Talkin’ Broadway: Book Reviews – The Untold Stories of Broadway

Originally published on TalkinBroadway.com.

Untold StoriesHistory, as we all learned from Stephen Sondheim’s “Someone in a Tree,” is shaped as much by the storytellers as it is by the story. Herein lies both the charm and the challenge of The Untold Stories of Broadway by Jennifer Ashley Tepper, the first in a projected four volumes of “tales from the world’s most famous theaters.” Tepper, armed with little more than a tape recorder and chutzpah, interviewed over 200 Broadway professionals, including actors, writers, musicians, designers, stagehands, producers, ushers and doormen, to create this oral history of Broadway organized by theater.

For those unfamiliar with Ms. Tepper, she is the 28-year-old director of programming at 54 Below, and the Millennial most likely to be dubbed Mayor of Broadway when it’s time for that title to pass to her generation. Between assisting Michael Berresse on the Broadway production of [title of show], working for Davenport Theatricals on shows such as Godspell and Macbeth, and producing a variety of beloved concert series including If It Only Even Runs A Minute (celebrating Broadway’s flops), Once Upon a Time in New York City (featuring new songs by Broadway composers reflecting on their relationship with the city), and the Joe Iconis & Family shows, it seems like Jennifer is everywhere and knows everybody.  Continue reading

Advertisements

CastAlbums.org: REVIEW: Bullets Over Broadway

Originally published on CastAlbums.org.

Recording Cover

When it was first announced that Woody Allen and Susan Stroman were teaming up to bring Bullets Over Broadway to the musical stage, the news was greeted with tremendous anticipation, tempered only slightly by the news that the show would feature a score cobbled together from songs from the 1920s, the era in which the show is set. As the show approached Broadway, anticipation built around the casting of Helen Sinclaire, the role for which Dianne Wiest won an Oscar in 1995. When Marin Mazzie won the role amidst rumors that the show’s creators were hoping for a star but couldn’t find one who matched Mazzie’s winning take, Broadway fans rejoiced. And then the show opened…  Continue reading

CastAlbums.org: REVIEW: Nice Fighting You: A 30th Anniversary Celebration Live at 54 Below

Originally published on CastAlbums.org.


Nice Fighting You

Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty have the kind of versatility that makes it hard to consider their output as one body of work. Do the Caribbean rhythms of Once On This Island have anything in common with the Americana of Ragtime or the soft rock of Rocky? This new release on Broadway Records argues not only that they do, but that each of these scores and the rest of the Ahrens and Flaherty catalog bear revisiting.

Recorded live over the course of three nights at 54 Below, the New York City nightclub in the basement of Studio 54, Nice Fighting You offers 36 of the duo’s songs performed by a starry cast of Broadway talent, many of whom have (or, in one case, will) played these roles in original productions and Broadway revivals. Your favorites are all here, sounding their best: Liz Callaway revisiting “Journey to the Past,” which she introduced in the film Anastasia, Mary Testa proving she can belt “Rita’s Confession” and “Fancy Meeting You Here” from Lucky Stiff as thrillingly as she did in 1988, and Marin Mazzie proving that “Goodbye, My Love” and “Back to Before” work as well in a tiny cabaret as they did in the gigantic original production of Ragtime. Kevin Chamberlin‘s gentle reading of “Solla Sollew” from Seussical may leave you wondering how that show could have possibly flopped. And Jeremy Jordan‘s introduction of “Dancing Still,” from the upcoming Little Dancer may compel you to research tickets to Washington, DC, where the show will have its first production at the Kennedy Center this fall.

That new song isn’t the only surprise on the album. Continue reading