Matt Bogart (who has appeared in Miss Saigon, The Civil War, Smokey Joe’s Café, and Aida on Broadway and in the recent Sondheim Festival production of Company at the Kennedy Center) and Idina Menzel (an original cast member of Rent and one of the stars of The Actors’ Fund of America’s recent benefit concert of Funny Girl) will perform back-to-back solo shows at the Ars Nova Theater on Monday, October 7 as part of the theater’s Broadway Spotlight series.
“We’re a brand new space,” says co-producer Jenny Wiener of Ars Nova. “The Reader’s Digest version of the story is that, about five years ago my brother passed away very unexpectedly. He had a classical record label called PGM; he had just purchased some land and was going to build studios there. When he passed away and the property came to me, I decided — for many reasons, but partly as a way to honor him — to continue and build something on the spot but to follow my own passion, which is theater rather than classical music. This was a ground-up construction: We tore down what was already existing at the site and we built the theater and the building at 511 West 54th Street.”
The Broadway Spotlight shows at Ars Nova are co-produced by Jon Steingart, and Gordon Greenberg is artistic director of the series. According to Wiener, “The theater we created is designed to give artists a space to come and play, to have a good time. We do musical theater, and we have a reading series and a comedy night every week. There are so many talented performers working on Broadway — some of them in the chorus, some in the spotlight — who have shows that they want to work on. We decided it would be a great thing if we could put together a series that gives them a chance to do that in a low-pressure environment; we’ve been leaving up to the performers as to whether they want to be reviewed or not.”
Since its inception in April 2002, the Broadway Spotlight series — co-presented by Broadway.com — has included shows by Meredith Patterson, Felicia Finley, Adam Rapp, Michael Winter, Chad Kimball, and Shoshana Bean. Upcoming are Julia Murney on November 4 and Billy Porter on December 2. “[The series] has been a terrific opportunity to see people who are going to be the stars of tomorrow develop projects for themselves,” says Wiener.
On October 7, Matt Bogart will perform at 7:30pm and Idina Menzel at 9pm. All tickets are $12. For reservations or ticket information, phone 212-206-1515 or go to SmartTix.com.
By Michael Portantiere Theater Mania – Oct 5, 2002