July Theatre: Road Trip, Pie, and a Tour

Hey all, Adina here with more theatre adventures! July wasn’t as busy of a month as the previous few months, but I still managed to fit in a few shows. As always, my previous months’ theatre experiences can be found here.

Within the first few days of the month, I headed in after work to see the celebrated and Tony-nominated musical Come From Away. This show is based on a true story about a tiny town in Newfoundland, Canada with a mostly unused airport. That is, until Sept. 11, 2001, where 38 planes carrying about seven thousand passengers were diverted to this little town, doubling their population. This musical shows the townspeople and the “plane people” coming together over the few weeks they were together. The show is moving, heartwarming, and shouldn’t be surprising how touching it is. In the words of one of the actors, “We’ll make you laugh and we’ll make you cry, but then we’ll make you laugh again, so it’s okay.” I knew it was going to be good, but I didn’t expect how much it would touch me. I cried through most of the 100 minutes. Jenn Colella as Captain Beverly Bass absolutely nailed the song “Me and the Sky.” A few days after I saw the show, I listened to the song out of context and it still made me cry. That’s how powerful it was.

Come From Away and Jenn Colella

 

I had a few weeks off from theatre (I know; I’m as shocked as you are!) but toward the end of the month, I met up with some friends and experienced the incredible Sweeney Todd. I’m a fan of Sondheim in general, I knew the basic plot, and I’d seen clips of the original cast (Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett), but that’s all I knew. I’d never seen a full production, nor had I seen the movie. This production, down in the west village, was an immersive experience taking place in an actual pie shop! We got the tickets for the show that got us actual pie before the performance. It was cooked by the White House Chef, too! So fancy! Luckily, it wasn’t actually Mrs. Lovett’s Meat Pies, so we know we were safe! Norm Lewis, who I’d seen many years ago in the musical version of Two Gentlemen of Verona (playing opposite Hamilton’s Renee Elise Goldsberry) played Sweeney and Carolee Carmello (previously seen as the mom in Tuck Everlasting) was Mrs. Lovett. Well, not only were the performers and the writing incredible, the immersive venue added an extra layer.

Sweeney Todd in a real pie shop!

As you know, my partner in crime and I are always up for a little adventure (or a lot of adventure), especially when it comes to theatre, and especially when Newsies are involved (mostly me on that end, but she often comes along for the ride). Well, this month was no exception. I’d heard that Newsies was playing regionally in Pittsburgh, and that Joey Barreiro and Stephen M. Langton, who’d starred in the second leg of the National Tour, were reprising their roles as Jack and Davey respectively, plus Broadway/Tour understudies Danny Quadrino and Beth Stafford Laird were Crutchie and Katherine respectively. Pittsburgh is about a 6-hour drive from us, which makes it a little far, but not impossible. The biggest obstacle was that we had tickets to Hello, Dolly! on Broadway that Sunday. Sounds like a challenge to me! So I picked up Ally at 6:30am on Saturday, and we started our epic road trip. We parked the car and got to the theatre just around 1:30, with a show at 2. When I walked down to where our seats were, turned out we were front row! Well, as this theatre doesn’t always put on musicals, the orchestra wasn’t below the stage; they were in front. Which meant we were far enough away from the stage to actually see (sometimes front row gives you a great view of the front of the stage, and not a very good view of the action happening on it!). We cheered and applauded loudly at every scene, so much so that we weren’t sure if we were just being enthusiastic fans or obnoxious (luckily, the cast thought the former!). The show overall was the same script we were used to, but the choreography and staging was a little different than Broadway/Tour, which was fun! Change it up a bit. For example, in the number “Seize the Day,” during Broadway and Tour, the entire cast threw newspapers into the audience. For this one, they only threw 2 pieces of paper. Where were they? On our side, of course. And who got the only 2 papers that were accessible? Ally and I did, naturally! After the show, we went around back to stagedoor. Several of the cast thanked us for keeping the enthusiasm up for them during the show! We got to say hi to Joey, Stephen, and Danny. We also fell hard for Sky Bennett, a local PGH actor who played Spot Conlon of Brooklyn. He hung around after all the other cast members had left, making sure everyone waiting had a picture, an auto, and a hug!

 

Newsies at Pittsburgh CLO!

 

After a quick stop overnight halfway home, we were back on the road the next day and caught the bus into NYC for Dolly Day! We’d had tickets since January for this, so we were really looking forward to it. Well, it certainly didn’t disappoint! It’s a classic for a reason. The costumes were bright, the songs fun, and the supporting cast/ensemble amazing. Gavin Creel, he of Hair and She Loves Me, was so much fun. David Hyde Pierce (who I’d seen in Curtains back in ‘07) is always a treat to see. Plus I kept picking out my boys in the ensemble: Jess LeProtto and Giuseppe Bausilio! There was no official stagedooring after, as it was the one day during the year that Shubert Alley was closed.* That didn’t stop people from gathering at one side of the alley, in front of the Shubert Theatre on 44th St hoping for a glimpse of Bette Midler. It also didn’t stop the two of us from loitering away from the crowd on the other side of the alley in front of the Booth Theatre on 45th St. This seemed to work in our favor, as we were able to call over Jess. Jess is also the face of all the Newsies promo nowadays. That jumping newsboy you see against a blue backdrop? That’s Jess! Everyone at the CLO stagedoor on Saturday was so excited we were going to see Jess the following day. Anyway, we had a lovely chat with him, telling him we kept finding him and Giuseppe in the ensemble and how we were in Pittsburgh the day before for Newsies, and no, we weren’t going to see it in St. Louis at the Muny. He signed my Newsies book and Ally’s newspaper and we tried to take a picture, but my phone decided not to keep it. Good excuse to go back! (Plus we didn’t see Giuseppe!) We each got a hug from Jess, and let him go on his way.

 

 

*Shubert Alley, a pedestrian walkway in the heart of the theatre district, is still private property and owned by the Shubert organization. In order to keep the alley private property, it must be closed to the public for 24 hours at least once a year. I learned this from Jennifer Tepper’s The Untold Stories of Broadway book series!

 

Now we found ourselves on 45th St about 2.5 hours after a 3pm show, so where to now? Go say hi to Corey and the cast of Bandstand, of course! I nipped into the theatre as it let out to grab some playbills, so they could have something to sign when they came out. Plus it allowed me to get a signed playbill for a friend who’s an international Bandstand fan! Told the guys I was coming back on Thursday (I actually had a ticket for that day), and Geoff Packard told me it was one of the best days to come because it’s payday. Me: “Paid performers are happy performers!” Ally & I got a pic with Corey, telling him we had gone to see Newsies the day before. He was happy about that and mentioned he had friends in that production. See you soon, Bandstand!

 

 

That following Thursday evening, I hopped on a bus and was back at  the Jacobs Theatre for my current favorite: Bandstand, of course! For a change, I got an orchestra seat (back row, but it’s a fairly small theatre so it was still a great view!) This was my first time seeing Joey Pero as Nick on Broadway* as well as my first time back since the cast recording dropped and I started listening to it on practically a daily basis. I have a deeper appreciation for the characters after seeing it so many times as well. This time, I knew I would be back soon; I love it so much and want to see it live as much as I can. Especially now (in August) that the closing has been announced; I want to get it in while I can. I had ordered some small gifts for the cast, but they hadn’t arrived for this visit to the show. After the show, I did get to tell the actors I had something to give them next time I see them. They all seemed pleased and intrigued. Corey said “see you soon;” Joe Carroll asked me how many times this makes for me. (I told him 4 or 5; I’d started to lose count.)

*Joey originated the role of Nick at Paper Mill, but an unfortunate accident kept him from being on Broadway until the end of June. We did get the incredible Alex Bender as Nick for 3 months, though, which was awesome.

Cast of Bandstand!

 

The following Sunday, I had a day free of prior plans, so I decided last-minute to book a Broadway walking tour with Broadway Up Close. I did the “Act III” tour, which was the northernmost theatres, starting with Ethel Barrymore on 47th and finishing at Studio 54. I had a semi-private tour, with only 1 other person. BUC offers “Act I” and “Act II” tours as well, splitting up the other Broadway houses by geography. I’ve been into Broadway history a lot this year, so I went into the tour a little hesitantly not knowing if I would learn anything new. Tim, the owner of BUC, was our tour guide, and he was wonderful! I learned a lot of things about the theatres I didn’t know at all, and a little more in-depth about places I did know about. I will definitely be returning to take more of their tours.

 

Tim Dolan of Broadway Up Close walking tours

 

I managed to snag rush tickets to the off-Broadway play A Parallelogram on the TodayTix app while I was on the bus in the morning, so after the tour and lunch, I headed over to Second Stage on 43rd Street (where Dear Evan Hansen had been last year) to see Celia Keenan-Bolger and Anita Gilette in this dark comedy. It got decent reviews on Show-Score and came highly recommended in a Broadway Facebook group, plus I adore Celia, so it was a good choice for a last-minute decison. (It had been a toss-up between this and Michael Urie in The Government Inspector, but I decided I wasn’t in the mood for a political farce.) A Parallelogram tells the story of a young woman, Bee (played by Celia) who can see and interact with her future self (played by Anita Gilette) who can speed up or reverse time in her life via a remote control. It was an interesting think-piece without a clear ending. I enjoyed it and it was very well done. I hung around the front after and got to say hi to Celia and grab a picture with her. I think she might have vaguely recognized me? It’s possible she also just realized I was a fan and was waiting for her, but you never know. She was so sweet and so talented and I’m glad I got to chat with her a bit about the play.

 

Celia Keenan-Bolger after A Parallelogram

 

That’s it for July! Join me in August for more Newsie catching, a return to Roundabout, finally seeing Hamilton, and of course, more Bandstand!

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