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So Sad to Report that “Bright Star” Is Closing Sunday

Carmen Cusack2Broadway can be so cruel sometimes. It is with a heavy heart that I have to report the sad news that “Bright Star” my favorite show of this season is closing Sunday.  Sometimes I think that quality has no place on Broadway, where supposedly only the Best of Best are showcased. I could name several more than mediocre musicals that are running, but I will refrain from casting aspersions. It’s been a very crowded season for musicals unfortunately for “Bright Star.” But do yourself a favor, if you haven’t already done so and get the marvelous CD of the Original Cast with the stunning debut of Carmen Cusack, who was nominated for Best Actress in a Musical.

“Bright Star” was also nominated for Best Musical, but alas won neither award. TONYS do help keep shows open.

Here’s the Official Press Release I just got sent announcing its’ untimely demise.





“ B R I G H T   S T A R ”





New York, NY – Producer Joey Parnes today announced that Bright Star, the new musical from 2016 Tony Award nomineesSteve Martin and Edie Brickell, will play its final Broadway performance on Sunday, June 26, after 30 preview and 109 regular performances.


Bright Star, with direction by Tony Award® winner Walter Bobbie and choreography by Josh Rhodes, began performances on Thursday, February 25th, 2016 at the Cort Theatre (138 West 48th Street), and opened officially on Thursday, March 24thIt went on to win the 2016 Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Musical and Best Score and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music.  It also received five 2016 Tony Awards nominations, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Best Lead Actress in a Musical, and Best Orchestrations.


“So much of Bright Star’s beauty comes from the fact that it is utterly free of irony,” said Joey Parnes.  “In these cynical times, this quality proved to be totally refreshing to audience members, and also created a unique challenge in attracting them.  I am so proud of this show, and I am glad that Steve, Edie and Walter, and this incredible company, brought its unique spirit to our city, if only for a while.”


The original cast recording of Bright Star is now available everywhere, and charted on five different Billboard lists in its first week of wide release.  The cast album from Ghostlight Records placed at #1 on the Top Current Blue Grass Albums chart, #2 on the Top Broadway chart, #5 on the Americana/Folk Albums chart, as well as hitting the Top 100 on the Billboard Top Albums chart and Top 200 on the Overall Digital Albums chart. The album is produced by the legendary, multi-Grammy Award-winning producer, manager, and musician Peter Asher.


Carmen Cusack has made one of the most buzzed about and raved over Broadway debuts in recent memory as Alice, a role she originated in Bright Star’s world premiere production, and is joined by co-stars Paul Alexander Nolan, Tony Award®nominee Michael Mulheren, A.J. Shively, Hannah Elless, Tony Award® nominee Stephen Bogardus, three-time Tony Award®nominee Dee Hoty, Stephen Lee Anderson, Emily Padgett, Tony Award® nominee Jeff Blumenkrantz, along with Maddie Shea Baldwin, Allison Briner-Dardenne, Max Chernin, Patrick Cummings, Sandra DeNise, Richard Gatta, Lizzie Klemperer, Michael X. Martin, William Michals, Tony Roach, Sarah Jane Shanks and William Youmans.

The design team for Bright Star includes Tony and Emmy Award® winner Eugene Lee (Scenic Design), Tony Award® winnerJane Greenwood (Costume Design), Tony Award nominee Japhy Weideman (Lighting Design), Tony Award nominee Nevin Steinberg (Sound Design), Tom Watson (Hair and Wig Design), Grammy Award® winner Peter Asher (Music Supervision), Rob Berman (Musical Direction and Vocal Arrangements), August

Eriksmoen (Orchestrations), and Howie Cherpakov (Casting).

#Bright Star



Color Me A Rainbow! So PROUD!

SH Rainbow 1Happy Pride, Everybody! Dear Readers! Dear Cineastes All! A VERY Happy Pride!


Happy Hallowe’en!

Hallowe'en 1


New Kickstarter Project Launched! Get Stephen Holt Show to TIFF 1014!

New Kickstarter Project Launched! Get Stephen Holt Show to TIFF 1014!

So proud and happy to be announcing that once again Kickstarter has accepted my new proposal for 2014!

Yes, once again we need your help, dear readers, dear cineastes, dear lovers-of-theater!

Here’s the link to Kickstarter where I explain everything.

Toronto is becoming more and more expensive to get to and stay there for as much of the Festival as possible, every year.

Toronto’s great film festival is the #1 film festival in the world in my book, and certainly in my world.

It’s like the Festival that has taken over Show Business. Everything seems to emanate from there every year. Last year, they launched “12 Years a Slave” into the Oscar stratosphere. Kyle Buchanan of Slate. com declared the Oscar race over the minute he saw it, and I said the same thing here.

It was just incredibly exciting to be there and to see that phenomenon begin to happen. It was like watching the sun explode!

“Gravity” was also there, causing every one who saw it to rave, about its’ technical mastery and 3D breakthroughs and of course, Sandra Bullock’s brave, solo performance.

To be there and to witness that first hand and to be able to convey it to you, dear readers, dear cineastes is a thrill and a pleasure beyond compare.

But financially, it’s more difficult than ever. The Canadian Dollar is up again against the U.S. dollar, and so it just gets harder and harder to fund all this fabulousness at TIFF, so we really do need your help. And we really do appreciate it.

We didn’t make our goal last year, so I lowered the goal a little this year. Maybe we’ll make it this time…

I hate asking or talking about money, but now, once again, I’m faced with having to. And if it wasn’t for the people who did help(although we came nowhere near our goal) I thank you again and every day for your loyalty and support.

So here we go again, and TIFF looks bigger and better and more important than ever. And CRUCIAL to staying visible in this competitive Business of Show.

Thanks again in advance!

Oops! Almost forgot to include the link ~


James Broughton Doc “Big Joy” is a joy!

Who the hell was James Broughton? Never heard of him! Who was this late self-proclaimed poet and poetic filmmaker, I , an very active film critic did not know of? And especially since he was considered a gay pioneer. And I didn’t know him?

Turns out it’s all part of the New York/San Francisco, East Coast/Left Coast disconnect. Broughton was a HUGE figure in San Fran, and gayer than springtime. I started to watch this new documentary with some reluctance, but then it got me.

I couldn’t STOP watching it! And it gripped me unexpectedly and held my attention and interest right through til the end.

James Broughton (November 10, 1913 – May 17, 1999) was part of the ” San Francisco Renaissance,” again a phrase I had never heard before, that occured after World War II ended, and is considered a precursor to the Beat poets.

Then suddenly I remembered a section of Anais Nin’s diary where she talks excitedly about this. This moment in America, where I think she described it as “American culture finally began.” It was at a poetry reading of Alan Ginsberg’s “Howl”, if memory serves, in the San Francisco bookshop which was a focal point for the birth of the Beat Generation and also for James Broughton.

This is where he met and fell in love with a bookshop worker, PAULINE KAEL!?! Whom he had an extended affair with(even though he was gay, and she seems to have known it) and also had a child with her, a girl. Which long story short, he left her to raise the child, who was disabled in some way, on her own.Not a very nice man.

But still Kael always seems to have spoken highly of him, and always praised his experimental films, which she took VERY seriously. Perhaps more seriously than anyone before or since. Her voice is heard on the sound track talking about him, but she is never seen in a traditional interview situation.

“Big Joy” tries to right this cultural wrong by including excerpts from many, many of his films. Which sort of look like a West Coast George Kuchar to me. And sure enough one of the Kuchars turns up to praise him throughout the film, as one of its’ talking heads. As is Armistead Maupin who is infinitely more authoritative.

“Big Joy” pulls out all the stops in trying to make us take James Broughton as seriously as Pauline Kael did. And it pretty much succeeds in that. At least, it makes you consider his unusual, totally original, totally unconventional bisexual life.

People really, really were into him, his facockta movies and his poetry. His greatest phrase “follow your weird” became an anthem of the hippie generation, “Big Joy” his other famous phrase, the doc. claims, and Broughton was right in sync with the Flower Power movement when it came to fruition in San Francisco in the ’60s. Although “Do Your Own Thing” was the more oft-quoted motto, which was said, I believe, by Timothy Leary. “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out” was the mantra and Broughton was certainly down with that.

I think I even saw one of his films “The Bed” at the time of its’ release way back when. It was notable at its’ time, the time of “Hair,” for its’ abundant frontal nudity, male and female. And other than breaking that barrier, which was exhilarating at the time, it made very little coherent sense. But then none of his films were ever meant to, it seems.

“Big Joy” finds its’ true stride when Broughton turns 61 and meets his soul-mate, who was one of his film school students, who was in his 20s. Their amazing love story, despite their difference in age, becomes the one enduring thing this doc leaves you with. Astonishing as it seems, late in life, James Broughton at last found “Big Joy” with a lover who stayed with him for the rest of his life.

It is essential queer viewing. Check it out.




Oscar ~ “Fault” Shailene Woodley’s triumph or Schadenfreude?

Julianne Moore 2

22 year old star Shailene Woodley’s Oscar chances are on the rise because her new film “The Fault In Our Stars, “is breaking box-office records, and changing the face of the Best Actress Oscar race even this early in the pre predicting season.

Woodley’s searing portrayal of a teen dying of cancer shocked me at the range of pain and power this young woman exhibited in a sad love story of her star-crossed affection for a another dying teen, also a cancer patient, played effectively by Ansel Elgort..

It was the surprise #1 hit at the box-office this week, upending all kinds of expectations and predictions. This micro-budgeted tale of two seriously ill teens has made an incredible impact with movie goers, most of them young females or YA as the industry likes to call ’em, Young Adults.

And Oscar NEVER ignores this kind of vote. The public’s. They vote with their ticket-buying dollars. And they are buying tickets en masse to see this five handkerchief weepie that is leaving audiences in tears around the country and around the globe.

And they are liking the sadness of the doomed duo. They are LIKING crying their way home. This movie about death, death, and more death, as unlikely a topic as that seems, is making them FEEL. Something, one wonders, if they’ve ever thought about before. The Germans have a word for it Schadenfreude.

I sometimes think all great love stories have to have one or two of the young lovers dying. See “Romeo and Juliet.” Who can forget the surprising B.O. success “A Love Story” had in its’ day?

It was a best-seller, and propelled non-actress/model Ali McGraw on to the cover of Time Magazine. And to an Oscar Nomination. “Love is never having to say you’re sorry” was the trademark catch phrase that was plastered everywhere that year. The public went in droves to see Ali McGraw die. “Fault” is like that. It’s a neglected genre. But “Fault in Our Stars” has put all this weepiness front and center once again.

And Shailene Woodley’s amazing, dynamic turn as the dying teen is powering this film into the stratosphere of Oscar consideratioiin. By that I mean, a serious film, about death, no less, and cancer, moreover, with a young, a very young actress who confounds expectations, is just the kind of performance the Academy loves to honor. Jennifer Lawrence anyone?

David Cronenberg’s “Map to the Stars” won acclaim at Cannes for the performance of Julianne Moore as an aging Hollywood actress trying to hang on to her youth.I thought it was being rushed out in June, but no.  It’s now opening in the fall, when the season REALLY gets under way. Which is good, meaning the producers behind it, think it has Awards chances.

Out of the Cannes gate, Moore was a clear front-runner. She’s had four nominations and never won. Ditto Amy Adams, who is coming up this fall with FIVE nominations and no win, but she has Harvey Weinstein and his mega-hype-machine in “Big Eyes.” I thought the Best Actress Oscar was definitely Adams’ to lose.

But now with “The Fault in Our Stars” powering to #1 and Shailene Woodley on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine this week, looking almost unrecognizably glamourous, I think she’s here in the Oscar conversation to stay. And the movie, based on a popular YA novel, may have equally surprising “legs”as they say, and stick around to really harass Julienne Moore and Amy Adams come the fall.

I mean, it’s only June and already the Best Actress race is red-hot. If Shailene did manage to win this one, I think she supplants Jennifer Lawrence as the youngest winner of Best Actress in Oscar history.

Or is it just too early to think like this? No. It’s never too early to think about Oscar. Or why are you reading this article?


“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder” WINS BEST MUSICAL!!!!!!!

” A Gentleman’s Guide…” WINS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now I’m happy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Have a fabulous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Carole King introduces then sings with Jessie Mueller “Beautiful”!

They just THREE numbers from “Beautiful” with Carole King herself introducing then dueting with Jessie Mueller, who will now win Best Actress in a Musical for sure.

The audience gave it a standing O.

Neil Patrick Harris, of course, won “Best Actor in a Musical” as I predicted. And he gave a very nice speech then kissed his fiancee (still not married after 8 years) David Burtka ON THE MOUTH! Just when you think the Tonys can’t get any gayer. They get gay-er.

That standing ovation for Carole King and Jessie Mueller now has me worried…Does this mean that ALLLL those people, potentially Tony Voters, voted for “Beautiful” as Best Musical?!?

“Hedwig” just won Best Revival of a Musical. I think it’s won four now, Best Revival, Best Actor in a Musical, Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Best Sound Design of a Musical.

“A Gentleman’s Guide…” just won Best Costumes. Which makes it three wins so far? Best Director, Best Book and Best Costumes….

“Hedwig” now also just won Best Lighting Design of a Musical, so that’s five!

Hugh is now singing and dancing with each of the five Best Actresses in a Musical. In. The.Audience…It works.

Jessie Mueller WINS! Thanks her parents AND Carole King!Very, very nice emotional speech. Yup. She’s a star.



“A Raisin in the Sun” Surprises as Best Revival of a Play! Sophie Okenado wins Best Featured Actress!

“A Raisin in the Sun” is now one of the biggest winners of the night. Even though the Tony Nominating Committee ignored Denzel. Who was not there to clamber onstage with the rest of the cast and producers piled onstage around director Kenny Leon, who also won earlier in the evening.

And the lovely,classy Sophie Okenado won Best Featured Actress in a Play earlier in the evening. Playing Denzel’s long-suffering put-upon wife.

Now they’re doing another completely unnecessary “tribute” to “Wicked”s tenth anniversary. And they picked the worst weakest number, a ballad I barely remember “I’ve been changed for the good.” Ugh.

Now a commercial for “The Jersey Boys” at least seems reasonably interesting, and better than “Wicked” certainly. Very happy to see the great previous Tony and Drama Desk Award winner John Lloyd Young, reprising his acclaimed role as Frankie Valli. Good choice, Clint! It looks like he using a de-saturated color pallette…

OK, Now something interesting just happened! Unbieivably, Hugh Jackman raps the Opening Number from “A Music Man.”


“Hedwig” Rocks Radio City!

Neil Patrick Harris rocked out wildly in the production number from “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”

A semi-embarassing melange of scenes and speechs by the nominees for Best Play. All the playwrights appeared and spoke about their works. “All the Way” then wins. The only play that wasn’t introduced by its’ playwright. Or was it so short that I missed it? Oh, yes, and Brian Cranston won Best Actor. Both as expected.

Glad that they mentioned Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where the play rather incongruously started.

But once again the plays seem under-served and belittled by comparison to the attention, care and air-time heaped on the musicals. Sad. Makes me angry.

The number from “Violet” makes it look like a spiritual or gospel musical, which it isn’t it. And the African-American singer who wows in the lead in this number(I’ll look her name up immediately) ,looks like the star of the musical, which she isn’t. It’s the pallid Sutton Foster, who just gets a snippet of a song as the title character “Violet.” God, I was bored by that uninteresting, tiresome show. Did NOT understand the critics’ raves for that one.

Robert L. Friedman the librettist of “A Gentleman’s Guide…” was announced as the winner of Best Book of a Musical in a little addendum that they slip in as a sort of a “By-The_Way” in between the commericals. Blink and you’d miss it. Like I must’ve blinked and missed the author of “All the Way” introducing his play.

And now they have a completely irrelevant number from Sting’s upcoming music, which Sting himself sings. Why are they giving all this air-time to something that hasn’t even opened yet?!?

Maddening. This is the perfect example of why people dish the Tonys.

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