Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Duncan Sheik interview in NY Times

Bought my tix for Spring Awakening for my trip to NYC next month. Second show wil be either Company or Gray Gardens.

And in honor of my buying those tix the NY Times decided to run an interview with Spring Awakening compose, pop troubadour Duncan Sheik.

I recently saw Sheik in concert, and here is my review of that show.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Merc's "Top 10" List

Well it's not actually 10 items. And it's not supposed to represent the "top", only the "most memorable", but here is Karen D'Souza's list.

I'd prefer an actual list of what she loved and loathed personally, but whatever.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Time for Top 10s?

The NY Times has a top 10 list for the Broadway season of 2006, and Ben Brantley is uncharacteristically gushing about the overall quality of the year. He mixes both plays and musicals to make his list, and I'm excited to note that Spring Awakening, the Duncan Sheik musical which I've bought tickets for for next month, makes the list. I'm also going to try to see Company from this list, although I hear it's a tough ticket. (Interesting to note he also picks the Harry Connick Jr Pajama Game...Harry's publicist corresponded with me this year and even sent me Harry's latest CD to review, which I did over at the 42nd St. Moon blog.

So, what were your favorite Bay Area productions this year? I reviewing my theatre review list for 2006 I realize i only saw 16 productions the entire year. Wow! That's not much.

My two favorites of the year came early in the year, namely:

The Lion King is always a visual and aural treat (at least when they're singing the African-inspired numbers rather than the pop numbers), so AMT's production early in 2006 is a high point. Our seats are very close, and were right on the newly-installed (and immediately de-installed) aisles at the CPA, so we were really up close and personal to all of the creative splendors.

And I'm not at all biased when I say that Foothill's Urinetown, also early in the year, was my other favorite from this year.

What about you?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Foothill Alum out in the world: Austin Ku

Austin Ku (Anthony Hope in Sweeney) is appearing in what sounds to be a very interesting new musical indeed!

It is called Homeland and performs this weekend 12/16-12/19 at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco, presented by a new company called The San Francisco New Theatre Workshop.

Per Austin:
The story is very powerful, weaving elements of West Side Story and Miss Saigon (star-crossed lovers--but this time it's and Asian American Juliet/Capulets and a Republican Texan Romeo/Montagues), including many moving themes such as race, religion and politics in modern-day America. There are also some amazingly beautiful musical moments, with orchestral complexity reminiscent of Miss Saigon (again) and even Light in the Piazza.

I play the Juliet-heroine's brother, but my intertwined storyline is about coming out to my traditional Asian family and covering up a failed career--it's good stuff, and I am very proud to be in this show.

For more details/cast/music samples/tickets, please visit the website

Music and Lyrics by Jay Kuo ("Insignificant Others" at New Conservatory Theatre, 2006)
Directed by George Quick
Choreography by David E. Garcia

Cast: Yilin Hsu, Luke Klipp, Lily Tung, Austin Ku*, Jason Hoover, Erin Diamantides, Brandon Mears, Sean Grady*, Nancy Dobbs Owen*, Mary Kalita, William J. Brown III, and featuring Kelly Ground* (Fantine in the first national tour of Les Miserables) as Trudy Daniels.

Saturday 12/16 2 pm preview $15
Saturday 12/16 8 pm opening SOLD OUT
Sunday 12/17 2 pm $30
Sunday 12/17 7:30 pm $25
Monday 12/18 7:30 pm $25
Tuesday 12/19 7:30 pm $25

Editor's Two Cents: I wish he hadn't compared it not once, but twice, to Miss Saigon , because we all know I loathe that show! But despite the unfortunate comparison, it sounds quite intriguing.

And given the numerous revivals, jukebox musicals and movie adaptations flooding the stage it's always nice to hear of an original new musical!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Duncan Sheik's musical a critical hit...I hope it lasts

When I saw Duncan Sheik at Montalvo a month or two back, he mentioned that he had a musical opening on Broadway.

It has opened to what can only be called rather unanimous acclaim. And as one blogger put it, it seems like critics are trying to help the show have a healthy run, because ticket sales have been slow. It's not like opening in winter was the best timing to give the show a fair shot. (Especially when it's called Spring Awakening.)

So, said blogger has compiled links and quotes fromt he reviews here. I also downloaded the album from iTunes today. Very melodic, wry, very Duncan Sheik.

I'm going to NYC in mid-January and intend to see this if it's still running.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Oh. My. God. I'm in cult-fave heaven!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Best. TV. Show. Ever) alum Anthony Stewart Head (you may know him as Giles) is apparently going to be added to the cast of Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd musical movie. (This according to ASH's own web site.)

Since apparently Alan Rickman is signed on to play Judge Turpin I'm not sure who ASH will be playing...perhaps the Beadle? Usually the Beadles is a very large man with a very high voice. So, type-wise, it doesn't seem right.

All I know is that Sweeney Todd is my favorite musical ever. BtVS is my favorite TV Show ever. (Not to mention that Depp may be my favorite "Who Would You Do?" candidate ever.) Needless to say: I am sooooo there!

Another Broadway Musical Bites the Critical Dust

There aren't too many new musicals that are catching a break this year. (Note the quick demise of the Tharp/Dylan project, The Times They Are A' Changin'.) Of course it could be because not too many of them are actually's the same old story, revivals, movie adaptations etc.

The latest victim: High Fidelity.

Great book.

Pretty good movie.

Apparently a really bad musical.

Not just according to the NY Times' Ben Brantley either. Check out the excerpts that NewYorkology provides.

Back when High Fidelity star Will Chase played Captan Crewe in TheatreWorks' production of A Little Princess my review was not critical, but not gushing. The most I could say was that all of the principals had very strong voices. (Which given the caliber TheatreWorks is supposed to represent, and the prices they charge, shouldn't come as a surprise.) It's hard to imagine the rather wooden Captain Crewe I saw being the character in High Fidelity.

So, how long will it run? Probably not as short as the Tharp/Dylan disaster. But I'm betting less than a month.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Harriet Hayes is Kristin Chenoweth!?

So I am one of the loyal fans of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I have never been an Aaron Sorkin fan before...never watched Sports Night or West Wing even. Mostly drawn in my Matthew Perry I've been watching Studio 60 since Day One and enjoying how it manages to portray and even humanize multiple sides of thorny issues without seeming treacly.

One of the most intriguing characters is Harriet Hayes, the comic star of the eponymous Studio 60, who also happens to be a devout Christian. And who also happens to have recently broken up with Perry's Jewish head writer...over something they haven't shared with others...over her appearance on Pat Robertson's 700 Club to promote an album she cut of Christian pop.

Her character has also gone through a firestorm from both sides this season as she was quoted out of context about gay marriage, which angered her gay fans, and then protested that she wasn't homophobic, which angered a Christian organization for whom she did charitable performing. And her character also considered doing a sexy lingerie shot in a men's magazine a la Maxim...which her ex- convinced her was just her trying to get back at the Christian organization for dis-inviting her from their events.

Apparently every bit of the above storyline is based on Kristin Chenoweth. Check out this NY Times profile.

I learned that:

Aaron Sorkin could write that entire story because he and Kristin were an item. And that she gave him permission to use her story for the show.

That she thinks Harriet is judgmental, and the columnist editorializes by calling Harriet's character a bit of an "intolerant pill", neither description being one I would apply to the character.

That she is 38...which she looks much younger than.

That she is going to play the Madeline Kahn role in the upcoming Broadway musical adaptation of Young Frankenstein (and could that be any more perfect?)

That she likes Dancing with the Stars :)

That she may be fantastically talented, but that she also invest a lot of work into her work.

Great article about a truly phenomenal talent. There are so few real Broadway stars left...I rank her up there with Brian Stokes Mitchell, Bernadette Peters and not too many other folks who are still able to get up their on the Broadway stage and be a true star.

Who am I missing?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

UPDATED: AMT lays off artistic director

UPDATED: I have been set aright by a private email sent to me. Apparently, I was indeed smoking crack. Michael Miller and Tim Bair are not and were not a couple, although Tim was apparently is partners with someone else who was on AMT staff...which must have been what I read about and "remembered", however incorrectly. So, I feel better now knowing that Miller didn't have to lay off his life partner.
OK, this isn't a gossip blog, but did you read this Merc article about AMT Artistic Director Tim Bair getting laid off? I notice two odd things about it:

1. Here's the gossipy part. In his quote Managing Director Michael Miller says "I'm very sad. Not only do I have great respect for Tim as an artist but he's also a good friend." OK, is it just me, or wasn't it common knowledge that these were partners in life as well as business? This quote means either:

a. I was on crack about that.

b. They were, but they're not anymore.

c. That this quote sounds like something out of the 1950s. That either they're loathe to admit a relationship publicly because of the sexuality issue (but then why even bother to throw in the "good friend language?") or they're loathe to admit it because they don't want people to question why they were both hired. But in the theatre aren't both situations pretty common?

Perhaps it's just a)

2. Here's the odd part: In the article they mention this: "Another factor in the decision was the theater's plan to focus almost entirely on co-productions, which usually involve freelance directors." Co-productions? I thought they were moving towards more local productions, instead of tours. This news cheered local actors and designers a lot. But if all they're doing is funding other theatres to do work and then do a run at AMT that won't help locals much. Does anyone know what this means exactly?

Now, I haven't seen Christmas Dreamland, the first original show AMTR has done in my memory and which Bair co-wrote and directed, but it got a good review in the Merc at least. Bair must be bumming. That's the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat all in one week!

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