Fringe Festival Kicks Off Today

The 11th Annual New York International Fringe Festival starts today. The Off-Off Broadway festival, which features nearly 200 shows in numerous theaters (mostly downtown), is an explosion of off-beat shows ranging from experimental dance pieces to full-blown musicals. The madness goes until August 26, so the question is: How many shows can you see in 16 days?

15 Performances a Week?!?!

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! – The Musical, which was a holiday season hit during its Broadway engagement last year, is coming to Broadway again this Christmas for a limited run at the St. James Theatre. The 90-minute show based on the beloved Dr. Seuss book will play a staggering 15 performances (rather than the traditional eight-show Broadway schedule) each week from November 1st to January 6th.

Grease Opens in London

Broadway isn’t the only place feeling the heat of greased lightin’ right now. Tonight is the opening of the latest London revival of Grease, which, like the current Broadway production, cast its two leads with the help of a reality TV show. The viewers of British television show Grease Is the Word chose Danny Bayne and Susan McFadden to play Danny and Sandy in the London production. Maybe somebody should create a reality show that pits all of the winners of Grease reality shows against each other to see who comes out on top?

Are You Broadway’s Biggest Fan?

Think you love Broadway more than anyone else? Then prove it! The three top entries in the “Are You Broadway’s Biggest Fan?” competition will win a free trip to New York City and Broadway show tickets. And how do you show that you are Broadway’s biggest fan? Make a 60-second video, submit it by August 19, and then the public will vote to decide the winners. The top three videos will be shown at the annual “Broadway on Broadway” concert in Times Square, which will be taking place on September 16. For all the details on the competition, check out www.broadwaysbiggestfan.com.

Stars Set To Appear in Broadway Cabaret Festival

Betty Buckley will headline the third annual Broadway Cabaret Festival, which will take place at New York’s Town Hall October 19-21. Other Broadway stars and cabaret favorites taking part in the festival include Len Cariou, Judy Kuhn, Alan Campbell, and George S. Irving. For more information on the Broadway Cabaret Festival, including how to get tickets, see www.the-townhall-nyc.org.

The Dream Is Postponed

The first performance of Shakespeare in the Park’s second offering, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is being postponed a day because director Daniel Sullivan was injured during rehearsals. So the first preview will now be on August 8, to give Sullivan a little extra time for recovery. Dream, which will have its official opening at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park on August 23, has a terrific cast of Broadway regulars, including Martha Plimpton, Jason Antoon, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Daniel Oreskes, Laila Robins, and Jay O. Sanders.

Grease Is the Word!

nytix was at the very first performance of the new Broadway revival of Grease, and fans of Max Crumm and Laura Osnes, the winners of NBC’s reality TV show Grease – You’re the One That I Want, will be happy to know that the young Broadway debutantes acquitted themselves nicely. With a naturally sweet demeanor and a lovely voice, Laura makes an ideal Sandy. Max still strikes one as ever-so-slightly miscast as leather-clad leader-of-the-pack Danny, but the kid is so confident and talented that he’s a joy to watch perform.

As it opens with the guys and gals of Rydell High School crooning the seductively hip “Grease is the Word,” this Kathleen Marshall-directed production of the perennial American favorite looks like it might finally put the “cool” back in Grease. But it doesn’t take long before the show’s inherent bubble gumminess starts to ooze out, and the fact that the storyline isn’t always coherent doesn’t help. However, in addition to Max and Laura, Marshall has assembled a strong cast that — even in their first performance — were full of energy and assurance and had no problem whatsoever revving up the audience. When these kids break into classics like “Summer Nights,” “Greased Lightnin’,” and “We Go Together,” you can’t help but get caught up in the fun.

To hear the audience, which undoubtedly was full of fans of the TV show, you would have thought it was a Beatles concert. The hooting, wild applause, and at times even screams (yes, screams!) made the show more than just another performance of a Broadway musical — this show is an event. The official opening of Grease is not until August 19, so what kinks the production has will likely be ironed out. The fact remains that the show itself is far from the strongest in the musical theatre canon, but this production still makes it a silly good time.