Saturday, August 17, 2013

Soul Doctor @ The Circle in the Square Theater

The new Broadway musical Soul Doctor is an exhilarating musical journey through the triumphs and tribulations of a cultural phenomenon. It tells the fascinating story of the father of popular Jewish music, Shlomo Carlebach, and his unlikely friendship with Nina Simone. A modern-day troubadour, Shlomo ignited the spirit of millions around the world with his soul-stirring melodies, trans formative storytelling and boundless love.  After his escape from Nazi Germany, the young Rabbi befriended the legendary jazz singer Nina Simone who introduced him to soul and gospel music. With the high Priestess of Souls  as his inspiration, Shlomo created a joyous new sound with melodies that fused his roots with American popular music. With his meteoric rise as a "Rock Star Rabbi, he struggled to harmonize his traditional beliefs with the "free love" generation of the 1960s. Today, his uplifting music and message help to define America most defiant era.

Soul Doctor is the first inspiring celebration to hit the stage since Hair in 2009. Leading the cast is Eric Anderson fresh out of Kinky Boots, Anderson is back to the role the won him the 2013 Drama Desk Nomination before the Broadway transfer. Anderson perfectly embodied Shlomo and delivered a stunning performance but unfortunately his singing was not leading man material, the audience was looking for something a little more demanding. Amber Iman, who is making her Broadway Debut, steals the light for Anderson in her role of Nina. Iman brings such warmth and sass to stage and steal focus whenever she is onstage. Soul Doctor is a true ensemble piece with killer movement and constant audience interaction, it was hard not to love this show!

The award-winning design team for Soul Doctor includes scenic design by Neil Patel ([title of show]), costume design by Maggie Morgan), lighting design by Jeff Croiter (Newsies) and sound design by John Shivers (Kinky Boots) and David Patridge.  Orchestrations and additional arrangements are by Steve Margoshes, music supervision and arrangements are by Brian Koonin and music direction and arrangements are by Seth Farber.

Soul Doctor has music by Shlomo Carlebach, book and direction by Daniel S. Wise, lyrics by David Schechter and choreography by Benoit-Swan Pouffer, the acclaimed former artistic director of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet.  Circle in the Square Theatre is located at 1633 Broadway, entrance on 50thStreet between Broadway and 8th Avenue. Dont miss this celebration of a true legend! 

Review By: James Russo

Friday, August 16, 2013

First Date @ The Longacre Theatre

Everyone has experienced a first date and all the experiences that come with them. First Date is a musical that Austin Winsberg("Gossip Girl"), Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner (Secondhand Lions, Twice Charmed) throws all the most awkward first date experiences together with hilarity and song, including your gay best friend, perfect sister, past ex's and even your therapist, buzzing around Aaron and Casey heads.

When tightly wound Aaron (Zachary Levi) is set up with serial-dater Casey (Krysta Rodriguez) a quick drink at a busy New York restaurant turns into a hilarious, high-stakes dinner. As the date unfolds in real time, the couple quickly finds they are not alone on this date as Casey and Aaron's inner critics take on a life of their own when other restaurant patrons and the wait staff get into the act. Dinner is served with sides of Google background checks, fake emergency phone calls, supportive best friends, manipulative exes and protective parents, who sing and dance them through ice-breakers, appetizers and potential conversational land mines. FIRST DATE is Broadway's new hysterical and hopeful new musical about the chances we take to find love.

Leading the cast are ridiculously talented actors, Zachary Levi ("Tangled") as Aaron and Kyrsta Rodriguez (Addams Family) as Casey. Zachary Levi is pure comedic gold, he knocks this role out of the park. He is quirky, funny and just god damn adorable. Levi wins the hearts of the audience the second he walks on to the stage, no doubt he was born for Broadway. Kyrsta Rodriguez is the prefect ying to Levi's yang. Although Miss Rodriguez clearly has a type, Wednesday in Addams Family, and Ana from 'Smash", she brings something different to this role that allows the audience to separate her from those other parts. Rodriguez doesn't get  a " Bring Down The House" number in this show, but she didn't need one because her songs were on point and comedic timing was impeccable. These two are surround by the perfect ensemble featuring  Sara Chase ("Arrested Development," The Toxic Avenger), Kristoffer Cusick (Wicked, Rent), Blake Hammond (Sister Act, Billy Elliot), Kate Loprest ("Boardwalk Empire," Hairspray) andBryce Ryness (Hair, Leap of Faith). These five individuals each bring something different and special to the show making the show go from nearly perfect to PERFECT!

FIRST DATE began performances Tuesday, July 9, 2013, and opened Thursday, August 8, 2013, at Broadway's Longacre Theatre (220 West 48th Street). This show has something for everyone and it would be a mistake it you happened to miss it.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Love's Labour's Lost: The Musical @ The Delcorte Theater

The Public Theater produces new plays, musicals, productions of Shakespeare, and other classics in its headquarters on Lafayette Street (the former Astor library, which opened as The Public Theater in 1967 with the world premiere of the musical Hair) and at the Delacorte Theater, its permanent summertime home of free Shakespeare in the Park each summer. This summer on Shakespeare in the Parks 51st Anniversary,  Public Theater brings the community Love's Labour's Lost: A New Musical written by the same team that brought to life Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

Romance, revelry and enchanting music ignite in this contemporary yet lovingly faithful musical adaptation of Shakespeare's comedy. Smart, sexy, outrageous and irreverent, it's a madcap celebration of true love and coming of age. Adapted from the play by William Shakespeare. The King and his best buds decide at their five-year college reunion to swear off the joys of women. But when four cute, clever girls from their past show up, they’re forced to reconsider all of that nonsense! This new musicals take one of Shakespeare's funniest plays and turns it into a modern day musical set on a college campus at a 10 year reunion.

This cast is packed full of a young energetic cast. The boys, Daniel Breaker (Shrek), Colin Donnell (Anything Goes), Bryan Pinkham (Ghost: The Musical), Lucas Near-Verbrugghe (Bloody Bloody..), are love sick and adorable as they try to deny their love for the girls. This is shown as each guy gets his own show stealing number ultimately making complete fools of themselves, leaving the audience in stitches. The girls, Patti Murin (Lysistrata Jones), Maria Thayer, Kimiko Glenn, and Audrey Lynn Weston had a harder job of selling their performances because they each didn't get lucky enough to get their own show stopping number, luckily the four of them have indescribable  comedic timing and a was able to capture the audience with side spiting dialogue. Ensemble shout out goes to Jeff Hiller, he steals this show just as he did in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, with his small side lines that have the audience crying in laughter. 

Love's Labour's Lost runs at the Delcorte theater until August 18, 2013. Tickets are free and the show is great, so don't miss out.