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Podcast Vol. 217 – NYMF 2008 Part 3

WELCOME TO WEEK THREE of our exclusive NYMF coverage.  This week we have a lot of new shows and gala concert honoring one of the finer independent production companies in the city.  So with all of this stuff waiting let's get the show on the road.

First, we sit down with the writer and an actor from TWILIGHT IN MANCHEGO as well as hear music from the new musical.  We chat with an actress and the multi-talented book/music/lyric writer for ROAD TO RUIN.  The co-author of COLLEGE: THE MUSICAL comes by with one of the actors from the show.  The famed Prospect Theatre Company is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and NYMF is helping.  We talk to the founder and the artistic director of the company.  Also, the director and producer for the new musical, WILD ABOUT HARRY, come in to share with us about Leona Helmsley.  And finally, the director and one of the actors from MAX AND THE TRUFFLE PIG stop in to chat and share music with us.

We don't have Marty or Ken this week, but they'll be back next week as we continue to cover NYMF 2008.

So what are you waiting for.  Hop on board the Broadway Bullet for all destinations on or off Broadway!

NYMF 2008 Special Part 3.

We’re covering NYMF musicals exclusively for 4 weeks in a row (YES! Extra episodes!) for their fall 2008 festival.

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 Twilight in Manchego

TWILIGHT IN MANCHEGO TELLS the story of Esau Munsey, who leaves a haunted past in the city to teach fourth grade in a provincial elementary school.  But his intentions to provoke change in an outdated education system distract him from the students he really wants to inspire.  When Esau’s history repeats itself and the small town of Manchego is struck by tragedy, Esau must finally put to rest the ghosts of his past and make peace with himself and his choices.  We get a chance to sit down with the show’s writer and one it’s stars, Matt Gould and Natalie Belcon (Avenue Q’s original Gary Coleman) to taqlk about the heavy hitting musical.  We also get to hear “Same old Story” and “Twilight in Manchego” from the show.

Schedule: Sep 25th, 8:00 pm, Sep 26th, 7:00 pm, Sep 27th, 9:00 pm, Sep 29th, 8:00 pm, Oct 1st, 8:00 pm, Oct 4th, 1:00 pm at American Theatre of Actors (Chernuchin)

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Road to Ruin

THE ROAD TO RUIN (The 1928 Exploitation Musical), where sex delinquency, neglectful parents, bottled water and Christians bring down Little Sally Canfield, “The Nicest Girl at Central High.” BUT NEVER FEAR: by the final curtain, justice is served and redemption achieved through good works, cookies and dogs.  We chat with the show’s book/lyrics/music writer, William Zoffiro and Actree Ann Morrison who share with us a couple of songs from the show, “Flora’s Filosophy” and “The Road to Ruin”.

 Schedule: Sep 18th, 8:00 pm, Sep 19th, 8:00 pm, Sep 21st, 8:00 pm, Sep 25th, 8:00 pm, Sep 28th, 8:00 pm, Oct 1st, 4:30 pm at 45th Street Theater

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THE TONY-AWARD WINNING musical In the Heights has again been honored.  Actors’ Equity announced Sept. 10 that the acclaimed musical, which continues to play the Richard Rodgers Theatre, has been named the recipient of the Actors’ Equity Association Advisory Committee on Chorus Affairs’ Second Annual ACCA Award for Outstanding Broadway Chorus.  The award, according to a press statement, honors “the distinctive talents and contributions made by the chorus of a Broadway musical.” The awards ceremony will be held Sept. 23 during the ACCA meeting at Equity’s NYC headquarters.  The In the Heights winners, who were all part of the show’s March 9, 2008, opening-night cast, include Michael Balderrama, Blanca Camacho, Tony Chiroldes, Rogelio Douglas, Jr. Rosie Lani Fiedelman, Joshua Henry, Afra Hines, Stephanie Klemons, Nina LaFarga, Doreen Montalvo, Javier Muñoz, Krysta Rodriguez, Eliseo Román, Luis Salgado, Shaun Taylor-Corbett and Rickey Tripp.  In a statement Jean-Paul Richard, Equity’s second vice president and ACCA chair, said, “The chorus of In the Heights truly exemplifies the hard work, dedication and talent it takes to be outstanding in a Broadway musical.”  Nominees for this year’s award included In the Heights, Xanadu, Cry-Baby and South Pacific. Criteria for nomination included “what was required of each chorus by the director, the choreographer, the musical director and the caliber of skill used to execute those requirements. The Committee then deliberated on the requisite technical skill of the chorus actor and the contributions the entire chorus made to the overall production.”

THE NEW COLONY, THE new Chicago theatre company dedicated exclusively to world premieres, will present Amelia Earhart Jungle Princess this fall at The National Pastime Theater. Directed by Andrew Hobgood, the production will begin previews Sept. 26 and officially open Sept. 29. Performances will continue through Nov. 2.  The cast of James Asmus’ play will feature Nicole Pellegrino, Daniel Jessup, Kevin Stangler, Josh Odor, Michael Peters, Evan Linder, Benny Oyama and Nick Hernon.  Amelia Earhart Jungle Princess, according to press notes, “unfolds the possible history of the expedition that actually found the legendary pilot living as a semi-amnesiatic jungle-woman. Shifting between wild jungle encounters and dangerous showdowns of business and politics, the story extrapolates the two sides of the Earhart mythos – as a daring pioneer and divisive feminist icon.”  In a statement director Hobgood said, “We founded The New Colony to create new theatre that would matter to American audiences, as well as attract new, typically non-theatre-going audiences. James and I saw Amelia as a great way to provide the exciting, visceral experience of live theatre while intellectually exploring feminism and turn-of-the-century politics.”  Asmus and Hobgood recently won the FringeNYC award for Outstanding Music and Lyrics for Love is Dead: A NecRomantic Musical Comedy.  Show times for Amelia Earhart Jungle Princess are Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 7 PM.

SAN DIEGO’S OLD GLOBE has announced the productions that will be featured during the company’s 2009 summer season.  Joining the previously announced new musical The First Wives Club will be productions of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Henry VIII, Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac and Charles Ludlam’s The Mystery of Irma Vep.
Details about the summer season follow:

The First Wives Club – A New Musical
The Old Globe Theatre, July 15-Aug. 16, 2009
Book by Rupert Holmes, music and lyrics by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland
Directed by Francesca Zambello
The Mystery of Irma Vep
San Diego Museum of Art’s James S. Copley Auditorium, Aug. 1-Sept. 6, 2009
By Charles Ludlam
Directed by Henry Wishcamper
Twelfth Night, Henry VIII and Cyrano de Bergerac
William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Henry VIII and Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano will run in rep at the outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre, June 13-Sept. 27, 2009
Darko Tresnjak will direct Henry VIII and Cyrano; Paul Mullins will direct Twelfth Night

THE SHAKESPEARE THEATRE COMPANY in Washington, DC, opens its 2008-2009 season with an all-male production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Sept. 9-Oct. 12, at Sidney Harman Hall.  STC associate artistic director David Muse stages the production. The all-male casting reflects the convention of Shakespeare’s time. Opening is Sept. 15.  The cast includes Finn Wittrock as Romeo and James Davis as Juliet, with Aubrey Deeker, Drew Eshelman, Ted van Griethuysen, Dan Kremer, Lawrence Redmond and Craig Wallace.  “Staged in the thrust configuration, the production features period costumes and music influenced by the Renaissance to explore theatre traditions prevalent in Shakespeare’s day,” according to STC.  According to STC notes, “The world’s greatest and most enduring love story, Romeo and Juliet follows its star-crossed lovers as they hurtle from their first shy glances to their last heartrending kiss. Caught between their feuding families, Romeo and Juliet desperately struggle to build a world insulated from the violence, but their love races toward a final confrontation with fate.”  “Shakespeare was a writer of gorgeous poetry, but I believe that the love poetry in Romeo and Juliet is especially glorious in part because Shakespeare knew that two young men would be performing it,” stated director David Muse. “Shakespeare knew that he couldn’t count on two actors gazing at each other to portray being in love in a way that audiences were going to believe. And so the actors need to jump into the language and make its power convince us of the power of this love. Working with an all-male cast unlocks a world of imaginative collaboration between the audience and the actors, and I hope that people will walk away with an image of this play in their heads that is different from the romanticized, stereotypical Romeo and Juliet that’s lodged in our consciousness. I hope it’s a play that feels fresh and dangerous and transgressive, which is a way that we don’t usually think of this play.”

JASON ROBERT BROWN’S THE Last 5 Years, originally scheduled to receive a one-night gala staging at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket on Oct. 12, will now play two additional performances on Oct. 19 and Oct. 26, after the original date sold out less than four weeks after going on sale.  Last 5 Years is presented under the auspices of the Notes from New York series, whose fifth anniversary will be marked by this production.  Featuring Notes from New York associate artists Julie Atherton and Paul Spicer (who also co-founded the series), the Last 5 Years staging brings the concept behind the series full circle, which was to present the work of contemporary, mostly American, musical theatre composers in London, and Jason Robert Brown was one of the first composers to be featured.  The Last 5 Years premiered at Chicago’s Northlight Theatre in 2001 (starring Lauren Kennedy and Norbert Leo Butz), and was subsequently produced at Off-Broadway’s Minetta Lane Theatre in 2002 (again with Butz but newly joined by Sherie Rene Scott). The U.K. premiere at the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2006 starred Lara Pulver (who subsequently appeared in Brown’s Parade at the Donmar Warehouse) and Damian Humbley. The show revolves around the relationship between a newly published novelist Jamie and an aspiring acress Cathy, whose lives pull in opposite directions.  Atherton was seen as Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut in the original London cast of Avenue Q and previously played Sophie in Mamma Mia! and Serena in Fame. She was recently seen in the world premiere of Once Upon a Time at the Adelphi at Liverpool Playhouse and the one-night gala A Spoonful of Stiles and Drewe at the West End’s Her Majesty’s Theatre. Her solo album is called “A Girl of Few Words.” Spicer was recently seen as Tobias in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd at the Gothenburg Opera in Sweden. Previous West End roles include taking over the role of Michael in The Witches of Eastwick and Billy in Taboo. He has toured the U.K. in Fame, Saturday Night Fever and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and was part of the international touring cast of Mamma Mia!.


College: The Musical

ENDLESS PARTIES.  SKIPPING CLASSES. Drunken hook-ups. And…um…finding yourself? COLLEGE: The Musical offers a tuneful take on modern campus life – celebrating the ridiculousness and pure fun of dorm living and reflecting on the growing up that somehow goes on amid the insanity  THe show’s Author, Scott Elmegreen and Molly Ephralm, Amy, drop in to tell us what college was like and what College is all about.  We also get a listen at “Tired” and “Good Enough For Now” from the show.

Schedule: Sep 18th, 8:00 pm, Sep 19th, 10:30 pm, Sep 20th, 1:00 pm, Sep 26th, 10:30 pm, Sep 27th, 1:00 pm, Sep 28th, 9:00 pm at American Theatre of Actors (Chernuchin)

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Prospect Theatre Company:  10th Anniversary

JCELEBRATE TEN YEARS OF INNOVATIVE new musicals from Prospect Theatre Company! Join Broadway stars and Prospect members in an anniversary retrospective of songs from THE TAXI CABARET, THE FLOOD, ILLYRIA, DIDO (& AENEAS), THE ALCHEMISTS, LONELY RHYMES, THE PURSUIT OF PERSEPHONE, THE TUTOR, THE BOOK OF THE DUN COW, IRON CURTAIN, TOCK TICK, THE ROCKAE, THE BLUE FLOWER, and HONOR.  Peter Mills, the prodcution company’s founder/resident writer, comes by with Cara Reichel, Artistic Director, to tell us about the special NYMF Concert exclusive, and to give us a hint of what’s to come in the next ten years form Prospect Theatre Company.  We also hear a couple of tunes from the show “Highway Miles” and “If not For Musicals”.

Schedule: Sep 21st, 9:00 pm at 37 Arts – Theatre C

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Wild About Harry

THIS UNIQUE, DANCED-THROUGH musical, created especially for NYMF ’08 and choreographed by five of today’s most talented young choreographers, begins where the tabloids left off. A completely fresh look at Leona Helmsley, one of NYC’s most colorful characters, and the one man who loved her, the many others who did not, and her dog…who inherited 12 million bucks.  The show’s producer, Melinda Atwood, and director, Elizabeth Lucas, come by to tell us what they think of Helmsley and also what Harry’s all about.  We hear a number from the show “Trouble in Harry”, with music by Dan Aquisto.

Schedule: Sep 19th, 8:00 pm, Sep 20th, 2:00 pm, Sep 20th, 8:00 pm, Sep 21st, 4:00 pm, Sep 28th, 7:30 pm at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center

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AUSTIN PENDLETON DIRECTS NORBERT Leo Butz and Elizabeth Marvel in MCC Theatre’s world premiere of Michael Weller’s Fifty Words, which begins performances at Off-Broadway’s Lucille Lortel Sept. 10.  The limited run is slated to officially open Sept. 28 at the Lortel and play through Oct. 25.  “Something’s gone very wrong behind the idyllic façade of Jan and Adam’s Brooklyn brownstone,” read press notes for the two-character piece. “At 9:10 PM, they’re reveling in the freedom of having waved off their young son, Greg, to a neighborhood sleepover. By 9:15 PM, they’re both in tears. By 9:25 PM, things are way past tears.”  The design team for Fifty Words features Neil Patel (scenic), Michelle Habeck (lighting) and Mimi O’Donnell (costume) with sound by Fitz Patton and Josh Schmidt (who also provides musical composition).  Last seen on Broadway in Mark Twain’s Is He Dead?, Butz earned a Tony Award for his work in 2005’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. A co-star in the film “Dan in Real Life,” he has also appeared on Broadway in Wicked, Cabaret, Thou Shalt Not and Rent as well as Off-Broadway in Buicks and the musical The Last Five Years Recent Top Girls star Marvel has also appeared on Broadway in Seascape, An American Daughter, Taking Sides and The Seagull as well as in Off-Broadway’s Almost an Evening, Dark Matters, A Streetcar Named Desire, Shopping and Fucking and her Obie Award-winning turn in Hedda Gabler.  Weller is known for his plays Loose Ends, Moonchildren, What the Night is For as well as for the book for the musical Zhivago.  Free talkback sessions will follow Tuesday shows on Sept. 16 (with playwright Weller), Sept. 23 (with director Pendleton and Dr. Wendy Greenspun) and Oct. 21 (with stars Butz and Marvel). (Guests are subject to change.)  Fifty Words opens the MCC season, which continues with Neil LaBute’s The Break of Noon (Jan. 14-Feb. 28, 2009) and the musical Coraline (May 6-June 20, 2009), featuring music and lyrics by Stephin Merritt and a book by David Greenspan based on the novel by Neil Gaiman.

SHREK THE MUSICAL, BASED on the story and characters from William Steig’s “Shrek!” and the blockbuster DreamWorks Animation film of the same name — officially opens at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre Sept. 10. Previews began Aug. 14. Directed by Jason Moore (Avenue Q and the Carnegie Hall Jerry Springer — The Opera), the production will play the Washington venue through Sept. 21.  Following its out-of-town tryout, Shrek will arrive at New York’s Broadway Theatre Nov. 8 with an official opening scheduled for Dec. 14. recently reported that Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Rob Ashford will lend a hand in the shaping of the new Broadway-bound musical. Ashford flew into Seattle Sept. 2 to assist director Moore. “I called Rob Ashford and asked him to come out and take a look at the show,” Moore recently told “We’ve been adding three or four new musical numbers…. We want to get as much accomplished here as we can. Rob got here last night. He’ll be with us through Seattle. It will be another pair of hands on deck.” To read’s interview with director Moore, click here.  Brian d’Arcy James, the singing actor who was recently seen in the Off-Broadway musical Next to Normal, plays the title role of the lovable green ogre in the new musical with Cry-Baby’s Chester Gregory II as Donkey, Avenue Q Tony nominee John Tartaglia as Pinocchio, Tony winner Sutton Foster (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Young Frankenstein) as Princess Fiona, Christopher Sieber (Monty Python’s Spamalot) as Lord Farquaad and Kecia Lewis-Evans (The Drowsy Chaperone) as the dragon.

THE JOHN F. KENNEDY CENTER for the Performing Arts announced the selection of the individuals who will receive the Kennedy Center Honors of 2008.  Recipients to be honored at the 31st annual national celebration of the arts are: actor Morgan Freeman, singer George Jones, actress and singer Barbra Streisand, choreographer Twyla Tharp, and musicians Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey of The Who.  “With their extraordinary genius and tenacity, the 2008 Honorees have redefined the way we see, hear and feel the performing arts. We will forever be thankful for the great gifts they have shared with us,” said Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman.  “Morgan Freeman’s name is synonymous with great screen acting and is one of the most respected performers in American cinema. With his unique voice and extraordinary career endurance, singer George Jones has been instrumental in making country music a vital force in American life. Barbra Streisand’s trailblazing career in music, theater, films, and television is one of the most thrilling spectacles of our culture. Choreographer Twyla Tharp is an American original, whose work has indelibly enriched the vocabulary of modern dance, contemporary ballet, and the Broadway musical. As the heart and soul of the seminal band The Who, songwriters and singers Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey transformed the sights and sounds of rock and roll.”  The annual Honors Gala has become the highlight of the Washington cultural year, and its broadcast on CBS is a high point of the television season.  On Sunday, December 7, in a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, produced by George Stevens Jr., the 2008 Honorees will be saluted by great performers from New York, Hollywood, Nashville, and the arts capitals of the world. Seated with the President of the United States and Mrs. Bush, the Honorees will accept the thanks of their peers and fans through performances and heartfelt tributes.   The President and Mrs. Bush will receive the Honorees and members of the Artists Committee, who nominate them, along with the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees at the White House prior to the gala performance.  The 2008 Kennedy Center Honors Gala concludes with a supper dance in the Grand Foyer.  The Kennedy Center Honors will be bestowed the night before the gala on Saturday, December 6, at a State Department dinner, hosted by Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.  The Honors Gala will be recorded for broadcast on the CBS Network for the 31st consecutive year as a two-hour prime time special.  Stevens, who created the Honors in 1978 with Nick Vanoff, will produce and co-write the show for the 31st year.  The Honors telecast has been honored with five Emmy’s for Outstanding Program and is nominated again this year.  It has also been recognized with the Peabody Award for Outstanding Contribution to Television and seven awards from the Writers Guild of America.

9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL — boasting a score by the Grammy Award-winning star of the concert stage and screen, Dolly Parton — makes its debut Sept. 9 at the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre. Two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello (Wicked, Take Me Out, Assassins) directs.  The eagerly awaited show was first expected to bow at the Ahmanson in L.A. Sept. 3 but was delayed to Sept. 6 due to technical problems. A second delay pushed the preview date to Sept. 9.  Michael Ritchie, CTG artistic director, said in a recent statement, “I hate disappointing these early preview audiences, but thankfully we have the ability to add performances later in the run to help re-locate our audiences. And once they see the show, they will understand why we are taking the extra time to meet this musical’s large technical demands. 9 to 5: The Musical is one of the biggest shows ever produced at the Ahmanson, and big shows, with this quality of cast and creative team deserve the utmost support in their development. To do any less would be a disservice to all.”  Previews now run Sept. 9-19, with the opening date of Sept. 20 remaining unchanged.  9 to 5: The Musical has music and lyrics by seven-time Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and musician Parton, book by Patricia Resnick and choreography by Tony Award winner Andy Blankenbuehler.  Parton’s original score for 9 to 5: The Musical includes over 20 new songs as well as the Grammy Award-winning, Academy Award-nominated No. 1 Billboard title song. “Backwoods Barbie,” heard on Parton’s new album of the same name, is also part of the show’s score, Parton previously said.  Multiple Emmy Award winner and Tony Award nominee Allison Janney stars as Violet Newstead, the super efficient office manager who joins her co-workers — the frazzled divorcee Judy Bernly, played by Stephanie J. Block, and the sexy executive secretary Doralee Rhodes, played by Megan Hilty, to turn the tables on their boss, the “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical, bigot” Franklin Hart, Jr., played by two-time Tony Award nominee Marc Kudisch.



Max is a serious boy.Suzette is a light-hearted pig.Max’s father is the most temperamental of French chefs.When the neighborhood Countess announces her plan to come to dinner, Max and Suzette are sent deep into the Frenchwoods to find that rarest of gastronomic delicacies: the truffle.  Nothing goes according to plan.  Director Erica Gourd drops in with Max, Kevin Michael Murphy, to tell us about this new delictible musical that is fun for all ages.  We also hear a demo from the productio, “This is Our Chance”.

Schedule: Sep 15th, 8:00 pm, Sep 17th, 4:30 pm, Sep 20th, 1:00 pm, Sep 20th, 4:30 pm, Sep 21st, 4:30 pm, Sep 23rd, 8:00 pm at 45th Street Theater

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