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Baltimore/Washington Backstage - Dec. 9, 2007

By Charles Shubow

Finally, the strike by Broadway stage-hands has been resolved. To celebrate, Friday, Dec. 1, there was a free celebration at the Marriott Marquis theater called Broadway's Back. 

 

The theater was packed. The house lights went down. The voice of the Drowsy Chaperone's Bob Martin was heard. "I hate theater. Do you think Sophocles ever cared about the price of load-ins? Broadway's dark night is finally over."  The lights then came up with just Martin on the stage in his favorite chair to tumultuous applause.  He then went over the most famous refrigerator in Broadway history but couldn't open the door. He asked, "Can someone get this door open?"  Then two stage-hands came out to assist, took a bow to more applause and Martin hugged them. 

 

Through the refrigerator door came Bernadette Peters who also hugged the stage-hands and began to sing "There's No Business Like Show Business".  Those who entered through the magic refrigerator in their costumes included: Deidre Goodwin and Paul McGill (A Chorus Line), Laura Bell Bundy (Legally Blonde), Carolee Carmello (Mamma Mia!), Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele (Spring Awakening), Laura Osnes and Max Crum (Grease), Kerry Butler and Cheyenne Jackson (Xanadu), Bill Ryall (Grinch), Justin Patterson (Young Frankenstein), Salange Sandy and Michelle DeJean (Chicago), Annaleigh Ashford and Stephanie J. Block (Wicked), Jim Romich (Phantom of the Opera), Shannon Duright and George Wendt (Hairspray), Howie Michael Smith and Jennifer Barnhart (Avenue Q), Sara Inbar and Jared Gertner (Spelling Bee), Max von Essen (Les Miserables), Bob Saget (Drowsy Chaperone), and The Jersey Boys' Dominic Nolfi, Johne Leone, Collin Donnell, and Michael Longoria.

 

Longoria talked about his very first night taking over full-time as Frankie Valle on Thursday night (the day the strike ended) and complimented his audience.

 

Angela Lansbury began the song from Mame "I Need a Little Christmas" and the entire cast joined in.

 

You can see video highlights on this site at BBW TV by Broadway Beat and also view photos of the participants.

 

Was anyone else surprised that Sarah Brightman's choice of a song on the "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade" on NBC was the wonderful "Journey Home" from Bombay Dreams?  And someone at CBS was clever to present the cast from Spamalot in front of the castle-like Cloister's Museum in Ft. Tryon Park in Washington Heights.

Can you believe that Clay Aiken joins the Broadway cast in February as Sir Robin? The tour begins at The National Theatre in DC Dec. 11 until January 6, 2008.

 

Bob Saget from The Drowsy Chaperone will be on "The Today Show" Monday morning, Dec. 10 between 8 and 8:25 a.m.

 

Are you looking for a free event Monday night, Dec. 10? Head to Towson University's Van Bokkelen Hall where at 7:30 p.m. you can see the wonderful French musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. If you have never seen this 1964 musical, give it a try.

First it was MTV that televised the Broadway musical Legally Blonde. Now, VH-1 is televising a special on the musical film Sweeney Todd. Look for it Friday night, Dec. 14 from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

If you are fan of Mamma Mia!, you have another opportunity to see the documentary called "Super Troupers: Thirty Years of ABBA on the Ovation network on December 13 from 8 to 9:30 p.m. on the Ovation network. The show includes clips from the London cast of Mamma Mia!.

 

Readers may recall my interview with Dan Lipton, the pianist/performer in The Coast of Utopia. Well, I'm happy to report that the last track on Lauren Kennedy's latest CD, Hear and Now is Lipton's "You'll Want Me to Shine". Lipton also plays the piano on the CD. Many may also remember Kennedy performing in concert with Jason Robert Brown at the Everyman Theatre. Looking forward to listening to Kennedy's new CD on PS Classics. Visit www.psclassics.com.

 

Speaking of CD's, the Grammy Awards have been announced. The five nominees for Best Show Album are A Chorus Line, Company , GreyGardens, Spring Awakening, and West Side Story.

 

Nominated for Best Soundtrack include Dreamgirls, Hairspray, and Once.  I would love to see this brilliant independent Irish film turned into a Broadway musical!

 

If you have never attended the Gypsy of the Year competition to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids, this year's event presents a fabulous opportunity. It has been rescheduled for Monday, Dec. 17 @ 4:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Dec. 18 @ 2 p.m.

Not only do you see performers from each Broadway musical (and some plays), the opening will be a tribute to the 50th Anniversary of West Side Story with many of the original cast members from the 1957 show including Chita Rivera and Carol Lawrence.

Tickets start at only $20. Visit www.bcfa.org. or call 212-840-0770.

 

Here's a double-header possibility. After the Dec. 17 4:30 performance of The Gypsy of the Year, why not head to Off-Broadway's Lucille Lortel Theatre for Broadway Sings for Toys!  This benefit presented by Jesse Nager and Amy Birnbaum, raises money for the "Toys for Tots" and "Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids".  Look for Ashley Brown, Stephanie J. Block, Karen Mason, Tituss Burgess, Lauren Kennedy and the casts of Legally Blonde, Mamma Mia!, A Chorus Line, Les Miserables, Mary Poppins, Grease,  and Alter Boyz.  Admission is $15 with a new toy, $15 without, reserved seats for $40 and for $100 you also get to attend a reception with the performers. Call 212-279-4200 or visit www.ticketcentral.com.

 

High School Musical  2 had been the most watched cable television show until the Ravens v. Patriots on ESPN's Monday Night Football Dec. 3. I happened to be there to witness that strange and exciting game.

 

So pleased to report that Cyrano de Bergerac has been extended at the Richard Rodgers Theatre until January 6. Kevin Kline leads a great cast that includes Jennifer Garner and Daniel Sunjata. It's great fun and you can be sure Kline will get a Tony nomination. Garner will be a guest on "Rachel Ray" television show on Monday morning, Dec. 10. Visit www.ticketmaster.com.

 

Another extension is Fiddler on the Roof which now ends on January 6. The SRO sign has been up for almost every performance. Extensions are nothing new at Olney. This is the fourth production there this year that has been extended. Now THAT says something!

301-924-3400 or www.olneytheatre.org.

 

 

One of my favorite films of all time was Lion in Winter. Kudos to the Spotlighters for undertaken this terrific play about Henry II and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine. It continues to Dec. 16. There is even a discount offered thought this site. Just log onto www.spotlighters.org and click on "tickets". Enter code BWW-LIW to receive a $5 discount per ticket.

 

Avenue Q arrives at the Hippodrome on Tuesday, Dec. 11-Dec. 23.  This is NOT for the Sesame Street crowd but is great fun. Q got the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2004. I'll never understand how it beat Wicked though. To see video clips, go to www.baltimoresun.com/avenueq. I noticed The National Theatre offered ? price tickets for full-time students on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and Sunday matinees. Will the Hippodrome? For tickets, call 410-547-7328.

 

Speaking of the Hippodrome, if you are looking for holiday gifts for young people, why not consider tickets (which just went on sale today) for High School Musical coming Feb. 19-March 2? Same number.

 

Sick of the "Nutcracker"? The Rep Stage is presenting The Santaland Diaries through Dec. 23. 410-772-4900.

 

Another option is Christopher Durang's musical comedy Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge at The Mobtown Theater through Dec. 22. 410-367-3057.

 

The Everyman Theatre continues with Much Ado About Nothing until Dec. 16. 410-752-2208.

 

August Wilson's terrific Joe Turner's Come and Gone opens this week at Center Stage through Jan. 13. The "Meet the Actors" performance is Dec. 14. On Sunday, Dec. 16 is "Kickin' It with the 'Rents where families get pre-show activities, dinner AND the play for $8. 410-332-0033.

 

 

 

It was terrific to see Erin Hartigan in the Washington Post list theater discounts on Dec. 7 in DC.  Here's a summation:

 

Arena Stage: Christmas Carol 1941 $10 tickets for under 30. 202-488-3300. Also ? price tickets available 90 minutes before the show until 30 minutes before curtain.

 

Folger Theatre: The Second Shepard's Play $10 student discounts. 202-544-7077.

 

Olney Theatre: Fiddler on the Roof  ? price for under 18. 301-924-3400.

 

Round House Theatre: Treasure Island$25 tickets for those under 25 and $30 for all children and teenagers. 240-644-1100.

 

Shakespeare Theatre Co.: Edward II  and Timburlaine $10 for under 35. 202-547-1122.

 

Studio Theatre: Shining City $19 tickets available 30 minutes before curtain. 202-332-3300.

 

Theater J: Shlemiel the First (Dec. 18-Jan. 20) $15 at the door for under 25. 800-494-8497.

 

Auditions:

 

The musical The Secret Garden, Sat. and Sun. Dec. 15 and 16 at the Little Theatre of Alexandria. Visit www.thelittletheatre.com or call 703-683-5778 ext. 2. The Theater is also looking for Directors for their 75th season.

 

Smokey Joe's Café Dec. 13 from 10 to 6 p.m. at the New Bethesda Theatre. Equity performers ONLY. 301-657-7827 ext. 8.

 

Six Degrees of Separation Dec. 10 and 11 at the Montgomery Playhouse. Visit www.montgomeryplayouse.org or call 301-977-5751.

 

For comments, write to cgshubow@broadwayworld.com.

 

 


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