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Liz Callaway and Julian Ovenden Will Star in Sondheim on Sondheim With BBC Orchestra

A new adaptation of the Broadway docu-musical Sondheim on Sondheim, which has been re-orchestrated to showcase a full symphony orchestra, will receive its European premiere with the BBC Concert Orchestra March 15 at Royal Festival Hall.

Julian Ovenden
Julian Ovenden

The cast will feature Tony Award nominee Liz Callaway, who appeared in the original Broadway cast of Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, as well as Julian Ovenden, Ben Forster, Tyrone Huntley, Claire Moore, and Rebecca Trehearn.

Two-time Tony Award winner Michael Starobin, who orchestrated the original productions of Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George and Assassins, expanded his nine-musician arrangements from the 2010 Broadway premiere of Sondheim on Sondheim for the symphonic version that premiered with the Boston Pops in 2017.

Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart will lead the BBC Concert Orchestra for the one-night-only London performance.

Sondheim on Sondheim Symphonic Version retains most of the candid, in-depth video interviews with Sondheim that punctuated the Broadway incarnation, while streamlining its original two-act structure into a 100-minute presentation. The original Broadway production was written and directed by Sondheim’s frequent collaborator, James Lapine.

Click here for tickets.

Callaway has been a special guest performer on Playbill’s Broadway on the High Seas cruises. Tickets are now on sale for the Broadway on the High Seas 10: Odyssey Through the Greek Isles cruise June 24–July 1, 2019, with a lineup of top Broadway stars to be announced. Call Judy Perl Worldwide for tickets at (844) 561-3625. Visit PlaybillTravel.com for booking and information.

See The Band’s Visit Celebrate Original Broadway Cast Album Release at Barnes and Noble

Ghostlight Records celebrated the release of The Band’s Visit’s original Broadway cast album at Barnes and Noble February 23. The cast joined the show’s composer and lyricst David Yazbek for an in-store performance and fan photo session. The album of the new musical is produced by Ghostlight Records.

Flip through photos of the album release below:

The new cast recording is produced by Dean Sharenow and David Yazbek, with Kurt Deutsch serving as executive producer. To purchase the album, visit GhostlightRecords.com/the-bands-visit.html or TheBandsVisitMusical.com.

Bringing Israeli Authenticity to The Band’s Visit—Minus a California Accent

When you hear Andrew Polk speak in his own voice, you might be surprised. The actor’s American accent can be jarring after hearing his thick Israeli accent as patriarch Avrum in Broadway’s hit The Band’s Visit. “People are a little shocked when I come out [at the stage door] with my California accent,” he admits. “I’ve met a lot of Israelis and [that reaction] is gratifying.”

Andrew Polk Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Polk’s authenticity—in his accent and in the cultural nuances of his character—are, in part, thanks to his family. Not only is his wife, Israeli playwright Zohar Tirosh-Polk, the dialect coach on The Band’s Visit, life with her side of the family proved the best introduction to Israeli culture an actor could ask for.

Before Polk met his now-wife, he didn’t know much about Israel or its people. A self-described assimilated Jew, his image of Israel amounted to a lot of Jews and a desert. That image isn’t so far off from the setting of his Broadway debut in The Band’s Visit, but, having been welcomed into the Tirosh side of the family, he’s been able to imbue his role with cultural authenticity.

“I’ve [now] made many trips to Israel and really found it to be an incredibly rich, complicated, beautiful country, totally different than I thought,” says Polk.

In fact, as Avrum, the widower and Israeli patriarch of one of the households that welcomes in members of the titular stranded Egyptian Police band, Polk channels an Israeli patriarch from his own life. “[Zohar’s] father, Peter, passed away two years ago and I took a lot of characteristics he had—the warmth, the directness, the no-bullshit culture,” says Polk.

As a subtle reminder of the bundle of contradictory characteristics, Polk hangs a picture of a sabra fruit on his dressing room mirror. “I think it’s a great metaphor for Israelis because they can be kind of prickly on the outside, but inside they’re sweet and warm,” he says.

But Polk also found inspiration in his family when it came to mastering the Israeli accent and even his character’s physicality. “I plant my feet in the ground and I start walking like a bull,” he says. “That gets me into the physical vibe of the people and this character, and then the sounds fall into place.” Not to mention Polk and many of his castmates start talking like an Israeli beginning with the half-hour call.

Polk brings a simultaneous gentleness and energy to the role. As a widower, Avrum feels as lonely as any of the other characters in this show about reaching out to your fellow human, but he also represents a vigor and unrealized zest for life in his big number “The Beat of Your Heart.”

“You feel that it sets the table for the themes in the show,” Polk says of the number. “These Israelis and Egyptains in that scene in that song are finding connections through music, through jokes, through love and I do feel something change [in the audience].” But mostly, he’s thrilled to be able to shine a light on a culture (and a man) he holds dear.

The Band’s Visit [Off-Broadway] happened right after [my father-in-law] died and it really feels like he has something to do with it,” he says. “Here I am, a fully assimilated Jew who has never really done that many musicals in a hit Broadway musical playing an Israeli grandfather and that’s who he was. It feels like maybe he’s looking after me.”

Caissie Levy, Patti Murin, and More on Blending the Familiar With the Unexpected for Broadway’s Frozen

Before Frozen kicks off its Broadway premiere February 22, get a taste of what’s in store as the cast and creative team discuss the new Disney musical in the video above.

Patti Murin (Anna) and Caissie Levy (Elsa) with Jacob Smith in FROZEN. Photo by Deen van Meer.jpg
Patti Murin and Caissie Levy with Jacob Smith Deen van Meer

Frozen fans will recognize plenty, including the beloved characters and tunes (including one particularly memorable anthem), but new surprises await as well. “I’ve been given the freedom, as a director with the creative team, to not look over our shoulder, but also go much further,” says Michael Grandage. “We’ve been given the freedom to explore.”

That freedom relieves some pressure from the cast, who step into roles that were made instantly iconic with the 2013 animated hit. “There’s a certain level of nerves and anxiety that come along with that, but it’s mostly just been so joyful,” says Caissie Levy, who takes on the role of ice queen (and “Let It Go” belter) Elsa.

Levy continues, “People are going to see a lot more of the intricacies of what Elsa is dealing with…[composers] Kristen [Anderson-Lopez] and Bobby [Lopez] have musicalized key moments for Elsa that allow the audience to understand why she does what she does a little more.”

The musical is the first Frozen adaptation to expand upon the original story, with the help of a dozen songs written specifically for the stage and a book by original screenwriter and co-director Jennifer Lee. Anderson-Lopez expects the new material to assist in “telling a story that families will experience and hopefully open doors between them.”

Patti Murin hopes the marriage of familiar and unexpected shines in her performance as Anna: “I only want to present her to the world in the best possible way—in the way they’re going to recognize and love—but also see a bit more of than they were able to in the movie.”

Frozen will open officially at the St. James Theatre March 22.

Harry Connick, Jr. to Star in Broadway-Bound Musical The Sting

Two-time Tony nominee Harry Connick, Jr. will star as Henry Gondorff in the world premiere of The Sting at Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey this spring. The new musical is based on the 1973 Oscar-winning film, with a book by Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone), music and lyrics by Urinetown songwriting team Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis, with Connick, Jr.

Directed by John Rando (On the Town), and choreographed by Warren Carlyle (Hello, Dolly!), the Broadway-bound engagement of The Sting will begin March 29 and is scheduled to play through April 29.

Set in Chicago in the 1930’s, The Sting invites audiences into a smoke-filled world of cons and capers. The story follows small town grifter Johnny Hooker and big-time hustler Henry Gondorff, who plot to bring down the city’s most corrupt racketeer.

Hooker and Gondordff were played by screen legends Robert Redford and Paul Newman in the original film. The Universal Pictures movie, which featured a screenplay by David S. Ward and direction by George Roy Hill, was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, winning seven—including Best Direction, Best Screenplay, and Best Picture.

The film is also remembered for its Oscar-winning score, which composer Marvin Hamlisch fashioned from the songs of ragtime composer Scott Joplin. Hamlisch’s version of “The Entertainer” from the film’s soundtrack reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974, and created a nationwide resurgence in Joplin’s work.

The stage adaptation of The Sting will also incorporate Joplin’s music into its score, including “The Entertainer.”

Further casting and additional creative team members will be announced in the near future.

The Sting will be produced on Broadway by The Araca Group, Matthew Gross Entertainment, and by Special Arrangement with Universal Theatrical Group. Broadway dates have not yet been announced.

Connick, Jr. made his Broadway acting debut in The Pajama Game in 2006, for which he earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. His other Broadway credits include On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, and extended concert engagements. He is also a Tony nominee for Thou Shalt Not, for which he wrote the music and lyrics.

Noah Galvin Ends Run in Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen February 4

Noah Galvin plays his final performance in the Tony-winning Dear Evan Hansen February 4 at the Music Box Theatre.

Taylor Trensch
Taylor Trensch Nathan Johnson

Galvin, best known for his critically acclaimed performance in ABC’s The Real O’Neals, made his Broadway debut in the hit musical, succeeding Tony winner Ben Platt November 21, 2017.


Taylor Trensch, recently seen in the Tony-winning revival of Hello, Dolly!, officially takes over as Evan Hansen February 6, although the actor played select performances in the role this past week.


Trensch’s previous Broadway credits include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Matilda, and Wicked.

On Wednesday and Saturday matinees, the role of Evan is performed by Michael Lee Brown.

Dear Evan Hansen features a score by the Tony- and Oscar-winning songwriting team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Dogfight, A Christmas Story), a book by Tony winner Steven Levenson (Masters of Sex), choreography by Danny Mefford (Fun Home), and direction by multiple Tony nominee Michael Greif (Rent, Next to Normal, If/Then).

Original cast members Laura Dreyfuss, Tony winner Rachel Bay Jones, Jennifer Laura Thompson, Tony nominee Mike Faist, Michael Park, and Will Roland have all extended their contracts and will remain with the musical through May. Kristolyn Lloyd will depart in March.


In October 2017 Platt teamed up with Galvin and Trensch for a ’70s-inspired music video shot on the streets of New York City. Watch it below.