Broadway Cast Recordings Released

Fans of the new musical Next To Normal, with a score by Tom Kitt (High Fidelity) and Brian Yorkey will be pleased to know that the original Broadway cast recording is now available for purchase. With 30 songs, the recording is a 2-disc set and features vocals by Alice Ripley and J. Robert Spencer. The Broadway cast album for the new revival of West Side Story, starring newcomer Josefina Scaglione and Karen Olivo (In the Heights), is on the verge of release, set to come out on June 2. (The extremely short-lived new musical The Story of My Life, starring Will Chase and Malcolm Gets, will also have its cast CD released on that day.) Fans of that classic Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim score, featuring songs like “Maria” and “Tonight,” will want to get the new recording, especially since it has something prior incarnations don’t – Spanish language versions of “I Feel Pretty” and “A Boy Like That”. Another Broadway revival, the new production of Hair, also has a recording soon to be released. The Hair CD, boasting the talents of Will Swenson and Gavin Creel, will be out on June 23.

Starry Line-Up To Host 2009 Tony Awards

The presenters for the 63rd Annual Tony Awards ceremony have been announced, and it’s quite a starry line-up, full of theater celebrities (many who are currently appearing in Broadway shows) and well-known personalities from film and TV too. The stars currently scheduled to present awards and introduce the evening’s performances on the telecast are: Will Ferrell, Nicole Kidman, Jane Fonda, Kristin Chenoweth, Anne Hathaway (upcoming Twelfth Night in Central Park), Angela Lansbury (Blithe Spirit), Kevin Spacey, Lauren Graham and Oliver Platt (Guys and Dolls), Jessica Lange, Audra McDonald, Susan Sarandon (Exit the King), Carrie Fisher (upcoming Wishful Drinking), Piper Perabo (Reasons To Be Pretty), Lucie Arnaz, Kate Burton, Edie Falco, Hallie Foote, Colin Hanks, Frank Langella, David Hyde Pierce (Accent on Youth), John Stamos, Chandra Wilson, James Gandolfini, Marcia Gay Harden, Jeff Daniels and Hope Davis (God of Carnage). Neil Patrick Harris will host the ceremony, which will air on June 7, broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

2009 Tony Award Presenters To Include Ferrell, Chenoweth, Fonda, Kidman, and More

The presenters for the 63rd Annual Tony Awards ceremony have been announced, and it’s quite a starry line-up, full of theater celebrities (many who are currently appearing in Broadway shows) and well-known personalities from film and TV too. The stars currently scheduled to present awards and introduce the evening’s performances on the telecast are: Will Ferrell, Nicole Kidman, Jane Fonda, Kristin Chenoweth, Anne Hathaway (upcoming Twelfth Night in Central Park), Angela Lansbury (Blithe Spirit), Kevin Spacey, Lauren Graham and Oliver Platt (Guys and Dolls), Jessica Lange, Audra McDonald, Susan Sarandon (Exit the King), Carrie Fisher (upcoming Wishful Drinking), Piper Perabo (Reasons To Be Pretty), Lucie Arnaz, Kate Burton, Edie Falco, Hallie Foote, Colin Hanks, Frank Langella, David Hyde Pierce (Accent on Youth), John Stamos, Chandra Wilson, James Gandolfini, Marcia Gay Harden, Jeff Daniels and Hope Davis (God of Carnage). Neil Patrick Harris will host the ceremony, which will air on June 7, broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

33 Variations Starring Jane Fonda Closes On Broadway

33 Variations has its last performance at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre on Broadway tonight. The play was written by Moises Kaufman and stars Jane Fonda as a musicologist obsessed with composer Ludwig van Beethoven. The production officially opened on Broadway on March 9 for a limited run. The drama, which features accompaniment by a live pianist (Diane Walsh), garnered a total of five Tony Award nominations for Best Play, Best Leading Actress in a Play (Fonda), and Best Featured Actor in a Play (the wonderful Zach Grenier as Beethoven), as well as well-deserved nods for its lighting and clever set design. Although Jane Fonda, returning to Broadway for the first time in several decades, deservedly received a lot of attention for appearing in 33 Variations, the production has an all-around fine cast, including Colin Hanks (son of a certain well-known actor named Tom), Samantha Mathis, and Susan Kellermann. It is extremely unusual for a Broadway show to close on a Thursday (shows usually close on Sundays), but Fonda had another commitment that required closing before Sunday.

Drama Desk Awards Honor Norman and Billy

The 54th Annual Drama Desk Awards, which recognize the best of New York theater both on and off Broadway, were held tonight at LaGuardia Concert Hall in a ceremony hosted by Harvey Fierstein. Not surprisingly, Billy Elliot took the most honors, nabbing all 10 of the awards that it was nominated for, including Outstanding Musical, Director of a Musical, Choreography, Book, and the Best Music award for its composer, Elton John. The Norman Conquests conquered the Outstanding Revival of a Play category, Hair took Outstanding Revival of a Musical, and Pulitzer Prize winner Ruined got Outstanding Play. Special Outstanding Ensemble Performance awards were given to the casts of The Norman Conquests and The Cripple of Inishmaan. The Drama Desks are sometimes thought of as an early indicator of how the Tony Awards might go (much like the Golden Globes are to the Oscars), but this year there were some pretty significant differences between the two. The Drama Desk’s Outstanding Play winner, Ruined, for instance, isn’t even eligible for a Tony because it is an Off-Broadway production and the Tonys only recognize Broadway shows. Meanwhile Next To Normal, a major Tony contender for Best Musical and other awards, wasn’t eligible for a Drama Desk this year because it had already been eligible last season, when it appeared in a high profile Off-Broadway production at Second Stage Theatre.

Nathan Lane To Head Cast of Broadway Bound Addams Family Musical

The official casting announcement for the new Broadway musical version of The Addams Family has finally come out. As expected, Nathan Lane (currently on Broadway in Waiting For Godot) and Bebe Neuwirth (Broadway’s Chicago, TV’s Frasier) will star as Gomez and Morticia Addams. Kevin Chamberlain (Seussical) will play Uncle Fester, Jackie Hoffman (Xanadu, Hairspray) is Grandmama, and Tony Award nominees and Broadway regulars Terrence Mann and Carolee Carmello will play supporting roles. Based on the famous cartoons by Charles Addams, The Addams Family musical is written by Jersey Boys librettists Rick Elice and Marshall Brickman, and composer/lyricist Andrew Lippa. The show is directed and designed by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, the men behind the macabre musical Shockheaded Peter. The Addams Family will have its world premiere at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre in Chicago this November before opening on Broadway in March 2010.

Impressionism Suddenly Closes Broadway Production

The new Broadway play Impressionism ended its production at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre today, far earlier than originally planned. The limited engagement was originally scheduled to play at the Schoenfeld through July 5, but negative buzz and poor reviews led to low ticket sales, leaving the struggling show little choice but to end its Broadway run early. Written by Michael Jacobs (Cheaters) and directed by Jack O’Brien (Hairspray, The Full Monty, The Coast of Utopia), Impressionism starred Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen as a photographer and a gallery owner, respectively. This was Irons first time on Broadway in over 20 years – the British film actor’s only other time on the Great White Way was in the original Broadway production of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing. The Tony-winning Allen, too, is a film star with stage roots, and her last appearance on Broadway was in Wendy Wasserstein’s play The Heidi Chronicles in 1990. The strong supporting cast of Impressionism included Andre De Shields, Aaron Lazar, Marsha Mason, and Michael T. Weiss.

2009 Tony Award Nominations – Billy Elliot Leads the Pack

The nominations for the 63rd Annual Tony Awards have been announced, and Billy Elliot leads the pack with 15 nominations, tying it with The Producers as the Broadway show with the most Tony Award nods in history. The original new Broadway musical Next To Normal received 11 nominations, Hair and Shrek the Musical grabbed eight, and Mary Stuart and The Norman Conquests were the plays that received the most recognition, each getting seven nominations. Significant snubs this year include the well-received production of The Seagull starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Peter Saarsgard, the new Jason Robert Brown musical 13, and the new revival of Desire Under the Elms starring Brian Dennehy. Other surprises include Daniel Radcliffe’s failure to secure a Best Actor nod for his work in Equus, 9 To 5 being shut out of the Best Musical category, and John Goodman and Bill Irwin (both in Waiting For Godot) being snubbed. The Tony Awards ceremony will air on CBS on June 7, broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Broadway Hit Hair To Tour Next Year

Can’t make it to New York City to see all the best Broadway shows? Then don’t worry, at least one of this season’s biggest smashes may be coming to a theater near you. The hit Broadway revival of the ‘tribal love-rock musical’ Hair is set to launch a national touring production in the 2010-2011 season, though no dates or cities have been announced yet. Hair is currently playing at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, following its run last summer as part of the Public Theater’s “Shakespeare in the Park” season at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. Hair, which premiered Off-Broadway in 1967, went on to a successful Broadway production at the Biltmore Theatre the following year. The loosely structured musical is about a group of East Village hippies and one of their members, Claude, who gets drafted to go to Vietnam. The show features a number of songs that went on to become classics, including “Good Morning Starshine,” “The Age of Aquarius,” “Easy To Be Hard,” “Let the Sunshine In,” and the title song “Hair”. The Broadway revival has been a big hit with Broadway critics and audiences alike, and the show actually invites audiences onstage at the end of the show each night to dance with the cast.