Sheik, Sater want `Nightingale’ to fly at ACT

Duncan Sheik (left) and Steven Sater say they hope to open their new musical, The Nightingale, at American Conservatory Theater. Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Could San Francisco be the starting point for the follow-up to Spring Awakening?

If Tony Award-winning creators Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater have anything to say about it, The Nightingale, their follow-up to the mega-hit musical Spring Awakening, will make its debut at the American Conservatory Theater in the near future.

In a recent phone interview, Sheik said that when he’s in town for the official launch of the Spring Awakening national tour in early September, he and Sater hope to sit down with ACT artistic director Carey Perloff.

“We really want to get down to brass tacks in terms of a schedule and a plan,” Sheik said. “I’m so crossing my fingers that we do the show in that theater. That’s been a dream of mine and Steven’s since we saw The Black Rider there. Love that space, love the ACT team. What better place to begin The Nightingale, this fairy tale of mythical China?”

Sater also confirmed the discussion with ACT: “We are in serious conversation with them,” he said. “I’m very hopeful of bringing Nightingale there sometime next year.’

Perloff said in a statement that The Nightingale has been a dream project for Sheik and Sater for many years, and they have “longed to see it born at ACT.” To that end, ACT, in association with Martin McCallum, produced a major New York workshop of The Nightingale in November last year in after which the writers continued working through rewrites and maintaining an open dialogue with ACT.

“After last year’s workshop, they did a major rewrite, coming up with a gorgeous, streamlined and deeply moving version of Hans Christian Andersen’s magical tale,” Perloff said. “We very much hope to realize this new musical as part of our 2009-10 Season. Like Fool Moon, Shockheaded Peter and other cross-generational pieces ACT has produced, this should be a huge event for the whole Bay Area.”

The Spring Awakening tour, part of the SHN/Best of Broadway season, opens Sept. 4 at the Curran Theatre. Visit for information.

`Spring’ into action

We here at TheaterDogs are about to kick into high gear with Spring Awakening, which officially kicks off its national tour (after a “preview” run in San Diego) Sept. 4 (official opening night is Sunday, Sept. 7) at the Curran Theatre.

In the next couple weeks, you can expect interviews with composer Duncan Sheik, lyricist/book writer Steven Sater, director Michael Mayer, producer Tom Hulce and choreographer Bill T. Jones.

To kick things off, you should check out the podcast interview with Mayer on the SHN/Best of Broadway Web site here:

You can subscribe to SHN’s podcasts here:

Now here’s a glimpse of the touring cast as they prepare for performances in San Diego:

For ticket information visit

Hunter Parrish awakens on Broadway

If you’re a fan of Showtime’s “Weeds,” as I have been since the series debuted four seasons ago, you’re probably quite aware of the emergence of Hunter Parrish (right, photo by Joan Marcus), who plays elder son Silas Botwin, as one of the show’s more intriguing characters.

This season Silas a) discovered the gym b) discovered a disdain for shirts c) began an affair with a much older woman and d) became a man in more ways than just the physical. In short, Silas has had a fantastic season (as has the show itself). And Parrish, a 19-year-old Virginia native, isn’t having such a bad year either. Last week he joined the cast of Broadway’s Spring Awakening in the leading role of Melchior Gabor.

He was supposed to join the cast next week, but he was ready to go, so he made his Broadway debut a week early. I had a phone interview with Spring Awakening producer Tom Hulce last week, and he mentioned just how amazing he thought Parrish was. “Hunter is going to surprise a lot of people, especially with that voice,” Hulce said.

Parrish talks about his theater geekness with New York magazine here has a good video of Parrish in rehearsal here. Parrish’s voice is a nice surprise.

And now here’s a video of Parrish discussing his Spring Awakening experience.

Visit the official Spring Awakening site here.
For tickets to the launch of Spring Awakening’s national tour in San Francisco, click here.

SF `Spring Awakening’ tix on sale; Riabko video

Tickets for the launch of the Spring Awakening national tour go on sale Sunday, July 20.

The tour of the eight-time Tony Award-winning rock musical by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater kicks off at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre Sept. 4 through Oct. 12 as part of the SHN/Best of Broadway series.

Tickets will range in price from $30 to $99 and beginning Sunday, July 20, can be purchased online at, through Ticketmaster by calling 415-512-7770 and at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers. On Monday, July 21 tickets will also be available at the Orpheum Theatre Box Office (1192 Market St., Mon-Sat 10am – 6pm).

Here’s the performance schedule:
8 p.m. Tuesdays–Fridays; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 1 and 6 p.m. Sundays. Added performance Sunday, Sept. 7 at 6:30 p.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 8 at 2 p.m.
No performance Sunday, Sept. 7 at 1 p.m.

The tour will star Canadian pop star Kyle Riabko as Melchior Gabor. He’s currently doing the show on Broadway. Here’s an intro to Riabko. Keep in mind some fan literally filmed his/her television to get this footage (thanks, fan!), so the quality is not great.

`Spring Awakening’ tour news

The national tour of the Tony Award-winning Duncan Sheik-Steven Sater musical Spring Awakening is growing ever closer. Performances begin Sept. 4 at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre as part of the SHN/Best of Broadway season, and though that will be here before we know it, here’s a little casting news to fill the void.

Current Broadway SA cast members Kyle Riabko (Melchior Gabor), far right, and Blake Bashoff (Moritz Steiffel) will depart the New York cast to reprise their roles on tour.

Stepping into the role of Melchior on Broadway will be Hunter Parrish, right, who’s best known as Silas on Showtime’s “Weeds.”

For information about the San Francisco stop of the tour, visit or visit the official Spring Awakening site:

Here’s a little video action from the Spring Awakening kids.

`Chorus Line’ closing, `Spring’ awakening

News of Broadway just because:

The revival of A Chorus Line will close Aug. 17 after 759 performances. The production, which had its premiere in San Francisco before heading to Broadway, recouped its costs in only 19 weeks.

Fans shouldn’t mourn. The touring production lives on and will play July 8-27 at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre as part of the SHN/Best of Broadway season. Visit for information.

And because they’re still adorable, here are the kids from Spring Awakening performing a medley from the show on “Good Morning America” last March. It’s also a chance to say goodbye to Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele who have since departed the show (Groff is starring in Hair in Central Park this summer). Please appreciate the re-working of “Totally Fucked” for television broadcast.

Remember the national tour of Spring Awakening kicks off in San Francisco Sept. 4 at the Curran. Click here for information.

Grammy’s `Awakening’

With an archaic-sounding category such as the Best Musical Show Album, it’s no wonder the award (and the winners) don’t make it onto the prime-broadcast.

Still, there are those of us who care about show tunes (the REAL alternative music), and we care deeply that Spring Awakening writers Duncan Sheik (music) and Steven Sater (lyrics) won the 2008 Grammy in that horrible-sounding category (why can’t it be Best Original Cast Recording?). Spring Awakening beat out A Chorus Line, Company, Grey Gardens and West Side Story.

Music writer and fellow blogger Jim Harrington was at the Grammys and called me Sunday afternoon when Sheik and Sater accepted their award (during the lengthy pre-prime-time awards when most of the winners are announced). Read his full coverage of the event on the Concert Blog.

In other show tune-related Grammy news, Henry Krieger and Siedah Garrett won in the category Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media for “Love You I Do” from the movie Dreamgirls.

Looking ahead: Theater ‘08 highlights

There are some theater treats heading our way in 2008. Here’s a mere sampling.

The show I’m most excited about also seems the furthest away. The national tour of the Tony Award-winning musical Spring Awakening is slated to start sometime in the second half of the year, courtesy of SHN/Best of Broadway. Spring Awakening was the best thing I saw on Broadway last year, and I eagerly anticipate the tour and the chance to hear the Duncan Sheik/Steven Sater score performed by exciting young singer/actors.

A close second on the old excitement meter is Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking, her autobiographical solo show coming to Berkeley Rep in February.

At SF Playhouse, Theresa Rebeck, a hot-hot playwright at the moment, arrives with the West Coast premiere of her The Scene starring “Melrose Place” alum (and Berkeley native) Daphne Zuniga. The show opens later this month.

At American Conservatory Theater, the most intriguing offering this spring is ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, John Ford’s Jacobean tragedy about a brother and sister who fall in love…with each other. The show begins performances in June.

TheatreWorks in Mountain View ushers in the new year with Wendy Wasserstein’s final play, Third, which begins performances next week. But the real excitement comes in April when the company mounts Caroline, or Change, the astonishing Tony Kushner-Jeanine Tesori musical.

At Berkeley’s Shotgun Players, the summer show will be Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage, but the big excitement comes at the end of the year when director Mark Jackson (Death of Meyerhold) returns to take a whack at Macbeth in December.

This summer, California Shakespeare Theater gives us some really good reasons to head into the Orinda hills: Jonathan Moscone directs Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband (July) and Timothy Near is directing Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya (August).

And this one is a little iffy, but should the fates conspire, Thick Description will bring back former Bay Area actor Colman Domingo (fresh from his Broadway turn in the musical Passing Strange) in his autobiographical solo show A Boy and His Soul. Proposed show run is July. Keep your fingers crossed.

Stage presents: A theater gift guide

So many fine gift ideas, so little space. Let’s get started with some great theater books.

In the realm of books about theater, this year’s standout comes from San Mateo native Thomas Schumacher, who also happens to be the president of Disney Theatrical, the producer of such hits as The Lion King and Mary Poppins. Schumacher’s How Does the Show Go On? An Introduction to the Theater (Disney Editions, $19.95) is geared toward the young theatergoer (ages 9 to 12), but it’s a hugely entertaining look at the entire theatrical picture, from the beginning of a show to the most intricate details of daily production.

The Bay Area can’t get enough of the musical Jersey Boys. For the most avid fans, there is, of course, a coffee-table book. Jersey Boys: The Story of Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons (Broadway, $40) contains the show’s libretto, lots of photos and a thorough guide to the real Four Seasons and their Broadway counterparts.

You think you know everything about The Sound of Music? Think again. Author Laurence Maslon has assembled the ultimate look behind the scenes of the world’s most beloved movie musical. The Sound of Music Companion (Fireside, $40) covers every aspect of the show, right up to the British reality TV show that allowed viewers to vote on the actress who wound up playing Maria on London’s West End.

The hottest show on Broadway is the multi-Tony Award-winning Spring Awakening. Fans already have memorized the great cast album, so give them Spring Awakening (Theatre Communications Group, $13.95), the libretto (by Steven Sater) and a new adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s original play by novelist Jonathan Franzen (Faber and Faber, $11.70). Franzen hates the musical, by the way, so it’s interesting to see how the play and the musical diverge.

This was the year of the movie musical — or maybe I should say the good movie musical. If your gift recipient loves musicals, make sure he or she has Hairspray (New Line Home Entertainment, $34.98 for two-disc version, $28.98 for single-disc), the joyous movie version of the Broadway hit; Once (20th Century Fox, $29.99), a fascinating and musically rich love story about an Irish street musician and an interesting woman he meets by chance; Colma: The Musical (Lionsgate, $27.98), a locally grown musical with catchy tunes and a better-than-average cast of characters. The best of the big-ticket DVD items this year is The Noel Coward Collection ($79.98 BBC/Warner), a veritable treasure trove of Cowardly delights. The set contains seven discs and runs some 19 hours (plus another 12 hours of bonus material that includes interviews, radio plays and more). The plays included are Private Lives (with the delectable Penelope Keith), Hay Fever, Design for Living, Present Laughter, A Song at Twilight, Mr. and Mrs. Edgehill and Tonight at 8:30.

This isn’t a CD, but while we’re on the subject of Coward, this year saw the release of a fantastic volume of Coward’s letters: The Letters of Noel Coward (Knopf, $37.50), edited by Barry Day. The beauty is that the book contains letters both from and to Coward, whose beastly wit entertains in every epistle.

The fine folks at PS Classics, the show-minded label that, in addition to turning out excellent original-cast albums, allows musical theater performers the chance to show their vocal stuff, have released some terrific new discs just in time for the holidays.

The best of the bunch is Lauren Kennedy’s Here and Now, a marvelous collection of show music and pop. Album highlight is Andrew Lippa’s “Spread a Little Joy,” followed closely by Jason Robert Brown’s “In This Room” and Adam Guettel‘s “Through the Mountain” (from Floyd Collins). Kennedy’s voice is so vibrant — at times so Streisandian — it’s irresistible.

PS Classics also is offering two more Broadway divas: Tony Award-winner Victoria Clark (Light in the Piazza) with Fifteen Seconds to Love, a solid collection mixing standards (“Right as the Rain,” “I Got Lost in His Arms”) and newer material (Ricky Ian Gordon’s “The Red Dress,” Jane Kelly Williams’ “Fifteen Seconds of Grace”); and Andrea Burns (soon to be on Broadway again in In the Heights) with A Deeper Shade of Red, a set that mixes Joni Mitchell (“Chelsea Morning”) with Stephen Sondheim (“What More Do I Need?”) and Melissa Manchester (“Through the Eyes of Grace”) with Kate Bush and Rodgers and Hammerstein (“Man with the Child in His Eyes/Something Wonderful”).

PS Classics’ Songwriter Series with the Library of Congress’ latest offering is a doozy: Jonathan Larson: Jonathan Sings Larson. The composer of Rent, who died tragically the night before his show opened, is heard singing demos and performing live, and the disc paints an incredible portrait of an artist full of talent, humor and ambition. The accompanying DVD features four live performances from Larson’s gig at New York’s Village Gate.

Carols for a Cure

During the recent Broadway strike, the AIDS fundraising charity Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS lost an estimated $40,000 a day without its holiday fund appeal, which usually happens during shows’ curtain calls. That makes the group’s annual holiday CD, “Broadway’s Greatest Gifts: Carols for a Cure 9” (Rock-It Science), all the more vital.

Companies from nearly all the Broadway musicals contribute songs for what amounts to a wonderfully entertaining, occasionally inspired two-disc collection.

The best of the bunch is the cast of Spring Awakening singing a stunning “What Child Is This?” And the cast of Mamma Mia! harmonizes beautifully through “My Gift.”

For comedy, there’s the cast members of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (most of whom starred in the San Francisco production) singing an original variation on of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

You can find the CD at the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Web site here, where there are many other fine shopping opportunities, all of which help the group catch up to its fundraising goals.

Here are some suggestions:

The annual Broadway Bares calendar. The 2008 edition is “Myth Behavior.” $20

The annual Broadway Cares T-shirt featuring logos of 24 musicals on Broadway in 2007. $20.