New York Shows ’18
What an incredible Broadway season this is. From new, Tony-nominated offerings like The Band’s Visit and SpongeBob Squarepants The Musical to stunning revivals like Carousel, Angels in America, Travesties, My Fair Lady.
It’s a star-studded run with Andrew Garfield and Nathan Lane in Angels in America, Renée Fleming in Carousel, Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto and Matt Bomer as just three of The Boys in the Band, Bernadette Peters in Hello, Dolly!, Springsteen on Broadway, Diana Rigg in My Fair Lady and Tony Shalhoub in The Band’s Visit, composed by David Yazbek and a must-see for our next trip. “It really is one of the most beautiful shows I’ve ever seen,” says one of our seen-everything New York friends.
We were excited to start our Broadway visit with Tina Fey’s Mean Girls musical, nominated for 12 Tonys, including Best Musical. Mean Girls is one of those movies that has gained ardent fans across generations and they are here to see their show.
Directed by Casey Nicholaw, with music by Jeff Richmond and lyrics by Nell Benjamin, this is a high-energy, fresh production. Nicholaw is also behind the choreography which incorporates high school staples – teacher’s desks, cafeteria trays – in most ingenious ways.
Taylor Louderman, who plays head Plastic, Regina George, is standout. She plays the Queen of Mean with a self-possession that is utterly convincing. She and Ashley Park, who plays ‘fetch’ Gretchen, are well-deserving of their Tony nods, as is Grey Hanson who plays Damian.
Here we see another outstanding performer, Barrett Wilbert Weed, who plays Janis, and the formerly homeschooled Cady, played by Erika Hennings, singing about Regina: The Apex Predator.
Here’s another musical, based on a high profile movie, that is delighting audiences with high expectations. The Frozen audience – like much of Manhattan – is peppered with proud NYU graduates in their gowns. Frozen has garnered 3 Tony nominations for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score, with music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.
Of particular interest to Canadians is Queen Elsa, who is played wonderfully by Canadian Caissie Levy, who grew up in Hamilton, Ontario. Pity the person who has to occupy a role and a song made so famous by Idina Menzel. But Levy Lets it Go with flourish and finesse. She and Patty Mirren, Anna, are featured in The National excerpt below.
Young Anna is played brilliantly by the ten year old Zoe Glick on the night we are there. Her exuberant personality and crystal-clear voice is perfect for the young girl dashing about the closed door palace, cajoling her poised sister Elsa – played by Ayla Schwartz – to come out and play.
After being stunned by the Harry Potter stagecraft, one could be jaded. But, as Elsa and her magic fingers turn everything to ice, the effect is magical.
Feinstein’s 54 Below
This is our first time at this underground supper club, just off Broadway. It’s a beautifully intimate space that re-opened in 2012 under the direction of an impressive group of Broadway producer owners – Richard Frankel, Steve Baruch, Tom Viertel and Marc Routh. Frankel, for example, was formerly Managing Director of the renowned Circle Repertory Company. His multiple Tony awards include nods for Hairspray, The Producers, Angels in America, Company ...
On the night we are at 54 Below it is Linda Eder who is delivering the 7 pm show. Eder is an example of a singer with “perfect technique,” a renowned tenor and vocal coach has told us in the past. It was in Jekyll & Hyde that Eder made her Drama Desk award-winning Broadway debut in 1997. She has gone on to record multiple albums and perform across the world.
At 54 Below, we are just inches away from Eder and her remarkable musicians, headed by pianist Billy Jay Stein who won a Grammy in 2015 for his producing and mixing of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.
Eder sounds as good in person as she does in her recordings. She is deft in moving between jazz standards and musical theatre, between gorgeous ballads and swinging siren songs. This is an Eder and Broadway-knowledgeable crowd, who bounce with delight at the introductory notes to each new song.
Her repertoire from the evening includes Till You Come Back To Me, Down with Love, The Man I Love, Before the Parade Passes By. She wows with Man of La Mancha, Losing My Mind and her signature songs, written by her then-husband, Frank Wildhorn: Vienna, Someone Like You and Bring on the Men, from Jekyll and Hyde.
Eder dedicates her stunning encore – I’m Always Chasing Rainbows – to Judy Garland, who inspired her to pursue this singing career. What a beautiful night in a great setting. We’ll be back!
Written by Elizabeth Newton