Alex Wong's versatility truly knows no bounds. From ballet to Broadway, the dynamo has seemingly done it all. Wong was a member of Miami City Ballet before leaving to compete on "So You Think You Can Dance" (where he was the fan favorite but, unfortunately, suffered a serious injury mid-season and had to withdraw from the competition), and then going on to hit the Great White Way in Newsies. He's performed at awards shows, on television shows, and as an All-Star on "SYTYCD," and graced the July/August 2012 cover of DS.
As if his long list of impressive credits doesn't convince you of his versatility, turn to his Instagram, where he is a veritable master of mixing dance and everyday activities. (Think leaping down the grocery store aisles which, come on, we've all done, and pencheé-ing his way to pick up his laundry off the floor.) If you're not following this uber-likeable and hyper-flexible dancer, get to double-tapping. (He's at @alexdwong.) Here's a glimpse into why Wong's worthy of your likes.
Less than two months until Peter Pan Live! on NBC! So far, we've been pretty excited about the cast: Christopher Walken as a tap-dancing Captain Hook? Obviously. Allison Williams ("Girls") as Peter Pan? Yes, please.
But OMG, you guys, it gets so. much. better. This week, NBC made the full casting announcement, and Newsies alums are taking over: Ryan Steele, Jacob Guzman, David Guzman, Daniel Quadrino and Garrett Hawe will play The Lost Boys. Alex Wong will be repin' the Newsies in the "Islanders, Pirates, Litter Bearers and Mermen" category. And Jake Lucas will play John Darling.
(L to R) Alex Wong poses for our Newsies cover (photo by Jacob Pritchard); Allison Williams in a new production shot for Peter Pan Live! (photo courtesy NBC); Ryan Steele poses for our Newsies cover (photo by Jacob Pritchard)
If pulling a bunch of alums from one of the danciest shows to hit Broadway is any indication of the amount of dance in Peter Pan Live!, count us the most in. Remember to tune in to NBC on December 4 for the live event!
Well, the moment we've been dreading has arrived: Yesterday, Newsies ended its Broadway run, after its 1,005th show. Of course, this isn't the show's true ending(!), Newsies kicks off its national tour this October. Still, the closing was an incredible event. I was fortunate enough to be in the audience at the Nederlander Theater, and while the afternoon ended on a teary note, the show couldn't have gone out with a bigger bang. Here are just a few of the ingredients that helped make the final performance so spectacular:
5. The fans. Newsies held a lottery for a limited number of tickets to the final show. This is how many #Fansies showed up:
4. Sitting with celebs. To quote an awestruck (and totally correct) girl sitting behind me, I got to "share the same breathing air" with former Newsies dancers—including Alex Wong, Ryan Steele, JP Ferreri, Mike Faist, Ryan Breslin and Jess LeProtto. Oh, and also director Jeff Calhoun and choreographer Christopher Gattelli.
3. The dancers' energy. It's been a long time since I've seen so many dancers on one stage give as much love to the choreography as the guys did yesterday. Every battement was 180-degrees. Every back flip went soaring.
Every split jump by every dancer literally looked like this:
Iain Young (photo by Matthew Murphy)
Which brings me to number 2...
2. The standing ovations. The audience (starting with my crew in rows D–F) leapt to its feet after every deserving number—which, of course, was all of them. The energy in the theater was buzzing.
1. The final curtain call. There was not a dry eye in the house—or onstage. It was heart wrenching—and heart warming!—to watch Newsies come to a close, especially since many members of the current cast had been part of it since day one. (I'm looking at you, Aaron Albano!) And after the final bow by Corey Cott (you know him as Jack Kelly), the creative team also walked onstage to take a bow, and everyone totally lost it.
Take a look at the last dance number and curtain call, and I dare you not to tear up, too:
NYC is bursting with promising ballet dancers this week, thanks to the Youth America Grand Prix finals held at Lincoln Center's Koch Theater. To all the competitors (at YAGP and beyond), we're shouting a big "Merde!!" your way.
We can't wait to see what amazing things these kids will do next. Don't believe us? Just take a look at these teens competing in the '90s and early '00s. They sure turned out (more than) OK.
Before she was New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns, she was simply the amazingly talented 15-year-old Sara Mearns, competing at YAGP:
Recognize this guy? It's none other than the dreamiest of all American Ballet Theatre principals, Marcelo Gomes, competing at the Prix de Lausanne in 1996.
Here's international ballet superstar Alina Cojocaru at the Prix de Lausanne in 1997:
No surprises here: ABT soloist Sarah Lane's port de bras was just as glorious in 2002!
And San Francisco Ballet soloist Simone Messmer was just as regal at 16, competing at YAGP regional finals in 2001:
It's hard to imagine Diana Vishneva before she was a start of the Mariinsky Ballet and ABT. Nevertheless, here she is in 1994, competing at the Prix de Lausanne:
And finally, here's a special treat: Alex Wong in leopard booty shorts at the Prix de Lausanne in 2004. Go ahead, watch it sixteen times. We have.
Oh, "So You Think You Can Dance," you always sneak up on me. How are we already down to the Top 6 dancers?! I'm not ready for it to end!
But, I am ready for tonight's show. Not only is my favorite Jesse Tyler Ferguson joining the judging panel tonight, but they've also got a stellar All-Star lineup. Check 'em out:
Melanie Moore, Season 8 winner
Alex Wong, Season 7
Joshua Allen, Season 4
Witney Carson, Season 9
Neil Haskell, Season 3
Kathryn McCormick, Season 6
Are you as excited for tonight's episode as I am? Who do you think will be paired up? Personally, I'd love to see Neil and Amy dance together—it would be contemporary magic! Let me know what you think in the comments below.
It's lights-out for the flashiest show on network television.
The show's over for "Smash." NBC's Broadway drama was cancelled last week after two seasons. And while I know, given the verrrrry mixed critical reactions to the troubled show, that not everyone's upset by the news, I'll admit it: I totally am.
Yes, the plotlines have spun completely out of control recently. (Tom hooked up with Kyle and then Kyle got hit by a car and died?? We're in full-on soap opera territory, people.) Yes, Katharine McPhee, though one of the most beautiful people in the world, has about as much charisma as an overripe banana. And yes, somebody, somewhere on the "Smash" staff greenlit Ellis. Oh, man, remember Ellis?
But. BUT. How frequently do you get to see true Broadway-caliber singing and dancing on primetime TV? "Smash" provides a super-high-visibility home for some of our favorite Broadway stars, not least among them Megan Hilty and Christian Borle (and, though his character is totally unlikeable, former Newsies dreamboat Jeremy Jordan). The original songs, most of which are by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman—you know, the team behind a little musical called Hairspray?—are legitimately great. And the dancing! Choreographed by Joshua Bergasse and performed by a rotating cast of crazy-talented people including the likes of Alex Wong, Meredith Miles and Spencer Liff, it's top-notch.
I'll put it this way: If we could cut out the story and condense "Smash"'s musical numbers into a weekly variety show, I'd be totally happy. But that ain't happening, folks. So it's time to say our goodbyes to the little Broadway show that couldn't.
I wanted to let you be my star, "Smash." I really did. *sniff*
I expected the borderline-inappropriate jokes. I expected the appearance by Ted (sighhhhh). I even kind of expected the tribute to boobs on film.
But what I didn't expect from Seth MacFarlane's turn as host of the Academy Awards was a whole bunch of dance numbers. Dance! And here I was thinking the Busby Berkeley-style opening to "Family Guy" was a joke! Who knew that Mr. MacFarlane, the modern master of the fart joke, was a legitimate song-and-dance man?
Anyway, I think I'm not alone in feeling that the dancing elevated what could otherwise have been a very "meh" Oscars show. Let's run down all of the fun dance-y numbers, shall we?
We got off to a strange but, let's be honest, hilarious start with the boobs song. I know, it's terrible and tasteless and everything everyone hates about Seth MacFarlane, but c'mon. It was funny, and not less so thanks to the troupe of tux-clad backup dancers.
Next up, my personal favorite: Charlize Theron (who studied at NYC's Joffrey Ballet School!) and Channing Tatum channeling Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in an elegant foxtrot that was even better for being totally unexpected.
Then we were treated to a cute little softshoe by Daniel Radcliffe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Harry Potter's dance skills could use a little polishing, but points for effort—and Gordon-Levitt looked pretty darn legit. (Remember that time he redid the entire "Make 'Em Laugh" number from Singin' in the Rain on "Saturday Night Live"? I'm striking out in my search for video of the performance, but trust me: It was amazing.)
And then there was that big ol' reworking of "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast. It wasn't the biggest hit of the night, but I'm never really going to knock any production of a classic Disney song. Plus it featured some of DS's fave dancers, including Alex Wong, Spencer Liff, Cody Green and Jaimie Goodwin.
(I can't find any good video of this number, so you'll have to settle for a screenshot from the original instead. Just pretend Lumière is Seth MacFarlane. Not such a stretch, actually.)
Last but certainly not least: Catherine Zeta-Jones and a Fosse chorus in "All That Jazz" from Chicago. Girl's still got it! And it was another chance for our dancer friends to show off a little, too.
My only regret is that Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence didn't get to re-enact their so-bad-it's-awesome dance from Silver Linings Playbook. But I guess the two of them had other things on their minds, what with being nominated for Academy Awards and everything.
(Side note: Jennifer Lawrence. You are amazing. You basically fell on your face last night and it only made everyone, myself included, love you more. I feel like you and Emma Stone and maybe Sandra Bullock should hang out and be awesome and funny and super-stylish together.)
If you're like me, you use commercial breaks during your favorite TV shows to run to the kitchen to refill your bowl of ice cream.
Or, you know, do some sit-ups.
Whichever you prefer...
It takes a lot for a commercial to get me to stay put on the couch—so I'm giving a huge thumbs up and a giant, standing-up-from-my-couch-cushions high five to Jon M. Chu, who directed the killer new Microsoft commercial.
You'll see plenty of familiar faces in the commercial, including Alex Wong and Kayla Radomski.
Plus, the star of this minute-long spot is Daniel "Cloud" Campos, one of my favorite dancers!
As is to be expected from director extraordinaire Chu, the Microsoft ad is very movement-heavy. The dancers are seen twirling, spinning, swapping and playing with their Microsoft Surface computers.
I want to watch this commercial over and over again.
And then, sure, maybe I'll check out the Microsoft Surface.
Good dancing = I'm sold!
Watch the commercial here: