The Broadway Spring 2019 Preview

Squips, Demons, And The Underworld: A Broadway Spring 2019 Preview

What's coming to Broadway this spring?

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Another season of brand-new musicals is set to begin in March 2019, leading up to the Tony Awards this June, to compete with shows that previously opened in the fall and winter. Here are the musicals set to open between these dates.

"Be More Chill" (March 10th, Lyceum Theatre).

"Be More Chill."

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Based on Ned Vizzini's 2004 graphic novel, Joe Iconis and Joe Tracz's musical tells the story of Jeremy Heere, a teenage outcast who gets an alien supercomputer (a "SQUIP") implanted in his brain to get his crush to notice him. The show originally premiered in 2015 in a small regional theatre in New Jersey. After a cast recording was released, the show was long-forgotten, until a recent resurgence on social media in 2017 by fans discovering the cast recording. The show was announced an Off-Broadway run the next year, running from August to September 2018, and was soon announced for a Broadway premiere.

This musical has made history, being re-mounted by fan culture, something that has never happened with corporate Broadway theatre. I am anxious to see how this plays out in the long run, as all shows on Broadway need to keep up with a certain profit margin to remain running. Of course, I am always gunning for the underdog, "Be More Chill" being an obvious favorite.

"Kiss Me, Kate" (March 14th, Studio 54).

Stars Kelli O'Hara and Will Chase.

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This revival of the 1948 musical written by Cole Porter and Samuel and Bella Spewack utilizes the "show within a show" concept, focusing on the offstage romances between characters performing in Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew." This production will perform a limited run and is set to close in June.

I have always been a fan of the star Kelli O'Hara, set to play the lead role Lilli Vanessi, and I am so glad to see her return to Broadway, with (hopefully) some rave reviews coming here way. This also marks the Broadway return of Corbin Bleu (yep, from "High School Musical"). He's recently found his niche in the golden age genre, recently appearing in "Holiday Inn" and "Singin' in the Rain." I can't wait to see what masterful work he'll be doing with this show!

"Ain't Too Proud" (March 21st, Imperial Theatre).

Cast of "Ain't Too Proud."

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This year's newest jukebox musical tells the story of the R&B band The Temptations, known for their songs such as "Cloud 9," "My Girl," and "Ain't Too Proud to Beg." This show has played in various regional theatres starting in 2017 in Berkley, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and Toronto before announcing its Broadway run mid-2018.

I have many opinions on jukebox musicals, but I have no doubt this show will be unbelievably well-done (fun fact: there will be two separate shows with the Temptations being portrayed in them… this and "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical").

"Oklahoma!" (April 7th, Circle in the Square Theatre).

Cast of "Oklahoma!".

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A newly reimagined version of the 1943 musical tells the story of the dual romance of farm girl Laurey Williams and her two suitors, Curly and Jud. This version of the show will be immersive and staged in a modern-day setting, originally being staged in St. Ann's Warehouse in 2018. A limited run is scheduled and the show is set to close in September.

Having done this show before, I can't wait to see the updates it'll be given in this recent revival. I'm a huge fan of the women in this show, Rebecca Naomi Jones and Mary Testa are both powerhouse singers, and the delightful Ali Stroker playing Ado Annie will be absolutely fantastic, and I am so glad to see her, a disabled actress, portraying a character that wasn't written to be disabled (Stroker is paralyzed from the waist down, and made history in 2015 as the first actor to appear on Broadway in a wheelchair).

"Hadestown" (April 17th, Walter Kerr Theatre).

Cast of "Hadestown."

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Based on a 2010 folk-rock concept album by Anais Mitchell in a retelling of ancient Greek myth "Orpheus and Eurydice," Hadestown has come from a successful run at Off-Broadway's New York Theatre Workshop, Canada's Citadel Theatre, and London's West End. The show is an immersive experience and directed by someone who is no stranger to the immersive theatre experience, Tony Award-nominated director of "Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812" Rachel Chavkin.

As a huge fan of "Comet," I am so excited to see what Chavkin can do next. "Hadestown" has already gotten rave reviews, and this will be a hopeful long-awaited Tony win for this unbelievable director.

"Tootsie" (April 23rd, Marquis Theatre).

"Tootsie."

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Based on the 1982 film starring Dustin Hoffman with a new book by Robert Horn and a score by David Yazbek (who won big at last year's Tony Awards for "The Band's Visit"), Tootsie tells the story of a male actor who masquerades as a woman to land a job. The show hailed a successful pre-Broadway tryout in Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre in late 2018 and has been updated to take place on a Broadway stage instead of the soap opera that was used in the film.

Santino Fontana, portraying the title character, is an actor who has been able to blend himself into a variety of roles. I am so excited to see what Fontana can achieve with "Tootsie," with hopefully a Tony statue looming in the distance for this fantastic actor.

"Beetlejuice" (April 25th, Winter Garden Theatre).

Alex Brightman and Sophia Anne Caruso in "Beetlejuice."

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The final show of the 2018-19 Broadway season will be the musical adaptation of the 1988 film starring Michael Keaton as a demon to help a recently deceased couple with the home they inhabit. Music is written by Australian musician-comedian Eddie Perfect.

Alex Brightman, portraying Beetlejuice himself, is the perfect choice for this part. Previously seen on Broadway in "School of Rock," Brightman is a comedic actor with the chops that can easily push him forward as a frontrunner in this year's Tony race.

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The Historical Background Of "Fiddler On The Roof"

Why were the Jews being expelled and how the narrated events shaped the future.
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This Thanksgiving, I was fortunate enough to go watch The Fiddler on the Roof. I love the play and it always makes me cry, but when I left the theater with my parents, we weren't discussing Tevye's conduct towards Chava; rather, we were puzzled by the historical background, and so I decided to explore it and try to bring some needed clarifications.

As it's commonly known, the Jews spent about 99% of History without a home. Most of the time, when they were accepted into a country, it was only so they could be expelled a couple of years later. In Russia, it wasn't different. After receiving an increasing amount of Jews, due to the annexation of Polish territory, where many of them lived, during the 18th century, Russia's government created the Pale of Settlement. It was a very well defined region in which the Jews were allowed to reside. Outside its borders, there was for them no freedom of movement.

At least for me, Perchik's constant mention of Kiev created some confusion. The map shows how Kiev was inside the Pale and, in fact, Ukraine only gained its independence from Russia in 1917, and then later in 1991, from the Soviet Union.

The events related in The Fiddler on the Roof take place in Anatevka, a fictional town inside the Pale, during the year of 1905. From 1880 to 1920, when there was a political/social crisis, the Russian government would incite the population against the Jews, trying to divert its attention from the real problems. These anti-Jewish movements were called pogroms, a term that designs "an attack, accompanied by destruction, looting of property, murder, and rape, perpetrated by one section of the population against another". With the Revolution of 1905, the first protest of the people against the Tsar and horn of 1917, a new wave of pogroms was begun. The Jews were said to be inciting revolt, and many monarchist supporters were turned against them, resulting in a great number of deaths.

This "trendy" anti-Jewish feeling explains the behavior of some of the police officers throughout the play, giving it a bit more of context, although it can also be simply understood as the same-old mix of prejudice with the need to show strength. As for the reason why they were expelled, the facts are more cloudy, but we can't forget that the play is based on a book written by a Jew who lived on the same place and period. Therefore, it can only be inferred that their expulsion, and consequent disappearance of small towns, was one more of the many measures taken by the Tsar to get rid of them, one more of the thousands of discriminatory actions taken against the Jews throughout History, and no one really knows why. In a way, the people of Anatevka were the lucky ones, as they got the chance to keep living their lives, only somewhere else. At least for the present generation.

The world of The Fiddler on the Roof is a world in ebullition, and the quiet, tradition-bound Jews, though practically unaware of it, are its victims. The violence they suffer, already revolting, is only a small bit of what is to come, and the conscience of that makes the musical even more touching. The sum of all these persecutions will make them decide, on the future, to unite in a country of their own, idea hinted by Yente, when she says she's going after Jerusalem, the Holy Land. Tevye's notion that tradition is what gives them balance seems to be true, and we can understand better why he was so reluctant to break with it. The Pale of Settlement and the pogroms are one example of how the Jewish were treated by a country, when they were already on the run for hundreds of years, and some decades from facing the worst of all.

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Histor...

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Histor...

http://fordcenter.blogspot.com/2010/10/history-in-...

Cover Image Credit: Dondiego256

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I Went To My First Broadway Show And It Was Tony-Worthy

To be clear, this was my first Broadway show on Broadway, and I loved almost every minute of it.

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Let me just make the clarification now that this wasn't my first Broadway show I've seen. I've seen several at the Arizona Broadway Theater and also recently saw Wicked at ASU Gammage. However, this was my first ever Broadway show that I actually saw on Broadway. I was excited, to say the least. I knew it was at one of the smaller theaters on Broadway, but I was just as excited as I would have been for any of the other performances. It really all about the experience, and overall mine was great.

Deciding which show I was going to see was no small feat. I had a mini list that included Aladdin, Waitress, and Chicago. Deep down I really wanted to see Hamilton, but as a broke college student who recently started to make payments on their new car, Hamilton tickets were not even an idea. It really came down to what I could afford and what I would regret the most not seeing. So I chose Chicago. The ticket that I bought was relatively inexpensive since I sat in the far back of the theatre and would still have enough money left over for a commemorative t-shirt.

I was originally planning on going with one of my cousins that lives in New York, but her plans changed and I ended up going by myself. Some of you reading this are probably thinking, "aww that's so sad, going to the theatre by herself." Let me just squash that thought by saying how much I prefer going to things like that alone. I go to the movies alone more times than I go with someone else. That could be a whole other story on why I prefer my alone time, but in short: I'm an introvert. So I was fine seeing the musical by myself. My dad and I walked around Time Square before showtime. He dropped me off, and then we both went our separate ways for a few hours.

Like I said earlier, this was one of the smaller theaters on Broadway so it wasn't hard to find my seat. I bought my shirt before I went to my seat because I assumed there was going to be a line after the show. There wasn't, but I was still happy I got it earlier because then I could just leave after the show. My seat was literally four rows away from where the back wall of the theater was. Which was fine. I have great eyesight and I could see all of the stage clearly. That was until the large group of teenage girls sat directly in front of me and completely blocked my view of center stage.

During the first half of the musical, I was swaying side to side to get a view of the stage. I didn't want to yell at the girl and tell her to sit properly so the people behind her could see. Mainly because her mom was sitting next to her, and I didn't want that drama in the middle of the play. So during intermission, I moved seats. To my right, there were several empty rows of seats with no one for a few rows ahead of them so I thought "might as well." I made the decision to move because someone came and sat behind me about two songs into the music and started to complain that she couldn't see as well. So I took the liberty for both of us to have an experience and moved out of the way. The rest of the time was marvelous. I was able to see clearly. I sang along without having an older lady next to me judging my ability. It was fantastic.

The only thing that I wish would have happened, but I guess that only happens in lesser productions is when the audience gets to meet the cast and get an autograph. Of course, I didn't have a pen or sharpie with me so it was honestly for the best, but that would have been the cherry on top. Hopefully the next time I am in New York I have enough money to see another Broadway show. Maybe if I save up it could be Hamilton.

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