Pawdesh Salawi

About Pawdesh Salawi

Pawdesh has been writing about Broadway ever since seeing her first show on the great white way in 2001. Now she sees over one hundred Broadway (and off-Broadway) shows a year. She is also a member of the Drama Desk and would love to vote on the Tony's one day. The Office Voted Her Most Likely To: Marry rich and divorce young

America Got Talent AGT Begins Audition Shows in NJPAC

America’s Got Talent Audition Show At NJPAC Review

It is the tenth season of America’s Got Talent (AGT) TV show and to celebrate they taped two audition shows NJPAC in newark New Jerseya day for the entire week beginning March 2nd, 2015 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) located in Newark, New Jersey. The ten taped shows were then edited/spliced together and broadcast as four single shows in June 2015, to kick off AGT’s season. This is the only time that AGT will be at this location this season and they intend to resume their confusing changes of location in the regular season to Pier 92, MSG Theater and Radio City Music Hall for the in-season shows. Many of the audition acts that are taped get deleted in the editing stage, so anyone at the taping may have seen something that will never air.

The Perfect Demographic To See The Show

Howie Mandel at America's Got Talent

Each show at the NJPAC is a four-hour taping marathon and seeing it being taped live, in person, can be a poor experience for many people. But, If you are an older person, or have a young family, this show is perfect for you as you are already a good match for the sweet spot of the actual TV viewing demographic.

The only problem is that the advertisers do not want you. They want the single 18-35 demographic and there are very few of those people actually at the taping or even watching it on TV.

Seeing the show taping live, in-person, feels like it was lifted from a non-descriptive, washed-up theme park somewhere in the mid-west. Other parts of show feel like you are on a Carnival Cruise, watching a second rate production that is rocking back and forth. The corny warm-up guy, the cheesy set and the over-the-top reactions of everyone in the production could be just the ticket at ClevelandWorld or Universal Ohio, but this taping actually feels depressing. With the older audience members going to the bathroom every five minutes and young children standing on their chairs screaming, many middle-aged theatregoers would be horrified with the audience antics. When the warm-up guy, Tom Kelly (who loves to keep promoting the Tom Kelly Show, whatever that is), works the crowd for the biggest fan scream, you know you are in trouble. It never ceases to amaze what people will do for a free tee-shirt at this show. Its a tee-shirt and it costs nothing, but its about the only thing that NBC is giving away for free.

The Show Gets Off To A Rocky Start

Standing outside the theater, the first experience of the show is the confusion caused by the audience management team about which line of people was first. It ends up with all the people who arrived first, going in last, at the back of the orchestra seats, behind everyone else, which causes a great deal of ill-will from the get-go. When everyone was finally loaded into the theater, the NJPAC is only about one-third full and the audience management team moved everyone to one side of the theater, to make it appear that the theater is actually much fuller than it is. They also put a few people on the mezzanine to make things look fuller to the camera, but it is clear there are still hundreds of seats free in the back of the orchestra, which are actually closer to the stage and have a better view, but producers care more about how it looks on TV than the actual experience for an audience member.

There are no large TV screens in the theater to help people who are far away to see better, so anyone not in the front rows will not have the ability to see an act clearly, especially their facial expressions, which is something you would normally see at home. For some of the acts, many of the audience members start booing well before the act has even got underway because they are unable to see the subtle nuance of what is actually going on stage.

TTom Kelly at comedy clubom Kelly, The Warm Up Comedian Fails To Ignite The Crowd

This TV show, much like other TV shows in New York City has a warm-up guy to get the crowd going. In this case it is Tom Kelly, who has worked on many other New York TV shows. It might be the fact that he is doing two shows a day that is killing him, but Kelly was not funny and often just annoying – especially after dedicating a full thirty minutes (yes, thirty minutes) on a how-to-clap part that killed any natural audience reaction during the show. In the first half of the show there were over forty six forced standing ovations. By the end of the show it was over eighty.

The acts were good, but not that good. Kelly tried to fill in the gaps between taping with some clever banter, but was only able to make jokes at the expense of some orthodox Jews, some old people and some young black men. His multiple Fifty Shades of Grey references were way too inappropriate for the children at the show and he should know better. His failing grade at this show underlines NBC’s selfish interest to deliver good TV and treat the studio audience like idiots.

Nick Cannon Does Not Host The Live Show

Contrary to popular belief, although Nick Cannon does appear briefly on stage at the theater, Cannon is not the show host at the theater and gets very little stage time. He does, however, become the show host on TV, as he is always on the side of the stage talking to to the camera, which the theater audience is not privy to. Audience members at the theater do not get to see him until the TV editing is complete and he is added back into the process and then broadcast.

The Acts On The Show

The show consists of twenty audition acts, wrapped into the four hours of taping. The long hours of taping wear thin on the judges who have been banging out two shows all week long. On a couple of occasions, Howard Stern indicates that an act is “actually making me depressed”, but it was not the act that was causing his unhappiness, it may have been the show itself.bored-judges-618x254

Each half of this show was two hours long with ten acts per half. Many of the acts in the show were quite interesting, especially during the audition phase, where anything could pop up, especially the “possibly oedipal” mother and son ballet dancers, but the taping process is so long and drawn out that any natural enjoyment of the show is fully diluted. The audience gets restless, if not bored, by Tom Kelly’s repetitious lines of “who wants to be on TV” and “let’s give another round of applause to..” uttered over a mind numbing fifty times. Watching this TV show in person is perfect for those that want an afternoon out with the kids at no cost, but for anyone with a brain, it may be better to watch paint dry and wait for the edited versions of the show to be broadcast on TV where you do not have to undergo mindless hours of delay, repetition and boredom during the taping.

NBC and the AGT producers are not really interested in improving the audience experience at this live show event and are mainly focused on just making a good TV show for the camera. This being said, the live audience at this show is often an after-thought and they are mainly used as a prop, rather than the human beings that they actually are. Tickets to the audition shows are available on the day of the show and on their website and they are often desperate for audience members, because seeing this show live is just not that popular, despite its ratings according to Nielsen.

Peter Pan Musical To Be Aired Live on TV

Peter PanIn the wake of the massive ratings success of NBC’s live production of The Sound of Music starring Carrie Underwood, the network has tapped producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan to replicate their success with another live musical event later this year.

The next event will be the live broadcast of a production of the musical adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s play Peter Pan, which has lyrics by Carolyn Leigh, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and music by Jule Styne and Moose Charlap. Originally produced on Broadway in 1954 with Mary Martin playing Peter Pan, this version features well-known songs like “I Won’t Grow Up” and “I’m Flying”.

“We hope to create the joy that has made this musical so beloved,” stated Meron and Zadon. “We would like a whole new generation to experience Peter Pan and for families across the country to share the magic.”

Casting has not yet been announced for NBC’s live airing of Peter Pan, but the broadcast is scheduled to air on December 4, 2014.

NYC Super Bowl Event Will Feature Jersey Boys

Jersey Boys Broadway ShowFootball’s biggest event, the 2014 Super Bowl, is coming up on February 2 in East Rutherford in New Jersey. Broadway is getting in on the celebration for Super Bowl 48. Thirteen blocks of Broadway are being turned into “Super Bowl Boulevard,” and on January 29 cast members from Jersey Boys will perform on the Boulevard’s Roman Numerals Stage.

The performance, which will start at 6pm, will feature the hit musical’s star quartet of Matt Bogart, Richard H. Blake, Drew Gehling, and Joseph Leo Bwarie. The world-famous Rockettes and the Boys Choir of Harlem will also perform that day.

This isn’t expected to be the only instance of Broadway getting involved with Super Bowl mania. The cast of Rock of Ages is scheduled to perform on the Roman Numerals Stage on January 30, and again on Super Bowl Sunday outside of MetLife Stadium during the event’s official Tailgate Party. The cast of Jersey Boys are also scheduled to appear at ice hockey Classic at Yankees Stadium between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils and  a couple of days later at the same venue when the Rangers take on the Islanders. The cast of Jersey Boys will entertain the crowd prior to the game.

Kinky Boots To Launch Tour in Vegas

Kinky Boots Broadway ShowThe Tony Award winning musical Kinky Boots is currently one of Broadway’s top-grossing shows, bringing in big audiences night after night. And later this year, people outside of New York City will finally get a chance to see the crowd-pleasing tuner. The first national tour of Kinky Boots will start off in Las Vegas at the Smith Center on September 4, 2014.

Based on the British film of the same name, Kinky Boots is about a young shoe manufacturer who saves his family business by focusing on making footwear for an untapped market — drag queens. The musical, directed and choregraphed by Jerry Mitchell, has a book by Harvey Fierstein and score by pop star Cyndi Lauper.

Kinky Boots can currently be seen on Broadway at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre (302 W. 45th Street), where it opened on April 4, 2013. Tickets are available at www.telecharge.com.

Macbeth Closes on Broadway

Macbeth on BroadwayIt’s been a big season for the Bard on Broadway, with productions of Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, Richard III, and William Shakespeare’s famed tragedy Macbeth, which concluded its run at Lincoln Center Theater’s Vivian Beaumont Theatre today.

Actor Ethan Hawke took on the lead role in ‘the Scottish play’ (as it is often called by those too superstitious to say its name) for this production, which featured direction by Jack O’Brien and co-starred John Glover, Richard Easton, Malcolm Gets, Byron Jennings, Brian d’Arcy James, Daniel Sunjata, and Anne-Marie Duff, who made her Broadway debut as Lady Macbeth.

Macbeth was previously seen on Broadway just last season in a nearly-solo production featuring Alan Cumming (soon to be back on Broadway this season in the re-revival of Cabaret) playing all of the parts himself.

Hugh Jackman Cuts Ties With Broadway Bound Houdini

Hugh JackmanSome time ago it was announced that Hugh Jackman would be returning to Broadway in a new musical about legendary escape artist Harry Houdini, written specifically for Jackman. But following a protracted development process, Jackman has announced that he is dropping out of the project.

“I have greatly enjoyed the collaborative process on Houdini,” stated Hugh Jackman. “Ultimately, though, I wasn’t able to commit to the time this role will require. I have tremendous respect and admiration for the creative team and I wish everyone the best.”

Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) was originally attached to write Houdini‘s book, but he left the project last year and a new writer has not yet been named. Jack O’Brien is set to direct the production, which is currently expected to hit Broadway in the 2015-2016 season.

Spider-man Swings Out of New York City

Spider-Man Broadway MusicalThe saga of comic book hero Spider-man on Broadway has come to an end, with Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark finishing its run at the Foxwoods Theatre today.  The musical concludes having played 1,058 regular performances, plus a record-breaking 182 preview performances.

Initially helmed by The Lion King‘s visionary director Julie Taymor, Spider-man suffered from technical and creative problems and an exploding budget during its development phase and preview period.  Eventually a new director and bookwriter came in to get the production under control, and, once it opened, the show enjoyed brisk sales.  After roughly three years, Spider-man closes as the 16th highest-grossing Broadway show in history.

However, Spider-man‘s multi-million dollar costs were so high that it likely would have needed to run at a profit for several years more in order to earn back its investment.  While the musical was no longer able to make money on Broadway, the show’s producers intend to try their luck with it next in Las Vegas.

 

Broadway Loves the Spice Girls To Play at 54 Below

The Spice Girls musical Viva Forever! that has played London’s West End may not have yet made it to Broadway, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of Broadway performers who love the famed British pop group. In fact, many of them will be gathering at 54 Below on January 13 at 11:30pm for a special concert dubbed “Broadway Loves the Spice Girls”.

Well over a dozen New York City actors will perform new vocal arrangements (written by Benjamin Rauhala) of the Spice Girls’ many hits, including “Wannabe” and “2 Become 1″. The list of performers slated for the concert include Ashley Kate Adams, Stephanie Umoh, Kate Loprest, Jason Gotay, Gabrielle McClinton, Emily McNamara, and Darren Bluestone.

The cover charge for the concert is $10, and there is also a $20 food/drink minimum. To purchase tickets or learn more, go to www.54Below.com.

Broadway’s Big Fish Closes Today

Big Fish Broadway ShowBroadway will say goodbye to a number of shows as the holiday season comes to a close. Broadway shows that have been struggling to maintain an audience frequently set their closing dates for early January, taking advantage of the final burst of holiday ticket sales before the bleak winter months in which Broadway struggles the most.  However, Big Fish, which ends its run at the Neil Simon Theatre today, is concluding a bit earlier, closing its production before New Year’s Day.

Based on the book and film of the same name, Big Fish starred Norbert Leo Butz as a big dreaming traveling salesman who loved to tell tall tales. With a heart-tugging father-and-son story and big, bold set and costume designs, Big Fish captured many theatergoers’ imaginations, but unfortunately not enough to continue running.  The musical will close having played 34 previews and just under 100 regular performances.

Jersey Boys To Offer Guarantee For Inclement Weather

Jersey Boys Broadway ShowThe long-running hit Broadway musical Jersey Boys, playing at the August Wilson Theatre in New York City, has announced that it will be offering a “Winter Weather Guarantee” to people who buy tickets for performances taking place from January 2 to March 30, 2014.

Given that winter storms can wreak havoc on the roads and shut down airports, this guarantee is particularly helpful for tourists or people who have to commute significant distances to get into the city.

The guarantee allows Jersey Boys ticket holders to exchange tickets for those performances for tickets to any other performance that is currently on sale. Learn more about the details of the “Winter Weather Guarantee” policy at www.JerseyBoysBroadway.com/Winter.