Saturday, September 26, 2009

In The Heights tour - Wepa!

The carnaval is moving out of the barrio.

The cast of the IN THE HEIGHTS tour was announced this week, with some familiar names along with many new faces. Kyle Beltran will play Usnavi, the narrator of the Washington Heights musical. Along with him will be Daniel Bolero (Kevin), Rogelio Douglas Jr. (Benny), Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer (Vanessa), Arielle Jacobs (Nina), Jose-Luis Lopez (Graffiti Pete), Genny Lis Padilla (Carla), Isabel Santiago (Daniela), Elise Santora (Abuela Claudia), Shaun Taylor-Corbett (Sonny) and Natalie Toro (Camila).

The tour will start October 27th at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center and will tour the nation for the next year. This includes a stop at my beloved Gammage Auditorium in June 2010. Let me be the first to say welcome to Tempe ITH and how I hope audiences in my hometown will embrace this show as much as I have my family has over the past year and a half. Also: how snazzy is the ammage website looking lately? Nice. (

I'm really enjoying how interactive they are making this tour, in terms of their website. They have a map of the U.S. with the tour stops listed and when the tour starts, fans can upload their photos to the map at the appropriate stop, to create a mega fan gallery.

Did I mention how I excited I am for this tour and how I can not wait for it to become even more loved and embraced across the nation.

Showtime & Spielberg team up for a Scripted Broadway series

The cable network Showtime and Hollywood director and producer Steven Spielberg are teaming up to create a scripted series that will follow the life of a Broadway show. It will start in the infancy phases all the way through its opening night. Well known composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, known for their Broadway hit Hairspray are in negotiations to work on the project. According to the article on, Spielberg has been developing this series for years and finds that Showtime would be the ideal fit for the show, considering one of the executive directors, Robert Greenblatt, was a recent producer of the Broadway musical 9 to 5.

The show will include every aspect of developing a new show on Broadway, which includes following the actors’ lives who are in the show as well as recruiting investors and creating the songs. The creative team hopes for several seasons of this untitled project to air but this causes some concern because it can be deemed as overambitious. But with the recent success of the Fox network’s show Glee, I don’t believe it should have any trouble gaining viewers. With Glee currently ruling Wednesday nights, I think people are hungry for more scripted performance based shows, especially if they include humor and have some heart.

My hope is that this show will include realistic depictions of the hard work that goes into mounting a Broadway show which are truthful to its audience. Hopefully this will be the case and with that the audience will learn that Broadway is more than just the performance they see on a Saturday evening.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'm sorry, what?

Normally, I would gloss over any news about another stage adaption of a popular movie but this one caught my eye - not because of what movie it is but because who is involved.

I remember having a good time when I saw the movie "Bring It On" back in 2000 when I was a freshman in high school, almost ten years later, it is being turned into a musical with a lot of big names attached.

My nerdy Latin love (did you guys see him on House??) Lin-Manuel Miranda will be writing the score with Tom Kitt (Broadway's other 'it' boy), with lyrics by "High Fidelity"'s Amanda Green. My favorite curly haired In The Heights orchestrator Alex Lacamoire will serve as music supervisor and arranger. Oh, and also to perfect the Heights trifecta, Andy Blankenbuehler will direct and choreograph.

The press release states :
In a statement Blankenbuehler said, "The explosive world of cheerleading heightens so naturally to the stage. I can't imagine a more perfect team to bring this musical to life on stage. Jeff Whitty has come up with an enticing original story, and Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tom Kitt, two of Broadway's most talented composers, are joining their amazing creative forces to write the score. With Amanda Green collaborating on lyrics and musical supervision by Alex Lacamoire, this team is a director and choreographer's dream."
The explosive world of cheerleading? I'm sorry, I guess I was too busy sitting on the bleachers to care too much about the explosive world of cheerleading. But I digress, this movie is a huge fixture in pop culture (but not as big as "Mean Girls" - oh hey, there's an idea for a musical I'd be willing to see! Can you imagine a fierce, oh sorry I mean, fetch solo by Gretchen Wieners about how she can't wear the silver hoops she received from her parents?? Pure art!) Anyway, what is the need for this musical in the theatre world? What need do we as theatre lovers, audience members have for this type of show? Surely there will be some who think this could be exciting to see a version of the movie on stage ("Legally Blonde", anyone?), but why? What is the need? What is the creative need to bring "Bring It On: The Musical" to life when there are certainly more important stories to be told? Or are cheerleaders getting the short end of the spirit stick in this debate.

Also according to the press release, this will not immediately, or at all come to Broadway but will first be a regional production and then tour.

Now excuse me, while I sip on my glass of Haterade.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Welcome Home Orphan Child!

I had the great pleasure of seeing the first part of the world premiere theatrical event of Horton Foote's THE ORPHAN'S HOME CYCLE at Hartford Stage.

Part 1 titled "The Story of a Childhood introduces us to Horace, a young boy who's father has just passed and his mother and younger sister move to Houston without him. Within Part 1, there are three acts, each with its own story to tell (each act lasts around an hour) while following the story of Horace.

Horace, throughout his life, has been neglected by his own family and struggles to make amends with the family he so desperately wants to be a part of. While this play in its first part was almost three hours long, I never strayed away from the material but with enthusiasm as I couldn't wait to see what happened next. As Part 1 concluded I couldn't help but wish I was at the marathon showing (where they perform all 3 parts - all 9 acts!). The pacing is really well done, as is the costumes and the use of the set (fascinating revolving panels that hide and then exchange young to older Horace in the beginning of the play).

The last two Parts will be presented at Hartford Stage in the coming weeks and after that, it will make it's way to Signature Theatre in NYC this November. I for one, can't wait to see the rest of the cycle - a big thanks to Jared Weber for letting me tag along.

For more information: