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SOUND OFF Special Interview: Tituss Burgess Talks New Solo Album, 30 ROCK, Broadway & MoreSOUND OFF Special Interview: Tituss Burgess Talks New Solo Album, 30 ROCK, Broadway & More
by Pat Cerasaro - October 13, 2012

Today we are talking to a breathtakingly gifted vocalist who premiered the first single from his brand new solo album COMFORTABLE right here in this very column on BroadwayWorld earlier this week - the one and only Tituss Burgess. In this career-spanning conversation, Burgess and I touch upon many of the Broadway entities which he has played a part in over the last decade or so - THE LITTLE MERMAID, JERSEY BOYS and GOOD VIBRATIONS included - as well as sharing some onset stories involving his stints on NBC's hit comedy 30 ROCK. Most of all, Burgess and I dissect the finer points of his sophomore solo album, COMFORTABLE, and he explains his songwriter process and progress, as well as the many influences and inspirations that have infused this passion project over the course of its years in writing, recording, and, now, finally, releasing. Plus, Burgess looks ahead to the future and clues us in on his late-night concert at New World Stages on Sunday night. All of that and much, much more! (more...)
SOUND OFF World Premiere Exclusive: New Tituss Burgess Single 'I'll Be Alright'SOUND OFF World Premiere Exclusive: New Tituss Burgess Single 'I'll Be Alright'
by Pat Cerasaro - October 9, 2012

Today we have a super-special SOUND OFF exclusive taken from the sensational forthcoming sophomore solo album from Broadway notable and 30 ROCK standout Tituss Burgess, "I'll Be Alright". (more...)
SOUND OFF: THE X FACTOR Boot Camp & GLEE's Big Break-Up(s)SOUND OFF: THE X FACTOR Boot Camp & GLEE's Big Break-Up(s)
by Pat Cerasaro - October 7, 2012

This week on Week Four of THE X FACTOR, the first round of contestants to make it into the competition for the $5 million recording contract were let go at boot camp - and, on GLEE, romantic walking papers were issued willy-nilly as four long-standing relationships between central characters came to a conclusion (at least for now). (more...)
by Pat Cerasaro - September 28, 2012

This week marked the third X FACTOR/GLEE combo Thursday on Fox and both shows continued to deliver the chill-inducing trills and riff-tastic runs we have come to expect from the entertainment extravaganzas showing off TV's top vocalists, performers, celebrities, hottest songs and guest stars. Evidently, Sarah Jessica Parker and Britney Spears sure can spice up and heat up a cooling late-September autumnal soup! (more...)
SOUND OFF: THE X FACTOR & GLEE: ...Britney, One More TimeSOUND OFF: THE X FACTOR & GLEE: ...Britney, One More Time
by Pat Cerasaro - September 21, 2012

This week saw the second Britney Spears-centric episode of the musical dramedy series GLEE, "Britney 2.0", as well as the second three-hour block of new episodes of the reality singing competition THE X FACTOR, the latter featuring none other than new judge Britney Spears as it continued to offer up even more preliminary auditions as the arbiters hone in on a Top 20 and we gear up for the live shows starting soon. While the theme of Thursday night on Fox may have very well been their $15 million investment given glam, grand primetime treatment as only the network AMERICAN IDOL and GLEE built really could, both shows proved that the pop princess of the 21st century is at the top of the entertainment heap for very good reason, leaving X FACTOR fans, gleeks and entertainment junkies alike left requesting one thing and one thing only by the time 11 o'clock rolled around: "Gimme gimme more." (more...)
SOUND OFF: THE X FACTOR 2.0, Now With Britney & GLEE's New NYC State Of MindSOUND OFF: THE X FACTOR 2.0, Now With Britney & GLEE's New NYC State Of Mind
by Pat Cerasaro - September 15, 2012

This week saw the premieres of not one, but two of the biggest entertainment extravaganzas currently on show in the vast TV landscape, both on Fox - the season two debut of the reinvented reboot of the reality singing competition show THE X FACTOR (with Britney Spears and Demi Lovato as new judges), as well as the season four premiere of the returning, albeit re-jiggered, half-NYC-set GLEE (with a memorable Kate Hudson, and, also, Sarah Jessica Parker joining next week). While one may have been more successful than the other in pulling off its grand switcheroo (especially insofar as overall transitional smoothness, THE X FACTOR really seems to be finding its voice, pardon the puns), the sheer enjoyment levels achieved by each was enough to make both recommendable and worthy of review given their intrinsic ties to the performing arts realm and their exploration, exhibition and employment of the titular x factor. Individuals with that oh-so-unmistakable allure were on ample display both on THE X FACTOR and GLEE, making both properties once again worth revisiting each week this year, like last year - look no further than jaw-dropping X FACTOR audition of Carly Rose Sonenclar for clear-cut proof of that. Plus, next week, THE X FACTOR and GLEE shall share a similar theme when GLEE gets 1,2,3 (or, more to the point: 5,6,7,8) with a second Britney Spears tribute, "Britney 2.0" (more...)
by Pat Cerasaro - August 31, 2012

A gay gallimaufry, Ryan Murphy and Ali Adler's new NBC half-hour comedy THE NEW NORMAL more than merely delivers on the premise of a meta-MODERN FAMILY complete with all the requisite Murphy touches - and much, much more. After all, Murphy is the man behind POPULAR and GLEE, two of the most genre-bending and outrageous TV comedies of the 21st century (in addition to the just 17-time nominated new FX horror series AMERICAN HORROR STORY), so THE NEW NORMAL provides him with a mainstream, mainstage, network series in which he can explore the lighter side of life while also imparting a serious, progressive and all-too-apropos message along the way: A family is a family is a family. Gay, straight or otherwise, a family is founded upon love and only love as its basis and the overriding theme of the series is exactly that. While this all may sound a bit ooey gooey and pat, it is anything but in its style, presentation and attitude. (more...)
SOUND OFF Special Interview: Rumer's BOYS DON'T CRYSOUND OFF Special Interview: Rumer's BOYS DON'T CRY
by Pat Cerasaro - August 15, 2012

Today we are talking to one of the most alluring and anomalous recording stars on the rise all about this week's US release of her sophomore album, BOYS DON'T CRY, a tribute to male songwriters of the 1970s - the ethereal Rumer. Discussing many aspects of this new release, as well as her previous studio work - such as her Burt Bacharach Christmas EP - Rumer sheds some light on what makes her such an arresting and intriguing performer to follow for the enthusiasts of intimate, revealing, performance-based artists around the world, as she herself reveals the early influences - Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand and Karen Carpenter most of all - that have shaped the unmistakable sound she continues to perfect on this moody, subdued and intoxicating new cover album. Plus, Rumer offers forth candid recollections of participating in recent gala concert presentations - none the least of which would be her superb "A House Is Not A Home" on the PBS Burt Bacharach edition of IN PERFORMANCE AT THE WHITE HOUSE - as well as recounts her own favorite performances, performers and albums and what she plans for the future; another new album is already in the ether! Additionally, Rumer also shares her thoughts on GLEE, provides amusing anecdotes about famous friends like Darryl Hall and Duffy, compares the recording industry now to the era BOYS DON'T CRY pays tribute to, recalls reactions to her dynamic new covers of these rare pop gems - all of that as well as much, much more! (more...)
SOUND OFF Special Interview: Julie Reiber's LOVE TRAVELSSOUND OFF Special Interview: Julie Reiber's LOVE TRAVELS
by Pat Cerasaro - August 12, 2012

Today we are talking to a multi-talented performer who has performed on Broadway in everything from BROOKLYN to WICKED who made her most recent Broadway bows standing by in both ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER and PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT - the dynamic and compelling Julie Reiber. Talking all about her new solo album, LOVE TRAVELS, and its various inspirations as well as casting a look back at her many Broadway, touring and regional roles thus far in her eclectic career - ALL SHOOK UP, SWEENEY TODD and many more included - Reiber and I attempt to illustrate her unique place on Broadway and what she would like to pursue in the future, both on the stage and in the recording studio. Additionally, Reiber opens up about her exhaustive song selection process for LOVE TRAVELS and shares candid stories of the recording process of her solo debut, including providing some background on the songs that did not make the cut, how the sterling arrangements arose out of the material and the process of becoming a singer-songwriter in her own right over the project's three-year-long creation. Also, Reiber outlines her experiences performing in the out-of-town tryout of the new musical adaptation of Armistead Maupin's TALES OF THE CITY penned by rock super group Scissor Sisters and expresses her desire to continue with future iterations of the 70s-set Broadway-bound tuner as she looks ahead to her new roles of recording artist, and, also, she is happy to announce, mother. Plus, Julie offers details on her role in the heretofore little-known Meat Loaf-inspired movie musical ECLIPSE OF THE HEART (hopefully released some red moon soon), expresses her thoughts on GLEE and SMASH, compared Broadway now versus a decade ago - and much, much more! (more...)
SOUND OFF: 2012 Olympics Opening CeremonySOUND OFF: 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony
by Pat Cerasaro - July 27, 2012

Theatricality does not come on a scale much grander - and available to an audience much wider and larger, natch - than by way of the heady and hallucinogenic images concocted by visionary, Academy Award-winning British director Danny Boyle for the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony tonight. A hill, a heath, dozens of sheepherders and milkmaids below a large, looming tree set the scene for the start of the big, big show - and it was definitely very, very big. All of this countryside accoutrement signaled the entrance for Sir Kenneth Branagh, with sharp top hat and lit cigar, portraying noted industry king Isambard Kingdom Brunel, as he physically and metaphorically ushered in the new age in this culturally and historically-inspired phantasmagoria - setting the proceedings into high gear with a particularly impassioned and spine-tingling reading of one of the most moving and memorable passages from all of literate in a thrilling Prospero moment from Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST. And that was just the first five minutes! (more...)
by Pat Cerasaro - July 11, 2012

Today we are taking a look at one of the most electrifying television series of all time as Season Four hits DVD and we approach the final season premiere tonight at 9 PM on DirecTV - the dark and spotted cat-and-mouse legal thriller DAMAGES, starring Glenn Close and Rose Byrne. By taking a closer look back at Season Four and its unforgettable guest starring performances by John Goodman, Chris Messina and Dylan Baker as Hewes & Associates became entangled with some Blackwater-esque military-minded wheeler dealers and mercenaries - as does Ellen (Byrne), now working for the DA's office - with, expectedly, it all culminating in copious bloodshed, perhaps we can uncover some clues as to where we will be heading in Season Five and the final ten episodes that begin airing tonight and the series comes to its conclusion. If the promos that have been airing on DirecTV and around the internet are any indication as to the titillating and terrifying thrills in store for us with new featured guest stars Ryan Phillippe, Jenna Elfman and Janet McTeer and the returns of Season Four standouts Chris Messina, Judd Hirsch and Zachary Boopth; as well as, one can assume, a spare ghost or two, too. Indeed, it has been a breathless and breathtaking trip so far on DAMAGES and it has been a revealing, rewarding and ultimately resplendently rich journey over the last six years or so to see the epic highs and lows of master attorney Patty Hewes, the (mostly) noble efforts of her attentive and intelligent protege Ellen Parsons and the various figures who populate the cold and foreboding atmosphere of a hellish New York City that permeates nearly every frame of every episode of the series - and always has; and, we can safely assume, always will. (more...)
SOUND OFF Summer Round-Up: Four From Disney, All On BroadwaySOUND OFF Summer Round-Up: Four From Disney, All On Broadway
by Pat Cerasaro - July 5, 2012

Today we are taking a look at four sparkling new Blu-ray editions of well-regarded films from the Disney vault by focusing on three titles that are also currently running on Broadway in screen-to-stage adaptations at this very moment - EVITA, NEWSIES and SISTER ACT. The current trend of adapting hit films into musicals for the stage has sporadically proven that some stage adaptations can even be more entertaining onstage, while some recent movie musicals have one-upped their stage roots in a way a few Golden Age adaptations also managed to do. Such is the case with EVITA, NEWSIES, SISTER ACT and SISTER ACT 2 (the latter two both acting as inspiration for the Broadway SISTER ACT musical) - all available for the first time on Blu-ray and each certainly justifying consideration for inclusion in your library if only because each is regarded as a modern-day classic - of sorts - in its own unique and special way. And, without these films, we would never have the current versions of the shows now running on Broadway based upon them (even in the case of a classic like EVITA, whose stage version may have come first, but, as seen and heard in the hit Elena Roger/Ricky Martin/Michael Cerveris revival, now includes the film addition, "You Must Love Me"). Whatever the medium, all of these winning entities offer an entertaining way to beat the heat and celebrate the start of summer in style - with some tunes, old and new, you are not soon to forget. (more...)
SOUND OFF Special Interview: Leslie Uggams Talks UPTOWN / DOWNTOWN, PIPE DREAM, MILLIE & MoreSOUND OFF Special Interview: Leslie Uggams Talks UPTOWN / DOWNTOWN, PIPE DREAM, MILLIE & More
by Pat Cerasaro - June 21, 2012

Today we are talking to an iconic Tony Award-winning star who made her name as a teenager singing on TV variety shows - THE LAWRENCE WELK SHOW and SING ALONG WITH MITCH included - and then went on to a multimedia career in film and theatre, conquering Broadway with her Tony-winning turn in the Jule Styne/Arthur Laurents musical HALLELUJAH, BABY! in 1967 and returning to the stage in the subsequent decades in a host of Broadway productions, such as BLUES IN THE NIGHT, JERRY'S GIRLS, ANYTHING GOES, August Wilson's KING HEDLEY II and her celebrated Muzzy in THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE - a role she reprises in the new Muny production of the Tony Award-winning Best Musical beginning this week - the one and only Leslie Uggams. Taking a thorough look back at her career thus far, Uggams opens up about her many successes and how she has endured for fifty years in show business and shares recollections of many of her most noted co-stars and collaborators, all the way up to the recent 2012 Encores! PIPE DREAM. Additionally, Uggams comments on her film and TV appearances over the years, speaking about her work in INHERIT THE WIND, TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN, ROOTS and beyond. Plus, she shares her candid opinions on GLEE, SMASH, Broadway then versus now, future plans for her Lena Horne solo show and thoughts on other roles she would enjoy pursuing - and much, much more! (more...)
SOUND OFF Special Interview: Sutton Foster Talks BUNHEADS, Broadway Beginnings, UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN & MoreSOUND OFF Special Interview: Sutton Foster Talks BUNHEADS, Broadway Beginnings, UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN & More
by Pat Cerasaro - June 11, 2012

Earlier today I had the extreme privilege of speaking to one of the biggest Broadway stars of the new millennium all about her new ABC Family original series BUNHEADS - two-time Tony Award-winning triple-threat dynamo Sutton Foster. Candidly recalling her professional beginnings, auditioning for the national tour of THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES at only 17 for director/choreographer Jeff Calhoun - our recent 2012 Tony Awards special chat available here - and starring in GREASE on Broadway under his direction shortly thereafter, Foster also shares her post-Tony Awards night memories from ten years ago today, when she first won a trophy for her star-making turn in THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE. Clearly, Foster has remained busy since her Tony-winning Reno Sweeney in the hit revival of ANYTHING GOES last season, as well, with the fantastic new Amy Sherman-Palladino-penned BUNHEADS proving to be the ideal opportunity for her to bring her considerable stage chops to the small screen and show off her serious skills as a comedienne, dancer, singer and actress to a whole new audience in a major way. Of course, Broadway babies have known for over a decade that Sutton Foster is the rare star that comes along once a generation and BUNHEADS now gives her the national stage so that she may give the world everything she's got to give - and that's a whole lot. In addition to an analysis of the central character on BUNHEADS, Michelle, and a look ahead to what we can expect in the ensuing season that kicks off tonight at 9 PM on ABC Family with the enchanting and hilarious pilot episode, Sutton and I also shine a light on the many musical theatre associations in the BUNHEADS universe, current and future - such as the razzle dazzle Las Vegas opening number of the pilot, penned by songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, which was originally performed on Broadway in CATCH ME IF YOU CAN; BUNHEADS series regular and A CHORUS LINE original cast standout Kelly Bishop as Michelle's domineering ballet instructor mother-in-law; Michelle's determination to land a lead role in CHICAGO someday; and, we even discuss some possibilities for musical numbers and song sequences on BUNHEADS in the future ("At The Ballet", perhaps?). Plus, Sutton shares her thoughts on SMASH, expresses her interest in exploring a revival of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN onstage soon and much, much more! (more...)
SOUND OFF: The 2012 Tony AwardsSOUND OFF: The 2012 Tony Awards
by Pat Cerasaro - June 11, 2012

Overflowing with enthusiasm and energy, the true star of the 2012 Tony Awards was unquestionably three-time host and affable Broadway spokesman extraordinaire Neil Patrick Harris, doing what he does best - namely, being the host with the most. Whether web-slinging behind Angela Lansbury and Ted Chapin or leading a spectacular production number with Patti LuPone and a lawnmower, Harris proved yet again why is he is the best in the biz at this sort of thing - well, right up there along with Hugh Jackman, at least. Speaking of whom, in addition to a goosebump-inducing trailer for the forthcoming Tom Hooper-directed film adaptation of the Broadway sensation LES MISERABLES, Hugh Jackman was featured on the Tony Awards telecast and personally on hand to receive a well-earned special Tony Award for his many fundraising successes over the course of his three-show Broadway career, as was crossover superstar Bernadette Peters who took home a special Tony Award for her BC/EFA and Broadway Barks efforts. Adding to the star quotient of the night was Broadway/Hollywood super direct Mike Nichols, giving one of the classiest (despite the CBS-sanction bleep; on the same word as during Danny Burstein's FOLLIES turn, "godammit", incidentlly) and most profound acceptance speeches on the Tony Awards in recent memory - breaking the current record with, now, six Best Director statuettes, by the way. As far as musical performances go, in addition to Harris's triptych of showstoppers throughout the show - without even mentioning the many biting and sassy remarks, jokes and offhand commets; staged and otherwise - there were some seriously strong showings from almost all new musicals and revivals currently running, and even one or two terrific turns from productions already shuttered. The musical highlights of the night were Josh Young and the cast of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR in a spirited and divine take on the title song from the celebrated Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice rock opera, as well as good showings from new musical head-to-head, nail-bite-worthy competitors, ONCE and NEWSIES, plus one or two other swoon-worthy moments, too. The 2011-2012 Broadway season may not have been a record-breaker insofar as outstanding content and memorable modern classics - while NEWSIES is certainly a smash, last year's THE BOOK OF MORMON is the type of hit we only see once a decade or so, and, therefore, is a bit eclipsed; and, ONCE won Best Musical, anyway - but Harris and the team of this year's show made it an unusually entertaining and unique Tony telecast, even when compared to the finest shows on the past - particularly those from the rightly lauded Cohen era. ONCE may have dominated the wins, but the many musical numbers showed that there is a lot of room for enjoyment whether or not your personal favorite show took home the prizes. Most of all, Neil Patrick Harris proved he was once, twice, three times a Tony triumph. (more...)
SOUND OFF Special Interview: Adam Shankman Talks ROCK OF AGES, HAIRSPRAY & MoreSOUND OFF Special Interview: Adam Shankman Talks ROCK OF AGES, HAIRSPRAY & More
by Pat Cerasaro - June 7, 2012

Today we are talking to the noted director of one of the most successful stage-to-screen adaptations of the new century, HAIRSPRAY, about his brand new feature film adaptation of Broadway's currently running 80s stadium rock smash hit ROCK OF AGES - the eminently talented Adam Shankman. Discussing the starry cast of ROCK OF AGES - Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand and Mary J. Blige included - as well as the expanded songstack of the reconceived film version - which now includes Joan Jett's "I Love Rock N Roll" and Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On me", among others - Shankman imparts his infectious enthusiasm for the movie musical format and expresses his relishing of the exciting possibilities afforded by the heavy metal jukebox property. Additionally, Shankman reminisces on his experiences filming HAIRSPRAY and confirms his future re-teaming with HAIRSPRAY and HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL superstar Zac Efron on an upcoming film comedy which begins shooting next month, titled THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU, co-starring Jason Bateman and Goldie Hawn. Plus, memories of choreographing Paul Thomas Anderson's BOOGIE NIGHTS, directing two episodes of GLEE, working with Carrie Ann Inaba on ROCKULA more than twenty years ago (his film debut), anecdotes about SMASH - and much, much more! (more...)
SOUND OFF: LES MISERABLES Movie Trailer - One Dream MoreSOUND OFF: LES MISERABLES Movie Trailer - One Dream More
by Pat Cerasaro - May 30, 2012

The moment Broadway babies have been waiting for has at long, long last finally arrived - the LES MIZ movie trailer just hit the internet in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. As many suspected - and as the leaked, low-quality work print teaser indicated a few weeks back - the song selection showcased was, indeed, Anne Hathaway's impassioned and plaintive "I Dreamed A Dream", and, just as suspected, the trailer absolutely delivered in giving us the decadence, drama, epic imagery and all-consuming emotion we expected. (more...)
SOUND OFF: GLEE's Graduates Say GoodbyeSOUND OFF: GLEE's Graduates Say Goodbye
by Pat Cerasaro - May 23, 2012

The Boss to the Beatles to Madonna to Rod Stewart, GLEE's emotional and invigorating season finale was pretty much everything a gleek could have asked for in a grand send-off to the original crew of McKinley High's New Directions - at least insofar as we have seen them thus far - as the musical dramedy series ends its third season and heads into uncertain new terrain with Season Four and the purportedly revolutionary new dual-show concept GLEE mastermind Ryan Murphy and company plan to incorporate while bringing in guest stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Kate Hudson and THE GLEE PROJECT winners. As seen in "Goodbye", the future looks quite uncertain for many of the McKinley graduates - Rachel (Lea Michele) may have gotten into NYADA at the eleventh hour and arrived on Broadway to fulfill her theatre dreams, but Finn (Cory Monteith) and Kurt did not get into their performing arts academies of their choice. So, what now? So, too, will Quinn (Dianna Agron) assumedly head for the East Coast and Princeton, while Santana (Naya Rivera) will apparently be joining Rachel in New York - but, to do what? The future is evidently more promising for some than for others, but what we will see play out is infuriatingly indeterminable at this stage of the game. Anticipation is building, in any event - and GLEE continues to entice. What's next for the rest of the glee club we will have to wait until next season to witness, but we can rest assured that Blaine (Darren Criss), Sam (Chord Overstreet), Joe (Samuel Larsen), Sugar (Vanessa Lengies) and Artie (Kevin McHale) will be around, with the fates of some of the original glee clubbers who graduated a little less cut and dry as far as their character's trajectories are concerned - particularly Puck (Mark Salling), Mike (Harry Shum, Jr.), Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) and Mercedes (Amber Riley). And, as for Mr. Shu (Matt Morrison), Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), Coach Beiste (Dot-Marie Jones) and Emma (Jayma Mays)? We will definitely be seeing much more of them in September. While we can always rely on GLEE to provide us with outrageous jokes, outlandish characterizations, unexpected dramatic and thematic twists and turns, shockingly touching domestic drama and many incredibly heartwarming moments and socially progressive messages, the music - more importantly, the musical numbers - is what makes GLEE stand out from every other serial television series before or since and why the show will unquestionably be remembered as something revolutionary and indisputably idiosyncratic in the scheme of TV history. (more...)
SOUND OFF: A Double-Dose Of GLEE (With Lindsay Lohan)SOUND OFF: A Double-Dose Of GLEE (With Lindsay Lohan)
by Pat Cerasaro - May 16, 2012

On the edge of glory, GLEE momentarily brought back the ecstatic excitement and indescribably infectious joy which made the musical dramedy series a huge hit in its first and second seasons, then commanding upwards of twelve million viewers a week. Now sixty-plus episodes into the series, in a two-hour episode helmed by co-creator Ian Brennan, last night's two-episode gorge-worthy and gorgeous feast - "Props" and "Nationals", by the hour - was a reminder of everything that cynics have cited as lacking from episodes in Season Three, as flagging ratings and a general media lull plagues the once seemingly indomitable mega-show despite its continued inventiveness and dramatic daringness. It was fresh and sassy and outrageous, but touching and heartfelt - attributes ascribed to the best episodes of the show. Yet, it was so much more, too - and then there's the music! Both hours were a totally over-the-top tribute to all things big and wow-worthy, coming at just the right moment to pump some energizing lifeblood into the audience base - passing references to Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Marvin Hamlisch and Elton John as well as multiple winks at DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES songwriter and BAT OUT OF HELL mastermind Jim Steinman collectively pushing the theatre insider reference quotient into the stratosphere; and appreciably so. Yes, indeed, last night's double-dose of GLEE was an OD-worthy escapade worthy of returning to time and time again - Lea Michele's solo spots of Jason Mraz's "I Won't Give Up" and Celine Dion's Grammy-winning "It's All Coming Back To Me Now" alone were standouts of not only this or any season, but the series itself. With more than fifteen songs performed - everything from Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj and The Who to STARLIGHT EXPRESS, TOMMY, FLASHDANCE and KISS ME, KATE - there was something for everyone in the two-hour GLEE extravaganza overflowing with the witty one-liners, out-of-this-world twists, outlandish characterizations, as well as the idiosyncratic theatrical reality that only GLEE can create. It was a true return to form to prove any and all naysayers wrong, and, this, coming after last week's Ryan Murphy-penned "Prom-asaurus" season highlight, no less. (more...)
SOUND OFF: SMASH Bares Its Big, Beautiful BombshellSOUND OFF: SMASH Bares Its Big, Beautiful Bombshell
by Pat Cerasaro - May 15, 2012

The words we've all been breathlessly waiting to hear - "You're going on as Marilyn tonight," - were finally uttered by the director of the show-within-the-show, Derek (Jack Davenport), on SMASH's "Bombshell" season finale last night: Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee) nabbed the coveted role. Despite seemingly all of the bets being placed early in the season against Karen by viewers and critics alike insofar as her likelihood in donning the peroxide wig and beautymark - she seemed a Norma Jean but rarely an expected choice for Marilyn; certainly no match in the classic idea of the screen siren as far as the vivacious and curvaceous Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty) was concerned. While many were quick in giving Ivy Lynn the upper hand - or upper skirt, as the case may be - it was evident from the first moment of the series that Karen, the underdog, is who we were largely meant to be rooting for above all others; the naive Iowa girl singing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" on a stage of glitterring stars, so close and yet so far away. Ivy surely made a fast and furious impression soon thereafter with "The National Pastime" in SMASH's pilot, but Karen had already been quite clearly established as our most central protagonist - perhaps with Julia (Debra Messing) equally as prominent. As the fourteen subsequent episodes have progressed, SMASH has revealed itself to be a true ensemble piece with the emphasis on the collective journey of all of the characters and how that has had an effect on the burgeoning Broadway musical at the show's core, but Karen and Julia still have remained the two given the most screen-time and exposure. Megan Hilty has nonetheless emerged as a force to be reckoned with and her performance in the role is the finest of all on the series, outshining all in her songs and scenes. The various highways, byways and alleyways by which we have journeyed on the road of SMASH from the beginning to last night has unquestionably been leading to the BOMBSHELL first preview performances and the reveal of who would ultimately win the part of a lifetime in the show-within-the-show - and, on that count, the SMASH season finale bared all. And, as if all of that were not enough - cameos from Broadway heavyweights Bernadette Peters and Nick Jonas, too! (more...)
SOUND OFF: GLEE's New Directions Do One DirectionSOUND OFF: GLEE's New Directions Do One Direction
by Pat Cerasaro - May 9, 2012

"Prom-asaurus" proved that GLEE can still pack a powerful pop culture punch when required to do so; and when it wants to - and spike it with some effervescence and make it pop, too. Even those among us who don't partake in drinking the GLEE Kool-Aid, all must agree that there was more than one episode's fair share of fun, frivolity, twists and tunes, with some very fitting dramatic and musicals moments that we have by now come to anticipate from the genre-hopping musical dramedy enterprise - all of it integrated effectively into the stream-lined storyline, as well. Prom. It's all about prom this time of year and GLEE always makes a point to pay tribute to the month of May in this way. It is in pop culture melding mega-moments like last night's One Direction cover by way of GLEE - "What You Makes You Beautiful" - that we are again reminded of the special place GLEE holds in the American pop pantheon of the 21st century - using real, of-the-moment pop songs and utilizing them to comment on current events while musicalizing and dramatizing the lives of high school students. The classic cuts that come along are a bonus, really, when one considers GLEE from this viewpoint, though the contemporary covers have become the bread and butter of song sales for the mega-music-selling series - "Teenage Dream" by Blaine & The Warblers, as well as the Troubletones's Adele "Someone Like You/Rumor Has It" mash-up sold nearly as many copies as their predecessors - the originals - as far as iTunes sales go. Though FOX channel-mate Simon Cowell of course discovered and shepherds the international pop smash super group One Direction, their musical appearance on GLEE this season marks the continued exposure of the of-the-moment boy band phenomena we have not seen the likes of in over a decade - not since the days of N*SYNC and the Backstreet Boys - after the New Directions success with The Wanted's "Glad You Came" a few episodes back and their upcoming continued presence, no doubt, in addition. What makes GLEE must-see-TV week after week is more often than not the try-anything approach of the creators and cast - some sequences shockingly come off brilliantly and hit all-too-squarely their intended targets, while others fall far short and flop completely, even embarrassingly so. To crib a phrase from One Direction's hit single, what makes GLEE beautiful is that GLEE does not always know what makes it beautiful - experiencing drama coming to us delivered from that rocky, risky-to-mount precipice is sometimes frustrating, sometimes rewarding, but almost always somehow more than merely satisfying. (more...)
by Pat Cerasaro - May 8, 2012

"It's always gorgeous when you sing," and so the same goes for NBC's musical drama series SMASH. This week's penultimate episode of the first season order of fifteen gave us a long-awaited real look at the actual production of the musical-within-the-show live onstage in the form of the first Boston preview in the out-of-town tryout of BOMBSHELL. Up until this point, we have only been provided with sporadic glimpses into the mind's eye of the director of the show as he stages and rehearses the various song sequences. With last night's "Previews" episode we got our third major iteration of "Let Me Be Your Star" - following the full-out song at the conclusion of the pilot episode and the subsequent ballad opening number version shown in Episode 2 - with Rebecca Duvall (guest star Uma Thurman) belting it out to mixed results. Mixed results is the kindest way to say that the volatile and kooky movie star character simply does not work in any way as Marilyn Monroe in the bio-musical about her life being created - not physically, tonally and certainly not musically. Croaking out the sumptuous and richly melodic Marc Shaiman/Scott Wittman gems that have been specifically created for SMASH's BOMBSHELL - songs dutifully doled out in sparingly small doses of one or two each week - is near-sacrilege when one ponders the talent even on the very same stage; Ivy (Megan Hilty) or Karen (Katharine McPhee) could both kill the role, as wee have seen. So, who will ultimately make it to the stage that now, in the eleventh hour, the star of the show has walked? Of course, the sure-to-be action, drama and music-filled finale to Season One arrives next Monday at the same SMASH place and same SMASH channel - will the Marilyn musical be a bomb or a smash? Will the show even go on at all given the unforeseen obstacles? A lot remains to be answered, but the fever pitch fans and viewers have been yearning for has definitely entered, stage right. Next week we will see who truly sparkles, who really shines - and who ends up exploding. (more...)
SOUND OFF: The Tell-Tale 2012 Tony NominationsSOUND OFF: The Tell-Tale 2012 Tony Nominations
by Pat Cerasaro - May 5, 2012

This Tuesday marked the second most exciting day of any given year for Broadway babies - the Tony Award nominations. The actual awards ceremony on CBS - Broadway's night of nights - is still a few weeks off, but now is certainly an ideal time to size up the competition(s) and see who will most likely walk away with Tony gold come June 10 - and this year's ceremony, more than most before, could very well be as surprising as this season was; or Tuesday's nominations themselves were, for that matter. While the 2011-2012 Broadway season certainly fell far short of the heady promise many ascribed to its prospects way back last Summer, we certainly saw the fulfillment of some big dreams for some notable names if not an all-in-all banner year for Broadway when collectively considered. The highly-praised Off-Broadway critical darling LYSISTRATA JONES landed with a thud early in the season, as did the re-jiggered, gender-bending revival of ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER and its star Harry Connick, Jr., and, even the lauded and relatively successful revival of Stephen Sondheim's peerless masterpiece FOLLIES failed to make any money and closed. GODSPELL did not fare much better, though it is still running. The two highly-anticipated revivals of Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic early successes JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR and EVITA were met with indifferent reviews - with the latter receiving some nasty press for its stars, neither of whom received Tony nominations - but receptive audiences so far. THE GERSHWINS' PORGY & BESS could take Best Revival, after all - but will NICE WORK's Kelli O'Hara edge out four-time Tony recipient Audra McDonald? New plays did not fare much better than the measly crop of musicals, but OTHER DESERT CITIES and VENUS IN FUR seemed to hit their target demographics squarely, but CLYBOURNE PARK looks to be the frontrunner for Best Play despite all that. We shall see. Mike Nichols may take home another Best Director for his sensitive, if workmanlike revival of Arthur Miller's DEATH OF A SALESMAN, as conceivably could Philip Seymour Hoffman and Andrew Garfield. John Lithgow is offering up some fierce competition in THE COLUMNIST, though. The acting races are tight, for sure, in both plays and musicals, with more newcomers and first-time nominees than any season this century. (more...)
SOUND OFF: GLEE Chokes, But Shakes It OutSOUND OFF: GLEE Chokes, But Shakes It Out
by Pat Cerasaro - May 2, 2012

Rachel doesn't seem likely to be headed to New York and NYADA - nope, not this time. Mucking up her major shot at Broadway glory - at least as far as high school auditions go - by messing up the words to "Don't Rain On My Parade" from FUNNY GIRL, her anthem, no less - the focus on GLEE's appropriately titled "Choke" episode brought to mind a lyric from Stephen Sondheim's MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG, a musical about the sacrifices we make to get what we thought we wanted - "still with dreams, / just reshaping them. / Growing upÂ…." And that is Season Three of GLEE in a nutshell - the senior members of New Directions learning to let go of childhood and move ahead into the unknown world of maturity; whether the future may bring college, career or pool-cleaning. With more musical theatre references per minute than any episode of the twenty so far in GLEE S3, "Choke" was filled with the stylized storytelling and absurd, although always appreciable surprises along the way that makes GLEE consistently, near-constantly compelling. No, no, no - GLEE has not flagged in the least sixty-odd episodes into the series so far, although the rating may have slightly. Last night's GLEE was a good example of the shifting focus and repeated reinvention that keeps the series fresh - and the comedy is as fearless and biting as ever. (more...)
SOUND OFF: Another Op'nin', Another SMASHSOUND OFF: Another Op'nin', Another SMASH
by Pat Cerasaro - May 1, 2012

Kicking off the plot-packed night, Cole Porter's classic KISS ME, KATE showbiz paean "Another Op'nin', Another Show" was given a full-bodied and exciting rendition by Christian Borle - with a gloriously accentuated arrangement courtesy of SMASH songwriter Marc Shaiman; seemingly channeling Barbra Streisand and Peter Matz - and, with that, the SMASH train left Manhattan and hit Boston for the tryout of the musical-within-the-series, BOMBSHELL. While Rebecca Duvall (Uma Thurman) may play the director of the show, Derek (Jack Davenport), better than she does her actual role in the musical - Marilyn Monroe - she is not the only member of the rich and varied ensemble on SMASH to be playing or being played (or both) - or hitting the occasional wrong note or two. With only two episodes left in Season One, the threads are being wrapped up into what is shaping up to be a pleasingly complex and colorful tapestry. (more...)

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