PLAYBILL VIDEO WEEK IN REVIEW: Hardbody, Broadway Backwards, Vanya and Sonia, Liza Minnelli and More

By Playbill Staff
March 24, 2013

In the new series Playbill Video Week in Review, Playbill.com recaps its weekly coverage of Broadway performances, celebrity interviews, web series and opening nights – in case they were missed the first time around.



Click through to check out our exciting videos from the week of March 18.

Broadway Backwards 8 Revisits Show Tunes Through LGBT Lens

Broadway Backwards, the annual concert celebration in which great musical-theatre songs are reinterpreted by Broadway performers through a lens that blurs gender and sexuality, offered its eighth installment March 18 at Broadway's Palace Theatre. It featured Estelle Parsons, Jan Maxwell, Victor Garber, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Stephanie J. Block, Judy Kaye and more. Here, performers Kyle Dean Massey and Robert Creighton previewed the show with Broadway Backwards creator Robert Bartley, who directed and choreographed. Proceeds go to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of New York City.

Josh Young in Rehearsal For Broadway Backwards 8

Tony Award nominee Josh Young was one of many performers — including Estelle Parsons, Jan Maxwell, Victor Garber, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Stephanie J. Block, Kyle Dean Massey and Robert Creighton — who performed at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS' Broadway Backwards concert. This annual celebration takes classic songs of the musical theatre and reinterprets them with an eye toward the LGBT experience. Here, Young readies for the big night, March 18, by running through "Bring On the Men," from Jekyll & Hyde. The performance benefits BC/EFA and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of New York City and was directed and choreographed by Broadway Backwards founder Robert Bartley.

EXCLUSIVE: Liza Minnelli and Alan Cumming in Concert

Liza Minnelli and Alan Cumming share a link: she won an Oscar for her performance as Sally Bowles in the film version of Cabaret, he won a Tony playing the Emcee in the 1998 Broadway revival of the John Kander and Fred Ebb classic. After they performed together in the summer 2012 on Fire Island, Minnelli and Cumming decided to pair up again — this time at New York's Town Hall — for March 13 and 14 performances in celebration of Minnelli's 67th birthday. Playbill was on hand to capture some sights and sounds of the evening, as the duo paid homage to Kander and Ebb.

Highlights From Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike on Broadway, Starring Sigourney Weaver

After stops at Princeton's McCarter Theatre Center and Lincoln Center Theater's Mitzi Newhouse Theater, Christopher Durang's Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike comes to Broadway's John Golden Theatre. Nicholas Martin directs the touching and outrageous comedy set in Bucks County, PA, with characters and themes inspired by the world of Chekhov. When movie star Masha (Sigourney Weaver) returns home to the family farm, she brings out feelings of regret and resentment in brother Vanya (David Hyde Pierce) and stepsister Sonia (Kristine Nielsen), who still live there after many years of caring for their ailing parents. Cleaning woman Cassandra (Shalita Grant) warns that terrible things are to come, with Masha's boy toy Spike (Billy Magnussen) arriving on cue.

Bebe Neuwirth Rehearses "Ring Them Bells" and "Mr. Bojangles" For New Show

Bebe Neuwirth's first solo album titled "Porcelain" features story-songs written by the likes of Kander and Ebb, Kurt Weill, Stephen Sondheim, and Tom Waits. The two-time Tony winner brings her revamped show, Stories With Piano #4, to 54 Below, which features many songs off "Porcelain," as well as a selection of new material, to tell an array of musical stories of love, pain and laughter. Here, Neuwirth rehearses for her March 18-23 gig at the New York hotspot singing "Mr. Bojangles" and Kander and Ebb's "Ring Them Bells."

In Rehearsal With Choreographer Josh Bergasse, "The Flying Lings" and It's a Bird… It's a Plane… It's Superman

Whether he's choreographing the musical numbers or acting in the show, Josh Bergasse's work is seen weekly on NBC's Broadway drama "Smash." In the City Center Encores! concert production of It's a Bird… It's a Plane… It's Superman, Bergasse is allowed to step outside of his normal bounds as choreographer. In addition to a more traditional approach for numbers like "You've Got Possibilites," "It's Superman" and "It's Super Nice," Bergasse takes on a martial arts based number that introduces a group of deadly acrobats known as The Flying Lings who prepare to battle Superman. Here, Playbill takes an exclusive peek at Bergasse and troupe as they run through the high-flying choreography featuring somersaults, kendo sticks, karate chops and sword thrusts aplenty.

Highlights from Broadway Backwards 8 with Brian Stokes Mitchell, Kyle Dean Massey and Stephanie J. Block

Robert Bartley created Broadway Backwards not only as a fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of New York City, but also as a vehicle through which to tell stories from an LGBT perspective. In this eighth offering of the show, stars from stage and screen joined up at Broadway's Palace Theatre to perform some of the most iconic songs from the world of musical theatre with the Backwards signature twist. Howie Michael Smith runs through "Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm" from How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Brian Stokes Mitchell takes on the Gershwins' "The Man I Love," Stephanie J. Block performs "Our Time" from Merrily We Roll Along and Kyle Dean Massey and Robert Creighton (along with an all-male ensemble) celebrate A Little Night Music's "A Weekend in the Country."

Highlights From Hands on a Hardbody on Broadway

Based on the 1997 S. R. Bindler documentary about an endurance contest in which entrants must keep one hand on the surface of a vehicle at all times in order to win a brand new pickup truck, Hands on a Hardbody charts the course of ten hard-luck Texans striving for the American dream. With music by Phish frontman Trey Anastasio and music and lyrics by Amanda Green, the tunes draw from influences such as Dr. John, Aretha Franklin and ZZ Top. After a successful 2012 run at the La Jolla Playhouse, the production arrives on Broadway under the direction of Neil Pepe and stars Keith Carradine, Allison Case and Hunter Foster.

Mitchell Jarvis and Wesley Taylor's "It Could Be Worse": Episode 8

Up-and-coming actor Jacob Gordon (series co-creator Wesley Taylor ) begins rehearsals for the new musical, The Ice Queen, but he can't help being preoccupied with how things are heating up between him and his new love interest Ben (Adam Chanler-Berat). Star Veronica Bailey (Alison Fraser) surprises Jacob with an odd introduction to her dog-toting and creepily tactile husband. Her later diva meltdown in rehearsal is calmed with the arrival of Jacob's father Leo (Richard Poe), who pops into the studio with a big announcement.

*Includes adult situations and language. Viewer discretion is advised.