Just Released: Broadway CDs for a Musical and … a Play?

The Broadway cast recording for the fun new musical Legally Blonde isn’t officially out until July 17, but you can get it early if you order it at www.Sh-K-Boom.com. The score by Nell Benjamin and Larry O’Keefe (Bat Boy) features what must be one of the most catchy songs in the history of Broadway, “Omigod, You Guys”. Oddly enough, Sh-K-Boom Records has also just released a CD recording for a Broadway play, Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia. Fans of the Lincoln Center-produced trilogy will find that listening to Mark Bennett’s memorable incidental music helps bring back the experience of seeing that unique production.

Big Broadway Discounts During July 4th Week

Due to lackluster box office receipts last year during the July 4th holiday, many Broadway musicals and plays are offering great discounts during the week of Independence Day. Shows like Avenue Q, Chicago, and A Chorus Line are all providing special discount tickets, most of them in the timeframe of July 1-8, or July 3-8 (bear in mind that a few Broadway shows don’t actually have performances right on July 4th). The Color Purple and Curtains have some of the best deals, selling orchestra seats for $70 and $56, respectively. So why not celebrate your freedom this holiday by exercising your right to see a Broadway show at a decent price?

Broadway Baby Bebe Neuwirth Celebrates July 4

Broadway star Bebe Neuwirth (Chicago) will be part of the entertainment line-up for PBS’s annual Independence Day celebration, “A Capitol Fourth”. Also participating in the July 4 festivities, which will air at 8pm live from Washington D.C., are Little Richard, American Idol finalist Elliott Yamin, and Yolanda Adams. Hosting the event is Tony Danza, who closed out the Broadway production of The Producers and will soon be taking over as Max in the Las Vegas version.

Last Call! Broadway Closings Abound

There are tons of Broadway show closings coming up — some planned due to limited runs, others due to low attendance. LoveMusik and Talk Radio are signing off this Sunday, June 24. Radio Golf and Company end on July 1, Inherit the Wind blows away on July 8, and 110 in the Shade and Beauty & the Beast say goodbye on July 29. The star power of Angela Lansbury wasn’t enough to save Deuce, which will fold on August 19. But the latest big surprise is the announcement that Disney’s Broadway version of Tarzan swings out of the Richard Rodgers Theatre on July 8. Most of these shows are offering great discounts on tickets in their final weeks, so be on the lookout for deals.

Tony Awards To Add Two New Categories Next Year

It has just been announced that the Tonys, the annual awards that reward Broadway excellence, will be adding two new categories in the 2007-2008 season: Best Sound Design of a Musical and Best Sound Design of a Play. It’s about time that the Tonys recognize good sound design, a vital part of the Broadway experience. Perhaps what finally led them to this decision was that the recently-completed Broadway season boasted so many shows that demonstrated such impressive sound design — most notably Journey’s End, Talk Radio, and The Coast of Utopia.

Broadway in Bryant Park

Bryant Park, located just a block east of New York’s Times Square, is once again a hosting a fantastic lunch hour treat for Broadway lovers. On Thursdays, from July 12 – August 9 (plus an extra date on Friday, Aug. 10), the casts of such Broadway and Off-Broadway shows as Mamma Mia, Spelling Bee, Spamalot, Phantom, Stomp, The Drowsy Chaperone, Avenue Q, Rent, Xanadu, Curtains, and Chicago (and many others) will be performing for free in the park. Approximately four different musicals will be featured each afternoon, from 12:30 to 1:30pm. For a listing of which ones are performing on which days, see Bryant Park’s website.

Xanadu Postpones Broadway Opening

Xanadu, the newest musical to hit Broadway, has had to postpone its opening due to the injury of lead actor James Carpinello. Starting June 22, Cheyenne Jackson (All Shook Up, Altar Boyz) will take over the role of Sonny until Carpinello heals. A new opening date has yet to be announced for Xanadu, which began Broadway previews on May 23.

First Wave of Post-Tony Closings

So far there have been two casualties following the Tony Awards. Oddly enough, the first Broadway show to post its closing notice was Company, which actually won the biggest award that it was up for, Best Revival of a Musical. Usually struggling shows will do their best to stick it out until the Tonys, in the hopes that they’ll win an award and then be able to attract a bigger audience. But apparently that hasn’t worked out for Company. The other show to make such an announcement was August Wilson’s play Radio Golf, which lost the Best Play award to The Coast of Utopia. Both shows will have their last Broadway performance on July 1.

Few Surprises at 2007 Tony Awards Show

The Broadway musical phenomenon Spring Awakening and the epic play trilogy The Coast of Utopia took the top prizes at the Tony Awards on Sunday night, as expected. Also unsurprising: Frank Langella taking the Best Actor in Play award for his masterful performance in Frost/Nixon, Christine Ebersole winning the Best Actress in a Musical award for playing two different characters in Grey Gardens, and John Gallagher Jr. grabbing Featured Actor in a Musical for his tortured teen in Spring Awakening. Company got Best Musical Revival and the marvelous Journey’s End (which sadly had its last Broadway performance just hours before the Tonys began) took Play Revival.

The only true “upset” came when dark horse David Hyde Pierce’s name was announced for Best Actor in a Musical rather than the favored Raul Esparza. Pierce’s warm-hearted acceptance speech was a highlight of the evening, as was Langella’s classy one. Manic Julie White, winner of Best Actress in a Play for her agent-from-hell in The Little Dog Laughed, was the comic highlight at the podium, followed closely by Mary Louise Wilson (Grey Gardens). The musical performances sandwiched in between the award presentations were less than thrilling this year, with the exceptions of the Chorus Line opener (performed on the street outside Radio City Music Hall) and the energetic Spring Awakening medley (which amply proved that Duncan Sheik deserved his Best Score award).

Tonys Tonight!

Don’t forget to tune into the 61st Annual Tony Awards show at 8pm tonight (Eastern Standard time) on CBS. Broadway’s best will be on display as they are honored for their achievements in the 2006-2007 Broadway season. If you’re in the New York area, also check out the “Red Carpet” pre-show on NY1 at 6pm.