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Tony Award Nominations Announced: War Horse and Jerusalem compete for Best Play

May 3, 2011 

The American Theatre Wing’s 2011 Tony Award nominations were announced today, Tuesday 3 May 2011. The nominations were presented by Matthew Broderick and Anika Noni Rose from the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center at Lincoln Center in New York.

Matthew Broderick and Anika Noni Rose present the Tony nominations

Matthew Broderick and Anika Noni Rose present the Tony nominations

A number of high-profile UK shows or London transfers did well in the nominations with the National Theatre’s War Horse and the Royal Court’s Jerusalem both running for Best Play.

Jerusalem was also nominated for six other awards including Mark Rylance for leading actor in a play, Mackenzie Crook for featured actor in a play, lighting design, scenic design and sound design.

Author of the play, Jez Butterworth, said: “I’m so thrilled that it’s working so well in the States. The Music Box Theatre is the most beautiful space I’ve been in. Being on Broadway is totally new experience for me, and I love that the atmosphere is so intimate.”

War Horse also received nominations for direction, scenic design, lighting design and sound design, and the creators of the puppets for the show, Handspring Puppet Company, will also receive a Special Tony Award.

Other London transfers nominated for awards include La Bete, which picked up nominations for Joanna Lumley and costume designer Mark Thompson, Kneehigh’s production of Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter, with two nominations including best performance by an actress in a leading role for Hannah Yelland, and Sister Act the Musical, which had its world premiere in London, and received five nominations including best performance by an actress in a leading role in a musical for Patina Miller.

Other Brits up for awards include Vanessa Redgrave for her performance in Driving Miss Daisy, Adam Godley for Anything Goes, Brian Bedford for The Importance of Being Earnest and Tom Stoppard’s play Arcadia is competing in the best revival of a play category. He told BroadwayWorld that, “I feel pretty remarkable… The nomination for Best Revival is a deserved compliment to David Leveaux who directed Arcadia and to an exceptional company of actors.”

Daniel Radcliffe failed to secure a nomination for his starring role in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, although the revival did get eight nods including best revival of a musical, best performance by an actor in a featured role in a musical for John Larroquette and actress for Tammy Blanchard, plus best direction and choreography nods for Rob Ashford, who is currently busy directing the London production of Shrek The Musical.

Big winners in the nominations were new musical The Book of Mormon by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, which received 14 nominations, the most of any show, The Scottsboro Boys with 12 nods and Anything Goes with nine nominations.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert received two nominations including Sydney and London star of the show Tony Sheldon for best performance by an actor in a leading role in a musical. He said: “It’s extraordinary and so nice. I’ve been from the show since the first workshop, building the character. I’ve had so much input onto the show and my character and I feel so emotionally invested in the production”.

The awards will be presented on Sunday 12 June in a three hour live ceremony broadcast by CBS in the States.

LINKS

Tony Award nominations 2011
New York Times Tony nominations analysis
Book tickets to Broadway shows

London shows hit Broadway

March 9, 2011 

From London to New York: Priscilla, Sister Act, War Horse and Jerusalem to open on Broadway

Patina Miller rehearses for Sister Act on Broadway

Patina Miller rehearses for Sister Act on Broadway

Four big West End shows are opening on Broadway in the coming weeks. Priscilla Queen of the Desert is currently in previews at the Palace Theatre on Broadway (and the Palace Theatre, London!), starring Will Swenson as Tick. Swenson appeared in the recent Broadway and London productions of Hair, and is joined in Priscilla by Tony Sheldon, who revisits the role of Bernadette after wowing audiences in Australia and London, and Nick Adams (La Cage Aux Folles) as Adam.

Over at the Broadway Theatre previews start on 24 March for Sister Act, which wings its way to America following a decent run at the London Palladium. The star of the London show, Patina Miller, will reprise her role as nightclub singer Deloris Van Cartier, joined by Victoria Clark (The Light in the Piazza) as Mother Superior.

Also transferring to Broadway, the National Theatre’s production of War Horse will start previews at the Lincoln Center in New York from 15 March, and the Royal Court’s smash-hit production of Jez Butterworth’s play Jerusalem will play the Music Box theatre from 2 April. The play will feature its Olivier Award-winning London star Mark Rylance, who is sure become a major Tony Awards contender for his tour de force performance as Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron.

Book tickets to Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Palace Theatre, New York

Book tickets to Sister Act at the Broadway Theatre, New York

Book tickets to War Horse at the Lincoln Center in New York

Book tickets to Jerusalem at the Music Box theatre, New York

 

Broadway Theatre Spring Round-up

March 8, 2011 

Our USA round-up of what’s hot on Broadway and beyond, including Daniel Radcliffe in How To Succeed…, transfers of Priscilla and Sister Act, Elaine Paige in Follies and much more.

Catch Me If You Can

Aaron Tveit, star of Catch Me If You Can

Aaron Tveit, star of Catch Me If You Can

Previews begin this week for major new Broadway musical Catch Me If You Can at the Neil Simon Theatre (opens 10 April), based on the Stephen Spielberg movie and the true story that inspired it. The show is led by rising new Broadway star Aaron Tveit (Next to Normal, Wicked) as con-man Frank Abagnale, and also stars Kerry Butler and Norbert Leo Butz. Aaron is featured in this month’s issue of Vanity Fair and there is a real buzz about him. The musical comes from the Hairspray and Love Never Dies creative team of Jack O’Brien (director) and Jerry Mitchell (Choreography), with a book by Terence McNally (The Full Monty), and score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

Spider-Man: Julie out?

The New York Times is reporting that Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark director Julie ‘The Lion King’ Taymor may have to fall on her sword and depart the production if she doesn’t seek help. Apparently the producers of the troubled, multi-million dollar show would like her to work with an expanded creative team to try and bring work on the production to a close – or she may have to leave the show. Other current decisions being made on the show include to what extent the script and music should be overhauled. The five-times rearranged opening night of 15 March now seems almost certain to be… rearranged!

London to Broadway: Priscilla, Sister Act, War Horse, Jerusalem

Patina Miller rehearses for Sister Act on Broadway

Patina Miller rehearses for Sister Act on Broadway

Four big West End shows are opening on Broadway in the coming weeks. Priscilla Queen of the Desert is currently in previews at the Palace Theatre on Broadway (and the Palace Theatre, London!), starring Will Swenson as Tick. Swenson appeared in the recent Broadway and London productions of Hair, and is joined in Priscilla by Tony Sheldon, who revisits the role of Bernadette after wowing audiences in Australia and London, and Nick Adams (La Cage Aux Folles) as Adam.
Over at the Broadway Theatre previews start on 24 March for Sister Act, which wings its way to America following a decent run at the London Palladium. The star of the London show, Patina Miller, will reprise her role as nightclub singer Deloris Van Cartier, joined by Victoria Clark (The Light in the Piazza) as Mother Superior.
Also transferring to Broadway, the National Theatre’s production of War Horse will start previews at the Lincoln Center in New York from 15 March, and the Royal Court’s smash-hit production of Jez Butterworth’s play Jerusalem will play the Music Box theatre from 2 April. The play will feature its Olivier Award-winning London star Mark Rylance, who is sure become a major Tony Awards contender for his tour de force performance as Johnny ‘Rooster’ Byron.

Daniel Radcliffe in How To Succeed in Business…

Daniel Radcliffe in How To Succeed...

Daniel Radcliffe in How To Succeed...

Life after Harry Potter is going to be particularly glamorous for Daniel Radcliffe as he is currently starring in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre (now in previews, opens 27 March). The show has hit the press recently over rumours that Warner Bros. are furious with the show’s producers for not letting Radcliffe out of performances to promote the final Harry Potter film later in the year.

Elaine Paige in Follies

Not long to go until the Eric Schaeffer revival of Sondheim’s Follies at the Kennedy Center in Washington (7 May – 19 June) starring Bernadette Peters as Sally, Jan Maxwell as Phyllis, Danny Burstein as Buddy, Ron Raines as Benjamin Stone – and our very own Elaine Paige as Carlotta. The casting of Paige caught many off guard (she’s TOO YOUNG you cry!) and it will be interesting to see if Paige turns up in Trevor Nunn’s mooted revival of the show at the Theatre Royal Haymarket later this year.

Hot tip: Gavin Creel in Prometheus Bound

Michael Cunio and Gavin Creel in Prometheus Bound. Photo: Marcus Stern.

Michael Cunio and Gavin Creel in Prometheus Bound. Photo: Marcus Stern.

Whilst Hair alumni Will Swenson is camping it up in Priscilla, fellow co-worker Gavin Creel, who also starred with Swenson in the London transfer of Hair, is currently wowing audiences in Prometheus Bound at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass. Rumour mills are buzzing over whether the show might transfer to Broadway. Written by Tony and Grammy Award-winning playwright and lyricist Steven Sater, who scored a huge hit with Spring Awakening on Broadway and less so in London, and with music composed by Grammy Award-winning System of a Down lead singer Serj Tankian, the show is inspired by Aeschylus’s Ancient Greek tragedy.

Stars on Broadway

There’s no shortage of stars turning up on Broadway over the next few weeks, with Frances McDormand having just opened in Good People at the Manhattan Theatre Club, Brian Cox, Chris Noth, Jason Patric and Kiefer Sutherland starring in That Championship Season at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre, Billy Crudup in Arcadia at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre (opens 17 March), Robin Williams in Bengal Tiger In The Baghdad Zoo at the Richard Rodgers Theatre from 11 March, Chris Rock in Motherf**Ker With The Hat at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre from 15 March, Kathleen Turner in High at the Booth Theatre from 25 March, Edie Falco, Ben Stiller and Jennifer Jason Leigh in The House of Blue Leaves at the Walter Kerr Theatre from 25 April, and Tyne Daly and Sierra Boggess in Master Class at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre from 24 May. Phew!

LINKS

Book Broadway tickets

Broadway news and gossip

Donovan and Swenson bow out of West End

May 31, 2010 

Two West End stars left their roles in major shows this weekend. On Saturday night (29 May) Jason Donovan left Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Palace Theatre and Broadway star Will Swenson left Hair at the Gielgud Theatre.

JASON DONOVAN

Jason Donovan in Priscilla

Fans and cast members paid tribute to Jason Donovan on Saturday 29 May as he shimmied in his fabulous shoes and frocks for the final time in Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Palace Theatre in London, after 14 months and over 450 performances.

On Jason’s Facebook page, fan Laura Harvey said: “So sad that it’s your last Priscilla…. you will be greatly missed”. Cast mate Amy Edwards posted on Twitter that, “am going to miss him loads! He’s a fantastic performer and an amazing person”, and Oliver Thornton, who plays Adam in the show said: “So sad to lose my playmate and friend from the show”.

Ben Richards from ITV’s The Bill takes over Donovan’s role from 1 July. Richards is an accomplished musicals actor having played numerous roles in high-profile West End shows including Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, Danny Zuko in Grease, Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever and Jerry Lukowski in The Full Monty.

Book tickets to Priscilla Queen of the Desert starring Ben Richards at the Palace Theatre in London

WILL SWENSON

Will Swenson in Hair

In a theatrical circle of life, Saturday also saw Broadway star Will Swenson leave Hair The Musical in the West End – in order to take on Jason Donovan’s role of Tick in a new Broadway production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

Swenson, who was Tony Award-nominated for his performance as Berger in Hair, will open in Priscilla in Toronto in October for 12 weeks before moving the show to Broadway.

The Broadway production will also see Tony Sheldon, who played Bernadette in the Australian and London productions of Priscilla, reprise his role.

Steel Burkhardt, a company member in the original Broadway production and the West End transfer, has taken over Swenson’s role as Berger. Hair marked Burkhardt’s Broadway and West End debuts.

Hair will close at the Gielgud Theatre on 4 September 2010.

In other HAIR news, Gavin Creel, fellow Broadway and now London cast member of the show, will make his solo debut in London this summer. He will play one night only at the Pigalle Club in London’s West End on 20 July. See Facebook for further information.

Book tickets to see Hair starring Gavin Creel at the Gielgud Theatre in London

Priscilla – Reviews Round-up

September 8, 2009 

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

The critics’ reception to Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Palace Theatre in London, which officially opened on Monday, was decidedly mixed, although mostly middle of the road – which is fitting for a musical based on a road movie. There was no doubt on the merits of the design, and the cast and direction were largely praised. However, the source material (i.e. the movie), or what was done with it, led to most of the criticism.

Michael Coveney in The Independent and Michael Billington in The Guardian gave the show 2 stars, with Charles Spencer in The Telegraph, Nicholas de Jongh in the Evening Standard and Benedict Nightingale in The Times opting for 4 stars.

Here’s a quick round-up of the reviews:

FIRST OFF

Michael Coveney: “I will survive, I’m sure, but the Priscilla wave that caught the Palace Theatre last night was a pretty strong blast of lethal elements…”

Michael Billington: “Compared with the warmth and joie de vivre of La Cage aux Folles, this musical version of the famous 1994 Australian movie feels like a synthetic spectacle.”

David Benedict: “Simon Phillips’ enjoyably shameless tuner restyling of this tale of self-affirmation on heels and wheels doesn’t so much teeter toward as topple into self-indulgence. But audiences happily whipped up into having, in every sense, a gay old time are likely to overlook its curious flaws.”

Charles Spencer: “Those who like their musicals tasteful, subtle, and preferably written by Stephen Sondheim and directed by Trevor Nunn should give this wildly entertaining new import from Australia a wide berth. It makes Mamma Mia! seem like something by Chekhov.”

Benedict Nightingale: “Let’s reassure those who recall the film of Priscilla, or helped to make it the cult it remains, that the stage version has everything, maybe more than everything, they could reasonably expect.”

Ian Shuttleworth: “The basic story – two drag queens and an older transsexual journey in an old coach from Sydney to Alice Springs to do a show and to introduce Tick to his young son – is there, but little more.”

Nicholas de Jongh: “Priscilla Queen Of The Desert comes flouncing and flaunting into the West End. I welcome it with open arms and a glad rag-bag of positive adjectives. London has never played host to a musical pitched on a higher level of gayness and camp comedy, transsexual barrier-breaking and bitchy, witty drag-queenery, than this ingenious adaptation of the sensational film of the same name.”

ON JASON DONOVAN

MC: “Donovan, it has to be said, seems to have lost what little stage personality he had developed as Joseph in the Deamcoat, and turned, well, rancid.”

DB: “Jason Donovan… possesses adequate skills, but his stage wattage never rises above warm.”

CS: “Jason Donovan is engagingly gauche and touching as a gay man facing up to the responsibilities of fatherhood

BN: “And at least when he’s in his paternal mode, Donovan also brings a little gravity and texture to a potentially bland character.”

ON THE DESIGN

MC: “The divas descend from Sydney Harbour Bridge, cleverly evoked by legendary designer Brian Thomson. But that’s as good visually as it gets.”

MB: “What the show is really about is spectacle; which, thanks to Brian Thomson’s production design and the costumes of Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner, is hurled across in bucketloads.”

DB: “The production’s most extravagantly successful element — its design. Brian Thomson’s sets — especially the impressively lit bus — may be the show’s real star.”

BN: “There’s energy, fun, tunefulness and, above all, the most outrageous swirl of costumes that I, who have seen La Cage aux Folles and even boggled at Ian McKellen’s Widow Twankey, have yet encountered.”

DB: “Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner’s ceaseless parade of spectacular costumes, making “Wicked” look like a weekend in Amish country.”

CS: “The costumes and wigs are almost insanely over the top and feature so many feathers one begins to fear for the survival of the ostrich as a species; even the bus Priscilla is an ingeniously mechanised and cunningly designed delight.”

ON THE DIRECTION

MC: “Simon Phillips’s production is slick, well-organised and fairly enjoyable.”

NdJ: “Simon Phillips’s production artfully exploits the fact that drag queenery relies on excess and exaggeration.”

MB: “Simon Phillips directs this kaleidoscopic extravaganza with martial skill.”

CS: “Simon Phillips’s production has a driving energy and a palpable mission to delight”

ON THE HUMOUR

CS: “… the one-liners and snide put-downs are also wonderfully funny and there was one gag involving a man nicknamed Trumpet and a ginger nut biscuit that almost had me out of my seat and writhing helplessly in the aisle.”

BN: “There are wisecracks galore (“we’ll be nothing but skin and silicone”, moans Tick after that desert breakdown) and songs you’ll recognise, starting with Downtown, ending in Always on My Mind.”

FINAL THOUGHTS

MC: “The journey from Sydney to Ayres Rock is a relatively modest one, but this lot have been caught up in a disco fever that doesn’t justify their travel passes. Big hand, though, for the finale costumes of shellfish and jungle animals that suddenly appeared as if by osmosis in a presentational void.”

MB: “Although the show is eventually about a father-son reunion, it never touches the heart. And, given the unexplored richness of Australian theatre, it is a pity that this artistically buoyant country should now be represented in the West End by this garish throwback in which camp is determinedly overpitched.”

DB: “There’s competition in London’s current hit revival of another grand-scale, truly gay musical, “La Cage aux Folles.” But judging by the newcomer’s infectious feel-good tone, this show’s even higher levels of sentimentality and cheerfully filthy humor are anything but a drag.”

CS: “The fastidious and the squeamish should avoid this show like the plague. Everyone else will have a terrific drag ball.”

IS: “This is not a show about diversity, or sexuality, or even drag… but if you want big frocks and wigs, clapping along to 1980s boys’-town musical numbers and a chance to pretend that you’re being affirmative without having to think or feel a thing for almost three hours, this is the show for you.”

NdJ:  ”When these gender- illusionists have dragged up, faced bar-room violence and returned to their bus to find the words “f**k off, faggots” painted all over it, the singing of Both Sides Now is given a searing poignancy. In similar fashion Always On My Mind, Tick’s song to his son who comes to accepts his gay father, helps bring a reconciling laughter and pathos to this bitter-sweet, big-hit musical, that stands up for brave sexual outsiders.”

The critics:

Michael Coveney, The Independent

Michael Billington, The Guardian

David Benedict, Variety

Charles Spencer, The Telegraph

Benedict Nightingale, The Times

Ian Shuttleworth, Financial Times

Nicholas de Jongh, Evening Standard

BOOK TICKETS TO SEE PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT AT THE PALACE THEATRE

Priscilla Queen of the Desert hits London

March 10, 2009 

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Priscilla Queen of the Desert – The Musical shimmies into the West End tonight, starting previews at the Palace Theatre in London’s West End.

Billed as the ultimate feel-good show, pre-opening buzz and reports from its run in Sydney suggest that the musical’s timing is perfect. With acres of chiffon, millions of sequins and some show stopping numbers, it promises to banish any feelings of gloom from the capital.

Based on the Oscar award-winning film, PRISCILLA tells the story of Tick (Jason Donovan), Bernadette (Tony Sheldon) and Adam (Oliver Thornton), three glamorous Sydney drag queens who agree to take their show to the middle of the Australian outback.

The road trip that ensues proves to be a heart-warming, uplifting adventure as they hop onboard a battered old bus (nicknamed Priscilla) searching for love and friendship.

An array of outrageous costumes, spectacular sets and a score of dance-floor classics promises to raise the bar on fun in the West End this Spring. An unashamed crowd-pleaser.

BOOK TICKETS TO PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT

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