PLAYBILL PICKS: Anticipation! Playbill Contributors Share Titles They're Eager to See in Fall 2013

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07 Sep 2013

Diana Huey in Signature's Miss Saigon.
Photo by Christopher Mueller

MATT BLANK, Photo Editor

Big Fish (Broadway). What can I say? I love a big, ambitious new musical, and it doesn't hurt to have a great team behind it. I remember enjoying the movie a decade ago and am really interested to see how this top-notch cast makes that world come alive.

Little Miss Sunshine (Off-Broadway). I was a fan of the film of course, but I'm most personally interested because William Finn remains my favorite modern composer, hands-down. His work on "The Marvin Trilogy" and A New Brain played a big part in my youth and teens, and Elegies makes me feel so many feelings... often against my will. I couldn't be more thrilled to devour a new full-length score from the mind of Finn.

Miss Saigon (Regional and on Tour) What? I've loved Miss Saigon since seeing the 1998 Kristine Remigio/Steven Pasquale tour in San Francisco, and am lucky to be catching two new productions this fall. Heading down to Virginia's Signature Theatre this weekend to see a groundbreaking new "immersive" production in their intimate MAX space, then taking a trip to Hartford in a few weeks for a mini-tour with a stellar cast featuring the brilliant Manna Nichols, Charlie Brady and Orville Mendoza, who promises to be an unforgettable Engineer.

Parade (Regional). Sorry if I'm skewing regional but there are certain musicals that I will happily get on a plane to see. Parade is one of them and, luckily, this production only requires a Chinatown bus ride to Philly, where the Arden Theatre is staging the Jason Robert Brown work. They did an incredible job with Next to Normal, Sunday in the Park with George and Threepenny Opera, so I can't wait to see Parade in their capable hands. It features a cast of Philly's finest (Ben Dibble is born to play Leo Frank) and New York talent (Robi Hager taking on the role of Frankie Epps).

Honeymoon in Vegas (Pre-Broadway Regional Premiere). Speaking of Jason Robert Brown, I've been looking forward to seeing this show get on its feet for almost a decade. I attended a night of Brown's music in 2004 at the now-closed Le Jazz Au Bar, with my childhood friend Sara Morris. The second part of the night was a Songs for a New World original cast reunion; however, that's an entirely different story. The evening's first "Act" consisted of a variety of Brown's songs, new and old. He opened the show on piano with "The Old Red Hills of Home" and we were treated to such songs as "Mr. Hopalong Heartbreak" from Urban Cowboy (Jenn Colella) and "A Friend" from 13 (Krista Pioppi). But most memorable was Kerry Butler singing a brand-new tune written for Honeymoon called, "Anywhere But Here." It blew me away. Very much a JRB-styled "Somewhere That's Green." No idea if the song is still in there, and I hardly recall the movie, but I will be first in line at Paper Mill Playhouse.


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