Sunday, December 5, 2021

Holiday Gift Guide 2021: When You, You, You and You Are Ready to Venture Back Out, Broadway (on and off) Lights Are Ablaze

Nkeki Obi-Melekwe as Tina Turner in “Tina - The Tina Turner Musical.” Photo byManuel Harlan.

HEADS UP: Dear Reader, we’re back with a Holiday Gift Guide after a two-year hiatus! Until 24 Dec., the elves at The Wright Wreport will introduce at least one or a series of products, items, services and/or brands that we believe are worthy of consideration as holiday gift(s).


FINALLY! This year– and after all we've been through – we can return to the theater!

That in and of itself is a gift. But don't jump your personal gun. Do only what you are comfortable doing. When you're ready, the stage shows will be waiting for you to take your place among the vaccinated and enjoy a live performance.

FINALLY! This reporter could not help repeating herself.

So ... what would make a special holiday treat? Well, you can't go wrong with "Tina - The Tina Turner Musical."

Broadway serves up the icon's story of endurance, overcoming adversity and talent in a hard rocking entertainment. Adrienne Warren, who was nominated for a Tony last year and won it at this year's awards, has relinquished the role.

Stepping in to this work created by Katori Hall is Nkeki Obi-Melekwe under the direction of Phyllida Lloyd.

Other Broadway productions held over from the before-times include the fascinating and much lauded Hadestown. It's a Tony- and Grammy-winning hit that welcomes us back to Anaïs Mitchell's whimsical world. The playwright spins her yarn by modernizing not just one, but two Greek myths. Her imaginative retelling was developed with Rachel Chavkin who also directs this production.

History is still being taught in Lin-Manuel Miranda's "Hamilton," a clever rap and sung-through musical that earned all those big Tonys in 2016. (One of my commendations from back in that day:

Tickets to this strikingly smart and funny musical were always hard to get and still are. It's worth all the work you're going to put into it, though

Adrienne Walker as Nala and ensemble in “The Lion King.” Photo by Deen van Meer. Meanwhile, a Disney-fied Broadway has proved to be a good thing. The shows the organization stages are heartwarming and filled with wholesome, old-fashioned values. "The Lion King," celebrating 24 years on the Great White Way, is positively exciting.

Likewise, "Alladin" is a genuinely pleasing experience for the entire family. Hits from the film version include Alan Menken's Academy Award-winning "A Whole New World," as well as a score full of toe tappers. It features a genius genie styled after jazz legends Cab Calloway and Fats Waller, played by Michael James Scott, a vereran of New York musical theater.

In fact, its cast and creatives are from top to bottom seasoned theater stars (interestingly, a couple are making a Broadway debut) with director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw at the helm. Michael Maliakel makes his Broadway bow as Alladin with plenty of priors in regional theater and a little work on TV. Ditto for Alladin's love interest, Jasmine, portrayed by Shoba Narayan. Her resume belies her youth and witnesses her talent.
Speaking of Broadway veterans and talent, the veteran Meredith Wilson musical is in revival starting 22 Dec. "The Music Man" stars Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster, so there's 76 Trombones worth of excitement right there! The supporting cast features four Tony-winners: Jayne Houdyshell, Jefferson Mays, Marie Mullen and Shuler Hensley.. Buyers beware: I am told that ticket surcharges are out of control. A stop at the box office might be in order. But take heart that "Disney pays your ticketmaster fees."

Happy holidays and happy times on and off-Broadway!

Visit the following websites to learn more about the productions:
"Tina - The Tina Turner Musical"



"The Lion King"


"The Music Man"

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