All posts by Greg Christo

It’s UDMA Trade Show Season

The end of summer not only brings a new school year for dance studios, but it also begins the dance trade show season.  We will be attending UDMA, United Dance Merchants of America, trade show in Edison NJ on the weekend of October 19-20.  UDMA has three other dates as well.  They are in Atlanta this weekend (9/28-29), Pittsburgh 10/5-6 (next weekend), and Chicago 10/12-13.  Here’s a link to their website:  https://www.udma.org/

 

The show features merchants who cover all aspects of the dance industry.  Some of the categories that are present are costume companies, dancewear, shoes, flowers, videographers, photographers, tours, flooring, dance opportunities, trophies, competitions and conventions, recital ticketing, publications, and backdrops too, of course!  Anything you can think of that has to do with the dance industry will be at these shows. Not only are there vendor exhibits but there are also presentations, give aways, and seminars.

 

It really is a great opportunity to check out new technology and new products.  The costume companies typically have live models wearing their latest costume designs so that you can see the new fashions in living, moving color.  We have an actual backdrop in our booth so that customers can see and feel what our product is like.  Each vendor will have real examples of their product so that you will know exactly what you’ll be getting.  There is no doubt that you can improve your business and productions by attending one of these shows.  We hope to see you in New Jersey for sure, but we hope that you can make it to one of the shows.

Using Backdrops

There are many ways to enhance the appearance of a scenic production such as a video shoot, stage play, theater production, or party event. Backdrops help add the ambience for the mood that you are trying to set. Because of their size, they serve the purpose of continuing the theme you are going for without being too over the top where the scenery seems out of place.

Choosing a backdrop rental company that has several different sceneries to choose from can be a difficult task, which is why you should go straight to Backdrops by Charles H Stewart!  Needless to say, one thing that you should ask about the backdrop that you have in mind would be how heavy they are and the material it is made of.  Ideally, the best backdrop should not be too heavy for convenience reasons as you will most likely be hanging and packaging the backdrops yourself.  The best material when choosing a realistic backdrop would be one that is 100% polyester cotton fabric, which is what our DreamWorld Collection is painted on, or ones painted on muslin, which is what our Stewart Collection is painted on.  These are lightweight fabrics that are easy to handle.

One type of event that would welcome a backdrop would be in an environment in which a lot of photography is going to take place in. Dances, charities, or galas are examples of events that a nice formal backdrop would be more than welcomed in pictures. For example, if you are hosting a dance that has a Hawaiian theme, there are several backdrops that you can browse such as tropical or beach scenes that would supplement your Hawaiian environment. We do have many smaller photography size backdrops in our DreamWorld Collection labelled DreamWorld Small.

As mentioned, there are many ways that you can improve or modify an area to fit your event. There are many different backdrop rentals to choose from and a few different sizes that can assure proper placement as well as appropriate background setting. Aside from party events, most backdrops from Charles H Stewart are used by production companies that are setting up a stage performance whether it’s a Broadway Musical or dance recital or play. Because of the flexibility of backdrops, they can be replaced and switched in a matter of minutes.  So using multiple backdrops can make your life a whole lot easier.  Full stage backdrops are obviously larger than photography backdrops since the area needed to cover is larger.  But with the lightweight fabric they are made with, this is not an issue.

Backdrops are easy to use, and they are the easiest way to transform your stage or event into whatever setting necessary to transport your audience to where they need to be.

Eccentric Dance

(Certain portions of the following were taken from an article written in the LA Times by Susan King on 8/3/19)

Think of rubber-legged Ray Bolger in 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz” and 1952’s “Where’s Charley?”; long-limbed Charlotte Greenwood, whose trademark high kicks entertained audiences in such musicals as 1940’s “Young People” and 1955’s “Oklahoma!”; and the gravity-defying Nicholas Brothers — Fayard and Harold — whose leaps and astonishing splits were the high points of numerous musicals including 1940’s “Down Argentine Way” and 1941’s “Sun Valley Serenade.”

It was wacky and wild, dazzling to watch, funny and fearless. It wasn’t modern dance, and it certainly wasn’t ballet. The only word for it was “eccentric.”

On 8/5/19 at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences shined a spotlight on eccentric dancing and how the art form has also played an important role in animation.

“What eccentric dance is, by definition, is very broad,” said dance historian Betsy Baytos, the curator and host of the evening, who is also an animator and eccentric dancer and choreographer. “It’s loose-limbed. It’s a pantomimic kind of movement, and it’s usually comic by nature. It’s essentially wrapped around the character.”  Since animated characters can have unique features and movements, choreographers must come up with over exaggerated steps that regular humans don’t make.

“We’re trying to convince you that there’re certain things our characters can do that you find illogical but look completely believable,” says animator Eric Goldberg.  “You have to animate a character with a certain amount of weight and intent and all the things that actually make it completely believable for an audience.”  Think of trying to incorporate the movement of a tail or the long neck of a giraffe.

The famous Nicholas brothers will be featured as well. Tony Nicholas, the son of Fayard, was excited to show Nicholas Brothers home movies that evening because they are “something to behold.” He screened some “exciting new footage we have discovered that no one has ever seen.”

So while Hollywood has honored more traditional styles of dance like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly to the John Travolta disco and Fame and Flashdance to Footloose and High School Musical, it’s nice to see the art of the eccentric dance get it’s due.

The Perfect Setting for Your Show

When it is important to set the stage or the mood, backdrops are the perfect item. From the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans, theater has been a way to express ideas and emotions. Theatrical renditions range from tackling the most controversial issues and historical events to depicting real life drama, fantasy or romance. The creativity involved in these endeavors is unrivaled. Great care is taken to create the most lifelike of scenes or to evoke a particular emotional response. The backdrop and the scenery are the canvas on which the drama occurs. This essential element transports the viewer to another place and time as the events unfold. Backdrop rentals can help to accentuate many functions.

Backdrops come in a variety of forms. This can range from a basic curtain to elaborate theatrical scenery. Backdrop rentals can be used for stage shows, weddings, photo shoots, and other special events. Muslin backdrops come in a variety of colors and shades. These can be hand painted or reversible for a variety of options.

The sky is the limit when it comes to choosing the best backdrop rentals for an occasion. Beautiful scenic backdrops of locations from the US to Europe to Asia to Africa are available. Exotic scenes from the jungle, the pyramids or an enchanted forest can also be had. Backdrops from a Broadway musical or scenes simulating a dance club are also popular. Religious backdrops can enhance the depth of any religious function, lending a more spiritual energy to the occasion. There are also holiday specific backdrops that can make any day special. You can even design your own custom backdrop, but these you would have to purchase.

Backdrop rentals are just a Google search away. Many options are available online with a vast array of choices that will suit any occasion. When confirming the booking, we may require a deposit with payment in full due prior to shipping. It is possible to hold your choice until you make a final decision. Backdrops are the responsibility of the customer from the time that they are rented until they are returned. Care should be taken with backdrop rentals. A clean dry surface is required for handling. Sharp objects can rip or tear the backdrops, resulting in costly repairs, so be careful when opening the box the backdrop arrives in. The backdrop of your dreams can make your special occasional a day to remember.

Answering Basic Questions

  • What suggestions do you have on choosing a backdrop for a dance or for a whole dance recital?

Obviously, the first question to be answered is what is the theme of the dance or show?  Once that is determined, finding an appropriate backdrop is relatively easy.  Our backdrops are broken down into categories and by show.  So if someone is looking for a garden backdrop, they should go to our Garden category.  If someone needs a backdrop for Beauty and the Beast, then they can go to our Beauty and the Beast selections.

  • If a studio owner can only have one backdrop for the entire show, what would you recommend?

If only one backdrop can be used, then the owner really has to decide what the overall theme for their show will be.  We could provide a great backdrop for a small portion of their show, but the backdrop might not fit the rest of the show.  My suggestion is that if there is more tap, jazz, and hip hop, then one of our abstract or novelty backdrops would be an excellent choice.  If the show is more of a ballet, maybe a softer scene like clouds or a sunset for example would be the choice.  Another option would be to use different colored lights on a cyclorama curtain.  A simple lighting change can turn the mood of the stage in an instant.  But again, it really is up to the director.

  • What information and dimensions do studio owners need to know before renting a backdrop?

The first thing they should do is talk to the stage manager where they are performing.  They can tell you what size backdrops the venue can accommodate.  Also, when finding out the dimensions of the stage, make sure that when you get the measurements to ask if that is the wall to wall measurement or the proscenium measurement.  Also, ask if the venue can adjust the proscenium for different size backdrops.  For instance, if the venue states that the backdrops should be 22×50, ask if they can mask down the proscenium for an 18×42 or even a 15×36.  It usually isn’t that difficult to drop a border or pull in the wings unless the battens are dead hung (i.e. they don’t drop to the stage).   Now if it’s a small stage, the larger backdrops might be difficult to use.  Another bit of information that would be helpful is to find out how many battens are at your disposal for hanging backdrops.

  • What is the difference between a hand painted and digitally painted backdrop?  What are the pros/cons of each?

Well, we only deal in hand painted backdrops.  Obviously, the hand painted backdrops are more theatrical since they really are a form of art.  Sometimes the digitally printed backdrops aren’t as clear as you might think.  Some can be a little blurry.  The fabrics used for each are different as well.  The hand painted backdrops are typically painted on muslin or scrims and are easy to fold and store.  The digital backdrops are usually printed on a polyester blend fabric and are meant to be rolled.  However, new technology with softer fabrics is starting to emerge.  The digital backdrops are more expensive to produce and not readily available for rent meaning if you want a digital printed backdrop, it would more than likely have to be a custom made one.

  • What are your tips on hanging backdrops for studio owners that have never done so before?  How does a backdrop get hung and what do studio owners need to know ahead of time?

All of our backdrops have grommets and ties across the top for hanging.  You simply tie the backdrop on to one of the stage battens.  One question to ask the stage manager is if the bars can lower down to the stage.  If they do, hanging a backdrop will take about 5-10 minutes.  If the bars do not lower to the stage, then you will have to go up and down a ladder or cherry picker to hang the backdrop, and it will take about 30 minutes to hang one backdrop.  Side note, if you use a cherry picker, please be careful of the lubricated parts of the machine.  If a backdrop comes in contact with the grease, the backdrop will get stained.  And it’s a nasty stain to try to get out.  When hanging, start from the center and work your way out to the ends.  The center line on the backdrop is marked on the back.  The center of the stage should be marked on the bars.  If you have more backdrop than bar, just fold it back and tie it off behind the rest of the drop.

  • What tips do you have to have backdrops look best without wrinkles?

Wrinkles are tricky.  You cannot iron or steam the backdrop.  That will damage the curtain by activating the paint creating water stains or paint runs.  So, my best advice is to hang the backdrop at the venue as soon as possible.  The first chance you get to hang them up, do it.  Second thing to do is make sure that you weight the bottom of the backdrop.  All of my backdrops have a pipe pocket along the bottom.  Ask the venue if they have weights for this.  The weight simply uses gravity to pull the fabric tight to eliminate the wrinkles.

  • How should backdrops be folded for storage or return shipping?

We store our backdrops wrapped in plastic bags inside of cardboard boxes.  The plastic is an extra layer of protection from moisture and dirt.  So when the backdrops are received, they will arrive as such.  There will also be folding instructions inside the box.  There are different ways to fold a backdrop.  We have our own preference which are included in the instructions we provide.  But, the bottom line is to fold them neatly so that they fit back inside the box for shipping.  We also request that our backdrops be placed back inside of a plastic bag and inside the box just like when they received it.  If anything happens in transit, and the backdrop has not been wrapped in plastic and damage has occurred, the customer will be responsible for the damage.  So, when you receive the backdrop, save the box, the bag, and the instructions and repackage the backdrop the way you received it.  If the bag and/or box gets thrown away or is not fit for shipping, then the customer is responsible to get another box and bag for the return.  And lastly, before you lay the backdrop on the stage for hanging or when you are taking it down to repackage, sweep the stage.  We don’t want the backdrop used as the broom especially when you have any of the white or black curtains.

Hot Summer Broadway Musicals

The dog days of summer are over.  But it is still summer.  Some like it hot.  Some don’t.  Here’s a list of a few shows that deal with the heat of summer.

110 in the Shade

110 in the Shade is a musical with a book by N. Richard Nash, lyrics by Tom Jones, and music by Harvey Schmidt.  Tony Award nominations went to Schmidt and Jones as Best Composer and Lyricist.  It also had nominations for best actress, actor and director.  An original cast recording was released by RCA Victor.

Based on Nash’s 1954 play The Rainmaker, it focuses on Lizzie Curry, a spinster living on a ranch in the American southwest, and her relationships with local sheriff File, a cautious divorcé who fears being hurt again, and charismatic con man Bill Starbuck, posing as a rainmaker who promises the locals he can bring relief to the drought-stricken area. Nash’s book is faithful to his original play, although all the interior scenes were moved outdoors to allow for the addition of townspeople for ensemble numbers and dances. Many of Jones’ lyrics come directly from Nash’s play.

The musical opens with “Another Hot Day,” setting the scene for the scorching summer weather that is at the center of the show’s plot.

Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here is a musical with a book by Arthur Kober and Joshua Logan and music and lyrics by Harold Rome. The musical was adapted from Kober’s 1937 play, Having Wonderful Time and revolves around a summer camp for adults.  For many years, this 1952 musical was best-known as the “swimming pool musical” because the production featured an actual swimming pool on stage.  The characters could take dip when they weren’t singing the wonderful Rome score.  The story centers around the guests looking for fun in the sun at Camp Karefree in the Catskills as they enjoy a respite from the everyday life.  The show opened at the Imperial Theater and ran for 598 performances and was a lighthearted escape into the world of summer vacations.

Carousel

Carousel is a musical by Richard Rodgers (music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (book and lyrics) that was adapted from Ferenc Molnár’s 1909 play Liliom, transplanting the Budapest setting of Molnár’s play to a New England fishing village. The show includes the hit musical numbers “If I Loved You”, “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over”, and “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. Carousel was innovative for its time, being one of the first musicals to contain a tragic plot with themes of suicide and domestic violence.

The original production opened on Broadway on April 19, 1945, and ran for 890 performances. The musical has enjoyed award-winning revivals (particularly the 1994 revival at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre) and has been adapted as a Cinemascope 55 film in 1956 and as a made-for-television special on videotape in 1967. It is particularly well-regarded among musicals by the theatre community, and Richard Rodgers, in his autobiography Musical Stages, said it was his favorite musical. Time magazine named it the best musical of the 20th century.

After a mill girl, Julie Jordan, marries a handsome, but uncivilized carousel barker, Billy Bigelow, things turn sour for the couple. Billy cannot find a job and he and Julie are forced to live with their cousin, Nettie. Further, Billy has taken to using violence against her. Nevertheless, Julie continues to love her husband. In the end, after Billy discovers that Julie is pregnant, disaster strikes. In a desperate ploy for money, Billy’s friend, Jigger Craigin, convinces Billy to help him assault and rob David Bascombe, the mill owner. After this plan fails, Billy kills himself instead of spending the rest of his life in prison. Nevertheless, fifteen years later, Billy is allowed one more visit to Earth. He attempts to show his love for his daughter, Louise, and Julie – but he is unable. Even still, Julie can sense his love and Billy witnesses Louise graduating from high school.

Greenwillow

This is a musical readers may not be familiar with.  Greenwillow is a musical based on a novel by B.J. Chute with a book by Lesser Samuels and Frank Loesser and music and lyrics by Loesser. The musical is set in the magical town of Greenwillow.  In Greenwillow, the eldest in each generation of Briggs men must obey the “call to wander” while the women they leave behind care for the home and rear their children in the hope that someday their husbands will return.  Gideon Briggs loves his girlfriend, Dorrie, and would like nothing better than to settle down with her, but he spends his days trying to fight his need to travel, instead focusing his energies on his girlfriend.   He finds in the town’s newest inhabitant, the Reverend Birdsong, an ally who will try to help him make his dream come true.  Greenwillow didn’t last for very long (97 performances at the Alvin Theater), but one song did enjoy popularity: “Summertime Love,” a tribute to the excitement and passion of a summer romance.

BONUS

Summer:  The Donna Summer Musical

You read that right.  Summer: The Donna Summer Musical is a musical with book by Colman Domingo, Robert Cary, and Des McAnuff and music and lyrics Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder, Pete Bellotte, Paul Jabara, and others, based on the life of Donna Summer.  The musical made its premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse from November 7, 2017 through December 24, 2017 and opened on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre to previews on March 28, 2018 before opening on April 23, 2018.

What Should I Bring to Rehearsal?

What do you bring to rehearsal?  Well, be prepared.  You don’t want to forget something you know you need or even something that might be nice to have…

So, before you head out, make sure your bag is packed with all of the essentials that you will definitely need.  If you bring the “definites”, then you should be ready.

  1. Script

Obvious, right?  Guess what?  Sometimes you forget the most obvious things.  It happens to everyone.  Not a bad idea to check for the script before you leave the house.

  1. Notebook

Don’t forget a pencil and/or highlighter too.  It’s a good idea to write down notes from the director, any schedule changes, steps for choreography, and even your own lines (they say you remember what you write more than what you read).  Blocking will inevitably change.  Your lines might change.  A highlighter will help with this too.

  1. Flashlight

You’re sitting there.  Waiting.  Wishing you could rehearse your lines or check out your notes because you remembered your script and a notebook.  But it’s so dark and you forgot your bleeping flashlight!

  1. Sweater

Theaters and rehearsal studios are known to be chilly.  Just sayin’.

  1. Recorder

Now I mentioned earlier that people usually remember more what they write than what they read.  Hearing is the same thing.  During some down time, record your cue lines so that you can respond to the correct characters.  Recording your own lines as you would perform them can also help with dialect, accents, intonation, etc

  1. Water bottle

Duh!  Very important to hydrate especially if you’re involved in very intense dance routines, fight scenes, etc.  Plus, water fountains are gross, and no one wants to share with you!

  1. Snack

Who knows how long you’ll be?  Rehearsal could go through lunch or dinner.  Bring something with protein and healthy fats to help keep you energized.  Because like water, no one wants to share with you.  You don’t want anything sugary either where you’ll crash in the middle of rehearsal.  Nuts, food bars, and fruit salads are good choice for snacks.

  1. Towel

No one wants to perform or rehearse through a puddle of sweat on stage.  No one wants to give you a sweaty hug or high five.  Your cast mates will appreciate that you brought a towel.

  1. Shoes

The shoes make the man…or woman…or character.  Don’t start rehearsing in say high heel shoes or work boots even if your character calls for them.  Start out in flats or tennis shoes or any other stage shoe so that you get comfortable with the routines and staging.  Once you get into the rehearsals and the costume department provides you with your character shoes or recommends what you should wear for your character should you start rehearsing in them.  Once you have this info, then you can bring them to rehearsal and start “becoming” you character.

  1. Rehearsal Outfit “Blacks”

There’s no need to stand out at rehearsal.  Save it for your character and performance.  Bring rehearsal blacks or darker colors that are easy to move in.  Jeans and dresses are not recommended unless the director has specifically instructed you to do so.

Thrill of Victory, Agony of Defeat Part II

With the Stanley Cup and NBA Finals all wrapped up, here are some more sports themed stage productions.

 

Rocky (Boxing)

Rocky the Musical (originally Rocky: Das Musical) is a 2012 musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, with a book by Thomas Meehan, adapted from a screenplay by Sylvester Stallone. The show held its world premiere in Hamburg in 2012 and opened on Broadway on March 4, 2014 at the Winter Garden Theatre and closed on August 17, 2014 after 28 previews and 188 performances. The show roughly follows the plot of the 1976 film Rocky.  The show featured 20 original songs, with additional music taken from the original film series including “Eye of the Tiger” and “Gonna Fly Now”.

The show’s set, which for Broadway cost $4.3 million, is set around a mostly bare stage which represents the Gym that Rocky trains in. The production uses sliding box like sets to represent the homes of the characters and the sliding element goes onto include a full sized regulation boxing ring.  Audience members seated within the front stalls Golden Circle seating section, are escorted onto the stage for the final 20 minutes to sit on bleacher style seats, in doing so this allows the boxing ring to enter the auditorium and sit in rows A-F, bringing the audience close to the final fight scene.  The production did win a Tony Award for Set Design.

 

Lombardi (Football)

Lombardi is a play by Eric Simonson, based on the book When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss.  I’ve read the book.  Unbelievable life.

The play follows Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi through a week in the 1965 NFL season as he attempts to lead his team to the championship. (The Packers won the NFL championship that year, which would be the last season before the introduction of the Super Bowl.) A “Look Magazine” reporter, Michael McCormick, wants to “find out what makes Lombardi win”. However, players on the team refuse to be interviewed, wary of giving up information. He goes instead to Lombardi’s wife, Marie, for answers. Meanwhile, in a flashback, Lombardi frets over his lack of promotion and contemplates quitting football. His wife reveals that the family had an emotional move to Green Bay, Wisconsin when Lombardi joined the Packers.

Lombardi ends up yelling at Michael in front of the team, prompting both to storm off. Linebacker and place kicker Dave Robinson comforts Michael at a local bar, sharing stories about his initial impressions of the coach, the “honor of being barked at” by Lombardi, and the equality established on the team. After more positive insight from running back, option quarterback and kicker Paul Hornung and fullback Jim Taylor, Michael decides to attend the next game. As he narrates what happened at the game, the Packers win.

After he writes his news story, Michael reveals to Lombardi that he is quitting “Look Magazine” to form his own publishing company. Lombardi congratulates him on his move to independence and celebrates the win with Michael and Marie. Michael realizes that Lombardi is “the most imperfect, perfect man” he ever met.

Lombardi officially premiered on Broadway at the Circle in the Square Theatre on October 21, 2010, after previews beginning on September 23. The creative team includes direction by Thomas Kail, sets by David Korins, costumes by Paul Tazewell, and lighting by Howell Binkley. This production is being produced by Tony Ponturo and Fran Kirmser. Lombardi closed on May 22, 2011, after 30 previews and 244 performances.

Due to the Packers winning Super Bowl XLV in 2011, their fourth Super Bowl but their second since Lombardi was head coach, the show’s producers were “hoping for a halo effect at the box office.”  Patrick Healy wrote in The New York Times: “The Packers’ victory on Sunday lent “Lombardi” plenty of visibility before and after the Fox broadcast of the game. One FOX commentator, Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long, who had seen the play, talked up the play before kickoff and during the postgame show he said, ‘I think Lombardi the play just got an extension on Broadway.’ ” Healy also wrote that the show had not recouped its $3 million investment, and while producer Tony Ponturo said that the show was scheduled to run until June 19, 2011, it ended its run early. Producers would not comment on whether or not the play had earned back its production budget.

The original Broadway cast included Dan Lauria as Vince Lombardi, Judith Light as Marie Lombardi, Keith Nobbs as Michael McCormick, Bill Dawes as Paul Hornung, Robert Christopher Riley as Dave Robinson, and Chris Sullivan as Jim Taylor. Light was nominated for a 2011 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play for her performance in Lombardi.

 

 

The Changing Room (Rugby)

The Changing Room is a 1971 play by David Storey, set in a men’s changing room before, during and after a rugby league football game. It premiered at the Royal Court Theatre on 9 November 1971, directed by Lindsay Anderson. The 1973 Broadway production, directed by Michael Rudman, won several awards including the New York Drama Critics’ Circle award for Best Play and the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor for John Lithgow.  After three previews, the Broadway production, directed by Michael Rudman, opened on 6 March 1973 at the Morosco Theatre, where it ran for 192 performances.

At the play’s core is a semi-pro Northern England rugby league team. During the week, its members are peaceable men toiling away at mindless, working class jobs. On Saturday, they prepare for gory combat on the playing field. The changing room is where they perform their pre-game initiation rites, strip down, loosen muscles, and get into their uniforms. After the match they return, often broken, muddy, and bloody, regretting their loss or giddy with victory in the communal shower. There is little in the way of plot, but Storey engages his audience with his ability to dissect his characters’ hurts, hopes, desires, and fighting instincts.

Thrill of Victory, Agony of Defeat

Sports.  It has drama, competition, and emotion.  A perfect recipe for a Broadway show.  Sports has been the backdrop for many movies, tv shows, and musicals.  We will take a look at a few classics and maybe a few not so classics.  But nonetheless, the marriage of sports and Broadway has gone on for a very long time, and it’s easy to see why.

 

Damn Yankees (Baseball)

Perhaps the most classic sports musical ever made, Damn Yankees is a musical comedy with a book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop, music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. The story is a modern retelling of the Faust legend set during the 1950s in Washington, D.C., during a time when the New York Yankees dominated Major League Baseball. It is based on Wallop’s novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant.

The show ran for 1,019 performances in its original 1955 Broadway production. Adler and Ross’s success with it and The Pajama Game seemed to point to a bright future for them, but Ross suddenly died of chronic bronchiectasis at age 29 several months after it opened.

Joe Boyd, an aging Washington Senators fan, would sell his soul for the Senators to beat the New York Yankees and win the pennant. Enter Applegate, who offers to turn Boyd into Joe Hardy, a powerful young baseball player, in exchange for his soul. When Boyd agrees, he becomes Hardy and leads the Senators on a winning streak. When he starts to miss his wife, though, and questions the deal, Applegate sends temptress Lola into the mix.

Hey!  As a Red Sox fan, I might have considered this after the 2003 season!

 

Good News (Football)

Another classic Broadway musical, Good News is a musical with a book by Laurence Schwab and B.G. DeSylva, lyrics by DeSylva and Lew Brown, and music by Ray Henderson.  The show opened on Broadway in 1927, the same year as Show Boat, but though its plot was decidedly old-fashioned in comparison to Show Boat’s daring storyline, it was also a hit. Good News spawned two films, an unsuccessful 1974 Broadway revival, and a 1993 updated production by Music Theatre of Wichita, which created a largely new libretto and made changes to the score, It proved to be DeSylva, Brown, and Henderson’s biggest hit out of a string of topical musicals.

World War I is over, the Roaring Twenties have arrived, women have won the right to vote, and college campuses, such as fictional Tait College, are as much a social scene as an academic one. Football is the big game, and star player Tom Marlowe is a prime catch. All the girls are interested in Tom, and vice-versa, although one society climber seems to have him in hand. Studious part-time school librarian Connie Lane doesn’t seem to have a chance and stays out of the fray. When Marlowe fails a final exam, he needs a tutor to help him pass so he can play in the big game on Saturday. Connie is selected to help keep his nose to the grindstone, and the two fall for each other. The couples’ romance can only endure if the team wins the big game.

 

Golden Boy (Boxing)

Golden Boy is a 1964 musical with a book by Clifford Odets and William Gibson, lyrics by Lee Adams, and music by Charles Strouse.  The Broadway production was directed by Arthur Penn, choreographed by Donald McKayle, and starred Sammy Davis Jr and opened on October 20, 1964 at the Majestic Theatre, where it ran for 568 performances and twenty-five previews.

Based on the 1937 play of the same name by Odets, it focuses on Joe Wellington, a young man from Harlem who, despite his family’s objections, turns to prizefighting as a means of escaping his ghetto roots and finding fame and fortune. He crosses paths with Mephistopheles-like promoter Eddie Satin and eventually betrays his manager Tom Moody when he becomes romantically involved with Moody’s girlfriend Lorna Moon.  In Odets’ original book, Joe was a sensitive would-be surgeon fighting in order to pay his way through college, but careful to protect his hands from serious damage so he could achieve his goal of saving the lives of blacks ignored by white doctors.  In an ironic twist, the hands he hoped would heal kill a man in the ring.

 

Magic/Bird (Basketball)

Magic/Bird is a play by Eric Simonson about basketball stars Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers and Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics, their rise from college basketball to the NBA and super stardom, and eventually the Olympic Dream Team, their team and personal rivalries and ultimately their long-running friendship. The play premiered on Broadway at the Longacre Theater on March 21, 2012.  It has the full support of the NBA with Johnson and Bird prominently supportive.  And, according to the producers: “At the heart of one of the fiercest rivalries in sports, two of the greatest athletes of all-time battled for multiple championships and the future of their sport…Johnson and Bird, went head to head, electrified the nation, reinvigorated the NBA, and turned their rivalry into the greatest and most famous friendships in professional sports. With classic NBA footage prominently designed throughout, Magic/Bird transports the audience into the heart of their matchup.

I Saw the Strangest Thing On Broadway

Has anyone seen a truly strange play or musical?  What’s the strangest one you’ve heard of?  Here, we will look at a few of the strangest plays or musicals out there.  Some you may have heard of, and some, maybe not.

 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show – Wallpaper #1

Rocky Horror Picture Show

We all have heard of it.  We all don’t really understand it.  We all know it has a cult following with people dressing up like the characters.  But what is it about?  The story centers on a young engaged couple whose car breaks down in the rain near a castle where they seek a telephone to call for help. The castle or country home is occupied by strangers in elaborate costumes celebrating an annual convention. They discover the head of the house is Dr. Frank N. Furter, an apparent mad scientist who actually is an alien transvestite who creates a living muscle man, Rocky, in his laboratory. The couple are seduced separately by the mad scientist and eventually released by the servants who take control.  The musical was adapted into a film in 1975 and still enjoys success to this day…but I don’t get it.

 

Urintown: The Musical

Urinetown: The Musical is a satirical, comedy musical that premiered in 2001, with music by Mark Hollmann, lyrics by Hollmann and Greg Kotis, and book by Kotis. It satirizes the legal system, capitalism, social irresponsibility, populism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, and municipal politics. The show also parodies musicals such as The Threepenny Opera, The Cradle Will Rock and Les Misérables, and the Broadway musical itself as a form.  Does sound strange, right?  Well, not until you realize that it all revolves around—you guessed it—going to the bathroom.  Due to a twenty year drought and a severe water shortage, all restroom activities are regulated.  No more private toilets only public ones.  You have to pay to go to the bathroom.  There are strict laws that if broken gets you sent to a “penal colony” called Urinetown…..

 

Octomom: The Musical

Do I really need to write anything about this?…

I will mention one thing, when the show opened, the producers left nine seats open just in case.

 

Triassic Parq

The novel and film Jurassic Park told from the perspective of the dinosaurs. A clan of genetically engineered female dinosaurs (played by male and female actors) is thrown into chaos when one of the female dinosaurs spontaneously turns male. Originally directed by Marshall Pailet and presented Off-Broadway at the Soho Playhouse in 2012. The original cast featured Alex Wyse (Velociraptor of Innocence), Wade McCollum (Velociraptor of Faith), Lindsay Nicole Chambers (Velociraptor of Science), Shelley Thomas (T-Rex 1), Claire Neumann (T-Rex 2), Brandon Espinoza (Mime-a-saurus), Lee Seymour (Morgan Freeman) and Zak Sandler (Pianosaurus).  Originally produced in 2010 at the NY International Fringe Festival under the title “Jurassic Parq: The Broadway Musical” where it won “Best Overall Musical/Production.” After Off-Broadway, it was slightly re-written and presented at the Chance Theater in Orange County where it won the Ovation Award for “Best Production of a Musical (Intimate Theater)” in addition to two other awards.