GRACE NOTES: Thursday, October 23, 2014

Today’s Highlights:

* Disgraced, by Ayak Akhtar, directed by Kimberly Senior, featuring Hari Dhillon, Gretchen Mol, Karen Pittman, Danny Ashok and Josh Radnor, opens at Broadway’s Lyceum Theatre.

* Memphis, directed by Christopher Ashley, featuring Beverley Knight and Killian Donnelly, with Rolan Bell, Tyrone Huntley, Claire Machin, Jason Pennycooke and Mark Roper, opens at the West End’s Shaftesbury Theatre.

* Chris McCarrell begins his run as Marius in Les Misérables at Broadway’s Imperial Theatre.

* Shatter, by Trina Davies, directed by Susan Fenichell, featuring Hollis McCarthy, Rebecca Nelson, Jackie Hansen and Michael Chris McGuire, opens at Off’Broadway’s Urban Stages.

* Sex With Strangers, by Laura Eason, directed by Aaron Posner, featuring Holly Twyford and Luigi Sottile, opens at VA’s Signature Theatre.

* Ruthless!, by Joel Paly & Marvin Laird, directed by Paley, featuring Rita McKenzie (Lita Encore), Joel Paley (Sylvia St. Croix), Kim Maresca, Tory Murray, Katie Sparer and Delaney Arizala, re-opens at NYC’s Stage 72.

* The Rocky Horror Show, by Richard O’Brien, directed by Hunter Foster, featuring Erik Altemus (Rocky) and Kevin Cahoon (Frank ‘n’ Furter), Nick Cearley (Brad), Jennifer Cody (Columbia), Jeremy Kushnier (Riff Raff), Alyse Alan Louis (Janet), Ryah Nixon (Magenta), John Bolton (Narrator/Eddie/Dr. Scott), Sarah DeNight, Anabelle Garcia and Kathryn Allison, opens at PA’s Bucks County Playhouse.

NAMT‘s 2014 Festival of New Musicals begins at Off-Broadway’s New World Stages.

* Dogfight, by Benj Pasek, Justin Paul & Peter Duchan, directed by Matthew Wright, featuring Kody Bringman, Devon Busswood, Trent Moury, Ben Wynant, Janet McWilliams, Chance Eldridge, Daniel Goodman, Jake Hoff, Pat Sibley, Kirsten deLohr Helland, Tori Spero and Chris Carwithen, opens at Seattle’s Intiman Theatre.

* The Color Purple mini-tour, starring Jennifer Holliday, launches at Detroit’s Music Hall Center.

* Grand Guignol, by Carl Grose, directed by Simon Stokes, featuring Jonathan Broadbent (De Lorde), Paul Chequer (Ratineau), Matthew Pearson  (Binet), Robert Portal (Paulais), Emily Raymond (Maxa) and Andy Williams (Maurey), begins previews at London’s Southwark Playhouse.

* The Circus in Winter, by Hunter Foster, Beth Turcotte & Ben Clark, directed by Joe Calarco, featuring Aaron Ramey, Emily Behny, Dee Roscioli, James Penca, Shannan Antalan, William Parry, Charles Gray, Jim Hogan, Victoria Huston-Elem, Sarah Dacey Charles, Noah Plomgren, Alex Goley, Kristen Hoagland, Scott Richard Foster and Avery Baran, begins previews at Goodspeed‘s Norma Terris Theatre.

* On The Rocks: The Music of Gomez and Lyles concert, directed by Rebeca Rad, featuring Andi Alhadeff, Matthew Condello, Brandon Contreras, Danae Ervin, Andrea Ross, Sarah Hamaty, F. Michael Haynie, Brandon Kalm, Amy Marik, Joe Ogren, Daniel Quadrino, Lucia Roderique and André Torquato, at 10 PM at NYC’s Don’t Tell Mama.


Reviews Reviews for The Fortress of Solitude at The Public Theater:

NY Times (Ben Brantley): “It’s appropriate that the R&B group that formed part of the soundtrack of the coming-of-age of Mr. Lethem’s ambivalent hero was called the Subtle Distinctions… The Subtle Distinctions surface again in the big-hearted but thin-blooded musical adaptation of The Fortress of Solitude, which opened Wednesday night at the Public Theater. I’m referring exclusively to the musical quartet. Subtle distinctions, without the capital letters, are rarely in evidence in this production… It’s no surprise that the score here is the strong point. It flows in undulating rivers of soul, funk, punk and rap, with harmonic clashes and convergences of all of the above that are Mr. Friedman’s own. Why, then, does it so often feel underpowered?”

Variety (Marilyn Stasio): “The musical timeline of The Fortress of Solitude is mid-1960s to late 1980s. But the theme of this blood-pumping, heart-thumping show — the indestructible links that bind us to the old neighborhood — is timeless. The story, from Jonathan Lethem’s 2003 novel, views two boys from the same Brooklyn neighborhood who grow up as friends. At a critical moment in their lives, one leaves and the other one stays behind. Michael Friedman follows this friendship in a soaring score that keeps reinventing itself to reflect the turbulent social forces that change neighborhoods — and friends — beyond all recognition. Is there an audience for this extraordinary show? Yes. Is there a Broadway audience? Maybe not.”

Hollywood Reporter (Frank Scheck): “Jonathan Lethem’s bestselling 2003 coming-of-age novel, ‘The Fortress of Solitude,’ has been adapted into an off-Broadway musical with only fitfully successful results. This co-production by the Dallas Theater Center and NYC’s Public Theater is uncommonly ambitious in its scope and execution and boasts plenty of talent both on and offstage. But despite the strengths of Michael Friedman’s score, which features influences including soul, doo-wop, R&B, hip-hop and rock, the sprawling narrative never comes into clear focus. With a multitude of characters and a story that sprawls across two decades, the material doesn’t quite cohere into a satisfying whole.”


Audio Audio: Listen to the entire cast album of The Bridges of Madison County.


Broadway & Beyond will take place Sat. Nov. 15 at 8:30 PM at Orlando’s new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, conceived & created by Richard Jay-Alexander & Mary-Mitchell Campbell.

Performers: Norm Lewis, Michael Urie, Deborah Voigt, Ektor Rivera, Argentinian dance duo The Lombard Twins, The Broadway Kids, Sierra Boggess, Chris Mann, Jane Monheit, all-male singing string quartet Well-Strung, Jeremy Green, and a full 26-piece orchestra, made up of members of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.


“Carols for a Cure, Volume 16, 2014″ 2-disc set is now available for Order pre-order here  (release date TBA)

Track List:

Disc 1:
A Very Gglam Christmas, A Gentelman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Soul Cake, The Last Ship, Sting
Another Christmas Eve, Motown the Musical, Ryan Shaw
New Year’s Day, Beautiful – The Carole Kind Musical, Jessie Mueller
O Come, O Come Emmanuel, Kinky Boots
Christmas Even in My Hometown, On the Town
Stille Nacht & Mi Zeh Hidlik, Cabaret
In The Bleak Mid-Winter, Wicked
One Good Thing, Matilda, the Musical
Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella, The Phantom of the Opera
Dona Nobis Pacem (Grant Us Peace), Mamma Mia!

Disc 2:
Christmas Cinderella, Cinderella, Keke Palmer, Sherri Shepherd  Judy Kaye
The Little Drummer Boy, If/Then
My Simple Christmas Wish, Perez Hilton
Here We Come A-Wassailing, Once
I Saw Three Ship, Les Misérables, Nikki M. James & Andy Mientus
What Child Is This?, Pippin, Carly Hughes & Kyle Dean Massey
We Three Kings, Aladdin
Christmas in New York, Jersey Boys
O Holy Night, The Lion King
I Am Here, Motown the Musical


Video VideoHighlights from Broadway’s On the Town.


L. R. Gordon’s Uploaded will run Nov. 1 – Dec. 6 at LA’s Rogue Machine Theatre, directed by Mark L. Taylor.  I’ll post a link when it’s available.

Cast 2: Jeff Lorch, Eric Odom and Suzanne Quast.

“Millennials on the edge. Daniel, a charismatic slacker, needs a lifeline. Sam, his reluctant drug dealer, provides  ’lines’ of a sort that end up entangling both Sam and beautiful Anikka in Daniel’s speed-fueled scheme. Can Sam get his monster back to lab before someone gets hurt?”


Free The Lincoln Square Business Improvement District’s 15th Annual Winter’s Eve event, New York’s Largest outdoor holiday festival, will take place Mon. Dec. 1 at 5:30 PM at Lincoln Square, emceed by Billy Porter.

Performers: Kinky Boots cast members, Arlo Guthrie, and more…… at 20 live performance areas and 30+ restaurants offering samples of signature dishes.

Admission is free.

Arrow Attendees are encouraged to bring & donate gently used or new coats of all sizes to Dante Park at 63rd Street & Broadway as part of the 26th Annual New York Cares Coat Drive.


Chris Mann, the 3rd runner-up in the 2nd season of “The Voice,” will take over the title role in the current national tour of The Phantom of the Opera on Nov. 25 in Ft. Lauderdale.

Also joining the company on Nov. 25: Katie Travis (Christine Daaé), Storm Lineberger (Raoul) and Anne Kanengeiser (Madame Giry) David Benoit (returning as Monsieur Firmin) and Morgan Cowling (Meg Giry).

Current cast:  Jacquelynne Fontaine (Carlotta Giudicelli), Edward Staudenmayer  (Monsieur André) and Frank Viveros (Ubaldo Piangi).


Video Video: Highlights from the West End’s Memphis.


An industry-only reading of Jean Giebel’s Chasing the River will take place Mon. Nov. 10 at 7 PM at Off-Broadway’s New World Stages, directed by Will Nunziata. Industry

Cast 2: Carolee Carmello, Cady Huffman, Marc Kudisch, Deborah Rayne, Arturo Ruiz and Ella Dershowitz.

“The play is set in a small town in Pennsylvania, as a young woman returns home to the scene of the horrible events that changed the course of her life forever. As she searches for a way to make peace with her past, new revelations and unexpected reunions clash with her memories of her childhood.  She’s forced to face the painful truth, and begins to realize; that even though life dealt her a losing hand, there might still be a chance to turn it around; it all depends on how she plays her cards.”


Travis Moser‘s This Can’t Be Love: The Songs of Rodgers and Hart will take place Tues. Dec. 2 at 7 PM at NYC’s Laurie Beechman Theatre.

Special guest:  Samantha Shafer.

The evening features new arrangements of some of Rodgers and Hart’s most beloved songs by musical director Steven Silverstein.


Thumbs Up The latest recipients of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Initiative commissions for Manhattan Theatre Club:

Jeff Augustin (Little Children Dream of God)
Courtney Baron (A Very Common Procedure)
Juliana Nash (Murder Ballad)
Nell Benjamin (The Explorers Club)
Madeline George (The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence)
Tom Holloway (And No More Shall We Part)
Nathan Jackson (Broke-ology)
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (An Octoroon)
Greg Pierce (Slowgirl)
Alexandra Wood (The Initiate).

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has provided a grant to MTC to support the development of plays that address themes of math, science, and technology and that depict scientists, mathematicians, and engineers as major characters. The goal of the project is to bridge the divide between the arts and sciences.

In addition to the commissions, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has provided support for MTC‘s upcoming production of commissioned writer Nick Payne’s Constellations, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, to begin Dec. 16 at Broadway’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.


Reading: Amas Musical Theatre Lab will present readings of Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick & Sherman Yellen’s Rothschild & Sons, based on The Rothschilds, on Nov. 17 (6 PM) & Nov. 18 (1 & 5 PM) at NYC’s Shetler Studios – Penthouse, directed by Jeffrey B. Moss, with musical direction by Cherie Rosen. or 212-563-2565.

Cast 2: Marc Kudisch, Peter Cormican, Glory Crampton, Jonathan Hadley, David Bryant Johnson, Jamie Laverdiere, Mark Pinter, Jacob Samuels, Curtis Wiley and Chris Williams.

“Based on their original The Rothschilds, this re-imagined musical now introduces several unheard Bock and Harnick songs, revised lyrics by Harnick, and an 11-member cast who empower Yellen’s new story in a 96-minute one-act version.”


A industry-only invited rehearsal of the workshop of Ellen Fitzhugh & Michael John LaChuisa’s The Nine Fathers of Ariel will take place Nov. 6 & 7 in NYC, directed & choreographed by Graciela Daniele, with musical direction by Or Matias.  Industry only(212) 354-6510 or

Cast 2: Joe Carroll, Josh Colley, Tyler Hanes, Gregory Haney, Sydney Harcourt, Marc Kudisch, Telly Leung, Melissa McCann, Joseph Medeiros, Julio Monge, Ari Stachel, Barbara Walsh and Paul Whitty.

The musical “tells the story of a mother’s love for her young son, as she uses everything in her power to protect and nurture him in a war-obsessed world.”


#SOBLESSED: The Annoying Actor Friend’s Guide to Werking in Show Business is now available in Kindle, Paperback and Audiobook. Order Order here 

 Arrow All royalties will benefit BC/EFA.

ParticpantsAlan Cumming, Lesli Margherita, Megan Hilty, Julia Murney, Will Swenson, Keala Settle, Tituss Burgess, Krysta Rodriguez, Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Brian Dennehy.

“In the cutthroat world of theatre, actors need all the help they can get to have a #legup on the competition. This essential ‘how-to’ guide explains it all: from choosing the right college for you, to making your Broadway debut — while teaching you how to behave on social media along the way! — this book will aid you in your quest to find what it means to be #SOBLESSED. #SOBLESSED: the Annoying Actor Friend’s Guide to Werking in Show Business is an irreverent analysis of what life is like for both aspiring and employed actors and actresses in today’s world. #SOBLESSED debuted on Amazon in 2013, and became the #1 best selling Theater and Parody book on its first day of sale. Through satire, it captured the voice of this generation of Broadway actors, and has since become recommended reading in BFA programs across the country.”


Shirley Bassey‘s “Hello, Like Before,” which includes songs by Stephen Sondheim and Jule Styne, will be released Nov. 17 in the UK.  Order Pre-order here.

Video Video: Album preview.


Hidden Treasures III – More Songs of Larry Kerchner will take place Sun. Nov. 30 at 7 PM at NYC’s Stage 72, with musical direction by Tex Arnold and hosted by Mercedes Ellington.

Performers: John Bolton, Jim Brochu, Dennis Chiccino, Alexis Cole, Aisha de Haas, Kevin Earley, Jeff Harner, Nina Hennessey, Marissa Mulder, Mark Nadler and Stacy Sullivan.


Cinderella will run Dec. 5 – Jan. 11 (opening Dec. 9) at London’s New Wimbledon Theatre.

Cast 2: Amy Lennox (Cinderella), Liam Doyle (Prince Charming), Linda Gray (Fairy Godmother), Tim Vine (Buttons, Matthew Kelly & son Matthew Rixon (Ugly Sisters) and Wayne Sleep (Dandini).


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