Sunday, November 20, 2016

Cleveland’s effect on Broadway and relevant capsule comments

Several weeks ago, in my review of Baldwin Wallace University’s production of WEST SIDE STORY I stated, “BWU’s Music Theater program is nationally recognized for its quality, as evidenced by the number of its graduates who have light up the Broadway theater scene and touring productions.  Of those in the WEST SIDE STORY cast I stated: “Broadway bound?  Colton Ryan, though not the tall macho leading man type, should find a place on the Great White Way in roles for the young, clean scrubbed type who have big voices.”

It didn’t take long for the prophecy to come true.  It has been announced that Ryan, a “BW senior music theatre major, has been cast as the main off-stage voice for Ben Platt the lead in DEAR EVAN HANSEN, a new musical by Benj Pasek, Justin Paul and Steven Levenson, that opens at the Music Box Theatre on December 4.” 

Other BW students on Broadway this season are:  Caitlin Houlihan, WAITRESS, Steel Burkhardt, ALADDIN, Shannon O’Boyle and Kyle Post in KINKY BOOTS, Cassie Okenka  SCHOOL OF ROCK, Malik Akil, HOLIDAY INN, and Will Brandstetter in EAT YOUR SCIENCE.

Many locals go to New York and request evaluation of shows that are now on the boards.  Here are a few capsule judgments of some shows I saw on a recent visit.


Capsule judgement:  CAGNEY is a high energy song and dance bio-musical that grabs and holds attention through infectious singing and dancing, and an award-winning performance by Robert Creighton.  The show has deservedly done so well at the box office that the original limited run has been extended and an additional weekly matinee has been added.  This is a show well-worth seeing.  (To read a complete review of this show go to: )


Capsule judgement: The well written, sung and acted revival tells the tale of Marvin (Christian Borle, who won Tony Awards for both PETER AND THE STARCATCHER and SOMETHING ROTTEN), as a gay married man who leaves his marriage, and Whizzer (Andrew Rannells, Tony nominee for THE BOOK OF MORMAN), as a Reagan-era nuclear family who galvanize as they cope with their relationships, planning a bar mitzvah, and confronting the AIDS crisis.  Though somewhat dated due to medical advancements in treating AIDS, the script still elicits strong emotional reactions.


Though not open for reviewing since it is still in previews, A BRONX TALE, with book by Chazz Palminteri, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glen Slater, features Bobby Conte Thornton, who appeared in the world premiere of Ken Ludwig’s farce, A COMEDY OF TENORS, which opened Cleveland Play House’s 100th anniversary season.  Side note:  Look for A BRONX TALE to be one of the hits of the 2016-2017 Broadway season.