Seeing RENT One Last Time: “Hot Ticket” Taping

As I’m sure you’ve already heard, the long-running musical RENT will have its final performance on Broadway on September 7th. As a result, there’s been a slew of RENT-related events which have caused old-timer RENTheads like myself to come out of the woodwork. (One such event was the GMA Summer Concert series a few weeks ago where both the current Broadway cast and Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp performed songs.)


The Nederlander at night.

So you can imagine how chuffed I was to be able to attend a special performance of the current Broadway production of RENT at the Nederlander Theater on 41st Street last Wednesday. What made the show special was the fact that it was being filmed to be used in a future “Hot Ticket” theatrical release in movie theaters at the end of September (the 24, 25, 27, 28, to be exact). The final performance on September 7th will also be filmed and the best moments from each of the nights will be composited for the final cut of the film.
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RENT on Good Morning America

This morning I got up at the buttcrack of dawn in order to get to Bryant Park by 6am. “Why?” you may ask? Because the current cast of RENT, alongside original cast members Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp, were performing as part of the Good Morning America (GMA) Summer Concert series, and I had good enough fortune to get a VIP entrance with a fellow “RENThead” friend who worked at ABC.

Yes, yes, as you are probably already aware, I’m a long-time RENT fan, so although it was not *fun* trying to catch the subway when it was nearly pitch black out, I did it anyway (for the sake of the LOLz).

After 7am there were a few sound checks–first with Adam and Anthony (practicing “What You Own”), then with the full current cast, which just happens to feature two additional original cast members: “Seasons of Love” soloist Gwen Stewart and former ensemble member Rodney Hicks (now playing Benny). Tracie Thoms, who played the role of Joanne in the 2005 movie remake of the musical has also joined the production for it’s final months. (RENT will close September 7, 2008, making it the seventh longest running show in Broadway history.)

During sound check, one of the current members of the Bway cast handed Anthony their camcorder and Anthony went gonzo filming them as they rehearsed “Seasons”–to the point where he was directly in the audience’s sightlines, up in all the performer’s faces. I guess once a “Mark” always a “Mark.”
Continue reading “RENT on Good Morning America”

Oh Noes! RENT Closing on Broadway

I’m kinda gonna cry. After 12 years of being on Broadway, the hit musical RENT will CLOSE. The last performance perform at the Nederlander Theater in NYC will be on June 1. RENT will be the seventh-longest running show in Broadway history. [UPDATE: The run of RENT has been extended until September 7, 2008]

As longtime readers of the site will know, I was a HUGE RENThead back in the day. Seeing RENT in movie form at the movie premiere at the Ziegfeld 2 years ago was one of the most awesome things ever.

rent nooooo!
Adam Pascal does not approve of this blog post.

RELATED LINKS: Rent movie films in East Village

Idina Menzel Rocks the National Anthem

Idina sang the National Anthem during the Giants/Patriots game last night. Unlike so many stars that attempt to sing the song, Idina sang it perfectly and beautifully. No off-key warbling for her–she’s a real pro.

In case you missed:

Thanks to Deb for the heads.

PS- Anyone else disturbed by Tom Brady looking kinda hot? Y/N?

tom brady

Spring Awakening Wins Best Musical at the 2007 Tonys!

Hooooraayy!!!! Duncan Sheik is the proud winner of 2 Tony Awards!! I saw it last November in previews and LOOOVED it. The original cast recording was one of my top albums of 2006.

UPDATE: Here are some videos of the performances/wins incase you missed them:

Medley performance:

John Gallagher Jr’s win:

Best Musical win:

The Modern Age’s Top 10 Albums of 2006

Ok, so here it goes. I’ve put on my armor. I’m ready for your biggest and best pot shots…

The point of this list is to single out the albums *I* enjoyed the most this year–this is not a list of what is cool in any way possible. It’s not an indication of what was the most popular or critically acclaimed. It may not even be my own definitive list of 2006–I don’t get to listen to every album out there, so who knows, there might be an album or two I’m missing. That’s what Top album and single lists are for right? Remember and discovering things… But just consider yourself lucky Fall Out Boy or Panic! at the Disco didn’t come out with an album this year…but just you wait for 2007…

10: First Impressions of Earth, The Strokes
It’s kind of obligatory for me to include a Strokes album on my Top 10 list every time they have a new record, isn’t it? The hometown boys thankfully redeemed themselves from their sophomoric stumble, Room on Fire, with this album full of “songs that sounds like Strokes songs…but not the annoying ones.”

Mainly produced by Grammy-winning producer David Kahne (after Strokes’ long-time collaborator Gordon Raphael removed himself from the project) this record tones down the band’s trademark low-fi, grungy sound in favor of a more refined, clean presentation–meaning the band no longer sounds like they have recorded with cheesecloth over all the microphones. The upside of the new production value is it causes the listener to pay more attention to the lyrics of singer Julian Casablancas, producing a more intimate and direct connection with the front man, but on the down side it makes the rest of the band feel like they are a removed, sterile session band dispassionately plinking and plopping down their notes. (Maybe guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. was just bummed Julian kept shooting down his songs.)

Wins on the album include the blistering “Heart in a Cage” which features guitar licks so slick they sound like they’re oozing out of your speakers and melting into your ears, and the upbeat pop number, “You Only Live Once”, is about…uh…well, does anyone ever really know what Strokes songs are about?

RELATED CONCERT REVIEW: The Strokes at Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC. March 3, 2006

9: Show Your Bones, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Where Fever to Tell was a hot sticky mess, Show Your Bones is a nice cool summer breeze–slightly warm, but refreshingly crisp. Karen O, Nick Zinner, and Brian Chase prove that they definitely have lasting power in the rock world with their beautiful album full of tragically twisted love songs (think “Maps” x10). Best tracks included the effervescent-sounding song about giving up on a damaged love affair, “Cheated Hearts”, and down and dirty interplanetary rock tune, “Phenomena”, an ode to a mind-blowing somebody.

RELATED CONCERT REVIEW: Yeah Yeah Yeahs at Maxwell’s, NJ. Feb 23, 2006

8: Through the Windowpane, Guillemots
I’m not sure what prompted me to go down to see Guillemots at the Bowery Ballroom on May 9th despite some impending death cold. I’d never heard one of their songs, and I’m not entirely sure how I heard about them in the first place. But all I know is that once I got a listen to the eccentric, ecelctic music of the multi-national quartet (members hail from England, Scotland, Canada, and Brazil), I instantly fell in love.

The song “Trains to Brazil”, sounds as though it was written and recorded by a roving band of incredibly enthusiastic tramps and scalawags as they travel by rail down the coast of some unknown land. “Quirky” doesn’t even begin to describe their sound, as they typically fill their songs with weird tweets and squeaks–all the while writing some of the most lovely melodies this side of the Beach Boys. A daring, richly layered album, Through the Windowpane gives you a glimpse into the up side of absolute musical madness.

RELATED CONCERT REVIEW: Guillemots at Bowery Ballroom, NYC. May 9, 2006

7: Spring Awakening, Original Broadway Cast Recording
The music to this album, written by pop star Duncan Sheik, with lyrics by Steven Satar, is beautifully touching, ungimmicky, and a joy to listen to–in or out of the context of its Broadway musical origin. I’ve found myself listening to this album non-stop since I’ve gotten it. Although appreciation for the music is heightened after seeing a live staged performance of the production, songs like the seductive “Touch Me” and explosive “Don’t Do Sadness” sound more like indie rock songs than they do “show tunes”. The songs’ main function is to conveyed emotion, not to show off the 8-octave range of the singer, therefore they ring truer and “straighter” than your typical Broadway fare.

RELATED SHOW REVIEW: “Spring Awakening” at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, NYC. November 27, 2006

DOWNLOAD: Interview and “Don’t Do Sadness” by Duncan Sheik (Live at Upstairs at the Square)

6: Rabbit Fur Coat, Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins
Jenny Lewis has the voice of an angel, and when bolstered by the smooth harmonies of the Watson Twins, her folk-country debut solo album simply soars. The melodies are simple and elegant, songs like “Rise Up with Fists” envelope listeners like your favorite comfy blanket–when you crawl up in them you instantly feel comforted and at home. Although Lewis does not have the most powerful or impressive singing voice and range in pop music, her delivery sounds honest and sincere–refreshingly removed of the hackneyed modern day crutch of self-mockery and irony. It’s a truly down-home record, and exactly the opposite you would expect from a girl who grew up as a child actress in LA, but Jenny Lewis dares to defy convention…and most importantly, dares to give us a little peek into her soul.

RELATED CONCERT REVIEW: Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins (with Johnathan Rice, Connor Oberst, Jimmy James) at Angel Orensanz Foundation, NYC. February 5, 2006

5: Broken Boy Soldiers, The Raconteurs aka The Saboteurs (AUS)
Homeboy Jack White of the White Stripes, and superbuddy Brendan Benson team up with pals (and Greenhornes members) Patrick Keeler and Little Jack Lawrence to produce an album of psychedelic 70s rock sounds and folky jams. In my personal opinion, the best songs are comprised of the “Jack White Show” songs–the slighly bluesy “Blue Veins” and the song that makes me want to blow my brains out because it’s so brilliant “Broken Boy Soldier”. With it’s use of hypnotic wailing guitar, jittery drum clangs, and Jack’s “crazy-man voice” it’s the perfect storm of ridiculously good music–a song that will haunt you in your dreams and provide the soundtrack to your most terrifying nightmares.

“Call It a Day”, a song about the painful end of a relationship, is probably one of the most heartbreaking songs of 2006–the “Dry Your Eyes” of this year. Sad, happy, angry, and lovelorn–this record has it all and shows that these four refuse to be refined to one genre of music or attitude.

RELATED CONCERT REVIEW:
The Raconteurs’ first US performance, Irving Plaza, NYC. April 7, 2006

DOWNLOAD: Interview and “Store Bought Bones” by The Raconteurs on Zane Lowe, BBC Radio 1

4: The Black Parade, My Chemical Romance
Who would have every guessed that My Chemical Romance was going to come out with an album that played like one big homage to Queen, resulting in one of the most surprising and satisfying albums of the year. My Chem manages to gracefully do a very tricky thing–stay loyal to their emo-loving fan base (the highly entertaining tongue-in-cheek anthem for teenage angst, “Teenagers”) while expanding their sound to entice an even bigger audience.

The songs are punky, but at the same time have a grandiosity that many of their peers would quiver at the thought of attempting. Gerard Way and co. went out on a limb with wacky guest singers (Liza Minnelli on “Mama” anyone???) and some crush-worthy ballads (“I Don’t Love You”) and win big time. The Black Parade is an incredible snapshot of a talented and versatile band with the completely attainable goal of becoming one of the biggest bands in the world… just wait and see.

RELATED CONCERT REVIEW: My Chemical Romance at Knitting Factory, NYC. August 31, 2006

3: FutureSex/ LoveSounds, Justin Timberlake
Just when you thought you’d gotten through all the crap, I whip out a double whammy, slapping you with the uberpop album of the year. Justin Timberlake DID bring “sexyback”, even though he admits that sexy didn’t really go anywhere, with his juiced up second album, where every track is a hit. It’s a non-stop booty bumper, with your favorite track changing every day. From the reverberating bass beats of “Summer Love/ The Mood Prelude” to the soul-flavored “Damn Girl”, to Mario-esque slow jams like “Until the End of Time”, to the instant panty dropper, “My Love” (featuring rising r&b star T.I.), there’s something for everyone on this record. It’s a crowd pleaser with innovated beats supplied by video cameo star of 2006, Timbaland. Cameron must be so proud.

2: Inside In/ Inside Out, The Kooks
From the moment I heard “Eddie’s Gun”, I was enthralled with The Kooks. Their catchy hooks and almost palpable nervous energy emanating from almost every measure. It’s simply just an infectious record of rock pop that doesn’t quite sound like anything else out there.

RELATED CONCERT REVIEW: The Kooks @ North Six, Brooklyn, NY. October 28, 2006

1: Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, Arctic Monkeys
Way back in early 2006, Arctic Monkeys was all the rage. Although they were unfortunately overexposed, and therefore a victim of backlash, a listen at their much awaited debut proved that you couldn’t deny the fact that the Monkeys had the musical chops worth the praise. Musically, the Monkeys might sound similar to many of their British peers, with vigorous guitar strumming (sometimes painfully tinny and out of tune) and spirited drumming, but who else but Alex Turner could come up brilliantly poetic lines like, “remember cuddles in the kitchen” (“Mardy Bum”) or the overtly working-class observations such as “Well oh they might wear classic Reeboks/ Or knackered Converse/ Or tracky bottoms tucked in socks/ But all of that’s what the point is not/ The point’s that there ain’t no romance around there” as described in the opening lines of “A Certain Romance”.

I think you’d be hard pressed to find an album with more unique and specific point of view of the world than the Monkeys’ first album–and to top it all off, they’re not even old enough to drink. It is for these reasons that I have to crown Whatever People Say I Am… as being the number one album of 2006.

RELATED CONCERT REVIEW: The Arctic Monkeys, Webster Hall, NYC. March 25, 2006

And honorable mentions to…

Yours to Keep, Albert Hammond Jr.
Duper Sessions, Sondre Lerche
Dying to Say This to You, The Sounds
B’Day, Beyonce
Loose, Nelly Furtado
s/t, Ben Kweller

Don’t agree with my choices? Too bad, it’s my web site. Maybe some of these other top albums lists will fit your fancy:

Brooklyn Vegan’s Top 40 (In no particular order)

2006 Gummy Awards
New York Times’ Kelefa Sanneh
SPIN’s Top 40
Pitchfork Top 50
Rolling Stone
Best of NY Music: Gothamist
The 2006 Music Bloggregate on Heart on a Stick
Product Shops Top 58
Whatevs.org’s Top Singles
Music Snobbery’s Top 10
Kelly’s Top 10
The Guardian Arts Blog Top 50

Broadway Breaks Up with “High Fidelity” By Saying, “It’s Not You…It’s Me”

As you may remember, in August of this year I totally had a hissy-fit that Will Chase didn’t know what Other Music was DESPITE being the lead in the Broadway musical adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel, High Fidelity.

Well my hex upon the musical came to fruition: after only 14 performances, High Fidelity on Broadway is NO MORE. The last show is this Sunday, December 17th.

The musical cost a reported $10 million to produce, but it still is not the NUMBER ONE BROADWAY BREAKUP OF ALL TIME. It cannot compete with the astonishing the $17 million dollar loss of the 2002 staging of Dance of the Vampire, staring Michael Crawford.

In happy Broadway news, Duncan Sheik‘s project, Spring Awakening has now opened on Broadway to glowing reviews and the cast recording is now in stores.

Critics…Critics Who Rate Critics

Time Out New York‘s latest issue takes New York critics to task by dissecting their knowledge, style, taste, and influence and ranking them.

For music critics, The New Yorker‘s Sasha Frere-Jones comes out on top, with a 4.98, and New York Times critic (and favorite TMA villian–yup, still pissed about that Strokes review like 3 years ago) Kelefa Sanneh.

Thankfully no ranking of music bloggers…probably all the comments would be something like this: “pretentious…” “seems to sometimes write drunk…” “seems more interested in style than substance…” “does not show a broad knowledge of music…” “reads like a press release…” “impossible to read at times…” “shows a weird fascination with Carrie Underwood…” “Zzzzzzzzzz…”

More in Musical Moments: NPH and Jason Segal Do “Confrontation” from Les Miz

For anyone who ever loved Les Miserables, Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segal doing “Confrontation” on the Megan Mullally show. AMAZING, although I have to say a little part of me got embarrassed for EVERYONE who watched that. Link from Gawker.

Musical Moments: Kristin Chenoweth, Gearing Up for “Pretty Woman: The Musical”?

I have no other explanation as to why on EARTH the beloved pocket-sized Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth would wear over-the-knee WHITE hooker boots for a New York Times photoshoot other than the reasoning that it must be subliminal marketing tactic for a musical adaptation of Pretty Woman that she MUST be working on in secret. I mean, if I didn’t believe that, I’d just have to come to terms with the fact that she has made the most hideous fashion decision I’ve seen all year.