Spotlight: The Broadway Buzz

We love musical classics like West Side Story and Phantom of the Opera, but we also love the fact that new catchy musical visions are being brought to life too.

 

As we strongly believe Cape Town to be the next Broadway or West End (the potential is definitely there, and Niall Griffin predicts a CPT theatre boom within 5 years!), it is always good to keep a finger on the pulse of international trends too.

 

So here is a round-up of musical developments that have caught our eyes (and ears)…

 

Hamilton – An American Musical

The story of "America then told by America now", Hamilton opened on Broadway to rave reviews this year. Described as a musical about “the ten-dollar Founding Father without a father” this production with book, music and lyrics by Tony Award-winning Lin Manual Miranda opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on 6 August 2015.

 

Through hip-hop narratives and rap-battles, it tells the story of Alexander Hamilton: an inspirational immigrant, financial visionary and the man on the $10 bill, the youngest of the American founders and a man who worked his way out of poverty to help build the American dream.

 

Directed by Thomas Kail, it also sees Miranda as the title role star. Ben Brantley of The New York Times has reported Hamilton as “making its own resonant history by changing the language of musicals”. Do yourself a theatre favour and read a summary of the reviews on BroadwayWorld.com.

 

Here is a bit of 'the making of' Hamilton to grab your attention:

 

Allegiance

Although not a “new” musical in the true sense, having had its world premiere in 2012 at the Old Vic Theatre, Allegiance is set to make a stir as a new Broadway musical when it opens on 1 September 2015.

 

Sold as a true story based musical inspired by the life experiences of the Star Trek and Heroes star George Takei, Allegiance follows one family’s extraordinary journey in this untold American story. Telly Leung (Glee) and Lea Salonga (Mulan) star alongside George Takei himself in this “One Family, Indivisible” production.

 

In short, the story sees Sam (Leung) and his sister Kei (Salonga) striving to fight for the rights of their people and trying to save their family from imprisonment during World War II. The one enlists in the army, while the other joins a resistance group and trade the farmlands of California for the wastelands of Wyoming and the battlefields of Europe, with divided loyalties threatening to tear them apart… but is it ever to late forgive and believe in the power of love?

 

Here are some highlights from its run at the Old Vic Theatre:

 

Waitress the Musical

Broadway has also gotten its first glimpse at Waitress the Musical starring Kessie Meuller, Keala Settle and Jeanne de Waal. This new production will officially open during their 2016 spring season. BroadwayWorld.com gives this summary:

 

“Jenna, a waitress and expert pie maker, is stuck in a small town and a loveless marriage. When a baking contest in a nearby county offers her a chance at escape, Jenna must weigh her commitments against a rare shot at freedom and recognition. Her customers, co-workers, and the town's handsome new doctor all offer her conflicting recipes for happiness - but Jenna must ultimately decide for herself. Featuring music and lyrics by Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles ("Brave," "Love Song") and directed by Diane Paulus (Pippin, Finding Neverland), this poignant and uplifting new musical celebrates talent hiding in the most unlikely places.”

 

Sara Bareilles?! We’re sold and will definitely be stalking this one on YouTube, Facebook and wherever our musical loving hearts can track this Broadway journey.

 

Get your first rehearsal sneak peek:

 

Finding Neverland

“Think of happy thoughts and you’ll fly.”

 

Matthew Morrison of Glee fame sure seems to be flying all the way to Broadway stardom as the famed author of Peter Pan, JM Barrie in this hit musical, based on the Johnny Depp movie of the same and the book that inspired it. The show, with music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy, opened at Lunt Fontanne Theater in March 2015.

 

First staged in Leicester, England, in 2012 and the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2014, the Broadway version sees director Diane Paulus effortlessly bring the story of how Barrie met and was inspired by a young widow and her four young sons to write the renowned Peter Pan tale.

 

Though this production may have come under fire for not being a true representation of the movie, Time Magazine’s Richard Zoglin considers that a blessing: 

 

“The stage version is less saccharine and less dragged out. It strikes me as the very model of a modern family musical: briskly told, brightly staged, with a score (by British rocker Gary Barlow) as tuneful as one could expect from a show set in turn-of-the-century London that’s not by Gilbert and Sullivan.” Read his full review on time.com.

 

Seeing is believing, so experience the Peter Pan magic here:

 

On Your Feet

Another biopic musical giving fans itchy feet and the urge to break out in song is the highly anticipated On Your Feet, based on the life story of Latino super star and Grammy Award winner Gloria Estefan and her husband Emilio.

 

Billed as a show about “two people who believed in their talent, their music and each other and became an international sensation”, On Your Feet features some of the most iconic songs of the past quarter century, including “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” “Conga,” “Get on Your Feet,” “Don’t Want to Lose You,” “1-2-3,” and “Coming Out of the Dark.

 

Currently doing its pre-Broadway run in Chicago, this show, directed by Two-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots), with choreography by Olivier Award winner Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys) and an original book by Academy Award winner Alexander Dinelaris (Birdman) has critics all hot and bothered in a good way.

 

“What I think I loved most about the show is that is truly depicts the heart and soul of Latin American family values, humour, and the perseverance to achieve the American dream”, says the Daily Herald’s Diana Martinez.

 

Feel the heat of On Your Feet, which hits Broadway in October:

 

Spring Awakening

A revival of the 2006 Broadway hit, starring Glee superstars Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff, Spring Awakening will make it welcome New York City return as a Deaf West Theatre production in September 2015.

 

Based on Franz Wedekind's 1891 play with music, Spring Awakening boldly depicts how young people navigate the thrilling, confusing and mysterious time of their sexual awakening. The story centers around a brilliant young student named Melchior, his troubled friend Moritz and Wendla, a beautiful young girl on the verge of womanhood. Being big Glee fans, we can only imagine how amazing Lea and Jonathan must have been in this musical back in 2006 and we’re sorry we missed it!

 

Deaf West’s 2015 production, which is a re-imagining of their 2014 show and features both deaf and hearing actors, incorporates 19th century-appropriate aspects of oralism in deaf education to complement the themes of miscommunication, lack of proper sex education, and denial of voice.

 

This year’s show will star Hollywood actress Marlee Matlin, and be directed by Michael Arden, Spring Awakening will run at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

 

Enjoy this glimpse into Spring Awakening here:

 

Got any new or revival musicals you’re keen to see and think we should know about? Drop us a line at theatrescenecpt@gmail.com or tweet us about it. See you at a Cape Town musical soon!

 

 

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