Monday, April 18, 2011


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The fix
CHASING TOFF By Christopher De Venecia (The Philippine Star) Updated April 18, 2011 12:00 AM Comments (0) View comments

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From castles to corporate companies: Daniel Radcliff stars in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying| Zoom
Broadway, to me, is the Center of the Universe. Over a slew of annual trips to the Big Apple, I have become, what you can say, accustomed and preternaturally betrothed to the ins and outs of the enchanted city. Imagine the skyscrapers, the marquees, the playbills, the enormous billboards, the city lights, and the street singers melding together to paint the perfect scenery that can absolutely vivify and penetrate through one’s core existence. Broadway is definitely the Mecca of theater aficionados such as myself. And despite Spider-man the Musical making the utmost mockery of the industry through its failed multi-million dollar attempt at giving Peter Parker some acting chops, all roads definitely lead to 42nd street and the ever-exciting and evolving Great White Way.

While our local theater counterpart seems very much alive and resplendent in 2011 with muscle-packed shows like RentNext to NormalJoy Luck Club39 Steps, and Shakespeare Goes to Hollywood (currently playing at the On-Stage Greenbelt Theater via Repertory Philippines), I can’t help but allow my mind to wander off to the place where it all started, where truth to tell, my love affair with theater thoroughly began. Browsing on-line in preparation for my upcoming New York trip, here are this season’s hottest new shows and musicals that are making, or will be making waves in the Big Apple once this Philippine Broadway eagle has landed.
‘Stars’ Spreading the news
Coming from his successful Broadway debut in Equus, Daniel Radcliffe, who is best known for his stint in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, tries his hand at a full-blown musical revival of the Frank Loesser classic, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. The piece, having won seven Tony Awards when it first opened in 1962 with a revival in 1995 starring Matthew Broderick, centers on a young window-cleaner who works his way up the corporate ladder to become an advertising executive in the World-Wide Wicket Company. Personally, I am thrilled to see Radcliffe sing and dance his way through this highly effervescent musical which promises an Old Broadway feel to it — something I’ve been craving for since my last experience at the Lincoln Center with South Pacific.

Strawberry field: Freckleface Strawberry is an enjoyable straight play about a girl covered in freckles.
Similarly, yet another Hollywood bigwig returns to the Big Apple for 2011 but offstage and behind-the-scenes via a musical adaptation of her autobiographical picture book Freckleface Strawberry. This actress is none other than award-winning Julianne Moore. I saw her perform several years ago in The Vertical Hour and while I usually get an A.D.D. attack watching straight plays, save for the recent tour-de-force performance of the Tony Award-winning RED starring Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne, I actually quite enjoyed myself on this one. The story centers on Strawberry, a seven-year-old redhead who is covered in freckles and is teased a lot in school. How she overcomes her insecurities, told through a storybook point-of-view and some feel-good Charlie Brown-esque melodies is the tensile strength of this children’s musical.

Not only are movie stars invading Broadway for 2011 but 42nd street seems to be going Hollywood-centric this year with a slew of film-to-stage adaptations. And no, they’re not necessarily movie musicals. Case in point. Catch Me If You Can. Yes, you heard it right — a stage musical adaptation of the hit Hollywood film which starred Leonardo DiCaprio. The show chases after Frank Abagnale Jr., a world-class con artist who jet sets, diagnoses, defends, and prosecutes his way to millions of dollars, all before he turns 19. But what happens when love ultimately catches up to him? The musical stars Broadway’s “it” leading man Aaron Tveit of Next to Normal fame, and features music by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the hit-makers of Hairspray.

Next up: a wildly contagious hit musical based on one of the most successful Australian movies of all time. Priscilla, Queen of the Desert flies to the Great WhiteWay and packs one hell of a laugh while summoning utmost nostalgia. The musical centers on drag queen Mitzi del Bra, aka Tick, who hails from the distant town of Alice Springs in Australia and his journey with pals Bernadette and Adam in a large tour bus called “Priscilla Queen of the Desert.” They are on a quest to find friendship and true love — a tried and tested premise that proves parsimony is key to material perfection. The show has a Mamma Mia feel to it, featuring popular jukebox songs such as What’s Love Got to Do With It? I Say A Little Prayer, I Love the Nightlife, Girls Just Wanna have Fun, and Boogie Wonderland.

And finally, from Australia to the West End, another movie musical has made its way to Broadway. Give it up for disco diva and headliner Deloris Van Cartier as she dons the habit in Sister Act. This was the show I was looking forward to the most since I’m a huge fan of the movie; unfortunately, a lot of the songs, including I Will Follow Him have been excluded from this version. I’m not quite sure how this will work but I’m optimistic. The musical follows the story of Deloris who becomes an accidental witness to a murder and she is thus placed under the protective custody of the one place she is sure not to be found: a convent.

Great expectations
There sure are a lot of great shows debuting on Broadway this year. Let’s not forget: the Sutton Foster starrer and revival of Anything Goes, Wonderland, a modern-day take on the classic Alice in Wonderland story set in New York City, American Idiot featuring the songs of Green Day, and the return of Rent. With its overseas counterpart looking mighty fierce in 2011, no wonder our local theater scene is hot on its tails. Yowza!

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