First look at Broadway-bound “Death Becomes Her,” Billy Porter’s special Tony & Brandi Carlile’s surprise appearance

First look at Broadway-bound “Death Becomes Her,” Billy Porter’s special Tony & Brandi Carlile’s surprise appearance

You are currently viewing First look at Broadway-bound “Death Becomes Her,” Billy Porter’s special Tony & Brandi Carlile’s surprise appearance
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Photo composite, from left: Megan Hilty, Billy Porter, and Brandi Carlile
(from left) Megan Hilty, Billy Porter, and Brandi Carlile. Photos by Matthew Murphy, Shutterstock.

Diva deathmatch

A whopping 39 shows opened on Broadway this season (with more than a few already closed), but even while the spotlight is still hot and the Tonys have yet to land in their recipients’ hands, all eyes are on next season. If only they could stay in their sockets.

Death Becomes Her will be among the next crop of movie-to-musical adaptations, but we’re hedging bets that this one will last “Now and Forever,” just like Cats. The original 1992 black comedy starred Merryl Streep and Goldie Hawn as lifelong frenemies on the quest for eternal youth.

The musical pairs Megan Hilty (NBC’s Smash, Wicked) and Jennifer Simard (eight Broadway shows, including the recent Britney Spears jukebox musical, Once Upon a One More Time and Hello, Dolly! starring Bette Midler) as Madeline Asheline and Helen Sharp, respectively.

Director and choreographer Christopher Gatelli will likely bring queer sensibility to the proceedings and expect flamboyant costumes by Paul Tazewell (currently represented on Broadway by Tony front-runner Suffs). The Chicago Tribune called the show “a knockout” when it opened for its pre-Broadway tryout earlier this week.

“This is life’s ultimate cruelty,” says wealthy socialite Lisle Von Rhuman in the film.” It offers us a taste of youth and vitality, and then it makes us witness our decay.” But with Hilty and Simmard delivering deliciously over-the-top performances, the only cruelty will be the difficulty of scoring a ticket.

Billy Porter and George C. Wolfe to receive special Tony Awards

Of course, we’re all placing bets on which Broadway show will reign supreme at this year’s Tony Awards. Will it be the Alicia Keys musical Hell’s Kitchen (which started Off-Broadway)? What about the most nominated play in history, Stereophonic? And will the third time be a charm for Jonathan Groff‘s performance in Merrily We Roll Along?

While we like to say everyone’s a winner, the reality is that some very talented folks will be walking the streets of New York City empty-handed. But it won’t be Billy Porter and George C. Wolfe, both receiving honorary awards at the 77th Annual Tony Awards.

Billy Porter will receive the Isabelle Stevenson Award, presented annually “to a member of the theater community who has made a substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of one or more humanitarian, social service, or charitable organizations.”

Porter has been a long-time supporter and activist for nonprofit organizations, including The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, the Entertainment Community Fund, and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Who can forget this throwdown benefit performance at Broadway Backwards?

While multi-hyphenate George C. Wolfe isn’t represented on Broadway this season, his impact as a writer, director, and producer is undeniable. The Tony Awards Administration Committee thinks so, too, bestowing him with a special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.

“George C. Wolfe’s stellar contributions as a playwright, director, producer, and artistic director, including his unforgettable direction in productions like Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk, have left a lasting impression on audiences,” said Heather Hitchens, president and CEO of the American Theatre Wing. “Beyond his tremendous dedication to storytelling, he has shown an unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout his illustrious career that has shifted culture and elevated the theatre community.”

Wolfe’s directorial credits also span television and film, including Rustin, starring Colman Domingo, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, fueled at a young age by a sense of self-worth.

“I think one can tell when one is being dismissed,” Wolfe said in a 2023 interview with Filmmaker Magazine. “It starts when you’re young and there’s, without question, an aspect of feeling wounded. Fortunately, if you have the backing of a community, of your family, you go, ‘No, that’s not going to happen here.’ “

Wolfe will undoubtedly have similar wise words to share when The Tony Awards air on June 16.

Now everyone can appreciate Sondheim’s last musical

"Here We Are" original cast recording

The limited Off-Broadway run of Here We Are, Sondheim’s incomplete last show brought to fruition by book writer David Ives and director Joe Mantello, was a nearly impossible ticket to secure. Presented at The Shed, an armory-like multicultural venue in New York City’s Hudson Yards, the musical latched on typically esoteric Sondheim whims: two films, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and The Exterminating Angel, by Luis Buñuel.

Mantello and an all-star cast that included David Hyde Pierce, Denis O’Hare, Bobby Cannavale, Amber Grey, and Michaela Diamond, among others, harnessed the kooky existential premise of a dinner party gone awry. With the release of the original cast recording, fans can try to unpack the beautifully dense score one song at a time, including Pierce’s “Bishop’s Song.”

Solo shows, a Pulse tribute musical & LGBTQ+ theater festival arrive Off-Broadway

With hits like Cole Escola’s Oh, Mary! (s n headed to Broadway) and the Taylor Mac-led Orlando, Off-Broadway is the place to turn for queer theatermakers. Pride Month is here, which means even more LGBTQ+ content:

No, But I’m Definitely in a Better Place Than I’ve Been in a Long Time Who says all the fun is in Manhattan? Head to The Brick in Brooklyn to see Michael J. Feldman’s one-person play about a raging narcissist who attempts to put up a one-person show about his dog as the world ends.
The Brick, Brooklyn. Performances from May 23 to June 1.

From Here — The Orlando-based Renaissance Theatre Company brings an emotionally impactful musical about survival and triumph to New York City. From Here follows the journey of Daniel, a 30-something gay man whose life is changed forever after the events at Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016. The musical features a book, music, and lyrics by Donald Rupe, who drew from his own experience and that of family and friends, rooting the project in the community’s response and resilience.
Pershing Square Signature Center, New York City. Performances from June 27 to August 11.

A man sings center stage in a scene from the musical "From Here."
Blake Aburn, center, and the cast of “From Here.” Photo by Ashleigh Ann Gardner.

PrideFest at the Tank — Is there such a thing as too much queer theater? Not according to The Tank, a home for emerging artists in New York City. For ten days, The Tank is pulling out all the stops to present a range of new works, including theater, comedy, puppetry, storytelling, and music. We’ve got our eyes on a few fun performances, such as Gay Femme Mayhem, a night of queer fem stand-up comedy (June 24), House of Legendary, an opera set in the early days of NYC’s underground drag culture (June 27), and How Glory Goes, a night of drag and improv starring Thee Lena Horné (June 29).
The Tank, New York City. Performances June 21 – 30.

TikTok musical theater moment

There’s plenty of doom-scrolling these days. (A Rudy Guliani coffee commercial? Help!) But every so often, we swipe upon something that brings us pure musical theater joy. This week’s find was a spontaneous duet between Sara Bareilles and Brandi Carlile singing “She Used to Be Mine” from Waitress. The song is a solo number in the show, but these two turn up the dial for the ultimate power ballad moment.

@jillborchers5 She Used To Be Mine. Not sure how I survived this 🥹. #lgbtmusic #brandicarlile #bramily #sarabareilles @Brandi Carlile @thesarabareilles ♬ original sound – Jill Borchers

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