Tuesday, March 20, 2018


The end of season push has begun again, and there are a ton of shows opening this spring! That means we've got lots of work to do to add new members to the Broadway Olympics Team.  This week, the amazing cast of Disney's Frozen is competing for your votes in 4 categories: Leading Actress, Featured Actor, Female and Male Ensemble Members.

So... which cast members are HOT enough to melt a snowman? You decide!

A few things to remember:

  1. You DO NOT have to have seen the show to vote!
  2. You can vote for as many (or as few) cast members as you wish.
  3. Yes, this is just like the old "HOT or NOT" contests of previous seasons. And the "heat level" can be looks, of course, but it could also be talent, career, and potential.
  4. The survey is secure. It dies not collect any data from you, and I can't see any identifying data, only the results of your vote.

MOST IMPORTANT! YOUR VOTES WILL NOT COUNT UNLESS YOU CLICK "FINISH SURVEY" ALL THE WAY AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POLL.  Since there are 37 cast members, you'll have to scroll pretty far down to hit that button!

Thanks for participating! The results will be posted on Monday, March 26!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Remembering Sammy Williams

I'm sad to have learned of the death of Tony Award-winning actor Sammy Williams over the weekend. I never had the privilege of seeing him perform, and I never had the honor of meeting the man. But he impacted my life nonetheless. And I'm sure I'm not the only one.

The first time I ever saw A Chorus Line, when it got to the part where Williams' character, Paul San Marco launched into his monologue, I found myself holding my breath and clinging to every single word. And I wept. Lots of other people all around me were sniffling - it's one hell of a monologue and very touching. But I was full-on crying, and I couldn't stop.  It was the first time this then-14 year-old ever saw someone like me - gay, scared, self-loathing, and terrified of being discovered - come to life on the stage. It was a life-changing, life-affirming moment.

Thank you, Mr. Williams. I will forever be in your debt. Rest in peace.

Friday, March 16, 2018

THE FRIDAY 5: LOVE, SIMON for Musical Theater Fans

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing the new film, Love, Simon at a preview screening last night.  I wish a film like this was around when I was a teenager struggling with my identity. It's funny, touching, romantic, infuriating, and just a plain old good time at the Bijou.  I highly recommend seeing this movie!

Anyway, it probably comes a no surprise to anyone reading this, that musical theater wasn't far from my mind even as I was enthralled by Simon, his friends and family.  And there were (at least) five reasons why this movie has got something for musical theater fans!


Okay, so it's not done to a show tune, though it may have been added to the stage version of The Bodyguard, I'm not sure.  But it is a big dance number with lots of dancers and costumes!

Besides being patient (mostly), great with a snappy quip (frequently), and an amazing advocate for the LGBTQ community (fierce!), Ms. Albright (played by Natasha Rothwell) gave up a career on the stage to be a drama teacher.  Listen closely to find out what show she was an "extra" in before becoming a teacher! (I won't spoil it for you, but it's a show currently on Broadway!)

I don't know about any of you high school Thespians, but we frequently went to our local diner (no Waffle House in my town) and ran lines after rehearsals. Okay, that was our intention, and we always started to run lines until either the food came, or the waitress told us to "pipe down!"  In the movie, some lines from the school play are run, but the waiter had other business to take care of,,,

First of all, how awesome is it that this suburban high school gets to do Cabaret? But also how cool that the school has embraced color-blind casting with an African-American girl (Alexandra Shipp) playing Sally Bowles!

Sure, he has his school play poster on his bedroom wall, but every time he's at his desk, there's a Hamilton Playbill tacked to the wall by his window. I'm betting he has the cast recording on vinyl.

Monday, March 12, 2018

2017-2018 Broadway Playlist: Once On This Island (Revival)

This week, we'll be picking the ONE song from the New Broadway Cast Recording of Once On This Island.  If you've seen this spectacular revival, you know how beautifully sung this score is.  If you haven't seen it... why not!? Get your tickets!

The best news is that this recording is top notch in quality, so every song is a gem.  Of course, that means picking your ONE favorite song for the 2017-2018 Broadway Playlist may be difficult. So, I'll let you pick up to THREE of your favorites!

  • Check up to 3 songs from the list below, and click the "VOTE" button.  It's that easy! (And be sure to tell your friends!) Voting will close at 6PM on Sunday, March 18.

Friday, March 9, 2018

THE FRIDAY 5: Theater District Watering Holes


Over the years, Mike and I have been known to enjoy an adult beverage or three during our Broadway binge trips. We like to try new places, but tend to go with the familiar.  Here are our 5 favorites in the theatre district.  Most are also restaurants, and we do eat at these places, but this list is based on the drinks, not the food. Both of us separately graded about 10 of our favorite places on ambiance, quality of drinks, value, location relative to the Times Square area.  Here's how the tally shook out:

5. MOTHER BURGER (329 W. 49th Street) 

This place is small, but it is CHEAP, and not just for NYC. That's why this place got the highest score for value. I love the red sangria, and they have some great frozen drinks, as well. Not a bad burger, either... Great for a matinee day or pre-show drink (only open late on Fridays and Saturdays). Close to: Avenue Q (and anything at New World Stages - it is literally over the space!), Wicked, Once On This Island, The Book of Mormon, Chicago, Bruce Springsteen on Broadway, A Bronx Tale, Angels in America, Waitress, The Band's Visit

4. IRON BAR (713 8th Avenue) 

This place feels both comfortable and trendy, and always seems packed, but we've never waited for a seat or table.  It is pretty pricey, but what you get is high quality.  Mike recommends the tasty, but small margaritas, and I enjoy their strong rum and Cokes.  What this place has in spades is hours (open daily 12PM - 4AM) and location.  Close to: Kinky Boots, The Phantom of the Opera, Anastasia, Hello, Dolly!, Lobby Hero and Frozen

3. JUNIOR'S (1515 Broadway, but you access it from 45th Street and Shubert Alley)

Here's another place high on the location scale.  The food here is really the star - their cheesecake is world-famous. The menu and the portions are enormous, and it isn't too expensive, but not cheap, either.  This is also the most family-friendly place on the list, so it might surprise you that thee drinks are pretty terrific.  They serve a big margarita, and I've had an equally large rum and Coke and screwdriver there over the years. Get in line - the wait is rarely as long as they tell you it will be, and you can eat at the bar if available. But again, location, location, location! Close to: The Lion King, The Boys in the Band, Come From Away, Three Tall Women, The Iceman Cometh, Carousel and Dear Evan Hansen

2. CHEVY'S (249 West 42nd Street)

Okay, so a chain Mexican restaurant might not be high on your list in the first place, but we love it there, because the food is decent, and the drinks are high quality.  Margaritas by the pitcher or glass, other exciting specialty drinks and very well poured classics - the bartenders here are great.  Go early, go late, we never have to wait long, and they encourage you to linger!  Upstairs is quieter, but sometimes the hustle bustle downstairs and at the bar can be a blast, too.  Close to: The American Airlines Theatre, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Aladdin, Beautiful, Pretty Woman

1. REUNION (357 West 44th Street)

This place is small, and close to 9th Avenue, but you can't miss it.  There's a giant surfboard and life guard chair and lots of colorful lights to tell you where it is.  It is in the basement of its building - be careful going up and down the steps! It looks small, but holds a lot of people comfortably.  They have a small menu of things to eat, including interestingly stuffed hot dogs.  Hit this place for happy hour and it is super cheap.  Off happy hour isn't that much more.  We've tried a variety of their drinks and they are all good and very nicely poured.  Reunion scored highest in ambiance - take the time to read all the signs! And the location is great if you want to be close to the Broadway action, but not overwhelmed by it.  It's also close to some great eats. Close to: Kinky Boots, The Phantom of the Opera, Frozen, Lobby Hero, Hello, Dolly! and Schmackery's (for cookies), Two Boots Pizza (for gourmet slices) and 5 Napkin Burger (for...burgers).


We just discovered this place on our most recent trip, since we treated ourselves and stayed there.  But we'd go back.  It's a nice, bright open place, with a great view of Times Square.  As you might guess, it's pricey, but not too outrageous.  We had excellent service at both the bar and in the lounge seating area.  Large drink menu and decent sized menu of eats. (Try the house made chips and dip - maybe the best onion dip I've ever had!) Close to: Escape to Margaritaville, Hamilton, Summer, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Parisian Woman, School of Rock, The Band's Visit, Waitress

Thursday, March 8, 2018

It's 1994 All Over Again

Broadway loves repeating itself - nearly back to back revivals of The Glass Menagerie, and the so-soon-after-the original-closed production of Into the Woods, and the every-few-years return of Gypsy all leap immediately to mind.  But does this season feel like deja vu all over again to you?  It sure does to me... the comparisons to the 2017-2018 and 1993-1994 seasons are kinda freaky!

Both seasons include:

Musical Revue of Works By Major Theater Practitioners 

  • 1993-1994: A Grand Night For Singing - An evening celebrating the career of Rodgers and Hammerstein (Criterion Center Stage Right; 41 previews, 52 performances)
  • 2017-2018: Prince of Broadway - An evening celebrating the career of Hal Prince (Samuel J. Friedman Theatre; 23 previews, 76 performances)

Doesn't get much bigger than these three legends, does it?




  • 1993-1994: The song was part of the full-scale revival of Damn Yankees at the Marquis Theatre, starring Victor Garber, currently appearing in another full-scale revival, Hello, Dolly!
  • 2017-2018: The song was part of the musical revue, Prince of Broadway

A classic song to be sure.



Small, One-Act Musicals

  • 1993-1994: Passion: A small, critically acclaimed one-act musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine (Plymouth Theatre, 52 previews, 280 performances; Tony Award for Best Musical)
  • 2017-2018: The Band's Visit (Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 36 previews, 132 performances and counting; current front-runner for Best Musical)

Passion, the current record holder for shortest run for a Best Musical, was a love-hate thing for many theater-goers (I love it), featuring a breakout performance by a leading actress, Tony Award winner Donna Murphy.  I suspect The Band's Visit, will run longer, best musical or not, also a love-hate thing for theater-goers (I love it), featuring a breakout performance by a leading actress, Katrina Lenk.



Disney Musicals

  • 1993-1994: Beauty and the Beast, part of a Disney animation studios renaissance, the first stage musical and start of a modern-day producing dynasty; with added songs that people either love or hate. (Palace Theater, Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, 46 previews, 5461 performances)
  • 2017-2018: Frozen, part of a Disney animation studios renaissance, the most recent stage musical of a modern-day producing dynasty; with added songs that people either love or hate. (St. James Theatre, 9 previews...)

Of the films in that first Disney renaissance, Beauty and the Beast, was my favorite, and I adored the stage version at the Palace Theatre, which starred one of my favorite Broadway actors ever, Terrence Mann as the Beast.  Of the films in this current Disney renaissance, Frozen is one of my favorites, and I'm really looking forward to seeing two of my favorite Broadway actresses ever, Patti Murin and Caissie Levy as Anna and Elsa.

Revival of My Fair Lady

  • 1993-1994: My Fair Lady, the Lerner and Loewe classic, starring Richard Chamberlain and Melissa Errico (Virginia Theatre, 16 previews, 165 performances)
  • 2017-2018: My Fair Lady, the Lerner and Loewe classic, starring Harry Hadden-Paton and Lauren Ambrose (Vivian Beaumont Theatre, previews begin March 15, 2018)

Revival of Carousel

  • 1993-1994: Carousel, the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, starring Michael Hayden, Sally Murphy, Shirley Verrett, Audra Ann McDonald (Vivian Beaumont Theatre, 37 previews, 338 performances)
  • 2017-2018:Carousel, the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, starring Joshua Henry, Jessie Mueller, Renee Fleming, Lindsay Mendez (Imperial Theatre, 5 previews...)

This classic arrived on Broadway in the 90's already a critical smash from London; Audra Ann McDonald won her first Tony for playing Carrie.  This classic arrives on Broadway this year and is already the talk of the town - and mixed-to-negative talk at that. Will Lindsay Mendez win her first Tony for playing Carrie.

Revival of Angels in America: Perestroika

  • 1993-1994: Angels in America: Perestroika, the ground-breaking Tony Kushner epic, starring Stephen Spinella and Ron Leibman (Walter Kerr Theatre, 26 previews, 217 performances)
  • 2017-2018: Angels in America: Perestroika, the classic Tony Kushner epic, starring Andrew Garfield and Nathan Lane (Neil Simon Theatre, 4 previews...)

In 1993, this sequel to Millennium Approaches joined the first play in repertory, and went on to win the Tony for Best Play, just like the first play. Now, both plays return to Broadway in repertory, the difference? Then it was new; now it is a classic. The Great Work returns. In 1993, Nathan Lane was on Broadway in Laughter on the 23rd Floor; Andrew Garfield was 10 years old.

Look for updates as the season continues and concludes!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Ms. Broadway March 2018: Tamyra Gray

I think I may be the only person in the USA who has never seen a single episode of American Idol. Though I have enjoyed many of the finalists in various Broadway shows, I'm always surprised to find out I've just seen one of the Idols.  Such is the case with Tamyra Gray, who was a stunning presence in my new favorite show, Once On This Island! I hope she continues to be a regular presence on the Main Stem.  She's building a solid resume already, replacing in Bombay Dreams, RENT and  now, Island; she was also in the National Tour of If/Then.  Her detailed, intense performance was matched by her powerhouse voice - just the kind of talent that has earned her the title, Ms. March.

  • Birthdate: July 26
  • Birthplace: Takoma Park, Maryland
  • IBDB Credits: 4 - 3 on Broadway and 1 National Tour (My favorite: Once On This Island! She was THAT good!)
  • Her Broadway chops on American Idol: She sang "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls and "A House Is Not a Home" from the Promises, Promises revival.
  • Family: Married to Hollywood writer Sam Watters; they have one daughter
  • On Twitter: @tamyragray
American Idol:

I've seen Tamyra and Justin on Broadway.
How about you, Kelly?
Bombay Dreams:



Once On This Island:

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