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Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE!
at Toms River’s Grunin Center

By Spotlight Central

originally published: 11/09/2018

Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center

It’s Friday, October 26, 2018, and the Broadway’s Next H!T Musical cast is just about ready to take the stage at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, located on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ.

The troupe — which started in New York City, but which has spent the past decade and a half traveling the country with their fully-improvised musical comedy awards show — has been lauded by The New York Times as “hilarious!” and the New York Post as “remarkable!”

As patrons mill about the Grunin Center lobby before the show, many are intrigued by a sign on a table requesting the submission of an original song title. According to the sign, several song titles will be chosen by the Broadway’s Next H!T Musical cast and used to create tonight’s spontaneous expression of music and theater.

As it turns out, however, the evening’s entertainment begins before patrons even enter the auditorium as theatergoers — including Ron and Susan from Toms River — are interviewed and filmed as if they are part of a red carpet event by Broadway’s Next H!T Musical cast member and emcee, Marc Engberg.

Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center

“He asked us silly questions,” reveals Susan, before noting, “We love theater. We love to go to New York City, but we also support local venues like the Grunin Center — it’s so close, and they get great acts.”



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Adds Ron, “We recently saw jazz drummer Tommy Igoe here — he’s one of the finest musicians in the world — and he was excellent!” before adding, “but we also support other venues in the area including The Strand Theater in Lakewood and the Count Basie in Red Bank.”

In addition to emcee Marc Engberg, Broadway’s Next H!T Musical stars actors Deb Rabbai, Robert Z. Grant, Matt Giroveanu, and Rob Schiffmann, in addition to pianist Adrien Pellerin.

Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center

During Act I of tonight’s show, the cast takes the stage to satirize Broadway’s Tony Awards with their own fictitious awards show — The Phony Awards — where they feature four original songs based on four selected song title suggestions provided by the audience.

Each nominated song is not only spontaneously created, but is also featured in a short scene.

The first audience-supplied nominee is called “Kettlebell Swing.”

Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center

Another is “I Am a Baby Ambulance.”

Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center

A third nominated song title is “My Daughter’s a Brain Surgeon and My Wife is a Nutcase.”

Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center

A final nominee is entitled “Walk Like a Penguin.”

Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center

After experiencing all four songs spontaneously brought to life, the audience is asked to select one as the winner, and they choose “Walk Like a Penguin.”

At this point, the audience is informed that, following a short break, the number will be featured in an improvised Broadway musical complete with a unique cast of characters, spontaneous vocal harmonies, and period costumes.

During Act II, Broadway’s Next H!T Musical presents a fully realized musical, Tuxedo Park, which is set in the late 1800s in New York City.

The musical centers on two quirky characters in the form of an upper crust couple.

Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center

It also spotlights two working class brothers.

Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center

The plot involves the framing and imprisoning of one of the brothers for twenty years.

The musical ends with the release of the jailed brother with his rich accuser, played by Rob Schiffmann, improvising, “The cell keys were hanging right here on this hook for the past twenty years — you could have totally gotten out at any time.”

Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center

The grand finale includes a full-cast performance of the award-winning song, “Walk Like a Penguin.”

Throughout the course of Tuxedo Park, not only does the Broadway’s Next H!T cast improvise all of the dialogue, lyrics, and musical accompaniments they perform — they even create original choreography right on the spot.

Following the performance, we take a moment to chat with Rob Schiffmann, a founding member of the Broadway’s Next H!T Musical troupe.

Touring as a professional improviser and musician for over 17 years, Rob says, “l love doing this show; it’s so much fun! With the audience suggestions, no two shows are ever the same — and I’ve never been stumped; no matter how unusual a suggestion may be, I know my fellow cast members will make anything I do great. After working together and listening to one another for so long, we get to the point where we know how to read each other as improvisational actors.”

Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center

Fellow cast member Matt Giroveanu agrees adding, “It’s always fun, and you never know what’s going to happen,” before warning, “There is a little bit of pressure, however, because once you say anything on stage, it becomes the ‘truth’ of your improvisational ‘reality.’”

Concluding by acknowledging, “I was really happy with tonight’s ‘Walk Like a Penguin’ song, Giroveanu — a Seton Hall alumnus — exclaims, “And I love being back performing here in New Jersey — it’s like a homecoming for me!”

And as for the theatergoers in attendance at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center tonight? They all had a chance to witness the spontaneity of the performers and their “all-for-one-and-one-for-all” attitude, leaving audiences to wonder just what will be Broadway’s NEXT H!T Musical!

Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center

For more information on Broadway’s Next H!T Musical, please check out broadwaysnexthitmusical.com. For future events at Toms River’s Grunin Center — including Max Weinberg’s Jukebox on November 19, Rockapella on December 13, and Ana Gasteyer on December 15 — please go to grunincenter.org.


Photos by Love Imagery

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Event calendar
Saturday, Dec 15, 2018


MUSIC

DOWNSTREAM @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

LIFE OF AGONY/SICK OF IT ALL @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 6:30pm

JOHNNY O @ Lobby Bar at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 10:00pm

WEIRD SCIENCE @ Hard Rock Cafe at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 10:00pm

The THE BAND Band @ Darress Theatre, Boonton - 8:00pm

Brian Fallon @ Crossroads (Garwood), Garwood - 8:00pm

KASHMIR THE LIVE LED ZEPPELIN SHOW @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 8:00pm

Holiday POPS! @ Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall, Princeton - 3:00pm and 6:00pm

TAKING BACK SUNDAY @ Starland Ballroom, Sayreville - 7:00pm

Classic Stones Live! The Complete Rolling Stones Tribute Show @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm

The Beat Tells @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm

The Metropolitan Opera: La Traviata @ Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 1:00pm







THEATRE

Elf, The Musical @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 2:00pm and 7:00pm and 7:30pm

A Christmas Story @ Pax Amicus Castle Theatre, Budd Lake - 8:00pm

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Seussical @ CDC Theatre, Cranford - 7:30pm

Peter Pan @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 7:30pm

A CHRISTMAS CAROL @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn @ Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn - 1:30pm and 7:00pm

RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN'S THE KING AND I - BASED ON THE LINCOLN CENTER THEATER PRODUCTION @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

A Wonderful Life @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 8:00pm

Junie B. Jones The Musical at Black Box PAC @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 11:00am

A Charlie Brown Christmas @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 1:30pm and 3:30pm

Hudson Theatre Works presents "And My True Love Gave To Me" @ Hudson Theatre Works, Weehawken - 8:00pm


COMEDY

Louie Anderson @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm


DANCE

NEW JERSEY BALLET’S NUTCRACKER WITH NEW JERSEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 1:00pm and 6:00pm

Forces of Nature Dance Theatre with special guest Sweet Honey In The Rock @ Victoria Theater @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 2:00pm and 7:30pm


FILM

Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas in Concert Live to Film @ Prudential Hall @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 2:00pm and 7:30pm

View all events










 






















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