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My recent New York theatre fest

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bob8rich
Broadway Legend
joined:10/19/03
Broadway Legend
joined:
10/19/03
My recent New York theatre fest#1
Posted: 10/23/09 at 8:22pm
Just got back from my trip and thought I'd post some comments on the shows I saw - divided into categories NEW YORK MUSICAL THEATRE FESTIVAL, OFF-BROADWAY SHOWS and BROADWAY SHOWS:

ALL FALL DOWN (NYMF) - show about a teenage boy who survives a suicide attempt and the effects it has on his family, etc. Brilliantly written and innovative - very funny, very moving at times, great score and four top-notch performances (Casey Predovic, Charlie Pollock, Jenn Collella & Mary Testa.)
*****
ACADEMY (NYMF) - show set on the campus of a boys' school about honour (or the lack of it), betrayal and redemption. Superbly performed by its small ensemble cast - strong book, very tuneful score with some fantastic choral numbers.
****
THE LAST SMOKER IN AMERICA (NYMF) - a brilliantly funny satirical show set in a time when smoking has been totally banned and punishable with a jail sentence! The central characters are a dysfunctional family - the mother being the "Last Smoker". Full of catchy songs and cleverly written book & lyrics by Bill Russell (Sideshow, Elegies For Angels, Punks...) And the cast were aweseome: Felicia Finley, Marcus Neville, Natalie Venetia Belcon and Alex Wyse.
*****
THE TOYMAKER (NYMF) - very powerful musical about a contemporary American woman who travels to Europe to search for a children's toy and unravel the secrets of the Toymaker who made it back in 1943 before he, his family and the population of the town of Lidice in Czechoslovakia were slaughtered by the Nazis (which is a true story). I had a big problem believing in the central character's motivation but other than that this was terrific stuff - superbly staged and choreographed, excellent performances from everyone in the large cast and the music was wonderful.
****
THE TOXIC AVENGER (Off-Broadway) - a fabulously funny and highly tuneful black comedy by Bon Jovi's David Bryan and Joe diPietro. Once again, every member of the small cast (Nick Cordero, Diana deGarmo, Nancy Opel, Jonathan Root & Demond Green) were all superb.
****
ORDINARY DAYS (Off-Broadway) - a fantastic new musical by composer/lyricist Adam Gwon about four New Yorkers whose lives become accidentally linked. Every song is almost a master class in musical theatre writing and the entire piece is woven together brilliantly. And each of the four-strong cast were brilliant: Lisa Brescia, Jared Gertner, Kate Wetherhead and the always brilliant Hunter Foster).
*****
FINIAN'S RAINBOW (Broadway) - highly enjoyable revival overall. The show is a bit dated though but still quite funny and the score is full of wonderful classic songs. The cast were all great (especially Cheyenne Jackson and Christopher Fitzgerald). But the set was pretty awful - it looked as if they had pulled the set from the original 1947 production out of storage LOL.
****
BYE BYE BIRDIE (Broadway) - another highly enjoyable revival of a show with a great score. The choreography was terrific - as was the set. The cast were all great apart from Gina Gershon. I know it's a tough ask to try and fill Chita Rivera's shoes - but she didn't even come close. She had very little stage presence and her vocals were mediocre. John Stamos on the other hand was fabulous, as was Nolan Funk as Conrad. But the show was stolen by the incredible Allie Trim (who was also outstanding in 13 when I saw it last year).
****
NEXT TO NORMAL (Broadway) - I enjoyed this even more the second time around. It really is one the the greatest musicals ever written IMO - witty, poignant, powerful and a mindblowingly brilliant score. And (with a seat nearer the front than when I saw it in May), Alice Ripley was even more incredible this time. Her performance has to rank as one the finest ever.
***** (in fact its star rating should go right off the scale!)
GOD OF CARNAGE (Broadway) - OMG, what a fantastic play this is! I laughed my ass off for the entire 90 minutes as well as being blown away by the powerful underbelly of the sub-text. And it's impossible to imagine four better performances on any stage anywhere (Marcia Gay Harden thoroughly deserved her Tony but Hope Davis, Jeff Daniels and James Gandolfini were all equally deserving).
*****




THEATRE 2019: ASPECTS OF LOVE**** FRANKENSTEIN (Paris)**** AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE**** COMPANY***** [title of show]**** CAN CAN*** THE CEREAL CAFE**** BAD GIRLS**** RAGS***** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** FOLLIES***** ROMANCE ROMANCE**** THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES*** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** QUEEN OF THE MIST**** SIX** THE PRICE***** MAGGIE MAY **** CALENDAR GIRLS** MAN OF LA MANCHA**** WAITRESS***** FANNY AND STELLA***
Updated On: 10/24/09 at 08:22 PM
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Phantom of London
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joined:3/26/08
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re: My recent New York theatre fest#2
Posted: 10/24/09 at 1:43pm
Very successful New York trip then? I am jealous and envious and wish I was there!!! Agree totally about Next to Normal and wish it finds itself a London home soon.

Festival looks like it could have potential for New York next Broadway hit.

Any shows that have gone from New York festival to Broadway?
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bob8rich
Broadway Legend
joined:10/19/03
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joined:
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re: My recent New York theatre fest#2
Posted: 10/24/09 at 5:25pm
"Any shows that have gone from New York festival to Broadway?"

NEXT TO NORMAL!
[TITLE OF SHOW]

Also, the huge Off-Broadway hit ALTAR BOYZ - and AUSTENTATIOUS, which had huge critical acclaim when it played at the Landor Theatre earlier this year, was part of NYMF a couple of years ago, as was HAVE A NICE LIFE (which was my favourite show at this year's Edinburgh Fringe).

It's a fantastic festiival - this year over 50 shows, concerts and special events were staged between September 28 and October 18. Next year I'm going to be there for at least a week so I can take in more shows. You just cannot beat new musical theatre. It is a shame that London does not have the same commitment to developing and showcasing new musical theatre writing.

Btw - just realized that I left out the most fantastic night I had in New York in my first post! (Blame it on the jet-lag!) Last Saturday (after seeing 3 shows in the Festival) I was at Birdland for the 11 pm cabaret show by Chita Rivera - "awesome" does not even begin to describe her performance. She is totally amazing and it's one of the best nights I've ever experienced.
THEATRE 2019: ASPECTS OF LOVE**** FRANKENSTEIN (Paris)**** AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE**** COMPANY***** [title of show]**** CAN CAN*** THE CEREAL CAFE**** BAD GIRLS**** RAGS***** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** FOLLIES***** ROMANCE ROMANCE**** THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES*** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** QUEEN OF THE MIST**** SIX** THE PRICE***** MAGGIE MAY **** CALENDAR GIRLS** MAN OF LA MANCHA**** WAITRESS***** FANNY AND STELLA***
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TIGGOSAURUS
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joined:12/5/05
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joined:
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re: My recent New York theatre fest#3
Posted: 10/24/09 at 6:30pm
Sounds like you had an amazing trip Bob. Especially interesting to read about the NYMF shows which could become the hits of the future. And I totally agree that it's a shame London doesn't have a similar event (though I suppose one could argue that Edinburgh fulfils that role).

You've certainly whetted my appetite for returning to N2N next month. It was the last show I saw on my my most recent trip but it will probably be the first next time round. I found it to be a totally orginal and daring piece of theatre and the whole cast more than do it justice IMHO. I was particularly impressed with J Robert Spencer - I enjoyed him in Jersey Boys, but Dan is a league away from that and JRS' performance is the one that allows Alice Ripley to soar - quietly mesmerising.
Seen some shows in my time....
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bob8rich
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joined:10/19/03
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re: My recent New York theatre fest#4
Posted: 10/24/09 at 7:14pm
Yes, Tiggosaurus, I agree that J Robert Spencer is brilliant in N2N - very much an unsung hero. My absolute favourite moment in the show is when Dan "sees" Gabe for the first time after Diana leaves. I cried both times I saw it. It's absolutely heartbreaking.

As for your suggestion that maybe Edinburgh does the same for new musical theatre in the UK as NYMF in New York - well, not really. Though I love the Fringe, new musicals are only a small part of it - it's a huge theatre festival for all kinds of theatre. But NYMF is 100% dedicated to NEW musical theatre. We desperately need something like that in London (or some other major UK city).
THEATRE 2019: ASPECTS OF LOVE**** FRANKENSTEIN (Paris)**** AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE**** COMPANY***** [title of show]**** CAN CAN*** THE CEREAL CAFE**** BAD GIRLS**** RAGS***** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** FOLLIES***** ROMANCE ROMANCE**** THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES*** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** QUEEN OF THE MIST**** SIX** THE PRICE***** MAGGIE MAY **** CALENDAR GIRLS** MAN OF LA MANCHA**** WAITRESS***** FANNY AND STELLA***
exedore
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joined:4/20/05
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re: My recent New York theatre fest#5
Posted: 10/25/09 at 6:59am
White Noise and The Big Voice have also had significant post NYMF afterlives, and Oedipus for Kids got signed with Samuel French. It's all in how you use the festival.