The Metropolitan Opera kicks off its new season September 24 with a new staging of Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila. The production, directed by Tony Award winner Darko Tresnjak (Anastasia, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder) in his Met debut, stars Roberto Alagna and Elīna Garanča in the title roles, under the baton of conductor Mark Elder.
Tresnjak’s production reunites him with several familiar collaborators, including costume designer Linda Cho, set designer Alexander Dodge, and lighting designer Donald Holder. Austin McCormick serves as choreographer.
Rounding out the principal company are Elchin Azizov as Abimélech, Laurent Naouri as High Priest, and Dmitry Belosselskiy as the Old Hebrew.
The new presentation of the biblical epic which weaves contemporary and ancient components. The aesthetic, was, in part, inspired by an iconic portrait of Gloria Swanson behind a veil. “The face behind the netting is both seductive and dangerous,” explains Tresnjak,” “so we looked for those ideas in architecture. What’s on the other side is sometimes deductive, it’s sometimes dangerous.”
The 2018–2019 season, which marks the first with Yannick Nézet-Séguin in his full-time position as music director, also includes two new production from Tony winner Michael Mayer: Verdi’s La Traviata and the North American premiere of Nico Muhly’s Marnie, as well as a new staging of Adriana Lecouvrer (with Anna Netrebko and Piotr Beczala) and the return of Wagner’s four-part Ring Cycle.
Songwriting team Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick collaborated with librettist Joseph Stein to write a musical based on stories by Sholom Aleichem. The result was Fiddler on the Roof, which told the story of Tevye, a Jewish milkman in early 1900s Russia (and father of five daughters) who struggles to honor tradition while dealing with the growing anti-Jewish sentiment in his country.
Directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, the production starred Zero Mostel as Tevye and featured Maria Karnilova as Golde, Bea Arthur as Yente, Austin Pendleton as Motel, Bert Convy as Perchik, Joanna Merlin as Tzeitel, and Julia Migenes as Hodel.
The musical, which opened September 22, 1964, was a critical and commercial success. It was nominated for ten Tony Awards and won nine, including Best Musical, and awards for Mostel and featured actress Karnilova.
The production went on to play a record-setting 3,242 performances and received a special Tony in 1972 for becoming the longest-running musical in Broadway history. It remains the 16th longest-running show in Broadway history. The beloved musical has enjoyed five Broadway revivals (in 1976, 1981, 1990, 2004, and 2015) and a 1971 film adaptation starring Chaim Topol.
The show is currently playing at the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, which just announced the third extension of its Yiddish-language production. The musical will now play through November 18 with a special performance on November 10.
Flip through photos of the original costume sketches by costume designer Patricia Zipprodt below:
Check Out the Costume Sketches From the Original Broadway Production of Fiddler on the Roof
Songwriter Jim Vallance takes readers through his and Bryan Adams’ score for the musical adaptation of the classic movie. Directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, the show is currently running at the Nederlander Theatre and the cast album is available for download now.
“WELCOME TO HOLLYWOOD” Bryan and I met director Jerry Mitchell in London in August 2015 to discuss the possibility of collaborating on Pretty Woman: The Musical. We spent an hour in a little pizza restaurant in London’s West End, getting acquainted and discussing the project. Looking back, Jerry was taking a huge gamble to consider us as composers. We were new to this, we’d never written a musical before, we were well outside our comfort zone … but perhaps that’s what appealed to him?
To get a sense of things, we asked Jerry to “walk us through” the opening number, including a description of characters, set design, choreography—everything as he envisioned it. Jerry’s a very animated and articulate fellow. He virtually “performed” the scene for us, right there in the restaurant booth. By the end of our conversation we could almost picture the moment on stage: the Happy Man character walking down the street, greeting strangers, welcoming everyone to Hollywood.
Song inspiration didn’t strike immediately, but a week or two later, back in Canada, an idea occurred … just a few bars of lyric and melody to begin with, the key phrase being, “Welcome To Hollywood”. I recorded a demo track and I sent it to Bryan in London. He liked it, and we began sending emails back and forth, each of us contributing lyrics and melody until the song was completed.
On November 1, 2015, we met Jerry again, this time at his apartment in New York along with producer Paula Wagner and book-writer J. F. Lawton. We played them our demo for “Welcome to Hollywood,”, and another demo for “Long Way Home”. The short version of the story is: They liked what they heard and we were more-or-less hired on the spot.
“ANYWHERE BUT HERE” As newcomers to Broadway, Bryan and I were on a steep learning curve. Among other things, we were alerted to the importance of the “I Want” song, which traditionally appears early in Act I. This is where the lead character reveals her/his motivating desire, setting the emotional parameters for the rest of the show.
Writing an appropriate “I Want” song for Pretty Woman presented a significant challenge. Over a two year period we wrote three different songs for this scene before arriving at “Anywhere But Here.”
I quite liked our second attempt and I was disappointed when Jerry asked us to write something to replace it. But in the end, Jerry was right. We ended up writing a better song.
“SOMETHING ABOUT HER (PREAMBLE)” This is Edward’s first song of the show. Vivian exits the stage with his car keys, and a flummoxed Edward sings, “What the hell just happened? …”, which always gets a laugh from the audience. This is also where the Happy Man morphs into Mr. Thompson, the manager of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
“SOMETHING ABOUT HER” Our first draft of “Something About Her” was based on Edward’s quizzical observation of Vivian in the hotel room, after they’d agreed to the initial payment of $300 for one night: “Look at her: She’s happy, she’s pretty and she’s fun.” That lyric remained in place for a year or more, until Jerry decided the song should be more about how Edward feels, rather than a mere observation. Hence the new opening lyric, “I don’t know how I got here, she took me by surprise…”
“LUCKIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD” This is where Vivian expresses her joy and disbelief at successfully negotiating a $3,000 deal to stay with Edward for the rest of the week.
This was the last song we wrote for the project, towards the end of the “out-of-town previews” in Chicago. The previous song to occupy this spot (“Look At Me Now”) was an up-tempo number in the style of “You Can’t Hurry Love” by the Supremes. But despite serving the scene for nearly two years, Jerry eventually decided the song wasn’t right. I agree. “Look At Me Now” never quite settled in. It was the one song that didn’t seem to fit.
It was a real challenge coming up with a better song, but we finally hit upon the idea of writing something in a gospel style … I mean, how better to express joy and exuberance than gospel music?
“RODEO DRIVE” This is a straight-out rock ‘n’ roll number that highlights Orfeh’s vocal chops! Rodeo Drive, baby!
“ANYWHERE BUT HERE (REPRISE)” This is the scene where the snooty sales girls ask Vivian to leave the clothing store. This spot was originally occupied by a short reprise of “Look At Me Now.” But with that song gone, we crafted a reprise from our “I Want” song.
“ON A NIGHT LIKE TONIGHT” As a composer on this project I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to write in a variety of music styles, from rock to jazz to gospel. This particular song is a tango. It includes an extended dance sequence orchestrated by Will, choreography by Jerry, and brilliantly performed (in our 2018 Chicago and New York productions) by Eric Anderson and Tommy Bracco. I’ve watched this sequence a hundred times, and I never grow tired of it.
“DON’T FORGET TO DANCE” Speaking of divergent styles, this number harkens back to the Big Band “swing” era of the 1940s. The song has a repeating “verse-bridge” structure with an extended dance break in the middle, orchestrated by Will and choreographed by Jerry. Scarlett, the Voltaire restaurant’s vocalist, pointedly reminds Edward that “the view from the top ain’t what it’s all cracked up to be.”
“FREEDOM” Similar to Vivian’s epiphany above, this is the moment that Edward decides to reconsider his life choices and make some changes.
“YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL” This song remained more-or-less “as written” for a year or two. The main changes involved additional “bridge” sections that were written, then removed, then added again, then removed again—all in pursuit of a perfect closing number for Act I.
“WELCOME TO OUR WORLD (MORE CHAMPAGNE)” This is the opening number for Act II—another critical song-placement moment for Broadway.
This particular scene is staged at a polo match in the Hamptons, populated with snobby, snooty people, the antithesis of who Vivian is. Edward’s lawyer, Philip Stuckey, makes a feature appearance here, soliciting (in song) questionable donations for a mildly fraudulent charitable fund on behalf of the Senator from Hawaii.
This is Stuckey’s only song in the musical, Jerry having decided to delete a previous scene with a song titled “Money Makes the Man.” It was a fun song, arranged in a Barbershop Quartet style. The lyric humorously referenced Stuckey’s greed and avarice without making him completely unlikable. Personally, I miss that song in the musical, but perhaps it’ll resurface at some point in the future.
“THIS IS MY LIFE” For this scene, the original directorial request called for a country song (Vivian grew up in rural Georgia). In fact, we wrote two different country songs for this spot, approximately a year part, one titled “Why Me” and the other titled, “It Never Works Out That Way.” I liked both songs, but Jerry encouraged us to write yet another song. And he was right—we wrote a better one.
“NEVER GIVE UP ON A DREAM” This song includes my personal favorite lyric in the show: “Kick me out in the cold, I’ll make it / Squeeze me into a mold, I’ll break it / If there’s a fork in the road, I’ll take it … never give up on a dream.”
“YOU AND I” For this scene, director Jerry Mitchell asked us to write a love song without using the word “love.” “You And I” is sung by Edward during the opera scene, where he first begins to “see the wonders of the world” through Vivian’s eyes. The song weaves in and out of Verdi’s La Traviatta, transitioning to a gala dance scene before ending back at Edward’s Beverly Wilshire Hotel suite … brilliantly staged and choreographed by Jerry.
“I CAN’T GO BACK” This is the moment when Vivian decides to leave Hollywood Boulevard behind, regardless what the future might hold. She’s seen a better life and she’s determined to move in that direction and never “go back.” The music is driven by a pulsing synthesizer, but the song also works as a traditional rock arrangement, as proven when Samantha sang “I Can’t Go Back” with Bryan and his band at London’s O2 arena.
“FREEDOM (REPRISE)” A short transition piece that comes after Edward’s revised business arrangement with Mr. Morse.
“LONG WAY HOME” This is one of the first songs we presented to the director and producers in 2015. Except for a word or two, it’s remained unchanged since that time.
“TOGETHER FOREVER” This is the closing number. As songwriters, the plan was to send the audience home humming a melody and singing lyrics they could remember. “Together Forever” never fails to get the audience clapping, and on their feet for the bows and outro.
Flip Through the Pretty Woman Opening Night Playbill
The cast of Center Theatre Group’s production of Luis Valdez’ Valley of the Heart has been announced.
Mariela Arteaga, Moises Castro, Melanie Arii Mah, Derek Mio, Theresa Murray, Randall Nakano, Joy Osmanski, Rose Portillo, Christy Sandoval, Scott Keiji Takeda, Daniel Valdez, and Lakin Valdez all join the new play, which begins performances October 30 at the Mark Taper Forum ahead of a November 7 opening night.
According to CTG, “Valley of the Heart” tells the story of the Yamaguchis and the Montaños, two immigrant families struggling to provide a future for their American-born children after the Great Depression on the farmland the two families share. The families’ oldest children secretly fall in love only to have the emotional stakes further heightened when the attack on Pearl Harbor throws these Mexican and Japanese American families into uncertainty.”
The creative team includes set design by John Iacovelli, costume design by Lupe Valdez, lighting design by Pablo Santiago, projection design by David Murakami and audio design by Philip G. Allen. The production stage manager is David S. Franklin.
Jennifer Simard is set to return to the Green Room 42 November 1 and December 17 at 7 PM with encore performances of her new cabaret act Stigma, a night of rock music that reveals a new side to the Tony-nominated performer known for her comedic turns in Mean Girls, Disaster!, and Hello, Dolly!
Kristin Stokes, who played Annabeth in the Off-Broadway production of The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical, will reprise the role for the show’s national tour, which launches in Chicago in January 2019.
In a statement, Stokes said, “I couldn’t be more excited to be back as Annabeth and to share this show with the country. I’ve been lucky enough to play Annabeth from our very first workshop, so she’s very near and dear to my heart. To me, she’s the perfect feminist—fearless, strong, smart, resourceful, and is not afraid to show it… Frankly—I’m stoked!”
In other news, tickets for the show in Tampa, Florida, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, are now on sale to the public, along with Eugene and Portland, Oregon, and Charlotte, North Carolina. Tickets for the Durham, North Carolina, engagement go on sale September 15.
The Lightning Thief has a Drama Desk-nominated book by Joe Tracz, music and lyrics by Rob Rokicki, direction by Stephen Brackett, and choreography by Patrick McCollum, with set design by Lee Savage, costume design by Sydney Maresca, Obie Award-winning sound design by Ryan Rumery, lighting design by David Lander, fight direction by Rod Kinter, and orchestrations by Wiley DeWeese and Rob Rokicki.
The musical debuted in 2017 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, where it played an acclaimed, extended run and was nominated for three Drama Desk Awards. The story follows a young man who discovers he is the son of gods, and suddenly has powers he can’t control.
McCarrell (Les Misérables, Peter Pan Live, The OA) and Stokes starred Off-Broadway alongside Carrie Compere, James Hayden Rodriguez, Sarah Beth Pfeifer, Jonathan Raviv, and current Be More Chill star George Salazar.
The upcoming tour is produced by TheaterWorksUSA, Martian Entertainment, Greg Schaffert, Lang Entertainment Group, Lisa Chanel, Jennifer Doyle and Roy Lennox, Neil Gobioff, Glass Half Full Productions, Hummel/Greene and in partnership with The Road Company. The production is presented by special arrangement with Rick Riordan and the Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency.
First Look at The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical
Alan Cumming will perform his new solo show Legal Immigrant at the State Theatre New Jersey September 29. The piece is a compilation of Cumming’s musings on his ten years as a United States citizen, his experience growing older, and how it feels to be an immigrant in today’s America. Cumming describes his work as “a true old-fashioned cabaret, a smorgasbord of genres, styles, and tales; laughter, tears and, of course, provocation.”
The show includes songs such as Walter Mark’s “The Singer,” Stephen Sondheim’s “Old Friends” and “Not A Day Goes By” from Merrily We Roll Along, and “Losing My Mind” from Follies. Cumming will also cover songs by notable female artists including Pink, Edith Piaf, Adele, and Marlene Dietrich.
Cumming is a Tony and Olivier Award winner and Emmy nominee. He was last seen on Broadway in Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of Cabaret, reprising his Tony-winning performance as the Emcee. His passion for activism in civil rights, sex education, and social justice has earned him over 40 awards for humanitarian efforts.
The performance will take place September 29 at 8 PM. All ticket holders are also invited to a pre-show Pride Night reception from beginning at 7 PM in the second floor lobby of the State Theatre. Tickets range from $39-$69.
Carole Shelley, known for her Broadway performances in the original companies of Wicked and The Elephant Man, died August 31 at the age of 79 at her home in Manhattan.
Her death from cancer was confirmed to Playbill by Ms. Shelley’s close friend Barrie Kreinik.
Ms. Shelley made her Broadway debut as Gwendolyn Pigeon in the original Broadway cast of The Odd Couple in 1965, a role she would reprise in both the feature film and TV series adaptations of the Neil Simon play. Shelley shares the distinction of being one of only two actors (along with Monica Evans, who co-starred as her sister Cecily) to appear in all three major adaptations of The Odd Couple as the same characters.
She went on to enjoy a prolific career on Broadway, with a career that included roles both dramatic and comedic. Ms. Shelley earned her first Tony nomination in 1975 for her performance in Alan Ayckbourn’s Absurd Person Singular.
However, it was Bernard Pomerance’s Tony-winning 1979 play The Elephant Man that truly allowed Ms. Shelley to make her mark. She won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play (in a tie with Constance Cummings) and an Outer Critics Circle Award for her performance as Mrs. Kendal, the actor who befriends John Merrick.
Ms. Shelley won an Obie Award in 1982 for her performance in James Lapine’s Twelve Dreams Off-Broadway at the Public Theater and was nominated for a Tony Award again in 1987 for her performance as Maxine in Richard Harris’ farce Stepping Out.
In the 1990s, Ms. Shelley began working in musicals as well as plays. She replaced Elaine Stritch as Parthy in Show Boat, later playing Fraulein Schneider during the run of the 1998 Cabaret revival.
In 2003, Ms. Shelley created the role of Madame Morrible, Elphaba’s mentor and later chief adversary in the original company of Wicked. She returned to the role for five months beginning in August 2007, shortly before opening Billy Elliot The Musical on Broadway as Grandma in 2008. It was for this role that Ms. Shelley would receive her fourth and final Tony Award nomination, for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
Though most of Ms. Shelley’s career was spent on the stage, she worked in film as well, including an appearance alongside her Wicked co-star Kristin Chenoweth in 2005’s Bewitched. Shelley also voiced several roles in Disney animated films, including the goose Amelia Gabble in 1970’s The Aristocrats, Lady Kluck in 1973’s Robin Hood, and Lachesis in 1997’s Hercules.
Ms. Shelley was born August 16, 1939, in London, where she began her career in British films before coming to America. She was married to Albert G. Woods from 1967 until his death in 1971.