Jake Gyllenhaal may be a big star in Hollywood, but for theatergoers on Thursday night at New York City Center's production of Little Shop Of Horrors, it was all about Ellen Greene.
The actress was reprising her signature role of Audrey, which she originated in the early '80s off-Broadway and also portrayed in the film.
Greene was received like a rock star by the rapt audience, who warmly took to everyone in the cast, including the super talented Taran Killam from Saturday Night Live.
But, what you really want to know is…. Can Jake Gyllenhaal sing????
Well, the answer is HELL YEAH!!!
He was great as Seymour!!!!
Why has he not done more singing????
We hope to see him on Broadway in a musical real soon!
Everybody got to shine in this concert staging, but what was most apparent is that the music by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman is so brilliant and timeless!
This is one of the best musical theater scores of all time!
Howard Ashman was taken from us far too young of AIDS. But his legacy will live on in this show! Because Little Shop Of Horrors is running all over the world and will continue to do so forever and ever!
Only the second time it's been revived, this staging was masterfully done by director Bartlett Sher in a grand and truly epic fashion, befitting the equally grand score and story.
This production most definitely has the largest orchestra of anyBroadway production! They had a dedicated harp player!!!
What a thrilling and rich way to hear this iconic music!
Kelli O'Hara absolutely shines as Anna, a role perfectly suited for her voice and persona. She is stern and sweet, warm and light. This is a performance that will finally get her that Tony Award - after being nominated six times!
And, after seeing all the women in her category, she truly deserves it!
Ken Watanabe left us unimpressed as the King, but we like to think it's just the way that part is written. It's hard to be charming in that role.
Ashley Park was a real standout as Tumptim!
And major kudos to Michael Yeargan for his impressive sets!
Fun Homeis a new Broadway musical that tells a very personal story about family and loss. The show is based on the book of the same name, about a lesbian comic book artist coming to terms with her father's death. Her father was a very complex man and this is a complex show. Not your typical Broadway fare!
It's extremely well done and satisfying, though also a bit frustrating - just like the story and the main character's dad.
Michael Cerveris gives a powerful and nuanced performance as the father, a conflicted English teacher who runs a funeral parlor out of his home - aka the "fun home" - and who moonlights in home restoration and homosexuality.
The subject matter is meaty and the one major complaint we had with the show is that this very complex story (told in a very complex and multilayered way - from the present, the past and the very distant past) was crammed into one act. While we are big fans of the one act musical, not every show benefits from that.
While the show is mainly about Alison and her father, Fun Homewould be even better if some of the supporting characters were a bit more fleshed out - ESPECIALLY the mother! Judy Kuhn does a great job as the mom, but we wish we knew more about her and what made her tick. Her story is so tied to that of her husband, who cheated on her with countless men, and her daughter.
In real life, Alison Bechdel, whose book Fun Homeis based on, wrote a second illustrated memoir all about her mother. We wish some of those elements could have been incorporated into the musical, so that it could feel like a more complete experience.
As it is, the book of the musical, written by Lisa Kron, poses more questions than it answers. This is not a show where everything is going to be spoon-fed for the audience or wrapped up with a bow on top. Like we said, not your typical Broadway fare.
Thankfully, director Sam Gold does a great job of making this show, which began at the Public Theater downtown, feel like a Broadway production. The set, by David Zinn, makes THE MOST of the Circle In The Square Theater and is used in very unexpected and effective ways.
The music, by Jeanine Tesori, with lyrics by Kron, is great.
And the very young and very talented Sydney Lucas, one of three actresses simultaneously playing the lead character, Alison, gives an outstanding performance. DAZZLING! She steals the show!
Thursday night saw the opening of the last new show of the current Broadway season, Kander & Ebb's long-in-the-works The Visit.
The show was originally supposed to reach Broadway in 2001 as a starring vehicle for Angela Lansbury. Life happened. Lansbury dropped out. Chita Rivera stepped in. And 14 years later it finally debuts in New York!
The Visit reteams the iconic composing duo of Kander & Ebb with frequent collaborator Rivera and playwright Terrence McNally, both of whom worked on Kiss Of The Spider Woman with them.
Like many Kander & Ebb shows (Cabaret, Chicago), The Visitexplores dark themes.
A rich old woman comes back to her hometown after being gone a lifetime to avenge her past!
That rich old woman is the rich in talent Rivera, who at 82 years old may be making her final appearance on Broadway. And it is quite the star turn for her!
We last saw her on the stage in The Mystery Of Edwin Drood, which was not a good vehicle for her. The Visit, after many revisions throughout the years and finally being (smartly) trimmed down to it's current state of performed without intermission, is custom-tailored for Rivera.
This is Chita at her best! There's even a little dancing!
This old broad's still got it!
The production is on the smaller scale of Broadway musicals, but it is beautifully done by director John Doyle.
The show is a lot like Chicago in that it lives in an alternate world. It's based on reality but the whole affair is rather surreal. We kept waiting for the end and a reveal that it was all a dream, which never happened.
In addition to Rivera, the real star of the show is the music.
Fred Ebb may no longer be with us but John Kander is - he was at the opening! - and these songs they have left behind are of the highest quality.
Oftentimes the later work of composers isn't as good as their younger output. Thankfully, The Visitis not that case! These songs are some of their best!
The cast is mostly great, though we wish they would have chosen a better vocalist as Rivera's main love interest.
And kudos to newcomer John Riddle, who has a bright future ahead of him - and not just because he was so pretty to look at. He was captivating!
EXQUISITE vocal arrangements by music director/supervisor Ron Melrose!
GORGEOUS orchestrations by Danny Troob to really show it off!
And, unfortunately, THE WORST book of the new Broadway season.
This musical would have worked sooooo much better as an opera - without any dialogue. Or maybe with heavy narration and minimal dialogue.
Michael Weller had the merciless task of condensing the long book/film (both long) into a long and hard-to-follow musical. And as if that weren't daunting enough, he was also faced with not just editing down but also creating…. lots of cheese!
This love story is so melodramatic that it's hard to find any of it believable and even harder to not audibly laugh at some of this campy dialogue.
It's a shame because many of the songs - with music by Lucy Simon and lyrics by Michael Korie & Amy Powers - are quite beautiful and really good.
It doesn't help either that director Des McAnuff has loaded the show with so many guns going off continually. It's incredibly loud and distracting!
Kelly Barrett as Zhivago's love interest is a revelation in this role and absolutely spectacular! And Paul Alexander Nolan, whom we've seen in previous productions, delivers the best performance we've ever seen him give in Doctor Zhivago.
As for the title character, Tam Mutu would have been served far better if - like we said - this were an opera!
If you're a fan of Renée Fleming, then you will love Living On Love, the new Broadway play about an aging opera singer starring the real life opera singer.
Fleming is making her Broadway debut with the comedy, which seems to have been created as a starring vehicle for her. Unfortunately, this is no Master Class.
Fleming's singing voice, which she gifts the audience in snippets throughout the play, is a force of nature. Unfortunately, this show fails to come anywhere near her brilliance as a vocalist.
And, since she's not given the best material to work with, Fleming does not shine the way she should!
She's funny and endearing, but playwright Joe DiPietro paints her character so broad and cartoonish that she's too over-the-top and the audience doesn't root for her. The same could be said of her husband in the show, the usually superb Douglass Sills, who in Living On Loveis trying so hard! Too hard! He's overcompensating for a fine but far from great script.
There are moments of greatness - and truly funny insider jokes - but those are not enough to make this overly familiar and rather generic show feel as special as it needs to be!