News Round-Up: May 20, 2021

Lego is issuing its first-ever rainbow set for Pride 2021
(image via Lego)

Some news items you might have missed:

NBC News: Lego is kicking off LGBTQ Pride month by releasing a special set, called “Everyone is Awesome,” that celebrates the diversity of its fans. This is the first time in Lego’s 72-year history that it is releasing an official LGBTQ Pride set.

The Hill: Coronavirus vaccinations in Ohio jumped 28 percent in the days following the governor’s announcement of a lottery for residents who get the shots, state health officials said Thursday. Residents who have been vaccinated will be eligible for five drawings of $1 million each.

Kenneth-in-the-212: Six foot seven doctoral candidate Aidyn asks if he’s “still a big boy” as this week’s ‘Mask4Masc’ feature. #woof

New York Times: The Times editorial board penned an op-ed calling the decision by Pride organizers in NYC that police officers would not be allowed to march in the annual Pride parade until 2025 a ‘misstep.’ I agree.

Right Wing Watch: QAnon Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) falsely claimed in an interview that Texas has not reported a single COVID-19 death since the state lifted all restrictions over two months ago. ACTUALLY, the Texas Department of State Health Services reports more than 3,400 people have died of COVID-19 since the state removed all restrictions two months ago.

OUT: It seems folks who hadn’t seen (or didn’t know much about) the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen were under the impression it was about a gay high school student after the official trailer for the upcoming movie adaptation dropped yesterday. p.s. it’s not

You Will Be Found: Ben Platt’s Star Turn In ‘Dear Evan Hansen’

From the film adaptation of the Broadway musical 'Dear Evan Hansen'

From the film adaptation of the Broadway musical 'Dear Evan Hansen'

Ben Platt is playing the role that made him uber-famous one more time, fortunately for us.

Universal Pictures drops the official trailer for the film adaptation for Dear Evan Hansen, the moving stage musical that promises ‘you will be found.’

From Vanity Fair:

The story centers on a kid whose therapist has given him the assignment of writing letters to himself, addressing his fears, hopes, and insecurities.

A classmate named Connor Murphy (Colton Ryan, who understudied the role on Broadway) steals one of the letters and later takes his own life. That boy’s parents (played in the film by Amy Adams and Danny Pino) mistake the letter Evan wrote for their son’s final words, addressed to a kid they assume was his close friend. Evan lets them believe this because he thinks it brings them comfort—but the confusion and lies soon pile up, leading to greater heartbreak.

The Broadway production scored 5 Tony Awards including Best Musical and a Best Actor in a Musical statue for Platt.

Folks on social media are making light of 27-year-old Platt playing a high school student, but come on folks – suspend your disbelief a bit and just enjoy.

The movie hits theaters September 24.

Celebrating Mother’s Day With Broadway Musical Moms

Four moms from the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen unite for this special rendition of 'Anyone Have A Map?'
Broadway musical moms help me celebrate Mother's Day as four moms from the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen unite for this special rendition of 'Anyone Have A Map?'
L-R Lisa Brescia, Christiane Noll, Jessica Phillips, and Jennifer Laura Thompson (screen capture)

Broadway musical moms help me celebrate Mother’s Day with some totally appropriate tunes from musicals that mine the gold in all kinds of motherly relationships.

Four Dear Evan Hansen moms from the Broadway and touring companies united for this terrific take on “Anybody Have A Map?” from the blockbuster musical. I’m sure a lot of moms out there relate to this.

Liz Callaway really scored with this Act One closer for the 1983 Broadway musical, Baby. The song takes place after Liz’s ‘pregnant for the first time’ character feels her baby kick for the very first time.

From Stephen Sondheim’s brilliant Into The Woods, Broadway icon Betty Buckley served up a show-stopping “Children Will Listen” backed by the Boys Choir of Harlem at the 1992 Carnegie Hall concert honoring Sondheim.

In the 1996 stage musical adaptation of the Tom Hanks hit film BIG, Barbara Walsh played the mother of the lead character who magically grows up and leaves home on an adventure. At the top of Act Two, the mom reflects on how quickly kids can grow up wishing she could ‘stop time’ for just a while.

Just like in life (I’m thinking my own life here), Broadway musical moms take many forms – aunts, godmothers, neighbors, even god-like forces like Mother Earth – who show up at the right moment to help us on our way.

I loved the creative and oh-so-moving 2017 revival of Once On This Island. Alex Newell and company brought the house down nightly with this jubilant and earthy “Mama Will Provide.”

As I recently reported, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and theater producers have announced Broadway shows will begin reopening this September.

Four Moms From Dear Evan Hansen Sing ‘Anybody Have A Map?’

L-R Lisa Brescia, Christiane Noll, Jessica Phillips, and Jennifer Laura Thompson

Four Broadway leading ladies singing together for the first time.

Four Broadway and National Tour Dear Evan Hansen ‘Moms’ — Lisa Brescia, Christiane Noll, Jessica Phillips, and Jennifer Laura Thompson — joined forces for this music video that asks the universal question, “Anybody Have A Map?”

The Dear Evan Hansen YouTube channel shared the video in 2018, and I kept meaning to share this. I love how different all four actresses are and yet they have a similar ineffable quality.

I love the arrangement, and in these crazy days, the song offers a lighthearted acknowledgment that we don’t always have the answers.

The Broadway producers wisely took advantage of the show’s terrific score to come up with unique spins on the songs. In the past, I’ve shared two ‘Evan Hansens’ singing “Only Us” to each other for Valentine’s Day and four actors who’ve taken on the title role from the Broadway, National Tour, Toronto and West End productions singing “For Forever.”

Good Night: Ben Platt & Casts Of ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Sing “You Will Be Found”

Hey, folks.

I usually end the day with my News Round-Ups, but this feels a little better tonight.

Tonight, The Late Late Show with James Corden closed with Tony Award-winner Ben Platt joined by members of the Broadway and touring companies of the smash musical Dear Even Hansen singing, appropriately, “You Will Be Found.”

This feels like a better note to end the night.

Thanks for reading TRR folks.

Have a great night. (and wash your hands…)

…signed, human being, me…

Four Evan Hansens Sing “For Forever”

Four ‘Evan Hansens’ sing “For Forever” from Dear Evan Hansen

Today, the London production of Dear Evan Hansen begins performances officially launching the fourth company of the Tony Award-winning musical to date.

To commemorate the occasion, the producers released this never-before-heard arrangement of “For Forever,” performed by a quartet of Evans: Sam Tutty (London), Andrew Barth Feldman (Broadway), Stephen Christopher Anthony (North American Tour), and Robert Markus (Toronto).

The Tony Award®-winning Best Musical also continues on Broadway, in Toronto and cities all across North America.

In case you aren’t familiar, from the synopsis:

A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he’s always wanted: a chance to finally fit in.

Both deeply personal and profoundly contemporary, Dear Evan Hansen is a new American musical about life and the way we live it.

The producers have released a series of videos featuring actors from the multiple companies of the hit musical.

One of my favorites showcases four actresses who have played the role of Evan’s mother on Broadway and in the national touring company – Lisa Brescia, Jennifer Laura Thompson, Jessica Phillips, and Christiane Noll – singing, “Anybody Have A Map?”

Like the above video, the musical team turns these powerful solos from the show into expanded quartets with new arrangements.

I love seeing the actors relate to each other as only those who’ve played the roles can; there’s a knowingness present in their connections.

Pentatonix Covers “Waving Through A Window” From DEAR EVAN HANSEN

Grammy Award winning vocal group Pentatonix serves up their take on "Waving Through a Window" from the hit Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen.

Grammy Award winning vocal group Pentatonix serves up their take on “Waving Through a Window” from the hit Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen.

The multi-platinum selling group has dipped its toes in the Broadway catalogue a few times.

Band member Kirsten Maldonado joined the Broadway cast of Kinky Boots last year alongside Scissor Sister frontman Jake Shears. The fab five also recorded a track for the concept album of Finding Neverland, and they also dropped by the Wicked 15th anniversary special on NBC.

The song has been covered by several pop stars since Dear Evan Hansen’s debut, including Katy Perry and Rachel Tucker.

‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Serves Up Completely Sweet Valentine’s Day Treat

Ben Levi Ross & Taylor Trensch of ‘Dear Evan Hansen’

For Valentine’s Day, the creators of the Broadway musical, Dear Evan Hansen, offer this special rendition of the song “Only Us” from the hit show.

The blockbuster musical chronicles the journey of a socially-awkward high school student (Evan Hansen) who has trouble making friends.

In a twist of fate, the facts of a teen suicide get accidentally mixed up and he suddenly finds himself something of a hero, popular and spending time with his longtime crush. Except, it’s all based on an innocent falsehood that snowballs out of Evan’s control.

Evan eventually faces having to give up his newfound social status or live a lie.

At the 71st Tony Awards, Dear Evan Hansen took home six statues including Best Musical, and made a bona-fide star of its Tony Award-winning leading man, Ben Platt.

Ben Levi Ross of ‘Dear Evan Hansen’

While not a gay story, it’s certainly a theme LGBTs have gravitated to in terms of the character’s yearning for acceptance.

In the stage musical, “Only Us” is sung between Evan and his crush, Zoe.

In this Valentine’s Day version, we have two ‘Evan Hansens’ singing to each other. Taylor Trensch, who played the title role on Broadway, and the national tour ‘Evan,’ Ben Levi Ross.

For just a bit more Valentine’s Day charm, the duo are a real life couple 🙂

For this video, the musical’s Tony and Grammy Award-winning orchestrator, Alex Lacamoire, debuts a new arrangement of the song, and features pianist Austin Cook, guitarist Matt Sangiovanni, bassist Matt Rubano, and violinist Mona Tian.

Sung by the two young men, the song shimmers in fresh and hopeful shades of gay.

I never thought there’d be someone like you who would want me
So I give you ten thousand reasons to not let me go
But if you really see me
If you like me for me and nothing else
Well, that’s all that I’ve wanted for longer that you could possibly know
So it can be us
It can be us
And only us
And what came before won’t count anymore or matter
We can try that

In fact, with two actors who played the same role, it could almost be interpreted as an ode of self-love.

And on Valentine’s Day, all love is celebrated – whether boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, husband or even the person in the mirror.

Most of the time, I’m sharing some of the darker LGBTQ news of the day here.

It’s nice to share something totally smile-worthy.

Dear Evan Hansen is still running strong in New York City, London and across the U.S. with its national touring company. Click here for more information about the show.

News Round-Up: March 16, 2018

(image via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

• Brazilian model Maxs Souza (above) and his 8-pack kick back for the weekend ahead. #8pack #HardToConcentrate

• Ellen DeGeneres says Elton John was not very nice to her when she famously came out 20 years ago. “Shut up already. We know you’re gay. Be funny.”

• Introduced by Jane Fonda no less, RuPaul received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today!

• Jury hits University of Minnesota-Duluth with $3.74 million judgment for firing lesbian hockey coach.

• Gay-themed romantic comedy Love, Simon (in theaters today) was influenced by Broadway blockbuster Dear Evan Hansen.

• And speaking of Dear Evan Hansen, the show’s Tony Award-winning star Ben Platt has gone viral today sharing this “audition video” singing “Maria” from West Side Story.

Side note: Ben Platt has to make audition videos?

Having sung the song myself for years, I’m super-impressed by his high B-flat – effortless. What do you guys think?

My 2017 Tony Awards Recap

I enjoyed last night’s Tony Awards broadcast muchly.

For one thing, rather than one of those year’s where one show dominates heavily (Hamilton, Chicago, The Producers), for the most part the Tony voters seemed happy to share the wealth among several productions. And I like that. The Tonys are, in great part, a marketing tool to help shows run, and when everyone is acknowledged for excellent work, the entire theater community wins.

All in all, I agreed with just about every winner (I hate using that word) in each category.

Other random thoughts:

• It’s ridiculous that the Choreographer category isn’t presented during the telecast. I won’t qualify artistic contributions among team mates, but the choreographer (the most physically demanding position on a creative team) creates highly complex storytelling without the use of spoken language. The number from Andy Blankenbuehler’s Bandstand was easily a standout among all the numbers featured last night. Also, look at the popularity of dance today across the country (So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With The Stars). There’s intense interest in the art form.

For those who didn’t see Andy’s acceptance speech:

Check out Dr. Jill Biden (huge standing ovation) introducing “Nobody” from Bandstand. This is excellent choreography 🙂

• Whether it was Bette Midler demurring or producer Scott Rudin not wanting to “give away the goods,” it was a shame there was no production number from this year’s biggest hit,  Hello, Dolly!

• While I miss seeing excerpts from the nominated plays, I did enjoy seeing the playwrights introduced and being allowed to speak about their shows.

• The In Memoriam was handled with taste and grace. Thank you.

• The two most memorable speeches (vastly different in tone) were:

Ben Platt winning “Best Actor in a Musical” for Dear Evan Hansen – “To all young people watching at home, don’t waste any time trying to be like anybody but yourself. The things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful.”

And Bette Midler’s four minute filibuster (“Shut that crap off!”) for “Best Actress in a Musical” for Hello, Dolly!:

• Kevin Spacey did a good job as host. Brilliant? Maybe not, but he was solid and brings aesthetic weight to the stage. I wasn’t a huge fan of the impersonation schtick, but I know there were producers and writers making a lot of those decisions, so… Much is being made about his “in the closet” jokes. On one hand folks seem to be of the opinion he’s basically out to everyone but the masses, so he should be be out; on the other hand, he’s dealt with the rumors for years and if he wants to joke about them, whatever.

Ratings? From BroadwayWorld.com:

According to The Hollywood Reporter, ratings for this year’s telecast were down 31 percent from last year’s show. According to Nielsen overnight returns, the telecast averaged a 4.7 rating among metered market households, almost tying for the Tony broadcast from five years ago. The numbers appear to be strong enough to top NBC’s coverage of the Stanley Cup Finals, although they may fall short of winning in the Adult 18-49 demo.

In comparison, the 2016 TONY AWARDS reached a 15-year viewership high, averaging a 6.8 rating among households in overnight returns, ultimately delivering 8.7 million viewers and a 1.6 rating among adults 18-49.

Click here to see many of the performances and acceptance speeches.

Here’s the full list of the artists who took home awards last night:

Best musical: “Dear Evan Hansen”

Best play: “Oslo”

Best revival of a play: “August Wilson’s Jitney”

Best revival of a musical: “Hello, Dolly!”

Best book of a musical: “Dear Evan Hansen,” Steven Levenson

Best original score (music and/or lyrics) written for the theater: “Dear Evan Hansen,” Music and lyrics: Benj Pasek & Justin Paul

Tony Awards 2017: Highlights, winners and best moments
Best performance by an actor in a leading role in a musical: Ben Platt, “Dear Evan Hansen”

Best performance by an actress in a leading role in a musical: Bette Midler, “Hello, Dolly!”

Best performance by an actor in a leading role in a play: Kevin Kline, “Present Laughter”

Best performance by an actress in a leading role in a play: Laurie Metcalf, “A Doll’s House, Part 2”

Best performance by an actor in a featured role in a play: Michael Aronov, “Oslo”

Best performance by an actress in a featured role in a play: Cynthia Nixon, “Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes”

Best performance by an actor in a featured role in a musical: Gavin Creel, “Hello, Dolly!”

Best performance by an actress in a featured role in a musical: Rachel Bay Jones, “Dear Evan Hansen”

Best scenic design of a play: Nigel Hook, “The Play That Goes Wrong”

Best scenic design of a musical: Mimi Lien, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Best costume design of a play: Jane Greenwood, “Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes”

Best costume design of a musical: Santo Loquasto, “Hello, Dolly!”

Best lighting design of a play: Christopher Akerlind, “Indecent”

Best lighting design of a musical: Bradley King, “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”

Best direction of a play: Rebecca Taichman, “Indecent”

Best direction of a musical: Christopher Ashley, “Come From Away”

Best choreography: Andy Blankenbuehler, “Bandstand”

Best orchestrations: Alex Lacamoire, “Dear Evan Hansen”

Special Tony Award for lifetime achievement in the theatre: James Earl Jones

Special Tony Award: Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin, sound designers for “The Encounter”

Regional theatre Tony Award: Dallas Theater Center in Dallas, Texas

Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award: Baayork Lee

Tony honors for excellence in theater: Nina Lannan and Alan Wasser