‘Wicked,’ ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Hamilton Reopen to Cheers on Broadway

Theater royalty — in the form of Kristin Chenoweth, Julie Taymor and Lin-Manuel Miranda — welcomed back boisterous audiences to “Wicked,” “The Lion King” and “Hamilton” for the first time since the start of the pandemic, marking Tuesday as the unofficial return of Broadway.

Chenoweth surprised the crowd at “Wicked” by appearing onstage for a speech on the same stage where she became a star years ago. “There’s no place like home,” she said, lifting a line from the musical. The crowd hooted, hollered and gave her a standing ovation.

Taymor, the director and costume-designer of “The Lion King,” congratulated her audience for the courage and enthusiasm to lead the way. “Theater, as we know, is the lifeblood and soul of the city,” she said. “It’s time for us to live again.” And Miranda at “Hamilton” summed up the feeling of a lot of people when he said: “I don’t ever want to take live theater for granted.”

“The Lion King,” “Hamilton” and “Wicked” all staked out Tuesday to reopen together in early May after then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo picked Sept. 14 for when Broadway could begin welcoming back audiences at full capacity.

The trio of shows were beaten by Bruce Springsteen’s concert show in June and the opening of the new play “Pass Over” on Aug. 22, as well as the reopening of two big musicals — “Hadestown” and “Waitress.”

But the return of the three musicals — the spiritual anchors of modern Broadway’s success — as well as the return of the long-running “Chicago” and the reopening of the iconic TKTS booth, both also on Tuesday, are important signals that Broadway is back, despite pressure and uncertainty from the spread of the delta variant.

The crowds virtually blew the roof off the three theaters. At “Wicked,” they stood and applauded the dimming of the lights, the welcome announcement, the arrival and departure of Chenoweth, the opening notes of the first song and several moments during that song, especially when Glinda says: “It’s good to see me, isn’t it?”

At “The Lion King,” the opening song “The Circle of Life” was virtually drowned out by cheers and clapping, while every star in “Hamilton” had to pause to let the entrance applause die down enough to be heard again.

Linda Diane Polichetti, an usher at “Hamilton,” said she was proud to back at work. “I’m just glad to be back because the world I was in, I wasn’t recognizing,” she said. “I love my show. I love my cast.”

Ticketholders to all three mega-hits had to prove they were fully vaccinated with an FDA- or WHO-authorized vaccine and masks must be worn at all times, except when eating or drinking in designated areas.

Vaccine checkers in bright T-shirts inspected phones and cards as the crowds made their way into the theaters. “Thank you for getting vaccinated and wearing a mask,” Miranda said, to roars of approval. The crowds were very compliant with the new rules, only lowering their masks for the obligatory selfie. Taymor joked in her speech that the performers often wear masks. “Guess what? You get to wear masks tonight.”

Before the shows, Miranda, Taymor and “Wicked” composer Stephen Schwartz stressed that Broadway has implemented safety protocols that make cramming strangers into theaters as safe as it can be.

“We go to a theater for catharsis. Literally that’s what we go for: to be in communion with each other, hear a story told in the dark and experience catharsis,” said Miranda. “For a while, it wasn’t safe to do that. And it’s safe to come back now with the protocols we have in place.”

Actors across Broadway say they’re itching to get back on stage after more than a year of waiting, trusting the health experts to make the process safe. The bulk of Broadway’s theaters will be reopened by Thanksgiving.

“It’s a little bit like when you’re on an airplane and there’s turbulence,” said Sharon Wheatley, a veteran actor in the show “Come From Away,” which resumes its Broadway run Sept. 21. “I have to trust the pilot, I have to trust the air traffic controllers. I feel nervous, but I have to understand that I don’t know as much as these people do.”

“Hamilton,” which opened six years ago, “Wicked,” which opened 17 years ago and “The Lion King,” which opened 23 years ago, form the bedrock of modern Broadway, virtually immune to downturns, shifts in tourism and rivals.

Another sign that Broadway is inching back to normalcy is the re-opening of the famed TKTS booth in the heart of Times Square, where visitors can get same-day and some next-day discount Broadway and off-Broadway tickets.

“It’s such a big step forward,” said Victoria Bailey, executive director of the nonprofit Theatre Development Fund, which runs the booth. “To get it open and such a symbol to people that theater is coming back.”

Bailey says Broadway’s return will be less like a flick of a light switch and more like a dimmer, with a slow build to regular attendance. “We’ll know so much more in two or three weeks, but you can’t swim unless you can start by dog-paddling.”

During the pandemic, Miranda saw his visionary show turned into a critically hailed filmed version for Disney+, but said there no substitute for seeing it live.

“It’s one thing to see something on the screen. And I’m thrilled ‘Hamilton’ was was available on a screen in a time when we couldn’t go to a theater. But I’m even more thrilled that now it can be experienced the way it was meant to, live in front of an audience, the final collaborator every night.”

‘AGT’ Finalist Lea Kyle’s Performs Incredible Quick-Change Routine to Icona Pop’s ‘I Love It’: Watch

Quick-change specialist Léa Kyle has magic at her fingertips. And every time she appears on America’s Got Talent, she blows minds.

The French artist was at her magical best Tuesday (Aug. 14) for her finals performance, which was aptly soundtracked by Icona Pop’s iconic hit “I Love It.”

Earlier in the competition, Kyle’s talents earned her a golden buzzer from Heidi Klum. The judges loved it, the crowd was bamboozled.

Will she win the trophy? One thing’s for certain, you won’t figure out how she does her magic.

Watch below.

Alanis Morissette Criticizes HBO’s ‘Jagged’ Doc: ‘This Was Not the Story I Agreed to Tell’

Alanis Morissette says she will not be supporting Jagged, the HBO documentary that documents her rise to fame and the release of her seminal album “Jagged Little Pill.”

In the statement provided to THR, Morissette says, “I was lulled into a false sense of security and their salacious agenda became apparent immediately upon my seeing the first cut of the film. This is when I knew our visions were in fact painfully diverged. This was not the story I agreed to tell.”

She says she will not be attending any events surrounding the release of the feature, which made its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 13. “Not unlike many ‘stories’ and unauthorized biographies out there over the years, this one includes implications and facts that are simply not true,” says the musician. In the statement, Morissette does not disclose which elements of the movie are untrue.

In the doc, the singer-songwriter discusses her personal experiences with sexual assault and statutory rape. During a sit-down interview seen in the film, Morissette says, “I would always say I was consenting, and then I’d be reminded like, ‘Hey, you were 15, you’re not consenting at 15.’ Now I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, they’re all pedophiles. It’s all statutory rape.’” Morissette does not identify her alleged assaulters.

Reports about Morissette’s displeasure began ahead of Jagged‘s festival premiere, with the Washington Post first reporting that the singer would not be attending the TIFF premiere.

Jagged is a part of the Bill Simmons-produced Music Box series, an anthology of music-focused documentary features, which also includes TIFF title Listening to Kenny G and the already debuted Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage. (Jagged does not yet have a premiere date on HBO.) THR has reached out the HBO for comment.

See the full statement from Morissette below:

I agreed to participate in a piece about the celebration of Jagged Little Pill’s 25th anniversary and was interviewed during a very vulnerable time (while in the midst of my third postpartum depression during lockdown). I was lulled into a false sense of security and their salacious agenda became apparent immediately upon my seeing the first cut of the film. This is when I knew our visions were in fact painfully diverged. This was not the story I agreed to tell. I sit here now experiencing the full impact of having trusted someone who did not warrant being trusted. I have chosen not to attend any event around this movie for two reasons: one is that I am on tour right now. The other is that, not unlike many “stories” and unauthorized biographies out there over the years, this one includes implications and facts that are simply not true. While there is beauty and some elements of accuracy in this/my story to be sure — I ultimately won’t be supporting someone else’s reductive take on a story much too nuanced for them to ever grasp or tell.

This story was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.

Drake Takes Top 14 Spots in Record Week on Streaming Songs Chart

Drake’s historic week on Billboard’s charts (dated Sept. 18) is especially highlighted on the Streaming Songs survey, where he boasts the top 14 titles.

Previously, the most songs that an artist had placed from No. 1 on down on Streaming Songs in a week was eight, by Drake himself, on July 14, 2018, concurrent with the chart arrival of his LP Scorpion.

Looking at the entire Streaming Songs top 10, Drake’s clean sweep is the first after he charted nine on the July 14, 2018, ranking (Nos. 1-8 and No. 10) and J. Cole did the same on the chart dated May 29 this year (Nos. 2-10).

Drake stakes claim to the top 14 spots on the latest Streaming Songs chart all thanks to his new album Certified Lover Boy, which soars in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 613,000 equivalent album units, according to MRC Data, the biggest week for an album in 2021.

Meanwhile, all 21 tracks on the new album infuse the 50-position Streaming Songs chart in the upper half, as Drake sports all but three of the top 24 titles. Here’s a rundown of their ranks and their streams in the Sept. 3-9 tracking week.

Rank, Title, Billing (if other than Drake), Streams Sept. 3-9:
No. 1, “Way 2 Sexy,” feat. Future & Young Thug, 67.3 million
No. 2, “Girls Wants Girls,” feat. Lil Baby, 57.4 million
No. 3, “Fair Trade,” feat. Travis Scott, 53.8 million
No. 4, “Champagne Poetry,” 48.3 million
No. 5, “Knife Talk,” feat. 21 Savage & Project Pat, 45.9 million
No. 6, “In the Bible,” feat. Lil Durk & Giveon, 41.4 million
No. 7, “Papi’s Home,” 39.9 million
No. 8, “TSU,” 39.8 million
No. 9, “Love All,” feat. JAY-Z, 39.1 million
No. 10, “No Friends in the Industry,” 38.1 million
No. 11, “N 2 Deep,” feat. Future, 36.4 million
No. 12, “Pipe Down,” 30.5 million
No. 13, “7am on Bridle Path,” 29.6 million
No. 14, “Race My Mind,” 28.5 million
No. 16, “Yebba’s Heartbreak,” with Yebba, 24.5 million
No. 17, “IMY2,” feat. Kid Cudi, 24.5 million
No. 18, “You Only Live Twice,” feat. Lil Wayne & Rick Ross, 24.1 million
No. 19, “Fountains,” feat. Tems, 21.7 million
No. 20, “Get Along Better,” feat. Ty Dolla $ign, 21.3 million
No. 23, “Fucking Fans,” 18.6 million
No. 24, “The Remorse,” 17.7 million

As previously reported, all 21 songs on Certified Lover Boy debut in the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100, including a record nine in the top 10. “Way 2 Sexy,” featuring Future and Young Thug, leads at No. 1, with its 67.3 million first-week streams the second-best weekly sum this year, after the opening frame of Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” (76.1 million, Jan. 23).

On Streaming Songs, “Way 2 Sexy” bows as Drake’s record-extending 11th No. 1, Young Thug’s second and Future’s first leader.

These Products From Halsey’s New About Face Collection Are Perfect for a Night Out

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Halsey’s new About-Face collection is all about glitter.

The singer debuted the newest Fractal Glitter collection from their makeup line on Tuesday (Sept. 14), which includes five shimmery products for a perfect night out or date night look.

Halsey, who has been known for doing their own makeup for big events, launched About-Face Beauty in early 2021, centered on the belief that “makeup is about feeling cool, not looking perfect.”

Their About-Face beauty brand is vegan, cruelty-free and formulated without gluten, phthalates, parabens or synthetic fragrances.

See below for a look at each of the products (two of which are limited edition) in About-Face’s new Fractal Glitter collection, and shop the full line here. About-Face is currently offering free shipping in the United States with the code “FREESHIP.”

Limited Edition Fractal Large Cosmetic Bag

Designed by Halsey themselves, the limited edition purple cosmetics bag is waterproof, and foldable. It’s 8.25 inches long, 3.25 inches wide and 4 inches tall for a spacious place to put your Fractal Glitter favorites.

Buy it for $19 here.

Fractal Glitter Lip Color

The shimmering liquid lipstick comes in eight shades — from nudes and pinks to reds and violets — and boasts “intense sparkle and pigment with no flyaway particles or stickiness.”

Buy it for $19 here.

Fractal Glitter Eye Paint

The marula oil infused, mousse-textured eyeshadow comes in eight shimmery shades and is long-wearing, waterproof and smudge-proof. The formula also includes super-fine glitter so the look stays sleek and not chunky.

Buy it for $21 here.

Limited Edition Fractal Glitter Brow

The limited edition brow gel claims that it “defines, shapes and holds hairs while imparting richly-pigmented sparkle to eyebrows without flaking or sticking.” The product comes in four colors: a gold, white, magenta and green sparkle.

Buy it for $21 here.

Fractal Two-Piece Brush Set

The set of cruelty-free, high-performance brushes feature densely packed fibers and an angled head for ultimate pigment application.

But it for $27 here.

 

How to Watch Ja Rule & Fat Joe ‘Verzuz’ Battle

Following the 2021 Met Gala and two days after the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards, New York will host yet another epic event: The Verzuz battle between Ja Rule and Fat Joe will officially commence on Tuesday night (Sept. 14).

The showdown will go down at the Hulu Theater at New York’s Madison Square Garden, which also hosted the last Verzuz battle between fellow New York icons The LOX and Dipset on Aug. 3.

“The summer ain’t over!!” Verzuz co-creator Swizz Beatz announced on Instagram earlier this month.

Ja Rule has eight Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 singles to his name, including “Always on Time,” featuring Ashanti, which reached the peak in February 2002 and charted for 27 weeks. He has a total of 17 Hot 100 songs. His debut studio album, Venni Vetti Vecci, peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, where it charted for 31 weeks. Fat Joe, who began his musical career as a member of hip-hop group Diggin’ in the Crates Crew (D.I.T.C.), released his debut solo album Represent in 1993, and its hit single “Flow Joe” reached No. 1 on Hot Rap Songs.

The Verzuz battle between Fat Joe and Ja Rule takes place Tuesday, Sept. 14, at 9 p.m. ET. For those unable to watch live from MSG, fans can catch the action on the Triller app, FITE TV or Verzuz TV Instagram account.

Miranda Lambert, Darius Rucker & Luke Combs to Headline Europe’s C2C Festival 2022

After two years of pandemic postponement, the C2C: Country to Country festival will return March 11-13, 2022, in London, Glasgow and Dublin, with headlining sets from Luke Combs, Miranda Lambert and Darius Rucker.

Other artists taking part in the three-day festival include Callista Clark, Russell Dickerson, Flatland Cavalry, Ashley McBryde, Scotty McCreery, Kip Moore, Runaway June, Tenille Townes, Hailey Whitters, Brett Young and more.

“We’re delighted to announce our lineup for C2C 2022!” the festival’s organizers said via social media. “It’s been a long time in the making and we’re so thankful for all of you who have kept hold of your tickets. We can’t wait to finally celebrate the return of live country music to UK and Ireland together at C2C!”

The festival had to be postponed in 2020 and 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Combs and Rucker were previously slated to headline C2C’s 2021 festival. As part of the 2022 lineup announcement, the festival’s organizers stated that tickets for the festival’s 2020 dates will also be honored for next year’s event. Tickets will go on sale Friday at ticketmaster.com.

Lambert announced her headlining slot by sharing several throwback photos of her previous trips to Europe. Meanwhile, Combs said via Twitter, “Alright, @c2cfestival…let’s try this again! Can’t wait to get back over the pond & play with the band.” Rucker added, “Can’t wait to be back on the other side of the pond for @c2cfestival in 2022!”

C2C: Country to Country is Europe’s largest country music festival and was created by AEG Europe and SJM Concerts, in association with the Country Music Association. The festival launched in 2013 at London’s O2 arena as a two-day event and featured performances from Carrie Underwood and Tim McGraw. By 2016, the event had expanded to three days, and in 2018, C2C welcomed more than 50,000 fans and featured artists including Kelsea Ballerini, Sugarland, Margo Price, Emmylou Harris and more.