September 25, 2019 at 9:03 pm #1203103817
Yesterday in 1979, the original Broadway production of Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice’s musical, Evita, opened at the Broadway Theatre. Directed by the recently deceased Hal Prince and starring Patti LuPone & Mandy Patinkin, the production ended up winning 7 Tony Awards (including Best Musical). Since then, Evita went on to receive a 1996 Academy Award-winning film adaptation directed by Alan Parker and a 2012 Tony nominated Broadway revival.October 19, 2019 at 1:45 pm #1203144014
On this day in 1959, the original production of William Gibson’s biographical play, The Miracle Worker, opened on Broadway at the (now closed) Playhouse Theatre. The following year, it went on to win four Tony Awards for Best Play, Best Lead Actress in a Play (Anne Bancroft), Best Direction of a Play (Arthur Penn), and the now-retired category of Best Stage Technician (John Walters).
In 1962, the play was brought to the big screen with Penn repeating his directorial duties and Gibson adapting his own script. Four of the original Broadway cast members also got to reprise their roles such as Anne Bancroft as Annie Sullivan, Patty Duke as Helen Keller, Kathleen Comegys as Aunt Ev, and Beah Richards as Viney. Not to mention that actor Jack Hollander, who was a replacement in the Broadway production, got to reprise his role as Mr. Anagnos in the film. The following year, the film received five Academy Award nominations, but wasn’t up for Best Picture. Though it did pick up two trophies for Best Actress (Anne Bancroft; making her one of 11 performers to have won a Tony and an Oscar for the same role) and Best Supporting Actress (Patty Duke).
The play had only been revived on Broadway once back in 2010. The production was the first Broadway credit for director Kate Whoriskey and starred Alison Pill as Annie Sullivan with Abigail Breslin as Helen Keller. Sadly, the production failed to find an audience, and had to close about a month after its official opening. Pill’s understudy in that production happened to have been a Broadway debutante by the name of Katrina Lenk, who is currently enjoying a breakout year with Indecent, and now even more so with The Band’s Visit.
Today marks the 60th anniversary of The Miracle Worker opening on Broadway.October 19, 2019 at 2:06 pm #1203144024
On this day in 2009, Memphis opened at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway a long journey with a series of four out-of-town tryouts. Despite receiving mixed critical reviews and opening in a season filled with such as American Idiot, Come Fly Away, Fela!, and Million Dollar Quartet, the show spent months struggling at the box office. Yet, thanks to its presence on the 2010 Tony Awards (where it won the coveted prize of Best Musical), Memphis became a hit. The show was later filmed for broadcast in movie theaters, and has since been seen on Netflix, released on DVD/Blu-Ray, and is currently streaming on BroadwayHD.
Several members of the original Broadway cast would go on to greater things in their careers. James Monroe Iglehart went on to originate the role of the Genie in Disney’s Broadway stage adaptation of Aladdin, winning him the 2014 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical; Michael McGrath went on to win the 2012 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his performance as Cookie McGee in Nice Work If You Can Get It, and can currently be seen as Stan Fields in the stage musical adaptation of Tootsie; Derrick Baskin & Ephraim Sykes both went on to earn Tony nominations this past year for their performances in Ain’t Too Proud; and Daniel J. Watts is currently making his Broadway debut in a principal role as Ike Turner in Tina – The Tina Turner Musical. Not to mention that director Christopher Ashley would go on to win a Tony Award himself in 2017 for directing Come From Away while choreographer Sergio Trujillo just won a Tony this past year for the aforementioned Ain’t Too Proud.October 20, 2019 at 9:16 am #1203144663
On this day in 1954, the original production of a stage musical adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan opened at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway. Directed & choreographed by Jerome Robbins and starring Mary Martin & Cyril Ritchard, the show ended up winning 3 Tony Awards, and would later go on to receive several live TV productions.October 28, 2019 at 5:15 am #1203155610
With tonight’s performance, Wicked will surpass Les Miserables to become the fifth longest-running production in Broadway history.November 12, 2019 at 4:37 am #1203175761
On this day in 1989, the original Broadway production of Grand Hotel directed & choreographed by the legendary Tommy Tune opened at the Martin Beck (now Al Hirschfeld) Theatre on Broadway. In honor of its 30th anniversary, let’s take a look back at this very show as well as its success at the Tonys.November 16, 2019 at 4:27 am #1203181799
On this day in 1959, the original production of The Sound of Music starring Mary Martin & Theodore Bikel opened at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on Broadway. The project marked the final collaboration between the songwriting team of Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II as Hammerstein died of stomach cancer on August 23rd, 1960. The show ended up winning 5 Tony Awards (including Best Musical in a tie with Fiorello!, even beating the original production of Gypsy). Since then, the legacy of The Sound of Music has lived on through countless incarnations such as the 1965 Academy Award-winning film adaptation (which is still the most successful movie musical of all time), a 1998 Tony nominated Broadway revival, and the successful 2013 live televised production on NBC.November 17, 2019 at 5:00 am #1203182940
On this day in 1994, the original Broadway production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage musical adaptation of Billy Wilder’s 1950 Academy Award-winning film, Sunset Boulevard, opened at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway. The show benefitted at the Tony Awards the following year from opening in a weak season where the only other new musical, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, even opened. Sunset Boulevard managed to win 7 awards (including Best Musical), yet by the time it closed on March 22nd, 1997, the production failed to recoup its investment.
I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing the show’s Tony nominated original Joe Gillis, Alan Campbell, who is currently in rehearsals for a local production in my area. We talked quite a bit about his experiences with Sunset Boulevard such as getting involved, his friendship with Glenn Close, what he thought of the 2017 Broadway revival, and his thoughts on the much discussed movie musical adaptation in the works.December 12, 2019 at 7:03 pm #1203234317
Yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of the original Broadway production of City of Angels opening at the Virginia (now August Wilson) Theatre on Broadway. The show itself was kind of the underdog of the 1989-90 theatre season. It was a new musical without big stars that was only taking in about $18,000 a day during previews. Yet, when City of Angels opened to mixed reviews from critics, Frank Rich of the New York Times gave it some very glowing praise which led to $324,700 that was made at the box office a day later. The show also ended up winning 6 Tony Awards (including Best Musical).December 28, 2019 at 2:04 pm #1203252732
On this day in 1944, the original production of On the Town opened at the (now closed) Adelphi Theatre on Broadway. Directed by George Abbott and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, the musical went on to receive a film adaptation in 1949 that starred Gene Kelly as well as three Broadway revivals. The most recent of which from 2014 holds the distinction of being the longest-running New York production of On the Town since the original.March 22, 2020 at 2:55 pm #1203390496
Today is officially Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday!! As a tribute to him, I thought I’d post this video from the YouTuber Musical Theatre Mash, a self-professed huge Sondheim fan. In 2016, he asked his subscribers to make videos explaining what Stephen Sondheim meant to them, and he compiled their videos in a special video called “Our Sondheim Story.” Although it’s technically not a birthday tribute video, I think it’s perfect to look at today just to see how much of an impact he’s really had on people. Check it out for yourself; it’s really quite moving. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoyOTGvWX4kApril 14, 2020 at 5:29 am #1203425767
On this day in 1960, the original production of Bye Bye Birdie opened at the Martin Beck (now Al Hirschfeld) Theatre on Broadway. Directed & choreographed by Gower Champion and starring Dick Van Dyke & Chita Rivera, the show ended up winning 4 Tony Awards (including Best Musical). A film adaptation directed by George Sidney was released in 1963 with Dick Van Dyke and Paul Lynde reprising their roles from the original Broadway cast, though deviated a lot from the source material. It was all mainly because after (newcomer at the time) Ann-Margret was cast as Kim MacAfee, the filmmakers shifted the focus onto that character in order to showcase her talents as much as possible. Several members of the original Broadway cast (including Dick Van Dyke) admitted how unhappy they were with the adaptation because of that character shift. A TV movie adaptation directed by Gene Saks premiered in 1995 starring Jason Alexander and Vanessa Williams with future three-time Tony nominated actor Marc Kudisch as Conrad Birdie. That version was much closer to the source material and ended up winning a Primetime Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Music and Lyrics for an original song titled ‘Let’s Settle Down’.April 18, 2020 at 4:20 pm #1203434278
As today marks the 15th anniversary of The Light in the Piazza opening at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre in Lincoln Center on Broadway, let’s take a look back at this feature I wrote about the show last year.April 19, 2020 at 6:37 am #1203435065
On this day in 1945, the original production of Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II’s Carousel opened at the Majestic Theatre on Broadway starring John Raitt & Jan Clayton. While the musical itself debuted just two years before the Tony Awards were established, it would go on to get produced all over the world in high schools, regional theatres, community theatres, on Broadway, and in London’s West End. A film adaptation starring Gordon MacRae & Shirley Jones was released in 1956, yet is only one of three Rodgers & Hammerstein movie musicals to have not received a single Oscar nomination. A made-for-TV adaptation starring Robert Goulet and Mary Grover premiered on May 7th, 1967 on ABC.April 25, 2020 at 5:27 am #1203446690
On this day in 1985, the original production of William Hauptman & Roger Miller’s Big River opened at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre on Broadway. Adapted from the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, the original cast included René Auberjonois, Susan Browning, Patti Cohenour, John Goodman, Bob Gunton, Daniel H. Jenkins, Jennifer Leigh Warren, and William Youmans. The show ended up winning 8 Tony Awards (including Best Musical), and was revived in 2003 by Roundabout Theatre Company in collaboration with Deaf West Theatre.
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