Podcasts by: Joel Markowitz
A LANDLESS PSYCHO AND SPRING YOURSELF TO THE ATLANTIC THEATRE BEFORE AUGUST 5TH.
WE’RE ALL GETTING DROWSY WAITING FOR THAT BAKER TO ARRIVE
I’m kvelling (smiling with immense pride). I bump into DC actors everywhere in NYC productions. It reminds me how far our theatre community has come, and the great talent we have right here on our DC stages.
It’s Saturday, May 20th. I’ve schlepped on the Washington Deluxe cheapy bus -only $35 round trip from DC to NYC-to meet my friend Doug Poms, (who is a rich lawyer who can afford AMTRAK) to see 3 shows -The Drowsy Chaperone, History Boys and The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Doug is seeing Faith Healer while I see History Boys, because he saw it in London. (He’s doing well-isn’t he)?
I’m also there to make restaurant reservations for the Ushers’ Veteran Day Weekend “manic Jewish man’s theatre marathon,” where 30 people (so far) will see Mary Poppins, The Drowsy Chaperone, A Chorus Line, Grey Gardens and Floyd and Clea Under the Western Sky (directed by Joel Colarco, this year’s Helen Hayes Award Winner for Signature Theatre’s pisser of a show Urinetown) at Playwrights Horizons, and a cabaret.
It’s my 49th birthday weekend and what better way to celebrate than to see 3 great shows.
Close your eyes and imagine you are sitting with Doug and I in the Marquis Theatre, waiting for The Drowsy Chaperone to begin, and instead of that “please shut your cell phone off and don’t wrinkle that damn annoying candy wrappers’ warning, we are told, “the show will begin shortly. Thank you for your patience.” Audience members are losing patience. Two more announcements are made as 20 minutes elapses before they finally begin the show.
One of the “bakers’ didn’t show up on time. It’s DC’s own Garth Kravits who is stuck on a train, and DC native Joey Sorge, goes on for Garth at the matinee. Joey rises to the occasion. (Garth makes it back for the evening performance, and I’m told he was on a roll. (Listen to his podcast-he tells the story better than I).
PIAZZAD AT THE TONYS
The show is worth the wait-The Drowsy Chaperone is a blast!
The costumes and sets are gorgeous, the book and score brilliant and hummable! Yeah! Finally, an old-fashioned musical. And what’s so rare these days, I feel happy after this musical.
Three weeks later,The Drowsy Chaperone won 5 Tony Awards-for book, score, scenic design, costumes and featured actress-Beth Leavel, as, take a guess, the drowsy chaperone-(boy you are smart), but lost the award for best musical to Jersey Boys, which I also loved.
The show got “Piazzad.-Like Light In The Piazza did the year before. (Thank G-d, PBS filmed Piazza Live from Lincoln Center On June 15th ). Like Piazza, The Drowsy Chaperone won best score and book of a musical. You’d think that if you won these two awards, you’d win Best Musical. You’d think.
As Ben Franklin said, before he told his wife to “go fly a kite,” “common sense is not very common.” It’s folklore that she was heard screaming “thanks a watt Ben.”
AT THE STAGE DOOR-I HAVE GEORGIA ON MY MIND.
UNFORTUNATELY, WE’RE NOT ON HER MIND
After the show, I’m standing near the stage door, waiting for the actors to come out so I can say hello and congrats, and to have them autograph my Playbill and hopefully, get some pictures for this article (which I did and they are displayed all through this article).
DC’s own Georgia Engel doesn’t come out to sign, and I’m told it wouldn’t have mattered if she did, because she does not autograph Playbills and does not take pictures, like Julie Andrews!!-DAMN!
I know you can’t believe that Georgette and Mary Poppins would do such a terrible thing to their fans-but it’s true.
I bet you Ted Baxter and chimney sweeper Bert (Mary’s friend) would never do such a thing!! Spit spot!!
DC’S OWN CHAPERONES PERSONALLY INVITE
YOU TO THE DROWSY CHAPERONE
DC’S own Georgia Engel, Jason and Garth Kravitz, Eddie Korbich, Patrick Wetzel, and Joey Sorge are in the cast of Chaperone. Troy Britton Johnson, who played Robert, the bridegroom, was seen at the Kennedy Center as Corny Collins in Hairspray and as Teddy Slaughter in The Full Monty.
On Saturday, July 1st I was in NYC again, and won the lottery at Chaperone. For $25.00, cash, I sat in the front row, 2 seats off right center. What a great seat and what a great deal! I had the honor of having Georgia Engel and Sutton Foster spit all over me during the show. I was prepared. It’s not the first time I was saliva-attacked by Sutton Foster, so I brought 3 handkerchiefs to the matinee.
After the matinee, I met Jason, Garth, Eddie and Robert at the stage door, and they recorded personal invites for all of you to come and see The Drowsy Chaperone. They asked me to say hello to all their friends in DC-so “Hello.”
You can hear these wonderful short invites, by clicking on the fancy MP3 buttons, which are located above this article.
THE KRAVITS BROTHERS
Jason and Garth Kravits, who play the Tall Brothers in
Chaperone (and they are not tall-get it?) are two of the nicest people I have ever met after a show at the stage door. They are so proud of being from DC, and proud of the work that they performed in our local theatres.
Lorraine Sampson, a local actress, theatre cheerleader, and busy mother of 3, emailed me last week to tell me that the Kravits brothers Jason and Garth are from Derwood, Maryland. Lorraine’s brother was Jason’s roommate at The University of Maryland, where Jason and Garth were charter members of the improv group-Erasable Inc.
Jason started out in community theatre at Montgomery Playhouse. Lorraine remembers his great performance in A Thousand Clowns in 1987, when he was a wee youngster.
Jason them moved on to Free Will and Wanton Lust, Goodnight Desdemona and Billy Nobody at Woolly Mammoth, The Diary of Anne Frank, Tintypes and Season’s Greetings at Round House, and Henry V, Love’s Labour Lost and The Taming of the Shrew at Washington Shakespeare Theatre. He then moved to the West Coast, where he played Richard Bay on The Practice (millions cheered when they finally killed him off), Roger on Wanda at Large and many guest appearances on many shows, including Everyone Loves Raymond and CSI. He also played Craven in Sly Fox on Broadway.
Lorraine remembers how hysterical Garth was as Demetrius when they performed together in 1990 in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Montgomery Playhouse. Garth has spent the last seven years traveling around the world with rock band The House Jacks, an a cappella rock band.
Garth, who plays Gangster #2, has appeared in the Off-Broadway productions Toxic Audio and Loudmouth. He appeared in the film Sweet November as Manny, a techie nerd. On television, he has appeared in Nash Bridges and The Hollywood Squares. (I’ll have to ask him which square he sat in, when I see the show again in November).
I’m sure Jason and Garth are not raking in the dough on Broadway as they do with their film and television roles-but they look pretty happy up there on the Marquis Theatre stage. How many opportunities do you have to perform in a hit musical with your brother? Listen to their podcasts, and you’ll hear them talk about each other’s careers. I have 5 brothers and we are very close (usually) and watching Jason and Garth’s respect and love for each other is so refreshing.
EDDIE KORBICH-MAN, CAN THIS MAN TAP!!!
I first saw Eddie Korbich as Tobias in what is now affectionately referred to as Teeney Todd, the 1989 production at Circle In the Square, which starred Bob Gunton as Sweeney and Beth Fowler as Mrs. Lovett. His Tobias was the most loveable, and at the same time, frightening portrait of this character that I have ever seen on the stage, and I have seen many productions of this show. His rendition of Not While I’m Around still gives me chills when I think about it.
I next saw Eddie at Lincoln Center in 1995, where he appeared in a revival of Carousel with Audra MacDonald (she won her first of 4 Tony Awards for this production). He didn’t play Mr. Snow as the character is usually played – very macho and stern. He played him sweet and kind hearted.
Eddie doesn’t look like your usual Broadway leading man – he’s short and balding, but boy can he dance and sing! He’s a WOW! His charm is infectious. He has always spent time at the stage door with me and my friends or my group after his shows, autographing our Playbills and taking pictures with us.
Between Carousel and Chaperone, Eddie appeared in Seussical. Although the show was a flop on Broadway, something terrific came out of that experience. With Rosie O’Donnell’s help, (she came into the show trying to save it and played the Cat In The Hat for a short stint) Eddie and his partner Andy adopted their daughter Sasha, who I was lucky to meet at the stage door. Eddie also appeared in Wicked, where he was a swing, playing many roles including Dr. Dillamond -the “something baaaad is happening in Oz” character. That song always gives me the woolies.
If you love cartoons as much as I do, Eddie was the voice of Al and Moo in the the Nickelodeon series called Doug and Flick the Duck in PB&J Otter on the Disney Channel. Eddie’s twenty year career as an actor continues with his performance in Chaperone. He still has that sparkle in his eyes and bounce in his feet, and is still one helluva nice guy. Best wishes Eddie for another 20 years on Broadway!
ONE HELLUVA BIG BREL AT OLNEY
I’ve seen 14 productions of Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, including the original at The Village Gate in 1967, Karen Akers (Grand Hotel and Nine) in the 20th anniversary production in 1987 at The Kennedy Center, and last month I saw the Zipper Theatre in NYC, which is still playing, with Robert Cucciolli (Jekyll and Hyde), Natascia Diaz (A Little Night Music in the Kennedy Center Sondheim Festival), Gay Marshall (the original Morales in A Chorus Line), and Rodney Hicks (Jesus Christ Superstar) These were all small productions with casts of four people on a bare stage, with 4 chairs and a small band-usually a piano, a drum and a trumpet.
Jim Petosa’s production is not small – it’s huge. The large set pieces include The Eiffel Tower and the Rose Window of Notre Dame towering over the new Mainstage at The Olney Theatre Center (“OTC”). It has a larger orchestra, beautiful costumes and lighting, and swirling choreography. The usual cast of 4 is now a cast of 8, and they now play specific characters.
You gotta see it to believe it.
I was honored to sit down and interview the director, Jim Petosa, the choreographer, Gabriel Orca, conductor Christopher Youstra, and cast members Christopher Yates, his wife Carolyn Pasqouantonio, Channez McQuay, Devron Young, Matt Bailey, and Nicole Adams at the Press Night reception, on Saturday, July 8th.
Christopher, Carolyn, Valerie Leonard and Devron were members of the 1996 cast of Brel that won Jim Petosa the Helen Hayes Award for Best Director of a Resident Musical.
You can hear my interviews, by clicking on the MP3 buttons at the top of the article.
A LANDLESS PYSCHO BEACH PARTY – THIS CHICKLET GIVES YOU SOMETHING TO CHEW ON
In 1991, The Ushers’ group began play reading potlucks and Charles Busch’s gender bending hilarious comedy, Psycho Beach Party was one of the first plays we bad actors mutilated
on a cold winter night. So, when I was asked by my editor, Ronnie Ruff, to cover the Landless Theatre production playing at the intimate Playbill Café, I was eager to go. OK, it wasn’t a great party, and there wasn’t allot to chew on, but there were lots of laughs, and Timothy King as Chicklet, the multiple personality psycho “girl next door,” was terrific.
After seeing this production, I’ve been inspired to revisit Mr. Busch’s work, and do another play reading with my group this Fall. Sand anyone? Any psychos out there want to volunteer to be in the cast? I’ll supply the chicklets and, hopefully, more laughs.
A SMALL PLUG FOR SPRING AWAKENING
When you see something on the stage that leaves you breathless – in a good way, you have to share the good news.
That good news is a new musical based on Frank Wedekind’s censored 1891 novel – Spring Awakening. With a brilliant young cast, that includes Ragtime’s original “Little Girl,” Leah Michele (who will be playing Eponine in the upcoming return engagement of Les Miserables), the show boasts an incredible score by Stephen Sater (lyrics) and Duncan Sheik (score, who wrote the soundtrack for Transamerica). Rockville’s own Michael Mayer (Thoroughly Modern Millie) directs this spectacular production.
Limited $10.00 stage seats are available. I sat in one of these seats, and the actors sat near me at times during the production. It was an experience I will never forget. And you won’t either. But, you’ll have to run to The Atlantic Theatre Company before August 5th, when the run ends. Hopefully, the show will move Off-Broadway for a longer run.
I can’t wait to buy the cast CD. So, please Mr. Producer, record this score ASAP.