18 items from 2015
Sting’s “The Last Ship” and Jason Robert Brown’s “Honeymoon in Vegas” were both sabotaged by inferior books, and despite good scores could not survive this season on Broadway. “It Shoulda Been You,” which opened Tuesday at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in New York, suffers the reverse problem — terrific book, numbingly bland music — which in the crazy world of musical theater does not Ko its chances for success. Who knows? “Shoulda” could turn into the surprise hit of the 2014-15 season. Brian Hargrove’s witty, twist-filled book about a mixed-up wedding party serves as the playground for a superb ensemble. »
- Robert Hofler
“We couldn’t be more excited to be working with Liz,” the Kings said of Glotzer, who has served as president of Castle Rock since 1996. “Not only does she have spectacular taste, she has years of experience working with wonderful feature writers — many of whom are now looking to explore TV. That background, plus having the producing skills to help us move our own projects forward, makes this the perfect match.”
Glotzer joined Castle Rock at its inception in 1987, and during her time there, the company produced over 90 films including “When Harry Met Sally,” “Honeymoon in Vegas,” “A Few Good Men,” “Best in Show,” “The Polar Express” and “Miss Congeniality. »
- Elizabeth Wagmeister
When Hollywood merges with Broadway, there are always fender-benders.
Just ask Harvey Weinstein.
As the movie aficionado and awards maven steered “Finding Neverland,” his first venture as a lead theater producer, toward the Great White Way, eyebrows raised in his wake.
He switched press agents. He swapped out the lead actors. He entirely scrapped an earlier version of the musical with a different creative team. When in spring 2014, he landed a much-coveted spot for the show on the Tony Awards telecast, naysayers tut-tutted that the play hadn’t even begun performances out of town, much less confirmed its Broadway run. Besides, Jennifer Hudson, the star of the Tonys segment, wouldn’t even be appearing in the actual stage production.
“I was criticized for Jennifer,” Weinstein recalls. “But this song (‘Neverland’) has been downloaded a million times, and all over the world people now know ‘Finding Neverland.’ In the movie business, »
- Gordon Cox
Despite getting many positive reviews, "Honeymoon in Vegas" is an even bigger long shot for a Best Musical nomination at the Tony Awards now that producers announced plans yesterday to shutter the under-attended show after this Sunday’s performance. It’s the fourth straight flop for composer Jason Robert Brown (who nonetheless picked up a Tony last year for his score to another movie-based musical, "The Bridges of Madison County"). -Break- In the last decade, only three new musicals that closed before nominations day have picked up nods in the top category. Two years ago, "Bring It On" and "Christmas Story" both earned recognition over less-acclaimed late-season openers like "Motown." And in 2011, "The Scottsboro Boys," a tragically short-lived collaboration between John Kander and Fred Ebb, made the cut in a remarkably weak field. In a year with a small number of new musical cont »
It is a momentous day for Sex and the City fans around the world as Sarah Jessica Parker celebrates her 50th birthday. While the role of Carrie Bradshaw made Sarah a fashion icon and a superstar, she has starred in a wide variety of films and television shows over four decades. Parker began her career as a child star on the stage in Annie, and has gone on to become an enduring fixture in pop culture.
Her movie career was launched with supporting roles in '80s teen comedies Footloose and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, but soon she grew into a leading lady with memorable roles in a string of early 1990s comedies. Parker might be best known for romantic comedies these days, but over the last 30 years she's impressed critics in roles as diverse a mystical witch, an egotistical talkshow host and the embodiment of a single woman of the 2000s. »
She may have stopped the show at the Oscars - with an assist from Julie Andrews. But don't expect Lady Gaga to hit the Broadway boards in Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, Sunday in the Park with George or Into the Woods anytime soon. Why not? Because those shows' formidable composer-lyricist, Stephen Sondheim, wasn't a fan of the performance - to put it mildly. "On the Academy Awards she was a travesty," Sondheim tells The Times of London (and also picked up by Playbill.com). "It was ridiculous, as it would be from any singer who treats that music in semi-operatic style. »
- Stephen M. Silverman, @stephenmsilverm
She may have stopped the show at the Oscars - with an assist from Julie Andrews. But don't expect Lady Gaga to hit the Broadway boards in Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, Sunday in the Park with George or Into the Woods anytime soon. Why not? Because those shows' formidable composer-lyricist, Stephen Sondheim, wasn't a fan of the performance - to put it mildly. "On the Academy Awards she was a travesty," Sondheim tells The Times of London (and also picked up by Playbill.com. "It was ridiculous, as it would be from any singer who treats that music in semi-operatic style. »
- Stephen M. Silverman, @stephenmsilverm
Las Vegas…the hotbed haven where dreams of high rollers are realized among the glitzy bright lights, the element of chance and luck and the adrenaline for instant fortune. But there is a deception to Sin City that is overlooked–the isolation of a gambler’s anxiety and desperation, the false sense of confidence at the craps table and the swinging doors of the psychological lows more so than the rewarding highs.
Still, Las Vegas has its excitable aura–both innocence and guilt–where one arrives to skillfully manufacture their financial profile or go bust. In some instances, the hedonistic expectations are defined in other fun, precarious ways. It is no wonder that Hollywood has come calling to put its distinctive spin on the capital city of adult entertainment. For decades, the movies have made Las Vegas its backdrop for wonderment, degradation, intrigue, comical curiosity and soul-searching revelations.
In All »
- Frank Ochieng
The Oscar-winning creative team of Disney’s animated blockbuster “Frozen” will adapt the movie for the brewing Broadway musical version, with screenwriter and co-director Jennifer Lee on board to write the book and Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez penning additional tunes to go along with their songs from the movie, which include megahit “Let It Go.”
The news, first reported in the Daily Mail, won’t come as much of a shock, given that Lopez and Anderson-Lopez are stage composers and that Lopez’s credits including Tony-winning scores for “Avenue Q” and “The Book of Mormon.” Lee’s never written for Broadway, but it’s not all that uncommon for screenwriters to try their hand at stage adaptations of their own work: The book for this season’s “Honeymoon in Vegas,” for instance, was written by Andrew Bergman, who also wrote the screenplay.
Alex Timbers (“Rocky,” “Here Lies Love”), the »
- Gordon Cox
David Sheward, one of the leading Tony Awards experts, has joined Gold Derby to write about these top theater kudos.This one-time executive editor of Backstage has been contributing his predictions to Gold Derby since we launched and often scores the best among our pundits. -Break- In the video below, he takes Tom O'Neil and me through the season so far, offering his take on the already-opened musicals and plays that could contend when Tony nominations are announced on April 28. And he delivers fascinating insights into the slew of shows still to debut before the April 23 deadline. David Sheward's Tony Awards preview: What is ahead for Best Play? For David, the strongest tuner to date is "Honeymoon in Vegas," an adaptation of the 1992 comedy flick. Tony Danza takes on the James Caan role of a veteran gambler who takes a shine to a young bride-to-be. However, as he notes, despite solid reviews including a rav. »
Oscar winner Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) and Diane Kruger (Inglorious Basterds, National Treasure) are in final negotiations to star in the romance feature film This Man, This Woman, to be directed by Isabel Coixet whose new film Nobody Wants The Night opens the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival, it was announced today by Fortitude International co-founders, Nadine de Barros and Robert Ogden Barnum, and producer Mike Lobell (The Freshman, Striptease).
Fortitude International is financing the film and will handle foreign sales on the project being introduced to buyers at the European Film Market in Berlin next month.
De Barros and Barnum serve as executive producers. Lobell is producing the film.
CAA is representing domestic rights.
An estranged man, Matt Heller, and a woman, Martha Parks (Cruz »
- Michelle McCue
This little vampire makes you believe she can bite, wrestle and choke a man twice her size to death. It’s like a trip back to...
For those veteran theatergoers who saw Paris but didn’t visit the Grand Guignol before it closed shop in 1962, the new stage adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel and screenplay “Let the Right One In” is a must-see. Stage director John Tiffany offers some superb reincarnations of the bloodsucking and bloodletting that distinguishes Tomas Alfredson’s 2008 vampire film, and he adds another grizzly touch, inspired by Brian De Palma, that will shock no »
- Robert Hofler
Unlike most years, there is no clear frontrunner for the Best Musical Tony Award for 2014-15. Last season, the battle lines were clearly drawn between "A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder" and "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical," with the former, a critical darling, emerging victorious over the latter, a popular jukebox musical. This season, no strong candidates have emerged so far because only one new musical -- "Honeymoon in Vegas," the stage version of the 1992 film comedy with Tony Danza starring in the James Caan role -- is still running. -Break- There have only been two other original musicals to have opened on Broadway, both with pedigrees from the pop music world: "Holler If Ya Hear Me" and "The Last Ship." "Holler" employed the music and lyrics of the late rapper Tupac Shakur to tell the story of an ex-con’s attempts to go straight. It got blasted »
The drama can be described as “Whiplash” meets “The Heiress,” as the writer goes straight for the jugular through the heart
jugularAside from the fact that Halley Feiffer could be writing about herself and her famous father, Jules Feiffer, the new play “I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard,” is funny, scary, and completely over the top in its own right.
“I’m Gonna Pray,” which opened Tuesday at Atlantic Stage 2 in New York, doesn’t need the Feiffer backstory to be enjoyed, although it is a pleasure in the play’s first few minutes to eavesdrop on what »
- Robert Hofler
Taxi alums Danny DeVito, Judd Hirsch, Carol Kane, Marilu Henner, James Burrows, Christopher Lloyd, Rhea Perlman, and co-creator James L. Brooks all turned out for their former cast maste Tony Danza’s star turn in Honeymoon in Vegas last night. After a post-show party at Hard Rock Café, the whole gang sat together at a long table, chatting and dancing late into the night. “Those are the people I started with,” Danza told Vulture. “Those are the people who accepted a fighter from New York who never acted before on their TV show." He added, "I’m serious. That acceptance, that welcoming, is why I'm here. And so, for me, it was an incredible thing to have them here.” »
- Bennett Marcus
There’s an old Hollywood truism that good movies are made from second-rate books, not the classics. On Broadway, the new musical “Honeymoon in Vegas,” which opened Thursday at the Nederlander Theatre in New York, uses a second-rate movie from 1992 for its source material. Have its makers been able to turn it into a good musical? Or is this one effort that should have stayed in Vegas?
- Robert Hofler
The new musical Honeymoon in Vegas is a throwback, and not just because it’s based on a 1992 movie that was, even then, somewhat retrograde in its humor. Cancel the “somewhat”: The plot hinges on a man trying to discharge a gambling debt by pimping out his fiancée. Presumably, the backwardness of this affectionate glance at ring-a-ding-dingism was intentional; the screenplay by Andrew Bergman, who also directed, mines its humor from the kind of character who would exact such a deal (a slimebag named Tommy Korman) and the kind of character who would accept it (a commitment-phobic mama’s boy named Jack Singer). Naturally, the girl herself, Betsy Nolan, though the apex of the triangle, was not so interesting. She was just hot.Turning this material into a Broadway musical was bound to add yet another layer of irony, but when applied well and rubbed hard, a good lacquer »
- Jesse Green
Exclusive: To get to Tony Danza’s dressing room at the Nederlander Theatre, where he stars in the new Broadway musical Honeymoon in Vegas, you walk a corridor that circles the perimeter of the ancient house, where trash cans line one wall, and graffiti scrawled by Rent cast members dominates the other. Climb a set of stairs, and then there is the star’s cold perch, one that would barely provide room for Michael Keaton’s Birdman levitation act.
You imagine how much smaller this must be than the giant trailers where Danza spent most of his adult life in Taxi and Who’s The Boss. And then he emerges, euphoric and still sweaty after two hours of singing, tap dancing, even serenading with a love song while playing the ukulele, and he looks like a small Brooklyn kid whose parents took him to Coney Island. He has just completed »
- Mike Fleming Jr
18 items from 2015
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