Culture Feature

Broadway Straight to Your Computer: Musical Theater in Lockdown

From the cast of "Dear Evan Hansen" to an average family's rendition of "One More Day."

If you're someone who loves live theater, then you know that it really can't be replicated on film.

But for the first time, live theater is no longer readily available. Broadway and the West End are both closed, as are the majority of the theaters around the world. If you're missing it as much as we are, recorded versions of beloved musicals and musical theater songs are good enough to tide us over until the theaters open their doors again.

Original "Hamilton" Cast Sings for 9-year-old's Birthday 

There is no chance you can watch this without crying. None.

"Dear Evan Hansen’" Cast Performs on James Corden's Show

Late night talk show hosts are trying to spread some cheer by returning to TV, and this reunion of the original "Dear Evan Hansen" cast is certainly worth watching.

Andrew Lloyd Webber Sings "All I Ask Of You" 

Andrew Lloyd Webber is obviously one of the best living composer's of all time, and it's a real treat to see him play one of the best songs ever written.

Family’s rendition of ‘One Day More’ from "Les Mis"

This isn't exactly broadway caliber, iits even better.

Live Stream Q&A's with West End Stars 

Follow London Theatre on Instagram to partake in their morning warm ups and West End star Q&A's!

Watch the Online Recording of Cats

Don't worry, it's not the movie musical; it's the original stage musical from 1998 with Elaine Paige singing "Memory." Watch it here!

Watch Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare's best plays, and thanks to the Public Theater and PBS, last summer's Shakespeare in the Park production is available to stream.

Watch SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

SpongeBob SquarePants The Broadway Musical for Everyone

If you're looking for light hearted entertainment, this brightly colored spectacle is just the thing to distract you from your isolation.

YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND performed by the worldwide cast of BEAUTIFUL (in quarantine) for The Actors Fund

The cast of "Beautiful" on Broadway wants you to know that "You've Got a Friend."

MUSIC

Premiere | Busy Phillips, Laura Silverman Explore 'Men' In B Is For Beer: The Musical

Ben Lee & Tom Robbins Mount 'B Is For Beer: The Musical,' An Adaptation of Robbin's 2009 Book

https://www.kickstarter.com

Masculinity comes under the microscope with silly humor.

We've been conditioned to live and die by the patriarchy. But the #MeToo movement upended the system in a way to question everything and hold men accountable. There's actively participating in the problems, and then, there's complacency and staying silent, which, by all accounts, carries just as much responsibility and guilt. Author Tom Robbins explores the changing face of equality in his 2009 book, B is for Beer, and wouldn't you know, Australian musician and actor Ben Lee gives themes of empowerment and liability an update with a brand new music (of the same name).

The soundtrack, which drops October 12, features staunchly Avenue Q-esque humor and dynamic musical compositions and a slew of contributors, from Belinda Carlisle to Cary Brothers to Jon Cryer. On the witty and incisive "Men" song, a duet between Laura Silverman (The Comeback; Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist) and Busy Phillips (Dawson's Creek, Cougar Town), the notions and archaic standards of manhood and ego are shoved under the microscope. "One of the central concerns of B is for Beer is about a a young girl trying to come to terms with her father's emotional absence and to understand men as a whole," Lee tells Popdust, premiering "Men" today.

Ben Lee/Twitter

"It is an interesting moment in history right now, where we are collectively assessing some of the damage caused by living under patriarchal rule for so many generations. This is something Gracie is doing too ⎯⎯ challenging her father and even 'Great Daddy,' the patriarchal deity she is taught about in Sunday School," he continues. "Men," which comes mid-way through the production, gives the floor to Silverman's and Phillips' characters to "share their joint frustrations. On the surface, the song plays as a 'can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em' type banter, but its really about something deeper."

The song asks a series of questions underneath the surface, including, but not limited to: "What is masculinity? What does it want? How does masculine energy fit into a happy home? Is their a healthy way to make peace with it?"

Listen below:

Silverman, who has also made appearances on such shows as King of Queens, Nurse Jackie, and Bob's Burgers over the years, made an understandably huge contribution to the song. "She is very concerned with not making light of, or belittling, the historic violence that many women have felt at the hands of men. She reminded me there is nothing cute about bullying or psychological intimidation," stresses Lee.

"She challenged me to be careful with a delicate subject matter even in what is quite a light song. I was very grateful for that. As a man, it is sometimes difficult to see all the blindspots we might have in regards to gender issues. And writing for female characters, having a strong female lead to bring those to light was incredibly helpful."

Follow Ben Lee on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


Jason Scott is a freelance music journalist with bylines in B-Sides & Badlands, Billboard, PopCrush, Ladygunn, Greatist, AXS, Uproxx, Paste and many others. Follow him on Twitter.


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Premiere | Posh Hammer Get Down Tonight With a Double-Dose of Glittering Visuals

Arts

Crocs! The Musical is a Comfortable Fit

It's Bringing the Laughs at the New York Theatre Festival

It's an off-hand premise, such as might be the title of a MAD TV sketch: a musical about Crocs...

And that is exactly what it is. Kelly Flatley and Maddie Powell's debut musical, part of the New York Theatre Festival, performed at the Hudson Guild, is a musical romantic comedy about two young people obsessed with a particularly unfashionable (yet fashionable) brand of breathable sandal. These shoes form the basis for their whole personality, and fill their lives with the only meaning they need or want. When the tyrannical business oligarch who owns the franchise decides to close the store where their beloved quarry is peddled, they assemble a ragtag team of misfits to fight the power. They experience tragedy, family, and love as they go through their misadventures in comfortable footwear.

Crocs!

This show is exactly what you expect it to be based on the flyer. It has cute songs, fun gags, broad silly characters, and it wraps up just before it outstays its welcome. Throw in a few fourth wall breaks and hints of meta-humor for flavor, and there you have it, ready to go and neatly packaged. There's no reinvention of the wheel, no breaking of new ground, but everything on display is fun and enjoyable. Though it's self-aware, it's not quite self-aware enough to be deconstructive. Though it's at times cynical, it's not cynical enough to be a commentary on anything. Whilst it's surprising to its audience, it never seeks to challenge them either. It simply is what it is, which is a fun, unpretentious show that makes you smile and then ends.

As a debut effort by a group of talented young people (the show was written as a high school class assignment and then developed further) it's a promising first showing. Flatley's music and lyrics are catchy and fun. Powell's book has a solid gags-per-minute rate. The cast are all game, and appropriately bombastic in the archetypal roles, and all of this comes together neatly into a cohesive show that, like a good stand-up comic, comes up to its spot, tells its jokes, and leaves the audience feeling good.

All of the people involved are going to continue upwards on to bigger things. Which is why the show can be forgiven for its technical shortcomings. Head-mics are inconsistently taped, the musical wiring varies between adequate and borderline negligent, and the set is, pretty literally, thin on the ground. The cast make up for it by being plucky, charismatic, and endlessly entertaining, but it does make you wonder how much more these people would be able to do with a stronger technical support system around them. One day, probably quite soon, they will have that, and that's a show you definitely won't want to miss.

Crocs!

Overall, Crocs! The Musical recommends itself as a simple, straightforward comedy, about simple, straightforward shoes, featuring simple, straightforward characters. You will not leave this show with your world rocked, but you will leave it with a smile on your face. Moreover, you will leave wanting to keep an eye on the names involved in this, because at the very least they're going to stick around and make theatre. At the very most… who knows?

Check out the New York Theatre Festival!

Thomas Burns Scully is a Popdust contributor, and also an award-winning actor, playwright, and musician. In his spare time he writes and designs escape rooms. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Arts

INTERVIEW | Popdust talks to... Tyler Mount

THEATRE | The internet's own Tyler Mount talks about being the face of Playbill, and what the future holds for Broadway

Tyler Mount is arguably Broadway's biggest influencer.

His video blog is the pride of Playbill, and has featured many of Broadway's great and good. Gloria Estefan, Todrick Hall, Perez Hilton, and Anthony Rapp are just a sampling of the talent he has interviewed and played truth-or-dare with on his couch. Beyond that, in the last year he has branched out in to producing and landed his first Broadway show; the critically lauded, audience favorite Once on this Island. With that credit under his belt, he is set to become one of the youngest Tony-Award nominated producers in history. With him and his cohorts turning Broadway on its head, Popdust sat down to ask just how he got where he is, how it feels to be there, and what he sees for himself in the future.


So, let me start by saying, your on screen persona is great fun.

Thank you, I try.

The first thing I'm curious about is, how did you ending up doing all this? Being the face of Playbill and a producer on Broadway, what path lead you here?

I grew up knowing I wanted to be an actor on Broadway. I was from small town in Texas, and I knew that wasn't the life for me. I eventually made the move to New York and was gung-ho to be an actor, and did the whole audition circuit. I got a lot of callbacks, but never booked a job. Half of that was really disappointing, and part of it was actually helpful. I realized I hated going to auditions. I had also worked as a stage manager in Austin, so I said "Why don't I do that?". I stage managed a few shows, and the last one I did was On Your Feet with Gloria Estefan. On that I randomly got the idea, with some friends, to start a little blog/web series. We had no script, we knew absolutely nothing about video production, but fate intervened, and the rest is history. I was doing On Your Feet, I filmed an episode with my friend and then Gloria asked if she could come to do the show. She came over to my house with her crew, we filmed for about an hour and a half playing truth or dare, and I've now been producing an episode a week (just about) for the past two years. That morphed in to this rite of passage, and I'm just, super, super lucky that that lead to me being a producer for Once On This Island, and other Broadway projects that are coming up down the line. All things that I always wanted for my life, but in a way that I never expected. A complete perfect accident.

Well, no one's life story is a straight line. Still sounds pretty incredible. So did the blog start off with Playbill, or did it start with you and then Playbill picked it up?

Exactly the latter. I was producing by myself, working in a restaurant and doing my show because I really liked it, and I felt like I was doing something that no one else was really doing. I had approached Playbill several times, and after a year they had an opening in video. I signed on almost a year today. Playbill's my home now, and I'm happy to see where it takes me.

Excellent. Now, no one who has seen Once on This Island seems to have a bad word to say about it. How does it feel to have your name above the title?

I got really lucky. I mean, yes, I put in the hard work and dedication, blah, blah, blah, but a lot of it is being in the right place at the right time, and that's what happened with me. That's what happened with stage management, and that's what happened with this show. I was brought on as a producer having never done it before, having zero idea what I was doing, and was taken under the wing of the incredible Hunter Arnold. He took me and a group of like-minded individuals under his wing with the ultimate goal in mind being the fostering of a new generation of Broadway producers that don't fit the mold of being straight, over sixty-five and white.

(Laughs)

This group are all different races, genders, non-conforming, and we're really trying to flip Broadway on its head. So when I was asked to be a producer on Once On This Island, it was a no brainer. It tells the story of underserved people. People of color don't get their stories told as often. It's important to tell their stories in the large medium that is Broadway.


So what's the learning curve for a new producer like?

Almost infinite challenges. I was so unprepared to do it. But a lot of times in life you have to jump in to a challenge and you usually come up swimming. That's what happened here. They had to teach us from step one. I had to learn to read a profit and loss report. I had to learn how to pitch a show. I had to learn all the questions that my now investors would have. It was a huge learning curve, but like everything in life, I tackle it head on. I don't commit to things half-assed. If I'm going to do a blog I'm gonna do it. If I'm going to produce on broadway I'm gonna do it.

I'm curious, this is not the path you expected to take… is it a path you would recommend to other people?

There's no one path. Hearing that was always frustrating for me growing up. But it's honestly the truth. My advice is always to follow your truth, live your life. It may not be easy, but that's where you really start taking off professionally. I'm gay, I love Broadway, I'm a big theatre nerd, I'm not athletic, but this is who I am, this is what I really like, and I gonna live this unapologetically, and saying that was when I really started getting a following and garnered the respect of the industry. I couldn't imagine being an actor now. If someone offered me a job on Broadway I'd probably say no. I mean, I say that now…

We've all seen how you behave around some of the stars you interview… I think you might take it.

[Laughs] Yeah, maybe. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it and I'll get back to you.

It feels like the kind of blog that you do exists for other mediums, (TV, film, etc) but, short, easy to digest videos featuring Broadway stars and theatre people don't really exist. You seem to have found a niche for yourself that people were waiting for.

You're absolutely right. There were no real Broadway bloggers per se. A few have started since me. But I was one of a few that lead a revolution of social media on Broadway.

I know you have a lot to choose from, but do you have a favorite interviewee?

Oh my god! To be honest I have never had a guest I felt uncomfortable with, or that I thought was bad, or I didn't vibe with. Gloria Estefan was my first, and she's pretty hard to top. She was so kind, and so influential in my career, I also just had a great time with her. Other Broadway stars have been a riot. What's great is they're just real humans, and that's what I really aim to show in my series, is that these people are real life human beings and at the end of the day they'll sit down on the couch with you and have a real conversation.


And the natural follow up question to that is (and you probably have a list for this one) who would you love to have on, that you haven't already?

Oh my gosh, okay, so my Broadway wish list is Lin-Manuel Miranda, he has been on, but obviously he is iconic in this space. Ben Platt, who just won the Tony for Dear Evan Hansen, I'd love to have him. This is a little more niche, but Cynthia Arebo who won her Tony two years ago for The Color Purple. I'm obsessed with her in a very healthy, legal way, and I would love to have her on. Aside from Broadway my dream guest is Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, or Beyonce. If you have a connection please let me know.

And now I want to see Barack Obama on Broadway

Me too. I'd so buy a ticket for that.

So, the Tony nominations are coming up in June. People are already buzzing a lot about Once on This Island… how are you feeling about it?

A part of me produced the show because of the message, a part of me produced it because of the people in it, and the story that we're telling. But also I would be remiss to say "I don't want a Tony nomination, I don't want a Tony award" especially since it's something I've dreamed of my whole life. It hasn't really sunk in yet. I've dealt with extreme nerves and pressure, but I don't even know what that feeling is like. I'm kind of chuffed, relishing not being nervous right now. I know that I won't be able to sleep the night before the nominations, but, like for so many people, this has been a lifelong dream of mine. And if it hasn't happened by the time I'm 28, that's not crazy, but this is the first time its even been a possibility, much less something that looks like its in my reach. So we'll see.

Well, good luck to you!

Thank you! And I appreciate you taking the time to chat today.

No problem, break a leg!

You can catch Tyler in his weekly blog, or on his Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And be sure to watch Once on This Island, currently playing at the Circle in the Square theatre on Broadway.


Thomas Burns Scully is a PopDust contributor, and also an award-winning actor, playwright, and musician. In his spare time he writes and designs escape rooms. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram


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Events

THEATER | 'Alien's Coming' at the PIT out of this world

Graduation, hormones, art kids, and... aliens? The original musical Alien's Coming just closed at the PIT.

Jackie Abbott Photography

A Musical about Aliens?

The People's Improv Theatre is world-known for their killer improv school, cheap shows and beer, and of course the long list of famous people who have worked there. Monday night, I saw a new musical comedy on their Mainstage and going in, I had no idea what to expect. I know a thing or two about improv and I knew that musical improv existed, but I didn't realize the PIT produced full musicals, but alas I walked into The Striker Theatre on E 24th Street and the cast of Alien's Coming took me to a different world.

The show opened with a video of "Computer," a character who the cast would often refer to for help throughout the show. His unique makeup and facade indicated that we were about to witness a musical akin to a cult film. His interesting disposition reminded me of Rocky Horror Picture Show. The show tells the story of high school senior Clementine and her best frenemy Brandi and the growing pains they traverse expedited by a graduation party and Clementine's desire to show prettier, popular Brandi that she too could get laid. Meanwhile, aliens plot an operation to infiltrate Earth by using a teen girl to "influence" the masses into allowing them to harvest their genitals. This was the first of many cleaver references to relevant topics our society has been exposed to making the show very smart and up to date. Although, the costuming of the show suggested no particular time periods as the humans wore 1950's style dresses while wearing contemporary sneakers, the show strongly suggested that it is in reference to the millennial generation.

Jackie Abbott Photography

Overall the book and lyrics were smart, hilarious, and enhanced by the cast's suburb knack for timing and word play. Musically, the show was all over the place, but I didn't find that to be a negative. I feel that the show musically reflected our generations fondness for nostalgia. Everything from upbeat contemporary musical theatre power ballads, to swanky 90's R & B, and everything in between. The show was written by Joe Kelly and was under the clever direction of Griffin Osborne. The show was music directed by Jonathan Evans who was responsible for the impressively tight harmonies and strong dynamic.

The show also saw some incredible performances. Leading lady, Alice Kors who played Clementine was a brilliant actress with spot on comedic timing and a lovely voice that innocently contrasted the brassy belts of the other ladies in the cast. Her chemistry with Andrew L. Ricci who played her love interest Sqib was unique to any other stage relationship I had seen. Were they young lovers, best friends, enemies, or friends with benefits? Not even the characters themselves know. Trevor McGhie who played Zooby Dooby the ruler of the Flimps was an exceptionally strong performer contrasting his initial hauntingly still physicality and robust vocals with a breakout voice and killer dance moves.The female ensemble were great support and had wonderfully tight harmonies and Maia Scalia who played Brandi was a perfect fit for the role.

Alice Kors as Clementine (Jackie Abbott Photography)

Alien's Coming celebrated a sold out run at the PIT earlier this year and recently returned for a 10 show run to celebrate the release of their cast album on Spotify. You can stream it on Spotify here, or purchase the Aliens Coming: The Musical cast album on Amazon here

Listen to "State School" here.

For more information on Aliens Coming: Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

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Events

REVIEW | An update on the classic cabaret scene at The Green Room 42

The Green Room 42 updates the classical cabaret live experience

Hidden away on the fourth floor of Yotel on 42nd and 10th is the modern musical theatre lover's paradise.

Neighboring the successful restaurant The Green Fig, The Green Room 42 is New York's hottest new cabaret lounge and with good reason. A twist on classic cabaret lounge, The Green Room 42 takes us into the 21st century with modern, urban stylings to match their technologically advanced service style and unique shows that provide you all of your favorite songs and performers with a creative streak.

The Venue

Take the elevator to the fourth floor of Yotel and make a right. Just past The Green Fig, is The Green Room 42. The venue is lined with booth seats that feature custom graffiti art and cabaret tables are strategically placed throughout the space. The overall aesthetic is the Yotel's signature purple color with pops of other vibrant colors, modernizing the traditional red and b black cabaret color scheme. The stage itself flaunts a gorgeous baby grand and is well lit. The sound in the venue is state of the art. Throughout my time there, I never had difficulty hearing a performer and the engineer was able to get a little creative in his sound design.

Something very notable is The Green Room 42's unique ordering style. While a server does make rounds, during the show, it's suggested and encouraged that if you need to get the server's attention to tap your light off which signifies that you need service or to text to order. The Director of Programming, Daniel Dunlow, even suggested that you can order Grubhub from them and set the delivery location to their address and they'll know it's for you. My time at The Green Room 42 was definitely some of the best service I've experienced in the city.

Speaking of which, Daniel Dunlow seems to be the heart and soul behind the venue. He told me, "Imagine if the guy in La La Land loved Ethel Merman. That's me and that's Green Room 42." A strikingly accurate analogy, Mr. Dunlow works to cultivate the best possible programming at The Green Room 42 and has truly delivered. The Green Room 42 has boasted legends like Angela Lansbury, Alice Ripley, Lillias White,and more. In addition, Dunlow also often gets Broadway casts out on their dark night or after a show to do one at his venue. While still managing to keep the prices of his venue affordable, sometimes as low as $15, Dunlow provides New York City with top of the line entertainment.

The Show

I was fortunate to visit The Green Room 42 when they were taking part in NYMF as a venue. I love seeing new works and last Thursday, I got to see Happily the Musical at The Green Room 42. It's definitely one to keep your eyes peeled for in the future. Happily is a new musical about the leading preparatory academy for fairy tale characters. The musical features characters that are equally very real and illustrations of the traditional fairy tale archetypes though you find most of them break their archetype through their individually dynamic arcs throughout the show. The show is about being in charge of your own destiny, breaking gender norms, and touches on the trivial nature of cliques and stereotypes. The show is being developed as educational theatre for young adolescents; however, I as an adult was beaming the entire time. Though the show is written to appeal to a younger demographic, it is mature and has a lot of depth. While, there are still moments they are working out because the show is in development, this is definitely a show I'd love to have around when I have kids that age. The performers were individually very talented and unique. The Green Room 42 served as a great facility to this size show as they used very simple shifts on stage, action, and lighting to move the story along. The sound system at The Green Room 42 did a great job of supporting a cast of nine vocalists singing at the same time with a stunning mix.

What's Next

8/9-8/16 - Villian De Blanks: A fill in the blanks comedy featuring some of Broadway's brightest stars.

8/11 - Stephanie's Child: A drag pop vocal trio.

8/12 & 8/19 - Dueling Pianos

8/13 - Russ Kaplan's Broadway Jazz Session: Composer of In Transit joins the Green Room 42 for a night of jazz with special guests.

8/20 - Show Swap: The casts of Aladdin sings Boubill-Schonberg and the cast of Miss Saigon!

Follow The Green Room 42 on Facebook | Instagram

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