Posts Tagged ‘Broadway’

I was watching The Carol Burnett 50th anniversary special in December 2017. Carol noted that Bernadette Peters was on her very first episode on 11 September 1967. How could that be?

Because Ms. Peters was a member of the Actors Equity union the age of nine, with two television credits from 1958! Moreover, she was in two short-lived roles, and was an understudy for a third, on Broadway before she first made the Burnett show, uncredited. She made at least ten more appearances.

Bernadette Peters is a Broadway legend who has won Tony Awards for her performances in Song and Dance (1985) and in the 1999 revival of Annie Get Your Gun.

Her numerous other Broadway credits include starring roles in Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George, and Gypsy. She is considered by theater critics to be among the best interpreters of Stephen Sondheim’s work.

The actress, born Bernadette Lazzara, also made her mark in movies such as The Jerk and Pennies from Heaven, both with Steve Martin, whom she dated from 1977 to 1981. And she was in Annie (1982) with the aforementioned Carol Burnett.

Peters married investment adviser Michael Wittenberg on July 20, 1996. He “died at age 43 on September 26, 2005, in a helicopter crash in Montenegro while on a business trip.”

She has recorded six albums, performed in many concerts and serves on the Board of Trustees of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, among other works.

Starting on January 20, 2018, she has been starring in Hello, Dolly, an iconic role that been played by Barbra Streisand on screen, and Ginger Rogers, Ethel Merman, Pearl Bailey and, of course, Carol Channing on stage. She replaced Tony winner Bette Midler; Victor Garber follows David Hyde Pierce as Horace Vandergelder.

Charles, who directed me in Boys in the Band way back in 1975, saw the current production and declared it “spectacular.” He said, “Bernadette Peters has grown into a mature, comic actress who can also break your heart.”

Happy birthday to a performer who is still going strong, Bernadette Peters.

Cynthia Erivo as Celie in the Broadway revival

I never finished reading Alice Walker’s powerful 1982 novel The Color Purple, though I had read good chunks of it.

The movie came out in late 1985, so I would have seen it in the first three months of the following year. I thought it was strong, powerful, and occasionally difficult to watch. Danny Glover played Mister/Albert, who was a brute. Whoopi Goldberg as Celie Johnson, Margaret Avery and Shug Avery, and, surprisingly, Oprah Winfrey as Sofia were quite good, as was the rest of the cast.

The film garnered 11 Academy Award nominations, including for those three women, winning zero, making it the film with the most noms with no Oscars. Goldberg and director Steven Spielberg did win the Golden Globes, and the film was named best drama.

Then there was the first Broadway production which ran from December 2005 to the end of February 2008, nominated for 11 Tonys, and winning one, LaChanze as Celie. Renée Elise Goldsberry, later of Hamilton fame, played Celie’s sister Nettie. The touring company production ended a couple years later.

The musical was revived at the end of 2015 and closed early in 2017. It was nominated for four Tonys, and won Best Revival of a Musical and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical, Cynthia Erivo as Celie.

The touring show started on October 17, 2017 in Baltimore. But wait. What did I see on October 8 at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady, featuring “director John Doyle’s deceptively simple set design, a towering array of angled, broken barn boards and mismatched wooden chairs that rise up from the stage to the overhead fly-space”?

Technically, it was a preview show, working out the bugs in the story and technical problems. I’m told the cast in the earlier production was quite large, but only 17 in this iteration. The story is strong, especially in the first half. The songs are very inspirational, especially in the second half, and performed well throughout.

A couple actors weren’t miked well, and I couldn’t really make out what they were saying.

A bigger problem for me, though, was the transformation of Mister/Albert from Act 1’s bully to Act 2’s saint. It didn’t feel earned, and as my wife noted, when a child is left in hs care, she worried about the baby’s welfare, unnecessarily so, as it turns out.

I’m sure that the technical issues will be fixed. Whether the storyline will be, I don’t know. Still, even with that caveat, it was well worth seeing.

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Joseph Goebbels’ 105-year-old secretary: ‘No one believes me now, but I knew nothing’ – she said Read the rest of this entry »

alexander-hamiltonI’ve become obsessed with Alexander Hamilton for a while now. He was married to Elizabeth Schuyler, a member of First Presbyterian Church in Albany (my current church!), in 1780. When Aaron Burr killed Hamilton in an 1804 duel, First Presbyterian Albany minister Eliphalet Nott wrote a persuasive sermon which led to the demise of dueling in America.

It definitely intensified with that campaign by some group to put a woman on the $20 bill, replacing Andrew Jackson, something I fully supported.

But then I heard about the Treasury Department’s plan Read the rest of this entry »

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