Fostering and emboldening young artists

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             Heya! Happy Monday. Last week was a revolving door of planned and executed Broadway exits. Most notably, Broadway’s Tupac-fuelled Holler if Ya Hear Me closed last night after hugging the bottom of gross charts since its release earlier this summer. Not far behind, Broadway’s Rocky has set its closing date of August 17th, following 216 performances at the Winter Garden Theatre. Rumored to take its place is the brand-new production of Finding Neverland. Also rumored to be around the bend is the possibility of iconic hit Side Show returning to the Broadway stage, as well as mysterious reshoots of the forthcoming Disney interpretation of “Into the Woods” (for better or worse? I suppose only time will tell.)

             On the bright side, The Muppets are coming to Broadway?!?!?! And Josh Hamilton, Everett Quinton, and Emily Dickinson?! Cue swooning.

            Now wake up. Last week witnessed the 50th anniversary of Broadway smash-hit Fiddler on the Roof, as well as the first week of the annual Williamstown Theatre Festival and impressive grossing strides for Broadway’s Cabaret, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Bullets Over Broadway, and Of Mice and Men (despite no big steals at the Tony’s).  And speaking of James Franco, Off-Broadway’s brand new The Long Shrift opened last week under the direction of the boisterous Hollywood dweller, prompting criticismcriticism, and more criticism from New York City theatre critics one and all. What likely won’t receive criticism, however, is Bryan Cranston in this just-announced “All the Way” movie — God bless HBO for immortalizing greatness.

            This past week also brought with it the first anniversary of Glee superstar Cory Monteith’s untimely death, prompting teary eyes from Lea Michele & the cast of Glee, his family, and surely hundreds of thousands of adoring fans. Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by his loss this week (and, if we could time travel, last week too).

            Okay, restoring ultimate positivity in 3… 2… Idina Menzel. Also, my Spidey senses are tingling, but for the best reason possible. (Idina for president!) (I’ll never kill a spider again!)

            That seems like a good place to leave things for this past week in theater. Stay tuned next week for more!

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           Greetings, theater fans! Welcome, once more, to weekly Broadway news paradise. As always, last week brought with it much excitement — although even if it hadn’t, I’d still be linking you to this adorable video of a little girl explaining her interpretation of Kinky Boots, which stars Cyndi Lauper and Billy Porter shared on Tuesday afternoon. If nothing else, it will give you the hope anyone needs to get through even the worst work day.

           Onto the news. Congratulations is certainly in order for Broadway mega-hit The Phantom of the Opera, which celebrated its 11,000 Broadway performance last Monday evening. Congratulations also to Bullets Over Broadway on 100 performances! We’re really pulling for Bullets to match Phantom in the years to come!

            This week was also chock full of discussion swirling around a variety of debuts, releases, and sudden cast switcheroos. Off-Broadway seemed to feel this week’s insatiable New York City heat: Grease & “You’re the One That I Want!” star Max Crumm stepped into the role of Max on Off-Broadway’s long-lived The Fantasticks on Tuesday night, the same night that Off-Broadway’s Second Stage Theatre debuted the Schwimmer-Gunn-Magnussen fuelled “Sex With Strangers”, Charissa Hogeland introduced the world to a new Veronica in Heathers, and Off-Broadway’s brand new “Fuerza Bruta Wayra” rose its first official curtains.

           Also on Tuesday (because that’s hardly enough for one day), the beautiful Beautiful vocal selections opened for pre-sale, Broadway’s Les Miserables announced its temporary Javerts for Will Swenson’s upcoming hiatus from the show, Broadway’s Holler If Ya Hear Me stopped by Good Morning America (in a probably attempt to boost their rather worrisome box office grosses), and John Barrowman’s seventh studio album “You Raise Me Up” hit music stores around the world. Whew. Talk about a long day — even typing that was exhausting.

           Thankfully, much of this week’s Broadway buzz was a bit more long-term in its reach. Particularly of interest was the announcement of the iconic Giffoni Film Festival’s 2014 awardees and featured guest list. The festival, famous for its facilitation of engagement and communication between A-list stars and local children, is set to award the Giffoni Award to Matt Bomer (“White Collar,” “The Normal Heart”), as well as the coveted Francois Truffaut Award for lifetime achievement to Golden Globe, SAG award, BAFTA, and Emmy Award-veteran Severus Snape (a.k.a Alan Rickman). Also during the festival, which plans to run from July 18th - 27th, Bomer will join Lea Michele and Dylan O’Brian to teach master classes to children attending the festival. Another reason to love Italy, theatre, and people.

           So, there you have it! Overall, it’s certainly been a warm week in New York City. Here’s to more warmth! (Although let’s keep it metaphorical — until September, at least.)

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Wow, what a week. Here’s a belated “Happy Independence Day” to all you Uncle Sam’s out there!

Now onto the excitement. On Tuesday, officials announced that mega show Urinetown – the Musical is officially set to transfer to the West End’s Apollo Theatre – no surprise given the surprisingly strong response the Jamie Lloyd-directed show received during its run at the St. James earlier this year. I just wish it were coming back to Broadway – if I somehow magically transmogrified into a high-profile producer, I’d bring it back myself! (That’s perhaps a bit of a drastic claim. Sorry not sorry.)

Here’s even more good news: The War of the Roses, a stage adaptation of the iconic Warren Adler novel, is making plans to hit the Broadway stage in the coming year, as is a mysterious Harvey Weinstein-produced, Kelsey Grammer-fueled musical. The only thing that we could possibly more look forward to are these ten free NYC performances of Checkov’s The Cherry Orchard, starring Emmy and Tony winner Ellen Burstyn! (And don’t look now, but “Cabaret for a Cause” just released its August 11th annual performance act list. Yum.)

The real controversial announcement this week in the theater world, however, was the decision to cast Lindsay Lohan as a starring role of David Mamet’s London-bound “Speed-the-Plow.” Lohan, who reportedly wishes to resuscitate her acting career, will star as Hollywood executive assistant Karen, a role that was first awarded to Madonna on Broadway in 1988. Some casually large shoes to fill – but this isn’t Lohan’s first British rodeo, so we think she could be up to the task.

Of course, all of these shows need somewhere to perform. Last Sunday, we said goodbye to Broadway’s All the Way, After Midnight, and Casa Valentina. While all three shows witnessed great turnouts in their respective closing weeks, All the Way went… well, all the way, reeling in over $1,600,000 and ultimately breaking the record for the highest amount ever generated by a Broadway straight play in one eight-performance week.

Onwards. (Or, perhaps, backwards to the present?) Last week gave us theater fans plenty of reasons to celebrate the condition of mankind. More than fifteen Broadway shows came together Monday night in support of New York City’s LGBT pride. The massive benefit concert, appropriately entitled Anthem, featured “songs that embody gay perseverance,” with performances by a host of Broadway & Off-Broadway stars (not to mention Silver Medal Olympian & NYC Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Gail Marquis? That’s cool.)

Also giving us hope for the future are 2014 Jimmy Award Winners Jai’ Len Josey (of Georgia) and Jonah Rawitz (of Illinois). The pair of high school superstars were presented their $10,000 cash awards on Monday night by the National High School Musical Theater Awards, and will be eligible (if accepted) for a four-year scholarship to attend New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Let’s end this one on a nice, positive note. After all (at least on this side of the pond), some of us are still full of barbecue and sparkler dust – it only seems appropriate! Until next week…

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Thought last week was uneventful?! Well, you’ve got another thought coming.

First and foremost: THE ARACA PROJECT BOOTCAMP WAS LAST WEEK! And, oh, was it glorious. Now that things are up and running, you should definitely frequent this blog for lots of marvelous features and the like.

On a broader scale, last week was a mixture of all the usual events; shows opening, shows closing, and castings announced. Basically: life happened. Also, this viral video of grown men singing “Let It Go” happened – on the off chance you got that song out of your head.

But I digress. Luckily for us theater junkies, an array of diverse and surely rewarding shows hit the stage for the first time this past week. To start, the Off-Broadway musical Piece of My Heart opened on Wednesday night at The Pershing Square Signature Center. The show, carrying the simultaneously exhilarating and heartbreaking story of pop icon Bert Berns, boasts a cast of Zak Resnick, Leslie Kritzer, Linda Hart, and many others. Also igniting stages last week were initial private industry readings of the Broadway-bound Getting’ The Bank Back Together, the  Manhattan Theatre Club’s Off-Broadway premiere of The Lion, the UnsungMusicalsCo. Brand-spankin’-new musical review The Passing Show, and James Franco and spoken word goddess Patti Smith for a collaborative poetry reading to kick off the Rockaway! Arts Festival.

Well, that’s certainly a bale of excitement (but wait! There’s more!). Indeed, various cast lists were also released to the public for the first time last week. Perhaps most notably, the cast list of the national tour of Pippin was released on Wednesday, with “The Voice” Season four finalist Sasha Allen at the helm. Oh, yes, Sasha, you’re going places, and we’re ready to make nice. And speaking of cheesy puns, you better ring the alarm because – as of this past week – “The Closer” superstar Kyra Sedgwick will officially be returning to the live stage next July as the lead of Danish Widow at the Powerhouse Theater. Finally, the icing on the cake is the complete casting for Gypsy, which was announced on Monday. Go ahead: let your mouth water (and create iCal reminders to purchase tickets!).

Much also happened last week in celebration of Broadway Pride Week. Among other things: Jonathan Groff SLAYED in this interview with Playbill.com, an entire buffet of incredible Broadway talent kicked off the week on Tuesday evening, and Jane Lynch made magic like only Jane Lynch can.

Last week was also host to a wealth of losses in the New York live theater community, not to mention the entire greater theatre world. Specifically, we were forced to say goodbye to two unforgettable and truly inspirational Broadway figures last week: widely-acclaimed actor Eli Wallach, and iconic producer Jay H. Harris. We also say goodbye to a long list of successful Broadway shows, including (most notably) Broadway’s After Midnight, Casa Valentina, and All The Way.

So that’s last week in theater. Up’s and down’s. Life. In the meantime, be sure to check out the blog this week for more wonderful updates from the crew of the Araca Project, and be sure to check back next week for more theater updates!

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            Happy Tuesday!  Looking for something to inspire the rest of your week?  THE ARACA PROJECT’S BOOTCAMP OFFICIALLY BEGAN THIS WEEK!!!  Need another thing or two?  Look no further—read on to hear about all the loveliness that was last week in theater!  In the theater world, last week was—as always—a mix of emotions.  There was certainly a lot to be excited about: shows hitting the stage for the first time, shows announcing casts, and shows celebrating landmark performance counts.

            First up: a range of shows hitting the stage.  Indeed, the Kennedy Center’s Bill Condon-directed production of “Side Show,” Ed Malone’s comedy “Three Irish Widows,” 42nd Street’s “The Zombies: A Musical,” Off-Broadway’s “Becket,” and Broadway’s “Holler If Ya Hear Me” all joined the wealth of live theatrical entertainment last week. If you’ve recently been craving Irish comedies and/or zombie-infused musical theater – congratulations, this week belongs to you. (You should probably question what’s in your head, though.)

Moving right along, a handful of Broadway productions made meaningful cast addition announcements last week.  Among them, the producers of On the Town announced that Broadway queens Alysha Umphress, Elizabeth Stanley, and Megan Fairchild will join hit show’s cast as it returns to the New York City Broadway stage, and the producers of Pageant announced that Nick Cearley, Nic Cory, Alex Ringler, Marty Thomas, Seth Tucker, and Curtis Wiley will compete when the Matt Lenz-directed production makes its Broadway splash next month. What’s more, Stephen Sondheim revealed key plot changes for the much-anticipated  upcoming Into the Woods Disney film during a conversation with high school teachers that was recently featured in The New Yorker (warning: spoiler alert in the link!) – the wait for its Christmas 2014 release is going to be pure agony.

What will not be agony, however, is the two-week extension of Ayad Akhtar’s The Who & The What in its Off-Broadway summer run.  The play, which opened on June 16th at the Claire Towe Theater, was originally scheduled to run through July 13th, but is now planning to run until July 27th – not too far from the planned release of Araca Productions’ Broadway take on Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Disgraced.  Finally, congratulations are in order for the cast and crew of the Broadway hit Kinky Boots, which just hit 500 stage performances at the Hirschfield Theatre!

Yet, as we all know, no week can be purely full of good.  For one thing, a multitude of Broadway, Off-Broadway, and West End productions closed their doors at the end of last week – including, most notably, Broadway’s Mothers and Sons (which will arrive in Philadelphia come February) and Off-Broadway’s Macbeth.  For another, audiences and Broadway enthusiasts around the world were surprised to learn last week that the Broadway hit show After Midnight will be closing its doors earlier than expected. Sporting the musical talents of Patti LaBelle, Fantasia, and Vanessa Williams (among others), the notoriously jazzy show received a Tony Award for Best Choreography (after receiving seven nominations), in addition to two Drama Desk Awards, four Astaire Awards, and an Outer Critics Circle Award.  At its closing, After Midnight will have played to just shy of 300 audiences.  Perhaps most tragic of all, however, was the recent passing of beloved Broadway and television casting director Bary Moss.  Among Moss’ enormous list of Broadway credits are: A Tale of Two Cities, Little Women, King Henry II, How to Succeed in Business, Oklahoma!, and West Side Story.

So that’s last week in a deliciously theatrical nutshell; lots of good, some bad.  Fingers crossed for next week!  Over and out.

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            One might assume that, since the Tony’s were at the beginning of last week, everyone in the theater world might just take the week to bask in the glory that was the results show. Nope.

            From cast album releases, to noteworthy cast additions, to post-Tony’s announcements, to a very special show coming to Broadway this fall (!) , last week offered us Broadway geeks plenty to ponder and discuss.

            First up on tap is music. Without music, musicals would just be… well, icals – so thank goodness for the brand new Broadway If/Then cast album, which – by the way – is the first Broadway album since 1996 to grace the Billboard Top 20. The musical, starring the iconic Idina Menzel, sold 15,000 copies in its debut week the week before last, and graced the 19th slot of the Billboard Top 200. I’d say If/Then – now joining The Book of Mormon, Rent (Hey, Idina!), and Dreamgirls as the only musicals to hit the Top 20 since 1980 – must be pretty wicked cool – I just can’t let it go.

            (Ahem.)

            Also released last week were the Broadway cast albums from Heathers: The Musical and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. But, of course, the reverse also occurs: after missing both Tony opportunities (Best Play and Best Actress – Tyne Daly), Terrence McNally’s “Mothers and Sons” will close on July 6th will part ways with Broadway on July 6th after struggling to find a sufficient audience this spring.

            In other news, as I’m sure you’d expect, there were lots of announcements made from officials in the wake of the 2014 Tony Awards last Sunday night. Most of them at least indirectly involved the 2013-2014 Tony Awards Administration Committee, which met for the first time this week and produced a few controversial decisions. Among them: (1) Any revival that was previously considered “part of the popular repertoire” (regardless of previous Broadway status) will now be included alongside Broadway revivals for the Best Revival of a Play/Musical categories, and (2) The Tony creative categories for Best Sound Design of a Play and Best sound Design of a Musical have been effectively erased from next year’s Tony Awards. In particular, many – such as Tony-nominated sound designer John Gromada – are upset, and are calling for change: Gromada’s petition to reverse the ruling has received over 25,000 online signatures, and we suspect it will likely reach more. On a quieter note, the 50-member nominating committee for next year’s Tony’s was just announced (), and boy is it awesome. Maybe too awesome, if that’s possible.

            Want to know what else is insanely beautiful? (Yes! Oh boy! I do! Can’t wait!) After four years of work, Araca Productions has officially announced that Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Disgraced is Broadway bound!

At any rate: That’s last week in Broadway for ya! Be sure to like us on Facebook, Twitter, and here on Tumblr for all the theater-related goodies we can find.

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So many things happened last week in theater, and they were all pretty awesome.

For starters, Playbill announced Tuesday morning that Broadway powerhouse Wicked has officially joined the list of the West End’s top 10 longest-running Broadway shows of all time. Wooooo! More than 90 international later, the iconic show has raised more than 3,000 curtains in the West End, and has played to more than 5.5 million audience members since its September 2006 premiere at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre.

Moving right along. The upcoming production of Terrence McNally’s It’s Only a Play, now officially set to boast Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham, Tony winner Stockard Channing, and Emmy winner Megan Mullally, in addition to the previously announced Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. Equally exciting on the finance side, Broadway’s All the Way is (all the way!) back in business (sorry, couldn’t resist)! Starring Tony Award Winner Bryan Cranston, the show recouped its entire investment of $3.9 million as of May 31st, and plans to continue as anticipated through June 29th. No surprise, given the splash that All the Way (and Bryan Cranston) has already made this season  .

And speaking of resurrection, a solid group of shows returned to stages around the Big Apple. (Most notably, the revival of Jules Romains’ Donogoo began its Off-Broadway previews at the Mint Theater, and Much Ado About Nothing launched with Shakespeare in the Park) Not to mention the newly-released musical soundtracks from Broadway’s red-hot If/Then, which hit stores online and around the world last Tuesday. But with moving in, there is also moving out (and I’m not talking about this Billy Joel musical). This week, we miss We Will Rock You, which shared its final West End performance on May 31st after a twelve year run.

And, if you don’t live under a rock (and I’m assuming, for the purposes of this recap, that you don’t), you know that this past week has been the week of awards, including the Tonys!

On Tuesday, BroadwayWorld.com named the winners of its 2014 Awards! Judged by fans and online users from around the world, nominated Broadway shows were appraised on everything from choreography to direction, and costume design to orchestration. Among the favorites were Wicked (Best Long-Running Broadway Show, Best Touring Production), Aladdin (Best Choreography, Best Costume Design, Best Featured Actor in a Musical – James Monroe Iglehart), If/Then (Best Musical, Best Featured Actress in a Musical – LaChanze, Best Leading Actress in a Musical – Idina Menzel), and so many other lovely, delectable iconic musicals and plays.

This week in theater, be sure to visit the cast of If/Then at the New York City Sony store on Thursday, for tons of signing, meeting, and greeting. That’s all for now!

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Please visit the brand-spankin new www.aracaproject.com for the latest news on the 2013 process and beyond.

Thanks!
Team Araca Project

  • Question: Hey! I'm a current MFA student at Northwestern who is getting ready to apply to the Araca Project. Should I be attending the mixer on Friday? - chadeschman
  • Answer:

    Hey Chad!

    Yes!  You are exactly who we want at the mixer.  So glad you can make it.

    See you Friday!

    Kaitlin Fine