Archive for the ‘BROADWAY’ Tag



This year at the age of 82, 64 years after making her debut on Broadway, Chita Rivera will once again be on stage in New York city starring in the lead role in the musical “The Visit”. Between the two shows she did 38 other musicals of which I saw her in 16 of them.

An old cliché that was true took place when she accompanied a friend who was auditioning for a role in “Call Me Madam”, a Ethel Merman show, and she got the role.

Along with Gwen Verdon the two of them are/were the most admired dancers on The Great White Way with both Donna McKechnie and Ann Reiking crediting them with their success. In 1957 she cemented her fame as a musical Broadway star playing Anita in “West Side Story”.  The same role would bring an equal amount of fame to Rita Moreno though the reason given for not casting Chita in the film is/was ridiculous.

In 1986 Rivera was in a car accident in Manhattan that broke her leg in 12 places. Between 18 screws and intense rehabilitation she proved every one wrong when they said she wouldn’t dance again! In 1988 she starred on Broadway in “Kiss Of The Spider Woman” winning another Tony nomination.

Sadly she didn’t get a chance to play the leads on film that she played in the original stage productions of “Chicago” and “Bye Bye Birdie” though she did have a cameo in the former.

Chita Rivera was the first Hispanic, and the first Latino woman, to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2009) and the Kennedy Center Honors (2002). She has been nominated for 9 Tony awards, winning 2, and in 2013 had the honor of being the Grand Marshall in the Puerto Rican Day Parade.

I briefly met her when she played in “Can Can” at  the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Florida and she was all a fan could expect.

I am sure, as she always has, Chita Rivera will win accolades, and probably a 10th Tony nomination, when “The Visit” opens on Broadway in May.

And a must watch–her receiving the Kennedy Center honors and those who honored her!

Posted April 6, 2015 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT

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In 1959 Berry Gordy borrowed $800 from his family and started Hitsville U.S.A. which lead to what the whole world would know as the Motown sound. The hits and careers kept on coming introducing  all of us to Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight,etc., just part of a never ending list.

Tonight I am going to the opening of the First National tour of the Broadway musical “Motown The Musical” at the Broward Performing Arts Center here in Fort Lauderdale. Imagine listening to 60 songs, songs that touched most of our lives, in a show written by the founder Berry Gordy. Whether it is a glimpse of  the 4 Tops, the Jackson 5 or a full out the Commodores, I know many memories of my past will come back unless I just forget all that, sit back relax and just listen to good music because that is what Motown brought us.

Have a favorite tune by one of the many artists who made up the Motown sound? Let me know and I will let you know if it is in the show.

Posted February 24, 2015 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, THEATRE REVIEW

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OFF TO SEE “DISNEY’S NEWSIES”   Leave a comment

I am going to be busy having fun seeing “Disney’s Newsies–the Musical” at the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center in Miami where it will be until Sunday, February 8.

The musical is based on the film of the same name which in turn was based on the true newsboy strike of 1899 in New York city. It has a new book by Harvey Fierstein, won a 2012 Tony award for the best score written by Alan Menken and jack Feldman. It also won a Tony for the best choreography in a musical by Christopher Gattelli which won a lot of praise for its high energy of dance.

Below is a slideshow made by me  of the photos taken by Deen van Meer featuring Stephanie Styles, Dan DeLuca and the North American touring company. It is followed by a ‘sneak peek’ of the show.

Posted February 3, 2015 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT

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Jelani Remy as Simba, and the ensemble, from the National  touring companyin “He Lives In You”. Photo by Joan Marcus.

From the time the curtain goes up until the the final cast bow you are in the world of Julie Taymor who directed, wrote additional lyrics and music (with Elton John, Tim Rice, Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin and Hans Zimmer), did the costume design, the mask and puppet design (with Michael Curry). Though it is called “Disney’s The Lion King”, and is based on their animated film of 1994, when it opened on Broadway in 1997, where it is still running 18 years later, by all rights it should have her name above the title!

Having now played to over 64 million people in 19 countries and becoming the top earning production ever from Broadway and films, aside from 3 tunes that Elton John and Tom Rice, people always talk about and remember the ‘animals’ they saw, especially the opening number when they march down the aisles of the auditorium.

Throughout the show your eyes are caught by the props, masks and costumes that the over 50 actors wear, move and dance in. During “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”, “The Circle of Life” or “Hakuna Matata” you are looking at the animation and the handling of the masks as they sing. The choreography by Garth Fagan puts a strain on the masks, outfits and movements of the performers but all works smoothly.

The cast from L. Steven Taylor as Mufasa, the father of Simba, played by Jelani Remy, and Patrick R. Brown as his uncle Scar to Nia Holloway as Simba’s love interest, along with the ensemble, are all strong in their rolls. Two standouts are Nick Cordileone as a meerkat and Ben Lipitz as a warthog who bring much needed humor to the show without stepping over the line.

All the production values, including the lighting design by Donald Holder and the scenic design by Richard Hudson are what you would expect, and get, from a Disney production.

“ Disney’s The Lion King” (though I prefer calling it Taymor’s The Lion King) is a must see show that will have your imagination spinning.

The show will be at the Broward Performing Arts Center in Fort Lauderdale until February 1.

Posted January 11, 2015 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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Nostalgia was served on a silver platter at the Adrienne Arsht Center For The Performing Arts in Miami when the touring company of “I Love Lucy Live On Stage” made their debut.
The show consists of two episodes from the 1950s as taped for broadcast showing including the original commercials, songs from the era, with the crew and cameramen doing their job in full sight of the audience.

For a show that can still be seen on a television set somewhere in the world every day since it made its debut 63 years ago on October 15, 1951, the first question regarding this live show is going to be about the actors playing the roles of icons loved by all.
Lori Hammel as Vivian Vance/Ethel Mertz doesn’t resemble the original actress at all but puts across being the foil for Lucy and her madcap antics. Kevin Remington as William Frawley/ Fred Mertz fades into the scenery. The Cuban born, Miami raised Euriamis Losada, plays Desi Arnaz/Ricky Ricardo with all the charm and the subtle eyes for the ladies that the original had. He belts out “Babalu”, does a mean job on the bongos and is the perfect straight man for Lucy, doing the rapid Spanish and destruction of the English language, as she drives him crazy.

Thea Brooks as Lucille Ball/Lucy Ricardo has the red hair, the flair for physical comedy, does all the whines, cries and off tune singing that the Hollywood actress brought to the small screen but there was only one Lucille Ball and Brooks doing her best does a good job yet lacks that ‘it’ the madcap actress had to bring the audience to tears with laughter.
The ensemble, whether doing the Alka Seltzer commercial or singing “Wheel of Fortune”, are a talented group but the real standout, stealing every scene she is in, from the opening playing a member of the audience exchanging quips with Mark Christopher Tracy as Maury Jasper the host and warm up man, to being a charwoman is Denise Moses.

Whether a child or adult, everybody loves Lucy.

The show runs 95 minutes without an intermission

Posted October 6, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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American_Idiot jpg.jpg


Day’s “American Idiot”, with music by Green Day, lyrics by Billie Joe
Armstrong and a book by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer based on
the conceptual album of the same name, landed with a bang at the Broward
Performing Arts Center in Fort Lauderdale last night where it will be
playing until April 6.




meet boyhood friends Johnny (Jared Nepute), Will (Casey O’Farrell) and
Tunny (Dan Tracy) on the cusp of manhood, bored with suburbia and make a
pact to move to the big city. At the last minute Will’s girlfriend
Heather (Mariah MacFarlane) tells him she is pregnant and he decides to
stay home. Tunny who doesn’t fit in with urban living enlists in the
army serving in Afghanistan where, when wounded, he meets The
Extraordinary Girl (Taylor Jones). Johnny finds two loves in the city,
one being heavy drugs after a figment of his imagination brings forth a
drug dealer St. Jimmy (Carson Higgins) which in turn leads to a true
love of  Whatshername (Olivia Puckett).




roots of “American Idiot” can be found in “Hair” and “Rent” with each
representing a generation, their music and their general sense of being
lost.  “American Idiot” is referred to as a 90 minute punk opera which
first came out in album form in 2004 and made it to the Broadway stage
in 2010.




a hard working cast, ensemble and band on stage of 22 people plus the
magic of Tony Award winners scenic designer Christine Jones and lighting
designer Kevin Adams plus the choreography of Steven Hoggett and
director Michael Mayer “American Idiot” captures the time. place and
music of a generation.




entering the theatre people of a certain age (mine!) are offered ear
plugs which I didn’t have to use but they should have offered sunglasses
as there is an overabundance of strobe light use directed straight at
the audience.

Posted March 27, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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Every once in awhile something happens in the theatre called MAGIC! You could have seen a show, enjoyed it and forgotten it the next day until  you see it again 8 months later and from the moment the curtain  goes up you have an almost out of body experience and that is what happened last night at the opening of the touring company of “Memphis” at the Broward Performing Arts Center.
The electrical chemistry between Jasmin Richardson as Felicia, a black singer and Joey Elrose as Huey, a white DJ, not only charged the theatre but the featured players, the ensemble and the band. They weren’t actors playing characters but real people whose life we were watching.
It is Memphis, Tennessee, in the 1950s, a time of racial tension and ‘colored’ music, eventually to be called rock ‘n roll, is coming into the white world and being taken over by them.  Huey and Felicia fall in love opposed by his mother and her brother and we follow them as they go through tribulations of their love and careers.
With the music, book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro and David Bryan, original choreography of Sergio Trujillo recreated by Jermaine R. Rembert and Adam Arian recreating the original direction of Christopher Ashley the cast is strong whether dancing, acting and/or singing. Pat Sibley as Mama, Avionce Hoyles as Gator and Jerrial T. Young  as Bobby and the ensemble stop the show more than once.
It is Jasmin Richardson and Joey Elrose, with that undefinable magic, her soaring voice, his hangdog winning ways, that take this show into a night not very quickly forgotten in this Tony Award winning show for Best Musical.
“Memphis” will be playing at the Broward Performing Arts center until March 9–catch the magic!


Posted February 26, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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The first love story was that of Adam and Eve and ever since love stories have made up the bulk of the arts from theatre to films, books, paintings and opera. The bottom line becomes what makes a particular love story different and the musical version of “Once”, based on the movie, has a lot of differences starting with the two leads not having names but just called Guy and Girl. Added to that is there is no orchestra with most in the cast playing a musical instrument, being the orchestra. The original award winning film score is in the show with a few new songs. The most startlingly aspect of “Once” is the combination of direction, movement and the music supervision not really knowing where one starts and the other leaves off. The cast of 13 are precision artists in all facets of their movements and have the audience in a state of awe throughout most of the show.


The show starts as soon as the auditorium doors are open with the curtain up showing an Irish pub in Dublin. The audience is invited on stage, Irish songs and jigs are danced until at one point Guy (played by Stuart Ward who plays the guitar) starts singing “Leave” and the lights dim. We immediately meet Girl (played by Dani de Waal who also plays the piano. She is impressed with Guy’s singing and playing being even more impressed when she learns he wrote the words and music. He explains that he has written most of his songs about his ex-girlfriend who has moved to New York. He is ready to give up on his music and make a life working for his father fixing vacuum.


Guy meets Girl, they fall in love and… Along the way we meet Da Guy’s father (played by Raymond Bokhour who plays the mandolin, Baruska, her mother, (played by Donna Garner who plays the accordion and concertina) and Girl’s daughter (Kolette Tetlow who seems to be the only one not playing an instrument). The rest of the cast includes Matt DeAngelis (guitar, mandolin, banjo, drum set, percussion), John Steven Gardner (piano, guitar, percussion, melodica, harmonica), Evan Harrington (guitar, percussion, ukulele), Ryan Link (guitar, banjo), Benjamin Magnuson (cello, guitar), Alex Nee (electric bass, ukulele, guitar, percussion), Erica Swindell (violin, percussion) and Claire Wellin (violin).


The star of the show is definitely Stuart Ward, who appears as part of the exchange program between American Equity and UK Equity, has a powerhouse voice not only to put over his solos but to modulate his tones to blend in when singing with others. And he, as are the others, are given a score with music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.

There wouldn’t be a “Once” without the actors/musicians, score and book (by Enda Walsh) but the names above the title should be Director John Tiffany, Movement by Steven Hoggett along with music supervisor and orchestrations by Lowe. All make theatre magic at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami.


Next show at the Center will be “WarHorse” March 4-9 to be followed by “Blue Man Group” May 13-18 and “Evita” May 27- June 1.

Posted February 6, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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Tony Awards to feature star-studded cast performances

Patina Miller during a performance of "Pippin," at Broadway's Music Box Theatre in New York.

Patina Miller during a performance of “Pippin,” at Broadway’s Music Box Theatre in New York. / AP




Viewers will get a taste of some of today’s most celebrated musicals Sunday night when the Tony Awards air live on CBS, starting at 8 p.m. ET.



The three-hour show will feature appearances by the 2013 Tony-nominated musicals “A Christmas Story, The Musical,” “Annie,” “Bring It On: The Musical,” “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” “Kinky Boots,” “Matilda The Musical,” “Motown The Musical” and “Pippin.”


Casts from other hit musicals will also appear, including “Chicago,” “Jersey Boys,” “Newsies,” “Once,” “Mamma Mia,” “Rock of Ages,” “Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark,” “The Lion King” and “The Phantom of the Opera.”


Neil Patrick Harris: Tony show-opener will be “pretty epic”


“How I Met Your Mother” star Neil Patrick Harris will host the star-studded event, which will include appearances by Alan Cumming, Jon Cryer, Jesse Eisenberg, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sally Field, Barrett Foa, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Tom Hanks, Megan Hilty, Scarlett Johansson, Anna Kendrick, Cyndi Lauper, Audra McDonald, Matthew Morrison, Martha Plimpton, Hal Prince, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells, Mike Tyson, Sigourney Weaver, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Steven Van Zandt.


Harris, who’s hosting the Tonys for the fourth time, told “CBS This Morning” that the show opener will be “pretty epic.” He added, “It is a massive ordeal, the Tony Awards. You have to have each show, with each cast, with their own sets…It’s massive factory in the back. It’s very exciting.”


This year marks the 67th anniversary of the Tony Awards, which were first held on April 6, 1947, at the Waldorf Astoria’s Grand Ballroom. This year, the festivities will take place at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.


The Lauper-scored “Kinky Boots” has earned a leading 13 Tony Award nominations, with the British import “Matilda: The Musical” close behind with 12.


Posted June 6, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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7 DECADES SERIES “A CHORUS LINE” PART 17 A   Leave a comment

September 28 Wednesday 1983 Arrived in New York and that evening Kingsbery, Bill and I went to see “A Chorus Line”.

September 29 Thursday 1983 Kingsbery and I went to the performance of “A Chorus Line” becoming the longest running show on Broadway -unbelievable

September 30 Friday 1983 Kingsbery, John Connolly, Tommy, Chuck, Bill and I went to see “A Chorus Line”.


September 20 Friday 1985 Kingsbery and I went to see “A Chorus Line”.

September 21 Saturday 1985 Kingsbery and I went to matinee of “A Chorus Line” and in the evening Kathy, Margie, Kingsbery, Buddy Vest and I went to see “A Chorus Line”.


September 22 Thursday 1988 Arrived in city–Eleanor, Andy and I went to see “A Chorus Line”

September 24 Saturday 1988 Spent afternoon at Feast of St. Gennero with Andy then I went to see “A Chorus Line”; in the evening

September 25 Sunday 1988 Went to a matinee of “A Chorus Line”–the last time I would see it in New York and the last time I was in New York.


I had 2 more opportunities to see “A Chorus Line” in New York with the first being the closing of its run after 15 years in April, 1990, and next when the first revival opened up on October 5, 2006, when Gene said she could get me a ticket. Aside from not being able to afford the trip to either I, also, knew that nothing would ever surpass that performance of September 29, 1983. I could handle seeing it in other venues but felt no need to return to the Big Apple. My last impression of the city, in 1988, was that it is filled with gray buildings and gray people. Times Square and the surrounding areas had really turned dirty, sleazy and, to a certain extent, scary, though I never felt unsafe in the city I was born in.

Something else that shocked me were the prices of things, especially at restaurants, such as an ordinary Chef’s Salad was $25 at Tavern on the Green and a half a dozen oysters at the Oak Plaza was $15. Where I had paid $7.50 for a ticket to see “A Chorus Line” in 1976 they were $51 in 1988. (Now in 2012 they would probably be $140 each!) I did get to see the touring company of the revival at the Broward Performing Arts Center February 17 and 19, 2009. I said goodbye to the Big Apple and I know I won’t ever be going back.


I saw many other shows those 3 Autumns I was in New York and I have seen thousands of musicals, dramas and comedies on stage (including 101 productions of “A Chorus Line”) but that performance on September 29, 1983, was the greatest I have ever seen on stage. Over the years, especially in the 40s to the 60s, I have seen the best actors and shows that have become legend but nothing will ever come close to that performance. I have written about it many times but here are some notes from my diary of that week.

Wednesday September 28, 1983 Chuck and I went to see “Dreamgirls”which Buddy Vest is in and later, not knowing if he could, Buddy told Kingsbery he got 2 tickets!! We are going to the show tomorrow. Bob and I ran out and rented tuxes for $85 each and before I knew it we were walking into the Shubert Theatre and sitting in row S, seats 17 and 19 in the rear orchestra which turned out to be a dividend! The show was unbelievable!! 6 Cassies, 10 Pauls, “Nothing” sung by the Japanese cast, over 400, including Buddy, on the stage for the finale. How Michael Bennett in one week redid the whole show using the original and current Broadway cast plus the National touring company and the Japanese cast had the whole audience shouting an d applauding. Then there was a bonus when Joseph Papp, the producer, and Bennett came out to take bows the former asked if we would mind staying as NBC wanted to film the finale for television. He couldn’t have gotten us out if he wanted us to leave.

Waiting for everything to get set up the cast filled the aisles and next to our seats were a couple of the Pauls and Vals. We started talking to them, asking how they made such a quick change at the end and one of the Pauls showed us how they were Velcro in the back which made the change fast as it was needed. I WAS TALKING TO PAUL!!!! The actor(s) that brought me to tears every time he did his monologue, there was a Val who would say to the audience, “You’re looking at my tits now, aren’t you?” and cracking everyone up. And then the music started up for the finale and from the downbeat until the end the noise from us watching them was deafening. I know they had to mute it down somehow for the taping, which I had set my VCR up before I left, as it was announced they would be doing a salute to “A Chorus Line” that night and it was perfect.

I walked out of the Shubert unable to talk as my throat was aching from shouting “Bravo!” and it would be a couple of days before by hands were unswollen from all the applauding I did. It is now 29 years later and I have seen a lot of shows since then but though I may have been moved, and enjoyed, by other shows there will never be an equal to that one singular performance, not even the first time I saw it sitting in the mezzanine of the Shubert Theatre 7 years before. for more about the show and the people in it.


Posted October 30, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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