Grammy Nomination for Dear Evan Hansen!

Dear Evan Hansen, Come From Away, Hello, Dolly! Cast Albums Among 2018 Grammy Award Nominations

Only three musical theatre albums were nominated; five recordings have been recognized in recent years.

Ben Platt
Ben Platt Joan Marcus

The Recording Academy recognized three cast recordings in the Best Musical Theater Album category for the 2017 Grammy Awards. The nominations were announced November 28.

The Original Broadway Cast Album for the 2017 Tony-winning Best Musical Dear Evan Hansen was among the nominations in the category, as were the recordings for Come From Away and the Bette Midler-led Hello, Dolly!

The three-album race follows three consecutive years of five recordings receiving nominations in the category. This is the third time in Grammy history that three musical theatre albums were nominated (after 2012 and 2014).

Dear Evan Hansen original headliner Ben Platt and Hello, Dolly!’s Midler, who both earned Tony Awards earlier this year for their performances, are the only vocalists included in the Musical Theater Album nominations.

Also listed in the nominations are Dear Evan Hansen composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who were additionally recognized as producers with Alex Lacamoire and Stacey MindichCome From Away composers David Hein and Irene Sankoff—again listed as album producers with Ian Eisendrath, August Eriksmoen, and David Lai, and Hello, Dolly! album producer Steven Epstein.

Last year’s Grammy went to the cast recording for the Cynthia Erivo and Jennifer Hudson-led revival of The Color Purple, with Hamilton earning the honor the year before.

Tony winners Pasek and Paul were also nominated in the Best Song Written for Visual Media category, sharing the nod with Justin Hurwitz for their Oscar-winning “City of Stars” from La La Land. Joining them in the category is Hamilton Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, for Moana‘s “How Far I’ll Go.”

Adding to the Broadway representation in this year’s nominations is Leonard Bernstein – The Composer. The comprehensive, 25-disc retrospective, released by Sony Classical earlier this year as part of the continuing Bernstein centennial celebration, was nominated for Best Historical Album.

The 60th annual ceremony will take place January 28, 2018—from New York City for the first time since 2003.

For the full list of Grammy nominees, click here.

Allwayz On Stage’s Pinocchio a Hit!

Special troupe stages charming show

PLAY REVIEW /// ‘My Son Pinocchio Jr.’

WOODEN IT BE GRAND—Sammy Costanzo, left, as the puppet and Breezy Johnson as Geppetto in “Son of Pinocchio Jr.”

WOODEN IT BE GRAND—Sammy Costanzo, left, as the puppet and

Breezy Johnson as Geppetto in “Son of Pinocchio Jr.”

Allwayz On Stage delivered a heartwarming theater experience earlier this month when it presented its latest production at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts.The company, launched a year ago by Laurie Johnson and Tracy Costanzo, offers stage opportunities for young adults ages 16 and over with special needs. Johnson and Costanzo’s daughters, Breezy and Samantha (Sammy), who have been friends since kindergarten, regularly put on shows in their backyards. But with last year’s successful “Beauty and the Beast,” their personal fairy tales came true as they starred in the fully staged production, complete with sets, costumes, music and choreography.

Now 25 and 24, respectively, the pals headlined the cast in the company’s second production, “My Son Pinocchio Jr.,” which had a three-day run ending on Aug. 13.

“My Son Pinocchio” was penned by screenwriter David I. Stern, the adaptation based on the Disney live-action TV movie “Geppetto.” The score has new songs by Stephen Schwartz (“Wicked,” “Pippin”) and two numbers (“When You Wish Upon a Star” and “I’ve Got No Strings”) from the legendary 1940 animated Disney film, “Pinocchio.”

As they did last year, Johnson (director) and Costanzo (choreography) joined forces to stage the show, with their daughters playing the principal roles: Breezy as Geppetto and Sammy as Pinocchio.

The production traces the familiar story from Geppetto’s perspective, beginning when Pinocchio becomes a real boy and taking us through flashbacks. To Geppetto’s dismay, Pinocchio engages in behavior not unlike that of real live boys: He’s incorrigible and uncooperative, leading Geppetto to call the Blue Fairy and ask for a refund on his wish, claiming Pinocchio is defective.

Breezy and Sammy’s friendship is palpable, even when they are disguised by wigs and makeup. It was evident they heartily enjoyed the whimsical dialogue during their scenes together: Geppetto: “Did you sleep well?” Pinocchio: “I slept like a log!” Geppetto: “You are a log!”

The Blue Fairy (played by Abigail Arnal) is one of two characters from the fable whose roles are expanded. Stromboli, the bombastic carnival owner and puppeteer (played by one of the company’s many adult mentors, Ben Deschaine, who also built the set), is the other. The Blue Fairy heads up a school of fairies in training (Brooke Baldauf, Amanda Counts, Erin Schleich and Megan Tresback), boasting about her “perfect record” of successfully granting wishes.

Allwayz On Stage also provides initial acting opportunities for younger performers, and the show featured debuts by Isla Burditt, Owen Sayles, and sisters Siena and Eden Judovits.

Eden, the smallest of the newcomers, was adorable as well as adept as she sang on key, nailed her lines and executed her dance moves with the rest of the cast. (The sisters were joined onstage by their parents, Danielle and Kevin, who played ensemble roles.)

The Allwayz On Stage mentors are professionals who’ve been working with the challenged actors since April. Onstage, many serve as guiding partners to make sure the special needs actors hit their marks and prompt them if they forget a line. The latter instances were few and far between, as everyone performed admirably and professionally, encouraged by the enthusiastic audience.

Of special note in the cast are mentors Julia Marley, a Cabrillo Music Theatre performer, and Ezra Shipin, an accomplished dancer who choreographed her own stunning ballet tableau during the song “Geppetto and Son.”

Others included Emalee Burditt, Katie Gill, Chrys Ryan Johnson, Meghan Pool and Ryan Satterfield, who played Professore Buonragazzo, inventor of the “perfect child” machine, which produces “Body Snatcher”-like obedient children. Hmm. Not a bad idea.