Sara Bareilles Previews “Waitress,” Jonathan Groff’s “New Brain,” Barbra As A Christmas Ornament: THEATER

Plus: "Funny Girl" is a hit before it opens, Cynthia Nixon directs a gay midlife crisis, and more!

Hope you got your Hamilton tickets already: According to the show’s site, the next availability is in July 2016.

The show’s popularity has been aided by a major celebrity presence at the Richard Rodgers, including Madonna, Jennifer Aniston and Barack Obama, who saw the show a second time this week as part of a DNC fundraiser.

Stage left. Rapt. Honored to have POTUS back in our midst. #HamiltonBway #HeGaveUsThePoint

A post shared by Leslie Odom, Jr. (@leslieodomjr) on

Power couple Beyoncé and Jay Z made a surprise appearance recently, with Queen Bey nearly killing Jonathan Groff when she told him she loved his walk.

Maybe it wasn’t that surprising: Beyoncé can be heard on the forthcoming Hamilton “Mix Tape” album, expected in January.

Jonathan Groff’s New Brain

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Speaking of Hamilton, Groff has left the show temporarily to film the Looking movie, but his heart is definitely still in musical-theater land: PS Classics is releasing the cast recording of A New Brain, which Groff appeared in this summer as part of Encores! Off-Center.

William Finn’s contemporary musical score features Groff singing “Heart and Music,” Aaron Lazar (playing his boyfriend) singing “I’d Rather Be Sailing” sand “Music Still Plays On,” sung by Ana Gasteyer, playing Groff’s mom.

The album will include 15 additional minutes of material never heard on the original 1998 cast recording.

A New Brain is due out in February—pre-order here.

Sara Bareilles Previews Waitress

Sara Bareilles sings songs from Broadway's Waitress

“Brave” singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles will perform songs from her forthcoming musical, Waitress, in “An Evening with Sara Bareilles,” tonight at New York City Center.

Based on Adrienne Shelly’s 2007 film of the same name, Waitress, is opening this spring on Broadway.
 

 
Bareilles’ fifth studio album, What’s Inside: Songs from “Waitress” comes out Friday, and includes the single “She Used to Be Mine.”

Hello, Gorgeous!

She’s the greatest star of all time, and now you can hang her on your Christmas tree (or Hanukkah bush): Gay icon Barbra Streisand has been immortalized in a holiday ornament benefiting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

The $60 bauble from the Broadway Legends collection sees Babs as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, and is available for pre-order now.

Previous divas-turned-ornaments include Liza Minnelli, Gwen Verdon and Carol Channing.

Ain’t That Funny?

Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl
And the first revival of Funny Girl is off to a “gorgeous” start: The London production hasn’t even begun and it’s completely sold out, with a transfer to the West End secured for the spring.

Sheridan Smith will star as Fanny Brice, famously played on stage and screen by Barbra Streisand, with Michael Mayer (Hedwig) directing.

The original 1964 production ran on Broadway for 1,348 performances and was nominated for eight Tonys—famously losing in every category to Hello, Dolly!—but a major revival has never been successfully attempted

Lea Michele in Glee
Debbie Gibson starred in a 1996 US tour that flopped after a month of performances. In 2012, Lauren Ambrose was set to play Brice with director Bartlett Sher at the helm, but backers didn’t believe in her star power and the revival was snuffed.

Super-producer Ryan Murphy also tried to mount a version with Lea Michele in the lead, but it never came to fruition.

The London production at Menier Chocolate Factory runs November 20 through March 5, with the West End transfer running April 9 through July 2 at the Savoy.

(Chorus) Boy to Man

Steve
Mark Gerrard’s latest, Steve, has a lot going for it.

Directed by Cynthia Nixon the Off-Broadway show—which had its world premiere this week—tells the story of a failed Broadway chorus boy turned stay-at-home dad, who finds himself filled with fear and uncertainty: Is Stephen, his partner of 14 years, cheating on him? Why is one of his best friends dying of cancer?

And what, exactly, has he done with his life?

The show’s fabulous cast includes Malcolm Gets, Mario Cantone, Jerry Dixon, Ashlie Atkinson and Matt McGrath in the title role.

A bittersweet comedy about friends, relationships and mortality, Steve is scheduled through December 27 at the Courtyard Theatre in Hell’s Kitchen.

Seth Becomes Her

Chris Sieber, Ana Gasteyer, Stephanie J. Block and Jackie Hoffman were among the performers last week at a special launch event for Seth’s Broadway Diaries, Vol. 2, at New York cabaret club Don’t Tell Mama.

Sieber (Spamalot, Shrek) and company performed excerpts from Seth Rudetsky’s newest tell-all, and performed some of his favorite musical numbers.

Seth’s Broadway Diaries, Vol. 2: The Inside Scoop on (Almost) Every Broadway Show & Star compiles Seth’s hilarious “Onstage and Backstage” columns for Playbill, chronicling tales from Broadway’s biggest fan—going to Disneyland with Audra McDonald and helping Sutton Foster star in two completely different Broadway shows on the same night. And there’s more tea from everyone from Idina Minzel and Megan Hilty to Lea Salonga and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Broadway Heartthrob Travels “Out of Oz”

Aaron Tveit in Wicked

Wicked alum Aaron Tveit and current Elphaba Rachel Tucker teamed up for an intoxicating duet in a recent viral video.
 

 
The pair sang the show-stopping “Defying Gravity” as a part of new series called #OutofOz. Expect more videos to come down the (yellow-brick) road!

Meanwhile the blockbuster musical just celebrated it’s 5,000 performance recently.

Changed For Good

Wicked's Kristin Chenoweth and Stephen Schwartz  at the Dramatics Guild Fund Gala
Walter McBride

The Dramatists Guild Fund held its gala on October 28, when performers and writers shared their inspiration as part of “Great Writers Thank Their Lucky Stars.”

Hosted by Darren Criss the elegant evening included Danny Burstein serenading us with “If I Were a Rich Man” (Brock-Harnick-Stein’s Fiddler on the Roof begins November 20), Ben Platt singing a number from the upcoming musical Dear Evan Hansen, and original cast members of Spring Awakening singing “The Song of Purple Summer.”

But one popular blonde nearly stole the show: Tony winner Kristin Chenoweth took to the stage for a special performance of “For Good” from Wicked by Winnie Holzman and Stephen Schwartz (who accompanied on piano).

Watch the performance below, live from Gotham Hall.
 

 

From The Butler to Broadway

Forest Whitaker

Details are forthcoming about Forest Whitaker’s Broadway debut: The Oscar winner will headline a production of Eugene O’Neill’s Hughie, last seen on Broadway in 1996 with Al Pacino.

Set in the lobby of a small hotel during the summer of 1928. Hughie sees small-time hustler Erie Smith (Whitaker) telling the hotel’s new night clerk Charlie Hughes (Frank Wood), about how his luck has gone south since the death of the clerk’s predecessor.

Previews are set to begin February 5 at the Booth Theatre, with an expected opening night of February 25.

It’s NOT Rose’s Turn

Barbra Streisand and Lady Gaga

Talk of another movie version of Gypsy has been stirring for years, and now one thing is clear: Universal Pictures is taking a pass. No reason was given for Universal’s cold feet, but it means Barbra Streisand and producer Joel Silver will have to seek a different backer.

Streisand still hopes to star as Rose in an adaptation of the 1959 musical, with Lady Gaga as Louise and John Travolta as Herbie.

“There hasn’t been a definitive version [of Gypsy],” says the lead in Jonathan Tolins’ Buyer & Cellar.

And there may never be.

Paul Winkler is an actor and writer based in NYC. He is the creator of Broadway Buzz and former editor-in-chief of Everything Broadway.
@mrpaulwinkler