Broadway Love

So your bucket list includes hearing Broadway arrangements of Tupac Shakur’s greatest hits? Have I got news for you. Currently underway in New York City is a workshop for Holler If Ya Hear Me, a musical based on the works of Tupac Shakur.

Directed by Kenny Leon, whose recent work includes helming Fences, The Mountaintop, and Stick Fly, the musical is in the very early stages of development. Like most “jukebox” musicals, the story is original, not biographical, so there will probably not be anyone playing Tupac, either in person or as a hologram.

This will not the be first run of hip hop on Broadway. The 2008 production of In the Heights featured songs inspired by hip hop. That production went on to win multiple Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Score. Here’s some of In the Heights:

Giving Thanks for the High Kick

Thanksgiving Parade Balloons

I was easily amused as a kid.

Growing up, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was rather the big deal around my house. There were different reasons for this. I, the adolescent boy, was more interested in the balloons of the superheroic persuasion, and, of course, the “seasonal inaugural appearance” of the big man himself. This was the mid ’80s, so the Christmas season hadn’t quite been dialed back to November 1st yet. Between balloons, my sheltie and I amused ourselves or checked on the early stages of Thanksgiving dinner preparation.

If we were both good, we got pieces of ham.

Now, those bits I skipped included the floats trucking that season’s selection of pop stars and impending fall TV failures through the streets of NYC, as well as showcases of Broadway performers. Each year a few of the shows on Broadway get to do one number. Usually these are picked from the shows that debuted that year. This year you’ll get to see:

Now, of paramount importance to certain family members was always the final Broadway performance of the Parade: The Rockettes.

My mom, aunt, and one of her kids were really into dance, so the Rockettes were always a big deal. Being way before the Rockettes really did any touring, there wasn’t any other opportunity to see them without going to Radio City Music Hall, so the Parade was “must-see-TV”. So, when they arrived on screen, the call would go out, and the family would gather in front of the TV to watch the ladies line up and kick.

Fortunately, the Rockettes and their Christmas Spectacular get around a little more these days. For many recent seasons a touring company of Rockettes have put the show on around the country, while the NYC team keeps the seats filled at Radio City. The amount of cities they visit varies year to year, but it certainly makes it easier to catch the Christmas Spectacular without having to solely rely on a single number in the Macy’s Parade.

Yankees Drama Fans

Do Yankees fans love drama? No, not the interpersonal variety, the “legitimate theatre” version. The producing team behind Lombardi and Magic/Bird are hoping they do. They’ve got a new play in the works, this one about the team many love to malign, the New York Yankees.

Details, outside of “that’s the plan”, are non-existent. So there’s not much to to say about the odds Fran Kirmser and Tony Ponturo are right about their hunch. They feel the New York faithful will turn out for a “local” show about their team. Lucky thing Broadway is local.

The Yankees have been on Broadway before, so to speak. The musical Damn Yankees featured them as the titular antagonists to the Washington Senators. The Senators losing streak is interrupted when loyal fan Joe Boyd makes a deal with devil (literally) to become the slugger they need to make the pennant. The update to the tale of Faust ran for 1019 performances in its 1955 Broadway debut.

Want to see the Senators off stage? We can handle that.

The earliest the new Yankees play could hit theaters is late 2013. Until then, you can check out some of the touring shows of Lombardi. Well, you could do a lot of other stuff too, but, you know… sports-theatre wise.

Seeing Les Misérables in the Right Order

Watching SNL on the DVR Sunday morning reminded me of a couple things. One, Anne Hathaway is starring in a film adaptation of Les Misérables, and two, she thinks having a hairstyle disturbingly close the one I had when I was twelve, and a boy, is a good idea.

One of those things I still am, of course.

Still, it’s a fine reason to remind everyone that the big, Christmas Day, ensemble cast film lead by Hugh Jackman is based on a musical. A musical that is, conveniently, touring up a storm right this very minute.

That musical is itself based on Victor Hugo’s novel, and was first produced in Paris in 1980. The road to The Great White Way wound through London’s East End, where the English language version debuted. It underwent some tinkering in the translation from French to English, something that would occur again when it finally made its Broadway debut in 1987.

The Broadway version is basically the version currently touring. The film version is unique in being an adaptation of the musical, though it’s upwards of 13th in line of film adaptations of the source material. Note, I’m not including the Anime version in that list (because it was on televsion).

No word on what, if any, changes the film will have vs the musical. If there’s one synergy between sci-fi and Broadway geeks, it’s a tenacious, at times irrational, devotion to the original source. Deviate too far and suffer the wrath of, well… some guy on a Les Mis fan forum on the Internet.

So, be sure to check out the touring productions of Les Mis before going to see the film. You’ll need it fresh in your memory, otherwise your scathing critiques about the film on the Internet will not be intellectually rigorous.

Lombardi Calls the Play on Broadway

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The Vince Lombardi Trophy

While concerts and sports have a history of crossing over, it’s pretty much unheard-of to see a football / Broadway collaboration. Until now. That odd combination is happening as a play about legendary coach Vince Lombardi is heading to Broadway. Produced in cooperation with the NFL, the play will star Dan Lauria as the coach who lead the Green Bay Packers to victory in the first 2 Super Bowls.

Lauria is perhaps best remembered as the father on the long running sitcom The Wonder Years. He played football for Southern Connecticut State, and will be heading to Green Bay to learn more about the coach and his significance to the team and the town.

The play is based on the 1999 bio of Lombardi called “When Pride Still Mattered,” by David Maraniss. Written by Eric Siomonson directed by Thomas Kail, the play, entitled “Lombardi,” will be on Broadway this fall at The Circle in the Square Theatre. No tickets have been released at the moment, but I’ve set up a page for the play where you can sign up for alerts when inventory arrives: Lombardi Tickets.