Today for Throwback Thursday, Arts in Color looks back at the 1958 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Flower Drum Song. In reviews of the original 1958 production, Flower Drum Song was fairly criticized for perpetuating inaccurate stereotypes. Indeed, even the central conceit of the play, the picture bride, was wildly anachronistic for the 1950s. However, the production was also arguably groundbreaking for late 1950s Broadway. It was based on source material by a writer of Chinese origin (C.Y. Lee), it focused on a story-line about Asian American characters with no mediating white point-of-view character, and it featured actors of color in all except one principal role (that of nightclub owner and rival love interest Sammy Fong, played in yellow-face by Larry Blyden). Continue reading
This week we’re taking it way back to 1939 for THROWBACK THURSDAY with The Hot Mikado, an all black cast adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado. Starring the iconic Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, the original Broadway production hit the stage at the Broadhurst Theatre on March 23rd, 1939 with a total of 85 performances. The musical set in Japan features a comedic story of lovers kept apart, crazy laws, resistance to forced execution, and imposing royals. It’s quite the comedy of errors. While Gilbert and Sullivan gave an operatic version of the story, The Hot Mikado gave it a jazzy flavor.
This week’s THROWBACK THURSDAY is taking a look at the 6 time Tony award winning musical Dreamgirls. Many of you may be very familiar with the film that came out in 2006 starring Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx, Beyonce, Eddie Murphy, and Anika Noni Rose, but how much do you know about the stage production? The musical, spanning the 60s and 70s, follows the highs and lows of a Chicago girl group called “The Dreams.” With music by Henry Kreiger and book and lyrics by Tom Eyen, the original production of Dreamgirls came to Broadway in 1981 at the Imperial Theater and went on to be nominated for 13 Tony awards that year!
On this THROWBACK THURSDAY, we are taking a look at one of renowned playwright David Henry Hwang’s greatest works: M. Butterfly. The gender-bending play inspired by Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly premiered on Broadway at the Eugene O’Neill Theater in 1988. John Lithgow starred as Rene Gallimard, a French civil servant working at the Embassy in China who falls in love with Chinese Opera singer Song Liling, played by B.D. Wong. Song, a man masquerading as a woman to serve as a spy, and Gallimard, carry on a 20 year affair with Gallimard believing Song is a woman. Gallimard is tried and sent to prison for treason, learning that his love is really a man. This play has received many awards and nominations, including the Tony for Best Play, Best Featured Actor in a Play (Wong), and Best Direction of a Play (John Dexter).
This week we’re only throwing it back 6 years, but it’s a fun one! Now I know what you may be thinking: “Zorro the musical?” Yes, it exists, although it hasn’t made it to Broadway yet, this musical has graced the stage all over the world ( New York is just slow on the uptake). Zorro is based on the iconic figure that many of you may know from the Antonio Banderas films or the old black and white shows that came on way back when. Based on the fictional biography of the title character, lets take a look at the Stephen Clarke (book and lyrics) and Helen Edmundson musical (book).
How many of you have seen or at least heard of the 1949 Rogers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific? This week’s THROWBACK THURSDAY is taking a look at the 10 time Tony award winning musical that has resonated with audience members for decades. The show was last revived in 2008, taking home 7 Tony awards while featuring Kelli O’Hara (currently in Bridges of Madison County) and Matthew Morrison (Glee).
This week’s THROWBACK THURSDAY is a precursor to next weeks! We wanted to try something fun and have you guess, based on clues, which show will be featured. This show hit the stage in 1990 and has been a major icon ever since. Do you know what it is? Check out the images below and use your Broadway expertise to guess which show it is!
This week’s THROWBACK THURSDAY takes a look at Lorraine Hansberry’s classic A Raisin in the Sun. Many of you may know that the play is currently being revived at the Barrymore Theatre with a star-studded cast including Denzel Washington, Sophie Okonedo, and Anika Noni Rose. Well today we are taking a look back at the 1959 play that continues to make an impact to this day.
How many of you Broadway babies grew up on the good old Rogers and Hammerstein collection? I certainly did! For this week’s THROWBACK THURSDAY we are taking a look back at a one of R&H’s golden oldies: The King and I. Did you know that The King and I is based on a the novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon? In fact, Landon wrote the novel based on the memoirs of Anna Leonowens who was the governess to Siamese King Mongkut’s 82 children in the early 1860s! How do you remember all of those kids’ names? Or do you just start numbering them? They didn’t have name tags back in the 19th century did they? I digress.
While it may have been a flop on Broadway, this weeks THROWBACK THURSDAY is taking a look at the Japanese musical Shogun: The Musical based on James Clavell’s 1975 novel of the same name. In 1990 this 17th century romantic drama, with a book by John Driver, lyrics by John Driver and music by Paul Chihara, graced the stage at the Marquis Theatre. The cast of Shogun included Philip Casnoff, June Angela, Joseph Foronda, Eric Chan, JoAnn M. Hunter, Leslie Ishii, and Francis Ruivivar and opened on November 20th following 18 previews. The novel had previously been turned into a 12 hour mini-series, and thus the original concept for the production ran 3.5 hours and had 38 characters before being drastically condensed for Broadway. Continue reading
Mardi Gras will be here soon, so we’re taking it down to New Orleans this week with our THROWBACK THURSDAY featuring Marie Christine. Inspired by Marie Laveau (the historical Voodoo priestess) and written by Michael John LaChiusa, this retelling of the greek tragedy Medea came to Broadway in 1999 at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre in Lincoln Center. The musical had a very short run, opening in December and closing in January, perhaps due to less than ideal reviews. Despite it’s brevity on Broadway, the show does deserve praise. Audra McDonald played the titular character with astounding force (I managed to catch the whole show at the Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center). She, along with LaChiusa, was nominated for a Tony award that year.