The cast of Smash just keeps on dazzling. After dismissing nearly half a dozen minor characters at the end of Season 1, we were dazzled with the news that Jennifer Hudson was joining the cast of Season 2, set to launch in January 2013.
Also previously announced: the addition of “Danny, a straight, working-class Brooklynite in his mid-20s. He is sexy, charismatic & musically gifted, but self destructive and remote.” And: “Joe, a Brooklyn-born guy in his early to mid-20s. He is gay, cute, incredibly open & optimistic.”
And now, Hudson follows in Megan Hilty’s Smash footsteps by getting a Broadway veteran as her mama. Sheryl Lee Ralph, who played Dreamgirls’ Deena Jones on Broadway in 1981, has been tapped to guest on the NBC Broadway musical/drama, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Ralph will guest star as Cynthia, the mamer to Hudson’s Veronica Moore.
Hudson’s Veronica is described as a Tony-winning Broadway star who impacts the lives of Karen (Katharine McPhee) and Ivy (Hilty). The former Dreamgirls Oscar winner will appear in multiple episodes of Smash’s second season. Broadway legend Bernadette Peters played ma to Hilty’s Ivy in Season 1 of Smash.
See an awesome Season 1 wrap-up interview with Megan Hilty below… *
All five Spice Girls reunited for the first time since 2008 to announce the launch of jukebox stage musical Viva Forever, which is jam-packed with their 1990s’ hits, a la ABBA’s Mamma Mia!
Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice), Emma Bunton (Baby Spice), Melanie Chisholm (Sporty Spice), Melanie Brown (Scary Spice) and Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice) posed at the St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel, the site of their first music video “Wannabe,” which was released (eek!) 16 years ago.
Helming Viva Forever is iconic gay fave Ab Fab’s Jennifer Saunders; and producer Judy Craymer, who produced Mamma Mia! and is one of the wealthiest women in the U.K. as a result.
Viva Forever follows a talent competition and how a “Wannabe” star named Viva and her family are affected by the process. Viva applies for the talent contest with a group, but is faced with a decision about whether to go through to the next round solo or not at all. Of course, who cares about a plot: It’s all about the music, right? All five Spice Girls were involved in creating the musical, which previews at London’s Piccadilly Theatre in November. *
Tinatin’s theatrical show W-E, a collaboration with acclaimed Broadway veteran Timothy Graphenreed, debuted before a live audience Monday at New York’s Triad Theater. The room was packed for the premiere, as I gently wept over and over… What a wonder my girl is. *
Inspired idea or blasphemy? The timeless Sound of Music, which has forever been one of my favorite things, is going to be aired live on NBC, in an attempt to bring the 1965 Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer film to a new generation.
The net has enlisted Smash producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (who turned Broadway hits Chicago and Hairspray into film musicals) to create a “television event,” with a new cast of actors singing live—no pre-recorded music or lip-syncing.
“It isn’t our intention to produce a remake of the movie version of The Sound of Music,” says Zadan. “What we want to do, instead, is to give audiences a completely fresh experience of this great Tony Award-winning stage musical in the form of a classic television event, combined with the spontaneity of a live performance.”
The new live adaptation will be based on the 1959 Broadway show—not the film. No air date is set, although casting has begun. *
On Monday, I spent two hours at the Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC), way west on Manhattan’s 37th Street, to watch a rehearsal with Tinatin and collaborator Timothy Graphenheed, for their full-length theatrical musical W-E (West Meets East). This coming Monday, July 2, they’ll showcase their first full reading of the two-person production, which tells the story of a young girl’s dream and accompanying journey from the Soviet Union to America… based, obviously, on Tina’s own story, with music written primarily by the pair.
The musical parallels the book project that she and I have been working on for two-plus years… Four drafts later, we have a digital publishing deal… that is, following one more substantive edit. Looking forward to seeing that finish line, as Tinatin groups the book, the play, a soundtrack and a concert with her hero & muse in the Soviet nation of Georgia this September.
Meanwhile, let’s have a look at Monday’s first rehearsal off-book. It’s a winner, let me tell you. *
Crash! Boom! A major thunderstorm added drama to the proceedings!
Thursday eve I joined Tinatin and her partner, acclaimed Broadway veteran Timothy Graphenreed, for a voiceover to be used in their upcoming stage musical W-E. I’m damn sure my three lines are going to propel it into a gargantuan stage hit. An intimate first reading takes place this weekend—while I’m covering the New Music Seminar in NYC—followed by a public showcase July 2. Come on out and see us! *