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Hurry! Hurry! Step Right Up to the Box Offices! Last Chance! A Lot of Shows Are About to Disappear; PBS Specials; On the Record – New Releases

by Ellis Nassour on August 21, 2012

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It’s that time of year loyal lovers of theater dread. Shows that have been struggling to make it, will be closing. The light at the end of the tunnel, as is always the case with Broadway, is that new, and some are quite exciting, shows will be taking their place.

The musical Ghost, based on the 1990 smash film, gave up the ghost Saturday [August 17]. The End of the Rainbow, with [whether you believe the arc of the play to be factual or fiction] a commanding performance by Tracie Bennett, heads out to tour soon [and will be adapted for the screen] and, as of Sunday, there’s no Judy, Judy, Judy on Broadway. On August 29, the curtain rings down on glitzy Sister Act.

Closing it’s limited engagement on September 1 is the New York Shakespeare Festival’s revival of Sondheim’s Into the Woods, playing Central Park’s Delacorte Theatre [free admission], and starring Oscar winner Amy Adams and Tony winner Donna Murphy.

September 2 we must say cheerio to one of this season best entertainments, One Man, Two Guvnors, starring 2012 Best Actor, the incomparable James Corden. It’s a laugh riot and should be at the top of your Must See list. Also closing the same day is this year’s Best Play, Bruce Norris’s Clybourne Park, also a Pulitzer Prize honoree and Olivier Award winner.
The acclaimed 2012 Tony-winning revival of George and Ira Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess,starring Audra McDonald

Porgy and Bess (Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis | Photo by Michael J. Lutch)

[except August 21-23], Norm Lewis, and David Alan Grier, has posted September 23 for its final performance. Rumor has it heading to the big screen, directed by Spike Lee.

Off Broadway, you can catch the last performances of the popular farce, Potted Potter, which presents all seven Harry Potter books in 70 minutes.

Still holding strong Off Broadway is Nina Raine’s must-see family drama Tribes, one of the best plays of this or any recent season.

In previews or soon to open are the play Grace, co-starring Paul Rudd and Ed Asner; the musical Chaplin, based on the life of filmdom’s silent era king, the Tramp; one of Broadway’s biggest blockbusters, the Tony-winning Annie; Roundabout Theater Company’s revival of Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac and Rupert Holmes’ Tony-winning The Mystery of Edwin Drood, based on Dickens’ incomplete last novel and co-starring legendary Broadway favorite Chita Rivera; and Chicago’s Steppenwolf’s revival of Edward Albee’s landmark play, the scorching Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf

Also in the good news department, a brand new edition of Gerard Alessandrini’s wickedly funny send-up Forbidden Broadway, Alive and Kicking! has arrived.


PBS Specials

PBS regularly airs performances of the Metropolitan Opera and a variety of the best in classical and pop concerts. Coming up is a superb example of the former.

Verdi’s La Traviata gets a contemporary design that’s both off-putting and provocative on August 23 at 9 P.M. and August 26 at Noon in Willy Decker’s production that might not satisfy loyalists but breathes new breath into a classic. Celebrated French soprano Natalie Dessay delivers a staggering portrayal of Violetta. Matthew Polenzani is Alfredo, with acclaimed Russian bass Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s magnificent portrayal of Giorgio. The Met’s Fabio Luisi conducts.

Upcoming: Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert, Great Performances, August 31, 9 P.M.; Paul McCartney, Live Kisses, September 7, 9 P.M.


On the Record

Tony winner and two-time Grammy nominee Betty Buckley’s new solo album, Ah, Men! The Boys of Broadway [Palmetto Records] features tunes from her acclaimed 2011 concert, “songs,” she says, “we gals never got to sing. It’s my take on some of the soaring melodies the men got to sing.” The 14 tracks include Irving Berlin’s “My Defenses Are Down,” Annie Get Your Gun; Bernstein/Sondheim’s “Maria,” West Side Story; Frank Loesser’s “Luck Be a Lady,” Guys and Dolls; and a suite from Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.

Raissa Katon Bennett, cabaret award winner and a later Christine in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Charles Hart’s Phantom of the Opera, has released Another Kind of Light [LML Records]. The 15 tracks include Broadway, pop, and jazz. Among the highlights is “Ordinary Miracles” by Marvin Hamlisch and Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Cole Porter’s “I Concentrate on You,” and the rarely-recorded “How Could I Not?” by Alan Menken and David Spencer from the musical adaptation of The
Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. Bennett  performs songs from the album August 21-25 at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency. To book, click here.

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