All tagged Kander & Ebb

Liza, Chita and The Rink

In 1983, a musical prepared to open on Broadway that would star two of Broadway’s most-beloved and enduring talents: one a Tony-nominated (several times over) triple-threat known particularly for her electric dancing prowess, the other the daughter of Hollywood royalty (Judy Garland) who had carved her own exciting niche in entertainment outside of her mother’s shadow, having won an Academy Award and two Tony Awards. They were, of course, Chita Rivera and Liza Minnelli, respectively. Together they would appear in the next Broadway musical by composers Kander and Ebb who had created scores for gritty musicals such as Cabaret and Chicago. Writing the original story was playwright Albert Innaurato, best-known for the comedic family-drama Gemini. Direction was to be by Arthur Laurents who had directed, among many other things, the original Gypsy. The musical that was shaping up to be the exciting event of the season was The Rink.

Broadway Musical Time Machine: Looking Back at Kiss of the Spider Woman

Quite possibly the darkest of all musicals to grace the Broadway stage, but also a musical that is overflowing with hope and courage, Kiss of the Spider Woman opened on Broadway in 1993 and went on to win the Tony Award for Best Musical. The amazing part of this show's journey is rewinding a few years and examining its genesis and uphill climb to reach Broadway. If ever there was a "Little Engine That Could", Kiss of the Spider Woman overcame many odds to reach the Great White Way.

Chita on Broadway - The Web the Spider Woman Wove

Chita Rivera personifies all that is great about the Broadway musical. A triple threat who has appeared in a major Broadway musical for ever decade since the 1950s, she pales all others by comparison where career longevity, professionalism, and versatility are concerned. When I was in college (1993), I was writing a paper for my musical theatre history class on the musicals of Kander and Ebb. Not so coincidentally, Ms. Rivera was starring in the Kander and Ebb musical Kiss of the Spider Woman. Since my paper required that I interview someone, I thought "Who better than the amazing Ms. Rivera to weigh in on the musical world of this composing duo, having starred in ChicagoThe Rink and the then-running Spider Woman. I wrote her a letter c/o the Broadhurst Theatre which included a list of questions and a gentle plea for her to answer them. It was a shot in the dark, but worth a try. Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), Ms. Rivera took the time to hand write all the answers to my questions. She affectionately recalled her experiences, recounted the importance of the process, and celebrated her co-stars as an opportunity to grow as a performer (perform with the best, you learn from the best). The fact that she took such interest in a young man's questions showed me that Chita was a class act. I have adored her ever since. 

The "Source" of Our Concerns: Top-Ten Musicals that Illuminated Their Source Material

Every season, we are inundated with a long list of musicals that are in development and that are based on famous source material. We speculate about their potential and wonder if they will work, often resigning ourselves to the fact that they will never live up to the movie, play or book that we adore. Sometimes, we are surprised when we enter the theatre and find that the music and lyrics, along with a fresh viewpoint, concept and/or casting choice can illuminate the piece in ways we hadn't imagined. This article is a valentine to the musicals that DID work and either captured their source material beautifully, or improved up them. I am limiting my list to pieces that I personally saw AFTER I had read the play, book or watched the movie from which they derived.