MJ Rodriguez Makes Golden Globe History, Full List Of 2022 Winners

Mj Rodriguez of POSE

Without a network to broadcast the proceedings plus the ongoing COVID surge, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced the winners of the 2022 Golden Globes via Twitter on Sunday night.

Michaela Jae Rodriguez made history as she was honored with the Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series — Drama statue for her role as “Blanca Evangelista” in the final season of Pose. The win made her the first transgender person to win a Golden Globe. Continue reading “MJ Rodriguez Makes Golden Globe History, Full List Of 2022 Winners”

Trailer For New Musical Comedy Series ‘Schmigadoon!’

Schmigadoon! premieres July 16 (promo photo via Apple TV+)

Check out the trailer for the new musical comedy series from Apple TV+, “Schmigadoon!,” executive produced by Lorne Michaels and starring Emmy Award-nominee Cecily Strong and Emmy Award-winner Keegan-Michael Key.

A parody of iconic Golden Age musicals, “Schmigadoon!” stars Strong and Key as a couple on a backpacking trip designed to reinvigorate their relationship who discover a magical town living in a 1940s musical.

Once they enter the magical town, the couple learns that they can’t leave until they find “true love.” #IveHeardOfThisSomewhereBefore

The six-episode season also features Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Aaron Tveit, Dove Cameron, Ariana DeBose, Fred Armisen, Jaime Camil, Jane Krakowski and Ann Harada. Martin Short guest stars.

The first two episodes will premiere on Friday, July 16, 2021 exclusively on Apple TV+, followed by one new episode weekly, every Friday.

IG Live: Rachelle Rak & Her New Musical ‘Electric Island’

Cover image for the new musical "Electric Island"

Cover image for the new musical "Electric Island"

Broadway and TV veteran (and my longtime friend) Rachelle Rak chats with me about her new musical, “Electric Island.”

p.s. my first-ever Instagram Live chat…!

The musical follows and celebrates the real stories of women working on Broadway: those working hard to go from show to show and aren’t the recognized stars above the marquee.

Shining light on women of all ages, ethnicities, and sexual orientations, “Electric Island” illuminates how these performers have navigated the highs and lows of a life in the theater–on stage and off.

The streaming event (below) features selections from the show and will be available for a few days after.

Plus, the live stream will benefit the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative, a program of The Actor’s Fund.

A quick run-down of Rachelle’s lengthy resume includes her many Broadway Credits: Fosse, Catch Me If You Can, The Look of Love, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Thou Shalt Not, Oklahoma!, and CATS.

TV audiences know her from Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition and Dance Moms on Lifetime TV.

During the pandemic, Sas (as she’s known among friends) launched her own dance conventions, Ignite Dance Live – which have now gone virtual. AND, she offers her own master classes – SasStorm.com – where studios around the country can book her one on one for their students. Every class she offers is a form of weather – because, as I say, she’s a force of nature.

You can check out my in-depth chat with the indomitable Rachelle Rak from last fall on The Randy Report podcast here.

New Musical ‘Nathan C. Jones: A Love Story?’ Goes Virtual For World Premiere

Amir Levi in ‘Nathan C. Jones: A Love Story?’

In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, artists in the theater are finding new, unconventional ways to bring the vibrancy of live theater to audiences.

Over the past few months, theater fans have enjoyed online streaming concert events by Broadway stars as well as previously recorded original Broadway productions, plus Obie Award-winning off-Broadway plays like David Drakes’ The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me.

And of course, there’s Seth Rudetsky’s daily serving of theater fare with his Stars in the House web series.

The acclaimed Blank Theatre in Los Angeles recently served up the virtual world premiere of the new musical, Nathan C. Jones: A Love Story?

The one-man show was written by Vanessa Stewart and Brendan Milburn, based on an idea by Amir Levi, who also stars in the musical. Daniel Henning, of the Blank Theatre, skillfully handles direction for the premiere which was all filmed in quarantine.

I had a chance to chat with Levi about the new musical, the experience of adapting the show for virtual audiences and more.

The Randy Report: What was the inspiration for the play?

Amir Levi: A few things! Thematically, the idea of obsession has always been fascinating to me. I think partly because we all have a little bit of obsessive tendencies in us. Some of us Facebook stalk our exes, some of us constantly re-read texts to make sure we said the right thing, or we look for deeper meaning within the texts that have been communicated or not communicated with a lover/ex-lover/potential lover, etc.

Most of us have the ability to stop ourselves, however. We have that little voice inside our heads telling us to stop because we’re being ‘crazy.’ This show is about someone who doesn’t have that ability.

Structurally, I’ve always loved telling stories through song. I had done a few solo concerts, and the order of the songs that I picked was always important, and there would always be something to talk about between numbers.

I love “Tell me on a Sunday” because we get to see several romances from one person’s perspective, and it’s all singing. This is similar to that because we see one person’s perspective on a romance, and it’s mostly done through song, but this is perhaps a more targeted approach.

Amir Levi in ‘Nathan C. Jones: A Love Story?’

TRR: What moved you to release this during the pandemic?

AL: Our writer, Vanessa Stewart, e-mailed me, the director (Daniel Henning) and the composer (Brendan Milburn) about a week or two into the quarantine and said that since we don’t know how long this will last, and most of the show takes places in Nathan’s apartment, why not have this be our world premiere?

We don’t know when live theater will come back, and each of us is an artist that can’t sit still unless we’re working on a project (or several) at a time.

Just because the physical theatrical spaces are gone for now doesn’t mean theater needs to stop. Stories need to be told and people need to express themselves. Also, many people who are in quarantine (and even before quarantine) can probably relate to Nathan’s loneliness and desperation for companionship and love.

TRR: Do you feel you were able to capture the mood/point of the play via virtual release?

AL: Yes! Daniel is a brilliant director and came up with the different places to set the webcam to give it a more dynamic feel, and to really take advantage of this medium. We were originally planning on doing a live-stream of the whole show, but then we discovered that unless a musician was physically in the room with me, it would be impossible to really do the music justice.

Also, as a performer, it would be hard to stay ‘in it’ while constantly adjusting the camera and doing everything on my own. Through rehearsals, Daniel took note of what times of day the different lighting options were affecting my apt (Daniel directed me via Zoom screen share so he could see what my webcam was seeing).

Brendan and Vanessa wrote a new song (“Friend You”) for this medium that really helps show not only the emotional journey of Nathan but in this medium, is able to get a sort of intimacy that can only be conveyed through film.

Amir Levi in ‘Nathan C. Jones: A Love Story?’

TRR: What’s next for ’Nathan C. Jones: A Love Story?’

AL: Eventually, when live theater comes back, it would be amazing to get a full run of it, and to perhaps tour it! I’m sure 1 or 2 new songs would probably be inspired for a fully staged version. However, since live performance probably won’t return till at least Spring 2021, we want to reach as many audience members as possible and hope this story moves them.

In addition to just overcoming the immense hurdles of creating a piece of theater via Zoom and the internet, the creative team and Levi deserve big props for telling the sometimes obsessive/sometimes touching story of one man’s desire to find love.

Favorite lyric: “Oh Chad, if you break it then you buy it / If you break my heart, you know you have to pay…”

Does Nathan end up with the virtual love of his life? I’m not giving anything away 🙂

You can watch the full one-act musical, Nathan C. Jones: A Love Story? below.

All-Star Streaming Event Announced For Stephen Sondheim’s 90th Birthday Celebration

(image via Broadway.com)

Deadline reports a cavalcade of stars will take part in Take Me To The World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration, a virtual 90th birthday celebration for legendary Broadway composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim

Meryl Streep, Audra McDonald, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, Mandy Patinkin, Kristin Chenoweth, Sutton Foster, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Kelli O’Hara, and many more are scheduled to appear on Sunday, April 26, which just happens to be the 50th anniversary of the opening night of Sondheim’s iconic musical, Company.

The streaming event will be hosted by Raúl Esparza beginning at 8 pm ET and will be available for free at Broadway.com and the Broadway.com YouTube channel.

Esparza has a long history with Sondheim’s work having starred as Bobby in the Tony Award-winning revival of Company in 2006, as George in the Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration productions of Sunday in the Park and as Charlie in Merrily We Roll Along in 2002. Additionally, he starred in City Center’s Encores! productions of Anyone Can Whistle and last year’s Road Show.

“The world is in a hard place, and we are all searching for something great,” says Esparza in a statement. “Well, Stephen Sondheim is greatness personified. So, we’ve assembled a group of people who love Steve and have worked with Steve and have been inspired by Steve to sing his music and share some joy and some heartache together. We may be far from Broadway right now, but Broadway is never far from us. Besides, Stephen Sondheim turned 90. How many times do you get to be 90? 11? So come on, say it, get it over with, come on, quick…happy birthday.”

Mary-Mitchell Campbell will be the music director, with Paul Wontorek serving as director.

This online event will act as a fundraiser for ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty), the organization conceived by Campbell and Juilliard students to transform the lives of youth through art.

Never-Before Heard Recording By Freddie Mercury “Time”

After four decades, a previously unreleased version of the song "Time," recorded by Freddie Mercury for the concept album of the stage musical of the same name, has been released by songwriter & producer Dave Clark.
Freddie Mercury

After four decades, a previously unreleased version of the song “Time,” recorded by Freddie Mercury for the concept album of the stage musical of the same name, has been released by songwriter & producer Dave Clark.

According to USA Today, Clark had asked the Queen frontman to record the track for a concept album for the sci-fi rock musical.

Due to the success of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s pre-production albums for Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, the practice of asking popular recording artists to cover songs from an upcoming stage musical became a popular marketing tool for new shows.

The concept album for Time featured big name artists of the day including Mercury, Julian Lennon, Murray Head, Dionne Warwick, Leo Sayer, and Ashford & Simpson.

I actually saw the musical in London’s West End in 1987.

As I recall the story was about a rock star (originally UK pop star Cliff Richard, later replaced by David Cassidy) and his band mates being transported across the universe where they had to defend planet Earth from destruction before a galactic tribunal featuring a projected floating head (a recorded Laurence Olivier).

Relying greatly on massive sets and special effects, the show ran for two years.

Mercury’s recording of “Time” featured bombastic orchestrations and what sounds like a choir of backup singers. But before the session with Mercury was done, Clark asked the rock star to record a bare-bones, piano accompaniment version of the song.

Clark tells USA Today that hearing Mercury sing the stripped-down version in London’s Abbey Road  studios gave him “goosebumps.”

“It (became) a mega-production, which I was happy with and Freddie loved,” says Clark. “But I didn’t think about what we had originally done until a decade or so later, when I thought, ‘I’ve never felt that sort of goosebumps feeling that I got on that original run-through at Abbey Road with just Freddie and piano.'”

After finding the original recording in the spring of 2018, Clark asked the original session pianist, Mike Moran, to record an updated piano accompaniment to pair with the song.

The music video above was created using video footage shot at London’s Dominion Theatre in 1986.

The acoustic version is a compelling showcase for Mercury’s iconic vocals. And lyrics like “Time waits for no one” seem to resonate even more when considering Mercury’s early passing in 1991.

In this 1986 interview, Clark and Mercury discuss the evolution of the recording:

Director Rob Marshall Breaks Down How Live Action & Animation Came Together in ‘Mary Poppins Returns’

Lin-Manuel Miranda and Emily Blunt in ‘Mary Poppins Returns’

Director Rob Marshall discusses how a scene, which combines live action and hand-drawn animation in the new Mary Poppins Returns, came to be.

Fascinating all the thinking that went into layering the 2-D animation, even down to how the clothing was painted to be a part of the scene.

From The New York Times‘ Anatomy of a Scene series:

The Banks children go on adventure that takes them inside of a ceramic bowl and into an animated countryside, in this fanciful scene from the new Disney sequel “Mary Poppins Returns.” The film’s director Rob Marshall narrates a closer look at the sequence, which features Emily Blunt as the titular nanny and Lin-Manuel Miranda as the lamplighter friend of the family, Jack. Here, Marshall discusses how animators were brought out of retirement to work on the 2-D animation.

First Look At Disney’s Live-Action Remake Of “The Lion King”

(screen capture)

Disney has released the first trailer for the much-anticipated remake of The Lion King, and it’s pretty amazing.

Hit the play button below to return to Pride Rock, Simba’s birthplace, as the Elton John classic, “Circle of Life,” rings across the African plains.

Directed by Jon Favreau, the cast of the new film includes Beyoncé as Nala, Donald Glover as Simba, James Earl Jones (that voice!), reprising his role as Mufasa, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, Alfre Woodard as Sarabi, John Oliver as Zazu, and Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner as Pumbaa and Timon.

You may recall Favreau directed the 2016 live-action remake of The Jungle Book, which won an Oscar for its visual effects and garnered almost $1 billion at the worldwide box office.

The Oscar winning soundtrack of the 1994 film, by Tim Rice and Elton John, sold over 10 million copies, scoring an Academy Award for “Can You Feel The Love Tonight.”

According to reports, Beyoncé is collaborating with John on updated versions of the classic songs for the upcoming remake.

The new film arrives in theaters July 19, 2019.

Casting Announced For Upcoming Live Televised Production Of RENT

Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical), Brandon Victor Dixon (who killed in in this year’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live!), and RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Valentina have been announced for Fox’s 2019 live production of the Broadway hit musical, Rent.

Dixon will play ‘Tom Collins,’ Hudgens will take on ‘Maureen,’ and Valentina will portray the cross-dressing ‘Angel.’

Valentina becomes the first drag queen to be cast in a primetime live musical production. She was a fan favorite in Season 9 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, winning Miss Congeniality.

Rent will also feature Kiersey Clemons (Hearts Beat Loud) as ‘Joanne,’ Jordan Fisher (Hamilton) as ‘Mark,’ Brennin Hunt (Nashville) as ‘Roger,’ Mario (Empire) as ‘Benjamin,’ and recording artist Tinashe (Dancing With the Stars) as ‘Mimi.’

Tony Award nominee Keala Settle, of “This Is Me” fame in the movie The Greatest Showman, will also be featured in the production singing the solo from “Seasons of Love.”

Original Broadway director Michael Greif will again helm the Pulitzer Prize-winning Jonathan Larson musical.

The 1996 rock musical, loosely inspired by Puccini’s La Bohème, was an instant smash hit and was responsible for launching the careers of original cast members Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Taye Diggs, Daphne Rubin-Vega, and Jesse L. Martin.

The televised production is set to air January 27, 2019.

(h/t TheOUTfront)