The Katharine McPhee Entrance

Yes, I enjoy entering Times Square at the “Katharine McPhee Subway Entrance” on 43rd, and yes, I quietly moan “Let Me Be Your Star” each time I ascend those steps.

Not weird at all.



So Many Plays!

Alright everybody, it’s go time! Tony noms are out, Broadway and Off-Broadway are humming with activity, and the rush to see everything is overwhelming. I’m right there with you, cramming it in as best I can. Here are some cliffs-notes, hodgepodge observations from the front lines:

1. Leap of Faith recently opened to some not-so-nice reviews (here’s lookin’ at you, Ben) but few folks mentioned what I found to be the most unusual part of the production, namely, the cameraman who runs around the stage filming the big numbers. (I thought the guy was shooting B-roll, but an usher at intermission set me straight.) The device presumably helps the entire audience see all parts of the sprawling set (video is broadcast on big monitors around the proscenium), or is meant as a kind of postmodern comment on media manipulation. But really… it’s just a guy running around a stage with a camera.

2. In the category of “unprintable titles” comes Cock, a British import now in residence at the Duke. The Times has taken to calling it ______, the Cockfight Playthat big blank is reminiscent of previous seasons’ The _________ With the Hat and ________ A (that would be The Motherfucker With the Hat and Fucking A, thank you very much). Can you think of any other censored titles?

3.  You know that awesome moment when you realize your apartment features the same piece of furniture used in a play’s design? I had said experience twice recently: I totally own the striped “Turkish” rug from Tribes (the Barrow Street), as well as the mounted coatrack from An Early History of Fire (the New Group). Both items came from… wait for it… IKEA. Glad to know that stage designers are as budget-conscious and Sweden-enamored as I am.

4. Smash observation: Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman’s songs are gorgeous and criminally hummable. For example…

And with that, I’m off to the theater. The April/May sprint continues…


Feeling blue? How about a Tuesday afternoon sing-a-long pick-me-up!

1. “Mr. and Mrs. Smith:” Sweet musical theater magic all the way. “Smash” really delivers on this one:

2. “And Eve Was Weak:” Betty Buckley is fabulously cracked out in this video from the original Broadway run of Carrie. #CRAZYAMAZING!

You’re welcome!

“Smash:” An Outsider’s Take

Uh oh! Debra Messing’s character “hates everyone who writes theater blogs” on “Smash,” a new NBC series about the creation of  a Broadway musical. Here at theater-words, though, we’ve decided not to take that personally—after all, it’s none too often that our fabulous invalid hits network primetime, and with a parade of New York stage talent to boot. So: anti-blog sentiment and all, we loved the show.

But what about the world beyond Times Square? What will it make of “Smash” and Broadway? To find out, I recently watched the pilot (a free download on iTunes) with a theatrically disinclined friend. What was the reaction? Here’s what I found on the outside…

Q: Did you enjoy “Smash?”

A: Well, at first I thought it was going to be another “Will & Grace” rehash because the first scene is Grace [Debra Messing] in the kitchen with a Will look-alike [Christian Borle]. But then that sort of shifted when they were followed by a fierce Anjelica Huston and some catchy tunes!

Q: Catchy tunes?

A: Yes, the most memorable part of the show was the last song. To be honest, I was a little bored with the understory, namely the work that goes into a Broadway show.

Q: Um, you do know that that’s the entire premise of the show, right?

A: Yes, but you really just want to get to that final song with the passion and the glamour and the culmination!

Q: Right. So in the show two women are vying for a big Broadway role. There’s a chorus veteran and a newbie—

A: Yes, this voluptuous sexy blonde woman [Megan Hilty] and a frumpy no-name [Katharine McPhee].

Q: Katharine McPhee was a runner up on “American Idol.”

A: Well she doesn’t look like it!

Q: So she’s not going to win?

A: Obviously she’s going to win because she’s the underdog. You don’t want her to win, but she’s going to.

Q: What do you mean you don’t want her to win?

A: Well, she’s cast on the show to look like a trainwreck! Her parents make fun of her, she’s struggling to make it as a waitress… though, when she meets with the director at his apartment, she does show her true colors and reveal that she has some talent behind all those sad layers.

Q: You really don’t like her outfits, do you?

A:She was clearly shopping at the Salvation Army in Williamsburg.

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