Musical theatre workshops and productions

Rise up!

“The second most important theatre critic in the US, right now, is Chris Jones.” This quote is from my mentor. I understand it and agree with it. 

Chris Jones is the theatre critic for the Chicago Tribune and the New York Daily News.  I have admired his writing for a quite a while.  I remember a couple of years ago when a disastrous pre-Broadway run of THE FIRST WIVES CLUB had it’s out of town try out in Chicago.  I had tickets to the show and after the performance I read Jones’ review.  I agreed with it completely.  So, I wrote him an email telling him that and offering a few more notes on the production.  He said, that with my permission, he would forward my notes to the producers.  WOW, what a guy.

Jones has written an amazing new book – Rise Up!  Bloomsbury says this “book tells the story of Broadway’s renaissance from the darkest days of the AIDS crisis, via the disaster that was Spiderman: Turn off the Dark through the unparalleled financial, artistic and political success of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton.“

Here are some of my favorite parts of the book:

  • In describing RENT, Jones pointed out that Larsen, its writer, had understood the important “timeless facet of the American Musical: its inescapable relationship with optimism.” I interpret this as – the most memorable, most successful musicals have an optimistic point of view.  Certainly audience favorites like: ANNIE, HAIRSPRAY, THE PRODUCERS, OKLAHOMA!, and well, RENT.
  • Disney’s marketing approach to LION KING was to sell the show to adults, even though the family audience (children in the audience) was its core.  That way, it could justify its huge ticket price.
  • He talks a great deal about August Wilson’s contribution – I have also written several blogs about Wilson’s extraordinary talent – but the one line that just jumped out at me was “One core Wilson truth was that everyone stands of the shoulders of those who have come before.”
  • About SPIDER-MAN:TURN OFF THE DARK, many producers discussed that this huge financial disaster happened because “one” talent (Julie Taymor) was allowed too much free, unchecked, reign. He reminds us that “one of the most important requirements of any Broadway show of any era: to start with, end with, and always care for the experience of the audience.”

I loved this book.  I felt like I was on a thoroughly enjoyable horse ride and could not wait to get to the barn to read all about HAMILTON.  Click HERE to learn more about the book.

Thanks Chris Jones.

Larry Little

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