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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

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Entries in Broadway and Stage (127)

Thursday
Dec182014

News of the Century: "Bombshell" From Smash Is Happening. June 15th, 2015

FAKE AD FROM THE TV SHOW. BUT THERE WILL BE A REAL ONE IN 2015.

That's right show queens, "Bombshell" is finally getting a stage production. [src] It's a one night only benefit event in NYC so who knows if it will be way above our pay grade but you have to start somewhere.

The Film Experience's troubled marriage to "Smash" the ill fated NBC series about the making of a Marilyn Monroe musical named "Bombshell" lives on! It's impossible to get a full divorce actually from that show and especially the show within the show because social media has guaranteed that all TV series with a devout following remain somehow in the pop culture conversation like they're still on the air.  I can't tell you how many times someone mentions Smash in my twitterfeed (#notcomplaining) and my eyes always flash a bit, like an ocular exclamation point. 

There's no word yet on casting but if Megan Hilty isn't playing Marilyn at this one night only event there's really no point in that day in the world's timeline even existing. This is our only mandatory requirement*. Otherwise proceed, producers. Our hearty gratitude and possible our dollars, depending on ticket prices, await you.

*Requirements are different than wants but we got a string of those too if you need 'em.

Thursday
Dec182014

Stage Door: Christmas With the Crawfords

 Feeling the holiday spirit yet?

Jose here. It’s Christmas Eve in the Crawford household, and Joan (Joey Arias), and her children Christina (Chris March of Project Runway) and Christopher (Adam Davidson) are getting ready to receive a very special guest: Miss Hedda Hopper (Sherry Vine) who will broadcast a holiday special live from their home. As the perfectionist actress stresses to her children how important it is that they make a good impression - no wire hangers to be seen anywhere! - it becomes obvious that the holidays here are a truly special occasion, as many famous guests show up throughout the night (most of them mistakenly ringing the Crawford bell on their way to a party at Gary Cooper’s house).

Last seen in New York, twelve years ago, Christmas With the Crawfords is a hilarious parody that will certainly appeal to actressexuals who don’t mind their favorite divas being ridiculed. As with any good parody, the work seen on this show makes it clear that its creators are not in it for the cheap jokes, or the easy targets, but their higher purpose is to highlight what is it that made these people so fantastic, that to exaggerate their unique traits feels like the highest form of tribute.

Among the featured guests and performers are Connie Champagne as Judy Garland (her rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is equally funny and devastatingly sad) and Flotilla Debarge as Hattie McDaniel (don’t ask…), and truly to reveal all the guests that show up would be to rob the show of some of its magic. At its center this is a showcase for the astonishing Arias, who with thighs-to-die-for and shoulder pads for days, epitomizes the harsh/sweet duality that made Joan Crawford so enigmatic.

Arias moves across the stage with grace and poise, and his chemistry with March is unbelievable. One could see these two go at it forever, both being highly talented comedians who know the importance of choosing the right moments to deliver their punchlines. The production design by Andrea Purcigliotti features an anachronistic, but effective reproduction of the “big eyes” portrait Joan received from Walter Keane, and with nods to films Crawford made much later than the 1944-setting of the show, Crawford-ites will be in for a real treat. A Christmas miracle of sorts…

Christmas With the Crawfords plays at the Abrons Arts Center through December 27.

Wednesday
Dec102014

Interview: Introducing Carrie Coon, 2014's Most Exciting New Actress

Carrie Coon at the premiere of Gone Girl in NYCActors who can register potently in all three acting mediums are less common than you'd think. Some movie stars are duds on stage (and vice versa) and, though it's becoming less of an issue as mediums shift and even merge, you can sometimes spot noticeable scale shifts in charisma in the actors who jump back and forth between TV and film as if one is the place they were born to live in and the other a nice place to visit. The lines may be blurring as more and more actors make a habit of doing all three but some actors seem right everywhere. It's not the medium but the acting itself that's their true home.

Carrie Coon is not a superstar (yet) -- "I'm not famous," she insists as we settle into our conversation about her breakthrough year -- but whichever medium you first caught her in, chances are you've already fallen. In a shockingly swift and continuous series of firsts over the past year and a half she's logged her first Broadway show (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Tony Nomination 2013) her first series regular TV (The Leftovers, expect nominations any second now) and her first film (Gone Girl, a huge hit, and inarguably one of the most talked about features of the year even if its awards season prospects are still hard to read).

Perhaps it's a case of mutual Midwestern ease but our hastily scheduled phone call feels not unlike meeting a very cool stranger a party who is completely chill and ready to TALK.

Our conversation on Gone Girl & The Leftovers is after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Nov292014

Manuel's Thanks

Editor's Note: I asked Team Experience to tell us what they're thankful for this year during the holiday weekend. Here's Amir in the cinematic spirit.

Manuel here. This year I'm thankful...

 

For cinematic girls, be they Gone or Wild
For is & Hers performances, be they in quirky suicide dramedies (The Skeleton Twins), Detroit-set vampire films (Only Lovers Left Alive), or fragmented grief studies (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them).  
For Queer triumphs, be they cross-cultural (Lilting), poignantly local (Love is Strange), or deliciously dangerous (Stranger by the Lake). 
For Oscar-winning actresses on stage, be they doing Genet (Cate Blanchett in The Maids) or Sondheim (Emma Thompson in Sweeney Todd).

 

For "Lone female" roles in Hollywood hits elevated by their performers, be they comedic (Rose Byrne in Neighbors) or action-packed (Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow
For witty nonfiction books by funny ladies, be they by harried working moms (Yes Please) or cripplingly anxious oversharers (Not That Kind of Girl)
For successful second acts by known commodities, be they stage-bound (Roundabout's Cabaret) or small-screen obsessed (The Comeback).

 

For Angry Julia, be she furrowing her brow along to Larry Kramer's words (in The Normal Heart) or losing an Emmy shortly thereafter. 
For funny ladies on the small screen, be they vice-presidents (Veep), convicted gals (Orange is the New Black), or eponymous protagonists (Jane the Virgin). 
For Hedwig's return to Broadway, be he played by a Broadway supernova (Neil Patrick Harris) or one in the making (Andrew Rannells).  
For Meryl Streep, be she terrorizing Blunt or making unconscionable demands (The Devil Wears Prada Into the Woods)

 

- Manuel


Related: Nathaniel gives thanksJose gives thanks, Amir gives thanks.

Tuesday
Nov252014

Quick Impressions: "Madame Frou-Frou (Singing Voice)" in The Boxtrolls

New Series! In Quick Impressions we'll be looking at the working actor in key movie scenes. Consider it a celebration of SAG card-holders everywhere and free advice for casting directors for people who aren't famous ...in some cases "yet". So many showbiz dreams wander around on every film set and are embedded in each frame of your favorite movies. 

Today, we're talking to actor Sean Patrick Doyle who sings the title song in The Boxtrolls in that great scene when Madame Frou-Frou takes the stage. Sir Ben Kingsley is the voice of Archibald Snatcher / Madame Frou-Frou so Sean Patrick makes like a modern day Marni Nixon.

NATHANIEL: What is that process of "voice matching" and how did you get the part - it's so different from your other credits. 

SEAN PATRICK DOYLE:  A cockney villain posing as a female Czechoslovakian show hall performer? - different indeed!  Laika had auditioned many actors in LA but Heather Vergo at Atlas Talent put a call out to their commercial office in New York, seeking performers who could interpret the song but still voice match.  My commercial agent Michael had seen me perform a soprano aria in the Broadway revival of La Cage Aux Folles.  He also knew that imitating famous singers is my party trick of choice.

I signed a few confidentiality documents, but was never told that the spoken recordings I was listening to were Sir Ben Kingsley. A week or so later, there was a bite at the line giving me feedback on my audition track and a slew of references to listen to before re-recording: Mae West, Edith Piaf, British Show Hall performers.  They also requested that I roughen up my sound a bit.  Dario Marianelli [The Oscar-winning composer] had done some digging online and turned up a video of me playing Fruma-Sarah in the 2008-09 National Tour of Fiddler on the Roof.  He was tickled that they had cast a male in the role for the first time, and advised “a little more of that wouldn’t hurt.”

Because I was doing a show here in New York, director Anthony Stacci and producer David Ichioka flew in from the West Coast. Co-director Graham Annable listened in from Portland and Dario from a studio in London.  It was collaboration across many time zones!

NATHANIEL: It payed off. The song/scene is amazing. Did you know what it would look like?

SEAN PATRICK DOYLE:  I was sent an animatic, which is a moving storyboard with rough sketches of the characters and their movement, along with the spoken voice performances in the Cheesebridge Fair scene.  When we recorded, the producers put up renderings of Snatcher and Frou Frou in the booth and also showed me footage of Ben recording his tracks in a lounge chair.  When seeing the movie, the real surprise was that they had turned it into a full production number, using live choreographed dancers to aid the animators.  They also had Mark Orton re-orchestrate the song with Portland band Loch Lomond, and bent some of the higher operatic notes (the ending note was originally a soprano A), so it sounded slightly different, too.  I think the finished product is very clever, and fits Ben’s colorful spoken performance.

NATHANIEL: Proposal: If the song is nominated for an Oscar, You and Ben Kingsley do the number in full drag. He stands at the microphone and you are behind him as a curtain opens up, the Kathy Selden to his Lina Lamont. 

SEAN PATRICK DOYLE:  It might take some convincing to get Sir Kingsley into a frock, but, hey, sign me up!  I know the Academy often favors a pop sound, but I’d be very happy to see Eric Idle’s cheeky lyrics and Weill-esque melody recognized on that level.

NATHANIEL: Speaking of frocks, First La Cage and now you're onstage in Kinky Boots (such a fun show!). So should we expect to see you next season on RuPaul's Drag Race

SEAN PATRICK DOYLE:  Haha!  Well, as much as I love watching those queens battle it out, the fulfillment I get from gender-bending roles comes solely from being able to play a character wildly different from myself. Recently I was playing nebbishy Eugene in Grease at Paper Mill Playhouse, and I just filmed an episode as a heroin addict in the final season of Nurse Jackie.  The further I step away from myself, the more fun the work becomes.  But as a lithe countertenor weighing in at a buck twenty, a few of my bigger jobs have involved elements of gender illusion.  It’s not in every actor’s skill set and I’ve used that to my advantage, but of course the goal is always to do really varied, interesting work!  Still, let me tell ya - it takes a real man to pump across a Broadway stage wearing a bikini and 7 1/2 inch heels.  Come to the Hirschfeld and I’ll show you! 

The Boxtrolls will be released digitally on Dec 23rd with the DVD/BluRay release on January 20th, 2015. You can follow Sean Patrick on twitter here. He is currently on stage as "Angel" in Kinky Boots (in the top hat and red coat, third from right by football star Michael Sam below). You can also listen to Sean Patrick's insane voice reel below if you're interested.

 

Previously: "Nervous Intern" in Gone Girl
Next Tuesday: American Horror Story: Freakshow

Tuesday
Nov252014

Stage Door: Emma Stone in "Cabaret"

Jose here. Earlier this year I reported back from the Kit Kat Club to share my impressions about Michelle Williams’ performance as Sally Bowles in the Roundabout Theatre production of Cabaret. Last night I went back to see what Emma Stone (Spirit-Nominated this morning) brought to the part...

Halfway through the first act of Cabaret, Sally Bowles realizes that life with her naive, new lover Cliff (Bill Heck) might be exactly what she needs. She sits with Cliff on a chaise lounge and for a moment she sees herself living the life of a wife and mother, satisfied with keeping home and raising her child. Suddenly, the Emcee interrupts this precious moment by bringing a microphone, its allure too powerful for Sally to resist, and drawn towards it as if under a spell, she performs “Maybe This Time”.

Onstage, the heartbreaking irony of this moment (Sally selling her soul to showbiz, while fooling herself into thinking she’s doing the opposite) is hard to detect if the actress playing her is too eager, or not eager enough; a delicate balance which I’m thrilled to report was beautifully achieved by Emma Stone.

Having already proved to be a truly magnetic screen presence, Stone brings her unusual sensuality to Sally Bowles by subverting the quirkiness that makes her so much fun to watch in movies. Gone are the traces of the goofy girl from Easy A, or the naivete of her Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man. If anything, she’s taking on the introspective self-destructiveness of her Sam from Birdman, the same volatile qualities that make her appealing and scary. Her Sally is a teenager who has convinced herself she can fool others into thinking she can play with the grown-ups. Her levels of delusion are such that she fails to notice she hasn’t really fooled anyone but herself.

Stone is also smart enough to know that in the stage version, Sally isn’t the star, she’s part of the ensemble. To a certain degree she's also a memory conveyed by Cliff who “writes” the show as it goes by looking back at his Berlin experiences. Stone’s Sally, while not the star of the show, is so seductive that we miss her whenever she’s not onstage, partly because we want to see her again, and partly because we are afraid of what will happen to her when we’re not looking after her. The audience develops caretaker feelings towards her, combined with sexual desire, making for Stone’s most mature performance to date.

And can she sing you ask? While she is obviously no Liza (then again who is?), Stone successfully delivers her numbers, bringing a raspy, sensual quality to them. (She often sounds like Lindsay Lohan did in her pop star moment!). Stone knows that singing isn’t her (or Sally's) true forte, so she lets this be an essential part of the performance, delivering the last third of the title song completely out of pitch, furiously fighting against the notes coming from the band. If a man can’t restrict her, why does this song think it can?