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August 18, 2010 - by Griffin Miller
A Mediterranean taverna in the Theater District...
Those familiar with New York’s theatrical cycle know that late August/early September lies smack on the cusp of the new fall season. August especially has a reputation for being a time of transition, with many limited-run shows vacating their Broadway houses to make room for new arrivals. (For a look at new shows opening in September, click here.)
Which is not to say the Great White Way isn’t rich with seasoned treasures well worth a first, second or even a third visit. Admittedly, I have my favorites -- at the moment they’re all musicals since the past season’s comedies and dramas have pretty much taken it on the lam.
In the long-running niche, there’s Wicked, of course (although it’s still a challenge to score tickets for this notorious sell-out), with Mandy Gonzalez (recently of In the Heights) playing the Witch of the West, Elphaba; and The Lion King, which still gives me chills thanks to its flawless score and Julie Taymor’s unparalleled creature creations. And Chicago always -- no matter who’s playing the leads. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve given myself over to “All That Jazz” and have yet to be anything but “razzle-dazzled” by this show.
Moving on to the shows that made the 2009-2010 season intensely remarkable: American Idiot: Tony-winning director Michael Mayer has outdone himself; the set kills; the dynamic young cast includes John Gallagher, Jr.; and, oh yes, Green Day. Duh. Fela!: Brilliant, important and unlike anything you’ve ever seen on Broadway -- plus it marks the return of Tony winner Lillias White. No wonder celebs Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick were spotted dancing in the aisles to musician/activist Fela Kuti’s powerful music. La Cage aux Folles: Dream team(ing) of Douglas Hodge and Kelsey Grammer plus a bodaciously buff bevy of Cagelles. Enough said. And... Million Dollar Quartet: A deliciously tweaked convergence in rock n’ roll history starring Robert Britton Lyons (Carl Perkins), Lance Guest (Johnny Cash); Eddie Clendening (Elvis Presley); and a breakout/Tony-winning performance by Levi Kreis as Jerry Lee Lewis.
WORTH NOTING... Even if you were lucky enough to see Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury in the Broadway revival of A Little Night Music earlier in its run, I cannot urge you strongly enough to return to the Walter Kerr Theatre to see Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch as Desiree and Madame Armfeldt, respectively. Both of these veterans of the Broadway stage bring unique rhythms and provocative comic timing to their roles. Stritch, in particular, revels in catching the audience off guard, while Peters proves once again why she and Sondheim are such a cogent match.
Having seen Night Music when it first opened with pretty much the same cast, I can attest to the fact that the supporting cast is also better than ever, having matured to the point where they have the theatergoers not so much eating out of their hands as feasting. Kudos to Alexander Hanson, Ramona Mallory, Hunter Ryan Herdlicka, Lee Ann Larkin, Aaron Lazar and Erin Davie -- they are beyond wonderful, as proved by the warm response from the audience.
And finally, the latest news from Off-Broadway’s happiest of hits, Love, Loss, and What I Wore -- a show that proves beyond a doubt that a well-timed influx of new celebrity performers is an extremely cool thing. The cast you see is based exclusively on when you book your tickets. These are the cast lineups for August and September.
Now through Aug. 29th, the cast includes Tony nominee Jayne Houdyshell (Well; Wicked); Tony winner Adriane Lenox (Doubt; The Blind Side); Allison Mack (CW’s Smallville); Kate Mulgrew (Captain Kathryn Janeway of Star Trek: Voyager), and Kristine Nielsen (Les Liaisons Dangereuses). Starting Sept. 1st, the cast will shift to Jamie-Lynn Sigler (The Sopranos), Tony winner Victoria Clark (The Light in the Piazza), Helen Carey (Julie and Julia), Nancy Giles (CBS Sunday Morning correspondent) and Stacy London (host of TLC’s What Not to Wear).
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