Broadway

We knew that Ivo van Hove and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's production of West Side Story would challenge our preconceived notions about the show.

But a recent Vogue story gives us a taste of just how nontraditional the Broadway revival will be. Most notably, van Hove is cutting "I Feel Pretty" and the "Somewhere" ballet, condensing the show into one act to better reflect the urgency of the 48-hour plot. (The choice has been approved by the West Side Story estate, including Sondheim, who has "long been uncomfortable" with some of the "I Feel Pretty" lyrics.)

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Broadway
Nathan Sayers

It's one thing to understudy three different demanding principal roles in one show. But sometimes, Sasha Hutchings has to perform them all in one day.

Hutchings, a Broadway dancer who originated an ensemble role in Hamilton and was recently seen in "Fosse/Verdon," understudies both Laurey and Ado Annie in the current Broadway revival of Oklahoma!—plus the lead dancer, who performs the 13-minute dream ballet practically solo. Though she hasn't performed the dream ballet yet, she rehearses it every Friday, right before rehearsing the whole show as either Ado Annie or Laurey, then sometimes performing one of those roles in the evening show.

"As soon as I'm done rehearsing the dream ballet, I have to let that fade in order to fully immerse myself in Laurey," she says. "And if I ran Laurey earlier in the day and I'm watching her scene as Ado Annie, I have to let go of her lines. Once you start going down the thought pattern of that character, it takes you to a whole other place."

We talked to Hutchings about the mental and physical gymanstics of understudying three such distinct roles—and how her dance training helps her do it:

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Broadway
Clare Halse Philip Bertioli in 42nd Street, Courtesy PBS

PBS' third annual "Broadway's Best" series starts tonight, and this year's edition is a treat for dance lovers. The 2019 lineup features five shows: three are Broadway musicals, one's a West End play and the fifth is a taping from The Public Theater's Free Shakespeare in the Park, with movement by a big-name choreographer.

Each Friday in November at 9 pm Eastern on PBS, you can experience a live taping of a different show—and the choreographic talents on display don't disappoint. (Pro tip: If you have the PBS Passport app, you don't have to wait a week between performances. Members can stream all five starting November 1.)

Here's what's airing:

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Broadway
Amber Gray and Patrick Page. Photo by Matthew Murphy, Courtesy Hadestown

There's a rare moment in Broadway's Hadestown where the audience is able to breathe a sigh of relief. The smash-hit success is not well-known for being light-hearted or easy-going; Hadestown is a show full of workers and walls and, well, the second act largely takes place in a slightly modernized version of hell.

But deep into the second act, the show reaches a brief homeostasis of peace, one of those bright, shining moments that allows the audience to think "maybe it will turn out this time," as the character Hermes keeps suggesting.

After songs and songs of conflict and resentment, Hades, the king of the underground, and his wife, the goddess Persephone, rekindle their love. And, unexpectedly, they dance. It's one of the most compelling moments in the show.

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Broadway
Max Clayton of Broadway's Moulin Rouge! with the "Merde" bag. Marques Walls, Courtesy Scenery

Jennifer Kahn knew the theater industry could do better. As a professional stage manager for 17 years she worked on regional, off-Broadway and Broadway shows. Nearly each time a show closed, something unsettling happened: "I would watch them throw away our shows. All of the beautiful artwork by my friends in the paint shop would go in the trash." The elaborate backdrops? Gone.

But she had an idea: What if the material used in the backdrops and legs could be upcycled into something new? And what if theater lovers could literally keep a piece of a beloved show?

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Broadway

The hotly-debated Michael Jackson biomusical is back on. Not that it was ever officially off, but after its pre-Broadway Chicago run was canceled in February, its future seemed shaky.

Now, the show has secured a Broadway theater, with previews starting July 6 at the Neil Simon Theater.

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Broadway
Courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown

If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.

Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.

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Broadway
Michelle Dorrance. Photo by Jayme Thornton

What do Percy Jackson, Princess Diana and Tina Turner have in common? They're all characters on Broadway this season. Throw in Michelle Dorrance's choreographic debut, Henry VIII's six diva-licious wives and the 1990s angst of Alanis Morissette, and the 2019–20 season is shaping up to be an exciting mix of past-meets-pop-culture-present.

Here's a look at the musicals hitting Broadway in the coming months. We're biding our time until opening night!

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Broadway
A scene from SIX: The Musical. Photo by Idil Sukan, Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

Just last week, SIX: The Musicala new show, about the six wives of Henry VIII, that's seen wild success in the UK—announced it's officially coming to Broadway. Yes, it really is time for a pop-infused musical that delivers the skinny on the women whose fates read bluntly as: divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.

But before previews start February 13, 2020, SIX is continuing its out-of-town tryouts with a surprising twist: It will play aboard several Norwegian Cruise Line ships, beginning with the Norwegian Bliss September 1.

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In Memoriam
Hal Prince. Courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown

The most important thing to say about Hal Prince, who died on July 31 at 91, is that he is responsible for West Side Story. Yes, Jerome Robbins had the idea, Leonard Bernstein wrote the music, Stephen Sondheim the lyrics, and Arthur Laurents the book. But if Prince had not gone out on a limb to produce it, dozens of shows we now consider classics would not exist, and today's Broadway would be a vastly different beast.

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Dancers Trending
Rita Moreno. The Heart Truth/Wikimedia Commons

A documentary about famed performer Rita Moreno is in the works for PBS' American Masters series, and with Lin-Manuel Miranda on board as an executive producer, we're doubly excited. Slated for a 2020 release, Rita Moreno: The Girl Who Decided to Go for It will delve into the life of the Puerto Rican actress, singer and dancer.

At 87, she's showing no signs of slowing down—for starters, her Netflix show, "One Day at a Time," was renewed by Pop TV earlier this summer. Moreno's response? To retweet this post of her—doing what else but—dancing.

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Broadway
D. Duguet, Courtesy Moulin Rouge

Last week, Moulin Rouge! The Musical, based off Baz Luhrmann's 2001 hit and choreographed by Sonya Tayeh, opened on Broadway to rave reviews.

On opening night, there were a few members in the audience with a unique perspective on the show: Dancers and artistic staff members from the actual Moulin Rouge in Paris. Samantha Greenlund, an Everson, Washington, native, spent the past three years as a dancer at the Moulin Rouge, and spoke to DM the morning after the red carpet event to offer her take on the musical.

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Broadway
Amber Gray and the Broadway cast of Hadestown. Photo by Matthew Murphy, Courtesy DKC/O&M

Last night's Tony Awards, (aka James Corden's three-hour attempt to persuade TV-streaming-binge-watchers to put down the remote and see some live theater, for gosh sake) had a bit of everything: wisdom from celebrated actors, cheeky laughs, political quips, historical victories and, our favorite, incredible performances. Unsurprisingly, Tony frontrunner Hadestown took home eight awards, including Best Musical, Best Direction for a Musical and Best Featured Actor in a Musical.

Relive the night with some of our favorite moments from Broadway's big night, in order of appearance.

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News
Fox produced a live broadcast of Rent in January—but could an original musical be next? Photo by Kevin Estrada, Courtesy Fox

When a musical prepares to make the transfer from a smaller, lesser-known venue to Broadway (where theaters hold 500-plus seats), often there's a collective intake of breath from all involved. After all, a bigger house means more tickets to sell in order to stay in the black, and sometimes shows with even the most tenacious fan bases can't quite navigate such a jump. But what about the transfer from stage…to screen? Is Broadway ready to be consumed from the comfort of your couch?

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Broadway

"Life can be so rich and wonderful when we step off the logical path and embark on eccentric adventures."

For a sentiment that sounds like it belongs in a fortune cookie, you'd never expect that Steve Young is actually referencing a subset of offbeat, secret musicals: Shows about toilets and tractors and dog food and cars. Shows with big names, like Bob Fosse attached, and even bigger Broadway-style budgets. Shows that were never seen by the public.

These musicals are the subject of Bathtubs Over Broadway, the Tribeca Film Festival–winning documentary that begins streaming on Netflix today.

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Broadway
Amber Gray and the cast of Hadestown. Photo by Helen Maybanks, Courtesy DKC/O&M

The Tony Award nominations were announced yesterday morning, and, as always, they gave us a lot to talk about.

Could Hadestown sweep the awards? Why didn't John Heginbotham's work on Oklahoma! garner him a Best Choreography nomination? What musical numbers will the nominated shows bring to the ceremony on June 9? To discuss, we gathered a group of musical theater–loving editors from Dance Magazine and Dance Spirit for a roundtable conversation about the nominees.

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Broadway
Rana Roy (above) and Jonny Lee Miller in Ink. Photo by Joan Marcus, Courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown

It's no surprise that six Tony nominations, including one for best play, went to the newly opened Ink, a scintillating look at the early days of Rupert Murdoch's media empire. The London hit stars two Olivier Award winners, Bertie Carvel (as Murdoch) and Jonny Lee Miller (as editor Larry Lamb), and is directed by two-time Olivier winner Rupert Goold.

But Tony voters expecting James Graham's play to resemble other prestigious British imports will be surprised to find a choreographer, Lynne Page, listed in their Playbills, and several rowdy, exuberant romps on the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre stage.

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Broadway
Ephraim Sykes in Ain't Too Proud as David Ruffin, one of The Temptations' lead singers. Photo by Matthew Murphy, Courtesy DKC/O&M

Ephraim Sykes has repeatedly proven that he's a standout dancer in Broadway shows like Hamilton, Motown and Newsies. But, boy, can he also sing.

As David Ruffin in Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations, he does both with such vigor that we had to know how he pulls off this famous Temptations frontman. "It requires everything," says Sykes, who was nominated today for outstanding male dancer in a Broadway show by the Chita Rivera Awards.

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Popular
"Too Darn Hot" from Studio 54's Kiss Me, Kate. Photo by Joan Marcus, Courtesy LSG Public Relations

When it comes to musicals, they sure don't make 'em like they used to. Case in point: When Kiss Me, Kate premiered in 1948, integrated musicals—shows that produced genuine emotions and had music and lyrics closely tied to the script, rather than comedies or revues—were still a fairly new trend. In fact, Kiss Me, Kate was Cole Porter's first stab at this structure. Fast forward to 2019, and it's hard not to notice that some numbers feel like they're barely related to the narrative.

Scratch your head all you want (Why are they singing and dancing again? And how exactly does it move the plot forward?), but there's a major upside to this structure: It gave choreographer Warren Carlyle a lot of room to play when choreographing Studio 54's current revival.

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Broadway
Gabrielle Hamilton in John Heginbotham's dream ballet from Oklahoma! Photo by Little Fang Photo, Courtesy DKC/O&M

The connections dancers make in college are no joke. For recent alum Gabrielle Hamilton, working with guest choreographer John Heginbotham at Point Park University put her on the fast track to Broadway—not in an ensemble role, but as the lead dancer in one of this season's hottest tickets: Daniel Fish's arresting reboot of Oklahoma!

We caught up with Hamilton about starring in the show's dream ballet and her delightfully bizarre pre-show ritual.

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Pop Culture
Michael Parmalee/FX, Courtesy FX

It's a bit of an understatement to say that Bob Fosse was challenging to work with. He was irritable, inappropriate and often clashed with his collaborators in front of all his dancers. "Fosse/Verdon," which premieres on FX tonight, doesn't sugarcoat any of this.

But for Sasha Hutchings, who danced in the first episode's rendition of "Big Spender," the mood on set was quite opposite from the one that Fosse created. Hutchings had already worked with choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, who she calls "a dancer's dream," director Tommy Kail and music director Alex Lacamoire as a original cast member in Hamilton, and she says the collaborators' calm energy made the experience a pleasant one for the dancers.

"Television can be really stressful," she says. "There's so many moving parts and everyone has to work in sync. With Tommy, Andy and Lac I never felt the stress of that as a performer."

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