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.

It’s Not Too Late to See Beautiful The Carole King Musical

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Nostalgic! Inspiring! Energetic! Just a few adjectives that come to mind after seeing the first national Broadway tour of Beautiful The Carole King Musical.

Rebecca LaChance, in the role of Carole King, is flawless. My God, some big shoes to step into! Jessie Mueller, who won a Tony Award for her performance in the original cast, has to be thrilled that the role on the road has been filled with the same gusto and grace.

This Jukebox musical works better than any I’ve seen. The sets and the scene changes, which are critical to the story, flow effortlessly.

If Ben Frankhauser, in the role of Barry Mann, doesn’t have a comedy gig on the side, he’s missing out on a lot of dollars. He and his hard to get wife, Cynthia Weil (played by Becky Gulsvig), are a match made in heaven. Their comic timing is spot on, as is their vocal talent.

Gerry Goffin (played by Liam Tobin), is accurately portrayed as a charming conflicted soul—sometimes you want to hug him and other times you want to shoot him. Indeed, Mr. Tobin has a great set of pipes.

At times, ensembles can be ignored throughout the theatre community. Not in this show! Each member is a unique thread in a beautifully crafted tapestry.

Rochester is a lucky city. Think about it. Beautiful is still on Broadway. The first national Broadway tour just left Chicago where it was planted for several months. And, in the very near future, it is scheduled to be in LA for an extended run. The arts are strong in Rochester—that is known throughout the country, which is why it gets shows like Beautiful The Carole King Musical.

Don’t miss this masterpiece, especially if you’re a fan of Carole King. You really will laugh and cry, and you certainly will enjoy heading down memory lane.

Beautiful The Carole King Musical is at RBTL’s Auditorium Theatre through March 13th. Tickets and information are available at RBTL.org.

Stage Notes Rocks Out with Ward Stare

Ward-StareMaestro Wards Stare, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s music director, joined host Robert Hammond in studio  at WXXI to talk about the RPO’s upcoming concerts, Broadway Rocks. Stage Notes did indeed rock out with songs from Wicked, Rent, The Phantom of the Opera, Hairspray, and more. Full program available on demand below.

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Stare is likable and knowledgeable. You’ll enjoy the lightness of the conversation, especially the life stories he shares. His story about the famous Styx song “Come Sail Away” is a highlight. Sit back and listen to a special rockin’ edition of Stage Notes. Remember to follow Stage notes on Twitter @stagenotes, and like our page on  Facebook.

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Broadway In Love Part One

broadway_in_loveIn celebration of Valentine’s Day, Stage Notes host Robert Hammond assembled some of your favorite Broadway love songs that you posted on Facebook and Twitter.  He’ll be playing them throughout February.  Don’t be shy  –  tweet Robert @stagenotes, or leave your request here in the comment section.  He just might play your song.

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!

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