All Articles Tagged "Broadway"
The Broadway community is mourning the unexpected loss of one of its promising stars. Actor Kyle Jean-Baptiste, who made history as the first African-American to play Jean Valjean in the famed Les Miserables Broadway play, died after falling off his mother’s fire escape. Jean-Baptiste was only 21.
Broadway World confirmed Jean-Baptiste’s passing in a statement from production spokesman Marc Thibodeau: “The entire Les Miserables family is shocked and devastated by the sudden and tragic loss of Kyle, a remarkable young talent and tremendous person who made magic — and history — in his Broadway debut. We send our deepest condolences to his family and ask that you respect their privacy in this unimaginably difficult time.”
Jean-Baptiste began his career as an understudy, and later stepped into the role becoming the youngest actor to do so. The young star described playing Valjean as a “dream role.”
“This Last Heartbreak Was Really Hard”: Brandy Finally Opens Up About Ending Engagement To Ryan Press
I’ve been a huge Brandy fan since I was a kid. I’m talking way before Moesha. I’ve been a fan since I could barely understand what the hell she was talking about when she was singing “I Wanna Be Down.” So having the chance to finally meet her last week was pretty huge for me. I wasn’t chatting with the star because of any new music, or anything that has to do with the final season of The Game. Instead, the singer invited press to the rehearsals for her new role as Roxie Hart in Chicago on Broadway. Brandy will make her Broadway debut on Tuesday, April 28 and her run will continue through Sunday, June 21. Based on the moves she showed off during rehearsal (see at the bottom of the page), we know she’s going to knock ’em dead.
In my brief moments with the star, I picked her brain about a little bit of everything: Why she chose to make her Broadway debut in Chicago and NOT Cinderella (shhh don’t tell anybody, but she still hopes someone will make her a fairy godmother if the show ever returns to Broadway); if we will see her on Empire soon since Jussie Smollett has been vouching for her and she’s been spotted hanging with Lee Daniels; Tara Wallace and Amina Buddafly remaking “The Boy is Mine“; and how she managed to move forward after ending her engagement to former fiancé Ryan Press. Here’s what she had to say.
Why She Wanted To Play Roxie Hart
I love Chicago! I think it’s such a great story. It’s edgy. It’s a musical and you know I love music. I just think Roxie is somebody different, and feisty, and colorful. And I’ve played feisty before! But this is a different feisty, a 1920s feisty. I just love her songs like “Me and My Baby” and “Roxie.” She just has great songs and I’m excited. I love her lines. Her lines are cool too.
If She’ll Appear On “Empire” Anytime Soon
I love Jussie! Jussie is so supportive. I just love that kid and I’m so happy for him. I would love to be on Empire! I have hung out with Lee Daniels. Tasha Smith is one of my best friends. Jussie love me to death. I love Taraji, she’s one of my favorite actresses. So why not?! I can sing! I can act a little bit! C’mon ya’ll! Put me on Empire!
Her Thoughts On Tara And Amina Remaking “The Boy Is Mine”
Loooord. Okay, first of all, they shouldn’t be fighting over no man. I’m sorry I set that type of an example [laughs]. They’re strong and beautiful women and they deserve to be happy without all of that drama. And please don’t bring “The Boy Is Mine” into it! I feel responsible! [laughs]
How She Found Happiness Again After Split From Ryan Press
It took a while. It really did take a while. This last heartbreak was really hard, you know what I mean? It’s time. I just made a decision that even through heartbreak, you have to affirm that all will be well and in time you will feel better. And I feel better. I feel great! I feel strong. And I love it. I want everyone to feel strong because that’s when you can do it all–when you feel like you can.
2014 Cinderella Production Photos by Carol Rosegg
It was a Cinderella moment for everyone as Keke Palmer took the stage at the Broadway Theatre in New York City. Less than a month into Keke’s run as the first African-American to step into the title role and glass slippers of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, my daughter and I were invited to see the show.
As we sat front and center (much thanks to the ticket fairy!), anticipation was building in the theater while was filled with many adults, but even more little girls, dressed in their Broadway show finest. Frilly skirts abounded and giggles filled the air as we waited for the show to begin. I’d been to Broadway show’s before (in fact, I saw ‘The Color Purple’ years ago in this same theater) but nothing can match the excitement felt knowing that Keke was making history and we were all about to watch it happen.
As she hit the stage, Keke’s voice boomed. We’ve heard her sing before–she’s known for her YouTube videos where she covers songs from her bedroom, as well as the music she has released, and TV shows–but this Broadway stage singer is something else. Keke sounded amazing.
Sherri Shepherd joins Palmer as the first black woman to play Cinderella’s wicked stepmother, Madame. We all love Sherri as a (former) host on ‘The View’ but it was especially nice to see her playing evil and having fun with it.
Palmer and Shepherd have been flooded with messages of support on their social media platforms, but during an interview with Chris Witherspoon for MSNBC.com, the ladies revealed how they have handled skeptics and naysayers of their groundbreaking roles.
“I see the [negative comments] on Instagram and stuff like that, and I expected it because I am a film and TV actress. I had never done anything in the Broadway realm or in the theater realm at all,” Palmer said. “I know a lot of people were thinking, ‘She didn’t really audition for it, or she just was given the role.’ But I really did audition for it. I had to learn the lines, the music, I had to dance in that audition room… I worked my behind off.”
“Keke gets in there, and she infuses Cinderella with something so different than you’ve ever seen before,” said Shepherd.
The show, which runs for two hours, is an entertaining and fun ride–with a few new plot twists. Parents will enjoy it, but the little girls–especially little brown girls–who see this show, like my daughter will be changed and inspired forever.
As my daughter impatiently shifted in her seat before the show started, she turned to me and said,” Pay attention mom, we’re about to see history.” And so we did.
For tickets, visit CinderellaOnBroadway. The final performance on Broadway is January 3, 2015, and NeNe Leakes joins the cast (replacing Sherri Shepherd) on November 25.
#GoMommy: Cinderella On Broadway
Bippity, Boppity, Boo: Sherri Shepherd & NeNe Leakes Vy For Fairy Godmother Role In Broadway’s Cinderella
Could TV personality and comedienne Sherri Shepherd or reality TV star and sometime actress NeNe Leakes be coming to Broadway? Rumor has it that both of the ladies are competing for the role of Fairy Godmother in the Broadway musical Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.
According to Radar Online, sources claim that both Shepherd and Leakes really want the part and have already auditioned for the next casting of the musical, which was revived in 2013 for the stage. Typically, this version of Cinderella has always appeared as a TV movie special. First with Julie Andrews in 1957, then with Lesley Ann Warren in 1965 and finally with Brandy in 1997.
In this most recent Broadway revival, the role of fairy godmother has been played by Rebecca Luker and Victoria Clark, who is currently playing the part.
Having seen this production, which I highly recommend, I remember that this part called for quite a bit of singing. The fairy godmother sings the song “There’s Music in You.” And if you heard Whitney sing it back in 1997, you know that that is no small feat. I don’t think either Sherri or NeNe could pull that off. They would have to cut that whole number entirely–and believe me, it’s chill inducing.
Reportedly, Keke Palmer is also in talks to become the next Cinderella, which we would totally support.
If I put my concerns about their singing to the side, I think I’d prefer to see Sherri over NeNe. But that’s just me.
What do you think, would you want to see either Sherri or NeNe in this role?
And just because it’s so great, I’ve embedded Whitney singing “There’s Music in You” from the 1997 version of “Cinderella.” She was absolutely amazing.
Those are some big shoes to fill.
Despite seven Tony nominations, a win for best choreography and an opening performance on Tony night that brought the house down, the Broadway jazz revue “After Midnight“ will perform its final show on Sunday, June 29.
The show opened on October 18, 2013 to strong reviews. By the time it ends, it will have had 19 previews and 272 regular performances. The show consists of about two dozen musical numbers and 17 musicians from Jazz at Lincoln Center, all inspired by music of the 1930s. There’s also been a rotating group of star singers such as Fantasia Barrino, k.d. lang, Toni Braxton, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and Vanessa Williams. Dule Hill, of TV’s Psych, is the emcee. Patti LaBelle will appear on stage through the 29th.
Box office take was the big issue. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the show had its biggest box office receipts during Christmas week with $891,410. As of Sunday, June 8, the show’s total take was $19.2 million. Producer Scott Sanders told The New York Times that there will be an effort to take the show on the road for a traveling tour. (We spoke with Sanders about diversity on Broadway for a pre-Tonys feature story here.)
The Tony Awards was important to the fortunes of a number of shows, which normally see a bump after a win. “A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder” saw increased ticket sales after taking home four trophies, taking in reportedly $900,000 the week after. The week before the awards were handed out, “Beautiful,” the Carol King show, “A Gentleman’s Guide,” “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” starring award winner Neil Patrick Harris, and “Aladdin” all had tremendous weeks, with each show besides “A Gentleman’s Guide” taking in more than $1 million. All of those shows were nominated for multiple awards and won on awards night.
“With the Tonys out of the way, it now remains to be seen just how much momentum the winning shows will be able to hold onto in the coming weeks,” Variety wrote a couple weeks back.
In the weeks since, one other show has announced it will be closing after failing to get a boost from the awards. “Mothers and Sons” starring Tyne Daly will close on June 22 after two months of only playing to a half-full theater. Daly had been nominated for her performance, and it was nominated for Best Play.
Separately but related, “Holler If Ya Hear Me,” the new musical inspired by Tupac Shakur’s music has been trying to stand out in previews post-Tonys. That show opens officially on June 19. In that aforementioned story about diversity on Broadway, we also spoke with Tony-winning director (for the “A Raisin in the Sun”) Kenny Leon. Click that story for more from Leon.
h/t The Huffington Post. Ann Brown contributed to this story.
For the most part, a lot of the celebrity names and faces we know are from movies, television shows, or music, and while these celebrities typically stick to their own niche, there are some who have ventured out into other realms of entertainment such as Broadway — or who actually got their start there. In honor on the Tony Awards airing this Sunday, we take a look at 14 celebrities who starred on Broadway and deserve major kudos.
The legendary music and dance show Soul Train is in the news a lot lately. Nelson George’s new book The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture & Style, covering the influences of the program that ran from 1971 to 2006, is well on its way to bestseller status. And now comes word the world that Soul Train may become fodder for Broadway.
Stage and film producer Matthew Weaver has acquired the theatrical stage rights to the TV show, reports The Grio. He’s says he wants to repeat the success he had with his last production, Rock of Ages.
“I’m nervous and I’m humbled and I’m excited,” said Weaver, heads of production firm MediaWeaver Entertainment. “I do think we’re the right people to do it because I think it’s got to have that spirit of ‘Rock of Ages,’ which is part old-fashioned musical but also part party.”
For 35 years people tuned in not only to see popular artists, mainly R&B, perform but also to checkout the fashions of the Soul Train dancers and of course to be up on the latest dances. Everyone from James Brown, to Ike and Tina Turner and Hall & Oates, to Whitney Houston, David Bowie, and Run D.M.C. appeared on the program.
Don Cornelius debuted the show in 1970 in Chicago and served as its host until 1993. Soul Train went into syndication from 1971 until 2006 and branched off an awards show that is still produced. Cornelius committed suicide in 2012.
Weaver, who says while growing up in New York he watched Soul Train every Saturday morning, plans to hire a writer and get music rights.
“To me, that’s the heart of Soul Train — a great story and great characters. The music will be great, the fashion will be great, the ambiance, the vibe. But if you don’t have a good story, none of that means anything,” says Weaver, who also produced such films as We’re the Millers and The Heartbreak Kid. His Rock of Ages is now an international brand, with a film version, three national tours and productions of the show in Las Vegas, London, Australia, Toronto, Japan and South Korea.
Would you like to see Soul Train as a Broadway production?
The upcoming Broadway musical inspired by Tupac Shakur songs will star Saul Williams, the poet and singer best known for the film “Slam.”
Producers said this week the rest of the cast of “Holler If Ya Hear Me” will include Tonya Pinkins, Christopher Jackson, Saycon Sengbloh, Ben Thompson and John Earl Jelks.
The musical is not a biography of Shakur but uses his songs to explore the story of two friends who live in a low-income neighborhood in the Midwest. It will feature “California Love,” ”Keep Ya Head Up,” and “Me Against the World.”
Read more about Tupac’s Musical at BlackVoices.com
Actor Norm Lewis has done something no one else has done. Lewis has become Broadway’s first black “Phantom Of The Opera.” He will officially take over the title role in the Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera at Majestic Theatre on May 12.
“People have been very excited about it,” Lewis told The Vulture, “and I think it will get people — especially producers and directors and the creative staff — to look deeper into a role, especially in a show that’s universal and doesn’t talk about race.”
Scandal fans may recognize Lewis. He most recently played Olivia Pope’s ex-fiancé Edison Davis on the show. Of Phantom, Lewis says it’s “a dream role and for a couple of reasons. Mainly I love the show, but actually [it sets] a precedent. Out of 26 years, there’s never been an African-American or someone of color to play the role on Broadway.” While Lewis will be the first black actor in the role on Broadway, Robert Guillaume played the role in the Los Angeles production in 1990. “I know there’s a lot of talented African-Americans, and even if it wasn’t me, I wanted someone to be able to do it,” said Lewis.
This, however, is a major first. The Phantom of the Opera has been running on Broadway for more than 25 years, reports The Los Angeles Times. The mega popular Andrew Lloyd Webber musical started its Broadway run in 1988. During this time, Phantom has completed more than 10,000 performances on Broadway.
Lewis isn’t new to The Great White Way. He starred as Porgy in the recent Tony Award-winning production of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess and has appeared in the Broadway casts of Les Miserables and Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
Remember we told you that Oprah and Audra McDonald would star in the revival of the Broadway play, night, Mother? We told you that the play wouldn’t hit the stage until 2015 or 2016 because both women had already been committed to other things in the coming years.
Turns out, McDonald will be taking on the role of legendary singer Billie Holiday in the play Lady Day at Emerson Bar & Grill.
The play relives Holiday’s last performance which took place four months before her death at just 44 years old.
McDonald has had a very successful Broadway career that has included not only work but recognition. She’s won give Tonys for her roles in Porgy and Bess, Ragtime, Carousel and A Raisin in the Sun, Master Class. If critics appreciate this performance she could win a whole new award, best leading actress in a play. If she does win, she’ll become the most honored woman on Broadway.
The run dates for the show have yet to be announced but they expect it will play at the Circle in the Square Theatre.
Does this sound like a play you’d be interested in seeing?