Tag Archives: Audra McDonald

2013-2014 Broadway/Off Broadway Year in Review

Awards season is upon us, with nominations for Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Drama League awards announced, and less than 24 hours until the 2014 Tony nominees are revealed, we’re taking a look back at the shows we loved the most from this Broadway and Off Broadway season. Share your own in the comments!

Ash – Concierge Manager

What is your must see show and why?

bway14ac1The must-see show of the season is the first Broadway staging of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. With it’s crazy premise, insane cult following (following it’s Off-Broadway incarnation and subsequent film), awesome score, and the exciting casting of Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig, this is THE show to see.

What was musical number or song stopped the show for you this season?

In any given season, I could pick something like a fabulous tap number from After Midnight, a Susan Stroman-choreographed gem from Bullets Over Broadway, the Genie’s show-stopping “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin, or any number of beautifully performed quieter songs from other shows that gave me chills (Jesse Mueller’s touching opening number, “So Far Away,” from Beautiful: The Carole King Musical comes to mind).

What I’m picking, though, is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in any other Broadway show. For sheer awe-inducing theatricality, I have to go with “The Fight” in Rocky. It is such a feat of theater that trying to explain it in writing just doesn’t cut it. I’ll just say that I was on the edge of my seat and my jaw hit the floor! The final 20 minutes of that show blew my mind.bway14AC

What performance by an actor or actress did you enjoy the most this season?

Audra McDonald already has 5 Tony Awards for a reason. She is simply flawless in whatever she does. From her first few seconds as Billie Holliday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, I was riveted by her performance. She so lost herself in the role that I sat there transfixed until the final blackout. And then, as if by magic, the lights came back on her her curtain call. Boom – just like that Billie had disappeared and Audra was back. She is just stunning.

Eileen – Travel Consultant

What is your must see show from the 2013-2014 season and why?

bway14EFI absolutely adored Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 which played Off-Broadway. They built their own theatre! I loved everything from the décor to the blocking to the music. This is the one show that has really stuck with me this year and I find myself going back to the cast recording every now and then.

What was musical number or song stopped the show for you this season?

Kelli O’Hara singing “Almost Real” in Bridges brought me to tears. Kelli O’Hara can infuse any song with heart but this song just tore me up – the heartbreak, the determination, the regret!

What performance by an actor or actress did you enjoy the most this season?

Even though he’s left the production – I thought Michel Urie worked his ass off in Buyer and Cellar. One man shows are hard but Urie tackled FIVE roles with incredible ease. He was the perfect amount of charm, heartache, and Barbra Streisand.

Jared – Concierge

What is your must see show from the 2013-2014 season and why?

Of the show’s I’ve already seen, I *loved* A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. It’s clever, cheeky, and a lot of fun, with an amazing cast and some beautiful music. Of the ones I’ve yet to see, I’m most looking forward to Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill because Audra McDonald can do no wrong!

What was musical number or song stopped the show for you this season?

aladdin“Friend Like Me” from Aladdin is one of the best showstoppers I’ve seen in several years. (There are fireworks! Onstage!!!) It got a standing ovation in the middle of the show.

What performance by an actor or actress did you enjoy the most this season?

Kelli O’Hara blew my mind in The Bridges of Madison County. A deeply felt, beautifully sung performance that was heart wrenching and utterly convincing. This is what Broadway level acting and singing sounds like. If she doesn’t win the Tony there’s no justice in the world.

Kelly – Manager of Group Services

What is your must-see show and why?

bway14KSOn Broadway, I absolutely LOVED A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. The music is fantastic – in a season that’s heavy on contemporary musical scores, this show has more of a classic Broadway feel, which I always enjoy. And the show is ridiculously funny – I had such a good time and laughed A LOT! Off Broadway, Heathers: the Musical really surprised me. Every once in awhile, a movie-to-musical remake is done right – and this one was so much fun. Deliciously campy, inappropriately funny, and full of memorable songs and performances by an amazing young cast – I loved it!

What musical number or song stopped the show for you this season?

Hands down the best score of the season is Jason Robert Brown’s The Bridges of Madison County. There are two songs in the second act that completely wrecked me – the beautiful duet “One Second and a Million Miles” sung by the incomparable Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale, and Pasquale’s final song “It All Fades Away.” I do not impress easily, and I was so moved and affected by these two songs that I could not sit still for the final 20 minutes of the show. I was blown away.

What performance by an actor or actress did you enjoy the most this season?

Beyond Steven Pasquale reducing me to tears in Bridges, my favorite performance of the season is Jessie Mueller in Beautiful: the Carole King Musical. The show itself is great – it’s everything I wanted Motown to be, yet just quite wasn’t – and Jessie Mueller is fantastic in the role of Carole King. Special mention of her costars as well – I adored Anika Larsen and Jarrod Specter as songwriting team and King’s close friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann.

Louise – Director of Operations

What is your must see show and why?

bway14LGIn the fall I was lucky enough to get tickets to Mr. Burns, A Post Electric Play at Playwrights Horizons, one of my favorite Off Broadway venues. I hope this show comes back sometime soon because it was the darkest, most intense, brilliant and thought-provoking piece of theater I have ever seen, and a terrifyingly plausible look at the way society and pop culture might evolve in the wake of a large-scale disaster. Many more people should have a chance to see it!

What was musical number or song stopped the show for you this season?

“‘Taint Nobody’s Bizness If I Do” from Bullets over Broadway. Tap dancing gangsters! What more do you need to know?

What performance by an actor or actress did you enjoy the most this season?

Jefferson Mays in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. The sheer non-stop energy and mind-boggling diversity of his performance is a sight to behold.





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I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’!

by Cari, New York Guest Concierge

Birthdays are a big deal in my family. My mom and I always buy each other tickets to Broadway shows as our gifts to one another. It helps feed our addiction to the soaring sounds of a Broadway score. This year I got my mom two sets of tickets for her birthday: The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, right before it ended its short run.

Porgy and Bess is a story beloved by so many that upon the original inception of this re-imagining, many were disturbed that this Gershwin opus was being edited and reworked. Having never seen this opera live but knowing enough of the story, I was interested to see what all the controversy was about. We walked into the Richard Rodgers Theatre with our tickets, and after the long hike up all the stairs, we settled ourselves in the last row of the theatre. We were instantly amazed that we could see EVERYTHING, even in the last row, and it was a pretty full house for a Thursday evening. The lights dimmed and the music swelled, taking us away with the sounds of Gershwin’s brilliant score.

For those of you who haven’t seen Porgy and Bess, I don’t want to give everything away but I will tell you that, as a qualified musical theatre snob, I put the guarantee on this show that you will leave speechless. Set in Charleston’s Catfish Row opening with the classic tune Summertime, Nikki Renee Daniels and Joshua Henry start this show off perfectly with their amazing voices; kudos to the casting team for picking the most charming singers on Broadway to really show their stuff with this challenging score. Leading the whole opening sequence in song, they segued beautifully to the inciting incident of this piece which I won’t give away. David Alan Grier gave a surprisingly solid and creepy portrayal of Sporting Life, the colorful drug dealer; the man can sing and he has amazing charisma! Phillip Boykin as Crown lends his glorious baritone to this fearful character. Natasha Yvette Williams is Mother Earth as the character of Mariah, navigating her relationships with care. The ensemble handles the score with ease and sounds absolutely amazing, legitimate voices at their best. How refreshing to hear classically trained singers on Broadway! I welcome this any day of the week. The direction by Diane Paulus is absolutely brilliant, using lighting, smart angled blocking, and simple sets to create different atmospheres; every detail is covered and this Paulus re-imagining does not take away from the story yet moves it along in a more concise fashion.

I don’t even know how to start discussing the two leads: Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis. If they don’t each take home a Tony Award, I will be shocked. Audra is absolutely flawless; her brilliant vocals soar on this score more so than ever before. (Those of you who saw her in Ragtime- get ready because we get to see the FULL Audra range and it’s unbelievable) Her physicality and acting ability are certainly stretched, featured and breathtaking. I’ve seen Audra live before but watching her in this piece was a different experience altogether; she is an actress completely at home and free in her own skin. Norm Lewis steals your heart as the beloved cripple Porgy even before he utters his first “Nuttin.” He uses his big booming voice but then charms us with his sensitive softer tones. You believe he is a cripple, you admire his devotion to Bess and his friends, and you applaud him when he becomes “Bess’ man.” Norm Lewis has been a hit before but in this show, he absolutely deserves the Tony Award and I’m sure Audra will be adding her fifth Tony to her mantle.

This show was a pleasant surprise to me. I expected a throwback to my college days of learning opera and enjoying it but always returning to my niche of musical theatre. This was a whole new level; it crossed Porgy and Bess over, broadening its fan base and bringing the more classic, operetta style back to the mainstream. Diane Paulus wanted to bring Porgy and Bess to today’s audience in this creative re-imagining. Yes, it’s different and controversial but that is what makes theatre interesting, fresh, and new. That is what makes it art. Porgy and Bess aren’t “leaving for the promised land” like the song says; it has just arrived to entertain a whole new generation. Porgy and Bess only runs until June- do you have your tickets yet?

You can buy tickets to Porgy & Bess by clicking here, or e-mail info@newyorkguest.com for special ticket deals when you book your NYC vacation package through us!

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