November 2009 Archives




(of course we are speaking post-Ferris Bueller)

Hair: Abridged

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Are you in a bad mood because you're looking for that special someone at the end of that always-dreary month of November? HAIR will cheer you right up! You'll get to see someone naked, a man with strong hands will rub your scalp lovingly, and a cute stranger will touch you in confusing ways as you hear droning on about moving to Canada for political reasons. Why, it's like being in a relationship and in the year 2007 all at once!

Don't forget, tomorrow's the last day to enter the contest for a free copy of BROADWAY ABRIDGED VOLUME 1 (available on Amazon and iTunes). CLICK HERE for more info on how to enter, or see your competition so far.

Winner of Opera Contest

My ridiculously random way of choosing the winner of the Opera contest was to go through all of the comments, turn the "@" into spaces, and take last word in each one. Then, because I was always at the end of the alphabet myself, the winner was the one that came last alphabetically.

Congratulations Melissa, but shame on you for using Verizon for e-mail. Anyway, if I don't hear from Melissa by end of day Monday, then Robin's next up.

The comments were interesting, and as I'm seeing Hansel and Gretel as my first Opera in a good 3 or so years, I'm sure I'll have some comments the week after next...

The Race Debates Begin

A few weeks ago I was invited to a blogger event with the cast of David Mamet's RACE:

No really, I was there. You can sort of see the edge of my hair behind Byrne Harrison:

I hadn't posted much about it because it's a difficult play to talk about. Not because of the Race issue, but because of how the plot of the play is being kept under very, very tight wraps. So while you can hear the podcast of some of our interview with the cast, what we're learning about isn't the play, but what it's like to do a brand new Mamet play that's directed by Mamet as well.

I've recently acquired the taste for Mamet, so I'm interested. So there's a bit to learn from the new Race Website that recently launched. After you click "skip" on the always-obligatory-splash-screen, it gives you a bit of a hunt around a crime scene with pieces of plot from the play. Just like getting to know every member of the Hair cast via small videos, it's a nice change from the boring "Bios/Tickets/Production Photos" that most websites have been reverting to.

FELA ABRIDGED, plus 2 Contests!

Three things for today.

1. Yet another contest for the week. I have a free pair of tickets to give away to the Metropolitan Opera's limited engagement of HANSEL AND GRETEL on Monday, December 14th at 8pm.
If you can make it and you're interested, comment on this post and answer the question, As a person who's into theater, do you tend to see Opera? If not, why? Is it the content? The cost? The "elitism"? The way "story" and "acting" are treated? Just because I'm curious. Contest winners will be chosen entirely at random this Friday. Please make it possible for me to reach you so I don't have to randomly choose someone else!

2. BROADWAY ABRIDGED VOLUME 1 is available today as a full album or individual tracks, on both Amazon and iTunes. And you can win one of two free copies with the "Abridge a show in 125 characters or less" contest! CLICK HERE for more info on how to enter. Lots of hysterical entries so far.

3. Fela! opened last night. So, why not a Fela! Abridged?

Like everybody else, I've decided to celebrate Christmas without waiting for this holiday to end first. So as your gift, I'll be giving away two iTunes copies of the new BROADWAY ABRIDGED LIVE VOLUME 1: EVEN MORE MUSICALS album, which comes out tomorrow on Amazon and iTunes.

How do you win? Simple. In 125 characters or less, abridge any Broadway Show. You can enter in one of two ways: tweet it with a #bwayabridged tag (still under 140 characters) or e-mail it to gil [at] with subjectline CONTEST. Contest ends December 1st, one week from tomorrow.

BROADWAY ABRIDGED LIVE VOLUME 1: EVEN MORE MUSICALS features ~10 minute versions of Wicked, West Side Story, Spring Awakening, Les Miserables, Little Mermaid and A Chorus Line. Put it on your ipod, and act like a theater jerk in your car or subway platform!

Reviving Flops and Flops and Flops

I was going to detail all the flops that seem to be coming out on Broadway, but Kevin did a much better job here. What I don't get is this:
  • LOW RISK, LOWER REWARD: When Joe Producer produces a revival, they get the plus of name recognition of something that's already been known as good, even if they have to pay a percentage to whoever produced the original.
  • HIGH RISK, HIGHER REWARD: When Joe Producer produces a new musical, they get the plus of bigger potential revenue in regional rights, tours perpetual ownership of the show.
  • HIGH RISK, LOWER REWARD: When Joe Producer produces a show that already has a history of terrible failure and is only known by a bunch of ridiculous theater fans like me (and probably you) he gets...???

Pop quiz!


Is this...

a) Costumes from Your Community Theater's production of The Music Man, or
b) The 2009 Ragtime on Broadway?

Broadway Pizza

Playbill reports that Two boots Pizza--actually one of my favorite Pizzas-by-the-slice in NYC--is going to be having a new monthly Pizza inspired by a Broadway Show. The first one celebrates "Finian's Rainbow" with BBQ Chicken pizza with tasso and green onions on a special green Sicilian crust.

I can't wait for...
  • BILLY ELLIOT PIZZA: Made from three separate cheeses that are exactly as good as each other. We swear. Please trust us.
  • OLEANNA PIZZA: Basically you choose any other delicious pizza, and we sell you a half a slice of it for the same price that you used to pay for a full slice.
  • GOD OF CARNAGE PIZZA: Used to be made with the best quality garden vegetables, but since they ran out we're using canned stuff and pretending you won't notice the difference.
  • LION KING PIZZA: Endangered Wildebeast meat with a special Kids sauce concocted mostly out of Jello.
  • PHANTOM OF THE OPERA PIZZA: It's just regular cheese, but made with imported french water from the underground opera river.
  • BYE BYE BIRDIE PIZZA: Tastes like shit.
Have you spotted any Broadway Pizzas recently?

Ragtime: Abridged

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The patriotic American musical that shows how rewarding it is to live in America so long as you're an Immigrant or a White Person but Definitely Not Black.

Ragtime: Abridged

Lin Miranda Manuel is EVIL!

Or so upcoming episodes of Sesame Street seem to insinuate:

Brings me back to a few decades ago where Sesame Street seemed to be stuck on this "How do we make our show relevant to kids? OH I KNOW WE'LL RAP AT THEM!" thing.

Superior Donuts: Abridged



NEWSFLASH: if you want to have a famous person in your play, all you need is to have the word "Rain" in it!

Possible guest post from Howard Kissel!

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Wanted to apologize in advance that I never abridged Brighton Beach Memoirs. It came and went so fast that it seems too late now.


This gives me the opportunity to introduce you to the newest Broadway Abridged segment, Possible Guest Post, where a guest post may or may not have (but very likely hasn't) written a Broadway Abridged blog post. Today's guest post may or may not be Howard Kissel!

Howard Kissel

I may or may not actually be Howard Kissel

Update: Probably Not Howard Kissel
Wednesday, November 04, 2009

So. I was saddened to learn that a particularly good production of Neil Simon's "Brighton Beach Memoirs," which opened last Sunday, closed this Sunday.

This news has been attributed in some quarters to the death of The Neil Simon Audience. AND EVERY WORD OF IT IS ENTIRELY TRUE!

This is terrible! Remember after World War II when Broadway was great? Seriously guys. So much better than it is now. So much! It was mostly because of Jews, of course. Listen, imagine if back then, Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams weren't household names. Then I would have never left Milwaukee, and I wouldn't be writing to you today! Then where would you be? Jewless, I'm sure. Wait, am I Jewish? Probably. Pretty sure. I don't have a wikipedia page at the moment. Nathan Lane seems Jewish, but he's not! Little known Howard Kissel tidbit there!

Can I tell you what sucks today? Tourists who come to New York don't want to see an evening of "real" intelligent theater. They want to see this newfangled "Rock and Roll" stuff, which I just heard about yesterday. Also, Broadway's too political! And that turned people away, because when they wanted to go to Broadway for intelligence, they were all like, shit, now there's politics in theater, so you can imagine how THAT cleared the houses right up. Nobody wants to see politics onstage or in film or anything! All that happened in the 60s, which was right after the BROADWAY WAS BEST BACK WHEN I WAS YOUNG AND ATTRACTIVE age. Now they're trendy and smug. Back when life was perfect and couldn't possibly get any better in the 50s, they weren't smug. Or... they were, but in better ways.

El Oh El.

So let's see... it's tourists' faults for not being more intelligent. And it's Broadway's fault for getting too intelligent by being political. And most of all, it's the young people who are ruining it by generally fucking up everything. Fuck you, young people. FUCK YOU.

Because yes, you're in New York for the weekend and you get only one or two plays to see, and we all know that. So if you don't like spending $110 going to Neil Simon shows you saw for $10 in Witchita, and don't like spending $110 to listen to me and a couple hundred more people do that creepy pulls-you-out-of-the-play "old Jewish laugh" when that little curly-haired kid does something that reminds me how *precious* my grandson is, and if you don't like to spend $110 because you insist on that fundamental truth which is that barely any plays work better on-Broadway than off-Broadway unless they have famous people in them, then you don't count as a "Broadway Audience". Not my Broadway Audience. And I don't need you, because there are plenty of us who are happy to see Matthew Broderick smirk for 100 minutes in another Roundabout show.

And why can't shows start at 7pm so I can have my nice 5pm earlybird din-din, and get home in time for Jay Leno, the funniest man ever in the history of man? Put him on Broadway.

Definitely Not Howard Kissel

We bloggers are happy to hold our reviews

A lot of big shows have been afraid to invite Bloggers to, say, week 3 of previews, when the show is set but the attendance is low. The reason for this is because of the fear that blogger reviews will pop up before opening date. So why is it that only once have I received an invite that says:
We ask that you hold all online/broadcast reviews until after 10:00pm on [certain date]. If you are unable to do so we are happy to offer you tickets to a post-opening performance on [date after opening].
Even my setup on too-lazy-to-migrate-to-a-better-blogging-tool Blogger can let me write my post now but have it not auto-publish until some time in the future. So really guys, we'll hold off on writing when you're inviting us. Promise!
The American Theatre Wing is releasing a book called The Play That Changed My Life, which is exactly what it sounds like. They're also running a contest
During the Tony Awards this past year, they asked a variety of theatre people what play changed their life, and you can find a variety of quotes on other theatre blogs. Here's what Marc Kudisch responded with:
"When I was kid, I wasn't into the theatre. It wasn't anything I wanted to do. I was a political science major in college. But I did a musical in my senior year of high school, I was in the gifted program, I was president of the Spanish Club for two years running, but I did a musical because I just was like, "I gotta do something in high school that other kids do before I leave." And I did My Fair Lady. Okay? I was Freddy Eynsford-Hill. And I was awful. But there was something about that form of expression that I found really exciting. I remember the first time I ever saw the Tony Awards was when Les Mis was performing their number. And I didn't know that you could sort of do that with music theatre. It was, "Do you hear the people sing?," the end of the first act. I found it incredibly exciting. And it was this dramatic material; I didn't know you could do that. And when I got into college I started studying theatre, as a respite for my political science courses. Now when I went to college I had some amazing professors. I had Hume Cronyn as a professor, I had Zoe Caldwell as a professor, I had – on his last good days – Joshua Logan. And all of my teachers were like lions in the theatre in the ‘50s and ‘60s. So I got this huge rush of information about classic theatre from all of these brilliant people. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf! Edward Albee was a professor, a directing teacher of mine for a semester at my university. I would say Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf? was the play that really changed my full conception of what the theatre is and could be. That was the most moving thing I had ever read. I was an Albee freak when I was in college. And an Arthur Kopit freak, I just loved the dissonance in what they wrote. The fact that they could satirize society the way that they were in entertainment form, just struck me in such a way that that's what I always try to do, no matter what I'm doing: whether it be a light piece of musical comedy or a darker musical, and I've done them all. But I always love the idea of that satirizing society; it's just brilliant to me."
Mine was Fiddler On The Roof. Not the show, but the cassette:

I was maybe 5 years old, and every time I got into the car with my grandfather he would put in this audio cassette of Zero Mostel in “Fiddler on the Roof”. The whole thing confused me… why were there multiple people in songs talking to each other? Why were people each other’s wives and daughters and fathers inside a song—that was for movies and tv, didn’t they know that? And who was this crazy man screaming and squawking like a chicken in the middle of his singing? I didn’t know what a musical was. But I instantly understood that all of these ideas and emotions and pieces of comedy were amplified through music as part of the performance.

It’s true, until this day, I haven’t seen a single production of Fiddler that’s as fantastic as my five year old mind made it out to be. Perhaps it’s the fact that I never got to see Zero Mostel in the part. Or maybe it's that when I finally *did* see Fiddler on the Roof not-on-cassette, it turned out that the hissing didn't happen the entire play, which made the flaws in the show easier to hear. Or maybe it's the fact that nothing could be as good as this image of perfection in my mind, and so I was going to be disappointed no matter what.

Oh... I'm suddenly understanding why I'm so cynical. Wow, this is like therapy at the price of $9.99/year for domain name costs!


Wait, there are Matthew Broderick fans?
Hair: Abridged
Hair: Abridged
Are you in a bad mood because you're looking for that special someone at the end of that always-dreary month…
Winner of Opera Contest
My ridiculously random way of choosing the winner of the Opera contest was to go through all of the comments,…



Volume 1: Even More Musicals comedy album available for sale on iTunes/Amazon.