What ‘Cats’ Characters Are Probably Like, Based On Their Names

Can Jellicles? We’ll find out next week, when the Cats revival either winds Broadway up like a ball of yarn … or coughs up a big ‘ol hairball.

Cats is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1981 musical based on T.S. Eliot’s book about cat poems. Turn that sentence over in your head a bit. Theater-goers WENT IN FOR THIS. In the early 90s my mom took my three older siblings to Cats on Broadway and left me at home. The tales of the amazing theater experience convinced me that the stage was a place where anything can happen – I mean, Rum Tum Tugger himself stroked my brother (or something. I don’t exactly know because I wasn’t invited).  I exacted my revenge by making my siblings attend dozens of my plays and musicals over the following years, most of which were not good. The cast recording was a constant in our car and kitchen, and in first grade I could sing you verse after verse about the “heavyside layer,” which I don’t remember but was probably cat death? When I was 6 I finally saw the national touring company. In a bit of family lore, my father walked into the lobby during intermission with a bemused expression, shaking his head. “I don’t get it,” he said.

Now I’m a full-grown adult, and to be quite honest, I don’t get it either. My memories of actors Fosse-dancing while wearing giant carpet suits have faded into the mist just like the memories that one sad cat sang about. I remember snippets of songs and the feeling of something magical happening on stage, but I look at the list of characters and musical numbers and none of it makes sense to me. In the spirit of the new Cats production, here’s what the kitty characters are probably like, based on their weird names alone.

Mungojerrie

Okay, so this has to be a racist minstrel-y caricature from the 1930s,  yet also still a cat.

Rumpleteazer

You know how in really old movies they couldn’t say someone was gay so they’d use all these weird euphemisms instead? That.

Like, (and here you have to do a voice like you’re from an early talkie): “he’s a confirmed bachelor and a real rumpleteazer.”

Jennyanydots

Neighborhood snob thinks she’s cute.

Grizabella

Meth Gabriella.

Need further clarification? OK Take whatever Gabriella means to you:

Then make it meth:

Gus the Theatre Cat

This really old guy who hangs around a bar in the theater district and when people start talking about Hamilton, he chimes in with stories about, like, the original run of Company. Very into Sondheim. Sits with one foot propped up on his knee. Wears that one kind of hat. (I’m visualizing a cat Harold Prince.)

Mr. Mistoffelees

 

A pretentious college professor who wears jackets with suede patches on the elbows.

Rum Tum Tugger

Oh, goodness. Like a tubby booze uncle. And not the fun one, but the one where you’re just praying that no hot-button topics come up when he’s around because you know it’s going to be awful. Says stuff he knows you disagree with because he’s trying to start an argument, then keeps badgering you when you don’t react. A superfan of a failing NFL franchise, but all he does is complain about it.

Jellicle Cats

Sneaky assholes.

When I was a kid, my grandmother said she didn’t like cats because you could feel their bones squirming under their skin (which is also how I visualized myself as a scrawny, not-put-together child). That’s what jellicle cats are. You pick them up and their skin just slinks over their bones until they’ve wriggled out of your arms.

Bombalurina

That neighbor you had as a child who was Italian or Cuban, wore a housecoat, and her main things were obsessively sweeping her front steps and tending the marigolds around her Bathtub Madonna.

(Author’s note: describes roughly 10% of my childhood neighbors.)

Old Deuteronomy

The gruff, wizened old neighbor who was actually a cool writer in the 1960s and who teaches the protagonist, a teenaged white boy, about the world, the pen and himself.
Except the cat version of that.

Skimbleshanks

Eugene from Grease. Neville Longbottom. Samuel ‘Screech’ Powers. All those guys on Big Bang Theory. The geeks on Freaks and Geeks. Steve Urkel. Skimbleshanks.

Macavity

One of those lacrosse bros who has gone by his last name for so long that you can never remember what his first name was. (It’s Brent. Or Shane. Or Bryce.)

Quaxo

A third-tier sidekick who appears in one of the less-good chapters of Don Quixote or The Canterbury Tales or Pilgrim’s Progress, and then Jo March used it as a reference and you never understood it until you read the source book in college.

Bustopher

A cat rapper. Began his career as a kitten, when he was known as Lil Bustopher.

By the way, the characters’ full name in the musical is Bustopher Jones and his first album as an adult act was called The Bustopher Jones EP.

Jellylorum

False. This isn’t a name. It’s one of those weird, but non-fatal, things that can happen when a baby is brand new. “He’s mostly healthy, they just want to keep him in the hospital for the few days because he has jellylorum.”

Related articles

She Loves Me, She Really Loves Me

Last week, history was made when the musical revival of She Loves Me became the first ever Broadway show to be live streamed on the Internet. Through BroadwayHD, fans from all over the world could tune in to watch Laura Benanti hit those high notes and Chuck from Chuck sing. Period. And if you missed it, you still have a couple more days to catch it on demand before it goes away on Thursday, July 7th, which is a few days before it closes in New York.

For $9.99 you can watch She Loves Me in the comfort of your own home, which is what I did the other day and let me tell you it was worth every PayPal penny. Sometimes classic musicals like this show aren’t as enjoyable to me (I just saw 42nd Street for the first time and it’s unsurprisingly (?) anti-feminist?). However, I am pleased to report that She Loves Me is a delightful musical that deserves all the acclaim it’s receiving. Is it the same as being in The Room Where It Happens™ and seeing Jane Krakowski to the splits IRL? Obviously not. Nothing can ever compare to live theatre, but this is the best alternative for folks like me who will never get the chance to see the show in its current production live.

So if you’re reading this before July 7th, I recommend taking a peak of what you’re in for then enjoy the show on BroadwayHD – this sounds like a sponsored post but *bible*, it’s not. If you’re reading this after the 7th, here’s some highlights of what you missed.

On The Verge of Being Catfished

She Loves Me is a 1963 musical based on the play Parfumerie by Hungarian playwright Miklós László – which is why the show takes place in Budapest. Surprisingly enough, it takes place in a Parfumerie where employees Georg and Amalia are constantly at odds. Separately, they are secretly part of a Lonely Hearts Club letter exchange, and they’ve each found love with an anonymous pen pal. Unbeknowst to them, they are in love with each other!

Does this seem like a Catfish waiting for to happen? Absolutely. Amalia doesn’t even know her romantic pen pal’s name. She lit’rally says, “I couldn’t love him better if I knew his name.” Come on. NEV?? WHERE YOU AT? If this wasn’t a musical made in 1963, I definitely would’ve thought Georg was going to be a 16-year-old insecure Reddit user whose Friday night prank turned spiraled out of control.

Also, if this plot sounds familiar it’s because You’ve Got Mail and the 1940 movie The Shop Around the Corner are both based on Parfumerie.

Let Me Borrow That Top

Every single item of clothing worn on stage was to die for. I love the classy era of 1930s fashion, and costume designer Jeff Mahshie did an outstanding job lit’rally from head to toe. The menswear was exquisite but it was all the women’s fashions that had me gagging.

Let Me Be Your Star

17-year-old Nicholas Barasch plays 17-year-old Arpad Laszlo, so it’s really a stretch for him. Arpad is a delivery boy who aims to be a clerk at the Parfumerie and Nick does a great job selling it. This kid is goin’ places, I tell ya.

The Set Design That Beat Hamilton

I am such a sucker for Art Deco, and this set design is so freaking dreamy. The show begins with the outside of the store, and it literally opens up to the inside of the Parfumerie, and that’s pretty much it. There are some other small set pieces that roll in, but the store is the main event. The inside of the shop is so intricate and somehow cozy – it brings you back to the time where you would have to go to a specialty store like this just to buy perfume. For you kids out there, it’s like if the perfume counter at Macy’s had its own store front. These days, the only stand-alone perfume stores are at the mall with a really bored guy trying to pedal gift sets of Britney Spears’ Curious.

Customers Are The Worst

“I’m an idiot. At least I’m an idiot with a job!” 

Amalia and Georg work with a fella named Ladislav Sipos, who is easily my favorite character. His big number is called Perspective, which is basically a lesson in customer service. The lesson being ‘The customer is always right, so shut up and be grateful you have a job’. It is amazing. He serves as Georg’s confidant and provides comic relief throughout the show and Michael McGrath is great in the role. The version of Perspective above is from the 1993 revival by Lee Wilkof, but you’ll get the picture.

Girl Power

Meanwhile, Jane Krakowski is also an employee of the shop, and besides the fact her main motivation is finding love with a man, her character of Ilona is a great representative of Girl Power. She has a thing with her charming co-worker Steven Kodaly, played by the equally charming and talented Gavin Creel. There’s an entire scene where he hits on her and gets her to go out with him and she goes into the splits, and when she finally agrees, he cancels their date in favor of a different date. Ilona is not having it and her song I Resolve is all about not letting a man do that to her ever again. In 1963, this number was probably more powerful than it is now, but it’s still a great example of trusting your “feminine intuition” and not letting a man take advantage of you and bring you down. Ilona eventually finds love and it turns into that Date Auction episode of Saved by the Bell where Lisa Turtle pretends to be a snobby intellectual to go out with the cute smart guy.

Plot Twist!

I don’t want to ruin the entire show for you if you plan on watching it, but just know that as predictable as some of these older musicals can be, I did NOT see one storyline coming, which involves the shop owner, Mr. Maraczek. It may involve another lesson on gun safety.

Zachary Levi y’all

Zachary Levi is the best! For real! Fun fact: this role was originally going to be played by Ted Mosby aka Josh Radnor, who played Georg in the 2011 concert verison of She Loves Me. He had to pull out, and Zach took his place, but turned out for the best because Zach does such an exceptional job at playing this charming, lovesick guy.

Laura Benanti y’all

She Loves Me is the perfect fit for Laura Benanti (who we previously professed our love for), since she is the ultimate soprano. Her voice suits Amalia’s to a tee, and she is so good she makes it look effortless.

Zachary Levi and Laura Benanti y’all

If you’ve seen You’ve Got Mail, or basically any romantic comedy ever made, you can guess who She Loves Me ends. I lit’rally said outloud, ‘I’m into this” re: Amalia and Georg’s blossoming relationship, and I stand by that. These two need to do another musical ASAP.

Highlights from the HamilTonys

Last night, Hamilton: An American Musical went in with a record-breaking 16 nominations and by the end of the show, it left with 11, just short of tying The Producers’ record of 12 in 2001. But you know what, it doesn’t even matter. The fact that this groundbreaking, impactful, diverse show has done this well at all should be an accomplishment enough. It’s obvious we’re big fans of Hamilton here (see: #HamilWeek), but we’re also big fans of theatre in general, so if you happened to miss any of the show last night, here are some of the best moments you didn’t see, and some you’ll want to relive over and over again.

The Entire Opening Number

Let’s be real, half the people tuning into the Tonys this year don’t even usually know they’re happening. For theater nerds like us, the Tonys have always been our version of the Super Bowl. But I’m willing to bet for all these n00bs who watched the Tonys last night, it was all about Hamilton. So naturally, the producers pandered to their audience and gave them a whole lotta Hamilton, including the very first bit, which was a parody of Hamilton’s opening number, Alexander Hamilton. Except the lyrics were changed to fit host James Corden. After that, James launched into a medley of musicals that made me think he was gunning for some kind of Guinness World Record. The whole idea of the number was reminiscent of Neil Patrick Harris’ sentiments in his opening number a few years ago (starting around 5:44, makes me cry every time), but the feeling still rings true – the Tonys are a chance for those young kids in the middle of nowhere to know that their “weird” obsession with theater and musicals isn’t just them. The end features mini-mes of all the leading musical actors and actresses and that’s what really got me. Surprise, I cried.

Andrew Lloyd Webber Playing Tambourine in an All-Star Jam Band

In homage to #Ham4Ham, casts of nominated shows stood under the Beacon Theater marquee and paid tribute to iconic shows of the past. Kicking it off were the nominees for Best Score, what winner Lin-Manuel Miranda called a “jam band”, featuring himself, Sara Bareilles, Steve Martin and Edie Brickell and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Andrew Lloyd Webber on tambourine. TAMBOURINE.

Audra McDonald, Queen of Tonys, Slays With Child

Even though she wasn’t nominated, six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald managed to still make headlines because she did this tap number pregnant. She’s 45. I want to be her when I grow up.

Cynthia Erivo & The Cast of The Color Purple

Listen, I can only spread the gospel of Cynthia Erivo so much (#WomanCrushWednesday and all), and her performance of I’m Here is, yet again, pick your jaw up off the floor flawless. Add in the rest of the cast of the Tony-winning The Color Purple – including newest addition Heather Headley – and you’re gonna need a few moments to gather yourself after your wig gets snatched.

Spring Awakening Takes Center Stage

The revival of Spring Awakening, which featured both deaf and hearing cast members, has been closed for three months. It was nominated for both Best Revival of a Musical and Best Director for Michael Arden (not Chris Fitzgerald), but in order to perform at the Tonys, you need to shell out literal thousands of dollars. Since the show isn’t open, Michael and the cast launched a crowdfunding campaign to get them to the Tonys and it worked! We got to see this inspiring new rendition of Spring Awakening and it was worth every penny. Thank God this show is going on the road.

Netflix Marketing Strikes Again

In the second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Titus talks about auditioning (and ultimately losing) a role in Hamilton. Because Netflix folks are essentially marketing geniuses, they created an ad specifically featuring Titus in what looks like his legit audition tape trying out for Hamilton. This commercial was played during the Tonys. Amazing.

This Pre-Show Huddle

View this post on Instagram

Behind-the-scene pep talk at #TonyAwards

A post shared by The Tony Awards (@thetonyawards) on

One of my favorite things about the Tonys and Broadway in general is that there’s a real camaraderie between actors and genuine love within the community. Everyone seems to be supporting others in a way you’d think is odd in Hollywood. Prior to the show, members of Hamilton, On Your Feet!, Shuffle Along and more gathered for a pre-show pep talk/prayer circle because they’re all on the same team, striving to do their best on stage. You won’t see Oscar nominees doing this backstage.

Commercial Karaoke

 

 

I think it was Audra who told James Corden that the best advice she could give him is just to keep everyone in the audience entertained throughout the night. It’s a long show, so make sure the crowd enjoys it. It seems he took this to heart because during commercials, he instated Commercial Karaoke and recruited stars to sing the great hits – including Sean Hayes and Jake Gyllenhaal singing Aladdin. Don’t say I never gave you anything.

Jessie Mueller Goodbye

Also Sara Bareilles rolling out on the Tonys stage with her piano knowing full well she’s about to wreck us all.

The Fashion

Usually our post-awards show post is a Best/Worst Dressed situation, so to fulfill that quota, here are some of my faves from last night, starting with the absolutely gorgeous Laura Benanti in Oscar de la Renta and stunning Nicolette Robinson (Mrs. Leslie Odom Jr.) in a flowing Christian Siriano gown. Of course our patron saint Lupita Nyong’o didn’t disappoint, while Sara Bareilles, Jane Krakowski and Adrienne Warren all did their thang too.

*I took a page out of the Tony producers’ handbook and saved the HamilTonys for last suckasss

Kings & Queens of Social Media

Unlike major Broadway phenomenons with fervent fan bases of the past (A Chorus Line, Rent, etc.) Hamilton came in an era where social media reigns and fans from all over the world can send one simple tweet to Lin and he’ll respond in Internet-language like he’s your BFF. The cast members of Hamilton kill it when it comes to social media, and on Tonys day, they did not disappoint. From my fave Andrew Chappelle taking over the official Hamilton Snapchat to Seth Stewart sharing backstage videos to the MOST turnt Broadway warmup ever, to my boo Oak posting videos of the boys dancing (just look at his whole feed from Sunday it’s worth it). This is how you werk social media, y’all. I freaking love this cast.

RENEE

I attempted to count how many times I cried during the Tonys, and I stopped because I was already at an obscene amount prior to the show started (thanks to seeing rehearsal vid of the HamilCast’s Rent bumper). I def stopped the cry count because I was sobbing SOBBING during Renee’s speech.

LIN

A) His fistbump/fireworks explosion with Vanessa. Definition of #CoupleGoals. B) Lin casually writing a sonnet like it’s easy. Literal genius. C) EVERYTHING ABOUT THE SONNET.

What Kind of Day Has It Been

Lin has long said The West Wing is one of his favorite shows and thus a big influence on Hamilton (“looking for a mind at work” in The Schuyler Sisters is straight from TWW), so it’s not really a surprise that he snuck this sly move in. The signal was used in S1E22, What Kind of Day Has It Been and basically alerted President Bartlet of good news. Good news indeed.

History Is Happening In Manhattan

For the first time in Tony history, all four musical acting awards went to people of color – Leslie Odom Jr., Cynthia Erivo, Daveed Diggs and Renee Elise Goldsberry. Hey Oscars (and everyone else still sleeping) – stay woke.

Look Around, Look Around

Everyone who won for Ham had a great speech, but the best way to end the show was with a performance with the whole cast (because, pandering but also, history). It was the most joyous number because everyone was dressed in their formal gear and not in revolutionary costumes. For once it was the actors having fun and reveling in their 11 wins. I mean what other show has actors that dab on the stage after winning all those Tonys?

Tony Nominations To Celebrate That Aren’t Hamilton

We established a while ago that we’re basically a Hamilton blog now (seriously, check out all our posts here), so we could easily make another post gushing over its historic 16 Tony Award nominations, or how Lin-Manuel is a precious cinnamon roll of a genius that created a new American institution, or dissecting every bit of this video of Daveed Diggs getting woken up this morning with news of his nomination. We could go on.

No, friends, we’re not going to do that (today). Today is all about the other shows nominated that deserve just as much attention as Hamilton. I imagine it’s bittersweet being on Broadway at the same time as a groundbreaking musical. Everyone wants a ticket to Hamilton and it’s all anyone talks about, but there are nearly 40 other shows open right now. Any one of those productions would love to see you in the audience. But it’s like when you’re up against an MVP player and you have to step up your game just to keep up. It might be a little frustrating along the way, but for the sport (Broadway) as a whole, it’s the best thing that could’ve happened.

But at the end of the day, theatre is not a competition. If anything, it’s a community. A smaller-than-you-think community of artists who support each other and cheer each other on instead of tearing each other down. It’s been an incredible year for theater in terms of the storytelling, quality production and the talent on stage, so in that spirit, we’re putting the spotlight on a few of the other shows we’re rooting for come Tony day, and the names you’ll need to know when they end up winning.

Waitress

Best Musical

Based on the 2007 movie of the same name starring Keri Russell, Waitress centers on Jenna, a waitress at a small-town diner who’s in a horrible marriage, but ends up preggo. Other affairs ensue. Waitress also made history with its all-female creative team, thanks to music & lyrics by Sara Bareilles, book by Jessie Nelson, direction by Diane Paulus, and choreography by Lorin Latarro.

I had the chance of seeing Waitress in Boston last year before it transferred to Broadway, and hearing all the positive reviews of the show didn’t do it justice in person. I laughed, I cried (way more than I expected), I left feeling like a warm blanket had swaddled itself around my heart… is that weird? This is the only show I’ve seen out of this year’s batch of nominees, and TBH, it sucks it’s up against Hamilton this year because it deserves so much recognition for making a musical out of a movie – and feeling like the movie never existed at all.

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

I can’t express to you how good this score is, and what a masterpiece Sara Bareilles has created. I can, however, direct you to her album, What’s Inside: Songs From Waitress, which features a few select numbers from the show. This was released after the Boston run and before they opened on Broadway, and so Sara’s version includes songs cut from the final show, including one of my faves, Door Number Three. This album is still in my rotation six months after its release. Sara uses that same talent she has to tug on your heartstrings with songs like Gravity and I Choose You and incorporates that same spirit in these songs. The official Broadway cast album comes out June 10th. Mark your calendars.

Jessie Mueller (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical)

Jessie Mueller, Tony winner and ethereal goddess, was the clear star of the Boston production, and she’s still the clear star in the Broadway one as well. Here she is singing the most emotional number from the show, so get a tissue ready JIC.

Other nominations: Christopher Fitzgerald (Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical)

Eclipsed

Best Play

Written by The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira, Eclipsed is set in 2003, near the end of the Second Liberian Civil War and tells the story of five Liberian woman and their survival against all odds. In another record for the Broadway history books, Eclipsed is the first play with not only an all-female creative team, but all-female and all-black cast as well.

Lupita Nyong’o (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play)

Listen, if you need to be educated on Queen Lupita, read this then go off on the Internet or watch her movies then come back. She is royalty. Royalty who is a step closer to an EGOT.

Other nominations: Pascale Armand and Saycon Sengbloh (Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play), Best Costume Design of a Play, Liesl Tommy (Best Direction of a Play)

Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

Best Musical

Shuffle Along: A revue-style 1921 musical written, produced by and starring an all-black team. Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed: A new musical telling the story of all the challenges the Shuffle Along cast had in mounting the production, and its effect on race relations and Broadway. Stars little-known actors Tony winners such as Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Billy Porter and newcomers Tony nominees Joshua Henry, Brooks Ashmanskas, Brandon Victor Dixon and Adrienne Warren.

Adrienne Warren (Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical)

Shuffle Along is only Adrienne’s second Broadway show, but on Tuesday she earned her first Tony nomination. She’s one of those young actresses you know has a bright future on Broadway and beyond. And if you’re wondering why she might look familiar, she was in an episode of Orange is the New Black as a wheelchair-bound inmate who Pennsatucky attempted to “heal”. *I saw her in Lin-Manuel’s Bring It On musical and she was just as fantastic IRL.

Best Choreography

Tap dancing and Savion Glover. That is all.

Other nominations: Best Book of a Musical, Brandon Victor Dixon (Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical), Best Scenic Design of a Musical, Best Costume Design of a Musical, Best Lighting Design of a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Orchestrations

She Loves Me

Zachary Levi (Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Chuck is nominated for a Tony! Fun fact: Zachary replaced Ted Mosby who was originally supposed to star in the role of Georg, a perfume shop employee who is constantly at odds with co-worker Amalia. Unbeknownst to them, they’ve been secret pen pals the whole time. Sound familiar? It’s adapted from the play Parfumerie, which You’ve Got Mail (yes, with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks) is adapted from.

Laura Benanti (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical)

Cannot stress this enough: we love Laura Benanti. Love. Her.

Jane Krakowski (Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical)

Here’s hoping Jane channels Jenna Maroney if she wins.

Other nominations: Best Revival of a Musical, Best Scenic Design of a Musical, Best Costume Design of a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Orchestrations

The Color Purple

Best Revival of a Musical

I mean, you know what The Color Purple is, right? It’s the same plot as the book. And the movie. And the OG Broadway musical.

Cynthia Erivo (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical)

If you don’t have goosebumps and/or tears in your eyes after watching that, check your pulse, because you’re probably dead. Cause of death: Cynthia Erivo. Look out for this one, y’all.

Danielle Brooks (Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical)

I don’t know what it is about Danielle Brooks but I cry anytime I think about her success. Or hear her sing. Or read an inspirational post on her Instagram. I’m so proud of her and I don’t even know her.

Other nominations: Best Direction of a Musical

Spring Awakening

Best Revival of a Musical

I admit I was a little surprised to hear Spring Awakening, featuring teens in late 19th-century Germany dealing with their sexuality, was being revived since it only closed on Broadway in 2009. But then I was totally game once I found out they were incorporating sign language and completely making the production its own. Fact: I saw the OG Spring Awakening U.S. tour thrice when it was in Boston for like, a minute. Another fact: I was a dumbass and didn’t see the revival in Los Angeles before it went up on Broadway, and am kicking myself for it. There’s supposedly another tour in talks. See ya there.

Michael Arden (Best Direction of a Musical)

Before Michael Arden earned his first Tony nomination as a director, he was known as an actor. I personally knew his name from the Off-Broadway musical Bare, but more so for this song, Run Away With Me. I don’t know how nerdy you and your friends were circa 2008, but there was a period of time when this Kerrigan & Lowdermilk song was THE JAM, and all the hot, young, theatre boys were doing their covers of it. Aaron Tveit, Jeremy Jordan, bright young high schoolers hoping for a shot of fame all uploaded their own versions of the song on the YouTube. Michael had one of my favorite takes on it, and this has nothing to do with Spring Awakening, I just want you to know he’s really talented.

Other nominations: Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Hamilton Explained: Guns and Ships

With only days to go before the release of Hamiltome (Hamilton: The Revolution if you’re not all up in LMM’s twitter), it feels like time to take a stab at explaining some more Hamilton lyrics before we have all of the answers right in front of us.

If you’re just joining us, you can catch up:

Since Guns and Ships has the fastest, hardest-to-catch raps in the whole show, we think it could use a little explicating. As always, please head over to Genius to check out the annotations there, too. We make an effort not to duplicate their comments but there’s obviously gonna be some overlap.

You know how it goes: lyrics are in italics. Our stuff’s in regular fonts. Ready? Everyone give it up for America’s favorite fighting Frenchman!

Guns And Ships

BURR:
How does a ragtag volunteer army in need of a shower

  • You don’t need us to explain that one: here, we are back to the cadence and rhyme pattern of Alexander Hamilton (How does a bastard, orphan son of a whore…). We even land on a similar rhyme (squalor/scholar vs shower/power).
  • But let’s go back to LMM’s explanation of the opening number: “the thing about Hamilton is he spoke in paragraphs. So the opening sentence of our show is this crazy, run-on sentence.” [Source] When we’re talking about the war, instead of Hamilton himself, the questions get more concise. After all, Burr didn’t mince words. Talk less, smile more.
  • “Ragtag volunteer army” sure does check out. Originally a collection of smaller militias, the Continental Army wasn’t established until a ways into the war. If you remember reading about another European helper, Baron Von Steuben, in high school, the army’s hit-or-miss training and discipline will ring a bell.
  • “In need of a shower”: we’ll let General Washington take this one — “Soap is another article in great demand–the Continental allowance is too small, and dear, as every necessary of life is now got, a soldier’s pay will not enable him to purchase, by which means his consequent dirtiness adds not a little to the disease of the Army.” — George Washington, Letter to the Committee of Congress, July 19, 1777 [source]

Somehow defeat a global superpower?

  • Global superpower: A fun anachronism (if you’re a history nerd, anyway.) “Superpower” describes nations that mastered the seven dimensions of state power (geography, population, economy, resources, military, diplomacy and national identity), and was first used in the WWII era to apply to the United Kingdom, the U.S. and the Soviet Union. [source] Through the lens of modern international relations, the British Empire was a major superpower during the 18th century – with thriving trade, an advantageous geopolitical position, and a lot of colonies. Some of whom hated them.

How do we emerge victorious from the quagmire?
Leave the battlefield waving Betsy Ross’ flag higher?

  • So, there’s quagmire – like a gross swamp – and quagmire, like a snafu. But quagmire is also used frequently to describe international conflicts that were caused by muddling where you shouldn’t. [See, e.g.] The “quagmire theory” explains how the U.S. unintentionally got involved in Vietnam, by a series of bad decisions that lead us further and further into the muck as we tried to negotiate several overlapping dilemmas. LMM’s probably using “quagmire” in the “big old mess” sense, but since we’re using other 20th century warfare terms, Burr could also be alluding to the fact that the US (or Britain??) shouldn’t have ended up in this position in the first place.
  • Ah, Betsy Ross, heroine of so many third grade history fair dioramas. She sewed, and possibly helped design, the American flag, and has a particularly adorable house in Philadelphia. [source]
  • Also also. This is fun:

Yo. Turns out we have a secret weapon!
An immigrant you know and love who’s unafraid to step in!

  • Both Hamilton and Lafayette are referred to as immigrants in Act I. Which, on one hand, of course they are. But it’s interesting because it feels almost like we don’t usually refer to anyone as an “immigrant” during the Colonial era. Yet, there were differences between colonists who were born in the (future) U.S.A. and those who came from abroad – even if only in familiarity with the country and its customs. LMM’s goal was to eliminate the distance between the audience and these historical figures, and a part of that is reminding us that then, as now, immigrants could be counted on to get the job done.

He’s constantly confusin’, confoundin’ the British henchmen

  • To name a few: Battle of Gloucester (thanks to excellent reconnaissance work, he helped uncover British positions and defeated Cornwallis – oh, and his leg was still busted from the Battle of Brandywine); Albany (he recruited the Oneida and dissuaded America from a poorly conceived attack on Quebec); Battle of Barren Hill (the outnumbered Continental Army had to retreat, so Lafayette had soldiers in the woods periodically fire on the British Army to make the colonists seem more prolific).

Ev’ryone give it up for America’s favorite fighting Frenchman!

  • This is true. Lafayette was SUPER POPULAR and beloved. Like, the precursor to the popularity of those French Women Don’t Get Fat and French Kids Eat Their Damn Dinner books that are so trendy now. There’s an entire Wikipedia entry about this time he came back to America to say hey. [source]

COMPANY:
Lafayette!

LAFAYETTE:
I’m takin this horse by the reins makin’
Redcoats redder with bloodstains

  • “Horse by the reins” is a popular expression, but maybe was included because artists LOVED to show Lafayette holding onto a pony:

To be fair, it was a popular pose with 18th century military guys. Like Georgian duck-lips.

  • “Redcoats” – the nickname of the British army, due to their snappy red coats.
  • During this line, I can’t help but think of Jay-Z (I know we’ve mentioned Empire State of Mind before, but whatever, it’s a modern classic): I make a Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can. Lafayette makes a redcoat redder than his red coat can.

COMPANY:
Lafayette!

LAFAYETTE:
And I’m never gonna stop until I make ‘em
Drop and burn ‘em up and scatter their remains, I’m

  • Lin-Manuel Miranda has said that hip hop had to be the language of this musical because it allowed for more syllables per measure than any other genre. [source] This is the fastest verse, at 19 words in 3 seconds, which makes this the hardest one to sing along to but I’m trying; we’re all trying. [source]
  • Oh, look who’s better at English than all of those Englishman (an immigrant, of course!).

COMPANY:
Lafayette!

LAFAYETTE:
Watch me engagin’ em! Escapin’ em!
Enragin’ em! I’m—

  • We covered escapin’ em above (Battle of Barren Hill). How about engagin’ em and enragin’ em? The Yorktown campaign. Lafayette cut Cornwallis’ naval troops off, and again used his fun trick of random attacks by Continental troops to make their forces seem larger.

COMPANY:
Lafayette!

LAFAYETTE:
I go to France for more funds

COMPANY:
Lafayette!

  • Lafayette went to France in 1779, where he tried to persuade France and ally Spain to attack Britain. Also, his son was born that winter – named George Washington Lafayette.

LAFAYETTE:
I come back with more

LAFAYETTE AND ENSEMBLE:
Guns
And ships

  • Yes, but. France got very “the check’s in the mail” with the ships and the fleet took a while to arrive. Also included in the deal: General Rochambeau and 6,000 soldiers.

And so the balance shifts

  • The phrase “turning point of the American Revolution” was probably drilled into your head to describe the Battle of Saratoga at some point during AP US History. It was a pivotal victory, sure. But gaining a tactical ally in France helped tip the balance from “global Superpower” England and the “ragtag volunteer army in need of a shower.” Hundreds of years later, we still debate whether the U.S. could have won the revolution without French aid.

WASHINGTON:
We rendezvous with Rochambeau, consolidate their gifts

  • Rochambeau shows up in the colonies, hangs back for a long time because there aren’t enough forces to really do anything, kind of pulls an Emma Watson and chills at Brown for a while. He marches his guys over to rendezvous with Washington in Mount Kisco NY, home of the Ragtime house which is ALSO Samantha Parkington’s house, who knew. It did not exist in 1781. From there, they marched together to Yorktown. It was quite a trip.

LAFAYETTE:
We can end this war at Yorktown, cut them off at sea, but

  • Lafayette trapped the British by land at Malvern Hill while the French fleet blockaded the British. Yorktown didn’t stand a chance.

For this to succeed, there is someone else we need:

WASHINGTON:
I know

WASHINGTON AND COMPANY:
Hamilton!

  • Also Baron Von Steuben, whose forces Lafayette joined with, but who is not relevant to this musical production.

LAFAYETTE:
Sir, he knows what to do in a trench

 

  • Which maybe doesn’t seem like a Revolutionary War thing, but it is – the scrappy Americans and French dug a trench to help with the cutoff of Cornwallis’ troops. [source]

Ingenuitive and fluent in French, I mean—

  • Before there was spellcheck, there was A.Ham, who proofed Lafayette’s petitions for more supplies. [source]

WASHINGTON AND COMPANY:
Hamilton!

LAFAYETTE:
Sir, you’re gonna have to use him eventually
What’s he gonna do on the bench? I mean—

  • Hamilton was “manning George’s journal” and had to drop some major hints before he was handed a command of Lafayette’s light infantry battalion. [source]

WASHINGTON AND COMPANY:
Hamilton!

LAFAYETTE:
No one has more resilience
Or matches my practical tactical brilliance—

  • Or, as George says in the letter they’re singing about, “I am convinced that no officer can with justice dispute your merit and abilities.” [source]

WASHINGTON AND COMPANY:
Hamilton!

LAFAYETTE:
You wanna fight for your land back?

COMPANY:
Hamilton!

WASHINGTON:
I need my right hand man back!

  • This was a push-and-pull between Washington and Hamilton throughout the war: Washington wanted Hamilton as his “right hand man” while Hamilton wanted field experience.

WOMEN:
Hamilton!

LAFAYETTE:                                                        MEN:
Ah! Uh, get ya right hand man back                        Get your right hand man back!
You know you gotta get ya right hand man back      Your right hand man back!

I mean you gotta put                                           Hamilton!
some thought into the letter                                 Ha—
but the sooner the better                                     Ha—
To get your right hand man back!

  • There was a lot of letter drama in the 1780s. Hamilton delivered one of George’s letters for him, stopped to chit-chat with Lafayette, and Washington got pissy about it. So Hamilton flounced off and quit for like a handful of months until he got the Yorktown commission. [source]
  • “The letter, the sooner the better” – reference either to Please Mister Postman by the Marvelettes, or to the children’s rhyme (deliver the letter, the sooner the better, the later the letter the madder I getter… I think there’s more, I’m so old that I sent letters as a child so you’ll have to bear with me.)

WOMEN, MEN:
Hamilton, Hamilton!
Ha— ha—!

WASHINGTON:
Alexander Hamilton
Troops are waiting in the field for you
If you join us right now, together we can turn the tide
Oh, Alexander Hamilton
I have soldiers that will yield for you
If we manage to get this right
They’ll surrender by early light
The world will never be the same, Alexander…

  • Once again, we return to the style of Alexander Hamilton.
  • Solders that will yield for you – Washington’s hesitation about appointing Hamilton to a command wasn’t that he thought Hamilton wasn’t up to it. It’s that there were other, longer-serving officers who would take it as a slight. Appointing Hamilton required not only regular soldiers to yield, but also an officer to yield his expected promotion. [source]
  • “The world will never be the same” is a motif throughout the show, alluding not just to Hamilton’s desire to make a difference but to be KNOWN for making a difference. After their little falling out, real-life Washington also appealed to Hamilton’s ego.
  • The Battle of Yorktown was an important strategic victory, so the world really was never the same.

The Pros and Cons of BroadwayCon

If you’re a true theatre nerd, you know that over the weekend, hundreds of Broadway geeks converged at the Hilton Midtown Hotel for the first ever BroadwayCon – which is exactly what it sounds like. Like other fan-centered conventions, this one gathers fans with actors, creators, and behind-the-scenes folk who make Broadway Broadway. Co-founded by Anthony Rapp, of Rent fame, BroadwayCon featured panels from past shows such as the Rent 20th anniversary reunion, current shows like Hamilton, Spring Awakening and Fun Home, to future shows like Waitress, Tuck Everlasting and Disaster! The Musical. There were photobooth and autograph sessions, fan meetups, master classes, dance workshops and of course, plenty of singing.

Before we go any further, I’d like to make it clear that I was not actually there. I am merely a spectator from the World Wide Web. I saw rumblings of #BroadwayCon on Twitter a while ago, and just thought it was some small event in NYC, but I was wrong. After tracking it online all weekend, I’ve come to this conclusion about BroadwayCon – it seems like a mix of pure ecstasy but also the worst nightmare all in one. A whole room full of theatre geeks!!!! But also, a whole room full of theatre geeks :\ Again, before the haters start to hate, I wasn’t there, so I obviously am not an expert on this, it’s all from what I’ve seen on social media. So in saying there, here are so of what I can tell were the pros and cons of the inaugural BroadwayCon.

Pro: The only convention with an opening number

I’ve never been to Comic-Con or any huge convention except for the ATX TV Festival, which is more of a medium sized gathering of TV fans than an exhibition hall filled with thousands of people. But none of these cons have a song and dance opening number. So was I surprised to see that BroadwayCon opened with this? No. My reaction was OF COURSE. I mean, is there any other way to kick off a weekend of Broadway than this?

Con: #TryingTooHard

We get it, all of us are Hamilton fans, you don’t have to flaunt the “secret language” around.

Pro: The Room Where It Happens

Like any other HamiltonHead (is there even an official name for Hamilton fans? I’m sure there is. Kids under 21, get at me), this panel with most of the main cast was the most anticipated one at the con. Here are some highlights during the panel:

If you could change roles with anybody in the show, who would it be?

Daveed: Angelica
Lin: Lafayette
Renee: Aaron Burr
Philippa: Hercules Mulligan
Chris: Jonathan Groff, he’s onstage for five minutes!
Groffsauce: Angelica
Oak: Angelica
Leslie: Eliza
Lin: I think we have our next Ham4Ham.

How Leslie was approached to join the show:

“I got an email from Lin about two-and-a-half years ago, I guess. The subject was ‘Octoburrfest,’ a delicious pun.”

Lin is a rap teacher who gives pop quizzes daily

“At 15 minutes to curtain, Miranda can be seen trotting his iPod from dressing room to dressing room with his speakers blaring a beat challenging his castmates to cypher at his request.”

Freestyle Love Surpreme

During the panel, the moderator asked if anyone besides Lin, Chris Jackson and Daveed had ever rapped before, but the closed-captioning typist accidentally transcribed “have you ever raped before”. It was quickly changed, but Lin managed to incorporate it in his impromptu freestyle:

Werk

The panel ended with a singalong of The Schuyler Sisters, with the cast happily watching the fans from the stage. It was their rock star moment.

Pro: Your obscure Broadway cosplay will be appreciated

Theater nerds, especially actors, will take up any chance for dressing up and what better place to show off your Fun Home costume that you wore for Halloween that no one got than BroadwayCon? The cosplay at BroadwayCon obviously appeals to a v niche group of fans, which is kind of why I love it.

Pro: And It’s Beginning ToAnd It’s Beginning ToAnd It’s Beginning to Snow

It’s been 20 years since Rent had its debut, and Anthony Rapp gathered as many friends from the OBC and creative team as he could for the “10,514,880 Minutes: How Do You Measure 20 Years of Rent?” panel, including Daphne Rubin Vega (Mimi), Wilson Jermaine Heredia (Angel) and Fredi  Walker-Browne (Joanne). I watched the first bit of this live on Periscope and teared up a bit just thinking about how much of an impact the show has made on me, but all the other RentHeads and the cast and crew themselves. One emotional moment was when Daphne FaceTimed with Jesse L. Martin (Collins) and there was even a mini reunion between him and Wilson :emoji with heart eyes:

Con: The Wrath of Jonas

As you may have heard, or seen out your window, Winter Storm Jonas hit the East Coast hard over the weekend, with all the Broadway shows even canceling their Saturday performances. This led to the actors/guests scheduled to appear at BroadwayCon to also cancel their appearances, which I imagine is a bummer for those looking forward to attending the Hamilton dance workshop or the conversation with Fiddler’s Sheldon Harnick.

Pro: #BlizzardCon

On Saturday, everyone at the con was pretty much snowed in, so it turned into #BlizzardCon. It ended up being a huge blizzard party in the mainstage, complete with random phone calls with Broadway icons. Among the folks who called in but not limited to:

Literally a picture of Patti LuPone in the comfort of her (surprisingly rustic?) palace, while she talks to the hundreds of peasants at BroadwayCon:

Pro: Broadway Stars Singing Rando Songs

Unlike a ComicCon where actors show up and screen clips or previews of their upcoming films or TV shows, Broadway stars can actually perform and entertain in front of you. Live! There was a fair share of concerts throughout the weekend, including a “Jukebox” in which fans could vote on which songs the stars could sing, and there was also this mad lib situation in which you get to hear Anthony Rapp sing *a slightly different version* of What You Own.

Con: Fans Singing Rando Songs

Ok, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good singalong. I think it would be especially fun if it was from a Broadway show, something like this:

But then there’s the contingent of people, I imagine at BroadwayCon, who are getting up to sing as if it’s an audition. One of the things i dread at events like these are A) stupid comments/questions from the audience and general second hand embarrassment. If I was at this fan karaoke event, I would be anxious every time someone got on the stage, hoping they’d be good, on key and not hamming it up too much. Too stressful. This girl sounds pretty good though!

Con: Like Sutton Foster, BroadwayCon is Younger

Based on what I’ve seen, in looks like the demographic for BroadwayCon are teens in high school and musical theatre majors in college. These are the folks who are excited about seeing the people they’ve been listening to on repeat, seen from the rear mezz, met briefly at the Broadway Flea Market and made fan art for on Tumblr. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this, because I was like this as a teen, but as an almost 30 year old, I just can’t. The idea of being around that much energy 24/7 seems exhausting, and I’d just feel out of place. Recapping on my blog from the comfort of my bed 3,000 miles away is just fine by me.

Pro: There’s A Place For Us

In saying that, I think that BroadwayCon itself has been an event a long time coming. I always thought that being a theatre kid meant not being popular or not in the zeitgeist. I certainly didn’t feel like a cool kid at the theatre table during lunch in high school. But when I found out Comic Con was a huge thing for comic book nerds, I saw a whole bunch of different people gather for something I wasn’t particularly interested in, but acknowledged that something portrayed as geeky kind of seemed cool. Now, seeing photos and videos of #BroadwayCon make me think it’s so crazy that people are just as (probably much more) insane about Broadway than I am. These are the nerds who I sat with in the cafeteria. And those teens and MTs need something like this event, where you can connect, learn, and grow a deeper passion for Broadway and the arts in general. So keep up the great work, I can’t wait til next year – I’ll be here trolling the Internet like an old lady.

Playlist of the Month: Songs From Musicals We’ve Been In

Ah, the first breath of spring. In high schools across the nation, now is the time for students to work together to create something bigger than themselves, to forge new friendships and let their talents shine. Baseball season? Nah. Prom planning? Please. It’s high school musical season!

We spent the first years of our friendship hanging out in our high school’s auditorium during musical rehearsals. We had snacks from a special “junk food locker” (an abandoned locker that we stocked with bulk candy) and played Bullshit and Spoons with the young, pre-gay gay boys we were friends with. Before high school, we were both big fish in our respective theater ponds, and being in chorus and dance company roles just felt so wrong, but we were still happy to be involved in a show.

Even the songs still stick with you years later. In honor of those hardworking theater kids in Hell Week for Grease or Man Of La Mancha right now, here are some songs from musicals we’ve been in – songs we still get stuck in our head over a decade later.

Check out the entire playlist on Spotify!

Molly’s Picks

Feel So Near – Some Weird Play From My Childhood

When I was a kid, I was in this odd, somewhat avant garde youth theater company. I mean, of course I was. For a few years our plays were these adaptations of obscure folk tales with minimalist staging and costuming and kabuki-inspired makeup. A chorus of children sang this folksy tune by Dougie MacLean and what do you know, it sounds pretty good sung by a chorus of children. I’m including this as a nod to my weird childhood.

Oh What A Beautiful Morning – I Seriously Cannot Remember What Play This Was

Oh, cool, Oklahoma? Nope. Just some random play I was in that rather inexplicably included the song Oh What A Beautiful Morning. Again, it was a strange childhood, theater-wise.

The Boy Next Door – Meet Me In St. Louis

In eighth grade, a group of 10-15 local Catholic schools got together to put on a mega-musical. It was like an awkward plaid dream team, and I was thrilled to land in the principal cast. Because I’ve been the same person my whole life, you won’t be surprised to learn that it was the comic relief character, who was an Irish maid. But I had a solo and I was very pleased and honored to finally be in a play where I wasn’t wearing white pancake makeup and a black turtleneck.

I Can’t Be Bothered Now – Crazy For You

When I was a kid my sister had the cassette tape of the Crazy For You soundtrack, and I thought it was just about the best thing ever. [A note: during my sister’s high school tenure our school was putting on, like, Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Rough.] I know the concept of compiling a bunch of Gershwin’s best tunes into a loosely conceived plot is probably, technically, bad, but our school put this on our junior year and years later, I can barely decide which song to include.

On The Street Where You Live – My Fair Lady

Senior year, we performed My Fair Lady and I learned that when it doesn’t involve Audrey Hepburn or Julie Andrews, I really don’t care for My Fair Lady. But we had fun with it – I remember sitting in English class singing Ascot Gavotte with extra-plummy accents because as seniors, and I guess as people, we just didn’t care. In true Lerner and Loewe fashion each number is catchier than the last,  but I’m including On The Street Where You Live because I remember my mom singing it when I was little, and in fourth grade I thought it was THE perfect song for my grade school crush. Yes, like so many theater kids before and after me, I was maybe just a little dramatic.

Traci’s Picks

Embraceable You – Crazy For You

Like Molly said, I could barely decide which song to include because every song was a classic. I legit changed my mind about which one to put on the list three times. Crazy For You was the first time I was really exposed to music of this era – that I actually paid attention to. Lo and behold, I took a liking to it. Since the musical is a bunch of Gershwin songs put together, this one is from Girl Crazy, as seen here by Judy Garland and a bunch of strapping young men. Swoonworthy.

Something Good – The Sound of Music

Okay, I’m cheating a bit. This song wasn’t included in the OG Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, which is the version I was in, but rather was added for the film that we all know and love. After the movie, however, this song was included in some revivals of the show so it counts. The version by Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer is stunning and simple, like a reflection of their love *awwww cheesy stfu*

Close Every Door – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Like Molly said, we were “big fish” in our respective little ponds, and for me, that pond was my church. We used to put on full musical productions (and were kind of really good and well known for it in the immediate community?) so it’s not like me in a basement naming all the colors of Joseph’s coat. Anyways, this show marked my first “big” role – I was a Narrator. Emphasis on A, because I was one of 6 HAHAHA. When I would listen to Donny Osmond’s version of the soundtrack, I was obsessed with Close Every Door, particularly the last 45ish seconds when he does the key change and the riffs at the end – changed my life. Also, that’s when I retroactively developed a crush on Donny Osmond way past his prime. IDK you guys, I was a weird kid.

I Don’t Need Anything But You – Annie

Annie is like a rite of passage for any theatre kid, including this AZN one right here. I obviously wasn’t Annie, and by the time I did the show, I was too old to be an orphan, so I was a servant/the “Star-to-Be” aka the solo in NYC aka the part OG Annie Andrea McArdle plays in the Audra McDonald verz of Annie. This song always struck me as a super sweet tune between Annie and Daddy Warbucks, and was just filled with positivity about the future. She’ll learn soon enough.

Beautiful City – Godspell

Again, I guess this is cheating a bit, since Beautiful City wasn’t included in the original 1971 Off-Broadway cast recording, which is the soundtrack we went by when my church did the show. It was the first real musical I was ever in, and I’m kinda sad that this song wasn’t included. The song was written for the 1972 film, starring Victor Garber as the big JC, and the version above is from the 2011 Broadway revival starring Hunter Parrish as Jesus. When I first heard this, it was probably a mix of me not being too familiar with it and the fact that I was stunned by how beautiful Hunter’s voice is. It’s a haunting song that still holds up in 2015. Fun fact: My friends walked down the aisle to this song. Not creepy, really cute and made me cry.

Peter Pan Live! – A LaterBlog

Well folks, it happened. Months of waiting and anticipating and dreading NBC’s live version of Peter Pan culminated in a two hour show last night, and boy did we have a lot of thoughts on it. Like last year’s Sound of Music Live! special, Peter Pan dominated social media last night and we’re still talking about it today. But if you didn’t get a chance to watch with the other millions of folks who tuned in, here’s your opportunity to join in on the conversation with our own recap/liveblog/laterblog of the show (queue up your DVRs or streaming devices or watch on NBC.com if you want to follow along). And if you did watch it, let us know what you thought of a flying Allison Williams and dancing Walken!

peter-pan

Traci: I would like to say that I’ve never actually seen this version of Peter Pan, so I have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen. I mean I know what’s going to happen, but I don’t know what’s going to happen.

Molly: Allison Williams requested that our inner children watch and live tweet this program. I am watching with my 7 and 5 year old nephews and they are already rooting for disaster. You tried, Marnie.

M: Either the audio and video tracks aren’t synchronized or all of this dialogue is lip synced to Ashlee Simpson-level cruddiness.

M: The harmonies on Tender Shepherd are pretty good! The kids are so cute, but the little one seriously looks like Timmy from Passions (who was adorable, so no shade).

T: Allison Williams was on Seth Meyers promoting PP recently, talking about the kid who plays Michael and how he asked her to stop saying the F-word so much. He also told her to eat wheat bread to be healthier. That is what I am thinking about while watching this kid.

T: Kelli O’Hara ::emoji with heart eyes:: (she is Broadway royalty, get to know her)

THAT’S A REAL ACTOR DOG, Y’ALL

I will say that the production value and camera work is great so far, much better than Sound of Music last year.

“I am the master of this house!” – Mr. Darling/ Monsieur Thénardier

T: THAT’S NOT A REAL TINKERBELL, Y’ALL

Say what you will about casting, but Allison Williams is just too delightful and I don’t have it in me to say anything bad about her.

M: AW is the identical hair twin of Androgynous Gym Girl, my college gym’s resident elliptical hog. A.G.G. had that haircut because it was the most workout-efficient, we theorized. And she only ate foods in bar or shake form because they metabolized better. Again, all conjecture. She just really loved that elliptical. Bitch.

T: Yo, Tink is a little bitch, doe.

M: Okay, Gotta Crow was sort of charming. I probably would have had a weird crush on this Peter Pan when I was 10. Crushed on a LOT of gay musical theater boys, y’all.

T: How do babies just “fall out” of their carriages??? #LostBoysMoreLikeDumbBoys

“Girls are much too clever to fall out of their carriage” BUT WAIT THIS IS SO TRUE

M: My 7-year-old nephew just says that Peter “has more magic than my Elf on the Shelf, even.” Okay, Allison Williams. You win this round.

T:  Whoa, I had like a nervous moment for AW when she went up in the flying rig for the first time. This is live television anything could go wrong. You’ve seen that YouTube fail from the high school production of this show, right?!? That’s what I’m picturing. This is obviously very different.

M: Screw it. I’m Flying is charming as hell.

T: Guys, AW is great. Whatever. I HAVE A LOT OF FEELS ABOUT THAT I’M FLYING SONG GOING INTO NEVERLAND THIS IS AMAZING. But also, stop integrating Shazam into my programs.

M: The 4-year-old just asked why they are flying over one of those Christmas villages. Shut it down, we have a baby live blogger on our hands.

T:  How do I get this miniature London cityscape outside my french windows?

T: Melissa Joan Hart has scored a series of commercials during Peter Pan Live promoting WalMart with her real family. Yes, her real family, and the internet went crazy for her attractive husband. My friend Scott had a perfect explanation for this:

T: That is actually Christopher Walken on an NBC live musical special on TV.

T: Christian Borle (Smee/Mr. Darling) look like he could be in Rock of Ages

Photo Dec 04, 9 05 05 PM

M: Well, the children aren’t scared of Captain Hook, but I am. Christopher Walken on a boat? Am I the only one still sketched out about the whole Natalie Wood thing?

T: What I love about Walken is that whoever he plays, he plays it brilliantly but still very Walken-y. Amazing. Also, he’s not even singing HAHAHA I LOVE IT.

OH MY GOD OH MY GOD TAP DANCING THERE IS TAP DANCING I’M CRYING

Photo Dec 04, 9 05 16 PM

M: This soundstage is so amazing that I want to hide out and sleep in it, Basil E. Frankweiler-style.

M: The 7-yr-old nephew would like to know how the Lost Boys got dance lessons if they don’t have parents. Fair point.

T: So many Newsies! Like actual Newsies. Like the Newsies who were on Broadway.

M: I love the cheesy island scenery. I mean that non-ironically. It reminds me of 1960s fantasy kitsch, like It’s A Small World.

M: So do they have to return the crocodile to Rainforest Cafe after, or.. ?

T: THAT’S NOT A REAL CROCODILE Y’ALL.

M: Something feels so wrong about a group of Lost Boys that look, you know, probably sexually active. And the Lost Boys are already forcing the virgin/whore/mother dynamic on Wendy. Congrats, kids. You’ve had a girl for all of 5 minutes and it’s already a patriarchal society.
Again, the LBs are all very good, but this works better when they cast Lost Boys who don’t have 401(K)s already.

T: Random aside: Bri Willy took the night of from the NBC Nightly News to watch AW in her big show. He said, “We will be watching the broadcast – immediate family only – sequestered in an undisclosed location – close enough to the production as to burst through the stage door the moment the credits roll.” CAN U NOT. I STILL CAN’T GET OVER HIM ANNOUNCING SHE WAS GOING TO BE PETER PAN ON TV.

M: EW. Wait a few minutes; when the grown-ass pirates start yo-hoing about stealing Wendy for their mother the Lost Boys don’t look so bad.

M: The Lost Boys are so old that their ratty Neverland clothes are looking like hipstery club clothes. Like a troupe of Lost Bois.

T: Anything that Walken does with his one hook is hilarious to me, apparently. Like this hitting the tambourine mess, I can’t.

… He’s not holding that major note right?? He is. He’s definitely doing that. Fun fact: they do something similar to this in Peter and the Starcatcher, which is a play about making the play of Peter Pan. Christian Borle won a Tony for playing Black Stache in it.

LOLZ TO THEM CUTTING BACK TO WALKEN HOLDING THE NOTE IN THE MIDDLE OF COMMERCIALS

M: On a scale from one to America, how racist is the Native American stuff going to be?

T: Because of social media, we are treated with gems from celebrities such as Anna Kendrick, who just gets it.

T: Is this where that Ugg a Wugg song is supposed to be? I appreciate that the producers hired a Native American consultant for this to rework the lyrics. Respect for not being racist.

M: The Native American stuff was, like, Pocahontas- level racist? The Disney movie not the historical figure.

T: For someone who doesn’t like to be touched, Peter does a lot of partner dancing.

oh hey alex wong from SYTYCD!

T: I love that the mic picked up everyone’s heavy breathing after that big dance number. Theatre kids – they’re real people too.

M: During the commercial I made my Lost boys some hot cocoa, and I missed a little but came back for the best musical theater lesbian duet since Take Me Or Leave Me.

M: My sister-in-law came in and asked if they’ve been speaking in English accents the whole time and scout’s honor, I could not answer. Not sure if that says more about me or the production – and for the record, I find the production magical as heck.

M: I aimed for Wendy’s bangs in 1997, so I kind of know what I’m talking about, and those puppies require some serious round brush action.

M: Marnie has some nice vibrato! If only Wendy’s cleavage weren’t looming over her. Dawson casting at its finest.

T: Yeah wait, what’s the timeline for this? How long have they been gone? Why isn’t there a search party out for the Darling kids? Mrs. Darling is gonna be all, “I saw a suspicious man about the size of my fist a couple days ago…”

M:  The song they sing about Hook is totally the same as the Gaston song from Beauty And The Beast.

T: “Who’s the creepiest creep in the world?” honestly never knew how amazing some of these lines were.

M: I don’t know how these child actors can memorize lines, nail blocking, learn choreography and execute stunts, and the kids I’m watching this with can’t even SIT STILL and PAY ATTENTION for one measly three-hour musical event.

M:  My favorite weird Peter Pan is still the Baby Sitters Club Super Special where they performed it at SMS, but you know what? This comes close.

M: This battle sequence has been going on a while but the Lost boys have been able to prep for it ever since John’s scar started tingling. Total Sorcerer’s Stone vibes.

T: It makes sense that the part that makes me tear up is when Hook throws Michael’s teddy bear into the ocean.

T: UPDATE ON THE CROC FROM THE QUEEN THAT IS LAURA BENANTI:

M: The kids’ mom is singing, and I’m almost expecting Sister Suffragette thanks to her costume. The kids come back, which is more than these garbage parents with the dog babysitter deserve. Just as garbage as the McCallisters, if you ask me.

T: On the real tho, if 12 rando boys came into your house and presented you with a single sock and then started singing and dancing would you actually take them in as your own? Mr. Darling’s answer to that is yes.

M: No wonder she raised Wendy to be such a pushover. Also the lost boys are all like 24 years old. So way to go, Mrs. Darling, you now live in an Edwardian frat house.

M: I didn’t know Minnie Driver would be in this! It makes me hate, a little less, the part where Wendy grows up.

T: Is this the story of how it’s possible to grow up to be Minnie Driver?

You’re all grown up!
Yes, it does keep a person rather earthbound.

M: Okay, overall I have to admit it. I think Allison Williams was right. I joked about the production – gently, and because that’s how I interact with the world or whatever. But I couldn’t tear it apart and honestly, I didn’t want to. Several years ago, a friend and I both discovered that we loved live action productions of Peter Pan. We’re probably not the only ones. I love magic. Whatever. No shame.

T:  So in full disclosure, I know a couple people involved with this production, including one of the Lost Boys (Tootles/guy with the top hat) and it is SO WEIRD for me to see him on TV. He has been in a few Broadway shows over the past few years, and it’s amazing to see this kid I used to work with share the stage with Christopher Walken. Because of my personal connection to the production, I had an obvious bias prior to this.

Before the show tonight, he wrote a post on Facebook acknowledging that people (read: staunch Broadway nerds) will probably criticize the show’s every move more so than a regular viewer, but to keep in mind to respect the work that this cast and crew has put in over the past two months. And I took that to heart. Thinking about when I was part of a production like this (not to this scale, obvi), you put so much time and effort into it, and then for a weekend or two, you get to show the world what you’ve been working on. It must suck to have critics hate on you IMMEDIATELY thanks to social media, so in light of my retrospection and respect for my friend, I tried to refrain from saying anything bad about this show.

Good thing is – I don’t have anything bad to say at all. The production value was outstanding, which can be difficult considering live theater isn’t meant to be tape and aired on TV in the first place. I thought Allison Williams was great – I was in the camp of pro-AW upon announcement of her casting, partly because I knew she could sing and partly because I didn’t know the show well enough to judge her. The fact that 90% of the cast had been on Broadway certainly helped bring the show to life, and all in all, it was a heartwarming three-hour show that families can sit and watch together for years to come. I believe.

2014 Tony Award Winner Predictions (Based Solely On Headshots)

The all-powerful headshot can make or break an acting career. You thought it was talent, hard work, and luck? So did I – until I was 12. That was the year that all of my acting friends got the secret memo to wear makeup and flat-iron their hair before updating their photos. They all looked like they walked out of Seventeen magazine, whereas I looked like.. well, like:

Yep, that’s the headshot of someone who’s going to be stuck in child roles for a good while. The only way I would be playing a girl next door is if the main character happens to lives next door to a Victorian orphanage. So trust me, headshots matter. That’s why I’m pretty confident that the key to this year’s Tony wins is in the almighty 5×7. To be as impartial as possible, we are judging this year’s winners solely by the headshots available on the official Tony Awards website.

Best Performance By A Leading Actor In A Play

Samuel Barnett – Twelfth Night

Okay, the dabbled gray background is a little school portrait. But the icy blue, straight on stare says “I can play dramatic roles!” and the slight smirk says “but if the dialog gets a little funny, I’m on top of it!” The bright flash highlights Barnett’s pale complexion, as if to say “I can play British.”

Bryan Cranston – All The Way

The fuck, Cranston? No. NO. You’re like that one kid whose parents didn’t properly understand sending in a baby picture for that one section of your senior yearbook, and sent one from freshman year instead. You are the default silhouette picture from Myspace. Even Tom doesn’t want to be friends with that.

Remember Tom, everyone?

Chris O’Dowd – Of Mice And Men

Well as I live and breathe. Chris O’Dowd has out-Cranstoned Cranston. There are actual people in the actual background, and you know what? Blurring them out by enlarging the “blemish remover” function on iPhoto is just making me notice it more. Good luck winning a Tony with this Photobucket-quality headshot, buddy. Good freaking luck.

On the other hand, maybe this is clever. Maybe it tells us that he is too busy for headshots — busy going to events where he, and blurry others, wear suits.

Mark Rylance – Richard III

White sheet backdrop aside, this is art. ART. The lowered left eyebrow. The tremulous sidelong glance. The windswept locks. His mouth is even ever-so-slightly agape. It is like everything that Jay Manuel and Janice Dickinson told contestants to do on the early seasons of America’s Next Top Model, except for posing with limbs askew and pretending to have been murdered. I think we might have our winner. And that earring? That’s just boss.

Tony Shaloub – Act One

Like, is this photo editing, or does he have a legitimage twinkle in both eyes? Speaking of Tyra Banks: smizing. Notice how you sort of feel like Tony Shaloub has read the story of your soul, and would recommend it to a friend? It’s all in the smize.
The winner, based on headshot alone: Mark Rylance. That headshot has RANGE.

 

Best Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role In A Play

Tyne Daly – Mothers And Sons

Okay, now we’re cooking with gas. There’s a neutral but varied background. There’s warm, soft lighting. You know what this looks like? This looks like a headshot where the actress is at least TRYING. See the Shaloub-esque half smile?
Also, I think that, as in paintings by Renaissance masters, if you look at this from different points in the room, Daly’s eyes follow you.
Her face is so captivating that I almost didn’t notice that this photo almost reaches a Glamour Shot-caliber boob suggestion. Glamour Shots: Not the boob itself, but the idea of the boob.

LaTanya Richardson Jackson

FINALLY. Now it’s a contest. Look at this. It’s like Headshot Bingo. Or a headshot drinking game. Let’s count:
(1) Flowy wrap sweater
(2) Gently contrasting background
(3) Statement necklace
(4) HAND SHELF.
It’s like every headshot cliche in one photo. Ms Jackson, I salute you. Question, though: what is up with the curled-up, partially visible left hand?

Cherry Jones – The Glass Menagerie

I’m of two minds here. The first: the blurred background is, well… have we learned nothing from O’Dowd? It looks like Jones is in some sort of outdoor patio or porch situation, which is at least pleasant. Contrast that with O’Dowd, who is in some sort of formalwear context that is almost definitely not fun.
The second: Does she have the headshot smile down or what? Happy but not too happy. Warm without a photoshopped eye twinkle (unless that’s how Shaloub’s eyes are naturally, which… maybe, you know? Maybe.)

Audra MacDonald – Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar And Grill

Even if I didn’t know who Audra McDonald was, which I guess I’m trying to do here, I’d know this was the photo of a champion. That is the cozy sweater of someone who can play a mom or a business professional on a day off. Her hair is glorious. The background is neutral but, with the hint of light oak chair, not antiseptic. There’s gentle accessorizing. There’s nail polish. There’s attractive lighting, like in Barbara Walters specials.
Brava, Ms. McDonald.

Estelle Parsons

While I don’t deny that Estelle Parsons is probably a lovely person and a wonderful actress, this is simply not a Tony Award Winning headshot. That is the downward facing chin of a nominee, not the proud, upright chin of a winner!

Besides, it took me about 3 minutes to figure out that was a scarf tucked into her sweater and not some really weird collar or even weirder neck/chin situation. Tony voters don’t have time for that.
The Winner, Based On Headshot Alone: Audra. That’s the headshot of a lady who came to win.

 

Best Performance By A Lead Actor In A Musical

Now, for a little bit of the ‘man behind the curtain’ in the blogging world: my browser is doing something it’s never done before, and making text and photos appear straight on top of each other, and my curser is moving around will-nilly. So let’s just cut straight to the winner, shall we?
Winner, based on headshot alone:

Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig And The Angry Inch

 

This was a process of elimination win. Ramin Karimloo looked a little too ‘intentionally disheveled hot guy.’ Andy Karl was posed in front of some sort of industrial piping, which, like, you’re in Rocky. We know. Jefferson Mays looked like he was going to turn me into ice with his crystalline blue stare. Between Bryce Pinkham and Neil Patrick Harris, Harris’s headshot was a little edgier. Pinkham’s, shot in soft light with a white background, seemed to say “I’m here for the art, not to win.”

Best Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role In A Musical

 

Can we discuss these award category names? They are all roughly twice as long as they need to be, right?
The winner, based on headshot alone:

Sutton Foster – Violet

This was another process of elimination. Idina Menzel, bless her talented heart, almost tries TOO hard in her headshot. I’m talking about a wind machine. Jessie Mueller manages to look most like someone I’d want to hang out with in real life – meaning, unlike some theater people, she doesn’t look absolutely exhausting. But she does have the visible, photoshopped background person going on. Kelli O’Hara has so much blinding white light going on that I think she might be the first person I’m seeing after dying.  Mary Bridget Davies brought her A-Game, but Foster’s got the approachable smile down. She was probably smile-coached along with Cherry Jones.

 

So, was my 12-year-old self right? Can you tell a great actor by headshot alone? Tune in to the Tony’s on Sunday night to find out!

Come On and Sit Side by Side by Susan Blackwell

The 68th annual Tony Awards are this Sunday, which for everyone that isn’t a theater nerd like me, it’s basically our Super Bowl. In fact, I used to attend a Tonys party every year with my friends/co-workers from a theatre and it pretty much was our Super Bowl. I admit, I’m not a super geek like some of my pals, but I’m at a level where I watch videos of Broadway stars online in my spare time (or just, time).

A few years ago along my internet travels, I came across this magic web series called Side by Side by Susan Blackwell. Hosted by – you guessed it – Susan Blackwell, an actress who’s been on TV and film, but most notably in the theater world for her outstanding performance in the musical [title of show]. She recruits her fellow Broadway friends for an interview, but not just any interview, it usually takes place in an odd location and includes some kind of fun activity.

My first introduction to Susan was with this interview with Daniel Radcliffe while he was doing How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in 2011, and he is legit cleaning her house. Yes, Potterheads, in this video, you see DanRad cleaning a toilet. Seriously. If that’s not enough to get you to watch this then IDK what is.

Actually I do. Susan is charming, hilarious, affable, and has a way to get her interviewees to talk about stuff that not many others can. Oh and she licks her guests on the face. The DanRad vid was a gateway drug into her other Side by Side interviews, so here now are some other standout videos from her collection.

Zachary Quinto

Where: Dog Park

Activity: Watching dogs in a dog park

Highlight: A rousing game of ‘Name That Dog’ and Susan ‘smashing ZQ like a pancake’ on a picnic table

Where: ZQ’s apartment

Activity: Having a sleepover

Highlight: Prank calling Jesse Tyler Ferguson & Smash star Christian Borle

Sutton Foster/Jonathan Groff/Laura Benanti

Where: In Bed/A Horse-Drawn Carriage/Hooters

Activity: Breakfast/Cuddling/Eating Wings

Highlight: Sutton lying in bed with her Tony gown and actual Tony/JGroff singing Left Behind from Spring Awakening/Susan handling Laura’s boobs

Jonathan Groff #2

Where: His parents’ farm in rural Pennsylvania (lit’rally Amish country)

Activity: Chillin in a hayloft, petting some horses and goats

Highlight: JGroff singing a part of Totally Fucked (from Spring Awakening) while shaking a bucket of corn kernels to get the goats to eat

Laura Benanti #2

Where: Ziva Meditation

Activity: Being zen on a couch

Highlight: Playing iPhone roulette and landing on a pic of her former Go On (RIP) co-star taking a nap in her own bosoms

Steven Pasquale

Where: Steven’s apartment

Activity: Using a Vitamix to make super healthy green juices

Highlight: Steven prank calling Taye Diggs and leaving a voicemail as Jim Carrey

Audra McDonald

Where: Great Jones Spa

Activity: Getting massages, drinking cucumber water

Highlight: Audra singing a fantastic version of the Spongebob Squarepants theme song

Norbert Leo Butz

Where: Strand Bookstore

Activity: Sitting in the parenting section

Highlight: Flipping through the pages of a book called Surgery of the Anus, Rectum and Colon

Andrew Rannells

Where: McKittrick Hotel

Activity: Playing with a Ouija board

Highlight: Imitating the pageant hosts on Toddlers and Tiaras