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Charm City Call Board - May 2007

Please see the June 2007 Call Board for current show information.  Articles of lasting importance are below.  If you have some news or an event you'd like added, please contact me at jameshoward@broadwayworld.com.  The Call Board will be updated as necessary and will be at the top of the page each Tuesday.  So visit the page often!  Thanks!


BACKSTAGE BABBLE (Local Theatre News, Book and CD reviews)
 ♦ANOTHER GYPSY ALUM MAKES IT BIG IN PHILLY!
 Last week, I reported on Kathryn Lyles being cast in a professional production of Hair at the Prince Music Theatre in Philadelphia.  No sooner did that news post when I heard from Kevin Korczynski, who played Tulsa to her Louise ("All I Need Is the Girl").  It seems Mr. K has spent his spring in Philadelphia at the Media Theatre in Oklahoma!  In it, he plays Slim and understudies the role of Will Parker.

The show runs through May 27th.  Go to www.mediatheatre.org for details AND an online discount!  Tickets online are just $25.00!  Baltimore's loss seems to be Philly's gain.  Great to hear from you, Kevin!  (Kevin is the first male with fist in the air from the left in the photo below!)

 

 


♦TONY NOMS: SURPRISES and DISAPPOINTMENTS!
Unless you were pulling a Rip Van Winkle, you know that the Tony Award nominations came out last week.  And as usual there was the usual drama surrounding omissions and inclusions.  Thank you to all of you who wrote asking what I thought.  Well, I have many thoughts on the subject (surprise, surprise).  And on June 6th, Charles Shubow and I will post an article with our thoughts and predictions.  But for now, I'll give you my two cents worth on the nominations themselves.

First and foremost, though, I have to preface it all with this thought.  Isn't it great to have a season with so many possible great nominees that there aren't enough slots to fill?  Some years it is a stretch to get enough people or shows nominated (1985 anyone?)!

  • With nominations for book and score, it surprises me that Legally Blonde isn't up for Best Musical.  It is a GREAT, FUN show.  In other years it would probably win.  Still all 4 nominees are worthy, I think (and LoveMusik could also be a viable nominee in that category).
  • I was glad to see Douglas Carter Beane's hilarious, urbane comedy The Little Dog Laughed was remembered.  And Radio Golf, which pre-Broadwayed here at CENTERSTAGE, too!
  • Save the nasty emails… I am thrilled that Les Miz was shut out.  Not so with Times They Are A-Changin'… it was a difficult, often thrilling piece.  Here's hoping Twyla Tharp keeps it in her repertory.
  • I don't know who I'd bump, and I am so thankful I don't have to pick Best Actress in a Musical, but… Lea Michele was robbed completely.  She is the heart of Spring Awakening.  And Ashley Brown created a brand new Mary Poppins!  Where is she?   And for the record, Kristen Chenoweth did not give one of the best 5 performances this year.  Just because she was in Wicked doesn't mean she gets a nod for every role, people! 
  • Nice to see two of my favorite performances last year were noticed by the Tony committee – Anthony Chisholm and John Earl Jelks were and are great in Radio Golf.
  • I didn't see the Marin Short show, but what about Jason Danieley in Curtains instead of Brooks Ashmanskas for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical? 
  • I think all 5 ladies in the Best Supporting Actress in a Musical category are deserving (again, I'm glad it's not me who has to pick) but when Elaine Stritch said she loved Barbara Walsh in her role in Company, shouldn't that be a clue to her brilliance in the role?  Walsh stops the show every night with her scathing "Ladies Who Lunch", and without a smidge of applause, mind you.
  • I guess the woman who orchestrated the brilliant revival of Sweeney Todd last year (and won a Tony) won't get her second, as she was left out of the Best Orchestrations category for her equally brilliant job on Company.
  • I haven't seen Curtains yet (I will before the 6th), but I have seen dozens of production photos.  I am shocked it wasn't nominated for Best Costume Design of a Musical!  (And the sets look pretty snazzy, too.)  I mean, I am Spring Awakening's biggest fan, but the costumes?
  • When I heard that Anna Louizos's scenic design for High Fidelity was nominated I literally screamed (to the delight of my fellow cubicle dwellers).  I was THRILLED!  Yes, I (and my best buddy) caught the 2nd to last performance of that show, making us 2 of maybe a 150 that actually saw it.  First of all, it wasn't THAT bad (I'll have a mini review of the new CD next month), but both of us said as we walked out, if that doesn't get nominated for best sets, there is no justice! (And that still doesn't make up for the omission of Barbara Walsh!) 

What do you think of the nominations?  Write me and let me know!  If you want me to, I'll post your responses! (Les Miz fans I know you feel gypped.  Save your time…)


BEST BET BROADWAY CD FOR JUNE: GREY GARDENS (BROADWAY CAST)
I never saw the off-Broadway version of Grey Gardens, and even though I have that version of the cast recording, I am only going to discuss the Broadway Cast Recording.  It is fantastic!  From the great packaging to the amazing sound quality to the phenomenal performances, everything about this CD is a winner!  

Tony-nominees Scott Frankel and Michael Korie, music and lyrics have constructed a terrific score (not perfect) that matches the tone and overall shift between acts one and two.  The songs in act one have a standard, purposely artificially "Broadway" sound, full of wit, elegance and snobbery, just like the high and mighty Bouvier Beales.  There is the haunting "The Girl Who Has Everything" sung at first by Mary Louise Wilson, brilliant as "Big Edie", and then blending to the equally brilliant Christine Ebersole as the same Edie, only younger.  There is the snappy jazz sound of "Goin' Places" sung by the full voiced Matt Cavenaugh and Erin Davie, and the extremely catchy "The Five-Fifteen."  Less successful is the homage to bigotry "Hominy Grits."  Act two, much more somber and "full of deeper meaning and troubling themes" switches to more modern, arty tunes (think Sondheim or Brown or LaChuisa).  "The Revolutionary Costume for Today" is a hoot and very smart; "Entering Grey Gardens" is appropriately creepy, including the cast me-owing.  And although it is growing on me, "Jerry Likes My Corn" is so bizarre!

As I said, the sound quality is superb, and the packaging is great, including a full color booklet loaded with pictures, lyrics and production notes.  But the best part is the performances.  It is rare these days to get a real idea of how a performance is, just based on the CD, but the acting and the relationships between the actors are as vivid as if we were watching instead of listening.

I highly recommend you get this one (and see the show, too!).  If you go to www.psclassics.com, you can get the CD for just $14.95, and you can get the off-Broadway one (out of print and considered a collector's item) for just $4.95!  And shipping for both is only $3.00 total!  I mention this because, while the CD is easily available in New York, I haven't even seen it in Barnes and Noble, let alone Best Buy or the like.

Let me know what you think!  www.jameshoward@broadwayworld.com.


♦MAJOR CASTING NEWS OF 2007 – 2008 AT BROADWAY ACROSS AMERICA: BALTIMORE!  
  • As of September 15th, Tony Nominee and Theatre World Award winner Lou Diamond Phillips takes over the role of King Arthur in the National Tour of Camelot.  He replaces Michael York.  Those of you who only know him from his films will be pleasantly surprised at his acting and singing chops onstage.  I had the great fortune of seeing him in the last Broadway revival of The King and I, opposite Donna Murphy.  He was absolutely thrilling! Camelot is scheduled to play the Hippodrome Theatre March 25 – April 6th.
  • Broadway favorite Ron Bohmer has been cast in the National Tour of Disney's High School Musical.  Bohmer has appeared in, among other things, Les Miserables and the National Tour of Sunset Boulevard.  He heads a reported cast of 35!  You gotta love Disney – they hire a lot of people!  Disney's High School Musical is scheduled to play the Hippodrome Theatre February 19 – March 2nd.

♦MAF's GYPSY, KATHRYN LYLES, TO STAR IN HAIR IN PHILLY!  
Last summer, Kathryn Lyles made quite a splash as Gypsy Rose Lee in the Maryland Arts Festival's Gypsy.  Such a star-making turn it was, Kati (as she likes to be called) was named Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical 2006 by this reviewer! Well, now Kati tells me, "I was just cast as Sheila in The Prince Music Theater's upcoming production of HAIR!!! How cool is that?? So it's my first big lead role in a profession theater and I'm ecstatic and still a little bit in shock."  Her letter went on to warn that there would be nudity. The show begins previews May 26th and opens officially June 2nd. It runs until June 17th with a possible two week extension. You can get more information @ the webpage www.princemusictheater.org  or by calling 215-569-9700.  Tickets are $35 - $55. How great is that!!??  Her enthusiasm is infectious.    Congratulations, Miss Lyles!  Break a leg in Philadelphia!
♦WHERE ARE THEY NOW?  
        This month, I am featuring 6 actors who have appeared in recent seasons in the Baltimore/DC area and have gone on to new, current projects.
  •  James Brown-Orleans:  Local actor makes it big!  A former UMBC actor, James played Banzai the Hyena in the record breaking run of Disney's The Lion King at the Hippodrome.  Now he is playing that very role 8 times a week at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway!
  • Charlotte Crossley: A former Bette Midler Harlette, Ms. Crossley appeared as Motormouth Maybelle in the launch of the National Tour of Hairspray at the Mechanic and later again at the Hippodrome.  Now, she returns to Broadway in the ensemble of The Color Purple at the Broadway Theatre! (Top left picture)
  • Lori Haley Fox and Gerard Salvador:  Both appeared in the first company of Mamma Mia! to play the Hippodrome, she as Tanya, he as Pepper.  They are both now in the Broadway Company in the ensemble and understudying lead roles at the Winter Garden Theatre!  (Ms. Fox was in the ORIGINAL London Cast in the ensemble, and later went on as Donna and Tanya.) (Top right picture, far left)
  • David Pittu: Mr. Pittu was in the Kennedy Center's Sondheim Celebration production of Company, and this season has appeared in The Coast of Utopia, and is now garnering critical praise and just today, he became a Tony nominee for his performance as Berthold Brecht in Harold Prince's new musical LoveMusik at the Biltmore Theatre. (Bottom left picture, center)
  • Daniel Robinson:  Mr. Robinson appeared at the Hippodrome as Will Parker in Oklahoma!  He must have loved his stay in Baltimore, because now he's "here" 8 times a week as Fender in Hairspray at the Neil Simon Theatre in New York City. (Bottom right picture, with rope)

 

 

 


♦BROADWAY BOOK OF THE MONTH: THE Q GUIDE TO BROADWAY BY SETH RUDETSKY!

Don't let the "Q" scare you away from this light, funny and very informative book.  Yes, author Seth Rudetsky writes with a gay slant (including an chapter devoted to gay characters in plays and musicals), but in this case he does it with a light touch and with an obvious love of his subject matter.  And who better to guide those of us new to the fold AND those of us who are hard core Broadwayphiles than someone who is actually in the business?  Peppered with fun quizzes that reveal just how much you THINK you know about Broadway, and some interesting trivia, the real meat of this little book (paperback, 170 pages) are chapters that can be quite helpful – how and where to find discount tickets, where to find reliable online info about the Great White Way (including BroadwayWorld.com!), a bit of history, a whole section on the Tony Awards (including how they REALLY work…you may be surprised).  He also offers insider tips on such fun things as how to increase your chances of getting an autograph AND ear time with your favorite stage celeb, what restaurants to go to see the chorus cuties and occasional big star. 

 

My favorite sections are "The CDs You Should Own but Never Heard Of" and "The 10 Broadway CDs You Must Have".  They showed me just how obsessed I am about theatre (I own all 10 of the latter – including several different versions of each, and 7 of the 10 listed in the former…I need a life…).  For those of you into downloading, he also offers a "must have" list of those as well.

Two things about this book stood out to me.  First, it is very current – it includes anecdotes about The Wedding Singer, Spamalot and The Color Purple.  And second, the respect he has for the art form and the artists.  While it is clear when he doesn't like something, the book is clever but never slips into unnecessary bitchiness.  And he never uses that tired familiarity some Broadway types love to use.  It is NEVER "Chita" or "Idina" or God-forbid "Cheno"; no, he refers to these professionals as "Chita Rivera", "Idina Menzel" and "Kristin Chenoweth."  Funny and dishy and still classy.

The Q Guide to Broadway by Seth Rudetsky has a cover price of $12.95 and is available on amazon.com for just $10.36 (as of 05/04/2007)!

 


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