, did address fan frustration as items appeared on eBay for increased prices.

"Seeing items on online auctions reinforces that this collaboration is resonating with customers," the company said in a statement. "Items are becoming collector's items. However, it's disheartening to Target as a brand. Target does these collaborations to make designers available to people at a great price. Putting items on EBay takes away from the entire spirit of the program."
 



Photo Credit: Target.com
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<![CDATA[Review: "Fun Home" Transfers Uptown]]> Sun, 19 Apr 2015 20:52:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/FunHomeMain.jpg

"Fun Home" is a delicate portrait of family dysfunction that has only gotten richer in the 18 months since it premiered at The Public Theater.

Many members of the Off-Broadway cast return for the Circle in the Square transfer, including Beth Malone, Sydney Lucas, Michael Cerveris and Judy Kuhn. Heralded as the first mainstream musical with a lesbian lead character, “Fun Home” is based on the 2006 graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel, creator of the comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For.”

For Alison and her brothers, “Fun Home” was sardonic shorthand for “funeral home.” That was the family business as the kids came of age in Beech Creek, Pa. Bruce Bechdel, Alison’s father, was gay. He committed suicide about four months after Alison came out: “I didn’t know, Dad … I had no way of knowing that my beginning would be your end,” Malone’s adult version of Alison explains as “Fun Home” begins.

“Fun Home” jumps around in time, clocking in at 100 minutes without an intermission. We follow Small Alison, at age 9 (Lucas earned an Obie for this performance); Medium Alison, as a student at Oberlin (Emily Skeggs, succeeding Alexandra Socha); and introspective grown-up Alison (Malone), who tries to neutralize her demons by sketching the events of her childhood.

Jeanine Tesori’s music still resonates (the sharp-as-a-razor book is by Lisa Kron). Crowd-pleasing comic turns have Small Alison and her brothers (Oscar Williams and Zell Steele Morrow, both talented mop-tops) imagining a TV commercial for the “Fun Home.” In a fantasy sequence, Lucas recasts the people in her orbit as members of The Partridge Family.


Cerveris (with Lucas, below) chronicles this loving father’s slow-motion disintegration with poise. Bruce Bechdel supplements the family’s income with a teaching job and is arrested after having affairs with his male students. Wife Helen (Kuhn) knows Bruce is gay, and in the agonizing “Days and Days,” she urges Alison not to “give away” her time, as she has.

In “Changing My Major,” Skeggs is a knot of excitement and terror as she describes her first love affair (the returning Roberta Colindrez is excellent as Joan, the college girlfriend). Lucas, an inch or two taller than we last saw her, is achingly genuine with “Ring of Keys,” in which she experiences the first inklings of attraction after seeing a butch delivery woman.

Malone, as the narrator, frames the action as if she were describing one of her drawings: “Caption: Dad goes out. Dad gets a newspaper. Dad goes ... cruising?“

As the 43-year-old incarnation of the heroine, Malone keeps a cool distance from events, though I sensed that she was more at ease this go around, particularly in the winning scene where she “watches” her younger self being seduced for the first time.

Director Sam Gold (“Seminar”) redesigned the staging for the Circle in the Square. A piano, coffin or chaise floats up through the floor on lifts, then descends when it’s no longer needed. Toward the climax, we get a sense of what the family home looked like; shortly after, the stage is bare, except for adult Alison at her drawing table.

“Fun Home” is a masterful achievement—a tragic musical about learning to see one’s parents as flawed human beings, and a story as raw and real as any on stage.

“Fun Home,” with an open-ended run at Circle in the Square, 235 W. 50th St. Tickets: $75-$150. Call Telecharge, 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Ben & Jerry's Unveils Ice Cream Burrito]]> Fri, 17 Apr 2015 15:38:21 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ben-jerry-ice-cream-burrito.jpg

Cup, cone or burrito?

Ben & Jerry's is unveiling a new ice cream burrito, its new treat that splits the difference between a sundae and a waffle cone.

The Vermont-based ice cream company will now serve you any two flavors of ice cream tucked into a chewy waffle wrap and topped with fudge and cookie crumbs — just in time for April 20.

The company not-so-subtly timed the treats to the unofficial pothead holiday, promising it will cure "the ultimate case of the munchies."

Thursday, Ben & Jerry's unveiled another new concoction: A special release beer called Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale brewed in collaboration with New Belgium Brewing. It's described as a brown ale laden with chocolatey, salted caramel, vanilla goodness. 

Some of the proceeds from sales of the beer will go to an environmental group fighting the effect of climate change on mountains. More details will be released later this year.



Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ben & Jerry's
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<![CDATA[Review: O'Hara, Watanabe in LCT's "The King and I"]]> Thu, 16 Apr 2015 15:54:22 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/KingandIMain.jpg

The astonishing Kelli O’Hara is back on Broadway. This time, she’s leading Lincoln Center’s respectful take on “The King and I,” as schoolteacher Anna Leonowens, who stands up to the ruler of Siam --  here, Oscar-nominee and Broadway newcomer Ken Watanabe.

The revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical, set in 1860s Bangkok, has just opened at the Vivian Beaumont with a cast of more than 50.

Director Bartlett Sher elicits a performance from O’Hara that is equal parts self-confidence and frustration with the polygamist king, who has not kept his promise to give Anna a private home. (LCT’s resident director most recently guided the five-time Tony nominee in “The Bridges of Madison County”; their history together includes “South Pacific” and “The Light in the Piazza.”)

O’Hara's Anna is fiercely determined, if cautious as a newcomer, and it’s thrilling to watch her negotiate the pitfalls involved in establishing herself at court.

She wins admiration from the king’s children for explaining to them Siam’s place in the world, even as she incurs the king’s wrath for filling their minds with notions of a “home life” that might not revolve around the palace. It’s hard not to be moved as O’Hara describes the beauty of a snowflake after the blissful “Getting to Know You” sequence.

O’Hara’s voice is in prime operatic form throughout, rivaled only by her ability to waltz in Catherine Zuber’s lavish, flowing gowns.

I had mixed feelings about Watanabe’s performance. The star of films such as "The Last Samurai" and “Letters from Iwo Jima” is having a blast bossing people around, especially Anna, who is forced to lower her head when the two are together --  it’s good to be king, right?

Watanabe’s got the imperiousness down pat, but he’s falling back on enough of his Japanese accent that it makes some of his line readings difficult to parse. As a result, it’s tough to immerse oneself fully in songs such as “The Puzzlement,” which comes as the king struggles with the complexities of the world.

It’s not a fatal flaw, whatever you’ve read in the chat rooms. And anyway, I could watch these two perform “Shall We Dance?” all night long -- he’s barefoot; she’s in heels.

Ruthie Ann Miles is achingly effective as Lady Thiang, the head wife who calls Anna “Sir” because the newcomer is “scientific.” When Thiang becomes aware of plots against the king, she confides in the foreigner, pressuring her to help him, though “It must not sound like advice.” Miles’ moment with “Something Wonderful” is precious.

Ashley Park and Conrad Ricamora, as Burmese lovers Tuptim and Lun Tha (below), sing magnificently. It’s nifty to see Ricamora, of TV’s “How to Get Away with Murder,” again sharing a stage with his “Here Lies Love” co-star Miles.

The crown prince (Jon Corpuz, striking a balance between fear and arrogance) is paired well with Louis, Anna’s son (Jake Lucas, sibling of “Fun Home” Obie-winner Sydney Lucas). They paint a portrait of two boys raised in different circumstances who find common ground.

“The March of Siamese Children,” in which a dozen of the king’s royal sons and daughters take solo turns greeting him and Anna, is one of this revival’s great pleasures. Another is the kaleidoscopic ballet within “Small House of Uncle Thomas,” the anti-slavery play written by Tuptim after Anna lends her a copy of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

The production is relatively spartan for LCT, but looks swell. The most attention-grabbing moment comes as the ship carrying Anna to Bangkok docks at port, leading into “I Whistle a Happy Tune.” The choreography by Christopher Gattelli (“Newsies,” etc.) is based on the original by Jerome Robbins.

Anna is summoned by the king to help modernize Siam. Her impact ends up being more personal than expected --  that’s a notion the musical presents eloquently with the ascension of the crown prince, who decrees that although he is still to be respected, there will be “no bowing like toad. "The King and I" requires a regal, charismatic leading lady, and in O’Hara, it has one who's just about perfect.

“The King and I,” with an open-ended run at the Vivian Beaumont, 150 W. 65th St. Tickets: $87-$142. Call Telecharge, 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik]]>
<![CDATA[New Musical About Creation of “Amazing Grace” Will Sing on Broadway]]> Thu, 16 Apr 2015 14:07:26 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AmazingGraceMusical.jpg

There’s a new musical coming to Broadway this summer about the true story behind the creation of one of America’s most popular songs.

“Amazing Grace” will begin performance June 25 at the Nederlander Theatre. Opening night is set for July 16.

The new musical features a book by Christopher Smith and Arthur Giron, and music and lyrics by Smith. Gabriel Barre, who directed Andrew Lippa’s “The Wild Party,” will direct. Christopher Gattelli, of “Newsies” fame, will choreograph.

Josh Young, who received a Tony nomination for 2012’s revival of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” leads the production, playing a British man “torn between following torn between following in the footsteps of his father -- a slave trader -- and embracing the more compassionate views of his childhood sweetheart."

Erin Mackey (“Chaplin”) will play Young’s character’s childhood sweetheart, who undoubtedly inspires the creation of the powerful spiritual song. Tony winner Chuck Cooper (“The Life”) will also star.

For tickets or more information, visit amazinggracemusical.com.



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[ Ben & Jerry's, Craft Brewer Team Up for Ice Cream-Flavored Beer]]> Thu, 16 Apr 2015 14:51:39 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/193*120/benjerrybeer1.jpg

If you have a taste for beer and ice cream, you might like Ben & Jerry's latest offering.

This fall, Vermont's Ben & Jerry's and New Belgium Brewing out of Colorado will begin selling a special release beer called Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale. It's described as a brown ale laden with chocolatey, salted caramel, vanilla goodness. 

The brew will come in 22 ounce bottles and contain 6.3 percent alcohol.

"We’re big fans of New Belgium Brewery, their values, and their fun culture, and of course their beer," said Jay Curley, senior global marketing manager of Ben & Jerry’s. "We’re excited for the campaign we’ve developed together."

Some of the proceeds from sales of the beer will go to an environmental group fighting the effect of climate change on mountains. More details will be released later this year.



Photo Credit: New Belgium Brewing]]>
<![CDATA[Watch Tribeca Film Festival Opening Night Red Carpet Live]]> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 19:50:14 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tribeca+generic+photo.jpg

The livestream is now over. Check out all our other Tribeca Film Festival content here

Some 100 feature films make up the 14th annual Tribeca Film Festival that kicks off Wednesday. The documentary "Live From New York," featuring the filmmakers, subjects and pasts hosts and guests of "Saturday Night Live" is among the 67 films making their world premieres at the festival. 

Watch the festival kick off at The Beacon Theatre with a red carpet livestream here starting at 6:30 p.m. 



Photo Credit: Tribeca Film Festival]]>
<![CDATA[Review: Matthew Morrison in "Finding Neverland"]]> Thu, 16 Apr 2015 08:14:41 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NeverlandMain.jpg

I’m sorry “Finding Neverland" has finally opened—you can catch it now at the Lunt-Fontanne—because the behind-the-scenes tinkering has made for such riveting headlines: Harvey replaces creative team! Harvey axes leading man! Harvey splits with publicist!

Harvey, being Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein, may be a fledgling lead producer, but he is not messing around here: the man’s helped pump millions into “Neverland,” introducing it in England, redoing it in Boston and finally landing it on Broadway … after a side foray to last year’s Tonys, where it was promoted by Jennifer Hudson.

The end result is both rousing and erratic, with bits of thrilling stage magic that are signature Diane Paulus (she also directed “Pippin” and “Hair”), and dialogue that sometimes feels as if it’s been focus group-sanitized to within an inch of its life. Billed as the backstory to “Peter Pan,” the musical is based on the 2004 film, with Johnny Depp.

“Glee” star Matthew Morrison heads the “Neverland” cast as J.M. Barrie, whom we meet as an unhappily married playwright with writer’s block. Sitting in Kensington Gardens, Barrie encounters the four rambunctious Llewelyn Davies boys and their mom, Sylvia (Laura Michelle Kelly), who will prove to be the inspiration he needs to create “Peter Pan.”

Morrison has a consistent Scottish brogue and a melancholy demeanor in a performance that’s very likable. His benefactor, the producer Charles Frohman, is played by Emmy winner Kelsey Grammer, who will do double duty as Captain Hook.

Our audience was wildly responsive to Grammer, who is saddled with dialogue such as “I don’t have a child inside me. I have an ulcer.” Everyone around Frohman is chaotic and fey, and the producer sees it as his responsibility to be pragmatic. I’d have been happier with less of his character, and more of Kelly, as the platonic love interest who has the wholesome aura of a Disney princess.

The quartet of boys playing the Llewelyn Davies children are exceptional (Aidan Gemme was Peter at the press performance I attended).

Carolee Carmello, the three-time Tony nominee, is assertive in her one-dimensional role as Sylvia’s overprotective mother—it’s suggested she’s the inspiration for Tick-Tock, the crocodile. The talented Teal Wicks, as Peter’s grating wife, Mary, doesn’t feel so essential to the proceedings. Barrie’s dog Porthos, last played by a human at the A.R.T. in Cambridge, is now played by an actual dog.

We’re frequently given clues as to how Barrie translated events in his real life to elements of “Peter Pan,” and it’s not often that a musical manages such subtlety in one scene and overstatement the next (the composers are U.K. pop star Gary Barlow, of Take That, and Eliot Kennedy; the book is by James Graham).

There’s an inventive, quiet moment between Morrison and Grammer that explains the origin of “Captain Hook.” Pity that a while later, we’re beaten over the head with an exchange between Frohman and a member of his troupe, who asks, as if this were 1985: “Do they say ‘Cheers’ where you’re from, Charles?”

Also … that joke about “fairies” working in the theater? I order you both to walk the plank, Mr. Weinstein and Ms. Paulus.

The melodies are pop-song good, if not likely to linger long with you. I most enjoyed “We Own the Night,” in which James and the four boys toy with the pompous participants of a stodgy dinner party, and the first act closer “Stronger,” which soars to a finish indeed so strong it left me trembling.

One of the areas in which “Finding Neverland” succeeds is in its balance between technical and non-technical wizardry. Paulus knows when to use her bag of tricks (note Sylvia’s climactic, cyclonic second act farewell), and when to let our imaginations do the work (such as when Peter bounces candlelight off a spoon, foreshadowing the eventual creation of Tinkerbell).

“Finding Neverland” is best in its scenes with surrogate father Barrie and the four boys. Those talented kids, who prematurely aged when their own father died, help the writer access his imagination. Alongside Morrison, I think they’re the ones who deserve a lot of the credit for getting “Finding Neverland” to fly.

“Finding Neverland,” with an open-ended run at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, 205 W. 46th St. Tickets: $72-$147. Call 800-745-3000.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg]]>
<![CDATA["Lincoln and the Jews": Exhibit Explores President's Push for Equality ]]> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 12:09:47 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/LincolnsLastHoursCROPPED.jpg

Books, museums and movies examining Abraham Lincoln's legacy have long focused on his role in emancipating American slaves in 1863.

But now, one new exhibit is highlighting the 16th president's commitment to fostering equality and acceptance for the nation's Jewish community. 

“Lincoln and the Jews," staged by The New York Historical Society to mark the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War and Lincoln’s assassination, documents Lincoln’s relationship with Jews and details the expansion of the Jewish population in America, which coincided with the famed leader's emergence onto the national political stage.

The number of Jews living in the U.S. grew from just 3,000 when Lincoln was born in 1809 to more than 150,000 at the time of his assassination in 1965, according to "Lincoln and the Jews: A History," the 2015 book that inspired the exhibit. While many in America treated the Jewish community as "second-class citizens and religious outsiders" in the face of the demographic shift, the book argues, Lincoln "exhibited precisely the opposite tendency." 

“When we think of Lincoln's embrace of humanity writ large we tend to think of his advocacy of freedom for African Americans, and his friendship with Frederick Douglass,” Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, said. “But this exhibition shows that Lincoln's embrace included American Jews in the face of extreme anti-Semitism."

The exhibit, a collaboration with The Shapell Manuscript Foundation, opens with a wall quote by Lincoln, who in a public letter dated May 17, 1855 protests restrictions on immigration.

“I have some little notoriety for commiserating with the oppressed condition of the negro; and I should be strangely inconsistent if I could favor curtailing the existing rights of white men, even though born in different lands, and speaking different languages from myself," he wrote.

Personal and signed letters, portraits, paintings and artifacts bring to life Lincoln's stories.

One such personal letter is from Lincoln to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, dated Nov. 4, 1862.

In the letter, Lincoln notes to Stanton, “I believe we have not yet appointed a Hebrew" and informs him that he is appointing C.M. Levy – the son-in-law of Rabbi Morris Raphall of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, a well-known Orthodox Jew in New York – “Assistant Quarter Master, with the rank of Captain." Lincoln describes the candidate as “a capable and faithful man.”

Lincoln’s Jewish friends, including Julius Hammerslough, Henry Greenbaum and Abraham Jonas, are also profiled as patrons throughout the exhibit. In one letter, the president calls Jonas, a Jewish lawyer whom Lincoln met in 1843, "one of my most valued friends.”

Grace Oh, a junior at Roslyn High School who was exploring the exhibit as an extra credit assignment," said she found the relationships highlighted in the exhibit enlightening.

“It’s not talked about as much,” she said. "I never knew that Lincoln was [as] supportive of Jews."

While Civil-War savvy visitors may be familiar with Lincoln’s Jewish friendships, Mirrer said, she’s not surprised to hear those reactions. In fact, that's part of the exhibit's goal. 

“I would also hope that by recalling, as this exhibition does, Lincoln—whose assassination shattered the nation's spirit at the very moment it began to taste victory and the return of peace—visitors will be reminded of the causes for which Lincoln lived and died, and by which his countrymen should live henceforth,” she said.

The exhibit runs in New York through June 7 before traveling to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Illinois.



Photo Credit: Chicago History Museum, ICHI-524]]>
<![CDATA[Tax Day Freebies and Discounts]]> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 16:28:27 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP0910251102942.jpg

Wednesday is the deadline for filing income tax returns, a day long associated with the dread of rushing to fill out complicated forms and, perhaps, making a payment to Uncle Sam.

But don't let Tax Day get your down. There are a number of freebies you can cash in on.

The most practical of all tax season freebies is the IRS' Free File program, which allows those who have an adjusted gross income of $58,000 or less to file for free through the agency's website.

Once you have Uncle Sam squared away, you can reward yourself with some Tax Day freebies:

Office Depot is offering two pounds of free document shredding. Staples will do the same for up to five pounds of documents.

Meanwhile, the stressed and the overworked can claim a free massage at participating Hydromassage locations.

Now that you have worked up an appetite, you can enjoy one -- or all -- of the following food freebies:

Boston Market: Buy One Individual Meal and Get One Individual Meal FREE

Bruegger’s Bagels: Big Bagel Bundles are just $10.40 – a $3.50 deduction.

California Tortilla: Free Chips and Quesos.

Great American Cookie: Free Regular Sugar Cookie.

Hard Rock Cafe: Free meal for tax paying singers.

KFC: FREE red velvet cake with the purchase of a 10-piece (or larger) family meal.

McDonald’s: Buy one Big Mac or Quarter Pounder with Cheese and get one for a penny.

Pizza Hut: Visit pizzareturn.com for a chance to win Pizza Hut gift cards.

Schlotzsky’s: One free small The Original sandwich with the purchase of a 32 oz. drink and a bag of chips.

If you want to use your refund to get away from it all (well, maybe just away from your house if you live in D.C.), some area hotels are offering discounts and freebies for Tax Day.

Marriott: Anyone who books a room on marriott.com can get 25 percent off the chain's best weekend rate for hotels in Washington, D.C. and Arlington from May 2 until Sept. 8.

Kimpton: You will get "The Procrastinator" cocktail for free at Kimpton's 12 hotels in D.C., Alexandria and Baltimore if you can show that you've sent in your taxes.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Jake Gyllenhaal Joins “Little Shop of Horrors” ]]> Tue, 14 Apr 2015 17:43:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/188013710DF00022_Academy_Of.jpg

New York City Center’s production of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s hit musical “Little Shop of Horrors” has found its leading man.

Jake Gyllenhaal, who made his Broadway debut this season in “Constellations,” will step into the suspenders of Seymour, the loveable florist who develops an unhealthy relationship with a killer plant. It will be his New York stage musical debut. 

Gyllenhaal will star alongside original “Little Shop of Horrors” star Ellen Greene, who will reprise the role she made famous: Audrey, Seymour’s love interest.

Rounding out the rest of the cast will be “Saturday Night Live” star Taran Killam, as Orin -- Audrey’s sadistic dentist boyfriend and Tony winner Chuck Cooper (“The Life”) as the voice of Audrey II, the aforementioned R&B-singing killer plant. Tracy Nicole Chapman, Marva Hicks and Ramona Keller as will make up The Urchins, our girl group narrators.

“Little Shop of Horrors” will play two performances at New York City Center: an evening performance on July 1 and a matinee on July 2. The production, directed by Dick Scanlan, will be the second production of the 2015 Encores! Off-Center Season.

Based on a 1960 black comedy by Roger Corman, “Little Shop of Horrors” first premiered in 1982, in an Off-Off-Broadway house. It moved to Off-Broadway’s Orpheum Theatre soon thereafter, but didn’t make it to Broadway until a 2003 revival.

The musical was turned into a 1986 film starring Greene, Rick Moranis and Steve Martin.

For ticket information, visit www.nycitycenter.org.



Photo Credit: Frederick M. Brown | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Review: David Hyde Pierce Directs "It Shoulda Been You"]]> Tue, 14 Apr 2015 20:29:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ShouldaMain.jpg

Broadway’s so-far stuffy spring season needed to loosen up, and relief arrives with the campy ensemble comedy “It Shoulda Been You.” Now open at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, the musical is notable as the Broadway directing debut of David Hyde Pierce, the “Frasier” star.

“Shoulda” has a stock set-up: The Steinberg and Howard families have gathered at a fancy hotel for the interfaith union of their children, Rebecca and Brian (Sierra Boggess and David Burtka). So fresh-faced are these two they could model for the cake-topper.

Such purity can only foreshadow trouble, and indeed, disaster strikes when Jenny, the bride’s sister (Lisa Howard), accidentally dials Rebecca’s ex-boyfriend, Marty (Josh Grisetti), clueing him in to the fact he wasn’t, you know … invited.

Jenny is the emotional heart of the comedy, a hodgepodge of capers and confessions that would probably fall flat in the hands of less experienced performers. As it is, this cast is as close to a dream team for a wedding comedy as you can get.

Howard is appealing and accessible as the daughter who puts up with endless guff from her mom about her weight. A veteran of five Broadway shows (notably “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”), she performed this role during a 2011 run in New Jersey.

Grisetti, finally getting his Rialto debut after the demise of “Broadway Bound” some years ago, is equally likable, with a hyper-caffeinated entrance that has us questioning whether he’s gotten over the breakup.

Then there are mom and dad, and the other mom and dad.

Stage vets Tyne Daly and Chip Zien (the original baker of “Into the Woods”) are Rebecca’s parents, a stereotypical pushy Jewish mother and henpecked father, who would have been happier if Rebecca married within the tribe. When Judy discovers Marty at the hotel, she corners the fella: “My daughter breaks your heart, and you don’t have the decency to call me?”

Daly is wonderful as always, but the character is almost unnecessarily obnoxious.

David’s parents are “Frasier” vet Harriet Harris and Michael X. Martin (recently seen in “The Bridges of Madison County”). I enjoyed watching pros Daly and Harris go up against one another, sniping while getting their hair done, and so on.

That said, I thought a running gag Harris has about trying to make her son gay was an eye-roller. I don’t think there is a class or creed of human who isn’t pandered to in some way, shape or form during the intermission-less 100-minute comedy. You can almost hear the writers working down a checklist.

Boggess (“The Little Mermaid”) and Burtka (below) are good, but tend to fade into the background as the bride and groom. She’s got a lovely lament with “A Little Bit Less Than,” a sweet song about living up to familial expectations. 

Montego Glover (“Memphis”) and Nick Spangler (“Book of Mormon”) provide strong support as bridesmaid and best man—their wedding toast duet, “Love You Till The Day,” is a high point. Edward Hibbert, yet one more “Frasier” vet, is in usual highbrow form as the omniscient ace wedding organizer, who sees himself as “Martha Stewart crossed with Dumbledore.”

A big twist at roughly the halfway point sends “Shoulda” off in a more serious direction. It feels dated, and it certainly caught me by surprise.

“Shoulda” has a book and lyrics by Brian Hargrove (he’s Pierce’s husband), and pleasant, if run-of-the-mill, music by Barbara Anselmi. Overall, this is fair-to-middling material that’s elevated by a superior cast. It’s a good show, but you can’t help thinking it shoulda been better.

“It Shoulda Been You,” with an open-ended run at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 W. 47th St. Tickets: $90-$139. Call Ticketmaster, 800-745-3000.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Benefit Concert of “Smash” Musical Sells Out]]> Mon, 13 Apr 2015 22:38:34 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NBCSmash.jpg

Bad news, “Smash” fans. Tickets for the one-night-only benefit production of “Bombshell,” the musical at the center of the cult NBC series, are sold out.

The concert, set to take place June 8 at the Minskoff Theatre, was funded by the most successful theater Kickstarter campaign ever. Looking to cover the $50,000 production cost, the campaign reportedly ended up raising over $200,000 in just 18 hours. In the end 1,485 backers pledged $318,120 to help bring “Bombshell” to life.

All proceeds of "Bombshell" will benefit the non-profit organization The Actors Fund, a “national human services organization” that, for 133 years, has provided social services, emergency financial assistance, health care, insurance counseling and more to more than 21,000 theater professionals each year.

Kickstarter donors were given an opportunity to purchase tickets for the event during an April 13 pre-sale. All tickets sold out in just over an hour.

Any Kickstarter donors who were unable to purchase tickets have been given the option to request a full refund from their Kickstarter donation, said Joseph P. Benincasa, President and CEO of The Actors Fund.

“Even if you couldn’t get tickets, you’ve helped those in need in performing arts and entertainment,” he explained, as “100% of the ticket proceeds from this benefit concert will help actors, dancers, musicians, playwrights, directors and more.”

Benincasa also mentioned that they had explored opportunities to allow more people to experience the one-night-only “Bombshell” event, both live and virtually. “Unfortunately, none of these options were viable,” he stated.

“Bombshell” features 22 songs penned by Tony-winning songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (“Hairspray”), including “The National Pastime,” “History Is Made at Night” and the Emmy and Grammy-nominated hit “Let Me Be Your Star.”

The evening will be a reunion for almost all of the “Smash” cast, including Megan Hilty, Katharine McPhee, Will Chase, Christian Borle, and Debra Messing.

Scott Wittman and Joshua Bergasse will co-direct The Actors Fund benefit, with choreography provided by Bergasse. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who produced the TV series, will produce here as well.

The NBC drama was created by playwright Teresa Rebeck.



Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Tribeca Film Festival]]> Tue, 14 Apr 2015 08:47:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/IMG_81331.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[“King Charles III” Will Reign on Broadway]]> Mon, 13 Apr 2015 11:42:55 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/56177382.jpg

London’s “King Charles III,” which won Best New Play at the the West End’s equivalent of the Tonys, will transfer to Broadway this fall.

Previews begin Oct. 10 at the Music Box Theatre, with an opening night set for Nov. 1.

Directed again by Rupert Goold, the play, by Mike Bartlett, takes place in a future London, where Queen Elizabeth is dead and Prince Charles has ascended the throne. “King Charles III” sets out to explore the people behind Britain’s most famous family.

Tim Pigott-Smith, who played Charles III in the London production, will once again take on the crown on Broadway. Additional casting will be announced shortly.

Tickets for “King Charles III” will go on sale this June. Visit www.KingCharlesIIIBroadway.com for more information.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dance Lovers Will Always Have "Paris"]]> Mon, 13 Apr 2015 09:18:02 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AmericanParisMain.jpg

For the second time this month, Broadway welcomes a stage adaptation of a movie musical directed by Vincente Minnelli. “An American in Paris,” while full of gorgeous ballet numbers, doesn’t fare quite as well as “Gigi”—the story is comparatively listless.

New York City ballet dancer Robert Fairchild and Royal Ballet School alumna Leanne Cope are surely both gorgeous to watch in this new take on the 1951 film, about an American solider who tears up his ticket home at the end of World War II and decides to settle in Paris (events transpire a few years earlier than they did in the movie).

Struggling songwriter Adam (Brandon Uranowitz)—one of three men vying for the attentions of Cope’s beautiful Lise Dassin—introduces the musical, explaining that the city is rebuilding after the occupation, and that rebirth is in the air. As fighter jets fly overhead, a Nazi flag is torn down and an enormous tricolore covers the stage, finally revealing Jerry Mulligan (Fairchild) as it flutters away.

“An American in Paris” feels like a ballet with a narrative trying to make itself heard. Jerry spies Lise on a breadline, and spends much of the first act courting her. Fairchild’s first big number, “I’ve Got Beginner’s Luck” has him dancing around the shop where Lise works, and it’s about as fizzy as things get.

The characters in Craig Lucas’s script aren’t developed enough to really endear themselves to the audience. Adam is self-effacing. Jerry is perpetually upbeat. Lise is wounded and humorless; her parents are presumed to have died at the hands of the Nazis, and she’s preparing to marry Henri Baurel (Max von Essen), whose family sheltered her during the war.

Fairchild is lithe and charismatic—the talent is a familial trait; his sister, Megan, also an NYCB principal, is “Miss Turnstiles” in “On The Town.” Cope is moody, sweet and sensitive, as when she is scolded for being late to ballet class, but works her way back into her instructor’s graces. (The duo are pictured below.)

Broadway vet Veanne Cox, a former ballet dancer, is ultra-serious as Henri’s mother, who hints at her son’s homosexuality even as she persuades him to marry Lise. Jill Paice (“The 39 Steps”) has a regal quality as Milo Davenport, the self-appointed arts patron who wants to buy Jerry’s affections.

The musical concludes with a surreal, nearly quarter-hour ballet set to Gershwin’s composition “An American in Paris.” I was never quite sure how Adam worked through his feelings for Lise, or how things pan out for Henri or Milo.

The timeless score includes the Gershwin songs “I Got Rhythm,” performed by the three male leads, and “'S Wonderful.” Director and renowned choreographer Christopher Wheeldon works magic with near showstoppers such as Von Essen’s big second-act number, “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise,” but in many other places the dancing seems almost too much.

Bob Crowley’s design, combining moving set pieces and graphics (by 59 Productions) to convey a bridge over the Seine or the interior of the Galeries Lafayette, is magnificent—Jerry is an aspiring painter and it’s easy for audiences to imagine that what we see on a projection is just what he’s putting down on his pad.

“An American in Paris,” with an open-ended run at the Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway. Tickets: $47-$147. Call Ticketmaster, 800-745-3000.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy; Angela Sterling (below)]]>
<![CDATA[Review: "Wolf Hall" Hops Across the Pond]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 18:20:22 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WolfHallMain.jpg

Part deep-dive into Tudor-era historical fiction and part endurance contest, “Wolf Hall” has settled into the vast Winter Garden Theatre, where its two sections are performed in repertory by nearly two-dozen finely tuned members of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The complete stage interpretation of Hilary Mantel’s Man Booker Prize-winning novels—the second volume, “Bring Up the Bodies,” has here been christened “Wolf Hall, Part 2”—can be seen in one six-hour swoop, with a dinner break, or on different days. Even if you walk in with ample historical context about Henry VIII’s volatile court, the story demands intense focus to keep pace.

“Wolf Hall” revisits historical figures with whom we’re all at least a bit familiar: Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. The title is the location of the Seymour family seat; we’ll presumably hear more from the Seymours when Mantel publishes the eagerly-awaited third volume in her series, some day.

Classic stories such as “A Man for All Seasons” paint a dark picture of statesman Cromwell, while offering Sir Thomas More, another of the king’s advisers, as a proud man of conviction. Mantel has said she wanted to turn that characterization on its ear, and indeed her Cromwell is a relatable pragmatist, a blacksmith’s boy who rose to become the king’s chief “fixer”—as an astute friend said on Twitter after Sunday's double-bill: “So Thomas Cromwell was like a 16th-century Olivia Pope?”

Indeed, the focus of “Wolf Hall” is on Cromwell (RSC company member Ben Miles, in an admirable performance), and how he comes to earn the king’s trust as others around him are losing their jobs, or heads. Mantel’s exploration begins in 1527, as the king (Nathaniel Parker) worries over the absence of a male heir, and evolves through Anne Boleyn’s rise and fall (Lydia Leonard is positively electric as the king’s second wife).

In a complex portrayal, Miles paints Cromwell as a stable center of the universe, around whom orbits the wrathful king, his angry lovers and the opportunistic Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (Paul Jesson). The major takeaway about Cromwell? He’s so cunning that he manages to hold the trust of everyone, almost all the time, over an incredible stretch of years … at least until he betrays them.

Parker’s Henry VIII is a buffoon, an oblivious narcissist more interested in his own love affairs than affairs of state. Cardinal Wolsey eventually falls out of favor with Henry not because the king stops liking him, but because Anne views the papal legate as the only thing standing between him and divorce from wife No. 1, Katherine of Aragon (portrayed with stiff-necked grace by Lucy Briers).

Jesson and Leonard (below) are charismatic performers with incredible stamina who command attention whenever they’re on stage. Wolsey’s death plays out in a somewhat confusing manner, as a staged play that seems to evoke a Chinese New Year celebration.

As well, with “Wolf Hall,” we still get Thomas More (John Ramm) as a man of conviction who stood up to Henry VIII when the king turned his back on the Roman Catholic Church … but he’s something of a blabbering fool, with a vague idea that a woman can dictate the sex of her baby.

More minor characters, notably servant Christophe (Pierro Niel-Mee), with his unvarnished take on matters, and musician Mark Smeaton (Joey Batey), who will meet an unfair destiny, are all the more interesting thanks to the actors’ fine interpretations.

“Wolf Hall” arrives here following a sold-out run last May on the West End; it’s directed by Olivier Award-nominee Jeremy Herrin. If six hours of historical fiction is too daunting, you can always indulge in Mantel’s best-selling novels, or PBS’s Masterpiece, where the TV version of “Wolf Hall” now airs with Mark Rylance as Cromwell and Damian Lewis of “Homeland” as Henry VIII.

“Wolf Hall,” Parts One and Two, through July 5 at the Winter Garden Theatre, 1634 Broadway. Tickets: $27-$250. Call Telecharge, 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Johan Persson]]>
<![CDATA[Selena to Perform as a Hologram?]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 11:15:26 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Selena_Cantando.jpg

You may be able to see Selena perform in the 21st century – as a hologram.

That’s part of a new plan by a San Diego-based company to create a digital embodiment of the late singer. She will dance, perform new songs and collaborate with other artists.

The project is being spearheaded by Acrovirt LLC., which is working with Selena’s family and the University of California San Diego to launch the hologram.

"Selena is a Latin American icon who was taken before her time. Acrovirt and the Quintanilla family are excited to announce that Selena will continue to share her creative talents with the world in a new innovative way," Acrovirt co-founder Terry Kennedy said in an online statement.

You could see the hologram in 2018 if a $500,000 crowdfunding campaign is successful. The campaign starts on April 16.

Selena’s dad, Abraham Quintanilla, told BuzzFeed News that he wouldn’t describe it as a hologram.

“It’s a newer technology – more advanced than hologram,” he said in an email to BuzzFeed.

The superstar was killed in 1995 at the hands of her fan club president, Yolanda Saldivar, who is serving a life sentence in Selena's death.

Fans marked the 20th anniversary of her death last week by celebrating her life, holding festivals, concerts, exhibitions and even lookalike contests in her honor across the country.

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<![CDATA[Review: Vanessa Hudgens in "Gigi"]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 11:36:40 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GigiMain.jpg

Vanessa Hudgens brings verve and vivacity to a reimagined version of the classic musical “Gigi”—a production equally memorable for its rich contributions from Tony winner Victoria Clark, as the carefree young girl’s indulgent grandmother.

“Gigi” has just opened at the Neil Simon Theatre, following a world premiere at the Kennedy Center earlier this year.

Hudgens, who found fame with Disney’s “High School Musical” series, makes her Broadway debut as the bubbly title character, who is expected to follow in the footsteps of her “Mamita” (Clark) and aunt (Dee Hoty, of “Footloose”), both self-assured courtesans in La Belle Epoque Paris.

In their midst are the requisite love interest for Gigi (Corey Cott, of “Newsies”) and the young man’s uncle, who is also Mamita’s old flame (Howard McGillin, Broadway’s record-breaking “Phantom”). At heart, “Gigi” is about two young people who figure out they were meant to love each other—after everyone on stage and in the audience already knows it.

“Gigi” was born of a 1944 Colette novella and first adapted as a straight play, starring Audrey Hepburn. The musical film, with a screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner and score by Frederick Loewe, won the best picture Oscar a decade later. A stage musical in the early 1970s didn’t fare well.

This update, directed by Eric Schaeffer (“Follies”) comes with a revised book by Heidi Thomas, of the BBC’s “Call the Midwife,” and is choreographed by Joshua Bergasse, whose ebullient work elevates “On the Town.”

Hudgens is effervescent as can be as the girl on the cusp of womanhood, blessed with (and burdened by) the guidance of the two older women, who know what kind of trouble a pretty young thing could find in Paris.

There is, as you might anticipate, an element of Eliza Doolittle in Hudgens’s endearing performance—she makes these grand, oversized gestures while gamely learning how to pour coffee or even settle into a chair the proper way.

Cott’s Gaston Lachaille, the “Sugar Prince,” is a playboy bored with his life in Paris—so tired, in fact, that even his uncle (McGillin) tells him: “You should have more love affairs!” Cott has a stunning voice, on display noticeably in solos and ensembles pieces such as the first act closer “The Night They Invented Champagne.”

He and Hudgens are sweet together, and seem to share a genuine rapport.

Hudgens may have the drawing power, but Clark is crafting a performance that will linger after the curtain falls. We learn early on of her star-crossed affair with McGillin’s Honore Lachaille. Where Mamita’s sister sees romance as a means to material riches, Mamita clearly wants more, not just for Gigi, but herself.

Clark (with McGillin, below) hits every note perfectly, particularly in the standards “I Remember It Well” and “Thank Heaven for Little Girls,” the latter a duet with Hoty’s Aunt Alicia—was anyone else not expecting this as a duet between two women? Clark imbues Mamita with a sweet sadness that keeps you rooting for her.

Hoty is deliciously venomous vetting Gaston’s lawyers and making sure her niece will want for nothing. It’s obvious Alicia cares for her sister and grand-niece, she’s just more practical by nature, grabbing what she can from men and using it to maintain her independence.

As Honore Lachaille, McGillin does a fine job of being both good-natured and rakish. His introduction creates the musical’s atmosphere, giving us the idea we will be moving among people who enjoy long-term affairs, but rarely marry. Steffanie Leigh (“Mary Poppins”) has some delightful scenes as Liane d’Exelmans, Gaston’s girlfriend early on.

“Gigi” boasts classic orchestrations, Catherine Zuber’s gorgeous costumes and appealing dance numbers. It’s a delightful production.

“Gigi,” with an open-ended run at the Neil Simon Theatre, 250 W. 52nd St. Tickets: $75.75-$156.75. Call Ticketmaster, 800-745-3000.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Margot Schulman; Joan Marcus (below)]]>
<![CDATA[Disney, Dali on Focus in New Museum Exhibit]]> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 11:29:56 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/205*120/disneyfamilymuseum.jpg

The work of famous imagineers Walt Disney and Salvador Dali will be exhibited together in San Francisco's Presidio this summer.

Mounted by The Walt Disney Family Museum, "Disney and Dalí: Architects of the Imagination" reveals that the two were actually mutual admirers who collaborated; Dalí worked on an animated short called "Destino" at Walt Disney Studio in 1946 that was finished after their deaths.

According to a press statement, the exhibit will display original paintings, sketches, film, photos, audio and even a series of written correspondence between Disney and Dalí.

The exhibit will run at the Diane Disney Miller Exhibition Hall from July 10 to January 3, 2016.



Photo Credit: The Walt Disney Family Museum]]>
<![CDATA[11 Weird Beers For National Beer Day]]> Fri, 10 Apr 2015 21:49:42 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/rerwerr4534534.jpg

What better day to defer from your usual drink order than on National Beer Day? Here are 11 crazy craft brew concoctions that are so strange you'll be dying to try them out for yourself:

 

1. Pizza Beer by Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer

 

A photo posted by Chad Irvin (@shwirv11) on

 

 2. Popcorn Pilsner by Sun King Brewing

 

3. Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale by Rogue Ales & Spirits

 

A photo posted by Rogue Ales (@rogueales) on

 

 4. Banana Bread Beer by Charles Wells Brewery

 

5. Avocado Ale by Angel City Brewery

 

6. Key Lime Pie Beer by Short's Brewing Company

 

7. Sriracha Hot Stout by Rogue Ales & Spirits

 

A photo posted by Rogue Ales (@rogueales) on

 

8. Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter by Willoughby Brewing Company

 

A photo posted by ohiohophead (@ohiohophead) on

 

 9. Wostyntje Mustard Ale by Smisje Brewery

 

10. Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout (Brewed With Bull Testicles) by Wynkoop Brewing Company

 

11. Smore's Stout by Base Camp Brewing Company



Photo Credit: Rogue Ales]]>
<![CDATA[Review: A Puppet Is Possessed in Daring Dark Comedy "Hand to God"]]> Tue, 07 Apr 2015 15:13:34 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/HandtoGodMain.jpg

Talk to the hand? Give me a suit of armor, first—I’ll need it if the hand in question is attached to Tyrone, the Muppetish-in-appearance-only sock puppet who is both star and villain of “Hand to God,” a dark comedy now open at the Booth Theatre.

“Hand to God” moves to Broadway after earlier stints with MCC and the Ensemble Studio Theatre.

In Brooklyn bartender-cum-playwright Robert Askins’s two-hour send-up of religious zealotry, the teenagers of Cypress, Texas, exist in a hyper-Christian environment where churchgoers spout righteous platitudes. Their beliefs are tested when the puppet Jason has been building develops a sinister and extremely independent personality.

Is Jason possessed? Is he having a psychotic break? Or is he using Tyrone—a nod to the dysfunctional family of “A Long Day’s Journey Into Night”—to say the things he never could? We never find out, but that doesn’t keep “Hand to God” from being a bracingly modern look at the nature of faith.

Steven Boyer, who has been with “Hand to God” from its inception 5 years ago, stars as Jason, a student in a puppet ministry class taught by mom Margery (the marvelous Geneva Carr), who is both mourning the early death of her husband and oblivious to her son’s scars.

In their orbit are a square and self-interested pastor (the spot-on Marc Kudisch, of “9 to 5,” etc.) and two other students: Jessica (Sarah Stiles), who has caught Jason’s eye, and Timothy (Michael Oberhotlzer), an overgrown bully whose contempt for Jason is only surpassed by his affection for Jason’s mom. (All the actors return from last year’s MCC production.)

Boyer so skillfully separates the roles of awkward teen and possessed puppet you can forget you’re watching just one performer. Carr, too, is super-likable as a woman susceptible to bad choices and blind to her son’s struggles: “Chick-Fil-A? You want some nuggets?” is the best support she can muster when Jason shares his fears about Tyrone’s hostility. (Carr and Kudisch are pictured, below.)

There are stand-alone scenes in “Hand to God” that will floor you. Chief among them is a simulated sex scene between Tyrone and Jolene, a femme-fatale puppet Jessica works up in a last-ditch effort to communicate with her classmate. Both actors display remarkable detachment while their “hands” are in the heat of the moment. Appearance-wise, it’s as if Scooter and Janice from “The Muppets” were knocking boots in the middle of Sunday School.

There is, as well, a set revelation mid-way through the second act—think of it as what happens to a church basement when the devil is done redecorating—that is leaving audiences gasping for breath.

Come to think of it, I did a lot of gasping during “Hand to God.” A seduction between reluctant Margery and game-for-anything horn-dog Timothy is fantastically well-choreographed. Later on, the play’s tenor changes during a struggle between Timothy and Tyrone, and I became far less inclined to think of “Hand to God” as a comedy.

Lead producer Kevin McCollum has worked the puppet-circuit before—he helped create “Avenue Q,” which is positively “Davey and Goliath” compared to “Hand to God.” The new play is directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel.

Structurally, “Hand to God” never quite adds up to the sum of its brilliant parts. There are only so many ways we can be told that faith isn’t quite enough, and that we need to find specific ways of dealing with our problems. Much of the dialogue seems designed merely to shock, though it builds with such intensity you may be too busy rolling in the aisles to notice.

Tyrone has stand-alone monologues framing the production that are well-staged bits of theatrical magic. His closing speech examining why we’ve needed to create Jesus left me chilled and unnerved.

“Hand to God” helped me finally see the allure in using a puppet to express feelings. It offers distance from ourselves, enabling us to say what we mean—what we feel—without tripping over the baggage that makes it hard to be a human: Will what I say hurt feelings? Is it morally dicey? Is it perverted? There’s obviously some Tyrone in all of us. Praise the devil he’s found a way to be heard?

“Hand to God,” with an open-ended run at the Booth Theatre, 222 W. 45th St. Tickets: $67-$137. Call Tele-charge at 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[John Turturro Leads Encores! “Zorba!”]]> Tue, 07 Apr 2015 14:46:06 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/61673547.jpg

Actor John Turturro (“O Brother, Where Art Thou?”) will return to the New York City stage in the title role of “Zorba!” -- the final production of New York City Center’s 2015 Encores! season.

“Zorba!” -- which features music and lyrics from the superstar team of John Kander and the late Fred Ebb (“The Visit”) -- will run for seven performances, from May 6-10.

The story, adapted from Nikos Kazantzakis’ 1952 novel “Zorba the Greek” by book-writer Joseph Stein, centers on a the friendship between the carefree Greek “jack-of-all-trades” Zorba and a young American man named Nico, who has inherited an abandoned mine on Crete. As the two get closer, they begin romantic relationships with an aging innkeeper and young widow, respectively.

“Frozen” star Santino Fontana, last seen on Broadway in “Cinderella,” will portray Nico. He and Turturro will be joined by a number of stage veterans, including Adam Chanler-Berat (“Peter and the Starcatcher”), Zoë Wanamaker (“Awake and Sing”) and “Bullets Over Broadway” star Marin Mazzie as The Leader of our Greek-chorus of narrators.

“Zorba!” first premiered on Broadway in 1968, and was revived in a 1983 production starring Anthony Quinn. A Broadway revival starring Antonio Banderas was being considered for the 2011-12 season, but never materialized.

The Encores! production will be directed by Walter Bobbie, who also directed the long-running hit revival of Kander & Ebb’s “Chicago.” That production began at New York City Center’s Encores! before transferring to Broadway.

For ticket information, visit www.nycitycenter.org.



Photo Credit: Matt Carr | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tribeca Film Festival Preview: "Gored"]]> Mon, 06 Apr 2015 12:15:26 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000006689111_1200x675_423627843592.jpg This year's Tribeca Film Festival lineup includes an eye-opening film called "Gored" about a bullfighter who is stabbed 23 times by his adversary in the ring. Lynda Baquero reports.]]> <![CDATA[Tribeca Film Festival Preview]]> Mon, 06 Apr 2015 02:15:37 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/040515tribeca.JPG The Tribeca Film Festival kicks off later this month. Cara Cusamano, the festival's senior programmer, gives a preview of this year's events.]]> <![CDATA[Pop Culture Spectacular: WonderCon Anaheim]]> Mon, 06 Apr 2015 09:35:17 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/w485692291.jpg The comics-and-more convention summons costume-ready fans and the properties they love.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["Groundhog Day" Musical Coming to Broadway]]> Fri, 03 Apr 2015 13:08:22 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/b0f6823b44644565831caea4e38d32c2.jpg

The 1993 Bill Murray comedy "Groundhog Day" is coming to the Broadway stage, in a new musical adaptation from the creative team behind "Matilda the Musical."

"Groundhog Day" will begin performances in a Broadway house to-be-named on January 23, 2017. Opening night is officially set for March 9, 2017. No casting announcements have been made.

The show tells the story of a cranky TV weatherman who gets stuck in a time warp while covering the Groundhog Day ceremonies in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, reliving the same day over and over again until he gets it right.

Proving that life does have a funny way of repeating itself, composer Tim Minchin, will reunite with "Matilda" scene and costume designer Rob Howell, choreographer Peter Darling and director Matthew Warchus for the project.

New to the team is book writer Danny Robin, who also co-wrote the screenplay of the 1993 film.

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<![CDATA[Review: Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy in "Skylight"]]> Thu, 02 Apr 2015 16:17:51 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/SkylightMain.jpg

A young woman and an older man whose affair ended in a white-hot flash attempt to reconnect in David Hare’s “Skylight,” an artfully performed drama set in the 1990s in Great Britain. It’s just opened at the Golden Theatre, with its cast intact from a West End run last year.

Carey Mulligan, the Oscar-nominated actress of “An Education” -- I loved her as Daisy Buchanan in Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby,” and she’s just great here -- stars as Kyra Hollis, a well-educated upper-middle-class woman of perhaps 30 who’s now teaching disadvantaged students in East London.

On a snowy night, Kyra is visited by her former lover, a wealthy restaurateur whose wife has recently died (Bill Nighy, of “Love Actually” and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” films). All the action in Hare’s 1995 drama transpires in Kyra’s rundown first-floor London flat, which Nighy’s Tom Sargeant finds distasteful.

As a teen, Kyra came to London and went to work as a waitress for Tom. Kyra and Tom began a relationship that ended abruptly when Tom's wife, Alice, found out their secret. It’s been three years since Kyra and Tom have last spoken. With Alice now gone, can their romance be rekindled?

“Skylight” is a play that takes political positions -- witness the applause after Mulligan’s second-act monologue on the plight of the downtrodden -- but the characters come first.

Kyra believes people don’t pay enough attention to the poor, but Tom has her pegged as a woman sympathizing with the disenfranchised in lieu of forming intimate connections. She, in turn, sees him as lacking self-awareness, particularly as it pertains to the issue of their affair and its impact on his late spouse.

The sharp writing has Kyra both peeling away Tom’s many layers, and peeling onions -- the actress cooks spaghetti Bolognese during the first act, and the theater fills with the tangy smell of the sauce. Mulligan slices and dices as she deploys Hare’s complex dialogue, accusing her ex-lover of trying to mask his guilt with exorbitant expenditures (the title refers to a feature in the room Tom built for Alice in their new home as her illness progressed). Mulligan makes cooking while acting seem easy; it can't be.

Nighy, reprising a role he first played in 1997, is excellent at portraying his irritation with his surroundings, eyeing an unappealing morsel of cheese Kyra has asked him to grate as if it were a personal affront. He knows Kyra is trying to escape her class identity, and he calls her on it. Still, he has arrived here looking for reconciliation, and it’s clear that he’s far needier than she.

Nighy’s performance is full of that nervous energy that makes him so much fun to watch.

Bookending the drama are scenes between Kyra and Edward, Tom’s teenage son (Matthew Beard, of “The Imitation Game”). Edward interrupts Kyra earlier on the same night that his father will eventually show up, confessing that he’s angry she abandoned their family and that his father is miserable without her.

 

Beard, above, seems to have absorbed Nighy’s distinct tics and affectations via osmosis, and it’s quite easy to see them as father and son.

“Skylight” is directed by Stephen Daldry, the longtime Hare collaborator already represented this season with “The Audience.”

Bob Crowley’s set captures the anonymous feel of the freezing council flat, with a transparent wall that allows the audience to see beyond to the next set of soulless apartments. The design underscores the very different realities that Kyra and Tom, once inseparable, live in now -- “Skylight” leaves you with the feeling there’s no going back for either of them.

“Skylight,” through June 14 at the John Golden Theatre, 252 W. 45th St. Tickets: $60-$149. Call 212-239-6200.

Follow Robert Kahn on Twitter@RobertKahn



Photo Credit: John Haynes]]>
<![CDATA[“Honeymoon in Vegas” to End Broadway Run]]> Tue, 31 Mar 2015 19:11:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Honeymooninvegasbroadwaydq.jpg

The “Honeymoon” is over.

“Honeymoon in Vegas,” the musical adaptation of the hit 1992 film, will make its last trip to the Sin City on Sunday, April 5.

The critically-acclaimed new musical, which features a score by three-time Tony winner Jason Robert Brown (“Bridges of Madison County”), will have played 66 previews and 93 performances at the time of its closing.

Tony Danza (TV’s “Who’s The Boss”) and Rob McClure (“Chaplain”) star.

Directed by Gary Griffin, “Honeymoon in Vegas” opened in Broadway’s Nederlander Theater after a successful engagement at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Milburn, NJ.

Theatergoers who have purchased tickets to any performances after April 5 should contact their initial point of purchase to inquire about refunds or exchanges.



Photo Credit: Joan Marcus]]>
<![CDATA[Linda Lavin to Star in "Our Mother's Brief Affair"]]> Tue, 31 Mar 2015 16:43:28 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/491967521IS002_Too_Much_Sun.jpg

Tony winner Linda Lavin will return to Broadway this December, headlining the New York premiere of Richard Greenberg’s “Our Mother’s Brief Affair.”

The comedy will be part of the Manhattan Theatre Club’s 2015-16 Broadway season, and will be directed by Lynne Meadow, of this season’s “Airline Highway.”

Performances begin at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Dec. 28, with an opening night set for Jan. 20, 2016.

“Our Mother’s Brief Affair” follows Lavin’s mother Anna, who, while on a return trip to her deathbed, confesses to her grown children about a torrid affair from her past.

It’ll be the 11th Greenberg play to be produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club (see also 2013’s Tony nominated Best Play, “The Assembled Parties” — also directed by Meadow).

Linda Lavin has received five Tony nominations over her long career, including “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife,” “Collected Stores,” “The Lyons.” She won one Tonys, for 1987’s “Broadway Bound.”

Lavin also received an Emmy nomination for playing the title role in the popular show “Alice.”

For ticket information, visit www.manhattantheatreclub.com.



Photo Credit: Ilya S. Savenok | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Google Maps Introduces Pac-Man Feature ]]> Wed, 01 Apr 2015 04:51:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/photoGoogle+Maps+PAC+MAN.jpg

Let the office productivity fall even more.

If March Madness wasn’t enough of a distraction, people can now play Pac-Man from the convenience of their desks.

Google Maps introduced a new online rendition of the classic arcade game on Tuesday in celebration of April Fools' Day. Click on the Pac-Man icon in the lower left corner beside the Earth icon, and use your keyboard arrows to move your little yellow man through the maze.

Not all addresses typed into Google Maps are playable areas. Cities, including New York, N.Y., appear to work best because of the number of roads. Pac-Man can’t play in some rural and suburban areas such as Hoover, Alabama, and Burlington, Massachusetts, because there aren’t enough roads for Pac-Man to get around.

Click here to try your hand at Pac-Man and see how high a score you can earn. Just make sure your boss isn’t looking.

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<![CDATA[“Hangover” and "Twilight" Stars in New Play]]> Tue, 31 Mar 2015 13:26:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/MCC.png

Justin Bartha (“The Hangover” series) and Elizabeth Reaser (“The Twilight Saga”) will headline the world premiere of Robert Askins’ “Permission” at Off Broadway’s MCC Theater.

Bartha was last seen on Broadway in the 2010 revival of “Lend Me A Tenor.” Reaser returns to MCC Theater following her laugh-out-loud performance in “The Money Shot.”

Directed by Tony nominee Alex Timbers (“Rocky”), “Permissions” tells the story of a couple who decide to make Christian Domestic Discipline the foundation of their marriage -- only to quickly discover how that new moral code shakes up everything they knew.

“Permission” begins performances at the Lucille Lortel Theatre on April 29, with an official opening night set for May 19. Its limited run is scheduled through June 7.

Robert Askins’ other play, “Hand to God” is now in previews at Broadway’s Booth Theatre, with an official opening set for April 7.

For “Permission” ticket information, visit www.mcctheater.org.



Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison | Nomi Ellenson | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Q&A: Michael Arden on Bringing Disney's "Hunchback" to the Stage]]> Tue, 31 Mar 2015 15:33:13 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ArdenMichael.jpg

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is not your average Disney musical. And Michael Arden, who plays the titular character, knows the experience of seeing the 1996 animated classic on stage may be startling for some.

"It has matured with you," he tells NBC New York. "In many ways, Disney Theatrical productions have been nostalgic, but this takes a different tone."

Boy, does it ever. Now playing at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse (through April 5), the musical, which features music by Alan Menken ("Beauty and the Beast"), lyrics by Stephen Schwartz ("Wicked") and a book by Peter Parnell ("The Cider House Rules"), is more than just a recreation of the film on stage.

While the score remains close to the film, the stage show pulls deeply from Victor Hugo’s original 1831 novel -- down to the unhappy ending and all. Think more “Les Misérables” and less “Aladdin.”

Arden, who previously starred on Broadway in "Big River" and assistant directed "A Tale of Two Cities,” spoke to NBC New York about his extraordinary transformation into this unlikely hero.

NBC4NY: What drew you to Hunchback”?
MICHAEL ARDEN: I love Disney. And these writers -- it’s a dream team. But it was really this character. Growing up as a gay boy in West Texas, I definitely felt like a bit of an outcast sometimes -- that there was a world that I would never be a part of.

NBC4NY: You really transform into this character, without using any prosthetics. How did you find that movement?
ARDEN: I spent some time in front of a mirror, trying to find a way to translate what I read in the book about his affliction. I first tied a belt around my knees to keep them together, turned my feet in, and then focused on how his legs maneuvered with his hips turned to the back. There’s also this hunch. What would that do to the neck? What would that do to the voice? Having really only one human eye, how would he contort his face to see? Having been a student at Juilliard -- that’s the reason we took stage movement classes!

NBC4NY: Is it challenging taking an iconic character and bringing him to life on the stage?
ARDEN: Yes, because everyone has their notion of either their favorite they’ve seen -- whether it’s Charles Laughton or the animated version -- and what they could be. My portrayal, I’m sure, is starkly different than what most people would imagine. But I am trying to find a way to approach him as realistically as possible. How the world would have seen him if they actually would have encountered him.

NBC4NY: What’s the biggest difference?
ARDEN: Well, the character is deaf. And since I’ve worked a lot with the deaf community in the past, I’ve incorporated sign language into the role. Because even though it wouldn’t be ASL, he would have had to have a way to communicate with his master. On the flip side of that, he still has to sing these beautiful songs. Luckily, he mostly only signs when he’s alone. In our own mind, we don’t sound afflicted. So I’m trying to balance the purity of his spirit with the deformity of his visage.

NBC4NY: Let’s talk about those songs. Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz’s score is so beautiful.
ARDEN: I love singing these songs. I get to sing “Out There” and “Heaven’s Light” and then a new song in Act II called “Made of Stone.” You know it’s good when you’re terrified of your material, and you do service to the lyric and melody. And there’s not a single performance that I’m not absolutely terrified that this could fall off. The melodies are beautiful and the lyrics are an actor’s dream. I feel like I’m discovering new thoughts each time I go on stage within these songs. That’s all you can ask for.

NBC4NY: What surprised me about the show is how different it is from the animated film.
ARDEN: It’s shifted a lot through the years. I think Alan [Menken] and Stephen [Schwartz] have really listened to what people have to say, and have respected and honored the audience. We don’t dumb it down. We don’t pander to what people think a Disney show would be. They’re really trying to honor Hugo’s work in this version. It’s definitely taken a more adult tone. Even when it’s more difficult and more complicated, and sometimes scary and coarse, they haven’t shied away from it.

NBC4NY: How have audiences been reacting?
ARDEN: I’ve never been in a show where I felt more love from the audience. Almost every show, people are on their feet before the last note is sung. I think people are incredibly touched to this. That’s a testament to these writers and to the actual story from Hugo. It’s something that resonates deep -- that hopefully has something you can take away. I feel like I’m a better person for speaking these lines and singing these notes every night.

NBC4NY: Any word on the future of the show after Paper Mill?
ARDEN: I have no idea. I hope we get to tell the story to more people because I think it’s an important one. But if not, I’m sure my knees and neck will probably be better for it! Either way, I’m really proud of the bold and fearless work that we have done. I would love to know what is coming next!

NBC4NY: It’s funny -- you have a career of not knowing what’s coming next!
ARDEN: Yeah, that’s the gig. And then sometimes you do know. I did a sitcom -- FX’s “Anger Management” -- for four years before this. And there’s a certain restlessness involved in that as well. So you’re either restless or you’re uncertain and terrified. Luckily, I have a beautiful man [fiancé Andy Mientus, of NBC’s “Smash” fame] to come home to at night, who understands that just as much as I do. We just have to cherish what little stabilities we have in our life.

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” through April 5 at Paper Mill Playhouse, 22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, N.J. Tickets: $28-$99. Visit PaperMill.org, or call 973-376-4343. 



Photo Credit: Michael Arden]]>
<![CDATA[The Five Borough Shakespeare Tour]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 17:26:53 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/498406565SL00038_Special_Sc.jpg

A free production of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy “Macbeth” is coming to your borough this spring, thanks to The Public Theater and its expanded Mobile Shakespeare Unit.

Directed by Edward Torres, “Macbeth” will tour the five boroughs from April 24 to May 14, visit unlikely places to see a show, like correctional facilities, homeless shelters, social service organizations, and community centers.

Tour dates are as follows:

April 24: Pelham Fritz Recreation Center, Manhattan
April 25: Highbridge Recreation Center, Manhattan
April 27: DreamYard Arts Project, Bronx
April 28: Brownsville Recreation Center, Brooklyn
April 29: Fortune Society, Queens.
April 30: Eric M. Taylor Center, Rikers Island
May 1: Queensboro Correctional Facility, Queens
May 4: Lenox Hill Women’s Mental Health Shelter at the Park Avenue Armory, Manhattan
May 5: Metropolitan Detention Center (Male Population), Brooklyn
May 6: Metropolitan Correctional Center, Manhattan
May 7: Rose M. Singer Center, Rikers Island
May 8: Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn
May 9: Faber Park Field House, Staten Island
May 11: ICL Personalized Recovery-Oriented Services, Brooklyn
May 12: Taconic Correctional Facility, Westchester
May 13: Metropolitan Detention Center (Female Population), Brooklyn

“The Mobile Unit is the purest expression of Joe Papp’s vision, that society is better when Shakespeare belongs to everyone,” Artistic Director Oskar Eustis, said in a statement. “It’s an honor to welcome Edward Torres, in his Public Theater debut, directing a show that is a nightmare about what happens when we follow the darkest angels of our nature.”

After its tour, “Macbeth” will have a limited sit-down run at The Public Theater. Performances begin May 17 and run through June 7, with an opening night scheduled for May 20. Tickets are $15 for members, and $20 for non-members, with 20 tickets for each performance going to community organizations that cannot host a visit from the tour.

This is the fifth year The Public has presented the Mobile Shakespeare Unit. Last fall, the Mobile Shakespeare Unit toured “Pericles.”
 



Photo Credit: Stephen Lovekin | Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[“The Wiz” Will be NBC’s Next Live Musical ]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 19:55:34 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/the-wiz-79623244.jpg

NBC will adapt the “The Wiz” for their next live musical. And this time, they’re not just stopping on TV, but taking the show all the way to the Broadway stage.

The 1975 musical, which retells L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” with an all-black cast set in a fantasy version of New York City, will air on NBC Dec. 3 -- following in the footsteps of 2013’s “The Sound of Music Live!” and last year’s “Peter Pan Live!”

Like those two productions, “The Wiz Live!” will be produced by Craig Zaden and Neil Meron. But unlike previous years, NBC will transfer its revival of “The Wiz” on Broadway for the 2016-17 season.

Tony-winning director Kenny Leon (“A Raisin in the Sun”) will stage both productions, with Tony winner Harvey Fierstein providing additional material to William F. Brown’s original Broadway book.

Cirque du Soleil will co-produce alongside Zaden and Meron, meaning there’s a good chance our residents of the Land of Oz will be performing some high-flying circus acts.

“We love this yearly tradition and we’re more excited than ever to not only bring another Broadway musical to America’s living rooms, but also see it land on Broadway as well,” NBC chairman Robert Greenblatt said. “Cirque’s incredible imagination will help bring the fantasy world of Oz vividly to life and give this great show a modern spin on the age-old story we all love.”

With music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls, “The Wiz” features some of Broadway’s most-iconic songs, including “Ease on Down the Road,” “Home” and “Brand New Day.” The hit 1978 film version starred Diana Ross and Michael Jackson as Dorothy and the Scarecrow, respectively.

Casting will be announced soon.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>