Broadway

All posts tagged Broadway

Less than a month to go until American fans get the chance to see Alfie Boe and Michael Ball live in concert for one night only! The UK’s biggest selling artists of 2016, who scored the Christmas number one album no less, are appearing at the New York City Center on May 23 for one night only – tickets are still available, albeit going fast, so click here to ensure you don’t miss out.  Introduce a friend to the music of Ball and Boe – get two tickets and you get a copy of Together thrown in!

The duo have many US fans and are thrilled to have the opportunity to perform songs from Together – who knows, they might sing something that features on the next album! Alfie in particular, has ‘test driven’ a number of songs before recording in recent years.

So why New York you might ask.  One answer might be that both Michael and Alfie have appeared on Broadway and are well known by audiences there; furthermore, their chart topping album, Together, was recorded there last year. Alfie first appeared on Broadway way back in 2002 as Rodolfo in Baz Luhrman’s La Boheme; at the time, an operatic career beckoned and was duly embarked upon for the next few years before the life changing 25th anniversary concert of Les Mis came along.  It was Les Mis that brought Alfie back to Broadway in 2015, taking over from fellow Les Mis 25th star Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean for a five month run – he handed over to John Owen-Jones who was part of the Valjean quartet at Les Mis 25.  Following on from that, Alfie went into a short stint in Finding Neverland.

Michael’s first Broadway role was in 1990 when he originated Alex in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love (he also originated the role in London).   Then came a break of fifteen years whilst concert, TV and UK based theatre work took precedence although when he did return, in 2005, it was to two productions in quick succession – the first was for New York City Opera, Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience.  The role that took him back to a Broadway musical was Count Fosco in The Woman in White, again for Andrew Lloyd Webber.

For two such amazing voices, the set list for this concert could be endless, such is the variety of their repertoire but I would suggest that two songs guaranteed to make the final list are their most famous songs and ones that have been sung at almost every concert the pair have ever given: Bring Him Home and Love Changes Everything.

Bring Him Home as part of Les Mis Medley  – first night of the UK tour 2016:

Love Changes Everything:

If you’re looking to make the concert that extra bit more special, VIP meet and greet tickets are available too – click here.

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There are some great new shows on Broadway and in the West End and one of the newest on Broadway is Shuffle Along.  This review is from Roberta Kappus on the Angry Baby blog:

To attempt to describe Shuffle Along, an original musical comedy, is to do this show a disservice.

It has an excitement and vitality that cannot be conveyed. With a cast led by Audra McDonald (6 Tony awards), Brian Stokes Mitchell and Billy Porter (1 Tony each) expectations are high and easily met with the help of a very strong supporting cast. The acting, the singing, the dancing and the costumes are exceptional. This is a show that is dominated by the performances and not necessarily the plot.

The actual title of the show is Shuffle Along or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. It is not a revival of Shuffle Along but the story about it which incorporates numbers from the original.

Act 1 is the dream and the trials of bringing an all black show to Broadway in 1921 and its incredible success. Act 2 deals with the deteriorating relationships of the people involved with this accomplishment. Throughout a narrative by Brian Stokes Mitchell reinforces the story line and provides a learning experience about black theater in America.

Act 1 is very upbeat and celebratory with most of the dance numbers. It also features a song by Brian Stokes Mitchell sung completely a cappella which is stunning. Act 2 is more somber but has an incredible blues number by Billy Porter. Audra McDonald is just exceptional throughout. It is impossible to say which is her best – her acting, her dancing or her singing.

While this is a show worth seeing for its remarkable performances alone, I do not want to let the comedic aspect go unmentioned. There are a number of very good lines throughout the show. The ones dealing with the price of Broadway tickets received the largest laughs. There were also several very clever scenes which left one wondering how they were even conceived.

Without a doubt this is a show worth seeing assuming you can get a ticket for it.

This first appeared on www.angrybaby.co.uk.

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Ever since news broke that Alfie Boe would play JM Barrie in Broadway’s Finding Neverland, expectations from fans have been sky high,  So, with Alfie’s opening night this week, our fabulous regular New York reviewer, Roberta, went along to not only the first night, but the following day’s matinee as well.  This is her review of the two performances.

Alfie Boe not only flew from Les Miz to Neverland as the headlines read but soared. The role of J. M. Barrie could have been written for Alfie. His youthful exuberance when playing with Peter and his brothers in the park or at the dining room table (great scene) and his caring and tenderness towards their mother exemplify qualities we have all associated with Alfie.

As was expected Alfie’s singing was extraordinary. I had seen this show last year with Matthew Morrison and thought the score was rather bland. I am not sure how he did it but Alfie breathed new life into these songs. They became vital and colourful and you left the theatre humming them.  The most impressive and surprising thing about Alfie’s performance in his new role was his mastery of the very complex choreography which dominates act 1.  Anyone thinking Alfie has moved into an easier, less exhausting role in Neverland (which included me) from Les Miz is mistaken.  Alfie jumps on and off benches, twirls around lamp posts, chases children through a park, is turned upside down and leaps over a park bench landing on his feet all in perfect time to the music on a stage filled with other performers. It is truly amazing to watch him do all this with such pinpoint accuracy while sometimes singing at the same time.   All this comes in the first act and Alfie seemed much more relaxed in act 2, developing a nice relationship with Laura Michelle Kelly’s character, Sylvia.  The audience even applauded when Barrie and Sylvia finally kiss, although I have to note that they did the same when Matthew Morrison was in the role.

A month ago almost to the day I had watched Alfie as a dying, old man utter the words “to love another person is to see the face of God”.  Last night I saw Alfie as an imaginative author creating Peter Pan and becoming the father of four orphan boys.  To me this is a truly remarkable transformation and a testimony to Alfie’s skills and abilities.  He is truly brilliant in both roles.

Thanks for that great review Roberta, as ever you made me feel as if I was there watching.

FN 1st night

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If you’re reading this then you must be a fan of Alfie Boe, right?  But how well do you know the man himself?  Could he be your specialist subject on Mastermind?  If you’ve been left shouting ‘Alfie Boe’ at the TV during Pointless when the contestants didn’t have a clue, perhaps this is the quiz for you.

There’s not a prize though, just the satisfaction of scoring ten out of ten.  Good luck – answers next week.

  1. Which role will Alfie shortly take over on Broadway?
  2. Who did Alfie pick as his favourite Javert in an interview with thoughtsofjustafan last year?
  3. How many brothers and sisters does Alfie have and what are their names?
  4. What are the names of the two alternate Rodolfo’s in Baz Luhrman’s La Boheme?
  5. What is the name of Alfie’s management company?
  6. Name the support acts for Alfie’s three headline tours (Bring Him Home, Storyteller and Serenata).
  7. Alfie won Glyndebourne’s Christie prize – what was the role?
  8. In which opera house was Alfie’s last operatic role?
  9. And which opera was he performing in?
  10. What was the name of the new song that Alfie revealed at Leeds in 2015?

Answers revealed next week!  In the meantime, don’t forget to tun into BBC Radio 2 on Monday 14 March at 10pm for Alfie’s Opera Heroes!

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I am a huge fan of musical theatre and as we get towards the end of January, I’ve teamed up with Angry Baby’s Flo Bannigan to share her top ten ‘must see’ musicals of 2016.  The shows are in no particular order and are from both Broadway and the West End so if you can get to New York or London this year, these are the shows to see.

Alfie Boe in Les Miserables:
Anyone who knows their tenors will already be well aware that Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean is the ticket to die for. His run in the role on Broadway ends in February, but he has already spilled the beans that he will be moving straight into another show. The question is – which one? With rehearsal time to assimilate a new leading man anything from two weeks to two months, we may not know for quite a while, but we can be sure that any show which Alfie headlines will sell out fast.

Hamilton:
You’d have to have been living under a rock to not have heard of this one by now. After a sell out run at the Public Theatre, Hamilton moved to Broadway in August 2015. Click here to read more.

The Color Purple:
The Color Purple‘s revival first played at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory in 2013 before moving to Broadway in December of 2015. Although having only just opened, it has received amazing reviews and is set to be a big contender at 2016’s Tony Awards.

Sheridan Smith:
Although Sheridan Smith is not, strictly speaking, a musical theatre moment, she is definitely one to watch out for in 2016. I first saw her on the West End in Legally Blonde years ago, and she’ll be back in 2016 as Fanny Brice in the revival of Funny Girl. In 2015 it opened at the Menier Chocolate Factory, where it will continue to play to sell out audiences in early 2016 before moving to the West End in April.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch:
This is a bittersweet one, as Hedwig and the Angry Inch closed on Broadway in September. However this is because it is making plans to come to London in the near future! Yay!

School of Rock:
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical adaptation of the hit movie School of Rock opened on Broadway in 2015. It is planning to open at the London Palladium too, in late 2016. Watch out for hordes of child actors competing for the hottest roles since Matilda – good luck kids, you all deserve the break!

Spring Awakening:
Deaf West Theatre’s revival of Spring Awakening, which incorporates sign language into the original show, opened on Broadway in 2015. Although it is a strictly limited engagement, it is wowing audiences every single night.

The King And I:
A revival of The King and I opened on Broadway in 2015, starring Kelli O’Hara and Hoon Lee. It picked up a fair few Tonys at the 2015 awards, and looks like it’ll run for a lot longer yet. It’s a show with lots of memories for the blogger behind Angry Baby, Flo Bannigan, as she played one of the King’s children in the 2012 UK tour.

Finding Neverland:
Another screen to stage adaptation, that started life at Leicester’s ‘Curve’ theatre, Finding Neverland opened on Broadway starring Glee’s Matthew Morrison. It did not receive any Tony nominations, but it is still selling out and stunning audiences. Matthew Morrison will be leaving the show early in 2016 and his replacement, Tony Yazbeck, is sure to bring something new to the role.

Beautiful:
Beautiful has been playing on Broadway for a while now, and this year Chilina Kennedy replaced Jessie Mueller in the starring role of Carole King. In 2015 it opened on the West End and its a show I’d love to catch at some point.

So there you have our top ten shows for 2016, a mix of the classic and the new – clips from all shows can be found in this playlist:

Hope you get the chance to see at least one of them this year!

Massive thanks to Flo Bannigan for writing this and sharing with me!

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A few weeks ago I had never really heard of Hamilton and certainly never heard of Lin-Manuel Miranda until I read Flo Bannigan’s Angry Baby blog about the musical phenomenon that has taken Broadway by storm.  It’s the current must see show on Broadway and if you’re there to see Alfie Boe in Les Mis you should try and get tickets…and there’s the rub; it’s sold out for months and tickets are ridiculously difficult to come by.  However, we don’t let a little thing like that put us off and thoughtsofjustafan’s resident Broadway critic, Roberta Kappus, saw the show a while ago and so we have a review!

Hip hop. Rap. Definitely not my type of music but the music of Broadway’s hottest ticket – Hamilton. Reviews for the show were using terms such as phenomenal,  ground breaking and innovative. So, with some trepidation I decided to go. Even while I was waiting to enter the theatre  I was telling myself I could always leave at the intermission if I didn’t like it. Almost three hours later I walked out loving the show and convinced that Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator, composer and star was a genius.  It all works: the music, the multiracial cast, the costumes, the dancing and on and on.   The show, which is sung throughout, tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, an orphan and an immigrant, who fought in the American Revolution against England.  He was one of America’s Founding Fathers, became the first Treasury Secretary and was killed in a duel by Aaron Burr, the vice president. It touches on Hamilton’s personal life including a famous affair as well as his relationships with his contemporaries including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.    The show covers a lot and that is one of the reasons given by Lin-Manuel for his use of hip hop which  contains more words per minute than other forms of music. It also lends itself to a revolutionary, strife-torn atmosphere.  But where needed, the score incorporates R&B, jazz, Rodgers and Hammerstein and Gilbert and Sullivan as well. There are verbal and musical references to many Broadway shows including Les Mis throughout the show.  Lin-Manuel Miranda, the lead in the show, is not an Alfie Boe or a John Owen-Jones but he has a tremendous supporting cast. Particularly outstanding are  Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr,  Daveed Diggs who plays both Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson and Phillipa Soo who is Hamilton’s wife, Eliza.  To ensure historical accuracy a Hamilton biographer whose book was the basis for this show was hired as an adviser.

Thanks for that great review Roberta – rumour has it that Hamilton will be coming to London next year so us in the UK can see for ourselves…if we can get tickets of course!  In the meantime, the cast recording is available here and we can hear Satisfied, which shows how the musical styles work together (the song explains how Hamilton met and married Eliza Schuyler, sister of Angelica):

Wow is all I can say to that – love it!

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Fans have been speculating about what Alfie will do after he leaves Les Mis at the end of February and aside from Alfie Boe Live from Scarborough in June, the ideas generated so far have been centred around tours and albums.  Today, however, it seems as if Alfie may go into a different Broadway show which will see him in New York until August!  Alfie’s management have not been able to confirm this as yet so once more we wait and see.  As ‘soon’ as more news becomes available, you’ll be the first to know.

This startling piece of news comes to us from Alfie himself via a podcast from Clint Boon on iTunes.  Click here to hear the podcast  – Clint starts talking about Opera Dude at 9.15 and the phone interview with Alfie starts at around 12 minutes.

Alfie and Clint Boon worked together many moons ago with The Clint Boon Experience and the albums that Alfie features on are available here.  Always fun to hear about ‘behind the scenes’ on recordings – as Alfie mentions in his book, the first time he heard himself on the radio was as Opera Dude on a Clint Boon Experience single. Interesting chat about a possible future collaboration too – bring it on!

Alfie’s autobiography, My Story, is available here:

alfie autobio

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If you’re in New York to see Alfie Boe in Les Mis you might also want to see another Broadway show and (aside from Hamilton) the newest show with a hot ticket is George Takei’s Allegiance.  The show is based on the real life experiences of Japanese Americans interned following the bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1941 (Takei was himself interned) and stars, alongside Takei, Les Mis alumni Lea Salonga.  Our resident New York critic, Roberta, Kappus went to see the show when it opened:

Allegiance  is a powerful and moving musical starring Lea Salonga and George Takei (Star Trek) that just opened on Broadway. The story comes from the real life experience of Mr. Takei’s family in an internment camp following the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II.  Considered a possible threat to the US, many Japanese Americans living on the west coast were rounded up and sent to camps inland.  As such it deals with the despairs, the loves, the triumphs, the births and deaths of this family and others that the family touch in the internment camp.
Allegiance has an incredible cast and I would argue that the cast, alone, makes the show worth seeing.  I don’t think Lea Salonga needs much explanation as many know her from the 25th Anniversary of Les Mis and she is just as outstanding in Allegiance. I do not even know how to describe her voice but it is stunningly beautiful and I could listen to her all day. George Takei who is making his Broadway debut at 78  gives a surprisingly strong performance. Despite all his years of acting I just did not expect such a remarkable performance from him.  Mr. Takei and Ms Salonga are supported by an amazing cast that includes Telly Leung (Glee) and Katie Rose Clarke (Wicked) who recently recorded a Dan and Laura Curtis duet, Now You’re Here, with Chris McCarrell (Marius in Les Mis).

At the end, there is no doubt that Mr. Takei has achieved his goal of ensuring that this chapter in American history is not forgotten. You leave the theater thinking about what you  have just seen and you are still thinking about it weeks later.  If you are interested in a musical with a strong cast that is thought provoking then you should see Allegiance.

Thanks for the review Roberta.

For Allegiance tickets and more info on the show click here.

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