Monday, March 26, 2007

Max And Laura Go Together

Max And Laura Go Together

"America has spoken," intoned Billy Bush last evening for the final time on "Grease: You're The One That I Want" to tell us that Arizona's Max Crumm and Minnesota's Laura Osnes are the ones we want to portray Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski, respectively, on Broadway.

As I revealed last Thursday, the two were my personal picks for the upcoming $10 million Kathleen Marshall-helmed Grease revival that will land at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on July 24; opening night is currently set for August 16. For once, it appears that a production of Grease will enjoy near age-appropriate talent -- for the first time, I'm actually considering buying a ticket for the show.

What do you think? Are you now compelled to visit Broadway this summer to see Max and Laura? Or will you avoid the show altogether? I invite you to vote in my latest SOB Poll on the right hand column of this site and then weigh-in with your comments.

So what were they saying in the hometowns of the dynamic duo this morning? Here are links to today's Arizona Republic (Phoenix) and Star Tribune (Minneapolis) stories.

Beyond the announcement of who captured the most votes to win the roles, one of the more interesting aspects of last night's show was the introduction of the new cast members. Unfortunately, we were only told the cast members' character names, so I'm still waiting to see the list of bona fide actors/chorus members who have been selected.

But a nice touch was showing the new stars their names in lights over Times Square. I'm genuinely excited by the selections of Max and Laura. Congratulations to you both!

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
Behind The Grease Paint (March 24, 2007)
Grease: The Ones That I Want (March 22, 2007)
Apparently Grease Is The Word At Ticketmaster (January 9, 2007)
Sandy And Danny: Who Are The Ones You Want? (January 6, 2007)
The Sound Of Praise (November 16, 2006)
It's A Reality: The Sound Of Music Revival Comes Alive In London Tonight (November 15, 2006)
I've Got Chills, They're Multiplying: NBC Reality Show to Cast Grease (August 8, 2006)

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At 27 March, 2007, Anonymous E said...

I have a relatively short list of Show I Absolutely Positively Will Never See or Perform In Again.

#1? Annie.

#2? Grease.


At 27 March, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Hey E,

Appreciate your comments, but wonder why on both counts. Do you just find the scores inane? Are the stories too fluffy for you? Just wondering.

Annie was the very first Broadway show I ever saw, all the way back in 1979 in London, and that first exposure to the wonders of live theatre hooked me for life. More recently, I saw the tour that made its way across the United States and have to admit that the production was second rate and left me severely disappointed (see my earlier story. But I think in the proper hands, it would still hold up.

I saw the last Grease revival that included everyone from Rosie O'Donnell to Megan Mullally and thought it was good fun. I admire the talents of director Kathleen Marshall and can't help but think with the $10 million that is being poured into the upcoming production that it will have something going for it.

So, feel free to elaborate on your "ick" factor. As they sang in Grease, "Tell me more, tell me more!"

At 27 March, 2007, Anonymous e said...

I struggle with this notion constantly. The first Broadway show I ever saw was "The Phantom of the Opera," at age 17 (me, not the musical). I was utterly awestruck by it.

Today, I cannot bear to listen to it, and would NEVER go see it. But it did instill a certain wonder in the theater that I still cherish today.

As for "Annie and "Grease," they have become similar monsters to me. They have outgrown the notion of fun musical theater and mutated into a phenomenon of crass commerciality that I find distasteful. Millions of people see those shows and think that THAT's what the theater is all about, and that disappoints me, even though I don't expect everyone to have the same theatrical palate as you or I.

On a more technical note, I Can. Not. Stand. one single song from "Annie," think its version of the theme of hope and inspiration is saccharine and vile, and can't abide the traditional choreography. Plus, I'm scared of redheads, don't like dogs, and can only take children in limited doses, so that show is like a night trapped in hell for me.

"Grease?" Well, anything that presents that kind of idyllic picture of the 1950's turns my stomach. No black people, boys and girls know their roles, and weren't things just good clean FUN? And the ending bothers me: even thought Sandy and Danny both "sell out" to accommodate the other person, they end up going "his way," and I find that tacky.

There. Dismount soapbox. : )

At 27 March, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

E, You mounted the soapbox very well and used it wisely, especially on the points you've raised about Grease. While I can still manage to enjoy both the shows you stay away from, I have a couple that I will never, ever see again: Cats and Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Someday I'll share more details on why.

At 27 March, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I may offend some with this observation, but I almost feel the Grease open casting, with the related TV show, has revitalized Broadway for many who have had little, to no interest in live theatre. The raw quantity, and and passionate comments and post within the NBC boards indicates a level of enthusiam that does not usually reach mainstream 'America' (I am Canadian, and still found myself voting for favourites!).

Perhaps a true outsider's view, but theatre has almost become an elitist past time, and this show has enabled the masses to become interested, and perhaps instrumental in the process of choosing the leads (consiracy theorists aside...)

My wife and I are contemplating a visit to NY in September, to mark our 20th aniversary, and NY was chosen in part to see Grease. The efforts of those wonderful hopefuls for the lead roles was followed by us each and every Sunday evening. There is debate about who was best, who should win etc etc, but to follow their journey almost makes you feel like you know the contestants.

I hope others will be open about giving the show a chance and allowing it to stand, or fall based on it's merit. There are far too many nay sayers out there who have condemned the show before a single rehearsal. I for one look forward to seeing the finished product!

Paul from Canada

At 27 March, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Paul, No offense taken here whatsoever on your comments.

When I first wrote last August about the reality show to cast Grease, I was skeptical, but said:

"How do I feel about the reality angle? To be honest, I'm not really sure....Still, there's a side of me that believes that if a show can inspire new interest in theatre, then perhaps there is a silver lining. After all, we already have countless Broadway and touring productions that feature former 'American Idol' hopefuls. And it's not like they're trying to re-cast one of the greatest shows of all time. Maybe with Kathleen Marshall's guidance, this could be the start of something wonderful in the annals of theatre history."

Clearly, from what you've said, Paul, you are one of those who has been inspired to make a trip to New York to see this show. My best hopes for the show appear to be realized by you and the tens of thousands of others who have helped the advance box office for Grease already reach $8 million.

I strongly encourage you and all the other prospective long-term theatre fans to keep checking this space to see what else piques your interest and see at least one other show so you'll have something to compare Grease with.

Certainly, your point about theatre becoming an elitist pastime is one that should be heeded by theatre impresarios everywhere. What good is live theatre if no one is there to see it? Escalating ticket prices preclude many from enjoying this most unique of experiences, and they're only going to continue to increase if new scalping laws take effect. But that's probably a topic for another day.

Thanks again, Paul. Glad you found this SOB!

At 27 March, 2007, Blogger E said...

But, ladies and gentlemen, there MUST be a middle ground between the inanely commercial and the theatrically significant. Witness:

"The Lion King" or "Jersey Boys." Stay with me...

Granted, "The Lion King" story is barren and trite, but my GOD - the concept, design, and execution are beyond compare. It could have been "Lion King on Ice" with people in fuzzy Simba suits; instead, we got Julie Taymor's genius. Talk about an evening of inspirational magic...

As for "Jersey Boys," I've never really liked that kind of music, but the story, concept, and performances in that show really worked on me. It was thoughtful, interesting, and unique - and was NOT a traditional "jukebox" musical (is there a jukebox musical tradition?).

Both of those shows make millions, and both had something to say besides "Tomorrow, tomorrow...I love YA, toMOrrow..." or "you are supreme...the chicks'll cream..."

As a theater educator, I would much prefer that my students bear witness to something from the mind of Julie Taymor or Des MacAnuff than the seemingly democratic selection by the people of America. And just you wait...the truth will be revealed about the Grease reality show, and it won't feel so warm and fuzzy after all.

At 28 March, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...


Not sure what "truth" you're referring to that will be revealed on the Grease reality show (as a rule, I don't follow message boards from the show). But there's no denying that however inane you find the show to be, it strikes a chord with the theatregoing public. It's initial Broadway runs ranks 12th among the all-time longest running shows there, clocking in at 3,388 total performances. And that other show you don't like, Annie, somehow managed to appeal to millions, too -- it ranks 20th on the same all-time longest running hits list with 2,377 performances during its first run.

Can both of these shows be considered entry level? Absolutely, just as you described your experience with The Phantom Of The Opera for yourself. That's why I would strongly recommend to anyone who is making his or her first visit to the Great White Way on the basis of seeing Max and Laura in Grease that they should try to see at least one other show to experience how magical the stage can really be.

Now, I have to agree with you on The Lion King's inherent magic, which as you can see was the best show I saw during the 2000-01 Theatrical Season (I saw it late!).

But I have to part company with you on Jersey Boys, which I think is highly overrated. As I said last June: "Don't get me wrong, I've always loved the Four Seasons. But it's an easy choice (to dismiss this show in the Tony Best Musical category) given that this is a jukebox musical with no original score written for the stage. My view is that your show shouldn't be eligible for the big prize if it can't even be nominated for 'Best Original Score.' More importantly, I found this story to be less than satisfying. And it wasn't just because the much-ballyhooed John Lloyd Young was a dreaded no-show the Friday night I attended -- his understudy, Michael Longoria, was terrific and by far the best thing about the performance I saw. I'm no prude, but for a production set in the 50s and likely to mistakenly appeal to a wider family audience, the show was rather crass and unexpectedly vulgar."

But we can agree to disagree, and I respect your opinion. Thanks for sharing your opinions!

At 28 March, 2007, Anonymous e said...

Oh, you know me..I have a billion opinions. Just ask Cliff and Steve... : )

Yes! See one other show when in NYC!

It just kills me that shows like "Grey Gardens" suffer and "Caroline, or Change" close, yet "Grease" and the like will run forever. I'm glad that the folks involved have work and all. And I'm all for an evening of good, ol' fashioned entertainment, but sheesh - half of my students think that all you have to do to get a job on Broadway is get on a reality show!

And the truth that I predict will be revealed about said reality show has to do with rigging - and I ain't talkin' 'bout the scenery!

Ok. "Grease" has officially taken up enough of my life. Come to Atlanta and let's continue this discussion over drinks on the porch. : )

At 28 March, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Oh, Eric! You were so incognito!

Your points on great unattended shows are well-taken, as are those pertaining to anyone thinking that all they need do is go through a reality show and voila! They're a star.

But I'm not sure I'm with you on the rigging question. One would have thought that Austin Miller's previous track record would have greased the skids for him.

Let me know if you and the gang in Atlanta are serious about wanting to see Jennifer Holliday again!

At 28 March, 2007, Anonymous e said...

You know, I think I'd like to see her (never have before) but she was such a bitch about the whole "Dreamgirls" movie thing that I'm not sure I could be objective in her audience. Sour grapes are not what I'd like to drink at that show, ifyaknowwhatimean...

At 28 March, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Eric, Let's remain civil when talking about Ms. Holliday.


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