The annual New York City Dance Alliance Foundation fundraising gala, "Bright Lights Shining Stars," is usually a star-studded affair. But last night's 2017 event proved to be extra epic, thanks to tons of superb performances and appearances by some of Broadway's best—and most legendary—dancers.
The evening, held as a fundraiser for NYCDAF's college scholarship mission, honored the famed Broadway and Fosse icon Ann Reinking and her lifetime achievements. If you're not familiar, Reinking is a literal 👑 , who was known for her superb lines and luxuriously long legs. She had a long, illustrious career on the Great White Way dancing in productions like Pippin, Cabaret, Chicago, and Sweet Charity and scoring four Tony Award noms, including Best Choreography for a Musical for the Chicago revival she spearheaded and Best Director of a Musical for Fosse.
So, for Broadway nerds like us, the night was a whirlwind of classic Fosse goodness, once-in-a-lifetime performances, and pinch-me moments: Andy Blankenbuehler gave a few opening remarks, former Dance Spirit covergirl Eloise Kropp danced and sang, Chicago heavyweights Dylis Croman and Amra-Faye Wright performed Chicago's "Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag," Reinking's theater friends like Chita Rivera and Bebe Neuwirth gave sweet and emotional tributes, and dancers from the original production of Fosse reunited to perform the show's "I Wanna Be a Dancin' Man." And then, to top it all off, Reinking delivered a super moving, inspirational acceptance speech that reminded us why we love dance so much in the first place.
And, per usual, there were lots of good, old NYCDA moments on hand, as well, like a cool piece choreographed by Joey Dowling featuring every single dancer who was awarded a college scholarship from the foundation this year.
Talk about a special night.
Well, if you're Broadway vlogger and dance newbie Tyler Mount, super-easy! In a special video for Playbill.com, Broadway CATS Christine Cornish Smith, Tyler Hanes and Ahmad Simmons lead Mount through a phrase from the feline-tastic musical's opening number, "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats."
When a Broadway show invites you to take a backstage tour, you go. When that show happens to be the dancey new hit Bandstand, you MOST DEFINITELY go—and you livestream the whole thing so everyone else can get in on the #backstageparty magic too.
That's exactly what happened the other night, when we got to follow ensemble dancer Morgan Marcell through her pre-show routine at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. Marcell told us about her typical warm-up, showed us her dressing room and even let us watch her rehearse some of the show's moves onstage with her dance partner Ryan Vandenboom and Bandstand's dance captain Marc A. Heitzman.
It. Was. Everything. 🎉🎺⭐️🎶😍✨🎭
Hot new musical alert! Producers announced last week that Bandstand, a super dance-y new show and one of Andy Blankenbuehler's latest projects, will open on the Great White Way in April 2017. Hamilton heavyweight Blankenbuehler, who led Bandstand's original creative team during its initial run at the Paper Mill Playhouse in 2015, is serving as both director and choreographer.
The jazzy show is set in a 1945 nightclub and centers on a radio contest searching for the next big swing band. So far, the only cast members announced are the leads: Tony nominee Laura Osnes (known for Cinderella), who plays a singer and WWII widow named Julia, and Corey Cott (of Gigi), who plays Donny, a singer/songwriter and WWII veteran hoping to win the contest.
"As a director, I'm so lucky to be involved with a show that is so rich in emotion and heart," Blankenbuehler said to BroadwayWorld.com. "As a choreographer, I'm over the moon to be dancing to a score that sizzles like nothing else on Broadway."
And he's not kidding. Check out the promo video from the show's Paper Mill run and get excited, because the choreo is seriously FIERCE. ?
Broadway on TV alert! Broadway on TV alert! PBS is airing a new documentary this week that gets down and dirty with the team behind the current revival of Annie.
"Annie: It's the Hard-Knock Life, From Script to Stage" zooms in on the creation of a single number in the show (that'd be "It's the Hard-Knock Life," of course). There's a ton of interesting footage of both the super-talented orphans and the awesome creative team—including one of our all-time faves, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler—at work. You'll get a look at everything from the costume and set designs to the dance rehearsals. And naturally, there's plenty of the cast of orphans just being their insanely cute selves.
The film airs this Friday, June 28 at 9 pm EST (click here to check your local listings). In the meantime, take a peek at this trailer, which features Blankenbuehler doing his not-to-be-missed "angry orphan" face:
Backstage at BroadwayCon 2017, Hamilton's Tony-winning choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler told DS all about his new Broadway show Bandstand, which starts previews March 31. Set in 1945, Bandstand follows a ragtag group of just-returned World War II veterans forming—what else?—a swing band, so they can enter a national talent contest. Whether you're a longtime Hamilfan or just dream of dancing for a top Broadway choreographer like Blankenbuehler, trust us: this exclusive Q&A is major motivation.
Breaking news, Broadway babies! The Cats revival casting has finally been announced—and it's a fabulous who's who list of major dance celebs.
The London Cats revival (courtesy DKC/O&M)
Leading the way is the amazing Ricky Ubeda as Mr. Mistoffelees. The "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 11 winner is no Great White Way newbie: He made his official Broadway debut last year, when he joined the ensemble of On The Town. But it is his first time playing a major role—and showing off his singing chops solo!
The list also includes other On The Town alums: New York City Ballet soloist Georgina Pazcoguin as Victoria (aka the super graceful "white cat"), and Jess LeProtto (also of Newsies and "So You Think You Can Dance") as the mischievous Mungojerrie.
Other highlights? Shonica Gooden—fresh off her Hamilton run—will play Rumpleteazer; New York City Dance Alliance all-star Kolton Krouse will make his Broadway debut as Tumblebrutus; and fellow NYCDA kid Corey Snide, a Juilliard grad who was one of Billy Elliot's Billys, will play Coricopat.
One thing's for certain: This cast of A-list dancers + Andy Blankenbuehler's choreo is sure to = Broadway gold. The production officially opens July 31. Get your tickets now, and check out the full casting list here.
month of endless Hamilton celebration Tonys season, Broadway fans! This morning, delightful Book of Mormon alums Andrew Rannells and Nikki M. James announced the 2016 Tony Award nominees. Can you guess which show not only dominated the list, but actually broke the Tony nomination record—which, fun fact, was previously held by The Producers and Billy Elliot? We'll give you .5 seconds. (Don't throw away your shot.)
That's right: In a surprise to pretty much nobody, Hamilton led this year's Tony pack, picking up a staggering 16 noms. That includes nods in all the "biggie" categories (Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score), a slew of acting nominations and—YAY!—a nom for genius choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler. In fact, the Best Choreography category is crowded with fantastic names this year, including Savion Glover for Shuffle Along and Hofesh Shechter for Fiddler on the Roof.
Lin-Manuel Miranda (center) and the fabulous dancers of Hamilton (photo by Joan Marcus, courtesy Hamilton)
Full list of nominations is below. Tune in to the 70th annual Tony Award ceremony June 12 to see what promises to be a fabulous set of performances—and to find out who takes home what. (And hey, Hamilton fans: Get ready for our July/August issue. Just you wait...just you wait.)
King Charles III
School of Rock—The Musical
Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Best Revival of a Play
Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge
Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Best Revival of a Musical
The Color Purple
Fiddler on the Roof
She Loves Me
Best Book of a Musical
Bright Star, Steve Martin
Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda
School of Rock—The Musical, Julian Fellowes
Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, George C. Wolfe
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Bright Star (Music: Steve Martin and Edie Brickell / Lyrics: Edie Brickell)
Hamilton (Music & Lyrics: Lin-Manuel Miranda)
School of Rock—The Musical (Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber / Lyrics: Glenn Slater)
Waitress (Music & Lyrics: Sara Bareilles)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Gabriel Byrne, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Jeff Daniels, Blackbird
Frank Langella, The Father
Tim Pigott-Smith, King Charles III
Mark Strong, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Jessica Lange, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Laurie Metcalf, Misery
Lupita Nyong’o, Eclipsed
Sophie Okonedo, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
Michelle Williams, Blackbird
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Alex Brightman, School of Rock—The Musical
Danny Burstein, Fiddler on the Roof
Zachary Levi, She Loves Me
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Leslie Odom, Jr., Hamilton
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Laura Benanti, She Loves Me
Carmen Cusack, Bright Star
Cynthia Erivo, The Color Purple
Jessie Mueller, Waitress
Phillipa Soo, Hamilton
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Reed Birney, The Humans
Bill Camp, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
David Furr, Noises Off
Richard Goulding, King Charles III
Michael Shannon, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Pascale Armand, Eclipsed
Megan Hilty, Noises Off
Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans
Andrea Martin, Noises Off
Saycon Sengbloh, Eclipsed
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Daveed Diggs, Hamilton
Brandon Victor Dixon, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Christopher Fitzgerald, Waitress
Jonathan Groff, Hamilton
Christopher Jackson, Hamilton
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple
Renée Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton
Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me
Jennifer Simard, Disaster!
Adrienne Warren, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Best Scenic Design of a Play
Beowulf Boritt, Thérèse Raquin
Christopher Oram, Hughie
Jan Versweyveld, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge
David Zinn, The Humans
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Es Devlin & Finn Ross, American Psycho
David Korins, Hamilton
Santo Loquasto, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
David Rockwell, She Loves Me
Best Costume Design of a Play
Jane Greenwood, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Michael Krass, Noises Off
Clint Ramos, Eclipsed
Tom Scutt, King Charles III
Best Costume Design of a Musical
Gregg Barnes, Tuck Everlasting
Jeff Mahshie, She Loves Me
Ann Roth, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Paul Tazewell, Hamilton
Best Lighting Design of a Play
Natasha Katz, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Justin Townsend, The Humans
Jan Versweyveld, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
Jan Versweyveld, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Howell Binkley, Hamilton
Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Ben Stanton, Spring Awakening
Justin Townsend, American Psycho
Best Direction of a Play
Rupert Goold, King Charles III
Jonathan Kent, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Joe Mantello, The Humans
Liesl Tommy, Eclipsed
Ivo Van Hove, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge
Best Direction of a Musical
Michael Arden, Spring Awakening
John Doyle, The Color Purple
Scott Ellis, She Loves Me
Thomas Kail, Hamilton
George C. Wolfe, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Andy Blankenbuehler, Hamilton
Savion Glover, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Hofesh Shechter, Fiddler on the Roof
Randy Skinner, Dames at Sea
Sergio Trujillo, On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan
August Eriksmoen, Bright Star
Larry Hochman, She Loves Me
Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton
Daryl Waters, Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed