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As the pandemic shutters Broadway and beyond, writers, actors and crew members must acclimatize to an uncertain new world

Last Tuesday, Jessica Altchiler led a ballet class. But instead of the long, sleek barre she would normally rely on for support, she grasped on to a TV stand. And if that alone didnt prove she wasnt at a conventional dance studio, the red-and-black plaid pet bed in the background gave her away.

Still, she tendued, relevd and coached other dancers, even though she couldnt see them.

Im already sweating! she said as she ducked into the camera frame. I hope other people are sweating, too.

Not even a week before she was teaching on Instagram Live, Altchiler had been in Detroit as part of her first professional job in the national tour of Fiddler on the Roof. While she and her fellow cast members performed in the show, they saw headlines about Broadway shutting down and March Madness being cancelled. Then, their own tour dates were postponed, and a suddenly unemployed Altchiler boarded a nearly empty flight back to her family home in Connecticut.

Its strange for me to think about people still having a job because, for me, the world was just turned upside down, she said.

All of the savings that she and her co-workers had been carefully growing to move to New York, pay for an apartment or invest in classes now have to be redirected toward survival during this unprecedented time in theater history, and some of her colleagues are scrambling to find a place to stay after months on the road.

As the world wrestles with Covid-19, Altchilers new reality isnt particularly uncommon among artists. Theater professionals are frightened, and theyre mourning a lot of art that may never again see the light of day as venues shutter at least temporarily and would-be audiences disappear. But even as performers suffer great personal and professional losses, theyre working overtime to send messages of hope and peace, provide necessary resources to others who are struggling and offer a balm for the social-distanced and self-isolated.

A note outside the theater for the hit play Hamilton explains why they have closed. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

On an at-home edition of The Tonight Show last Wednesday, Lin-Manuel Miranda joined Jimmy Fallon to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids Covid-19 emergency assistance fund. The Hamilton star performed his song about parents wanting to give the best possible version of the world to their children, as parents everywhere, including Fallon and Miranda, stare down a global crisis alongside their own kids.

Also online, the theater legend and radio host Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley, his producer husband, quickly organized twice-daily at-home performances to fundraise for the Actors Fund. A long list of Broadway A-listers immediately signed up. Kristin Chenoweth was all dressed up when she appeared on the web series from her bathroom over the weekend, and on Saturday, Lea Salonga will call in to sing at 2am Manila time.

Artists love the world, and they love helping, Rudetsky said. So every single person we wrote basically just wrote back right away and said: Im in, Im in, what do I do?

Meanwhile, theaters are trying to figure out how to stay afloat and take care of their own as the very notion of live entertainment has become taboo. Susi Damilano, co-founder and producing director of the San Francisco Playhouse, said she hasnt had to fire anyone, and shes asking hourly workers to submit their schedules on a week-to-week basis for compensation. Shes hoping patrons will donate the value of a ticket and landlords will ease up on rent; if not, her playhouse will only be able to pay people for a few months.

I think that the arts and culture are proving to be where we all turn in times of difficulty, and yet are the first and hardest hit economically, said Damilano. And people are realizing that.

Photograph: MediaPunch/Rex/Shutterstock

As theaters take a financial clobbering, some are requesting that playwrights refund advance payments. Lynn Nottage one of Americas foremost playwrights who has earned two Pulitzer prizes for her work was asked by a large regional theater to return her advance, even as everything she had scheduled was cancelled before her eyes and she lost what would have probably been the majority of her income for the year.

Nottage said most companies arent making such requests, but she did worry about whats going to happen as theaters another place where people go to heal close down for the time being. She empathized with the young artists who had debuts in Seattle, New York and Chicago, the up-and-coming actors, playwrights and directors who usually present work during this time of year and even the singers who were performing in her first opera at Lincoln Center.

On Broadway, young performers who were ready for their big breaks got caught in limbo, some even before their first performances. Michael Lepore, who is making his Broadway debut alongside 12 others in Sing Street, had just walked on the Lyceum Theatre stage for the first time when all of Broadway closed at least until April.

It was all these dreams come true, with this thing hanging in the air of like, Oh God, this is going to be it for a little bit, he said.

With everything delayed, he retreated to his parents home in Connecticut with all his instruments as a cover, hes required to know the show on acoustic and electric guitar, bass, piano, synthesizer, baritone electric guitar and stylophone. Hes been getting his notes in order and making sure hes off-book. But hes also started working on his own music, and hes recording a few things.

People are adapting, Rudetsky said. Quoting the musical Closer Than Ever, he started to sing: If someone told me even just a week ago I would have said youre crazy, Id have burst right into tears, but here I am.

Yes, the things we plan on happening are not gonna happen, he said. But, who knows what will happen?

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More than four years after its Broadway debut, Hamiltonwhich won 11 Tonys, seven Oliviers, a Grammy, and the Pulitzer Prizeis finally coming to movie theaters, and we know just how long well have to wait for it.

Walt Disney Studios announced Monday that a theatrical version of Hamilton starring the original Broadway cast will hit theaters Oct. 15, 2021. In a press release from Disney, the film is described as a leap forward in the art of live capture as it combines stage and film experiences and will be a cinematic stage performance that is a wholly new way to experience Hamilton.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamiltons creator and star, Hamilton director Thomas Kail, and Jeffrey Seller are among the films producers. All of the original cast will appear in the filmed version of Hamilton, which includes Miranda, Leslie Odom, Jr., Daveed Diggs, Phillipa Soo, Christopher Jackson, Jonathan Groff, Rene Elise Goldsberry, Anthony Ramos, Okieriete Onaodowan, and Jasmine Cephas Jones.

Lin-Manuel Miranda created an unforgettable theater experience and a true cultural phenomenon, and it was for good reason that Hamilton was hailed as an astonishing work of art. All who saw it with the original cast will never forget that singular experience, Disney CEO and chairman Bob Iger said in a statement. And were thrilled to have the opportunity to share this same Broadway experience with millions of people around the world.

Fans have known for years that a filmed version Hamilton starring the original cast before they started to leave the show exists as a way to one day make it more accessible to people who were unable to see it performed live; Miranda confirmed as much in 2016, and a bidding war for the theatrical rights to Hamilton emerged in 2018. In Disneys press release, Kail confirms that the musical was filmed at the Richard Rogers Theatre in June 2016, noting that we wanted to give everyone the same seat, which is what this film can provide.

Miranda even mentioned the Hamilton film a few days ago during the Sundance Film Festival, noting that Hamilton would be turned into a movie sooner rather than later.

What Im most excited about [is] you all have that friend that is like, I saw it with the original cast. Were stealing that brag from everyone because youre all going to see it with the original cast, Miranda told Variety. Were just trying to find the right time to do it.

Even before Disney announced Hamiltons release, Miranda already had a working relationship with Disney. He starred in Mary Poppins Returns, wrote original music for Moana, and he is writing new songs for Disneys live-action remake of The Little Mermaid.

I fell in love with musical storytelling growing up with the legendary Howard Ashman-Alan Menken Disney collaborationsThe Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Miranda said in a statement. Im so proud of what Tommy Kail has been able to capture in this filmed version of Hamiltona live theatrical experience that feels just as immediate in your local movie theater. Were excited to partner with Disney to bring the original Broadway company of Hamilton to the largest audience possible.

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In whats allegedly a record-breaking $75m deal, the Pulitzer prize-winning stage musical, with the original cast, will land at cinemas worldwide in 2021

The hit Pulitzer prize-winning musical Hamilton will be in cinemas worldwide in 2021 after a deal with Disney reportedly worth $75m.

The 160-minute film was shot in 2016, two weeks before the original cast left the Broadway show and is being described as a cinematic stage performance that will combine the best elements of live theater and film. Its based on three live performances that will allow for multiple angles.

Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda tweeted out the news while Deadline has claimed since, via sources, that the $75m acquisition is a new record. Once the film has been shown in cinemas, it will then go to the studios new streaming service Disney+.

Lin-Manuel Miranda created an unforgettable theater experience and a true cultural phenomenon, and it was for good reason that Hamilton was hailed as an astonishing work of art, Disneys CEO, Bob Iger, said. All who saw it with the original cast will never forget that singular experience. And were thrilled to have the opportunity to share this same Broadway experience with millions of people around the world.

The show tells the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton through R&B, hip-hop and soul music. It was awarded the Pulitzer prize for drama in 2016 and won 11 Tony awards. It has since been seen in cities across the world including London and this year will move to Toronto and Hamburg.

Im so proud of what [director] Tommy Kail has been able to capture in this filmed version of Hamilton a live theatrical experience that feels just as immediate in your local movie theater, Miranda said. Were excited to partner with Disney to bring the original Broadway company of Hamilton to the largest audience possible.

Hamilton will hit cinemas on 15 October 2021.

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Writer of music and lyrics to shows such as La Cage aux Folles won two Tony awards for best musical

The composer Jerry Herman, who wrote the cheerful, good-natured music and lyrics for such classic shows as Mame, Hello, Dolly! and La Cage aux Folles, has died aged 88.

Herman had a direct and simple sense of melody, and his lyrics had a natural, unforced quality. He said in 1995 that over the years critics have sort of tossed me off as the popular and not the cerebral writer, and that was fine with me. That was exactly what I aimed at.

He died of pulmonary complications on Thursday in Miami, where he had been living with his partner, Terry Marler, a real estate broker, his goddaughter Jane Dorian said on Friday.

The creator of 10 Broadway shows and contributor to several more, Herman won two Tony awards for best musical: Hello, Dolly! in 1964 and La Cage aux Folles in 1983. He also won two Grammys, for the Mame cast album and Hello, Dolly! as song of the year.

In accepting the Tony in 1984 for La Cage Aux Folles, Herman said: This award forever shatters a myth about the musical theatre. Theres been a rumour around for a couple of years that the simple, hummable show tune was no longer welcome on Broadway. Well, its alive and well at the Palace [theatre].

Herman was born in New York in 1931 and raised in New Jersey. He noted that when he was born, his mother had a view of Broadways Winter Garden theatre marquee from her hospital bed.

Herman dated his intention to write musicals to the time his parents took him to Annie Get Your Gun and he went home and played five of Irving Berlins songs on the piano. I thought: what a gift this man has given a stranger. I wanted to give that gift to other people. That was my great inspiration, that night, he said in 1996.

Carol Channing, left, and Barbara Walters with Jerry Herman on Broadway, 1981. Photograph: David Gould/AP

After graduating from the University of Miami, Herman headed back to New York, writing and playing piano in a jazz club. He made his Broadway debut in 1960 contributing songs to the review From A to Z alongside material by Fred Ebb and Woody Allen and the next year tackled the entire score to a musical about the founding of the state of Israel, Milk and Honey. It earned him his first Tony nomination.

Hello, Dolly!, starring Carol Channing, opened in 1964 and ran for 2,844 performances, becoming Broadways longest-running musical at the time. It won 10 Tonys and has been revived many times, most recently in 2017 with Bette Midler in the title role, a 19th-century widowed matchmaker who learns to live again.

Mame followed in 1966, starring Angela Lansbury, and went on to run for more than 1,500 performances. She handed Herman his special Tony award for lifetime achievement in 2009, saying he created songs that were, like him, bouncy, buoyant and optimistic.

In 1983 he had another hit with La Cage aux Folles, a sweetly radical musical of its age, decades before the fight for marriage equality. It was a lavish adaptation of the successful French film about two gay men who own a splashy drag nightclub on the Riviera. It contained the gay anthem I Am What I Am and ran for 1,760 performances.

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After another smash hit year at the box office, the next 12 months promises more of the same … with added controversy

The lights are bright on Broadway. Blinding even. With 35 plays and musicals now running, Broadway looks likely to have grossed over $1bn in 2019, having played to more than 8 million people. National tours have become de rigueur for every musical that doesnt absolutely flop and satellite productions pop up across the globe.

But with big business comes big risk. Running costs remain steep. Most shows fail to recoup. A few New York not-for-profits (Roundabout, Manhattan Theatre Club, Second Stage, Lincoln Center Theater) have Broadway houses, yet even those companies rarely program shows without the reassurance of a well-known star or creator. Both the not-for-profits and the for-profits have been busily making wagers on which known quantities and out-of-town successes will attract New York audiences and the tourist trade. 2019 was fairly lively Slave Play, What the Constitution Means to Me, Choir Boy, Freestyle Love Supreme, American Utopia, a recuperated Oklahoma!, Hadestown, Gary (a miss, but still a big swing). But looking ahead to 2020, most of those wagers appear conservative, probably too conservative. Subtract the star casting and only a few plays and musicals will generate much excitement.

Of the musicals so far announced, six are new (or newish) and four are revivals. Two jukebox musicals are promised, one relatively innovative and one baffling. In Girl from the North Country, which had a successful run at the Public Theater two years ago, Conor McPherson transposes the songs of Bob Dylan to Depression-era Duluth. Why the playwright Lynn Nottage and the director and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon are charging ahead with MJ, a biomusical based around Michael Jackson, remains a mystery, but it seems telling that the production has revised its former title, the innuendo-available Dont Stop Til You Get Enough, with the more innocuous MJ.

Queens, princesses, an unlikely drag act and an unlikelier acid trip inspire the other new musicals, such as Six, the hit London power-pop musical about the wives of Henry VIII. It joins Diana, with music by Joe DiPietro and David Bryan, a biomusical about the peoples princess. Following in the high-heeled footsteps of Tootsie comes Mrs Doubtfire, an adaptation of the Robin Williams movie about a divorced dad who puts on a dress to get closer to his children. Perhaps the most original entry is Flying Over Sunset, a new musical with a book by James Lapine and music by Tom Kitt that details the mid-50s LSD experiments of Cary Grant, Clare Booth Luce and Aldous Huxley.

If that doesnt sound like enough of a trip, Katrina Lenk, a Tony winner for The Bands Visit, will star in Marianne Elliotts gender-flipped Company, and Hugh Jackman, that great showman, will lead a revival of The Music Man. Ivo van Hove returns the Sharks and the Jets to the stage in a new version of West Side Story, with choreography by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Sharon D Clarke will reprise the title role in Caroline, or Change, in Michael Longhursts celebrated revival of Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesoris underrated blues and klezmer musical.

Laura Linney during the My Name Is Lucy Barton photo call. Photograph: Walter McBride/Getty Images

Its difficult to discern much of a melody in the varied roster of new plays. Two of them, Martin McDonaghs Hangmen, now starring Dan Stevens, and Stefano Massinis The Lehman Trilogy, with Simon Russell Beale, arrive after successful runs both in London and Off-Broadway. Two solo shows chronicle the stages of a womans life, Elizabeth Strouts My Name is Lucy Barton, adapted by Rona Munro and starring Laura Linney, and Noah Haidles Birthday Candles, starring Debra Messing. Grand Horizons, the Broadway debut of the celebrated off-Broadway writer Bess Wohl, centers on a golden-years divorce. The not-so-happy couple: Jane Alexander and James Cromwell. Tracy Letts, who brought Linda Vista to Broadway in 2019, returns with The Minutes, in which he also stars, alongside Armie Hammer and Jesse Mueller. Directed by Steppenwolfs Anna D Shapiro, it charts a town council meeting in real time.

When it comes to play revivals, producers have stuck to American properties, all of them penned in the last 60 years. It hasnt been long since Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf and American Buffalo were on Broadway. But here they are again, with Laurie Metcalf (who can never, it seems, not be on Broadway), Rupert Everett, and Russell Tovey attached to the former and Laurence Fishburne and Sam Rockwell to the latter. (One might have anticipated that after Bitter Wheat, the theater might want a David Mamet breather. Not so much.) Paula Vogels How I Learned to Drive was recently revived off-Broadway, but it has its keys in the ignition again, this time with its original stars, Mary-Louise Parker and David Morse, attached.

Star casting will also gin up anticipation for Kenny Leons revival of Charles Fullers wrenching drama A Soldiers Play, now starring David Alan Grier and Blair Underwood, and Richard Greenbergs comedy-drama of baseball and sexuality, Take Me Out, with Jesse Williams and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Husband-and-wife Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker star in Neil Simons Plaza Suite, playing two couples and one near couple, all occupying the same hotel room.

Want to place bets on which shows will still be running this time next year? Ante in.

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Prince oversaw such landmark musicals as Cabaret, Company, Follies, Sweeney Todd, Evita and The Phantom of the Opera

Harold Prince, a Broadway director and producer who pushed the boundaries of musical theater with such groundbreaking shows as The Phantom of the Opera, Cabaret, Company and Sweeney Todd and won a staggering 21 Tony awards, has died. He was 91.

Princes publicist, Rick Miramontez, said the theater legend died on Wednesday after a brief illness, in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Prince, known as Hal, was famous for his fluid, cinematic directors touch and was unpredictable and uncompromising in his choice of stage material.

He often picked challenging, offbeat subjects to musicalize, such as a murderous, knife-wielding barber who baked his victims in pies or the 19th-century opening of Japan to the west.

Along the way, he helped create some of Americas most enduring musical hits, first as a producer of such shows as The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, West Side Story, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Fiddler on the Roof. He later became a director, overseeing such landmark musicals as Cabaret, Company, Follies, Sweeney Todd, Evita and The Phantom of the Opera.

Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, reached by phone on Wednesday, said it was impossible to overestimate the importance of Prince to musical theater.

All of modern musical theater owes practically everything to him, he said. Lloyd Webber recalled that, as a young man, he had written the music for the flop Jeeves and was feeling low. Prince wrote him a letter urging him not to be discouraged. The two men later met and Lloyd Webber said he was thinking of next doing a musical about Evita Peron. Prince told him to bring it to him first. That was game-changing for me. Without that, I often wonder where I would be, Lloyd Webber said.

Prince worked with some of the best-known composers and lyricists in musical theater, including Leonard Bernstein, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, John Kander and Fred Ebb, and, most notably, Stephen Sondheim.

I dont do a lot of analyzing of why I do something, he once said in an interview. Its all instinct.

Only rarely, he said, did he take on an idea just for the money, and they probably were bad ideas in the first place.

Theater is not about that. It is about creating something. The fact that some of my shows have done so well is sheer luck.

During his more than 50-year career, Prince received a record 21 Tony awards, including two special Tonys one in 1972 when Fiddler became Broadways then longest-running musical, and another in 1974 for a revival of Candide. He also was a recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor.

He earned a reputation as a detail-heavy director. Barbara Cook in her memoir Then & Now wrote: I admire him greatly, but he also did not always make things easy, for one basic reason: he wants to direct every detail of your performance down to the way you crook your pinky finger.

A musical about the director called Prince of Broadway opened in Japan in 2015 featuring songs from many of the shows that made him famous. It landed on Broadway in 2017.

It was with Sondheim, who was the lyricist for West Side Story, that Prince developed his most enduring creative relationship. He produced A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), the first Broadway show for which Sondheim wrote both music and lyrics.

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It’s no mean feat playing a music legend in a Broadway show, but The Cher Show cast give it a red hot go.

However, Cher herself reminded us of the real deal when she joined Broadway’s Jarrod Spector and Micaela Diamond for a performance of her Sonny Bono duet “I Got You Babe” on The Tonight Show.

Honestly, Diamond and Spector do a killer job. But having the Goddess of Pop join the party to belt out her own classic 1965 track is a real treat — and one hell of a time warp.

Makes you want to watch Mamma Mia 2 again…

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New Broadway musical comedy The Prom will be adapted into a Netflix film,multi-awarded director-producerRyan Murphy confirmed Tuesday night.

The Hollywood mogul made the announcement at a charity performance of the LGBTQ-themed musical he hosted for the benefit of causes close to his heartthe Hetrick-Martin Institute, GLAAD, and the Trevor Projectaccording to theHollywood Reporter. He later took to Instagram with the news.

The Prom is one of the most uplifting, heartfelt, and special musicals I have ever seen on Broadway. It’s truly an original that celebrates the underdog and says in a loving spectacular way that LGBTQ rights are human rights. I feel a special connection to it because it’s set in Indiana, and that’s where I grew up, too. I’m thrilled to announce I’m turning it into a movie event for Netflix, he captioned the post.

The Prom on Netflix: What we know

Murphy said hes bringing in the shows producers Bill Damaschke and Dori Berinstein, as well as the shows creative team that includes Tony Award-winning director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw, Tony Award winner Bob Martin (book), Tony Award nominee Chad Beguelin (book and lyrics), and Tony Award nominee Matthew Sklar (music) to the feature adaptation.

Gage Skidmore/Flickr

The Prom is Murphys first known film project under the huge that he signed last year. So far, his lineup for the streaming giant is made up of series: teen comedy The Politician starring Ben Platt and Gwyneth Paltrow (slated for a Sept. 27 premiere); drama Ratched, the One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest prequel starring Sarah Paulson as the titular nurse; and love letter to the Golden Age of Tinseltown, Hollywood. The Prom might also just become the first Netflix Original movie musical.

It’s set to premiere in 2020. That date, which falls right before the next presidential election, is no coincidence, THR reports, adding that Murphy closed his Tuesday night announcement by saying, “We want to change hearts, minds, and votes.”

It’s unclear whether Murphy will direct or produce the musical film project. However, its worth noting that he is known for creating and directing the Emmy-winning Fox high school musical series Glee and other inclusive projects, like the Emmy-winning HBO movie The Normal Heart about the rise of the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City and FXs dance drama series,Pose, about ballroom culture that stars transgender actors. He also has experience producing a Broadway show, the revival of Mart Crowleys The Boys in the Band.Murphys credentials make him an expert on helming productions that are similar to The Prom.

The Prom Musical/YouTube

The Prom plot and Broadway cast

The Prom is from the original concept of Jack Viertel and is reportedly loosely based on a real-life incident. The story tells of an Indiana high school girl who was barred from bringing her girlfriend to the prom and four Broadway actors who come to the small town to help her fight the injustice.

The musical just opened in November at New Yorks Longacre Theatre, although it made its world premiere at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta in 2016.

Also in his Instagram post, Murphy encouraged viewers to see it first at the Longacre Theatre. It has a musical score that will leave you singing for days, a hilarious and moving book, and some of the most showstopping direction, choreography, and performances I’ve ever seen on Broadway.

The Broadway cast is led by Tony winner Beth Leavel, Tony nominees Christopher Sieber and Brooks Ashmanskas, Caitlin Kinnunen, Isabelle McCalla, Michael Potts, Angie Schworer, Josh Lamon, and Courtenay Collins. Theres no word yet whether any of the original cast members will be included in the Netflix adaptation or if Murphys staple stars like Sarah Paulson, Jessica Lange, and Evan Peters will be part of it.

One of the things that makes this particular production special is how usually, old movies and books are adapted into musicals, not the other way around.THR‘s chief theater critic David Rooney pointed out in his review of the show back in November that Any musical that makes it to Broadway these days without a familiar movie source or a popular jukebox score is an achievement, he wrote.

The Prom Musical/YouTube

Fans react to The Prom on Netflix

Fans of The Prom and Broadway and musicals, in general, are delighted with the news, as expected. Murphy’s Instagram post was flooded with celebratory comments.

Ryan Murphy/Instagram

Ryan Murphy/Instagram

Twitter user@RobbyLerman said, “This is so wonderful!! Regardless if its a professionally filmed version of the show or a full-fledged motion picture, its fantastic that everyone will get to see @ThePromMusical.”

The cast of "Be More Chill" on Broadway.
Image: maria baranova

If you aren’t already familiar with Be More Chill, a Broadway musical that opened Sunday, it’s likely a teen in your life can clue you in.

The show, adapted from the YA novel by Ned Vizzini about an anxious high schooler who takes a pill to become popular, originally premiered in New Jersey in 2015, and, despite lukewarm reviews, slowly found a cult following, with a cast album that’s been streamed tens of millions of times. Needless to say, the show has serious buzz, with The Wall Street Journal noting, “It’s gonna hit big,” and a movie adaptation already in the works. 

Unfortunately, for all the excitement of another musical aimed at young people, this one lacks the emotional depth of Dear Evan Hansen, the powerful music of Spring Awakening, or the mostly-sharp satire of Mean Girls (though it does have a very similar number about teens on Halloween!). 

Meet Jeremy (Dear Evan Hansen‘s Will Roland), a nerdy high school outsider who just wants to be popular and get his manic pixie dream theater girl of a crush Christine (an over-the-top Stephanie Hsu) to kiss him. His first idea is to join the activity she likes, but the opening number, “More Than Survive,” finds him singing, “It’s a sign up sheet for the after-school play! It’s a sign up sheet for getting called gay!” 

Um, what year is this? 

It’s grating, and makes it difficult to connect with or care about any of the characters

After a run-in with cool bully Rich (Spring Awakening‘s Gerard Canonico), Jeremy is told he can be popular, too, he just needs to ingest a supercomputer in pill-sized form called “The Squip” (a funny, Keanu Reeves-esque Jason Tam) to instruct him on his every move. Naturally, things go south fast.

Directed by Stephen Brackett, the show is a technicolor, high energy swirl of buzzwords and ideas that a corporate boardroom thought might appeal to Today’s Youth but miss the mark. An extremely forgettable pop-rock score by Joe Iconis? Check. Some jokes and songs about our smartphone addictions/the dangers of tech? Yup. A tossed-in Ruth Bader Ginsberg name-check and a random ending revelation about a character being bi? You’d better believe it. 

Some of Be More Chill works. It’s a fun and rare idea for a musical to have a sci-fi twist, and as Jeremy’s sidekick best friend Michael, George Salazar gives a funny and empathetic performance; his second act ballad “Michael in the Bathroom” is an emotional and musical high point. But Michael is an exception: a majority of the students appear to be cartoons all dialed up to 12 for the entire run time, with no tongue-in-cheek wink to the audience letting on it’s satire. The choice is grating, and makes it difficult to connect with or care about any of the characters. 

More unfortunately, two of those students are dim, pretty popular girls who appear to exist solely for the audience to laugh at. The story wouldn’t change at all if these young women (portrayed by Katlyn Carlson and Lauren Marcus) were smart, or mean, or athletic, or just about any other adjective other than the oldest high school stereotypes about teenage girls in the book. 

It’s more than a bit disappointing that a show that centers its messaging on being yourself spends a not-insignificant portion of its run time reminding people that Jeremy is Unique and Good because he is an anxious “loser, geek, whatever” while these young women are not worthy of the same compassionate consideration. It’s far from the first show to do this, obviously, but it sucks that this holdover from another era remains. 

Maybe I should just be more chill? Perhaps. But the recent surge of musicals aimed at the teen experience — the aforementioned Dear Evan Hansen, this season’s heartfelt The Prom — show the ways that coming-of-age tales can twist and turn to meet the moment they are arriving in. 

But Be More Chill doesn’t grapple with the issues right in front of its face. It wants to say something profound about the pressures of being a young person in 2019, but instead settles for a stereotype-filled retrograde story straight out of the ’80s. 

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Film after film has been made into a Broadway musical, from Mean Girls to Legally Blonde. But who would have thought you could make a musical from Sully?

For a new segment dubbed “Fraudway,” Jimmy Kimmel made up a musical version of the 2016 film starring Tom Hanks, inspired by the emergency landing made by U.S. Airways Flight 1549 in New York’s Hudson River, after it struck a flock of geese.

Kimmel’s team asked folks passing through Times Square in New York to review the fake musical, dubbed Hudson, We Have a Problem, with pretty hilarious results.

But not to make liars out of their participants, Kimmel then presented an actual number from his Sully-inspired musical on Tuesday night’s show, performed at the Howard Gilman Opera House of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. 

And Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger himself? Played by none other than Tony Award winner Matthew Broderick.

Gotta love those dancing geese — until they meet their sticky end.

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