Regional Roundup: Top New Features This Week Around Our Broadway World - 3/3; THE ELEPHANT MAN in Nashville, La Jolla's FREAKY FRIDAY and More!
BroadwayWorld presents a comprehensive weekly roundup of regional stories around our Broadway World, which include videos, editor spotlights, regional reviews and more. This week, we feature THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA in Boston, LITTLE WOMEN in Seattle, FREAKY FRIDAY in San Diego and more. Check out our top features below!
1. Boston, MA: Editor Jan Nargi reviews A.R.T.'s THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA. She says, "The real draw for this particular revival of one of Williams' less frequently performed dramas is the notable cast. Heck, Delany, Jones, Plummer, and the estimable Elizabeth Ashley as the overbearing Texas tour group chaperone Judith Fellowes raise the temperature considerably in an otherwise tepid production. Director Michael Wilson's naturalistic pacing fails to build much tension, which leaves the actors to create their own moments of poetic majesty. Thankfully, they do - and often - with Plummer centering the entire piece brilliantly." Read more here.
2. Cincinnati, OH: New Editor Abby Rowold reviews WHEN WE WERE YOUNG AND UNAFRAID at Ensemble Theatre. She says, "At times, Fracher seemed to pose his actors in compositions reminiscent of Renaissance paintings, the most affecting being the triangular pose of a painting potentially called "battered woman being stitched by nurse." It was simultaneously familiar and unnerving as the lighting, writing, and acting all came together to make an excellent theatrical moment." Read more here.
4. Nashville, TN: Editor Jeffrey Ellis reviews THE ELEPHANT MANN at Studio Tenn. He says, "Startling, stunning and evocative performances by an ensemble of Nashville actors performing at the top of their game in an altogether effective and moving production of a contemporary classic: that's what audiences are likely recalling now - hours, days, weeks - after experiencing the latest artistic achievement from Studio Tenn. Following up the opening of their 2016-17 season - a critically lauded revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita, which launched the annual Broadway series at Tennessee Performing Arts Center - Studio Tenn presents another Broadway-worthy reiteration in the form of Bernard Pomerance's THE ELEPHANT MAN." Read more here.
5. Seattle, WA: Editor Jay Irwin reviews Seattle Musical Theatre's LITTLE WOMEN. He says, "The March sisters all manage some outstanding vocals and wonderful moments. Barnum handles the lion's share of the show with seeming ease and repeatedly thrills with her soaring voice. The same can be said for Maas, Fairchild, Hutchison and Moleman as well, each of whom bring some beautiful depth to their characters especially Maas who was quite engaging as the lovelorn Meg and had an adorable chemistry with Nick Hyett-Schnell as her suitor John Brooke. David Connolly brings a dorky sweetness to the role of Laurie and too manages some incredible vocals." Read more here.
6. San Diego, CA: Editor Erin Marie Reiter reviews FREAKY FRIDAY at the La Jolla Playhouse. She says, "As Katherine (in the daughter Ellie's body) Blickenstaff is able to ramp up the comedy, portraying how this Mom thinks teenagers behave. She keeps everything on just this side of exaggerated, but it's this balance that really shows how insanely talented a performer she is in this show." Read more here.
7. Phoenix, AZ: Editor JeanMarie Simpson reviews SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE at Theatre Works. She says, "Theatre Works has produced an exquisite SUNDAY with splendid effects that lift up and complement the performances of its exceptional leads - as production values should and must do. It is an homage to its Neo-Impressionist inspiration/namesake. The outstanding orchestra, led by TW resident musical director Steve Hilderbrand, provides an unshakable foundation that manifests Sondheim's often pointillist score with virtuosic grace." Read more here.
8. New Zealand: Editor Monica Moore reviews MEA TAU at Basement Theatre Auckland. She says, "I found it so engaging that time became timeless as I feasted on the enthralling piece that unfolded before me. My mind was guided to the connections of movement and message through both the strengths and frailty of human nature." Read more here.
National Tour Highlight:
9. San Francisco Editor Harmony Wheeler interviews Evan Rees of INTO THE WOODS, Coming to SHN Broadway San Francisco March 7-April 2. Wheeler asks, "How do you adapt a fully orchestrated score to just one piano and a few background instruments?" and Rees responds, "The way Sondheim put it is that he thought that these arrangements actually allows you to really listen to the lyrics. That's one of the things that we work really hard toward. The orchestrations, which are really amusingly done by Matt Castle, actually come from Sondheim's piano score - what he writes before it gets sent to the orchestrator. So, they're very pianistic. Matt Castle, who was the original music director, is an amazing player. The arrangements came organically out of what he felt himself playing and what felt full and interesting for him to play." Read the full interview here.
10. Jeffrey Ellis, Nashville, TN: Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 25 years. In 1989, Ellis and his partner launched Dare, Tennessee's Lesbian and Gay Newsweekly which later became known as Query. Ellis is the recipient of the Tennessee Theatre Association's Distinguished Service Award for his coverage of theater in the Volunteer State and was the founding editor/publisher of Stages, the Tennessee Onstage Monthly. He is a past fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center and is the founder/executive producer of The First Night Honors - the history of which can be traced to 1989 and the first presentation of The First Night Awards - which honor outstanding theater artisans from Tennessee in recognition of their lifetime achievements and also includes The First Night Star Awards and the Most Promising Actors recognition. Midwinter's First Night honors outstanding productions and performances throughout the state.
An accomplished director, Ellis helmed productions of La Cage Aux Folles, The Last Night of Ballyhoo and An American Daughter, all in their Nashville premieres, as well as award-winning productions of Damn Yankees, Company, Gypsy and The Rocky Horror Show. Ellis was recognized by The Tennessean as best director of a musical for both Company and Rocky Horror. In 2015, he directed William Inge's Picnic for Circle Players and Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years for VWA Theatricals, and in 2016, he directed Beth Henley's The Miss Firecracker Contest for The Larry Keeton Theatre. He will direct My Fair Lady for The Keeton in 2017, followed by Daddy's Dyin'...Who's Got the Will? and Mary Poppins. Ellis is also the concierge and private chef for Nashville Beech Club, an AirBnB located near the heart of downtown. It affords him the flexibility to write for BroadwayWorld.com and to take on theatrical projects of his own from time to time.
Why does Jeff enjoy writing for BroadwayWorld? "Because it gives me an outlet to express my viewpoints and to let the world know about the growing theater scene in Nashville, a city primarily known for its music. I've been reviewing theater, opera and dance for more than 30 years now and I had taken a break from it for a few years to do other things when I realized how much I missed it. I'm one of those weird human beings who always aspired to being a theater critic instead of actually being onstage, so one day in 2009, as I started a vacation from my day job, I answered a call issued by BWW for writers/editors and, by the end of the day, I was writing for BWW! It's been an exciting adventure ever since, to be sure. And as traditional news outlets scale back their arts coverage, organizations like BWW give writers like me the opportunity to continue to shine the spotlight on the artists who create theater all over the world. I take my job very seriously (probably too much so, truth be told) and BWW allows me to come up with new topics for coverage, new ways to focus on shows and people, in order to bring the news to readers all over the world. I can't imagine writing for any other organization that would give me such freedom...and such exposure to a readership of theater-lovers all over the globe!"
STUDENT BLOGGERS! We'd like to feature a few of our student bloggers below!
This week, we'd like to welcome our newest contributing writers: Matt Blank (NYC), Libby Ballengee (Dayton), Felicitas de la Fare (Argentina), Sean Fallon (Connecticut), Nik Whitcomb (Omaha), Brian Balduzzi (Central NY), Audrey Morabito (Student Blogger - Texas), and Chris Crowthers (Fitness).
*BONUS* - Interested in joining our team, but not exactly sure what we do? All of your questions are answered, along with every open position from guest and student bloggers, Regional Editors, and more! Find out where we have open positions available here!