May 03, 2024


Broadway shows and Tony Nominations Discussion (The Cosmic Circle Ep. 53)

Hosted by

Brian Kitson
Broadway shows and Tony Nominations Discussion (The Cosmic Circle Ep. 53)
The Cosmic Curtain
Broadway shows and Tony Nominations Discussion (The Cosmic Circle Ep. 53)

May 03 2024 | 01:10:14


Show Notes

Everyone says that New York City is the city that never sleeps and with the way that the lights on Broadway shine so brightly, I know that has to be true. Having always been a musical lover, over the past couple of years Broadway has begun to feel like a second home. You're amongst your people every time you step into a theater, ready for a new experience as the lights dim and the curtains go up. While there is never a bad time to fly off to NYC and take in a few shows, we're entering a special season for Broadway, as the 77th Tony Awards are upon us! 

Join host Brian Kitson (X/Twitter: Kitson301, Instagram: bkitson301) and guest RJ Miller-Zelinko (Instagram: journey_thru_the_past_) as they discuss everything Broadway and the recently announced Tony Award nominees! The two discuss how their love for Broadway got started, how working in a theater for years has provided RJ a different perspective on how these shows come to be, their recent trip to NYC and the shows they saw there, and of course, their opinions on the nominees for the 77th Tony Awards. Be sure to follow along with our coverage of this year's Tony Awards, which takes place on June 16 and is hosted by Ariana DeBose!

Podcast credits and show notes

  • Brian Kitson
  • RJ Miller-Zelinko
Executive Producer/Editor
  • Lizzie Hill

Recorded on 5/2/24

Superhero theme by HumanoideVFX on Pixabay.

For more Broadway show reviews, interviews, and other coverage, visit:

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:17] Speaker A: Welcome back, listeners, to another episode of the Cosmic Circle, the official podcast of the cosmic circus. On today's episode, we're going to be jumping the multiverse away from the galaxies of comics and Sci-Fi into one of the bright lights and musical notes. That's right. We're jetting off to the world of the Broadway and just in time for the Tony Awards. My name is Brian Kitson, head writer at the cosmic circus. And joining me today, we have a special guest, an esteemed photographer, I'm told, um, who goes by the name of RJ Miller. Zelenko. Thank you so much for joining us today. [00:00:48] Speaker B: Absolutely. Thanks for having me. [00:00:51] Speaker A: All right, so we don't usually have a lot of outs, so this is fantastic to have you here. We are going to be talking about the Tonys, of course, because we just had our nominations that were announced just the other day. But before we get there, I would like to talk about your journey with Broadway in theater. So where did you kind of get your start with the whole genre? [00:01:17] Speaker B: Yeah, great question. So I grew up in the theater because my mother and my grandmother were avid music lovers, theater lovers, theater goers. And so I was emerged at a very young age into that world, primarily, of course, starting with just attending particular venues and shows, and eventually are taking in the theater world, whether that was backstage, on stage, or what have you. [00:02:00] Speaker A: Okay. Do you remember the first musical that you. You saw either live or even if it was a movie? What was the one that kind of stood out to you as, like, that first one? [00:02:12] Speaker B: For some reason, I have a very distinct memory of seeing carousel. It was just a community theater presentation, but I was probably four or five, and I just remember seeing the show, which, looking back like that, is not really a show that I would personally take a four or five year old to go see. But I was there. I remember it. And, yeah, it was a good time. And I told my mom, I turned her, and I said, I want to do that. [00:02:48] Speaker A: Okay. I absolutely know nothing about carousel. I know it is, like, one of the classic shows. I'm guessing it's not about an actual carousel. [00:03:00] Speaker B: Well, there is a carousel in it, but it really is not about a carousel. It's a romance. But I. And I truly do not know why I was so drawn to it, but it's definitely kind of a more old school classic, old timey break into ballads at any moment type show, for sure. [00:03:29] Speaker A: Absolutely. My entry into Broadway was a little different. We did not go to a lot of shows just because it seemed like, you know, there was three kids, two adults. My grandma, like, there wasn't enough. There wasn't enough maybe money to go around. So we did grow up on, you know, the classics of, like, sound of music and west side Story and singing in the rain. My first actual live performance that I ever went to is somewhere between either the radio city rock cats, when they were touring, or a local production of how the Grinch stole Christmas. Because my grandma was obsessed with that show. She talked about it. I feel like she talked about every year growing up, but one year, she made us go to a local theater out in Troy, and we got to see that. I think that was my first time ever sitting there in a theater, lights going down, you know, darkness, and you see people acting on stage, and so that definitely sticks out. It seemed so completely magical. And I didn't get to go to the theater myself until I got to be much older. My first one of, like, the, that's not community theater of any kind was wicked that I got for graduating with my bachelor's. My mom bought me tickets to go, and I got to see, you know, Elphaba and Glinda on stage, and that was like, whoa. Like, this isn't just on a, you know, this isn't west side story where there it's a soundstage or sound of music where you can clearly tell some of the sets are painted. So that was a really cool experience for me. So that was, you know, when I was 20, and since then, it's kind of grown from there. [00:05:07] Speaker B: A later, a later in life theater lover. [00:05:11] Speaker A: Yeah. I mean, love always loved musicals, but, you know, there's definitely a. There can be sometimes a little gatekeeper with, you know, costs and money and just time and getting there. So, as we know from being adults that it's not cheap to go to. [00:05:29] Speaker B: A Broadway show 100%. [00:05:33] Speaker A: So how has your experience with Broadway shows changed as you've grown? Because it sounds like you were very much into theater growing up, seeing it live, being a part of productions that had to definitely shape how you feel about Broadway or how Broadway has kind of developed with you. [00:05:53] Speaker B: Yeah. So as much as I went to or participated in theater at a younger age, by no means was it of the Broadway standard. [00:06:07] Speaker A: Sure. [00:06:08] Speaker B: I also probably didn't go to an actual kind of touring Broadway style production until I was at least in high school. But that over time, I mean, as I grew into adulthood, obviously my priorities regarding those instruments that are essential to get in money to buy some tickets became more important. And I also took a job working at a performance venue that then kind of lent itself because I could then see shows while I was working and obviously not have to pay to see them. So I was probably still one of my most favorite positions. Very unique, but definitely has as an adult now expanded. And I spend a little bit more resources, you could probably say, and more time on Broadway style theater, which there. [00:07:26] Speaker A: Will be a section later that we're going to talk about how this all came to be as of recent. But working in a theater had to open up a door because not only do you get to see them for free, but you're also seeing them from possibly a different standpoint because you're getting behind the scenes. And again, I know that you were in shows, like you said, so you had a little bit of that. But to see Broadway touring production, the ins and outs, or at least some of that, that had to be like quite a different change, like life changing moment for Broadway shows for you. [00:08:02] Speaker B: Yeah. I mean, at first you're, of course, equally starstruck, I think, even though I was constantly working around a backstage area. But yeah, then you see, you know, usually tours are touring for a week or more at a time. So I was working almost every single show, which meant that you see all the different casts, you see the understudies, the standbys, you see the things that go right and you see the things that go wrong and how that changes the show. But definitely, yeah. It was interesting to look at particular details that you might not catch because there were some points where I was seeing shows like wicked for the 16th time in a row in a period of 14 days. And so you got to know when the light cue should happen or when the curtain should go up and things like that. [00:09:10] Speaker A: I think it was actually because of you that I found out about no fly shows for wicked. I think it was when we went to wicked that you had mentioned that, and I didn't even. It didn't ever cross my mind, you know, as somebody who has seen it multiple times, when I go, it usually always goes off as planned. So, like, the idea that there was. There's sometimes things don't go according to plan is quite. I think that's interesting, you know, because you got to see that perspective. [00:09:38] Speaker B: Yeah. And the, you know, front of house crew probably at every performance venue, but at the one I was at, obviously we get very close because we're working together basically every night for weeks on end, and we kind of joke and laugh about it because you really do, you know, we all catch the things that should or shouldn't happen and kind of might crack jokes about it and. Or you become. Get to know the cast or crew themselves because you're working alongside them when they're coming through the front of house or through the stage, things like that. [00:10:13] Speaker A: Absolutely. That makes perfect sense. And you even kind of showed that when we went, I think it was water for elephants, you kind of were like, something wasn't supposed to happen. Or like, you, pretty woman is another example of that where you had the lights didn't go down the way they were supposed to. Um, and you were able to kind of point that out and be like, that was supposed to go off there and it didn't. And, you know, from. From someone's perspective of me who just goes to joy, the musicals, you. You don't think that, you know, you don't. You don't notice those things, but you get. But it was really cool because I've learned quite a bit about shows because of you and your experience, having worked so many. Because you worked there for years, correct? [00:10:54] Speaker B: Yeah. Yeah. Gosh, it was, I think, back in 2016, 2017 that I had my start there. And just more recently, I mean, that's been seven. Seven ish years. [00:11:12] Speaker A: It's a long time. And, you know, that theater has actually become a part of our friendship. Listeners, in case you didn't realize, talking about going to see waterfall and stuff like that. Um, we have been friends for almost four years now, and one of the things that we first got to know each other about was musicals and our love of, uh, theater. Um, do you. I don't remember how that kind of came to be. Do you remember? Do you remember how that, like. I don't, because it wasn't until recently we started going to see plays. [00:11:50] Speaker B: I. You know, I was trying to think on it, and I cannot pinpoint exactly when that crossover happened. Well, I take that back a little bit, because I think we both started talking, just in general about the fact that we were, you know, I was going to work at theater, and I know that you had mentioned going to see a show or two, um, even just back at community theater. And so that's probably the furthest or the closest thing that I can distinctly remember. But I. Yeah, obviously, it's grown exponentially over time. [00:12:35] Speaker A: I mean, absolutely. Our. I can't remember the first show that we saw together. I was thinking about this. I was going through the list of plays that I had seen for the cosmic circus through Broadway in Detroit. Um, and I remember the first one you went to. I remember picking up the folder from Amber, which shout out to Amber. She's fantastic. We love Broadway in Detroit. They've done some great work with us. But I know we saw wicked. I know we saw Pretty Woman. Mamma mia was our most recent one, the Cher show, to kill a mockingbird. I I'm thinking it must have been Wicked was our first one, which only places it in 2024, which seems incredible, because we have seen so many shows together since then. [00:13:16] Speaker B: Yeah, I I guess that has to be right. The only thing that I can think of outside of. Outside of Broadway, Detroit, would be Christmas carol. [00:13:34] Speaker A: You're right. Nope. Sherlock Holmes. [00:13:38] Speaker B: Oh, yes. [00:13:40] Speaker A: Yes, I did. I forgot about that. That was our first time, I think, going to the theater together with Sherlock Holmes, which was a. Is that. Would you consider that local theater? Because it feels like the step up from, like, local. Not quite Broadway. [00:13:56] Speaker B: Yeah. I think it's technically considered, like, amateur, professional, a step up from community theater, but just below, like, a national tour. [00:14:07] Speaker A: Okay, that makes perfect sense. And so that kind of began it. And from there, I started writing reviews. When I first went to New York back in 2022, my initial trip to New York was planned before the pandemic, and then we were going the week, the month of the pandemic starting, so obviously, we had to cancel that. We deleted the year. And I remember that I was going to see ten shows in New York, and I had begged Lizzie. I was like, let me write something. And so she let me write wicked. Out of all of them, she's like, you can do wicked. And then from there, it was like, okay, well, beetlejuice is touring, and I'm going for my birthday. And then she was like, okay, that's a niche. And then next thing I know, she had embraced this so completely that we were no longer a niche. We were just writing about these shows, and because of, uh, pretty woman. Nope, not pretty woman. I just messed up my. My funny girl messed up my. My plays there. Um, this really took off, and that's when we got to kind of start doing things with Amber. And, I mean, when I was looking at the list of shows, like, we've. I've been to quite a lot, but, like, we've. We've been to quite a bit prior to New York, of seeing these plays together and kind of learning more about the experiences and having someone that is very enriched in Broadway has made this quite the adventure. You know, I think that that is kind of one of the takeaways of this, is that it's been a lot of fun to have somebody who has these ins and outs and is down to see any show. I've noticed this about you. There is not a single show that you've ever said no to, even though you don't like jukebox musicals. [00:15:51] Speaker B: Yeah, I mean, I'm always. Maybe it's the curiosity in me and just the appreciation for what I know has to go into producing and directing and acting in a show. There's just. Even if I don't thoroughly enjoy the plot or even if I've seen it a thousand times, it's just the experience itself that is definitely a good reason to attend. [00:16:27] Speaker A: Absolutely. I mean, there is so much production quality, even in the touring shows. And I know that there's a difference sometimes between touring and shows that are stable in New York, which is something that we'll touch on a little bit later. But the amount of work that's put into these, it's just incredible. And the dedication and the hard work. It's cool to have. You know, I've had people in my life that would wanna go to shows, but it'd be like, oh, I'm gonna see Hamilton, because, like, it's Hamilton, or I'm gonna see six because it's popular right now. And you were like, hell, yeah, I'll go see to kill a mockingbird. You know? And there has been some that you've even pulled me out. Granted, I've seen everyone that comes through Broadway in Detroit, but when we went to New York, um, I'd even mentioned to you that Sufs wasn't on my radar, and you were the one like, no, we gotta go see this play. Like, this is. This is gonna be something special. And so you've kind of helped with that. So it's been really cool to get that, because, again, that different perspective, speaking of New York, this might be also one of the ways that we really bonded over Broadway, too, is that I think the first time I went to New York, you were like, the next time you go, I want to go. And then I went again. And you're like, the next time I go, you go, I want to go. And then I went a third time within twice in a year. And so that fourth trip was finally the trip that you were like, we're doing this. And it started out as what was probably what I thought was maybe a joke, and it wasn't. So just a little background story, everybody. We were standing outside of, what show was that to kill a mocky bird? I don't remember. We just got back from a trip, and we went to go see a play we had just seen, pretty woman. It was the one between the Cher show there. Whatever show it was does not matter. We were sitting outside, and I had said that, like, oh, yeah. When we went on this trip, I was supposed to go see Joe Locke in Sweeney Todd, and you said, let's go. And so I had looked up the tickets, and the show was ending in May, and so I had sent it to you, thinking that, like, we're not going to go to this. And you ran with this, which was hilarious, because, like, the trip that wasn't supposed to be happened, and we got to go to New York, and that was kind of this really, um. I don't know. It was like, it felt like such a substantial trip, even though it was my fourth time being there, my third time being there in a year. Um, what was that experience like for you? I guess, like, you jumped at it. So, like, there. There must have been, like. You were like. You were like, yes, this is it. [00:19:25] Speaker B: Yeah. I mean, definitely, if you had told me that I would be doing that a year ago, I probably would have told you that you were crazy. But this year, being more intentional about my time and what I'm doing and following through on things that I think are a good idea or that I've been putting off for a while, this was kind of one of them. Like you mentioned, we talked about going to New York after I had seen you go multiple times before, and I. Yeah. Just took it and ran with it and ended up obviously being an incredible experience. And that's exactly, I think, why I did just based off a joke or a side comment, because that's what can become of that. [00:20:19] Speaker A: Sure. So, yeah, yeah, you took it and you ran. And there was actually also a chance, there was, like, a conversation when I went in December that we had kind of talked about it, but you were busy in a show, and it just didn't work out, and I had to go because I was asked to go see Dracula. But, like, that one was so last minute, but you had considered it, and so I should have known that, like, when I made that comment, like, of course you were gonna want to go. You've been wanting to go to New York, and, you know, as you've mentioned before, that, like, you wanted to do the sprint of the show is kind of how I had done them. You know, every time I go, it is show after show, and your back hurts and your knees hurt and you're eating way too many carbs, but, like, you're shoving them in between shows, but you're just getting in as many shows as you can because there's the environment of shows there changes so quickly that you just want to see everything you possibly can get your hands on. [00:21:21] Speaker B: Yeah, you're not going to get that experience really anywhere else, or at least that blend. And I think that's what was so appealing to me, probably why I ran with it at 100 mph was because it was like, you know, whether it was the particular actors and actresses or the particular shows, they are fleeting, especially in kind of the world that we live today, whether they're opening and closing or just moving on to newer and bigger ventures. Figured the opportunity is there. Take it. [00:21:58] Speaker A: I think it was when we went to the Broadway museum, but I remember someone saying somewhere on this trip that there is like a waitlist of 60 shows or six years or something like that, of shows waiting to get into these theaters. So, like, it literally is like a, we're burning the midnight oil to get in here. And so when one show ends, another one's beginning. And so it's always changing. And like, that changes the experience every single time you go to Broadway. Looking into like, the shows that I went to in December, Dracula ran its course and spamala ran its course, and I did see Sweeney Todd, but it's about to close there. I mean, there was, there's so many shows from that trip that just Gutenberg closed. Actually, I think all the shows have closed and are closing. And that was from December till March, like April. Whenever we went, it feels like it's been forever. But for our trip, we actually saw some shows that are gonna be on the Tony awards because they were nominated. So, you know, we saw water for elephants. We saw Sweeney Todd, of course, because we had to go back for Joe Locke. We saw suffs the musical. We saw Ann Juliet, which was a nominee from a previous year. And there was one more, but I cannot think of what it was. Oh, six. We saw six, which is always a crowd pleaser. What were some of the standouts for you being this year? First of hopefully many Broadway sprints. [00:23:37] Speaker B: It was all over the place. I mean, like you said, crowd pleasers. Ones I was most familiar with. Definitely six I had seen previously, Sweeney Todd I had never seen live, but was very familiar with the music and the premise and obviously had seen the movie. And then everything else was new and exciting. And I do not know how I came across suffs or water for elephants, but I had actually, you may have mentioned Ann Juliet to me previously. Someone did and I had listened to the soundtrack of that, and that is, as we know, kind of jukebox style y. And I, outside of itself, just the soundtrack, I was kind of nervous going in, I guess you could say, because I didn't know what to expect similarly to the other two. I was completely blind, though, with those two. So I wasn't sure. I mean, it could have been a flop or it could have been a hit. Luckily, I feel like, I mean, I took a lot out of both of them, had my preferences, but definitely could see how those shows, all of them could be hits for any particular audience member, depending on what they. What appeals to them. [00:25:22] Speaker A: You know, there's definitely. Yeah, no, I was the one that was in love with Angeliet. Unfortunately, I preached that one from the moment I heard the soundtrack. And it was on the top of my list, and it was one that I had reached out to pr about when I went in December. And so when we knew that we were going back for Sweeney Todd, I was just like, I have to see the show. Cause I have to know what it is. Because the premise is, to me, was really cool. The idea of I love taking stories and having them twisted, kind of like wicked, you know? You're familiar with it. You're familiar with Juliet, Romeo and Juliet. I remember having to read it in 9th grade. I remember having to watch a very questionable movie for a 9th grader, which was not the Leonardo DiCaprio, DiCaprio one. So that's even more interesting. So I knew I had to see that one. And so that was a no brainer to me. And granted, I know we went there for Sweetie Todd. I had already known that one. And then the cool thing is that when you go with someone who loves Broadway, it doesn't really matter what you see, as long as you're seeing it with somebody who can, like, that can feel it or that can, like, pick it apart if they need to, because there will be one we talk about a little bit later that I'm questioning why it's up for best musical, and I'm not afraid to drag it just a little. Just a little bit. So it was cool because we got to see some of those different shows. Like I said, I would never have thought of picking stuffs. Like, why would that be on my list? Like, what about this show? But you had mentioned it a few times and you were like, hey, if we're going to Broadway, there's a show I really want to see. And it was like, okay, done. Absolutely. And it ended up being my favorite one out of all of them, which is just crazy to think that I almost missed out on what this was because I wasn't on my radar. I think there's a few shows up for Tony nominations that are like that. [00:27:31] Speaker B: Yeah, I would say similarly, even though I'm not the most familiar with every single thing that's nominated, just kind of perusing and listening in on some other conversations around people's thoughts and opinions and kind of reviews. It's very interesting because I don't feel like there is one particular standout, for sure. It doesn't seem like anything is sweeping, um, the categories. Um, but they all seem very unique in their own right, which is what I. I feel like is kind of trending on Broadway right now, is the uniqueness and the individualism of what is being portrayed and how you can't really compare much them to each other because they are so substantially different. But obviously, that you could probably say that for a lot of years in a lot of shows, but there's not, I would say, one leader of the pack, per se. [00:28:38] Speaker A: You know, I remember years, like, when Hamilton was up, and you just knew that, like, okay, Hamilton's going to win everything. People are obsessed, you know, like, there was. That was a very clear winner, but looking at the best musicals, like, I was a little shocked by the list. You know, we have Hell's Kitchen. We have Illinois. We have the outsiders. We have suffs. We have water for elephants. And to me, there's a clear winner of what I want, but it's also a lot of ones that I am. Well, there's two that I pretty much know nothing about until I did research for this podcast. One that I know because I read the book, and one that I knew because I had seen the movie, and then there was stuff that I didn't know about till then. And, like, I'm sure there's a lot of people that are looking at this list, and the only two ones that they're probably recognizing are the outsiders. If they read that in school or water for elephants, and the rest of them are just a note. There's. There's no. There's no. There's. There's no way to just, like, guess what these shows are about. I guess soft, the musical. You can guess what that's about. But. [00:29:41] Speaker B: Yeah. Yeah, I. And I think I had heard a little bit of chatter about Hell's Kitchen, um, even previous to going to New York, and I'm not sure if that was just due to sheer media or, um, kind of just in the music realm or world. Yeah. Obviously, the outsiders, most folks had to read that. Water for elephants, I never read, but somehow heard of. And then su, once again, I think I literally just stumbled on that due to the actresses that are in it. But, yeah, none of them. You look at that list and it's. It's a toss up. [00:30:25] Speaker A: Is there one you think that's going to sweep it? I mean, at least that category. Do you think there's one, like, do you think there's one standout that's just going to, even if it's not the one you want? Because I know what you want, but do you think that there's one that's just like a shoo in? [00:30:40] Speaker B: I'm not positive. I would say, shockingly, I would probably say maybe you're gonna chuckle. Water for elephants. Of course, you know, my favorite, in case no one's picked up on it, is would be sufs. That would be my pick. But water for elephants, just because it is a little bit more known, it is pretty unique in regards to the happenings of the show and the way that it's presented is very specific, but that's all without me, you know, being able to truly speak to the other three. [00:31:24] Speaker A: Sure. And that was what was really hard. And I was explaining to one of our other writers, as I was kind of preparing for this, and I said, with the amount of musicals that go through Broadway, living in Michigan, it's very hard to, like, see them all because by the time they come to us, they've already been through the Tony Awards years in advance sometimes. And so to be able to, like, really know these, I would have to fly there all the time or do multiple sprints, each one with new shows, then you never get to see your favorite ones again. And I don't know if I can go back to New York and not see stuffs again. Um, but it's interesting that you picked water for elephants because there is a lot of chatter about Hell's Kitchen right now. I mean, this is the one that has the most nominations tied with, um, stereophonic. Um, there are 13 nominations apiece. Um, and this is, this is one that's based off of. It's another jukebox musical and your favorite with music from Alicia Keys, um, kind of telling her story. This one seems to be like, if there's going to be one that's going to win it, this is the one that I've seen on Twitter that people are kind of going so excited about. Like, there's not a single nomination that people aren't like, yeah, they deserve it. They deserve it. So I'm interested to see how this one kind of shakes out. [00:32:44] Speaker B: Yeah. And I think rightfully so. I mean, the, I'm sure the music is absolutely fantastic. And I have even more recently, I think just today I was probably doom scrolling and saw a multitude of videos. So by no means would it shock me if it took best musical. [00:33:11] Speaker A: It definitely seems like one that people are. I think that Weiss jukebox musicals are so popular is just because they're so familiar. And something that I was going to bring up actually a little bit later, but I think it applies to this, too, is that you will see in the revival section of the best revival. There's quite a few shows that are revival that people are going crazy about, you know, cabaret, merrily we roll along. We had a friend that went to that and she didn't stop talking about it. She was talking about it yesterday, actually. So in Tommy and there's all these revivals that people are coming back to. And I think that part of the reason why jukebox musicals and revivals are really big right now is because everything that happened with the pandemic, the way that the world's feeling right now, people need familiarity. That's why there were so many people at Mamma Mia. People need to be able to escape. They need to be able to hoot and holler. Even though people, we are in a theater, stop screaming, stop singing. We don't want to hear your voice. But this is why. This is because we need the familiarity of like, everybody knows Alicia Keys songs. I can only think of one right off the top of my head. But they're familiar, people know them. And so that's probably why this is one of the ones besides just having a great story, it is at the top of the list because people are familiar with the music and they can feel comfortable with that. But I could be completely wrong here. [00:34:44] Speaker B: You never know. It can always be a shock. [00:34:46] Speaker A: It could always be a shock. And again, sharing 13 nominations with stereophonic, which is actually a play, there's still music in it, which I found was interesting. It was composed by Will Butler from Arcade Fire, but it's telling the story about a 1970s band. And this one also seems to be a shoe in for the play side, except that there are some big contenders in some of these plays. I was looking at the list and like the best performance of an actress, you know, we have Jessica Ling, we have Rachel McAdams. We have Sarah Paulson, Jessica Lange for mother play. Rachel McAdams for Mary Jane, Sarah Paulson for appropriate, which appropriate is actually a revival, too, which I found that out as well. Amy Ryan. But there's a lot of, there's a lot of big names in the plays here. So I'm interested to see how serophonic kind of shakes out compared to some of the bigger names that are attached to these shows. Looking at the list, do you see how many big names we have on there? Like, even under musicals, there's a lot of huge talent, a lot of recognizable names that people are rooting for. [00:36:05] Speaker B: Yeah, I was actually shocked at the amount even just kind of reviewing the nominations at. I mean, usually you see, you know, maybe a handful scattered across just any show that's open on Broadway. But for them to all be nominated, of course, is another thing entirely, but also just is interesting to me because it goes to show that, I mean, many of these people, we might originally know them from a movie or from the silver screen, but their starts often did happen in shows on Broadway or off Broadway. So it's very interesting for me to see this life cycle that we're seeing where these folks, maybe they're still doing some type of television here or there, but obviously Broadway being a whole different thing. I mean, you're living it. You're living. You're doing however many shows a week, and that's some massive dedication. Also probably means you're not doing too many projects outside of that. But very interesting to see so many on the list. [00:37:20] Speaker A: Yeah, because I was kind of looking at the list as we were preparing as well, and I thought, man, these are, I mean, Rachel McAdams has been in movies since our childhood, you know, and Sarah Paulson was, and Jessica Lane, for that matter, too. They were running american horror story like it was their bitch. Like Jonathan Groff, who I had a client, actually, yesterday that was just like, oh, the guy from Gleon from Frozen. And I was like, yeah, he's a Broadway actor. He's not just a Disney and a fox guy, you know, but there is, you know, there's just so much, there's so many big names and there's so many attached. Like, Daniel Radcliffe is on this list. And, you know, we grew up with him as Harry Potter and whatever that play was, with the horse, you know, and then William Jackson Harper, for those who don't know, he's an Uncle Vanya, but he was also from the good place and, um, or, um, ant man and the wasp, quantumania, which we don't talk about but, um, like, there. There are quite a few people that are on this list that it's just like, wow. Um. It's crazy the amount of star power that's attached to these plays as well. Something I hadn't thought about, too, is you had mentioned about eight shows a week. This is not exactly like a. Like an easy job for them either. Like, that's a lot of work. [00:38:42] Speaker B: Yeah, yeah. Comparatively to, you know, just not that movie making is easy by any means, but obviously, you're doing particular amount of takes, you're doing particular scenes at different times. This. You're just going for two and a half. Two, two and a half hours a day straight, and doing it often. I mean, usually, what, Tuesday through Sunday without breaks, multiple shows Saturday and Sunday. So, yeah, it's intensive. [00:39:20] Speaker A: And granted, I know that there's some shows, like, when we saw Angeliette, there was quite a few understudies. But I do wonder if that changes with something like Mary Jane. When we were in New York, Rachel McAdams face was plastered everywhere. She's the draw of that show. So I wonder if that changes. Like, is she doing all eight shows every week? Because, again, that's a lot. [00:39:45] Speaker B: Yeah. And I know it could depend on what type of show. Is it an equity or non equity show? All those details. In regards to contractually, how many shows is the standby or understudy getting a week? I would say probably. Hopefully at least one. So they're staying kind of fresh in whatever role they're partaking in. But it is absolutely the star power for any of these is 100% contributing to the ticket sales, contributing to the folks coming to see it. Even down to our initial intake of going to New York, we were looking at star power. That is who we were analyzing. Not to say that's the only reason, but it is a good incentive, especially if the individual is only partaking for a certain amount of time. [00:40:47] Speaker A: I think you have a fairly valid point there. I've heard people talk about going to see merely, we roll along, not because it was a Stephen Seinheim show, but because Daniel Radcliffe was in it. You know, like, that was the name or Jonathan Groff. They wanted to see one of those two because they are household names. Same with, like, Eddie Redmayne. I don't know if I would go see cabaret if it wasn't Eddie Redmayne in Cabaret. [00:41:15] Speaker B: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Definitely some shows that might be questionable to see. I mean, if you had someone who was making their debut or had no experience prior in regards to being on Broadway, comparatively to. Yeah, you drop Daniel Radcliffe in there and all of a sudden it's basically sold out. Right. So it makes sense. [00:41:42] Speaker A: Absolutely. I mean, when I saw Gutenberg back in December, which if there's going to be one that wins best revival, even though I know it's going to go to Mary Louie, roll along, I really wish it went to Gutenberg. I will preach Gutenberg's love until the day I die. If my friends Mario Jordan, listen to this, they're going to back me up here. But that show people were going to see, Andrew Randall's and Josh Gad, like those were, people were filling there and they had no idea what the show was. I had no idea what that show was about. Nobody could tell me that I did. I forgot that it was even a revival. Even though I had wrote the review back in December. I forgot it was a revival until I was doing the research today. And I was like, oh yeah, that's right. I don't think anybody could tell me what that show was about, but it was great. And that's the place was filled on a weekday in December because those two were there 100%. [00:42:38] Speaker B: That one's definitely made its rounds on TikTok. [00:42:43] Speaker A: Social media loved that one. And I think it was because not only was it funny, but they did the viral video of who was showing up and they marketed that perfectly. And you got to feel part of the show. And I think that was one of the cool parts about that. I'm interested to see how they do Uncle Vanya as well. I had recently watched a edition of that with Andrew Scott where he played all twelve parts, I think it was, and he would just switch in between them on the stage. He would change voices and stuff. It was very confusing. So it'd be interesting to see what it was like with the full cast because I know that is such a classic. But there's, you know, I think that there's a, a lot of good picks here, and you're right, a lot of these are going to be complete toss ups. Is there any noms that you were most excited about? Again, I know the answer to this, but. [00:43:47] Speaker B: I mean, once again, so, so glad to see suffs represented in this list with it literally opening just less than a month ago. Equally, though, even the little that I've heard from Hell's Kitchen, I was happy to see that on here. [00:44:07] Speaker A: Is that the top of the list the next time we go back? Is that what I'm hearing? [00:44:11] Speaker B: I think it definitely is worth being on the list if it's still there. And I know also the notebook has started. Feels like it just started to make waves as we were leaving. And so a while, of course. I mean, can't assume that everyone is particularly familiar, but I feel like most of the world is familiar with the notebook. I'd be very interested in hearing the music specifically behind that. But I mean, I feel I could probably say that for literally everything just because. Is there really ever a bad, an actually bad show on Broadway? [00:45:01] Speaker A: I don't think so. And I think that the notebook would be very interesting. I've heard of, I've seen a little bit about the cast and how they have multiple people playing different roles at different ages. And I think that's a really cool concept. I know water for elephants tried that as well. And I think that it worked really well for the story, especially if you get them looking relatively, the guy that they had to play the old character looked just like Grant Gustin. How I'd picture Grant Gustin being as an adult, you know? So I am really interested to see that. It just dawned on me, too, that we had Rachel McAdams, who was in the notebook in the city when the notebook is playing. And I hope that she's got to go see that because everybody deserves that crossover. But not only that, too. You know, we have shows. It's not on the list that we have typed up here, but, like the great Gatsby, and it's up for an award as well. And it's just now one of those ones. And I wonder if it's the timing of when it came out because I'm just now hearing about it. Like, I'm just now have people talking about it or saying how great it is and I'm seeing like a media push for it. And I wonder if that kind of impacted how much it got put on the nominees list. [00:46:13] Speaker B: Yeah, that is definitely one next time around, if it's still around that I'd be interested in seeing, even though I have not read or seen the great Gatsby, which is the unpopular statement, I guess. But of course, Jeremy Jordan. Love him. [00:46:36] Speaker A: Maybe say more about him. No shit. He's great. [00:46:40] Speaker B: But, yeah, very interesting to me because I feel that, like that one's and I don't know when it technically opened, but it feels like that's been running simultaneously or a little bit before. Some of the ones that did make the more so nominations. So it's interesting to me that just now it feels like there is a. A media push happening with that. [00:47:07] Speaker A: Yeah, it's crazy, because I actually had someone I know that went and saw it a year ago off Broadway, and they loved it, and they talked about it like it was the greatest thing ever. And then it had the. Pretty much the same cast, but it began having previews March 29, which I don't think is much farther from when the other shows did, because its open, official opening was April 25. [00:47:35] Speaker B: Yeah, that's. I mean, maybe like a week, a couple days, not even, which is also interesting to me, the fact that everyone's so. And maybe it's because the competition is so great that you're really just jarring for what seems to be the most gratifying at that exact moment in time. [00:48:00] Speaker A: Is there anything that you feel got snubbed? Or even if it's not a specific show, are there parts or pieces of a show that got snubbed that should have been recognized? The reason I ask this is because when I was looking at the best actress for a musical, there's not a single person from suffs on there, and they are all talented. [00:48:28] Speaker B: Yeah. And that is the. That is always the question regarding particular nominations, how they truly choose. You know, you can have a best musical and best or best play and best music or what have you, but then it doesn't align with best actor or best actress. I would be interested in seeing, and as I even learn more about the shows that I'm less familiar or haven't seen yet, interested in seeing exactly what the comparison is or what they are up against. But, I mean, I like to assume that these are somewhat rights in the. In whatever justification that they had. [00:49:33] Speaker A: I do wonder if part of the reasoning for suffs, like, even, like, internally, which I guess we'll never know, but one of the main actresses is also the creator of the show, Shayna Taub, and, like, she's up for best musical, best score. And I wonder if, like, that also weighed a little bit because it's like she's still getting recognized for her work. But there was other. But like you said, then there's. Compared to the other ones, the acting was. Maybe they recognized it a little bit differently, a little bit better for these other shows. [00:50:13] Speaker B: Right, right. And I. And just from a. I don't know, complexity standpoint in regards to everything that is happening on stage, I mean, suffs is relatively straightforward when it comes to even the choreography. Just the way that the act actresses lend themselves to the show could be substantially different. I mean, even is substantially different from probably something like the outsiders or definitely water for elephants that might be a little bit or a lot bit more physical. And so you have more body acting happening. You have more items like that that maybe you couldn't put on the scorecard of suffs because that's just not built into the show in any way. [00:51:06] Speaker A: Sure. And, you know, I do think that the one, the one that stood out to me that was 100% a snub is, you know, while we got, we do got best featured actress with Nicki M. James. But Hannah Cruz should have been nominated for her role in Suffs. And I'm not going to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it, but, but I have not cried so much in a musical because of one person's performance in years. And that felt like a travesty that she was not nominated for an award. [00:51:49] Speaker B: Yeah, that was brutal in the best way. Brutal in the best way. I, too, don't think. I don't think I've cried so hard, maybe ever, but, yeah, it was obviously a way more emotional piece, but so incredibly well portrayed. Yeah, I can definitely get behind that. [00:52:17] Speaker A: I'm wondering, I'm going to bring up something you said in New York that I think maybe applies here, but also maybe requires some elaboration. You mentioned in New York about things like Hamilton and Suffs because of, like, like either like the topics or like the, the topical conversations that they're having. Sometimes they're easily overlooked unless they stay in the mind's eye, like Hamilton. Do you think that that's part of what's kind of going on here? [00:52:45] Speaker B: Yeah, definitely. I mean, the shows themselves, those two specifically, Hamilton and Suf's, kind of are, of course, more modernized. They're appealing to probably a younger generation because of that. But also, we're bringing in this historical aspect that is pretty relevant in regards to what's happening in our world today, but also can lend itself in a negative way because sometimes people like to shut their minds off when they attend or go to any type of entertainment. And so this is definitely a show that you could not do that with. And similarly to Hamilton, it's at least going to make you ask some questions internally and, or make you question history and go back and do a little bit of research. Similarly to Sups, I definitely learned a lot that I didn't know or at least didn't recall about the suffragist movement all the way down to the basic fact of them being called suffragists and not suffragettes. So, and that can be a lot for people to swallow sometimes. And so while it will probably highly motivate those who do go to see it. Kind of like you mentioned, it wasn't on your radar. It probably won't be on many people's radar unless they are seeking something that feels that is going to hit them in the feels, basically. Because that's what it's going to be known for. [00:54:38] Speaker A: Sure. I think that you're onto something there, because when we went to go see suffs, and I'm going to bring up another show that we saw and how it compared. But that one, everybody was there with, like, the intention of learning what that story was like. Again, I think this is part of what we talked about, too. People go to New York to see a show because they're seeing that show. You know, like, we flew to New York with the mindset they were seeing five of those shows. Granted, it could be different if we're living there, but you go to that show and you could tell that people had a certain air to them of, like, we're coming here to recognize that something happened in history, which I do feel that with Hamilton. But when there is a problem, like, when there's, like, a social issue that is discussed in a play where people are not expecting it, they do not know how to handle that as well. And I'm gonna go with. And Juliet, when we had people in that audience that didn't know how to handle the conversation of gender and sexuality, and there was people that were laughing at parts they weren't supposed to laugh at or making fun of it or poking fun at it, and so you didn't get that in sufs, you know, like when, when something happened, I almost spoiled what happened. When something happens at the end of act one, you feel it as a gut punch. And there's not a single person there that doesn't know what they're getting themselves into and or expecting that maybe kind of even in the lines of, like, Hadestown, you know, that you're going to go there for, like, that dramaticism of it, and so you're prepared for that. [00:56:08] Speaker B: Yeah. Yeah. The level to which, obviously, you're being brought into the story is, I mean, a little bit different because they are two kind of different genre or styles. But Ann, Juliet, I remember, you know, some of the exact moments you're kind of referencing. And equivalently, there were some moments where you knew there were people in the audience who were appreciative or celebratory of those moments because they were clapping or hooting and hollering. And so it is obviously, New York has a unique perspective in the sense that because people are being more intentional, usually about coming to see the show, they might know a little bit more, or they are coming back because they enjoyed it so much the first time, or the message that's being portrayed. But yeah, I think of if or when that show tours and it comes to Michigan or Detroit, what will the audience's reaction be then? Where you're maybe going to get a little bit more of a mix of generations, a mix of background, a mix of gender. It's a little bit more of a. Of a toss up. [00:57:45] Speaker A: Absolutely. I will be really interested. I hope that it tours, it should tour, but when it does, I'm going to be interested to see how it's received. Again, we went to a lot of shows in Detroit here, and the nights that we go, granted, they're usually a Tuesday, usually opening night, but there is a big difference between a show that has a little more weight and a show that does not, you know, to kill a mockingbird. That audience was a lot different than Mamma Mia. And we went to those back to back, and I don't know that I would have. I didn't expect the crowd to be mum of mamma mia. To be who they were, but it's not surprising. And I would never have expected that with something like to kill a mockingBird, which was very heavy and deals with a lot of topics, and it was more made up of a larger population of people who were there to see it. [00:58:36] Speaker B: Yeah, definitely. And then, of course, the rapport that comes with the show, or of course, any type of marketing that's specifically being done around the show, I know even just the way that Broadway Detroit was marketing, or maybe preemptively having conversations around particular shows, like something heavier, like to kill a Mockingbird, whether you're interviewing a cast member or just having an open conversation or an open dialogue about what the premise of the show is, and, you know, kind of comparatively now to when it was written originally, definitely gives people more of an opportunity to know what they're walking into, whereas Mamma mia, most people know when they're. When they're walking in what to kind of expect. Maybe that's lending a little bit more freedom to them in regards to how they're expressing themselves in the auditorium, which can be hard to navigate because, of course, you want people to have a good time when they go. You go to be entertained. We do kind of ride that very hard line of interrupting other people's entertainment, which is always when you have a kind of concert style show definitely run into that. I can say those were typically my least favorite to work as a person who worked in a venue, just because it is hard, you know, sometimes that is how people engage and that's how they're entertained. And for others, it is the complete opposite. [01:00:19] Speaker A: But was it bad to work six? Because I feel like six is one of those shows that, like, we talk about a lot of heavy things. We talk about, you know, women's equality. We talk about, you know, sexual assault. We talk about beheadings, you know, like. But it's also put in such a pretty little package that people think it is a concert and it is a short 90 minutes show. And every time I see it, people are so engaged with it that they almost forget that they're at a show. But it does deal with some of that stuff that you would see and stuff. So I was. Was that a hard one to work? Because people engaged in it that way? [01:00:56] Speaker B: It is a very unique show in the sense that it is kind of concert style. I think it is very helpful that it's done in one act because folks become less jittery, but they are able to match the energy that's on stage, and they tend to know what's appropriate. I would say a lot of folks that come, they're repeat ticket holders. They've seen the show before. They've loved it, and because they love it, they appreciate it in a way that they know kind of where the line is. Appropriately in regards to, you know, we're going to hoot and holler at the particular moments that you should hoot and holler. And every show has that right. When someone walks on stage, maybe you're clapping for them. Or if there's an interactive portion of the show, which that one definitely has its moments, depending on the cast, then you have that. But in those very quiet, more delicate, more sincere moments, you could probably hear a pin drop. Could depend on the audience. I've definitely had some where, you know, you know, after one particular song, it's either dead silent and there's a collective, probably 4 seconds of silence because everyone's just in awe. Or you kind of have that one person who literally can't contain themselves and they're immediately screaming and everyone else is like, oh, you should have waited a little bit. Um, for sure, it's kind of just dependent on. On the person. But usually, if you have those repeat fans, they know exactly when the. The correct etiquette should take place. [01:02:45] Speaker A: For sure, which you do see a lot more in New York. When we saw six there at the end of all you want to do is, you know, when she gasps, everybody stopped, and, like, then they started cheering for her. But, like, there was, like, an audible stop. And I feel like when I went to go see it, I saw it twice when I came to Detroit, and it just. There, that was not there, you know, like, there was not an audible stop. There were people just started, like, clapping. Because that's what you do, you know, people bow, you clap, and then you move on, you know? But, like, there was that awe moment of, like, oh, gosh. And, you know, I think it's gonna be interesting to see how stuff does when it tours, because there's a lot of those moments where you're supposed to just stop. [01:03:31] Speaker B: Yeah. There's a little bit more work maybe happening between the head and the heart, comparatively to just the excitement of what's occurring. But even on the flip side of that, I think of our experience in Sweeney Todd, in those more humorous moments where, depending on the audience, you could have a moment where it's just kind of funny, and you could have a moment where the audience is absolutely roaring and you're going for minutes. And so. But that could be. That could be a, you know, typical Tuesday and then Wednesday, it's crickets. Sure. [01:04:16] Speaker A: I know what scene you're talking about. And her feet rubbing his chest went on forever in our show, which our audience ate it up. But when you see it on Twitter, it is not like that. I do think that there is an interesting thing with six, though, too, is that there was a. There's definitely a swift switch now where it seems like it is more of a musical than a concert, because something I told you is, like, when I went to see it for first time, they made us, like, they asked us to take our phones and film, which you were like, oh, that's a publicity stunt. And they didn't do that this time. There was a little more of that divide of, like, we are a show. You are an audience. But there's also those moments they said in Sweeney Todd, like, there were some things that our audience ate up and they responded to that in kind, but there was still that divide of, like, this is a show and you're an audience and you're supposed to remain that way. [01:05:04] Speaker B: Yeah, yeah. And I think, I mean, that could have to do with direction, the direction they're receiving and. Or just the actor or actress in that moment being. Feeding off of the audience energy and realizing, you know, they could. They could amp that up or amp it down any which way they want to. [01:05:28] Speaker A: Absolutely. And so it sounds like while we are, as we established, we are experts in Broadway, we are not experts in all the shows that are going to play this year. So it's going to be a complete and utter surprise what takes the cake. But, um, I don't know. It's about you, but I'm looking forward to seeing where the show goes, uh, when the Tonys happen in June. Anything that you were just. Any final words, I guess I should say any final words that you have. This is where. This is where you, you. You plug your favorite show and you tell everybody to go see it, and then you tell the Tony Academy that they need to vote for it. This is it. [01:06:11] Speaker B: This is it. This is the time. [01:06:13] Speaker A: Yep. We're giving you the soapbox. [01:06:15] Speaker B: I mean, I think I've made it my favorite. Pretty clear, but shout out to suffs. Absolutely. Incredibly well done. We technically saw it in previews. We also saw the standby for the lead role. And just goes to show that, as we know, swings, standbys, understudies, absolutely kill it. And I really do hope that it takes some awards home this season. But definitely shout out to all the shows. Obviously, they're all incredible, all of the actors and actresses, incredibly talented. I'm just consistently blown away by the amount of artistic value and everything that they, they bring both on and off stage to the musicians, to the techies, stage managers, and the whole crew. [01:07:09] Speaker A: Yeah, they never stopped working, and I did not realize how much work went into it until we went to the Broadway museum. And, like, they are always working. They are always fine tuning. They're still changing shows that I just read was thinking it was today that Hadestown changed the lyrics for when it's going over to the west end for one of its songs. And, like, years after the show is, they decided to change it and adapt it. And, like, I think that there's so much work and there's so much talent. I mean, just looking at this list, you have play, you know, musicals like Limpica, which we heard great things about when we were in New York, days of wine and roses. I've heard great things about that cabaret I was actually excited to see, but it wasn't even. It wasn't even in previews yet. When we, we went, um. I mean, when we were at water for elephants, the crowd outside of outsiders were going crazy. They loved that show. I don't think that there's going to be a bad win here. I like that there is such a. There's such an eclectic group of shows and people. And, you know, there's a great representation here, and we can only go, go up for here. So I'm excited to see what happens. [01:08:17] Speaker B: Absolutely. It'll be a good, a good show. [01:08:21] Speaker A: All right. So, unfortunately, we are running out of time, but we'd love to continue the conversation. Of course. Also, let's check out the Tonys when they come June 16. It is going to be hosted by Ariana Debose again, which, as we know, we got some great memes last year, and we're going to be ecstatic to see her back again. But check us out on Or you can find us on twitter or other social medias at my cosmic circus or our cosmic circus podcast, twitter at cosmic podcasts. Thank you again so much for tuning into the cosmic circle. My name is Brian Kitson, and you can find me on Twitter at kitson 301. Thank you so much, RJ, for joining me today. Before you go, where can the people find you? [01:09:04] Speaker B: Yeah, absolutely. My pleasure to be on today. Anyone interested in following me? I do primarily station myself on the Instagram with my handle being a journey through the past with an underscore after every word. Of course, that is in reference to Anastasia the musical. [01:09:28] Speaker A: Is it really? [01:09:30] Speaker B: It is. That is a song. [01:09:32] Speaker A: Wow. I just. I learned something new every day because I, like I said, I've known you for years, and I had no idea. Well, there you have it. You can find him at journey through underscore. The underscore past. A lot of underscores. And if you always, like I said, you can always follow us on our social media at my cosmic circus. Thanks again, everyone, for listening. Can't wait for our next trip through the cosmos.

Other Episodes