News Ticker

Podcast Vol. 221 – October 23, 2008

THIS WEEK IS JAM packed with lots of insider news and talk.  We sit down with Tom Berger and Erin Smiley to discuss giving up civil liberties in the name of protection and their new show, "As We Speak," for (re:) Directions Company.  We also talk to the producer and an actor from the charity concert version of Jeremy Schonfeld's "Drift."  In the studio, an artistic director and one of the founding members of TACT talk about their new comedy, "Bedroom Farce." We also have Jesse Cutler in to talk about his new memoir, "Starlust: The Price of Fame." We also feature two new songs in the listening room this week: one from Michael Gilboe and John Pollard, and one from the new Jason Robert Brown musical, "13." We've also got all the news you want in the top of the trades and the callboard. So what are you waiting for, hop on board the Broadway Bullet for all destinations on and off Broadway!


Accentuate the Negative

POLITICAL SPOOFING AT IT’S best, our own Michael Gilboe and John Pollard try to take a looka t the McCain campaign in an attempt to accentuate the negative.



As We Speak

IN A POST 9/11, post-Katrina world full of the politics of fear and doctrines of intolerance and hate, what are we willing to sacrifice for our own sense of security? What liberties are we willing to give up so we can go to bed at night? Inspired by Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here and commissioned by RTC, As We Speak takes a look at what could happen in an America stripped of her civil liberties.  We sit down with director, Tom BErger, and assistant director, Erin Smiley, to talk about the show and the implications of the future and liberties we might juswt have to give up.

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NEW YORK STAGE AND FILM (SAF) will hold its annual winter gala Nov. 10 at Capitale in Manhattan.  The evening will honor acting couple Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick as well as Douglas Harmon for “their ongoing commitment to live performance and support of SAF.”  In a statement artistic director Johanna Pfaelzer said, “We are excited to kick off our 25th year of producing new and exciting theatre by honoring Kyra, Kevin, and Doug for their wonderful contributions to SAF and to the theater community in general. Since 1985, we have dedicated ourselves to both emerging and established artists in the development and production of theatre and film and we look forward to continuing for the next 25 years.”  Sedgwick has appeared in SAF workshops of Honour and Yield of a Long Bond. Douglas, the senior managing director of Eastdil Secured, has been on the SAF Board of Directors since 1994. And, Harmon executive produced Andrew Wagner’s Starting Out in the Evening, which starred Frank Langella.  The gala will begin at 6:30 PM with a cocktail reception, followed by 7:30 PM dinner and 8:30 PM entertainment.  Capitale is located in Manhattan at 130 Bowery, between Broom and Grand Streets. Tax-deductible tickets, which begin at $350, are available by calling (212) 736-4240. Visit for more information.

ACTRESS, STAND-UP COMIC, producer and talk-show host Rosie O’Donnell, who will try her hand at reviving the variety show genre in November, will executive produce and star in a made-for-television film for Lifetime.  Entitled “America,” the telepic, Variety reports, concerns the struggles of a teenager who is part of the foster-care system. The film is based on E.R. Frank’s book of the same title.  O’Donnell will play the therapist of the 16-year-old America. Ruby Dee will co-star. Yvez Simoneau will direct the Sony Pictures Television production.  “America,” which will air in February 2009, will be produced by Larry Sanitsky and written by Joyce Eliason. Both had worked with O’Donnell on CBS’ 2005 film “Riding on the Bus With My Sister.”  Rosie O’Donnell made her Broadway debut as Rizzo in the 1994 revival of Grease!, played a limited engagement as the Cat in the Hat in the Ahrens-Flaherty musical Seussical, and portrayed Golde in the recent revival of Fiddler on the Roof. The performer also spent some time on the other side of the footlights as producer of the Broadway version of Boy George’s Taboo.  O’Donnell rose to fame as a stand-up comic before landing roles in such films as “A League of Their Own,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” “The Flintsones” and “Exit to Eden.” Her Emmy-winning talk show, “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” ran from 1996 to 2001, and her more recent TV credits include appearances on “Will & Grace” and “Queer as Folk” as well as the made-for-television movie “Riding the Bus with My Sister” and the cable series “Nip/Tuck.” She also spent a year as co-host of ABC-TV’s “The View.”  O’Donnell is married to Kelli Carpenter O’Donnell; the couple has four children. O’Donnell’s autobiography is titled “Find Me”; her newest book is “Celebrity Detox.”  As previously announced, “Rosie’s Variety Show” will make its debut Nov. 26 at 8 PM ET on NBC. Celebrity guests, comedy skits, musical acts and contests will be part of “Rosie’s Variety Show,” which will air live from Manhattan. O’Donnell will executive produce the show with David Friedman (“Last Comic Standing”).

THE MUSICAL AND DANCE numbers have been announced for the 23rd anniversary Career Transition for Dancers gala, On Broadway! A Glittering Salute to the American Musical, Oct. 27.  Hosted by four-time Tony Award winner Angela Lansbury, the annual benefit, which begins at 7 PM at City Center, will be followed by a supper with the stars in The Hilton’s Grand Ballroom. Written by Deborah Grace Winer and produced and directed by Ann Marie DeAngelo, On Broadway! is described as a “glorious historical journey inside the Broadway musical seen through the eyes of legendary choreographers.”  The evening will include appearances and/or performances by Mikhail Baryshnikov, Kelly Bishop, Cheyenne Jackson, Jane Krakowski, Bebe Neuwirth, Noah Racey, Brooke Shields, Karen Ziemba, American Ballet Theatre stars Xiomara Reyes and Herman Cornejo, the Nanjing Duo and artists from New York Theatre Ballet. The performers will be accompanied by the Jubilee Orchestra under the direction of Jim Morgan.  Among the evening’s musical numbers will be Karen Ziemba and Noah Racey performing a duet from Crazy for You; Bebe Neuwirth, David Gibson and Pam Sousa in the “Manson Trio” from Pippin; and Jane Krakowski and Cheyenne Jackson singing Damn Yankees’ “Two Lost Souls” as well as a number from Tommy Tune and the evening’s finale, Seesaw’s “It’s Not Where You Start.”  Randy Skinner will also stage a large chorus number from 42nd Street, Josh Bergassee will stage “Cool” from West Side Story, Mary MacLeod will stage Bob Fosse’s “Steam Heat” from The Pajama Game, Mercedes Ellington will stage “On Broadway,” and the New York Theater Ballet will perform the “Dream Ballet” from Oklahoma!  The evening will also feature the presentation of awards to veteran Broadway actor-director-choreographer Tommy Tune, Brian Heidtke and dancer-actress Sono Osata. Tune will receive the Rolex Dance Award, Heidtke and Osata will be presented with Career Transition for Dancers’ Awards for Outstanding Contributions to the World of Dance.

GYPSY’S ALISON FRASER AND recent Xanadu star Mary Testa will return to the Laurie Beechman Theatre in November following two sold-out concerts at the intimate nightspot in the past few weeks.  Their show, Together Again, celebrates the work of Fraser’s late husband, composer Rusty Magee. New show times are Nov. 10 at 7 PM and Nov. 24 at 10 PM. Part of the Voices from the Great White Way series, Fraser and Testa’s concert features a four-piece band led by Allison Leyton-Brown and special guest Annie Golden.  Alison Fraser, who plays Tessie Tura in Gypsy, received Tony nominations for her performances in Romance/Romance and The Secret Garden, and her other Broadway credits include The Mystery of Edwin Drood and the 1996 revival of Tartuffe. She created the role of Trina in William Finn’s In Trousers and March of the Falsettos and starred in the national tour of High School Musical as well as in productions of Lizzie Borden, Honk!, Lend Me a Tenor, Gunmetal Blues and Lips Together, Teeth Apart. Her screen credits include “Law & Order: SVU,” “Third Watch,” “The Thing About My Folks,” “Jack and His Friends” and “In the Blood.”  Mary Testa, who played Melpomene and Medusa in Xanadu, has also been seen on Broadway in Chicago, Barnum, Marilyn, The Rink, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, On the Town, Marie Christine and 42nd Street, earning Tony nominations for her work in On the Town and 42nd Street. Her other theatre credits include See What I Wanna See, String of Pearls, Lend Me a Tenor, The Vagina Monologues, The Wax, From Above (Obie Award), Lucky Stiff, In Trousers, Tartuffe and On the Town (Obie Award). Testa’s screen credits include “Stay,” “Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding,” “Sleepers,” “Whoopi” and “Sex and the City.”



WITH A PULSING ROCK score by acclaimed composer, Jeremy Schonfeld, Drift weaves raw and gracefully honest songs together to tell the story of one man’s divorce and reconcilitaion.  The show was originally produced by the New York Musical Theatre Festival in their 2006 season, and is now being presented as a benefit concert at B.B. King’s Grill.  The one night only concert that will benefit Actor’s Equit and Atlanta’s Broadway Dreams will feature performances by Terrence Mann, Adam Pascal, Julia Murney, and more. We sat down in the studio to have a little chat with Cori Gardener, Producer, and member of Path-Fund, the production’s lead producer, and Adam Kantor, Rent’s final Mark and also a performer in the concert, to find out about the show’s reconception and what it means to be a part of it.

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Bedroom Farce

TREVOR AND SUSSANAH ARE on the verge of a break-up  and they’re determined to take their friends and family down with them! After Trevor and his ex-girlfriend, Jan, are caught kissing at Malcolm and Kate’s housewarming party, all hell breaks loose. Susannah flees to her in-laws who are trying to salvage their anniversary celebration; while Trevor pays a midnight visit to Jan’s in order to explain his misdeeds to her husband, Nick. As the evening progresses, this unstable pair travels from bedroom to bedroom, raining hysterical havoc on everything they touch and assuring that no one will get any sleep.  Cynthia Harris, Artistic director of TACT, and Larry Keith, founding member of TACT, drop in to tell us all about this bedroom romp that is far from a mere bedroom romp.

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WE GIVE YOU A little taste of the new musical by Jason Robert Brown, 13, with the song, “A Little More Homework”.

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Starlust – The Price of Fame

READ HOW JESSE CUTLER rose through the ranks to rub elbows with legendary celebrities, to perform in front of one of the Rolling Stones, and play in the Original Broadway Cast of Godspell.  In his explosive new memoir, Jesse guides you through the highs and lows of trying to make it in the industry and what happens when you do and temptation gets in the way.  It’s a memoir of success and failure and the power of coming into your own.  We sit down with Jesse to talk about the book and what it was like to work on Godspell for over two years.


A PLANNED LATE 2008 Off-Broadway run of the new Joe DiPietro-David Bryan musical The Toxic Avenger, currently playing George Street Playhouse in New Jersey, has been postponed, according to an Equity casting notice.  The New York City engagement had not been officially announced, but an earlier casting notice indicated a wholesale move of the GSP production for a December commercial Off-Broadway opening.  “The show has been postponed to another date to be announced,” according to an Oct. 20 casting notice.  The campy and gory new rock musical is based on the cult film. The New Jersey-set musical, with songs by Joe DiPietro and Bon Jovi founding member David Bryan and book by DiPietro, is currently having its world premiere at George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, NJ.  Tony Award winner John Rando directs. Tom Polum and Jean Cheever were listed as the future commercial producers on a casting notice. Casting is by McCorkle Casting.

TONY AWARD NOMINATED PLAYWRIGHT Douglas Carter Beane has reconceived his stage musical Dancing in the Dark — based on the M-G-M picture “The Band Wagon,” and seen earlier this year in San Diego — as a vehicle for Broadway leading man Cheyenne Jackson. has learned that a late October New York City industry reading is expected to explore the rewrite of the backstage musical comedy about oil-and-water stars of a troubled Broadway-bound musical. Xanadu star Jackson plays the freshened lead role of a Hollywood bad boy named Tony Hunter leaping into the legit realm.  Gary Griffin (The Color Purple, The Apple Tree) remains attached as director. The property is no longer called Dancing in the Dark, as it was at the Old Globe in San Diego March 4-April 20, 2008. The new title is the old title — The Band Wagon, which will please fans of the 1953 movie musical that starred Fred Astaire as a song-and-dance man Tony Hunter paired with Cyd Charisse as a ballet star Gaby Gerard. They’re teamed in a pretentious musical version of Faust that is sinking on the road until an injection of show tunes saves the day.  Both the classic film and this stage version (which is being shepherded by producers Barry and Fran Weissler, of Chicago fame) are packed with songs by golden age Broadway writers Howard Dietz (lyrics) and Arthur Schwartz (music). They wrote “That’s Entertainment” for the ’53 movie; the rest of the score was pulled from their catalog of classics (think “Dancing in the Dark,” “New Sun in the Sky,” “Triplets,” “I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan,” “By Myself” and more).  The Astaire-created role of Tony Hunter was already reconditioned for the San Diego run, when Scott Bakula played the character with the quality of an Everyman crooner — more Bing Crosby than Astaire.  Now, the role of Tony Hunter has been completely reconceived as a young singer and movie heartthrob who has burned all his bridges in Hollywood and is returning to Broadway.

BARTLETT SHER, THE TONY-winning director of the current Tony-winning revival of South Pacific, has been appointed the resident director of Lincoln Center Theater, which is currently presenting the aforementioned Rodgers and Hammerstein classic at the Vivian Beaumont.  Sher also earned Tony nominations for his work on the Lincoln Center Theater productions of The Light in the Piazza and Awake and Sing!  Sher will continue his duties as artistic director of Seattle’s Intiman Theatre, but will now align with Lincoln Center Theater to stage one production for the company per year, and will serve as artistic consultant to LCT artistic director Andre Bishop.  In addition to his work for the Broadway stage, Sher directed the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia and City Opera’s Mourning Becomes Electra. Forthcoming projects include Othello for the Intiman, as well as Craig Lucas’ Prayer for My Enemy at Playwrights Horizons and The Tales of Hoffman at the MET.

ACTOR’S FROM THE BROADWAY casts of Avenue Q, Billy Elliot, Spamalot, Spring Awakening, Xanadu and The Color Purple will take part in a one-night-only production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  Directed by David Lefkowich, the benefit performance will be held Dec. 15 at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College. Show time is 8 PM.  The cast will feature Tom Deckman as Snoopy, Morgan Karr as Charlie Brown, Matt Crowle as Linus, Carmen Ruby Floyd as Lucy, David Larsen as Schroeder and Kenita R. Miller as Sally.  Jonathan Rose will be the musical director. Producers are Philip Accorso, Frances Mercanti-Anthony and David Lefkowich for The Friends in Theater Company.  You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown was penned by Clark Guesser and Andrew Lippa.  All of the evening’s proceeds will benefit Make-A-Wish Foundation, a non-profit charity that “has given hope, strength and joy to children with life-threatening medical conditions since 1980.”




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