A Broadway Easter Celebration

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Join Host Robert Hammond (full program below) as he examines how religion influences musical theatre. The Book of Mormon is one of Broadway’s biggest box-office hits – recently there have been revivals of Christian-themed musicals — Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar.  The revival of the revival of the revival (well, you get the picture!) of Les Miserables is still open on the Great White Way! The current revival closes in September.  easterAmong others, Fiddler on the Roof and Spring Awakening are steeped with religious undertones. It’s probably fair to say that the theater has seen the way of the Lord. Has someone been putting sacrament in the water? Or have playwrights just gotten in touch with their devout or devoutly satirical sides?

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I’m Pinocchio

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Today’s Stage Notes was prerecorded. If you read this and then go to the second and final performance of Broadway Rocks, the first Pops concert music director Ward Stare has conducted in Rochester, you’ll think I was a bit hyperbolic.  Don’t get me wrong, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra was fantastic, especially the rhythm section, which is vitally important to a concert like Broadway Rocks, but overall the concert fell flat. I had higher expectations.

The main problem could have been the sound, particularly during the first act – it was muffled. From the Loge, I could barely hear the guest soloists and the choir from Roberts Wesleyan College.

The repertoire was outstanding—some of the biggest Broadway hits, including songs from Wicked, Hairspray, Jersey Boys, and The Phantom of the Opera were performed.

Before the concert, I knew little about Capathia Jenkins. She is all that and more! She brought down the house with her renditions of “And I’m Telling You I’m not Going” from Dreamgirls and “I will Survive.” She and the RPO are what make this concert worth attending.

Another guest vocalist, Rob Evan, could have survived without amplification. His highlights were Dennis DeYoung’s (lead singer from Styx) song “Come Sail Away” and “The Music of the Night,” from The Phantom of The Opera. His voice is strong; however, he could use a stylist.

I’ve seen guest vocalist Christiane Noll on Broadway and at Eastman. In general, I’ve been impressed. This concert is not suited for her. She seemed uncomfortable on stage. That’s not dancing, Sally! (Seinfeld reference.) She decimated a song that should have elevated the concert, “Defying Gravity.” Although the choir would have drowned her vocals out, I’m not sure why they weren’t included at the songs conclusion to proclaim “no one mourns the wicked.” Noll’s voice is pretty, as proved during the Theme from The Phantom of The Opera, but she’s no rocker.

Ward Stare’s forte is Classical conducting – last night he proved he’s a Pops pro, too. Rochester is lucky to have him. Please let me know when he conducts the RPO and the Capathia Jenkins show. I’ll be there.

Broadway Rocks is on stage in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre tonight at 8 PM. Tickets and information at RPO.org.

Listen to Kyle Dean Massey’s Full Interview

kyle_dean_massey_dark_blue1Broadway veteran and now a star on ABC’s hit show Nashville, Kyle Dean Massey joined Robert Hammond on Stage Notes to discuss his success on the boards and specifically his title role in Pippin.  Music from the New Broadway Cast Recording of Pippin, original music sung by Kyle, and songs from other musicals he’s starred in are featured.

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Pippin’s Kyle Dean Massey has Magic to do on Stage Notes

Kyle oneKyle Dean Massey Joins the Broadway tour of PIPPIN straight from the Broadway production where he was in the title role. He jumped onto Stage Notes  to talk with host Robert Hammond about this extraordinary role, as well as his vast Broadway Career, including leading roles in Wicked,  Next to Normal, Xanadu, and Altar Boyz. (Bio below.)  Full interview with Kyle will air throughout the country in January.

Starring Kyle Dean Massey as Pippin, Lucie Arnaz as Berthe, John Rubinstein (the original Pippin in the Broadway production), and Sasha Allen from  The Voice, The National Broadway Tour of PIPPIN is on its way to your city.  Don’t miss it!

Pippin Continue reading “Pippin’s Kyle Dean Massey has Magic to do on Stage Notes”

Hello! It’s Time for a Spooky Mormon Hell Dream with David Larsen

bom_logoFrom the creators of South Park, and winner of nine Tony Awards, including best musical, The Book of Mormon is taking the nation by storm.   The second Broadway tour stars David Larsen in the role of Elder Kevin Price.  He Joined host Robert Hammond on Stage Notes to discuss his enormous role and why The Book of Mormon is a sweeping success. Special thanks to Broadway star Tom Deckman for arranging this interview with David.

Follow Robert on Twitter @stagenotes.

LISTEN to full program. Aired week of 9/21/14

As the show opens we are introduced to the LDS Church Missionary Training Centre where Elder Price and his classmates of missionaries-to-be demonstrate their daily attempts to convert the public to Mormonism through door to door campaigns with the song “Hello.” Elder Price is looking forward to his two year mission, and prays he will be posted to Orlando, the world of Disney Land. Instead, he and Elder Arnold Cunningham, a nerdy overweight missionary played by Cody Jamison Strand, are posted to Uganda.  At Salt Lake City Airport, spunky Elder Price talks about how he hopes to change the world and make a difference to the people of Uganda, aided somewhat by the incompetent Elder Cunningham.

David Larsen in the role of Elder Kevin Price

South Park creators-writers Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and Tony-winning Avenue Q songwriter Robert Lopez collaborated on the script and score to the musical, which earned Tony Awards for Best Book, Best Score and Best Musical.

Co-directed by Parker and Casey Nicholaw, The Book of Mormon opened to critical acclaim March 24, 2011, at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. Both earned Tony Awards for their work and repeat their duties for the tour.

David Larsen

Broadway: Hands on a Hardbody (Chris Alvaro), American Idiot (Tunny), Billy Elliot (Tony u/s), Good Vibrations (Bobby). TV: Boston Public (3 episode guest star). Regional: Leading roles at Hollywood Bowl, Marriott Lincolnshire, St. Louis Rep, KC Starlight, Bay Street Theatre, and Goodspeed. Contributor for Just Desserts NYC. Oregon native with a BFA in Drama from Carnegie Mellon University.  Follow David on Twitter @dlarsen22.

It’s a Good One, Mr. Grinch

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Brought to town by the Rochester Broadway Theatre League and four-time Tony Award winner Albert Nocciolino, “Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” is a wonderful night of whimsical fun for the entire family. The ninety-minute production (no intermission!) is just right for the little ones, and allows Mom & Dad to stay comfortably settled in their seats. The sets, sound, costumes, and performances take you on a festive ride to whoville. Old Max (Bob Lauder), the narrator, has a glorious, Santa-like voice. He keeps the musical moving seamlessly, accompanied by Young Max (Andreas Wyder). The Grinch (Stefan Karl) is just what the Dr. ordered: perfect! His comedic timing is top-notch –it is obvious to anyone he’s having a blast in the role. Cindy -Lou Who (Piper Birney) was downright precious, and what a voice! As they say in the south: bless her heart. Head to your sleigh! Don’t miss the Grinch in Rochester through December 15. Information available at RBTL.org.

Matthew Morrison Act 2 – This Week A Tribute to Cory Monteith

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Click above to hear Act 2 with Matthew Morrison – Aired 7/13/13  stagenotes_text Color logo

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It hasn’t  been a gleeful week.  Glee star Cory Monteith died at the age of 31.  In conjunction with  fellow Glee star Matthew Morrison’s concert with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra on Saturday, July 20, Robert Hammond will pay tribute to Cory Monteith.