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This Paris Production of Singin’ in the Rain Is Unlike Any You’ve Ever Seen

Singin’ in the Rain is the most famous and beloved movie musical ever made,” Robert Carsen says. “And what you don’t want is an audience going into the theatre playing the movie in their head and wondering why the stage version isn’t as good as that.”

Carsen is talking about his stage version, a huge hit when it first opened in March 2015 at Paris’ Théâtre du Châtelet. While Châtelet is closed for renovations, the show is being brought to life again November 28 through January 11 at Paris’ famed Grand Palais (presented by Châtelet in English with French surtitles).


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Cast Marie-Noëlle Robert

To make his audience focus on theatre rather than cinema, Carsen says, he looked at the theme of the movie, “which is about major changes in the movie industry, in the late 1920s, when the world of Hollywood was moving, in some cases painfully, from silent movies to sound. And of course the plot centers on Lina Lamont, a silent star who can’t make the transition because she has a terrible voice, and the Cinderella story of Kathy Selden, this nobody who becomes a star because she can sing. I realized that the shift to talkies took place before the shift from black-and-white to color, so I thought that maybe a rigorous way of holding this all together, and having fun with the late 1920s, was to make a stage production almost entirely in black-and-white and at least reflect the silver screen that way.”

To purchase tickets, click here.

Carsen, 63, who directed productions of Candide and My Fair Lady at Châtelet but is primarily known for directing opera—his work includes critically hailed stagings of Eugene Onegin, Falstaff and Der Rosenkavalier at New York’s Metropolitan Opera—says the production at the Grand Palais, in a 2,400-seat theatre built expressly for the musical, will be the same as that at Châtelet. It will have the same 40-member cast and more than 20-piece orchestra. The cast includes many British musical performers: Dan Burton as Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly in the movie), Daniel Crossley as his sidekick, Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor in the film), Monique Young as Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds on screen) and Emma Kate Nelson as Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen in the film).

Sets are by two-time Tony winner Tim Hatley (Private Lives, Shrek the Musical). Anthony Powell, a Tony and three-time Oscar winner (Travels With My Aunt, Death on the Nile, Tess) designed the costumes. The choreography, including the signature prevalence of tap, was created by Tony nominee Stephen Mear (Mary Poppins). Musical direction is by Gareth Valentine, a West End veteran.

But Carsen’s homage to the black-and-white film era still has flexibility to match the vibrancy of the musical. “Of course, we bend that rule. We use sepia toning sometimes. If it’s in a garden, it’s tinted green. If it’s indoors, it’s tinted pink. In the fantasy section, when it’s not in Los Angeles anymore or making a movie but dreaming of being on Broadway, in the Broadway melody, that all goes into gold and warm tungsten stage lights.” (The lighting is by Carsen and Giuseppe di lorio.)

“And then, at the very end, when it’s all resolved, we do a big reprise of ‘Singin’ in the Rain,’ and suddenly we have moved forward in time and we’ve gone from black-and-white into full color.”

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Cast Marie-Noëlle Robert

The production also recognizes the silver screen with use of video. “Starting from the overture, which is done as if we’re actually watching a movie in a cinema rather than a legitimate theatre, we do the overture with a whole montage as if you’re actually watching the opening credits of a black-and-white movie,” Carsen says.

Shifting the production to the Grand Palais—a Beaux-Arts architectural marvel constructed for the 1900 Universal Exposition—is challenging, he says. “We’re actually building a theatre inside the Grand Palais, which is being specially built for this production, so that the original sets can be used and moved.”

One thing that will be different, he says, is what happens before the show begins. Beginning two hours before curtain time, several options will be offered: tap-dance classes by Victor Cuno of Paris’s SwingTap school (one hour, 10 euros – about $11.60 – reservation only, tap shoes provided); free karaoke with musical tunes; a photo call to pose like Gene Kelly; a beauty salon with a makeup artist and hairdresser; and video projections. All the activities are designed to immerse audiences in what Châtelet describes as “the atmosphere of a movie studio backstage.”

Produced by Arthur Freed at MGM, the original movie was directed and choreographed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, with a screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, who adapted their film work for a 1985 Broadway version choreographed by Twyla Tharp that ran for 367 performances. With songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed, Singin’ in the Rain harkens back to a bygone era.

A production of Singing in the Rain starring Derek Hough had been projected for Broadway, but never materialized. What about the fate of this Paris production?


We would love to bring Singin’ in the Rain to Broadway,” says Carsen. If we’re lucky somebody will come and see it during its run and be interested. In taking a show to Broadway, there’s always the trouble about being able to find the right theatre at the right time. And hopefully that might be able to happen this time.”

Spamilton to Close Off-Broadway

Spamilton is set to end its Off-Broadway run at the 47th Street Theatre/The Puerto Rican Traveling Theater January 7, 2018 according to The New York Times. On November 14, the show celebrated 500 performances since opening in July 2016.

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Dan Rosales and Lin-Manuel Miranda Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

Penned by Forbidden Broadway creator Gerard Alessandrini, Spamilton is a musical parody of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash hit Hamilton musical. The show debuted last fall at The Triad, where it was originally scheduled to play only 18 performances, but continued to extend due to popular demand.

The production moved from The Triad to its new theatre district home on June 2 of this year, where it was scheduled to play an open-ended run. A representative for the show told NYT that main reason for the show’s closing is that the theatre will no longer be available after January 7.

The current cast is made up of Dan Rosales, Nicole Vanessa Ortiz, Chris Anthony Giles, Aaron Michael Ray, and Tristan J. Shuler.

After a successful launch in New York, productions of Spamilton opened on the west coast and in Chicago. The Los Angeles production of Spamilton at the Kirk Douglas Theatre celebrated its opening November 12 and has been extended through January 7 due to popular demand. The Chicago production closed this fall after a seven-month run.

According to the Times, a national tour of Spamilton is in the works, with cities and dates yet to be announced. A London production is reportedly also on the horizon.

In addition to Alessandrini, Spamilton’s general management team includes Laura Cronin and Scott Newsome from Brierpatch Productions and the creative team includes Gerry McIntyre (choreography), Dustin Cross (costume design), Richard Danley and Fred Barton (musical arrangements), and Michael Cassara (casting director).

The show is produced by John Freedson, Christine Pedi, David Zippel, and Alessandrini.


Serenbe Playhouse Plans Immersive Little Mermaid and Titanic Set in Water

The award-winning Serenbe Playhouse has announced its 9th season of immersive, site-specific productions, which will include The Little Mermaid, a world-premiere adaptation of Peter Pan, Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, and a large-scale production of the Tony-winning musical Titanic.

Located 30 Southwest of Atlanta, Georgia, Serenbe Playhouse operates within the the 40,000 acre community of Serenbe, a progressive new model for community living centered around organic farming and environmental sustainability located in Georgia’s Chattahoochee Hill Country. Homes are built to have little environmental impact, and more than 70 percent of Serenbe’s land is protected as green space.

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Niki Badua BreeAnne Clowdus

Artistic Director Brian Clowdus incorporates the natural settings of the Serenbe community to create highly theatrical and immersive experiences. In addition to site-specific productions of Oklahoma and The Secret Garden, in recent years Clowdus has re-staged Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel within an actual carnival, and Grease at a Drive-In movie. His 2016 production of Miss Saigon, during which an actual Huey Helicopter landed nightly mid-show, made headlines—garnering national attention and critical acclaim.


Clowdus revealed the 2018 Serenbe season program during an exclusive live stream on Playbill’s Facebook page. Titled Voyage, the season offers a collection of classic plays and musicals, all of which will incorporate natural bodies of water located within Serenbe.

Watch the full season announcement below.

“Every production in our season is actually set on the shore or in the water,” Clowdus explains. Large lakes throughout the Serenbe community will serve as staging grounds for the season. The centerpiece will be the Tony Award-winning Maury Yeston-Peter Stone musical Titanic, which will incorporate an actual sinking of the luxury liner each night.

Serenbe’s season opens with Disney’s The Little Mermaid, running March 28–April 22, 2018, under the direction of Ryan Oliveti. “We are taking a look at how to find the beauty in every day trash,” Clowdus says. “The entire set and all of the costumes for The Little Mermaid are created from found objects from the ocean.” A world-premiere adaptation of Peter Pan will follow May 31-August 26. Audiences will be seated on a dock constructed over the water for the performances that will use a floating Pirate Ship for a stage.

Clowdus will direct Titanic, which runs July 20–August 12. He is collaborating with scenic designer Adam Koch, who designed Carousel and Miss Saigon for Serenbe, to create the production that will incorporate an actual sinking of the luxury liner each night. “We have a concept that allows the entire production to rise from the water. It’s a huge undertaking, but the concept brings a human scale to it as well.”

The season closes with a modern take on Chekhov’s The Seagull running September 5-30. The play, which takes place on a sprawling Russian country estate (and features an outdoor staging of a play within a play), will be directed by Elizabeth Dinkova on the shores of another Serenbe lake.

The season also includes Serenbe’s annual stagings of The Sleepy Hollow Experience (September 26-November 4) and The Snow Queen (November 28–December 30).

Visit serenbeplayhouse.com.

Patrick Wilson and Kelli O’Hara Preview Their Highly-Anticipated Brigadoon

Fifteen years have passed since two-time Tony nominee Patrick Wilson (The Full Monty, Oklahoma!) has been in a Broadway musical. “Pathetic, isn’t it? Pathetic,” Wilson says with a sighing laugh.

Pathetic might not be the first word that comes to mind with regards to the actor who has led two massively successful horror film franchises, earned a Golden Globe nominee for Showtime’s Fargo, and guested on Barbra Streisand’s duet album Encores. Still, the theatre has missed him—and he the theatre.

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Patrick Wilson Joan Marcus

And Wilson has chosen well for his homecoming party: Brigadoon directed and choreographed by Tony winner Christopher Wheeldon at New York City Center, co-starring Tony winner Kelli O’Hara and featuring three-time Tony nominee Stephanie J. Block, Aasif Mandvi, and Tony nominee Robert Fairchild. “When I’m staring at Kelli O’Hara and Stephanie and Aasif—who I did Oklahoma! together [with] 15 years ago—the people that I’ve known and have been watching for such a long time but we haven’t worked together, it feels right,” says Wilson.

It also feels hurried—as is the known obstacle with the quick mountings of City Center’s Encores!. (“As Peter Lawrence, our stage manager, said, ‘It’s like summerstock with professionals,’” jokes Wilson.) Fortunately, Wilson finds groundedness in his co-star. “There’s such a grace and a stillness with her and an honesty that—aside from the gorgeous voice—there’s a very calm partnership,” says Wilson of O’Hara. “It was, truthfully, a very easy chemistry.”

Chemistry is at the heart of the Lerner and Loewe love story. When two American tourists, Tommy and Jeff (played by Wilson and Mandvi) stumble upon an ethereal Scottish village that appears for a single day every 100 years, Tommy falls in love with Brigadoon’s Fiona (played by O’Hara). Conventionally a love story of ingénues, this incarnation offers a weightier take. “It’s also coming at a role north of 40 that is typically played by younger people,” says Wilson. “But I love that because we’re sort of using what it is now to be around 40 and single and can’t figure out why and so it’s not just the young couple in love.”

From O’Hara’s perspective: “Fiona is a stronger character than I remembered.” The actor actually performed in a summerstock production of Brigadoon years ago. “She’s chosen not to just marry anybody, but if she doesn’t find him—the right one—who she feels is right for her then she’s happy and pretty OK.

“But then when she does find him she’s unapologetic about it and I think it’s time for that, too. Being lucky enough to find that sort of thing is not something to be swept under the rug right now,” she continues. “There are things that are worth fighting for and there are things that are worth giving your heart and trust to.”

From The Light in the Piazza to South Pacific to The Bridges of Madison County, O’Hara has authentically inhabited some of musical theatre’s most romantic and sweeping love stories. How does she relinquish herself to it time and again onstage? “I don’t stand here and try to know what a person feels when love has not worked out, but I do have a good marriage and I believe in love. I think it’s easier for me to give into it and not be cynical about it,” she says. “There are reasons and times to trust. I’m not going to try to shy away from that.”

The beauty of Wheeldon’s vision (“The movement, the way he sees things, the picture’s just gorgeous,” says O’Hara) and the mellifluous voices (“When you’re singing opposite Kelli and you hear that voice, you want to match that voice,” says Wilson) will sweep audiences into the romance of Brigadoon.

After all, as O’Hara says, “How would you feel if I said there was a place right now that was beautiful and perfect and you could disappear in it?”

13 Holiday Shows for the Whole Family See in New York City

The holiday season is upon New York City. More than hot cocoa and skating at Rockefeller Center, that means it’s also the most wonderful time of the year to catch cheery Christmas-themed entertainment. Whether you’re looking for the best in dance, classical music, Broadway, family theatre, or pop stars, this list of 13 experiences will be your guide to navigating the chaotic joy of Yuletide offerings.

Here’s our list of special holiday engagements in chronological order of their opening:

The Radio City Rockettes
The Radio City Rockettes

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular
November 10–January 1
Radio City Music Hall
No other holiday show is more iconic than the long-running Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the Radio City Rockettes. Since 1933, the Spectacular has been an institution of singing, dancing, and Yuletide cheer. Though some routines are a staple (the “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers”), the show presents a fresh story and new material each year. For tickets and information, click here.

The Ride: Holiday Edition
November 16–January 7
New York City
The Holiday Ride returns for its sixth year, giving a whole new meaning to the idea of a holiday sleigh. Celebrating the lights of Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanza, the floor-to-ceiling glass windows of the luxury motor coach turn New York City streets into a stage as passengers enjoy seasonal music and curated holiday-themed sidewalk performances timed to the bus route. For tickets and information, click here.

Home for the Holidays
November 21–December 30
August Wilson Theatre
For a special limited engagement, the winners of America’s top reality television singing competitions (Candice Glover of American Idol, Josh Kaufman of The Voice, and Bianca Ryan of America’s Got Talent) join together to celebrate the holidays in this concert extravaganza hosted by The Bachelorette’s Kaitlyn Bristowe. For tickets and information, click here.


November 22–December 31
Paper Mill Playhouse in Milburn, New Jersey
Starring Tony winner Beth Leavel as Miss Hannigan and two-time Tony nominee Christopher Sieber as Daddy Warbucks, the beloved musical inspired by “Little Orphan Annie” comes to the Tony-winning regional theatre. Featuring songs like “Tomorrow,” “New Deal for Christmas,” “I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here,” and more, Annie is the perfect first musical for new theatregoers and a cozy favorite to return to again and again. For tickets and information, click here.


<i>The Nutcracker</i> at City Ballet
The Nutcracker at City Ballet Photo by Paul Kolnik

The Nutcracker
November 24–December 31
New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center
The beautiful Company once again presents George Balanchine’s stunning choreography in its annual presentation of the classic ballet—featuring 90 dancers, 62 musicians, and 32 stagehands just to mount it. Dress in your holiday finest and watch the tale of young Clara as her dreams come to life onstage with marching toy soldiers, mischievous mice, glimmering snowflakes, and delightful desserts. For tickets and information, click here.

The Magic Flute
November 25–December 9
Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center
If you’re looking for grandiose yet groundbreaking art—that’s not necessarily holiday-themed—the Met Opera’s production of The Magic Flute is your number. Directed by Tony and Oscar winner Julie Taymor (The Lion King), the English-language production has been shortened to a high-energy 100 minutes. The story follows Prince Tamino, who was saved from a serpent’s wrath by the Queen of the Night and must repay her by rescuing her daughter with a magic flute. This production—and the libretto itself—is a great one for opera newbies. For tickets and information, click here.


Elf The Musical
December 13–29
The Theatre at Madison Square Garden
For lovers of the Will Ferrell movie of the same name—and those who love humor around the holidays—Elf The Musical returns to the Theatre at Madison Square Garden. The show first bowed on Broadway in 2010 and continues to deliver the flash, splash, and heart of its Main Stem roots and the spirit of the film. From the bubble “Sparkjollytwinklejingley” to the jazzy “Never Fall in Love,” the music and choreography will put a smile on your face. The extended run at MSG is just one stop on its national tour, so check to see if the production is playing in a city near you. For tickets and information, click here.

A Christmas Carol
November 24–December 17
Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row
In this production from MOD Theatre Company, seven actors play 57 characters of the classic Charles Dickens story. As grumpy Ebeneezer Scrooge rues Christmas, visits from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, turn his cold heart to loving one. For tickets and information, click here.

Kris Kringle the Musical
November 24
The Town Hall
Tony nominees Cathy Rigby (yes, that Cathy Rigby) and Pamela Myers, as well as Andrew Keenan-Bolger, will bow in this original holiday musical for two performances only. The story follows “starry-eyed toymaker Kris Kringle (Keenan-Bolger), who crosses paths with an evil New York City toy company CEO and finds himself wrapped up in a magical curse with the power to destroy Christmas. From the top of the world in the North Pole, Kris Kringle teams up with Santa and Mrs. Claus, the beautiful Evelyn Noel, a band of hilarious Apprentices and Elves, and magical Toys to remind us what Christmas is really about.” The performances benefit The Singing Angel, a charity dedicated to promoting youth culture through the arts. For tickets and information, click here.

Handel’s “Messiah”
December 12–16
New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center
The annual performance of the classical opus will play David Geffen Hall. Conducted by Gary Thor Wedow, the Orchestra performs the masterpiece that first debuted in Dublin circa 1742. For tickets and information, click here.


A Middle Eastern Christmas
December 13
Carnegie Hall
Renowned Lebanese-American tenor Amine J. Hachem presents a program dipping into an array of styles—from Latin to jazz to American pop to European classical. Along with Christmas favorites, Hachem will sing tunes influenced by great operatic tenors and rock icons. For tickets and information, click here.

Hip Hop Nutcracker
December 14
United Palace Theatre
For an edgier take on the classic tale, the Hip Hop Nutcracker is the pump of adrenaline you’ve been waiting for. The modern take has earned acclaim from the New York Times, CBS, and Elle Magazine, which calls it a “one-of-a-kind experience filled with high-powered choreography.” So if you’re ready for a revamp, this has your name written all over it. (Plus, check out the national tour schedule here.) For tickets and information, click here.

The Snow Queen
December 30–January 7
New Ohio Theatre
Award-winning theatre company Blessed Unrest presents this take on Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of a young woman trying to save her friend from “a frozen world devoid of feelings, featuring the troupe’s signature physicality, magical transformations, extravagant costumes, and modern humor.” Recommended for kids age 7 and up, the show by Matt Opatrny was written with families in mind. For tickets and information, click here.

What Did Critics Think of New Broadway Musical The Band’s Visit?

The_Band's_Visit_Broadway_Production_Photo_2017_0168_Sharone Sayegh, Katrina Lenk, Jonathan Raviv, Tony Shalhoub, Andrew Polk in THE BAND'S VISIT, Photo by Matt Murphy, 2017_HR.jpg
Sharone Sayegh, Katrina Lenk, Jonathan Raviv, Tony Shalhoub, and Andrew Polk Matthew Murphy

The David Yazbek–Itamar Moses musical The Band’s Visit officially opened on Broadway November 9 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The musical transferred uptown following an acclaimed Off-Broadway world-premiere at the Atlantic Theater Company last year.


Based on the 2007 film by Eran Kolirin, the show follows Egyptian police band, who, after a mix-up at the border, find themselves in a remote village in the middle of the Israeli desert. Over the course of an evening, the band members are led into unlikely friendships with some of the locals, causing their lives to intertwine and change irreversibly.

The cast is made up of Katrina Lenk, Tony nominees Tony Shalhoub and John Cariani, George Abud, Andrew Polk, Bill Army, Adam Kantor, Rachel Prather, Jonathan Raviv, Sharone Sayegh, Ari’el Stachel, Kristen Sieh, Etai Benson, and Alok Tewari.

The Band’s Visit features music and lyrics by Yazbek, a book by Moses, and direction by David Cromer. Patrick McCollum choreographs. Broadway previews began October 7.

Read reviews below. Check back for updates.

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Musicians include Andrea Grody, Alexandra Eckhardt, Ossama Farouk, Philip Mayer, Sam Sadigursky, Jeff Theiss, Harvey Valdes, and David Garo Yellin.

The creative team also includes Scott Pask (set design), Sarah Laux (costume design), Tyler Micoleau (lighting design), Kai Harada (sound design), Maya Ciarrocchi (projection design), Charles G. LaPointe (hair designer), Jamshied Sharifi (orchestrations), Andrea Grody (music supervisor, music director and additional arrangements) and Dean Sharenow (music supervisor and music coordinator).

What Is The Difference Between Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway?

What is the difference between Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway? This question is one that echoes among casual theatregoers theatre fanatics alike. Misconceptions abound about the difference between the three categories of theatre. There are quality productions at every level; the tiered system is not a ranking of quality or talent. Yes, budgets vary—with Broadway typically having the largest investments.

But the bare-bones answer is much more simple than many believe: It comes down to the number of seats in the theatre and geography. Playbill put together a fact sheet about the three tiers of New York City theatre to help you navigate the definition—and then drop some theatre knowledge the next time someone asks.

Broadway v Off-Broadway v Off-Off-Broadway infographic