Michael Simpson on Fooling the Audience in The City of Conversation

first_imgAge: 33 View Comments “When you talk about Texas, you talk about football and Jesus, but it’s a well-kept secret that people love theater and Shakespeare down there. There were one or two Texans in every class at Juilliard, [including] Michael Urie, Lee Pace and Brian J. Smith.” Hometown: McKinney, TX “I just got my own place in Jersey City, which is somehow closer to Manhattan than Brooklyn was. I’ve had a roommate for three years; he’s a wonderful human being, but I am ready to live alone. I finally get to walk around in my underwear with no shame!” Related Shows “I got forced into theater class in eighth grade and goofed off; I wasn’t a very good student. My teacher said, ‘You need to take this seriously because it might be something you do for the rest of your life.’ At that moment, everything loose in me locked into place. I fell in love with it.” Show Closed This production ended its run on July 26, 2014center_img “The first thing I loved about this play is that it’s filled with people who are smarter than me. ‘Talky’ people can be alienating on TV and film, but when arguments are presented in the theater by really, really smart people, it’s like watching a good football game.” The City of Conversation Stage Cred: After graduating from Juilliard, Simpson dealt with a decade of “personal and family issues” that kept him from properly launching his career. But co-starring with Jan Maxwell at Lincoln Center Theater was a break worth waiting for: “I don’t have the words for how grateful I am.” “The family in this play is very different from mine. I grew up in a red state, but my mother is from Norway, and my parents treated politics and religion the same way, which was: Ask any questions you want, and then decide for yourself.” “One of my favorite compliments ever was when I was leaving the theater and a man said, ‘I feel like an idiot, but I didn’t realize you were playing two different roles.’ As an actor, there’s nothing better than not being recognized on stage.” Current Roles: A doubly impressive New York stage debut in The City of Conversation as Colin Ferris, a young man whose politics don’t jibe with those of his Washington power broker mom, and (after intermission) Colin’s grown son, Ethan.last_img read more

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This Week’s Picks! Phoenix, Rock of Ages and More

first_img Venture Downtown for Fringe NYC Starts August 8, various locations You love theater, right? That’s why you’re here, and not reading “18 Microwave Snacks You Can Cook in a Mug!” And that’s why you’ll love the colossal New York International Fringe Festival (Fringe NYC), which runs through August 24. It features everything from improv to puppetry to performance art. With 5,000 artists and 18 venues, you’re certain to find something really funky and totally wonderful. Your microwave will understand. Click for tickets! See a Homecoming for the Ages August 4 at the Helen Hayes Theatre General Douglas MacArthur and the Philippines. LeBron James and Cleveland. Those reunions mean squat compared Constantine Maroulis’ return to Rock of Ages! The Tony nominee begins a 12-week engagement in the hit ‘80s rock musical, reprising the role of Drew, a shaggy-haired jukebox hero, that he originated five years ago. We’re glad you took your talents back to the Great White Way, Constantine. Welcome home. Click for tickets! View Comments Pay Tribute to Elaine Stritch August 7 at the Metropolitan Room When a Broadway legend departs, solemn obituaries and earnest tributes are not enough. A proper tribute to Elaine Stritch, who died at age 89 on July 17, must include music. The Metropolitan Room has the right idea, inviting Broadway stars (Annaleigh Ashford, Lisa Brescia, and more) to sing Stritch’s signature tunes. Though let’s be honest: Nobody’s gonna sing “Ladies Who Lunch” quite like our favorite salty gal. Click for tickets! Spend the Night in Phoenix August 7 at the Cherry Lane Theatre Bruce (James Wirt) and Sue (Julia Stiles) have a one-night stand. (Cue sitcom audience “ooohh…”) She has a wonderful time, but wants to move on. Bruce sees potential and isn’t ready to let go. Thus begins the parry-and-thrust—pun fully intended—in Scott Organ’s dark comedy that covers 4,000 miles and two very different, very attractive people testing their boundaries. Runs through August 23. Click for tickets! Follow The Wiz Underground August 10 at 54 Below The Wiz! For kids of the ’70s and ’80s, it’s infectious, gold-plated nostalgia. Remember how many times HBO aired the kick-ass movie musical back in the day? We named our cat Nipsey Russell! 54 Below is offering two servings of 54 Sings The Wiz so we can savor those catchy days of yesteryear. Directed by After Midnight alum T. Oliver Reid, this revue features Ken Page, N’Kenge, and Vivian Reed. Click for tickets! It’s hot. It’s so hot, you can barely walk two feet without looking like you went through a car wash. But towel off, guys! There’s tons of cool happenings, including a return of a Rock of Ages favorite, a musical tribute to a Broadway legend and a concert version of a beloved ’70s musical. It’s all part of this week’s picks!last_img read more

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Tickets Now On Sale to See the Rockettes in The Radio City Christmas Spectacular

first_img Related Shows It’s Labor Day weekend so you know what that means…time to start thinking about the most wonderful time of year! Tickets are now available to see the Rockettes celebrate the 87th anniversary of The Radio City Christmas Spectacular. This year Radio City Music Hall will be decked out for the season and the Rockettes will shine in a new finale that transforms the theater into a glistening winter wonderland. The Rockettes modern SNOW choreography combined with crystalline costumes is inspired by the snowflakes swirling over the audience, in a whirling dance of their own. Performances will run from November 7 through December 31. View Comments Christmas Spectacular Starring The Radio City Rockettes Show Closed This production ended its run on Jan. 5, 2020last_img read more

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It’s Confirmed! James Corden Will Host CBS’ The Late Late Show

first_img James Corden View Comments Corden, who stars as the Baker in the upcoming Into the Woods film adaptation, earned a Tony for his portrayal of Francis Henshall in One Man, Two Guvnors after originating the role in London. He also appeared in The History Boys on Broadway and in the West End. In addition to Into the Woods, Corden’s screen credits include One Chance, in which he played Britain’s Got Talent sensation Paul Potts, Begin Again, The Three Musketeers, Gulliver’s Travels, The Gruffalo, Gavin & Stacey and Horne & Corden. This is somewhat bittersweet news for the Great White Way. Corden had recently been in negotiation to star as Pseudolus in a Broadway revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. With Corden now unavailable, a spokesperson for the musical, Chris Boneau said: “Despite the total commitment from Stephen Sondheim, our director, Alex Timbers and our entire creative team…we have decided to postpone the production this season.” The show has thus released the Nederlander theater that was on hold for the tuner.center_img Star Files It’s official! The previously reported speculation is true and James Corden will take over as host of CBS’ The Late Late Show in 2015. According to TVLine.com the Tony winner will succeed Craig Ferguson when he steps down from the gig in December. No word yet on where the show will be made.last_img read more

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Happy Opening to Off-Broadway’s Every Brilliant Thing

first_img View Comments The 16-week limited engagement, directed by George Perrin, will run through March 29, 2015. Every Brilliant Thing previously played London and Edinburgh, as well as a U.K. tour. The North American premiere of Duncan Macmillan’s Every Brilliant Thing opens officially on December 14 at the Barrow Street Theatre. Jonny Donahoe, who co-wrote the play, stars in the off-Broadway production. 1. Ice cream, 2. Water fights, 3. Things with stripes, 4. Christopher Walken’s voice, 5. Rollercoasters. In Every Brilliant Thing, a young boy attempts to ease his mother’s depression by creating a list of all the best things in the world—everything worth living for. Through adulthood, as the list grows, he learns the deep significance it has on his own life. Related Shows Every Brilliant Thing Show Closed This production ended its run on March 29, 2015last_img read more

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Brian Gilligan on Unleashing His Inner James Brown in The Commitments

first_img The idea of this white Dublin community coming together to honor the best of black American soul is such a great one. It’s very me, as well. My mum was a huge, huge Motown and soul fan and the first record I ever bought was a double CD of James Brown’s greatest hits. He’s the one I like to embody every time I go out on stage, but when I was a teenager I also listened to a lot of classic rock music from all sorts of people—Led Zeppelin, Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, groups like that. View Comments Presumably your upgrade within the cast has included a change in dressing room? It has. I was originally sharing with three guys who are brilliant—absolutely fantastic—and to find myself now sitting in my own dressing room is like, I don’t know what hit me! I have all this space, all this room, and it kind of feels like I’m in the middle of a ballpark. I’m still trying to get used to it! You were in the musical when it first opened—how did you work your way up to a leading role? It’s a pretty good story: I went from being third cover to leading man while playing Billy, the drummer, along the way. Deco came about when [assistant director] CJ Ranger heard me in backstage in the theater stairwell one day wailing away. As a result, I was called in to cover Deco and was then asked if I would play [the part] for the next year. I gather this production gets some very, um, revved-up audiences? Well, there hasn’t been any underwear or contraband thrown on to the stage if that’s what you mean [laughs]. But I guess the fun thing about our audience is that some of them have never been to the theater before so they don’t necessarily know that there is a kind of etiquette and decorum that come with going to the theater—things like not shouting out mid-scene. And what’s great is that there is room for the audience to get up and treat it like a live concert. They’re not afraid of shouting or whooping. Your part as the Commitments’ lead singer Deco is one of the most vocally demanding on the West End. How are you pacing yourself? It is demanding, and as with everyone who takes on a role like this it’s about being aware at certain points of where you can take a step back while still delivering [the part] up for the audience. As singers we have to be quite protective of our instrument, but at the same time the part is so rewarding that you want to give it your all. Irish actor Brian Gilligan has been playing the defining role of Deco in the rock musical The Commitments at the Palace Theatre since September—meanwhile, the role’s originator, Killian Donnelly, has moved on to headline the U.K. premiere of Memphis a few streets away. Just a kid when the Alan Parker film was released in 1991, Gilligan has nonetheless had a lifelong affection for this story of a community of Dubliners who form a soul band with Deco as their take-no-prisoners lead singer. A charming musical theatre newcomer, Gilligan chatted with Broadway.com about rocking out six times a week and getting used to the novelty of having his own dressing room.center_img So each performance lets you unleash your inner diva? You could say that, yes [laughs]. He’s quite a formidable character: raucous and rude and gifted with an extraordinary voice. Yes. I would describe Deco as someone who knows exactly what he’s after in that he wants to be a superstar-singer and he sees [the group] as a massive chance for him to get out there. Deco almost considers himself to be the white James Brown; he’s a diva but he’s also very serious about what he does. Did you know the material itself well already—Roddy Doyle’s book or the Alan Parker film? I was born in 1987 so would have been only four when the film came out [in 1991] but when I was growing up the movie was part of the standard DVD/video diet for every young north Dubliner. It’s a story that everybody from my generation would have grown up with and would have quoted quite extensively. What’s it like for you and your Commitments castmates to have another Irish musical, Once, playing up the street? [Laughs] It’s been little Dublin for several years now ever since Once moved in and then The Commitments. It really has been great fun and we should take an awful lot of happiness in the fact that these stories from Glen Hansard and Roddy Doyle have made their way to the West End stage. You got to shadow the amazing Killian Donnelly in the role—did he give you any pointers when it was time for you to take over? Killian was great with his time from the very beginning. He told me to enjoy it, to go about it with a lot of pace and caution, not to burn myself out too quickly and just to have as much fun as I can. Oh, and he did say one thing: learn to guzzle water as quickly as you possibly can because it is one of those shows where either on or off stage, you are constantly sweating.last_img read more

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Tix Now On Sale to See Carson Elrod & Matthew Saldivar in Important Hats

first_img Important Hats of the Twentieth Century Show Closed This production ended its run on Dec. 13, 2015 View Comments Tickets are now available to see Carson Elrod and Matthew Saldivar in the world premiere of Important Hats of the Twentieth Century. The Manhattan Theatre Company’s off-Broadway production, directed by Hand to God’s Moritz von Stuelpnagel, will begin previews on November 10 at New York City Center—Stage II. The Nick Jones comedy will open officially on November 23.Elrod takes on the role of Sam Greevy, an in-demand fashion designer in 1930s New York. Saldivar will play Paul Roms, a designer whose latest collection features anachronistic sweatshirts, tracksuits and skater pants. Their rivalry escalates as Greevy wraps his head around where—and when—these pieces come from.Additional cast members include Remy Auberjonois, Jon Bass, John Behlmann, Reed Campbell, Maria Elena Ramirez, Triney Sandoval and Henry Vick. Related Showslast_img read more

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Tix Now On Sale for Mother Courage, Starring Tonya Pinkins

first_img View Comments Tickets are now available for the Tonya Pinkins-led production of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children. Directed by Brian Kulick and featuring original music by Tony winner Duncan Sheik, the show will play a limited engagement December 9 through January 24, 2016. Opening night is set for January 7 at Classic Stage Company.The indomitable Mother Courage (Pinkins) follows one luckless army after another across a war-torn world in her canteen wagon. She’ll do anything to hold onto her money-making wagon, even if it means the loss of her children, in this timeless tale of war and big business updated to the modern-day conflagration in the Congo.The cast will also include Joshua Boone, Curtiss Cook Jr., Kevin Mambo, Jacob Ming-Trent, Geoffrey Owens, Michael Potts, Deandre Sevon, Mirirai Sithole and Zenzi Williams. Related Shows Show Closed This production ended its run on Jan. 24, 2016 Mother Courage and Her Childrenlast_img read more

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Tix Now On Sale for The Robber Bridegroom, Starring Steven Pasquale

first_imgTickets are now available to see stage and screen fave Steven Pasquale in The Robber Bridegroom. Directed by Alex Timbers, Alfred Uhry and Robert Waldman‘s musical comedy will play a limited engagement February 18, 2016 through May 29. Opening night is scheduled for March 13 at off-Broadway’s Laura Pels Theatre in the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre.Based on the short story by Eudora Welty, The Robber Bridegroom transports the audience to the Natchez Trace in Mississippi, a dangerous and mysterious corner of the country teeming with a rogue’s gallery of the most beguiling con men, hucksters, and charlatans you’ll ever meet. Chief among them, Jamie Lockhart (Pasquale)—fair‐faced gentleman by day, hard‐hearted bandit of the woods by night. When he falls for the beautiful daughter of a wealthy planter, his world and code of ethics are turned upside down.The Robber Bridegroom marks the 40th anniversary of the original, which opened on Broadway in 1975 starring Kevin Kline and Patti LuPone. The show’s bluegrass score has since been performed across the country, with the song “Sleepy Man” joining the canon of American standards.The production is part of Roundabout’s 50th anniversary season. Show Closed This production ended its run on May 29, 2016 View Comments The Robber Bridegroom Related Showslast_img read more

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Susan Heyward & More Enlisted for The Purple Lights

first_img Susan Heyward and more have been tapped for Pulitzer Prize finalist Adam Rapp’s The Purple Lights of Joppa Illinois off-Broadway. As previously reported, the New York premiere will close out Atlantic Theater Company’s 2015-2016 season. Tickets are now available for the production, which is set to begin performances on May 25 and officially open on June 7 at Atlantic’s Stage 2.Joining Heyward (The Trip to Bountiful) as Monique will be William Apps (Wolf in the River) as Ellis, Connor Barrett (Finer Noble Gases) as Barrett and Katherine Reis (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) as Catherine.Ellis Shook lives alone in a small duplex apartment in Paducah, Kentucky. He works nights buffing floors, keeps to himself—and always remembers to take his medication. But when two teenage girls arrive at his doorstep one autumn afternoon, their visit will force him to confront a tragic past while also offering him a glimpse at hope.The Purple Lights of Joppa Illinois will feature scenic design by Andromache Chalfant, costume design by Jessica Pabst, lighting design by Keith Parham and sound design by Christian Frederickson.The limited engagement is scheduled to run through June 19. Related Shows View Comments The Purple Lights of Joppa Illinoiscenter_img Susan Heyward Show Closed This production ended its run on June 26, 2016last_img read more

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