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JULY 18, 2022

Left photo after Tina performance; Nancy Dann with NaTonia Monét. Right photo with Michelle West

AN UNFORGETTABLE NIGHT ON BROADWAY


Editor’s Note from Nancy Dann: After featuring NaTonia’s television interview last week, I was reminded ‘Tina: The Tina Turner Musical’ would close on Broadway in a matter of weeks. It was time for me to see two Answers4Dancers members on the Great White Way.



I decided there was no time like the present, so took a chance I could get tickets for the 8pm Saturday performance. For the first time since the industry shutdown, I boarded a bus and trekked into Times Square hoping to buy tickets to see Tina.

With great orchestra seats in hand, I delivered flowers to the Stage Door for NaTonia Monét and Michelle West, two swings in the show. Now they knew I’d be in the audience.

I cannot describe what a thrill it was to see two A4Ders shining on the stage. I watched my daughter perform many times on TV and on stages all over the world. But there was something really magical to see these two ladies on Broadway because I knew their stories.

I met NaTonia not long after she arrived in NYC. I saw her career unfold and how hard she worked to reach her goals. The workshops she attended, the auditions she went to, and Member Meet-Ups with A4D founder and award-winning choreographer Grover Dale. Sometimes she had disappointments, but NaTonia never took her eye off the prize. And there she was… a commanding presence on the Broadway stage, hitting her lines and getting great laughs from the audience.

And when Michelle West appeared on that stage, she too was flawless and dynamic. I could see how her years in the national tour of Disney’s Aladdin really helped her hone her craft and all her hard work was evident. I couldn’t help but think of her long trips from Delaware to NYC to audition in the early days of her career. And how determined she was to get to Broadway. She made her mark at an Answers4Dancers workshop and caught Grover’s eye. It was plain to see Michelle was going places. And I sat in the audience in the middle of her dream… A Broadway show!

I share all of this because it reminds me once again that if you want a career as a dancer, it’s going to take tons of hard work and determination. There’s a lot to learn from NaTonia and Michelle… Stay focused. Keep working toward your goal. Take class. Observe. Listen. Be valuable on every job you book. And never, never give up.

NaTonia and Michelle set a great example for all dancers. Read their full story on our Dancers To Watch page and check out all the stories you find there. Then be sure to check out our Blog with more inspiring stories…
 

NaTONIA MONÉT’S DANCER TO WATCH PROFILE >
MICHELLE WEST’S DANCER TO WATCH PROFILE >
CHECK OUT THE ANSWERS4DANCERS BLOG >

 

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE: DANCING THROUGH THE DECADES & TWO MORE DANCERS GO HOME
After a week’s hiatus, So You Think You Can Dance returned with another week of eliminations. This week’s theme was Turn Back Time as contestants danced through the decades. Sadly, there was no opening number which has always been a highlight of previous seasons. This week featured new partnerships and a solo for each dancer. The competition kicked off with Ralyn & Beau performing a 1950’s Jazz number choreographed by Jonathan Redivide. It was entertaining, but lots of bobbles and missed connections. Then, Essence & Keaton performed a 70’s Disco routine choreographed by Dorina Sanchez. It was performed well but was filled with tons of tricks and not enough dance. Next, Anna & Waverly were paired for an 80’s style Jazz choreographed by Sean Cheesman. He was not feeling well and had to work with the dancers via Zoom which had lots of challenges for dancers learning a new style. The final performance was by Alexis & Carter, who as it turns out, grew up together in the same dance studio. They performed a 90’s Contemporary piece choreographed by former SYTYCD contestant Robert Roldan. It was the best routine of the night and Alexis has now established herself as ‘the one to beat’ with her stellar performance. Then it was time for the audience to vote. The bottom four dancers were Beau, Waverly, Ralyn, and Anna. And while the judges were split this week, it was Waverly and Anna who were sent home. Next week, the dancers will be joined by SYTYCD All-Stars as the final six dancers vie to become America’s Favorite Dancer.

LEA MICHELE TO FOLLOW BEANIE FELDSTEIN AS FANNY BRICE IN FUNNY GIRL ON BROADWAY
Lea Michele has landed her dream role of Fanny Brice and will headline the Broadway revival of Funny Girl starting September 6. Although set to finish her run on September 25, current star Beanie Feldstein announced on social media that she will now depart on July 31 since the show is taking a new direction. Current Fanny Brice standby Julie Benko will play the part from August 2 though September 4 and every Thursday evening performance during Michele’s run. No end date was announced for Michele’s engagement in Funny Girl, but tickets are currently on sale through March 26, 2023. Four-time Tony Award nominee Tovah Feldshuh will be playing Mrs. Brice opposite Michele, replacing Jane Lynch who was set to exit on September 25. Lynch will now play her final performance on September 4. Under the direction of Funny Girl director Michael Mayer, Michele is best known on Broadway for her breakout turn as Wendla in Spring Awakening and as a child in Fiddler on the Roof, Ragtime, and Les Misérables. She was nominated for a Primetime Emmy and two Golden Globe Awards for Glee, and notably appeared on the TV shows Scream Queens and The Mayor. Feldshuh is a four-time Tony nominee for performances in Yentl, Saravá, Lend Me a Tenor, and Golda’s Balcony. Funny Girl features music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merrill, and a book by Isobel Lennart. The new production features choreography by Ellenore Scott and tap choreography by Ayodele Casel. The original production of Funny Girl premiered on Broadway in 1964 and starred Barbra Streisand. It was nominated for eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Streisand reprised her leading turn as Fanny Brice in the film adaptation of the musical in 1968, for which she won an Oscar for Best Actress.

BROADWAY IN WORCESTER ANNOUNCES SEASON 2 OPENER WITH CHITA RIVERA & SETH RUDETSKY
Broadway in Worcester will present An Evening with Chita Rivera and Seth Rudetsky on September 23, 2022 at the Jean McDonough Arts Center’s BrickBox Theatre. Broadway in Worcester, launched by Worcester native Eric Butler, is committed to providing Central Massachusetts’ audiences with the opportunity to see Broadway’s celebrated talent perform locally and foster collaboration between the area’s local high school and college students. This unscripted evening will feature the legendary Broadway icon Chita Rivera in intimate conversation and song alongside Sirius XM Radio host Seth Rudetsky at the piano. They will perform many of Rivera’s signature songs from her vast musical theatre repertoire. Ms. Rivera is perhaps best known for her now legendary roles of Anita in West Side Story, Rose in Bye Bye Birdie, and Velma in Chicago. Rivera has earned ten Tony nominations for her beloved Broadway roles, winning twice.

& JULIET TO ARRIVE ON BROADWAY IN FALL WITH LORNA COURTNEY, PAULO SZOT, BETSY WOLF & MORE
The Olivier Award-winning musical & Juliet, currently playing in Toronto, will transfer to Broadway on October 28 with opening night on November 17 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. With a book by Schitt’s Creek Emmy winner David West Read and music from five-time Grammy Award-winning songwriter/producer Max Martin, the show uses some of the most beloved pop songs to tell a multi-generational story of self-discovery, empowerment, and love. It is directed by Luke Sheppard with choreography by Jennifer Weber. Lorna Courtney, currently starring in the North American premiere and seen on Broadway in Dear Evan Hansen and Ivo van Hove’s 2020 revival of West Side Story, will reprise her role as Juliet on Broadway. Joining her are Tony winner Paulo Szot as Lance, Betsy Wolfe as Anne Hathaway, and Stark Sands as Shakespeare. Pop anthems in the show include Since U Been Gone, Roar, Baby One More Time, Larger Than Life, That’s The Way It Is, and Can’t Stop the Feeling.

KATE ROCKWELL, HUNTER FOSTER & MORE SET FOR THE GRISWOLDS’ BROADWAY VACATION, THE MUSICAL

Casting has been announced for the premiere of The Griswolds’ Broadway Vacation, The Musical, a new stage show drawn from characters in the popular Vacation film franchise. The musical, which features a book, music, and lyrics by David Rossmer and Steve Rosen, will premiere at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre on September 10 and run through October 1. It will then transfer to Houston’s Theatre Under the Stars on October 25. Donna Feore directs the Broadway-aimed production. The show had been set to make its debut in 2020 and was delayed due to the shutdown. The show will star Kate Rockwell as Ellen Griswold, Hunter Foster as Clark Griswold, Nathan Levy as Rusty Griswold, Livvy Marcus as Audrey Griswold, and Jay Klaitz as Cousin Eddie. Formerly known by the title Broadway Vacation, the musical follows a family coping with a series of disasters on a cross-country road trip.

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Tony winner Laura Benanti and husband Patrick Brown welcomed Louisa Georgia Benanti-Brown born on July 9. Benanti last appeared on Broadway in the Lincoln Center Theater revival of My Fair Lady. She won a Tony Award for her performance as Louise in Gypsy and received nominations for Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Into the Woods, Swing!, and She Loves Me. Her additional credits include Meteor Shower, The Wedding Singer, and Nine on stage and Supergirl and The Sound of Music Live! on screen…

ANDREW GARFIELD, JANE LYNCH, NATHAN LANE & MORE EARN 2022 EMMY NOMINATIONS
The 73rd Primetime Emmy Award nominations were announced on July 12 with many stage stars among the nominees. The ceremony will take place on September 12 on NBC and Peacock. The Tony Awards Present: Broadway's Back!, co-hosted by Tony winners Leslie Odom Jr. and Audra McDonald earned a nomination for Outstanding Variety Special (Live). Schmigadoon!, the musical comedy featuring Ariana DeBose, Kristin Chenoweth, Aaron Tveit, and Alan Cumming, received a nod for Tony winner Christopher Gattelli’s choreography in the Outstanding Choreography For Scripted Programming category. Mandy Moore and Jillian Meyers were nominated for their choreography for Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas, which was also nominated for Outstanding Television Movie. Tony winner Andrew Garfield was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Limited Or Anthology Series Or Movie for Under The Banner Of Heaven. Nominees for Only Murders in the Building include Steven Martin, Martin Short, Tony winner Nathan Lane, and Jane Lynch.

PARADISE SQUARE, STARRING TONY WINNER JOAQUINA KALUKANGO, SETS BROADWAY CLOSING DATE
Paradise Square will end its Broadway run on July 17 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The production, directed by Moisés Kaufman, opened at the Barrymore Theatre on April 3. At the time of closing, the production will have played 23 previews and 108 performances. An original Broadway cast recording is expected to be released in September. A national tour is being planned for the 2023-2024 season, and international productions are in development. The production stars Tony winner Joaquina Kalukango, Chilina Kennedy, John Dossett, Sidney DuPont, A.J. Shively, Nathaniel Stampley, Gabrielle McClinton, Jacob Fishel, Matt Bogart, and Kevin Dennis. Paradise Square features a book co-written by Christina Anderson, Craig Lucas, and Larry Kirwan. The music is by Jason Howland and Kirwan with lyrics by Nathan Tysen and additional material by Masi Asare. Paradise Square was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Joaquina Kalukango won the Tony for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical.

CHEYENNE JACKSON TO STEP IN FOR GAVIN CREEL IN INTO THE WOODS FOR ONE WEEK
Cheyenne Jackson will take over the roles of The Wolf and Cinderella’s Prince from current star Gavin Creel for one week in Into The Woods. Jackson will appear on the St. James Theatre stage from July 24 through August 2. Creel is set to return on August 6. Jackson’s stage credits include Finian’s Rainbow, Xanadu, All Shook Up, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Performers, Altar Boyz, and more. His extensive screen credits include Glee, Equal, Call Me Kat, Julie and the Phantoms, Descendants 3, American Horror Story, and more. Creel will perform his new project, Walk on Through: Confessions of a Museum Novice at the O’Neill National Musical Theatre Conference. Jackson joins a cast that stars Sara Bareilles, Brian d’Arcy James, Patina Miller, Joshua Henry, Phillipa Soo, Julia Lester, Cole Thompson, Annie Golden, and more. Lear deBessonet directs and Lorin Latarro choreographs.

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Grammy-winning duo Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear will present a one-night-only concert to perform songs from The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical. Steven Reineke will conduct the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center on July 26. The Grammy winners will be joined by special guests Kelli O’Hara, Denée Benton, Solea Pfeiffer, Micaela Diamond, Jason Gotay, Darlesia Cearcy, Ephraim Sykes, and more. Sammi Cannold will direct…

        
       
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