I have a soft spot for Broadway revivals. Depending on the season, I’m usually either excited or neutral about new, original musicals, but nothing beats seeing gorgeous, full-blown productions of the shows I grew up loving. I’m still waiting for a revival of The Music Man, but in the meantime, I had the pleasure of seeing My Fair Lady at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater last week. While it’s never been one of my favorites, I’ve always adored My Fair Lady‘s score, and seeing it on such a grand scale was wonderful.
Following Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle’s mission to improve her dialect with lessons from linguistics expert Professor Henry Higgins, this revival originally opened in April. TV star Lauren Ambrose played Eliza Doolittle, and after scoring a Tony nomination, she left the production to film a TV series. Acclaimed Broadway star Laura Benanti, who I’ve grown to love for her humor and great social media presence, then stepped into what she has long described as her dream role. She joined original company members Harry Hadden-Paton as Henry Higgins and Norbert Leo Butz as Alfred Doolittle.
Happy November! This is my favorite time of year — the weather has finally realized it’s autumn, Oscar bait movies are hitting the theaters, and the general merriment and chaos of the holiday season is in the air. While I have several contemporary reads coming up on my library holds list, I mostly read historical fiction in October. Four of these books were NetGalley ARCs, but two of them have since been published and are receiving some well-deserved praise!
Although the ratings of this lineup suggest the books were fairly average, the majority of them had special elements that really stood out to me and kept me invested.
One Day in December, by Josie Silver (★★★★☆)
In her early twenties near the Christmas holidays, Laurie spots a man waiting on the street below from the top deck of a London bus. They make eye contact and have an inexplicably strong connection. Laurie and her best friend Sarah spend the next year searching London for the mystery man. She finds him the following Christmas when Sarah introduces him as Jack, her boyfriend. The rest of the book follows Laurie and Jack over the next several years, becoming close friends while avoiding the fact that they once shared that special moment.
I had the pleasure of seeing Waitress on Broadway back in October as a belated birthday present. My mom, sister, and I took advantage of the show’s “Buy One, Get One for $10” deal to grab discounted tickets for a Sunday matinee, and as much as I’ve gotten used to the post-evening show hustle through Times Square to make my train home, it was nice to drive in with people and leave the theater a little more relaxed than usual.
Waitress has been on my list of must-see Broadways show for awhile, and at this point, it was really the only new musical that I was interested in seeing. Even now, I’m more looking forward to next season’s revivals than its new shows. The cast recording became essay-writing music for me in my last semester of school, and I figured that, if anything, seeing the show would be a fun, girly afternoon with my mom and sister.
Based on the 2007 indie film, Waitress tells the story of Jenna, a diner waitress in a small southern town who finds herself pregnant by her abusive husband. In addition to feeling ambivalent about becoming a mother, she has a talent for baking unique pies, and schemes to raise enough money to enter a pie-making contest that could allow her to leave her husband and start anew. Things become complicated when Jenna starts falling for her married OB/GYN, and the plot also explores her coworkers’ experiences with finding love.
The last Dream Casting blog I did was for Into the Woods, and today I wanted to do another Dream Casting for one of those classic shows I saw so many community productions of while growing up. The Music Man probably has my favorite overall score of any show – the songs are so easy to catch onto and are fun yet beautiful.
I think a huge part of The Music Man‘s initial appeal is Robert Preston in the title role both in the original Broadway production and in the film. Any other Harold Hill, professional or amateur, seems to fail in comparison because they’re (consciously or not) trying to emulate Preston’s unique style.
This may be why Broadway revivals of The Music Man are few and far between. There was a 1980 production with Dick Van Dyke that’s considered a revival, but it lasted less than a month after its opening. The 2000 production with Rebecca Luker and Craig Bierko lasted a little over a year and a half, which is a pretty standard run for a revival, but those are huge gaps between versions. What with Carousel and My Fair Lady being revived next year, there isn’t much room for another large-scale classic from that era, but I’m hoping for a Music Man revival in the next few years! So, I lived vicariously by casting my dream company of the show.
Harold Hill – James Monroe Iglehart or Seth MacFarlane
Seth MacFarlane is often the Internet’s choice for an ideal Harold Hill because he performed a very Preston-esque rendition of “Ya Got Trouble” at BBC Proms. I have to admit, I forgive Seth for all of his gross humor (ugh, remember the Oscars?) when I hear him sing musical theater, but I really don’t see him doing a Broadway show. I think he’d be a safe revival choice if producers want to please an older generation that likes their traditional musicals. However, current Hamilton star James Monroe Iglehart said in a recent interview that he would love to play Hill if non-traditional casting was embraced, and I sort of love the idea!
This post has been a long time coming since I saw the new Broadway musical Bandstand in previews back in April. Now with the show’s cast recording out, I’ve listened to a few songs recently and I think the show’s effect has finally sunk in for me. So, I’m ready to share my opinions on the show! Keep in mind that because I saw it in previews (albeit later in its preview run), there’s a possibility that some of its elements have changed since I was in the audience.
Going into the experience, I was really excited because I love the show’s World War II era. If I’m reading historical fiction, there’s like a 95% chance it’s set in the 1940s and exploring the before, after, or immediacy of the war. I also love hearing about the American homefront during the war, probably because I read so much about Europe in that time and there isn’t a huge literary focus on the States. I also adore Glenn Miller-esque music, which was a huge selling point of the show for me.
Originally produced at Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey, Bandstand presents a group of young WWII veterans returning home and dealing with the mental effects that the fighting has caused. Compared to now, the idea of PTSD is virtually nonexistent, and the men feel even more isolated from their homes because of such a lack of understanding these mental changes.
The last semester of college has been slowly killing me as far as having energy for outside blogging, but with things quickly winding down, I’m hoping to get back into it! I have some other posts coming up, like a general catch-up and my reaction to seeing Bandstand on Broadway, but given this crazily competitive theater season and the upcoming announcement of Tony nominations on May 2, I wanted to share my predictions for the musical categories. So many shows are officially opening in the next week or so, and Tony season is also a make-or-break time for new shows to gain some traction or quietly close a month after opening (remember Tuck Everlasting last year?)
Here we go with regularly scheduled News Worthy posts again!
Gene Wilder died at the age of 83 this week, and whenever a film icon of my childhood dies, it sort of numbs me for a while – like many others, I grew up watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Wilder’s death marks yet another loss from the 1960s-70s era that I see as the last period in which movie stars maintained an elusive privacy that made you see a character they were playing, not the actual actor. I just think he was so classy and really recognized the difference in today’s film industry versus the time he was most active. I found the interview below a year or two ago, and, about two minutes in, he actually touches upon how loud and unnecessarily crass today’s films can be. Wilder’s Young Frankenstein screenplay was nominated for an Oscar, and I think that detail and his remarks in this video show that he was a very selective person who really understood film.
I started my News Worthy posts back in February, and posted weekly updates pretty consistently until April, when I finished school. The posts were a great way to talk about any and every thing I found interesting from that week, and it was a guaranteed addition to my blog.
Working full time this summer swept up any ambition I had to maintain News Worthy, but with the start of the school year in sight, I’m going to try to post weekly posts again. For now, I’m highlighting some recent-ish news / tidbits that was exciting to me!
I’ve spoken a lot about my love for The Last Five Years, from the original cast album to the film adaptation, so the announcement that Cynthia Erivo and Joshua Henry are starring in a TLFY benefit made my life. Like the rest of America, I’ve basically become obsessed with Cynthia Erivo through her lead role in The Color Purple revival. Joshua Henry has done several Broadway shows and will be playing Burr in the Chicago production of Hamilton this fall.
I didn’t find the online theater community until about three or four years ago (discovering Aaron Tveit through Les Mis may’ve been a huge catalyst), and when I saw The Heiress on Broadway in early 2013, I had just found out that meeting the cast at the stage door was a thing. I then went three and a half years without seeing a Broadway show, familiarizing myself and falling in love with this world from afar. I don’t know anything about acting and singing technicalities, but I believe that simply keeping up on community news and learning about people’s careers gave me pretty resourceful knowledge of Broadway history.
Now with a greater appreciation and love for what these creators, actors, and musicians do on a daily basis, I would get frustrated about not being able to see shows because of time, price, or (when I was away at school) location. Episodes of Show People and press footage of shows had to suffice – and I know I can’t complain, having been able to see a good amount of shows at pretty young ages. Think about it as the equivalent to the kids’ table at a family event – once you hit a certain age, you know the real goods are at the grown-ups’ table, and it’s so close, yet so far.
But then, back in June, some stars magically began to align.