Inside The Splendidly Messy ‘Cabaret’ Production In ‘Love, Simon’

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Luann de Lesseps Connects With a Friend Who Took His Own Life on Hollywood Medium: ”Life Was a Cabaret for Jean Claude”

Luann de Lesseps, Tyler Henry, Hollywood MediumSometimes, the people who put on the biggest show are hiding the darkest demons.
The Real Housewives of New York City star Luann de Lesseps connects with a late friend whose internal…

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Oops! Sonja Morgan Suffers Wardrobe Malfunction During Luann de Lesseps’ Cabaret Show

Sonja Morgan gave the audience at New York City venue Feinstein’s/54 Below an extra show on Thursday night, when she suffered a wardrobe malfunction during her high-energy performance.

The Real Housewives of New York City star, 54, had joined fellow New York City Housewife Luann de Lesseps on stage for her #CountessAndFriends cabaret program, collaborating on de Lesseps’ tune “Money Can’t Buy You Class.”

It was a highlight of de Lesseps’ two-hour show:  The crowd quickly jumping to their feet when Morgan emerged from the audience in a halter-top, red silk wrap dress (which she had also worn during a Valentine’s Day trip to Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen).

But toward the end of the song — as fellow Housewives Bethenny Frankel, Ramona Singer, Carole Radziwill, Dorinda Medley and Tinsley Mortimer sang and clapped along — Mogan’s dress unwrapped, exposing her backside to the packed house.

Ever the professional, Morgan didn’t miss a beat in her performance. She powered through, still singing while turning to get an audience member’s help tying her dress back up before finally securing it herself.

RELATED: Luann de Lesseps Declares ‘Not Drinking Is Exhausting’ & Jokes About Arrest During Cabaret Debut

Morgan’s slip was the only hiccup of the night, which opened with de Lesspes singing The Beatles’ 1967 hit “With a Little Help from My Friends” before transitioning into songs like “Almost Like Being in Love” and “L.O.V.E.”

The show, directed by Ben Rimalower and Billy Stritch, also included performances by Tony winner Laura BenantiSaturday Night Live star Rachel Dratch, Patti Cake$ ‘s Bridget Everett, the Scissor Sisters singer Jake Shears and Broadway stars Tony Yazbeck, Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Natalie Joy Johnson.

De Lesspes first performed the #CountessAndFriends show in February. She will return to Feinstien’s/54 Below with the program and a slew of special guests later this spring.

RELATED VIDEO: Bethenny Frankel Talks ‘Real Housewives’ and Luann De Lesseps Returning After Arrest

It’s been a tough few months for de Lesseps, who was arrested in Palm Beach, Florida, on Christmas Eve and charged with disorderly intoxication, battery on an officer/firefighter/EMT, resisting arrest with violence and threatening a public servant. (She’s since pleaded not guilty to the charges, with a hearing set for April).

The mother of two married ex-husband Tom D’Agostino in Palm Beach last New Year’s Eve before their divorce seven months later. Following her Dec. 24 arrest, the reality star checked herself into an alcohol treatment facility.

“Obviously it was a really bad night for me and something I am not proud of,” de Lesseps told The New York Times in February about the incident.

“I’m trying to keep it light while also taking it seriously,” she added about the cabaret show. “The important thing is to not take yourself so damn seriously. I always think, ‘I can survive this if I keep on moving.’ ”

The Real Housewives of New York City’s 10th anniversary season premieres April 4 (9 p.m. ET) on Bravo.

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Village Theatre’s ‘Cabaret’ a Vibrant, Glitzy Production That Entertains From Opening Curtain To Final Ovation

Village Theatre’s production of the classic musical Cabaret keeps audiences engaged with dynamic singing, dancing and acting throughout the show. This is not an easy task when one considers the historic timeframe of the show – the end of a gala era as the Nazis came into power in Germany.

Then, there’s all the issue of anti-Semitism, which is addressed quite pointedly with the number If You Could See Her in which the Emcee serenades and dances with his “partner” – an actress dressed in a gorilla suit and wedding dress.
This performance of Cabaret is, however, far from as dire as the stage appears prior to the show starting. In the beginning, the Kit Kat Klub is shown as it would be after the Nazis took over, but it magically transforms into the glittery, extravagant setting where almost anything is available and possible when the Emcee enters and begins introducing “the beautiful girls and boys.”

The Emcee is brilliantly played by Jason Collins, who morphs from one lavish costume to another while weaving a plot filled with both meaning and entertainment. Collins is beyond flashy, and he maintains the mantle of master showman while keeping the show both inviting and intriguing.

The other principle player who can’t be missed is Billie Wildrick as Sally Bowles. Wildrick dances and sings with a vibrancy that leaves the songs stuck in your head days later. And these two key cast members are brilliantly supported by the other actors, the highly innovative staging and a “house band” that becomes a character in and of itself as it rolls out to center stage on a moving platform from time to time. All of this makes Village Theatre’s performance of Cabaret a show that should not be missed. It’s well worth a drive from Seattle to Issaquah (or next month to Everett).

Cabaret plays at the Village Theatre in Issaquah through July 3 before moving to the Everett Performing Arts Center where it will run from July 10 to August 2.

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Annaleigh Ashford Takes ‘Lost In The Stars,’ Her Glitzy Solo Cabaret, On The Road

Annaleigh Ashford is honored when friends and fans sum up her new cabaret act, “Lost in the Stars,” as “gay magic.”

“There are certain performers that the gay community receives and recognizes with love, and my whole life, I’ve always responded to those same artists,” the 29-year-old singer-actress told The Huffington Post in an interview. She pointed out that the first venue she ever performed in was Denver’s Theatre on Broadway, which was known for its queer-inclusive shows: “I’ve always felt very attuned to, and at home in, the gay community.”

There’s a sassy sensibility in the retro glamour of “Lost in the Stars,” which Ashford is taking on the road with her band, The Whiskey 5, after a string of acclaimed performances at New York’s 54 Below. The star, best known for her Tony-nominated stint in Broadway’s “Kinky Boots” and her portrayal of lesbian prostitute Betty on Showtime’s “Masters of Sex,” is promising audiences in Chicago, Denver, San Francisco and Las Vegas plenty of sequins, sky-high wigs and classic disco.

Of course, Ashford doesn’t limit her material to the late ’70s or, more specifically, the confines of Studio 54. She and musical director Will Van Dyke have crafted an eclectic set including songs by Stephen Sondheim, Elton John, Cyndi Lauper and Alanis Morrisette that they hope will have universal appeal. One highlight is a medley that offers vestiges of Ashford’s musical theater roles, including “Hair,” “Rent,” “Wicked,” “Legally Blonde” and, of course, “Kinky Boots.”

Annaleigh Ashford poses backstage at New York’s 54 Below.

annaleigh ashford

Although her career has taken her down a more thespian path, Ashford sees “Lost in the Stars” as fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming a bonafide cabaret star on the road. Each city on the tour, she says, has special resonance. She was born in Denver, while her husband, actor Joe Tapper, hails from outside Chicago. Meanwhile, she played San Francisco as part of the out-of-town tryout for “Legally Blonde,” and participated in dance competitions in Las Vegas each as an adolescent.

“I grew up listening to cabaret. At 7 and 8 years old, I was already singing like a club performer,” Ashford, who cites “Patti LuPone at Les Mouches” and Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway’s “Sibling Rivalry” as influences, explained. “One of our goals is to bring this art form to a younger audience. I think our generation isn’t as versed on cabaret [as previous generations were], so I think it’s important to expose younger audiences to the art form.”

She and Van Dyke said they aim to keep the show as organic as possible by refreshing or swapping out musical numbers in each new city and “playing a bit off the cuff” throughout.

“She just flies off the handle sometimes, and it’s amazing,” Van Dyke said. “It’s just so fun to be on that ride.”

Ashford would ultimately like to expand the show into a full-scale production of “song, dance and epic storytelling” in the vein of Liza Minnelli’s famed “Liza with a ‘Z’” act. In the meantime, she and Van Dyke plan to produce an album that compiles the best of their live performances on the tour, which they’d like to release this fall.

She also hopes that “Lost in the Stars” will be the first of many cabaret acts, noting that she’s currently listening to a lot of New Orleans jazz, Janet Jackson and ’80s era Bonnie Raitt.

“My ambition for the piece is that you walk out the door with your heart having been touched by at least one song,” she said. “I think that intention has carried us through.”

Annaleigh Ashford and The Whiskey 5 will perform “Lost in the Stars” at Chicago’s Broadway Playhouse on March 21. She plays the Denver Center for the Performing Arts on April 11-12, San Francisco’s Venetian Room April 19 and the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas on June 27-28.

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Barb Jungr On Kicking Off 2015 With Her ‘Mad About The Boy And No Regrets’ Cabaret Show In New York

Barb Jungr likens her show, “Mad About The Boy And No Regrets,” to the act of renewal and, more specifically, “shedding one’s skin,” so it’s only appropriate that her New York engagement kick off at the start of 2015.

When she hits the stage of venerable Manhattan nightspot 54 Below on Jan. 2, the British singer-songwriter, 60, will tackle songs by Bruce Springsteen, Noel Coward, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, among others. Still, she says anyone seeking inspiration as far as resolutions or explicit messages are concerned would be better served elsewhere.

“I don’t ever want to feel that I’ve become a message bearer, other than…I would like there to be joy in the world through the medium of what I do as a musician and an artist,” Jungr told The Huffington Post in an interview. “By excavating what we excavate, we allow the possibility that we can see the whole landscape. “

Jungr, who is of both Czech and German descent, has been labeled a chansonnière in Europe, but her musical interpretations often defy classification stateside. While she was hailed as the “high priestess of cabaret” by Time Out New York, Jungr makes it clear that her aspirations extend into other genres, too.

“I think I’m a cabaret artist and a jazz singer,” she said. “Because I improvise, re-harmonize [and] I deal with music in a certain way, my feet are in jazz. But my sensibility is in cabaret.”

In November 2014, Jungr brought another show, “Hard Rain,” to New York’s 59E59 Theater. Jungr says she sees that show, hailed by The New York Times for its “astounding emotional range,” and her album of the same name as the politically-edged counterparts to “Mad About The Boy,” which was conceived prior to “Hard Rain” and features a fearlessly romantic, though unsentimental, tone.

As both shows evidence, Jungr is perhaps best known for her interpretations of Dylan’s songs. Regarding her tendency to emphasize material written by male singer-songwriters, she noted, “I get to understand things that I don’t necessarily understand. It’s the word made fresh. It’s a revelation to me.“

Above all, Jungr, who says she’s a fan of Eliza Carthy, Gillian Welch and Meghan Trainor among other contemporary female performers, favors material with an edge, even if she doesn’t like to “intellectualize” her set lists too much beforehand.

“I like songs that strip away the stuff, so that when you’re singing them, you access something that goes beyond words and people can also access within themselves — who knows what it is? It’s best we don’t ever try and nail that down,” she said. “But I like a bit of bite to the work. I want a little bit of kicking, a little bit of irreverence. I want a little bit of knickers off and here’s my backside.”

Barb Jungr’s “Mad About The Boy And No Regrets” plays New York’s 54 Below on Jan. 2-4. Head here for more information.

Arts – The Huffington Post
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Theater: Savion Glover Prays; Broadway, Cabaret Stars Praise

SAVION GLOVER — OM ** out of ****
BROADWAY BY THE YEAR 1990-2014 *** out of ****

So much theater is here and then gone in the blink of an eye. Has it really been two and a half years since Newsies opened on Broadway? It closes in August and will rank as one of the few shows (just over 100) in history to run for more than 1000 performances. And yet it seemed to arrive yesterday. That’s even truer for one-time events, limited runs and those precious shows that simply don’t run nearly as long as they should. Before I review a limited run of Savion Glover’s latest and a one-time event that is already history, here are three events coming up.


Most great theater occurs in a few major cities like London and New York as well as on tour. But no matter where you are in the world, this Saturday or Sunday you can watch a free live streaming performance of the radio play Dubliners: A Quartet. Held at the Greene Space — a downtown performance space and home for WNYC and WQXR — it’s an evening of music and song and adaptations of four short stories taken from James Joyce’s classic work Dubliners. This work has already inspired a lovely stage musical and director John Houston’s moving final film. And since the live performances of August Wilson’s Century Cycle at the Greene Space was one of last year’s theatrical highlights, you shouldn’t miss this. And you don’t have to. Anyone can go online and watch a live streaming of the event Saturday night or Sunday afternoon. If you miss that, they’ll be releasing it as a podcast and on-demand video in July. Go here for more info and to see how you can join in this event for free.


If you’re lucky enough to be in NYC this weekend, Friday night features a one-night only performance of The Ambassador Revue, the toast of Paris in 1928. Porter had a Broadway hit that same year appropriately called Paris, a show that featured “Let’s Misbehave” and “Let’s Do It.” That success overshadowed his revue and Porter never looked back…and The Ambassador Revue never played in America till now. Bringing it to life is Tom Wopat, Jason Graae and Amy Burton among others, led by the marvelous Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, specialists in the music of the 1920s and 1930s and the band I’d choose to perform at my wedding. Let’s hope someone is recording this one. Go here for ticket info.


The Ambassador Revue is a rare chance to glimpse musical theater’s past. If you want to glimpse musical theater’s future, head to the National High School Musical Theater Awards on Monday June 30 at 7:30 pm on Broadway at the Minskoff. Winners of competitions held all across the country get to perform on a Broadway stage and compete for the big prize, nicknamed the Jimmy. I attended a recent event that was the culmination of nationwide contests where teens performed monologues by August Wilson and it was great fun. You can check out the nominees (or to be more positive, the winners of their region) right here or hear them strut their stuff on Monday night.

Now on to the reviews.

SAVION GLOVER — OM ** out of ****

If the guest I brought to this performance were writing the review, it would be far less pleasant. “Savion Glover’s a genius! Why should he be bothered to entertain the audience?” asked my friend scathingly. Indeed, several dozen people left during this spiritual journey called Om, which is the antithesis of the delightful, crowd-pleasing STePz, one of my favorite shows of 2013. Indeed, the show seemed intent on making this private meditation as difficult as possible for those attending.

It began late, even though the show starts with a darkened auditorium and a lowered curtain while a lengthy jazz recording (Kenny Garrett’s “Calling,” apparently) played for five or ten minutes. Eventually, the curtain rose to a beautiful setting: a stage filled with candles and yellow lights, scattered with photos of Glover’s spiritual fathers, be they dance legends or religious figures like Gandhi. Five rectangular platforms were grouped towards the front, two roughly near each other at the center, one on stage left and two at an angle on stage right. Glover was on one of the two roughly at center and never moved from it for the entire evening. The lighting stayed dim, he tapped with his usual fluidity and grace and precision and power, and the evening progressed.

At first, we were given a few changes: more dancers arrived and took their places on the other platforms, some songs and chants were played, ranging from a spoken-word piece quoting Psalm 23 to selections from other faiths, a quick cross-cultural survey that captured the world-wide yearning for spirituality and faith. Another tune — which I couldn’t identify — might have been a spiritual or blues (Odetta? Maybe?). For a brief passage early on, all the dancers performed in unison. But then the music focused slowly on a piece (from India, I assume) that lasted for 30 or 40 minutes. Glover’s long-time collaborator Marshall Davis Jr. had more extensive work to due, especially on one concise duet but he left the stage for lengthy periods. The other dancers had literally nothing to do, posing in place, assuming spiritual or meditative poses, hitting a chime, moving briefly and then posing for minutes at a time and so on. Especially unfortunate were the disciples who came out and sat at their feet like adoring acolytes.

As the one piece of music went on and on — Glover dancing with his usual inventive brilliance — the static nature of the evening wore on you. It was almost rude if not self-indulgent to see so many talented dancers allowed only the most cursory moments to perform but otherwise be simply decorative. It was like a jazz combo filled with talented artists but most of the concert included only a drum solo while the other artists simply stood there and watched.

And yet I feel inclined to take Glover at his word. Perhaps this was a meditation best left in the rehearsal room or his private dance space, but surely it was sincere if misguided. He has often spoken of his increasing fascination with the percussive, rhythmic, musical nature of tap. And this evening focused on it like never before. The subdued lighting and almost entire lack of movement left you little else to focus on but the sound of his tapping. And it did indeed achieve moments of engaged, focus brilliance. I’ve listened to recordings of Fred Astaire with a jazz combo, singing his songs and then soloing on tap, which sounds silly. (Just listening to someone dance?) But it makes sense when it’s so musical and well-thought out…and lasting for brief passages in a song that usually lasts three or four minutes at most.

Glover was surely preaching to the converted here. But the best ministers know how to vary their sermons and mix in humor and stories and wisdom with the strong stuff of salvation and sin. With Om, Glover ended up talking to himself, leaving those hoping for uplift with the awkward feeling that he’s already been saved and in the Rapture and we’ve been left behind.

BROADWAY BY THE YEAR 1990-2014 *** out of ****

Impresario Scott Siegel caps off his celebration of Broadway By The Year with this recap of key songs from the past 25 years of musical theater. If it wasn’t as great as the three earlier editions, well, surely that’s because the past 25 years haven’t been nearly as good as the 1930s and the 1950s and the 1970s. You can choose the best song from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects Of Love or Lysistrata Jones or Miss Saigon, but they’re still not going to be very good, are they? Time and again, as they worked their way from 1990 to 2014’s Beautiful, you saw Siegel wisely ask a Broadway or cabaret star to tackle a tune that may have appeared in a Broadway show in the past two and a half decades, but actually originated from a much more fertile time period in the past. Hence he cleverly padded the evening with “The Acid Queen”, “Fools Fall In Love,” “Sing Sing Sing,” “The Winner Takes It All,” “Stormy Weather” and “Fever.” Great songs that were born in the last 25 years? Nope. And thank goodness.

If you’re not familiar with Broadway By The Year, it’s an ongoing series. Traditionally, they tackle one year from Broadway and a rotating cast of Broadway greats, rising talent and cabaret stars perform some of the best gems of the year along with lesser-known fare that has unjustly slipped from view. This year, Siegel celebrated the series’ ongoing vitality by tackling 100 years with 100 stars over four nights. They’ll do it again next year, since of course the riches of Broadway make this an easy parlor game to play without having to scrape the barrel…at least until you hit the 1990s and noughts, apparently.

Like any evening of this sort, the evening was mixed bag, though Siegel’s venture always brings out the cockeyed optimist in me. Misfires like Lucas Steele’s misguided spin on ABBA’s “The Winner Takes If All” from Mamma Mia and Natalie Toro’s melodramatic spin on “With One Look” from Sunset Boulevard were easily outweighed by the pluses. Two dance pieces were lots of fun, though oddly they almost followed one another in the first act. Still, Mark Stuart and Mindy Wallace were fun in “Libertango” and Jimmy Sutherland was an excellent last minute replacement on “Sing Sing Sing.”

Siegel always helps you make some discoveries, thanks to showcasing the talent he finds in another of his many ventures, Broadway’s Rising Stars. (The next one presents the cream of the crops from the top arts programs and takes place July 14 at Town Hall.) For me, the ringer was the performer with the wonderfully absurd name of Oakley Boycott. She was a gangly, notably tall and eye-catching presence when the Broadway By The Year chorus took a spin through “Seasons Of Love” from Rent. But she really wowed when doing the comic number “He Vas My Boyfriend” from the ungainly Mel Brooks musical Young Frankenstein. Boycott nailed this number (easily the best in that show), milking every laugh like a seasoned pro.

When they turn Robert Altman’s movie Popeye into a Broadway musical, Boycott simply must play Olive Oyl. (Speaking of casting of future shows, Jeremy Morse tackled “Santa Fe” from Newsies but I spent his entire performance thinking, this guy has to play Mickey Rooney…or at least the lead in a revival of Babe In Arms. ) Another find — for me — was Jenn Gambatese, who sang “You Walk With Me” from The Full Monty with a lovely voice and a direct simplicity that was disarming. She’s starred in the Broadway musicals Tarzan and All Shook Up and clearly deserves better. And cabaret performer William Blake was a tonic, a truly unique voice that straddles the line between male and female. But this is no crooning, ambisexual Chet Baker; he’s a wickedly forceful personality who enlivened “Fever” by daring us to laugh with him as he sashayed and powered his way through that Peggy Lee standard.

Adam Jacobs of Aladdin proved he’s got the goods, giving his all to a so-so number from Miss Saigon, which remains as uninteresting to me as Les Miserables is strong. And Rory O’Malley was very funny with “I’m Not That Smart” from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. But the ladies were strongest: Jeannette Bayardelle did acrobatics through “Fools Fall In Love,” NaTasha Yvette Williams did indeed stop the show with the always pointed and hilarious “Stop The Show” from Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, and Terri White was a no-nonsense, astringent delight with “Stormy Weather.”

But as so often happens, I’ll be thinking longest about Bobby Steggert and his effortlessly charming performance of “What More Can I Say?” from Falsettos. That William Finn musical is clearly ready to be revived — at least in concert — and who better to tackle the role of Marvin then Steggert? If they can’t get Giant to Broadway (and they should), hopefully Steggert will get a chance to shine in this show. For the lucky few who caught the latest edition of Siegel’s event, they got the chance to see Steggert perform a great number from Broadway’s past and perhaps, just perhaps, see a glimpse of what might be in the very near future.


Beautiful: The Carole King Musical ***
Rodney King ***
Hard Times ** 1/2
Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead **
I Could Say More *
The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner **
Machinal ***
Outside Mullingar ***
A Man’s A Man * 1/2
The Tribute Artist ** 1/2
Transport **
Prince Igor at the Met **
The Bridges Of Madison County ** 1/2
Kung Fu (at Signature) **
Stage Kiss ***
Satchmo At The Waldorf ***
Antony and Cleopatra at the Public **
All The Way ** 1/2
The Open House (Will Eno at Signature) ** 1/2
Wozzeck (at Met w Deborah Voigt and Thomas Hampson and Simon O’Neill)
Hand To God ***
Tales From Red Vienna **
Appropriate (at Signature) *
Rocky * 1/2
Aladdin ***
Mothers And Sons **
Les Miserables *** 1/2
Breathing Time * 1/2
Cirque Du Soleil’s Amaluna * 1/2
Heathers The Musical * 1/2
Red Velvet, at St. Ann’s Warehouse ***
Broadway By The Year 1940-1964 *** 1/2
A Second Chance **
Guys And Dolls *** 1/2
If/Then * 1/2
The Threepenny Opera * 1/2
A Raisin In The Sun *** 1/2
The Heir Apparent *** 1/2
The Realistic Joneses ***
Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar & Grill ***
The Library **
South Pacific ** 1/2
Violet ***
Bullets Over Broadway **
Of Mice And Men **
The World Is Round ***
Your Mother’s Copy Of The Kama Sutra **
Hedwig and the Angry Inch ***
The Cripple Of Inishmaan ***
The Great Immensity * 1/2
Casa Valentina ** 1/2
Act One **
Inventing Mary Martin **
Cabaret ***
An Octoroon *** 1/2
Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging ***
Here Lies Love *** 1/2
6th Annual August Wilson Monologue Competition
Sea Marks * 1/2
A Time-Traveler’s Trip To Niagara * 1/2
Selected Shorts: Neil Gaiman ***
Too Much Sun * 1/2
Broadway By The Year 1965-1989 ***
In The Park **
The Essential Straight & Narrow ** 1/2
Much Ado About Nothing ***
When We Were Young And Unafraid
Savion Glover’s Om **
Broadway By The Year 1990-2014 ***


Thanks for reading. Michael Giltz is the founder and CEO of the forthcoming website BookFilter, a book lover’s best friend. It’s a website that lets you browse for books online the way you do in a physical bookstore, provides comprehensive info on new releases every week in every category and offers passionate personal recommendations every step of the way. It’s like a fall book preview or holiday gift guide — but every week in every category. He’s also the cohost of Showbiz Sandbox, a weekly pop culture podcast that reveals the industry take on entertainment news of the day and features top journalists and opinion makers as guests. It’s available for free on iTunes. Visit Michael Giltz at his website and his daily blog. Download his podcast of celebrity interviews and his radio show, also called Popsurfing and also available for free on iTunes.

Note: Michael Giltz is provided with free tickets to shows with the understanding that he will be writing a review. All productions are in New York City unless otherwise indicated.
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Cabaret: Everybody Loves A Winner Once

I read Michael Riedel’s column in last Friday’s New York Post with the kind of dumbfounded look I have on my face when I see really bad theater that somehow made it to Broadway. I thought: “Could anyone possibly think Cabaret should be eligible for a Tony Award for Best Revival? Could anyone think Michelle Williams would be ineligible?”

As I have written many times, the Tony Awards Administration Committee does what it wants. The rules it is tasked with interpreting are often unclear. In fact, I looked and could not find in the rules language that would explicitly deny Cabaret eligibility. However it seems ridiculous to me that it would be considered. This is a carbon copy production. Roundabout even announced it as such. As per the Roundabout website: “One of Broadway’s greatest productions returns! Alan Cumming (“The Good Wife,” Roundabout’s The Threepenny Opera) reprises his Tony®-winning performance in Sam Mendes (Skyfall, American Beauty) and Rob Marshall’s (Nine and Chicago, the films) Tony-winning production of Cabaret.” That’s right, this production already has its Tony. It should not be able to receive another one.

There is sadly precedent for it being eligible. Some of which is from long ago, some of which from not so long ago. The 1976 and 1981 revivals of My Fair Lady come to mind–both nominated for Best Revival (or whatever it was called during those times). The last Les Miserables revival was essentially a remount of the original production, yet it scored a Best Revival nomination anyway. And this issue has actually come up with regards to Cabaret before–the nominated 1987 revival was mostly faithful to the original production (including having the same Master of Ceremonies, which probably sounds familiar by now), but at least it had slight design team differences. Here, according to Roundabout itself, the company is simply bringing back its Tony winner.

What are the Tonys here for if not to honor theatrical creativity? What creativity is there in remounting a production at its original home? A play or musical is not eligible for the Best Play or Musical award if it substantially duplicates a previously presented play or musical. Why is a revival that exactly duplicates a revival capable of being nominated? (The “substantial duplication” language was created to keep producers from claiming barely revised work was “new.” It says that a play or musical can be eligible if it contains “substantially duplicate elements of productions” but only if “the duplicated and the original elements, in their totality, create a new play or musical.” While it was not created for this purpose, I believe its logic holds here. This is not a new revival.)

However, whatever the Administration Committee decides to do with Cabaret as a production, Williams and other new cast members will likely be eligible. “Regardless of whether a production of a play or musical is eligible for a Best Revival category, the elements of the production shall be eligible in those categories in which said elements do not, in the judgment of the Tony Awards Administration Committee, substantially duplicate any prior presentation of the play or musical…” So says the Tony rules. This wording has allowed many actors to be eligible in the past, including Christina Ricci for Time Stands Still and the actors from the return engagement of White Christmas. There has been no change in the language of the rule in recent years. Excluding Williams and her costars (with the exception of Cumming) from the nominations would be an unnecessary slight.

And so it goes every year – there is a fuzzy grey area and the Tony Administration Committee steps in. Last year they broke with tradition and went out on their own a little bit, defying some producers. I hope that continues with regards to Cabaret. A facsimile should not be treated as an award-worthy new entry in the theatrical landscape.
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Robin De Jesús Talks ‘Crush To Crushed’ Cabaret Show At New York’s 54 Below

Robin De Jesús has Olympic dreams, at least when it comes to harboring crushes.

“I’ve always had a thing for [U.S. speed skater] Apolo Anton Ohno,” the two-time Tony Award nominee (“In The Heights,” “La Cage aux Folles”) quips. “I have a thing for legs … guys with good quads, calves. Anyone who’s in a constant plié or squat is good by me.”

Infatuation is just one of the many aspects of love De Jesús will explore onstage in “Crush to Crushed,” his new musical act which premieres Nov. 24 at New York’s 54 Below. Still, audiences expecting an evening of Broadway standards with valentine lyrics might be in for a surprise; De Jesús also promises pop, soul and Spanish tunes that not only emphasize romance, but also “the random things that happen afterward.”

Once he began compiling material for the show, the 29-year-old actor took to Facebook, where he asked friends and followers for both their favorite love and breakup songs. Though he soon found that somber ballads about heartbreak comprised the majority of the responses, De Jesús nonetheless hopes “Crush to Crushed” shows “the positive side” of ending relationships, with a solid dose of comedy.

“I think relationships are so amazing, so beautiful and so great to be in … but so are breakups,” De Jesús says. “It’s not just about falling in and out of love, it’s…about the first time your significant other meets your family and your friends, sex and marriage equality. I feel like I’m trying to do the work of both Oprah and Gayle [King].”

De Jesús won’t disclose many of the show’s specifics, though he crooned “I Can Do Better Than That” from Jason Robert Brown’s 2002 musical “The Last Five Years” and a song by up-and-coming composer Blake Pfeil at a press preview of the show in late October. Although a planned mashup of a Patti LuPone standard with a Jay-Z hit (inspired by the actor’s recently-wrapped run in Ben Rimalower’s “Patti Issues”) didn’t make the cut, De Jesús hopes to apply a similarly tongue-in-cheek approach to other musical theater chestnuts throughout “Crush to Crushed.”

“I really want to do a sex medley based on [Rodgers and Hammerstein’s] ‘Carousel,’” De Jesús, who can currently be seen alongside Jeff Goldbum and Laurie Metcalf in Bruce Norris’s “Domesticated” at Lincoln Center, says. “If you listen to the lyrics of ‘Carousel’ and take them out of context, they can be very sexual.”

Robin De Jesús plays New York’s 54 Below on Nov. 24 and 25. Check here for more information.

Arts – The Huffington Post
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