Category: Broadway

'Magic/Bird' on Broadway: What did the critics think?

April 12, 2012 |  8:00 am

"Magic/Bird" on Broadway

"Magic/Bird," the new play by Eric Simonson that opened this week on Broadway, tells the story of the rivalry and off-court relationship between two of basketball's greatest players -- Larry Bird and Earvin "Magic" Johnson.

A basketball-themed play, at the Longacre Theatre, may seem like an odd fit for Broadway, where financial success is still defined by the mega-musical likes of "Wicked" and "The Lion King." But the modest success of "Lombardi" in 2010 proved that a sports play could find its audience amid the theatrical razzle-dazzle of New York.

Simonson also happened to pen "Lombardi" and he was brought on board "Magic/Bird" by some of the same producers. Tug Coker and Kevin Daniels play Bird and Johnson, respectively. Their athletic rivalry pitted Bird's Boston Celtics against Johnson's Los Angeles Lakers.

Johnson, now one of the new owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, was in New York this week for the play's opening. He and Bird appeared Wednesday on "Late Night with David Letterman."

How did critics -- a group of people not known for their sports enthusiasm -- react to the play? Their response so far has been less than enthusiastic, to say the least.

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Rex Reed eviscerates Broadway's 'Evita' starring Ricky Martin

April 11, 2012 | 12:29 pm


There are negative reviews, and then there is the kind of critical assassination practiced by Rex Reed, the veteran uber-critic whose current vulture perch is at the New York Observer. Once a powerful critical presence, Reed has long since been co-opted by the very cultural scene he once dissected, which has turned him into a Capote-esque shadow of his former self.

But in a review this week of Broadway's "Evita," Reed proves that he still has some bite left. The critic tears apart the revival production, starring Ricky Martin, with a gleeful ferocity that is a rare sight in today's rather genteel critical atmosphere.

"Can nothing be done, once and for all, to get rid of 'Evita?'" he writes. "Here it is again, worse than ever and revived on Broadway for no logical reason except to cash in on Ricky Martin's fame as a pop star."

Reed describes the production as "sprawling, overproduced, clumsily directed and strangely emotionless."  He writes that Andrew Lloyd Webber's music is "derivative" and that Tim Rice's lyrics are "repetitive," reducing the story of Eva Peron to a "second-rate operetta."

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'The Lion King' surpasses 'Phantom of the Opera' as box-office champ

April 10, 2012 |  9:16 am

  New York's Minskoff Theatre, home of "The Lion King."
"The Lion King" has dethroned "The Phantom of the Opera" as Broadway's all-time box-office champion. The Disney musical, based on the popular animated movie, has grossed a total of $853.8 million since opening on Broadway in 1997.

The gross figure, which represents Broadway box-office receipts only and not worldwide revenue, was confirmed by a spokeswoman at Disney Theatrical Productions. She said the figure has not been adjusted for inflation.

"Phantom" has grossed approximately $853.1 million since opening in 1988.

The crowning of "The Lion King" as Broadway's new box-office leader comes with a caveat, however. The Disney musical has benefited from higher ticket prices than "Phantom."

Figures provided by the Broadway League show that the average ticket price for "The Lion King" was recently $155.09, compared with a recent average ticket price for "Phantom" of $98.97.

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NBC's 'Smash' could transition from TV to stage

April 6, 2012 |  1:21 pm

NBC's musical drama "Smash" is setting the stage for a potential Broadway run
Could a TV show about Broadway actually end up on Broadway? NBC's musical drama "Smash" is at least setting the stage for a potential New York run.

Our sister blog Company Town reports that before the scripted series about cutthroat theater life premiered on prime time, the network secured rights for a Broadway version.

"Smash," a longtime passion project between NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt and Steven Spielberg, boasts a cast of producers and other behind-the-scenes creatives with theater backgrounds, starting with the series creator, playwright Theresa Rebeck.

Tony Award winners Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman were tapped to write the original score for “Bombshell," the fake musical featured in the series. They retain certain rights to the music that could carry over into a Broadway show. 

So far, "Smash,” which NBC recently renewed for a second season, has racked up a 15-song soundtrack. Still, the onstage musical isn't the show's focus.

"Since our creative team has been writing songs and snippets of 'Bombshell' scenes only to tell the stories of our characters in 'Smash,' there is no fully realized 'Bombshell,'" Greenblatt wrote Thursday in an email to The Times. 

Greenblatt has theatrical credits of his own: In 2008, while at Showtime, Greenblatt produced "9 to 5: The Musical," which made its way from Los Angeles to the Great White Way. But for now, Greenblatt says he's focusing on his day job.

"I am working full time at NBC and it wouldn't make sense for me to be a producer," Greenblatt told The Times, adding that, "Maybe I could produce 'Bombshell' when I'm long gone from NBC, which would be about the time that [a Broadway project] would come to fruition."


Could NBC's "Smash" get a ticket to Broadway?

"Smash" will return, but showrunner Theresa Rebeck departs

"Smash:" Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman want to make viewers hum

-- Jamie Wetherbe

Image: A poster for "Smash." Credit: NBC

Ricky Martin and 'Evita' on Broadway: What did the critics think?

April 6, 2012 | 11:32 am

Ricky Martin in Evita

Broadway's eyes were on pop star Ricky Martin Thursday night as a revival of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Evita" opened at New York's Marquis Theatre.

The musical based on the life of Eva Perón, the Argentinian actress turned major political player, has created its fair share of fame. The 1979 Broadway debut launched Patti LuPone's career, and the 1996 movie version helped to reinvent another pop singer, Madonna.

This time around, "Evita" boasts the star quality of the '90s pop heartthrob (and his hip-swiveling moves) as the show's truth-telling narrator, Che Guevara. Argentine actress Elena Roger plays the title role.

The first reviews from New York were mixed: Some critics felt the heat in this retelling of the fiery first lady's life and death (or at least in some of the performances), while others were lukewarm toward the show and its actors. 

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Injured stuntman takes legal action against Broadway's 'Spider-Man'

April 6, 2012 |  6:59 am

Screen Shot 2012-04-05 at 10.13.36 PM
The web of legal woes grows for "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark." 

A "Spidey" stuntman has filed court papers seeking information about the death-defying stunts performed in the Broadway mega-musical -- a legal move that could mark the prelude to a lawsuit.

Richard Kobak claims he was injured while performing the show's many aerial acrobatics, and the production was slow to take action to fix safety equipment.

In an affidavit filed with the New York Supreme Court, Kobak claims in one such incident he was left with whiplash, a concussion and herniated discs in his back after an airborne stunt gone wrong slammed him face-first into a wall.

The accident-prone production, which opened in June, has seen plenty of crash landings. About a half dozen performers were injured during the rehearsals and previews.

This is not the only legal action for the production. Julie Taymor, the show’s original director and co-creator, is suing producers for copyright issues. Producers have countersued the ousted director for breach of contract. 

Despite the troubled backstory, the production, which was $70 million in the making, has done well at the box office -- often ranking among Broadway’s top-selling shows. And the Tonys could boost the show’s onstage presence now that it’s eligible for awards.


Spider-Man" producers countersue Julie Taymor

Julie Taymor sues producers of "Spider-Man" musical

Julie Taymor claims 'Spider-Man' producers engaged in fraud

--Jamie Wetherbe

Photo: Reeve Carney as Spider-Man in the Broadway musical. Credit: Jacob Cohl

Can Neil Patrick Harris boost Tony Awards ratings?

April 3, 2012 |  9:56 am

Neil Patrick Harris

Neil Patrick Harris will host Broadway's biggest night for the third time, organizers of the Tony Awards announced on Tuesday. The award show is scheduled to take place June 10 at the Beacon Theatre in New York and will be broadcast live on CBS, with a delay for the West Coast.

Harris has proved a popular choice for the Tonys, but will the "How I Met Your Mother" actor, who hosted last year's Tonys as well as the 2009 ceremony, be able to reverse the show's declining TV viewership of the last three years?

Usually the least-watched of the major entertainment awards shows, the Tonys have struggled with falling TV ratings in recent years. Last year's show drew 6.9 million viewers, down from 7 million in 2010. That figure was down from 7.4 million viewers in 2009.

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Gore Vidal's 'The Best Man': What did critics think?

April 2, 2012 |  8:00 am

Gore Vidal's "The Best Man"

Broadway is marking the presidential election year with a revival of Gore Vidal's 1960 play "The Best Man," a political comedy about two candidates duking it out during a presidential convention.

"The Best Man" features perhaps the starriest cast currently on Broadway, including James Earl Jones, John Larroquette, Eric McCormack, Candice Bergen, Michael McKean and Angela Lansbury.

The ensemble also includes Dakin Matthews, a regular of the Los Angeles theater scene.

Vidal's play debuted on Broadway in 1960 -- Melvyn Douglas won a Tony Award for his performance -- and was most recently revived in 2000. The current production, at the Gerard Schoenfeld Theatre, features Larroquette and McCormack as the two presidential candidates who go head to head during a nominating convention in Philadelphia.

Vidal, 86, is the author of several plays, but remains best known for his novels, non-fiction books and essays.

How did New York critics react to the new revival?

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'Newsies' on Broadway: What did the critics think?

March 30, 2012 | 10:30 am

Stories about boys as of late have been less than uplifting -- just consider the feuding vampires of "Twilight" and the teen dystopia of "The Hunger Games." So a tale of scruffy lads who take on the villains of big business might be a welcome change.

The Disney movie-turned-musical "Newsies" opened on Broadway at the Nederlander Theater on Thursday night. The story was inspired by the 1899 New York City newsboy strike, although the fictional account has far more backflips, high kicks and pirouettes than your typical tale of unionizing.

The musical is based on the 1992 film flop starring a pre-stubble Christian Bale as the leader of the upbeat street urchins alongside Bill Pullman, Robert Duvall and Ann-Margret. The flick later found a following on VHS and made its way to more homes and modern formats over the last two decades.

For the stage version, Alan Menken, who was responsible for the film's score, teamed with a new  story writer, Harvey Fierstein. The musical keeps the movie's memorable songs including "Santa Fe," "Seize the Day" and “King of New York,” but this time around the XX chromosome is represented with a female reporter (and puppy love story) added to the lineup.

The reviews from New Yawk (er, York) are rolling in, and so far, the scrappy musical seems to be far too sugary for most critics' tastes.

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Kevin Smith has plans to take 'Clerks' to Broadway

March 30, 2012 |  8:00 am

Kevin Smith has plans to follow up his movies "Clerks" and "Clerks II" with a third installment -- on Broadway
Kevin Smith could soon stage some '90s nostalgia: The indie filmmaker has plans to follow up his movies "Clerks" and "Clerks II" with a third installment -- on Broadway.

The director said he hoped to stage the play at the end of 2014 to mark the 20th anniversary of the first "Clerks," which follows a pair of convenience store workers under the influence.

There's just one catch, Smith says: Jeff Anderson, who played the slacker video store employee in the cult hit, must commit to the project.

"If I can't convince him, there's no point in doing it," Smith told fans during a recent book signing. "He's the key to 'Clerks' for me. If he says yeah, then that's what we'll do -– we'll do it as a Broadway play, which I think will be so fun for all of us."

Smith has tweeted his devotion to "The Book of Mormon," the musical created by "South Park's" Trey Parker and Matt Stone, also known for their sometimes-slacker fare. But Smith said seeing "Seminar” on Broadway, about a writing group headed by a famed novelist, reminded him of rehearsing "Clerks" at the Quick Stop market where he worked and then shot the film.

"When people saw that movie, they said it was like a play; that's how we'd rehearsed it,” Smith said. He added (in between a series of unpublishable terms) that "I'd never made a movie before, but I'd been in high school plays ... so to come back for 'Clerks 3,' to do a play would make sense ... that would make me excited to do a live show."

Smith's other film credits include "Jersey Girl," "Dogma," "Mallrats" and "Hit Somebody," his next and perhaps final film. "Clerks: The Animated Series" aired on ABC in 2000 and was canceled after two episodes.


Television review: Kevin Smith's "Comic Book Men" know their stuff

-- Jamie Wetherbe

Photo: Kevin Smith, right, with Bruce Willis on the set of "Cop Out." Credit: Warner Bros.


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